Archive for June 2008

The End of 42nd Street

June 20, 2008

42nd Street is one of the most famous streets in all of NYC. (Okay, Broadway and Wall St. have it beat, and maybe 34th Street…and maybe 57th and a few others…)

42nd Street cuts across Manhattan pretty much right in the middle of the island. At the east side (which is what the below picture shows), the street goes right past the United Nations and then plunges into the East River as it tries to link into Queens. Okay, scratch that. It actually merges into FDR Drive which runs north-south.

I was looking at it the other day and just thought it was interesting that the street at this point is really mundane.

-H

A Small Spalding Gray Memorial

June 19, 2008

I’ve been to the area about five to seven times; Tompkins Square Park. One of my favorite spots is the Temperance Fountain. That fountain was established a hundred years ago to provide fresh water and (hopefully) wean people away from alcohol.

I had never noticed that the pavers around the fountain had dedications. Not all of them, but a bunch. As I circled it and looked (‘cuz I’m that kind of guy), I spotted a familiar name: Spalding Gray.

I never knew him or met him.  I best remember him in the movie “Swimming to Cambodia”.  He was something of a mezmerizing storyteller.

The paver reads “To The Best Dad in The World Spalding Gray All our love Marissa, Forrest Theo”.  According to Wikipedia, Marisa was his stepdaughter and the other two were his sons.  (And Wikipedia spells Marissa with one “s” whereas the paver has two.  I don’t know the right one.) [UPDATE:  Spalding Gray webmaster John Boland has provided the correct spelling:  “Marrisa”.  So the paver ought to read “To The Best Dad in The World Spalding Gray All our love Marrisa, Forrest Theo”.  This would correct the spelling of Marissa/Marrisa.]

But I do know that I enjoyed his monologue in Swimming to Cambodia.  Absolutely riviting.  I saw parts of “Monster in the Box” and enjoyed that, too.

-H 

Wall Street Subway Stop

June 18, 2008

Strange as it may seem, one of the first subway stops I ever used in NYC was the Wall Street stop.

It’s strange because I’ve only been through it about five times in four years and it was perhaps the second stop I used (having started from Grand Central). And as grand and huge as Grand Central is, the Wall Street stop is tiny and blech.

It’s about as small a station as you’ll ever find in NYC. You think about how many people must come here, and how tiny the space is next to the tracks.

But then, they don’t come to this stop to wait around and enjoy the view.

-H

Re-Visiting the Berlin Wall

June 17, 2008

I’ve posted on the New York City Berlin Wall exhibit before.  I was walking by it again last Sunday and knew it was there.  I just peeked over and noticed it was deserted.  No big deal.  I had my camera and took a quick snap.  Once again, no big deal.  I doubted I’d get a post about it…or rather, I doubted I could figure out an angle to share some more pictures of the Berlin Wall in the blog.

But I have.

It’s one of the rules of tourism.  Nobody sees nothing until somebody sees something.  After a few moments, I walked over to the wall, and all of a sudden at least three groups of people converged on the spot.  They may have seen me taking a picture or just staring at the Wall and then joined in, having noticed the Wall themselves.  Or they saw other people watching me looking at the Wall. Or maybe…

Or maybe they wanted to take a look at the Wall themselves and had come thousands of miles to see it in solitude and couldn’t ’cause some guy spoiled the one moment that the Wall was undisturbed.  (Not pictured, a Japanese couple who had me take their photo up against the Wall.)

-H

Library Walk on 41st Street

June 16, 2008

Leading from Park Avenue and stopping at Fifth Avenue, right in front of the New York Public Library is a nice little memorial/salute/whatever. It’s Library Walk. On the sidewalk, in fact on both sides of the sidewalk, are brass plaques with literary quotations.

Well, the first one doesn’t have a quote. It simply states that the Walk is a celebration of the world’s greatest literature and that it was sculpted by Gregg Lefevre in 1998.

I still stop and read one or more when I walk on the street. And I walk on that street a lot. It’s a little sad that most people on the street don’t seem to notice them at all; but I do enjoy seeing a few people stopping and reading them each in turn.

Some are long; the one below by Gu Cheng is about the longest, and some are really short.

Some are old. The one below is from Francis Bacon. It reads: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

The next one is a bit desceptive. And I like it. It’s from Willa Cather and despite looking long, there is really only one message to it: “There are only two or three human stoires, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before…” It’s from “O Pioneers!”

There is an underlying theme to these plaques: literature and the human condition. I have probably read each of them a half dozen times, and some a lot more than that, and it’s always pleasant.

Like I said, literary in nature. Well, in the below case it gets philosphical (“Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is light” from Tom Stoppard). Okay, they are all philosophical, too.

Incidentally, there’s one of these plaques about every 10 feet or so.

Literature and international counterfeiting! These aren’t real coins. If they were, the homeless in the area would have chisled them out a long time ago.

There’s a dirty little secret to Library Walk, though. The plaques on the south side of the street and the plaques on the north side. Well, they are duplicates. The artist appears to have run out of grant money or literary inspiration.

-H