The Uptown M7, 80th Street

The uptown M7 bus, Amsterdam Avenue and 80th Street, New York

The uptown M7 bus, Amsterdam Avenue and 80th Street, New York

The uptown M7 bus, Amsterdam Avenue and 80th Street, New York. One of a series of images of everyday life in New York in Black and White.

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Bloomberg’s Folly

Rafael Viñoly's tower at 432 Park Avenue, New York, seen from Central Park

Rafael Viñoly’s tower at 432 Park Avenue, New York, seen from Central Park

If you have 100 million or so, you may be able to bid for New York’s current number one trophy penthouse, nearing completion at at the top of architect Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue. From here you can look straight downtown, over the top of the Empire State building the spire of which tops out some 150 feet below, to see how your money is doing on Wall Street. You will even be 28 feet higher than the top of the new Freedom Tower, or whatever it is currently called, on the old World Trade Center site. And this is just the first of a series of needles for the uber-wealthy, made possible by our previous Mayor’s administration, going up just beyond the south end of Central Park leading to concerns that over-shadowing will cause changes in the Park’s ecosystems. Needles are also what are probably paying for some of these helicopter-view apartments, many to be left vacant just as convenient places to dispose of hush-hush cash.

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Spring in New York, Sort Of

Cherry Blossom, West 92nd Street, Manhattan, New York

Cherry Blossom, West 92nd Street, Manhattan, New York

The cherry blossom would indicate that spring has finally arrived. The fact that it was close to freezing overnight and there were snowflakes yesterday would indicate that it hasn’t. Anyway, for a few days now the streets of New York will be a brilliant contrast between budding leaves, flowers, and our wonderful old cruddy apartment buildings.

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Musical Cars

Alternate Side Parking, Upper West Side, New York

Alternate Side Parking, Upper West Side, New York

In order to make life more exciting, the New York Department of Transportation (DOT) has developed a game for car owners called Alternate Side Parking. Based on Musical Chairs it starts with everyone going and sitting in their cars for two hours a couple of mornings a week. At an unannounced time the City springs a surprise attack by a large device with spinning brushes which picks up all the goo in the street and sprays it on passing pedestrians. When “The Machine” as it is called, approaches, everyone has to scatter while at the same time the DOT arranges for an extra car or two to arrive to compete for the places and for several taxis and trucks to attempt to pass through the block. This results in abundant fun as everyone fights to reverse back into their place again resulting in one or two unlucky individuals getting pushed out and having to go and find a spot in New Jersey. As can be seen here, looking down from our apartment, the sidewalks are also included in the game, leaving a very confused pedestrian wondering whether he will ever live to tell about it.

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Wild Bill Drucker

Wild Bill Drucker, Rosendale, New York

Wild Bill Drucker, Rosendale, New York

This weekend, between discovering that the taxi that was supposed to pick us up and take us to our house in the hills got the wrong date, and discovering when we finally got there that the water wasn’t working and there was a decaying cat on our doorstep, we got to wait a while in the bus station car park. This is not the most fascinating place to get stranded, but on this occasion we were wonderfully entertained for half an hour by local entertainer Wild Bill Drucker who just happened to be there picking away on his five-string banjo. In a deserted car park this was eerily perfect. If you ever want to make a feature film of the Rosendale bus stop car park, this is definitely the guy for the soundtrack.

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Onion Square

Union Square Market, New York

Union Square Market, New York

Union Square Market has been an enormous success ever since it began in a small way back in 1976, although in those days the market was tiny and the square was yet another needle park. We moved our office down there in 1983, and the area slowly went from “Designers could afford it” to become “Silicon Alley” as it was known in the Nineties. By 2008, with the influx of venture capitalist supported hi-tech businesses we could no longer afford the rents and reluctantly, after 25 years, moved uptown. Nevertheless, I usually sail down there when I can, today for some fresh Long-Island clams, although, not being Welsh, I passed on the leeks.

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Back in the Big Manzana

Zabar's cold cuts counter, New York

Zabar’s cold cuts counter, New York

Back in the Big Apple and straight to Zabar’s for all that junk that Nooyawkas like us dream about when they are in Mexico. I have previously posted about how crowded our Polleria on Insurgentes is in San Miguel. This is about as bad but fifty times larger and with attitude. Particularly like now, at Passover, when everyone fights to get in line to stock up on stuff to dive into when ritual fasting is over. Zabar’s is one of New York’s great institutions and happily is only a ten-minute walk from our Upper West Side apartment. The guy in the middle here has ruled over the Pastrami ever since I can remember and has probably served knishes to more movie stars than you have had cold-cut lunches.

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Saint with Chicken

Saint with chicken, San MIguel, Easter

Saint with chicken, San MIguel, Easter

Easter in Mexico involves a lot of moving life-size religious figures from one place to another as if there weren’t already enough everywhere in the first place. Here, a pickup truck involved in such logistics broke down in the center of town leaving a dejected-looking saint seemingly in the process of blessing the local traffic cones – accompanied by a deranged-looking chicken apparrently in the process of trying to get the hell out of there as fast as it can.

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Awaiting Execution

Judas figures awaiting explosion, San Miguel de Allende

Judas figures awaiting explosion, San Miguel de Allende

Most Mexicans never seem to miss an opportunity for celebratory explosions. Each Easter Sunday in San Miguel, while New Yorkers are listening to sentimental Easter Parade music and strolling down Fifth Avenue wearing funny hats, San Miguelenses are busy exploding papier maché puppets. These figures, some surprisingly reminiscent of Norte Americano Presidents, are spun with rockets around their belts before having their heads blown off. In a desperate attempt to rationalize this behavior, the locals have somehow linked the event to the Judas story of the Crucifixion.

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Viernes de Dolores on Mesones

Viernes de Dolores shrine on Mesones, San Miguel de Allende

Viernes de Dolores shrine on Mesones, San Miguel de Allende

Here in Mexico, Holy Week, Semana Santa, begins on the last Friday of Lent with Viernes de Dolores, the Friday of Sorrows, referring to the seven sorrows of Mary. In the evening, many roads are closed and wonderful shrines appear, some in the middle of the street, featuring an image of the Virgin among a mass of flowers, fruit, candles, and particularly chamomile which is strewn over the ground. Most interesting are those that are created in the entradas or courtyards of the most grand to the most humble of houses. In each case, the owner offers drinks or food to all who visit. Here on Mesones, a children’s choir also sang in a side gallery to this patio.

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