Tag Archives: city life

Lame Adventure 377: Freedom from Oppression

Possibly the title of this Lame Adventure is a tad dramatic, but I am a fan of three day holiday weekends. This Memorial Day respite from The Grind was productive. I volunteer ushered two plays and purchased three rolls of paper towels. Obviously, I have living the high life in this jeweled metropolis down to a science. The weather on Memorial Day itself was gorgeous and exactly the way I like it — warm with a vibrant clear blue sky. A sunny tribute to the people that got screwed for freedom.

The Upper West Side's sky is so blue the soot is undetectable.

The Upper West Side’s sky so deep blue the soot is barely undetectable.

It was the comfortable kind of warmth I love replete with low humidity. Good air quality, or as good as air quality gets in the dense urban jungle, is something that is very welcome. It allows me to walk down the street and reach the curb without my back dripping so much sweat I give the impression of having trudged in the Bataan Death March or my personal equivalent, climbing the five flights of stairs up to my office at The Grind.

Bosco the dog keeping cool in his fur coat.

Bosco the aloof keeping cool in his fur coat.

In the not too distant future, once the calendar inches towards late June or by early July, the downside of summer will kick in with full force. That’s when the stifling heat and humidity return: puddles of garbage soup will fill subway train tracks while the platform transforms into the seventh circle of hell. My air condition-less garret will double for a sweat lodge, but minus the benefit of a purification ceremony. I will also suffer the indignity of not having another good hair day again until mid-September. On the upside, this year I’ll have a four day holiday weekend in July and another one on Labor Day that coincides with U.S. Open tennis.

Good time to invest in a new cap.

Time to invest in a new cap.

Bad hair under here.

Bad hair under here.

But, until I am once again reduced to wearing a storm cloud of frizz on my head and stewing in my own juices, this weekend that launched summer was indeed lovely.

Nice day to bring out the '64 Buick Lesabre.

Nice day to bring out the ’64 Buick Lesabre.

Too bad these user-friendly temperatures will not continue through August. Meanwhile, I rather enjoyed hearing a free jazz version of Misty while walking up Columbus Avenue feeling as free as a pigeon.

Photographing Museum of Natural History turret while hearing music.

Photographing pigeon-less perch, a Museum of Natural History turret.

In fact I appreciated it even more when I realized that I was not suffering a Johnny Mathis-themed aural hallucination while running that simple errand for paper towels.

Unexpected source of Misty-playing free jazz.

Surprise source of Misty-playing free jazz.

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Lame Adventure 375: Sappy Encounter with a Sapling

The other night I was walking north on Columbus Avenue. A handsome young hustler dressed 127 times better than me — my rumpled tee shirt with a dried Liquid Nails stain on the sleeve magnified that factoid, approached. He declared:

Handsome Young Hustler: You look like a nice person.

Me (thinking): Don’t hit me for money, Sonny.

Me (saying): Looks are deceiving. If you want me to give you the time, it’s 8:02. If you want me to open my wallet, fat chance.

Handsome Young Hustler: But I just got out of the hospital!

Me: Keep that in mind the next time you go hipster hat shopping.

Earlier that same evening I had an infinitely more pleasant encounter with another sapling on West End Avenue. This one was not of the panhandling variety. It was a freshly planted Hackberry tree that I considered worthy of photographing.

A tree grows in Manhattan.

A tree grows in Manhattan.

I restrained myself from snapping any images of the French bulldog evacuating its supper at the tree’s base. Whenever I stop to photograph something, even something as seemingly mundane as this young tree, that’s when people walking along the sidewalk take notice, and punt pups are inspired to heed the call of nature. The dog’s owner did pick up after his relieved beast.

Tree pride!

A tree name so lovely it inspires fruit craving and loud throat clearing.

Right now, New York City is in the midst of a project called Million Trees NYC. As the tag declares, this tree is one in a million. Specifically, 220,000 street trees are being planted along with 780,000 others destined for parks and private partners. I think the latter refers to private homeowners who would like to adopt a tree. I would do that myself, but growing a tree in one’s apartment is not an option that this program condones because the people that run it are not mentally defective.

Tree care tips.

Tree care tips tag — can’t wait to see how that’s hanging in March.

The tree that previously stood where this sapling now stands was knocked down when Hurricane Sandy pummeled the Tri-state area last October. Looking at that tree gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I thought:

Me (thinking): Ah, how wonderful, new life!

I returned home compelled to research the Hackberry. My curiosity quickly entered freefall and I landed with a rude thud. Apparently the tree I found so charming is one that’s considered good for almost nothing. An article published on Reporter Herald implies that the Hackberry is about a half step above a Chia pet and its wood is of very low value:

“No one uses hackberry wood to make wine barrels, whiskey casks or fine hardwood furniture. Mostly, people cut down hackberries just to get rid of them. Occasionally, the wood is claimed for crates or pallets; sometimes it gets burned as firewood.”

Apparently, the Hackberry, which is planted all over this fine metropolis, is the tree equivalent to the ubiquitous pigeon — my choice for state bird, should anyone ask. I admit that my areas of expertise, tile labeling and sleeping, often done simultaneously, are a bit of distance from having a clue about botany. In fact, I can barely tell the difference between a redwood and a Douglas Fir even if both uprooted and fell on me simultaneously. I do know that were that to occur, it would hurt significantly.

This sap still likes that sapling very much. If Barbara Walters, who this week gave her year-long notice that she is retiring from network TV in 2014, so she’ll surely be conducting a final few fat fish interviews, decided to ditch her credibility and engage in this exchange with a smelt:

Barbara Walters: If you were a tree, what would you be?

I would proudly declare:

Me: What else but a Hackberry!

We even resemble each other a bit around the leaves.

We even resemble each other a bit around the rumpled leaves.