Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New York. Show all posts

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash carpaccio - a brilliant idea from the new Empire Hotel restaurant in New York via The Wall Street Journal. But one might need an industrial lunch meat cutter to try at home!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Forget: September 11, 2001

Things are taking shape at Ground Zero, finally. The grounds are beautiful. I haven't had the courage yet for listening to the recordings of people on planes at the new museum. But the view is great from the high office floors of the new Freedom Tower.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Butterflies in the Urban Garden

This butterfly just spotted in my garden, near New York, New York. It appears to be a Spicebush Swallowtail.

Monday, February 23, 2015

War Bonds & Human Bonds

The Neue Gallery in New York is exhibiting World War I posters juxtaposing beautiful Austrian style and the futility of war:
The gallery is really a museum dedicated to a narrow window of history that interested two collectors. The exhibition notes that 100 years ago, Europe's cataclysmic war brought down four empires: Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman and Russian with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914.
The war was expected to "cleanse society," but euphoria gave way to despair, as hunger became widespread and staples dwindled. Disease and death followed. The loss of life with industrialized warfare is shocking to remember: 9 million military and 12 million civilian lives. The exhibit quotes Austrian writer Stefan Zweig, who described the initial days of World War I:
"Trains arrived with freshly arrived recruits. I found the entire city of Vienna in a state of intoxication. ... Suddenly flags unfurled, bands and music were everywhere. Young recruits marched in triumph and their faces were radiant because one cheered them ... The little common people who no one otherwise notices or celebrates. ...I found something great, magnetic, irresistible and even seductive in this first popular awakening. .. Hundreds of thousands felt something as never before that they should better have felt in peacetime: that they belonged together."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beautiful Winter Sunshine

Daffodils and sunshine are making my kitchen cheery. The calm before another winter storm due Thursday ....

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Brighter Dawn From Greece

There are good stories from Greece that won't make headlines.
Of course there is high unemployment and shocking financial corruption pervading Greek society. There is increased crime in some places. The marginalized, illegal, uneducated and otherwise poor immigrants in Greece seem to be a ticking time bomb. Then there is the horrible Nazi-sympathizer Golden Dawn political party that has captured votes.
The antidote is Christos Rafalides, a young vibraphonist from Kozani in Northern Greece. He loved music and studied it, getting a Bachelors in Boston and a Master's in New York. Now he's playing the smooth wooden xylophone, with its warm and wonderful tones, in some of the best jazz venues in Manhattan, and with the best orchestras and artists in Greece. Right now.
Young, successful people from Greece keep popping up in New York, working and adapting in ways that immigrants 100 years ago couldn't imagine. They are often smart and priveleged, but working hard -- especially in the arts.
It's fascinating how Rafalides, other instrumentalists and vocalists are interpreting familiar Greek songs with jazz compositions. But mostly, it's just cool to see someone make a career on vibes, which always was one of my favorite concert band instruments. Video below. Here's more on vibe player Rafalides.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rockefeller Christmas Tree

It's a foggy night in New York City 
and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree has a special sparkle!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dragonfly on Gardenia

Dragonflies are abundant in New York City. They land on people in Central Park. This one parked on my gardenia to catch the afternoon sun.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Beat the Heat: Go Greek (Yogurt)

Everyone's getting into the Greek yogurt craze: this food proprietor's sign greeted me as I entered our Midtown office building today: "Put Your Greek On." The store, Fresh, is adding a yogurt station to its expensive salads and lunchtime health nibbles. Let's see if the yogurt is thickened in a pure way.
Yogurt has become my theme of the summer: earlier I wrote about New York's yogurt summit, and have learned more about Chobani, the upstart yogurt company founded by entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya.
Ulukaya is Kurdish and Turkish and grew up on a dairy farm in Turkey. He came to New York and tried feta cheese manufacturing before launching a strained yogurt enterprise.
His story in this video, and the one below:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Frances Ha & Hot Chocolate

Saw a fun art film shot in black and white called "Frances Ha."
It is about a peculiar, lost, "undatable" creative girl. Very New York City and of the moment. But the soundtrack includes an old song that had me suddenly grooving out ---called "Everyone's a Winner," by Hot Chocolate. What a great blast from the past to resurrect!
It was on my running, hand-written, favorite songs list, the one with seemingly expired ideas for the used-record shop. Today, I was exiting the movie and listening to the full music video on my smartphone. I remember driving to our beach place, radio on and windows open, and hearing "Everyone's a Winner," along with "Strawberry Letter 22," by Brothers Johnson, as we traversed the Dan Ryan and the Indiana Skyway.
Here's the Frances Ha trailer. Below, the video.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hurricane Boardwalk

Long Beach, NY boardwalk, May 2013.
Long Beach, NY, April 2013 -- After Hurricane Sandy on the Atlantic Coast last fall, there is no boardwalk here.
But the concrete pylons remain and cast some long shadows. Some windows in the single-family neighborhood are boarded up. Some shrubs seem to have perished in the saltwater flood. The beach is full of sharp glass and plastic shards. While I was getting a manicure, one local woman said she's just now having new floors and walls installed, but no kitchen yet.
Happily, the windy salt air still is rejuvenating.

UPDATE, July 2013: The sand on Long Beach is no longer full of obvious shards, and the boardwalk is now under construction. But there are no showers, and the city still is charging $12 to sun and swim on this shabbier shore --even if you show up just before 6 p.m. when the lifeguards quit.
Long Beach, NY boardwalk from Allegria Hotel, July 2013.
The federal government is covering most of the $44 million reconstruction cost for a boardwalk with tropical wood planks and a cement border atop the old pylons (at left). But environmentalists are claiming the wood was harvested improperly. If so, that would violate newish Long Beach regulations and would further delay construction. One recent weekend, there was no construction traffic on the makeshift plank road next to the boardwalk.
As always, the tide keeps its routine and the sea mist is totally transforming.
More in the Long Island Press and a good photo of where things were this winter, here.

The Purple Iris Sea

Glad it's spring.
The Irises are so healthy this year, they're busting out of the fence. The Jasmine-smelling Gardenia is back outside (now it's supposed to be in the 40s!) And my little pink pinwheels are blooming too. If only I had a place to grow tomatoes ...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

NY Woman Murdered In Istanbul

The body of 33-year-old New Yorker Sarai Sierra was found near popular tourist haunts in Istanbul, Turkey Saturday.
Reports indicate her body was dumped near the last place she visited, the Galata Bridge, in the neighborhood called Sarayburnu, or Seraglio Point. This area juts out into the Bosphorus and is downhill from  the highway and train tracks that circle Sultanahmet. It's a short distance to Topkapi, Hagia Sofia church-mosque-museum and the Blue Mosque.
Nearby are many small wooden hotels and youth hostels. A tram or a walk across the Galata Bridge connects Sultanahmet with the Beyoglu/Pera/Galata side of the water. The quays on either side are dotted with small restaurants, where you eat fish under canopies as ferries and ships glide past.

A TV report on
Sarai Sierra
CBS news says here those initially "detained were at the scene when the body was found, with Sierra's driver's license, near the Four Seasons Hotel."
The London's Daily Mail quotes Sierra's husband speculating that maybe she got into trouble photographing graffiti. CBS quickly concluded the murder won't disrupt tourist travel to Istanbul. Conveniently, who was paying attention to international news on a Saturday afternoon?
But it is clear that the ramifications of the case were important to Turkish police, who questioned so many -- including two women. Also, a volunteer Turkish organization for missing persons got involved.

UPDATE 2/7: Sarai Sierra's body was turned over, curiously, to an Armenian Church in Beyoglu and her coffin carried through narrow walkways before the return to the U.S. on a free Turkish Airlines flight. Related stories here and here. There is much detail that U.S. media omitted in the English-language Turkish daily Today's Zaman, which writes that police denied the following rumors:
"Pointing to the shadier backstreets of Beyo─člu where Sierra stayed and the side trips she made to Amsterdam and Munich, suspicions that Sierra was a CIA operative, drug trafficker, and so on, have circulated in Turkish media."
Istanbul is a mesmerizing mix of headscarves, mosque calls to prayer, blue sea, ancient Greek sites and an overwhelmingly male sales force at the cash register. A larger issue here is how men view women in a Turkish cultural context. Do Turkish girls and women get encouragement and access to equal education and treatment as boys and men?  Important and shocking observations on that from the New York Times here.
A woman alone in Istanbul remains a curiosity, but it's not uncommon. I've traveled alone in Istanbul. Proprietors were very curious and friendly. Deeper into Turkey, a woman has little clout without a male companion, not to mention a translator.
On one trip, wandering out of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar at the close of business, a young man purchased a  piece of curious-looking melon for me when I asked what it was. He asked about my life, wouldn't take money for the fruit, and moved on. Another man, a jeweler, walked me to my hotel and we chatted in the lobby over tea about the economy and his life; he lived with with his mother.
After days of travel, it seemed the men were unrelenting in hitting on foreign women. One night in Sultanahmet, a guy on the street -- it is always presumed they are hawking a restaurant, hotel, carpets, ceramic trinkets  -- called out to me as I walked toward him: "Are you French, British, American?" With half a block before I got to him, I crossed in the middle of the street to the other side.
"I'm sorry," he finally called out.
I never looked back, and took the tram home, in the dark, to an apartment-hotel with no front desk. Within four blocks, Turkish police armed with machine guns manned a post; transvestite prostitutes hovered in dark corners.
Sarai Sierra, a young mother and aspiring photographer, wasn't so lucky.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sufjan Steven's Christmas Unicorn

Composer and hipster musician Sufjan Stevens will be performing Christmas shows across our great land, and I must say the clever little ironic holiday song "Christmas Unicorn" is very addictive.

I'm the Christmas Unicorn.
I'm a Christian holiday
I'm a pagan heresy
I've a penchant for sublime
I'm a mystical apostacy
I play all night with a magical kite
I'm a construct of your mind.
I'm hysterically American
I'm a frantic shopper and a brave pill popper
I know you're just like me
I'm the Christmas Unicorn
You're the Christmas Unicorn
It's all right. I love you.

Tickets for Stevens' Bowery show in New York, New York are only available two days before the 12/19 show. If that proves tough, listen to the song, "Redford (For Yia-Yia and Papou" and other songs available via

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hand of Peace

St. Irene Chrysovalantou reliquary,
basil & jasmine

I was accidentally drawn into an outdoor Astoria procession with an icon and holy relic held on the shoulders of many men.
Chanting and incense wafted into New York City police cars. Locals sipping Sunday coffee at a cafe stood up as the silver-encased hand of St. Irene Chrysovalantou processed under the subway tracks on the familiar pavement, full of somber faithful instead of traffic.
Long ago, St. Irene was renowned as a young monastic leader who saw clearly into the future. She was born in Cappadocia, which is now in Eastern Turkey, and refused marriage to Empress Theodora's son in Constantinople (now Istanbul). (Bios on Wikipedia & local church Website.)
The local icon of "St. Peace" and the reliquary (at right), are surrounded by yellow coins and jewelry left by prayerful penitents.
Participants in the procession wore traditional Greek garb. The rest received a lapel sticker, apple slices thought to work miracles, and sweet bread laced with mastic and orange. At the end of the procession, the icon was passed over the faithful, who lined up on closed streets for a blessing.
Several ducking under the flower-framed image were clearly ill and in need.
The St. Irene Chrysovalantou Greek Orthodox church and monastery in Astoria, New York were plagued in recent years by scandal, detailed here.) The church reports directly to the Patriarch of Constantinople, who defrocked the founding leaders in 2012 and assigned new ones. More in my other post here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

9/11 Countdown Begins

This magazine cover awaited me at the office this morning. After an earthquake and a hurricane, an anniversary doesn't seem as threatening.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene Sunset

As the song says, "Goodnight, Irene!" Photo looking West over silent Amtrak tracks in Queens.

Irene is Gone, But...

More than one million people are without power after Irene-the-Hurricane hit New York City and the metro area, and the sky and occasional wind gusts still seem threatening. Water is rising on the coasts and in rivers.
Irene means peace. What a name choice. In the end this hurricane was not as bad as predicted, though tell that to people who have been evacuated from their homes. Thankfully all is well where I am in Queens - other than a small roof leak.
I stocked up as if I would be cooped up for days, and slept through the eye of the storm. The massive maple outside my window is still there.
Winds didn't quite exceed hurricane force in NYC but did at LaGuardia (67 mph). The rivers are flooding parks in Manhattan, windows were blown out at city buildings downtown and 650 trees have been uprooted throughout the burroughs, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg just said on TV.
"Nature is dangerous. Pay attention ... Stay out from under trees," Bloomberg says. "[On bright side] three hundred fewer arrests last night. People do come together."
The mass transit chief says train yards are under water in Brooklyn, but tunnels didn't flood. Still, authorities are not restoring service until flood water is removed and gusts die down and train yards in Brooklyn can hold trains and conductors can get to work. NYC buses are likely to be added first.
There is debate now if government hyped the fury of Irene, after the Katrina disaster, a big blizzard here last year, and to streamline emergency response services. The non-stop media coverage was excessive.
Wind pulled my neighbors' small trees, which are now leaning. My neighbors were out assessing damage in a strange mist this morning, well after the eye passed. Now it's just light drops, light wind, and lots of leaves stuck to the ground. Blue sky and sun appear for a few minutes and disappear under white cloud cover.
We have had an unprecedented amount of rain in August with about 7 inches from Irene, so the tidal swells and rivers can't handle it today - you should see the footage on TV of rivers in New Jersey, and on the south coast of Long Island where the hit was harder: roofs gone, downed trees and massive waves.
Looks like the foamy ocean met the bay and the combo is flooding Montauk, out past the Hamptons on Long Island.
Services at my Manhattan church were cancelled today, trains and buses still not running - both unprecedented.
Wall Street is scheduled to open on time, Bloomberg says.
The photo above is the view from my front window at 1 pm EST. Maybe you can see the windows crossed with blue tape. People here were really scared and some grocery and drugstore shelves were empty.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lovin' Avgolemono

A funny video on egg-lemon soup, that therapy for the soul with a heavy twist of citrus. It's the latest from a cheesy, local Greek kid with a good sense of humor named Sotirios, or "So Tiri" which is Greek-English for "So Cheese." (His last video featured feta and a goat.) With apologies to the Fugees and praise for his grooving grandmother or Yiayia. The intro lyrics:

You know I like feta and bread,
But I also like avgolemono.
Let’s go to eat!
I went to my Yiayia’s
For her to fix me something to eat
She cooked pastitsio (Greek lasagna)
But I was still hungry.
Avgolemono. Fix it for me please.
It’s the only soup that I love.
Put a carrot in the water,
Two carrots and a little celery
In about an hour it will smell great
You mix in milk and eggs,
At the end you put in rice, and squeeze two lemons … 
Bean soup, lentil soup, get out of here!
When I go to bed, you’re always on my mind,
And when I get up? Avgolemono.