Archive for the ‘Mid-town’ category

Parade? What African-American Day Parade?

August 9, 2008

Led astray again by NYC dot Gov’s Events Calendar…

I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t be as good as last year’s, which I enjoyed for many reasons but also because of the crowd’s method of preparing for and enjoying a good parade (as I mention, lots of them brought out easy chairs from their homes to watch it in comfort). Bringing the parade to mid-town would change the parade, but it was impressive enough last year that I think it could have done pretty well on Sixth Avenue.

I got to 41st and 6th Avenue nice and early. I didn’t think I’d have a problem finding a spot and didn’t. In fact, I seemed to be the only one aware of the parade. Or was it that everyone else was keenly aware of the parade’s absence? I saw the parade barricades were set up, but was a bit concerned that there were no cops at the various intersections. By 12:45, I knew nothing was going to happen, but stuck around just in case.

And the “just in case” never happened. Nada. Zilch. No sign of anything anywhere. Just the usual street traffic.

At least there’s another parade in the same location tomorrow. Right….? (I’m told it’s the annual Dominican Day Parade, which is a pretty good ‘un.) We’ll see.


Jonas Brothers at Bryant Park for Good Morning America

August 8, 2008

Late yesterday I got a tip that there was something special going on. A friend from work called to let me know that the Jonas Brothers were going to be doing a concert in Bryant Park early Friday morning for Good Morning America.

Not news to me. I had already attended and blogged on the Chaka Khan show. I had heard that the Jonas Brothers were going to play.

The news was that the attendance was going to be overwhelming. I found out from my tipster that people were so eager to get in that they were camping around the park overnight.


So just after 6am on Friday, I found myself wandering near Bryant Park to see this sort of thing. I say “near” because getting in would have entailed a long, long line with some very excited youngsters and their more tired parents.

The police had completely cordoned off the park area. I did manage to get within visual range of the stage (that’s it in the background in the above picture), but I couldn’t have stopped there as the fenced area I was in was strictly for walking through.

And there were cops everywhere stopping people from jumping the barricades. I don’t know how many times I heard a cop say, ever so politely, “EXCUSE ME!!!!! THIS IS NOT AN ENTRY AREA!!!!” All of the talking cops were graduates of the Big Booming Authoritative Voice University of Life. It got the line jumpers attention and acquiescence.

I did find the area that there were lots and lots of overnight sleepers.

I kept trying to get a shot that showed the people. Man, there were a lot of them. The next picture is about the best I got. Well, it is the best I got.

What I should have gotten was one visual that I saw when crossing the street. There was one mystified, slightly terrified, somewhat excited woman coming by and she was very tightly clutching the hands of two extremely excited and joyous young girls. It seemed to capture the moment.

Instead, I kept walking. I did an entire circuit of the park and the next photo is about as close as I could get to the stage.

As a bonus, I was getting ready to leave the area when I saw this bus pull up with a two car police escort. The windows, the few it had, were pretty opaque. However, as I was going, one girl in the company of some others seemed to spot someone in the back of the bus and just started squealing with joy and jumping with excitement. It coulda been them, but I really don’t know.

I only hope that the fans got their wish and had a great set with the Jonas Brothers. I’m not in their demographic so I really don’t know anything about them, but it seems like harmless fun for the kids and their parents and it may even be good music.


Dagmar Duo in Grand Central

August 3, 2008

A little (very little) bit of free exposure to some musicians that I saw on Saturday in Grand Central. Its the Dagmar Duo. Just a man and woman set of singers.

But, I’m a sucker for a female singer who wears fairy wings. The rest of her getup was also a bit eclectic and retro; but the wings won me over.

I was only there for part of a song as I had places to go. They were good; but then again most performers in the subway system are quite good.

One of the primary reasons I put them in a post is that I seem to see fewer and fewer performers. They are all approved by the subway system, but I seem to just see a smaller number of them. In Times Square, their primary spot has been taken over by a little music kiosk so they can’t perform there. In Grand Central, the usual performance area just inside the subway entrance seems empty almost every time I go in there.

My observation isn’t systemic, though. I walk to work and I only use the subway over the weekends.


Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market 2008

August 1, 2008

Every six months to a year, I seem to end up wandering around the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. As flea markets go, I gotta give it a 10 out of 10. Lots of old stuff. And really old stuff. And odd stuff…yeah, odd stuff.

And always in the presence of a familiar figure…

It’s located off 9th Avenue somewhere around 38th Street or so. It happens every weekend and its free admission. The most amazing thing about it is how long it is and how little it is populated. There are a ton of weekly street fairs and they are jam packed for blocks and blocks; but the HK flea market is very select in who it lets in to sell…apparently.

And the amusing part of it how downmarket the neighborhood is. It’s close to the bus terminal and sometimes it seems you have to run through an iffy area to get there. But for bargain hunters of old merchandise, it seems to fit the bill.

But notice how much open area there is. And the crowd was sparse. I was there mid-afternoon on a Saturday and the crowds were light. There’s lots of stuff for sale, but there’s one thing I never saw a single trace of. Not a one! The item? Anything new.

There’s old clothes, furniture, books, records, videotapes, jewelry, knickknacks. Just everything.

Think about it. You’re in New York and you need a good animal skull. Where are you going to go?

The problem with my little scenario…this is just one of two places I know where to buy a good skull. That’s NYC for you.


2008 New York City Half-Marathon Part 2

July 28, 2008

In my last posting, I reviewed how I ended up watching the NYC half-marathon while in Times Square. I showed up just after the leaders had passed and started taking pictures at 7:48am. My coverage is somewhat limited by the fact that I took over 500 photos, but am only going to show about 32 of them.  (Last year’s posting had a total of two photos.  Of course, that was before I got my new camera.  My old camera could hold a total of, I believe, eight pictures.)

What I haven’t mentioned is that I was looking for a co-worker (and occasional commentor to this blog – “Jim”). Hey Jim! I didn’t see ya.

But it was crowded. Here’s some of the crowd about 31 minutes into my watching.

They just kept coming and coming. Lots and lots of ’em. The picture below shows a slight break in the grouping at the 38 minute-in mark (I point it out because the woman runner is waving to some friends to my left. Different ones this time, I believe. But I’m amazed at how many people did see friends in that crowd (and the crowd watching spotting them).

They kept ’em coming. Another personality-type showed with this group at the 42 minute point. She’s not saying hello: she’s posing for my picture. Thanks.

And at 46 minutes in, they were still coming. I don’t know where Jim was, but if he was anywhere in the 10 to 15 minutes before and after this grouping, I would have never spotted him.

At the 52 minute point, some of the more odd personalities started to show. This wasn’t a particularly odd person (as far as I know), but he recognized the people to my right and as part of his “hello”, he threw a sponge at them. That was certainly in good humor, but the sponge was dry and only flew about two feet. The people to my left were a little puzzled by the action.

Another not-really-odd personality. Probably a very fine person. He was the only disabled (or at least obviously disabled) person I saw in the race. This is 53 minutes in.

Okay, no excuses on the next guy (at 56 minutes in). He was either very bored from the beginning, made a bet with friends that he could bounce a ball the entire way, or is just an odd exhibitionist. But he bounced that basketball just fine.

At 66 minutes in, the crowding was lessening considerably. I had seen the people across from me with the sign (another way to find friends/family). Run Leens Run.

Another person with something to prove: juggling while running at 69 minutes into my viewing. Five ball juggling from what I could see. Really well done. I was impressed.

Another impressive case, but a bit mystifying. This guy was running while carrying a cane. That’s something, but the lycra-clad leg was also interesting. I don’t understand it at all. But, he was running and that’s what counts.

A few yards to my left was a medical station. At the 75-minutes-in mark, this next woman came up and she was the weariest looking person I saw all morning. The picture below surprised me a bit because it doesn’t begin to capture her state at the time (although she looks like a person that its hard to take a bad picture of), but as she passed me one of the station workers called out to her in concern asking if she was okay, even before she reached the station. She seems to have just asked for water, got a bottle from them, and kept on going. Good for her. I hope she finished.

At the 76 minute mark, I took the following two pictures in quick succession. You can see the sparseness of the runners and of the crowd. I was sharing the block with one other non-aid-station viewer. Here’s looking south to the aid station.

And here’s looking north to the on-coming runner traffic. Which is a long ways away.

At 87 minutes in, the event started to break up. Here was the escort of staff buses. You may be able to tell that I had already started walking down from my previous spot.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is that there was music playing in the distance the whole time. It was apparently a live group and they had a huge teleprompter. I doubt they were trying to get the runners to sing along, but maybe the watching crowd. This was 89 minutes after I started watching.

And, finally, the very last runner I saw. I’m sure there were others further back (I saw some figures in the distance but can’t say for sure whether they were runners). This is 90 minutes into my viewing.

Good for her. She’s another person that I really hope was able to finish.


2008 New York City Half-Marathon Part 1

July 27, 2008

Just about a year ago, I did one of my first posts that became mildly popular. It was for the 2007 NYC Half-Marathon and I think it may have been the first item that someone used Google to find my posting. At the time, I had very few readers (and still do, but a few more than then) and was pleased that someone was starting to find my stuff.

So, when I heard that the Half-Marathon was on again, I knew I had to go. Who knows, maybe one of those early Googlers was still a reader.

But, I nearly blew it. I had planned to get there maybe 8:30 or so. Early Sunday morning, I was flipping channels and found out that the race actually began right about 7am and the runners were already headed toward Times Square (where I planned to watch). Yow.

So, I made my way very quickly over to Times Square and got there just after the front runners had passed. But I was there for the women front-runners. They passed by me about 1 minute after I got to my spot. (I got there at about 7:48am.)

For this coverage, there’s a lot of stuff but the item that I found of most interest wasn’t really the runners themselves, but the ebb and flow of the race. So, to show how it happened, I’ll be putting in the relative time that had elapsed since I arrived. You can note the size of the crowds and the runners.

This is five minutes after I arrived.

And now, 8 minutes after I showed up.

This next runner was all pumped up and trying to pump up the crowd, 11 minutes after I started watching. The running group was still pretty sparse at that point.

Twelve minutes in (about 8am), I got a picture of a two-fer. Most of the runners were wearing headphones (okay, a large number of them) and were looking for friends/family. How they spotted people is a bit of a mystery. I presume that lots of times the earpieces were for phones and they were talking with their friends and hearing where to look.

Of all the people I took pictures of; this guy I got twice. His exuberance was terrific and he was making pretty good time despite his antics. 13 minutes in.

Of course, if you’re an airplane it’s easy to make good time. Still 13 minutes in.

The 13-minutes-in group was starting to become more numerous and flagrant about asking for the crowd to cheer.

By 15 minutes in, the runners had reached the point of being a general crowd of them.

And at 17 minutes in they were still trying to get us to cheer. Successfully, too.

By 21 minutes in, the calls for cheers seemed to have died down a bit; but the crowd was even bigger.

And by 22 minutes in, some of the runners were more obviously doing run-walk combinations.

Here, 26 minutes into my attendance; another earphone wearer had spotted friends. Actually, some people to the left of me greeted two or three of the runners by name. They may not have been the same people to my left, but I think they were.

And by 28 minutes in (that’s about 8:17am), some were still trying to get the crowd cheering. Hey, it worked for me and I did cheer a lot for a very long time during the event.

And at 28 minutes in, here’s another guy who spotted/was spotted by the people to my left.

More in my next post.


Another Chrysler Building Picture

July 18, 2008

Okay, I admit it: there’s lots of pictures of the Chrysler Building. Even on this blog. There’s really nothing new about this picture. Not even the framing with the American flags.

But I do love looking at that building. No excuses necessary. Ain’t it grand?