Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Post-Electric Typewriter

Those IBM Selectrics could not be killed, and apparently they survive pretty well against fire too. I forget exactly this was, somewhere right off Erie Street. A fire, relatively recently by the looks of things. Place being cleaned out. That typewriter, it didn’t exactly survived but among what is left, this machine is only recognizable object. I used to have one just like it. I’m old enough to have used on typewriter. I’m old enough to have learned how to type on a typewriter. I wonder how long before the fire had this thing been in use? A few old time writers out there still swear by the typewriter. I think one is Cormac McCarthy. Was there one of them like that there off Erie? Or was this just forgotten in a closet and only fished out after the blaze? You get that sadness when you see random remnants of a life, that there was a story here that you’ll never really know.

One Flood After Another

I was going for effect, with the headline of the Jersey City Reporter in the foreground and a raindrop speckled window as the background but the window faces the street and only the black asphalt came through and the raindrops look more like glitter. I fiddled with it some using my very weak photoshop skills, and turning the image into black and white didn’t make it any worse and besides, paper newspapers are so retro. I write about weather a lot here. One reason is that many posts consist of me taking a picture than thinking of some comment or diatribe or whatever to post along with it. When you walk around and take pictures you think a lot about the weather. You are outside a lot. But the other reason is that the weather is no longer like it used to be, and that’s the Inconvenient Truth of it all. About a century and a half of the industrial revolution poisoning the world’s ecosystem and resulted in the destruction of the climate. Beginning with Ronald Reagan and more recently with the eight year-disgrace and horror of G.W.B., our nation’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair because our wealth has been used to make the wealthy wealthier and turn America into a two tier society. Unfortunately, our decrepit infrastructure can no longer withstand the severe climate changes caused by our pollution. The Jersey City Reporter is a weekly newspaper and they do a pretty good job too. But being a weekly, reporting on weather usually falls outside the scope of their news focus, except for week before last, when severe rainstorms caused flooding in many Jersey City homes, especially in the downtown neighborhood. The weather event was so bad even a weekly had to report on the devestation. A buddy of mine told me about his basement flooding. Most of New Jersey—above Perth Amboy at least—is a swampland and flooded basements are renowned in our submerged Garden State. Hudson County and Jersey City have so far been spared. Our dry times are over. Two days after this newspaper headline appeared, flood warnings were again issued for another day and a half of downpour. The curb lagoons in our streets have been so deep and wide. I was hoping the black and white would underscore the irony. I was hoping highlighting irony would bring out the humor in the situation. Then again, I’m not invested in a basement.

Mall Bunny

The Easter Bunny is weird and a little creepy. Not scary really, nothing close to being a clown for Gods Sakes no! I feel bad for him, never going to get the crowds a Santa Claus draws even though he’s much a part of holiday as jolly ole Saint Nick and is a secular symbol of an otherwise religious event. Santa Claus doesn’t have pagan roots, unlike other aspects of yuletide like the tree and ornaments and yuletide log. But the glorification of the rabbit, the dyeing of the eggs, the candy—all bits of spring celebration of pre-Christian Europe. I wonder when bringing your child to sit on the Easter Bunny’s lap became something to do. I don’t remember that as a kid, and we had Malls and Easter way back then too. It’s a photo-op and seemed to me, the average age was noticeably younger than those in line for Santa. And, why does the Easter Bunny live in a split-level tea pot? Where does that come from? Or the glasses? It’s just weird. The kids are cute. The woman behind the camera taking the picture had this small tambourine which she shook over her head to get the attention of the child, maybe inspire a smile. I’m frightened of this giant anthropomorphic creature. Do I ask the bunny for something. He doesn’t bring presents like Santa, he brings candy. You can only wish for Candy. Lots & Lots of candy.

Easter Egg Interment Camp

The fenced in lot across the street from still closed Hamilton Park was turned into a make-shift playground by the developers of the buildings. That’s a good thing. It was the scene of an Easter Egg Hunt over the weekend. I didn’t really notice any actual hunting but the kids seemed to be having fun. The joke is all in the title of this post.

Sign of Un-Rented Mall Space

I think it was a Quinzo’s. A few weeks ago it was closed and there was some legal letter taped to the glass, something about court order and bankruptcy. I guess it only affected this location, the chain still has a website. I never ate there so I have no opinion on if the food served was any good. Why did I take this shot? Believe me, it’s not to promote this romantic comedy, which I have no plans to see. It looks awful and unfunny. I took a picture when it dawned on me: the mall is camouflaging the empty store with advertisements—they’ve done a similar thing with the space of the former B. Daltons, although there they are promoting another store. I wonder if they will change the sign for a new movie—I doubt this stinker is going to stay around a while. What this is though is a sign of the economy. No new retail business is in line to lease this space, no new stores are opening up. The crowds in Newport Mall are not spending. The unemployment rate in Jersey City is above 10 percent. Do you want a mall with boarded up store fronts filled with wandering unemployed young people? I can’t really complain about this camouflage, it’s not a bad idea, it helps the atmosphere and an atmosphere conducive to shopping is good for business. It’s a clever use of otherwise unused space. I got a feeling though we will see more stores close in the mall before we see this extra large movie poster replaced by a new store. Besides, that big paper cup with lid is an interesting image. It looks imposing. The attack of the killer refill.

Face Spewing into Fountain

A fountain in an entrance in a building across the River on Barclay Street. An identical fountain was directly across from this one, on the other side of the entrance. It was like the fountain was cut in two, then affixed to the wall, with these the two faces of Janus. Janus had two faces because he could see both the past and the future, for the Ancient Romans, symbolizing barbarity and civilized society, like the Romans themselves. He was also the god of entrances, gates, bridges and passages. I’m assuming this is Janus because I do not know the Roman god of the spew.

Palm Sunday

"The river so white/the mountain so red/and with the sunshine over my head/The honky-tonks are all closed and hushed/It looks like Palm Sunday again

From Palm Sunday by Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia, it’s a short snippet of a poem on his great studio Album, Cats Out Under The Stars.

These are palms folded into a shape of a cross.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Stain Glass Francis

I noticed this stain glass the same place I noticed this statue of the same Saint, Saint Francis of Assisi. The statute highlighted his love of animals, this image emphasizes his stigmata, considered to be the first in the history of church. You may recall the statue of another stigmatist, Saint Padre Pio right here in Jersey City. The stigmata are the wounds of Christ, a sign of holiness. I love the literal nature of this stain glass, the light streaming through the holes in the hands and feet. Or as he declared in a famous canticle, “Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun,who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.”

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mitzvah Mobility

Mitzvah is a Hebrew word for a good deed. The bearded man on the side of this Recreational Utility Vehicle is Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902–1994), an Hasidic rabbi who was the seventh and considered the last Rebbe (spiritual leader) of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. He was a spiritual, wise man and revered. His face invokes wisdom—as well as kindness and understanding. He and his followers—the Hassidim, you see them around, they’re dressed like old world Amish—believed that Messiah’s arrival was imminent—some believe Rabbi Schneerson was the “massaich,”—and to make the world ready for God’s Kingdom, one must do good works, i.e., mitzvah’s. Mitzvah mainly means for them, making Jewish folks more observant. I have gotten friendly with a couple of these Lubavitch Hassidim. They have this big headquarters on 5th avenue in the 40s and on Fridays, mainly young men, go around and try to get Jews to pray with them. I work with a Jewish guy and they come by the office and they have actually gotten the dude to pray. He’s not a religious guy or anything, but he was raised Jewish and considers himself a Jew. I believe in the power of prayer. They put a shawl on him and wrap the tefillin around his arm and together they recite the Hebrew prayers. They’re good kids actually. I believe in encouraging youth when they are doing positive activities and getting Jews more in touch with the theology and practices of their religion seems to me a very good thing. Before a holiday, like Passover, they drive around the tank and do more of this kind of out reach. I read scripture and have read several of Jewish texts and commentaries, such as the Zohar. The Hassidim kids that come by the office are interesting cats to talk to. I’m sure I might have some of the facts wrong here, for which I apologize. My buddy at work, he’s told me more than once, ‘you know, all they want to do is pray.’ They are never mad when he doesn’t feel like praying—and he doesn’t pray more often than he does pray. They always come back. They never ask for donations. They never try to get him to become a Hassidim. They just want to pray with him. And, I can tell, that he appreciates being forced to remember the Hebrew learned during his very long ago Bah Mitzvah instruction. And Rabbi Schneerson? President Jimmy Carter in 1978 proclaimed his birthday as Education and Sharing Day, and every year since the president has issued a proclamation—it is usually on April 5th, but because it is based on the Hebrew Calendar, the exact date can change. In 2009, President Barack H. Obama wrote in his proclamation on Education & Sharing Day, "Few have better understood or more successfully promoted these ideas than Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who emphasized the importance of education and good character. Through the establishment of educational and social service institutions across the country and the world, Rabbi Schneerson sought to empower young people and inspire individuals of all ages. On this day, we raise his call anew." Rabbi Schneerson was awarded a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor in 1994. President Bill Clinton spoke these words at the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony: “The late Rebbe's eminence as a moral leader for our country was recognized by every president since Richard Nixon. For over two decades, the Rabbi's movement now has some 2000 institutions; educational, social, medical, all across the globe. We (the United States Government) recognize the profound role that Rabbi Schneerson had in the expansion of those institutions.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Neon Clipping

In August of 2008, the Jersey City Council passed city Ordinance 08-27 declaring that the Northeast Corner of Barrow Street & Christopher Columbus Drive also be known as Don Samuel Cintron Barbershop Way. Mr. Cintron retired around that time, although the barbershop is still going strong, cutting hair for what has to be now a fourth generation of J.C. citizens—the place has been in business for more than 50 years, according to Carlos, one of the barbers there. He recently added this cool looking retro neon sign—the scissors move, clipping hair. That barber pole, that’s not a retro touch—that has been around as long as this friendly neighborhood place, back when barber poles were required markers for the trade. The neon scissors clipping though, that’s new.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Corner Garden

Later I realized this corner I had written about before. Last year, Sixth & Erie was the location of falling bricks from train trestles of our glorious railroad past—as if the Embankment needed more controversy! During a stroll down Erie on our recent spurt of clear skies, sunshine and warm temps I saw this early garden. At least, it looked more than just a planting of grass. I am assuming this is an unauthorized community garden. I can’t quite make out the little signs near the base of the sign. I do not know what kinds of plants were planted, but they seem to be flowers. Somebody took the time to dig up the unused ground and even place some stone fragments, suggesting a pathway. Might be too small to practice Zen Meditation, but adding a touch of beauty, alleviating a modicum of drabness—just the thought is enough to improve anyone’s day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

2010 Creative Grove Season Begins

Creative Grove 2010 finally bloomed Friday. A brutal rain storm postponed opening day by a week, but no one could have asked for a better afternoon weather-wise. Temperatures grew warmer and the sky sunnier in mid-week and by Friday, it felt like a peak-Spring day, not a late-winter afternoon. But you know what they say about March—you get all four seasons in one month.

For more information on Creative Grove click here. I was looking forward to our local Art Mart. I wanted a reason to hang out outside in the non-Winter weather and ease into the weekend. My anticipation seemed shared. The turn-out seemed high, one of the better crowds for the weekly event that I could recall.

Last year was the inaugural year for Creative Grove. There was always a nice vibe going on and a lot of the artists returned week in and week out, indicating that the endeavor was profitable. Some may look at Creative Grove as a visible manifestation of our arts & crafts community. That description implies that the arts are a separate community, segregated from the community at large. I don’t see the arts like that. Artists contribute to society, are part of society. Creative Grove integrates arts into the community. Basically, it’s a flea market, without the fleas or antiques—at least not yet. But it seems the flea market sales part is just the excuse for what people really use Creative Grove for: a reason to pass some time and socialize. That’s what people do. They see what’s on sale, maybe buy something now or buy something next time. Then they head home or where ever else they are headed. The same sort of scene takes place in Union Square Park across the river, but we’re not the capital of the world. Creative Grove is local, which makes it more endearing.

I found a chair, read a little and observed the scene. The sun was setting to set, its light felt warm on my face. Spring sweetened the air.

Parents attempted to herd their toddlers as they talked with each other covering topics like school and the weather. Then some older kids with hula-hoops came into the clearing. They did more toppling over each other than successful gyrations. The parents herded the toddlers away from the swinging hoops. None of the kids were crying. They were laughing and having fun and the parents were glad about that.

A DJ spun some trippy techno. It wasn’t too annoying or blaringly loud. I noticed familiar faces, folks from the neighborhood, folks I hadn’t seen since the last Creative Grove which was probably sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. All ages, all ethnic groups. That’s why the word community comes to mind. This city seems too fragmented sometimes. A lot of different scenes are going on, but they are often very insular. The art community is just as guilty as any other group, even the more “mainstream.” Creative Grove is about as inclusive as it gets. I think the reason is that there is no agenda. It is what it is—a funky flea market. For a community to exist, it needs a point where the idea of community can manifest and be realized by everyone who shares the idea of community. Creative Grove is one of those points for Jersey City. It is held for the afternoon, it merely happens. There is no “show” with a specific beginning or end. No parade or performance to witness. No real organized activity that you might be late for takes place. It’s a... hang. Communities may need to achieve more than that – as do the individuals within a community – but for communities to work towards a greater good, they have to recognize themselves first as a community. What do we all have in common—we’re all here! Creative Grove is that first step. It’s a point where Jersey City can converge.

The catalyst for this Creative Grove is Uta Brauser. She’s the proprietor of Fish with Braids, a gallery on Jersey Avenue. She has been the main promoter and organizer of Creative Grove and acts as a liaison between city authorities and the artist/vendors. She’s an ebullient and outgoing artist, and sports the longest dread locks I have ever seen. They are often streaked with iridescent hues. She took the microphone from the DJ to make some announcements that no one paid attention to. She was gleeful about the turnout and the fact that the second season of Creative Grove was now a reality. Everyone was too busy enjoying the scene to listen to her announcements. I can think of no better compliment for her work.

Lots of new art to look at. There was an actual artist in residence too, leaning into an easel with a canvas, rendering the corner buildings with brush and paint. I noticed some children watching him paint, fascinated. Lasted only a few moments, then they scampered on to some other distraction. The parents seemed pleased. The kids can play and frolic, everybody gets out of the house, away from the T.V.. Everyone gets to wonder aloud if winter may really be gone. A nice vibe was felt by all.

Iconic album cover images digitally reproduced on actual LPs. This is the work of Mike Ferrari. Sort of looks like my college bedroom, I never put away those damn records. I liked that Billie Holiday and Patti Smith were on the same table. The images were rendered in shiny monochromatic colors. The circular objects gleamed.
Visit: http://www.mikeferrari.net/.

This is the man behind Iris Records. For a really interesting story about this record store, located on Brunswick, click here.

It’s a Jersey City Independent story. The record store held limited hours, Fridays. Apparently, they had a following for selling vinyl. I’m not going back to vinyl. I’m perfectly happy with CDs. The store is located in this funky building, used to be a pharmacy. I was in there once. I didn’t get anything – even though there was a CD I wanted, the guy wouldn’t sell me the CDs, he was only selling LPs. The business and the business owners may be idiosyncratic and more than a little eccentric, but what a great space. But I couldn’t help but ask, can a retail store that wasn’t really a store really close?

“I didn’t like the grind.”

“One day a week was a grind?”

He laughed. “I’m more underground, but I’ll be here every Friday.”

Few things I like better than looking through rows of CDs. DVDs are for sale too. The selection is impressive. I could have bought about a dozen or so, but I did find a Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, an Impulse release that has heretofore escaped my purview. My compulsion towards Coltrane completion continues. Maybe I’m old enough to finally appreciate the Duke or is it just that Coltrane can do no wrong? A mere eight bucks! I was digging on it all weekend.

.For more information on Iris Records click here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Heating Asphalt, Faking Bricks

What would Downtown Jersey City be without its quaint touches and in fact, if you can fake quaint, you may be able to fake sincerity. Turns out our cobble stone cross ways are not actually cobblestone left over from a Jersey City hey day. Unlike our faux 19th century clocks, our faux 19th century brick cobblestones actually work.

They aren’t really cobblestones at all, it’s decorative asphalt made by Pavement Impressions. Mike from the company told me how they do it. Using a Pavement Heater SR-60, they heat up the asphalt until it is malleable.

A template of brick formations is placed over the warm tar. Another machine is used to flatten the template against the asphalt to form the brick impressions. A sheet of reddish thermoplastic is then placed over the template, more heating is involved until the substance melts, covering the brick shapes, turning them into, faux brick cobblestones. They look pretty good. It’s a pretty clever trick and you know something, it makes the street safer. Traffic can be pretty bad downtown, but not like Manhattan and jay walking seems encouraged. Jay walking I define as crossing where there’s a light—crossing in between, not at the green. You see the signs of international stick figures of people walking, crossing. Drivers can see the red bricks and perhaps they slow down. Can’t drive as fast over cobble stones as you can flat tar. Alright, asphalt is not tar but I think of them as synonyms.

There’s a big pile of bricks just down the street. I guess fake is cheaper than real when it comes to bricks. Mike said it was the third crossway his company has done for Jersey City. The others were done by another company using a slightly different process. Fake brick cobblestones that look and function like the real thing. Admit it you never knew this either.

My Sneaky Hamilton Park Preview

I was near Hamilton Park on Friday, a lovely afternoon, early spring, perfect for enjoying the park. The park is closed and next months it will be closed for an entire year. Yes, they found contaminated soil. I can accept that causing some delays. Yes, we’ve had a lot of snow fall. Again, that could mess with a schedule. What gets me though is that with the original proposal and then with the estimates after the lead in soil was discovered, we never see an exact date. I can understand not an exact date, or maybe even week, but not even a month?

The gate was opened. I’m rarely around here during the week. So, what the heck I walked. Took a few pictures. It looks pretty good. Consider these an exclusive preview. Of course, even with the fence, the work and its sluggish pace have not been exactly hidden.

“I have to ask you to leave, this is a construction site.” He was a nice enough guy and spoke to me gently.

“I saw the gate opened, I just wanted to look around.” I wasn’t about to make an issue of it. He didn’t ask about taking pictures. I asked him, “when do you think it will be done.”

“Two months.”

“May? It will be done in May?”


I guess we’ll see. I hate the idea of the park missing another summer. Seemed to me, they could open part of the park now, move the fence and just continue on their “construction.” That’s just me I guess.

Hamilton Park Hot Dog Vendor

“We knew you would be out today,” said one old woman

“We're from the senior center,” added her friend. "You're always here when it's nice."

“It’s nice out today, too nice to eat inside,” said the hot dog vendor. He held the tongs which grasped a hot dog that he was slipping into a bun.

I didn’t want to interrupt. It was not until I was across the street that I took this picture. Kids were in the play ground across the street, a day school situation. The park is still closed yet park activity continues.

The Art of a Sign

There are hundreds of Hefty Trash bags who sacrificed their twisty-ties and need for closure for this work of art. I think it appeared a couple of weeks ago, it’s a few doors down from the famed Blue Bodega. I don’t what it’s really trying to say, it mimics something in bloom and there is what looks like an angel. Maybe it is meant to comment on Christmas, it looks like a tree and the angel is on top. It uses the sign—the pole the sign is on, there are slots to attach the sign and the twisty-ties are inserted into those slots—and yet the purpose of the sign—the no parking, the pick up after your dog—remains unobstructed. Turning it into art as well has not prevented anyone from ignoring the sign.

Saint Patrick’s Day Parade

Until last fall, the office I work at was located on 46th street, twixt 5th & Madison. I have a sort of flexible deal. I don’t have to be in the office every day and can work out of my home office; I always make sure I was there on Saint Patrick’s Day. I like to be in New York to witness the festivities.

Not everybody had this attitude. The streets are crowded and noisy; more than few folks in the throngs have been drinking. But there’s an energy I love. Walking around and seeing all the green is fun. Every Deli serves great corn beef.

Before the current office gig, I of course had been to the parade a few times. I wear some green and have a drink or two on St. Patrick’s Day, but it is not an event I would go out of my way for. Due to happenstance, working in that part of Manhattan, I now find it a pleasant diversion and also a good excuse to have a few whiskeys after work with cohorts. Why not raise a glass, pay some tribute, give props as the kids say to the Irish?

I don’t really see too much of the parade. The parade itself is kind of gross. What is great is walking “behind the scenes,” on the feeder streets. My office was located on one of these feeder streets. The parade seems to start around 42nd and goes up 80th I think, although there are plans afoot to shorten the parade route. The viewing stand is at 50th street, St. Patrick’s Cathedral. On the feeder streets—the streets between 42nd & 49th (or so), you see the marchers, bag pipers and such, but especially the kids, the high school marching bands. Their energy is infectious. They have so much enthusiasm and giddy anxiety. I think about how they’ll always have this memory of coming into NYC from whatever small town, be in the Midwest or in Long Island and being in a parade. It isn’t half as much fun watching them march, as it is watching them wait, watching them anticipate the moment they put all those after school practice times into motion.

I did notice that fewer contingents were on the feeder streets, one maybe two formations of folks ready to march. Not the three or four I recalled from years past. Another sign of the recession? Had schools cut the Saint Patrick’s Day trip out of their budgets, or cut the band budgets? Or did the parade get shortened. I was up there around 1pm and it was already winding down—I passed street sweepers already in formation at like 43rd. That darn thing used to run at least until 3:00 pm. The sanitation department was ready to go before 1 pm. Cut this short, no overtime pay for anybody. I guess the parade can withstand some austerity—they still don’t let gays march under their own banner which is nothing less than pure bigotry—but it is kind of messed up that because of Wall Street greed and Republican enabling of the greed, our economy is in such bad shape we tell kids, sorry, your marching band cannot be Irish for one day. It’s not in the budget.

I noticed an interesting contingent of young Asian kids wearing white t-shirts for the Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which is down there by Little Italy and China Town. One of the oldest churches in the U.S., it’s where the Irish first got organized in the New World. Changing demographics have made the congregation Asian. The irony is touching and relevant, if you think about it, the standard bearers of some authentic Irish-American tradition being off spring of another group of immigrants.

I went to the parade when I was in College, we did some serious partying—like getting a case of beer, sitting down on the sidewalk and drinking the whole thing. Several years ago, they started putting tighter controls on the open air boozing, a good thing. Drinking went on, just not as blatantly. Well, those controls have now lapsed. I noticed kids and more drunken kids than parades of recent years. Many groups of tipsy young adults and older teenagers wandered about. They weren’t brandishing beers but they had a lot of plastic mugs and drinking cups, with the straw and lid. They were obviously a wee lit up. Luckily, I was back in the office by the time most of the vomiting began. I noticed very little rowdiness. Kids should party. It is a good thing. I wish I could still sit on the sidewalk.

By the same token, the cops were imposing more security. They were not stopping the kids for boozing it up some, but they were stricter about walking down streets, keeping some sidewalks clear. I felt they were over doing it. I think it was part of plan to wrap this up early. Eliminating freedom and limiting your fun—that’s been Bloomberg’s New York City policy, making that city safe for Rich White People. He seems more intent on that now that he has been able to purchase a third term.

The bars were all crowded and we encountered a waitress attitude. We’re only serving tap beer and you have to eat if you want to sit at the tables. No appetizers, just a $20 corn beef on rye. After work? Places were packed of course. There are these Irish bars around this area, Grand Central and of course do a booming business on St. Patrick’s Day and this being New York, business could always be better. Anyone can be shyster in NYC, and it may soon be mandated into the Municipal Code of Manhattan. Wound up having the traditional few at a TGI Fridays of all places. I drink Jameson on this day, so no worries.

I’m part Irish, on my mother’s side. My feelings about this heritage can be
ambivalent, especially when it comes to certain parades. I was in a good mood though on Wednesday, where we had a sudden burst of spring and some long wished for sunshine. The Irish are known for drinking, and yes it’s a stereotype but the truth is few cultures are so closely aligned with alcohol as the Irish are with Whiskey and Lager, Ale, Stout and drinking is part of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration. If you grow up around here, a rite of passage is checking out the NYC parade. The young adults were well represented and it did seem more of them were boozing it up some. I think the older adults who are aghast and appalled about this forget what it was like to be 21. Drinking is fun until it isn’t fun and it is something we should not take lightly. I’m lucky, I go for weeks or months even without a drink, I never feel I have to a drink, never had mood changes or black outs. Everyone who knows me knows that I have never not drunk like a gentleman. Well, maybe when I was in college… but that’s all about learning how to drink. By 30 or so, if you are unable to drink like a gentleman (or a lady!) you will have already quit drinking, and if you haven’t quit and you have a problem, you’re dead or homeless or enduring some other devastation. You’ve either come to grips with your drinking problem or have learned to live in denial about your alcoholism. Who knows why someone gets that disease and someone else does not. I do now that having a few drinks with friends is still one of the best things in life. As you get older, it is something that happens less and less often, thus you appreciate those times more and more.

Seeing those kids drinking and being intoxicated—I did see an actual hurling upchuck walking towards the PATH—made me sweetly wistful. They were drunk but not disorderly. Some may learn to drink responsibly and some will not and they will suffer the consequences. No one knows what your life has in store for you. New York is a great place to learn how to drink. St. Patrick’s Day Parade is like freshman orientation—not everybody will be here when you graduate.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Yeats - 03-17-2010


Others because you did not keep
That deep-sworn vow have been friends of mine
Yet Always when I look death in the face,
When I clamber to the heights of sleep,
Or when I grow excited with wine,
Suddenly I meet your face.

William Butler Yeats 1917

Blogger note: Happy St. Patrick's Day. Read more Yeats!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Iridescent Lightning

Trouble on the 33rd street Path line, switched the train to WTC. I happened to get off the train and take the elevator. I don’t usually take the PATH elevators, but I saw it open and only one other person so why not. When I got to the next level it was in a slightly different spot than usual and noticed this mural thing for the first time. I liked the title, Iridescent Lightning. Apparently it was a gift from the people of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a region of Italy, made at the Friuli Mosaic School in Spilimbergo. It was a gesture from these folks, in solidarity after 9-11, and also thanks—apparently New York helped the town when it endured a severe earth quake. The artists made the mural to fit the wall—more than 30 worked on it, which was shipped in 56 segments to New York. According to the artists, "Saetta Iridescentea – Iridescent Lightning expresses creation, abstractly depicting as a lightning bolt the moment when the fingers of Adam and God touch. I like the name, but looks like lines on graph to me. It was a nice gesture though. It decorates a temporary wall but if the memorial is ever completed, it will find a home there, according to at least one website. This lightning has been striking here for a few years now, but never in a place I passed. I could use a few more detours like this one.