The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Tampa, WMEC 902, named for my old home city, was docked at Pier 7, Brooklyn, my adopted home, last weekend. I shot this photo from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Tampa has come to Brooklyn in another respect: you can now get a good Cuban sandwich (which may have been invented in Tampa) at the Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar. And, next season, when the Islanders move from Nassau Coliseum to Barclays Center, the Lightning will be making visits here.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Tampa, WMEC 902, named for my old home city, was docked at Pier 7, Brooklyn, my adopted home, last weekend. I shot this photo from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Friday, April 26, 2013
Lacy J. Dalton's album Hard Times was a comfort to me back in the spring of 1980, when I was going through the emotional backwash of a nasty break-up. I knew her song "Old Soldier" had to be about George Jones, who died today at 81. Back then he was in his 50s, but old enough for "the warm amber lights [to do] a lot for his age." The reference to "battles" sealed it:
To top it off, here's a duet between the two of them on "That's Good; That's Bad":
I was introduced to the meta version some years ago at the bar of the Bells of Hell. I was chatting with an English friend when a--how you say?--well-endowed young woman walked by. "Nice set of Bristols," my friend said. His meaning was obvious to me, but the usage wasn't. "There's a football club called Bristol City," he explained, "and city rhymes with... ."
One Briticism that piqued my curiosity is "Gone for a Burton." Having seen this in Private Eye, I asked another English friend what it meant. "It means he died," was the answer. "How does it mean that?" I asked. My friend didn't know. I later read that it may have originated with Royal Air Force flyers in World War Two, to refer to a comrade who hadn't survived a mission. Burton, or Burton-on-Trent to give its full name, is a city known for its breweries, as acknowledged by A.E. Housman in A Shropshire Lad:
A plain meaning of "Gone for a Burton" then would be "Gone to the pub for a pint." Regarding a deceased friend, it could mean "Gone to that big pub in the sky." Still, I wonder if it might not be an instance of Cockney rhyming slang. Burton doesn't have any obvious rhyme relating to death, nor does Trent, nor ale, the brew that made Burton famous. But it occurred to me that a properly drawn pint of ale has a head, which rhymes with dead. If this is in fact the origin of the expression, it could be an instance of meta-meta rhyming slang, going from Burton to ale to head. If, however, Burton is taken as a synonym for ale, then it's only a single meta.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant, Or why was Burton built on Trent? Oh many a peer of England brews Livelier liquor than the Muse, And malt does more than Milton can To justify God’s ways to man.
Regarding the sign in the photo at the top of this post, I found translations for "monkeys" (hundred pound notes) and "ponies" (twenty-fivers) in this glossary. I don't know the meaning of "edges" or of "carpets." Perhaps one of my English friends can help. "Visa," I presume, means just what it is.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
For my wife, a cradle Red Sox fan, and for Boston. I've never been much of a Neil Diamond fan, and don't know why this song became a tradition at Fenway, but I admire him for doing this. Thanks to Eliot Wagner for the link.
Addendum: David Ortiz, uncensored:
Friday, April 05, 2013
Puss N Boots--Norah Jones, Catherine Popper, and Sasha Dobson--do Neil Young's "Down By the River" at Bell House.
During my last year of law school I bought Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere by Neil Young and Crazy Horse. I knew of Young from Buffalo Springfield, a group I liked for their easy, country influenced rock. But when I put Everybody Knows on, I knew I had, if you'll forgive the obvious, a horse of a different color. The first two cuts, "Cinnamon Girl" and the title cut, could have been Springfield songs. They're lively, and the second, despite its despairing title (actually the lament of a homesick Canadian), has a sweet country lilt. But they both have an edge I hadn't heard on most Springfield songs. The third cut, "Round & Round (It Won't Be Long)" has a nursery rhyme cadence but the lyrics are truly despairing.
The final cut on the first side, "Down By the River," was for me a mindblower. It starts with some nervous guitar chattering while Billy Talbot's bass provides an ominous counterpoint, then Young's keening voice sings what at first seem reassuring words--"Be on my side, I'll be on your side; there is no reason for you to hide"--in a precatory minor key, but after a few more lines this resolves into the chorus in a crashing major: "Down by the river, I shot my baby" (complete lyrics are here). After the first verse and chorus, there's a long bridge in which Young's and Danny Whitten's guitars exchange staccato notes, like a couple having an extended quarrel. The second verse has some words of existential angst that hint at a motive for the violent act: "This much madness is too much sorrow; it's impossible to make it today." After the second verse and chorus comes another long guitar break, a little more intricate than the first, then comes a repeat of the first verse and chorus, and fade out. Hear it here.
Thanks again to Eliot Wagner I have the video at the top of this post, of Puss N Boots, a trio consisting of Norah Jones on guitar and lead vocal, Catherine Popper on bass and harmony vocals, and Sasha Dobson on drums and harmony vocals, doing "Down By the River" at The Bell House, my favorite Brooklyn rock venue. While I can't say this cover cuts the original, I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Having the solo guitar, Jones has to do double duty, which she does well by stretching some of the notes beyond the staccato, while Popper's bass fills in with some lively interplay. Jones's sultry voice imparts to the lyrics less of an angst-ridden and more of a world-weary quality. Like all recorded songs that end in fadeouts, there's the question of how to end it in live performance. Puss N Boots just ends it, which seems appropriate to me.
Monday, April 01, 2013
Still, there was much to like about today's 11-2 victory over the Padres, especially, from my point of view, starting pitcher Jon Niese's (photo) performance at the plate as well as on the mound. Niese went to bat twice and got two hits, including one RBI, thereby leaving the game with a 1.000 batting average. This is baseball as it should be: pitchers should bat as well as pitch.
Addendum: Red Sox beat Yanks 8-2, so it's a perfect baseball day for my household. Yes, my wife is happy. She'll get worried if the Sox go on an early winning streak.
Second addendum: Friend Eliot sez:
As far as wins or losses in the first game or early in the season, I will disagree with your wife. A win or loss early on will look exactly like every other win or loss on the last day of the season.I don't think that my wife would disagree with the observation that all wins and losses, whenever they occur in the season, count equally in the final reckoning. Her sense, as a long time Red Sox observer, is that if the team gets off to a roaring start, this typically presages a vertiginous collapse that makes late season losses outnumber early season wins.
As a bonus, Eliot--God bless 'im--gives us a link to "Opening Day" by Dan Bern with Common Rotation.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Five years ago I posted a video of Paul Simon singing his "An American Tune." I noted that the melody was based on Tom Glazer's "Because All Men Are Brothers," and in turn on Bach's great passion chorus O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden from his St. Matthew Passion. The video above is of O Haupt sung by a choir conducted by Phillipe Herreweghe.
As was also mentioned in my Simon post, Bach got the melody for O Haupt from a sixteenth century composition by Hans Leo Hassler. O Haupt is also the basis for the English passion hymn "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded."
Monday, March 25, 2013
From When Harry Met Sally (1989; directed by Rob Reiner, screenplay by Nora Ephron, co-starring Billy Crystal). I hadn't seen this classic until this weekend. I'm glad I did. It's director Reiner's mom who says "I'll have what she's having."
Saturday, March 23, 2013
This image, which was spread across four columns of the front page of Friday's New York Times, is of the universe (our universe, for you multiverse fans) at an age of about 380,000 years. In terms of human lifespan, this is but a microsecond after birth. Indeed, this image enabled scientists to estimate the age of the universe with more precision than before: about 13.82 billion years old.
The image comes from the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft, built to to provide the best images yet of the cosmic microwave background radiation, our memoir of the Big Bang.
What's especially significant about this image, according to this Slate blog post by Phil Plait, is that it shows the young universe to be slightly asymmetrical. Note the concentration of brightness at the right of the image above. According to Plait, this could just mean that "dark energy" (which Planck's measurements tell us makes up 68.3 percent of the universe) is changing over time or, more excitingly, that "we’re seeing some pattern imprinted on the Universe from before the Big Bang."
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Monday, March 18, 2013
(C) Better bugs on the other side.
(D) To get away from that scary guy with the camera.
Update: My daughter was right! She said this was an ibis, and I thought it was a cattle egret. I looked at photos of both birds online, and they seemed to confirm my identification. But friend and avian expert John Hunt weighed in on my daughter's side, so I've corrected the post.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
It's hard for me to believe they're all gone now. Liam was the last; he died just over three years ago. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting Paddy some years ago at the Lion's Head bar and harmonizing with him on a song. I went to a memorial concert for Tommy Clancy, hosted by Frank McCourt, at which Frank asked,
How do you tell an Englishman from an Irishman? It's in how they propose marriage. An Englishman says, "Dahling, I love you. Will you marry me?" But an Irishman says, "Mary, how would you like to be buried with my people?"Happy St. Patrick's day.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
My Saturday morning walk took a different route than usual: the weather was good and I had some time, so I decided to go over the Brooklyn Bridge. Along with photos, I'm going to include a log of what was playing on my iPod as I walked, with links to video or audio where possible. There were still patches of snow on the Promenade, and not too many people were out enjoying the weather.
Victoria Spivey and Lonnie Johnson, "Idle Hours": a classic woman/man blues duet from long ago. There's no video or audio available, but here's a recording of "There's No Use of Lovin'" from 1926, with a still photo of Ms. Spivey.
Sue Foley, "Careless Love": the iPod stays in a blues mood, but comes to the present time with this Canadian singer's rendition of "a traditional song of obscure origins" (Wikipedia) that has been sung by such diverse artists as Bessie Smith, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Siouxsie Sioux. Hear it here.
I've long been fond of this bit of art deco ornamentation on the Cranlyn apartment building at Cranberry and Henry streets.
East Village Opera Company,: Au Fond du Temple Saint redux: EVOC do opera arias to rock arrangements and instrumentation, which mightily offends some opera traditionalists. I love EVOC. This is their nail-you-to-the-wall rendition of an aria from Bizet's Les pêcheurs de perles. Hear it here.
Buds in a garden next to the Whitman Close townhouses show early promise of spring.
Billie Holiday, "You Don't Know What Love Is": from the Lady in Satin album. Audio, with still photo.
Patti Smith Group, "Till Victory": the opening cut on her Easter album. Audio, with photo montage.
While the Promenade had not attracted a crowd, lots of people were walking on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Schubert, String Quartet in D Minor, "Death and the Maiden," D810, Scherzo, allegro molto; Amadeus String Quartet: Here's a video of the Borromeo Quartet performing the same movement.
John Fogerty, "Rock and Roll Girls": from the Centerfield album, which I play a lot at this time of year. Live performance video here.
Looking down from the east tower of Brooklyn Bridge at Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and beyond. Compare with these shots from four years ago.
Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, "Heat Wave": '60s Motown at its sizzling best. Lip-synch video here.
Looking from the other side of the tower towards the DUMBO shoreline and Manhattan Bridge, with Jane's Carousel at lower left.
Fairport Convention, "Restless": I was hooked by the opening line of this song, "Born between a river and a railroad...", which is sort of true of me. There's no video or audio available, but you can hear a sample of "Rising for the Moon," the title track of the album, and another of my favorites.
Tourists jammed the middle of the bridge.
Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, "Ride With Me": I first heard this thanks to fellow Brooklynite Eliot Wagner of Now I've Heard Everything. There's a live performance video here, albeit with lots of chatter at the beginning and sub-par sound quality. Still, I think it's worth watching.
The Brooklyn Bridge's west tower was completed in 1875. Construction of the Bridge began in 1870; it was not completed until 1883.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: "Lost Highway": my version of this Hank Williams cover is from the Dirt Band's magnificent Will the Circle be Unbroken, with contributions by a stellar group of country musicians. There's no video of that, but there is an audio only YouTube clip of the Dirt Band's Jimmy Ibbotson and John McEuen doing it with the late Florida fiddle sensation Vassar Clements.
An artist sells his works under the west tower.
Tampa Red, "Denver Blues": scarifyingly good slide work by "The Guitar Wizard." Here's a YouTube clip with audio accompanied by an NSFW still photo.
Frank Ghery's 80 Spruce Street shows off its Bernini drapery; in the background is One World Trade Center (Daniel Liebeskind; David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), approaching its ultimate height of 1,776 feet.
Johnny Cash, "I Still Miss Someone": live performance video here.
The Brooklyn Bridge cactus looked pathetic after a bout with winter weather, but this is a most resilient succulent. After my customary namaste, I turned and headed toward home.
Flying Burrito Brothers, "Close Up the Honky Tonks": the iPod stays country with Chris Hillman's and Gram Parsons' post Byrds group. This YouTube clip, (audio with still photo) was made three years after Gram's fatal night in the Mojave, but it's still good.
Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, "Peggy Gordon": I learned this song from Turner & Kirwan of Wexford. Hear the Clancys--Liam on lead vocal--on this audio clip.
This yellow metal plate marks the center of the Bridge. I always jump over it.
Neil Young, "Cortez the Killer": "Very bad man." Live performance video here.
Aretha Franklin, "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)": my favorite of her many superb songs. Here's a live performance video.
This could be your home for a mere $18 million.
The Chieftains, "O'Keefe's Slide/An Suisín Bán/The Star Above the Garter/The Weavers." Lively Irish dance tunes. Listen here.
Vampire Weekend, "A-Punk": My commentary and VW's video here.
More harbingers of spring in Cadman Plaza Park.
The Hillmen, "Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies": Chris Hillman's pre-Byrds bluegrass group does a traditional Appalachian ballad, probably with Irish or Scottish roots. Listen here.
Vince Martin and Fred Neil, "Weary Blues": I fell in love with Vince's and Fred's album Tear Down the Walls in 1967 when my college roommate played it for me. Fred's deep voice takes the lead on this track. I met Vince sometime around 1980 in the upstairs room at the old Lone Star Cafe on Fifth Avenue, when Rick Danko played "Cindy Oh Cindy". I said, "That's a great old Vince Martin song," and Vince, who was sitting next to me, introduced himself. We then sang a duet on "Dade County Jail," another song from that album, with me trying to sound like Fred. Hear "Weary Blues" here.
Trees, Cadman Plaza Park.
Jefferson Airplane, "Martha": from the splendiferous After Bathing at Baxter's. YouTube audio clip here with still of album cover. I don't love this song just because it's my wife's name. Honest.
Rolling Stones, "Happy": from Exile on Main Street, contenduh for Best Rock Album of All Time. Live performance video.
Football players were on the Cadman Plaza athletic field, where snow still streaked the artificial turf.
Tinsley Ellis, "Double Eyed Whammy": a white guy from Florida; who'd a thunk it? Live performance video.
Fairport Convention, "Fiddlestix": I first heard this in concert at Carnegie Hall in 1974 with Dave Swarbrick bringing down the house on solo fiddle. On this live video Dave, in white, does a fiddle duet with Ric Sanders, who joined the group in 1985.
Friday, March 08, 2013
Marshall Chapman is an old friend, and I've long waited for a video of this, which I think of as her signature song. Now, thanks to slussej's channel, I do.
We're in the waning hours of International Women's Day, but I think this song is appropriate for it.
Monday, March 04, 2013
Approaching Jamaica Station in Queens, a major junction where outbound trains from Atlantic Terminal, Penn Station in Manhattan, and Long Island City in Queens converge and where trains on some of the LIRR's lines east into Long Island originate, I noticed this diesel powered switch loco (photo above) sitting in the yard just to the east of the station. What first caught my eye is that this engine is painted in a "heritage" color scheme: black with white lettering and orange accents, instead of the contemporary blue and white, or silver (see photo below):
Several years after Dan's debut, someone in the LIRR public relations department noticed that women as well as men were commuting on the railroad. In 1963, coincidentally the year The Feminine Mystique was published, "Dashing Dottie" appeared.
LIRR employee newsletter (linked in trainsarefun.com):
While Dan just "growed" from a doodle on a Public Relations Department desk pad, Dottie was carefully "assembled" until the combination of anatomical parts and clothing seemed just right.I'll give Dottie extra athletic and style points for dashing in heels. Unfortunately, she never appeared on any rolling stock, but she was used on printed materials and promotional merchandise, such as "Dan 'n' Dottie Cocktails for Two," a set with a pitcher, stirrer, and two glasses, one decorated with Dan and the other with Dottie.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Michael Simmons has been busy lately. A few days ago he sent me a link to an article claiming Elvis was Jewish. Now he provides a video (best viewed in full screen mode) by Thelma Blitz (aka clairedelune49) "made...without my knowledge or consent" (though evidently with his ex post facto approval). Here are his notes:
The song is "Instant Forget" by Michael Simmons & Slewfoot, written by Rob Stoner, recorded live at The Other End in December 1977. This is around the time Creem magazine called me "The Father Of Country Punk" and named Slewfoot one of the best punk rock bands in New York -- even though we were emphatically not punk, except in attitude.
The visual is a Foto Funny I wrote (and starred in) for my 1980s Lampoon column "Drinking Tips & Other War Stories." The strip was shot by director Allan Arkush (Rock 'n' Roll High School), the other male dinner guest is the late, great transgressive comedian Budge Threlkeld, the brunette is Allan's wife Joanne Palace, the blonde is jazz singer Michele Winding. The waiter is an actor who was also a real waiter.
It ain't high art, although I was usually high.
Addendum: The Drinking Tips illustration was by my friend Drew Friedman and the point of my column was to JUST SAY DEFINITELY during the JUST SAY NO era.So, for those of you undertaking seasonal disciplines, this is definitely Not Safe For Lent.
Update: they're still undefeated, tying the 'Stros 7-7 (after carrying a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth) while the split squad beat the intrepid Wolverines 5-2.
Update-update: the bloom is off the rose. The Mets fall to the Nats in their second encounter in three days, 6-4, as their pitching gets shelled for 17 hits. Meanwhile, the Orioles remain undefeated by trouncing the Yanks 5-1, which makes Peter Wheelwright a happy man.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
I've just finished reading John M. Barry's Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul (about which I'll be posting more in the near future), in which I learned that Williams managed the neat trick of finding favor with both the grim Puritan Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and his successor, the restored Stuart monarch Charles II who, as this Horrible Histories video shows, got Old Blighty back into the party groove.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
He even did what people stereotypically claim Jews do: Elvis got a nose job (for the record, no-one in my family [Schlussel is Jewish] has had this procedure).She also quotes from a Jewish Weekly article that traces his descent from his great grandmother, the daughter of Nancy Burdine and Abner Tacket, "the Jewess Martha Tacket." This made me recall an anecdote I read years ago about the late Democratic honcho and prominent lawyer Robert Strauss. When he was a student at the University of Texas, a fellow student remarked about a photo of Strauss' fiancée, "What a pretty Jewess." Strauss replied, "You sumbitch, she's a pretty girl"
Monday, February 18, 2013
Considering what passengers on Carnival Triumph were smelling, I suspect the cruise company's management may be regretting this poster I saw today. In case you missed it, here's Saturday Night Live's take on the "poop cruise":
Sunday, February 17, 2013
The video above was first included in this post about a reunion of Lion's Head veterans at the Cornelia Street Cafe last April. The event featured composer, multi-instrumentalist, and all around fine fellow David Amram and a first rate crew of sidemen, along with some excellent guest musicians, as well as Dave Coles, shown in the video reading a passage from his memoir in progress, accompanied by Amram on piano. The story Dave read was of his time as a bartender at the Bells of Hell, which attracted off duty Lion's Head bartenders, just as the Head attracted Bells bartenders like Dave in their off hours. In it, Dave describes how Amram, also a Head regular, would come into the Bells, greeting everyone at and behind the bar, then go into the back room and join whatever musical group was playing that night, deftly putting his French horn into whatever groove it would fit.
Dave is continuing work on his memoir, and recently sent his first chapter to Dermot McEvoy, who then shared it with all of us on his extensive Lion's Head alum mailing list. Here's Dave's description of what it was like to be in the Head on a busy night back in the late 1970s:
These are the grandest nights. Voices of all manner fill the air, from the lofty public school lilts ringing from a crowd of Murdoch's Fleet Street castaways to the nugget-hard demz and doz of a Brooklyn firefighter. On my left, laughter swells over a wagging Irish tongue; from the right a quick, clipped Gallic summing-up coming from beyond the backs of people standing at the bar, "Exeestentshalism ees zee prophylactic of zee mind fuck." The place is jammed and full of sound, conversations rise and fade as I pass, catching a word here, a phrase there, snatches of meaning filling first one ear and then the other--orderly at first, then a jumble: city politics; sixties poetry; left-handed pitchers; tin-eared publishers; music and Marxism; boxing and Boccaccio; women and horse tracks and the price of a pint in Dublin.This passage corresponds closely to my memory of the Head on a crowded evening; indeed, mine is likely to have been part of the babble of voices Dave heard. Unfortunately, the seeds of this scene's destruction had already sprouted then. The Head survived until 1996, but its last couple of decades were borrowed time. Pete Hamill wrote this in his eulogy for the Head in the New York Times:
The young didn't drink in the same sustained, defiant way, nor did they care much for dark smoky joints full of talk. By the late 1970's newspaper people were finally being paid what they deserved. But nobody ever left the Head at 3 A.M. to drive to the middle-class hamlets of New Jersey. The times had changed; so had we.Journalists may have been leaving the Village digs a short stagger from the Head, but new folks were moving in. It pains me to confess, but I was part of what caused the death of Bohemia in the Village. I wasn't an aspiring artist or writer (well, I did have occasional fantasies about someday writing a novel) but a well paid law firm associate. People like me, who were seeking authenticity, were able to pay rents that put Village apartments out of the reach of the kind of people who had made the Village what it was, thereby eroding the very qualities that drew us there. The Village was becoming a combination tourist attraction and bedroom community for yuppies.
The artists and writers moved north to Chelsea and Clinton (the renamed Hell's Kitchen), south to Soho, and east to the East Village, a name bestowed by real estate agents on what had been the northern part of the Lower East Side. But the arrival of artists and writers, and the galleries, bookstores, bars, and restaurants that followed them, made these places attractive to the same sort of young professionals and executives who had pushed them out of the Village. So the Bohemians fled across the East River to Williamsburg, DUMBO ("Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass"), and Red Hook in Brooklyn.
The process continued as these neighborhoods gentrified, so the artistic migration continued, to further Brooklyn locations like Greenpoint, Bushwick, and Sunset Park. Some artists left the City entirely, discovering in the decaying industrial towns along the Hudson Valley such as Beacon, New York a supply of affordable loft and studio space in nineteenth century factory buildings.
Dave describes waking around today's Village:
Ancient square-shouldered saloons, neighborhood bars that once roiled with merchant seamen and off-duty cops, with writers and tug boat captains and painters and cab drivers, with know-it-all all-day talkers, old deep-shadowed joints where people drank and sang and fell in love--sometimes into fist fights--have become wine bars with cell-phone chatting young women and their wired young men lounging at sidewalk tables; casual daylight cafes have sprung from weathered storefronts that once housed afterhours clubs and diners, corner newsstands and record shops.
Walking east toward Sixth, I find only interlopers: sushi bars and designer hair salons; sterile boutique windows lit by laser-tight pins of light; card shops touting ribbons and balloons, any kind of trifle; coffee chains and sandwich franchises, the commerce and character of Village streets having become nearly indistinguishable from any in Cleveland or Wilmington or Naperville.So, will the tourists from Cleveland continue to come to the Village if what they find is...Cleveland? There are some remnants of the old Village left, but you have to know where to look.
Quoted excerpts from Dave's manuscript are copyright David Coles 2011.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
I got to our door, slipped the wet boots off in the hall, and felt welcome relief. I padded inside in my stocking feet, reached for my slippers under the bed, and, whoa!, there were my Bean boots where I usually keep them. I'd just spent an entire day wearing my wife's boots. She had decided that morning to wear her tall Hunter boots, and left the Bean boots outside the closet in her hurry. Somehow, I managed not to notice the lighter tan leather uppers on hers (see photo above). I trust I won't make that mistake again.
Sunday, February 03, 2013
Before Grand Central Terminal was built, steam powered trains came to Grand Central Station, which previously occupied the site, through an open cut that extended the length of what is now Park Avenue. Electrification meant that trains could go underground for long distances; covering the tracks meant that Park Avenue could be developed as an elegant residential and office boulevard. This greatly increased the value of the land around Grand Central, as well as that occupied by the Terminal itself.
During the 1950s and 60s, there were proposals to demolish or alter Grand Central in order to build a much taller office building on its site. This is the fate that befell Penn Station in 1964; its loss started a movement to preserve historic structures in New York City and the establishment of the City's Landmarks Preservation Commission. Grand Central was designated a landmark by the LPC in 1967. Shortly after that, Penn Central, the railroad resulting from the merger of previous archrivals New York Central and Pennsylvania, disclosed a plan to build a gigantic office tower above Grand Central. While this plan would have preserved the Terminal's interior, it would have destroyed the sculptures, the clock, and other beaux arts decorative elements on the exterior. Because of the landmark designation, Penn Central had to submit the plans to the LPC for approval. People who wanted to preserve Grand Central, prominent among them Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, opposed the proposal. The LPC twice denied it. Penn Central appealed to the courts, and the case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that the landmark designation and the LPC's decision did not amount to a "taking" of Penn Central's property without compensation, in violation of the Constitution. This proved to be a "landmark" decision in both the sense in which lawyers use that term and in the sense in which historic preservationists use it.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Someone with a particularly refined aesthetic sensibility once claimed that "music ended with Schubert." Franz Schubert (1797-1838) is reckoned an early romantic, but to me his music seems to partake more of the classical elegance that characterized Mozart (like him, Schubert died in his 30s) than of the romantic sturm und drang of Beethoven and his successors. I love both Schubert's classicism and Beethoven's romanticism.
The video above is of the fourth movement of one of my favorite Schubert compositions, the "Trout Quintet," performed by Julian Rachlin, Mischa Maisky, Mihaela Ursuleasa, Nobuko Imai, and Stacey Watton
Now, for something very different, here's Johanna Beisteiner playing his "Serenade" on guitar.
No collection of Schubert's music would be complete without a sample of his lieder (songs). Here's one, Am Fenster, by two late and great musicians, the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and the Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter.
Monday, January 21, 2013
The Helmsley Building is now being lit in festive colors--this evening it was in patriotic ones, in honor of the inauguration--by an energy efficient lighting system.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Earl Weaver, who also died yesterday, at 82, never played in the majors. He came to fame as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, serving as their skipper for seventeen years, during which the Birds won four American League pennants and one World Series (they lost a series to my Mets, before they were my Mets, in 1969). Unlike me, he wasn't fond of "little ball"; the business of advancing runners with bunts, sacrifice flies, and stolen bases. He loved the long ball, especially with two or more runners on base, as well as pitching and defense. My favorite Weaver quote is his advice to a player about to go to bat in a close game with one out and a runner on first: "If you even think you might hit into a double play, have the good sense to strike out."
Stan Musial photo: npr.org
Earl Weaver photo: usatoday.com