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Showing posts from March, 2010

New York Notes on Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"

Revised December 2016.

Rattle off a list of Bob Dylan lyrics that reference climate metaphors or analogies to the weather - "Blowin' in the Wind," "Rainy Day Women," "Shelter From the Storm," "Thunder On the Mountain," "Buckets of Rain" - it's easy, you see? and somewhere near the top, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," comes to mind.

And then you'll sing, preferably imitating the voice, "And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, and it's a hard … It's a hard (hold the note long, in the nose) rain 's a-gonna fall," and you'll sing the refrain almost every time a literal hard rain's a-gonna fall or whenever the doomsday feeling washes over you during those prescient moments of impending doom.

The words of the famous troubadour seem to come from a distant place and time, like he's channeling a fire and brimstone preacher from the Second Great Awakening. Where…

At the Metropolitan Opera, with a Partial View of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose

Shortly after the Met's house lights dimmed and the crystal chandeliers were raised to the ceiling for the opening scene of William Kentridge's production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s The Nose, I anticipated that I was going to have a good time, despite the fact that I couldn't see the whole stage. Sitting in the back row of Box 1 in the Parterre, the seats above the orchestra and under the Grand Tier, I arrived with full knowledge that the seat I purchased was designated one with a "partial view."

I didn't care. I just wanted to see some of Kentridge's innovative production and listen to Shostakovich's music under the baton of Valery Gergiev. Another reason I was there was because I wanted the experience of sitting in a box seat in the Parterre. I've been to the Met on several previous occasions and had tickets ranging from the orchestra to the Dress Circle to the nosebleed sections of Family Circle, but while sitting in those seats, I always envied…

At Petrosino Square

SoHo and Nolita make great neighborhoods for strolling, shopping and dining, but it's often hard to find a good place to sit down. Examining the map of the streets south of Houston and north of Canal, only one little area seems convenient - a small park called Petrosino Square at the meeting of Kenmare, Lafayette, and Cleveland Place. Formally opened on October 13, 2009 and now in its final stage of expansion and restoration, a plan that included rebuilding of the original brick columns, the addition of bike racks, plantings, and most conveniently, the placement of several new benches, the square has become the perfect place to stop after exploring the nearby bustling streets. According to the NY Parks announcement last October, the $2 million reconstruction was funded entirely by New York City Council Member Alan Gerson.

Art and Politics in Riverside Park - From Anna Hyatt Huntington's Joan of Arc to Penelope Jencks's Eleanor Roosevelt

Stretching along the Hudson River from 72nd Street to 158th Street, Riverside Park, one of the city's most established parks, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1875, just ten years after the Civil War. The park serves as the site for two important monuments commemorating events of the war, Grant's Tomb and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, as well as statues of women we associate with different times - France's spiritual soldier, Joan of Arc, and America's fighter for the underprivileged, Eleanor Roosevelt.

Along the way, the ample park space along Riverside Drive makes driving into the city from the north less abrupt than expected, but walking is the best way to appreciate the various levels and movements within the park. Since 1875 Riverside Park has undergone several periods of renovations and improvements, with many taking place in the last twenty years. Local residents have largely contributed to the designs of the current park, and based on their presence…

A New York Spring Calendar - Blooming Times, Seasonal Events, and Wildlife

Read the updated Spring 2013 Calendar here.

Winter, wearesooveryou.

Blooming Times

• If you've spotted small yellow flowers on the bare stems of small ornamental trees this week, you're likely looking at the Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, an excellent harbinger of Spring.

Central Park Conservancy's website lists blooming times within the park. During the month of March we begin to see crocus, daffodils, forsythia, snowdrops, witch-hazel, and hellebores. Species tulips will emerge in several places, but the Shakespeare Garden and Conservatory Garden are particularly good places to catch the beginning of Spring blooms.

Citywide Blooming Calendar from New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
April is the month when full blooms appear in New York City, and this NYC Parks website provides a handy monthly guide to the specific locations of blooming trees, flowers, shrubs, and buds.

Heritage Crabapple Trees. New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
Celebrating…

A Walk in Willowtown to the Future Brooklyn Bridge Park

UPDATE: Read the latest post from May 19, 2013 - The Brooklyn Heights Promenade to the Brooklyn Bridge Park: A Walk from the City Past to the City Future

Brooklyn Bridge Park, an 85-acre park now under construction, stretches along the East River from north of the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue. A significant addition to the waterfront, the park will transform six piers into open green lawns, beaches, and playgrounds, all with a variety of recreational opportunities. The park promises the become a major new feature of the genteel Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, and while walking the neighborhood's famous high promenade above, the famous view of the lower Manhattan skyline will be layered with an additional view of the green parks spaces below. As the name of the park implies, there would also be a nice view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Financing the ambitious stretch of public space has run into several problems that were mostly resolved this week. The Mayor announced a deal betwee…

The Maine Monument in the First Light of March

A week ago, on a bright afternoon before the snow melted, I was walking south along a path in Central Park toward the entrance of Merchant's Gate. Looking toward Columbus Circle, I was arrested by the spectacle of warm afternoon sunlight cast upon the Maine Monument. It was the kind of sunlight that suffuses surfaces almost like a golden fluid.
The Maine Monument stands as a memorial to the American sailors who died on February 15, 1898 when their battleship exploded in the Havana harbor. Six week later, Spain and the United States were at war. When the war ended in December of that year, the treaty agreement left the world power of Spain considerably weakened, turning over their large territorial claims throughout the world - the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii - to the United States.

With his own empire of newspapers, publisher William Randolph Hearst called for the creation of a memorial to honor the sailors, resulting in a flood of contributions by citizens, many of …

Connect the Dots: A Self-Guided Walk to Public Art in Lower Manhattan

Please see the revised and updated post, New York as Outdoor Museum: A Self-Guided Walk to Public Art in Lower Manhattan, June 2012.)

Lower Manhattan, with its tapered narrow geography between the two rivers spilling into New York Harbor, is not only a convenient area to walk but it's rich in public art.

Be sure to include Jean Dubuffet's Group of Four Trees, 1969-72 (left), in front of the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza off of Pine Street, the Louise Nevelson Plaza on Maiden Lane (below), and many of the works in Battery Park City.

The latter area, under the guidance of the Battery Park City Authority, raised a new high standard in the 1980s with its commitment to incorporating public art into the new community. There, be sure to see Jim Dine's Ape and Cat (at the Dance) in Robert F. Wagner. Jr. Park, a blend of charm and danger, and South Cove, a great collaborative work of environmental design.



Also welcome is the Downtown Alliance's public art program, Re:Construction,…