A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 340: A Conductor’s-Eye View of the 6 Train

June 6th · No Comments

The 6 Train can get mighty dull in the middle of the day when there’s no children breakdancing for money or preachers yelling in your particular car. It was in one of these off moments that I sidled up behind the conductor and pointed my camera through the conductor’s compartment, to see what he sees.

What I enjoy most is the transition between the station, filled with squealing brakes and people and the cheery announcement to Stand Clear of the Closing Doors, Please, and the tunnel, where the passing points of light in the darkness make me feel like I’m traveling, not under Lexington Avenue, but through interstellar space.

Does the video remind you of your own New York adventures? What does it recall for you, earthly or unearthly? Share.

→ No CommentsTags: Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

Day 338: Virgin No More

June 3rd · No Comments

img_7645When the economy imploded last fall, one of the first victims was the Circuit City on Union Square. It was the first I saw to post “Going out of Business” signs and invite the hordes to vulture up its merchandise. (Thanks for the new home phone, guys.) [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Encounters with Nature · Sights & Scenes · Urban Survival · Why I Hate This Town

Day 337: Foiled by Lounge Lizards

May 31st · 1 Comment

img_0333As someone who regularly commutes on a bicycle, I eagerly awaited May 24, the day cars would be banished from Times Square. No more dodging around panicked rental-car tourists or taxis that swerve across three lanes for a fare; now the street would belong to me, the cyclist. At least I thought so until I saw the beach chairs. [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: Sights & Scenes · Urban Survival · Why I Hate This Town · Why I Love This Town

Day 336: Lunatic Island

May 20th · No Comments

img_0306The crags of Mordor? A visit by Martians? No, the subject of this photo is Manhattan from Roosevelt Island in the midafternoon (not bad for a squinty iPhone shot).  Yesterday I saddled up the bicycle and visited the island for the first time.

The Roosevelt Island Tram lifts off silently from 59th Street and Second Avenue and in moments one is looking straight down First Avenue, a loft-apartment view that only costs the price of a $2 metro fare. We glided 250 feet above the East River and touched down gently on the island.

I pedaled the path that encircles the shore, soaking up views of the water and Roosevelt’s strange history as the Hospital that Time Forgot. The granite ruins of the Smallpox Hospital decay on the south end, and near the north end I gazed up at the Octagon Tower, the site of the New York Lunatic Asylum back in the days when “lunatic asylum” was not a slur. Both are long closed; the crazies and the diseased are now running things over in Manhattan.

img_0314The island’s highrise condos would feel cramped if they weren’t so low and spacious compared to the hive across the river. If I had to raise kids in NYC I might do so on Roosevelt, with its wide paths and lawns.

Too bad sound travels so well over water. As I tried to absorb the sun and solitude on the west waterfront, I heard every lyric of the rap song some guy blasted out his windows on the FDR.

→ No CommentsTags: Getaways · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

Day 335: Somebody Leash That Woman

May 19th · 1 Comment

As I ran through Central Park I saw a woolly little dog trot onto the crosswalk at East Drive. screaming-womanTrailing a good ten yards behind him was an old lady in a large hat, and ten yards beyond, another merry little pooch brought up the rear. Everybody was unleashed. The furry dog brothers smiled the way only dogs can smile, with bright eyes and tiny pink tongues, everything about them proclaiming: What a great day for an adventure! Both enjoyed perfect ignorance of the woman, who screamed at the top of her lungs:


(Photo courtesy LaVidaVica.blogspot.com)

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Day 331: Jack Goes Boating

May 15th · 1 Comment

img_7518I knew something was up when I biked by The Lake in Central Park and saw no fewer than ten rowboats afloat, each carrying exactly one man and one woman. And all the lovers were white. How strange. Also, what sort of romantic spark causes people to paddle out on a chilly, overcast Monday at 7 a.m.? [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: Entertainment · Personalities · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

Day 314: Will the Trees Take Manhattan?

April 28th · No Comments

taxi-and-treeThe battle for New York City’s green future arrived in my mailbox last week. It took the form of a fundraising appeal from MillionTreesNYC, a campaign to plant 100,000 trees every year for a decade, and bore the signature of that eminent environmentalist, Bette Midler.

Which immediately brought questions to mind. Who made the star of “Kiss My Brass” the voice of the city’s greenery? And since when do trees need a publicist? [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Deep Thoughts · East Coast v. West Coast · Encounters with Nature · Personalities · Urban Survival · Why I Love This Town

Day 307: The City Has Been Canceled Due to Rain

April 21st · No Comments

Photo Credit: www.channel4.com I looked out the window this morning. Still raining after yesterday’s deluge. I got my things together to spend the day at Paragraph, the writing space where I work, and attend an evening workshop on WordPress, the software that runs this site.

Before leaving, I opened my computer and got this email:

“We’re closing Paragraph because of the heavy rain and the many leaks happening in the writing space. We will notify everyone as soon as we open the space again. Please do not come to the space until we send out an email.”

And nine emails later, this one:

“The Anatomy of a WordPress Theme, scheduled to occur on April 21, 2009 at 7:00 PM has been canceled. Unfortunately, we have a situation with the roof and leaking.”

This reminded me of a chapter from Alan Weisman’s excellent book “The World Without Us” and the chapter on how nature, left to its own devices, would dismantle New York City. First the subways would flood. The system engineers estimate that, absent the city’s 753 pumps, the tunnels would fill with water in 36 hours during a rainstorm.

I peer nervously at the ceiling.

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Day 299: I’m Not OK with Your Bouquet

April 13th · No Comments

img_7316In winter the New York streets are a gray asphalt tundra. Then one day in April…Daffodils! They nod at you on the sidewalk, bright as sunlight, gentle as Easter. Surrounding them is a tiny, valiant iron fence.

I saw a woman on 65th Street reach past the fence with one hand – the other held a cellphone to her ear —  and grab two stems with her fingers. A gardener had nurtured those shoots, someone else had trucked them into the city, and yet another person did the planting. The result: yellow florets of gentility amid the concrete and exhaust.

I heard the roots rip from the soil. The woman carried them off to adorn a cubicle or kitchen table. Two freebies for her, two less breaths of fresh air for the rest of us.

→ No CommentsTags: Encounters with Nature · Sights & Scenes · Why I Hate This Town

Day 284: Oy, the Sun!

April 8th · 1 Comment

img_7300Early this morning a congregation of about 150 Jews stood by the United Nations building and did something that seemed almost pagan: They blessed the rising sun. [Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: Encounters with Nature · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town