songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, September 21, 2018

#skywatchfriday --Yankee Stadium

Road trip to the Bronx!

As you know, Drew and I are Mets fans, we think of CitiField as "home". 

But we are also New Yorkers, and for two baseball fans to have never set foot in Yankee Stadium...

Well, I never did see the original Yankee Stadium (except from the outside), the one that was torn down in 2009. 

So when an opportunity came to see the Yankees play in the new Yankee Stadium, I had to take it:  a Yankees-Blue Jays game on a Sunday afternoon.

A word, first about the crosstown rivalry.  Mets fans are supposed to hate the Yankees and Yankees fans are supposed to hate the Mets.  I don't believe in the rivalry, I like the Yankees. I will root for the Yankess -- unless they're playing the Mets, of course.  Drew, on the other hand, told me he was panning to root for the Blue Jays.

Welcome to Yankee Stadium:

Our first glimpse of the field.

We got to the stadium very early, because we wanted to visit Monument Park.  Monument Park is an area behind  center field, under the scoreoard, that is dedicated to Yankee Stadium history, and (by extension) baseball history.  Look down from the scoreboard to field level. That dark area?  That's Monument Park.

Follow the signs to get on line to visit the area, but make sure you get there early.

You'll find all of the retired Yankees numbers here, as well as plaques honoring Yankees players, broadcasters, etc.  There are plaques for the two Papal visits to Yankee Stadium, to Nelson Mandela's visit, and to the 9/11 first responders. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

Look at the apartment building outside the stadium, at the area beneath the trees.  Yes, that is a NYC subway train rumbling past the stadium. 

Yankee Stadium tradition:  the grounds crew comes out mid game to do thier thing -- and also dance to the village People's "YMCA", arm movements and all:

 Unlike citiField, there are no planes overhead, but I did see interesting cloud formations.

When the game ended (Toronto won, unfortunately), we exited the ballpark to Sinatra's "New York, New York".

It was a fun afternoon, but I'm not likely to go back -- unless the Mets are playing the Yanks.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

another this and that, commuter version

So on Friday when I got to the office, I noticed that I had ripped my pants, one of the side seams was completely torn open.  I'm sure it happened on the train, probably caught my pants on the armrest as I was getting up from my seat. 

Monday's commute was a real "joy".  My railroad train was about 10 minutes late, and when I finally arrived at Penn Station...well, the entrance to the subway is under construction, so it was uncomfortably crowed.  And a "sick passenger" in Brooklyn meant massive delays heading downtown. When I got to the platform it was so crowded I could barely move.   The first train to arrive was so crowded that I couldn't get on.  But then a miracle happened, I actually got a seat on the next train.

I see her every morning in the Wall Street station, handing out free copies of AM New York.  Last week she announced to the world that she is 48 years old.  I would have assumed she was in her 60's...she must have had a hard life. 

That group of protesters with their signs screaming "Don't trust AmTrust" gave me flashbacks to 2008, when I worked for a company that got a federal bailout...

I've been taking walks at lunch time, exploring the neighborhood.  That place on Cedar Street where I first tasted Indian food is now a Chinese takeout, the Thai place on Maiden Lane is now North Indian (and is next door to a place that serves the foods of East India), but the Thai place o fulton Street is still open for business.   My favorite deli still has a great salad bar, and now they've added a counter for Korean food.

My very cool daughter who actually lives in Manhattan told me that if I like sushi I'd also like poke,so at lunch time yesterday I tried a poke restaurant...I ordered a bowl with seared albacore, sweet onion, avocado, cucumber, hijiki seaweed and sesame oil.  Wonderful flavors overall, but I did not care for the tuna.  Next time I'll do shrimp or chicken or tofu...

Yes, there is definitely an upside to working in this neighborhood.

Now I have to fgure out which gym to join...

Monday, September 17, 2018


Or rather, nearly squashed.

Drew and I went to the Yankee game yesterday (full report coming soon).  We decided to take my car, thinking my compact Prius-C would be a lot easier to park than that monstrosity he drives (he's got a 7 passenger minivan).

Well, the good news is my Prius got 56 miles to the gallon, which meant I used less than a full gallon of gas to drive to the Bronx and back again. 

The bad news is, we almost got killed on the Bruckner Expressway.

Picture it.  A three lane expressway.  The right lane is marked "exit only".  The left and middle lanes are for through traffic. 

My little blue Prius was in the center lane, with a bus in the left lane (yes, I know, he shouldn't have been in the left lane, but...),  and a tractor trailer in the right lane.  Just as I said to Drew "I'm a bit uncomfortable between such large vehicles", the truck driver realized that he needed to move over to the middle lane if he wanted to remain on the highway. 

So he started to move.

He moved Into the space that was occupied by my car.

If I hadn't been able to move to the left and get in front of the bus ...

I guess you take your life into your hands when you drive in the Bronx.

Friday, September 14, 2018

#skywatchfriday -- the Brooklyn Bridge

That's Roebling's creation in the foreground, with the Manhattan Bridge right behind it.   

If you look under the span of the Manhattan Bridge, you can just make out a portion of the Williamsburg Bridge in the distance.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

The South Street Seaport

I walked over to the South Street Seaport yesterday.  It’s just a few blocks from my office.  It was a disappointment.

The Seaport is located on the East River, in the shadow of the  Brooklyn Bridge.  19th century buildings lovingly restored and converted to shops and restaurants, cobblestone streets, a museum devoted to wooden, pre-industrial-revolution vessels.  

And Pier 17.  

Before Superstorm Sandy,  Pier 17 was a typical  mall, with restaurants and shops, including chain stores like the GAP ....I spent quite a bit of my time and money at Pier 17.  The mall was completely destroyed by Sandy in 2012.

I had heard that Pier 17 finally reopened this summer.  So yesterday I walked over there to check it out.

I was not impressed.

The new building is an ugly, cavernous box. It just felt so ... empty.  I couldn’t stay more than a few minutes.  Maybe it will be better when more tenants move in ...

This is an aeral view.  It's worse close up.


And then I walked over to the Seaport.  And the place just felt so ... dead.  I mean, the shops were open, people were having lunch in the restaurants. But .... Maybe it was because the weather was bad — cloudy, overcast, hot and humid.    I’ll have to go back another time, see if things are different....

Sigh.  At least the sailing ships haven’t changed.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Looking forward, looking back

It was a a warm September day.  It was an ordinary Tuesday.

And then it wasn’t.

I was very lucky that day, 17 years ago.  I’d spent most of my career working in lower Manhattan, but in 2001 I was employed by a law firm on Long Island, so I wasn’t in the city when the planes hit, didn’t see the devastation up close until days later.  I didn’t come home covered in dust and debris.  I didn’t lose a family member or a close friend.  

It’s hard to believe that most of the students sitting in high school classrooms weren’t even born on 9/11.  To them it’s just history.  

To me ...

Drew and I visited the 9/11 Museum in 2014.  It was an emotional experience, the first time I’d gone to a museum that memorialized a time in history that I’d lived through.    What made me cry the most were the ordinary things — a fare card for the PATH train, a newspaper, a street sign.  Things I had used every day.  The people who died in the towers were no different from me ...

It occurs to me the other day, as I was walking near my office, that when I first started working in the city, the Twin Towers had always served as a navigational beacon.  Midtown Manhattan is laid out as a grid, it’s easy to navigate.  But the streets of lower Manhattan are a twisty, confusing maze.  But I’d never be completely lost, so long as I could look up and see the towers.  

The other day the NYC Subway celebrated another milestone.  The Cortlandt Street Station, destroyed on 9/11, has finally reopened.  

Yes, the rebuilding effort finally seems to be complete.  

I leave you with a photo of the new One World Trade Center, as seen from New York Harbor...

Monday, September 10, 2018

Apples and honey

The Jewish holidays are early this year.

This time of year the Jewish calendar is filled with holidays  — the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah (the new year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), followed by the minor holidays of  Sukkot (a harvest festival) and Simchat Torah (a celebration of the Torah, the five Books of Moses).

The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, so our holidays do not line up perfectly with the secular calendar. Today is the first day of Rosh HaShanah.   Last year the first day of Rosh Hashanah was September 21, next year we will observe the holiday on September 30.

So you see what I mean about the holidays being early this year.

Rosh Hashanah is a festive occasion, but not in the way the secular new year is celebrated.  Family dinners are the norm, with traditional Jewish fare such as matzo ball soup, gefilte fish and brisket. Challah (a traditional egg bread) is round, to symbolize the circle of life.  Apples and honey are served to ensure a sweet new year.

The Days of Awe, the period that begins with a Rosh HaShanah and ends with Yom Kippur, is a time of introspection, atonement and prayer.  It is said that the Holy One, blessed be G-d, determines the fate of each person at this time.  On Rosh HaShanah it is written, on Yom Kippur it is sealed.  “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life” becomes a common greeting.

Tomorrow, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, we observe the 17th anniversary of 9/11.  So a holiday that already puts me in a contemplative mood feels more intense this year.  

L’Shanah Tovah. A sweet new year, and may we all be inscribed in the Book of Life

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