Saturday, September 7, 2013

October 30

By Sally

Sandy has come and gone, leaving the Upper East Side largely unaffected.  Unfortunately, that is not the case elsewhere.  The devastation in New Jersey and Staten Island is extensive.  We have only minor inconveniences- no subways and buses, many of the businesses are closed.

Water we did not need.

By Al

It was strange walking around the city today.  There was no public transit and much of the city was without electricity, so many people did not have to go to work.  Without public transit, many people could not get to work.  So, even in parts of the city with electricity, like our area, most businesses were closed.  The restaurants that were open, were pretty crowded.  Roosevelt Drive was closed to traffic, so people were walking on it.  It was like walking on a freeway.  Kind of spooky, like do I have to watch for cars or not.
There were some trees down in our area and a lot of branches.  City crews were already out trying to clear them away.  However, we were very lucky.  The news reports of massive flooding on Staten Island and the Rockaways.  Also, there was a major fire on the Rockaways.  Over 40 homes were burnt as the high wind spread the fire.  The fire department could not put the fires out because of the high winds.  Contrary to what people might think, there was not a lot of rain associated with this hurricane.  There were terrible winds and a major storm surge that caused most of the damage.  Areas near the ocean were the most affected.  Electricity south of 39th street is out and the tunnels for subway and cars are flooded.  The city is at a standstill, yet the streets are full of people walking around and taking it in.

The East River is still riled up.

This is a crane that was not properly prepared for the storm.  Normally, they are allowed to swing with the wind, so that they point with the least resistance to the wind.  However, this one was locked in place which caused the arm of the crane to fold back over the top of the crane and hang by only cables from the opposite side.  It cause several blocks of the city to be closed until it could be removed because of the danger of it falling.

This was one way that they tried to remove the trees.  Two guys with a chain saw and a pickup could have done this in 5 minutes.  I watched them get this far on one tree in about 10 minutes.  It just goes to show the importance of having the correct tool. 

October 29, 2012

Sally's Day 

A walk over to Central Park- which is closed.  A few people out walking dogs, and a few joggers.

 Jennifer and I dressed up for the rain which continues.

A day to read and find one of the few open restaurants.  The Duane Reed Drug Stores continue to be open throughout.

By Al

This was our first hurricane.  It was interesting that to see the preparations.  It was predicted to be bad.  We hoped that we would be far enough inland and high enough to escape the worst of it.  But, we still filled everything we had with water and had them standing in our living room.  All of the stores were sold out of candles, but we had a lot of batteries and flashlights.

It is raining and the hurricane is coming, but not here yet.  So, we decide to walk over to Central Park.  The entrances to the park are closed.  I guess they didn't want to worry about people in there either getting hit by flying trees or breaking into any of the park buildings and businesses.  This picture is taken along 5th Avenue next to the park.

We got home about 5 PM and went down to the East River to see what was happening.  Roosevelt East River Drive, really a freeway, was closed.  You can see water covering the road ahead of the car.  The water is up over the sidewalk, but people are still walking.  The wind is about 20 miles per hour.  Kind of like a mild blizzard in Minnesota, just a lot warmer.

We go back about 7 PM.  The wind is now about 50 miles per hours.  Water is up over Roosevelt.  It is like a real blizzard in Minnesota, except warmer.

This is our pedestrian overpass to the East River.  The corner of our building is in the dark to the left, this side of the do not enter sign.  During the night, the water came up to where you see the parked cars.  This is about 50 feet from our apartment building, but it is also 10 feet below it because of the hill.  So, the surge would have had to be 10 feet higher to get to our building.  Our apartment is on the second floor, so we were in no danger.  The first floor apartments in this picture closer to the river were flooded.

 The water is up over Roosevelt.

At about 11 PM the storm was at its height.  I was going to go outside, but the news said the wind was about 90 to 100 miles per hour.  Okay, this is worse than a blizzard in Minnesota.  Anyway, you cannot stand in that wind.  Also, the mayor warned that they were so many things flying around that it was extra dangerous to be outside.  I decided that I didn't need a picture that much.

October 28, 2012

Waiting for the hurricane

Water rising on the East River.

The greengrocer on the corner sells out of produce, and starts breaking down boxes.  He says he will be closed for 3 days.

The restaurant on the corner put tape on its windows.  The little water trough on the corner is for dogs.

We had word that the hurricane is coming.  Time to buy some supplies (cans of tuna, trail mix, etc.) and fill pots with water.  Businesses also prepared.

October 27, 2012

By Sally
The highlight of Jennifer's visit today was going to see The Heiress.  The play is based on a Henry James novel, Washington Square, set at that location in about 1850.  A  wealthy, widowed doctor (David Straihthorn) lives in a mansion on Washington Square with his daughter (Jessica Chastain).  His sister, a widowed minister's wife (Judith Ivey) also lives with him.  The doctor loathes his daughter. Her mother died at her birth.  The doctor wants the daughter to be just like her beautiful, talented mother.  The daughter is good-hearted, plain, and shy. 

A suitor (Dan Stevens) arrives.  He is poor, but charms the daughter. He asks her to marry him  The dad believes that he is after her money (she has an income equal to $275,000/year in 2012 dollars from her mother, and will receive another $550,000/year when her father dies). The dad and daughter go to Europe for 6 months. Upon their return, the daughter still loves the suitor.  He wants her to elope.  She says they will be fine, but also reveals that her dad is likely to disinherit her. 

He leaves, but does not return to elope.  She is heartbroken. Dad dies. Two years passes. Suitor returns, and daughter asks him to come back in 2 hours to go away with her to marry.  When he returns, she does not answer the door. End of play.

I was excited to see all 4 actors in a live performance.  I have seen them all in movies or on TV, and been impressed with their skills. Unfortunately, with the exception of Judith Ivey, they all seemed "flat."  Perhaps they were trying to be very Victorian in not showing their emotions in the play. 

I'm glad we saw the play, but it was a bit of a disappointment.

By Al

That evening we went to see DUMBO and the Brooklyn Bridge.  DUMBO stands for Down Under Manhattan Bridge.  It is the area on the east side of the East River under the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge.  It has become the new hot area to live.  It is especially favored by artists who have been priced out of the rents in Manhattan.  This was our first time there and it was a bit disappointing.  We were there at night and much of what might have been interesting is only open during the day.  However, it is always interesting to look at Manhattan at night from Brooklyn.  I didn't take many pictures because I have so many already.

October 26

Sally's Day

Our friend, Jennifer, arrived for a visit today.   Our highlight of the day was a book reading with Alexander McCall Smith- best known for his Number 1 Detective Agency series.  He also write 4 other series.  His new book is about a woman philosopher in Edinburgh. 

He was quite entertaining, and gracious in signing books. He writes one series for a newspaper in Edinborough where he produces a chapter each day. 

By Al

After retrieving Jennifer from the airport, we went on a bit of a walk around town.  We showed her the Mayor's mansion, Gracie Mansion.  Mayor Blumberg doesn't live there.  He has several houses already in New York.  But, it is still used for ceremonial purposes.  We also checked out our local Goodwill store.  As we have said before, they have some pretty nice things since they get a lot of their stuff from the local area.  We live in the tenth riches zip code in the nation, and we are next to the richest zip code in the nation; so much of the cast off clothes are still pretty good.  Needless to say, we substantially bring down the average income.

Jennifer and Sally walking up the driveway to Gracie Mansion.

Another view of Gracie Mansion.

Sally talking with  Alexander McCall Smith.

A posed photo.  The book reading was at the Barnes and Noble by Union Square.  This is a four story building and it quite large.  However, two blocks away is the original Barnes and Noble.  So we walked over to see it.

We walked back to Union Square to get the subway.  In the corner of Union Square they have a statue of Gandhi.

October 25

Sally's Day

Most of my day was devoted to the Metropolitan Opera.  The Opera offers $20  rush seats which are sold 2 hours before the performance.  However, it is necessary to get in line by 2:30 because there are only 150 tickets sold.  So it is day of getting a good sandwich at the deli, knitting and reading.

Tonight's opera was Carmen.  I have, rather cynically, come to believe that most operas have a plot of love, jealously, death.  Carmen was no exception.  A nobleman loves Carmen.  She loves a gypsy.  Neither she nor the nobleman know that the gypsy is actually the nobleman's brother.  Carmen agrees to marry the nobleman if he will spare the life of the gypsy.  She then takes a poison which results in a  slow death (comment- deaths in operas always seem to be slow to allow time for an aria and/or duet before the actual death).  The nobleman has also captured the woman who has raised the gypsy.  Just before killing her, she reveals that the nobleman and he are brothers.  In the end, everyone is either dead or miserable.

A friend went  with me.  A violinist in the orchestra is a friend of his.  She took us to the bowels of Opera Hall.  There is a cafeteria right next to the orchestra pit.  During the intermission, we sat amongst soldiers and gypsies having a snack between acts.  Fun.

I love the Metropolitan Opera House.  It is a  magical place to come upon the lights, chandeliers, and happy people.

Met staff cafeteria,

I have seen these dog buggies on the  street.  Here is one in a store window.  I don't know why people take their dog out in a buggy, rather than letting the dog walk.

By Al 

While Sally was at the Opera, I went for a walk around the Upper East Side looking at Halloween decorations.  Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and Amy and I always enjoyed decorating our house.  I, obviously, could not do that this year, so it was fun to see what New Yorkers had done.  Most houses didn't have much room, so the displays tended to be a bit crowded.  Also, keep in mind that the houses that show these displays are multi-million dollar houses.

October 24, 2012

Sally's Day

Two outings today.  The first to see "War Horse" at Lincoln Center, and then a book reading with Louise Erdrich.

I found the story in War Horse rather boring, and the music uninspired.  The story centers around an Irish boy and his horse at the time of World War I.  The horse is drafted into the service.  The boy enlists.  The horse and boy are separated during the war.  They are eventually re-united.

I enjoyed the staging, and the horse puppet. It was, of course, impossible to have a live horse in the play  since the horse appears in many of the scenes.  The makers developed an amazing wooden full-size wooden puppet, which was operated by 2 people underneath the puppet.  The movements were so realistic that it seemed to be alive.  The staging included scenes in Ireland and Europe during World War I. The settings were conveyed with projections above the action on stage, and very few props- yet there was no confusion about where the action was occurring.  Well done so that your mind filled in the things that were not on stage.

My second outing was a reading by Minnesota's own Louise Erdrich.  Her new book The Round House,  has been nominated for the National Book Award.  I bought the book- and read it in about 1 1/2 days.  The plot involves a 13 year old Ojibwa boy living on a reservation in ND.  His mother is raped.  Although the perpetrator is found, it is impossible to prosecute him because the mother was blindfolded- and the location of the crime is on land where federal, state, and tribal jurisdictions meet.  The issue then becomes doing justice and values. She interweaves a crime story, Ojibwa legends, and relationships between generations. 

I highly recommend this book.  Ms. Erdrich was a wonderful speaker.  It was apparent that New Yorkers were not familiar with the Native American land issues which we know well in Minnesota.

Ms. Erdrich was wearing an Obama button on her lapel.  She owns in independent bookstore- Birchbark Books- in Mpls, which I look forward to visiting.

By Al

I also found War Horse to be quite boring.  I agree that the horse puppet was amazingly lifelike.  That might be a reason to see the play, but you could also just go watch a horse.

I went to a taiko class in the evening.  It was at the place that I regularly go to class, but there was a special instructor tonight.  His name is Ryo Shimamoto.  He is a taiko player from Japan who specializes in playing the Odaiko.  This is the largest drum and is usually played with great flair.  He has won several major competitions in Japan.  He was doing a tour of the United States teaching and performing.  He was a very good teacher and I enjoyed the class.  He was being accompanied around the United States by Mark Rooney.  Mark is a friend of mine who has a taiko studio in Washington, D.C.  I did not expect to see him there.  It was good to see him.

This is Ryo giving a demonstration.  At the end of the class he performed for us.  It was amazing.

Here is a video of him playing.

October 22

By Al

Today, we went back to the Intrepid.  We had tickets to go on the Concorde.  You need special tickets to do this because only so many people can go on at a time.  We also were going to go to see the Enterprise Space Shuttle.

As most of you probable know, the Concorde Aircraft was a cooperative venture between the French and British government.  Thus, the name.  It flew from Britain and France to the United States, as well as other countries.  However, the first passenger flight was in 1976.  The last flight was in 2003.  There were 20 Concorde airplanes produced.  They made the flight from Britain or France to the United States in about half the time of other commercial flights.  However, they never made a profit and had to be subsidised by the British and French government.  Still, it was fun to go on board and pretend for just a few minutes that you were flying across the Atlantic and faster than the speed of sound.

We were surprised at how small the interior space was.  But, the luxury was there.  Nice, but small, seats.  We saw a menu and it would have been first class in any restaurant.  The service was supposed to be exceptional, even for those days when airlines had some service.

A pretty tree changing color along the Hudson River.  Back home in Minnesota most of the leaves would be gone by now.

The Concorde.  Notice the people under it.

Here we are on our way to France.

This is half the passenger compartment.  The back half is closed off and only the front half is used for tourists.  
When in service, the seats would not be covered with plastic.  This is just for the tourists also.

Looking toward the cockpit.

Sally in the cockpit.  It was pre-computer, so there are switches everywhere.

The back end of the space shuttle.

The front end.  They have a platform at the front end that you can go up and see more of the shuttle.  You cannot go inside or look inside.  This building is an air tent, that is a tent held up by air pressure, much like the Metrodome.  In Hurricane Sandy it collapsed and some of the electronics was damaged.

Sally and I and our friend the big space shuttle.

Another view of the flight deck of the Intrepid.

Another view.  The water is the Hudson River, which really isn't a river at this point, but that is another story.

That evening I went to the Russian and Turkish bath.  I had bought a Groupon for this establishment.  I like to take sauna's so I thought it would be fund to try out a bath house in New York.  It is coed, so everybody wears swimsuits.  They have several steam room and sauna options.  It was a slice of New York life.

October 18

By Al

Today, I went to the Museum of Chinese in American.  They were having a special exhibit of the portrayal of Chinese in comic book art.  One display showed the depiction of Asians in comics from 1942 to 1986. In much of it, Asians were the bad guys.  When not the bad guys, they were martial art type guys.  Most of it was racist.  They had another display of new alternative comics done by Asian artists.  It was very interesting.  I bought some books.  The permanent exhibit is also very interesting.  It looks as some of the ways in which Chinese immigrants adapted to life in American and some of the ways they kept parts of Chinese culture and how they adapted it to America.  Very interesting.

This is the outside of the museum.  It is right on the boundary between Chinatown and Little Italy.

October 19 and 20

I have nothing.

October 17

By Al

I've got nothing.

October 16

By Al

Today, I went to the Chinatown Rotary Club.  It was, as usual, friendly people and good food.  I decided to walk home.  I had not walked much east of Chinatown, so I walked over to the river under the Manhattan Bridge.  I then tried to stay as much along the East River as I could.  This brought be through several housing projects.  Some of them were for lower income people, but they were all well kept and very safe.  Not what we see in the popular media.  Nothing significant happened, but I do recommend just walking around New York.  You will never be disappointed.

A playground and mural in one of the housing projects.

A close up of the mural.