Monday, August 13, 2018

Rain, Rain

Everything's damp.  People on the street with sweaty brows & limp clothes.  My morning paper, still readable if I catch it in time, but soft and frail & handled with care.  Anything taken from fridge to table rapidly generates a pool of water.  Every so often I head down to the basement & check for leaks, but it's performing valiantly. Though the house is watertight I'm still on duty opening & shutting windows, what with the heat and the intermittent waves of rain. It's a cycle of insanity, running up and down the stairs, and consulting the forecast every time I leave the home. The air outside is fetid, and the sky uneasy, livid, sour. There's some sort of message here. A patch of cement out front has turned a mossy green, and some of the tomatoes are dappled with brown spots.

With the temperature lower today, I briefly entertain the notion of putting on jeans instead of shorts, but as soon as I get them on I take them off again. UPS mode still applies.  Endurance matters.

In August of 1899, a hurricane struck the city, causing massive flooding and destruction.  The Eagle reported extensively on the hurricane's damage, and also (slightly facetiously?) noted a by-product the kids enjoyed.  Some party.

Rowhouse Demolition (2012)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


John V. Lindsay diving into a swimming pool.
Katrina Thomas, 1965 (Museum of the City of New York)

The weather's going to my head. Yesterday I was wasting the day, beating the heat, by searching for photos of John Lindsay. Yes, he had a checkered run as mayor, but let's face it, the man had style, and was more than willing to hit the streets, roll up his sleeves and engage with his constituents. There he was, canvasing in Queens with a young Liza Minnelli in tow, carried shoulder-high by a jubilant crowd at the opening of Flatlands Industrial Park, strolling through Central Park, rugged in plaid.  And the man could seriously rock a raincoat. How the camera loved him.  At 6' 4" Lindsay was only an inch shorter than the current mayor, but unlike de Blasio he wore his height with grace, and a loose, easy physicality.  He could have been a model.

Mayor John V. Lindsay walking in Times Square.
Katrina Thomas, 1966 (Museum of the City of New York)

But I'm getting carried away.  Let's see things from more seasoned eyes.  Back in the summer of '69, Jimmy Breslin wrote a beaut of a piece for New York Magazine: "Is Lindsay Too Tall to Be Mayor?"  The title's pertinent fifty years on.  And it's classic Breslin - so sweet and tough & soaked in the brine of city life you have the hardest time trying to lift a quote & in the end you give up trying. Go read it all.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

August Haul

 "August haul--In the shadow of Brooklyn Federal Building, one block north of Tillary St., a new crop of marijuana is cut down by sanitation workers. Inspector Frank Creto, left, Sanitation Department, and Deputy Inspector Peter E. Terranova, Police Department, survey the operation, latest in joint efforts by the two departments to rid the city of the weed."

                                        Al Lampert, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 21, 1952 (BPL)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018


Community Plumbing: How the hardware store orders things, neighborhoods, and material worlds (Places Journal)
 ... growing up in that environment impressed upon me that pretty much everything can be made and fixed by regular people. It helped me appreciate how the world hangs together — how a building stands up, how electricity gets to the outlet, how water gets in the kitchen sink and out of a flooded basement. Triangle offered an elegant geometry. You could buy frames and fasteners for fixing material things, and you could access a social infrastructure that gave shape to the community. The world was built from the stuff on its shelves.

The Death of a Once Great City: The fall of New York and the urban crisis of affluence (Harper's)
Yes, the rich will be with us always. But New York should be a city of workers and eccentrics as well as visionaries and billionaires; a place of schoolteachers and garbagemen and janitors, or people who wear buttons reading is it fascism yet?—as one woman in my neighborhood has for decades, even as she grows steadily grayer and more stooped. A city of people who sell books on the street—and in their own shops. A city of street photographers, and immigrant vendors, and bus drivers with attitudes, and even driven businessmen and hedge fund operators. All helped to get along a little better, out of gratitude for all that they do to keep everything running, and to keep New York remarkable.

Chuck Schumer’s Actions on the National Stage Get Little Scrutiny From His Local Press (Fair)
In the heyday of the tabloid wars of the late 20th century, many NYC politicians feared the wrath of influential columnists like Jimmy Breslin, Jack Newfield and Pete Hamill. But today’s leading columnists seem willing to give Schumer a free pass.

On the Night Bus (Huck)
There is something about people in transit, they are off guard, vulnerable, staring, thinking, glassy eyed. I felt I was seeing people in a private moment but in a public place. It is a rare situation to candidly observe a stranger so intimately but the glass window and the dark night facilitated these close glimpses into another person’s day.

Peter Mitchell’s photographs of Leeds from 1979 (It's Nice That)
Peter’s series A New Refutation of the Viking 4 Space Mission displays the photographer’s affection and care towards capturing a city he holds dear with a unique narrative. The series follows the concept that “an alien has landed from Mars and is wandering around Leeds with a degree of surprise and puzzlement”. Featuring both landscape and portrait photography, the images first shown in 1979 act as essential documentation of not only Leeds but colour photography. “In the Earthly vernacular these photographs are of Nowheresville. Yet, for some people they are the centre of the universe. Usually they call it home.”

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mixed Use Rental Building for Fourth & 32nd

“We’re very inspired by the renaissance in the neighborhood, especially the work done by Industry City,” Moskovits said. “We believe that there’s a need for additional housing.”

Yes, more of the old IC/RE gentrification symbiosis.

Heritage Equity Partners have recently acquired 861-881 Fourth Avenue (32nd/33rd), last occupied by a gas station & convenience mart, for $19.8M.  According to the Commercial Observer, Heritage is planning a "150-unit rental building with a gym, pool and “high-end finishes.” As yet, no building plans have been filed, but Heritage president Toby Moskovits intends 30% of the units to be set aside for affordable housing, which will allow the developers increased building density. 

Without even getting into the issues of affordability bands & quotas, there's something essentially galling about this kind of project, when new inclusionary housing units come wedded to a (larger) number of new high-end, high-rent ones.  Inevitably, the balance of affordable units gained in a community is set unfavorably against the number of affordable units lost as high-end development proliferates, making housing in the neighborhood at large more & more expensive.  Certainly it's better to have a portion of inclusionary units in a new development rather than none at all, but the game has a stink about it, and we know the long-term outcome.

And who'll get the use of the pool?

Update, 7/30.  Plans for the eight-story building have now been filed.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

In Style

"I don't want shows you come out of like you had Sunday lunch, I want you to be repulsed or exhilarated," the man said. "If you leave without emotion, I'm not doing my job properly."
                                                                                                     (Alexander McQueen)

I rather like the uniform approach to dressing.  For most of the summer I've been wearing a sleeveless black shirt, knee-length dark grey shorts, & flat black sandals.  There's nothing particularly special about this, but it does the job, and it makes life simple.  If there's something that works, simply repeat.

High street fashions bore me, & are too much money.  I go second-hand.  In my dream life I'd splash a lot of cash on a McQueen - so dark, raw, primal & transformative.  It being a dream of course, I'd pull one off.  They're not fashion - fashion's a bore.  They're a second skin.

In a time of terror it was a good retreat to go & watch the documentary in the afternoon.  It was busier than the average matinée, & I had to move to another seat because of the heads in front of me.  I was two seats away from a couple of badly-dressed matrons and after the film was done they stayed, chatting.  The credits rolled, every other row was emptied out & the cleaning man came in to get the trash.  I wasn't in a hurry, but I was standing up looking at them, waiting to see if they'd notice me. I waited & waited but they didn't budge.  In the end I had to ask to get by, which pissed me off, especially as they didn't shift an inch when I squeezed past.  I wish I'd kicked them in the shins.

For every pair of snotty East-siders there's another pair that fills your heart with joy.  Later that day I came across a couple of seventy-somethings sorting out their shopping bags in front of Housing Works.  They were all matched up in red & black.  He had a rustic looking tree-limb of a walking stick & she wore shades with scarlet frames.  Her hat was magnificent.  I had to cross the street to compliment them on their style & so did a tall guy who declared them seriously wavy.  "We always thrift shop,"the woman said, beaming.  "You don't have to spend to look good." She was right.

It's not in the money.  You have it or you don't. The dresses Lee McQueen made for a tenner on the dole had the same energetic brilliance as the ones he made as a French couturier.  All of them dazzled & seethed. 

Lately I've come to think that everything you are or you become is pre-determined in the light & dark shades of your first few years.  The rest's just how you learn to live with them

Monday, July 23, 2018

Soon All This Will Be Picturesque Ruins

Soon All This Will be Picturesque Ruins: The Installations of David Wojnarowicz is currently showing at P.P.O.W.  The exhibition is running concurrently with History Keeps Me Awake at Night - the Wojnarowicz retrospective at the Whitney, and The Unflinching Eye: The Symbols of David Wojnarowicz, at NYU's Mamdouha Bobst Gallery

"I think of him as being something like the Angel of History, as imagined by the philosopher Walter Benjamin, an omniscient being who looks back to the human disasters of the past and sees them repeating themselves in the present and future, which is exactly what’s happening in this country right now.

Who would want to stick around to watch this dispiriting spectacle? A rightly and righteously angry angel might. And the Angel of History has no choice. The winds of change, constant and strong, force his wings open but won’t let him fly. It’s his job, which is an artist’s job, to stay. So forward, with purpose and something like love, he goes."   Holland Cotter, NY Times

Saturday, July 21, 2018

I Was There

I was in the crowd in 1977 when Jimmy Carter came to Newcastle.  I remember a friend of mine was there too, somewhere or other. He had his arm in a sling & was searched by the Secret Service for weapons. His arm was in a sling because he broke it when he was hit by a car while crossing a highway on an acid trip. But that's another story. In general the security for Carter's visit was low key, and the mood of the crowd was buoyant. Carter was friendly, relaxed, and even though his Geordie accent wasn't the best, he was instantly likeable. A far cry from 2018. 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Summer Hours

Midsummer heat ushers in indolence.  Daily schedules falter, sputter out entirely.  We spend less time on computer screens and more in the pages of books.  We head to the river or the shore, or the cool darkness of a movie theater, or lie in backyards drinking gin with plenty of ice and a leaf or two of verbena.  Even the words in our head take shape sluggishly.  We're our own part-time employees.

However hot it gets we'll still enjoy the slight.  My favorite intersection in the city right now is the one where Jamesie's Place is diagonal partner to Aida & Rocio's Place (Beauty Salon).  You can't do better than that.  Aida & Rocio's got blinded out by sunlight, but here's Jamesie's.

Monday, July 9, 2018


A.G. Underwood Announces Settlement With Brooklyn Auto Dealer Over Deceptive Practices That Targeted Non-English Speakers
BROOKLYN – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced a settlement requiring Bay Ridge Honda of Brooklyn to reform its business practices and pay over $423,000 in restitution and penalties, after the office received dozens of complaints from New Yorkers about unwanted charges and fraudulent sales tactics that targeted non-English speakers. Many of the consumers who complained were Mandarin and Cantonese speakers who negotiated their sales or lease contracts in Chinese, but were only provided English documents that they later discovered contained different terms and unwanted and costly aftermarket items in their bills.

The Black and White Cookie at the End of the World: Saying goodbye to Glaser’s Bake Shop (Village Voice)
Even though we’d still have another forty-five minutes to wait, the atmosphere was giddy once we turned the corner onto First Avenue, in front of a hardware store advertising a discount for Glaser’s customers, and in sight of both the bakery’s retro mint-green facade and the massage parlor next door. Herb Glaser’s brownie recipe was posted in the window; hopeful customers craned forward to snap photos on their phones. “This is a Seinfeld episode,” the editor said, and he was not wrong. The Ping-Pong instructor pledged to return the next morning, early enough to get in line before the bakery opened, if there were indeed no more black and whites. At least two radio reporters circulated through the crowd. “Why?” 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria asked a man who said he’d driven in from Jersey that morning. “Why not?” he replied.

‘Up to Lexington, One, Two, Five’: Camilo José Vergara takes his camera to the intersection Lou Reed sang about in 1967 (CityLab)
I ask myself why I feel so attracted to this messy crossroads. At Lexington Avenue and 125th Street I feel fully engaged, watching several dramas taking place simultaneously. Nowhere else have I seen a neighborhood so vigorously pulling in opposite directions at the same time

Dead of AIDS and Forgotten in Potter’s Field (NY Times)
Trying to pin down the precise number of those with AIDS buried on Hart Island is difficult. A longstanding stigma about the island and criticism that the burial practices are crude and outdated have made city officials reluctant to provide many details. Officials at several city agencies involved in the burials refused interview requests to discuss the issue and insisted that no data or any other information was available on AIDS burials.
But piecing together an estimate is possible by surveying the many hospitals that treated AIDS patients during the epidemic and sent bodies to potter’s field. By that accounting, the number of AIDS burials on Hart Island could reach into the thousands, making it perhaps the single largest burial ground in the country for people with AIDS.

Hairdressers of 1980s London (A London Inheritance)
For this week’s post, I bring you a collection of photos taken in 1985 and 1986 that focus on the Hairdressers of east and central London. These show a type of business that whilst providing the same function, has changed over the years and provides a snapshot of London streets in the recent past. Many have long since disappeared, but good to see that a couple still survive maintaining a continuity of business across many decades.

The Massala Grill (Doreen Fletcher)
With an eye on the current Football World Cup and the England team hanging on in there (at least at the time of my writing this), one cannot help but notice the plethora of St George flags that seem to crop up in the oddest of places… not only displayed on cars, taxis and pubs; but also scaffolding, cranes and even pets. It all had me thinking about my painting, Massala Grill where a lone cyclist is depicted during the last, unsuccessful tournament, cycling with a St George flag protruding from his satchel whilst biking under the railway arch in Parnham Street.

Gareth Southgate’s England team reflect the best of us. It feels good to embrace them.(Guardian)
Underestimated and until now overshadowed by the “golden generation” that preceded them, they are a team who exhibit none of the swaggering entitlement that previous England teams were – wrongly or rightly – accused of. In this, the manager leads by example. Arrogance is the last charge one could raise against Southgate. Composure, humility, integrity and intellect are the words that have been most commonly attached to him during this tournament.

Talking of earlier generations, we can't resist ...

Friday, July 6, 2018

America (the beautiful)

An application has been filed for demolition at 276 & 278 20th Street.  The properties were sold in April for $3.3M.  276 (above right) is pre-1880, and originally there was a house of similar age next door.  In 1878 John Burke's liquor store operated there. The house numbers are a little confusing, and maybe fluid, as there's also a record of a wagon shed built at 278 in 1909, when the owner was M.A.Farrell.  Edward J. Farrell and his family lived at 278 between the late 1870s and early 1900s.  Edward worked for forty years at the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, later known as the grocery chain A&P.  The Farrells and their tenants (German, Polish, Italian) appear a number of times in the Eagle, in the usual records of marriage, birth & death. The usual mix of duty, petty larceny & mishap is here too. Farrell men went to war. John Farrell, Edward's son, was accused of robbing a man of seven dollars and a silver watch.  John Hoffmeyer, who worked as a driver at Mason's furniture store (Fifth & 17th) broke his arm after a fall in a manure pit.

Houses like these continued to welcome new arrivals to New York for another century or so, as Puerto Rican and Mexican families found homes in the neighborhood.  This is the real America, caught in the dip of stairway steps worn down by generations, and in floors layered in wood & linoleum and tile.  Its DNA is all bound up with those who inhabited it, more precious than any flag or anthem.  You want the beautiful?  This is it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018


The Broadway stop was closed for renovation, so I got off at 30th & back on again at 36th.  It was quiet & still. The only lingerers out on the street were a couple of workers in front of a car shop & a man asleep on a plastic chair, one foot soaking in a bucket of water.

I loved-hated the heat. It wrapped itself around you. The sun was so relentless it dictated your pace. Moving automatically, you hardly had to think at all.

Look, there was the tiled house again, this time in close up.

Farther along, a summer parking lot.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


Take a Photo Here (NY Times)
Photography on social media, if you know where to look, can astonish with its hypnotic stream of inexact repetitions. We think we are moving through the world, while the whole time the world is pulling us along, telling us where to walk, where to stop, where to take a photo.  Teju Cole

Directions (Places Journal)
How are you supposed to feel? This strikes me as one of the most incisive questions that can be asked about all the places to which one might be directed in and around Brooklyn, or indeed about any place in the midst of rapid transition. It’s not the sort of question that is addressed in planning reports or development proposals, or that is factored into the data of administrators or investors. It’s not a question that’s raised when the city is being run as a business or marketed as a brand.
What’s the distance from old Brooklyn to new Brooklyn, if your measure is not proximity but public investment and collective benefit?Yet it seems to me a crucial question if we’re to understand the directions in which we’re headed, in the cities that we now champion as success stories. And it’s crucial if we are to understand not just directions but also distances.

At $31.8B, NYCHA's unmet capital needs dwarf government allocations (Politico)
More than $25 billion is needed within one year, yet most of the buildings' crumbling conditions will continue to go unfunded without a major shift in course, according to previously undisclosed findings obtained by POLITICO.
Those are the main conclusions of a mandated study the city conducted in 2016 and 2017 to assess the physical needs of its aging public housing stock — 2,413 buildings across 325 complexes. It is nearly double the five-year need of $16.8 billion from a similar study in 2011 and more than quadruple a 2006 analysis. The findings, which were confirmed by city officials, highlight the lopsided finances of an authority that relies on federal, state and municipal funds: Nearly $25 billion of the five-year need is not accounted for by any public subsidy.

Can Andy Byford Save the Subways? (New Yorker)
In other cities, mayors tend to be heavily involved in mass transit, even hysterical about its deficiencies. Not in New York. Byford has not heard from de Blasio since his arrival, in January. “Bit weird. I should ring him up,” Byford said.

Boost to Local BID Has Some Inwood Rezoning Skeptics Worried (City Limits)
Schaller says that in Washington, D.C., BIDs played a key role in the transformation of neighborhoods. “From my perspective, BIDs there oiled the gentrification machine. I think the questions to ask here are, ‘Who gets to form BIDs and in what context, and who gains from organizing a BID?’ And, ultimately, ‘Who gets to make decisions on the activities they pursue?’” Schaller asks. “They are by design vehicles that are primarily run by landlords because at least a majority of the board has to be property owners. That means from my perspective, they have a democratic deficit that is already built into them.”

Review: A Young Orphan Finds a New Home in ‘Summer 1993’ (NY Times)
Filmed in the locations where the director lived at that age, “Summer 1993” is movingly understated and beautifully acted. The colors are muted and the style is naturalistic; swimming ponds and poultry and heat-languid vegetables enable the children’s games, and the cinematographer, Santiago Racaj, crouches down to toddler height to watch. Through his lens, we see an entirely new family being born.
Playing at several locations, including Cinema Village. Go see it.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Hit-and-Run on 21st

A driver was arrested after a hit-and-run accident on 21st Street on Saturday night in which a co-worker was crushed and killed.

Leonel Ortega-Flores was nabbed at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday and charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license, police said.
Investigators believe Ortega-Flores, 35, was trying to park his 2004 GMC van on 21st St. near Fourth Ave. in Greenwood Heights when he lurched onto the sidewalk and crushed Cardoso, of Staten Island, against an Inner City Electrical Contractors building just after 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Ortega-Flores fled on foot as several workers tried to save Cardoso. Medics rushed him to New York Methodist Hospital, where he died.
Cardoso and his wife, Guillermina Alonzo, 28, had two daughters, ages 2 and 6. Alonzo said that her husband was on the job when he was struck.  (Daily News)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

City of Wax

This one wins my vote for a good looking company truck: Crusaders Candle Co. ("They Burn Better"). It was parked in front of the Universal Botanica on Fifth.  The company, on Nevins Street, has been around a while.

Established in 1946.
Crusader Candle Co., has been providing quality candles since 1946. Our candle company is a family owned company, providing work for local residents. We try to provide the best quality wax, colors, wick, scents and glass. We are respected in our industry and one of the leaders. You will always know our candles by looking for the Lucky Horseshoe on the bottom of the glass.
Our factory has been blessed with a sign from our Lady of Guadalupe 8 years ago and the company maintains her image to honor her with flowers and candles in our production area.

I wonder how far these candles make their way throughout the city.  Boxed up at Nevins & off they go along the highways & throughout the boroughs to groceries and botanicas, & up apartment stairs to living rooms or bedrooms, finding a sacred space at a corner shrine or a dresser altar space.  So many journeys, so many dreams of salvation.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sign the Petition to Landmark 99 Ryerson Street

When I wrote about Whitman's 199th birthday a few days ago I neglected to link to the petition to landmark 99 Ryerson Street, the house he lived in when the first edition of Leaves of Grass was published, in 1855.  You can help protect it by signing the petition here.  You can also catch up with Whitman news & events at the Walt Whitman Initiative, an organization that celebrates his legacy and advocates for its protection. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018


Meanwhile, back on Fifth, local chain store Fabco will be closing soon.  This is one of the bigger retail spaces on this part of Fifth, & Fabco is one of the last lower price shoe/clothing stores on the avenue.  Rainbow is still hanging on, while the store is advertised for rent; otherwise it's just Payless, DII (Deals & Discounts) & Mandees.  DII, with a great spot at Fifth & 9th, is still bustling, but at Mandees, in the old Michael's building, things are on the quiet side.

Down the avenue at 24th a former auto repair shop is transforming into Tribeca Pediatrics, and the laundromat at 11th (after a brief life as a medical benefits center) is turning into Chu Tea - Tea, Espresso, We Build Smiles.  Bit of a dentist's line in the billing here, but we'll reserve judgment.

There are still a lot of empty stores on Fifth, from the high-end space below the Crunch gym to the small spot at 12th where the ill-fated Salzy's comedy bar lasted for about a year.  Some have been vacant for well over a year.

Over on Fourth Avenue Bar Salumi, the restaurant co-owned by chef Adam Harvey, has shuttered. The closure came soon after Harvey was accused of poisoning a Windsor Terrace next-door neighbor's tree to get better sun exposure for his solar-paneled rooftop.  Bar Salumi opened in April of this year, after previously operating under the same ownership as "mixed-concept " butcher/cafe/restaurant A&E Supply Co.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Looking Back

Scenes from my grandfather's sketchbook.  I can't identify the locations, but they're obviously East Anglia.  My mother grew up in Lowestoft, and I'm guessing these ink drawings are from the 1930s.  I don't have the book itself, only half a dozen thin pages.  

Even a confirmed city dweller is flooded with homesickness.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ansonia Pharmacy Closes

I ran into John Ferrandino at the Post Office yesterday.  Ferrandino, co-owner of Ansonia Chemist, at Seventh & 11th, told me that Ansonia closed last week, after thirty-four years in business.  This is a real loss to the pharmacy's customers, who've appreciated the care and community the staff at Ansonia have dispensed over the decades.  While the chain pharmacies don't help businesses like these, Ansonia has always kept a loyal customer base; it's the insurance and reimbursement payments that put the biggest pressures on small pharmacies today.  Our health care system doesn't just screw the patient, it screws the guy behind the counter too.

I don't get up to Seventh that often - I'm more likely to be on Fifth.  If I do, it's about as far as 8th or so.  The donut diner, the copy shop, the discount fruit & veg, the Italian deli, the pharmacy.  A handful of others too, but these are ones I'm especially fond of.  Apart from Mr Lime, they've been on the avenue long enough to see your kids grow up.  If you're running a fever, or working up a résumé, if you need a nice fat sandwich or a pick-me up breakfast, they're always there for you.  Nothing exotic, just the real stuff that counts.  They're priceless.

Many thanks to owners John, & Dennis Desimone and all the staff that have worked at Ansonia over the years.  You always made us feel better.  Here's to still seeing you around the neighborhood.

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