Friday, April 10, 2009

More than meets the eye as usual

So I saw this t-shirt in the window of Kenneth Cole (is that just a name or is he a real person?) on 42nd Street yesterday... with this statement on the front of it:

"In tough times, some land on their feet (others on the Hudson)" -- Kenneth Cole.

and I think, "well, isn't that a fine quotation..." and I go on my way, assuming that Mr. Cole is referring just to how some people do indeed land on their feet, whereas in tough times (I also misread slightly) the Mafia would be chucking some unlucky people IN the Hudson River.

But no: it seems the t-shirt is a money-spinner derived from that afternoon way back in January when the airplane miraculously and mercifully did not crash but crash-landed, safely, on the River Hudson. And Mr. Cole immediately put up a billboard, see below. Overpriced t-shirt followed in nanoseconds (probably).

So I was wrong, at first. But in fact I think my creative mis-reading makes the quotation both more relevant to this current economic crash and also timeless. Some lucky types always land on their feet... and most people who live in New York City will have at one time or another contemplated even briefly that there probably have been those less fortunate souls who ended up landing in the Hudson River, wearing the concrete boots of doom...

It being Easter weekend, I can't not quote the Bood Gook, in an unusual passage about luck, given how much of the Book is supposedly a revealing of God's plans, in which luck does not figure at all:

"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." -- Ecclesiastes 9, verse 11.

So even the greatest of athletes will still need to rely somewhat on a little bit of luck. And fortune will sometimes seem to make a supremely untalented, mediocre moron into United States President (yes, I'm still worked up about George W. Bush)... but was that his good luck or the world's bad luck?

The Strange Tale of Pelham Bay Park

I've been exploring small bits of Pelham Bay Park in the north-east Bronx, which at 2,764 acres is by far the largest of all New York City parks...

Humpback Whale Visits New York Harbor

"Humpback whales occasionally wander into New York Harbor, and some have been adventurous enough to go up the Hudson River," says the New York Times. 

Maybe it is Henry Hudson himself, reincarnated thus, and visiting for the 400th anniversary of his discovery of the river that bears his name.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

To Foley's

I have to go to Foley's tomorrow evening to meet a friend whom I almost ran over yesterday with my new(-found) bicycle.

Foley's, famous as "the bar that banned Danny Boy" (as in, the dreary Irish-y tune), is to my mind more famous for its architectural relics.

Relics? Located on West 33rd Street, Foley's has been a bar since way back. On the north side of the street is the Empire State Building, and the original Waldorff-Astoria Hotel, no less, was demolished to make way for the building of it. So, bits of the original Waldorff-Astoria were saved and carted across the street and incorporated into Foley's Bar, where you can still see them.

What sort of bits? Well, Tiffany glass, and most of the urinals in the men's room, for example. I must say that I have always been charmed by this (true) story: I imagine wrecking crews swinging at the old hotel, and perhaps late at night then-owner of what is now Foley's did a sort of deal with a drunk foreman in lieu of beer money...

"Yes, well, any of them marble pissoirs from across the street? If you can snag me somethin' I'll take your name of my list, you know, wipe clean your slate."

And so, enormous marble urinals, with stanchions jutting out at the level of an average man's shoulders, traveled from the oblivion of the falling hotel to the safety of the bar across the street. (Who hasn't found safe haven in a bar?) These stanchions act as sort of supports which, if one were falling-down-drunk, would more or less keep a man upright as he pee'd.

From Foley's web site:

"Legend has it that the owner of George’s Fish House [as it was then named]... brought the fixtures across the street from the Waldorff in 1929. The establishment continued as George’s Fish House from the 1930s through the end of World War II."

Then when I showed up in New York City, it was called P. G. King's. The current owner, ( a baseball fanatic who renamed the bar Foley's after 'legendary' 'sportswriter' Red Foley*), is from Belfast or maybe Cavan? (The two are so easily confused!)

*As I recall hearing, Red Foley was something of an old bore, whom various sub-editors nicknamed "Dead Foley." He died in 2008.