Thursday, June 30, 2011


A great new tale from Romy Ashby: Others, Those Mysteries
I love Romy's work.

Brooklyn Library Bookmobiles (Brooklynology)
Check out this video of a bookmobile visit in 1969. Who can tell me where the bus goes?


Images taken as I walked along a few blocks of Atlantic Avenue this afternoon: 

Is this store name a bit ironic or am I simply too jaded?  Its young customers shouldn't have too many money woes, I sense.

Here's a welcome sight.  Go in the afternoon, & you might be the only customer.  This is a gem of a bar, and it's been on Atlantic for over seventy years.  Like all the businesses down by the water that are open at night, Montero's has been hit hard by Bloomberg's decision to move the 4th July fireworks over to the West Side.  Nice job, Mr. B.

Here's Montero's resident canine.  Very protective of his owner.

At the bottom of Atlantic, this guy was never lucky enough to have a nest-egg, or if he did, it was dipped into long, long ago.

(If you want to read more about Montero's, check out this 2006 NYT article on the history of a long -standing family feud.  The bar is now run by the friendly Joseph "Pepe" Montero, son of the original owner, and his wife Linda.)

From the bus on Lexington

This just seemed like a beautiful slice of the old city, albeit with a more modern presence looming in the background.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Down at the Water (Red Hook)

Getting down here during the week is the best.  You avoid the chattering visitors teetering along Van Brunt, & can have this little piece of the shore all to yourself.  Now if Sunny's were open in the afternoon on Wednesdays, it would be just about perfect.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

City Connections - Second Avenue & 62nd

Not sure why I liked this photograph.  Perhaps it's because the building looked a little out of place up there at 62nd, or maybe it was just those pinks & blues.

Time has its own time

I finally went to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met today.  This is a part of Manhattan I barely ever go to. I had to set my alarm to get up early enough so I wouldn't have to queue too long.  Still took me a long time to stir.  Got there by 10, paid my dollar, & stood in lines that weren't too crazy, but it was still really crowded.  The Met is specially open on Mondays for people that want to pay $50 for to see this show. Hah! Despite the crowds, the clothes themselves were beautiful, dark, and tragic.  They made me feel nostalgic for Britain. They made me want to throw away all my clothes and start again.  Something about the clothes, and the suicides behind them, got me thinking about people I used to know that are no longer alive.  I was swimming in melancholy.

(If you want to see footage of McQueen's last collection (in two parts), you can catch it here & here.  It's quite long, so if you want see the final, incredible costume, go right to the eight minute mark of the second part.)

After I left the Met, I walked further east, and headed downtown.  What is it about the Upper East Side that makes walking seem so slow?  Torpor! Feels like hours pass just going a couple of blocks. Went along 78th St., & saw this illustrated guide to taking measurements.

On Lexington, I passed the Sutton Clock Shop, an upper floor store from another era.  Do you have a barometer that needs repair?  I thought not, but looking to the upper floors is often consoling these days, given all the mediocrity below.  I'm not sure that the motto in the window means anything much, but I liked the fact that it was there.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finding the Right Spot

There was a sad collection of free items on a table outside 7 1/2 Second Avenue yesterday.  Like Mars Bar, it awaits demolition.  Ever the trivial-minded, I picked up a head-and-shoulders dinosaur as a pathetic kind of keepsake.  It did occur to me to donate it to David, that lover of animal life on 17th Street (I have to go back & see if his parade is still there), but I decided to keep it, and I frittered away a few minutes today trying out places where I could put it.

1. Scaring away raccoons, and more importantly, the loud yuppies & their barking dogs who gather on the ever proliferating decks & balconies overlooking my backyard

2.  Settling in with the painted birds, the little wooden horse, the devil, the angel, the voodoo dolls, & the portrait of Vladimir Putin, on the mantelpiece.  Hey, maybe I could use the voodoo dolls to solve the problem of the loud yuppies & their barking etc. etc. etc. ...

3.  Guarding the cat mummy

4.  Hanging out with Mum!

5.  Hanging out with England's Mum!

7.  Playing war games with the toy soldiers

8.   Enjoying intimate moments with the panther.

I haven't made my mind up yet.


Fran Lebowitz & her Checker Marathon (City Room, via EV Grieve)
Pushing out the Eagle Bar (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)
Dopey Picture No. 5,632: Bloomberg at the Crocheted Pop-up Piano: (Gothamist)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

McGolrick Park, Greenpoint

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires
                                                 from Anthem for Doomed Youth, by Wilfred Owen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ice Cream Shenanigans

What on earth was going on as I passed Fifth and 12th this afternoon?  An ice cream truck convention, or, as I suspect, a bitter (sweet) turf war?  No Lickety-Split trucks, so I don't think it was an oxycodone ring.  M-ster Ice Cream Softi, stationed outside Sleepy's, and clearly a bit of an underdog, seemed outnumbered by a (slightly) menacing Mr Softee pair idling at Petland Discounts a few yards south.  Fearing a bloodbath, or at least (given that they're such, er, softies) a lot of flying cones, banana boats, shakes & sundaes, I hurried away.

Update: Well, actually, the more you waste time on Google  research the murky world of ice-cream trucks, you find a sordid panoply of criminal & anti-social behavior, including endless cases of drug dealing, molestation, hoarding of frozen urine, and attacks with baseball bats. Just yesterday, an under-the influence driver in Freeport was found asleep at the wheel, as the Softee jingle played its merry tune over and over and over.  I guess my flippancy was quite misguided.

Smolen Bar & Grill

in 2010....

earlier this month (closed), minus one eagle, an "o" & a "g"... 

and today. 

Smolen is to be replaced by a bar named Mary's.  Robert Simonson, "Our Man in the Liquor Soaked Trenches", visited the place in 2009:

Smolen Bar and Grill, at Fifth Avenue and 22nd Street in Brooklyn, flies so far under the radar that, from a certain point of view, it barely seems open at all. They have a phone number listed, but it’s not in service. And, on a recent night, only the lights around the bar were flicked on, leaving one to feel along a dark corridor to where the barmaid promised the bathroom was.

The corner building, at 708 Fifth, is built like a brick bomb shelter, a couple small windows indicating life might be stirring inside. A huge red-and-white sign, with figures of eagles on either side, screams that you’re in the right place. The sign’s design scheme is odd for a bar, but not for a Polish bar, which this is.

16th & Fourth

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Bed on Bond

Visual Overload May Drive You a Little Fuxing Crazy

There's so much going on in this scene that it boggles my mind.  The yellow 99c sign at the left & the defunct OFF TRACK of the betting shop at the right - kind of nice flanking partners to that grand central edifice.  The LK sign takes up most of the vinyl sided second floor, with those four tiny windows perched over the top of it, and the faded green cornicey type thing above them.  The LK 5TH AVE INC. has a little gold detail going on, as does the phone number, but the bulk of the lettering below is satisfyingly plain:  LADIES-MENS & CHILDRENS-GIFTS-COSMETICS-HOUSEWARES.   The W in HOUSEWARES is all over the place.  The little red Retail at the side looks almost like an afterthought.  There are two real estate signs on here too, one of them EXCLUSIVE PROPERTIES (SEE IT ON THE WEB) and the other a different company running a bigger, hanging number higher up.  But they're both redundant now.  The NEW FUXING LAUNDROMAT is COMING (SOON 24 HOURS 180 TAIWAN MACHINE) .  Does that mean 180 machines (wow - seems like a fuxing lot), or is 180 Taiwan a model ?  I'd like to know.That yellow and red is so vivid over the LK blue & white, &amp - more pumped up than the yellow and red of the signs to the left & below.  Bam, bam, bam!  The more you look the more you see - the little realty sign at the OTB, the inflatable tiger and zebra, that little splash of yellow paint above the plywood.  If you go further up, you see the tops of the buildings. The cornice above LK is a glorious rusted sunset of pinks and browns, the one to the left a standard somber chocolate.  The OTB building is hard to figure out.  Is it the same vintage, all cement blocked over, except for that sad wasted gesture of cornice shaped brickwork?  The purplish slabs of window are brutal and blank, & the second floor lost any hint of an opening at all. A cemetery of a place, with only the ghosts of punters past below.  Above 99c Land though, life is clearly domestic, with potted plants at a window open just a few inches.  At the floor above there's a US flag. Meanwhile, down at the street, a couple strides along, two kids in tow.  The woman looks a little serious.  The man (it's hard to tell, but I think I'm right) seems to be checking his phone.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beautiful morning light at the station this week, but not much in the way of seats. I have to agree with the disgruntled critic below.  It's almost the end of the school year, and the days roll around in such a tired daze that I seem to spend half my life here.  I should probably re-name this blog Fourth Avenue or Viaduct, or something.  But I won't.  Clearly I need some sleep & a change of pace.

One of my favorite things about the current F trains are the windows at the end of each carriage.  Though I like looking out of the bigger windows, the little ones make those two person seats quite a draw.  If you can get the space right next to the glass, you get all kinds of interesting, fractured views of the journey & there's something pleasing, in a slightly voyeuristic way, about looking in at the passengers in the next car.  This photograph is pretty fuzzy, but I like the woman standing there, with her flowered dress, and the bag she's carrying sort of matches the package that rider in the hat is holding.  This was taken yesterday, about three in the afternoon, somewhere in that magic space between Carroll & Fourth. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tired, Up too Late

I haven't been home much over the last couple of days, so no time for much of anything here today. Still, as I've been looking at cars recently, here's some music.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New East River Ferry Service

The first boat departed at 7:15 a.m. with a gaggle of dignitaries and reporters aboard. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a seaweed-color tie, leaned on a blue plastic table and took in the view of the Midtown skyline.
“You have no idea what this does for property values,” the mayor said approvingly. “Wait till you see all of this development!”
                                                                                                                                   NY Times, 6/14/11

Some Storefronts

Here are a few Sunset Park Fifth Avenue storefronts.  I feel as though I've gone back in time forty years or so looking at these.  Except for the George Michael Suit Outlet.  The building is a beaut though, and the name is priceless.  Who knew the troubled former Wham! star had a little side venture going on?