Monday, May 31, 2010

Think About These

If this armadillo doesn't make you happy, what will? This work is astonishing.
Let's hope the blue enclave of Fifth Avenue stays unchanged for the foreseeable future. These buildings (which belong to the bike store owners) are a treat.


Hitch 22

The Guardian's Toby Young reviews the newly released Hitchens memoirs.


Yesterday's Times had a piece on the prevalence of "so" as a sentence opener. I had to smile, because I've noticed that I use it all the time, in speech, & in informal writing. It pops up quite a bit on this blog. I like it - it makes for a good rhythm in a sentence, a sort of diving board pause before you get down to things. Perhaps it's also just an easy conversational opener. I wouldn't use it in a formal context (at least not yet!), but it's a good little addition to English usage, with a nice lively function.

Perhaps It's Time For A Flower

Saturday, May 29, 2010

I haven't exactly been barrelling along with learning Brooklyn Ferry, but I am well into the third (long) stanza, and know the lines to that point pretty well. So I'm over a fifth of the way through. The lines are beautiful to speak, but hardly easy to learn, because they're long & somewhat irregular. There's also so much repetition, so much swooping back to river, sunset & crowd, that it's easy to drift into the wrong place in the text. It's really quite cool though, to sit on the subway, or walk on Broadway, watching the crowds, with Walt's words stored inside your head, knowing that he wrote them for the here and now moment, just for you,& you too, that 150 years is bridged in an instant.

Chelsea, Dusk

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Go Away, Please

Red Hook is teeming with weekend visitors these days .... too many, too many. Walking back from Carroll Gardens to the Slope this morning, I passed a chubby real estate agent promising a young couple that Gowanus was all set to be "the next French Riviera". Seemed a bit extreme, even in realtor-speak.


Thursday, May 20, 2010


I've always liked the plaster Madonna in the front yard of this run-down frame on Eleventh Street between Sixth & Seventh, but it was only today that I noticed the much smaller religious figures hanging out inside the house itself, several of them peering through the transom, and one (J.C.?) keeping a low profile at the side of a window on the first floor. The house has been empty for some time now, with only this forlorn little crew standing vigil.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

A couple of days ago I decided to try and memorize Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. It's 145 lines long, and so far I'm pretty good up to line twenty or so. This project may be doomed to failure (how on earth will I store 145 lines in my brain?), but it's a shocking and intimate experience to step inside the voice of the poem, far more intense than a mere reading of it could be.

Briarwood/Van Wyck

Now that I've started breaking up my commute, to pop up, meerkat like, mid-journey, I decided it was time to actually see what it was like above ground on my F-line trip through Queens. I know all the Manhattan & Brooklyn stops, & am all too familiar with the rat infested Sutphin Boulevard stop*, but I knew none of the other Queens stations I pass through, except for the bustling Roosevelt Ave. stop. So, first things first, today was the turn of Briarwood/Van Wyck. This turned out to be a real downer. You get out of the station to a bland, stretch of concrete, with Queens Boulevard & the Van Wyck roaring beside you. The architecture is grim, the sad stretch of storefronts across the boulevard unenticing, and the general atmosphere totally forbidding to the would-be pedestrian. Robert Moses land, in extremis. I stayed outside for about a minute and a half, and then scurried back underground. The one exciting thing about the stop itself is that it contains a Transit Authority police station. These please me no end. I like looking through the glass windows, keen to catch a glimpse of a perp or two, or some other kind of cop show like drama. No go at Van Wyck today. The officers looked pretty tired and bored, with perhaps the only business on the horizon a late afternoon donut run.
*Actually the Sutphin Boulevard stop isn't so bad. The rats on the platform are never pleasant, but the station's proximity to the Queens courthouses gives it that slightly Dickensian frisson. Always a curious assortment of travellers on the platform, always a lawyer in a cheap suit, always a faint whiff of a shabby secret or two.


I'm really irritated by Andrew Sullivan's obsessive mission to out Elena Kagan. I'm often a Sullivan enthusiast, but boy, does he become a man possessed when his buttons are pushed. Really, I couldn't care less if she's gay or straight, and don't buy Sullivan's demand that it's some sort of moral imperative for her (or the Obama administration) to inform the nation of her sexual preference (sorry, Andrew, I should have said "identity"). Equally offensive, as Maureen Dowd notes in today's Op Ed is the "unmarried" tag a middle aged woman gets saddled with, as if she's missed the boat somehow, as if marriage is the be-all-&-end-all, & if she hasn't got that ring on her finger she's a bit of a loser. Let's leave Kagan her dignity & concentrate on her professional record, & on the qualities that would or would not suit her for Supreme Court office. I'm all for her, though I admit to a little bias. As the parent of a Hunter High student, who just happens to have Kagan's brother as her Con. Law teacher, I'm pretty excited about the nomination!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bed Bug King

Asker or Guesser?

This Guardian article, a reaction to a web post by Andrea Donderi, has been bouncing around the web for the last few days. Guessers in Asker territory are seen as passive, timid & overly submissive, & Askers in Guesserland are viewed as crass, insensitive & horribly egocentric. Americans, of course, are stereotypical Askers, & the British (at least those over the age of forty or so)are classic Guessers. Absurd cartoons, but still...?? Which camp are you in?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Doodles Truck

I like that plain grey metal, with the red Chinese script & the snack packets. Just right together.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Open House Update

The 14th Street place really was pretty nice, but tiny. It would be fine for a single person/couple, especially if they enjoyed traffic on the block, (ironworks across the street), the ever present hum of the BQE, the close scrutiny of neighbors (closely overlooked by decks), hanging out w. autoworkers (quite a few shops still in business roundabout) & the corner amenity of a Dunkin Donuts/Taco Bell/Pizza Hut joint. The latter, & the gas station a block away, tells me that some of the nightime employees of the neighborhood (surely they're still in business?) could also become pals. Sweet place, insane price.

180 1/2 8th Street

What's unusual about this place is that it's smack in the middle of the block, between 3rd & 4th Avenues, which must have been somewhat out of the ordinary for a commercial business, even back in its day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another Yard

Well, this is a more spiffed up yard, and it belongs to a little house on 14th Street, currently on the market. It's a bit close to the BQE, so probably really noisy & horribly polluted, but the house, only 25 feet deep on two of the three floors, is very appealing, and the yard - with a brick studio at the bottom of the garden painted a perfect shade of blue - is a delight. Check out the kitchen & yard on the fullscreen mode. Crazy price, but still ... it's a bit of a siren. Found the listing via Brownstoner. Open House tomorrow, anyone?

S. Slope Courtyard

What about this cobbled yard? You'd feel you were in quite another time if you looked out of your window at this everyday.
It has to be said, that when I'm walking around Park Slope, there's really nothing above Sixth Avenue that I want to photograph. The streets are smooth, orderly, landmarked & handsome (though I'd take brick over brownstone anyday), but without the slightest flourish of anarchy, color or surprise. Sedate.

Vermont Farmacy

Brookes of Sheffield reports that The Vermont Farmacy (formerly the Vermont Market & Pharmacy)that splendidly laid back, generally dormant institution on Henry Street, is currently the subject of a Discovery Channel Construction Intervention! This is both exciting & worrying news.