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Showing posts from August, 2007

EuroCondo Walking Tour: 40 Bond to 40 Mercer

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Walking Off the Big Apple has been so engrossed in the technological advancement of Google Maps that I have been tardy in my posts. Here, as promised, is a walking tour that takes us to two residential developments so out of human income reach that we must visit them. As I have explained, I think 40 Bond is beautiful. I am also interested in 40 Mercer, a building designed by Jean Nouvel. We must keep our eye on him, because he is building a taller and even flashier building next to Frank Gehry's on the west side.

Start at 40 Bond and proceed as shown. Feel free to enlarge (+) and click on this map, as I have annotated it and made it interactive. For example, click on the section of Spring Street, and you'll see it's all about France. If you have a web browser on your cell phone, you could download this map on there and follow along while you walk. But I would not.

This walk is not far. For me it took about an hour, but that included popping into Sur La Table t…

Upcoming Walking Tours

Coming soon on Walking Off the Big Apple:
EuroCondo Walking Tour: 40 Bond to 40 MercerBack-to-School Art Supplies Shopping Spree and Walking TourDiane Arbus & the Hotel Chelsea Walking Tour: Its Justification and Importance in American Cultural HistoryHow I plan to lose the 2 pounds I gained on vacation in New Hampshire because of apple cider donuts (see all of the above)What the Best Dressed Flâneuse Should Wear: Fall Fashion PreviewWhere to find apple cider donuts in NYC

(Image: Drawing of mannequin from an exhibit last year at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She's steppin' out. 2006)

Walking Off Everything with Henry David Thoreau

While in New Hampshire, I've been studying the essay Walking by Henry David Thoreau. I brought Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway with me, and I read that at night, but when I travel I try to engage in immersion tourism to better appreciate where I am. Technically, Thoreau lived in another state, but NH is close enough.

Walking, originally a lecture Thoreau delivered in 1851 and presented on subsequent occasions, eventually congealed into a readable essay. The essay was published posthumously in 1862.

The Thoreau Reader is a good online site with annotations to the works.

Thoreau can easily be put in the category "doesn't do well with others." I find him so dismissive of human society, the urban experience, politics, Europe, and so many other things I value that I am personally glad we're not bumping into one another on our long walks in the woods.

That said, Thoreau is an advocate for Nature, what we now call the Environment. I am also for Nature, enjoying diverse …

Walking-related Treasures from the Gigantic and Free Internet Archive

Walking Off the Big Apple loves the Prelinger Archives and the whole Internet Archive! Where else can I possibly find so many walking-related films to share with you?
Did you know Rick Prelinger founded his archives in New York City? Sez so here!

Appointing myself Guest Curator of walking-related motion pictures from this vast collection, I have selected the four following films for your enjoyment and instruction.

Walking Off the Big Apple sees many pedestrian violations on a daily basis. Many of these films can put us back on the pathway to righteousness.

First, we'll open our show with a curiosity from 1917 that advertises fashionable walking shoes, and then we'll move on to the cautionary instructional films.

Modes of the Moment (1917)

Safety Patrol(1937) - Handy (Jam) Organization

When You Are a Pedestrian (1948) - Progressive Pictures
Prelinger began his archive with this film.

ABCs of Walking Wisely (1959)

We've barely even scratched the surface of the Internet Archive. There …

Daybreak for A Vacationing Flaneuse

6 a.m. Grafton County, New Hampshire

Walking Off Hill Country, the Restaurant

Calories Consumed and Enjoyed at Hill Country, the newish BBQ emporium, on Saturday night:

3 oz. sliced brisket = 327
1 big beef rib = 275
1 side order green bean casserole = 80
1 large slice white bread = 80
1 bottle lite beer = 99

Total = 861 calories

Let's calculate how far I need to walk in order to walk off all of this. See the map of the Walk of the Confused Flâneuse, and come back. Never mind about the story right now. She walked far, yes? 3.8 miles! That is how far I need to walk today to burn off HALF the calories consumed and enjoyed at Hill Country.

As I have pointed out time and time again, walking off dinner sometimes requires much more than a happy little lalalalala stroll. I'm sorry to be such the bearer of bad news, but I'm the one who ate all this.

My new motto: Walk Free or Die

Quick restaurant review: We all loved the meat but weren't crazy for the sides.

Hill Country. 30 W. 26th St. New York, Texas

More Breaking News from Today's NYT Feature

Triple faint! Today's aforementioned feature on walking in New York makes room for reader's comments in the online edition, and so I jumped in and added my two cents. The excellent comment after mine is penned by the esteemed art historian Linda Nochlin, a rock star of such stature in my world as to be Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, and Patti Smith rolled into one. With her 1972 ground-breaking essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?," a landmark early traveling exhibit of women artists and many subsequent books, Nochlin changed the course of how we view art history. Read her comment. I am humbled and amazed.

Today's NYT is Full of Flanerie

This morning I woke up, brushed my teeth, drank coffee, walked the dogs, came back, drank more coffee, and then opened The New York Times. On finding in The City section an extended feature on walking in New York City and the concept of the flaneur, I nearly fainted. I don't know where The New York Times gets these ideas, but I'm all too happy to play in the zeitgeist.

The Extreme Boulevardier (NYT, August 19, 2007)

The Walk of the Confused Flâneuse

Now that the New York branch of La Société des Flaneurs Sans Frontières is formed, and its founding legend established (something that once took eons), New York tour operators are welcome to add The Walk of the Confused Flâneuse to their itineraries. Based on Part Three of I Choose Flâneuse, the trail follows the sad heroine from her awakening in Central Park to her arrival at the Washington Square Arch in Greenwich Village.

The numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the map indicate the places where the heroine had to sit down and shake water out of her sneakers. Pilgrims following the trail are encouraged to visit a café near these locations. A more annotated map is in development.

Distance: 3.8 mi.; 6115.5 m.
Calorie burn: 410 calories


I Choose Flâneuse: A Tale in Four Parts, with each part increasingly shorter

IV. PART FOUR.

Growing up literate and pretty in the Wild West is sometimes a burden on a girl. As a young woman I frequently fantasized that some French guy or a like-minded gent from the Upper South would just show up and take me outta there - to the Left Bank, Covent Garden, Peggy Guggenheim's villa on the Grand Canal, or even New York City, especially Fifth Avenue and Greenwich Village. Many of the young men that I met in my real life just wanted to sit in air-conditioning, drink any kind of beer and watch the Dallas Cowboys on TV.

I tell you this so you understand my background and state of mind when I returned to my study after a day of self doubts and confusion. There I found, in my computer's inbox, a letter from a mysterious M. de Vouvray from La Société des Flaneurs Sans Frontières. Being a grown woman now, I first checked it for viruses. The charming letter began with many pleasantries and some technical web matters of transatlantic diplomacy, but then the missive cut…

I Choose Flâneuse: A Tale in Four Parts, with each part increasingly shorter

III. PART THREE.

The following day I awoke to a great sense of confusion regarding the events of the night before. I remembered that I had stayed up late in my study reading, and I have certain memories of writing a letter to The Flâneur, a publication I had barely scanned. The more I thought about it, however, maybe I wrote them two letters. Perhaps I began the second one and didn't send it. As I gathered my waking consciousness, I still found myself confused. I had vague memories of a card game and some sort of dancing, but all of this was impossible because it was very quiet during those late hours, and I was quite alone in my study, drinking warm milk.

More alarming was where I woke up. As I opened my eyes I could see a clear sky and some trees, and I could hear the sounds of geese and ducks. I also seemed to be floating, very much the drowned Ophelia of the John Everett Millais painting, but alive. Making my way to shore I looked about me for signs of a familiar location. Spott…

I Choose Flâneuse: A Tale in Four Parts, with each part increasingly shorter

II. PART TWO.

After dashing off my letter of introduction, I returned to reading the publication I encountered. Finding so much to explore, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, knocking off a bottle of Pinot Grigio, a tiny bit of absinthe and three bags of corn chips in the process.

The great news is that the publication under consideration, The Flâneur, is available to anyone and everyone via the world wide web. That is how I found it, thanks to my fairy friends who often aid me in my tasks and who possess a knack for Java, HTML, and particularly flash media. In the spirit of public culture and all things flânerie, The Flâneur is quite possibly the most appropriate reading material for the institution known as the internet cafe.

Throughout the evening and morning, I came to know more of the society behind the publication - La Société des Flâneurs Sans Frontières and the libertine spirit of the Liverpool chapter. Founded by well-educated and charming individuals, The Flâneur, …

I Choose Flâneuse: A Tale in Four Parts, with each part increasingly shorter

I. PART ONE.
Over the course of the past several weeks, while strolling the avenues of New York City, stopping to gaze at this thing and that, I have contemplated the relationship of this publication to the rich heritage of the flâneur, or in my case, the flâneuse. Associated with the strolling aristocrats of the Parisian Belle Epoque and the poet Charles Baudelaire in particular, the flâneur tradition came to prominence in literary circles as a trope of modernity. (I went to graduate school.) Virginia Woolf, with Mrs. Dalloway, and James Joyce, with Ulysses, are often cited as authoritative on this subject. Influential critic Walter Benjamin meditated deeply on the flâneur.

From The Arcades Project,
The crowd is the veil through which the familiar city beckons to the flâneur as phantasmagoria–now a landscape, now a room. Both become elements of the department store, which makes use of flânerie itself to sell goods.

And then he starts talking about The Communist Manifesto.

A dear college…

40 Bond: The Best New Building Ever Built

Architecture partners Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron were both born in 1950, and though not cousins, old enough to have enjoyed The Patty Duke Show. But as they were birthed in Switzerland, and were boys, probably not.

What I can say for them is that they have designed the most stunning new building in New York City. IN MY OPINION. The Ian Schrager condo draws architecture students to worship services, even in advance of its unveiling, at the very feet of 40 Bond Street, like it was Le Corbusier's Chapel at Ronchamp or something.

Described by Schrager as "a radical redesign of a traditional cast iron building," 40 Bond veritably glows with its surface of green-blue handmade Barcelona glass. The bottom of the building sports a frilly hem, a washed bone-colored graffiti-like squiggled fence with teasingly camouflaged entry gates. Should you walk there today, be advised that this hem is touchingly hidden behind scaffolding as she awaits for her debut. The main entrance …

Luke Skyscraperwalker

Playing a game of tag with well-known NY skyscrapers provides a fun way to kill an afternoon. Walk to one "proud and soaring thing," as Louis Sullivan described the tall edifice, give it a good pat, and then walk to another one.

The distance between the masculine Empire State Building and the more feminine Chrysler Building is not far enough for a walking workout. For a more challenging experience, begin at the Washington Square Arch, a favorite among artists, surrealists, folkies, and dadaists, and walk north on Fifth Avenue toward the Empire State Building. You might see it on your left. Continue walking north on Fifth, make a hard right on 42nd, pass the Grand Central Terminal and arrive at the pretty Chrysler Building at Lexington Avenue. That's a little more than 2 miles.

Personal: Walking Off the Big Apple wrote her master's thesis on skyscrapers. This was in the age of High Reagan. I ain't lyin'! The title was and continues to be "A Proud and Soari…

Aram Bartholl

Have you seen Aram Bartholl's video about Google mapping? Go ahead and click on it. Isn't that cool? I first encountered his work at Eyebeam in Chelsea, the best place I've seen to view multimedia work. Bartholl is interested in objects we encounter in the virtual world and creating a surprising new place for them in our shared "real" environment.

Wrap Up: The Schnabel Walk

Begin on West 11th at the artist's high-rise and end at the Gramercy Park Hotel.
Distance, via route shown above, approx. 1.5 miles.
Let's put the two Julian Schnabel places of interest together and turn them into the beginning and end of a walk. If you're planning to enter the lobby of the hotel, you may want to wear your best black walking clothes.

The Gramercy Park Hotel: A Somewhat Limited Review of the Lobby and Nearby Areas

“Basically I’m a painter, and this is something that really isn’t that hard to do.” - artist Julian Schnabel, commenting on his interior design of the Gramercy Park Hotel, in The New York Times

After a pleasant stroll last Friday evening, Walking Off the Big Apple visited the Gramercy Park Hotel in the company of a learned friend. The hotel, developed by hotelier and condo-lier Ian Schrager, is celebrating its first anniversary.

Upon walking into the lobby we immediately entered an emotional state and were engulfed by it (see previous post). A state of artistic serenity washed over us as we moved about the room, encountering handsome wooden pillars, a dazzling chandelier, rich reddish rose-colored furnishings, smooth tall lamps that resembled fossil skeletons, and several paintings of enormous interest.

As the bar area, with its Jean-Michel Basquiat (product promotion) and large Schnabel (self promotion), was overwhelmed with the moneyed young, and as another party of the moneyed young,…

The Perils of Neo-Expressionism: A Walking Quote Attributed to Artist Julian Schnabel

As we complete the Julian Schnabel-themed walking tour of NYC today with an account of the Gramercy Park Hotel, I wish to offer you the following words from the Wikipedia entry on the artist: "Schnabel's signature works, filled with raw emotion, contain an underlying edge of brutality while still being suffused with energy. Schnabel claims that he's “aiming at an emotional state, a state that people can literally walk into and be engulfed”.

Wow, that's intense! I'm kinda scared!

I have been distraught about the artist's use of the word literally, as it conjures up tortured souls on fire walking through a Schnabel canvas. After much thought, however, I'll let this pass. I, too, have often literally walked myself into an emotional state and been engulfed by it. But in most cases, when I find myself engulfed in an emotional state, I tend to walk out of it and not into it, as in, "I'm upset. I'll just walk it off."

Great fun to be had at Literal…

Museum Walk

If you're looking to combine a walk with some art gazing, the walking distance between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art is a respectable distance but not that far.

Directions: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street) to The Museum of Modern Art (11 W. 53rd)
Distance, via 5th Av: 1.5733 miles
Calorie burn (approx.) at 142 pounds: 168.967 (rounded up, not that anyone weighs 142 pounds around here. OK, OKAY. Or that the same person weighed a ton (161) on May 30, but lost it over the course of the summer because he/she started walking around New York City every day, controlled calories and maintained a New York-themed illustrated diet and exercise journal with a running commentary on NYC culture that is now online.)
Walking Difficulty: Easy. Terrain is flat.

If you don't want to OD on art, I'd recommend just the new Greek and Roman galleries at the Met and the Richard Serra show at MoMa.

Every teddy bear, that's been good
Is sur…

Fun With the NavBar: Next Blog

At the top of these pages, the toppest of the top, you will see a navigator bar. Up there you should see, from left to right, the orange B, the space for search, the words SEARCH BLOG, FLAG BLOG, and then Next Blog>>. See it? Click on that! While you anxiously await the Weekend Frivolities, amuse yourself by clicking through other people's pages. Sometimes you will get stuck on pages that have removed the NavBar, so when that happens just get come back here or wherever listed in your recent History menu items, and start over. The blogs are presented randomly, such as this one and this one and this one and this one.

Frito Pie as Perfect NY Walking Food

I'm getting psyched for a Julian Schnabel-themed Happy Hour later this afternoon. Before I go, I want to share with you how to make a genuine portable Frito Pie.

Directions: Acquire a small bag of Fritos. Get a pair a scissors and cut an angle off the top of the bag. Pour some heated chili in the bag on top of the Fritos. Grate cheddar cheese on top. Stick a plastic fork in it and go.

Updated Profile: A Coming Out Party

I have updated my profile on these pages. This wasn't easy for me, gentle reader, and I wanted you to hear it from me now, right now, and not from a tearful late night confession on MySpace. (Deep breath. OK let's get this over with. She sits up erect, pulling her shoulders back, leans forward, looks you in the eyes.) As my recent thoughts have turned to Cowgirl's on Hudson Street and to Julian Schnabel's formative identity issues, I felt deeply I could no longer keep silent. I wanted to tell you that...I think I'm a...(deep breath)....Texan. OK. I said it! I feel so much better! I'm a Texan! But I think that is something my parents knew all along.

New York Food Preference Poll

New Feature! In my increasing efforts to ascertain the needs of readers, I am adding a poll feature. Look for it on the top of the right hand column. Are you hungry? In a few days, after we are done with him, I will ask you about Julian Schnabel.

Julian Schnabel's Tower of Pink Power

But, soft! What hot pinkness through yonder window breaks!

Place of interest: Julian Schnabel's Tower of Pink Power
Location: 360 W. 11th St.
Walking distance from the Washington Square Arch: Approx. 20 minutes via 5th Av. and 11th St.
Experience: Priceless

During the construction phase this past spring, Julian Schnabel kept his top-secret West Village high-rise under wraps. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation had opposed the plans, particularly for the proposed height of the building which members believed incompatible with the neighborhood. Early this summer, JS finally unveiled the building, only to reveal a pastiche Renaissance referenced structure, the color of which challenged our entire contemporary visual culture.

Needless to say, the neighborhood freaked, and Schnabel's building received more press coverage. When The Villager published an article about the place, accompanied by a photo of the building, I was so astonished by the color I saw in the paper…

Get Ready: It's Julian Schnabel Day

Julian Schnabel is an established artist and filmmaker, and as a visual arts semi-pro, I need to make up my mind about him.
Today I will walk us to two places of interest relating to JS that I find amusing and newsworthy. I hope to lose weight in the process. My fantasy is meeting JS and asking him to be my diet buddy.

This morning I spent some time turning the name schnabel into both a verb and a noun. My definition relates to the artist's recently renovated home in the West Village. I have just submitted my definition to Urban Dictionary and am currently biting my fingernails awaiting verification. I will keep you literally posted.

In the meantime, here's your homework:
Julian Schnabel, American, 1951- (Artnet)Julian Schnabel (Broad Art Foundation) short bioJulian Schnabel (IMDb) film work

Strength

I want to get buff. I do not want to fall and break my hip. I'd like to be able to open the top of any difficult bottle. I want arms with some sexy and rippling definition. I want the body of some of the Greek and Roman statues in the new wing of the Met. So I have these resistance bands that I use to pump up, and I carry heavy bags of dog food back from the pet store.

MY WEIGHT LOSS PROCLAMATION

A Healthy Diet

During the first few weeks of my diet and exercise strategy, I had to radically change the way I ate. I rediscovered fruits and vegetables and now make these the most important part of my diet.
Breakfast is important, and I eat a piece of fruit, a half a bagel or cereal or a low fat waffle. I drink coffee, often with soy milk. For lunch I often eat a bowl of yogurt with fruit and some granola-like topping, and for dinner, I tend to eat of small portion of protein along with a large salad and a vegetable. I drink a glass or two of wine with dinner, and I eat chocolate every day.
I do not believe in deprivation, as I tend toward the spoiled side of the human equation, and if I thought I was on a restricted diet I would hate it and quit.
You'll never get any preachy puritanical diet mandates on this site. I'm the bad girl you'd like to invite to happy hour for margaritas, not a diet guru.

MY WEIGHT LOSS PROCLAMATION

Walking

I have mentioned in previous posts that I often consult an online pedometer so I can map out a desired route in advance. I then know the length of the walk and approximately how many calories I can burn.
I try to walk somewhat briskly, as if I am hurrying to make an appointment. People with some authority suggest walking with a sense of deliberation. I find this helpful, a kind of method acting for exercise. When I'm walking downtown, for example, I look ahead and mutter to myself, "I have just got to get to the Woolworth Building!"
My goal is a brisk 2 mile walk every day, except for Sundays, but I walk at least another mile or so each day running errands and walking my dogs.
I find that exercise gives me more energy which in turn motivates me to engage in more calorie-burning efforts. Walking is also a good way of just getting out of the house (or apartment).

MY WEIGHT LOSS PROCLAMATION

MY WEIGHT LOSS PROCLAMATION

Fellow Citizens!

Whereas I have liberated myself of 18.5 pounds over the last 10 weeks as of this very day, and whereas I continue to lose weight at a steady pace, I heretofore announceth my overall diet and exercise tippes for the continued pursuit of happiness.

I can't lose weight for ye, if that is something ye wish, so I shall speaketh for myself.

WALK. I have taken a brisk walk most every day for at least 30 minutes without interruption.HEALTHY DIET. Instead of a fad diet, I decided to make diet changes for the long run.STRENGTH. Needing to firm up and build muscle, as I am not 18. 5 years of age, I engage in some form of strength exercises several times a week.COUNT CALORIES. I try to consume around 1500 calories a day, no more and no less, and when I blow it, I take an extra walk.VACUUM. Vigorous vacuuming provides an additional effective calorie burn.JOURNAL. I maintain an elaborate, pumped up illustrated diet and exercise journal. You are reading it.
I do hereby authorize, e…

Mapping Walking

Here's a good example of my walking routine. I need to go over to the Jefferson Market Branch of the NYPL this afternoon, but because the library is so close to where I live, and I need to walk, I will take a circuitous route to get there. This walk is almost 2 miles.

Figuring out distances is easy with online pedometers such as this one, and many include calorie counters.

Feature: W. H. Auden, Great Walking Poet

Coming across Auden's place in Brooklyn Heights reminded me that I knew little of his poems. I did remember As I Walked Out One Evening:As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

When I looked up some more Auden poems, I saw more references to walking. This, from Two Songs for Hedli Anderson, O the valley in the summer where I and my John
Beside the deep river would walk on and on
While the flowers at our feet and the birds up above
Argued so sweetly on reciprocal love,
And I leaned on his shoulder; 'O Johnny, let's play':
But he frowned like thunder and he went away.

Or this, from Musée des Beaux Arts, About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

W. H. Auden, now an officially endorsed poet of Walking Off the Big Apple!

If you find another poet with many re…

"A Hot Dog Makes Her Lose Control"

Regarding Saturday's walk in Brooklyn Heights, I still have several items to address. When I read the article on the neighborhood in Wikipedia, I had to re-read the entry a couple of times to confirm that there was no mention of The Patty Duke Show, nor even The Patty Duke Show Theme. I find this oversight inexplicable. How would a little girl growing up in a whole other country in the 1960s even know about Brooklyn Heights to begin with? The Wikipedia entry on The Patty Duke Show links to Brooklyn Heights, so I find this unfair.

While on the topic of Brooklyn Heights in the American song book, I should also mention that Bob Dylan's Tangled Up In Blue includes these lyrics: I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs,
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air.

W. H. Auden's Crash Pad in Brooklyn Heights

Esteemed 20th century poet W.H. Auden (1907-1973) lived at One Montague Terrace in Brooklyn Heights for a brief time circa 1939-1940. He began his longish poem "New Year Letter" at this address, and it was around this time, perhaps due to the quiet of his street, that Auden returned to his Anglican ways.

In the summer of 1940, George Davis, the literary editor of Harper's Bazaar, persuaded Auden and Auden's lover Chester Kallman to move in with him at nearby 7 Middagh Street. George also invited southern writer Carson McCullers, composer Benjamin Britten and his boyfriend to join their merry crew. As described in memoirs, it was not unusual to see George at the piano butt nekid and Carson on the floor with a bottle of sherry. This was a problem for Auden who was trying to become churchy again, never mind the boyfriend issue. Carson soon had a new roommate, too - one Gypsy Rose Lee. As too much fun was had by all, Carson went back to Georgia to dry out, Gypsy moved t…

I Am A Type B+ Person

I am not a Type A person. Ergo, I set low bars for myself on Sundays, vis-a-vis the walking thang, and I can give my legs a rest. I walk the other days, however, so I am not a huge slacker. I never minded making the occasional B+ in school.

A Softer Light Dawns on Gotham Ere This Mornin'

The light is soft this morning in New York, the faintest hint of a resonant minor chord. The breeze comes in variably, and the shadows seem much longer and deeper, lowlights under the dappled canopies of trees. The air combined with the light feels like the first sip of a soft red burgundy wine. The overall effect serves as a minder that late summer plans must soon fall in place, that the other country that is New York in the autumn is drawing near.

Me and Alex Rodriguez are Exactly Alike

When I stepped on the scale this morning and sadly realized that I hadn't lost much weight this week, my thoughts naturally turned to New York Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez.

For the past week or so, Alex, who has been trying over and over to hit his 500th major league home run, steps up to the plate and faces thousands of flashing cameras and hundreds of winsome child-made "Hit It Here" signs. The children's parents have just shelled out $8 for a small beer. Alex looks cool, sometimes blowing pink chewing gum bubbles and shaking the crick out of his neck. The batter before him just hit a home run, and the one after him will hit one also. He has pretty eyes.

What is wrong with Alex? Is he preoccupied with José Conseco's confessional literary career? Did he find that the new mansion he is rumored to be purchasing in the suburbs too large to vacuum?

Never fear, Alex. As long as you work hard and focus on the speeding baseball, you will hit your home run. And I will los…

A Story of a Squirrel, a New Yorker and Tourists

While I was in City Hall Park today, a group of tourists from another country spotted a squirrel, and it was like the first squirrel they had ever seen. The squirrel jumped up next to a woman who was reading on the bench next to me, and the woman immediately swatted the squirrel with her newspaper. It squirreled away. The group of tourists reacted in a shocked and sorrowful fashion as they had all just pulled out their cameras and were ready to make the squirrel say "Cheese." A man from their group followed Mr. Squirrel over to the tree where it was shaking and scared. The woman on the bench looked over at me, threw up her hands in that New Yorker shrug sort of way and barked, "They're all horrible! They're destroying my back yard!"
On my walk back home, I saw a different group of tourists excitedly playing with a group of squirrels.

Tropicana City Hall Park

Gigantic hibiscus in City Hall Park.

Maybe tropical flowers enjoy the Air Quality Alerts we have here from time to time. Realizing that NYC would be hot and humid today, I took my morning walk early, starting out a little before 8 a.m. and heading south on Broadway.
The walk began along a fashionable section of Broadway in SoHo but gradually gave way to more prosaic stores lining the street.
I often gravitate downtown, stopping many times in City Hall Park. A small serene pocket of seasonal plants and flowers, the park sits amidst one of the more graceful skyscraper jungles. Sitting on a bench near the fountain affords views of the Woolworth Building, City Hall, and the old Tammany Hall.
City Hall is also the access point for the Brooklyn Bridge, so the park is the optimal place to decide whether one wants to continue south toward the Battery or head east, across the bridge and over to either DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) or Brooklyn Heights.
After resting and drawing, I…

Does coffee make New Yorkers smart and skinny?

If I take time for mid afternoon tea or coffee and a tiny snack, I feel much better. Teatime was invented because people tend to naturally fall asleep in the afternoon. New Yorkers drink a lot of coffee. I find that I drink more coffee here than when I was in college, which says a lot, because (multiple choice follows):
a. it's a competitive town, and those who drink the most caffeine can outperform their colleagues.
b. there are great coffee shops.
c. New York is at times so stressful that the only way to deal with it is to bring on more stress.
d. New Yorkers think that coffee makes them skinny.
e. New Yorkers think that coffee makes them smarter.

The correct answers are B and E.