Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Monday

I'm taking a break from catching up on the Brooklyn/Mexican Coke hike. There's too many pics to go through and after doing 4 posts yesterday I'm cutting back til tomorrow.

Also a correction. Yesterday I said that pic is from my daughter's campus, but in fact its from a bit further east of the campus at a farm I did some apple picking in last October. Not earth=shattering, like say insisting there are WMDs when there aren't, but once I realized I'd gotten that wrong it bugged the hell out of me.

I hope you all don't mind that I have ads running on this blog. I kinda need to pull what I can in terms of cash, though I doubt there's much potential with it. Every little bit counts.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Reasons to be Grateful, Part 2

Continuing what I hope will be a tradition that TooMuchPerfection inspired, what is usually a list of several things will this week be one thing, cause it is pretty major:

This week, I learned that my daughter made the Dean's List at the end of her Freshman year. (By the way, the picture I use for this blog is the view from her campus). This year started off really rocky and I know I have talked about her Asperger's Syndrome before. She nearly failed out of school altogether with a scary first semester. But like every other time she's fallen, she bounces back up stronger than ever. I'm really proud of her.

To be sure, her mother, her stepfather and I all stepped up too and got more involved, but in the end, once you're in college, its all up to you. And she pulled it off.

So this week, the thing I am grateful for is a daughter that proves herself again and again. Who is smart, funny, geeky and though not without her challenges (what child isn't) a blessing.

Plus her hugs are awesome!

I love you, Scooper.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Sunday Walk, Part 4

Clearly on the Brooklyn side and past the river, the signs of "gentrification are impossible to miss. As you descend the walkway onto Broadway this stamp is frequent. It's a little late for the sentiment, the hipsters took Williamsburg over awhile ago. Some of the improvements have been just that, others have taken the personality out and turned Brooklyn into Greenwich Village Lite. But at least there's some place you can find a semblance of the Greenwhich Village that was. In the meantime, the city gets more and more expensive to live in.

The southern walkway descends quickly and you can see the exit signs for the southern roadway as we sink below rooftops. The cupola of the HSBC Bank ahead, I believe was once the actual Williamsburg Bank before the downtown Brooklyn clocktower.

Here we are...the odd rooftops and unique Brooklyn attitude. Fuckin aye, you name it, we got it.

You get to the bottom and here you find this awesome statue of George Washington off of Roebling Street. It's really strong and stunning to behold. Here is the NY Times article from its unveiling in 1906. It's a PDF, so you will need Acrobat Reader.

And now...on to the journey to Mexican Coke...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Sunday Walk, Part 3

Blogger, apparently, insists that pics and text lay out so that it looks like comments are supposed to be above the picture. Fuck that, I don't work that way. I like pic comments on the bottom, so bear with me on the spacing in the wrong place.

Looking north into midtown Manhattan. It is really mind blowing to see it all out there and the vast sky beyond and above it. The East River is much more interesting and windy than most give it credit for. Technically its not really a river, but who cares.

The walkway FINALLY opens up and you can see the Tower fully and the sky above it. If you click on the pic you can get a better sense of the incredible steel work and its impressive height. Some might say that the reveal after all that overhead beaming is meant to be dramatic. If they do....they are wrong. I wasn't filled with a sense of dramatic awe. I was relieved to finally see what should be visible from the get go. I really would have ended up disliking the walk intensely over all if this hadn't happened.

These are southern views. The first shows how sharply the river turns west. At a certain angle, it seems that the river is stopped suddenly. Oddly beautiful, especially when crossing the bridge toward Brooklyn at night when its all lights and darkness. Then you turn and see the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges in the distance. I love this aspect of the view.

The J Train on its way to Williamsburg and eventually Jamaica Queens. When I was a kid living in Bushwick, this was my train home, though at the time it had a different letter designation to it. It remains elevated the whole way. When we used to take class trips to museums in Manhattan, the bridge had a lot of boarding that blocked the view from the train. One of my friends said they were building a new tunnel because the river water was rising so high that the bridge would be underwater in a few years. Being 6 or 7 years of age, we bought it and were terrified. That memory cracks me up.
The now abandoned Domino Sugar plant. Soon to become abandoned Condominiums under the present economy. Another childhood memory, crossing this bridge and smelling the thick scent of sugar, much like when we used to smell baking bread from the Silvercup Bakery when crossing the Queensborough Bridge.

Two more views of the plant as we venture further into the Brooklyn end. I took these because there's such a beautiful and creepy gothic feel to this structure along side the early 60s addtion that I was fascinated and charmed and thrilled by it. I am glad that they will be keeping the signage, as they did with Silvercup and PepsiCola.

A final look at Manhattan, taken from my iPhone.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My Sunday Walk, Part 2

The incline on the walkway is quite merciful. Takes a while to get up there and with my hip issue it worked nicely for me. But I found the sense of being caged rather annoying. The view, which is really good, is marred by making me keenly aware of what its like to be a hamster. I wasn't thrilled.

See what I mean? For me, most of the walk was a mix of enjoying the beauty of the view and day and wanting to take bolt cutters and remove every inch of this wire fence so I could actually enjoy the expanse and beauty the bridge reveals. I will show you more on the Wednesday post where sometimes I managed to get the camera between wires, but it limited the angle I was able to get.

Here too, the overhead beams, which later disappear and make me suspect they are structurally unnecessary, entirely block what would be an amazing view of the western tower of the bridge. Williamsburg Bridge, for all its bad structural history, is a beautiful example of late 19th century industrial revolution architecture. But you can't really admire it on this walk going toward Brooklyn and that's a real shame. Also the red paint is odd and very out of place against the battleship gray of the bridge itself. Also it contrasts the view.
Poor KB. She's going to think I hate this walk. I don't, I'm just somewhat disappointed by aspects of it.

Here you can see the Western Tower at last. The walkway splits into northern and southern paths and you can look beyond to see it. Still fencing in the way, but really cool.

Again my feelings are split on this one. This is the construction plaque that names the bridge and the date it opened (December 19, 1903), as well as the Board of Bridges and the mayor of New York at the time (Seth Low).
The grafitti both delights and annoys me. I assume it was kept in this condition as a kind of marker of the neglect the bridge received for so many years, which I appreciate. It is a bit like the rectangle of still dirty ceiling at Grand Central Station to demonstrate how extensive the restoration work was. It reminds me of my youth in NYC when it was dirty and crime ridden and in some ways desolate. I know I know, I'm one of the sickos that misses skeevy Times Square too. More on that another time.

The frustrating part is that of course, you can't read the damned plaque and the colors are just as jarring as the red walkway.

To be continued.....

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Sunday Walk, Part 1

KB_in_NYC has been telling me to walk the Williamsburg Bridge for awhile now on Twitter and this Sunday I finally had time to do it.

I integrated the walk with a plan that I'd had to locate Mexican Coca Cola which had been rumored to be sweetened with cane sugar and the closest thing you could get to the original formula without actual cocaine in it. A friend at work had told me about a place in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn that had it.

So, cross the bridge, walk through part of Williamsburg and into Greenpoint, acquire said Coke and head home...a fun urban hike of a Sunday.

So, I put on my shorts and a light shirt, my Teva sandals and took my sumac root walking stick and got onto the F train to Delancey street in Manhattan.

Blogger was doing odd things to my post today and I had to run to I begin briefly:

My home street in Brooklyn before getting on the subway. Seemed a perfect place to shoot the sky to give you a sense of what a beautiful day it was. Ahead is Fulton Street.

The Essex Street Market just off Delancey Street. This is about the only thing left of the old Delancey area. Delancey Street has become what I think of as an urban strip mall of cookie cutter shops. Gone are the picklers and clothiers and wonderful ethnic restaurants and bakeries. New York, the city of reinvention has lost its imagination.

Having said that, this building does display some imagination and engineering innovation, though it is atrocious looking and completely out of place in this neighborhood. I look at it and expect Harrison Ford to fly down in his cop car and knock me over while chasing Joanna Gleason.

The Williamsburg Bridge, looking toward Brooklyn from Delancey Street. The red walkway seems so odd and out of place, but inclines well and adds dimension to this historically troubled but to my mind beautiful bridge. Up until a few years ago, there was not a day in the existence of this bridge in which it wasn't under some kind of repair work. Seriously, from its opening there were so many things wrong with the construction of the bridge, it was in a constant state of reconstruction and repair.

A brief view looking north from the walkway while still over Manhattan. You can see the Chrysler building among others. The view is great though I found the "chicken wire", presumably meant to prevent "jumping" to be an annoying distraction from this amazing view.

To be continued.....

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reasons to be Grateful, Part 1

Too Much Perfection, a funny and cool blog I like to read, was inspired by another blogger and has started making a regular Sunday practice to write briefly on the blessings in her life. Strikes me as someone who has a tendency to focus WAY too much attention on what's not working that this is a good habit for me to adopt as well, so here goes.

Things that I am grateful for this week:

1-The weekend weather which was perfect. Yesterday we were finally able to have the party for my daughter's 19th birthday out in Central Park. There were threats of rain during the week but by Friday it had dissipated to a slight chance and by yesterday turned into the perfect day.

Today, for my very long walk from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, through Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn it remained. Delicious, as you will see in tomorrow's blog.

2-I'm glad to have a job. It's bad out there. I was approached twice by the same guy in 2 different parts of Brooklyn today. He is my age, diabetic and jobless. He seemed relatively healthy but had that diabetic thinness that I recognize in some friends of mine. There but for the grace of God....

3-I'm grateful for a newer, nicer apartment to live in and the improvement in my day to day living it's brought. That's not this week, just in general.

4-I'm always grateful for time where I get to see my daughter. I had that on Thursday and on Saturday and both times were just great.

5-On different days this week I have found 2 pennies, a dime and a nickel.

For all this and more; Thanks, thanks and ever thanks.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Highs and Lowes

As some of you might remember, a few months ago I moved from my one bedroom apartment in Inwood to essentially a room in an apartment in Brooklyn.

Financial woes of a few years ago that I am still very very slowly coming out of put me in a place of essentially being evicted.

I put up a long struggle. But in the end I realized I was struggling hard for a crappy apartment that was only pissing me off more and more each day.

So here I am...taking the opportunity to simplify my life, regroup and live in an apartment that's actually kind of pleasant even if the neighborhood itself has a ways to go yet.

Also, I am rediscovering Brooklyn which is a very pleasant experience.

I spent much of this last week putting up shelves and organizing the small room I have in his apartment and figuring out how the placement of the eventual loft bed. Yes...I, a man in my late 40s, will have a loft bed for awhile. The room is that small and A loft bed beats a mattress on the floor any day.

The hardware stores in this area of Brooklyn are alright, but shockingly lacking in certain basics, so yesterday I made a trip to the Lowes. I would have taken a quick bus trip to Home Depot, but when the president of the HD declared that business owners who vote Democrat should be shot, I decided that as an American, it was unacceptable to let an obvious totalitarian have any of my money.

And so...for the first time in a long time, I went to a hardware superstore. Or as I like to call it, Heaven.

As a kid I used to lose my mind when my mother took me on her endless shopping trips to Macy's, Alexanders, etc etc etc. But when I walk into a place with 50 foot high shelving full of lumber and brackets and wires and power tools and wet vacs. Sections devoted to kitchens and bathrooms. Doorways and ahhhhh GODS the smell of lumber.

Did I mention lumber? The smell of it? How wood feels in your hand and the sweet sound of drilling pieces of it together to bring a vision to light? MMMmmmm.

All I needed was a package of small brass brackets that I couldn't find in my neighborhood but I had to spend an hour and a half just....being there, looking, building things in my head, fantasizing about a house I don't own, or the horse ranch I dream of having and how I would build the fencing.

And yes I thought about the loft bed too, but I let my imagination run with ideas for the many uses a good strong loftbed can have.

Yes, I was thinking about a hardware superstore.

I admit it. I'm a guy.