Archive for the ‘Mid-town’ category

Another Tudor City Greens Post

July 10, 2008

Something as special as Tudor City Greens (the little park at 41st to 42nd Streets and Tudor City Place in Manhattan) deserves more than one look. I recently posted on it and just wanted to add some more pictures and commentary.

These are still pictures of the South park part of the Greens. There was a small band playing in the park recently. These aren’t street musicians, but a group contracted by Tudor City to come and play for the residents (and whoever else happened to be there).

Right smack in the middle of the park (which is a pretty small park) is a fountain. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed water flowing in it, but it is a fountain. And a planter, it appears.

There are essentially three east-west walkways and two north-south ones. Below is a view from the fountain looking at the band which was playing near the middle of the northern east-west walkway.

And today’s last photo is from the middle of the westernmost north-south walkway looking in the same direction as the previous picture. If you picture this in your mind, you’ll see that the park is pretty small.

But it is a great little park.

-H

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Wendell Willkie Plaque at the New York Public Library

July 8, 2008

You may know that I’m a sucker for historical plaques and monuments and the like. No difference here. I’ve probably walked by it a million times and I remember seeing it at points but it never really registered. After all, Wendell Willkie isn’t a name that one hears too often nowadays.

And on perhaps the most nondescript part of the outside of the NYPL, there’s a plaque to this former lawyer and presidential candidate.

It reads: “Wendell Willkie 1892-1944 I believe in America because in it we are free – free to choose our government to speak our minds to observe our different religions.”

Willkie ran for president in 1940 and one of the goals of that election was to stop Roosevelt from breaking the implied two-term limit on the presidency. He failed and FDR went on to a third and a fourth term.

Oddly enough, Roosevelt outlived Willkie. Willkie died in 1944, before his term would have expired.

Willkie spent a number of years living in NYC, but I have no idea of any links between him and the Library.

-H

Chaka Khan in Good Morning America’s Summer Concert Series

July 6, 2008

There was a free concert Friday morning. This was part of a series of concerts at Bryant Park featuring such music as Counting Crows, Usher, Cyndi Lauper, Boyz to Men, and a couple of others.

Hint: it was free in the sense of no money forked over. It sure wasn’t free as far as I was concerned.

I have to admit, I’m not a particular fan of Chaka Khan. I like her music, but I don’t know much of it and probably wouldn’t have gone if it cost anything. But that’s just my taste and takes nothing away from her talent. What I saw, I pretty much liked. She certainly does have talent, but…

It was in Bryant Park. The notice said from 7am to 9am. I instinctively knew it wouldn’t be a two hour concert. My instincts failed me in that it was really about a 9 minute concert. I got there at just about 7am and saw that it wasn’t that crowded.

Eventually, it did grow to a number of hundreds of listeners, but the park never came close to being even remotely filled.

For the first, oh, hour plus of the concert; very little happened. Chaka Khan was nowhere in sight. The band was playing the same one or two songs over and over and over again. And again. And occasionally doing some jamming…which morphed into the same song or two.

I was incredibly bored. Wow. I sat down and looked at people’s legs for about 30 minutes. There was no seating, but they had spread out a tarp of some sort. So, I sat and looked at people’s legs and tried to figure out what the heck I was doing there.

Bored I tell ya.

And then the GMA hosts came out. Here they are talking into their microphones. Not to the crowd, mind you. Their mics were geared to talking on the TV, not to the loudspeakers.

Yeah, we watched them mouth words. For all I knew they were hurling mighty invective towards the suckers that expected to hear something besides the same song or two, over and over.

About 8:30, we got the words that Chaka was on the way. Two minutes were called.

About five minutes later, Chaka came out and appeared to start singing. Her mic wasn’t on. The amazing thing is that we had watched some guy testing the mic earlier and having no luck with it. Apparently they expected that Chaka would overcome that particular hurdle. Thankfully, about 30 seconds into the song, she realized what was going on and stopped. Otherwise, it would have been one of those same tunes we have been listening to for so long.

I will say this: she did have some magic. She started testing it, failed, and then shouted out to the crowd that she was going to get it fixed. We heard her, then. She has a great voice. You could just seeing her dominating a concert hall with that strength.

A couple of minutes later, she came out and did one of the songs that had been playing over and over again. It was fine. I wasn’t overwhelmed…I had heard it before. Over and over before. I had even heard it sung: one of her backup singers had done it during the first hour. (And I had spent the time saying to myself: “I don’t think that’s Chaka. I haven’t seen her in years and years, but I don’t think it’s her.” Not to take anything away from the backup singer; she was pretty good.)

So, Chaka did her song and then got interviewed by the GMA hosts. I don’t want to even bother knowing who they are. They didn’t care if we heard them and I don’t care to know their names. The only time we heard their voices was when their voices leaked over Chaka’s mic to the loudspeakers.

Chaka then sang two more songs. One of which was the other song we had heard lo those many times (I think). I don’t really know her music so differentiating it was tough for me. Lots of the crowd knew the words, though. Not me.

I left before the third song finished. The below is what the crowd looked like at that point. Not crowded, but we had stood there in a very light rain. (And a lot of people had opened their umbrellas and didn’t care about blocking other’s view despite the very lightness of the rain. That was fascinating, but had nothing to do with the concert. Well, what there was of a concert.)

-H

NYC Fourth of July 2008 (or about 3/4 of one)

July 4, 2008

Happy 4th to you…although I’m posting this so late it probably won’t be seen by anyone until the 5th. But that’s okay. I only got to see about 75% of the fireworks (although I saw the whole show) so, on balance, seeing 3/4’s of the fourth on the fifth is the fourth. Right?

That’s way too wordy and idiotic. I oughta just delete it, but it’s late and I need to make my post.

Anyway, I went out to see the fireworks, but there was something of a problem.

Yeah, a building was partially in the way. So, I only got to see about 3/4’s of any explosion.

It was also raining a little. Fortunately, not enough to spoil the show, but enough to make the end of the fireworks highly anticipated so we could get out of it.

There only seemed to be one boat firing off the fireworks (it was anchored in the middle of the East River). I should have recorded the TV show to see if there were others further to the south. I looked to see if I could detect another one, but didn’t see anything.

The bit that was interesting was before the show, we could see lots of fireworks going off miles and miles away in Brooklyn and Queens. A couple of them seemed to be pretty big shows. I suppose one of them could have been in Coney Island (I believe I’ve heard it has a good show, too). But the East River show is the big’un.

The show was done well. It escalated nicely and there were a few well-deserved gasps when it hit the occasional cresendo. The crowds at the center of the action usually have a musical accompaniment; but nothing for us on the far edges of the show.

-H

Lever House Sculpture

July 2, 2008

I was wandering past “Lever House” and saw something I didn’t expect: something fun and interesting.

I’m getting way too cynical in my old age.

I’ve done a couple of earlier posts on Lever House artwork (see here and here) and I generally find their stuff not to my taste or just insipid. This one was absolutely primed for such treatment, and then I found myself enjoying it.

Wait for it….

It’s “Hello Kitty”.

Yeah. Hello Kitty. I have never for a moment found anything interesting about Hello Kitty…until now. I’ve always thought of it as the quintessential commercial dreck aimed directly at five-year-old girls and their mothers. And I’m a guy who was watching anime from way back. (I actually lived in Japan as a teenager and used to watch some of the shows and read their comic books. And I’m sure no teenager now. Decades away, in fact.)  Bluntly put:  until this exhibit, I hated Hello Kitty.

The pieces are huge. And, despite their white color; they’re made of bronze.  Okay, I don’t know that for certain, but the collection is called “Bronze Collection”.  I didn’t touch them to confirm. The sculptor is Tom Sachs and they are on display until September 6.

The next pictures above and below have some motion to them: streams of water shooting out of their eyes. That’s anime for crying. No tears: streams of water shooting outward.

 

Why did I enjoy them? I really don’t know. They are certainly a relief from the supposed intellectual content of the earlier sculptures that I didn’t like. I do enjoy playfulness and although a small Hello Kitty depiction on a handbag or t-shirt is not something I get any pleasure from; a ten or twelve foot one is a delight.

Sort of like a giant walking marshmellow if you catch my drift.

-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

T’Other End of 42nd Street

June 21, 2008

In yesterday’s post, I showed the east end of 42nd Street. It’s only fair that I now show the west side of the same street. Balance is restored in the universe. Whew, it was close.

And here it is; the point where 42nd Street drivers would plunge into the Hudson River…providing they weren’t shunted to the side onto 12th Avenue by lots and lots of obstacles.

And the view from 12th Avenue of the intersection.  You may note some of the obstacles starting here.  If nothing else, lots of traffic.  In NYC, you see a lot of drivers push through a red light by following the car in front.  It seems to be nearly a requirement at this intersection.  I saw it more here than at most intersections…and I see it all the time at other intersections.

It’s true that the area doesn’t have a lot of retail.  But apparently it is getting a new entertainment complex.  Yes, bowling comes to NYC.  Okay, okay; there’s lots of bowling in NYC already.  But we’re getting more.

Here’s the other obstacle.  A marina.  Not just any marina, but the Circle Line.   I’ve said it before in this blog:  if you visit NYC, take the Circle Line tour of Manhattan.  In fact, take the longest tour you can and circle the island.  I think it’s about three hours long.  “A three-hour tour”?  Shades of Gilligan’s Island!

Of course, that’s Mid-Town West behind it.  Ain’t New York grand?  I’ll say it is.

-H