Tag Archives: central park

Lame Adventure 365: I, Numbskull

In February, I received an email from the Public Art Fund announcing that a new outdoor art exhibit was opening on March 5th called United Enemies. It’s comprised of two monumental bronze sculptures by Thomas Schütte.  Both sculptures feature a pair of angry men tied together but struggling to pull apart.  They are so consumed with contempt for each other their faces are distorted.  Naturally I thought:

Me: The Democrats and the Republicans!

Apparently, I was onto something for I learned some specifics about its origin:

“Conceived during a residency in Italy at a time when several politicians had been arrested for corruption, this series of works refers obliquely to these individuals, though the figures represented in the work are mythical characters rather than specific people.”

Last week, the Public Art Fund sent me an email reminding me that the exhibit has officially opened, or at least that’s what I thought the email was about. I didn’t read the email’s text.  I looked at the image and instantly thought these pairs of freaky gents would be welcome on my site.

Take fifteen seconds to read this.

Too busy to take fifteen seconds to read this.

On Sunday afternoon, I hopped on the downtown 1 local subway train, exited at 59th Street and walked east down Central Park West, prepared to take my usual mediocre photographs. As I passed each entrance and exit to the park, I was confounded for I could not find these sculptures. I knew they weren’t lawn jockey size.  Since they were bronze behemoths I thought it was highly unlikely that they were stolen or damaged.  When I reached Fifth Avenue, I considered asking a carriage horse driver if he knew where they were, but that struck me as absurd since they were obviously nowhere to be found.

I then proceeded to retrace my steps going west. I looked closer at each entrance and exit to the park, but still, there was no sign of these sculptures and my bafflement escalated.  Why didn’t I read the text in that email?  Was this exhibit postponed or opening at a later date?  I walked up Central Park West and looked over the lower end of the park.  All I saw was a woman walking two poodles clad in coats that surely cost more than my crappy down jacket.

Then, I had a light bulb: I’d look at the email!  Last Xmas The Boss gave me a refurbished iPod Touch.  I turned it on, but could not access the internet.  I felt foiled and regretted only being able to afford a dumb phone.  I really did not want to return home to read that email on my home computer, but then I had another light bulb: I may have a dumb phone but I have friends with smart phones. First, I called Milton, but he wasn’t around.  Next, I texted Coco, but she wasn’t around.  Last, I tried my pal, Lola.  She wasn’t around, either. I gave up and proceeded to walk home.  As I neared 66th Street Milton called:

Milton: You rang.

Me: Yeah. I’m trying to photograph a Public Art Fund exhibit near the entrance of Central Park, but I don’t know what entrance it’s at.  Can you research it for me?

Milton: What’s the name of the exhibit?

Me: The artist is Thomas something, a German-sounding name.  Just Google Public Art Fund.

Milton: What’s the first word I’m Googling?

Me:  Public.

Milton: What?

Me: Public.

Milton: Say again.

Me: Public.  Like the Public Theater, but don’t Google the Public Theater

Milton: Oh.  Public. The Public what?

Me: Art Fund.

Milton: The Public Art Fund.

[Channeling Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins: By Jove, I think he’s got it!]

Milton: It’s in the Doris C. Freedman Plaza at 60th Street and Fifth Avenue. Who’s Doris C. Freedman?  Where the hell is that?

Me: I have no idea. I’ve just spent the last hour walking up and down Central Park West like an idiot.

Milton: Figure it’s by the Plaza Hotel.

The Plaza Hotel.

The Plaza Hotel.

Me: I was just by the Plaza Hotel.

Milton: You were probably on the 59th Street side.  Go to 60th.

Just then a 66th Street cross-town bus arrived. I stood behind two senior citizens that paid their fares in loose change.  This took an eternity to accomplish.  I counted the traffic light change three times and began regretting not carrying a sleeping bag.  The bus crossed the park. I exited at Fifth Avenue to continue my crusade.  Metal stands left over from the St. Patrick’s Day parade were still crowding the sidewalk.

Metal stands hogging sidewalk.

Metal stands hogging sidewalk.

I noticed several well-heeled pedestrians carrying shopping bags from the tony department stores in the area walking in the street.  Clearly they have better health insurance than me. Finally, as I approached 60th Street I saw the sculptures in the distance.

Hallelujah moment.

Hallelujah moment.

Putting their best peg leg forward.

Putting their best peg leg forward.

From this angle these guys brought to mind former governor of Alabama George Wallace.

From this angle these guys brought to mind former governor of Alabama George Wallace.

Two more miserable bronze dudes.

Two more miserable bronze dudes.

Pastoral shot of park doubling as eyeball cleanse.

Picturesque shot of park doubling as eyeball cleanse.

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Lame Adventure 325: Hanging Out in My Back Yard

I reside in an apartment in a Manhattan brownstone that is so rustic, I suspect that it was built shortly after the pilgrims dropped anchor at Plymouth Rock.  This past Saturday was possibly the best weather day of 2012, a day that was sunny and warm, with little humidity.  It followed an evening so cool and comfortable I entered a coma in my air condition-less hovel where I soundly slept twelve hours straight. I celebrated the advent of this glorious day by doing what else?  I purchased a tube of toothpaste.

Keep it simple.  Pass on complicated.

After completing my errand, I had no desire to return home.  I was feeling uncharacteristically nature-y having had my first good night’s sleep in a month.  Therefore I decided to hang out in my back yard, a place that is walking distance from my sanctum sanctorum, Central Park.

I walked up West 73rd Street where I indulged my Vespa fetish when I saw a lovely red one with a very cool black and red saddle.

Let’s go out on a date.  You do the driving.

Across the street stood the Dakota where Roman Polanski filmed Rosemary’s Baby in 1967.

Back door view of the Dakota.

The Dakota’s fence — a fence on steroids.

I enter through the West 72nd Street entrance and walk a narrow path where I see this tree.

Tree.

I instantly think exactly what you’re thinking:

Me (and you):  Is this a Juniperus virginiana?

Our guess is on the money!

I walk further and see what I am quite sure is People-us On-a-rock-ana but I do not encounter a sign so I have to rely on my stellar powers of perception.

People-us On-a-rock-ana.

To my left is a whole helluva lotta green.

Want green and leafy? You’re in the right place.

To my right I see a cart full of plants.

Got marijuana? No.

Sheep Meadow is significantly more populated this day than it was when I last visited two weeks ago under a sweltering sun.

Sheep-less people-full meadow.

In fact the weather was so lovely it was possible to take a leisurely stroll in a black suit.

For an encore, don’t think about wearing a turtleneck.

I headed over to see the roller bladers showing off.

Anyone lose a water bottle?

This guy with all the joint protection was very good, not that it’s apparent in this picture.

This guy that looked like an accountant had great moves completely unapparent in this picture.

These guys are not performing a bro-dance with each other, even though this picture gives that false impression.

This may look like a pas de deux on skates but it’s not.

It’s even possible that this was the first and last time they ever met.

On my way to the band shell, I walked past statues of Victor Herbert, an early 20th Century composer, and Beethoven with a nymph, possibly symbolizing a 19th Century groupie.

This guy was The Man in the early 20th Century.

Beethoven remains the man in this century.

I also encountered a quartet of modern day musicians that sounded great.

Modern day quartet playing classical drums.

There was a crowd gathered in front of the band shell.

Hm, what’s going on over here?

They were watching these very acrobatic dudes showing off impressively.

I’ll attempt doing this in my next life.

They asked two boys in the audience to participate.

Kids doing exactly what they’re told by dude in red shorts.

How was your visit to Central Park Young Fella? Okay, some guy jumped over my head.

Then, they resumed their acrobatics

Easy for him to do!

I popped an Aleve and moved on where I next encountered the soap bubble dude.

Big ass soap bubble!

Mr. Bubble.

I made my way over to Bethesda Fountain.

I was not alone.

Boating rentals did well.

Boaters boating.

As did the professional photographers.

Cool day to wear hot pink.

This guy was in a world of his own doing yoga moves.

Maybe he’s listening to Victor Herbert on his headphones.

A surefire way for me to pull a hamstring.

Wow.

If I tried this I’m sure I’d bounce off the ball.

I thought:

Me (thinking):  Now I’ve seen everything … and a gondola?  Am I in Venice?

The Central Park gondola.

The boaters were heading towards the boathouse where I’ve been known to pound a beverage from time to time. (hiccup)

Central Park Boathouse.

Here’s the Trefoil Arch.

Trefoil Arch.

I did not walk under it.  Instead I headed for the Ramble, a place that in the not too distant past was notorious for gay male cruising.

Family friendly ramble.

Now it’s considered one of the top bird-watching locations in the US.

All I encountered was a guy serenading his girlfriend with his guitar, a squirrel and one lone robin.

Guitar man.

“Hurry up, photograph me, I’m on the hunt for dinner!”

“Whatever you do, don’t make me look fat.”

I could hear a chorus of birds singing in the branches, but I couldn’t see any of them.

“Hey, if anyone wants to show up for a picture, I’ll send you copies!”

So I photographed a squashed orange safety cone and moved on.

I agree. Not the most photogenic sight.

I then walked down a dirt path, not one of my favorite things in life, since I much prefer concrete and real stairs or an escalator.

Goodbye civilization.

The path led straight to the mouth of the lake but I firmly planted my foot to ensure I would not belly flop into it.

Firmly planted foot in blue Jack Purcell badminton shoe.

Boaters enjoying their idyll as city waits in the background.

I resumed my hike and saw some flora the botanist in me called the ouchy pointy plant.

Trip and fall into this might feel equal to embracing a porcupine.

I also encountered that robin again for I am sure that’s the sole robin in this 1.3 square mile park.

You can’t be serious.

I saw a stream.

Or is this a babbling brook?

And Turtle Pond, the place where there’s all you can eat green algae.

What a time to be without a spork!

I saw the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, something I had no idea existed – puppets in my back yard!

Swedish puppets only steps away from my humble abode!

I walked past Shakespeare’s Garden, not that the Bard ever saw this patch of foliage himself.

Greens for the Bard.

The Delacorte Theater where free Shakespeare in the Park is staged was doing sound checks.

Terrific outdoor free theater — if you can get a ticket.

Hey Romeo & Juliet, get a room!

Don’t mess with this guy.

Meanwhile more fresh air lovers were hanging out on the Great Lawn.

Great Lawn under beautiful blue sky.

I hope whoever is assigned to mow it has access to a lawn tractor.

The ducks were taking it easy, too.

We love this weather and, oh yeah, quack.

So were the turtles in Turtle Pond.

“MIchael Phelps has nothing on me!”

Here’s Belvedere Castle, no big city park is complete without its castle.

Just a castle in the big city.

Then I headed home to brush my teeth.

Think I’ll take the scenic route back.

Lame Adventure 321: Sunday in the Park with Lola

It’s been a brutally hot summer in the city thus far this year.  Since I live in digs that are not wired for air conditioning, my queen-sized pillow-topped mattress that usually feels like the comfiest of clouds feels more like a grill pan over high heat these days. Yet who am I to complain about not having had a restful night’s sleep since May?  At least I reside walking distance from the oasis that is Central Park.

On Sunday, when the heat and humidity were a millimeter below sweltering, I visited the park with my friend, Lola.  We entered, took a wrong turn, almost crossed a triathlon’s finish line, reversed course, grabbed lemonade for her and iced tea for me at the Le Pain Quotidian near Sheep’s Meadow, exchanged yak about how that LPQ must be a goldmine, and then made a beeline for a shady tree where we promptly suffered that familiar middle age malady, CRS (Can’t Remember Shit).

Sheep’s Meadow sun bathers dotting Great Lawn.

Both of us blanked on the name of the famous landscape architect who designed the park.  Lola tried in vain to find the answer that was on the tips of our frozen brains on her iPhone but the Gods of wifi were against us.  Later, while I was batting away a bug the size of a hornet, Frederick Law Olmstead’s name popped out from one of the holes in my head.  Actually, Olmstead co-designed the park with Calvert Vaux, whose name I did not know until now, but I’m confident that I’ll be brain freezing on him as soon as I finish writing this sentence.

Sheep’s Meadow has often been a sea of sun worshippers.  The sheep were relocated in 1934 because (according to Wikipedia):

“There was fear for the sheep’s safety by hungry folk during the great depression. Officials were concerned that starving men would turn the sheep into lunch.”

On this hot and humid afternoon the meadow was not only sheep-less but also relatively empty.  It seemed that the shade had more appeal than the pursuit of skin cancer.

Sheep’s Meadow shade worshippers clustered under trees.

While we were sheltered under our tree we discussed the recent death of writer-director-humorist, Nora Ephron.

Me:  All that’s left is Joan Rivers and Tina Fey.

Lola: What about Kristin Wiig?

Me: Yes, I do believe I’ve just insulted her and Amy Poehler and Sarah Silverman among others.

Lola: One of my favorite books is Joan’s I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me.  The title reminds me of you.

Me:  I love that title.  I love Joan.  I feel honored that you think that.

While we were heading over to watch the players playing in the bocce ball courts, we encountered signs that free comedy was happening very near.

“Let’s find the bocce courts so we can find the comedy!”

Bocce ball is a very slow game prompting me to suggest:

Me:  This is almost as riveting as curling.

Bocce: a game that doubles as a sleep aid.

We then headed over to catch some free comedy.

Shade loving comedy audience.

The searing heat occupied the best seats, but we did stick around long enough to hear Ophira Eisenberg, a comedian that I had read about in The New York Times in April.  Getting to hear her perform her witty brand of topical standup in Central Park was very entertaining.  I particularly enjoyed her take about people getting her name wrong and guests visiting her in her fifth floor walk-up in Brooklyn gasping when they reach her door, “Do you do this every day?”  Performers like Ophira give me hope that the ranks of funny women are growing.

I left the park with Lola feeling good.  When we reached 72nd and Broadway my friend traveled south and I north.  Just as I was considering that I’m being a wimp about the heat — summer in New York can be truly wonderful, I crash landed back to reality.

Going commando.

Hopefully, it will cool down soon for all of us out here.

Lame Adventure 214: Wedding(s) Crasher

The brides.

Today is a lovely 91 degree day in the city – hot but not humid, and a perfect day to get same-sex married in one of the two pop-up chapels near Columbus Circle at the Merchant’s Gate entrance to Central Park.  The area seemed equally divided with well wishing onlookers as well as police and wedding staff.

Well wishing onlookers.

The crowd was behaved although one onlooker’s father, a grumpy tourist who was more hungry for his lunch than storybook-New-York-City-style-romance, continually groused to his wedding-loving-daughter:

Grumpy Dad:  C’mon, we’ve watched enough of this!  Let’s get lunch!

Wedding-Loving-Daughter:  You get lunch.  I wanna watch!

Grumpy Dad:  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Wedding-Loving-Daughter was adorable, and a thought occurred to me:

Me:  People meet at weddings all the time.  Give her your Lame Adventures card.

Then a second thought occurred to me:

Me: She’s at least thirty years younger than you.  You’re older than her dad.  And, hello, you’re not a cougar!

I kept my card and returned my focus to the festivities.

This event offered free weddings including officiating, photography, champagne, witnesses, and of most importance to every New Yorker, cupcakes, to 24 first come, first serve couples that responded to the Pop-Up Chapel web site.  The weddings are co-sponsored by an on-line wedding planning site called the Knot.  The number 24 was selected because June 24th was the date that the bill was passed to legalize same-sex marriage in New York.

The two chapels were selected from 56 design entries.  Two of the stipulations were that these chapels had the capacity to be constructed within two hours on the morning of the event, and they measure no more than eight by eight feet.  The winners were Kiss by Z-A Studio and a cube of rainbow ribbons by the design firm ICRAVE.  What I liked most about Kiss, aside from the simple elegance of the design, was that when separated, the two pieces could not stand alone.  Gee, if I was the sappy type, I might have popped a tear when I wrote that.

Here are some pictures of the two chapels of love Gotham City-style and some of the loving couples.  Click on this loving couples to link to learn a little about fourteen of the couples that were wed today.  They’ve been together between three and thirty-seven years or according to my abacus, an average of eleven years.

Sign and Keeper of the Sign

The Knot's staff.

ICRAVE's rainbow ribbons chapel.

Jay & John, together almost 37 years, exchanging vows.

Z-A Studio's empty Kiss waiting for next couple.

Deb & Jazell (in traditional dress), together five years after meeting over a cantaloupe, exchanging vows.

Congratulations!

Deb and Jazell mingling post-nuptials.

Next couple preparing to exchange vows.

Cameracrew recording ceremony.

Exchanging I do's.

Post-kiss under Kiss (missed kiss due to snail slow shutter speed).

Just married Tom & Scott after almost 30 years together.