Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Candy Says

Time for some Antony.  Here he is, back at a Lou Reed's Berlin concert in (?) 2008.  What a contrast between his voice & Lou's, which is decidedly wavery, but charismatic nonetheless.  Antony's voice is  haunting, & he does covers like nobody's business...

Monday, June 28, 2010

England's Identity Crisis

Gary Younge questions the state of English national identity, & finds it sadly lacking.

New B61

I got the B61 to Red Hook today, & then hopped on it again to get to Atlantic Avenue.  It certainly lacks the cosiness of the B77 run, & I can say goodbye to my pick of seats.  The route will be much more crowded, & Red Hook residents will be more poorly served than ever.  Also, people coming from the Slope/Terrace  now have to get off at Smith & Ninth to transfer to a bus going along Smith Street (the defunct B75 route), and this is especially inconvenient for the elderly (I saw several older people shuffling off the 61 at Smith & Ninth  in confused dismay).  Getting to the Columbia Street nabe & Atlantic Avenue from the South Slope is a slight compensation, for me at least, being a much more enjoyable route than the wretchedly slow B63, and the bus driver I spoke to this morning was ecstatic about his new route:  "I've lived in Brooklyn all my life, & this is a beautiful trip."

Signs, etc.

Brownstoner and OTBKB have both commented on the new Park Slope Eatery signage up at the corner of 7th & 4th.  This is a) a truly hideous & generic sign ( the font for 'eatery' is especially nasty) & b) such a ridiculously uninspired name that I can't imagine ever being tempted inside.  Oh, & that 'artisan bread' reference is, as far as I'm concerned, another nail in its unattractive coffin.  Who comes up with these ugly, hackneyed design concepts?
The awning for Lily's, a rather sparsely stocked gift shop that replaced a Chinese restaurant (10th & 5th), is just sad.  It has to be about the cheapest quality awning money can buy.  Its wrinkled shininess signals mercantile desperation, a shaky toehold on the consumer ladder.  It is a shameful affair, & makes me feel shifty & depressed.  I would like the place to do better than I think it will.

Good Unassuming Window

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday's Guardian had an article about Bruce Davidson's photographic series on Brooklyn gang members in the 1950's. A video of the 2009 Dylan song, Beyond Here Lies Nothin', has a ton of Davidson's pictures, & the cover of the album from which the song is taken, Together Through Life (referenced in the Guardian piece), is a Davidson photograph.

Canal Life

Here are some photographs, via The Guardian, of canal life in Coventry & Oxford in the 1940's and '50's. When I was seven or eight, and living in rural Cheshire, I wanted to a) take off with the visiting gypsies who came to our house regularly each year, or b) live on one of the painted barges you could still see on the local canals. In my child's eye, both possibilities seemed infinitely romantic.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Quickening Maze

This week's New Yorker is a classic, with a case study by Oliver Sacks, an essay on The Eurovision Song Contest, a profile of Mike Huckabee ... and more. It's packed with good stuff. James Wood gives a glowing & lyrical review of Adam Fould's novel, The Quickening Maze, shortlisted for last year's Booker Prize. It's about the English Romantic poet John Clare, specifically years he spent as a patient in a mental asylum in the 1830's. This is such a loving review that I am completely sold. I have to get the book immediately.

Hitch 22, by Christopher Hitchens

It's been graduation time here, both in the workplace and as a parent of a twelfth grader. This is the longest time I have missed posting something, barring a computer malfunction last year.
I read Hitch 22 with mixed feelings. I don't have as negative a response as The Economist's, but somehow, so much self-regard all at once, from a man who is hardly modest on any occasion, was a bit much. Perhaps Hitchens is best served by the essay form, which allows him to be witty, incisive, & relatively brief. A memoir offers too much free rein, and I, for one, got tired of hearing about Martin Amis' boyish conquests, Hitch's encounters with Great Men, and his desperate seeking out of Dangerous Places, where he can be photographed with an unbuttoned shirt(too many shots of chest hair, Christopher) & a gaggle of armed warriors. The reference to his "sturdy penis" was perhaps the most cringe-worthy moment of all. Of course there is an ambivalence about the guy's real motives as a writer, & you do wonder how much is genuine, and how much the product of hack sensationalism. The book itself explores a certain paradoxical quality to his tastes and political evolution, and I do get the sense of a genuine & indignant thinker, unafraid to be politically incorrect, co-existing with an arrogant cynic, with a quick tongue, whose main concern is the churning out of verbal party tricks & the raking in of hefty speaker's fees. Too clever for his own good? I don't know what to make of Mr. Hitchens, but I do hope there isn't a follow-up volume. Christopher, leave this kind of stuff alone; I want to enjoy your fabulous invective in the press, or on the stage or screen. It's much more fun that way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

75th Avenue IND - Another F train Visit

Nothing to stick around for here, at least at first glance. Just the roar of traffic, & an ugly collection of stores, offices & apartment buildings. They haven't heard of benches or even garbage cans in this neck of the woods. This is a very depressing spot. Really, if I had to live around here I might just march onto the Boulevard of Death for a swift reprieve.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hmm. Liked the green & white better. This yellow/green combination is too too much.


Brooks of Sheffield has called it quits. Lost City is no more. We should have seen it coming. This is a real loss for the city. It has lost one of its most ardent voices of love & indignation.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nisi Dominus

What a long, stressful week it's been. At work this afternoon, I padded around the office, clearing up piles of papers & boxes of newly delivered books, trying to create some sense of order. To help calm my spirits, I listened to Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus. Here's the Largo, sung by Andreas Scholl.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Take Out Wall

I like the freshly painted wall of the falafel joint at the corner of Ninth & Fifth. Quite a contrast to its Dunkin neighbor.

Monday, June 7, 2010

End Of An Era?

There still seem to be customers milling above, so I'm wondering when my local OTB (5th Avenue & 12th) finally shuts up shop.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Where's the Damn Rain?

It's been nothing but heat, & the occasional tease of a storm cloud. But No Rain. This is really annoying. In trying to conjur some up, I'll enlist the help of Ann Peebles, even though she doesn't exactly want any rain herself.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Union Turnpike/Kew Gardens

The second in an occasional series of stops along the F line. This is a much better exit point than Van Wyck Boulevard. You get out at the intersection of the Turnpike & Queens Boulevard. The stores along the Boulevard are pretty generic, but if you cross over (bearing in mind its Boulevard of Death tag)there's the Supreme Court, and Queens Borough Hall, with modest landscaping & a bunch of folks sitting out enjoying the summer. Borough drones, court officers, lawyers, jury men & women, those on trial, & vaguely shiftless types hanging out at the edges of the scene. It's not a place I feel any urge to return to, but there a couple of minor points of interest. The Queens Tourist Office is a defunct number 7 subway car, with appalling ventilation, and a guide who was pretty chirpy, but then fell horribly silent when I identified the school where I work. Further along Q.B., right next to a subway exit, is the Statue of Civic Virtue, which was booted from its spot in front of City Hall by La Guardia, and "donated" to (hah!, forced upon, more like) the new borough hall.