Below the MLK Expressway, Staten Island

Monday, March 30, 2015

45 Limit

Michael Brown, songwriter and pianist for the Left Banke, died on March 19th. There have been a couple nice tributes on WFMU this past week, including Bob Brainen's show on Saturday morning.
I was reminded of a driving moment from last fall--remember fall? Heading up to RI on a sunny Saturday morning in October. The Hutchinson Parkway curving through Westchester County, listening to Bob Brainen's singles-only show on WFMU. With just a few minutes left in the show, he said: "We're gonna go to one of the great moments in Western Civilization right now..." And the sounds of the Left Banke's "Pretty Ballerina," from December 1966, came up, on an original 45, surface noise and all:

"I had a date with a pretty ballerina/Her hair so brilliant that it hurt my eyes..."

The second verse ends with two lines that are as sad and cryptic as any in pop music:

"Somewhere a mountain is moving/Afraid it's moving without me."

(You can hear it here. Thanks to Jeff Peter for introducing me to the Left Banke.)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Double Negative

Another shot from the soft route to the BQE. Greenpoint, or is it Williamsburg?, just before getting on the highway.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Dog in the Woods

The soft route to the BQE takes me through Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, and Greenpoint. I pass the hot dog stand across from Court Square Park on Jackson Avenue. It's a bit early for a dog, but good to know it's there if I want one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Got Wood?

Clear sailing on 95 South through Connecticut. Despite frigid temps, most of the snow is gone. Springtime brings thoughts of . . . baskets?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Eye of the Needle

6:30 P.M. is a rough slog on the S.I. Expressway. Some days, I opt for the overland route. Slip out the back exit, left onto Willowbrook Road and a quick right onto Westwood Avenue just before the expressway onramp. Right on Sheraden Avenue, a quick jog back on Willowbrook Road* to Sunset Avenue, which charts a perfect diagonal to Harold Street. Left on Harold; at Manor Road, Harold becomes Ocean Terrace, which curves down through the hills and drops me onto the expressway just before the bridge.
It took me a while to establish this route. In large part because Westwood Avenue appears to be no more than an alley for its first block (above). If you make it through though it opens up to one of the widest streets on Staten island (below).
(*This roundabout way allows me to miss the traffic lights and back-ups that taking a right onto Willowbrook would bring.)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lonely Tollhouse

All things being equal, I prefer the upper deck of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, especially on a sunny morning like yesterday's. The view out over South Beach to the Atlantic is a winner. But when I saw the trucks backed up at the approach, I knew I'd better take the low road. (Trucks aren't allowed on the lower deck.) Something was holding up traffic up there: When I got to the other side, not a vehicle was approaching the toll plaza.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ukes on the Q32

Drastic times call for drastic measures. How to get to Sunnyside from the Upper East Side when the 7 isn't running between Queensboro Plaza and Manhattan? The old reliable Q32: the only bus when you need to get from Penn Station to LaGuardia in just an hour and a half! At 59th and Lex, two sisters, 7 or 8, and their parents got on. Asian or Asian-American. The girls were carrying what looked like violin cases. When they took the instruments out, they turned out to be ukeleles. Very quietly, they practiced a few notes sitting across from each other and giggling in the back of the bus.
The Prettiots at SXSW (Courtesy The New York Times)
This morning's New York Times, in a story on how hard it is for bands to get to the South by Southwest festival, focuses on the Prettiots, "a largely unknown ukelele-led trio." They only have one uke. The girls on the Q32 had two. Imagine how far they could go.

Bonus: Arlo Guthrie singing "Ukelele Lady" from Hobo's Lullaby. Great shots of Arlo from across his long career: