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Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

I’m sorry I missed Manhattanhenge this year because I was out-of-town.  However, my loss is no reason for all of you not to hear about and see exactly what Manhattanhenge is.

The following article is credited to Neil deGrasse Tyson and was featured on the American Museum of Natural History’s website;

Sunset looking down 34th Street. One of two days when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan. Copyright © 2001, Neil deGrasse Tyson

Sunset looking down 34th Street. One of two days when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan.
Copyright © 2001, Neil deGrasse Tyson

What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance, just as we have found for the pre-historic circle of large vertical rocks known as Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plain of England. For Stonehenge, the special day is the summer solstice, when the Sun rises in perfect alignment with several of the stones, signaling the change of season.

For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year, when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. A rare and beautiful sight. These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.

For these two days, as the Sun sets on the grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon. My personal preference for photographs. But the day after also offers Manhattanhenge moments, but at sunset, you instead will find the entire ball of the Sun on the horizon.

Unnoticed by many, the sunset point actually creeps day to day along the horizon: northward until the first day of summer, then returning southward until the first day of winter. In spite of what pop-culture tells you, the Sun rises due east and sets due west only twice per year. On the equinoxes: the first day of spring and of autumn. Every other day, the Sun rises and sets elsewhere on the horizon. Had Manhattan’s grid been perfectly aligned with the geographic north-south line, then the days of Manhattanhenge would coincide with the equinoxes. But Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days of alignment elsewhere into the calendar.

Note that any city crossed by a rectangular grid can identify days where the setting Sun aligns with their streets. But a closer look at such cities around the world shows them to be less than ideal for this purpose. Beyond the grid you need a clear view to the horizon, as Manhattan has across the Hudson River to New Jersey. And tall buildings that line the streets create a vertical channel to frame the setting Sun, creating a striking photographic opportunity.

True, some municipalities have streets named for the Sun, like Sunrise Highway on Long Island and the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. But these roads are not perfectly straight. And the few times a year when the Sun aligns with one of their stretches of road, all you get is stalled traffic solar glare temporarily blinds drivers.

So Manhattanhenge may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe.

Note that several years ago, an article in the New York Times identified this annual event as the Manhattan Solstice. But of course, the word solstice translates from the Latin solstitium, meaning stopped sun, in reference to the winter and summer solstices where the Sun’s daily arc across the sky reaches its extreme southerly and northerly limits. Manhattanhenge comes about because the Sun’s arc has not yet reached these limits, and is on route to them, as we catch a brief glimpse of the setting Sun along the canyons of our narrow streets.

While we are on the subject, when viewed from all latitudes north of the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees north latitude), the Sun always rises at an angle up and to the right, and sets and an angle down and to the right. That’s how you can spot a faked sunrise in a movie: it moves up and to the left. Filmmakers are not typically awake in the morning hours to film an actual sunrise, so they film a sunset instead, and then time-reverse it, thinking nobody will notice.

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Did you ever wonder where things come from and where they end up?  Well, of course I’m not talking about something you bought in a store because we all know that item originated in China, Korea or Taiwan passed through the port of New York and ended up in Chicago!

Actually a friend of ours needed a curtain rod;  Not just any curtain rod, a certain kind that might extend the length of her oversized floor to ceiling window.  My husband prowled around all the obvious stores in the neighborhood and nothing was to be found.  He happened  to mention this when he was at the drugstore (and God only knows how you work that into a conversation) and the druggist mentioned he might have what we needed.  Why would the drugstore have a curtain rod?  Turns out, he owns the building and he is about to renovate the apartments  upstairs and invited Peter to go upstairs and help himself.  

It Looked Like This One

It Looked Like This One

He wandered through a couple of units and sure enough he found a lovely rod with finials and he removed the brackets that held and triumphantly returned home with his prize.  I took one look at it and said, “That won’t work”.  Sorry I deflated his balloon but facts are facts and it just wouldn’t fit.  

Naturally I wanted it to immediately find its way to the trash room but oh no, he thought it was good to throw out.  Once again for at least the 100th time, I remind him that items put in the trash room are hardly ever really thrown away.  First it has to get past the porters and the Super;  If they don’t need it or know of a tenant who can use it, it gets put out on the sidewalk with the bagged trash, BUT.  Things on the street in New York have a way of finding new homes for themselves long before the sanitation workers arrive.  However, apparently even this potential new life wasn’t good enough for this rod.  My husband wanted to give it to someone who needed it!

Naturally, if you know this household and the dynamics of our relationship, the rod hung around for a couple of weeks.  Finally I said,  “Enough is enough, out it goes”!  That certainly sent quivers through him and so I offered an alternative;  At least take it to the thrift shop and let someone who needs it, buy it.

It just so happened that he was on his way to New Jersey and so the rod, its brackets, a few books, two Beanie Babies and a stereo receiver and two speakers were sent to Habitats for Humanity in Asbury Park, NJ.  So as you think about it, the rod which began one of its lives in Manhattan will probably be holding up curtains somewhere on the Jersey Shore.

And there you have the life and times of a curtain rod or a weird version of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

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Well, did you?  I’ll bet you did IF you weren’t the one making Thanksgiving dinner.  And if you have kids…parking everyone in front of the TV for a couple of hours, gives you the time you need to prep and set the table and catch a few floats.   I’ve watched the Macy’s parade for decades; (oooh that makes me old), as a kid, as a young adult, as a parent with my kids and I took each of them to the Parade at some point when they were growing up.  Born in New York City in 1924, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is not just a New York tradition, it is watched by millions all over the country.  It even plays an important role in one of everyone’s favorite holiday movies, It’s A Wonderful Life.

Curbed NY ran a feature about the years of Macy’s parades and I would like to share some of the photos with you.  All of the photos in this blog post were taken from Curbed NY.

Macy's Christmas Parade

Macy’s Christmas Parade

1924: Macy’s Christmas Parade

Bye Bye Dachshund

Bye Bye Dachshund

1929: A dachshund balloon was released after the parade

Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor

1934: Balloon in the likeness of Eddie Cantor

BALL_05

Mickey Mouse

1934: Mickey Mouse is the first balloon created with Walt Disney

Santa

Santa

1940: Santa rounds the corner

The Macy's E;f

The Macy’s Elf

1947: The Macy’s Elf

Harold the Firman

Harold the Fireman

1948: Harold the Fireman

Bull winkle

Bullwinkle

1961: Bullwinkle makes an appearance and is captured in color.

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman!

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s Superman!

1966: Old World Superman

Raggedy Ann

Raggedy Ann

1984: Raggedy Ann

Hello Spidey

Hello Spidey

1991: Spiderman makes his first apperance

Kermit the Frog

Kermit the Frog

2002: Kermit is greener than ever!

 

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It’s not every day that you get to meet a mysterious silent film star!  I was lucky enough to meet the beautiful and mysterious Belle De l’ombre.  Believe it or not she actually lives here in New York City in some very posh surroundings.  But of course that’s only fitting for such a raven beauty.  Her name is as beautiful as  she is and it translates to Beauty Of The Shadows!  She is a true movie star from the silent film era and as you can see from this photo she carries herself as the star she is.  With a little bit of luck and research I was able to obtain some footage from one of Belle’s many films.  Take a look for yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree this little Glamour Puss is as elegant and mysterious as her name implies.

http://kokovoko.net/bandw.html

Beauty of the Shadows

Beauty of the Shadows

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Probably the most memorable line in the movie, Love Is Strange.  It certainly brought the audience to a loud laugh, but then again, we were in Manhattan watching this tale of love and marriage which takes place in The City.  The film’s main story is that of Ben and George who after 39 years of togetherness, get married and then things go down hill.   George loses his job at a Catholic school but not his faith and without his steady income, the couple is forced to sell their apartment.  Homosexuality is not the subject of the movie, real estate is.  The couple is forced to go separate ways while they look for another affordable apartment.  They call a family meeting and put their dilemma out on the table.  This being New York City, no one has any room to accommodate the couple. That is except for Mindy who lives in Poughkeepsie and has an extra bedroom.  True to NYC island mentality, they all  think living in Poughkeepsie is unthinkable, not even remotely feasible.  That’s when the fun begins…Ben moves in with his nephew, Elliot and his wife, Kate and their son, Joey in a  small two bedroom apartment in  Brooklyn, George moves in with friends who just happen to be a pair of gay cops leading a rather boisterous life, partying night after night, filling the apartment with hordes of people.

Love Is Strange

Love Is Strange

The secondary story involves Kate (Marissa Tomei), wife of Ben’s nephew and writer who works from home and their son. One of the funniest scenes and one I wholeheartedly related to, was where Ben keeps starting up a conversation with Kate who is trying very hard to finish writing her book.  Ben is quiet for a moment and then asks her yet another question.  She is so frustrated, she almost loses it.  Joey, Ben’s nephew is tolerant up to a point;  His world is getting smaller as Uncle Ben takes over part of his bedroom, and intrudes on the already cramped space in this small two bedroom apartment in New York.  He (Joey) has developed a friendship with Vlad, who although may be the same age as Joey is light years beyond him in street smarts and this is cause for concern to his mother and father. 

Actually as I’m writing this, I think the real story in the movie is STRESS.  Ben and George are totally stressed out because they are separated and each is living in someone else’s home.  I think it’s George who says that when you live with someone you get to know them much better than you would want to.  Kate is stressed because her husband Elliot is never home so she is the only one who deals with Joey and Ben.  Elliot is stressed because he’s a filmmaker and well that comes with its own set of issues, George is stressed but for the most part he internalizes it until one night when he just bursts through the door to see George and bursts into tears.

The first word out of my mouth when the movie was over was “Arty” – the film was arty, it was low-key and slow-moving, no micro sound bites here.  John Lithgow and Alfed Molina are point and counterpoint personalities and each one brings his best to Love Is Strange.

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Every street corner has its regulars, a place where the cool hang out and those that know what they’re looking for, know where to look for it.  New York is filled with those street corners ready and welcoming to all addicts.  In a City That Never Sleeps one never need go without.  It’s all here, yours for the taking and the right price. 

Drugs you say?  Are you kidding me?  This is a PG-rated blog or at least it was until yesterday!  No smack, coke, grass, ice, beans or  caviar here!  Hey that stuff is illegal…now that we live in a city where our former mayor squelched one potential bad habit after another, there’s only two  or three legal addictions left that flourish.  It was touch and go there while the battle to ban super size cups of soda raged on and that would have deprived all of the aspartame junkies.   You can’t smoke in restaurants or virtually any public place, and forget that trans-fat craving – they’re gone too!

No, I’m talking about, yes you guessed it, ICE CREAM.  This is one hell of a I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream kind of place.  It’s my paradise, my utopia, my Shangri-La, my Camelot, my Avalon, this is my City, where every color, kind, flavor, soft and hard ice cream, not to mention gelato peacefully co-exist and are all here for my indulgence!

Of course every grocery store, market and bodega carry ice cream, frozen bars and popsicles.  Mr. Softee trucks are parked just outside major subway stops.  And then there the standard franchised ice cream stores like Carvel, Ben & Jerry’s and local shops like Emack & Bolio’s,  and Sedutto, all a haven for me and the rest of the ice cream junkies in New York City.  If you’re  shopping at Eli”s you can sample some of his creamy gelatos or while eating a hamburger at  Danny Meyer’s  Shake Shack, you can grab one of his daily homemade flavors of frozen custard.

But the worst places or the best places depending on what Step you’re on in your program, are the recent blossoming of  these help yourself , all you can eat soft yogurt store fronts!  We got Yogurt Land, 16 Handles and Off The Wall,  – they’re the equivalent of ancient opium parlors.  Just imagine walking into one of these multi-flavor palaces of sensory pleasure.  What would you do?  

I know what I do!  You take one of their large cups and you walk around in a daze, gazing at the walls with their colorful graphic cards describing the flavors and the gleaming shiny chrome handles and spigots.  I used to think Baskin & Robbins was heaven on earth with their 55 flavors to choose from but I was wrong because for all those flavors the most you could get on a cone  or a cup is two, three at the most.

But not in one of these delicious dispensers, oh no…you can pull down those handles and add coconut frozen yogurt and then add pistachio and then Dutch chocolate and then mango and then…well you get the picture, don’t you?  Pretty soon, those creamy cold coils of flavored yogurt are piled up one upon another.  On your way to the check out counter where they weigh your cup (you pay by the ounce), you pass a vast array of various toppings like M & M’s, gummy bears, cocoanut, chocolate syrup and much more.  I just pass right by these distractions because why would I ever want to mask the flavors of my frozen yogurt picks?

Summer in the City is my Nirvana!  If you’re an ice cream junkie, this place is for you!  Welcome to my world.

Menchi's Frozen Yogurt

Menchi’s Frozen Yogurt

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The Action of New York City

The Action of New York City (Photo credit: Stuck in Customs)

One of my most popular and consistently viewed blog posts is the one I did on the Top Ten Things To Do in New York City during Christmas.   If you haven’t read it, here’s the link to that one: https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4694&action=edit.

New York City is the capital of the world, a tourist magnet and the home to over 8 million residents which can sometimes make our streets and sidewalks very, very busy!  People from all over the world come here;  We invite them, you know – haven’t you ever seen the I Love New York ads on TV?  So you’re welcome to visit and see and experience this amazing place we call home BUT there are few things you sometimes (often) do while you’re here and they just annoy the s___ out of us!  Summertime is also a BIG time for tourists in the City (could be why so many residents head to the Hamptons) and if you don’t want to be a persona non grata, you will find this list helpful – and we will be grateful and welcome you back with open arms.  These are definite NO-NO’s

1. No need to avoid walking on the grates in the sidewalks when you are wearing sneakers (that’s how we know who is a visitor and who is a resident).  When you walk around the grate it forces others, who may be wearing heels, to walk over them.  Don’t be afraid of the grate;  What’s the worse that could happen?  It caves in and you drop 10 feet, maybe break your arm, just think of how much you can sue the City for!

2.  PLEASE do not walk holding hands;  You’re strolling, we’re walking behind you and we have to be somewhere soon!  Also trying to pass you is like trying to get around a tractor trailer and a solid white line.

3.  PLEASE do NOT stop in the middle of the sidewalk, the top of the escalator, just outside the revolving door!  I mean really, really?

4.  Renting a Citibike?  Don’t pull an Alec Baldwin and peddle down the wrong way on a one-way street.

5. Whispering on the subway, we can hear you!  

6. It’s not funny when you tawk with a fake New York accent!

7.  Acting like  we might hurt you!  This ain’t the 70’s anymore!

8. You drive your car into town and then complain about the traffic.

9. Asking for directions and not telling us where your ultimate destination is.  How can we help if we don’t know where you’re going.

10.  Umbrellas!  Yes the sidewalks are crowded so please remember you are not the only one with walking here and that thing is a weapon when you’re not careful.

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