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Showing posts from July, 2012

A Hike in Morningside Heights

(updated) There are many reasons to feel lofty in Morningside Heights. The high terrain of this area in northern Manhattan affords the advantage of excellent views of the surrounding landscape and the built environment; the dramatic architecture of its churches provide a spiritual uplift; and the dominant collegiate campus in Classical style actually fulfills expectations of what an institution of higher learning should look like (as opposed to downtown NYU's lack of there-ness).

A walk that begins at the 110 subway B and C stop at the top west corner of Central Park and continues in a northwesterly direction toward Riverside Church and the General Grant National Memorial can take in most of the neighborhood's soaring architecture, sprawling parks, and the commercial life of the neighborhood's stretch of Broadway. While a lengthy walk in Morningside Heights may end up feeling more like a hike than a stroll, the excursion provides enough uplifting moments - especially for t…

A Special Evening on the Beach: Remembering Woody Guthrie in the Light of Coney Island

July 14, 2012 was the centennial of the birth of the great American folk singer, Woody Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967), and celebrations in his memory took place "from California to the New York islands." The New York island of Coney Island played a special role in Guthrie's life, because he spent nearly a decade on Coney following World War II raising a family with his wife Marjorie and writing many songs for children. Many of his friends and family have characterized the time he spent on Coney Island as a "stable" period in his life. His mother-in-law, a Yiddish poet, lived on the island, and he also wrote songs there inspired by the community's Jewish culture. One was titled 'Mermaid's Avenue," after the street on which he lived. In the early 1990s, Guthrie's daughter, Nora, offered Billy Bragg, the British musician whose admiration for her father was well-known (including his Guthrie tribute in Central Park), the opportunity t…

For Bastille Day, a French-Themed Walk

Happy Bastille Day. Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

See more at  www.bastilledayny.com

Walking Off the Big Apple draws enthusiastically on several strains of French social and cultural thought, includingpoet Charles Baudelaire's idea of theflâneur("a person who walks the city in order to experience it"), and works of the theorist and writer Guy Debord, the founder of the Situationist International. The photographs are inspired by the life and work of Eugène Atget.

In celebration of Bastille Day, please enjoy the following collection of French walks and stories, revised and updated, from this website.

French Culture and Old New York

In Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's,Holly Golightly sprinkles her conversations with just a little bit of French, or more typically, with a mélange of French and English. Par exemple, she decribes one of her suitors as "quel beast." Speaking a few words in French gives our self-made heroine, born poor in rural Tuli…

From E. 34th to Wall Street, via the East River Ferry: A Breezy Lark for a Summer Afternoon

New York's oldest Mexican restaurant. A ferry ride from E. 34th to Wall Street. A refreshment at a hotel patio in the Financial Distinct. These ingredients made for fine two-hour lark on a recent afternoon. 



The modest adventure began indoors at 1 o'clock in the cool, sedate, and relatively remote El Parador Cafe at 325 E. 34th Street (between 2nd Ave and 1st Ave. near the entrance to the Queens Midtown Tunnel). Established in 1959, El Parador features continental-like Mexican food in a Spanish colonial setting. A good bargain is the prix fixe lunch. On my recent visit, I enjoyed a spicy shrimp appetizer,  a hefty pork chop, and the best bread pudding I can recall, but mostly I appreciated the slow waltz tempo of a three-course lunch on a hot summer day.

Central Park South: A Walk in the Shade for a Day in July

On warm summer days in New York, a sunny walk on the beach is fine and good, but it's also nice to stay in the city and find some shade. A walk along the meandering paths of Central Park South feels refreshing, like a dip in the pond. But not THE Pond, the start of this easy half-mile walk. Begin near the southeast corner of Central Park and veer west, down and up through the changing park landscape.


Take time to stop and look around, alternating between the picturesque views of park scenes and the built environment of Central Park South. The walk ends at the Maine Monument and Columbus Circle. Visitors to New York with limited time may want to make the time for this stroll.

A Conversation with Alfred Leslie on "The Lives of Some Women"

"I enter everything through process. Process unlocks what I know and what I don't know,” Alfred Leslie tells me, in his wise fashion. As we sat in comfortable chairs in a cool corner of Janet Borden's airy sixth floor Soho gallery on a recent hot day, the artist shared his thoughts on his new work. Off in the galleries near us, eleven large group portraits of women, all depicting brothel workers by the look of their various stages of dress and undress, hung on the walls. While startling at first sight, much like the startled look on many of the subjects’ faces, these portraits soon give way to many curiosities about how the artist made them. Renaissance portraiture collides with collage, and an illusion of realism is immediately undermined by the modes of digital production. Works painted on computer and then printed as photographs, they are marvels of the digital frontier. Leave it to Leslie, now 85, to once again raise the bar on a new hybrid artistic medium.

Over a lon…