Archive for the ‘Manhattan’ category

Flat Stanley and Famous Ankles Part 1

July 8, 2009

I received a letter from James T. from Falls Church in Virginia. In his letter, James sent a famous person to meet Famous Ankles! I’m honored to host a visit from Flat Stanley and show him around New York City.

The first thing I did was take Flat Stanley to see the United Nations Building. It is often called the “U.N.” and it has hundreds and hundreds of people from countries all over the globe. You have to have a special pass to get inside, so we only looked from outside.

20090708 01 Flat Stanley and the UN

Nearby, there was a small park called “Tudor City Greens” where there was a lot of music and singing going on. It was a concert featuring a lot of singers called caberet singers. Flat Stanley liked it. Especially the singer right behind him in the next picture. Her name is Julie Reyburn.

20090708 01 Flat Stanley listens to singer

After she sang, she came out into the crowd. Flat Stanley and I asked her if she knew about him, and she said “I love Flat Stanley!” She even posed for a picture with him.

20090708 02 Flat Stanley and singer Julie Reyburn

Stay tuned James, for more adventures.

-H

2009 Easter Parade on Fifth Avenue

April 12, 2009

It’s Easter in New York City and the Easter Parade is still a major draw.

Remember, it isn’t a real parade.  The police cordon off 5th Avenue between 49th St. and 57th St. and people mill about.  The minority wear hats.  The majority have cameras.

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The place was jammed.  Biggest crowds there that I’ve seen before (this is my fourth or fifth of these).

Every so often, someone decides to do it nicely…or at least over the top in a more elegant manner.  The below were the ones I spotted this year.

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But it is almost universally a silly-hat-day.

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I liked this kid’s “bucket head” enough that I’m putting in two of him.  (The one below includes his mother(?) who didn’t quite go the buckethead route but kept her’s nice plus another person who went the hat-height method).  But the picture above was my favorite for the day.  So two of him in this post there shall be!

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You know, I really didn’t spot any absolutely-new-and-improved hats this year.  It all seemed a little derivative of earlier hats.  I guess that the tried and true route was the one everyone was really going for.

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But one thing was a little different from earlier years.  I’ll wait to the end to disclose it.

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Yes, there were lots of stuffed animals on hats.  And adorable children in colorful hats.

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And there were others who also took the “good” route.

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The weather was cold and windy. That’s sort of typical.

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The closer you get to St. Patricks Cathedral, the greater the crowding.

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An issue in the parade that happens every sunny year is that the shadows can really play havoc with pictures.  There are four carrot hats here.  The fourth one, on the left, sort of faded into the shadows.

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At this point I was in very close to St. Pat’s.  You can see it in the background of the next picture.

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I still had a number of pictures to take (I’m only halfway through with this post), but this just shows that the hat-wearers really hung around outside the Church.

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The next picture was a sort of traditional picture: dog with hat. In this case, the poor dog was surrounded by photographers and had put its head down and was completely unmoving. I looked at it for about 10 seconds and couldn’t figure out whether it was a real dog or a stuffed animal with a hat. Then the dog came to life and barked at someone near me. Yeah, it was a live dog. I took this picture just after it barked.

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Just more pictures of the hatted few.

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The next one was more imaginative than virtually all of the rest. Chia Lady.

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Down a block from St. Pat’s, there were some more commercial attempts at costumes. There were a small contingent of people dressed in bunny costumes and handing out eggs. I don’t know their reason for it, but I got the feeling that the eggs were promotional gifts. Maybe, maybe not.

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But the next guy was in it for the money. He did say something about how we could put money in his hat.

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Others seemed just to be heading up to the main crowd at St. Pat’s when all of us with cameras slowed them down.

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And when you pose with a costume character while 20 people are taking your picture…well, your picture ends up in places like this.

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Sometimes it was more difficult to tell the store-bought silly hats from the let’s-make-it-at-home silly hats. I hope this was just a family project as these 3 or 4 were amongst the most colorful of the day.

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Just as I was leaving the area, a bunch of people showed up and started to pose for us.

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And my last picture of the day. Once again, the shadows made picture-taking difficult for amatuers like me.

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Okay, all in all it was a little disappointing. A lot of that is because I was there until about 11:30am and there was still a lot of time left for the truly interesting ones to show up. But, this timing was pretty typical of my other trips so I don’t think that’s it. It was a lot colder than the last year or so and the wind was brutal. So that may also be part of it. Maybe I’m just getting blase about the Easter Parade.

I did note one difference from my earlier attendances: men in hats. The first time or two that I came, the only men in hats were those who had latched themselves to their wives as if to say: she made me do it! This year I seem to have noticed a lot of men just wandering around in their hats. Make of it what you will.

-H

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City 2008

September 7, 2008

Well, it’s September, it’s NYC, and the supermodels are wandering about. It must be Fashion Week.

I have to admit that I’m not particularly thrilled by the whole concept of Fashion Week, but I figure that the well-dressed must have some place to go to; so why not wander around Bryant Park for a week or so.

Yesterday, I wandered by there and found the set ups in place with all the requisite security and people with clipboards noting who to let in. I haven’t checked, but I guarantee that Famous Ankles isn’t on the “send him right on in” list. Last year, I did spend a few minutes waiting around looking for models, but it left me feeling a little…absurd. I hadn’t planned on doing anything for Fashion Week this year, but had taken two pictures of the initial setup. Here’s the better of the two. (Note, it’s Saturday morning around 9am and there’s nary a supermodel in sight.)

So, today I was coming back from Church and I saw crowds gathering. I had my camera and thought that maybe, just maybe, there would be something to see. I didn’t really expect anything. New Yorkers are very much gawkers and it was only noonish.

I was wrong. There was something to see! There was a protest. A pretty fun protest. A pretty weird protest against pretty people wearing fur. I love the sign: Vanity Sucks. If they didn’t have all these very pretty girls passing out literature on their behalf (and, yes, they were very pretty girls) I might have taken them a little more seriously.

That’s not true, either. I don’t take people in bunny suits seriously. Although I do like the simulated blood. (I see dead rabbits. They’re everywhere!)

They were really protesting DKNY. The group, NYC Animal Rights, was nice and loud; and had obviously put a lot of work into their preparations. Good for them. I love a good incoherent protest. It makes me feel all nice and warm. (I don’t know if they’re associated with PETA or acting with PETA or what-not.)

And they were pretty incoherent/unreasonable on so very many levels. I thought I had a picture of my favorite protest sign, but didn’t catch it. It said “Real designers don’t kill animals.” That sort of statement just boggles my mind. I kept going back and thinking of designers that aren’t fashion-oriented. For example, the designers of the skinning knives and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s a reach, but my mind was just rocked by the idea that this group only thinks of design in fashion terms.

And, of course, I kept thinking of leather belts, shoes, etc. that all but the most diehard of the animal rights people still use. And, mostly, why the writer of that particular sign would imagine there’s a connection between fashion design and non-cruelty towards animals. But, I also just kept thinking that the members of the group were being…well, fashionable in their protest. Nice costumes. Protesting against cruelty (where or where is the group in favor of cruelty I always ask). Situating themselves very well for drawing attention. And they had about 10 or 15 very attractive young women passing out literature. I remember thinking they were very nicely dressed.

I admit that I have never watched an episode of Project Runway. It’s just not something that I have an interest in watching although I know people who swear it is actually an intellectual endeavor that shows how people are forced to extend their creative juices in all sorts of interesting directions, fashionwise. But I promise I’d probably watch if they were to have an episode where the cast had to slaughter, skin, tan, and sew the skins of animals into clothing for supermodels (or just ordinary models).

Lastly, I have to admit having an urge at the sight of them and their protest. I wanted to break out into song. You know, of course, that there’s only one appropriate song. Yep, it’s “Kill the Wabbit” from Merrie Melodies’ “What’s Opera, Doc?”. 

Yeah, it would have been way too over the top and let them interpret it as a threat or something rather than a meat-eater’s humorous poke at their protest.  (What do you wanna bet they wouldn’t have shown any sense of humor at it?)

-H

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