Unfortunately the window was beyond dirty, so the shots lost a lot of texture and detail. The landscape looks like a miniature Legoland from up high, but here it is – Manhattan, Queens and bits of Brooklyn.
This blog started because I wanted to document my morning commute. Then it morphed into a quasi photo blog and now, well, I really don’t know what it is other than a virtual wall I throw stuff at every now and then to see if it sticks. This morning, as I crossed over Broadway and 22nd, I realized that I’ve never done a post about the Empire State Building. What???
I suppose I’ve been too intent on finding the little things, the New York nuances, the unheralded oddities that make me think twice. But I’d be remiss to walk past this scene every day and not say here, pubilcly, to my seven regular readers, that seeing the Empire State Building every day is a real gift.
I guess you have to invest as much attention on the significance of the big things in life as in seeking out the small things. Just another commute.
Something about this rug made me feel like I was standing in Manhattan’s living room, and instead of sitting down to be entertained by a television, I only had to observe my surroundings.
(Another iPhone photo, by the way. I’m really starting to think it’s the best camera I own because I always have it with me.)
Man, it’s been a while. Two full months without a blog. But Saturday night I had the camera, I had the tripod, and I made the time to get out and explore. In this city “exploring” doesn’t have to mean places you’ve never been before. Building after building, store after store, character after bizarre, intriguing or cover model character change. And there’s just so much of everything that whether it’s your second visit or seventieth, you’ll always see something new. Especially if you set out with a clear head.
There’s something about the holiday season that is stressful. For some it’s family. For others it may be the year-end work crunch, the struggle to get everything done while office mates take their last remaining days of vacation and minds are generally elsewhere (where they should be). Others may just hate the cold.
I’m never one for touristy activities. So why the Brooklyn Bridge? I make an exception for this reason: it’s awesome. As I walked along, admittedly in a bit of a fog, the flashes of cameras caught my attention. Groups of friends, families and sometimes just solo travelers snapped photos of each other and then poured over the viewfinder to see what they’d captured. Everyone was smiling, joking, and, in some cases, genuinely overwhelmed by the emotions stirred by standing on this historic bridge and behaving like children. Though some were just shivering. Their energy was infectious and soon I found myself dropping any anxiety over the side of the bridge. Not only was I lucky to be where I was, but to witness what for some was a once in a lifetime experience is special as well. I’d walked only 25 minutes or so from my apartment and was standing on the spot people had traveled across state lines and even oceans to get to. (We pay exorbitant rents for location, convenience, right?)
I saw the awe in their faces, and it quickly restored the awe that I’ve felt for this city. The awe that has taken a back seat to work and life and planning and self-enforced pressure to excel. Then I, as I recommend to anyone in New York, just stood back and took it all in — with camera in hand, of course.
I spent another early morning out on the East River today. The clouds were billowing up and down the skyline in all shapes, shades and patterns. Some grew straight up. Some lay flat. Others dotted the glow of morning against a background of gray. Altogether, it was a beautiful way to start the day on a river that gets a lot of flack for it’s “lack of beauty.” Well, maybe these photos (and those from other posts) will help people come to check out the waterway and care for it.
And I had to find some way to make the ConEdison building look kind of quasi ok-ish. In doing so I found that graffiti really pops in the morning light.
There were some lone birds nibbling on whatever scraps they could find. Then, they gather for flight. It reminded me of Henry Beston’s classic nature memoir, The Outermost House, where he says this of the birds on Cape Cod, “Birds which have been feeding yards away from each other, each one individually busy for his individual body’s sake, suddenly fuse into this new volition and, flying, rise as one, coast as one, tilt their dozen bodies as one, and as one wheel off on the course which the new group will has determined.”
It was Friday evening after a busy work week. In this city, although you can really do anything and everything you want at any hour, if you’ve got the cash of course, finding peace and relaxation can be difficult. I asked for a few suggestions in the office and was surprised when a coworker said, “You’ve got to check out the IKEA in Red Hook! Take the ferry!” I’m all for easy-to-assemble furniture and Swedish sensibilities, but is IKEA really an escape? No. It’s big and it’s blue. But the five dollar ferry, and Louis Valentino Jr. Park just up the street will take your mind off just about anything.
The water taxi, which you pick up at the pier at the end of Wall St., provides fresh views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. You get in a little closer, see the movement of cars and the inner-workings of the nation’s first “suburb”. But if you’re in it to take pictures, be careful. This thing hauls!
It’s when you pull into Red Hook that the views really get interesting. I’ll spare you the industrial shots, although one could say it’s all well and good. Instead of actually going in IKEA and wandering a maze of furnishings with names like Flurgen and Murgen, walk up to Coffee St. and bang a left until you hit, Louis Valentino Jr. Park. You’ll know when you do. This is what it’s all about.
The man in this photo, let’s call him Morris, has been fishing this exact pier since he was 12. Now in his early 50’s, he told me of when the pier was wooden and you had to watch your step or you could fall through. There were also times he said where certain people in the area might want to push you through if you looked at them the wrong way. He’s thrilled at the revitalization the area has seen. But for Morris, all that really matters is the fishing. “Caught a 38 in striper last week. Whoo boy, some nights this is some good fishin.”
Other Brooklynites gather for sunset as well. Some are families, others on a date, and some, like me, just there to take it all in. Each finds peace in the park.
As a Water Taxi passed I realized I’d missed the last one from IKEA. Woops! Luckily, there are a few busses that run routes from Red Hook to downtown Brookyln and Fulton Mall. The stop is in front of the IKEA, where you made the left to get to all this good stuff in the first place. Even though you feel a world away, it’s actually easy to stay until last light, when the sky begins to burn.
Then, the moment we’d all been waiting for. No one talked as the sun dipped behind the Statue of Liberty, melting into the swamps of Jersey. At least I don’t think anyone spoke. I’d reached the place I needed to find — peace and a focus on the beautiful moments this city and this world provide. My zen status was broken when Morris turned and said, “Beautiful, man. One more sunset. Now all I need’s a sunrise tomorrow and I’ll be cool.” He cast his line and I walked to the bus smiling. Had I just found philosophy courtesy of IKEA?
I walked home from work today to the most beautifully strange light in Union Square. The dark clouds held it all in and the glass reflection off of a 14th street building only added to the effect.
There’s a very interesting art installation going on in the park too. The two guys in the background are sitting on stones labeled The Guilty, The Guiltier, The Guiltiest. Makes you wonder what he was talking about on the phone.
Then I turned the corner and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Are you kiddin me, man? They’re putting in a TGI Fridays? What crack in the culinary universe allowed this establishment to slip in? Just one more reason to head down to the village to feel “local” again. But next time I’m in the mood for some Prime Rib Stroganoff I know right where I’ll go.
Ok, I’m not absolutely certain about that claim, but the lamb spit/creation/work of glorious art that spins at Yatagan Kebab House in the West Village is certainly a sight to behold. Especially when it’s being cut by a guy with a full-on sword! This McDougal Street shop is one of my favorites. From the random wall decorations (brick, a newspaper clipping, and a pair of antlers) to the copper top tables, this place is a legit “what the what?” of New York eateries. (It’s ok to steal lines from 30 Rock, right?)
The standard falafel sandwich is plenty big and at $2.50, pretty much the best deal in town. Smother some cucumber sauce, some other stuff, lettuce, tomato, onion and you’re good to go. For an extra buck you can put a heaping glob of hummus in the pita pocket sandwich. Beware the hot sauce though. It’s a killer.
The cooing can be heard all the way from 6th Avenue, a block away from Le Petit Puppy, possibly the most adorable store in all of New York City. This boutique pet shop, specializing in small breed, toy and teacup puppies, is unequivocally the “aww, I want one!” capital of the West Village. Check out the Christopher Street window display you’ll see why. Look at these guys! They could fit in your Fendi!
At first glance I thought, jeez, why would someone knock over those pots full of corks in the little plot of dirt on the sidewalk. Then I thought, wait, why are the corks there anyway? With this thought process you’d think I already had a few chiantis at Lelabar, the West Village wine bar responsible for the decoration. You can find random flower assortments and even some doodads, yes doodads, in plots throughout the village. But I have to give it to Lelabar for the themed arrangement. Definitely makes it more interesting.
My alarm went off at 5:52 this morning. The goal: be out on the East River for sunrise to take some photos. But man, the sun is popping up earlier and earlier these days. My viewfinder was still looking blurring to my morning eyes. Within minutes I was surrounded by crazy people, these swift and agile gazelles hurling their bodies along the East River Greenway.
Every shot I lined up, every scene and angle, had runners cutting in and out. So I embraced it. And, putting them in the shots burns calories, I think.
And of course, a good time was had by all.
Download the waterfront map here.
From the banks of the East River…
to the peaks of the Midtown skyline…
the sun brings life to Manhattan. This morning, dogs and their walkers stretched their legs to work off the winter chill.
And flowers, stretched their petals to soak up the sun’s invigorating rays. No doubt, they will be more radiant tomorrow.
It was another beautiful Manhattan morning.
(The first shot was taken Monday morning.)