Saturday, July 29, 2017

Road Trip

Saw this beaten-up old school bus on 23rd a couple of days ago.  There was a for sale sign in the window, and a second message on the other side.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Two Scientists

The sculpture memorial to scientist Alan Turing was unveiled in Sackville Gardens, Manchester, in 2001. It was created by artist Glyn Hughes.

Blocks away, that eureka moment. The sculpture of Archimedes was created by artist Thompson Dagnall.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

It's Football

I returned from Manchester to find the New York weather had gone all English on me - sullen grey skies followed by mild sunshine. Someone up there was sympathetic. Such a brief time away, but I always like that brief dislocation when you're back in place physically but your head still has some catching up to do.

Though I only went inside the National Football Museum to use the restroom, I did notice photographs of George Best and Brian Clough, and seeing the old heroes up on a wall made me think of Saturday afternoons on the Deepdale terraces, watching the Preston games with my sister. Outside the museum, there was a little training routine set up for kids. They were a cute group. The instructor was cute too.

When you go back you never use "restroom" or"cute," words that once were foreign but now lurk in your vocabulary, only to jump out unannounced.  Here though, you manage to rein them in.  In Britain there are any number of names & euphemisms for visits to the pisser, and they all betray class. W.C, lavatory, the lav, the lavvy, toilet, bog, the Ladies, the Gents. Spending a penny, using the facilities, a wee, a tinkle, a poo, a slash,   And so on.

The words are easy, but the accent, oh the accent.  Even though you make an instinctive shift back to old intonations and old vowel sounds, and sort of get it half-right at least, to a native, you'll always give the game away.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On Market Street

This is Connor. At 14, his voice is older by far - bleak and raw and laced with accusation. That's his sister standing nearby. The kid doesn't cover songs - he takes them over completely.  He's got the heart, the technique, the presence to stop you dead in your tracks. I've heard nothing like him.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Goodbye Cup & Saucer

The diner sits just off the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge along the border of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, at the corner of Eldridge and Canal Streets. It opened in the early 1940s, when the area was dominated by immigrant families and businesses. It has had three sets of owners, Mr. Vasilopoulos said.
Both he and Mr. Tragaras are from Greece and immigrated in their youth. Mr. Vasilopoulos’s brother is married to Mr. Tragaras’s sister. They now live in Astoria, Queens, “with the other Greeks,” Mr. Vasilopoulos said.
Through it all, the diner, including the décor, has remained reliably the same.
“Do you see the cup and saucer on the floor, and the stools?” Mr. Vasilopoulos asked, pointing to an image on the tiles and faded mustard spinning stools. “They’re original.” (NY Times)

The very recent closure of the Cup & Saucer diner, on Canal Street,  has been covered in numerous New York papers, online journals and blogs.  With the diner's rent raised from $8,000 per month to an impossible $15,000, the owners were unable to keep the business open, though they're considering re-opening in another location.

I don't have anything of consequence to add to all the Cup & Saucer eulogies, except to say that anytime I was on that part of Canal it lifted my spirits to see the Cup & Saucer still there.  Over the last few years there were rumors of the building's sale, and I was always a little worried if I hadn't been by for a while.  But there it always was.  When I eat in a diner my choices mostly boil down to a) hash & eggs, b) a BLT (light on the mayo), or c) a very occasional burger & fries.  I like the burgers at Joe Juniors, and if I'm in a Polish diner I might just go for a d) or an e) or even an f), but elsewhere I mostly choose breakfast.  Even though I've lived in the city for over thirty years, I still get a here-I-am-in-New York! kick out of ordering eggs sunny side up or over easy.  I might have just arrived I'm so absurdly pleased in trotting out the words.  At the Cup & Saucer it was strictly hash & eggs at the counter.

The old-school diners are in decline - The Stage on Second was another real loss -  at the mercy of rapacious landlords and changing demographics.  I still have some favorites though, and every so often I'll discover an (old) new diner home.  Apart from an occasional splurge, I'm not much one for high-end dining, and I hate wasting money on indifferent, over-priced food in bland, flavor-of-the-moment settings.  I'd rather eat Portuguese in Jamaica, family-style Greek in Astoria, or a bowl of marag on Atlantic.  I'd rather cram into the Pearl and join a lunchtime democracy of hungry eaters. It's the company you keep that's part of the pleasure, that reminds you of all that's good about New York, of the places that welcome & absorb all of us, new in town or regulars, in a busy booth, or seated alone.  We can't believe our luck to be a part of it all.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Washington Cemetery

Riding past here the other day I snapped a picture out of the window.

There's a great article on Washington Cemetery in the late & much-missed online journal Bklynr. What's in the future for a city cemetery when the all available space is taken?

I'm no architecture expert, but I'd say the main part of the administrative building is Second Empire? I like the contrast between the the original structure & the extension.  Juxtaposition always makes life interesting.

Monday, July 17, 2017

20th Street - Superior and Muñoz

For Sale on 22nd

I just saw a sales listing for 222 22nd Street, which is home to the Parisi-Torre VFW Post 8903.  The listing describes the property as a "vacant re-development site."  It's also described as a brick building (stucco-covered frame always confuses realtors) close to the W subway line (Whitehall Street isn't that far away).

Earlier this year photographer Larry Racioppo and I collaborated on a piece about another local VFW Post, the Edward F. Lukoski VFW 7096, on Third.  In the piece, Larry fondly recalls family parties at Parisi-Torre, and shares photographs of family celebrations.  You can see them here.

If anyone has any updates on #8903, I'd very much appreciate the information.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What we noticed after we bought a new TV

Down by the Caesar's Bay Shopping Center, a man was rinsing greens in the seawater. The rocks were slippery.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Starbucks Arrives on Fourth

The Adam America building at 470 Fourth is starting to lease its residential apartments.  Hardly surprising, I guess, but still jarring to see its first commercial tenant.  A Starbucks. With coffee shops and corner grocery stores close to the station (Regular, Olivier, Lucky 7 et al.), it's hardly a caffeine desert here.  Let's hope this one doesn't suck all the business from its smaller neighbors.  Residents who've been here just a few years might remember the great little coffee, soup and tamale place that used to be right at the NW corner.  Meanwhile, the retail spaces at the Fourth Avenue station, which would, in an ideal world, attract small, local businesses, remain shuttered, with renovation work at the station suspended indefinitely.

Selected earlier Adam America info (w. links back):

Adam America pays $36M for Boerum Hill dev site (The Real Deal - July '17)

Links (OMFS - October '16)

Laborers protesting at Adam America Construction Site (OMFS - September '15)


Wednesday, July 12, 2017


If you have to get stalled by 'train traffic ahead,' the Culver Viaduct is always a fine place to linger between stations.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Dog about Town

The Dog Parker has arrived at the Jo, Brian & Joseph grocery store at Fifth & 12th. According to the Dog Parker website, the fee for use of a house is 20c a minute ($12 per hour) and a house can be used for up to 90 minutes, three hours max. per day. The membership fee is $25 per year. If you should lackadaisically leave your dog inside a Dog Parker house for more than 90 minutes, your dog will be removed to a boarding kennel, and you will be billed $200. The houses are, apparently, temperature controlled, and regularly cleaned.

Well, it's not for our dog.  But who knows, maybe it's catching on with those who need help with "doggie logistics?" The Dog Parker website's map indicates another house nearby, at Steve's C-Town, and plenty of others on the way. Two are coming to Bay Ridge, but the others, either currently installed or soon to arrive, are clustered farther north, in Park Slope above 9th, and in Gowanus, Cobble Hill, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, Prospect Lefferts, Dumbo, Vinegar Hill, and Williamsburg.  No surprises with the target demographic here.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


By the time these girls posed for the photograph they'd asked for the rainbow was disappearing fast. But it was still beautiful on Fifth

Friday, July 7, 2017


"Wined and dined--'Maggie,' company mascot of the Garrett Company [a winery located at 882 Third Avenue], prepares for a feast of cat food and will wash it down with a glass of Virginia Dare red wine .." (Brooklyn Eagle, 1952, Brooklyn Collection)

There's no longer any Virginia Dare red at 882 Third. The sweet wine was still popular in the mid-twentieth century, but later fell out of favor. The company headquarters, which were originally situated in North Carolina, were moved to Brooklyn in the early 1900's and then to California. Eventually the Virginia Dare wine brand expired. It was revived by filmmaker/winemaker Francis Ford Coppola in 2011.

When Francis Ford Coppola was a boy, he never saw a dinner table that didn't have a bottle of wine on it. And so he was very interested in all the wine companies of the day, and one in particular. A gracefully curved and embossed bottle with the image of a lovely woman who looked like a fairy tale princess. And he remembered the song on the radio that sung about Virginia Dare, the classic American wine that featured her image.

During Prohibition, the Garrett Company made their wine alcohol-free and began to produce alcohol-based fruit extracts. This expansion proved enormously successful. While the wine company is long gone from Third, the Virginia Dare Extract Company stayed on at the Brooklyn address.  It's been there since 1923, which makes it another Third Avenue veteran.  Today its better known specialty extracts include coffee, tea, vanilla and cocoa.  While its headquarters remain in Brooklyn, the company also owns a manufacturing center in Shanghai. In 2016 the company 're-tooled' its brand identity.

“Consumers want products that offer health benefits without compromising taste,” said Michael Springsteen, Vice President of Business and Product Development. “Whether it’s removing an off-note with a masking solution or enhancing sweetness without adding sugar, our Taste Collaborations™ promote better taste without compromising clean labels.”
Combining its substantial knowledge of sourcing and producing natural flavors with its formulation expertise, Virginia Dare brings together science, market insights, and sourcing to create business advantages for its partners. The company’s refreshed brand will more effectively tell that story to better demonstrate its value to the food and beverage industry.  (Business Wire)

Virginia Dare herself was born in today's North Carolina, in 1587. Her parents were members of the "Lost" Roanoke Colony, and Virginia was reputedly the first English child born in North America. Dare has had something of a brand evolution too, and her name continues to resonate with all the mixed associations of purity, tradition and pioneer spirit.  Her image is a pliable one. She's a well-known folkloric figure in North Carolina, and a boon to the tourist trade. She's been adopted as a feminist icon, but her name has also been invoked in anti-suffrage causes rooted in racism. She continues, as the purported 'first white child in America,' to serve as a figurehead in white supremacist movements. Her name is currently used at the website VDARE, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as "an anti-immigration hate website" which "regularly publishes articles by prominent white nationalists, race scientists and anti-Semites."