Thousands pass every day, not one of them seeing the same thing

You swallow hard when you discover that the old coffee shop is now a chain pharmacy, that the place where you first kissed so-and-so is now a discount electronics retailer, that where you bought this very jacket is now rubble behind a blue plywood fence and a future office building. Damage has been done to your city. You say, ‘It happened overnight.’ But of course it didn’t. Your pizza parlor, his shoeshine stand, her hat store: when they were here, we neglected them. For all you know, the place closed down moments after the last time you walked out the door. (Ten months ago? Six years? Fifteen? You can’t remember, can you?) And there have been five stores in that spot before the travel agency. Five different neighborhoods coming and going between then and now, other people’s other cities. Or 15, 25, 100 neighborhoods. Thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing.”

– Colson WhiteheadThe Colossus of New York


Notes: Quote via Schonwieder. Photo by PWH3 of New York City side street

Sunday Morning

Let’s ease in softly on a pretty day. Spring came to New York this week after a month of gloomy cold and drizzle. The sun was out. Monday afternoon just before dusk there was a bird outside my window, all by itself and singing so loudly—byeet-byeet-chur-chur-chur. Over and over as if it had just discovered its voice. I was emailing with a friend, your basic hard-bitten journalist, and told him what I was hearing—it sounded like the beginning of the world. He wrote back not with irony but with the information that a band of baby rabbits had just taken over his garden and were out there hopping and bopping: “They are so excited to be on earth.” This struck me as the most important news of the day.

~ Peggy Noonan, What Does This Moment Demand of Us? (wsj.com, April 26, 2018)


Photo: Vivienne Gucwa with New York City in Spring

The Not New Yorker (Christmas 2017)


Source: “The Not Yorker” is a collection of declined or late cover submissions to The New Yorker, curated by illustrators who love and admire traditional cover illustration. This site is for celebrating cover art, and great ideas that didn’t make it.  Illustrators are encouraged to submit their rejected covers , so that they might have the opportunity to be rejected by this group as well. The site is not officially affiliated with The New Yorker

This declined cover is was created by John Tomac and titled “Christmas 2017”.

 

Grand Central Terminal. You choose: 1954 or Today?

Sunlight streams through the windows in the concourse at Grand Central Terminal in New York City in 1954. [Read more…]

Why?

harry-belafonte

“I often look at the journey, and I don’t get it…I really don’t. I have lasted longer than I understand why. I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do… This is not modesty. This is part of a bigger search for me. What was all this about? Why?”

~ Harry Belafonte, Harry Belafonte Knows a Thing or Two About New York. The city native, about to turn 90, looks back at a glorious past and wonders what his next act will be. He was born Harold George Bellanfanti Jr., and dropped out of school in ninth grade, frustrated by what was later recognized as dyslexia. He was working as a janitor’s assistant when a customer gave him tickets to an American Negro Theater production, and when he volunteered to help as a handyman, he soon found himself onstage with Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis and Mr. Poitier.


Photo of Belafonte from Kate Wolf Music Festival

Walking Cross-Town. Under the Rainbow.

rainbow-child-country-boy-running

50° F, mid-January. Shameful, I know, but if this is global warming, fill me up, give me more, take me Home to Spring.

I wait for the light to turn and look up squinting, the Sun beams warm the bones, the soul.

I cross Madison and head up 48th.

The City that never sleeps is in peripatetic flight – cabs zigzagging, buses spewing exhaust, delivery trucks unloading the day’s provisions, couriers on bikes, commuters with one foot on gas, one hand on horn, street sweepers with rotating brushes raising dust, garbage trucks with their putrid stench, shopkeepers lifting their steel grates, street vendors setting out their apples, bananas and bagels – – and thoughts.

Walking these same concrete streets in a New Year. No cake, no candles, no party hats at 10 years. Here walks an off-center screw, never quite center, never just right – and yet the hand re-grips, shredding those fine threads, tightening and tightening cross-thread. Must find Proof. [Read more…]

Fly By Night: Soundless music heard with the eyes

Friday through Sunday evenings at dusk, a massive flock of pigeons will elegantly twirl, swoop, and glide above the East River, as artist Duke Riley orchestrates a series of performances occurring regularly throughout late spring. At the call of a whistle, thousands of birds will emerge from their home in a grand, converted historic boat docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The pigeons will circle above the river as the sun sets over Manhattan, and small leg bands, historically used to carry messages, will be replaced with tiny LED lights, illuminating the sky in a transcendent union of public art and nature.¹

Fly By Night pays homage to pigeon keeping, both in New York and farther afield. Pigeons have been domesticated for thousands of years and kept by people around the world for their companionship, sport, and service…Fly By Night reflects back on and makes visible this largely forgotten culture. The iconic Brooklyn Navy Yard, once home to the country’s largest naval fleet of pigeon carriers, is the ideal setting for Riley’s Fly By Night–a tribute to the beautiful, diverse and fascinating histories of pigeon flying and New York City.¹

On Thursday evening, the pigeons taught everyone on hand quite a bit about their intelligence, their ability to collaborate with earthbound beings and their beauty when airborne. Despite clouds and chilly temperatures, the birds’ performance was a revelation, a touching unity of human and animal behavior, with sky, water and the city…Most special about watching these pigeons was the silence of their flight. Somewhat like trees, but more mysteriously, they seemed to make visible the wind’s movements. They also created a soundless music heard with the eyes, a Beethovian swirl of melodies and themes. Both sensations brought a sharper appreciation of space and air as active or sheltering forces that we share with all living things.²


Thank you Susan. Excerpts from:

  1. Creative Time
  2. NY Times Review: In ‘Fly by Night,’ Pigeons Light Up the Brooklyn Navy Yard

Driving the East River Drive. Every risk, shimmering.

new-york-city-autum-fall

It was Tuesday. Yes, Autumn. Yes, New York City. But it certainly didn’t look or feel anything like this. Add 5,000 cars.  And move the map to the FDR, the East River Drive.

I’m one hour and 20 minutes on the road and Waze is signaling that I’m still 30 minutes away. 1:50 for a 0:45 min ride. And now, the crush of the morning rush.  My lower back is stiff.  There’s a nagging kink in my neck. And, I can’t settle. I shift left, then right. I grab my water bottle, take a pull. Tap my fingers on the console.  I glance at my watch. I’m going to be late. Didn’t count on this delay. I push the pace. DK won’t be late.

If you’ve never driven the East Side Highway, think Daytona 500 with a crudely straightened 3-lane track.  Three lanes made for 2.5.  Traffic, sardines, tightly packed. There’s zero room for a slip, no room for wandering. Hugging your left shoulder is a 4-foot cement girder offering a bumper car cushion. Drains (sink holes) are distributed every 1000 feet to release rain water.  Off your right shoulder, another car – open your window and finger brush the door panel.  You grip the wheel, white knuckles, and Glare, eyes panning up front, left, right and down (especially down to avoid the abyss) and then back again. The Gotham Death March.  I push the pace with the cabbies, we dart in and out, looking to gain one car length, maybe two.

SiriusXM is spinning 70s on 7. [Read more…]

Turn it.

john-cage

There is a tendency in the West to be convinced of the badness of human nature… It is essential that we be convinced of the goodness of human nature, and we must act as though people are good. We have no reason to think that they are bad. […]

I noticed in New York, where the traffic is so bad and the air is so bad … you get into a taxi and very frequently the poor taxi driver is just beside himself with irritation. And one day I got into one and the driver began talking a blue streak, accusing absolutely everyone of being wrong. You know he was full of irritation about everything, and I simply remained quiet. I did not answer his questions, I did not enter into a conversation, and very shortly the driver began changing his ideas and simply through my being silent he began, before I got out of the car, saying rather nice things about the world around him.

~ John Cage, in Richard Kostelanetz’s Conversing with Cage


Notes:

“So I decided to start bowing to everyone who crossed my path.  Just a little teeny bow of my head.  Just enough to remind myself not to be a jerk, since no matter who I’m talking to, whether it’s a child, or a principal, or a gas station attendant, or a frenemy, or Craig, it’s GOD I’m talking to. And as I bow, I say Namaste, God in me recognizes and honors God in you. I just think Namaste in my head, like the way Orthodox Jews wear a yarmulke to remind themselves that they are living under the hand of God.  Or how Muslims pray five times a day to remind themselves of whom they serve.  The world and the people in it are so beautiful when you are awake.  And so the bowing and the silent Nameste is just a little practice to remind myself what’s real.  What an amazing life I’m leading and what a gift the people I meet are to me. I know all of this might sound a little nuts, but I have decided that I am just over worrying about that.  Robin P. Williams said, “You’re only given a spark of madness.  You mustn’t lose it.”  And maybe the world needs some crazy love.  So I am embracing my spark of madness.  Fanning it, even.  And I’m bowing.  And something’s happening because of it.  It’s working.  I’m starting to see God everywhere.

~ Glennon Doyle Melton,  Carry On, Warrior:  The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life

Catching Metro-North.

new-york-city-afternoon-manhattan

6:13 pm.
Madison Square Garden to Grand Central.
10 blocks North — 3 blocks East.
22 minutes to the 6:35 pm New Haven Line.
Rush hour. On foot.

Doable? Let’s go.

Tourists.
Suits.
Students.
Lovers.
Jaywalk.
Contractors.
Homeless.
Tourists.
Street Vendors.
Food cart. Pita. Gyros.
Cabs.
Pedicabs.
Bus tour hawkers.
Shysters.
Shopkeepers.
Jaywalk.
Three abreast.
Tourists.
Lollygaggers.
Messengers.
Bikers.
Tourists.
Black Cars.
Red lights.
Bumbin’Jostlin’ (Sorry!)
Jaywalk.
Walk signs.
Don’t walk.
Jaywalk.
Sidewalk.
Soft spring breeze.
Pungent marinating garbage.
Zig. Zag.
Smokers.
Tourists.
City Buses.
Car horns.

[Read more…]

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