Friday, April 22, 2011

New York at Night

A near horizon whose sharp jags
Cut brutally into a sky
Of leaden heaviness, 

and crags
Of houses lift their masonry
Ugly and foul, and chimneys lie

And snort, outlined against the gray
Of lowhung cloud. I hear the sigh
The goaded city gives,

not day
Nor night can ease her heart, her anguished labours stay.
Below, straight streets, monotonous,

From north and south, from east and west,
Stretch glittering; and luminous
Above, one tower tops the rest

And holds aloft man's constant quest:

Time! Joyless emblem of the greed
Of millions, robber of the best
Which earth can give, the vulgar creed

Has seared upon the night its flaming ruthless screed.
O Night! Whose soothing presence brings
The quiet shining of the stars.

O Night! Whose cloak of darkness clings
So intimately close that scars
Are hid from our own eyes. 

By day, our wealth is having night
To burn our souls before altars

Dim and tree-shadowed, where the light
Is shed from a young moon, mysteriously bright.
Where art thou hiding, where thy peace?

This is the hour, but thou art not.
Will waking tumult never cease?
Hast thou thy votary forgot?
Nature forsakes this man-begot
And festering wilderness, and now

The long still hours are here, no jot
Of dear communing do I know;
Instead the glaring, man-filled city groans below!

-- by Amy Lowell (1874 - 1925)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hi, White Sucker!

I delude myself some days with the thought that I somehow "know" the Bronx well. I guess I can find my way across it, up and down and through it, but I don't know it with the familiarity of a local or native, who sees their hometown thus: so familiar that it is superficially blinding, like smoke, and yet they can see through it like x-rays.

Upon saying this, I doubt if anyone reading could even find the location of the following photos in a year of hard searching. The other day, on a self-guided walking detour, I found this scene of utter wreckage, worthy of the opening massacre scene in the movie, "No Country For Old Men." Thankfully, it's merely toys:

Location: by an overpass, near another, above some railroad tracks, Bronx, NY.

Some big child clearly had fun with a spot of creative destruction...

Of the Bronx, one might quote the poem from which comes the phrase, "No Country for Old Men":
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees...
...Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
Not far from this scene of toy town carnage, I saw some interesting stone carvings in a park. Now, I know that a classic, often comedic, urban legend-trope might show what happens to a naive, white visitor to New York City, who gets on the wrong subway train or hails a gibberish-spouting, engine-revving taxi-driver and ends up in, God help them, Harlem, or may the Lord have mercy on their souls!, the Bronx. This next photo might just show the 'welcome' that awaits the hapless tourist:

In fact, as I quickly discovered, with thousands of bright yellow daffodils cheerfully waving, the stone carvings celebrate New York City and State's waterways and the fish that live in them.

So, hi there, white sucker, and nice to meetcha, eastern mudminnow!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Daffodil, Fifth Avenue

From Spring 2008

Event: Monday, April 18 at the J-School
Pulitzer Prize Winners & Finalists Announced
3 p.m. in the World Room, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, 116th Street & Broadway, NYC. The 2011 Pulitzer Prize winners and nominated finalists will be announced on Monday, April 18, 2011. Nominated finalists are not announced in advance. Information on all winners will be posted on shortly after the announcement. The Prizes will be awarded at a luncheon in May.