Archive for June 2008

Basketball at South Street Seaport

June 30, 2008

I was down at the South Street Seaport area over the weekend and saw that they were setting up a basketball court.

Not that they were going to play any games there, though. Instead, it seemed to be a combination of Verizon, the NBA, and the WNBA to publicize their products and to let some locals have some fun. It was around 12:30 or so when I first walked by and people were already lined up and waiting to join in.

There seemed to be some minor obstacles to perform. In honesty, I only saw one person do the process and that was when I was leaving the area. Basically, it was something like shoot a basket, dribble the ball around the cutout figures, pass a basketball to a holding area, and then shoot another basket. I have no idea why I remember those steps. Like I said, it was just one person doing it and that may have just been a staff member testing it out. But everyone else was patiently waiting their turn.

While I was wandering, I did get a nice elevated shot of the area. Everyone on the court in the below view is actually a staff member. Man, those people in line were very patient for such a hot day.

I saw the same sort of thing last year. I think that they actually had some WNBA players on hand at that event. I don’t know if they did at this one or not. It just didn’t interest me enough to wait around for who knows how long to find out.

-H

Tudor City Greens

June 29, 2008

I don’t put much personal information on this site, but I have mentioned a number of times that I live in the Tudor City section of Manhattan. It’s generally older and a little more residential in nature than a lot of other areas. There’s a bit of retail, but you usually have to go a block or so to get to a store.

Coming from 2nd Avenue, there’s a rise to an elevated portion of the area. At that point, you’re basically surrounded by Tudor City buildings and just to the side is the area called “Tudor City Greens”.

It’s a park. A pretty small park, but it has a few very redeeming features. First, it’s relatively quiet as the traffic is minor (at least by NYC standards). Second, it’s broken into two parts; a north park and a south park. They are split by 42nd Street. (I live near the south part of the Greens.) Third, the landscaping is wonderful.

In Spring and Summer, there always seems to be something or another in bloom.

And there’s lots and lots of seating. Both inside and just outside the park.

The rules (aren’t there always rules) basically state that you can come in and sit. No music (unless there’s a band playing) or games. It’s all strictly for relaxing and silently enjoying.

 

And it is open to the public. Mostly locals enjoy it, but I know a number of non-locals who always comment about that little park just up the street from me. They know a nearly perfect park when they see it.

-H

Waterfalls in New York City

June 28, 2008

It appears that some Danish/Icelandic artist by the name of Olafur Eliasson set up four waterfalls near Manhattan. I can now attest to two of them. I don’t know about the others.

I went down to the South Street Seaport today to take a look. I had seen the early setup of one of them on the Brooklyn Bridge so I knew where to start looking. Sure enough, there it was on the east side of the Brooklyn Bridge.

It’s a nice waterfall, but it ain’t Niagara. Of course, that’d be way too expensive even for NYC. It looked a bit higher but less wide than the Brooklyn Bridge waterfall.

The second waterfall was on the Manhattan side of the East River.

I wasn’t in the ideal spot for watching. I noticed two variations of watching it. First, just to the south of the waterfall, there seemed to be a viewing area.

You can see by the next picture how good my zoom was for the picture. People were kicking back and relaxing on the third level of the South Street Seaport.

The other great way to see the waterfalls appeared to be by boat. The New York Water Taxi and some tour boats were doing a bang-up business taking people out there.

As I understand it, this will be going on for the next five months or so. Maybe I’ll get over to the other side to see it. But maybe not. Like I said, it’s no Niagara.

-H

Cruising Around Manhattan. Boat Cruise, that is…

June 27, 2008

I recently got the chance to go on a work-related boat cruise around Manhattan (well, actually, only about a third of the way and back) and did have my camera. Being Famous Ankles, I spent a lot of the trip just snapping pictures.

There’s not much of a storyline to the photos, so I’ll be brief. Oh, and I got a lot of pictures. I’ll break it into a number of posts, but I won’t do my usual consecutive postings with “Part 1”, “Part 2” and so-forth. Just the occasional post when I feel like it.

We started off on the World Yacht pier at about 41st and 12th Avenue. No point in describing the boat. It was nice. 

It started by heading north to the Upper West Side. The next picture is still in Mid-Town West, though.

Another Mid-Town West shot (mid-town is in the 30s or so to about 59th Street). This is a view I’ve seen many, many times: kayakers. It is always cool to think about how popular kayaking is on the Hudson River. Of course, with 8 or 10 million people in the NYC area, three kayakers does not a massive trend make.

My old stomping grounds. This is the view of Trump Place. Some of the Trump Place buildings are rental, others are condos. At the far left, the tall building with the circular structure on the top is one of the condo buildings and is one of the more iconic Trump Place buildings.

Here’s a better show with, perhaps, four of the Trump Place buildings. The “iconic” one is on the far left. The third building from the left; the brownish one? That’s my old building. I lived there for a year when I first got to NYC. I was on the 17th floor. That’s about the top of the first level of the building. I was about the second window from the far left. As good as this view is of it; I had a better view: the Hudson and even New Jersey. (For my earlier posts on Trump Place, see here and here.)

Here’s a marina that is just to the north of Trump Place. Incidentally, this is probably around 80th Street if you want to know.

Another shot of the marina.

The highest we got was just north of the marina. I did max out my 5x telescopic lens (built-in) to get this picture of the George Washington Bridge in the distance. I’m surprised it came out as well as it did.

Coming back down the Hudson now. This barge was parked on the river just north of Trump Place. That was something I always loved to see: lots of barges would spend the weekend anchored off here. (Not sarcasm: I really did like seeing them. Some were wonderfully set up and others were somewhat dilapidated. I enjoyed them all. I never did see a human on any of them.)

The sun was starting to go down when I took this next picture. (Okay, okay. I took a lot more in between, but they’re redundant or not as good as the ones I’m showing.) That’s the Empire State Building in the distance. It’s located midway across Manhattan.

I tried to frame this right, but chopped off the top of the Empire State. There were a number of boats on the water, but not as many as the warm Friday night would normally bring out. Probably gas was too expensive.

What can I say? Chelsea Piers at twilight is a good way to describe this next picture. The “frame” on the right part of the picture is the golf driving range.

I took so many variations of this shot! This isn’t the best, but I’ll post another or two at another date. But the view is wonderful. This is southern Manhattan. A few years ago, you’d have seen the twin towers.

Here’s another shot of Chelsea Piers, this time with the Empire State Building in the background. Incidentally, Chelsea Piers is in the 20’s. It’s a bit fuzzy, but I wanted to have the boat in the picture, too.

Last picture for the day: southern Manhattan with a sailboat.

I’ve put a statement in this blog a number of times: if you visit, take the Circle Line Cruise. Take the long one! It goes completely around Manhattan.

-H

307th Infantry Memorial in Central Park

June 26, 2008

Near the clamshell in Central Park (at the level of 69th Street and just to the east of Fifth Avenue) is a war memorial that I have never noticed before.

It’s the World War I memorial to the dead of the 307th Infantry, 77th Division of the Allied Expeditionary Forces from New York. The area is marked, but it is very unobtrusive. There’s a stone with information carved into it. It’s already fading away. But it notes that from 1917 to 1919 there were 590 deaths of officers and men. Yes, WWI only lasted until 1918, but I presume some died of their injuries after the armistice.

The memorial is spread out and really consists of plaques in front of trees.

There’s a second larger stone, more professionally done (and recently cleaned of grafitti) that commemorates the members that were, I guess, masons from the order of the Knights of Pythias.

There are two kinds of plaques. The first is copper and shiny. I didn’t see one that didn’t have some sort of prymarks or damage. One each of these is a list of names of the 590. The names on the different plaques don’t seem to overlap. Each group of soldiers has their own plaque.

The second type of plaque is more brass. This one commemorates the members of the machine gun company who were killed in action. Two sergeants and ten privates in this case.

There’s actually a bit of an overlook of the area nearby. An outcropping of schist and I got a grand overview of it.

 

Some of the trees that had plaques in front of them have already been removed. Perhaps age, perhaps blight. I don’t know if there are plans to replant, but I would certainly hope so.

-H

2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 4

June 25, 2008

This is the fourth and last of my posts on the Mermaid Parade.

I don’t know what I really expected from the parade. More importantly, I don’t know what I got from the parade. Lots of skin, to be honest. There were some politics in there. Some showmanship. A bit of cleverness, but not enough. I guess I expected pretty much what I got: a parade that just reveled in being a parade with marchers that were a bit exhibitionistic and a little bit laid back.

For what it’s worth, I tell you one thing it lacked big time: excitement. I’ve gone to lots of parades and a good parade has a lot of music and a lot of crowd participation. Some of the marchers, especially those at the beginning, tried to rouse the crowd. But maybe it was too hot. Probably it was too silent. The times it worked? When there was a lot of music. The times it didn’t work? When the marchers were in their own little world and didn’t project to the crowd.

Back to the coverage…Stilt-walking woman with a Carmen Miranda hat and blue painted skin. Okay, that seems to sum up Coney Island for me.

Here’s another picture of the crowd, just to show that this is a pretty popular parade.

The next picture is at the end of a frenzy of picture taking. Almost every picture I took had another photographer in it. But I did catch a picture of the guillotine at the end of it. The part that was the big attraction: dancing Marie Antoinettes in high hair and short dresses. Maybe eight of them in total. What does it have to do with mermaids? They called it “Marine Antoinette”.

Okay, I have very little excuse for the next picture except I like it.

Perhaps the best costume of the day: Popeye. He got a few call outs from the crowd. Well, he is a sailor man so I guess he’s a fine addition to the Mermaid Parade.

You can’t read much on Famous Ankles without running into pictures of beauty queens and the like. Well, here’s Miss Use of Recycled Materials. Well done! Of course, you sure ain’t the normal “Miss” anything I post on, but I’m content with that.

It took me a moment to understand what the next group was doing. Okay, beyond the showgirl aspect. Their headgear is a salute to Coney Island rides. Nicely done. I just wish I had caught the one on the far right a moment earlier (she had the Cyclone on her head).

They were trying for whimsy (I guess). They were trying for funny (I suppose). They were trying for cleverness (I would hope). A cowgirl/mermaid and a viking? Come on folks. You didn’t hit any of them.

Here’s a float. It symbolizes…I haven’t any idea.

This is what a lull in the parade looked like. There was a crossing area right where the crowd is (where people could go from one side of the parade to the other to get, for example, from the beach to the food area). Those people are just encroaching on the parade route to get a picture.

Maybe the idea of a theme is too deep for this parade. The people below sure don’t seem wedded to the idea of depth and relevance.

I think the next group is just trying hard to make me wonder who they are supposed to be. Sea monster and can of tuna?

I’ve seen this group do stuff before. They take old Metro cards and glue them together for costumes and the like. Why? Heck if I know. But then, I don’t know what Aztecs and the Mermaid Parade have in common, either.

This young lady is loaded up with SPF 2000 or so. And a parasol.

I guess the “sea monster and the beauty” is something of a cultural constant, and here they are again.

I started feeling the heat so I left with maybe 30 minutes left in the parade. Hey, I was really wiped out. And then it took forever to get to the subway. That’s because the parade was still going on and I was inside the square that the parade was making going up to the Boardwalk, down it, then to the street and then back to the beginning point. The crowd on the street was huge. I’m really glad I stayed on the Boardwalk.

So, that’s the end of the parade for me. I left really tuckered out and a day later hadn’t gotten back to snuff. I’m not sure if I’d recommend the parade to others. Like I said at the beginning, I did edit out a lot of pictures to keep this safe for work. But it wasn’t salacious. Maybe it was trying, but it didn’t even reach that.

For what it’s worth: next year bring a lot more music and make the marchers be a little more than people walking down the Boardwalk. Oh, and keep the hula hoopers. You can never have too many of them.

-H

2008 Mermaid Parade on Coney Island – Part 3

June 24, 2008

This is the third of four posts on the parade. In my earlier post, I mentioned that the West Village Sea Monster Marching Band came on and started playing. Following them was an old favorite: hula hoopers. I always post pictures on hula hoopers; it’s the law.

This was one of the best points in the parade. The music was loud and catchy (I think) and the marchers broke into dance. A very fun few moments.

The next picture shows one of my favorite moments. You have to understand that there were a ton of photographers around, and many were inside the Boardwalk fencing (they had press passes of some sort). They kept getting in the way on some pictures. Well, this next young lady had gone past and the music and dancing got a little more frenzied and she put on one heck of a dance sequence (you can see a male marcher looking on in appreciation, too). Toward the end of it, the photographer in front of me apparently noticed my intense picture taking and turned to see her finish her bit. I think he missed taking any photos at all. Ha! But Famous Ankles was well aware. That’s another photog right next to her, but I think he was too close for his camera to capture her. In a couple of my pictures, he’s just staring.

This next lady was in a group called the “Pink Lady Salmons”. Thanks for the smile.

The second picture in a row of a pretty girl smiling at me. I am so predictable.

I confess, I love the next picture. In the first post of the parade, I mentioned how I would have enjoyed a bunch of people in olde-time swimsuits. Well, I guess I got one more here. Sort of.

And yes, that’s three pictures in a row like this.

Perhaps the biggest non-sequitur in a parade that reveled in meaninglessness: a participant dressed as a mermaid being groped by a gorilla. That’s one woman with a gorilla costume set on her shoulder and legs. On top of that, her (human) hand has a banana and she’s dressed a bit like a Fay Wray mermaid. A “Fay Wray mermaid”?

The next picture captures someone I think I’ve seen before. In one of my posts on the 2008 Dance Parade in Manhattan, I saw this little girl (at least I think it’s the same girl) walk a long ways on her stilts. She’s not only talented, but determined. Well done, young lady.

Ah yes! Hula Hoops. Lots and lots of them.

You’re seeing one of the best parts of the parade. The hula hoopers were in control and it was just fine.

More hula hoops! Yes, more. I gotta love it when they do this. It isn’t quite as good as dancing and all, but it works for me. And this lass was really good.

One of several King Neptunes in the parade. This guy went to some trouble. Good for him. And the eyeglasses make it even better.

The next batch of people were just a gaggle of semi-costumed types. Well, them and a guy as a squid. I approve of the squid-man!

I love pictures of people on stilts. I have no idea why, but I just have to post it. (Okay, okay. People who know me know I like to juggle and I always view stilt-walking in the same vein, except I never learned how to stilt-walk.)

As I’ve mentioned, the parade was filled with non-sequiturs. Below is a cowgirl on a bicycle. Well, the bike is supposed to be a fish. So, I guess this is a cowgirl on a fish. With a gun.

“Defenders of the Galax-Sea”, indeed. I like this picture, but I also liked the picture I took a moment later (and didn’t put in here) of Wonder Woman. It was a fine Linda Carter immitation. But what does that have to do with mermaids?  Or Coney Island?

This was the biggest thing that made it to the Boardwalk. The most interesting part: there was water shooting from its mouth. I, and many others, had to protect my camera when it pointed my way.

I always love the winged dancers / fan dancers / whatever. I have to post this one just to keep my streak going.

When I took the next picture, I knew it would be a good’un. She looked at me preparing to take a picture and threw the confetti right when I clicked. Thank you very much.

I presume the long dresses are supposed to evoke the mermaid tail. It doesn’t click with me, but maybe I’m not their target audience. But I still don’t really understand why people come without any real costume and parade. Except for the opportunity to be the center of attention, I guess.  Strictly speaking, this wasn’t a parade about mermaids or summer or Coney Island.  It was an exhibitionists’ parade celebrating their ability to flaunt.  I guess.

If it’s a Mermaid Parade (or at least named as such), I guess we’re not supposed to expect men in geisha outfits. And I didn’t expect them. I presume it isn’t a subtle jab at the Japanese custom of the very pale makeup being displayed on a day of more-or-less sun worship. Of course, that could have been an interesting study of cultural mores.

Well, the below picture is a study in the “themelessness” of the parade. Pirate guy all dressed in black. One lady a study in contrast: out for a lot of sun, but carrying a parasol to keep the sun off of her. The other two in costumes… Hey, they ain’t costumes. They’re just walking down the Boardwalk.

Topical tropical. Women in grass skirts.

Have I mentioned how much I love hula hoopers in parades? I guess I have. Here’s more.

I’m going to end this post with a picture of a purple guy. I think that makes it unique.

-H