Friday, April 11, 2014

A sunny walk along the Hudson River on Manhattan's west side

Last Sunday was a gorgeous day. Sunny, warm for several hours, with a spring-like feeling (finally). I joined an organized group walk of several miles that made its way along the Hudson River from Manhattan's 79th Street Boat Basin to the South Ferry station at the southern tip of the island.

We begin with the Boat Basin off of Riverside Park.


Then head south. The landscape still looks mostly like kindling. But the weather is wonderful.


On Riverside South, which is the Hudson shoreline between 72nd and 59th streets, there are interesting finds, like the remnants of the New York Central Railroad transfer bridge, which had been built in the early 1900s to take train cars across the river to New Jersey.


There's also art on display.


Further south at Pier 96 on 55th street, there's a giant wine bottle, and in it a replica of a Queen Mary state room. This is Malcolm Cochran's sculpture, "Private Passage."


Looking at it at the time, I thought it was a cross between a bottle and a submarine, and that it tries to capture some of the romance of messages traveling by bottle, only there would be people in this one instead. It has a strong sci-fi vibe.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Week in Seven Words #210 & 211


He drinks in picture books.

I doubt the teacher will care what she writes. The requirements are a neatly typed page. The contents, which amount to some painful regurgitations about the leather-making process, will pass muster.

The lake water exists in different states. The ice is puckered; at the edges it's darkened, as if crisped. The remains of a tree rear up from the ashy ice and slush.

Childhood has become remote to him. It's a phase portrayed in books. He was always an adult.

A landscape of rocks, ice and petrified trees.

I'd like to stretch my legs and stride.

Beneath a sheet of ice, the water sings.


He won't examine the things he fears. He pretends he has no fears and is contemptuous when other people are afraid.

Does she feel like a Mr. Goodbar among the Godiva truffles?

When using henna, I feel like there's a greenhouse on my head. An earthy odor, moisture, bits of herbs clinging to my scalp.

When they were younger, they liked what they liked without looking to other people to see what they should like.

In Act I, the stage is draped in a decadent red. Act II is full of gold and champagne. That lasts until the third act with its blue and gray bars of shadow.

It's a brilliant cold night, and the lights are bouncing off the black reflection pool.

I watch her enjoying the music and think that this is what she could be, more often: contented, engaged, and full of delight.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Week in Seven Words #208 & 209


I tell her that she can sit on the rug, if she likes. She smiles and sits just off the rug, by an inch.

Kids scale the dirty hills of snow on the curbside. They turn them into ice forts, seared black by the breath of dragons.

Broken ice parades on the river. One piece looks like a miniature mountain, another like a shallow bowl of soup. A third is bearing birds towards the ocean.

Shoppers tear apart a store gone bankrupt.

He's too young to understand the jokes, but old enough to want to laugh along.

A small diner. Photos of organically grown vegetables over a grotty ketchup dispenser.

The beat taps and hisses beneath the melodic line.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Week in Seven Words #206 & 207


Sometimes the only way to avoid falling is to lower yourself to your knees, by choice, before finding firmer ground to stand on.

She does her best to convince me to go against my conscience, and she almost succeeds. But at the end, I do what I'll be able to live with.

Their rooms: a pink glow, a blue cove.

Weary greeters, looking washed out under the fluorescent lights.

He's uncomfortable with being sensitive, so he hides it with a snotty attitude. She's also sensitive, but she cries when she needs to.

At the head of every line is an elderly person who turns shopping into a social opportunity. Maybe it's the only time that day they'll talk to someone. They'll hold up the line if they need to, by dwelling on the finer points of their receipts and exploring the depths of pockets and bags to stall for time.

Wearing a winter coat indoors while I work.


The voice on the other end of the line is hoarse and quiet.

Her lips twist as she returns the chocolates. Beneath the foil, she found a stale crumble.

Another light has winked out.

Messy, dirty snow and painful cold.

What happens to children whose personal voice has been pounded out of them? How do they regain the ability to tell stories about their lives with some sense of self-assurance?

They're brisk and efficient. Their mind is always on what they'll be doing next, and what they should be doing according to a magazine, a website, their friends and family and co-workers. They operate on a schedule that's daunting. There are few moments to stop and think; every pause prompts the appearance of a smartphone. And this is why, as friendly as we may be towards each other, we stop short of actual friendship. Sometimes I think it's like the express train vs. the local, occasionally making it to the station at the same time, but on different tracks. But that's an imperfect analogy.

In the guise of helping others, they express an intense selfishness.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

NYC Window-Shopping Walk: Columbus Circle to 5th Avenue to Greenwich Village

This past Thursday, the temperatures peaked in the high 40s, maybe low 50s (Fahrenheit), which is practically a heat wave considering what the winter's been like. Good weather for a walk.

It starts in Columbus Circle.


Walk south to 57th, and then head east, past Carnegie Hall and the Russian Tea Room:


And an antique shop offering wares that look enchanted or cursed:


Week in Seven Words #204 & 205

Pearls of dark chocolate and mint, spilled onto Purelled hands.

Haven't we had this conversation before? In our respective chairs, one of us talking more than the other?

I take a dialect quiz (focusing on pronunciation, and certain vocab and expressions), and the results are supposed to tell you what region of the US you're from. As it turns out, the way I speak fits closest to these three cities: San Jose, Fremont, and Honolulu. Also, I'm generally a very strong fit with Long Island, NY. Given that I was born in California and spent close to six years of my life in southern California, then the rest of my childhood on Long Island, these are pretty accurate results.

The days are slight, as thin as fingernails.

Embers in me that I want to coax back to life.

The animals have one corner of the floor; the plants have the other. In his world, at this time, they can't mingle.

"Are you with someone?" he asks, his eyes scanning the room, fishing for additional prospects. "Yes," I say. "If it doesn't work out," he immediately says, in a business-like tone, "could I be the first one to know? Let me know, right after." Yep. That's exactly what I'm going to do. The first thing I'll think of in the aftermath of a break-up is you. And I do in fact get his business card, with two phone numbers. His customer service skills are impeccable.

This is the kind of cold that scrubs away at your cheeks like steel wool.

I don't know how they do it - plunge into the cold water without their hearts stopping.

The space beneath my desk is very cold. I could chill wine in there, where the heat hasn't made its way.

Deft fingers on the mandolin and a rough and honest voice. Magnificent.

A sky like gray silk.

They're a married couple with no apparent chemistry. No shared looks, no laughter in their eyes, just a tiredness in the way they move and talk to each other. As if they'd always rather be in different rooms. There's no sense of what's holding them together except for social acceptableness.

Hours of poetry, some earnestly awful and some of it beautiful. It's been a while since I had the pleasure of listening to poetry read out loud. Even the bad poetry sounds better read out loud.