Translation from English

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Classic Zippo Lighters in Offbeat store

The age of smoking cigarettes and Zippo lighters has long passed in Manhattan, ( but not completely according to one young doctor I spoke with recently....he said some of the older people who smoke just cannot quit for anything no matter how hard they try....with predictable results)...

Actually, these classic Zippo lighters would make great "collectibles" and well worth the $25-$35 this funky store on  Second Avenue in Midtown wants for them. (They also have old cute ashtrays with ceramic figurines on them).

Get them while they last, I suspect....I noticed when I took this picture that all the ashtrays were now gone except for one...

Poorer street, old tailor place

On one block that for some reason has escaped gentrification to a great degree, old tailor's place still it is not cheap, though....nothing turns back the clock on prices in Manhattan.

Midtown kids and their nanny

These upper middle class (or better) kids in Midtown play on a nice December day under the watchful eye of their nanny...they undoubtedly live in one of the huge high rise condo buildings close by to this otherwise abandoned plaza space.

My sister once told me she felt guilty when she first got a nanny for her kids so she could keep working at her landscape architect job....I told her look, everyone who can afford a nanny in NYC has one, and I doubt it is much different up there in Massachusetts....

She and her husband continued to live their incredibly busy social life as it happened, she told me morosely some years later that her younger son DID however say to her one day, "when I grow up I am going to be rich  enough(as if his parents were not well off!) so that my wife never has to work and we need a nanny."

Induced enormous guilt trip in my sister of course...but not enough for her to dismiss any of the nannies that came and went...

Sunny day in late December

This arcade really does not serve much of a useful purpose (no shops along it) except for people to hide under when rain moves in fast....

Today was a sunny, very pleasant day for late December...great for walking around, of which I did plenty. 

Snow comes in tomorrow and then the deep freeze on Sunday...New Year's Eve will be cold for all the people who want to go up to Times Square ( I have NEVER wanted to do that! I even find watching it on TV something of a drag)....

Been to some great Holiday parties but never to a really good New Year's Eve one. Even back when I was young and it was safe to come home extremely late on the subway or walk home if it that were feasible...(shows you how old I am!!)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!Hoping this has been a good Holiday Season for people of all faiths and also those of no particular faith...Good Will to All.

Glad I saw it while it was still there..Street Art

I really thought this was pretty cool as street art when I shot this last summer..went by the same place recently and the giraffe was gone! Just the truck there...and no leaves coming down from the window if I remember right either.

Wonder what happened. That's one of the things about NYC street art, it is rarely permanent unless it is painted on a wall or something....this was some kind of cut-out thing.

Winter Coats and Christmas Sales

This is really the time of the season to find great sales in New York on winter coats and parkas....many stores are offering them at prices like 60% off.

I really love the parka I got from Eddie Bauer some years back at half price this time of year...unfortunately, the items I have ordered recently I have had to send back....they went bankrupt but are still operating...however, their stuff does not seem to be as good as it used to be. Several other people have told me they have experienced the same thing, not just with Bauer but also with Land's End etc.

Looks like they are moving production of clothes to cheaper and cheaper factories in China and elsewhere to increase the profit margin...

Monday, December 24, 2012

People at Work....Welder

I run pictures of people at work all the time on Facebook...occurred to me I rarely do it on this blog. 

This was taken not too long ago at the Epiphany School down below Kips Bay...

In the future I will try to get more work photos posted here.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Flood of Santas, reindeer and Santa's helpers

Midtown was flooded a while back by an incredible crowd of Santas, Santa's helpers and is part of some international charity event...most of them who were traveling in groups usually in Midtown were also heading for any available bar...

These two young ladies were willing to let me take their picture ( most people say no if you ask them in NYC, especially the natives)--they seem to be enjoying themselves OK.

Museum of Sex

Museum of Sex:  I have walked past this place a number of times down on Fifth Avenue towards Madison Square...

Never looked all that interesting to me from the outside, googled it up and--wow--does it get mixed reviews. A lot of people say "skip it," very definitely, others liked it a lot...

That trip advisor link is a good one to find out a lot about the Museum of Sex--

I checked out the Museum's website and found the senior admission was $17.50. Am not sure if I want to risk it or not...(you cannot take photos indoors anyway).

Shortest Day of the Year

Midtown indeed had a bleak feeling to it on the shortest day of the year-- cold, blustery winds and a general gloom maybe mixed with some people fearing the alleged Mayan prophecy of the end of the world..

That Mayan prophecy thing is the kind of nutty concept that gets under the skin of people in these turbulent, uncertain times-- one study for the BBC found that 10% of the people worldwide were actually made nervous about it.

Well, it certainly reminded me of "Bleak December" and Shakespeare's " Bare ruined choirs" today-- although for me it mostly meant a visit to the doctor and getting antibiotics and other prescriptions...

This photo was taken a few days ago actually but I felt it was unusually appropriate for today...

Coming Close to End of the Year in Gramercy Park

Thursday, December 20, 2012

KittyKind at Petco- North End of Union Square

This is an old high school friend of mine, Harmon Dresner, whom I have not seen in 50 years!
He just came on Facebook and found that someone I knew had added him as a friend and so I contacted him.

Now retired, Harmon volunteers for the KittyKind cat rescue project. This is at 17th Street and Broadway, the Northern end of Union Square.

KittyKind is a cat rescue service which finds new homes for lots of kitties
 that have become stray or are given up for adoption for various reasons 
( all the cats offered are basically healthy and have their shots, etc.).

If you are in New York, drop by on a weekday afternoon and you will
 probably find Harmon at Petco-- and maybe you can adopt a kitty!

More about KittyKind at 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kips Bay's eclectic achitecture

From its Eastern Edge on the River to just past Third Avenue, Kips Bay ( which runs down from 34th Street to almost 23rd Street) houses an incredible array of architecture...

Of course, in the Northern part of Kips Bay, many people and places insist on using the name "Murray Hill," which I think they believe is more upscale. It certainly use to be,  but with the endless gentrification that has affected just about all of Manhattan, Kips Bay is about as expensive as anywhere now....except, of course, the toniest parts of the Upper East Side and a few other areas ( like Tribeca).

Going Out of Business

You see a lot of stores in Manhattan with "Going Out of Business Sales,"--and some of these sales seem to go on indefinitely.

This one, on Fifth Avenue in the mid-upper-30's, seems to have brought all sorts of odd stuff from out of storage to put out with the rest of its merchandise....

Jazz at Kitano

One of the things that makes Manhattan so interesting ( and not just Midtown) is that a jazz place, or a comedy club, or a small repertory theater can just pop up in some place where you might not expect it.

Jazz at Kitano on East 38th Street on the edge of Murray Hill is a perfect example. It attracts international jazz fans to what is described as a "Pan Asian atmosphere." 

You can read more about it at this link:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

More storm surges on the way?

The Monday morning at high tide before the big storm surge from Sandy (which came at about 8 p.m. that evening and flooded the subways, tunnels, and caused the Con Ed substation down at 14th Street to explode ( which people saw on TV all over the country)--I went down to the East River Esplanade at the East End of 37th Street to see what was going on.

They had closed the gates to the Esplanade...the morning high tide gave no indication how bad the evening surge would be...just that the situation was getting hairy.

Last night, the local ABC affiliate here showed a half hour special on "Extreme Weather NYC" which predicted what were once odd occasional tornadoes and other meteorological events around this area would become more common and also get worse...

Due of course, to global warming and climate change. As the polar ice cap melts in the summer now (more and more...eventually it will melt away to nothing during the summer) and the Atlantic continues to rise in temperature, the difference between air temperatures in the far North and down towards the Equator will become less pronounced.

This will influence the flow of weather from West to East across the country...making it loop around in all sorts of ways, and even double back on itself as it did in the case of Sandy ( which should have headed out to sea instead of turning inland and slamming the South New Jersey Coast--and, of course, bringing all the flooding to the NJ-NY area).

Now that the weather in the Pacific Ocean is more or less "neutral" (neither much of an El Nino or a La Nina effect), storms in the North Atlantic will arise on their own out of nowhere and with less warning. 

So, we could be in for more storm surges this winter...and who knows how bad they might be.

Nobody wants to consider worst case scenarios at the moment, but one grumpy old weather guy on the ABC show said that " Sandy was not "The Big One" when it comes to storm surges...we will have much worse ones in the future."

So, people like NYC Mayor Bloomberg and NY Governor Cuomo are talking now about what can be done to deal with the extreme weather of the future. They seem to be confused a little here, not knowing whether to rebuild some sections like the Rockaways ( which might not be worth it, given what the future is like)...and they talk of rebuilding the boardwalk at Long Beach on the South Shore of Long Island with concrete rather than wood. (Local residents are indignant about this and insist it be rebuilt with wood. They seem to think that living there is a  workable proposition for the future, which one wonders about now. I mean, they ARE going to be wiped out again sooner or later and maybe sooner).

Some of the plans for helping to seal off the subway tunnels from water with inflatable plugs seem a little science fiction-ish, (and will take years to really work out if they decide to do it).

Just for this winter: what if there is another big storm surge and more flooding and another big power outage? The big problem will be all the boilers in buildings that will not be functioning and tons of people in the area suddenly finding themselves in the middle of the winter without heat...( or power, for that matter). How can the government handle this? Nobody even wants to consider this happening right now....and it may never happen, at least not THIS winter.

The future is just sure to have a lot more extreme weather and we had all better get used to the idea, that's all.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday Nails

Nails place looks very warm and festive with a minimum of holiday ornament...just its natural decor works well with minimal lights for holiday feeling.

Elmo and others work Herald Square for tips....

Have seen Disney characters, etc. in Herald Square these Elmo/Sesame Street figures are there, offering to pose with tourists ( especially children) and then ask for tips ( blue figure is holding out green big that says "TIPS" on it).

They have banned people like this from Times Square for--among other reasons-- complaints from veterans who are food vendors there.

One of few breaks veterans get in NYC is top priority for being food vendors in Times Square. One vendor referred to this as "one of the few crumbs they throw to us." Sad.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Random Christmas store windows in Midtown

Fifth Avenue stores are now all decked out for Christmas is just a quick sampling of some of them:

TOP: Saks Fifth Avenue windows are all under-lit dramatically and I could not get good pix of them,--only this Saks Kids' window was well-lit-- its them is "The Yeti" ( The Abominable Snowman)--kind of weird, huh?

SECOND FROM TOP: High fashion store with the weird name has very elegant stuff as usual

THIRD FROM TOP:  Ann Taylor window has Santa with huge globe behind him

FOURTH FROM TOP: All of Lord & Taylor's  main windows are very "busy" ( small windows on side streets are more coherent)-- this holiday window has everything but the kitchen sink

More store windows and shoppers etc. as season progresses....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

"Black Friday," Macy's Windows for Christmas

"Black Friday," as I remember, was the name of a scary B-movie from about 1941 with Bela Lugosi ( you can google this if you want to)--it had famous scene where man hiding in kitchen closet finds he cannot get out because refrigerator has been moved in front of it....and he goes beserk. The movie leaves him there, poor wretch...

Anyway, these days "Black Friday" is simply the day after Thanksgiving when retailers open early, some really early, for what is supposed to be the biggest sale/shopping day of the Christmas season.

Herald Square around Macy's was of course mobbed with bargain hunters....

Macy's has its new Christmas windows ready. I did not find them all that impressive ( the ones they had last year were a lot fancier and more inventive. This year's windows are colorful, though, and attract just as much attention as the windows always do.

I was in Herald Square yesterday too, and 34th Street was just as mobbed as it was today...all tourists, it seemed to me. The Korean tourists were very much in evidence in the neaby Korean Town area, with all their suitcases on wheels and shopping bags and glazed expressions as they drifted through the crowded streets without seeming to know how to navigate their way in a crowd...

I read an article in the New York Times once that a study crew from Columbia University had set up all these hidden cameras and taken pix for hours just to see how people wended their way through places where the sidewalks were always very crowded. Seems like some people, mostly the native New Yorkers, had a distinctive habit of looking at WHERE they were headed at any given moment which gave other people a clue as to how to navigate around THEM...a lot of peripheral vision involved in this, I guess.

Enough really crowded sidewalks for me for a while, the next few days I am going to be looking to walk places that are not so frenetic and where it seems like you are always close to being trampled to death or something.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

More NYC Street Art

Street Art in Midtown changes in some places and in others is more permanent ( or can at least look that way-- I recently saw a wall painting that had been drastically modified, for what reason I know not).

Top: Weird Mural on doors on Fifth Avenue. Who knows what artist had in mind...guess it is up to the viewer to interpret it.

Bottom: At Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations, big half-eaten donut or bagel has chrome interior...I had a shot of this from a better angle with some people looking at it to give it scale but that was kind of blurry...think you can tell from street lamp just behind it that it is pretty big.

What's New at Astro?

Astro Gems and Minerals continues to have delightful windows....dinosaur skeleton it is menaces passers by---while Egyptian themed window with pyramid, obelisks and Nefertiti is nearby.

I believe Astro will be making its move to its new store soon...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Driveway Graffiti Signage

This is extremely clever use of graffiti style signage...I appreciate the wit of this but nothing will ever make me really accept the look of graffiti comfortably, it has too many bad associations from the 1980's for me....when subway cars were covered over with the stuff so you could not even see out the windows and it increased the feeling that the subway was just one big dangerous sewer with scary crazies roaming around everywhere too...

Nathan Straus Houses

Ah, the City of New York set out on its Public Housing schemes with such good intentions...except from the beginning the money was never there to provide either adequate security or maintenance ( and in many cases the buildings themselves were not exactly great works of construction).

The Nathan Straus Houses in Kips Bay is ensconced in an extremely safe--almost cozy-- environment, and I noticed people coming and going looking perfectly content with the somewhat ramshackle atmosphere of the place...

November Playground

It is mid-November now and the light fades early....a Saturday afternoon still finds kids eager to play in a little park in Kips Bay...why not? I remember as a small kid, I loved to play in little parks like this as long as they were not covered with snow....

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post Hurricane Sandy Photos in Midtown, election

We lost power here Monday night of Hurricane precisely at 8:30 p.m. I know because
 I had just started to eat a banana and had just glanced at the time...

Power company had called me earlier (robot call) and told me to shut off all major 
appliances, except refrigerator (do not unplug!)-- I even unplugged my computer from 
power surge strip after shutting if off, just as I had unplugged the TV.

Was able to get more batteries for my flashlight, luckily (later)..
and still had gas and running water after power failed. However, I already also had a 
bathtub full of water so I used that to flush following the Los Angeles motto ( "If 
it's yellow, it's mellow, if it's brown, flush it down).

Pain came when it got cold and of course no heat because boiler relies on electric 
turn on. Slept with my clothes and down jacket on under some blankets and just
 felt cold in my feet because I was nervous...

Power was promised by Bloomberg to be on Friday night by Midnight. Went
 downstairsthen to talk to woman working here and also other people who had 
come down. She had a battery powered radio. We heard how power was coming on,
 section by section, starting with the lowest tip of Manhattan. By Midnight
 still no power and it was obvious we would be last little piece in jigsaw puzzle.

I was lighting my gas stove with a cigarette lighter I had bought at little deli without 
power ( was later able to get kitchen matches--glad for these because I kept burning 
my fingers lighting gas using lighter!)

Woman working here on Friday night summed it up neatly, "Dammit, I am getting 
TIRED of it being so dark all the time."

Power and heat came on some time early Saturday morning. I woke up about 6 p.m. 
and saw clock radio time flashing as well as flashing answering machine ( answering
 machine HELL to reset I don't know why they make it so damn complicated).

But SO SO lucky compared to scores of thousands of people in NY-NJ-CT area, so 
manyof whom lost their homes or stayed despite being told to leave and then 
still stayed aslong as they could to flooded houses...

Many scores of thousands around here still without power as I write this. They have 
been pumping out subway tunnels since right after storm flooded them but not 
all lines were back for some time..and of course people still tried to get to work 
anyway they could ( some of the auto tunnels were flooded , too, including 
the Midtown one just north of me, which was supposedly built never to flood! 
Some planning goof there, huh? Actually, I believe Climate change is just setting 
us up for more and more unprecedented storms like this).

Oh yeah, had canned food and peanut butter and bottled water ( boiled water for 
endless cups of instant coffee) and then found out on my travels that power 
NEVER WENT OFF just five blocks North of supermarkets open 
there and restocking withnew food immediately except for bottled water.

Attaching just a dozen of Post-Hurricane photos ( self explanatory, I think, like the 
one of people from no-power zone trying to get to work in power-on zone and 
stoppingfor coffee anywhere they could) etc.

We got off so lightly here, really, I can't complain ( but of course I do).

Our elevator went out and then went whacky when power came back on. Will 
probably require someone from Power company to fix it ( electrician who was 
supposed to comeyesterday never made it today either I noticed).

Yeah, I am happy with election just because of all the time I put in as Obama 
volunteer ( including afternoon shift at phone bank on election day. Obama was
 rightwhen he said he won because of small donations ( I made a lot of them,
 includingthese women Senate candidates who were running against Rape-nut
 case remark Tea Party fools
...the Dem women all won! Only gave $20 to Obama himself but figured that was
 in line with what they were asking for ,,,millions of small donations.

All these people from NYC (and State) also took all these buses to Ohio and
 Pennsylvania for weeks before election and also were there on election day
 to get out the vote...every last one we could identify.
Happy but numb about all politics even though Obama website keeps sending
 me messages and telling me to stay ready for more action. 
What could they have in mind?
I am  so tired of politics I do not even care about the "fiscal cliff"-- screw
 Boehner and intransigent Republicans, country will survive. There WAS 
a mandate for richer people paying their fare share.

HA HA to Koch Bros. and other plutocrats who spent hundreds of millions of 
dollars and believed all of Karl Rove's usual nonsense. They are mad as hell
 at Rove, who will just blame someone/something else for his own stupidity.
My best wishes to all who are still suffering, --hope things improve for you soon!