Friday, July 16, 2010

Old New York Waterfront Back

A rather amazing 360 degree image here, of 19th century New York waterfront, visible down at the Trade Center site, where this week workers also unearthed remains of a wooden sailing ship from the 18th century (see below). Well, blue blistering barnacles, as someone might say!
Almost immediately, New Yorkers began wondering "how did those sailors get such a great parking space?" about the ship's origins, with some unnerved by the thought that it may have been a ship that carried slaves. Others have suggested that the ship has a design most commonly used in whaling vessels. The archaeologists (above) are at work, while all around them, the 21st century city continues to evolve.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Same Old Same Old

Associated Press report from Belfast:
Political and religious leaders pleaded Wednesday for Catholic teenagers and children engaged in Belfast rioting to stop before one of them is killed and becomes a martyr for Irish Republican Army dissidents.

Their appeals follow three nights of street mayhem in working-class Catholic parts of Belfast that one priest described as ''a Disney theme park for rioting.'' Children as young as 9 have been attacking static lines of riot police, while other youths cheer them on and take photos for display on social networking sites such as Facebook.
Actually, it may well not be the same old reasons for why rioting is happening in Belfast now — in fact, after so much peace processing and associated cossetting in the form of public spending, direct / indirect investment, encouraging noises from the rest of the entire world, visits by the Clintons, you might wonder that anyone in Northern Ireland would have time to stop from enjoying the fruits of peace to start a riot.

Certainly rioting 30 years ago might be easily explained by pointing to the second-class status of Catholics, the institutional discrimination, the employment discrimination, the fact that the Northern Irish state was created as government of the Catholics for the Protestants and by the Protestants. That hardly applies to the present day, largely. So there must be Other Reasons... but I have to say that even thinking about it all makes me want to take a nap.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Farewell George Steinbrenner

That legendary New Yorker George Steinbrenner, owner of the Yankees, died yesterday aged 80. We remember him for being 99 percent resident in Tampa, Florida; for buying the Yankees team for $10 million (the team and brand are now worth billions); and for treating the Bronx to not one but two Yankee stadiums, temporarily, when building a new stadium before demolishing the original (above); and for his temper, which was ferocious.

Steinbrenner had been unwell for some years, a shadow of his once-almighty self. The New York Times reported: "He attended the opening game at the new stadium in April 2009, sitting in his suite with his wife. When he was introduced and received an ovation, his shoulders shook and he cried."

In 2004, one of his former team managers said: "George is a great guy, unless you have to work for him."

Dungannistan Unbound

I have been helping a friend repair a small closet in his apartment, a job involving copious amounts of dust and dirt, and the wielding of crowbars and jackhammers, and yes, dear readers, gas masks. And posing.

Recently: Brooklyn Heights

In Brooklyn Heights this morning, I paused before taking my leave to take some shots of the ever-beautiful buildings... Above, the Brooklyn Historical Society headquarters.

Another sumptuous pile of bricks, elegantly piled...

The play of bright morning sunshine with the sharp shadows made me feel as if participating in a movie as it was recorded, projected all around me wherever I looked.

I stopped to take a closer look at a statue in its own little garden: that gentleman is Henry Beecher Stowe (ooops!) Henry Ward Beecher. As I looked closer at the statue, it struck me that he bears a striking resemblance to my late friend Jack Holland, who died in 2004, and who coincidentally lived a handful of blocks from where the statue stands... I see the resemblance especially in this photo of Jack, below...
I left Brooklyn Heights at a brisk walk to the A train at High Street. All too brief, like my quick shadow along Cadman Plaza, was the friendship I had with Jack. At the time of his death, I felt strong and bitter rage at what kind of fate or force might have caused those who knew him and loved him, the ruinous grief of his dying. Mine was a nihilistic and self-indulgent kind of grief — maybe that's the only kind there is? — and I knew at the same time there was, is, no force behind these events as we live them. Was God's hand behind Jack's death any more or less than it could be said to be behind the continued life of the janitor whom I stopped this morning on Cadman Plaza, and said: "Is this the way to the High Street A train station?"

At the time of Jack's death, several people said to me that time would heal, and that memories of Jack kept him somehow alive and "present" with us. Well, time does indeed heal, as I came to experience once more when my father died in 2007. It heals... like a wound, it stops hurting. And memories, they just... fade. If the dearly departed were to come back a decade after they'd died, we'd probably find it impossible to fit them back into our scarred lives.