Archive for August 2008

2008 Pakistan Day Parade in New York City

August 24, 2008

On my way to Church on Sunday, I discovered that Madison Avenue had up the barricades for a parade. I hadn’t looked to see if any were scheduled, so I didn’t know who it was. I talked with a cop and he told me it was the Pakistan Day Parade and would be held at noon.

That made me pretty happy. The Pakistan Day Parade is one of my favorites and last year’s post on it is actually one of the most popular posts I have on this blog.

So, when I left Church, I didn’t bother going home, but showed up on Madison and 38th at about 11:30. I talked with another cop and he said it would be at noon.

And then I got disappointed. Noon came and went. The parade route had cars going north on it unimpeded by the police officers stationed at every corner. I could hear the bands warming up! I figured it was actually a late start or maybe a 12:30 parade. Finally, another cop walked by and I asked and he told me 1pm. It wasn’t worth leaving at that point and I did want to see the parade. So, I waited. Amazingly, at 12:45 I was the only person on my block waiting for the parade. A number of obviously Pakistani people went by (you could recognize them because they all seemed to have flags) but they were heading to the block or two north of me close to the very beginning of the parade.

Promptly at 1pm, the parade started. My block had a few more people, but not many. I looked in vain for the family that I had seen last year and the man who had proved to be the biggest hit of the parade. No luck.

First, came the cops on horses and then the dignitaries came. There was a bunch of ’em.

This year’s parade was a lot more political than last year’s. Well, it is an election year. I’ve seen this same limo for the candidate before.

There were a couple of marching bands, but the Pakistanis really like to come in floats and virtually every one I saw was jammed. The guy at the front right of the float below was one of the parade highlights. You can’t see the movements, but he was very animated and having fun.

Like most national day parades, there were flags everywhere. As usual, most of the flags were of the originating country, but there were a lot of American flags, too. SM&B Construction’s float had a visual that I really liked.

I didn’t understand the next float. It had the name of Dr. Muhammad M. Haque from the Department of Immigration. I don’t know if it was a float he sponsored or one he is memorialized on. I presume the latter.

The next float was pretty cool. It was a celebration of the American International School System in Pakistan and noted how there are schools throughout Pakistan that use American connections and techniques and supplies to further their education. I gotta support that.

My personal highlight of the parade is something new this year: beauty queens. They are a staple of most parades, but I don’t recall seeing any in other parades so closely associated with Islam. All beauty queens are automatically pictured in Famous Ankles. So here you go, thanks to Wholesale Building Supply.

Last year’s parade was a pretty quiet affair. This year, lots and lots of music. I wouldn’t say this was the loudest, but it was one of the best. One of the DJ’s at the back was dancing in time with the music and it was pretty well done.

Finally, there was this next float. Apparently, it is a limo service.

Okay, why is this one of my favorite parades? It doesn’t even have the “big flag” and only a couple of beauty queens; what’s so great? The answer last year was the “Dad” character and the fact that the entire parade; the whole parade; from beginning to end was about 18 minutes long. This is a town where a two-hour parade is typical and I’ve left one parade after more than four hours while it was still going on!

This year’s parade was much longer than last year’s. It hit the 29 minute mark. Well done and a happy 61st independence day for Pakistan.

-H

New York City from the water at night

August 19, 2008

Ah, yes. My third and final posting about my June cruise around most of Manhattan. Part one detailed the late afternoon views; part two detailed the twilight views.

So, that makes this the evening post.  And to start it off, here’s the tippy-tippy-southern-tip of Manhattan…seen from a few hundred yards further south.  I even caught a couple of other boats in the picture.

At this point, we entered the East River side.  Yeah, you can name this bridge despite the poor lighting.  Yup, it’s the Brooklyn Bridge. 

You’ll notice that these pictures are just a bit more unfocused than usual.  Blame the poor light and the choppy water (and maybe, just a little, the photographer).  Nevertheless, this next picture of the Manhattan Bridge [corrected] just couldn’t be left out of the posting.  The angle is everything.

As we went up the East River, I saw a couple of buildings way in the distance that had some odd lighting about it.  I photographed it a bunch of times, but the only one I’ll put up is the next picture.  This is about as close as we got.  The neat thing about these is that the lights and their colors were slowly changing.  Just slow enough that I seldom caught them in transition.  That’s what made it so good.  I’m sure they’re famous, but I haven’t any idea as to what and why they are the way they are.  The buildings are in Brooklyn, not Manhattan.

For the next picture, we were heading back south and could see the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.  There are three major bridges in southern Manhattan.  Easily remembered for their names and position:  BMW.  Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg.  Williamsburg is the furthest north.

At the time of the next picture, the sunlight had well and truly faded away.  It left only the light of the City to picture.  I’ve done the cruise before and sights like this always make me a little awed.

And speaking of awe and pride.  One of the last things we did on the cruise, and the last picture I’ll share from that night:  the Statue of Liberty.

-H

Street Sights in Greenwich Village

August 18, 2008

I always think of Greenwich Village as this picturesque place that’s very quiet and expensive. I generally call it “Ozzie and Harriet-land” because it is so gentrified and mainstream (well, mostly) and has lost the fabled counterculture/beatnick/starving artist sort of feel.

And this post pretty much falls right into that category. Look at the terrific sights and architecture and try to think of it as flophouses.

Not a flophouse, this next place (on 10th Street) just had a porch that I thought was great.

I guess if you’re in a place like Greenwich Village, even Ralph Lauren has to find a spot for a (fake) horse. I couldn’t resist the picture.

The next picture is Bethune Street. It’s just a little street with great architecture and a lotta trees.

The is next picture is one of those views that I like to think of as “pure NYC”. There are only small rowhouses, but this is the sort of sight you see all over Greenwich Village and so many other parts of New York. But I also think of the concrete canyons as “pure NYC” views, too. And Central Park. And a row of little stores about 10 feet wide each. Face it, NYC is too big and too…everything…to be easily classified. Yet each is a pure look at the place. Yeah, I know, I know. I’ll stop with the lyricism.

Another great street, but with a name that has put it on a zillion posters: Gay Street. It is spectacularly nice and really small. It is only a hundred yards or so long, but the curve in it is pretty cool and the buildings on it are very nice.

A final picture of that day’s wanderings (at least for this post). A sidewalk view of a number of row houses somewhere in the Village. I can’t remember the location, but I’d like to point out one thing in all of these pictures: no people. They were taken around 9am on a Saturday morning. That’s not too early; but the streets were pretty empty. I hadn’t realized that none of the pictures had anyone in them until I was writing the post, but it does help point out that NYC isn’t always hustle-bustle.

Okay, in the last picture that might be a person way, way down there, but remember that I didn’t take or select these pictures to exclude people; the streets were just pretty empty.

-H

Thomas Jefferson Park in Spanish Harlem

August 17, 2008

I’ve done a fair amount of blogging about my trip through Spanish Harlem / El Barrio / East Harlem. I don’t know quite how many posts I got out of it (six?). But, I do know that I’ve written a fair amount for just a few hours of wandering. And I didn’t even talk to anyone! And the place was mostly empty of people!

But that wasn’t true of Thomas Jefferson Park. It had a few people in it, although I wouldn’t call it a big crowd. Nevertheless, after finding so few people in Spanish Harlem itself, the light crowds were a welcome sight. The park is located on 114th Street or so and First Avenue.

When I first wandered in, the thing I noted was a lot of picnic tables and some sort of organized sporting event that was being prepared. It was on a large running track and included quite a few people. It was a health fair and event called “Run for Life” put on by a local health plan group called MetroPlus.

But the thing I really noticed was the pool. Wow, they had a huge, huge pool. It was pretty deserted, but probably because it was near noon and the sun was at the max.

But, like I said, there was other exercising going on. The below was a Church-group called the “Union Baptist Church Warriors.”

The sign for the event said it was an all-day event. I presume the light turnout was due to the heat and time of day.

Well, whatever the reason for the light crowds, it wasn’t for the lack of a pleasant area.

One last thing about the park: it had public barbeque areas! That’s rare. But the fact that you have to have a permit isn’t all that unexpected.

-H

St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village

August 16, 2008

Smack in the middle of Greenwich Village is St. Vincent’s Hospital. The only way I know of the place is from endless reruns of Law & Order and, of course, from my infrequent wanderings of NYC that have taken me past it a number of times. As hospitals go, I’m sure it’s terrific and all; but I’ve never had anyone mention it to me in conversation. Like I said, just in Law & Order.

It’s on 7th Avenue around 12th Street, but there are offshoots of it all over the place. In honesty, it looks pretty ordinary. So ordinary, that I’ve never bothered to post on it. Just another building…

But that’s before I found a historical marker (I know, I know; the grammar I learned so long ago says “an historical” is more proper, but I think the use of “a” is now the standard). I’m a sucker for historical markers as any reader knows. I just luv ’em.

It surprised me. The marker says that Edna St. Vincent Millay (a famous American poet from the early 20th Century) was actually named for the hospital. I always thought (or would have thought had I considered the idea at any length) that “St. Vincent” in her name was a maiden name. Instead it was her middle name(s?). The plaque states that the name came because Edna’s uncle was saved by the hospital.

You know, I don’t ever recall reading any of her poetry.  So, I did a little looking.  If you wish, here they are.  I can’t say it is can’t-miss-reading…but then my taste in poetry has never extended much beyond the high school reading of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge (wow, I had forgotten how long it was!) and some Shakespearean sonnets.

-H

Film Shooting on Sixth Avenue

August 15, 2008

Every so often when you’re walking around, you run across a film crew. This happened last weekend when I was on 6th Avenue near 52nd Street. I was on the west side and I noticed a huge group of people on my side looking directly across the street. I looked and saw the following sight:

Yeah, it doesn’t really stick out that much, does it? If you look a little closer, you can see a cameraman and some guy holding a big reflector. Okay, I did a little zooming in.

The next shot is actually during some of the filming. It only took about a minute and then they started to just sort of standaround and discuss whatever it is that they needed to talk about.

I tried to figure out who they were and whether it was a movie, TV, or commercial. I seriously doubt it was a movie. Generally, you can spot the trucks and the caterers and all those guys just up from the filming. It’s possible they were around a corner, but if it was a movie then it may have been some ancillary shots or maybe a smaller budget shoot. I’ve seen some movie stuff where there were entire semis stationed around all over the place.

It could have been a commercial. If so, its the one of the first times I saw any action on a commercial. They do a lot of preparation.

My guess; a TV shot. Maybe Law and Order or something like that. In any case, it just goes to show that we are all unreasonably besotted by the entertainment business. There wasn’t really anything to see but we all stood and watched; and I even got a post out of it.

Whatever.

Minor point: the area they were filming in is filled with tall buildings and several big plazas. I’m sure it was put to good use. If I ever see it on the screen, though, I guarantee that I won’t realize that I may have seen the live version.

-H

Jefferson Market Courthouse in Greenwich Village

August 14, 2008

At the corner of Sixth Avenue and 10th Street in Greenwich Village sits a very beautiful building. The first time I saw it, I thought it was a church.

When I first did a little bit of exploring, I found that it was actually a former courthouse and library and who-knows-what-else. It has quite a few plaques on it describing what it was and the like, but I don’t know if it is functional in any capacity nowadays.

As you can see from the above, it does have the “New York Public Library” carved into some of its stones and there’s a plaque below it that details its use as such. But its when you go to the front that you find the best plaques. I only present one of them below. It details the history of the Jefferson Market Courthouse and says it was “designed along Victorian Gothic lines by Vaux & Withers. Was constructed in 1876 and served as the women’s court until 1932.” There’s a little more to it, but it is pretty standard stuff.

Another plaque actually details the names of the bell ringers. The plaque is from 1996 and details the names and hourly times of the people who ring the bell. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it ring, so I don’t know if it is still functioning.

One thing I’ll say about it, other than what a grand building it is: I don’t ever recall not seeing it surrounded by scaffolding! Ever. It just seems to be in perpetual repair or perhaps I don’t wander by often enough.

-H