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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Office views

We have a tremendous view from our breakroom.  It's hard to take good pictures because of the reflective nature of our windows, but I gave it a try.   

Traffic on the East River, the Brooklyn Waterfront, the South Street Seaport, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.... great views.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Notes from the commuter front

There are two trains I can take to work, a 7:11 to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and a 7:16 to Penn Station in Manhattan.  The subway ride from Brooklyn to Wall Street is easier than the ride downtown from Penn, so I prefer the earlier train.

So every day last week, the Brooklyn train was consistently 5 minutes late arriving at my station — except for the day that I was running late.  

Wound up on the 7:16 that morning.

I prefer to go home from Penn, though.  There are more express trains, a faster ride.  But the crowds in Penn!  That rabbit warren  of a station services 650,000 passengers a day. And they all seem to be in that station at rush hour.

They should rename the NYC Subway the “sardine can transport”.  I am relearning the skill of standing on a moving train while holding on to a metal pole.  Though I have reached the age where occasionally a man will offer me a seat.

And no matter how crowded a subway car gets, no one will sit or stand anywhere near the homeless guy sleeping in the corner of the car.

But yes, I can navigate this:

The adventure continues ...

Federal Hall

Another NYC landmark, Federal Hall, at the corner of Wall Street and Broad Street, was the meeting placx for the First U.S. Congress in 1789.  George Washington greets vistiors and passers-by.

Friday, September 7, 2018

#skywatchfriday -- Trinity Church

Trinity Church is historic.  It sits on Broadway facing Wall Street, a neo-Gothic landmark among the skyscrapers.  Hard to believe that at one time it was the tallest building in the United States.

You see the church looming in the distance as you walk up Wall Street.

As you reach Broadway, you see the entrance to the church.

Look up at the spire!


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Rest In Peace

Yesterday Drew and I were talking about clothes we used to have back in the 70’s, things we’d never be caught dead wearing today.

Drew described a shirt he had — black, decorated with large red roses.  

It was a knockoff of a shirt Burt Reynolds wore in Smokey and the Bandit.

This is the shirt:

Today I learned that Burt Reynolds died.  Another icon gone.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Back to the future, day 1

So yesterday was my first day as an intrepid commuter.   Up before dawn, drove to the railroad station, groaned when I heard the announcement that the train was running late.  Eventually the train came, squeezed myself into a seat ...

Transferred to the subway.  No seat, had to grab onto a pole to keep my balance. Got off at Wall Street, walked to the office.  It’s an interesting neighborhood, lots of changes since the last time I worked here.  I’m anxious to explore it again.

Spent the day getting set up in the new office — ID card, computer log on, voice mail.  No substantive work yet.  But that’s coming, of course.

My workstation has a window!  And a view of the building next door.

Our break room has a view of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Brooklyn waterfront, and south to the harbor.    Much nicer view than my workstation.

At lunch a coworker and I walked over to Zuccotti Park to check out the food carts. We wound up with felafel sandwiches.  Next time I think I’ll try the chicken over rice.

At the end of the day I walked back to the subway, dealt with the craziness that is NYC at rush hour, and then the long ride home to Long Island ...

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A new adventure

So I mentioned, awhile back, that there would be some changes at work.

Same employer, different client.  And this client wants me to work out of their offices in lower Manhattan.

So it’s back to working in NYC.  And commuting on the Long Island Railroad.  And traveling on the city subways.

I love working in the city.  The commute, not so much.  

I worked for this client before, so the job is familiar.  But there have been some personnel changes in that office, the individuals I worked with have moved on.

It’s a new month, a new job, a new adventure.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

John McCain

It’s been a week of mourning, and a week of celebrating the life of an American hero.  There will be a service in the National Cathedral this morning, and burial tomorrow at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

I find myself in tears.  I have enormous respect for a man whose life was dedicated to serving his country, to serving the American people.  He was an honorable man, a war hero, a politician who recognized that his job was to serve all of his constituents, and not just the ones who agreed with him.

He recognized the need for civility in politics, the need for reconciliation between opposing sides to any conflict.

That he chose to be eulogized by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the two men who defeated him in his presidential bids, speaks volumes.

Rest In Peace, John, you are an example to all of us.

Another fortune cookie

Friday, August 31, 2018

#skywatchfriday -- riding the Staten Island Ferry

So you're in lower Manhattan, you've got a couple of hours to kill, and you don't want to spend a lot of money.  What do you do?

Maybe you take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

Yes, the Staten Island Ferry.  A NYC icon.

You may remember the ferry from that old I Love Lucy episode just before the gang took their trans-Atlantic cruise, or as the background for a Madonna video or as a Billy Joel lyric.

The ferry is a form of commuter tranportation, carrying passengers between lower Manhattan across New York Harbor to Staten Island, and then back again. 

But it's also popular with tourists.  There's no fee to ride the ferry these days.  So if you don't have the time or the money to visit Liberty Island, you can get a nice view of the Statute of Liberty while riding the ferry.

On the Manhattan side, the ferry terminal is located  on Whitehall Street, next to Battery Park, convenient to several subway lines.  The terminal has a large, comfortable waiting room, and there are options to buy soft drinks and an assortment of fast food items, such as hot dogs. 

Here's your ride:

If you want the full effect, when you board the boat you'll want to go to one of the upper decks, starboard side (facing New Jersey, not Brooklyn). 

there are opportunities to purchase snacks aboard the ferry, if you so desire.

You get great views of the city as your boat leaves the terminal. 

Yes, that's One World Trade Center towering over the other tall buildings.

And you'll get a great view of Ellis Island.  My grandmother was processed at Ellis Island when she came here, back in the 1920's.  When I visited Ellis Island a number of years ago (it's a museum now), I could hear my grandmother's voice in my head, talking about her immigrant experieince.

There are all kinds of boats on the harbor. 

Even cruise ships.  This one sails out of Bayonne, New Jersey. 

Of course, there's Lady Liberty.

                             "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Eventually you arrive in Staten Island. 

Even if you're planning to go right back to Manhattan, you must get off the boat at Staten Island.  You can buy a snack in the terminal while you're waiting to re-board the ferry.

And the view as you head back to Manhattan...


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The end (of summer) is near

 I can't believe Labor Day is almost here, that the summer is coming to an end.   In a few short days, Drew will host his annual Labor Day barbecue, and then our attention will turn to autumn.

It's been a very full summer, filled with ball games, beach trips, etc., but ...

Labor Day seems to be the dividing line between the seasons.  Maybe that's because here in the northeast the school year begins right after Labor Day, so I've always thought of September as the beginning of autumn.  Yes, the weather will remain warm and summery for a few more weeks, but everything else says "fall".  

And this year, the Jewish holidays  come "early", Rosh Hashanah on September 10 and 11, Yom Kippur on September 19.  The minor holiday of Sukkot (a harvest festival) begins on September 24, and the Jewish holidays end with Simchat Torah on October 2. 

It's been a very full summer, but I think I'm ready for the change of seasons.  I'll be starting my positon in the city on September 4.  The change of season and the change of working conditions should be interesting.  I am looking forward to new experieinces, new adventures.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

54 Below

Feinstein's/54 Below Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

We had an absolutely incredible evening at Feinstein's/54 Below. 

Located on the lower level of what was once NYC's most famous disco, 54 Below is an intimate supper club that features some of the best talent Broadway can offer.

Doors open at 5:00 PM for the 7:00 PM show.  That gave us plenty of time to enjoy our meal before the entertainment.   

I ordered a glass of riesling from the extensive wine menu, Drew had the white sangria.  For our appetizer, we shared a crock of bacon baked macaroni and cheese finished with truffle oil.  I could have made a whole meal out of that baked macaroni, it was that good. 

I had the Amish chicken, roasted chicken served with buttered parsnip, sauteed dandelion greens and mashed potatoes.  The greens were a bit too bitter for my taste, but the chicken was well prepared, the mashed potatoes creamy and satisfying. 

Drew ordered  pan-seared scallops, which were served with shiitake mushrooms, citrus, and parsnip puree.  the scalllops were perfectly cooked and very flavorful. 

We seldom order dessert, but we couldn't resist the offerings on the menu that night.  Drew had some sort of strawberry and pistaschio concoction, and I had the key lime pie.  Well worth the extra calories. 

Service was friendly and efficient, our waiter attentive without hovering or being annoying. 

As for the show... that evening we saw Michael Feinstein and Christine Ebersole.  We are both fans of Feinstein, having seen him perform in other venues.  But it's really special to see him perform in his own club, in such an intimate setting.   Especially when our table was right up against the stage. 


Our evening included a "meet and greet" with both performers.


I'll leave you with some music from each of the performers.  First Ebersole:

And, of course, Feinstein:

Friday, August 24, 2018

#skywatchfriday -- ballpark clouds

The sky over the ballpark was so interesting....


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