Monday, June 25, 2018


New York Today: Graduating From a Graveyard (Times)
As classrooms around the city empty out for summer, we learned about a group of students who recently completed a more unorthodox curriculum: tending to a local graveyard.
The landmark Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn hosted 10 apprentices for a monthslong masonry restoration program, teaching the art of repairing and preserving historic monuments and buildings. After finishing the course, which began in March and was supported by the World Monuments Fund, the graduates are now adept at nursing old structures made of marble, granite, brownstone and brick.

De Blasio attacks the Daily News, claiming 'bad analysis' of his possible conflict of interest (Daily News)
The mayor has owed Kramer Levin hundreds of thousands of dollars for more than a year for representing him during multiple investigations of his fund-raising tactics. No charges were filed against de Blasio, but prosecutors found he violated the spirit of campaign finance laws and intervened on behalf of some of his donors.

They Started School Afraid of the Water. Now They Are Saving Lives. (Times)
The lifeguard trainees at Grover Cleveland are predominantly students of color, about half of them male and half of them female, and most are immigrants or children of immigrants. Most enter high school as non-swimmers, fearful of the water. But within two years, most are swimming at competitive speeds and can qualify for, and pass, the rigorous training course offered by New York City to become a lifeguard at a city pool or beach.

Warhol at the Whitney: From Myth to Man (Times)
“Warhol was a myth when he was alive, and he’s even more of a myth now,” said Donna De Salvo, deputy director and senior curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. “To humanize Warhol and get people to actually look at what he made is not as easy as it might sound.”
Now Ms. De Salvo is tackling that challenge in “Andy Warhol — From A to B and Back Again,” the first Warhol retrospective organized by a United States museum since 1989, opening on Nov. 12.

Arsenal Gallery Exhibition: A Collective Utterance (NYC Parks)
With black and brown artists, writers, culture workers, and thinkers positioned centrally in each image, the exhibition spans green spaces throughout New York City—such as Riverside Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and Central Park—as well as select sites across the United States.
With each photograph, Green offers a statement of quietude, solace, insistence, and strength, making visible a community purportedly relegated to the margins, yet who critically inform dominant tastes and trends. These gentle, nuanced compositions are particularly urgent within the context of seemingly interminable sociopolitical crisis, where black and brown bodies are continually imaged as sites of violence and trauma. Within the framework of A Collective Utterance, each individual is left to be—in all of their tenderness, complexities, and intricacies.

Staten Island Wilderness, Going, Going, Gone? (Curbed)
In 1956, New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell published his now legendary story, “Mr. Hunter’s Grave,” about one of the oldest survivors of a 19th-century village of black oystermen on Staten Island. That world was endangered back then. Sixty-two years later, that world is mostly gone.
For Curbed, photographeer Nathan Kensinger travels to Staten Island to document Sharrotts Shoreline, a patch of land he calls “a remote wilderness” that’s threatened by development. It’s hard to imagine any place in the five boroughs qualifying as remote wilderness, but this section of southern Staten Island is highly inaccessible, and neglect has allowed native plants and animals to thrive among the dumped cars and old spare tires.

The NHS, Windrush and the debt we owe to immigration (Guardian)
The outcry over the treatment of the Windrush generation last month shows that we are capable of both appreciating the contributions that immigrants make and protesting against the capricious and cruel state harassment that can be meted out to them. It has yet to fully sink in that what was wrong for the Windrush generation is wrong for all immigrants, and that when we argue for a more humane and less hostile environment for immigrants we do so not just for the sake of foreigners. We do it for ourselves. Our health depends on it. Seventy years after Windrush docked and the NHS was created, we should have learned by now. If we don’t watch out, our xenophobia will literally be the death of us.

The Map Of Shoreditch In Dreams (Spitalfields Life)
“I’d been thinking about how Shoreditch existed in people’s imaginations and subconscious and how I could render that visually,” explained Adam, “So I went to a lecture at the Jungian Society in Hampstead on the subject of ‘Collective Dreaming.’ It turned out to be a circle of people sitting in a room with a ‘dominatrix’ holding a clipboard – bobbed hair, German spectacles and pencil skirt – and she asked people to describe their dreams, with a view to explore common themes that might point to a collective unconscious. It was very embarrassing because people were revealing things about themselves that if they were aware of the language of psychoanalysis they would have kept mum.” He added later in qualification, “I wasn’t using ‘mum’ in a Freudian sense.”

Sunday, June 24, 2018


Following the path of an elevated line is a walker's pleasure.  The light & the structure of columns & girders slice & frame & flatter.  They wake up your eyes.  Look this way, look that.  Take nothing for granted.

I was walking in a hurry & I only had my phone, but my eye was drawn to this two-story house across 31st.  With its tiled rooftops & blue-green walls it could be on a hillside over the ocean.  There's even a beach umbrella!  No Mediterranean here though, just Ns & Ws.  Add to the villa the chain-link fences, aluminum awnings & graffiti & it goes freestyle.  Everything's always in the mix.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


I hopped on the F in the afternoon to go to Coney Island.  I couldn't take any more news.  A man on the train was screaming at his lover on the phone, all down the line from Fourth to Stillwell Avenue.  It was a wild ride. We all sat silent in the car, careful not to stare.  We tried to tune him out, but despite ourselves were drawn in to the details of their sexual and domestic woes. The sea air came as a relief.

I got a drink & fries at Ruby's, & sat behind the usual guys while the music stalled in Rat Pack mode. It got a bit much & I took a walk. The weather was perfect.  It was busy enough, but low key.  Along the pier a man drew a gleaming sea robin out of the water, & told me it was only good raw.  "Sushi," he repeated several times. 

I'm always a people watcher & Coney's still the place for Everyman & Woman, but today it was Every Child that mattered most.  I looked at the parents, sluicing the sand off the kids in their swimsuits or queuing up to get them sodas.  Kids rode on shoulders. Kids took rides. A kid at the water's edge was playing alone, while a mother farther back was busy with an older child.  The mother's shirt read Too Tired to Care but exhausted or not you knew her third eye was operating fine.  Another mother had a pair of toddlers with her.  Over & over they tested their boundaries & ran away from her, slowed by the sand, stumbling & falling, & laughing, picking themselves up again, & turning around to check she was still there.  Of course.  Of course she was.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


I love the excitement when the World Cup swings around.  All over the city our hearts fly back to our countries of origin.  A mixture of homesickness and national pride courses through our blood; in bars and living rooms & at workplace lunches we're fierce with excitement.  Here we all are, with one foot in the city & the other back There, & aren't our multitudes of dual identities the grandest thing?  And don't we do it well, these double lives we lead, miraculously (more or less) harmonious and tolerant?  And aren't we the best of the country, here in our city state, as the nation slips, day by day, deeper into hatred and isolation?

Still, I wasn't expecting this one, on Fifth.  Russia 3, Egypt 1.  It tested my sentimental mood. Given my own team's lackluster chances (1966 was long, long ago) I'll be ready to cheer on plenty of other teams, especially the favorites in the neighborhood. But there are exceptions.

The New Yorker saw the game..

It was reported before kickoff that the disgraced former FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, who is banned from soccer for six years and widely seen as a symbol of its institutional corruption, would watch as Putin’s guest. During the game, video footage shared on Twitter seemed to show Blatter arriving in Moscow, his twinkly smirk undiminished by exile. The globe is burning, authoritarianism is unchecked everywhere, and Putin may be the first world leader in history to project imperial power primarily through trolling. The Russian team may still be exposed in the knockout rounds, which it is all but certain to reach. But for now, regardless of the outside world and regardless of the future, the Russian players are just having fun.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

En el Séptimo Día

En el Séptimo Día carefully observes the men’s world in realistic details, pausing to appreciate what we might only half pay attention to if we were living this. As José prays in church, his teammates prep for their next game: Shirts are ironed on the table, banda music blares in the background, soccer cleats are wiped clean, and old water bottles are refilled, then tossed into a cooler. At the field, the camera wanders away from the players and focuses on onlookers’ faces reacting to the game. To drive home its documentary-like style, onscreen text sets up the time and place of the story: “Sunset Park, Brooklyn, U.S.A. — Verano/Summer, 2016.” (VillageVoice)

Monday, June 18, 2018


Eagle, 1941

Photographing (and Singing) at a Brooklyn Karaoke Bar (NY Times)
Reuben Radding doesn’t do halfhearted. As a kid, he immersed himself in punk and rock music (perhaps rebelling against his classically trained parents). As a bassist, he threw himself into his music, eventually making a name for himself in the avant-garde jazz scene. Then, entranced by photography, he started taking pictures of — naturally — other musicians.
Now, you’re likely to find him at karaoke night at a Brooklyn bar (Freddy's) where he enthusiastically sings with the likes of regular performers like Badda-Bing Crosby, Be-Bob Deluxe and H-Bomb. And yes, he is taking pictures.

Saying goodbye to the old Essex Street Market (Nathan Kensinger at Curbed)
For now, a stroll through the Essex Street Market is still a comforting visit to an older Manhattan, one not driven mad by the latest food fads, or obsessed with glossy new food halls. Most of the vendors here offer up a mix of favorite local ingredients, sold at refreshingly affordable prices, ranging from guanabana and cassava to porgies and pata de res. While some outsiders have described the market as unlovely, utilitarian, and Plain Jane, for the vendors who call it home, and their many loyal customers, it contains a lifetime of memories.

Industry, NYCHA and Flooding are Areas of Concern as Gowanus Moves Toward 
Rezoning (City Limits)
The de Blasio administration’s Gowanus planning framework released this month contained few surprises for most of the stakeholders who worked closely with the city to bring the document into fruition. But its lack of detail on the commitment of city resources, the needs of local NYCHA developments and the future of industrial firms has raised concerns among some involved in the process.

How Journalists Need to Begin Imagining the Unimaginable (ProPublica)
"I think that it would have been a story about how Donald Trump was running for autocrat. I think at that point there should have been a big journalistic break with American exceptionalism and that's where we would have gone to other countries to look at what has happened to other countries when politicians have run in democratic elections for autocrat. It's happened many times and it's succeeded many times."  Masha Gessen
Julius Mendes Price’s London Types (Spitalfields Life)
It is my greatest delight to show these examples of London Types, designed and written by the celebrated war artist Julius Mendes Price and issued with Carreras Black Cat Cigarettes in 1919. After months of searching, these are the latest acquisition in my ever-growing collection of London  Street Cries down through the ages. Some of these images – such as the cats’ meat man – are barely changed from earlier centuries, yet others – such as the telephone girl – are undeniably part of the modern world.

“Joe Strummer’s London Calling”: All 8 Episodes of Strummer’s UK Radio Show Free Online
(Open Culture)
Strummer was the kind of rock star who could renounce fame and mean it, who escaped the London punk scene with integrity and health intact, and who was a larger-than-life humanitarian, yet also an approachable everyman.  It’s all these qualities and, of course, the songwriting, the distinctive mumble and growl, the indelible image, and the writing and acting cred that have endeared him to a few generations of loyal admirers. In addition to all of the above, Joe Strummer was also a free-form radio DJ, playing an eclectic mix of classic punk, reggae, folk, jazz, afrobeat, and about a dozen other genres, all sequenced perfectly and introduced in his distinctive, asphalt baritone.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Visitor Ralph

I was walking on Hamilton Avenue the other day & saw this mysterious sign attached to an Expressway pillar.  I guess 2022 must be the expiration not the issue date.  The sign is probably related to contractor parking.  But in my head the functional is never far from the romantic.  I imagine an honorific, almost-impossible to gain Walker's Permit, allowing special passage throughout the city, with small paper permit signs pasted randomly along the streets and avenues. The permit would serve no purpose other than the Walker's pleasure - out of the blue - at coming across a sign from time to time.

I'd like that a lot.