songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

From a town known as Oyster Bay, Long Island...

Another chapter in the saga of "Songbird plays tourist in her own back yard". 

Long Island is filled with historical sites.  Not just places of local interest, but sites of historical significance for the country, and the world.

Located on a spit of land that separates Oyster Bay from Cold Spring Harbor, Sagamore Hill was the family home of our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt.  TR bought the property just outside the town of Oyster Bay in order to build a home for himself and his first wife, Alice, but she died before the house was built.  Eventually TR built a home for his  second wife and his children.  When TR became President, the house at Sagamore Hill became the summer White House. 

The house and grounds are now under the auspices of the National Park Service, which is fitting, as TR was the father of our national parks system.    The house can be seen by guided tour only, and visitors should reserve their tickets in advance, since "day of" tickets tend to sell out by early morning.  Also on the grounds is the Old Orchard House, built by the President's son, Theodore Roosevelt Jr., in 1937, which now houses a museum documenting the life and career of President Roosevelt. 

A group of teachers from Drew's school planned to visit the site as part of their professional development, and Drew decided to join the group.  He hadn't been there in about 16 years, and I hadn't been there since a 4th grade field trip.

We started with a tour of the house.  The Roosevelts were "old money", the house is not as grand or elaborate as the Gold Coast mansions built by neighboring captains of industry.  Yet every inch of that house shows TR's personality.  All of the public rooms have trophies from his days of big game hunting.  His other passions were books and bronze statues.  You can see a sharp difference between the rooms decorated by TR and those decorated by his wife Edith. 

Afterwards we went to the Old Orchard House, to see the museum that documents TR's life and times.  What a fascinating man!  Cattle rancher, big game hunter, Rough Rider war hero, flamboyant politician.  A true progressive, pro union, trust buster, anti corruption politician, he was not well liked by his party establishment.  The New York party bosses so disliked him as Governor that they nominated him to be Vice President just to get him out of New York; no one would have imagined that McKinley would be assassinated, or that TR would become one of our most successful Presidents.  The treaty that ended the Russian-Japanese war of 1905, the treaty that won TR the Nobel Peace Prize, was signed in TR's library at Sagamore Hill. 

There is a nature trail behind the museum, a .7 mile long loop that takes you down a steep hill, through the woods, to a short boardwalk.  the boardwalk goes over a creek and leads you to a rocky beach on Cold Spring Harbor. 

Yes, the hill is steep, but the view of the harbor is magnificent.

You can take pictures all around the grounds, and in the Old Orchard museum, but not in inside the Roosevelt home itself.

You see the house, sitting on the hill, as you drive up the road:

Here's the view as  you walk up the path from the Visitor's Center:

And when you stand in front of the house:

The landscaping is beautiful:

This tree was planted by TR's children:

The view from TR's porch:

By the flagpole:

Edith had a quiet little arbor set aside as a retreat:

The flagpole marks the spot where TR would stand to address the crowds that sometimes gathered on his front lawn.  It's where he was standing when he found out he'd been nominated to run for Governor of New York.

The Roosevelt family motto.  It means., "He who plants, preserves."

The Old Orchard House:

Cold Spring Harbor:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Let's Go Mets!

Yeah, we had a great time last night, as always.

We have the routine down -- drive into Queens, drive through Flushing Meadow Park, park in the same lot on Roosevelt Avenue.  We cross the street to the stadium by walking upstairs to the station for the #7 train, then walking back down.  Then we're at Citi Field, and we walk passed the Shea Stadium Home Run Apple to get to our entrance gate.

Last night, right after we passed the Apple, we met up with one of our favorite celebrities:

You can't really see it, but the shirt I'm wearing is the souvenir from last summer's trip to Cooperstown -- it has the team logo on the front, and on the back is a list of every NY Mets player who made it to the Hall of Fame.  The hat was a promotional item from a game 5 years ago, it salutes the 1986 World Series team.

Our tickets allowed us to use the Foxwoods Club, an indoor restaurant and bar.  This club has large picture windows, and you can see the NYC skyline and some of Flushing Meadow Park.    Last night was too hazy for a decent picture of the skyline, but I did take one of the tennis stadium -- that's the construction for the new stadium rising up behind the old one, they hope to have the new one built in time for the Open at the end of the summer.

I had an incredible dinner -- sausage and peppers hero, served with marinara sauce, a few dabs of ricotta and real shaved parmesan cheese.  Drew had meatballs with a side of ciabatta bread. 

Our seats were in left field.  I joked that if we were any further into left field, we'd be sitting in Flushing Bay.  But in reality, the view wasn't bad at all.

The "Pepsi Porch" is gone, it's now the "Coke Corner".


And yes, we were kind of close to the Home Run Apple:

The stadium was only half full last night.  But it was a Monday night, the weather wasn't great, and the opposing team....well, let's be nice and say it's a "rebuilding year" for the Atlanta Braves.

While we were waiting for the game to begin, Drew took a walk.  He was in search of a  team logo sweatshirt. He didn't find one he liked, but he came back with a couple of hot dogs.  Not just ordinary hot dogs, but hot dogs cooked in beer.  There's only one place you can get those dogs  -- behind right field, near the Shea Bridge.    And yes, they are worth the walk.

Later, when it got colder, I had a cup of hot chocolate to warm myself up.   And yes, I shall have to do penance at the gym today.


To honor America:

The starting line up:

The pennants:

Colon on the mound:

The main scoreboard:

Great game.  Colon pitched well through 8 innings.  Wright, Duda and Cespides all homered in the first inning.

Final score 4-1, another Mets victory. 

Color me happy.

Indiana wants me...

Today is the Indiana primary. 

Today is Ted Cruz' last stand.  If Ted doesn't pull out a win today, he's done, and the GOP nominee will be [shudder] Donald Trump.  Frankly I don't know who is scarier, Cruz or Trump. 

Today is yet another "Groundhog Day" experience for us Democrats.  You remember the movie, "Groundhog Day", where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over and over? 

In April Hillary Clinton won decisive victories in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut.  She's now won in every part of the country, she succeeds with almost every demographic that makes up the Democratic Party.  Despite Bernie's ability to attract huge crowds to his rallies and to bring in small donations from large numbers of contributors, he has not been able to translate his popularity into large numbers of votes.

2,383 delegates are required to win the nomination.  There are  4,051  pledged delegates available through primaries and caucuses, and 712 super delegates, who can vote their own conscience.

According to the NY Times, Hillary now has 1,663 pledged delegates.  Bernie has 1,367.   Hillary has 520 super delegates, Bernie has 39.  She leads him 2,183 to 1,406, with only 1,016 delegates remaining in the May and June primaries. 

Since all delegates are awarded proportionally, both candidates will take a share of the remaining delegates in each primary in May and June.

Technically he has not been mathematically eliminated, but it's getting very, very close to that point.  He can't simply win the next few primaries, he has to have serious blow outs, he has to get over 65% of the remaining delegates to close the gap. 

And it doesn't look like he's going to be able to pull off that miracle.  In the three states with the most delegates, Clinton is far ahead.  Clinton is up by about 9 points in Indiana, 10 points in New Jersey and 9 points in California.

And what does Bernie have to say?  I guess it depends on the day. 

One day he's telling us that he'll stay in the race in order to let everyone have their chance to vote, and to amass delegates to give him clout at the convention, so that he can get his policies incorporated into the party platform. 

The next day he's telling his supporters that he's still a viable candidate, he's in it to win it, he plans to make it a contested convention.

And the rest of us just want to tell him to please stop giving his supporters false hope, that it's time to concede gracefully, and that it's time to unify the party to face the bigger enemy:  Donald trump.

Monday, May 2, 2016

I'm talking baseball...

So the baseball season is in full swing.  tonight Drew and I will make our first trip of the season to Citi Field.  Seats aren't great, but you can't complain when the tickets were free.  And we always have a good time at a Mets game.  And considering how hot the team is ...did you see that 12 run inning against the Giants Friday night?

Drew and I lived in Queen for a few years, back when our children were babies.  The joke was that if we were watching a Mets game and it started to rain at Shea, we'd run to close our windows.  I used to put the kids in the double stroller and walk around the neighborhood, there was an overpass over the Van Wyck  where I could stand and look north and see that familiar bright blue and orange stadium.

Alas,  though I tried to raise them right, my kids ....became Yankees fans.  Last weekend Jen organized a trip with her boyfriend Matt and a group of their friends, they went up to the Bronx to watch the Yankees lose to Tampa Bay.

And a few days before that, Becca was at a Yankees game with David-who-is-not-her-boyfriend.

but they come by it honestly, I guess.  My mother was born and raised in the Bronx.  Her first official date with my dad was to Yankee Stadium to see DiMaggio play.  I think my dad knew she was "the one" even then -- how else would you get a Brooklyn boy, a born-in-the-shadow-of-Ebbets-Field fan into Yankee Stadium???

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I love it....

So we've finally reached the end of Passover.  Tonight we can go back to our normal way of eating.

So yeah, I think I was just a bit obsessed with Passover this year.  It was an interesting holiday.

Remember when I posted about our  family's Passover heirloom?  A Seder plate bought by my grandparents, used at every Seder my father lead, as far back as I can remember.


The back of the plate bears the inscription:  BARDIGER, London, and TEPPER, London with a circular seal that says, Manufactured by Ridgway England

My sister found the same plate, but in blue, on eBay

Here's what it looks like:

They have it listed for $350. I saw another blue one listed for $175, don't remember which auction site that was.

So I did a little research.

This design was first registered by Ridgways, the Staffordshire manufacturer of the plate, in 1923.
 (I thought it was earlier than that, I thought the plate was made before WW I.)

"Bardiger" is a retailer mark for Solomon Bardiger's china shop, which was  at 180 Brick Lane, London. Solomon was a Ukrainian immigrant (just like my grandparents who bought the plate!).  He came to England in 1890 and traded in a wide variety of goods, but became most well known for his Judaica table wares. It was he who commissioned Ridgways to make the plate

I found it in black as well, listed for $72.

I even found another red one.   And they also made a separate plate to hold the matzo.

In fact, it's a museum piece.  Or rather, cousin to a museum piece.  One of the blue plates found its way into the Brooklyn Children's Museum.  Another made it into the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures in Illinois.

It's nice to know that our heirloom, too precious to sell, does have value to someone else as well.


Friday, April 29, 2016

NYC afternoon

I used to work in lower Manhattan, used to spend 40+ hours a week in the neighborhood.  And when you're there all the time, you can forget how special the neighborhood is, how tourists come from all over the world to see what's in your back yard. 

These days my office is on Long island, close to home.  But my client is in lower Manhattan, and occasionally I have meetings in the city.  And after one such meeting, about a week ago, I had some time to revisit some of the sites of the city. 

Wall Street, as seen from Broadway:

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The New York Stock Exchange:

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The Trump Building at 40 Wall Street:

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Federal Hall:

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President Washington:

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I visited an old friend in Liberty Street Park. He sits with his briefcase on the corner of Liberty Street and Church Street, across from the World Trade Center complex. He has a brother in Jersey City, at the Jercsey City 9/11 Memorial:

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The reflecting pool where the South Tower (Two World Trade Center) once stood:

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One World Trade Center:

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

songbird loves the 80's: I want my MTV

Prince's death last week brought back a lot of memories.

In the 1980's, MTV was synonymous with "music television".   Insstead of a DJ spinning records on a radio station, we had a new art form:  VJ's would present music videos.  By 194,watching MTV was like "watching" a Top 40 radio station.  Everyone knew the catchphrase:  "I want my MTV".

This was the heyday of the music video.  We could see Michael Jackson dance his way through "Thriller".  .  Madonna was decked out like Marilyn Monroe as she sang "Material Girl".  Billy Joel dressed as a mechanic while singing "uptown girl". Weird Al's parodies were funnier because of the visuals. To this day, when I hear Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time", I see her bright red hair and partially shaven head..  The wonderful Claymation of Peter Gabriel's  "Sledge Hammer"...

And coming full circle:  The slogan was incorporated into a music video.  Props to Dire Straights...


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