Sunday, September 29, 2013

Manhattan Pastorale

No, we're not in the Adirondacks. These Canada geese are visiting us right here on the east side of Roosevelt Island, smack in the middle of the East River.  Hadn't visited Roosevelt Island in many years, and it has become quite an outpost, more for families than for singles, with many good-looking high-rise apartment houses and attractive plantings. At the southern tip, a memorial park for Franklin D. Roosevelt is under construction.  

The island seems to have all the amenities, especially for family life. I wouldn't call it the best place for living solo, though it has the added attraction of being much quieter than the rest of Manhattan. And a couple of minutes on the Roosevelt Island tramway (assuming it's in working order) will get you to this peaceful oasis.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Burning Bright

It’s easy to see why kids, both big and little, love fire engines. They are usually kept lovingly polished and shining. Even at rest in their garages they can’t help catching the eye. Many of New York’s fire trucks have slogans painted above the front windshields. One of my favorites is an engine in the Broadway theater district that proudly states, “Never missed a performance!”

Of far more importance than the spectacular vehicles used in their essential work are the firemen themselves. We New Yorkers consider them heroes, and rightly so. The horrors of 9/11 showed their strength and courage fully, but these men have always had our respect and admiration.

Like the rest of us, they have to do grocery shopping, and I often see them making purchases at the Fairway I frequent. That’s why this beautiful fire engine was parked by the stop near that storied food market, where I was waiting for the Broadway bus.

For further musings on Fairway, with or without our great firemen:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Putting Zs Into "Das Rheingold"

Overactive imagination at work again: Sat down to enjoy Das Rheingold at the Met the other night, and noticed that an elderly gentlemen a few seats to my right was already asleep. I had always supposed that, at least, people waited until the opera actually started before they dropped off. O.K., he wasn’t bothering me and he wasn’t even snoring.

Shortly after the show started, I noticed that another man, just to my left, was bent far over, also apparently asleep as well. I was afraid that he would fall against me, but that didn’t happen.  As the excellent performance progressed, I noticed that he wasn’t waking up. Was he dead? Immediately, ominous thoughts of summoning an usher who would call for an EMT flooded my mind. Would I have to stay around and be a witness? He had come to the opera alone. Would I have to do the Good Samaritan thing? I trusted that the applause at the end would wake him up first.

Of course, he wasn’t dead at all and even stirred a few times during Rheingold’s two and one-half hours. He fled as soon as the curtain came down. I wonder if he remembered anything of the very fine performance. Even the Met’s infamous Robert Lepage Machine, much despised by the critics, made very little noise. There were only a few slight rumbles as the Rhine maidens descended into the deep at the end of their scene. The audience, except for the two snoozers, responded with vociferous appreciation at the opera's conclusion.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Staplers! Or, My Mini-Collection

A co-worker at my last job and I had both loved the movie Office Space (1999), and one day I found that she had bought me a gift, even though it was neither my birthday nor a holiday. It turned out to be a red Swingline stapler, immortalized in the movie to such an extent that Swingline started manufacturing red staplers again. Then, this item appeared in the business section of today's New York Times, sparking nostalgia and causing me to e-mail the article to my former office mate:

Among various family objects I've inherited over the years is this Ace Cadet stapler, which could date anywhere from the 1930s through the 1950s. In my case, it's probably from either the 30s or the 40s. Maybe it's even worth something to a collector; people collect old typewriters and cameras, though I don't see why. Swingline is probably eternally grateful to the producers of Office Space. To quote a famous line from Death of a Salesman, "Business is definitely business." I'm not that hard up to try to sell it on eBay, though I've already discovered a site for antique staplers, which shows one like this.

Well, maybe I'll entertain bids, if anyone actually reads this!

Friday, March 15, 2013

John Jay on TV (Anonymously)?

CUNY's well-regarded John Jay College of Criminal Justice recently added an impressive new structure on Eleventh Avenue (which subsequently becomes West End Avenue) as an addition to its campus. Passing by it frequently on the M57 bus, I have become aware that it does double duty on more than one occasion. From time to time, the building has its name changed. A couple of weeks back, in large, neat, permanent-appearing letters, it was called "ALL SAINTS HOSPITAL." And just today, its name had been changed to "BOOKER UNIVERSITY." Underneath the Booker name was "University Hospital." Most intriguing. A quick check on Google (delightfully, the relatively new voice-activated Google app on my iPhone), showed that, apparently, there is no such university. And there doesn't seem to be an All Saints Hospital in New York City, either.

My keen intelligence, honed by endless viewings of the now-defunct, but still ubiquitous, Law and Order (where Lt. Van Buren and others were John Jay alumni), allowed me to posit that they are using John Jay's handsome western fa├žade as a location indicator for one or another TV shows, most probably police and/or medical dramas. I'll have to look sharp to see if I can catch it on the small screen one of these days.

Update! Further research reveals that "All Saints Hospital" is the workplace of Edie Falco, the eponymous protagonist of the show Nurse Jackie on Showtime. O.K., that mystery solved. Now, where is "Booker University"?