Translation from English

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Madison Square Post Office

Madison Square Post Office on East 23rd Street has a treasure trove of WPA wall murals of all sorts of Manhattan scenes from the 1930's....

However, they look so dark and dingy now it is really a shame...there obviously has never been any money to clean or restore them and from the way the Postal Service is going, probably never will be..

Well, it is hardly the Sistine Chapel ceiling or something but it is a great display of classic American WPA Art...

Oh yes, it seems that to compensate for hopelessly darkened murals, this Post Office has a newer painting of Madison Square area ( not geographically accurate but fun) does not make up for the neglect of the old murals but is OK.

Manhattan suffers from a surfeit of all sorts of historic riches and some of them just go by the wayside...too bad but you cannot save everything I guess.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

The first Earth Day back in 1970 was a very happy, hopeful has not been an easy battle to save this planet, and the fight is still on.

Here is a current update from the internet--there are tons of activities all over the world now, and they make the claim that a billion people will be participating...hope it helps.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

But is it Art?

Sculptural works, temporary or permanent, are fixtures of the Manhattan landscape...this one, at the South end of Central Park, looks to me just like a pile of truck tire inner tubes...

When I show people pictures like this on Facebook, they usually jokingly ask " But is it art?" I believe we have to be pretty flexible about what we accept as art-- the question more often being " Is it good art or bad art?"

I could never stand Picasso's "Guernica" painting when I was young ( I see more merit to it now) and of course Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup Can paintings--which many people dismissed as a mere trendy phenomenon when he first unveiled them-- are now pretty much accepted and people will pay a lot of money for them ( but then, when people start treating art mostly as an investment, it is all speculative play at work, anyway).

There are many sculptures around in Midtown that leave me cold and others that have grown on me with time...I doubt I will ever think that much of this work, though. Maybe if I and it are still around in another 20 years, I would say differently...

East River Vistas-continual transformation

The East River Esplanade is one of those projects that has been in the works for many, many years and while some sections of it have been completed ( such as far up on the Upper East Side), others have just been "on the boards" for years...with a promise now that a lot more will be done.

This section shown here is hidden away at the East End of 37th Street, and I stumbled on the entrance to it pretty much by is only a couple of blocks long and is something of a "secret garden."

While the City is always complaining of being out of money, my state representative sent me a newsletter noting that that more work was going to be done linking the area that has been done with the empty site below the United Nations...somehow they got the money approved at some point and then the Esplanade will really be more of a resource for people who live in lower East Midtown.

I may no longer be living in this area when the work is finally completed...but that's the way things go in New York these days...for instance, the Second Avenue subway is (of course) taking much longer to build and costing a hell of a lot more than originally estimated...even in its now truncated version ( it was supposed to extend down to Wall Street originally, but not will turn over to Grand Central Terminal, where other new rail links are also going to be put in for Amtrak trains).

Building the Esplanade will probably somehow affect the traffic flow on the FDR Drive --more aggravation for people in cars and taxis-- but that will nothing like the problems the new subway has already caused ( displacement of huge numbers or rats, cutting off businesses from street traffic, and weakening the foundations of all sorts of buildings near the route--all that blasting takes its toll, of course).

They are, in fact, having so much trouble building the Second Avenue subway that it is like somehow New York has forgotten how to build subways along the way...while other cities like Washington D.C. are always expanding their lines and in places like Paris, the Metro stations have often been turned into works of Art.

So, we will believe in the extended Esplanade when we see it...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Luggage Choices and Shopping in Midtown

Both these stores on Third Avenue are having sales, but I imagine the starting prices are very different to start with...

The Italian based Flora Louis luggage looked so much like the goods available at a store up the street ( which is an outlet for Samsonite and other well known brands) I just wondered what people are really expecting when they make choices like this.

It seems they still make some items to last for a long time ( like Pendleton shirts) but most of the items we buy these days often seemed to be of lesser quality than they used to fact, in terms of some imports from China etc. are demonstrably of lesser quality than people used to expect.

I remember when quiz shows on TV always had luggage sets as prizes...rarely see that anymore.

Well, travel is not what it once was, especially air travel. I am old enough to remember when flying was fun and exciting ( but then, most people did not fly in those days as compared to now)....the security concerns we have now of course bug the hell out of most people and having criminal gangs rifling luggage and just plain stealing it is so much more commonplace than it used to be.

Monday, April 9, 2012

NYC Easter 2012

Easter and Passover coincided very neatly this year ( reminding us all again that the Last Supper was a Seder meal)...

Manhattan seemed to belong entirely to the tourists this weekend. Sunday a lot of the Avenues in lower Midtown were almost empty of traffic...

The End of An Era in Clothing Styles...One trend I have been noticing in New York is how young people in particular are so loathe to "dress up" for anything, -- and this included the participants at the event at the Armenian Orthodox St. Vartan's Cathedral.  Neat but very casual, this look has spread even to the middle aged -- is it the high cost of mens' suits and ties that is behind some of this, or is it due to a world where more and more people are connected to computers and social media so much and the " dressing down" atmosphere they seem to have at some high tech workplaces has just become more and more a standard deal...

Forget the "Easter Parade" this year, folks...I went up to Fifth Avenue and 57th Street and found the Avenue blocked off by the police South of 57th Street, where the mob scene ( and all the Easter costumes and finery) was too claustrophobic to be entered into...

If the trend is continuing, the number of tourists milling about outnumbers the real Easter Parade people by about 100 to one...of course, a lot of kids are some adults had bunny ears and there were big bows in the hair of some women etc. but it was the same masses of neatly but casually attired people...
( Maybe this clothing trend is part of the "suburbanization of America" which I read about somewhere...

Let me see if there is anything on the internet about all this--well, here is an excerpt from an article about "Dressing for Success in the Workplace"

It’s not an easy task to find a job these days. So when you do get called for a job interview you need to make the best impression. There’s one easy method of doing this: dress for it.
I know what you may be thinking: “The business world has gotten so casual—people wear flip-flops for goodness sake! Workplace attire doesn’t matter anymore.” Not true! The way you dress says a whole lot about you and how you feel about your career, and potential employers certainly notice.
This simple rule may help where job interviews are concerned: Better to be overdressed then under-dressed. Even if the company you happen to be interviewing for says, “You don’t need to dress up, we are very casual here,” it is best to still wear proper business attire to your interview. Your clothing is capable of showing how serious you are about your work, and employers want someone who wants to grow with a company and takes their position seriously. In the event you dress for an interview in t-shirt and jeans, you have made a bad first impression, even though you may blow everybody else out of the water with your qualifications.
In the workplace you should still think about the clothing you wear. Even in a casual place you can still look sharp. Should you just grab yesterday’s jeans off the floor and run out the door you won’t get noticed. People who put more thought into their style stand out from their peers, which is never a bad thing if your boss is looking to promote someone!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

NFL Shop

One of the biggest marketing triumphs in the history of the United States has been the popularizing of Pro Football..

When I was a kid in Chicago, people were interested in college football and pro football did not excite too much attention. There was a time where you could hardly give Chicago Bears tickets away..

Today all major sports have clothes and accessories outlets...Yankees and NFL are both in the Garment Center area. Not inexpensive stores, by the way....of course, this being New York, you can shop around and look for discount places ( they list all sorts of places to look on the internet) and find knock off versions...Chinatown used to be the knockoff ( or piracy ) center...Canal Street also used to be a great place to find a fake Rolex watch etc. City has been cracking down in last ten years, however....

Andrada Statue- Sixth Avenue in Bryant Park

Again, have walked past this statue of The Liberator of Brazil countless times and not paid it too much is just another of the many statues that are in Manhattan's Park ( Union Square used to have one of Gandhi in one corner---why, I don't know)

Before I get to quoting the story of this from the internet, just want to say a few words about the statue's placement on Sixth Avenue-- which is officially Avenue of the Americas.

The Avenue of the Americas name was adopted back in the 1930's as part of the "Good Neighbor Policy" ( the U.S. realized with a start that war was probably coming with the Axis and that there were a lot of Axis sympathizers in Latin America...witness Juan Peron's later attempt to emulate Mussolini...)

Anyway, there was just a popular revolt against the renaming of Sixth Avenue, and now the City has given up more or less and has "Sixth Avenue" signs below the "Avenue of the Americas' street signs.

Still are these big metal medallions in some places I think that hang from light poles and show emblems of various Latin American countries..

Anyway, here is the lowdown on Andrade:

This statue of the naturalist and hero of Brazilian independence Jose Bonifacio de Andrada e Silva sits on the west side of Bryant Park, towering glumly over the sidewalk near the corner of 40th Street, a stern counterpoint to the much-smaller and more engaging figure of Benito Juarez, the first native-born president of Mexico, which is just a few dozen feet up Sixth Avenue. Which was about the spot where Andrada’s statue originally stood before it was moved with not a small amount of controversy in the 1990s, during Bryant Park’s famous renovation.
A view of Jose from the bus lane on Sixth Avenue.

The figure of Andrada is larger than life size, nearly nine feet tall. He is standing with his heels together and his right knee slightly bent, as though he is about to take a step — or kick a passerby in the head. Andrada is wearing colonial garb, with his left hand clutching a coat or cloak that is slung over his left shoulder and his right hand holding at his side what appears to be a rolled-up piece of paper. On the whole, Andrada looks like he just stepped out of an unsuccessful audition for the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
The statue was a gift to the City of New York from Brazil, for whatever reason. The New York Times reporter who covered the statue’s dedication called it “symbolic of Brazilian-United States amity.” An amity that is scarcely heard about today.
The figure was made by the Brazilian sculptor Jose Otavio Correia Lima, who won the commission in a competition sponsored by the Brazilian government.
The statue was dedicated on April 22, 1955, in a ceremony presided over by the infamous parks commissioner, Robert Moses. Cardinal Francis Spellman gave the invocation, and there was the typical blah, blah, blah from the Manhattan Borough President Hulan E. Jack; Edward J. Sparks, the deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs; the Brazilian Ambassador to the United States, Joao Calos Muniz; and Mayor Robert F. Wagner.
Moses’s remarks were the most interesting, if not the most delusional. He said that the statue was another sign that the Avenue of the Americas, which had been renamed just six years earlier, was “coming into its own,” according to a story in The Times the next day. Moses mused that one day Sixth Avenue would resemble the Prado in Havana, with a landscaped promenade down the middle. (The figure of Andrada is one of six statues commemorating historical figures from the Americas along the avenue from SoHo to Central Park.)

Pookie Sebastian

Pookie Sebastian is a store on Third Avenue in Murray Hill that has a lot of interesting clothes for women....hell, there are a LOT of interesting stores of all kinds dealing with all kinds of clothing in Midtown, especially as you get over into the Garment District.

Liked these summer dresses...colors are cool and so are designs. Not that I plan to wear one myself..

A little bit more about Fashion and Design in Midtown--notably the Garment District ( from Wikipedia)-- article notes Garment District's Uncertain Future  because of Foreign Competition,
especially manufacturing loss to Asia etc..,,

New York City is arguably the fashion capital of the United States and the entire world because the industry based there generates over $14 billion in annual sales and sets design trends which are mirrored worldwide.[citation needed] The core of the industry is Manhattan's Garment District, where the majority of the city's major fashion labels operate showrooms and execute the fashion process from design and production to wholesaling. No other city has a comparable concentration of fashion businesses and talent in a single district.[1]
Information kiosk
The Garment District is home to a number of well-known designers, their production facilities, warehouses, showrooms, and suppliers of fabric and materials. Many in the industry allege that this dense concentration of talent, entrepreneurship and supply stores functions like an ecosystem in which each of the parts help sustain the whole.[2] Major fashion labels such as Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne and Nicole Miller have showrooms, production facilities, or support offices located in the Garment District.
While historically known as the center of textile manufacturing, global trends have changed the way the fashion industry in the Garment District functions. Over the last 50 years, New York’s garment manufacturing sector has experienced a steady decline within the City overall and within the Fashion District specifically. This has occurred as a result of domestic manufacturers becoming less competitive in the global marketplace. Foreign labor pools have taken a dominant role in manufacturing due to their significantly lower costs. Advancements in technology will only make the world manufacturing arena more competitive. Additionally, barriers to domestic production continue to pressure the industry.
The decline of the manufacturing sector has proven to be a serious problem for the Garment District in midtown Manhattan. In 1987, the Special Garment Center District zoning (SGCD) was enacted by the City to help preserve garment manufacturing. The zoning places manufacturing use restrictions on large portions of the district in an effort to keep manufacturing rents affordable. However, the City’s use of zoning as a job retention tool did not achieve its goal, and manufacturing has continued to decline at the same pace after the zoning was enacted as it did before the preservation measures were in place. This issue has been visited and revisited by policy makers, fashion industry representatives, manufacturing and union representatives and owners of property in the district, but the fate of the district remains uncertain.