Archive for May 2008

Worship at St. Paul’s Chapel

May 24, 2008

I went to services at St. Paul’s Chapel on Broadway; way down toward the tip of Manhattan. It’s just next to the World Trade Center site (Ground Zero). As you may be aware, it’s an Episcopal church. As I understand it, the Chapel is closely united with Trinity Church; which is just down the street. (When I went down there, I was trying to go to Trinity’s services. They sent me up to St. Paul’s (it’s just a couple of short blocks).

St. Paul’s claims to be Manhattan’s oldest public building in continuous use. It even operated during 9/11’s aftermath. As I understand it, the chapel was used as a sleeping area and rest station for the crews.

I like the front doors.

I was in there for the 8am service. They used Rite 2 (for those who know the Prayer Book and have their preferences). But, there were some variations. Unlike every other Episcopal church I’ve been to, this one is brightly lit; mainly from the ample windows. I’m sure that’s not original, though. Glass was expensive way back then.

And another thing; the service was performed “in the round”. There was a table at the center and the priests and visitors sat in chairs that circled the table. It was only an alter in the formal sense. You can see it in the picture below.

It does have a formal alter. Nothing particularly memorable. It’s got the Ten Commandments and a very tiny Cross. The picture below is viewing the church’s interior from the alter. As you can see, the spirit of 9/11 is still held tightly. During the non-service times, St. Paul’s has a steady stream of people looking at the exhibits that surround the perimeter of the church’s interior. There’s lots of memories of those days there.

An outside is the church’s graveyard; or churchyard as they like to call it. Remember, we are only a few blocks away from the NY Stock Exchange and, I believe, just across the street from the American Stock Exchange.

And just outside of the churchyard in the back stands the big open area that was the WTC. You really can’t see anything there anymore. They’ve blocked it off.

-H

Just another day at Union Square

May 23, 2008

Last weekend, I decided to take a little trip by Union Square. Something’s always going on at Union Square.

This time, one of the items was a flower market. Pretty impressive. The weather was just fine and the local vendors were out in force.

There were, of course, tons of flowers around; but in addition to them there were lots of the usual artists and, off to the side, the traditional farmers market. I’ve taken so many pictures of those crowds, I didn’t feel like doing another. Here’s more of the flower market vendors.

Surprisingly, the free hugs at Union Square people were out again. Good for them, but the crowd seemed a little more standoffish this time. And there were fewer huggers.

At the bottom left of the above picture, you can see some chalk writing. There was also an anti-restaurant-on-Union-Square protest going on. They were protesting the felling of a tree. I still haven’t seen the spot that they plan on building the restaurant. I just haven’t even thought about looking for it. In fact, it is probably so plainly visible that I’ve seen it and just haven’t even noticed.

Yeah, there’s always something going on in Union Square.

-H

Carnegie Hall

May 22, 2008

Over the weekend, I passed by Carnegie Hall. It remains one of the highlights of cultural life in NYC.

It’s located on 7th Avenue and takes up the block from 56th Street to 57th Street.

-H

South Street Seaport

May 21, 2008

I was recently deep downtown and, as usual, felt the need to go by the South Street Seaport. It’s on the east side of Manhattan and they’ve created a nice little pedestrian mall about two blocks long in the area. Unfortunately, there is a very busy street that bisects that mall, but it’s tolerable. Here’s the view from the furtherest west point of the mall.

I don’t really want to review the mall and the seaport here. My usual practice is to go to the area and look out onto where the East River ain’t the river no more. It’s part of the bay. Below is the Circle Line boat. I highly, highly, highly recommend taking it if you ever visit NYC. I’ve done it three times, I think. Take the longest tour you have time for (I think the longest is 2 or 3 hours long).

Also down there are some tall ships for wandering about. Is there such a thing as a bad picture of a tall ship?

No, there really isn’t. Especially when you can also capture a cool backdrop.

But my favorite sight isn’t ships or people or anything like that. I just love staring at the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Willamsburg bridges from that angle. (You can barely see the Williamsburg in the picture below, though.) How do you remember the names? BMW.

-H

Dance Parade 2008 in New York City – Part 3

May 20, 2008

Here’s my third and last post on the 2008 NYC Dance Parade.

The next group was something called “Stage Stars”. There wasn’t a lot of dancing being done by them at the moment, but I did catch one woman having some fun.

The next group was, at least for me, the most boring group of the entire parade. By far the most boring. And they were probably the only professionals: the Knicks dancers. They didn’t do any routines, they didn’t do anything other than walk and wave. Ladies, it’s a dance parade. Dance.

Well, the next group didn’t dance either, but I do love the concept of the beauty queen (just take a look at my Polish Day Parade postings). This is Miss Dance of the United States. I haven’t the foggiest idea of how she got the crown. I presume it is from this source.

I hope she gave a nice exhibition at Tompkins Square Park.  Maybe the Knicks dancers did, too.

And next came the next batch of hula-hoopers. It was great to watch. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them used and it was too long.

The next hula-hooper was great. Thanks for the pose.

Despite my calling the group “hula-hoopers”, it was actually more of a costumed group. I didn’t see any identification for them at this point. But the costumes had me think that they were frustrated trick or treaters who are waiting for an altogether different parade.

The next picture was something of a celebration of the warmer weather, in addition to the costume theme.

If we’ve got hula-hoops, we gotta have more stilt walkers, too. I think it’s one of those immutable laws of parades.

This dancer vamped it up to 11. Thank you very much.

Other than the guy who was the only one on the block, this next guy was the most exhibitionistic. He got cut off from his group by the cops to let traffic flow through. Then he kind of took over from the cops and started directing traffic (getting blasted by horns once or twice). And, fueled by adrenaline (and maybe more), decided to share his enthusiasm with the rest of us as he slowly caught up with his group.

These two appeared to be late and were running to catch up, too. I just think of them as Batman and Happy Woman.

A group called Dance Studio brought back a little more organization and style.

Although this next picture isn’t taken during an action sequence that I remember. These youngsters did a really nice set of dancing with some of the other Dance Studio people.

Formality disappeared when the Dance Police showed though. Where were they when the dance criminals from Metropolis in Motion were flagrantly flaunting the no dance laws? Oh, they aren’t that sort of police?

This was the only breakdancing I saw in the parade.

This next group came with no sign as to who they are. Middle East or faux Middle East? I don’t know.

Finally! Another hula-hooper. I know you needed another fix.  I certainly did.

A group called Melting Pot Dancers then showed up. Oh, and they danced.

They were a pretty fun group although I was getting a little tired of freestyle and the like.

They did have a float, but I really can’t remember any significance to it.

The next group was called “Freedom to Dance”. Don’t these people know it’s a crime to dance? Well, I guess they’re prop dancers. I don’t know what that means, if anything. They just used the flags as props.

Yep. Props.

Just how many groups are there in NYC devoted to dance? Lots I know about (because of the parade). This group is called Gravity. They weren’t very somber, so I presume they are acquiesing to the physical process. We must heed gravity. It’s the law! Oh, and they wanted freedom to dance. You know, I didn’t see a single one of the paraders thrown into a (real) jail.

I was, and remain, mystified by this next group. I saw the two cherries on their shirts and haven’t been able to figure it out. There has to be a simple reason.

They seemed to be associated with the float below, which had the words “Martinez Brothers” in big letters. The young ladies were celebrating the warmer weather. Yet, not a single smile amongst them.

Finally, the cops showed up to arrest the whole lot of them! Okay, not really. It’s just the end of the parade.

I’ve covered a lot of parades and I generally enjoy them.  And, yessireebob, I did enjoy the Dance Parade.  It’s a keeper.  In an odd way, it reminds me of the Persian Day Parade.  The first time I saw it, the streets were pretty empty of viewers.  But this year, it was jammed big time.  And a jampacked parade creates a buzz and excitement all on its own.  Here’s hoping that next year the crowds are huge!

-H

Dance Parade 2008 in New York City – Part 2

May 19, 2008

To start my second post on the 2008 Dance Parade, I want to present the bravest and most determined person in the parade. A very vigorous dancer, and a very good one, too.  Her act of bravery and determination?  She danced in high heels. A woman next to me basically gasped when she saw it and kept saying that the dancer was going to cripple herself by the end of the parade. I sure hope she didn’t. I honestly don’t know how she kept it up, though. She would have danced a mile at this point. Maybe she joined in really late and then dropped out after a couple of blocks. Anyway, she was great.  (Her dance style was more than just a little shake while walking around as she was most definitely doing some little moves and bumps and the like.  But at least she wasn’t leaping around.)

Our heroic/foolish/dancaholic woman was followed by a flamenco style dancer that I also enjoyed.

And she was followed by a swing group that was very vigorous on their own.  Nicely done, folks.

This group called themselves Dance Manhattan. Once again, I simply couldn’t capture the energy.

And the stilt dancers! Yeah, they were dancing. Not throwing each other around, but they were certainly dancing on their stilts.

The woman below was a favorite of mine. Really very much in the shimmy/shake kind of style. Very, very fun to watch. And a great person for the pose.

This next part was really nice. The man was dancing with the woman to the left and then the other woman, who was much lower energy, was just swirled into the dance. The first woman broke off and started dancing with others and the man and the smaller woman started into their own dance. Just one of those little vignettes that you wonder if it was planned or the smaller woman finally allowed the others to cajole her into the activity, or whatever. Not anything of consequence, but just a little bit of something else in the mix. Maybe. Incidentally, this was the Gotham Swing Club.

This next group, Zydeco Messenger was perhaps the oddest group in the parade. I really liked the music, but that’s the key. Although they danced, the whole point of this group was the music, not the dance. That’s not true of any other group in the whole parade.

This group had no announced name…I think. There was a car at the front with some small letter saying Yehoodi. It may have been the group or the sponsor, or the driver’s name who wants to make sure he gets in the right car every day. But the dancers were great. The blonde was the most eye-catching.

Some more dancers. I think they were still associated with the Yehoodi group.

This next group had two things of real note. Look at that little girl on stilts. Unreal. She always had an adult very near and very ready to catch her, but she was doing it all on her own. I can’t imagine she had done the whole parade to this point on the stilts, but she was going on pretty steadily.

She and the next bunch of people were associated with a group called “MetropolisInMotion.org” that had lots and lots of signs saying “Legalize Dancing”. I looked at their website and they complain that NYC’s caberet laws prohibit/limit dancing. Okay. But there’s an entire Dance Parade. NYC’s clubs are renowned for the dancing. But according to the group, dancing is a crime in NYC.

In that case, lots of criminal activity on the Saturday afternoon streets of NYC.

More dancing criminals. I imagine it was hard for the cops to keep their weapons holstered.

But it was a fun group and they really did dance up a (criminal) storm.

I don’t know what her style was, but that’s a jail cage on the float behind her.

Dancing women in chains.

Roller Boogie anyone? It’s Sisters in Motion! The oddest part about this group was that the first part of it were mostly male.  It’s a strange thing when I think about it.  I was more intrigued by the misnaming of the group (or at least the fact that the “Sisters” included men rather than the fact that everyone was wearing roller skates.  I guess it’s easier for me to transport back to 1978.)

More Sisters in Motion.

Hula hoops were a popular part of the parade. Yeah, hula hoops. It makes me think about buying stock in Whammo or whatever. I saw them in several separate sections of the parade so maybe they’re making one of their periodic comebacks.

All I know about this group is the name “Peter Munch” on the float. It really didn’t strike a chord with me and I just have virtually no memory of their being around other than they were passing out some sort of flyers that I refused.

This next guy had the whole block all to himself. And he carried it off well.

This group was called “Music in Motion”. They were good, but nothing special. And then something drew them over to my side of the street and they started to put on some sort of dance exhibition. I didn’t know what was going on.

Here you can see them all looking over to my side of the street. They really started to do some dancing. I was delighted at the display, but didn’t have a clue as to the cause.

And then I looked to my left. Well, they had something of a competitor/friend who was apparently doing some sort of a dance challenge on them. This may be the best picture I got the whole day.

-H

Dance Parade 2008 in New York City – Part 1

May 18, 2008

Oddly enough, or perhaps it is to be expected, NYC has a parade dedicated just to dance. Take your pick of the dance style. I didn’t note any minuet, but I think I saw variations on just about everything else. Well, come to think of it; no square dance section, either. Man! I wuz robbed!

The parade had perhaps the weirdest route I’ve ever seen for a parade. It started up on 31st Street heading south on Broadway; then it cut over to University (just north of Union Square); and then hung a left on 8th Street to end in Tompkins Square Park. Well, at least that’s what I heard. I stayed around 10th and University for the whole parade. And it did last quite a while. I think I’m gonna get about three posts from it.

And, now, on with the first post.

The parade started at 1pm, but we didn’t see anything in the Village where I was standing until about 1:40. They may dance hard, but they parade slow.

The parade was eclectic to say the least. It had a lot of international dance, but it seemed mostly to consist of dance companies. And not a single marching band! Not one! Where was Mother Cabrini’s? Where was a dancing marching band? Nevertheless, it was a highly enjoyable parade and the dancers were almost all having a grand time entertaining us and each other.

First up, some sort of Caribbean dancers.  Or were they just belly dancers?  Caribbean belly dancers?

But to be honest, the real stars of this group were the musicians. The dancers were fine; the musicians were great.

The musicians were followed by more dancers, whom I presume were associated with the music. I don’t know it, but I’m guessing. This parade was actually pretty bad in detailing who was who. The two dancers at the back of the below photo were actually very, very good. I thought I had a better picture of them, but no go…

Then a group called Pure followed. A really nice little show where they did mostly, I guess, what is considered an interpretive dance of some sort.

Looking at the picture below, all I can think of is how it’d look from a June Taylor dance perspective. (For those of you who aren’t old fogeys, that’s a group that would dance on the Jackie Gleason show and their gimmick was the filming of the group from above.)

A group called ASAmed followed. Well, they did. I think the picture below was part of their group, but the formal group follows in the next picture. The group was middle eastern and was primarily more in the belly dancing style.  (CORRECTION:  reader Debbie Lakis sent in a comment that the below group is called “Manhattan Tribal”.  Thanks!)

Here’s the ASAmed group, at least where they were clearly identified. I really regret that my photos don’t capture the actual movement of the dancers. When you see the dancers with their hands out, don’t even think they were posing. These ladies were dancing up a storm.

All I can say about the below picture is that this dancer was following a Mexican float/bus of some sort. I cannot place the outfit into any sort of mental category in my head.

I really loved the Korean Institute of NY’s display. They actually had a number of dancers and everyone was about as colorful as you could hope for. The picture below captures my best moment of watching them. In the others, they are a lot more scattered and you can’t really catch the movement and the impact. Or, at least I can’t.

This was a group of Polish dancers. Probably. They had a flag that I think was the Polish flag (red and black, double-headed eagle).

Here’s the start of what I considered the best part of the parade (out of a pretty good parade). The Bolivian dancers were intent. Wow, oh wow; they were intent! The young lady at the center of the picture was utterly consumed with the passion of her dancing. It was almost scary. They stopped for a moment and all of the ladies crouched (well, there were some guys, too). Then, all at once they popped up and started dancing again. And this young lady wasn’t going to let anything make her miss her cue. It was just the look in her eye and the way she just wouldn’t let up glancing at the others to make sure that she and they were all in sync. Very fun, at least for me.

And it was fun for this woman, too. She just had the biggest smile.

The more “interpretive” or modern or contemporary or whatever-ya-wanna-call-it style then seemed to take over. I never again saw the passion and the communal action that the Bolivians had. The rest was fine, but perhaps just a little too laid back to stand close comparison with the Bolivians. The next picture was of a group called “Contemporary Dance Theatre”. They were way too laid back to follow up on the Bolivians. And they either knew it and didn’t try or they thought they were too cool to be as energetic. This is one of the few moments that they were dancing when they walked by me. That isn’t to say they weren’t big on dancing in other places; all I’m saying is that you couldn’t prove it from what I saw.

The East Village Dance Project followed. They had some interesting stuff, but there was still something of a vacuum from the passing of the Bolivians. Of course, these were mostly kids and probably shouldn’t be compared to the others, anyway.

Now, the Neville Dance Theatre did start to bring back some life. They weren’t as numerous or as passionate as the Bolivians, but they were very, very good.

As you might expect, I did enjoy the moments above and below. The dancers were having fun and enjoyed having their pictures taken. Thank you.

The Amy Marshall Dance Company was pretty good. I got a number of shots of them, but I just don’t think I captured their energy. In the picture below, you can see some of the high kicking going on in the background, but it was a bit spread too out for me to really capture.

A lot of the dancers were very young and were very bendable.

The next group that came was, I think, something about “Luigi’s Jazz”. At least, that’s what was on the back of the guy in the stilts. Maybe that’s Luigi in the back of the car. No other sign of who they were.

That’s the end of my first post on the parade (I think it may end up as three posts). There were a bunch of great moments during the parade and I hope to point out the rest of them. It was a nice day and a nice parade with some good music and no really bad music. There were a lot of dancers out there to strut their stuff and a number of oddballs who wanted to show how odd they were. There were even, strange as it seems, some political aspects to the parade, but not in the manner you might think. I’ll cover it in tomorrow’s post, but I honestly don’t know if they were just pulling a scam (probably) or making a point (seemingly a really minor point, if so).

But you have to wait to see that.

-H.