Snaps from a long weekend in New York.
Hopes dashed! The Park is only a restaurant.
Alex Vadukul limns Sir Shadow, artist of the Bowery’s Whitehouse Hotel.
“A man with a million dollars doesn’t have what I have.
“All that matters to me is the next poem,” he added. “The next drawing. And I have to be ready to receive it. All the other stuff? That’s someone else’s problem.”
The photograph of the Munsell soil color chart book pulled me up short. As I read Richard Schiffman’s piece, my thoughts bounced around from “wow, this is cool that soil scientists are getting profiled in the Times” to “New York has a soil brokerage clearinghouse so that good fill dirt from a construction site can be used to rebuild a wetland? That’s bananas—no, that’s brilliant!”
While the idea might seem obvious, Dr. [Dan] Walsh maintains that this is the first soil exchange anywhere in the world that is run by a city government. It is currently being watched by officials from New Orleans and Los Angeles as well as municipalities in Germany, China and Australia, which are considering implementing similar programs.
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“We’re essentially matchmakers,” Dr. Walsh said. “We don’t stockpile the soil, so both a donor and a recipient have to be ready at the same time. Our job is to coordinate the transfer.”
The NYC Urban Soils Institute has plans to establish a soil museum in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery—something for my to-see list in New York.
By chance, I figured out what this peculiar-looking project, spotted just north of the High Line last August, will be: The Shed.
I’ve been trying to keep up with the extensive reporting by the Times on the shabby state of New York’s subway system, and how it got that way. Here’s a nugget from Brian M. Rosenthal et al.’s kickoff (it’s from November—did I say that I was trying to keep up?):
A bill passed by the Legislature in 1989 included a provision that lets state officials impose a fee on bonds issued by public authorities. The fee was largely intended to compensate the state for helping understaffed authorities navigate the borrowing process. It was to be a small charge, no more than 0.2 percent of the value of bond issuances….
The charge has quietly grown into a revenue stream for the state. And a lot of the money has been sapped from one authority in particular: the M.T.A.
The authority — a sophisticated operation that contracts with multiple bond experts — has had to pay $328 million in bond issuance fees over the past 15 years.
In some years, it has been charged fees totaling nearly 1 percent of its bond issuances, far more than foreseen under the original law….
But records show that other agencies have had tens of millions of dollars in bond issuance fees waived, including the Dormitory Authority, which is often used as a vehicle for pork projects pushed by the governor or lawmakers. The M.T.A. has not benefited as often from waivers.
- Craig Morris and Arne Jungjohann write about strategies for mustering grassroots support for transitions in energy sources. How did the German Energiewende reverse the rise in nuclear energy dependence, replacing nuclear power with other renewable sources?
- Andy Newman does a ride-along on New York’s century-old technology: manually operated elevators. (And a map of buildings that still use them.)
- J. F. Meils reviews what’s news in the struggle to fully enfranchise the District of Columbia.
Hilary Howard reports on the precarious state of independent acting conservatories in New York. To stay afloat, many have partnered with universities (at the cost of higher fees for their students). The Knickerbocker’s showcase is now online (which makes sense, because aspiring actors are gravitating to classes in auditioning and on-camera work and skipping classes in craft). Rents for Chelsea venues are climbing. At Stanford Meisner’s Neighborhood Playhouse,
“We are all afraid of the roof caving in,” said Ms. [Pamela] Moller Kareman, who had to pay $20,000 to fix the building’s out-of-commission elevator when she was first hired. “The elevator guys said we don’t even have parts for this anymore,” she recalled.
Netting bats on the ashes of a Staten Island landfill, from Laura Bliss.
A lot of New Yorkers still think of Freshkills as a dump, [Danielle Fibikar] says, even though it’s coming back to life. The place is misunderstood, sort of like the bats.
“There’s a lot of stuff people don’t pay attention to in this city,” she says. “I think they’re scared of what they don’t know.”
Alas, the story is marred by a copy editing blunder:
In New York City, where nine species of bats are known to migrate during the summer, a single little brown bat is capable of devouring up to 100 percent of its body weight in insects, a diet that includes mosquitoes.
Devouring up to 100 per cent of its body weight… per day? per minute? per fortnight?
Alex Vadukul visits the 13th Street Repertory Company, an Off Off Broadway venue in Greenwich Village from way back: equal parts Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland in the old barn and You Can’t Take It with You:
… a man who was homeless before Ms. [Edith] O’Hara offered him a crawl space above the lighting booth. That man, Tom Harlan, 60, sat barefoot in the theater’s dimly lit office recently. “She took me in,” he said….
After Mr. Harlan moved in, Ms. O’Hara discovered he was artistically gifted, and she made him her resident costume and set designer.
When is a good time to stop for a fire escape? How about now? At left, he St. George, Lexington Avenue at East 78th Street. Forgotten New York thought it was worth a stop, too.
A few snaps from my trip to the New York Botanical Garden on a very warm, generally sunny day. The place is huge! I budgeted a good chunk of time in the Native Plant Garden, site of the memorial to Elizabeth Gertrude Knight Britton. A couple of less common plants in flower were a mountain mint, Pycnathemum curvipes (left) (hmm, USDA PLANTS says that this not native to New York, but only to North Carolina and south) and Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata) (right). Newcomb points out that the delicate white flower parts on the spurge are actually bracts, not petals.
In the less-tended bits of the grounds is the Thain Family Forest. An interpretive sign calls out the importance of citizen science, and just a few steps down the trail is a Picture Post.
From my East Side hotel, I rode the L over to the High Line for a quick stroll.
I budgeted an hour, and it wasn’t nearly enough. I wasn’t expecting a horticulture field trip. Moving north from 14th Street, I saw an artificial wetland supporting Typha sp. and Lobelia sp. (since everything was cultivated and it’s not my neighborhood, I’m not going to chance an ID to species or cultivar); Rhus sp.; Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium sp.); Rudbeckia sp.; Asclepias sp.; Vernonia sp.;
Daucus sp.; Ilex sp. in fruit; some sad-looking Juniperus sp.; Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi); Purpletop (Tridens flavus); as well as a few plants not native to New York state. But nary a Pawlonia tomentosa or Ailanthus altissima to be seen (or smelled)!
Much more completed, the iconic Starrett-Lehigh Building, viewed from the north.
I visited The Frick Collection for the first time since high school, as far as I can remember. I came for the Vermeers, but my surprise find was the crazy intricate clocks on display, like David Weber’s clock with astronomical dials, and Jean-Baptiste Lepaute’s globe, still in working order.
In the library, of course there are many uniformly bound volumes on art and artists, as well as a set of Thoreau and Emerson. And Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy, by John Fiske. Who he? Late-19th century expositor of Darwin, abolitionist, and (alas) champion of the “Anglo-Saxon race.”
George Belcher watches the slow fading of New York diner culture.
After the Cafe [at 97th Street and Columbus] succumbed in 2005, I spent months looking for my next “third place.” Diner regulars can be particular. The ambience has to be friendly but not intrusive, the sound level low but not funereal, the smell a little greasy but not cloying, and the décor more utilitarian than fussy. I eventually settled in at the Metro [on 100th Street and Broadway].