Archive for the ‘Union Square’ category

Protest against foreclosures

December 29, 2007

I did a lot of wandering about on Christmas Eve.  I ended up in the East Village, near Union Square, and saw a protest going on.

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It was being held near a Washington Mutual branch and they were protesting foreclosures.

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They had a couple of camera crews and the occasional passing-by viewer/photographer like Famous Ankles.

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I’ve no idea of the affiliation of the protesters or of the film crews, but I can say that aside from the organized protestors and the film crews, the spontaneous joiners numbered about zero.  I presume they were trying to identify WaMu with Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life” or perhaps with Scrooge.

-H

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2007

It’s Christmas Eve and I’ve spent the day doing my NYC tradition:  wandering around wishing people Merry Christmas!  And I did wander.

I started by going up to Harlem.  It’s been way too long and I wanted to see how Harlem’s streets are set for Christmas.  I went this morning and found that Harlem’s streets are mostly deserted at 10am on a Christmas Eve.  I’ll be posting pictures over the next few days, but it was pretty devoid of Christmas decorations.  I didn’t do any of the backstreets where a lot of the small Churches are, so there may have been more.  The most I saw was a Christmas tree outside of the Adam Clayton Powell building.  On the other hand, the stores did have a lot of Christmas stuff.  I wished a couple of people a Merry Christmas, but I was delighted when someone wished it of me first.  That seldom happens and is very welcome.

After a little over an hour, I left Harlem and went to Greenwich Village.  The Village had a bit more in terms of public decoration.  I wandered on West 10th Street and saw an interesting sight:  a lot of the townhouses have put out evergreen decorations.  A lot of them also had lights, but it was too early to have them on.  Nevertheless, the evergreen branches were a nice touch.  I did wish a number of people a Merry Christmas and had roughly half of them respond in kind.  I then went over to Union Square and looked for Schleiermacher.  The guy running the Unemployed Philosophers Guild confessed they didn’t have his fridge magnet.  Woe is me.  I looked, just in case, but they actually seemed to be light on the philosopher fridge magnets.  They had a lot of historical figures and writers, though.

This evening, I wandered around my part of town and wished the random passers-by a Merry Christmas.  Once again, about half responded.

And now I’m at home.  I’ll go out in the morning/afternoon and do the same sort of thing.  It’s nice to do and it gets me out of my place; and I really enjoy it when somebody beats me to it.

I hope to get a chance to post some of today’s photos and some pics from the weekend when I wandered in Times Square and Gramercy Park.

-H

Union Square Holiday Shops

December 19, 2007

Once again:  an open area in NYC during December?  Put up some open-air shops!  Union Square, one of my favorite places in all of NYC, goes whole hog into the Christmas shopping frenzy.

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As you can see, it takes up all of the cemented area at Union Square (the actual square is WAAAAY larger than this area, but this is where a lot of the real “stuff” happens).

There are lots and lots of these little kiosks in the area.  How many?  Maybe 100 or so(?).

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There’s all kinds of places.  Usually, it is small gifts for adults, but kids get their share of these.  This “kipkids.com” shop was pretty well attended.

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But my favorite is the Unemployed Philosophers Guild.  I’ve seen them each year for the past three years.  Great stuff! It’s as whimsical as you could hope for.

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The items in the light green boxes are “Freudian Slippers”.  The stuff to the right are philosopher refrigerator magnets.  There are nice little descriptors on the magnets, too.  (Just in case you’ve forgotten who Kant was.  I couldn’t find any Schleiermacher, though.  Must have sold out.)

And, of course, lots and lots of Christmas decorations.

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Okay, I confess…I actually didn’t look for Schleiermacher.  I oughta go back and look.  I took a class on Schleiermacher many years ago and remember it fondly.  I barely remember anything about his philosophy, but I can spell his name without any need of reference.

-H

The 14th Street Salvation Army Headquarters

November 16, 2007

Nowadays, Manhattan is wealthy and nicely appointed.  Union Square and 14th Street are nice and fashionable areas for the most part.  But only a few years ago they were horrid areas filled with wasted and wasting people.

But the Salvation Army was there for them.  The Army still has its headquarters on the spot.  It’s about 11 stories high and takes up a big chunk of the block near Fifth Avenue. 

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At the front is a large entryway (not shown above) with a long quote from their founder General William Booth.

“While women weep, as they do now,
  I’ll fight;
While men go to prison, in and out,
In and out, as they do now,
  I’ll fight;
While there is a drunkard left,
While there is a poor lost girl
Upon the streets,
While there remains one dark soul,
Without the light of God,
  I’ll fight —
I’ll fight to the very end!”

Okay, now that I wrote it, I might as well show the picture.

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I’ve seen the place a bunch of times before. I think extremely highly of the Salvation Army and I thank God that there are people there to reach down to areas of humanity that I’d have a tough time dealing with and treat them with compassion and love.

I met a few of the “soldiers” or whatever they call themselves as they were loading into a van.  One of them thought she recognized me.  She said “I know you.”  She looked pretty intently at me, as if she’d worked with me on occasion.  I’ve had some times in my life, but I’ve never had the need of the Salvation Army so I just smiled and said that I didn’t think so.  She then said that she thought I looked like one of her colleagues, but I think she was just embarrassed.

I did tell them that I admired them for their work and their dedication and that people really needed what they did.  I think they appreciated that.

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-H

Ankling through Greenwich Village in the rain

September 22, 2007

The weather has been so good for so long that I barely check the weather anymore.  A few days ago I had seen the all clear for another beautiful weekend…and got surprised.

I initially went down to Union Square and found the usual artists and farmers markets in full bloom, but nothing else of any particular interest.  One artist’s work caught my eye and that of others.  He was painting a nice depiction of Union Square.

Although in a wheelchair, he stood up a moment later and did some moving around.  I don’t know if he uses it as a medical necessity or just to cart his stuff around.  I suspect the latter.  And…if I were really cynical I could make a further guess.  I won’t…at this time.

Anyway, I wandered off to Greenwich Village (AKA West Village, AKA the Village) just to do some wandering.  Okay, right now the purists are shouting that “Greenwich Village” is the whole area east to west.  True in definition but not really in practice.  If you want to talk about the East Village, you say “the East Village”, but if you’re talking about the West Village, you can use any term you want.

The Village was, as always, wonderfully calm and cool (in all the senses).  The best part of the area is how weird the streets are laid out.  If you know NYC, you know that avenues go north-south and streets go east west.  So how do you get an intersection of 10 Street and 4th Street?  I’m not even going to try to explain the layout.

As I was wandering, it started to rain.  At first, lightly.  Later it grew to moderate size.  I found myself at the corner of Charles Street and Hudson Street under some scaffolding (it does come in handy sometimes even though it usually annoys me).  For a long time it was just me, a little traffic on the car and sidewalk, and a teenage candy vendor trying to sell his wares to passersby.  Very, very relaxing.

It seemed that only about 60% of the pedestrians were using umbrellas.  A lot of them had abandoned themselves to a wet fate.

After a while, I decided to get my own umbrella and then did some more wandering.  Here’s Waverly Street.

And, of course, now that I had my umbrella, the rain lessened.  It did kick up now and then, but no problem.

12th Street is one of those streets in the Village and SoHo that have the old paving.  It has to be a pain for the streets department, but it is very cool.

So, my wanderings around and about the Village were cut a bit short, but it was pleasant and I have to admit after last weekend’s wall-to-wall events, it was nice to stop and just watch a pleasant rainfall.

-H