Thursday, December 20, 2007



Hello all. Hope your summers haven't been too toasty and here comes the Tucson Monsoon storms already, we hope (cause it's as hot as...well, you know.). As you may or may not know, Monica and I have been traveling for a bit, so she asked that I send some photos to prove it. I know that you know, it doesn't take much encouragement to make me send photo emails anyway, so here goes.

I'll start with some local travel that we did several weeks ago.

First stop was the opening of the Tohono O'odham Nation's Native American museum in Topawa, which is on the reservation in the Indian nation. A beautiful ride, a little past the Kitt Peak National Observatory (and if any of you make it out our way, this would be a memorable evening if you participated in their evening program. You really get to see the stars as never before.). The museum was kind enough to provide everyone with a free lunch and the museum itself is a very impressive collection of low rise buildings. A very professional job by my layman's eyes. I liked the above picture because it highlights not only the native art, but it also pictures the sacred mountain Baboquivari in the back ground.

Apparently, if you know where to look, there are free loaders everywhere, . Monica has an uncanny ability to spot birds and animals in the wild (OK, this wasn't exactly deep in the desert, but it was at least 15' above the floor of the museum's outdoor ramada and know one else seemed to have noticed.). Hope they make it.

Just down the road from the museum is a Catholic church. In the complex is this ruin of an old mission to the area. There are no historical markers, so we've no idea how old or significant this is, but it made for a nice pic, again with Baboquivari in the background.

Again, in the same complex, this is the church steeple of the current church, a modest stucco affair. This stuff to me is just as interesting as the museum in some respects. Serendipity is a good thing.

I thought I'd end with a shot of the sunset from our roof a day or two before we left for NYC. You don't get to see sunsets like these from most places in Manhattan, unless you're facing the Hudson River, and then it's not quite the same.


Ah, NYC. The heat, the humidity. We must be crazy cause we really love this place. We were in NY last week because Monica needed to do some preparation work for a planned college reunion of the LIU newspaper editors (all of them right back to the 1930s, if they're still around.). Monica and I were able to do something we were only able to do maybe two or three time in the past thirty some years. We became tourists in the Big Apple!

But before you see some photos of our trip, do you think Monica loves her kid? Here's Brett in his office at Aids Walk USA. He had just been offered a permanent position and he accepted the position. Glad to see she can contain her emotions. Congrats Brett!!! (yes I know Brett, it's embarrassing. I'm your father. I'm allowed.).

Back to the tourism industry. Now I know that some of you folks have visited a labyrinth before, but I thought you might like to see how it's done on the streets of Manhattan. This is Union Square (14th Street). It's a terrific area with interesting restaurants and offbeat music venues (Irving Plaza) and it features a huge farmers market every day. It's certainly changed since I first saw it. Now it apparently features a NYC street version of a labyrinth. The skate boarders love this at night, but the curves are a little tough to follow.

Next was a visit to the foot of Manhattan, literally, the physical genesis of NYC. For all of you native New Yorkers, I must warn you that I'm about to regurgitate a lot of history and geographical information that you might well know already. Tuff! This is my email and this is my story and I'm sticking to it!

We went to the Museum of the American Indian, a part of the Smithsonian museum. While the Native American displays were interesting (but not extensive), we found the building to be spectacular. The museum resides in the old Customs House Building, across from Battery Park, with its fort defending the mouth of NY Harbor and the Hudson River, which in turn overlooks the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, Staten Island and Ellis Island. Apparently, this fort was not very effective in preventing the British from capturing NYC during the Revolutionary War and forcing Washington to make a hasty and somewhat miraculous retreat from the nation's original capitol (I could write more about this important battle, but I won't, as I've already displayed a case of "runneth off at the mouth."). Directly north of the Customs House is the oldest park in NYC, Bowling Green Park, a small but lush park at the foot of Broadway. If you've seen the statue of the charging bull associated with Wall Street, you'll know that this park is directly south of that. ANYWAY, the below is a picture of the interior of the Rotunda of the Customs House that quite beautifully depicts the strength of America's maritime economy during the depression era (no doubt govt. propaganda to bolster the moral of the citizens.).

This is a close up or one of the panels of the rotunda. When your transAtlantic steamer was within sight of the Ambrose Light Ship, you knew your journey was at its end. For all you nautical fans out there, the ship depicted is the Normandy. I'm sorry it couldn't be any clearer, but I was shooting in very poor light at a very low shutter speed (excuses, excuses.). If anyone knows what became of the Normandy, please let me know. I haven't looked it up.

This grave of Robert Fulton (yes, the steam engine Fulton), lies in the small cemetery of Trinity Church a few blocks to the north, at the head of Wall Street. We learned that Wall Street was thusly named because a wall was erected on this northern most street of the small settlement of New York to separate it from the rest of the world. Well, duh? But, we never knew.

Also in this cemetery is the grave of Alexander Hamilton. Try this link, if you're as curious as I was: One of the things about NYC is that history is intertwined in so many otherwise ordinary places, it becomes almost common place and is very easy to over look. It was hard for us to believe that such significant people as these are buried in such unassuming surroundings (and that's not intended to be critical in any way, it's actually very admirable.)

OK, we're on the move to the far west side of town, in the old meat packing district (west of Chelsea, about one block from the Hudson River.) This area is full of tawny art galleries and now some un orthodox and stupendously expensive stores, as below. See me in the door? Monica looks cool too.


All right, we're back in NYC and taking the subway uptown.....OK, not really. The photos didn't end up in the order that I expected them to. The side of the platform that you see is the uptown side, but we were going downtown at that moment. I just can't fib about it.

I thought I'd include the below candid shot of a stranger sitting on the opposite platform of the number 6 subway line, sort of photo verte. As I've always said, often without being prompted, there is no better way to get around NYC than the subway. How else can you travel from Harlem to the southern tip of Manhattan in under twenty minutes? How does that song go? "NY NY, it's a helluva town, the people ride in a hole in the ground." (Can anyone name the film from which I've lifted that verse?) Try that trip by surface transit and you'll know what I mean.

Ah, MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art! WOW! Here's Monica torn between which Van Gogh to take home with us. It's amazing to me that this museum doesn't have more physical security between the public and its treasures, but I'm not complaining. They don't even restrict photography (except for one gallery) as some institutions do. I didn't really want to go to MOMA, out of principle (I can just see some of you rolling your eyes, saying...sure.). They've raised the price of admission to $20 since moving to their new digs and I don't think that any museum should charge this much for admission, it's just excludes too many people. However, Alan and Diane are members and they were kind enough to give us free passes, so.......I'm very glad we went.

At MOMA, the museum is as much on exhibit as the art. Take for example this window looking out on West 53rd(?) Street. Amazing. It's a window for goodness sakes! BTW, if you go, make sure you visit the permanent exhibit of the museum where they feature many mass produced, but gorgeously designed household items. You just might see things there that you owned or were familiar with. I love that part.

The following pictures were taken in Saint Paul's Church on Broadway, about 2-3 blocks north of Trinity Church. While Trinity is the more famous church, St. Paul's is known to many new yorkers as the miracle church. Its location was closer to the WTC and thus closer to the chaos and destruction. It became a resting place and sanctuary for all city emergency workers (as did J&R Music World, which literally stopped doing business for months so as to accommodate the emergency crews.) The below picture depicts the origami sent to the church after 9/11 from Japan, to help ease the emotional pain of the rescue workers and other new yorkers. Hope you can read the words on the sign in the middle of the picture.

This flag also sits in the church.

The church isn't famous for just the near past. This pew was George Washington's personal pew during his time in NYC. We touched the bench that was the seat of the American Revolution for cryin out loud (pun intended!). Interestingly enough, there were a number of plaques around the church that commemorated several other Revolutionary era prominent church members who were evidently British loyalists, after the war had ended. This must have been some interesting time!

Finally, a wide shot of what the church looks like today. Notice, there are no pews, just chairs. The pews were removed to accommodate the NYPD, NYFD and PAPD emergency workers just after 911. Also, notice the young fellow on the far right of my shot. I just noticed him. I'm certain he's not a ghost as I do remember him being in vicinity as I was taking the pic.


When Ann Marie and Jim said they wanted to go to Coney Island, I thought to myself, you're kidding, right? Then Monica says, GREAT, we can go see the Mermaid Parade.
The Mermaid Parade? the Little Mermaid Parade? I thought for a moment and decided, hey, Ann Marie and Jim were nice enough to come down from CT to see us, I'm not gonna say no. Well, it sure was a Mermaid Parade, but she wasn't no Little Mermaid.

So, here's Monica and Ann Marie. Can you place where they are? Yep, good guess, that's Coney Island with the original Nathan's Famous on the right. I have many memories of eating at Nathan's. Sometimes in sweltering heat and sometimes in what seemed like arctic cold. It wasn't very difficult to drive to if you lived in Brooklyn so if a bunch of high school guys had a car that ran and couldn't figure out where to go, you had a pretty good chance of visiting Nathan's famous that night.

Hello from Stillwell Avenue. This place claims to have been here forever (or at least since 1932.) So who am I to argue? BTW, do I look like a tourist?

Once again, the photos didn't end up in the order that I expected. This photo was going to be the last one, as we left Brooklyn, but that's OK, cause you can use your imagination. It really was taken as we crossed over into Manhattan at sunset.

Well........, this was our first contact with the Mermaid Parade participants. And it was my first inkling that this wasn't about the "Little" Mermaid. Not even close!

One of the tamer costumes of the day. Quite stylish though. He certainly knows how to carry himself, uh herself, uh I'm not really sure and I was there. And keep in mind that these photos are about the least racy that I have. You can ask Jim. I believe more than a few of his photos nearly melted his lens.

I'm still not sure what the theme of the Parade was. That's why I'm showing you this picture. I'm not sure what this is either. We know that most parade goers (and I couldn't believe how many there were) were protesting against a developer who has bought up huge swaths of Coney Island in preparation for building a shopping center and hotels and luxury apartments. The area residents are dead set against this and for the moment have the city on their side. I think the community wins hands down, if only for creativity. Hey, look, it's a Geico cave man over the girls shoulder, eh?

Well, this is as good a way to say so long as any. Here was the last float and was accompanied by a large jazz(?) band and dancers. It was an unexpected happening. Serendipity anyone?

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