simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: July 2008
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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Met Lumber

Visitors frequently ask where essential services like gas stations or lumber yards are located in New York City. Many of these businesses have relatively unassuming presences and are not readily noticed, especially with the distractions of so many other city stimuli. But shoe repair shops, laundromats, grocery stores, gas stations, auto repair shops, hardware stores, and locksmiths do exist, tucked away here and there
Many, however, are disappearing. Operating costs, particularly rents, have soared to levels making it extraordinarily difficult for all but the well-heeled or chain store to survive. In some cases, ownership of the building by the business owner gives lifetime protection from the slings and arrows of a gentrifying environment. Not so long ago there were 4 lumber yards in the SoHo and neighboring Village areas. Now only Met Lumber remains.
Metropolitan Lumber and Hardware owns and occupies an entire stone building at 175 Spring Street. The building, with its colorful exterior graphic, was previously a power generating plant. Met Lumber is a well stocked, full service operation with cutting facilities. Keep in mind if you patronize a place like this, you may be subjected to a New York style reception. Regular customers/contractors are steady, larger buyers and typically know exactly what they want. But there are many do-it-yourselfers who are unknowledgeable. The volume of these customers, combined with the barrage of questions and time needed to educate the customer in a busy operation, makes a rough retail environment. Unlike chain stores, many with poorly trained employees and high turn over, Met Lumber has a staff of seasoned people who know their stuff. But, they have been taking a beating for many years ...

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Tune Out, Tune Up, Tune In

This year was the 50th anniversary of the Washington Square Music Festival. Outdoor music festivals are one of the great summer pleasures and we are privileged in New York City to have such stable of talented musicians who are willing to participate.
The annual concert series is free and typically takes place over four Tuesday evenings in July. This year's was five concerts culminating in last night's concert with a jazz program - the Charles Mingus Orchestra playing the jazz of Charles Mingus.
Seating is provided on a first come basis, but the music can be easily enjoyed standing or sitting in nearby benches. The atmosphere is informal.
Of course there are distractions with many other people and activities nearby, but that is the remarkable thing in this city - how great things can coexist and people can selectively enjoy a particular activity. Tuning out and tuning in is a necessary and acquired skill. Outdoor and street activities are not for pampered individuals who want their culture in a more controlled environment - for those, we have wonderful concert halls and performance venues. So here is to the streets and parks of NYC - tune out, tune up and tune in ...

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Overused and Abused

There are words that are overused and abused and two of them are genius and luxury. I remember a radio program where a disk jockey was on a rant about the overuse of the word genius - he saw it applied to musicians who were just very good but certainly not in the league of true geniuses. Beethoven, Mozart or Bach could keep as many as 7 melodies in their minds at one time. They could compose complex music in their heads without having to hear it and then just write the completed score. Now that's genius.
Luxury should have elements of the sublime, uniqueness and rarity, not just offer the basics and use a comparison to the unacceptable to define it. Some may define luxury apartment in New York City in relative terms. From this perspective, luxury in New York can mean space, quiet or the absence of squalor. Many now consider living in the city itself a luxury. Although there are many good points here, I don't think the integrity of the word luxury is best kept by defining it using the standards of the homeless, destitute or uninhabitable housing. See my story - The Dark Ages.
When I first moved to the city, I saw the phrase luxury apartments and modern used in connection with any place that essentially was not a tenement. If the tub was not in the kitchen, the toilet was not in the public hallway or the place was not roach infested then we had luxury. Luxury here is what most people outside the city would consider the minimum acceptable standards for decent.
I am sure the apartments in the building in the photo are decent, but I would be surprised if they are truly luxurious. And townhouse lofts - here I think we misuse and abuse another word. but that's another story ...

Related Postings: The Dark Ages, Unguent.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Sand in Water

New York City has many visitors. It is an important part of our economy. And generally speaking we embrace all - outsiders, outcasts, iconoclasts. The melange of characters and people already here dilute things that it is difficult for one person or group to really ruffle any feathers. 
But there are abrasives that even in New York City can rub one the wrong way. And one of those things are motorcycle gangs. They seem curiously out of place here but for the most part are tolerated. Dilution in the world of New York generally makes them a fleeting image. They frequently congregate in various locations such as near Gray's Papaya in the Village. Time is spent eating, cavorting and sporting their hardware. And off they go in a roar.
However, the roar of a pack of bikers is one thing but when some use straight pipes (no mufflers), the sound can be deafening. It is illegal, but prosecution is difficult. I have witnessed sounds that are literally like explosions. I am sure most bikers are law biding, but the few bad apples really spoil the barrel and the outlaw image is strengthened.
There are things that can not be diluted. Like sand in water ...

Friday, 25 July 2008


This find is courtesy of Corey, an employee at the Apple Store on Prince Street in SoHo. While on a recent visit there, our conversation turned from Macs to photography. Surprisingly, Corey was already aware of this Photoblog and asked if I was knew of graffiti artist The Me Nobody Knows (TMNK) aka Nobody. He suggested that it may be a good subject for blogging. The alias Nobody leads to nice wordplays in his art messages like Nobody Cares or I am nobody - Art is My Weapon.
On a subsequent visit to the Apple store, Corey was gracious enough on a work break to take me through nearby streets and point out the various sidewalk works of TMNK.
Nobody has a multimedia website with the requisite rap music and non-intuitive interface, Myspace page and ebay store. Since I do not understand the vocabulary and I am not part of this subculture, I will have to let the art, websites, music and words speak for themselves ...

Thursday, 24 July 2008


If you are open minded and social, the people of this city can reveal a world to you that is unique and remarkable. The biggest problem is that some of the most fascinating lurk behind the most unassuming faces and things. I never know where a casual conversation will lead. More times than not, a story unfolds that is woven with extraordinary fabric and I am so very glad I did not just pass it by.
So this is how I met Isack Kousnsky, an unassuming man cleaning a window in front of what turned out to be his school bus. I stopped to pet his dog, a beauty I wrote about last year - see Wolfdog here. Isack turns out to be an accomplished photographer/artist with an unusual portfolio of mixed media work - you can see it here. His work is stored in his bus. He has had shows worldwide and is a SoHo resident. He was located in front of 111 Mercer, where his studio was formerly located.
We spoke of the difficulties in working in Manhattan with stratospheric rents - his old studio is now $6000 per month for 1/2 of a floor. He will be most likely relocating to Brooklyn, which although less expensive, has seen its own very high increases in rents.

Isack Kousnsky, born in Haifa, Israel in the 50’s moved to New York City in the early 80’s. Based in the East Village as a strong artist he became part of the avant-garde movement. He exhibited in many galleries such as Sixth Sense Gallery, Now Gallery and Hilo Project focusing in painting, sculpture and installation. During that time he curated one of the largest exhibitions of the 80’s art movement, including artists Salvador, Rosilio, Luca, and Keith Haring. In 1989 he returned to Israel and built and produced an Alternative art center in Haifa. In 1990 he started to produce his artwork in photography and developed a new technique combining painting and photography. In 1993, he returned to the city.

I have written before about the danger in New York of judging books by their covers. I am one of the worst when it comes to doing this - I am quick to judge and frequently I am way off the mark. These articles are my efforts at redemption ...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Small Steps

What does this have to do with NYC? Plenty. Dr.Brown's Cel-Ray Soda is a specialty item more commonly found in the New York City area. In the 1930s it was even nicknamed "Jewish champagne." 
The subject of beverages came up while chatting recently with a number of friends on a hot summer's evening. We all volunteered our personal favorites - flavors and brands - cream soda, root beer, etc. One of our group mentioned celery soda - Dr. Browns Cel-Ray. None of us had had one and we became very intrigued. We were unable to locate one at our local green grocer, so it became a mission for a couple of us.
There is great satisfaction in achieving goals but in New York City where life can be hard, many goals are difficult so we often must settle for small things. I think this explains the popularity of Sudoku - there is only one solution and a completed puzzle is a small, perfect achievement.
In New York City, space is at a premium, so in many instances we do not have the broad range of consumer items in certain categories, certainly not the type of selection of packaged products seen in a suburban supermarket like Pathmark or Super Stop& Shop.
We did not find Cel-Ray at our local green grocer. In a way, I think we secretly welcomed this - it gave us a small team goal. One that would most likely be easily achieved.
Last night there was word that Cel-Ray could be found at a neighborhood market. A short pilgrimage confirmed reports and two of us were able to acquire and sample our first Dr. Browns Cel-Ray soda. The flavor was quite good - pungent and spicy - much better than we expected. Finding it was almost like landing on the moon - one small step for two men ...

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Statues of Liberty

If you want to do something controversial, it's easy. Just create a series of themed sculptures and place dozens of them around the city. The last one that I recall was the Cow Parade.
Everyone seems to have strong feelings about such displays. Being they are in public space certainly gives the populace a feeling of entitlement as to how such space is used. And of course the displays are seen by nearly everyone, including many who are not typically art goers. The statue in the photo is one of 42 around the city, all quite varied in their appearance. To see all the statues and a description, go to the CBS News link here. From their site:

"To mark the July 15 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium, 42 baseball-themed Statues of Liberty are on display in New York. The Stephen Holland statue, Pop International Galleries, 473 West Broadway, at Houston Street, in SoHo area of Manhattan, celebrates the artist commissioned to paint them all. Apparently, he was so intent on having 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, he made one for himself."

Each statue is uniquely designed with bold graphics and colors featuring each of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs, the Brooklyn Dodgers, the New York Giants, the American League, the National League, four All-Star statues and statues commemorating the final season of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium (the game is the final season of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.) The 8.5 foot tall, 250 pound statues are made of resin and rest on a 530-pound cement base.

The opinions of this series of sculptures are quite harsh. Many bristled at the appropriation of the Statue of Liberty for this venture. An online search for Statues of Liberty Parade will show you what I mean ...

Monday, 21 July 2008


I love this kind of thing. The New York City where we can find an icon based on something so ordinary, it defies comprehension how it attained mythic status. Its very ordinariness drives it. I think it is a form of defiance - our sense of self importance is such that New Yorkers can take something completely mundane, champion it and say: "This is the definitive coffee cup. Why? Because we say so! We don't have to pander to outside fashion or fancy cups. We set the rules. And the Greek motif coffee cup is what we choose. We eschew all others."
Of course the entire process is the confluence of many factors, historical, practical and otherwise. But once something here has been established as a de facto standard, New Yorkers hold on in a tenacious manner.
The classic, Greek themed, blue and white design - the Anthora - was originally designed by Leslie Buck of the Sherri Cup Company of Kensington, Connecticut in 1967. The large number of Greek-owned coffee shops New York City seemed to be a ready target for a themed coffee cup. The name was inspired by an article about a sunken Greek ship laden with Amphora (Greek urns). Anthora is a corruption of the word, based on a misprint in an article. Greek Amphora were typically decorated with geometric designs around the neck - this concept was adapted to the upper and lower rim of the 10 ounce paper coffee cups.
There are a number of competing brands of the Greek coffee cup, but all have some variation of the original message "We are happy to serve you." The one in the photo is no. 110 by Premier Paper Manufacturing Corp. circa 1997. A set of Corinthian columns graces the front with the words "It's our pleasure to serve you" and a discus thrower on the back. The original design is now owned and manufactured by Solo Cup Company. See the link here for a gallery of Greek-motif cups.
The Greek-themed blue-and-white design is now on sale as a ceramic mug at the Museum of Modern Art. And a whole line of products like T-Shirts can be found with the Anthora image. It can also be seen in shows like NYPD Blue, where the cup lends a sense of New York City authenticity.
Some predict that the cup, with its blue collar associations, is doomed to extinction with the advent of more sophisticated cups, such as those used be Starbucks. Time will tell ...

The photograph was taken courtesy of Joe Jrs. Diner - the subject of a future story.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Bleu est Sérieux

Take a culture of sensory overload. Then add New York City and it and is easy to understand how very difficult it is to isolate and notice individual things. There are exceptions, of course, like the color red, which really screams and is still able to makes its presence known in a crowded, competitive visual environment. I have written before of red on two occasions: Who See the Red and That's Quite a Briefcase.
But one day I noticed a concentration of BLUE. It is surprising that it took so long as blue is my favorite color. Every color has its fan base, but you can make a pretty strong case for the importance and significance of blue and its popularity. Blue is a more subdued color. Relaxing. The color of royalty, the ocean and the sky. The "b" in rgb. Blue eyes, blue suede shoes, the blues, true blue, blue jeans, blue suits, bluetooth, blue gemstones. Interestingly, as George Carlin pointed out there is no truly blue fruit.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the subject, there's a fascinating book - Blue: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau, professor and specialist in medieval history. He is an eminent scholar affiliated with Sorbonne's École pratique des hautes études.
Blue is serious business. Or perhaps I should say bleu est sérieux ...

Thursday, 17 July 2008


One must be careful in making condemnations of contemporary culture and claims regarding the degradation of society and romanticizing the past. There is no dearth of criticism regarding the "malling" of New York City and the invasion of big box retailers into the NYC marketplace. And certainly many of the criticisms are valid.
At first glance, when looking at this magnificent Beaux Arts building at 632 Avenue of the Americas, my first reaction was how inappropriate it was that this building would house Bed, Bath and Beyond, Filene's Basement, and TJ Maxx.
A little research will reveal that this stretch of 6th Avenue (from 18th to 23 Street), replete with enormous architecturally wonderful buildings, was once known as the Ladies' Mile and that the beautiful structures lining this avenue were originally built as department stores.
The most opulent was the Siegel-Cooper, originally designed by DeLemos & Cordes and built in 1896 as a discount department store for Siegel, Cooper & Co who were based in Chicago. The New York store became a mecca for shoppers.
There was a fountain in the center of the lobby which became a meeting place in New York. Jets of water cascaded over multicolored lights onto a marble and brass statue of The Republic.
So the large stores on the former Ladies" Mile should can be seen more as a reincarnation than invasion. I am reminded of various interpretations on nostalgia which I have heard - that the past always seems better than than the present, because we only remember the good parts ...

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Mother Nature

I have had this photo for some time but knew nothing of the advertiser - Rowley. But the setting was so dramatic, I thought I would share it anyway. After all, we can let things speak for themselves on occasion, can't we?
This illuminated billboard was located on the West Side Highway in Chelsea, a neighborhood in the West 20s, abutting the Hudson River and the highway. Chelsea has become somewhat of an art district, as there has been a migration of galleries from areas like SoHo due to extraordinarily high rents.
I am not a fan of billboards - I find that they are typically a blight on the landscape. But there can be beauty, particularly dramatic beauty, at times with industrial and commercial subjects. Smokestacks, oil refineries, bridges, power plants and power lines can all show a striking profile when the lighting conditions are right. I have written of this before in my posting Hell's Gate.
I don't think I want to champion this type of display or give encouragement for more signage and billboards. And I think the credit here goes to Mother Nature, not Rowley ...

Tuesday, 15 July 2008


The 1960s held promises, many which did not live up to expectations like drug induced insights, free love and geodesic domes. Domes captured the imagination of the youth at the time as did most things that broke with tradition. In the case of geodesics, the break was visually very obvious. Built from a network of triangles, the resultant structure was aesthetically pleasing. Many were the advantages and benefits. And many were the disadvantages and problems, largely unspoken of at the time but obvious to those that made a commitment to this type of structure for a home.
Geodesic domes were popularized by R. Buckminster Fuller. They were promoted for their efficiency, strength, stability, light weight and ability to be built quickly. There was hope that the geodesic dome would become a housing solution. But many problems surfaced - curved rooms with attendant diffiulty in design and furniture placement, many seams prone to leaking, higher window costs, triangular panels resulting in more material waste, etc. Their success has now been primarily in its adoption for specialized commercial applications such as pavilions, auditoriums, weather observatories, and storage facilities. read more about them here.
The one in the photo that can be seen in the window reflection is Fuller's Fly's Eye Dome which has been erected in Laguardia Park across from the AIA center. Read about the sign here.  See here for photo of dome with a few visitors climbing the structure.
The window is that of the Center for Architecture - the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Buckminster Fuller and his work is an enormous subject. Read about him here. There is also more information about Fuller there at the Dymaxion Study Center at the AIA Center at 536 LaGuardia Place from 6/23/08-9/14/08.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Gratuitous in Nature

When I was younger, I did not understand the concept behind cut flowers. As someone interested in the sciences, their purchase made no sense whatsoever. They appeared to have no practical value and to be a poor investment, dying only days after purchase.
I did not appreciate their beauty enough either - they may have been fun to identify or interesting from the perspective of analysis and study, but buying them was anathema to me.
But I have since learned the value of nature's extravagance and exuberance. In a place like NYC, where utility rules and problems abound, beautification could be seen as a low priority item and a frivolous use of monetary resources. But as I wrote recently in my article, Let's Have a Parade, not everything should be reduced to practical terms - see my posting Practical. Quality of life has been a recently articulated public policy and efforts to make the city more attractive are welcome.  
So a display like that in today's photo, taken at the Hudson River Park, is true eye candy for New Yorkers. And although flowers maybe gratuitous in nature, that's a good thing :)

Friday, 11 July 2008


Regular readers of this site will have observed an interruption yesterday in this online publication for the first time in its 2 and one half year history. This is not a harbinger for times to come or any lessened interested on my part. There is good reason for this interruption as the photo and the tale to be told will tell. A tale of interruption, disruption and commencement.
It is rumored that a particular residential tenant had contracted to perform much needed repairs in his home. Residents of this city know that the services rendered by landlords can frequently be poor or nonexistent and that unless matters are taken into one's own hands, one can be forced to live in a manner not too dissimilar from the Dark Ages - go here to see what I mean. I am not an advocate of vigilantism or reckless activity, but at times one must do what one must do.
So on Thursday, July 10, 2008, a crew of men was employed to make said repairs when all concerned were suddenly informed by the building management that work must stop immediately.
Now it was extraordinarily distressing to have materials, a work crew and money committed and then be told that work must STOP and a representative of the landlord would be making a personal visit. The mood was quite anxious as nine people alternated between waves of silence and nervous speculation both positive and negative.
But good luck prevailed and for reasons not completely understood but amid much speculation, after conversations with attorneys and the owner herself, work was permitted to continue, with no discussion of money, changes or other negotiations.
Now in NYC, this is to be considered nothing less than a small miracle, perhaps even a large one. It goes without saying that doing a blog entry in a construction site and under these conditions is reasonable grounds for interruption ...

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Real Deal

To me, the phrase real deal is a superlative. And like any superlative, one must use it judiciously for it to retain its meaning and impact. So when I tell you that Sunrise Mart at 4 Stuyvesant Street is the real deal, you know I am speaking of a place that is authentic and very serious. No artifice or posing in this place - the kind of place you would only find in New York, Japan or very large urban area - if you're lucky.
Sunrise Mart is a small specialized Japanese grocery store located in an area of the East Village around St. Marks Place sometimes referred to as Little Tokyo. There's no pandering to tourists here, although if you are in the area, I would recommend a visit to this very unique shop. The place is located on a second floor above St. Marks Bookshop and goes unnoticed to most except customers. Access is via a small elevator in a rather innocuous doorway. Also, the staff is Japanese as is most of the clientele. The products range from packaged to fresh foods, divided into various departments, including meats, produce, housewares, clothing and even DVDs. Japanese is spoken here as one might expect in a place that is the real deal ...

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


What an easy and enjoyable thing photography can be when the subject cooperates. I have been planning to do a posting on the Verrazano Bridge for sometime but this requires a special trip and is quite some distance from my home in Manhattan. And one must find a good vantage point, negotiating around the Belt Parkway (a major highway with some limited parking) and the many other thoroughfares - 4th Avenue, Shore Road, Route 278 to the bridge and a cloverleaf of highway ramps.
However, I could not have picked a better day. A heavy fog had settled in just occluding the more distant tower. See here for a series of photos.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a relatively modern bridge, only completed in 1964. I have always found its lines rather clean and elegant. The bridge is omnipresent in the NYC skyline and is visible from every borough of the city. It connects Brooklyn and Staten Island. Although controversial during its construction, it is a lifeline - providing a roadway not only to Staten Island, but a connection between New Jersey, Brooklyn and Long Island.
At the time if its construction it was the longest suspension bridge in the world (4,260 feet (1,298 m) and held that position until 1981. It still remains the longest suspension bridge in the United States. You can read more about it here.
Every opportunity and subject element presented itself - a cargo ship, sailboats, fishermen, jellyfish in tidal pools, rocky outcroppings, a cruise ship and of course fog. Everything just working together in a paradigm of cooperation ...

Monday, 7 July 2008

Dead Sea Scrolls

I'm not saying this was an ordinary or everyday experience. But yesterday I was picking wild blackberries and apples in New York City. Finding such things here is exciting, like finding a Dead Sea Scroll.
What was even more amazing is that the apple trees were in the center of a traffic island, surrounded by on ramps and highways with the blackberries nearby. I had to jump across a trafficked ramp to access the isolated island. I was rewarded with a number of very green unripe apples. Very sour, but I grew up eating many unripe fruits that I foraged as a child.
I have learned, however, that blackberries are not the fortuitous find I believed them to be in my youth. Apparently they are quite hardy plants and will grow in the most unforgiving environments - they can survive in poor soil and have been found in building sites, wastelands and along roadsides. In some areas they are considered invasive and a weed. And technically they are not considered true berries.
But fruit is fruit. Why split hairs over whether these are worthy for consideration? I'm starting to sound like a typical new Yorker who extols the virtues of simple things, but in reality they must be the right kind of simple - a certain brand of pushcart hot dog (Sabrett) or chocolate for a New York egg cream (Fox's U-Bet). I suppose authenticity is always important when looking for Dead Sea Scrolls ...

Photo Note: The location of these will be revealed tomorrow's posting on a nearby subject.

Related Postings: New York Survivor, Grapes, Bird Country, Time Landscape, The Garden at St. Lukes.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Gold Mining

Today of course is July 4th, Independence Day in the USA. I have never been a flag waving American, in fact, my generation was particularly unpatriotic. I grew up in a time of protest - the Vietnam War, draft card burning and marches to Washington. But as I have aged and learned, I have a greater appreciation for what this country has to offer.
I am not blind to the problems here - over emphasis on money and capitalism, extreme ethnocentrism, racism, lack of national medical coverage, exportation of American values and culture, dumbing down of society, decline in educational achievement, decline of the dollar and rise of the Euro.
But in the course of my business and personal life, I have met thousands of individuals from across the world and conversation frequently turns to culture and countries. I get positive impressions of this country from them.
There is a clamor to get into this country - an average of one half of a million immigration applications are filed each month. Of course, the quality of life is certainly excellent in many other places (some would argue better) and most non-USA citizens are happy to live in their native land.
I think the biggest thing I have learned is that freedom and opportunity are not hollow words. For the ambitious, skilled and hard working, there is opportunity in America. But here, like anywhere else there is competition, and many outsiders are deluded into thinking that all Americans are wealthy and that the streets are paved with gold. TV, film and the desire for instant gratification all contribute to these false ideas about the American Dream. There is plenty of gold here, but it has to be mined ...

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Steps From Paradise

Do you want to find one of the most idyllic, bucolic areas in Manhattan? One where you feel virtually removed from the city itself? Then step into the Ramble, a 38-acre "wild garden" in Central Park (in the words of Park designer Olmsted) with rocky outcrops, secluded glades, and a tumbling stream called The Gill. The designers of the Park literally sculpted the Ramble out of a wooded hillside. One of the first parts of the Park to be built, the Ramble is totally artificial except for its bedrock base. Even the water running in the Gill is turned on and off with a water tap.
What is extraordinary about the Ramble is how one can be completely secluded in a heavily wooded environment in the center of Manhattan with no visual sense of being in an urban setting. You have to look hard in New York City to find spots of nature that are capable of really acting as a retreat and provide a respite from city life. Some of my favorite spots are the various community gardens - see my posting here on an exceptional one I called Shangri-La.
The Ramble is a major bird-watching area due to its location on the Atlantic flyway (the migration route that birds follow during the spring and fall). It is one of the top 15 birdwatching sites in the entire United States - 230 species have been spotted.
One aspect of the Ramble, which has kept some visitors away, is its use since the early 20th century for gay encounters. The heavily wooded seclusion which the Ramble affords, has made this an ideal location in the city for outdoor gay sex. However, I have been to the Ramble many times over the years and personally I have never witnessed anything of this nature, so I would not let any of this deter you from visiting this area.
I am frequently surprised at many people I meet are who are unaware of the Ramble's existence. If you are in Central Park, always remember - you are only a few steps from paradise ...

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Light Anyone?

There are people who are afraid of light. Those with heliophobia have fear of sunlight. Some have a condition known as photophobia, an extreme sensitivity to light. But apart from these relatively atypical draculean individuals, most people love light and shun the darkness. How often we experience down spirits on a dark and cloudy day or see children afraid of the dark.
On the other side of the coin we have an endless capacity to enjoy light in every variation, produced from sources both natural and man made. The sun, the moon, LEDs, neon, southern exposures, fire, fireflies, illuminated toys or Times Square. It's built into our vocabulary - light up your life ...
Here in this photo, we have the latest incarnation of fascination with light and a recreation based on its manipulation - Jedi light saber play with NY Jedi, a group that is now 2.5 years old. Judging from their website, this appears to be a growing phenomenon many of us might have missed. And yes, there is now equipment, forums, meetings, events, teams, costumes, classes, films, videos and a vocabulary, all specific to the activity. Some of the Light Sabers can run into hundreds of dollars. If you want to know more about activities, meetings or equipment, check their website here.
The concept of light is virtually synonymous with things good and positive - we have acknowledgement in Genesis:

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Light anyone? ...

Related Postings: Spinning, Signature, Let's Have a Parade.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

When Worlds Collide

There are things one never tires of and for me, Central Park is one of them. What is there to get tired of in this idyllic urban oasis? I place it at the pinnacle of any must see list for visitors.
Given the lack of outdoor space for city residents, parks take on a much greater significance - they effectively become our backyards and recreational playgrounds. So, the reason for my bias is obvious.
I can easily be accused of being a one-man campaign for Central Park and taking every visitor I have known there for an obligatory visit. This landmark was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux and completed in 1873. The landscaping and architectural elements are exquisite. As I wrote in my article on the conservatory water, on a perfect day I feel like I have been transported to Seurat's Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.
This 843 acre wonderland is remarkable for many reasons and its myriad of different environments and areas set aside for a variety of uses (see the list of articles and photos I have done in related listings below). There are extensive walking/running tracks, two ice-skating rinks, tennis courts, the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, the Ramble, a 106-acre/billion gallon reservoir (with an encircling running track), ponds, the Lake, a Conservatory for model boats, the Delacorte Theater (which hosts the "Shakespeare in the Park"), Belvedere Castle, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the historic Carousel. There are numerous major and minor grassy areas, some used for sports, some are set aside as quiet areas, and there are a number of enclosed playgrounds for children.
From many vantage points in the park, the city's skyline is visible - the juxtaposition of the urban landscape and the bucolic is a potent reminder of where you are and how fortunate we are to have both worlds ...

Related Postings: Conservatory Water, Kerbs Boathouse, Bethesda Fountain, The Beresford, Not So Kleine, Belvedere Castle, Red Panda, Feeding at the Zoo, Albino Burmese Python, The Boathouse Restaurant, Alice, Strawberry Fields, The Bow Bridge, The Dakota, Central Park Mall, Going Tribal, Vivid View.