Saturday, April 29, 2017


In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away, 
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
                                                                             Stevie Smith

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Song of Myself

"Welcome to Whitman, Alabama

This is an experiment in using documentary and poetry to reveal the threads that tie us together - as people, as states, and as a nation.

For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall has crisscrossed this deep Southern state, inviting people to look into a camera and share a part of themselves through the words of Walt Whitman."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

More of Same on Fourth: SWO and corner sale

There's an SWO posted at 581 Fourth, the vast construction site at Fourth & Prospect Avenues.  The date is a little unclear, either the 21st or 24th April, and strangely, there's no record of the SWO on the DOB website.  It could be related to complaints of excavation undermining an adjacent building.  The site was flipped by the Rabsky Group to the Daten Group in 2015, and plans switched from rental to condo units.  No inclusionary housing here.

At the northern end of the Fourth Avenue block, at 561, a corner building and adjacent property on 16th - a pretty looking carriage house - are listed for sale for $4,600,000 with "lots of opportunity for additional development."  The storefronts at 561 and 563 have been shuttered for several years.

On Second

Unless Frederic Wiseman is working down here (a glorious but unlikely prospect), the title of this project does not inspire enthusiasm.

Monday, April 24, 2017



I very much enjoy talking to Ronald, who has a regular spot panhandling near the Bagel Hole.  He's both arch and gloomy - a kind of citified, discriminating Eeyore..  At Easter he upped his normal casual game and stepped out in a really sharp suit and tie, and a lady ran across the street to greet him: "Ronald! Is that really you?  You look amazing!"  We're all for the mix-and-match of bargain buys and used clothes paired with something fancy.  We talk dresses (though neither of us wears them as far as I know) and the rakish angle of hats.  I've promised to buy him a London t-shirt when I visit this summer, and though he hardly needs the size he wants it extra large.  He makes me laugh about as much as anyone I come across on Seventh, which is not generally known for drollery and sartorial taste.  He's a charmer.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Think for Yourself

“If you go to some Manhattan schools or places where the families have a higher income, you don’t see the recruiters there,” said Ebony Thurman, 18, who was once approached by recruiters at the Atlantic Avenue subway station. “But if you’re in Brooklyn or in lower income neighborhoods, that’s where you really find them trying to recruit people."  (NY Times) 

There's been a Groundswell mural up at Third and 23rd since 2008.  It was painted by a group of young women who wanted to draw attention to military recruitment practices in lower income neighborhoods.  As with other murals painted through the Groundswell Community Mural Project, it promotes collaborative youth empowerment, and highlights an issue pertinent to under-served communities. And it involved research. For this project, this meant talking with female veterans about their service, and researching the laws surrounding recruiters' access to high schools, high school students & their families. The women also studied the use of military propaganda.

According to the NY Times story, the mural was designed with its location in mind.  The top portion, visible to expressway traffic, offers a broader, more immediate impact, while the street-level portion is more detailed.

The Times article generated a lively, mixed response from readers, and Amy (Amy Sananman, the then Groundswell director?) stressed that the project was designed to encourage informed decision making,

The Groundswell murals are a familiar presence in the neighborhood.  Nearby sites include Sixth and 18th (at PS 295), 25th and Fourth (at the C-Town supermarket), and Fourth and 38th (at PS 24),

Saturday, April 22, 2017



Yesterday was as traffic clogged a day in the city as I can remember.  If you're stuck in the middle of it all, with little hope of moving, the only silver lining (such as it is) is being able to roll down the windows and take in the elevated views of the familiar.  Had I noticed the Bell Fire Extinguishers Saved by the Bell slogan before?  I don't think so.

Friday, April 21, 2017


I was down on Third around five or so & after a gray sort of day the sun was beautiful.  A couple of guys were sitting on milk crates outside the live market.  They were eating oranges. A woman was walking a Highland Terrier, and a man passing by was asking her advice on dog toys.  A truck held up at a light was blasting Albert King nice and loud. After the truck took off Born under a Bad Sign stuck around or a few blocks more.  An older man was sluicing down a sidewalk

I came up from Third Avenue to Fourth, just as a bunch of schoolgirls was leaving Al Noor. There was a woman leaving the building too.  She was carrying a tote bag on which was written NO PHOTOGRAPHS PLEASE.  I wondered if this was a slogan or an actual request.  I guessed it was the latter, and that sounded awful.

On a 20th Street lamppost, there was a weather-beaten sign for a movie shoot.  It was an indie film. The title seemed a little grandiose.

Up to Fifth and home.