Monday, August 31, 2009

There Today, Gone Tomorrow

Earlier this year, a gorgeous structure was demolished on Church Street directly west of the Woolworth Building. The Dun & Bradstreet building came down revealing the entire western face of the Woolworth Building for the first time since the early 1950s'. Unfortunately, a new monolith will rise out of the vacant lot over the next year hiding one of Manhattan's skyline's beauties when viewed from the west.

For a brief time, look up and savor the Woolworth Building at sunset from the sidewalk on Church Street.

Washington Square Park & north up Fifth Avenue tonight.


Friday, August 28, 2009

New York Scenes Change Swiftly, Claudia's Talent Hangs Tough

August 1968, the Republican Convention delivered their candidate, Richard Nixon, and Freddy Muller perfected his famous "Human Corkscrew" trick on the diving board in the town pool.

Two things were important for Freddy and me during our bus trip to visit his older sister, Helen, in Hazlet, New Jersey: rating the songs on Rubber Soul and rating the best looking girls in Yorkville. We argued over the best song, and argued over the best girl, but if Claudia Chopek was there she might have won both contests.
Tonight, at Bowery Electric, Claudia brought her genetic milkshake lotto winning talent to her own show. When Claudia plays violin she's a master, but tonight the fun was watching Claudia play bass, guitar and sing. Doing each, she started unsure, fourteen, like; but once the tune was rolling her pleasure, her confidence, and musical intuition kicked in and the little girl having fun turned into the confident professional that plays violin. She was terrific.

That's Ed Rogers performing with Claudia below.

Two nights ago walking up Broadway, I saw this cool series of posters lining a wooden construction site fence. Together they looked like an unbroken brick wall lined with framed paintings of Blue Moon Brewing Company as they would be a gallery. My first thought was, hope it stays up for a while. Tonight, same walk, same wall, a fellow was tearing down the wall and putting up crappy fashion ads.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Miss Bullpen Access

Tonight, Jon & Daniel Calvert, Alison and I visited the new Yankee Stadium for the first time. A terrific game that got fudged up by a foolish bunt call at the right time with the wrong batter. Regardless, it was a wonderful time.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New York Magazine Deems "Lost & Found: Stories From New York" A-Okay

Tom Beller's New York City anthology made the Brilliant box inside New York Magazine's approval matrix. Good stuff.
Pick a neighborhood in the city and you'll find it in "Lost & Found". If you don't live here, and want to burrow through New York City's warren this is a terrific resource. If you live here, and you're curious about something new or old about the town, this rich book will deliver.
See link below.
Sunsets are free.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Atheist Hit By Truck

Mr. Beller's Neighborhood put up one of John McNulty's best. Read it at the link below.

McNulty wrote terrific pieces for the New Yorker in the 1940s and 1950s. Most were based on authentic characters McNulty observed and overheard shooting the breeze in Costello's on 44th Street, a saloon under the Third Avenue El. If you're curious about New York City lore in the first half of the 20th century and you need a guide to the neighborhood and people who lived there, McNulty is your man.

I'm grateful to Lulu for turning me on to McNulty.

color photo above by Joseph Frank

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Puppy Walk

Yesterday, in Washington Square Park, I met Poof the puppy near Garibaldi's statue. He asked me if he could join me on my walk up Fifth Avenue.
"Of course, please do!"

Poof and I haunted every church along the avenue to keep cool. Arriving at FAO Schwarz, he'd been such a good boy I bought him a Teddy. When we got home, I let them both have a good long nap before they went on their way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hudson River Summer ~ Central Park Cycling

Bike riding yesterday, I saw a Chinese~American couple marry at the Battery; I passed the Circle Line, where in 1963 Rory, me, Dad and Mom took a day trip on a boat to Bear Mountain. More on that in later post. On the land side at 42nd Street, I spied a pair of cool new buildings.
Further north, I passed the Soldiers and Sailors Monument overlooking Riverside Park which I always confused with Grant's Tomb when I was a kid; I found a soccer ball last week in the Hudson and fell in up to my chest, the water was clean and warm; but yesterday I finished my ride dry with a spin of Central Park and rode along with a Victorian gentleman exercising on a giant bicycle, he said he was taking his constitutional.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

City Kids at the Shore ~ Pirate Barber

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer.
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer.
Just fill your basket full of sandwiches and weenies,
Then lock the house up, now you're set.
And on the beach you'll see the girls in their bikinis,
As cute as ever but they never get them wet.
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,
You'll wish that summer could always be here.
(words by c. tobias and music by h. carste)


Shanghaied on Peck Slip

Walking along Peck's Slip in the Seaport last week, I spied a barber's pole, looked at myself in the store window's reflection and saw a wild poet.

I went inside, took a seat and announced, "Short on the sides, square in the back and take nothing off the top.

"Whoa, matey, what?"A voice from the backroom.

He was behind me and I couldn't see him, while he's talking I notice there was no mirror in front of me, just piles of ship rope and nautical devices ~ hanging over my head was a painted maidenhead with wings.

"I want a haircut."

"This ain't a barbershop."
"What is it?"
"It's the Unofficial South Street Seaport Museum and Home for Wayward Sailors. Call me, Ishmael."

"What's with the barber pole outside?"
"That's not a barber pole, It's a carved lighthouse painted with stripes."
I readjusted my glasses and looked around the place. The windows were dirty with little light coming through them, but I saw two guys asleep inside a rowboat turned on it's side so they could curl up for a nap. One sailor had an admiral outfit on and the other seaman wore a striped shirt with a hankie wrapped oddly around his bald head. They both snored. A sign said, "Bait for Sale."
"I'm sorry, I thought you were a barber, I'll leave."
"No, no, don't go, I'm a barber, I mean I was a barber when I sailed the South Seas."
I recalled my memories of sailor's hairdos from movies and concluded this wouldn't end well.
"Thanks, but no, I'll be going."
I tried to get up, but in a warm forceful way, Ishmael shoved me down. He had an eye patch.
"No, please, I'll do a fine job, and I'll feel better about myself. I've been combing the waters for another chance at barbering."
"What do you mean feel better about yourself?"
"Well the last time I cut hair, I was still rumming, covering everything with monkey shit and had a few accidents. I damaged my pepper box and had to kiss the wooden lady."
I tried to get up again, but Ishmael gave me a desperate hug and pressed me down.
"I'm better now. Haven't cut myself shaving all week."
My chance to escape was nil. I haven't been to a gym in a year; my exercise slump's taken me muscle away.I've been Shanghaied on Peck Slip!
"Why so glum?"
"Why the long face?"
I buried three barber shops in the last four years. Sick of the "find a new one" process, I surrendered.

"Oh nothing, go ahead."
"A fine decision, laddy, sit back, while I swab your deck."
"Who are those guys?" I said, pointing to the two sad sacks in the rowboat.
"Sporty in the admiral's outfit is Loose Lips. He's been on three ships that sunk and he's talky. Baldy's name is Billy Bones but everyone calls him Baldy."
"Do they live here?"
"On and off, but it's my sea chest they're after."
Ishmael took my glasses off and with little light coming through the haze covered windows I may as well been down in Davey Jones Locker. In the dark, I imagined what was in Ishmael's sea chest. I concluded Loose Lips and Baldy were strictly there for the free room & board.
"Why are the boys in the rowboat, don't they have beds?"
"Up on the deck they have swell hammocks, but they like being down here with me."
While Billy Bones and Loose Lips snored away the morning in their rowboat, Ishmael & I talked about the sea, the football Giants, and our mutual hatred for the Anti-Christ, Dallas Cowboys. Ishmael gave me a fine haircut; I tipped well and plan to return to my new barbering port.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Coney Island Baby

Coney Island Baby
by Tom Waits

Every night she comes to take me out to dreamland.
When I'm with her, I'm the richest man in town.
She's a rose, she's the pearl,
She's the spin on my world.
All the stars make their wishes on her eyes.
She's my Coney Island Baby,
She's my Coney Island Girl.
She's a princess, in a red dress,
She's the moon in the mist to me.
She's my Coney Island Baby,
She's my Coney Island Girl.