I was struck by this photo in today'sTimes of "pro-Russian Orthodox worshippers [praying] on a bridge Monday near a roadblock in the eastern [Ukraine] city of Slovyansk, a day after militants stormed a police station." When nationalism and religion come together... allow additional travel time.
Photo: Mauricio Lima (The New York Times)
Then my eye was drawn to the girl in the striped sweater walking along the sidewalk of the bridge checking her phone. Maybe she's taking a picture of the babushkas and beards. If so, I hope she's texting or tweeting a friend with a sarcastic comment ("Time for some traffic problems in Slovyansk" or "Ikons are the iPads of the 14th C."). Or maybe she's checking out a Miley Cyrus video. That might be the most hopeful thing I can think of for Ukraine right now.
Last week, I was in Philadelphia for work. I wanted to find a quiet place to get a sandwich. I found it. The moment I stepped into Tony's, I felt as though I had walked into the last day of an era whose last day had been decades ago. There were two dining rooms, a small one beyond the counter, which was closed off, and a vast one on the other side of a partition. It functioned as a combination dining room, kitchen, office, and shrine to Tony (I suppose).
When I came in to the large, there was one other customer, a teenage girl eating a club sandwich. She asked for a box and left. After I had ordered my cheese steak, an older man with a limp came in (let's call him Joe). He was greeted warmly by the waitress (Sylvia), as if they had been expecting him all morning. Their conversation went something like this:
J: That wind is terrible, Sylvia, terrible.
S: Come inside, sit down. I bring you a coffee, Joe.
J: That's exactly what I'm going to do.
S: You gotta be careful with that wind.
J: Oh, it's terrible, terrible. Ah, here's my coffee. Thank you, Sylvia.
S: Whatta you gonna have? You want a cheese steak?
J: No. I never eat cheese steak.
S: Chicken salad?
J: No. I had chicken yesterday. Let's see (looking at menu).
S: Whatta you want? I bring it to you.
J: I want something different.
S: Something different, okay.
J: Bring me..., let me see.... Bring me fried onion rings. That sounds good.
S: That's what you want, onion rings?
J: Yes. Onion rings. That's it.
Sylvia shouts back to the kitchen to see if they have them. They do.
The next day, I walked past the shop. I hadn't notice the For Rent signs. Will Tony's be there next time I go to Philadelphia? Where will Joe go for lunch?
I've passed this little used car lot at the intersection of Broadway and Northern Boulevard (across from the Orange Hut) many times. It wasn't until I was stopped at the light there a few days ago that I noticed the claim, "Established 1919." That is a long time to be selling used cars--or cars at all.
When I came back today to photograph, I noticed the same lonely one-rimmed chariot I'd seen there the last time. Closed on a Saturday morning.... Not a good sign for a used car lot. I walked the perimeter: It took about a minute. The establishment date was proudly displayed on all four sides.
What must it have been like to sell cars--or do whatever A&B Lewis set out to do? Here's an image from the NYPL digital collection of Broadway and 51st Street (three blocks away) in 1923 (four years after the company founding):
Where once stood a Woodside house, now stand the Woodside Houses project.
An Internet search came up with nothing about the company except minimal listings on various business sites. Who were A. and B.? Was this the original location, under the then new Pennsylvania Railroad viaduct. Is it still in business? Do I dare call the number? Fortunately, morbid thoughts were blown away by this beautiful SS parked across Broadway. Alas, not for sale.
The post that forced me to relearn HTML coding* and Polish declensions†. Here is the first three minutes from PawełAlthamer's animated film Mezalia, included in The Neighbors, his sprawling show at the New Museum (closes Sunday!). It's easy to miss, on a little monitor in an alcove on the curving back stairway floors 3 and 4 (I think). There's a bench, so enjoy the funny, sad, silent meditation on childhood and aging. At just over eight minutes, it's a mere blink of the eye compared to the master. The set is viewable in one of the Museum galleries, and seemed to be delighting children. (They'll learn).
Technical Notes: †Searching Youtube for the title, "Mezalia," and "Paweł Althamer" proved fruitless. I had almost given up when I remembered that the genitive construction for the artist's name in Polish would be Pawła Altamera. Oh, you Slavs!
*Sharing to Blogspot from Youtube is handy, except I couldn't figure out how to add text to introduce the video. Had to revert to HTML coding and insert a couple of <br> codes to make space for text. Genius!
A few weeks ago, heading out on the college's loop road, which borders Willowbrook Park, I saw two large deer bound across the four lanes and disappear into a woodsy copse behind the baseball field. It was dusk and they were hard to distinguish from the gray surroundings. Awesome, and terrifying, as you imagine your car running into one of them.
Yesterday evening, still bright at 7:15, crossing the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, a minivan suddenly shot into our lanes from the other side, momentarily perpendicular to the oncoming traffic (including me), veered sharply left, and disappeared down the 92 St. exit ramp. The driver had used one of the breaks in the median reserved for emergency vehicles. Well, $12 is a lot to pay for a mistaken trip across the bridge.