Thursday, June 21, 2018

Shore-side


















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

Play




















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

Links


























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.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Demolition at Fourth & 9th



















The building at the SE corner of Fourth Avenue & 9th Street is to be demolished.  It was last occupied by Good Shepherd Services, & was apparently sold earlier this year, though no sale is evident on ACRIS.  437-441 Fourth was built in 1875 by George L.Morse, whose work includes the landmarked Old First Brooklyn Reformed Church. The Fourth Avenue building operated as the clubhouse for the Democrats of the 22nd Ward:

Judge John Delmar was the patron saint of this Democratic Ward club. He was a very influential ward “boss” ostensibly under the control of the powerful Democratic Boss of Brooklyn at the time, Hugh McLaughlin. He controlled not only the 22nd Ward, but also the 8th, and had enough independence and nerve to buck McLaughlin whenever possible; defying him at every turn, until McLaughlin finally shut him up by making him County Clerk, the third highest position in the city. Delmar used his appointment to get rich and then retired to Manhattan to live the good life. But while he was still a powerful figure in the 22nd Ward, his followers named their club after him.
                                                            Suzanne Spellen (aka Montrose Morris) - Brownstoner)

Spellen describes the club's lavish accommodation, which included a banqueting hall, library and game rooms.  The property was later sold to St Thomas Aquinas, and then occupied by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.  For the entire Spellen piece on its history, read here.

No plans for a new building have been filed as yet.  The owner is listed as Joseph Banda/Vibes of One LLC, with a Borough Park address.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

This Climate of the Nerves

"What a strange, what a fantastic city ... there was something here that one experienced nowhere else on earth.  Something one loved intensely.  What was it?  Crossing the streets - standing on the street corners with the crowds: what was it that induced this special climate of the nerves ... a peculiar sense of intimacy, friendliness, being here with all these people and in this strange place ... They touched one's heart with tenderness and you felt yourself a part of the real flight and flutter - searching their faces, speculating about their dooms and destinies."

                                           Mary B. Miller, quoted in Vivian Gornick's memoir The Odd Woman and the City