Smile, You Are in Greenpoint

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ghost Busters?

I followed this van across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and through the toll gate. Fascinated not so much by the apparently unstable load above but by the ghostly shapes on the rear panels. Cookware? Art? Symbols? I caught a glimpse of the passenger side: More of same, with no English explanation. I prefer it that way. (But, hey, if you read Korean, feel free to clue me in.)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pick Up Sticks (and Bones)

37th St. and BQE West on-ramp (Oct. 2014)
In mid-September, I reported on the installation of plastic lane dividers and paining of lines to recognize a de facto pedestrian crossing of the viaduct--and one of the busiest intersections in Queens, if not the city, where 37th Ave., Broadway, and both on- and off-ramps from the BQE come together.

(Source NYC DOT)
According to, the DOT has enlisted an artist and volunteers to make it pretty: "Late last week, the Department of Transportation and volunteers from New York Cares painted the concrete barriers along the pedestrian walkway at 37th Avenue and 69th Street. You can see the finished product — which stretches 150 feet — pictured above. The design is by the Greek artist Eirini Linardaki; she wanted to depict a game of pick up sticks. As the DOT stated last week in a press release, 'The artist aims to have the mural act as an illustration of the game, as a colorful abstraction, and as a New York City grid.'"

"Pick up sticks" seems an apt metaphor for the game of survival entailed in getting across the bridge alive. Art imitates life. (Thanks to Robyn Love for the highway art alert.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wile E. and Edge E.

I was stopped behind this sign company van on Victory Blvd. The graphic on the back doors caught my attention: Wile E. Coyote at a cactus payphone (sure) holding up a sign that reads "HELP." What other kind of a sign (or awning) would Wile E. need?
The kind that (he thinks) catches a Road Runner. In fact, signs of all kinds run wild in the Road Runner series, and plenty of other Looney Tunes cartoons. Check out Chariots of Fur from 1994 (7 mins.):

Friday, October 17, 2014

Special Deivery

In trying times like these, it's good to know the Wonton Specialist is on the job.

On the Elmhurst-Jackson Heights border.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Oh, Baltimore

Early this afternoon, I spotted an Orioles cap in the middle lane of the viaduct over the Gowanus Canal. At that point, the O's were down 0-3 to the Royals in the playoffs; by the time I got home from work, they were eliminated. Congratulations, Saint Louis. As for always, Randy Newman says it best:

Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to live
Oh, Baltimore
Man, it's hard just to live.

Was it ever thus? Just take a look at the photograph above: Brooks Robinson, pitcher Dave McNally, and catcher Andy Etchebarren celebrate sweeping the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series. Don't toss your cap.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Steinberg Street

The Sculpture Center in Long Island City has a show called Puddle, pothole, portal. One room contains  five drawings by Saul Steinberg, as well as a mixed-media construction: a desk with various tools of his trade.
Saul Steinberg, Bauhaus (1966)
One of the drawings, Bauhaus, made me think of my walk from the N train at Queensboro Plaza to the museum: The absurdity of nouveau housing units sprouting among the weeds.

And the building next door to the Sculpture Center itself.
Purves Street
Another Steinberg piece, Bauhaus Street (1982), not in the show, could be a map of the neighborhood to come.
The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Rights Society, New York

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Second Hand Rant

From my favorite WFMU program, (More Than A Few) Exciting Moments with Frank O'Toole (September 29, 2014):

I told you about Henry Mancini and Jane Horrocks earlier, right? OK. My complaint, yeah. The electronic billboards. When I drive here, I take the highway to get different places to get there, to get here. And the billboards are now, it's sort of like, well, it's.... Everything's quick and it's [snaps fingers three or four times] what happened yesterday, what happened a couple minutes ago. And what happens is you'll see like a TV promo or a movie promo, and you're driving down and you're looking at the end of one of those things, the promo thing, and it goes from there into Lawyers, Inc., or something.
These different ... electronic billboards, it's getting on my nerves. It's sort of like what's happening on line with, you know, the Internet, as far as things are happening now and then it's over, as I speak. So the electronic billboards, I just feel like it's gonna to hurt somebody, somebody's going to drive off the cliff watching a TV show promo.

So I don't like the electronic billboards. I guess that's my thing. But if you stay, if you like basically pull over, you can watch all the different promos and the commericals you want, but then you're driving by so you won't get it. Everything's so quick, everything's so large fast.

Anyway that's me. This is a live webcast, a live playlist webcast at I said my name's Frank O'Toole doing my webcast here on a Monday. Live playlist as it's happening now. And so, send comments, that's all I can tell you. Next thing is something new but it's old by the Stroke Band, Stroke Band featuring Don Fleming. It's from 78, 79 era. And we will here Janie's Living in a Cell. So, we'll go for that now. And stay tuned, OK? Enjoy the webcast here at WFMU.ORG. [Music]

You can here the rant and also FXO's great music mix here (rant starts at about 39 minute mark).