Category Archive 'New York City'
02 Nov 2018

Rockefeller Center

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Rockefeller Center in 1933, before it was surrounded by tall buildings.

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01 Nov 2018

There’s a Mandarin Duck Visiting New York’s Central Park

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Mandarin Duck ((Aix galericulata), native to East Asia, photographed in Central Park by Dennis Newsham.

NewYork.CBSLocal.com:

A rare duck is going viral online after finding a new home in New York City.

The Mandarin duck, known for its multicolored feathers and hot pink bill, is native to East Asia. The big question: Why is it here, in the middle of Manhattan?

Photographer Dennis Newsham can’t get enough of the duck.

“I took a couple hundred [pictures] because it’s a rare bird and I was trying to get some action shots, and I got some of it flying,” Newsham said.

The Harlem man isn’t the only one flocking to the park to get a glimpse.

The bird was first spotted on Oct. 10th and videotaped in a now viral video.

Since then, New Yorkers and tourists are swarming to the pond in the southeast corner of the park near 59th and Fifth.

31 Oct 2018

Taki’s Anti-NYC Rant

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Taki is just a trifle negative about today’s New York.

NEW YORK—In the dark she still looks good. The mystery and magnetism linger until dawn, and then you slowly see the lines and the harshness. Like a lady of the night who has smoked 10,000 cigarettes, the coming of the light is the enemy. New York ain’t what she used to be, that’s for sure. She’s a tired old place, with the upper-class vertical living gone to seed, and the honky-tonk fun side of the city gentrified and made boring. Michael Bloomberg as mayor did his best to ruin the glamour of the city, allowing glass behemoths to make the Chrysler Building, one of the world’s monuments to architectural brilliance, be buried amidst glass monstrosities. Bloomberg was and is a lowlife who knows how to count to 50 billion but couldn’t tell you Admiral Nelson’s Christian name if his miserable life depended on it. The present mayor, de Blasio, is a lowlife wop without the billions.

What happens in the sky is felt in the streets below. The once-exclusive Vanderbilt Avenue, where stores sold expensive tennis gear and hunting shotguns, is now a dark and dreary place, and just as well. The Vanderbilt was the hotel where the swells met—under the clock—since before Fitzgerald’s time and long past Taki’s. It was gone with the wind when Bloomberg types descended on the city like the northern jackals who went down south.

RTWT

07 Oct 2018

An Interesting Anniverary

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My 1983 arrest photo, taken at 4 in the morning. I look tired and disgruntled.

I’m a Baby Boomer and consequently, at this point, a geezer. My original Yale class arrived with short hair, wearing jackets and ties, at a non-coeducated Yale featuring strict parietal hours (meaning no girls in your room after 10 PM). I was, by the merest of accidents, at Woodstock.

I am going to confess, reluctantly, that I very recently turned 70. 35 years ago today, when I was 35-years-old, half a lifetime ago, I made a citizen’s arrest in New York City which involved reducing the culprit to possession by shooting him in the leg, causing me to be arrested, thrown into the NYC jail system, and charged with First Degree Armed Assault, plus some firearm possession charges (which –oddly enough– were never really discussed as the whole thing proceeded).

My shooting incident occurred a year earlier than the famous Bernhard Goetz Subway Shooting. I could easily have been what Bernhard Goetz became: a nationally-famous test case involving the private use of force against the then-epidemic minority violence terrorizing New York City.

I was, of course, smarter than Goetz. I used the threat of publicity to persuade the Manhattan DA’s office to back down and actually follow the law. Publicity was not in their interest. And it was not in my interest. Had the story broken, no doubt they would not have backed down, the Grand Jury would have indicted me, and I’d have been convicted, gotten a criminal record, and served time for something.

I saved the local CT newspaper article, some of the legal correspondence, and other material related to the event in a scrapbook at the time, and a few years ago, scanned the most interesting bits into my computer.

If anyone wants to read the story of all this, here it is: Shooting a Rapist.

05 Sep 2018

WSJ Reviewer Eats a $180 Steak Sandwich

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Somebody has to try these things for the rest of us. Jason Gay did.

I ate a $180 steak sandwich. Not for me; don’t be ridiculous. I did it for journalism.

Let’s dispense with the obvious: A $180 steak sandwich is an indefensible purchase. It is a foodstuff strictly for vulgarians, a decadent symbol of 21st-century gluttony and the over-luxurification of everything. To buy it is to wallow in one’s privilege, one’s shameless indifference to the plight of humankind.

Other than that, it’s pretty tasty. …

Unlike, say, the beignets at New Orleans’ Cafe du Monde, the Don Wagyu $180 sandwich seems to be less of a foodie’s bucket-list experience than a freak-show curiosity: How could a sandwich cost as much as a plane ticket to Florida? This is, after all, the type of thing that makes the rest of the planet think New Yorkers are out of their minds. Was the $180 sandwich a legitimate food experience or some kind of commentary on late-stage capitalism?

I should call the sandwich by its real name: the A5 Ozaki. The “A5” is a reference to the summit-grade of Japanese beef, and “Ozaki” is the farm from which Don Wagyu gets the meat (the only U.S. establishment to receive it, the server says while I’m there). Don Wagyu also serves more affordable Katsu sandos—there’s a $22 off-menu burger, for example—but the $180 Ozaki is the cleanup hitter at the bottom of the menu. It is served medium-rare.

Ordering the A5 Ozaki is not a showy experience. The lights do not dim, the kitchen does not clap; it does not require much more of a wait than a turkey club at a diner. A slice of beef is encrusted with panko, fried, placed on toasted white bread and served quartered, like a preschooler’s PB&J. Nori-sprinkled french fries and a pickle spear are the only accompaniments.

Breaking news: I liked it. I’m not a food critic. I hardly know my cuts of meat, and I cannot offer a detailed analysis of why the A5 Ozaki is $100 more of an event than the closest-priced item, the A5 Miyazaki. I will not try to justify paying such an absurd amount for a single piece of food, especially one that can be tidily consumed in the space of five minutes. But the A5 Ozaki was light and buttery to the point of being almost ethereal, as if the sandwich knew the pressure of delivering on its comical price.

Which, of course, it does not. There is no sandwich that is possibly worth $180. But that’s the thrill (and the crime) of extravagance, is it not? Eating this thing felt right and completely wrong—more like a caper than a lunch.

RTWT

13 Aug 2018

New York City versus San Francisco

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19 Feb 2018

New York vs. San Francisco

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just click on image for the link.

20 Dec 2017

New York Used to Be So Much More Romantic

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03 Dec 2017

NYC Has Solved the Rat Diversity Problem

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Uptown rats are genetically different from Downtown rats, and you can even easily differentiate West Village rats from East Village rats. I can only suppose that most Upper West Side rats are probably liberal and Jewish. The Atlantic:

Manhattan’s rats are genetically most similar to those from Western Europe, especially Great Britain and France. They most likely came on ships in the mid-18th century, when New York was still a British colony. [Fordhan University grad student Matthew] Combs was surprised to find Manhattan’s rats so homogenous in origin. New York has been the center of so much trade and immigration, yet the descendants of these Western European rats have held on.

When Combs looked closer, distinct rat subpopulations emerged. Manhattan has two genetically distinguishable groups of rats: the uptown rats and the downtown rats, separated by the geographic barrier that is midtown. It’s not that midtown is rat-free—such a notion is inconceivable—but the commercial district lacks the household trash (aka food) and backyards (aka shelter) that rats like. Since rats tend to move only a few blocks in their lifetimes, the uptown rats and downtown rats don’t mix much.

When the researchers drilled down even deeper, they found that different neighborhoods have their own distinct rats. “If you gave us a rat, we could tell whether it came from the West Village or the East Village,” says Combs. “They’re actually unique little rat neighborhoods.” And the boundaries of rat neighborhoods can fit surprisingly well with human ones.

Combs and a team of undergraduate students spent their summers trapping rats—beginning in Inwood at the north tip of Manhattan and working their way south. They got permission from the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, which gave them access to big green spaces like Central Park as well as medians and triangles and little gardens that dot the city. And they asked local residents. “More often than not, they were very, very happy to show us exactly where they had rats.” says Combs. A crowdsourced map of rat sightings also proved very helpful.

Rats, although abundant, are not easily fooled into traps. They’re wary of new objects. To entice them, the bait was a potent combination of peanut butter, bacon, and oats. And the team placed their traps near places where rats had clearly crawled. They looked for rat holes, droppings, chew marks on trash cans, and sebum marks—aka the grease tracks rats leave when they traverse the same path to the garbage over and over again.

For the DNA analysis, Combs cut off an inch or so of the rats’ tails. (Over 200 of these tails are still saved in vials in a lab freezer.) The team also took tissue samples for other researchers interested in studying how rats spread diseases through the urban environment. And some of the rats they skinned and stuffed for the collections of the Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History, where they will join stuffed rats from 100 years ago.

RTWT

24 Aug 2017

More Statues in Danger

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How much longer will Christopher Columbus look out over New York’s Columbus Circle?

New York Post:

Mayor de Blasio opened a historical can of worms Tuesday in his quest to rid the city of offensive monuments, ducking for cover when asked if Grant’s Tomb might be shuttered because of actions two centuries ago.

The mayor had no ready answers when pounded with questions about flawed historical figures, from Ulysses S. Grant to little-known former New York Gov. Horatio Seymour, who are being honored in the city.

Grant issued an order to expel Jews from three states during the Civil War while Seymour’s campaign slogan in 1868 was “This is a White Man’s Country; Let White Men Rule.”

Monuments to Christopher Columbus have also sparked criticism over his treatment of native populations.

“We’re trying to unpack 400 years of American history here — that’s really what’s going on,” de Blasio said defensively.

“This is complicated stuff. But you know it’s a lot better to be talking about it and trying to work through it than ignoring it because I think for a lot of people in this city and in this country, they feel that their history has been ignored or affronts to their history have been tolerated.”

Hizzoner at one point acknowledged he hadn’t considered whether the review should include portraits until the one of Seymour hanging inside City Hall was mentioned.

He also couldn’t say whether school names or other dedications would be reconsidered.

“To some extent the commission’s going to have to figure out what are the appropriate boundaries,” de Blasio said. “We may end up doing this in stages because this is complex stuff.”

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In the Guardian, Afua Hirsch is demanding that Britain follow the American example and remove Lord Nelson from his column in Trafalgar Square. Sure, Nelson won the battles of the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar, and prevented a Napoleonic Invasion of England, but, hey! what about the black contribution to British history?

We have “moved on” from this era no more than the US has from its slavery and segregationist past. The difference is that America is now in the midst of frenzied debate on what to do about it, whereas Britain – in our inertia, arrogance and intellectual laziness – is not.

The statues that remain are not being “put in their historical context”, as is often claimed. Take Nelson’s column. Yes, it does include the figure of a black sailor, cast in bronze in the bas-relief. He was probably one of the thousands of slaves promised freedom if they fought for the British military, only to be later left destitute, begging and homeless, on London’s streets when the war was over.

But nothing about this “context” is accessible to the people who crane their necks in awe of Nelson. The black slaves whose brutalisation made Britain the global power it then was remain invisible, erased and unseen.

The people so energetically defending statues of Britain’s white supremacists remain entirely unconcerned about righting this persistent wrong. They are content to leave the other side of the story where it is now – in Nelson’s case, among the dust and the pigeons, 52 metres below the admiral’s feet. The message seems to be that is the only place where the memory of the black contribution to Britain’s past belongs.

31 Jul 2017

New York, 1900

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colorized

17 May 2017

Post-War New York City

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Photo by Elliott Erwitt, 1950.

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