Tag Archives: Tribeca

Lame Adventure 358: Grumpy Young Man

I work in Tribeca, a picturesque neighborhood in Lower Manhattan lined with ancient cobblestone streets and ornate pre-war buildings radiating character and charm.

Franklin Street

Franklin Street

It is a trendy area housing some of the most expensive real estate on Manhattan Island. This is also a location that’s heavily populated with swells, many of them the name-brand variety.

Authentic cobblestone street.

Authentic cobblestone street.

In mid-afternoon, when I run errands, I encounter pampered youngsters clad in their colorful cold weather togs as they’re being met after school by their trophy wife mothers or their fulltime nannies. Everyone looks fashionably chic until I wend my way through the crowd, upsetting the style balance in my drab uniform, the type of duds that scant wages can afford. Compared to the beautiful mothers in their cutting edge fashions, my modest attire, best suited for office work or captivity, bears a distinct resemblance to offal.

The view out my office window.

The view out my office window.

One area where everyone is equal, at least when outside, is the great outdoors where we all suffer the consequences of the elements. Now that the season is the dead of winter, there have been days when the temperature has been frigid cold. Often, noses and eyes run like faucets.  Even when bundled up, any exposed skin can instantly suffer searing pain.  Therefore, it is best to walk at a quick clip, if only to sooner regain sensation in one’s face.

Bright blue frigid cold sky.

Clear blue frigid cold sky.

On an afternoon when the air was feeling particularly arctic I was walking up Hudson Street toward the pretty Powell building behind a handsome lad that looked to be about six.

Powell Building

Powell Building

He was walking hand-in-hand with his mother, who was in her thirties.  He was wearing a blue parka and bright orange corduroy slacks. Mom was nestled in a floor length shapeless black down coat that looked familiar to me. It brought to mind a sleeping bag with sleeves. She must have missed the winter fashions newsletter. Appropriately, they were walking briskly, but not as brisk as motoring me. Just as I was overtaking them I overheard a snippet of their conversation:

Mom: When we get home I’ll make you a sandwich.

[pause]

Boy: Shit!  It’s cold!

Although I was thinking the exact same thought myself, overhearing the little man drop the s-bomb was a most unexpected surprise. What really made me feel a bat squeak* of unease was that his mother seemed a-okay with it. I did not hear her admonishing her son in the least.

Had I the nerve to casually bleat that curse in the earshot of my mother when I was six, she surely would have detonated. As a child growing up in the sixties and seventies, an era when you served time rather than take a time out, my mother would have beaten every future utterance of both that word and the substance out of me. A beating that might not have ended until I reached age thirty.

That evening, I dined with my friend, Milton, and recounted what I had heard.

Milton: Are you sure he said “shit”? You know your hearing’s not the greatest.  You could have misheard. Maybe he said another word that sounded like shit?

Me: What word sounds like shit other than shit?

Milton looked perplexed. He suggested:

Milton: Sheeeeeeee ahhhhhhhhhhh taaaaaaa, it’s cold!

Me: That kid didn’t say, “Sheeeeeeee ahhhhhhhhhhh taaaaaaa, it’s cold!” That kid said “shit”. Even my deaf ears know the difference between shit and shinola.

I know shit from Shinola.

Shinola on display in Tribeca.

*Thank you Kate Shrewsday for adding “bat squeak” to my vocabulary.

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Lame Adventure 308: Little People Power

I have never been compelled to spawn.  The second Someone I’m Dating declares:

Someone I’m Dating:  I want to have children!

I declare back:

Me:  See ya!

I know that I’m about as maternal as an oil slick, but I instinctively allow children and their parents/nannies/caretakers priority.  Translation: I get the hell out of their way.  It recently occurred to me that I’m not the only one following this unwritten rule.  As I was recently walking down Hudson Street in Tribeca to buy a few bananas at a grocer’s near my place of employ, I noticed a footloose toddler who had just been released from the confines of his stroller take off as if he was running the fifty-yard dash.  His mother, who had been pushing the stroller, watched helplessly as her companion hightailed after the wild hombre.

I had been walking at a healthy clip but the second I caught sight of this potential crisis, I downshifted my pace to tai chi speed.  The other pedestrians around me — a businessman and a chap in his twenties — both did the same.  I crossed the street to lengthen my distance from the sidewalk blockade.  Picking up my pace again I pondered:

Me: Wow, you stand 2 ½ feet tall, you weigh 32 pounds, you have an eight word vocabulary, but your presence practically stops traffic.  That’s power!

A short while later, when I approached the checkout lane at the grocer’s with my two bananas I observed that a mile long line of at least eight shoppers waiting at one register, but no one was standing behind the two nannies with four tots in double-wide strollers filling the aisle at the only other open register.  I assessed the situation and ascertained that between the six of them, all they were purchasing was a single bottle of water.  Again, what power!

The chosen few.

On my way back to the office with my bag of two bananas, I saw a girl about five-years-old speed demoning up the street on a toe scooter.   This child was the second coming of Evel Knievel.  Her mother shouted out at her that the chinstrap on her oversized helmet was loose.  Little Evel Knievel-ette obediantly toe scooted back to her mother who presumably tightened the chinstrap.  This did not impair the flow of my thoughts as I was making a mental note to remember to bring home my eight packages of woven tooth twine that night; something I had failed to do the day before.

Haul of floss.

Suddenly my concentration was shattered when I heard the sound of a fast moving toe scooter that seemed to be heading straight for  my back.  The  little daredevil must have been making up for lost time or she was preparing to practice jumping over me before taking on the Grand Canyon a few years hence.  Immediately  I switched gears and did a steady jog when two words from all the French I failed to learn in the five years of pointless study in my youth came to mind:

Me: Zut alors!

As I hot-footed my pace to a fierce trot, my thoughts reverted to English:

Me:  No way am I going to subject myself to the humiliation of being reduced to road kill by a five-year-old burning plastic at supersonic speed!

I returned to my office winded but alive.  I was also impressed with the wee one’s power.

I’m perfectly fine sitting right here.

Lame Adventure 297: Très chouette

I was walking down Franklin Street in Tribeca near my place of employ when I was distracted from my three favorite topics of mindless thinking – sex, food, and longing for the weekend, by an intriguing window display from an eclectic retailer I have easily blown past hundreds of times called Urban Archaeology.

Hey, look up!

This place is a New York institution that sells elegant bath accessories and high-end lighting to the 1%, but what I think is most cool about them is their collection of architectural salvage.  Years ago when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault on live TV and only found some cigarette butts and gum wrappers, it was probably because this place discreetly got there first.  If there is one retailer in the entire world where you could find the original wheel, this is the place that would have it.

What have we here?

We have this.

The cable TV network Showtime had ten designers in ten cities design specifically themed displays in exclusive store windows to celebrate the second season series premiere of The Borgias on Easter Sunday, April 8.  New York’s theme is Decadence and it’s won my vote for best in show.  This window’s designer, Todd Moore, did a spot-on job conveying extreme excess in a sensual blood-red and gleaming gold setting.

Lounging around.

No room for rubber duckies here.

The gold doubloon sprinkled on the marble floor was another nice detail.

Not foiled chocolate. I tried to eat one. Nearly broke a tooth.

Thoughtfully considering the Catholic elements of the series, that luxurious bedpost is actually a wrought iron gate once used at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  An Urban Archaeology exclusive, it can be yours for a $195,000 blessing.

$195,000 gate doubling as bed post. Pocket change. I'll take two.

Of course, my friends had their nits to pick.  After awarding the display his seal of holy approval, Milton slammed his critic’s gavel on the series and pronounced it:

Milton:  Not that good.

It’s equally possible that Milton could have declared it:

Milton (take 2): Not that bad.

I suggest this because he’s very aware that I can no longer afford premium cable stations on my featherweight wages, so I’m inclined to give the series sight unseen the benefit of the doubt.  Coincidentally, I also kneel at the altar of the actor, Jeremy Irons.

Jeremy and me (look closely).

My former colleague, The Quiet Man, who is now a Massachusetts-based escape artist, has never tuned into the series but he also granted the window display an upturned thumb.  He suggested one improvement:

The Quiet Man: Replace the mannequin with a real woman.

As for me, I’m thinking that bishop’s mitres might be making a comeback now, so I better get mine out of the dry cleaner’s fast.

If you’d like to see the other windows and possibly follow the Lame Adventures lead and vote for Decadence click here.

Vote Decadence today!

Voters are also automatically entered into a sweepstakes to live like a Borgia for five nights (guess you’ll want to sleep all day) in Venice, Italy.

Lame Adventure 291: Bird Brained

A few weeks ago, my buddy, Coco, complained to me about an owl cooing outside her apartment building in lower Manhattan.  Apparently, this bird’s late night/early morning warbling routine has been impairing her ability to get a restful night’s sleep.

Me:  I don’t think that’s an owl.  It’s probably a mourning dove.

Coco:  Whatever it is I wish it would shut the hell up.  It’s driving me crazy!

How I became such an authority on owls vs. mourning doves is that ten years ago I briefly dated a tree-hugger named Mindy.  Whenever I think of this lass I’m reminded of an orifice (not the ear canal).  Read on … She confided to me that she despised the corporate world so much she wanted to craft her own feminine hygiene products for personal use.  My usual witty repartee eluded me at that moment possibly because the vast majority of women I’ve dated have wanted to shoot films, write books, act in plays, etc.  Being in the presence of an aspiring tampon maker was a first (note: there has yet to be a second).  Our union ended with a thud during pillow talk when she revealed she’d rather see someone that works at the UN.

Me (wounded):  Oh.  So you’ve met someone that works at the UN?

Mindy:  No, but I’d like to.

During an earlier less spirit-deflating visit I complained to Mindy about what I thought was an owl cooing outside my window.

Me:  Do you hear that?

Mindy:  That’s a mourning dove.

Who knew?  Not me.

A decade later I’m at work, sitting at my desk, discussing a design project with my friend and colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore).  Eager to seize the reins on a new challenge, she suggests that she’ll make several mockups of this idea that we’ll present to our boss, Elsbeth.

Me:  Excellent!

Then, the neighborhood mourning dove flies onto our windowsill. Havoc ensues.  (not) Under Ling (anymore) knows that I have been obsessed with getting a good picture of this creature to share with Coco.  I have even suggested to my colleague:

Me:  For all we know this could be the actual bird that’s always waking Coco!

One of the many hats (not) Under Ling (anymore) wears is that she’s the company photographer.  She shoots pictures with this very intimidating digital Canon camera that is called something like the Behemoth.

Canon Behemoth.

It weighs about the same as the Liberty Bell.

We both spring into action.  (not) Under Ling (anymore) wielding the Behemoth, hops onto the counter as if her Converse sneaker soles have sprouted springs.  She patiently crouches at the window like a member of the paparazzi waiting to capture the perfect “gotcha!” shot of this critter.

"Gotcha!" shot of (not) Under Ling (anymore) perched at the window.

So close and yet so far "gotcha!" shot. "If only Elsbeth would have let me buy a zoom lens for this camera..."

Yet, our bird is fidgety.  It flies from sill to sill, and only perches momentarily.  I fire off a quick shot with my PowerShot.

Can birds get liver spots?

We follow it as best we can, narrowly avoiding colliding into each other when we are certain that it has moved onto the windowsill in Our Leader’s office.  Elsbeth is oblivious to the Two Stooges frantically scampering outside her office door.  After the bird disappears from our view we resume focusing our attention on our assignment.  Then, in an excited voice, (not) Under Ling (anymore) announces:

(not) Under Ling (anymore): The bird’s back!

My heart races.  She grabs the camera and is now perched at a window in the back of our office waiting to fire away.  I commend my friend for taking this interesting shot in white silhouette.

Cool shot!

(not) Under Ling (anymore) insists it reminds her more of this mythical (?) creature.

Loch Ness monster image from Wikipedia.

Later that evening, I email Coco a link to a 24 second video of a mourning dive cooing with the subject heading, “Does this sound like your owl?”

Coco’s response: Yes! Maybe my owl is really one of those bastards.

Maybe it’s even the one perched outside our window?

"This feels so good on the tail feathers, it makes me want to coo even louder!

7:32 am update email from Coco: That dick bird is still cooing…..argh!  It doesn’t quit!

Lame Adventure 289: Spring Preview!

Even though the weather is chilly again today and it’s not expected to escape the forties on Saturday, this past Thursday we had a lovely sneak preview of spring here in Gotham City with temperatures climbing 24 degrees above average to 71. Yet, it wasn’t a record high.  That was set back in 1987 when it was 76 on that date (March 8th) in weather history. I emailed this news to my Special Someone who has been away and added:

Me: Have I told you that I’ve become a meteorologist in your absence?

After taking a walk outside on this beautiful Thursday, my colleague, (not) Under Ling (anymore), was feeling warm when she returned to our stuffy office.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Can we open the door?

She knows I have a peeve about people leaving the door to our office open.

Me:  Why open the door?  Why not open the window?

(not) Under Ling (anymore) gives me a look that asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore)’s Look asking:  Who’s going to do that?

Me:  You’re practically thirty years younger than me; you’re going to do it!

My Look barking:  You know that there’s no way I’m going to risk pulling, straining or dislocating any precious body part just to open the window.

Hearing that message from My Look loud and clear (not) Under Ling (anymore) carefully climbs atop a counter to open one of our windows.  I build her confidence from the confines of my chair.

Me:  There are bars; you’re not going to fall out [muttering inaudibly] I hope.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) is a very svelte individual.  As she struggles to dislodge the stubborn window she asks:

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Why are there bars on our windows?

Me:  To discourage us from throwing ourselves out.  We set the standard for Foxconn.

(not) Under Ling (anymore):  Hey, it’s stuck!

Me:  Get Greg to do it.

(not) Under Ling (anymore) asks our department’s hero, my sidekick Greg, to intervene.  Greg leaps into our office in a single bound resisting the urge to sing:

Greg not singing: Here I come to save the day!

Me not saying what I’m thinking if he would sing:  Just open the window, will you?

Greg muscles the window open.

Our first opened window of 2012.

The warm breeze is pleasant prompting me to take a stroll to personally check out just how lovely this day is in Tribeca.  It is a perfect day for many reasons.

Whenever I can forgo boots for sneakers I have happy feet, even though the seam from my sock was actually slicing through my little toe like a dagger.

There is torture happening inside this Jack Purcell sneaker.

Cute Italian compact cars look cuter.

A trashed coffee cop underneath barely detracts from this Fiat's cuteness.

Great weather is a great way to flaunt one’s sleeve tattoos.

Rachel who's got great tats flaunting them. My liver spots offer no competition.

Although I have easily walked down this stretch of Hudson Street hundreds of times before, I’ve never noticed this flower power wallpaper until now.

I feel transported back in time to Haight Ashbury circa 1967.

Flower stands just look even more colorful on a warm and sunny day.

I'll take one of everything.

A box of shamrocks offering a blunt reminder that it is still March.

Green beer, green bagel and green tongue-time is coming.

Pursuing a mate.

"C'mon, baby, check out my collection of pizza crusts in my nest."

Relaxing on a Duane Park bench with a Special Someone.

Special Someones Sasha and Vaughn.

It’s a good time to go bopping in a pink tutu.

But keeping it real with the winter boots.

It’s a great time to go tree climbing.

"Bet you can't do this, Lady!" "Bet you're right, Sonny!"

An even better time to pretend you’re an area rug.

“I’m dreaming I'm a shag carpet.”

A building built in 1891 carries its age well under a clear blue sky.

You still look fascinating for 121.

It’s terrific biking weather.

You don't even have to pay to park. Yet.

One of the nicest surprises happens at 6:03 in the evening while exiting the 72nd Street subway station on the Upper West Side.

It's 67 degrees!

Lame Adventure 282: Slight Heart Attack Time

Possibly I’m deluding myself, but I like to think that I’m not too squeamish nor am I a wimp.  I will admit that I don’t do well with the dead.  Residing anywhere for any length of time one will encounter road kill.  That’s a fact of life.  Here in New York, the unpleasant sight of a flattened pigeon or rodent is common.

Splat the pigeon.

Whenever I encounter the downside of nature, I make a mental note of where not to look and what street I will side step for the next few days.  Every time I do stumble upon some creature’s untimely demise, it is always a bit jarring to me.  I am never truly relaxed when I glimpse a mangled form of what was once very likely earlier that same day a living critter.  This does not imply that for the rest of that day that image will haunt me.  It is an isolated shock in the moment, but then I move on, forget about it and resume whatever it is I am doing.  I don’t dwell on the frozen lifeless cat put out with the trash.  Okay, that dead cat I saw nearly twenty years ago was exceptional.  It has remained stored in my memory bank  forever, but usually, I delete these images almost as quickly as I see them, unless, of course I photograph them.  Hey, you never know when you might need a picture of pigeon splat.

On a recent rainy afternoon I had to run an errand near my office in Tribeca.  Sheltered under my umbrella, I was moving at a brisk pace, focused on getting to where I was going when my eye caught that simultaneously familiar and shocking sight of a limp heap lying atop the corner of a tree planter.  I thought the usual:

Me:  Yuck.

Then, I did the usual.  I looked away and walked past.  I assumed it was a dead blackbird, similar to the kind of bird featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, The Birds.  As I raced away, I was uncharacteristically still thinking about that bird.  I felt disturbed.  Birds do not normally drop dead atop tree planters.  Some cruel creep had to have harmed that poor defenseless creature.  I felt outrage.  I wondered:

Me: Was it poisoned or shot?

Scene of the crime.

People, their inhumanity and their lack of respect for the living infuriate me.  I write a blog, I have a voice, and on a good day I have seven readers (if my friends and sister check in).  I am obligated to be a spokeswoman about this sort of mindless animal cruelty.  Therefore, I reversed course and marched back to that tree planter, if only to show my compassion for …

A glove with a soggy, furry cuff that a considerate soul in a random act of kindness placed here.

Maybe there is a shred of hope for the human race after all.  It might also behoove me to get my eyes examined.

Lame Adventure 250: They’re Taking It Off, They’re Taking It All Off!

My colleague, Rhonda, told me:

Rhonda: You have to check out the people playing strip poker in the window of that art gallery over on Walker Street.

These folks.

This reeked of Lame Adventures.

Me:  What gallery?  Where on Walker Street?

The gallery is Art in General at 79 Walker Street.  The exhibit, happening between 10:30 am and 6:00 pm (but when I saw it, it finished closer to 6:30) through Saturday, November 19th, is a performance piece created by Zefrey Throwell called I’ll Raise You One … A group of three men and four women sit in the window of the gallery facing the street and play strip poker.

Playing cards littering gallery floor.

Throwell in baseball cap.

If you stand outside the window long enough behind the cluster of predominantly very appreciative men enjoying this cheapest of thrills — the performance is free and by the game’s end everyone winds up stark naked.

Shirtless guy.

Shirtless woman.

Several games are played throughout the course of the day, so odds are good that one can walk by the gallery at anytime and see someone in a state of undress.

Skirtless woman.

Even if the spectators were not standing outside breathing heavily on the window, I’m confident that the predominantly male audience I watched it with after I left work would still be inclined to give it a standing O, and when they returned home, a sitting Wank.

Losing her shirt and almost everything else early on.

If Throwell’s name does not ring the Marina Abramovic gong inside anyone’s head, last summer he organized Ocularpation: Wall Street a site-specific street theater piece on Wall Street.  At 7 am on a seemingly ordinary Monday morning as the sleepy masses were coming into work, 50 average appearing people that seemed to blend in with everyone else, began to spontaneously strip.  For some artists their medium is paint, for others it’s sculpture, and apparently Throwell’s is nudity.  By 7:05 the NYPD had ended that show with an unnamed performance of their own, that I call Mass Arrests.  Throwell has been a participant in these performances himself; he was a hot dog vendor in Ocularpation and currently, one of the card players in I’ll Raise You One …  Last summer he explained the message in Ocularpation to Melena Ryzik of The New York Times:

“It was “an educational attempt,” he said, “to lend more transparency to Wall Street, a street which is so damn mysterious.” Drawing on the common fear of appearing in public naked, he hoped to create “an absurdist Freudian nightmare” of nude employment: “Wall Street, exposed,” as he put it.”

Hm.  Part of me thinks that this chap is a publicity seeker living out his voyeuristic fantasies and getting paid for it.  The rest of me thinks:

Me:  So what?  He’s not murdering anyone.

Although I was not wild about the leering members of the man-on-the-street audience that blatantly viewed the women as objects and barked at them to strip faster, there were many other people that were clearly surprised and/or amused by the novelty of the piece.  They tended to chuckle and move on.

Steam heaters.

Courtenay, a very helpful gallery worker overseeing the audience, the performance, and the possibility of a return engagement by the NYPD (two cops visited briefly but made no attempt to close the show), confided that this exhibit has repeat visitors “that have stood outside for a very long time.”  Earlier in the day, the crowd is less male.  Throwell also freely pimps out himself and the other men that have volunteered to sit at the table so who am I to judge or object?

Throwell in his birthday suit.

The players are pretty evenly divided by gender.  If you’re offended, walk away.  I wasn’t so I didn’t.

Growing audience outside gallery. Their next stop, the Met?

Courtenay added that everyone participating is a volunteer Throwell either invited or they were discovered through a casting call.

Fun times.

A total of 50 people are playing cards in a rotating cast.  He had to turn people away that were willing to play for payment in free lunch, snacks and beer.

Partial payment.

According to the gallery’s site:

“Transforming Art in General’s storefront Project Space into a stage, I’ll Raise You One… establishes a world of absurdity and purposelessness, allowing the casual onlooker to participate in a guilt-free voyeurism, while teasing out a different outlook on our personal interactions and day-to-day routines. In a world where money has taken supreme importance and all functions of life are commoditized, I’ll Raise You One… is a project where clothing, charisma and a good bluff are the only currency. Using the language of small stakes capitalism mixed with America’s favorite gambling pass-time, and the flirtatious teenage party game of strip poker, Throwell draws a fluxus parallel between what we consider winning and losing in the world today.”

At least no one looks like they're cold.

While watching the show and thinking about it afterward, this explanation did not occur to me at all.  At the end, after the players tossed the cards in the air for a final time, everyone appeared to be happy on both sides of the glass.

The top 2 players.

It seemed to me that this risqué band of exhibitionists simply served as a tonic to help the audience indulge in a silly escape from these troubling times for a few moments.  Hey, no harm in that.

The top 2 players minutes later. Game over!