Thursday, October 2, 2014

Onward and Upward in the Neighborhood!

After many years of a view over low rooftops, the blow has finally fallen; the die is cast, etc. The local developer finally got enough money together to start construction on what is going to be a 33-story apartment house on the site of the former and much beloved Metropolitan Café and Columbus Bakery! Plus ça change,,,,

But—The upside is that I have a bird's-eye view of the details of building construction to which, like most city dwellers who aren't actually in the business, I never paid much attention in the past. I can see how much really skilled labor is involved, and even, as a dance, theater, and art enthusiast, a certain amount of choreography and design. I especially like the arrangement of the black netting recently installed to catch flying débris. A few years ago there was a construction disaster in this part of town, only a couple of blocks away, wherein a crane toppled into a building under construction, destroyed a brownstone, killed one person, and heavily damaged some other surrounding buildings. I'm hoping that enough precautions have now been taken so that nothing like that can happen here. Fortunately, my building is far enough from any cranes anyway.

This is what it may eventually look like:

At least I'm still going to have almost all of my light. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The East, Mysterious Once Again

It's not exactly full-blown international intrigue on East 52nd Street, but for a number of weeks there has been a police presence directly across the street from me in front of the Thai embassy.  The building itself has been closed for quite a while, owing to the political unrest back home in Thailand. This gives our otherwise low-key neighborhood a faintly sinister air. In typical Manhattan fashion, the embassy is flanked by a decorous brownstone on its left and a modest little shoe repair shop on its right. There are usually two of New York's Finest lounging in front of the neat white building. From my window vantage point, their body language indicates extreme boredom.
A few weeks back, from time to time, there have been some quiet protest groups; in fact, a few times parade-type barriers have been set up in front of my building and a few flags have been waved and placards worn. But nothing lately. However, a friend, whose upcoming travel itinerary formerly included Bangkok, has been notified that Thailand will be bypassed. The fate of the goings-on across the street has yet to be determined.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Syttende Mai—Good Neighbors

My Manhattan Street in Turtle Bay (Midtown East) has some establishments that are more genteel, less raucous, than many others in New Yawk, New Yawk. We have the apparently decorous Turtle Bay Music School and, right across the way from me, the Norwegian Seamen's Church (Sjømannskirken). They wish all visitors "Hjertelig velkommen," which, thanks to cognates, needs no translation. Today, May 17, Norwegian Constitution Day, known simply by its date, syttende mai (seventeenth of May), gives them a chance to cut loose in a remarkably quiet and orderly way, as opposed to the generally riotous parades and celebrations of other ethnic groups which the city hosts periodically. They don't need Fifth or Sixth Avenue; one crosstown block is sufficient for them, and their charming parade, well populated with towheaded, flag-waving youngsters, lasts only a few minutes. Con Edison's periodic tearing up of the street makes a lot more noise than they do. Long may they remain in the neighborhood! (They always clean up after themselves, too!)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Il Porcellino in New York City

I saw the Florentine bronze "Porcellino" in its home in Italy quite a number of years before it appeared, in 1972, in my neighborhood Sutton Place Park. This one doesn't have its nose rubbed to a coppery shine like its ancestor's, although I did see someone doing a rub—considered good luck—while I was sitting on a nearby bench on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon. Porcellino means "piglet" in italiano, but this is more a wild boar than a cuddly Babe-type piglet! The surrounding flora and fauna, consisting of vines, reptiles, and insects, are worth a close perusal. The whole work is a bit menacing, though lovable for its associations. A civic-minded philanthropist with a whimsical turn of mind donated this as well as a Peter Pan statue in Carl Schurz park. 

It was definitely a cross-cultural afternoon, as I was listening to Strauss's Arabella  from the Metropolitan Opera on my iPhone, and following the libretto. I guess I really should have been listening to that valentine to the city of Florence, Gianni Schicchi.