Tag Archives: New York

Rooftop Afternoon, Navy Yard, Brooklyn

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I brought Begonia and Rich a bottle of Urki from the Basque country via Rockridge.  We put it in the freezer for a half hour and then enjoyed it on the roof with the Euskadi cocktail picks I found in a little store in Hondarribia.  We baked in the sun, waited in anticipation for the occasional breeze, and misted ourselves over the kiddie pool with the hose.  No better way to spend an impossibly hot Augest New York day.

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New York Day Two: F local from 68th to W. 4th, A local to Canal Street

I love riding the subway in New York. I don’t love subway station smells, or waiting for the subway (too much indecent exposure)–but once you get on that air conditioned train it’s great.

I’m otherwise totally uncomfortable in crowds, but the subway is an exception. All crowded in a train you really see New York–all those differences just jammed in together too close not to see or hear.

Best part is that people stare–unabashedly–at each other.  Women at men, rich at poor, white people at brown people, twenty-somethings at teens, hipsters at suits, and everyone at tourists.  People avoid too–noses in books and word searches–but find me a New Yorker who’s never taken part in the great city past time of the Subway Stare.

I got stared at right away when I got on the F downtown at 63rd, this time by a woman about my age and dressed similarly to me.  That’s another great stare–the girl on girl what are you wearing stare–very common in New York, and frankly, not offensive to me.  The women are beautiful here and they dress better than anywhere else in the U.S., so what better way to pass the time but by checking out the scenery?

Riding the NYC subway is not an experience you can replicate anywhere else.  It’s created as much by the diversity of riders as the design of a system that is, in essence, thoroughly democratic. It’s affordable, efficient, and has stations almost anywhere anyone in the five boroughs lives (okay four, Staten Island gets no love, but it’s an island for pete’s sake).

Thinking I might benefit similarly from public transportation when I moved to the Bay Area was a naive aspiration. The trains are wide and the great majority of the seats are in one-direction facing rows.  The NYC system by contrast has narrow train cars, and many with seats that face each other, with narrow standing room in the middle and bar above for holding on.  This creates another great type of stare: The Staring Down At That Person Whose Seat You’re Waiting For Stare and the Staring At Your Lap Trying To Avoid Being Looked Down Upon Stare.

I got a seat after we passed Grand Central and then transferred at W. 4th to a downtown A train and got off at Canal.  In contrast to the F, this A was quite empty, but there was a great loud family of Italian tourists to watch experience the greatness of the MTA.

While there are many reasons I live in Rockridge, and prefer to live in Rockridge, Bay Area public transit isn’t one of them.  I miss the MTA.  Looking forward to more rides today and the next few days…

Vintage NYC Subway Maps courtesy of the Subway Nut, a fun and thorough blog about the subway

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The map as it appears today via MTA

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28th Street Flowers

I visited the wholesale flower district this morning, in a very bleary eyed state.

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And I bought A LOT of flowers.  Here I have (from left) cockscomb celosia, variegated “watermelon” lemons, clematis, geranium leaves, dahlias, and mint.

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Grizzly Bear, Fillmore 6.21.09

I’ve started writing something about Grizzly Bear in this window six or so times now.  I’m vacillating.  “Grizzly Bear played at truly great show last night.”  “I’ve seen Grizzly Bear play many, many times.”  “I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen Grizzly Bear if I were asked.”  I’m wondering what the value is of lauding these people publicly.  Music writing.  Such a load.  This isn’t a story about Grizzly Bear.  It’s a story about me.

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Pre-show at Absinthe.  Above, the “21 Hayes.”

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the “Nouveau Carré”

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Soundcheck

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Bear gets ready to take flight in response to something Simon said

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Taylor watches

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Dan in the mist

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At this point I left to eat some Vietnamese food in the Mission with some very nice, very well-educated people.  In spite of my desire to honor Edward Droste’s love of Pho, I at the clay pot fish.  I can’t help it.  I just love it.

the show

I’m pretty sure this picture was taken during Lullaby, one of my all-time favorite Grizzly Bear songs.  When I watched the show (from the middle-middle where the sound is the best), and actually when I watch almost any Grizzly Bear show, I can’t help but get emotional.  While I’d love to be able to avoid sarcasm, I can’t help but add that this sentiment of mine surely isn’t unique judging by the crowd last night.  But I (again, like many others) feel like that emotion is mine only, and completely unique.  What is it about pop music that does this to us?  I’m sure if Timothy White (one of the greatest music writers of my time, I must say, since it doesn’t seem to say it anywhere else) were here, he could write much more eloquently on the subject.

But, in full disclosure (finally, though it must be somewhat obvious), I know these guys.  I “grew up” with them.  I watched them play Zebulon (seated, all jazz-like) in what? ’03? ’04?  Over the years, Grizzly Bear has become less a band and more a soundtrack for me (and us all?  and all music pop music is soundtrack?).  Each song denotes a different age, separation, or season.  The identification is intense, as are the memories.  Walking through Greenpoint in the snow, pining for lost carefree days in New York City, and finally realizing it’s not mine anymore.  I’m all grown up, for now.  But in a good way.

And so is Grizzly Bear.  These four, once a loose collection of three master instrumentalists and one vocal boss aren’t playing around any more, but they aren’t taking themselves too seriously either.  They are all constantly moving and stretching different ways; more rock, more psych, less self-obsessed, more self-disciplined, less noise, more sound, less harmony, more vocals.  And, slightly more rarely than when I was a New Yorker, I get to ride alongside of it all.  Being there; remembering when I was in Argentina, that I met someone who fixed it, that it’s my existential crisis–imagining myself on a ranch in the Rockies asking myself what now?  And that it’s my folk revival, that I see the unexpectedly lonely image of two dories.

Maybe that’s it.  That’s the beauty.  And if Grizzly Bear does all that, for me, and apparently so many others, who can find fault?

edward

all grown up now

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Begonia’s Lomography; Dreaming New York, Dreaming Morocco

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All of these photographs were taken by Begonia Colomar.  The preceding were taken in New York with a Lomo LC-A+.

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The preceding three were taken in Morocco with a Lomo LC-A.

Begonia is at http://begoniacolomar.com/

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A Moment For Merce

Merce Cunningham and his work has made an indelible mark on my consciouness.  It is with mixed emotions that I received this article in the New York Times on Cunningham’s plans for ensuring preservation of his lifelong career as a dancer and choreographer.  Cunningham turned ninety on April 16 this year.

I discovered Merce Cunningham in college in New York (where I discovered most great things) and although that time of my life–a selfish immersion in arts–is past, I think about him, his philosophy, his dialogs with John Cage, and his worldview quite often.  Here is a video of Cage and Cunningham in their element:

Unfortunately the YouTube poster didn’t date the video but from the two men’s ages it looks to be from the mid to late 50s.

Merce’s time on Earth is limited, as all of ours is in one way or another.  You can find him now, as vibrant as ever, on a video series called “Mondays with Merce” on the Merce Cunningham Dance Company website.  The videos show the company rehearsing at Merce’s direction and interviews with dancers, artists, collaborators, and of course with Merce himself.  Enjoy.

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company website.

“Mondays with Merce”

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Flower of the Day: Inspired by Sigh, Pua

Ms. Saipua made a gorgeous arrangement today, including fritillaria like I’d never seen before.  Back in my florist days, we simply called it “speckled hen;” I’d never even heard fritillaria until, sigh, pua enlightened me.  Hence, the F.O.D.:

fritillaria-meleagris-gewoehnliche-schachblume-2 “Speckled Hen:”

fritillaria_meleagris by its Latin name: fritillaria meleagris (via Easy to Grow Bulbs.com)

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Fritillaria caucasica, davisii and pinardii via the Scottish Rock Garden Club Bulb Log Diary

From Easy To Grow Bulbs:

This is a fun flower to include in an existing garden where it will pop up in mid to late spring with the late daffodils and just before the lily of the valley blooms. This fritillaria has slender, silvery-green foliage that doesn’t require much room and the nodding, bell-shaped, checkered flowers weave well in and amongst fuller spring perennials. These are also called Guinea Hen flowers because the flower markings are much like the feather patterns on some breeds of guinea fowl. Deer and rodent resistant. These bulbs are nursery propagated, not collected from the wild.

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