Saturday, March 10, 2012

Amendment XIII

She was outside the W Union Square, and it was 29 degrees F.

In Harlem, at the 145th Street A, C, B and D subway station, by the 147th Street exit, someone has taped two tiny printed-out pieces of text... It's the text of the XIIIth Admendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states:

XIII: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
It's marked up and highlighted as above. Why?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Shocking Mild

In what I consider a stroke of pure genius, someone at the 68th Street subway station altered an advertisement for an alcoholic beverage from the saying "The Night Is Always Young" to "The Nig Is Always You."

What kind of skies have we been having over New York, during this unnervingly mild winter? This kind of sky (above), and also see below.

Construction work in and around the Second Avenue Subway continues, and despite the 'severe clear' blue skies, apparently it's vital to keep the lights on during the day.

Only in the parks and natural areas of the city are the drab colors of winter dominant.

Highbridge Park in Washington Heights (above and below).

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Ozymandias on Kenmare Street

The legs are indeed vast, but they are not trunkless, nor is there a shattered visage lying nearby. An enormous replica of Michelangelo's David stared not at a dead Goliath, but up at the night sky over Kenmare Street in Soho tonight, from its awkward reclining position on the back of a flatbed truck.

The replica, twice the size of the original statue, which is in Florence, of course, is bound by road tonight for a new museum in Kentucky. But first, courtesy of the artist and the Storefront for Art and Architecture in Soho, David was on display for New Yorkers to gaze upon one of  the world's most famous nudes.

Racial Colonies of Brooklyn

This map from the 1910s is the Brooklyn Historical Society's Map of the Month.

Why Did JFK Not Wear a Hat?

Because hats made him look ridiculous.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


I have to say, even if in some context this advertisement was meant with irony, it is one of the worst — as in, not funny — I've ever seen. Especially as it is meant to promote a funny man (allegedly). It appeared on the Upper West Side of Manhattan many months, if not a year or more after, the New York City mayoral election of 2009. That was the election in which Mayor Bloomberg changed electoral laws imposing term limits to allow himself to run for a third term. 

The election was marked by voter apathy, despite a strong showing by the Democratic candidate, Bill Thompson (who famously said that with another $1 million in funds, he would have narrowly beaten Bloomberg), and, for anyone who cares that great cities flourish within a frame of agreed civic rules and boundaries, the general feeling that the stinking rich incumbent had "bought" his third term. 

The text on the poster states: "I'm coming back, like a mayor extending term limits." Who among Conan O'Brien's weak-brained fans would remember anything about the 2009 election, by the time this poster went up?

O'Brien coming back to your televisual screen suggests something triumphant, an event to be heralded. Most people if asked about American war hero General Douglas MacArthur, for example, would remember one thing: that one day in history (March 1942), he had stood somewhere important (near the Philippines), just after he left (Japanese invading army close at hand), and momentously said: "I shall return." There's a slight echo of MacArthur's great egotistical statement in any promise of a return (not least, Arnold Schwarzenegger's "I'll be back!") 

Whatever methods Bloomberg used to extend term limits to get his third term of office, there was a distinct feeling that he had gone against the democratic will of the people of the city, and that the mayor's goons had railroaded the change in the law through city council by threats, cajoles and bribes that went above and beyond normal politics — especially as, after he had won, Bloomberg had the law changed back again. 

It's one thing to say, "I think term limits should be extended so that I can have another term of office, and in general my experience of being mayor makes me think incumbents deserve three, not two terms, if they prevail on election day." 

It's quite a different magnitude of self-regard to say "I want a third term. Just for me." 

Anyway, "like a mayor extending term limits" just jars with "I'm coming back". It's like crashing a train into custard.

And so: that stoopid Conan ad just pisses me off, every time I see it. It lingers now on the same thin sliver of the Upper West Side (79th and Broadway), perhaps where all three and a third of his fans reside. And chortle at his lame-ass jokes.

There are so many superlatives and egos, personalities and 'world's biggest...' in the Big Apple. Yet the best that could be thought up was "like a mayor extending term limits"? How about "like a baseball hit by Yankee player X," where x is a particularly hard-hitting batter? In fact, I've even seen Conan O'Brien once, years ago, late at night near Rockefeller Center. He is of course, exceedingly tall, and red-haired, like a giant carrot/exclamation point: his physical self speaks for him and his show. No words are necessary!

I can't imagine anyone was racing to take the top roles in this movie, Game Change, about the McCain-Palin 'ticket' in the 2008 Presidential election. ("Let's go see that, dear. I wonder how it ends?...") Poster spotted — where else? — on the Upper East Side. Note the tag line: "Politics would never be the same"; it would have been truer to say that politics have remained depressingly, utterly the same.  

Don't forget, folks: Susan Sarandon: Mother, Actor and Activist. And False Idol.

This Strange Unsettling Winter

First, some cheerful colors, spotted on the Upper East Side, to mitigate the cold midwinter: ducks, ducks, ducks.

 And other plastic yucks! Whoever sells these trinkety toys must be watching the price of oil these days...

I never heard that the British rock group The Cure, had opened an Upper East Side pharmacy... note how they address the whole body's wellness, giving you a bit of a work-out with their stiff little door hinges.

In a persistently sluggish economy, I'd definitely want Faith Hope Consolo on my realty team!

Faith, and Hope, and Consolation?

...that blast of January
Would blow you through and through. Now, my fair'st friend,
I would I had some flowers o' the spring that might
Become your time of day...

This has been an unexpectedly mild winter, and therefore an unsettling time. We are creatures still bound by rhythms of day and night, months which have since time began (it seems) exhibited their timeless character (depending on your hemisphere!). January deepens and lengthens the Winter that has set in, in December. March: in like a lion, out like a lamb... April's showers bring forth May flowers...

Instead of a real winter, so far there there has been a general mildness.

In Brooklyn, just off Church Avenue (above), on St Paul's Place, I noticed some strange graffiti, below.

It almost seems like a dialogue between two or more different people. And, it seems like a discussion that ends with an answer, or solution or something: if there is a way of reading what might be random craziness, from left to right, it all distills down to the final statement: Madison Baptist Church. 

Then again, this unusual winter has reminded me vividly that random craziness lurks around the corner from unsettling times.