Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Another Sunday, Same East Village

Went for a walk on St. Mark's Place from Ave. A to the Citibike station west of First Ave. and took a few pictures.

It was an astonishing day for this late in October, so pleasant and summer-like that a person could forget that it was already a month after the fall equinox. I'm not complaining but I'm spooked: too much of a good thing; too many odd weather events happening in too short a time to feel purely coincidental. Climate change? Global warming? Call it what you want but something is happening.

That said, the first photo is of three delightfully nice people in front of East Village Social fundraising for the people of Puerto Rico recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. From left to right it's Jean Carlos, Mackenzey and Kolyn. The pastries are Kolyn's creations inspired by her grandmother's recipes and sold under the Charlie Pie's brand. Kolyn said they were her grandmother's recipes but I refuse to believe she hasn't adapted them and made them her own.

This next photo is special. The dog is a rescue and it had some scars on its haunches to remind us that some people don't treat the animals in their lives the way they should be treated. The dog definitely has learned to love it's humans and they love it.

On my way west I swung over to East 7th Stret to say hello to someone and saw this sign in a window. I wouldn't have paid it much attention except the closest thing to a fence was the window guard and I couldn't imagine anyone hanging their bike from it, since it was about five or six feet above the sidewalk. 

These last three are just once of those things I do, stop people, say hi and take their photo. The fellow in the bowler is a local. Very pleasant and friendly.  The next one is a tourist visiting from Paris, France. It's nice to know that people from cities almost as interesting and nice as NYC come here to sight-see and find their way out of the main tourist drags. The last one were two friends hanging outside the restaurant where one works. 

And people think New Yorkers aren't friendly. I beg to differ. No, I demand to differ!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

East Village early October

I take too damn long to get these things put together. I'm still sitting on the photos I took during a train ride from New York to Spokane, Washington and back, with a week in Idaho. The only things I published from that trip were a few shots of the partial eclipse of the sun shot from a train speeding across the northern plains.

But I try, really I try and so here are a handful of photos I took two weeks ago in the East Village. It was the day after I found myself surprised by the parade of costumed and otherwise interesting people streaming in both directions on West 34th Street while I waited for my son in front of the AMC movie. I was surprised because I didn't know that ComicCon was on, but seeing those folk I immediately knew why. Those photos are still unedited. At least the photos I took on my trip have been selected and I've begun the editing.

Anyway, small groups are easier. So here's a few.

And in the spirit of ComicCon, the last shall be the first. This young man's grandmother had no idea that there was anything that would get a random photographer's attention when I stopped to chat with him. Yes, he'd been at at the Con.

Parking the Citibike on East 7th Street and Ave. A, there's always at least one person I want to photograph. I liked this woman's tee-shirt. I like to read tee-shirts so I notice things such as seeing three people wearing tee-shirts with images of Jimi Hendrix one sunny weekday afternoon in September, none with the other, no two shirts or Jimi images the same. This woman's shirt is one of those ironic messages that says "I know what I did, but really, was it me?"

Larry and Ron are two gents I see frequently at the Sidewalk Cafe. I don't know if it's the $4.00 happy hour or that it's on the way home or a better place to hang out than the laundromat across Avenue A, but they are frequently there on Sunday afternoon.
Jenavieve is a musician and friend of Wayne, the Sunday afternoon bartender. Wayne's got a story that maybe I'll tell someday, but Jenavieve is from the same town and in a way she's become Wayne's adoptive niece: he watches out for her though I doubt she needs much watching out for. She seems to have things well in hand on her own.
Ron was complaining that I hadn't taken his picture. Not true, as he later admitted, but I hadn't gotten him outside and since he came out while Jenavieve was taking a smoking break, here they are.
One of the reasons I was there was because Dorothy Friedman was holding an impromptu, unofficial memorial to John Ashbery. I knew John a little back in my Strand days, but hadn't seen him in more than a quarter century (sheesh, time flies). Other Unbearables were there including Tom Savage and Ron Kolm.  They read poetry, reminisced and quietly mourned one of the great voices of poetry in America.

There was a couple watching the football and the poets at the same time, not too difficult since the memorial was being held at a long table beneath a silenced tv set with a game going on. They asked me what was going on, I told them. The woman knew who Ashbery was and nodded, appreciating that this was going on.  They were in town from Boston.

And finally, sort of, as I was heading back, I saw this trio loading their car with luggage. I stopped to ask where they were heading. The work in publishing and were off the the Frankfurt Book Fair. I hope they sold the rights to lots of good books.

 And finally, for sure, the violinist thinking.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Talking to strangers on the train

Boarded my evening commuter train a bit early. There was a couple sitting where I usually sit. I could tell they weren’t commuters. We spoke and I asked them where they came from. They said they were from Honduras but their accent said told me they originated elsewhere. We chatted for a few minutes and I asked them if they were originally from Minnesota. They looked at each other and then at me. They were and they wanted to know how I knew. I told them I'm married to one and they sound like Minnesotans. They laughed and we talked a little about it since I’ve been there a few times myself.

Turns out they are visiting NY, staying with a friend in Westchester. They were coming back from a private group tour at the MMA which they booked a few weeks earlier. They odd thing to them was that their tour guide, a Russian born docent, was married to a childhood friend of the woman. When he saw their names on the tour list he bought some gifts to give them: Georgian wine and chocolate from Azerbaijan. 
In the first picture the woman has a Minnesota expression on her face that says, with that accent, "Oh no, you want to take my pictureOh Goodness, I guess it's okay."

 The train was crowded and a couple took to the last two seats in our section. To make the connection complete, the woman, though raised in Brooklyn, was born in Azerbaijan, too. Her husband, as it turns out, is from Norway. 

If this was fiction, you’d think it was too amazing to be true.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Havana Without Makup book release and discussion

Herman Portocarero
From the announcement for the event (indeed not one word in the following paragraph was written by me)

"As Havana prepares for inevitable transformations, Herman Portocarero offers an essential exploration of “the complex soul of a unique city.” Join us as we discuss his just-published book, Havana without Makeup, an homage to a city of contradictions, marked by rich architecture and culture on the one hand and dilapidation and isolation on the other.
Portocarero has been at the forefront of the island’s recent history for over two decades; he served first as the Belgian ambassador and later as the European Union ambassador to Cuba. With his unparalleled understanding of Cuban history, politics, and society, the insights Ambassador Portocarero has gleaned are indispensable for understanding Havana at this significant moment." 

The book is published by Turtle Point Press.

The event was at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. The panel consisted of:
  • Herman Portocarero, former EU Ambassador to Cuba
  • Alana Tummino, Senior Director of Policy and Head of Cuba Working Group, Americas Society/Council of the Americas; Senior Editor, Americas Quarterly (moderator)
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