ANNIVERSARY ROAD TRIP 9807


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>Found a book by him that was called Lost at Sea

I think that is a different book. I recall checking it out from the local library ca. 1978, then going back for it later and discovering that it ahd been removed from the shelf. It has an Eastland photo in it, so I know that in at least ONE respect it contains material not found in Oblivion.
 
HIDDEN NEW YORK WALKING TOUR: Tying in to the Morro Castle theme...tenuously...Harald Advokaat, of ET, and a friend of mine for several years (creator of the Morro Castle title page artwork, for the soon-to-reappear article of last October:
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seen here in an intentionally low quality scan)
came into NYC earlier this week, with friends, for a spontaneous quick tour of the high points.
 
New York had three straight weeks of unseasonably beautiful weather. May in April, so to speak. I booked myself into my usual room at the NY Palace...the view from which almost always replicates this:
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as seen on a June night a few years back.

However, coinciding with my arrival in NYC was the arrival of low cloud cover and rain. The clouds rested comfortably at a height of perhaps 45 stories...reducing the view to this:

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What followed was rather amusing walk...viewing the base and lower third of the Chrysler Building vanishing in to the murk. Viewing the Park Avenue vista without the Pan Am Building ruining it- the entire visible portion of the hulking, wretched structure was swallowed up by the clouds. And everywhere, it seemed was scaffolding...as the city prepares for peak tourist season, hundreds of linear miles of scaffold appear, obscuring the upwards view from the sidewalk while simultaneously shielding the owners from potential lawsuit should a small but potentially lethal projectile go into a fifty story freefall as a building is sandblasted or resurfaced.

The omnipresent cloudcover allowed for some interesting light effects. Not only did the Pan Am building vanish, but the top of the former New York Central Building- once the center of the Park Avenue vista before Pan Am ruined it- became a striking orange glow, somewhat like a fireball, in the clouds...
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It was quite pleasant to meet Harald and Etienne and their friends after years of email and phone contact...and admittedly fun to walk in NYC with architects. Alas, they arrived too late to see Morris Lapidus' elegant small building at Union Square....demolished because of the time honored NYC conflict between aesthetics and maximized property values. And, too early to see the Normandie Panels, soon to be rededicated at the Met. However, Washington Square Park was particularly inviting, with its central third fenced off and torn up, and the famed arch peeking coyly from behind a cage of chain-link.
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Grace Church, where Edith Evans' memorial can be seen. An interesting lighting effect suffused The Village that evening. In a place where everything is low-rise, the clouds returned to their rightful proportions- high overhead- but the glowing cloudbank further uptown served as a great backlight and reflector.
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We found a restaurant on Seventh Avenue South, and settled in for some liner talk. The tables were octagons set in recessed "squared cirles" and with only one point of entry or exit. So, if someone needed to...freshen up...the choreography of having all six at the table slide around and out WAS pretty amusing. Spoke of the Dutch liners of the late classic era, and of the great liners of the final phase of transat travel. However, the clammy hand of Sex in the City mildly brushed our table...the room was full of thirtysomethings pretending to be twentysomethings whilst talking a HAIR too loud ~ to impress upon others just how FAAAAABULOUS they truly were. Lord I hate that show for what it has done to the tone of downtown nightlife....but I digress.

I get to explain a beloved NYC custom to my Dutch friends. If the 'tab' goes above a certain amount- and ours did- many restaurants automatically add the gratuity (inflated to 20%) to 'protect' the waitress. Then, they ALSO present you with a credit card slip with Tip Line not crossed off....and if you don't carefully examine your bill, and fill in the tip amount on your credit form, you end up paying anywhere between 36% and 40% gratuity.

Afterwards went to some bars that established, indubitably, that the NYC bar scene is dying off as well. At 41, I seldom feel like 'the young guy at the bar' anymore, but it seemed like the young and youngish and sort of young have moved on from the 7th Avenue South/Sheridan Square scene.

Not a cab to be had- the rain factor- and so a walk from West 4th Street to East 51st was a pleasant cap to the night. Here we see The Row as I ambled past it, a bit woozy, in the AM. This is, of course, a patrician illusion....back in the 1930s Sailors Snug Harbor wanted to demolish this venerable block but, ultimately, demolished the houses and kept their facades. The rooms where once the cream of NYC Old Money held court are gone now 69 years, but it could have been worse. The matching block, across Fifth Avenue WAS entirely demolished in the 1950s and, replaced by an apartment building that, in a nod to civility, placed a red-brick 4 story 50s modern wing along the Square to preserve 'the feel' of the former houses.

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A couple of classic Deco/Moderne vignettes from my long walk home:

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Had time to reflect, during the trek, on how matchless NYC is as a meeting place when one is getting together with good friends. Fog. Rain. Permeating chill mixed with patches of uncomfortably warm humidity. But still, did not become dour. We survived Mayor Beame and bankruptcy. Got through the Crack Years and the bleak early 1990s when the annual murder toll topped 3000. SURELY the Sex in the City wannabe trend will someday end and life, as we once knew it, will return.
 
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