Saturday, September 22, 2012

Day 118- September 8

By Al

Today, I went to watch some rugby games on Randall Island.  This is an island in the East River just north of where we live.  There is a pedestrian bridge from Manhattan to the island.  Randall Island is the home to Icahn Stadium, over 60 athletic fields, a golf center, a tennis center, the New York City Fire Department's training academy, a wastewater treatment plant, homeless shelters, and the Manhattan Psychiatric Center.   It was the athletic fields that interested me.  There are a couple of rugby clubs in New York City and they were both playing games on Saturday afternoon.  It was fun to see, but some of the play was not so good.  The New York Rugby Club looked pretty good.  The rest were not so good.  But, of course, they were all much better than me.  It was fun to see some rugby again.  They do not have it on tv here at all.

The rugby field with the RFK bridge (formerly the Triborough Bridge) overhead.

Manhattan in the background.

A line out.

Manhattan from the south end of Randall Island.  Our apartment is almost straight ahead and a block from the river.

Sally's Day

While Al went to rugby,  I went to the Museum of Art and Design (at Columbus Circle, free with Walker Art  Center membership). 

My primary interest was an exhibit of contemporary creations by Native American artists.   Here's some of what I saw:
Here's a new version of dream catchers- these were made into a bra and animal fur was made into panties.

A contemporary version of the tepee.

A totem pole. One side is beaded.
Beautiful bead work depicting the life of  a Native American in the city.

This piece is by a woman from Mahnoman, Minnesota.  It is made from split ash- which interested me because I have a collection of split ash baskets made by the Ojibwe,

Bead work commentary on the taking of the Indian lands.

Quilt profile of Native American.

Four fabric pieces- made from blanket  binding.  It would be fun to touch them

A quilt made to honor the Native American construction workers- who often worked on the sky scrapers because they were able to work in high places.

I liked the combination of art, very talented crafts people, and social commentary.

Outside of the Museum of Art and Design.

They have finished constructing the apartment around the Columbus statue.  I will try to get us tickets for it.

Day 118- September 7

By Al

Today I wandered around Midtown for a while before I went for a massage.  I walked up 5th Avenue and visited some impressive churches. 

The inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral.  The outside was covered with scaffolding.

St. Thomas Church (Episcopal)

Inside St. Thomas.

Some of the detail at the front.

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church

Inside Fifth Avenue.

All of these churches are on a on a six block stretch of 5th Avenue.

That night, Sally and I went to see the movie "Sleepwalk with Me".   This is a movie written, directed, and starred in by Mike Birbiglia.  It tells the story of his stalled career, failed relationship, and problems with sleepwalking.  It is a true story and was very amusing.  It was funded in part by This American Life from MPR.  At this showing, Ira Glass, the voice of This American Life, was present after the movie.  He talked about funding and making the movie.  He said that they had heard from many sleepwalkers that the portrayal was an accurate depiction of sleepwalking.  It also was an accurate portrayal of Mike Birbiglia's life, although they compressed the time frame somewhat. 

This is the Ziegfeld Theater where we saw the movie.  It is huge.  Like the old days.

Ira Glass.
Sally's Day
While Al went to churchs, I went to a knitting group at the Lion Brand Knitting Studio near Union Square. 
Union Square has an excellent Farmer's Market. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures.  I bought pickled beets and pickled green beans. Fortunately for me, Al likes neither of them.
Lion Brand is a lower price brand of knitting yarn.  They don't have the variety of the higher priced brands of yarn.  As a beginning knitter, I don't want to invest a lot in a project- so it works for me.  The knitters were great to be with. 
We give a "thumbs up" to the movie.  Although it was funny,  I also found it somewhat melancholy.  At the end of the movie, the character has dealt with his sleep walking- but still has no close relationships with his parents or anyone else.

Day 117- September 6

By Al

Today Sally and I decided to go to the Tenement Museum and walk around the Lower East Side. 
We also had lunch at Katz Deli. Katz has been around for years. It recently became famous as the restaurant with the famous scene from "When Harry met Sally." It was more famous during World War II when they urged parents to "Send a salami to your boy in the Army." They still have this as their motto, and will expedite international shipping to US service members overseas. The food was good but I still prefer Cecil's Deli in St. Paul.

The museum was very interesting.  It is a tenement building that was vacant from 1935 to 1988.  In 1988, they turned it into the museum.  You can only see it with a tour guide.  Our guide was excellent.  She knew a lot of history and told good stories about how the residents lived.  We recommend a tour when you come to New York.  She also talked about the rise of sweatshops leading up to the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. 

Outside Katzs Deli.

Our food.

The famous table.  "I'll have whatever she is having."

A gormet popcorn shop outside the Tenament Museum.

The Jewish Daily Forward building.  Launched as a Yiddish-language daily newspaper on April 22, 1897, the Forward entered the din of New York's immigrant press as a defender of trade unionism and moderate, democratic socialism. It is still published.  This is the building where it used to be published.  You can still see the work "Forward" on the side of the building.

Read more:

The front of the building.  There is a profile of Karl Marx, and some famous Socialists on the building.  They are near the bottom of the pciture, below the window.  We were told that the building is being converted into pricey condominiums. What would Karl think of this?

The clock at the top.

Nearby, the Bowery Savings bank building.

The top of the building.

Sally's Day

Our first visit to the Lower East Side was fun and educational.

We started with a tour at the Tenement Museum.  The museum purchased a former tenement building that not been used since 1936.  They left one of the units unchanged.  They refurnished two other units as they would have existed in 1900-1910.  The museum has done extensive research about the families that lived there. 
This is the first unit we visit.  sorry the picture is not better.  It is a photo of a post card because taking pictures was not permitted.
This unit was occupied by the Levines.  The unit is about 325 sq. feet, about the size of our apartment.  In addition to  the Levines and their three children, 3 to 4 people came every day to do piecework.  Three people worked in the front room sewing, and the presser worked in the kitchen pressing the pieces as they were sewn.  Mr. Levine's profit on each dress was $.50.  From this, he had to purchase equipment and supplies, pay his employees and pay himself.  They made 10 dresses a day.  It was hot and crowded.

The second unit was occupied by the Rogarshevsky family, who lived there a few years after the Levines.  By this time, the work had been moved to factories in the Lower East Side.  There were three daughters, who were seamstresses.  The furnishings, as you can see, were nicer.  By this time, New York had passed an ordinance requiring a toilet for every three apartments in a building.  The landlord was also required to provide windows- meaning that they now had a window in the bedroom.  The units are in the style of a shotgun house- living room in the front, kitchen in the middle, bedroom in the back.

As Al mentioned, we had a wonderful guide.  The museum has four tours available.  It was probably the best tour I have been on.  They also have a movie with the history of the Lower East Side.

If you are interested in this area and the immigrant experience in the Lower East Side, I recommend the book How the Other Half Lives, by Jacon Riis.  Mr. Riis went into the Lower East Side and took photos of the dire conditions there.  It is harrowing reading.  His work led to reforms in the housing laws, and the development of settlement houses.

The good news was that most people lived in the Lower East Side for about 10 years, and were able to more to better conditions. 

Our building was built during this period to house families where at least one member had TB.  Disease was rampant on the LES- due to poor sanitation and the crowded conditions.  An interesting connection between the Lower and Upper East Side.

We finished the outing with pastries in Little Italy.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 116- September 5

By Al

Today I went to the Rotary meeting at the Rockaway Rotary Club.  Rockaway is a  peninsula that is part of Queens  It sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean  It has eight miles of beach with a boardwalk all along the way.  It is a popular place to go in the summer.  It is about a two hour train ride from New York, but you can get there with one subway pass, so it is not expensive.  I have heard about it, but never been there before.  I thought it would be fun to visit a new Rotary club and to see a new part of New York City. 

The club was very welcoming.  It was the largest turnout at a Rotary club that I have seen in New York.  There were abut 30 members there.  The meeting was pretty informal, but they got their business done.  After the meeting, two members offered to show me around Rockaway.  It was very interesting.  After that I got to walk along the ocean for a while and I even stopped at a bench and read a little while I listened to the ocean.  It was a good day.

The restaurant where the Rotary meets.  There is a Rotary wheel on the side of the building.

Looking towards Manhattan from Rockaway.

Rotarians Barbara Morris and Linda Rugo at the Rotary Triangle.  The plague lists the names of Rotarians from Rockaway who have died.

The beach.  It had stormed about two hours before I was there.  But, it was still fairly warm.

The ocean was riled up.

The subway train actually goes over a couple of bridges over the Atlantic Ocean to get to Rockaway.  Here are some buildings at the ocean's edge that you can see from the train. The ocean is calm because this is the landward side of the peninsula.

You see JFK airport from Rockaway.

  That night, I watched the Democratic convention.  I really like Clinton's speech.  He really made the case.

Sally's Day- A Visit to South Seaport

Here is our favorite lunch in New York- at a Japanese restaurant (Iron Sushi)  1 1/2 blocks from our house.

Al always has katsu don.

                                                   I always have the shrimp bento box.

I spent the afternoon at South Seaport- located at the south end of Manhattan.  South Seaport was the original seaport starting with the arrival of the Dutch.  Today, it is primarily a tourist area with lots of expensive stores and restaurants.
I walked around the area, and visited the South Seaport Museum ($10 admission; $6 for seniors).

 Browne and Co. Stationers was established prior to the Revolution, and was one of the few building that survived.  It has been in continuous operation. and still has a hand printing press like the ones used at that time.
The manager is a former optician, and is very friendly and helpful.  He has hand printed cards and lots of reproduction post cards.  I was happy to find several post cards showing the Brooklyn Bridge shortly after it was completed. 

This small white light house is a monument to people who died on the Titanic.

Speaking of the Titanic-  here is a drawing at the museum created by a calendar savant.  The Titanic sank on a Tuesday.  He listed the date of every Tuesday for seven hundred years.  He worked on paper napkins because that is the paper he had access to.  This kind of thing always intrigues me- I wonder where it comes from in the creator's mind.

This sheep seemed rather gruesome to me.  It was hung outside of a woolen textile shop. But you don't kill a sheep to get the wool- so why make the sheep look dead?

This is an original Hitchcock chair.  This interested me because I inherited two 20th Century Hitchcock chairs and a Hitchcock desk from my mother-in-law.  My chairs look much like this chair, so apparently the company has been true to its origins.  The chairs were made as an alternative for people who could not afford more expensive handmade furniture.  The black paint covered the quality of the wood.

This is a 20th Century gorilla made from various found things.

This is an 18th century coverlet.
This chalkware was made for middle class people who could not afford more expensive hand made decorations. I don't know why the pig is with the cats.

On my way home,  I paused  for a minute when I saw these subway signs in Penn Station- not sure which way to go.  I was looking for my train- the 6- the arrows point at each other- leading me to wonder at first glance if I should just stand between them.  The arrows are about midway between the top and bottom of the photo.

The exhibit at the South Seaport Museum is from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum.  The AFAM lost its space by the MOMA.  I don't know if South Seaport will continue to exhibit their items.  I hope they do. The AFAM has a smaller (but very good and free) museum by Lincoln Center.

A fun outing I recommend.