Friday, April 15, 2016

Chicago - bean another "view"

Found this old post in drafts from 2006

Just lying on your back in the very center and watching the changing distortions and comings and goings of people's multiple reflections is a great pastime. (I am directly dead center in the bright center on my back wearing a black turtle neck and blue jeans). On a busy weekend or holiday this can be a very highly trafficed area and I probably not be able to accomplish this. and the reflections would all be people and less shinny chrome.

Bob Seeley Boogie Woogie pianist at Piano Forte

Found this in old drafts!
Saturday, June 7, 2008 I caught Bob Seeley and Bob Baldon at a Piano Salon event at Piano Forte in the Fine Arts building at 400 S. Michigan Avenue here in Chicago. Just sheer joy! (They have since moved to around 1300 S. Michigan.






Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You never know who or what you will run into in front of the Bean (Cloud Gate) in millennium Park in Chicago's front yard! These very nice teenagers were from Virginia. (shot with a Canon s100)


The painted fire curtain of the Chicago Opera House. It depicts the parade scene from Aida. The interior decoration details were created by American artist Jules Guerin in a palette of salmon pinks, roses, olives, golds and bronzes. Come early to examine the interior decor and bring binoculars!


Here are a few photos of the interior of the Oriental Theater in downtown Chicago. Enjoy. Shot with a Canon s100. I shot some more a month or so later and will post them when I have time.











I happened to be over along the lakefront for a 5:56am sunrise in early September and thought you folks would enjoy seeing a photo. The gentleman who often sits on a bench facing this breakwater was there. We spoke a little bit. Don't know his story. Some day I will pause longer and learn.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Warm February walks along the lake

Yesterday, and the day before were quite warm for the end of a February -- in the high 40's and 50's!
I took two long walks along the lake from Berwyn to Inspiration Point pier and then down to dog beach at Lawrence. Today was very windy, 20 to 25mph direct from the west. A flag was straight out. A number of brave women were only in jog bras and shorts as they ran the path along the lake!

Here are some rock carvings I walked over during my ramble. If you click on any image, you are taken to a slide presentation of larger images.

Who would have thought!




Some humor, smiling over the years, in all seasons.





Up until the mid 60's you could ride horses in Lincoln Park



Buildings from 5600 North



Aztec Mexican carving in stone that has been there for at least 10 to 20 years


Not as happy as the clown carving.






















The walk was a good physical and visual experience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bee in my eye!

During my morning bike ride along the lake, as I was going around the totem pole, I became aware of a flying black insect just to the left of my left eye. The next thing I knew was I had an excruciating pain just above my left eye. I turned to the right to get off the bike trail directly in front of the totem pole. I literally threw the bike down as I jumped off. I was cursing and at the same time feeling my eye lid in the left corner. I did not not locate a stinger, but was in great pain.  I sat down on a bench for a few minutes and then biked a short distance south to the drinking fountain and bathed my eye in the the cool water for about five minutes. When I got home I applied a cold compress of a small can of juice that proved to be quite helpful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joe Sterling, photographer, passes & photo philosophy

Photographer Joe Sterling died earlier this week.he was a graduate photography student at the Institute of Design when I was an under graduate in the 1960's. His thesis was about the teen age adolescent experience in the inner city of Chicago. He came from Texas and was about as tall as the state of Texas, where he came from, is large.

I going to Joe's wake and funeral with Bob Tanner and Tom Knutson, both fellow students with him at the same time period.

Stan, my interviewer has changed his plan to write about my experience walking steel during the construction of high rises in the 1970;s in Chicago to my photo documentation of the civil rights movement and anti-war movement in Chicago at the same period. I am much happier that he chose that because it represents a philosophy of art, where as walking steel not so, unless you consider it a form of zen concentration, although that is open to discussion.

Stan Getz and Zoot Sims are two of my favorite mainstream jazz saxaphonists from the 50's to the 90's. Vocalist Stacey Kent's husband, Tomilson carries on the tradition.


Zoot SimsZoot Sims






Stan GetzStan Getz










Stacey Kent Stacey Kent


















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Friday, August 20, 2010

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 – Plog Photo Blog

Captured: America in Color from 1939-1943 – Plog Photo Blog

Absolute phenomenal 4x5 kodachrome transparencies taken during during the depression and WWII on the home front by FSA photogs. Must see! Brings back that period quit well. Being kodachromes, they didn't fade over the years, and probably won't.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010







Monday, June 21, 2010 first day of summer and my dad’s birthday

This afternoon Susan and I visited with the Lill's. I biked down. On the return trip I passed many young teenagers on skateboards going along the bike path. I discovered they were headed to the rink in Lincoln Park just north of Lawrence Ave. in celebration of National Skateboard day. There was a mob of the dedicated groupies there along with some participants in a competition that I grabbed some shots. Very difficult since although the Canon S90 is a fabulous camera it is not intended for this sort of thing. It has a shutter lag that makes it impossible to shoot a decisive moment. Even many DSLRs have shutter lags. In addition, although I have a 8GB class 6 SDHC card, it is not very fast at buffering, so when I shot multiple sequence shots, they all missed. I finally pushed the shutter ahead of the peak moment and managed to capture a few frames that hit the action right on. All the time avoiding having the skater land on me, which happened almost three times anyway – and that doesn’t count the skateboard!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

http://www.chicagobotanic.org/exhibitions/close.php

http://www.chicagobotanic.org/exhibitions/close.php
Seems like a good reason to trek out to the Chicago Botanic Jarden. Photos look excellent on the Jarden's website. Unfortunately, today, it is raining all day long and chilly - good for a Shetland sweater and rain gear - just like Scotland!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where I have traveled on a map

This map is located on Virtual Tourist. I've been to most of the states, some islands and Great Britain, Wales, Scotland and France.

Get Your Own MapView Larger Map

Monday, January 18, 2010

Back in "Sweet Home Chicago!'

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

sunny, but cold and a bit windy. typical Chicago winter morning

Had a fabulous breakfast at Ina’s on Randolph to celebrate our return to "Sweet Home Chicago."

New York City - Day 14 - Return to Chicago

Monday, December 14, 2009 Absolutely beautiful sunny day!

We had a nice long luxurious breakfast at the Leo House and spoke with Sister Katherine Reis for sometime. She informed us that in 1960 Mother Theresa visited NYC and stayed at the Leo House!

We then finished packing and thought it wise to catch a cab to the airport at 11:33am. Our flight leaves at 3:05pm, scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 4:55pm CST.

The flight was delayed over an hour because of the weather in Chicago departing. I was constantly texting Ms S to get updates on the weather.

4:20pm. We left the gate and are cued up waiting in a long line of other planes. All a sudden a woman got up and started to go to the aisle! A stewardess ran down the aisle to put her back, but discovered she was “sick” and led her to the rear of the plane. They cleared a few seats somehow so she could lie down. Later, it was apparent she was probably drunk or on drunks and having a bad reaction. As the pilot said, “She seemed to be pretty much out of it.”

We stayed cued up, and then to our relief we started to move. Ah, but we made two, not one left turns. This meant, to me that we were returning to the gate, and sure enough the terminal building came into view. And we were close. We taxied all the way back to our departure gate and sat there while we waited for the paramedics to arrive.

4:35pm. The paramedics arrived and removed the ailing woman from the plane by supporting her as she “walked” the entire length of the plane to the front.

4:48pm. All of this time the plane was running and had used up too much fuel to be allowed to take off and fly to Chicago, so a refueling truck had been ordered and arrived.

5:08pm. We were still at the gate.

5:28pm EST. We finally left the ground and are air born! Hooray, we are on our way to “Sweet Home Chicago!”

6:45pm CST. We just bounced on the tera firma of O’Hare. Our pilot must be a former Navy pilot used to landing hard on carrier decks! Shortly after our return, two or three other American Airlines planes landed hard and either crashed or had trouble. The government is investigating. Hope the investigators are not Navy pilots.

Ms S had done a bit of shopping for us, so we had some fresh food available upon arrival.




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New York City - Day 13 - fabulous Neue Galerie - Klimt, Schiele and other artists working in Vienna, etc.

December 13, 2009, a dreary rainy day which became heavy in the afternoon

I am writing this at 8:16am after a half hour conversation with yet another Ozzie! I have lost track of how many I/we have met this trip. Many are staying at our place of lodging, but I can spot their accent and so usually approach them. They are a great bunch and quite friendy.

This fellow was on the hotel computer doing research in the final phase of writing a book on the Madoff ponzie scandal. He is interviewing all levels of people involved in the prosecution as well as some victims. I learned that anyone who got out of the fund up to six months prior to the filing for bankruptcy are liable by law and that they will be gone after to recover money to distribute to those who were left hanging holding the bag.

We talked a lot about the case.

Susan and I had breakfast at Breadstix again at the corner of 23rd and 8th Avenue and then took two subway trains up to Lexington and 86th and proceeded to walk 3 blocks east to 5th ave in rain to spend most of the day at the magnificent Neue Galerie housed in a magnificent old four story mansion at the corner across from Central Park. It was completed in 1914 by Carrère & Hastings, who did the New York Public Library. It features the great collection of Serge Sabarsky, a collector and art dealer. It features Austrian artists Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, and Oskar Kokoschka, and German artists Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, among others working in Vienna and Germany just before and after WWI. The only word to describe it is a gem of collection in gem of a building.

After touring the artwork we couldn't resist visiting the bookstore in the former library of the mansion. The books are displayed in the original glass doored cabinets lining the walls. OMG! We could have purchased 25 books! One was on the cabaret and musical reviews of that period and included 4 CD's. Next to the library was the exquisite tiny "Design Store" featuring repros of many of the elegant silver ware of that period. OMG 2x!

We then cued up at their Sabarsky restaurant operated by renowned chef Kurt Gutenbrunner to partake of German - Viennese food. The approximately 25 x 40 foot room is panneled in a dark walnut. The decor includes lighting fixtures by Josef Hoffmann, furniture by Adolf Loos, and comfortable banquettes that are upholstered with a 1912 Otto Wagner fabric of white roses with pale green leaves on a rich burgundy background. We were seated in one of those by windows looking out on 5th Avenue and Central Park. Our table was graced with beautifully designed salt and pepper shakers and a sugar dispenser. The well worn floor is of a herringbone design. The center area featured black and white marble topped "cafe" tables with black bentwood chairs by Loos. Hanging in the tall windows are 18 inch Christmas wreaths with red ribbon bows. The windows featured fantastic brass hardware that I couldn't photograph because it was so dark in the room. They need romantic candles on the tables.

Susan started with a beet salad with goat cheese with a refreshing lemon vinaigrette dressing followed by Beef Goulah with spatzel which was excellent.
Stef started with a large bowl of Beef Goulash soup with potatoes that was tangy with just a bite of spice. This was followed by Wiener Snitzel with potato salad and lingon berries in a sauce. Very good.

This was followed by special Viennese torts and exquisite rich hot chocolate.
I had hoped to visit some special chocolate shops and sample some goodies as well as have hot chocolate, but have managed to have some hot chocolate at a number of restaurants been lucky: it has been top notch.







When we left the light was a deep blackish grey accompanied by endless rain drops dancing in the streets, water running in the gutters and on glass roofs. You could see the rain back lit in the auto headlights.

Allow me an aside observation. We have noticed everywhere folks texting at inappropriate venues and times, at least in our opinion. Here we are in a romantic environment and even the woman is texting while her date is stilling there waiting to converse with her. Enough already!


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New York City - Day 12 - A tiny taste of Brooklyn - Greenpoint and Williamsburg

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I took two subways to get to Brooklyn and meet Jonathan Lill for breakfast at a great brunch place, Enids, on Manhattan Ave. We got their when they opened, but within a half hour the place was extremely busy.

Ran into many people dressed up as Santa Claus on the subway, as well as walking the streets of the area. They were all going somewhere to "Santacon." I missed some great hilarious shots as an endless stream of men and women, dressed in Santa costumes, some rented, others purchased or home made, streamed past the window on their way to one central bar to begin their pub crawl.

After a long brunch, Jon graciously led me on a great walk all over Greenpoint. Where Jon lives is an Italian neighborhood. But the neighborhood is often called "Little Poland" due to its large population of working-class Polish immigrants, supposedly the second largest concentration in the US after Chicago. We stopped in some of the cafes and grocery and pastry shops. A few of the shops made their own sausage. One featured marzipan in any food item you can name. Not only fruits and vegetables but sandwiches and hot dogs!

One shop we stopped in was Huitzilli Mexican Handicraft at 624 Metropolitan Ave. It was very similar to Casa Azul where Stephanie works at in Evanston. I spoke to Emily Cantrell the owner who operates very much like the owner of Casa Azul does. Another was Old Made Stuff a vintage shop at 441 Metropolitan Ave. owned by Leah Adams-Kroll and Frances Pezik. They had clothes and old retro stuff from various eras. Seemed geared very much to the 20’s – 30’s crowd.

I stopped into Hickoree’s which had a sign for Crown Overalls, the company my uncle Harry Levine worked for many years in Cincinnati, OH. On the rear, I think, it said Norwood. They sold hip clothes. It was temporary, since they mostly sell on their web site. They were in Metropolitan Green inventable space at 439 Metropolitan Place. I think they offer or rent space to emerging enterprises.

After I left him I walked down to the Williamsburg area. On the way I discovered an excellent bicycle shop and dropped in and had a conversation with the owner. Since it was Saturday, it was appropriate that is the day Don and I go early morning biking.

There was little activity since it was Saturday, but I did see some Hasidim returning from services.


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New York City - Day 11 - Robert Frank Photography show at the Met Musee' Art & Man Ray show at Jewish Musee'

Friday, December 11, 2009

Early this morning I spent about 25 minutes discussing art and photography with an art teacher from Melbourn, Austraila. She was leading a tour of students. She has been to NYC many times. I have met many "Sheilas" since landing here. ( Sheila, Australian slang for "woman", is derived from the Irish girls' name Síle.)

Winter has finally arrived! It is cold in the low 30's with a strong wind creating a knife cutting wind chill. Not good for Susan. Because of the weather and because Susan is quite exhausted from traipsing and around yesterday she has decided it wise to take a day off to re-coop her energy and ensconce herself at the hotel.

I took two subway trains, getting off at Lexington Avenue and 96nd street to go to the Jewish Museum to see the Man Ray show.

On the walk over, around 56 E. 93rd street, I struck up a conversation with a high end furniture dealer - gallery owner, Carlton Hobbs. The area is very upscale, similar to the Gold Coast in Chicago. There seemed to be quite a few tiny French bistros. I saw a Rolls and a Bently parked on Madison Avenue. I got a very nice photograph of buildings reflected in the trunk lid of the Bently which included the distinctive medallion of the Bently B with wings.

I wandered the area finally ending up having breakfast at Sarabeth's at Madison and 92nd street.I had Lox and scrabbled egges with a croissant along with hot chocolate for $22 before the tip. Sitting at the next table was a loving couple holding hands. They had two small bottles of J. Roge champagne, hot chocolate, french toast, quiche, and OJ. The bill before tip was $78. For breakfast!

The Man Ray show was very good as will as through. For me it was an insight into his time and activities with the dadaists and the surrealists and that fertile period in Paris between the wars. Ah yes, and then there was Kiki! Etc......

They really didn't include enough of his photography in the depth I would have preferred. Instead featured was an enormous amount of his paintings, which I personally don't think highly of. Too much thinking and not good execution. But lots of dada, which I love, and some surrealism. Also letters to some of the luminary's of the time including Duchamp and the one to Tristan Tzara from NYC in which famously he writes: "NYC is all Dada so there is nothing to be accomplished by bringing it to NYC." Further on he concludes with "I am doing nothing of interest now to anyone or to myself. Most Cordially, Man Ray." I found reading these documents of great interest. There was one knock out mobil hanging from the ceiling, probably the first, made from wooden clothes hangers with an old suit case on the floor. It had a spot light on it casting great shows on the white wall behind it. It was quite complex.

I also visited an exhibition about contemporary interpertation of Jewish religion and life. A bit of a stretch for me since I don't know everything Jewish. Never the less it was a great challange.

The museum building itself is something special, an old four or five story mansion right on the north east corner of 5th Avenue and 92nd.

The museum has an incredible gift shop feature Judica arts and crafts. A fantastic collection of modern menorahs to die for. I snuck a few shots, one of which features the statue of liberty for each candle holder. In brass. How I wished Susan was with me.

I had gotten to the area early, so walked about a bit as I sought out Sarabeth's, this one at Madison and 92nd street. As I wandered about I discovered numerous small intimate French bistros along the way. One was down a few steps into an English basement. I spoke to the owner who assured me that if I intended to have dinner there that I must make reservations. -- from Chicago, a bit before coming to NYC, I would guess!

I finally got to the Robert Frank exhibit at the Met around 4pm. On Fridays it is open till 9pm. I didn't hang out there that long!

I had my Eagle River bag with me with that old Domke bag pad for the shoulder strap that actually was a US postal carriers pad. Domke know about them and made them available for their bags. No one uses these now of course. LOL

I was looking at photo books that had been published before the Americans. He approached me when I entered the next room and confronted me with, “Who ARE you?” I responded with the same question.

He told me he was the Fantastic Fernaz. I didn't recognize this "promotional nickname." My excuse was that I've been in NYC for two weeks and suffering museum fatigue. LOL!

Finally, he told me his real name. I sure as hell knew who Ben Fernadez is because of his images of M L King.

I was aware of him at that time in the '60's and remember very clearly many of his Dr. King images. They are very fine! The caliber another photog wishes they had been there to capture as well. The only trouble was he was a late comer to the game, only documenting the last year and half of King’s life. That was a different time of activities- less on the street.

In an email I sent him morning I related the following story. Beginning in about 1962 or 63 I documented many of King's appearances on the south side (where the image I showed him that I had on my cell phone was taken) and west side. I remember a huge rally at Soldier Field downtown that featured the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. I have a monumental image (not size, but in style) of her listening to Dr. King. That image does accomplish what I had mentioned to him during our conversation; that of combining strong visual / graphic structure and arrangement in a photo documentary environment to communicate even stronger the moment being captured.

An interesting side light. During that period it was common to loan or borrow equipment from your competitors, even while out in field. John White, who was one of the early black photo journalists in Chicago and I would often run into each other often at these King events. He did not own a 28mm angle lens. I owned an incredibly sharp Schneider Curtagon. At the 47th street rally and at Soldier Field we were next to one another often and he would shoot virtually the same shot I did with my lens! The image described above is blown up to at least 30" x 40" and is on permanent display at a Black museum in Chicago in Washington Park.

Sadly John died of a heart attack in the 70's, I think, and society lost a vital image maker. I attended his funeral.


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New York City - Day 10 - Rockefeller Center and The Sybarite5 Chamber String Quartet


Thursday, December 10, 2009

great sunny day, but quite chilly. (Chicago - bad with a wind chill of 9 degrees.)

We spent the entire day at Rockefeller Center

After going crazy running around and trying to find the correct location to procure tickets to the Top of the Rock so I would be up there an hour before sunset, at sunset and then during dusk/twilight and also tour the NBC studios, we took a short rest and then went on the tour. We were provided with our own helper, Donald, about our age who cleared the way all the time, even finding our own elevators. The guides themselves were just great and had some personality. At the end I volunteer to play the roll of a news anchor person and read the news from a monitor. Lots of fun!

We went outside and viewed the Christmas tree, along with a gazillion little kiddies on field trips. OMG! We then walked around the ice rink. How convenient that there was a Metropolitan Museum of Art gift shop right there! Well, we could not pass THAT gift shop! Bought the Robert Frank book and more and are having all of it sent home.

Then we crowded into a small Dean and Deluca coffee shop across from the Today Show window. We had some chili soup and ham and potato soup along with a Cuban sandwich we shared and I had a large hot chocolate.

Unfortunately we did not run into Louis Mendes, who has been shooting tourist photos in front of the tree for 40 years with a vintage Speed Graphic 4x5 camera, potato masher flash and sells you a Polaroid print! He even has a Facebook page!
We eventually went to the Top of the Rock where it was quite cold and windy.
By this time Susan was quite tired.






















Upon descending we found a Starbuck’s inside the lower level of the center. Susan had a tea and I had a coffee mocha. We sat looking out picture window onto the skating rink. As we looked out the window, during the cleaning of the ice by the Zamboni, a guy and his girl friend skated to the center of the rink in front of the gold winged sculpture and the Christmas tree above it. He proposed to her, complete with the ring. Sweet! A memory to cherish.

Although it seemed impossible to hail a cab, I managed to attack one when I spotted one pulling over to drop off a well heeled couple. Such good luck! That wind and cold was not pleasant.
Susan decided to relax at the hotel.
I went to a concert performed by The Sybarite5 Chamber String Quartet at a small venue next door to the hotel called "the cell.' The group was fabulous and played rock music that they or others had had arranged for string quartet simply because there is virtually no music composed for such a group - combination. Quartet yes, quartet, apparently not. They opened with "The Rebel" by Piotr Szewczyk which was simply dynamite. One piece was by Dan Visconti who has spent some time Memphis, TN. It was titled " Black Bend," and evoked, at the beginning the erratic circling of a bee. Then it picked up speed and it started to truly swing! I found my foot tapping and noticed those all all the musician's feet tapping as well. The reason was the slap of bass and the cello. It proceed to really rock and have the flavor a bit of country music. They also played two pieces by Astor Piazzolla arranged by Piazzola himself. "Muerte de Angel" was really great. They finished with "Heart Breaker" by Led Zepplin that brought the small intimate group to it feet. I think a few even whistled.
Afterward there was champaigne and mixing with the group and audience. I spoke to the cellist for quite some time.


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New York City - Day 9

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

overcast and drizzly, 50 degrees

It is early in the morning and I am catching up on email and writing in this journal.

Peter walked into the computer room around 7:00am. At 7:30am we went upstairs and had breakfast together and spoke for over an hour. He wanted to find a souvenir for his son that was appropriate to the United States. I gave him the Sacajawea silver dollar I gotten in change a few days ago. Sacajawea was the Indian woman who led the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Ocean for President Jefferson in 1805.

Peter now lives in Geneva, Switzerland.

Susan was so exhausted from all the walking and standing around the Statue of liberty & Ellis Island that she decided to stay at the hotel and read a book.

I went to the folk art museum, that I think is associated with MoMA & was most unimpressed, particulary when compared to other similar institutions.

I walked up 5th Ave documenting Christmas windows and other facades. I even found a dead pigeon in front of Harry Winston jewelry to add to my series. Then I treked into Central Park.

I discovered a Russian jazz musician playing in the southern end of Central Park near a bridge to the ice skating rink. He is living in Brighton Pk. We both were able to converse a bit in German.

I was walking in Central Park and heard Christmas music being played by a lone jazz musician for tips. I took some photos from a distance then approached him, dropped a lot of change I had and started a conversation. Turned out he was from Russian, didn't speak much English, but when I asked if he spoke German, his face lit up and my limited German from high school and the Yiddish that was spoken at home by my parents became invaluable. Thank goodness I had the gumption to take the risk to approach him and speak to him. If I was better in German we could gone on for another 15 minutes!

I finally learned that travel is not just running around looking at architecture, museums and eating in the suppossedly "not to miss" restaurants, but actually meeting some locals and engaging in some conversation, even if it is the person sitting next to you at breakfast. Not only is NYC a great walking city, but it is a great talking town as well.

Later I decided to walk up to the Dakota and grab a shot of it and venture into Strawberry Fields which is opposite it in Central Park. I struck up a conversation with a teenage student sitting on a bench across the street from the Dakota at the entrance to the park. He is student at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy which is south about 10 blocks at 211 West 61st Street (between Amsterdam and West End Ave.) and at 2109 Broadway in an historic landmark beaux-arts building.
I think there has been a major shift in the people of NYC. None of them have acted like the stereotype of the past. Anybody who has bushed past or done anything that needs a "pardon" or "sorry" has said so! Many have offered help with my wifes oxygen converter machine which is on a small luggage carrier when we go down or up with the subway or onto a bus or in or out of doors! I never would have expected that. Any body I have approached to ask assistance is quite helpful, even walked me part way or all the way a few blocks to where ever I was going. Some of the small unique shop owners that we have sought out, if not busy have talked with me for quite a while. This was particularly true of a ribbon shop in the area where they all are. We then grabbed a lunch across the street in a cafe they all eat. It was if you were going to the deli or coffee shop you always go to back home down town.
The one thing I have noticed is that there seems to have been an invasion of suburban chain stores that belong out in shopping malls! The original flavor of the city seems to be ozzing away.


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New York City - Day 8 - Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and we meet a social antropologist!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009 sunny, 50 degrees, not much wind, but out on the water it was.
We had breakfast at the Leo House early, at 7:30am when they opened to get an early start to get our tickets to the Statue of Liberty ferry, etc. Susan knoticed a fellow sitting by himself, so asked if she could sit with him. We had talked to him the day before when he told us he was going to hear some jazz that evening at Birdland. Lee Konitz who was the opening group at Birdland 60 years ago was appearing with Brad Meldaw (sp), Paul Motrian (sp) and Charlie Hayden. (remember Konitz! When he was a teen ager he was recording with Lennie Tristano!) By the time I joined her she had already discovered he was from Denmark, living in Geneva, Switzerland and is a social anthropologist, an area of tremendous interest to Susan! The showers may not be the best at the Leo House, but the guests are superior.
Peter Larsen is a researcher at peter.larsen@graduateinstitute.ch . [ billelarsen@gmail.com ] He had just concluded an international event in Philadelphia and added a few days in NYC. When he learned we were going to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, he decided to tag along.
Yesterday was the first really bad day for Susan. Susan, Peter and I took the subway from 23rd street all the way "downtown," south in my mind, to the tip of Manhattan to Battery Park to catch the ferry out to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We got there fairly early, about 9am, but already there was a large group. You have to go through security exactly like out at the airport. I had to remove any metal, including my watch and belt. Poor Susan with her oxygen converter! I think one person knew what it was but was sure if it really was the real thing. Then they ran a wand all over her. I went to grab a photo of the process, but oh, no! No photos! I guess I would have locked up! Finally we were able to repack up everything and put everything back together on her luggage cart with her machine, huge "purse" bag that was larger than my medium sized over the shoulder/backpack. Oh yes and tie our shoes on our walking shoes.
Then we got into a long line to board the ferry. At this point my cell phone was ringing as I was facing some agent directing us where to enter the line. It was Stephanie, calling from our condo. She is watching our condo and collecting mail. Something was beeping! What was it! Where was it! It turned out to be the low battery warning on one of our cordless phones! I guess I need to add an item to my list of things to do before leaving for a vacation - place all cordless phones in their respective chargers.
Susan stayed below on the ferry, which was wise since it was chilly and windy on the top deck.
Wow! The light was bright reflecting off the waves! And it was windy out there! Finally we landed at Liberty Island. We just walked all around it taking time to allow me to photograph it. I had tickets that would allow me to access the top of the base, but decided there was no advantage to do that. Months ago the tickets to climb up to the crown had been sold out, so I missed that. I remember doing that when I was 16 in 1956.
I had a photo of me standing in front of the statue that my mother had snapped back then in 1956 and hopped to duplicate it as closely as possible. We actually found the exact angle but were unsure of the precise distance from the base to where I had been standing.
Never the less, I got Peter from Denmark to take a few shots of me with my Canon SLR.
That evening we decided to try out Houston BBQ at the NW corner of 23rd and 8th Avenue. NYC is not known for having decent BBQ, but we always were going past it, so decided to give it a try. It was packed and extremely noisy. It was good for people watching. Seemed everyone was talking or texting on their cell phones! We had decent BBQ ribs and chicken with huge servings of Cole slaw and mashed potatoes.


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New York City - Day 7 - Ribbons

Monday, December 7, 2009

I had breakfast with another Travelziner who ironically is visiting NYC from Rockford, IL. We had a good time.

We were going to go up in the Empire State bldg 2da, but if clouded up.

We went to the Hyman Hendler ribbon shop at 21 W. 38th street that featured high end ribbons, many imported years ago from France. It was established in 1900. Susan was in heaven. I talked to the owner about the beginnings of the company from a push cart on the LES. Talked about where our grand parents coming from Russia, etc. Talked about Maxwell Street and how it and the LES have become gentrified with coffee shops, theatres, gelato joints, etc. Also that the Chinese are the principle group running sweat shops in NYC and that they not only make clothing but findings as well. He mentioned he sold to Fishman’s on Roosevelt road just north of Maxwell Street in Chicago as well as Vogue Fabrics in Evanston who were cheap. He was a great guy. He is married to the daughter of the original owner.

We ate across the street in a coffee shop that all the fabric and findings merchants socialize and eat. They all knew the owner, who we discovered him as he was just leaving.

Went to Macy's which was an absolute total zoo. We had difficulty navigating the aisles and people constantly were knocking over displays. Lots of stuff 50% off today. I personally thought their Christmas windows were losers. They did have some normal window displays featuring perfume bottles and silver disks all hanging on fishing line which were beautiful and quite creative.

Went to B&H photo which also was a zoo. It was much further than I thought, all the way to 9th Avenue. I couldn't stand it and longed for Helix or Calumet.

Gave up and returned to the Leo house and ran two loads of wash! Yuk!

We had dinner at a French restaurant at 25th and 9th Avenue. I had Escargot which was excellent. That was followed by smoked salmon and ratatue crepes. Susan started with incredible rich and a bit sweet French onion soup followed by a chicken and ratitoui crepe. For dessert we split a chocolat bannana crepe.

The bread was great accompanied by Irish butter. The service quit good. The ambiance was good as well.


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New York City - Day 6 - a GTG, Pierpont Morgan Museum and Moroccan food.

Sunday, the 6th

We are having a "GTG" brunch with a small group of New Yorkers who belong to a Yahoo group I interact with called "The Travelzine." We call our self's "ziners." It is a great group of international members who post questions and answers about our travels. If a person is going somewhere and needs info for hotels, B&B's, restaurants, trains, or what to see; the others post responses with answers. I have cut and pasted many of these responses to documents I have created for future reference.

Only two of the four other folks showed up. But they were interesting. Both had traveled all over the globe and we felt a bit out of their league. I usually don't blow my own horn, so didn't didn't rattle on about all my travels for my jobs domestically and internationally. For me it was just interesting to hear their stories.

We gathered at Sarabeth's at 75 9th Avenue at 15th street not far from our hotel. It was very cold and windy from the direction we walked and that made it most unpleasant to put it mildly for Susan. [Torture would be more appropriate] Even for that short distance of eight short New York “street” blocks of a bit less than a half a mile, it would have been much wiser to have taken a cab. The restaurant is in the old Nabisco bakery converted to a long block walk past gourmet food emporiums, many bakeries and kitchen equipment establishments. The place was packed by the time we left around 1:15pm. Susan had outstanding French toast covered in raisins and banana slices. I had a omelet of ham, cheese and scallions with a croissant and their home made raspberry preserves. They also made me a very tasty coffee mocha. One of the two women we met was photographer Jack Reznicki’s wife, Reggie. (Studio is at 31 W 27th, #10B, bet Broadway and 6th Avenue, 212-925-0771.) She was very nice, as was the other woman, Sheryl. Both lived in Manhattan.

Afterward we visited the Pierpont Morgan Library & Museum. They had an exhibit dedicated to William Blake's watercolors, prints, and illuminated books of poetry revealing his genius that was incredible. Also an exhibit of Puccini letters and his original hand written musical scores to his operas. Then there was the gem of the Jane Austen collection of letters, A Woman's Wit: Jane Austen's Life and Legacy that reveal her characteristically sharp observations and irrepressible wit. Oh what a great gift shop! Lots of Barbar the elephant and a great selection of other books to purchase.

Ambitiously creative, Blake (1757–1827) was a poet, painter, and printmaker had an abiding interest in theology and philosophy, which, during the age of revolution, inspired thoroughly original and personal investigations into the state of man and his soul. I know him as an engraver, but this exhibition reminded me he was later recognized for innovations in other media.

The show includes more than 100 works and among the many highlights are two major series of watercolors, twenty-one watercolors for Blake's seminal illustrations for the Book of Job—considered one of his greatest works from about 1805–10 and twelve drawings illustrating John Milton's poems L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, executed about 1816–20.

In addition to the superlative watercolor series—twenty-one illustrations to the Book of Job and twelve designs illustrating Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso—other important drawings are on display, included Fire (ca. 1805), which addressed the subject of war.

Also featured was a magnificent larges print, touched with watercolor by the artist, depicts Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims.

Among Blake's crowning achievements as a visual artist and poet are his illuminated books, such as Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul (ca. 1794) displaying his exceptional technical skills, reflect medieval manuscript illumination and the interrelationship between word and image. Also on view was the only dated copy of Blake's dramatic The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Sunday was a family activities day featuring Victorian London. Charles Dickens and his famous characters were wandering around the new lobby atrium reaching up four stories. They including a woman playing a guitar of sorts and a fantastic woman in very tall stilts all dressed in white. I got quite a few shots of both.

We listened to actress Marianna Loosemore as she read a charming short tale—written by a 12 year old Jane—about a young woman named Cassandra who sets off on an adventure through London, falling in love with a fancy hat and eating too much ice cream along the way! Each “chapter” was only a page or even less. It was in the main library room - books to the ceiling!

Celebrating Puccini featured forty items related to Puccini's career, including rarely seen original manuscripts and sketches for Madama Butterfly and La Bohème as well as first-edition librettos, personal letters, a period poster and playbills, souvenir postcards, and rare material linked to Puccini's relationship with Enrico Caruso and Arturo Toscanini.

Adolf Hohenstein's vivid poster for the original production of La Bohème and a playbill for the world premiere of Turandot are on view.

They have a tea room there, but we decided to spend all our time exploring the building and the well curated exhibits.

Susan really enjoyed this exhibit. We spent quite a bit of time at the library.
After the Pierpont we had a fabulous experience and meal at Barbe's French Moroccan at 21 E 36th St. just E of Madison named after the famous Paris neighborhood at the foot of the Sacre-Coeur, also known as the 'little piece of North Africa'.

Everything was tasty, the environment great and the service attentive and personable. Susan had something named a Virgin Barbe that consisted of lemon, lime, mint and ices. It was extraordinary refreshing. I had Moroccan tea.

For appetizers we had some of the most tasty onion soup ever and cab cakes a la moroccaine featuring special spices. Susan had Tagine de Poulet (chicken) with preserved lemon and green olives and I had Tagine de D' Agneau: lamb with sesame seeds and prunes along with a side of couscous. Both were delivered to the table in a conical clay cover that it had been baked in. For desert we shared a delicious out of this world Pastilla au Lait maded with large layers of filo dough with a creme sauce that included Moroccan spices in between and some strawberry slices on the top.


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