Sunday, December 28, 2014
With bad luck, we may be subjected to more Viñoly designs, like 125 Greenwich Street, all of which will end up being pieds a terre for billionaires, with perhaps a few lower floor, smaller apartments going to mere multi-millionaires.
Viñoly discusses his design philosophy in this video. He plays piano well.
The developers of 432 Park are CIM Group and Macklowe Properties. Harry Macklowe is a developer whose company was once fined two million dollars for reckless endangerment resulting from the rapid night-time demolition of two buildings. Macklowe compares 432 Park to the Mona Lisa.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The basic structure remains the same: at the end nearest the gallery entrance there's a model of Grand Central, with tracks under it and the Met Life building looming over it. Beyond that is the Empire State Building along with other midtown skyscrapers, then a stretch of lower-rise Manhattan (Chelsea and the Village?), a bit of suburbia with a gas station, and at the far end a mountain (Hudson Highlands or Catskills) with a tunnel. Details and rolling stock change from year to year, although there's always a New York Central passenger train and a New York City subway train, with platform.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
The video clip above has Bing's Adeste Fideles as the audio track, accompanied by a slide show that starts with the famous "Earthrise" photos taken by one of the Apollo 8 astronauts and is followed by a series of artworks depicting the infancy and life of Jesus. Thanks to manfreadstraw for creating the clip.
Sunday, December 07, 2014
The label says "Belgian-Style Ale with Ginger, Orange Peel and Fennel Seed." As I've mentioned before, I'm leery of brews with additives. To riff on The Lovin' Spoonful, "All I want is malt, yeast, water, and hops just to set my soul on fire." Still, despite initial strong doubts, I liked Coney's summer brew, Tunnel of Love Watermelon Wheat. I found their autumn offering, Freaktoberfest, less pleasing. Pumpkin is not one of my favorite flavors, although the espresso beans added an interesting note.
So, here are my notes on "The Plunge", which I had with a spicy take out from Curry Heights:
Color: vivid amber (see photo).
Head: ample, but not over-the-top (ditto).
Aroma: fruit and spices, hint of licorice (thanks to the fennel).
Taste: a rich mix of fruit, spice, malt, and a muted hop finish, with a touch of licorice. As the meal progressed and the ale warmed in the glass, the fennel accent became more pronounced, and malt carried through to the finish.
The Plunge went well with the spicy curry, its own spiciness complementing rather than amplifying or fighting that of the food. All in all, a pleasant drink, and one I'll enjoy again. Would I compare it to a swim in frigid water? To me, it was more of a sitting in front of a fire on a winter's night kind of beverage. At 6.9 percent ABV, it will warm you up. Technical details are here.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Since then, in part because of a discussion on Facebook, I've come to realize that "to gift" is a back formation of a novel verb, first reported from 1995, to re-gift, or sometimes un-hyphenated "regift." This means "to give (a previously received gift) to someone else." Here I'll confess, "re-gift" has an ironic zing that "re-give" lacks. I can see how this led to the original giving of the gift becoming "gifting." Does this bother me? Yeah, sorta. Still, substituting "gift" for "give" to describe the giving of a gift doesn't seem that big a deal. The confusion of the past tense "gifted" with the adjective seems curable by context.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
The action begins when Santuzza (Sarah Hetzel; photo above by Arielle Doneson) finds her lover Turiddu (Alex Richardson) in a passionate embrace with Lola (Joan Peitscher). Santuzza first seeks solace with Turiddu's mother, Lucia (Kirsten Sollek), then confronts Turiddu and Lola, then lets Lola's husband, Alfio (Richard Lippold), know he's been cuckolded; he then vows revenge. After the Easter mass ends, Turiddu encourages the townspeople to celebrate while he and Lola share what seems to be the Dogpatch ham of wine bottles. The jollity ends when Turridu is confronted by Alfio, who challenges him to a duel, leading to the fatal conclusion.
Hetzel's rich mezzo voice gives full expression to Santuzza's despair, jealousy, and rage. Richardson's Turiddu, in blazer and open collared shirt, is a sexy good old boy; his ringing tenor runs the gamut from amorous to celebratory to furious. Peitscher, another mezzo, plays Lola as a shameless hussy in a bright flowered dress, dispensing seduction and scorn. Lippold's Alfio, in suit and tie, is a smug yuppie who enters bragging, in his confident baritone, about his good job and having scored a trophy wife on his first pass. Sollek's Lucia is understated, her alto registering emotion in muted but compelling tones. The orchestra, under the sure direction of Eli Spindel, was flawless, as was the choir, directed by Jason Asbury. Overall direction of this superb performance was by Sam Helfrich.
Re-posted from Brooklyn Heights Blog.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Tom credits the song's popularity to WBZ. I believe WBCN was their FM radio affiliate.
Another of my favorites Tom sang at the concert was "No Regrets," which he followed with the haunting instrumental "Rockport Sunday." He told how he wrote "No Regrets" and sang it for the first time while visiting Judy Collins, who served tea. When he finished the song, Judy's response was simply to pour another cup. Thus discouraged, Tom didn't release the song for several years. It became his first hit, and has been covered by, among others, the Walker Brothers and U2. Tom said he now realizes Ms. Collins' lack of response was because "she was overcome by emotion."
In the clip above, Tom sings and plays "No Regrets" and "Rockport Sunday" at Club Passim, a nonprofit venue for musical performances and center for the preservation and encouragement of folk music, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge is where Tom got his start as a folk singer in his days as a Harvard student and after, in venues like Passim's predecessor, Club 47.
Tom also did a song I hadn't yet heard, "Remember Song," from his latest album, What I Know. The lyrics made me think of an old joke: a minister says to an elderly parishioner, "Do you ever think of the Hereafter?" The parishioner says, "Sure. I often walk into a room and think, 'What am I here after?'" It happens to me way too many times these days. I also thought of going to a Kingston Trio concert some twenty or so years ago, where Bob Shane, his slate gray pony tail hanging to his waist, looked out at us and said, "God, you all look old."
I was pleasantly surprised by another song Tom did, which is also on What I Know (I hadn't heard the album yet, but it's now on my Christmas list). He covered one of my favorite R&B songs, "Drift Away," originally done by Dobie Gray. Does it cut Dobie's original? No. Still, it has a compelling, older guy perspective.
Tom ended his regular set with another of my old favorites, his song about growing up in New Hampshire, "Merrimack County." This is prefaced, as most of Tom's songs are, by a longish but very funny story.
Called back for an encore, Tom finished with a rousing medley of "Who Do You Love?" and "Hey, Bo Diddley." He did every song I had hoped to hear, and charmed my wife, who had been dubious. When I worried about getting there early to get good seats, she said, "It's not like we're going to a Beatles concert." Afterward, she said, "He's from my neck of the woods."
Thursday, November 06, 2014
My mother's maiden name was Lane. Her father showed me what purported to be a family crest. Above the shield, topped, as I recall, with a knight's helmet, was the name "O'Leign." So, it seemed, the Lanes were Irish. My maternal grandmother's maiden name was Miles, which I assumed to be English, but which I now know to be of Norman French origin, and to be known in both England and Ireland. Other ancestral names on my mother's side are Mott, which could be English or German, Woods, and Rush, both of which seemed quite English.****
What I expected my DNA to show was that I was perhaps sixty percent or so English, maybe twenty five percent Irish (with some Scandinavian mixed in, thanks to the Vikings), and the rest a mixture of Scottish, German, and maybe a few surprises from some generations back (French? Native American?).
What I got as the sources of my genome was: Ireland, 34%; Scandinavia, 27%; Europe West (basically France, Germany, Switzerland, and the Low Countries), 14%; Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), 14%; Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), 6%. The remaining five percent is divided among traces of Italy or Greece; Finland or Northeast Russia; Poland or Ukraine; and a less than one percent dab of North Africa, which I suspect came en suite with the Iberian Peninsula connection.
I was surprised that Ireland and Scandinavia together accounted for over sixty percent of my genome, and that Great Britain, which for Ancestry.com comprises England, Scotland, and Wales, contributes only six percent. I now know this was because of my mistaken belief about the origin of the name Scales (see footnote * below), which turns out to be Scandinavian, arriving in England by way of Ireland, where some Irish may have gotten mixed with it. It's also possible that my Miles ancestors on my mother's side were of Irish origin (see footnote **** below).
The Iberian connection just about floored me, as I know of no Spanish or Portuguese ancestors on either parental side. One suggestion from a co-worker is that some of my Irish forebears may have married survivors of the wrecks of Spanish Armada ships on the Irish coast. This often expressed theory about the origin of the dark haired and eyed "Black Irish" is, it is said, supported by very little evidence. My wife, whose late father could be described as "Black Irish," has no trace of Iberian in her DNA. Perhaps in her ongoing genealogical research, which includes my family as well as hers, she'll find where there's--to borrow a book title from John Lennon--A Spaniard in the Works.
* When we were in England, from 1951 to '54, my dad got an historical map of Hertfordshire, the county where we lived. Not too far a drive from our house (well, nothing in Herts is too far a drive), according to the map, there was a dotted outline labeled "Scales Castle." We got into our Austin A40 and went there, finding nothing but a pasture. I now know that the castle belonged to the holders of the de Scales barony, descendants of a Norman nobleman who arrived in England with William the Conqueror. I also know that I am almost certainly not descended from the noble de Scales family (the barony was terminated during the reign of Richard III, as the family were at the time on the losing side of the Wars of the Roses, although there have been attempts to revive it).
During my first year of law school (1967-68), while on a weekend afternoon stroll, I went into the Widener Library, found the reference section, and in it the Century Cyclopedia of English Names. In the book I found "Scales" followed by the notation "A-S", which I took to mean Anglo-Saxon. It then said the name meant "dweller in the hut," a "scale" being a crude lean-to hut or shelter. A more recent source repeats that story of the name's meaning, but gives its origin as not Anglo-Saxon, but Scandinavian. Many Vikings settled in North-West England during the tenth and eleventh centuries after being expelled from Ireland by Cearbhall and Brian Boru. It's believed that these Viking immigrants from Ireland are the forebears of most, if not all, of the people named Scales in England.
** I've seen two versions of how the French word napier became a Scottish surname. The one I don't believe, because it is the more romantic, is that the first to bear the name so distinguished himself in battle that the King said, "Tha hast nae peer [no equal]." The one I believe is that the family were linen keepers, perhaps for the royal family, and took the French word for such as their name. Napier can also be an English name, but my father believed that his grandmother was somehow related to John Napier (1550-1617), the Scottish philosopher and mathematician who discovered the principle of logarithms and invented the first crude slide rule (a device still used by my generation during our school years, but now supplanted by the electronic calculator), called "Napier's bones."
*** The term "Hillbilly" was given to Scotch-Irish settlers in Appalachia because of the popularity among them of the name William, a popularity stemming, no doubt, from the victory of William of Orange's army over the Catholic rebels at the Battle of the Boyne. King William is also the source of the term "Orangemen" for Northern Irish Protestants.
**** I've now learned that Woods can be either English or Scottish. Rush is commonly English, but is found in Ireland as a derivative of several Gaelic names, or may be an Anglicization of a German name. It's an oral tradition in my mother's family that we're descended, through my great grandmother Ellen Susan Rush Miles and her mother, Susan Woods Rush, from Benjamin Rush, physician of the Continental Army and signer of the Declaration of Independence. This was reported as fact in my great grandmother's obituary in the Tyrone Daily Herald. Unfortuntely, because of a lack of information available about Susan Rush, it's proved so far difficult to trace the lineage.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
quickly exceeded ridership expectations. Nevertheless, in 2006 the possibility was raised of the local transit agency, HART, not renewing its contract to operate the system. The reason given was that few local people, as opposed to tourists, used it. Extension of the system to downtown evidently has relieved this problem.
Gomaco Trolley Company of Ida Grove, Iowa. The Tampa fleet now includes a restored Birney that was used on the city's old system, as well as a replica of an open air "breezer" car.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Haven't done one of these since January. The idea is: I take a walk, usually around my neighborhood, Brooklyn Heights, as well as through Brooklyn Bridge Park and adjoining areas, but sometimes across the Brooklyn Bridge and back. On my walk, I have my iPod on, set in the "shuffle" mode so that it plays music randomly. At or near the start of each piece of music, I take a photo. The photos are therefore also random, though I do try to shoot whatever looks best or most interesting at the time. What follows is the log of a walk I took on September 16. After each photo I tell what was playing when I took it, giving a link to a site (usually a YouTube clip) where you can listen to it. Where necessary, I also give some explanation of what's in the photo.
Eliot Wagner has turned me on to. Hear it here.
Photo: This is a view down the "charming cloister like walkway" (Francis Morrone, An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn) that leads from Hicks Street to the entrance to the Grace Church Parish House (1931), which also houses the Grace Church School (pre-K and K; hence the carriages on the walkway). On the right of the photo is the south wall of Grace Church, completed in 1848 and designed by Richard Upjohn, one of the pre-eminent American church architects of the nineteenth century.
traditional song of obscure origins, but which was in the repertoire of Buddy Bolden perhaps a century ago or more. Live performance video here.
Photo: This is a portion of "The Fence", which extends most of the length of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and showcases the work of photographers who will be featured in Photoville, an annual event at the Park.
Every Picture Tells a Story, one of the best rock albums ever. Hear it here.
Photo: In the foreground, the harbor tanker Patrick Sky (not named for the folk singer) leaves Buttermilk Channel heading into the East River, while a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers debris collection vessel (probably Driftmaster) goes in the opposite direction.
Hear it here. I think of this as the metaphorical flip side of Dolly Cooper's 1953 gem "I Wanna Know", also from the Savoy archives.
Photo: The former U.S. Navy helicopter training carrier Baylander and the "Fredonia" type fishing schooner Lettie G. Howard, which belongs to the South Street Seaport Museum and is used for educational purposes in conjunction with the New York Harbor School, are moored beside Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5.
Hear it here.
Hear it here.
Photo: The sculpture is part of Dahn Vo's We the People, in which the sculptor has modeled, in full scale, fragments of the Statue of Liberty, and placed them in locations around the world, including Brooklyn Bridge Park.
OKeh Western Swing, which included "Knocky, Knocky", that he had been a member of the Light Crust Doughboys. You can hear it here. You can also hear Professor Parker playing Scott Joplin rags here.
Live performance video here.
4 Way Street. There is no video of the Massey Hall performance, which I think unparalelled for its emotional immediacy, but I found this clip of another performance, with a montage of scenes from the Kent State killings.
clip here of an uncredited orchestra (commenter "Chuck Norris" suggests the conductor may be Karl Fischer) playing the piece, accompanied by a "graphical score" made by Stephen Malinowski, which I found fun to watch. It shows you what the various instruments are doing.
Will.I.Am)? Video here.
jump the English Channel with this version of a dance tune from Cornwall by Ireland's Chieftains, taken from their album Celtic Wedding. Here's a live performance video of them doing "Jabadaw" on Johnny Carson's show in 1987, followed by Mna Na h'Eireann and then by a very lively song I don't recognize.
The Kingston Trio No. 16 it got the title "Low Bridge." The Trio's version is probably a bit more uptempo than the one you knew, and has some extra lyrics. Hear it here.
eclectic backgrouund, shows his talents on harmonica and as a singer on this piece. Hear it here.
Hear it here.
Photo: What we see from the back is the Henry Ward Beecher Monument (1891), by John Quincy Adams Ward. Beecher was the first minister of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, and is remembered principally for his fierce dedication to the cause of abolishing slavery. Flanking the pedestal of the monument are images of slave children, their arms stretched upward in their struggle for freedom.
Robert Johnson was a gifted singer and guitarist who is credited with having established the style that became known as Delta blues. There's a clip here where you can hear "Sweet Home Chicago," accompanied by vintage film of life in the City of Broad Shoulders.
Photo: Late summer bounty at the Borough Hall Greenmarket.
let you know, if you dare.
Photo: This is the south facade of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. It was designed by Minard LaFever, another pre-eminent nineteenth century American church architect, and completed in 1847. It has the first complete set of figural stained glass windows to have been made in North America.
Hear it here.
Photo: These are the facades of two adjoining mid-1880s apartment buildings on Montague Street, the Berkeley at left and its near twin, the Grosvenor at right. Both were designed in a typically Victorian style by the English born architects the Parfitt Brothers.
Friday, October 17, 2014
I have a vague memory of "The Catch" by Willie Mays (see clip above) that was instrumental in the Giants' winning the championship; their last as a New York team--they moved to San Francisco in 1958.
The Giants' New York heritage, and their being in the same league as my Mets--the one that plays real baseball, without the designated hitter--makes me favor them. Still, there are lots of reasons to like the Royals. For me, the best of these is their playing the underdog, team of destiny role. So, whoever wins, I won't be badly disappointed.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Henry B. Plant Museum.
Kate Victoria Jackson
An environmentalist before that word was coined, Kate Jackson made many contributions to Tampa. At a time when women could not vote, she led the lobbying for essential public services.
Parks and playgrounds were her biggest achievement, and the Tampa Civic Association, which she founded in 1910, was a major factor in creating the city's first water and sewage system. This sanitation was key to preventing yellow fever epidemics that had plagued the area.
She was born in Tampa to Irish immigrants who had arrived in 1847. Because Tampa had no good schools at the time, she was educated in a Key West Catholic institution; this led her to recruit the nuns who built the Academy of the Holy Names in the 1870's. An astute businesswoman, she also was a generous philanthropist. Jackson's influence was statewide, especially via the General Federation of Women's Clubs, which was the first organization to preserve the Florida Everglades.Although I spent my youth in Tampa, I had never heard of Kate Jackson. Her contributions to the city's history, though, rivaled those of H.B. Plant.
Saturday, October 04, 2014
Boog Powell iced the game against the Yanks.
I've often said, though, that if I had to pick a baseball team on the aesthetics of their play and the competency of their organization I'd pick the Cardinals. Like my Mets, they're in the league that plays real baseball, without the designated hitter. They have a great tradition going back to the "Gas House Gang" of the 1930s, whose spirit seems to have survived through many generations of players. One interesting aspect of a Cards/O's Series is that it would match up two former crosstown rivals. Until 1954, the Orioles were the St. Louis Browns.
Other interesting Series match-ups are also possible. We could have a rematch of the 1985 all-Missouri Series, won by the Royals over the Cards, or the 2002 all-California Series, in which the Angels beat the Giants. Should Detroit come back from their 0-2 deficit and progress from there, we might even have an avian/feline Series, pitting the Cardinals against the Tigers.
Thanks to a nomad in Morocco, who found fossil bones that came to the attention of paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim, a post-doc at the University of Chicago, paleontologists there were able to create a reconstruction of Spinosaurus that strongly indicates that, like a present day crocodile (or duck), it had a semi-aquatic life. It was larger than any other known carnivorous dinosaur, including Giganotosaurus. Indeed, it was likely piscivorous, dining on the large fish that swam in the shallow waters of the coastal region that was North Africa in the Cretaceous.
My last post on dinos was about the smallest dinosaur yet discovered, Ashdown maniraptora. Now there's a new biggest, discovered in Argentina, which now vies with China as the richest source of new dinosaur discoveries. It is, of course, a sauropod, one of those immense, long-necked, long-tailed, big-bodied herbivores we boomers knew in our childhood as Brontosaurus, but later learned was properly named Apatosaurus (the story of how this happened is here).
This was sad news for the Piltdown Men, who took their name from what may have been the greatest paleontological hoax ever.
As we boomers grew older, we learned of other sauropods, like long, slender Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus, with its towering neck. In recent years a large number of new sauropod species have been found in places like Brazil and Utah. Now, the biggest yet has been found in Argentina, weighing 65 tons, more than twice the weight of Brachiosaurus; indeed, more than an empty Boeing 737. It's been given what I think is a very appropriate name: Dreadnaughtus.
I haven't included an image of Dreadnaughtus because Anne Elk (see clip above) has explained what all sauropods look like. If you still need help, there's a picture of one on the wall behind.
Addendum: I neglected to credit the Spinosaurus image to "Barry's Dinosaur Info" in Dinotopia. "Barry's", in turn, credits the image to Arthur Weasley. Perhaps the same vein, I learned through "Barry's" of a dinosaur called Dracorex hogwartsia.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
But unlike so many previous seasons, the Mets sparkled in September, going 15-10. On the 15th of the month, rookie pitcher Jacob deGrom (photo) started against the Marlins and struck out the first eight batters, which tied a Major League record. As a precaution, management took him out of the rotation for the remainder of the season. After that, the Mets were 7-4, including a three game sweep of the Braves and a 2-1 series with the Astros to finish things off.
The Mets also ended the season with a six run advantage in overall scoring, despite their difficulties in bringing in runners in scoring position and their still sketchy bullpen.
Looking ahead, the Mets have a promising set of young arms, including deGrom and Matt Harvey. Some fans are complaining about Harvey's having attended Derek Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium instead of being with the Mets in their game against the Nats that evening, despite Harvey's being on the DL. I say it was a classy move, although I do wish he'd have worn his Mets cap instead of a Knicks one.
Image: By slgckgc (Jacob deGrom) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Friday, September 26, 2014
The good news, to the extent there is any, is that La Tricorne was removed without damage, and that the Museum of the City of New York has agreed to take it and to keep it on public display as a part of the city's heritage, now rudely displaced.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Jo Stafford was one of my parents' favorite singers. They owned several 78 RPM records of her songs, one of which was "Autumn in New York." The video clip above has her singing the song, along with a montage of photos of the city in autumn, and of the singer.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
I've known two men who served on American Victory. One was Paul Schiffman, whom I knew over the course of many years when he served as afternoon and early evening bartender at the Lion's Head. Paul was a mate on her maiden voyage in 1945, when American Victory was used to ship cargo to American forces in the Pacific. The other is Mike Wholey, whom I met at a memorial gathering for Paul, and who served as a mate on her final voyage in cargo service, delivering supplies to American forces in Vietnam in 1969.
American Victory is one of several victory ships that were named for American colleges and universities. She is named for American University, in Washington, D.C., in recognition of that institution's contributions to the war effort.