Archive for October 2007

A Famous Ankles Halloween Skate

October 31, 2007

No matter how many times I tell myself to take my camera, I seem to ignore my own advice.  Today is Halloween, and in NYC that means the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.  That’s one parade I really don’t plan to cover, but everybody keeps telling me I’m really missing something.  Maybe I am. Well, I’m actually sure I am, but I don’t know that I’m unhappy about missing such a bacchanal.

But, there was to be a parade in Tudor City.  I don’t think it was to be a real parade, but more along the lines of people going out in costumes and wandering the local streets.  In preparation for that, I decided that I needed to have my camera battery fully charged, so I put it in the recharger before I went to work.

And completely forgot that the company’s annual Halloween ice skating event at Rockefeller Center.  I’ve posted on that before and I really do enjoy skating there.  So, I went without camera.  So, no great ice skating shots from Famous Ankles, just some descriptions.

The rink isn’t large, but it certainly can accommodate a couple of dozen people at the same time.  What really happens is that the watchers outnumber the skaters by 3:1 or 4:1.  You’re always catching flash bulbs going off out of the corner of your eye, but it is often people on the ice taking the pictures, too.  This evening was a lot of fun.  One of my co-workers brought her sister and niece to the rink and, because neither of them skates well, let me take the young lady (10 or 12, I’d guess but I really don’t know) to go around it.  The kid had the gumption, but not the skillset at the time and it was more of a matter of letting her hug the rail the whole way around.

We did it about four times with each of the first three times becoming progressively better and better.  She did get to the point that she could “walk skate” ten or fifteen feet without the rail as her closest friend.  But by the fourth time she was exhausted and decided that the rail was the closest friend she had in the whole world and wouldn’t let go until nearing the very end. 

I’m happy to say that she never fell once under my tutelage.

As usual, the grandeur of the place is overwhelming.  You’re below ground level and the Rockefeller Center building just towers over the place in a way that’s beyond my ability to describe…well, beyond saying “overwhelming”.

-H

Trump Place Part 2

October 30, 2007

Back to my talking about my old home grounds in the Upper West Side.

I really loved living at Trump Place.  I stared out onto the Hudson River virtually every day.  And this is from a guy who never opens his curtains nowadays.  I don’t have the need for natural light that virtually everybody else has.  But, when at Trump Place:  I opened those curtains real wide!

There were a variety of things I would watch from my old place:  the Hudson, New Jersey, the pier, and an old wreck of a loading contraption.

All three are still there.

The Hudson:

20070923-upper-west-side-31-hudson-river.jpg

Yeah, there was a little marina just north of where I lived.

New Jersey:

20070923-upper-west-side-29-hudson-river-and-nj.jpg

The pier:

20070923-upper-west-side-26-riverside-park-pier.jpg

And the “loading contraption”:

20070923-upper-west-side-44-hudson-river-loading-area.jpg

That’s the pier behind it, of course.  The whole area here had been piers and an old trainyard before Trump bought it and started the development.  There are a variety of this sort of ruin up and down the riverfront, but this is the coolest looking of any I ever saw.  And I had a perfect view from my place.

When I decided to move from Trump (they raised the rent and I was hankering for my own place), I did look at a place behind Trump Place.  I was talking with one of the co-op/condo owners and started to hear a lot of vitriol against “The Donald” for having ruined their view by putting up the tall buildings where they before had only traintracks to look across before seeing the river.  I have to admit I didn’t feel too much sympathy.  They had made use of someone elses’ property and wanted to deny the owner the right to develop.

And, incidentally, my understanding is that “The Donald” was only one participant in a very large group of others.  He did get to stick his name on it to enhance its salability, though.

-H

Trump Place Part 1

October 29, 2007

Trump Place an enormous rental/condo set of building on the Hudson River named after…Donald Trump.  I guess that most of the people who have heard of it are aware of it because it is associated in some way with his show “The Apprentice”.  I’ve never seen the show but I heard it was associated with Trump Place in some way.

And I used to live there.

I’ve never met “The Donald”, nor ever even seen him.  I know very little about him other than what you get from the media and his omnipresence there.  Except one thing…

He’s a good landlord.

Trump Place is located at 69th and the Hudson River.  Not quite right: the West Side Highway is between the buildings and the river, but the highway is elevated so there’s easy access to the river.  The complex is enormous and goes a lot further north-south than 69th Street, but that’s where I was.  180 Riverside Blvd.  Not “Riverside Drive” mind you:  Boulevard.

There are a series of buildings in the complex.  Here’s a shot of them.  Actually, it takes more than two shots to get it all.

20070923-upper-west-side-38-trump-place-from-end-of-pier.jpg

20070923-upper-west-side-35-trump-place.jpg

 It goes on a little further, but they’re still building down there.

You’ll notice one building appears in both photos.  That’s my old place.  I had the distinct pleasure of having a river view from the 17th floor.  Spectacular.

From what I understand, he didn’t own the buildings but did serve as the public face of the group doing the construction. 

As a tenant, I wanted for very little.  This was a full-service kind of place.  The rents were pretty hefty when I rented, but on par with other places in the city I looked at (sub-$3,000 per month including lease incentives).  The staff was incredible.  Absolutely incredible.  If Donald is a proud man, that’s what he should be proud of:  he hired some really good people.

We’re talking doormen, concierges, porters (cleaning crew), security, and maintenance people.  Wonderful.

The concierges were the key.  They knew everybody’s name.  They knew the kids’ names.  They knew the dogs’ names.  They knew the birthdays.  Honest, well-spoken, friendly, and informative.  The doormen and maintenance people I now have are very good, but I can’t compare them to the Trump people; it wouldn’t be fair.  (Okay, a couple of them are really good, but they don’t have the name-thing down.)

I never opened the door myself.  I would be greeted by name in all but the crazyist times.

They’d replace my lightbulbs for me (very high ceilings).  And they’d bring their own lightbulbs.

Everytime a food delivery was made, a security person would accompany the delivery.  And stand well back during the delivery so there wasn’t a question of handing out two tips.  Little things like that count for a lot.

The laundry was open 24/7 with lots of washers and dryers.  Like I said…it’s the little things.

I’ve been planning to write a post with minimal pictures.  I didn’t know it would be this one.  I’ve wanted to write this sort-of-paean to Trump Place ever since I heard a Chicagoan say some less than favorable statements about Donald.  I kicked myself for not chiming in “hey, he’s a great landlord”.

There was only one time that I had any problems:  when I left.  It took me months to get my deposit back, but Trump Place was sold during the time that I was leaving so I didn’t really resent the confusion that was going on.  And all the staff were always top notch, even the ones who were having a hard time tracking down my money.  Like I said, Donald hires good people.

Oh yeah, one day I ran into a woman whom I think was either Miss USA or Miss Universe.  That’s a nice perk of living in such a place.

-H

Hail, the conquering pizza: Lombardi’s Pizza!

October 28, 2007

You’ve read my ramblings about the disappearance of Little Italy.  You’ve seen my flat out statements that Little Italy is only parts of Mulberry Street.

The problem with flat out statements like that is that there are going to be exceptions.  And Lombardi’s is no small exception.

20070907-little-italy-lombardis-02.jpg

As you can see from the street sign:  at the corner of Spring St. and Mott St.  That’s old Little Italy.  And there are a couple of other places in the immediate area.  But, Lombardi’s is the key.

When you think Lombardi, you may remember the old Green Bay Packers coach.  But this Lombardi is much older and has something that Vince didn’t.

20070907-little-italy-lombardis-04.jpg

Okay, both Lombardi’s have plaques, but this Lombardi is the FIRST PIZZERIA IN AMERICA!!!!!!! That’s worthy of applause. How could I have gotten through school without pizza?

I’ve eaten here.  It’s okay pizza in the restaurant.  They have one gimmick not followed by most NYC pizzerias:  they serve entire pizzas only.  Most places, you buy pizza by the slice (which I’ve come to love).  When I got my Lombardi’s pizza, I enjoyed it, but didn’t want to proclaim it “the best pizza on the planet”.  I took the remaining slices home and later ate them cold.  (Yeah, I like cold pizza.)

It is simply the most outstandingly magnificent cold pizza ever made by the hands of man.

Enough said.

-H

Bombs at the NYC Mexican Consulate

October 27, 2007

I took some time off and spent part of Friday wandering through the wilds of Chelsea (forthcoming posts) and decided to walk home from there.

I was walking on 39th Street toward Madison Avenue when I noticed that the crowd at the corner was a little odd.  They just were standing there.  No one crossed the street and I noted that they seemed overwhelmingly Hispanic.  My instincts said something was up and I looked across Madison and saw that there was police tape up blocking off 39th Street from eastward traffic.  I crossed and found another crowd (nothing huge by any means) and spotted a CBS cameraman doing some filming.  I took some quick photos, knowing something had happened/was going to happen.

20071026-midtown-bomb-01-looking-at-consulate-street.jpg

I noticed a double-line of yellow tape and noted that everything was pretty low-key.  As I was standing next to the cameraman, and he looked rather bored, I asked what was going on.  He said that there had been a bomb.  I said, “You mean a bomb threat?”  He answered, “No, a bomb.”

That’s a real wake-up call as you can probably imagine.  It turns out (well, it’s still ongoing) that someone early in the morning had thrown two gernades, or gernade-type devices, into the Mexican Consulate.  As this was nearly 11am, the event had been going on for hours with me blissfully unawares.

You could see the consulate from the block entry point.

20071026-midtown-bomb-06-mexican-consulate.jpg

I knew nothing about when the bombing had occurred, so I was a little surprised that it was so sedate.  I waited around for a few minutes and captured some crowd shots.

20071026-midtown-bomb-08-crowd-watching.jpg

20071026-midtown-bomb-10-crowd-watching.jpg

I then went over to 38th and cut over to Park Avenue and got there in time to see the NY CSI unit pulling away.

20071026-midtown-bomb-11-ny-csi-unit.jpg

When I saw that, I knew that it must have taken place a long time before.  So I wandered on home.

This sort of thing happened nearly two years ago at the British Consulate up in the 50s and Third Avenue.   Thankfully, it’s been minor stuff at night.

-H

Ankling West 72nd Street

October 26, 2007

For me, West 72nd Street is Manhattan.  It’s absurd, but whenever I try to picture Manhattan into a single sort of place, this is the street for me.

I used to live in the area, and I would walk down parts of 72nd Street twice a day (to/from the subway).

And, although it’s only been 2 years since I’ve moved, it’s changing.  Mostly subtle, but it’s emblematic of Manhattan that there’s a continuous creative destruction in process.

At the far east part of W. 72nd is the Dakota.  One of my favorite buildings just because of its architecture.  I’ve posted about it before.  I’ve never been in it and never expect to be.

20070923-upper-west-side-02-the-dakota.jpg

As I’ve commented before, I find the window air conditioners on such a hyper-expensive building to be amusing more than anything else.

Further down the street is one of those views that are so typical of the Upper West Side.

20070923-upper-west-side-10-w-72nd-street-to-broadway.jpg

As you get to Broadway, you run into Verdi Square where the subway station is.  The square is created when Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue intersect.

20070923-upper-west-side-12-w-72nd-street-subway-station.jpg

And once you get to West End Avenue you’re nearly at the Hudson River.  Looking back toward Broadway is a view I’ve seen hundreds of times and that I really like. (Sorry that the shade is so intense on the sunny day that I took the picture.)

20070923-upper-west-side-24-w-72nd-street-from-west-end-ave.jpg

If you look closely, you’ll see the water tanks on some of the older buildings.  The newer ones have them, too.  They’re just better hidden.

-H

5th Avenue at night

October 25, 2007

I was out one evening and took a few pictures along 5th Avenue (or is it “Fifth Avenue”, I never know when to use one or the other).

I was up about 50th and wandered around Rockefeller Center a bit.

20070929-5th-ave-08-rockefeller-center.jpg

20070929-5th-ave-11-rockefeller-center.jpg

Just across the way is St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.  It is awesome in the evening.

20070929-5th-ave-01-st-patricks.jpg

The front doors are also impressive.  Here’s a full shot of the door followed by a closeup of one of the panels.  (Each of the door’s panels is different.)

20070929-5th-ave-03-st-patricks-door.jpg

20070929-5th-ave-04-st-patricks-door-closeup.jpg

The above panel is for St. Isaac Jogues, the first priest to come to Manhattan.  His journeys from Manhattan in the early 1600’s took him all the way to Lake Superior and he apparently even had some dealings with the Sioux tribe.  Amazing.  He was martyred after a long series of trials and tortures that he survived, even returning to Europe and then coming back to America, only to be killed by the Iroquois only a couple of hundred miles from New York City.

-H