Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, March 31, 2014

His Master's Voice

I couldn't help but associate the forlorn dog outside a Radio Shack on Lexington Ave. with the likely demise of the chain. Waiting, waiting.... Earlier this month, the company announced it would close over 1000 of its 5000 or so stores after posing a $400M loss in 2013. I know I bought some batteries and thumb drive. What about you?

Back in 2009, the company tried to rebrand itself as "The Shack," since radio means diddly to kids today. I guess that idea didn't go anywhere. It would be sad to see this venerable institution go. The company began selling radio tubes (tubes!) in 1921.

The illustration right comes  from a 1973 Radio Shack catalog. "Catalog," what's the shelf date on that word?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Carathon Man

How do you remember Marathon Man from 1976? Nazi dentist movie? Sure. But do you recall the slow motion car chase from still very German Yorkville (when there was still a Karl Ehmer store there) towards Central Park that sets in motion the complicated plot? Or this beautiful shot of Amsterdam Avenue at 116 St. that establishes Hoffman as a Columbia history grad student (dissertation topic: Tyranny in U.S. history):

How about this shot of Hoffman and the mysterious Swiss girlfriend (Marthe Keller) arriving at upstate rendezvous with his likely assassins:

Cellphone photos from Netflix streaming video. Cheap. But who can resist?

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Roses, Christ knows how they got to be so lovely,
green skies over the city
in the evening
in the ephemerality of the years!

-from No Tears (Keiner Weine), Gottfried Benn (tr. Michael Hofman)

37th Ave., Jackson Heights (March 2014)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Couch or Sofa?

I first noticed it last week, in the no-man's land between the off-ramp and travel lane at the 65th Place exit on the Eastbound BQE. It was still there on Monday. Yesterday it was gone.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shiny Happy People

WCBS's traffic and weather "on the 8's" was not very hopeful: "The BQE is horrible. Bumper to bumper from Northern Boulevard across the Kosciuszko Bridge all the way to the Brooklyn Bridge." The cause:

It did give me time to take some photos. Here's one approaching one of the street crossovers in Williamsburg.

Five minutes later from the other side of the street. Can you see the orthodox man reflected in the steel doors of the truck?

Sunday, March 23, 2014


30th St. between Fifth and Madison. The familiar no-parking notice for an upcoming filming.

Intriguing title. Are you a person of interset?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Shady Newark

Railroad bridge across the Passaic seen from second floor of 2 Gateway Center, Newark, NJ.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

No Sharp Turns, Please

The Stonington High School crew team transports its Vespoli Ultralite Eight shell along Rte. 1 in Mystic, CT.

I passed the crew then pulled into the Mystic Seaport staff parking lot to take these shots. I had plenty of time, the boat is 55 feet long.

The boat is named in honor of Dr. Dorris J. Hutchinson, a gift from whose estate made the purchase possible. Story here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

RI 499971

Just back from the Ocean State. While New York debates Di Blasio's St. Patrick's Day Parade "snub" and New Jersey ponders the ever-expanding Traffic-Study-Gate, Rhode Island is enjoying the spectacle of a candidate for governor and a celebrity spouse squirming over a missing car.  In brief: On February 25th, Michelle Kwan, figure skater and wife of Clay Pell, the candidate (son of patrician Democratic Senator Clairborne Pell) reported the couple's 2010 Toyota Prius missing from a parking spot across the street from their house on Providence's East Side. As it turns out, the couple waited nine hours to report the theft, during which time they scoured the neighborhood for their earth-friendly hybrid vehicle. (It now appears that, in his rush to meet Michelle at a campaign event the night before, Clay had dropped the keys inside the car and left it unlocked.)

Dude, where's my car? (And my stick?!)
You might think the delay in reporting signals a lack of confidence in the Providence Police Department (nobody calls it the "PPD"). Instead, it signals a lack of confidence in Clay's memory. A March 11 story in The Providence Journal (here) revealed that three months earlier the same car had been reported missing from the same spot. However, on that occasion, Pell was able to find the car parked outside a coffee shop just blocks from the Pell-Kwan house. What luck!

In fact, Pell's spokesperson tells us the initial report contained some "inaccuracies." It now appears that Clay had forgotten that he had driven there, walked home from the coffee shop, and, noticing the car was not parked across the street, reported it missing. A short while later, he walked to the coffee shop and found his car where he had originally left it. He called the police back to report he had found the car. An officer arrived on the scene and asked him, "Did you misplace your car?" Pell conceded that he did.

The more recent missing vehicle report appears to be genuine. To cap it off, the Prius had a hockey stick signed by Wayne Gretsky in the trunk. And you thought you had car problems!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Decent Path

Stopped dead on the onramp to the BQE last week.

Because of an accident just before the Kosciuszko Bridge.

I watched at least four planes descending into LaGuardia through my sunroof. Here's one.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Maspeth Pride

What are those creatures on the roof of a Maspeth warehouse? Overgrown pigeons? Snowy Owls down from the Arctic? They're lions. Lions!

Stuck in traffic shots don't do justice to their grandeur as they keep watch over the BQE-LIE split. How did they get there? Rest (partially) assured, the Research Bureau is on the case.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


An accident approaching the Kosciuszko Bridge had us all grounded.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fresh Bread

Gray van. NJ plates. But something beautiful about that bread.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Ode to Salt

This salt
in the saltcellar
I once saw in the salt mines.
I know
you won't believe me,
it sings,
salt sings, the skin
of the salt mines
with a mouth smothered
by the earth.
I shivered in those solitudes
when I heard the
the voice of
the salt
in the desert.
Near Antofagasta
the nitrous pampa
a broke
a mournful

(From "Ode to Salt" by Pablo Neruda)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stand By

My favorite corner of Penn Station is the one near the Eighth Avenue and 31st Street entrance with the arrival and departure consoles. Sometimes you can get a jump on the track announcement by watching for your train number's arrival track and then smoothly sidling over. The only problem is you won't know whether they'll let you down the east or west escalators.

I know this magnificent station will be replaced someday, possibly refitting the U.S. Post Office building across the street as the entrance and concourse. I just hope that when it is some resourceful preservationist has the presence of mind to make sure these consoles don't get tossed out like old Space Invaders games, which they somewhat resemble. I spent some of the best years of my life watching them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Warsaw 1960

Photograph by Polish painter and photographer Bolesław Omieciński (1925-2008).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Potato Campaign

Ulica Goworka, Warsaw, 1958
For the drivers from the Provisions Cooperative, the bane of our existence was the so-called "potato campaign." In those days we had to travel the countryside for potatoes, though there was nobody to sell them to. We, the Warsaw drivers, found a con. We'd go "campaigning" with a dozen or so trucks; the better vehicles pull the weaker ones. The odometer ticked off the kilometers, and then we sold the gasoline to private drivers. I was eighteen years old then. Today, I'm not ashamed of it. Let those who forced me into it be ashamed. Working fourteen hours a day, including weekends and holidays, I made about seven hundred zlotys* a month. I didn't have an apartment; I lived in a hallway. I bought my first suit at the age of twenty-two. Today I don't even need a suit. I've got nowhere to go.

From Beautiful Twentysomethings (Piękni dwudziestoletniby Marek Hłasko.

Hłasko was a Polish novelist and short story writer, born in 1934 and exiled for his writing in 1958. He died in 1969. His autobiography has just been released in English translation by Ross Ufberg by Northern Illinois University Press.

(*In 1954, 700 Polish was worth about $220.)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Pot Holes and Cobber-Stones

Thursday morning on BQE. Roving repairs had traffic at a standstill. For a while I shared the road with Tommy Gibbs.