Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, April 28, 2014


BQE seen from 37th Avenue/Broadway overpass between Jackson Heights and Woodside. The cell phone camera rested on the ledge and below the fence meant to do what? Keep you from throwing things onto the traffic below. Or jumping.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

High Art/Product Placement?

Untitled (2013)
When I posted about Rambo's latest billboard bombing on the BQE yesterday, I hadn't read the Times story about the two Julian Schnabel shows currently on in New York, one at Gagosian and one at a gallery called Karma. Maybe it is karma or coincidence, but if it turns out Schnabel has movie opening in the Tribeca Film Festival I'm going to begin to be suspicious. By the way, the piece above would make a nice billboard.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wise Guy

After a quiet period, the graffiti artist Rambo is back on the BQE. In black:

And white:

Strange that "disciples" and "Julian Schnabel" are spelled correctly, but "thier"? A slip of the spray can?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

That's All

Tadeusz Różewicz, Polish poet and playwright. October 9, 1921-April, 24, 2014.
Photo: Jerzy Olek
Time for me
time presses

what do you take with you
to that other shore


and so
that's all

yes son
that's all

and so only this

only this

that's all that's life

yes that's all that's life

(1989, tr. BTB)

Czas na mnie 
czas nagli 

co ze sobą zabrać 
na tamten brzeg 


więc to już 

tak synku 
to już wszystko 

a więc to tylko tyle 

tylko tyle 

więc to jest całe życie 

tak całe życie

Sunspots and Yellow Mocs

Queensboro Plaza upper platform (April 2014).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Streetcar to the Beach

Tuesday's New York Times included a good piece by Michael Kimmelman proposing a streetcar line connecting Astoria and Red Hook. Kimmelman points out how difficult it is to travel between Queens and Brooklyn, not sparing a few choice words for the G train. It's a fine idea, floated first by city planner Alex Garvin. Of course, as the article notes, this is not so much a new idea as a return to the way things used to be--when streetcars ruled the roads.
Photo: Courtesy Museum of the City of New York
This photo from 1898 depicts cars along the Jackson Avenue & North Beach line.  This was one of the Steinway Railroad lines that began operating in northwestern Queens in 1892. North Beach was home to the Gala Amusement Park, which was razed in 1929 to become the site of La Guardia Airport.
North Beach (courtesy

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Into the Queens District (1975)

British Pathé, the legendary producer of newsreel documentaries, has digitized its archive of newsreel and documentary footage. Here are a couple minutes of unused footage from 1975. Most of it on the BQE in Queens.

And here is the charming and not very accurate information posted by Pathé:
Travel scenes from car driving along large street. Lots of Yellow taxis in evidence. Tall skyscrapers are clearly visible. Travel continues over large bridge 0 the Brooklyn Bridge. VS along highway - road signs unclear. One says 'Queens Blvd'. Car appears to be driving into the Queens district. Carries on along Roosevelt Blvd. The road goes under lots of bridges. Travel shots from boat along river - under various bridges.

Enjoy the drive. But don't rely on Pathé for directions!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

97 Years?

Update: Just a few short weeks since your correspondent reported on the A&B Lewis Inc., sign at the corner of Broadway and Northern Boulevard it looks like the business is kaput. In that post, I called attention to "Established 1919" claim on all four sides. Curious that in painting over the business name, the painters left the business address and the date. If I were a cynical person, I'd propose that in a few weeks there will be a brand new business on the spot, also established in 1919. Maybe this one will survive to celebrate its centenary.

Here's the same building (and same car) a few weeks back.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Another bouquet for spring. Across the street from Riverside Park on the Upper West Side.

Last bastion for Times home delivery? (And dutiful dog owners.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bolts from the Blue

When the discount store on the corner of 37th Ave. and 85th Street in Jackson Heights closed a few weeks ago, replacement by a "dollar store" seemed imminent. Who would predict it would be one exclusively devoted to fabric?

The old name is still up on the front but missing on the side. Hard to know if this is permanent or just a "pop-up" for the real DIY crowd. Makes for a colorful corner.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One-Way Duck

Out of the corner of my eye, I read, "Oneway Duck."

Another thought, where is Oneway? (Between Onset and Buzzards Bay?)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Girl on the Bridge

I was struck by this photo in today's Times 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?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Established 1919

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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

8-min. Tarkovsky

The post that forced me to relearn HTML coding* and Polish declensions. Here is the first three minutes from Paweł Althamer'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!

Friday, April 11, 2014


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.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Blue Bus

Waiting for the X10 at Fifth Ave. & 40th St., two people tried to mail a letter in this dropbox, but neither could open the hatch. I couldn't either.

I was the only one waiting. When the bus came, I was the only passenger for 20 blocks. This has never happened to me before.

For a block, I rode beside this tomato.

Citibank awnings at the Battery.

For the first time, I notice the Doors graffiti on a jersey barrier at the top of the embankment on the Staten Island Expressway.

When I got the campus, I decided to walk from Victory Blvd., rather than take the "loop bus." The fountains outside the Performing Arts Center were blue.

Somebody told me later it was Autism Awareness Day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Expressway Tree

Staten Island Expressway seen from Gaeta Park (intersection Victory Blvd. & North Gannon Rd.)

I'll make sure to post another photo after it leafs out. If that ever happens, this cold, cold spring.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fun with Plates

You are driving on the road and you see the sign below. What does it mean to you?

This was just one of the bewildering questions your correspondent was asked to respond to on an on-line survey sponsored by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, Port Authority of NY and NJ, and the New York State Thruway Authority. My response: "Either I will receive a bill for my toll in the mail or I can mail in my tolls in advance. Either way it doesn't make much sense. It might however help the USPS out of its jam."

The survey went on to ask the same question about PAY-BY-PLATE and TOLL-BY-PLATE, before informing us that:

All-Electronic Tolling (AET) is a new technology that is being deployed at some tolling facilities across the country. Since AET is a cashless technology, some NYC-area bridges and tunnels may no longer accept cash payments in the future. The first facility to use AET was the Henry Hudson Bridge, which has been a no-stop, cashless operation since late 2012.

For E-ZPass users, their method of toll payment will not change.

For non-E-ZPass users (people who would otherwise pay with cash, but now can’t, because there will be no cash option), a camera will capture the vehicle’s license plate as it drives through the toll plaza. Customers will have the option to visit a website or call an 800# and provide their information to pay their toll or wait for a toll bill to be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle.

The survey asked me to choose the best of the three options (I grudgingly chose PAY-BY-PLATE), and offered me the opportunity to suggest some of my own. Here are my suggestions: LICENSED TO PAY (a bit long); PAY-TO-PLATE (wrong direction?); and PLATE-TO-POCKET.

What's yours?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

You Do the Maspeth

Here's the BQE approach the Kosciuszko Bridge seen from 54th Ave. and 46 St.:

And here's the view of the LIE after the split with BQE from a street Google Maps identifies as "Queens Midtown Expressway" (no dash). But it must have a street name too. 53rd Ave. would make sense. Sure enough, my Hagstrom's book has it as "QNS-MIDTOWN EXPWY" (with dash). A 53rd Ave. does not appear on either map until the east side of New Calvary and Mount Zion cemeteries. The indefatigable Research Bureau, using Google Map's own Street View feature, discovered a warehouse on the block with the number 46-18 53rd Ave. Gotcha, Google (and Hagstrom)! Nice view, eh?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Lions and Cranes

The Research Bureau finally had a chance to check out the pair of lions o'erlooking the BQE-LIE split (first reported in Maspeth Pride). Getting a good shot proved elusive from ground level. (Best would be from a travel lane on the BQE but there are limits to what the Bureau will do.) The lions belong to Cranes, Inc. That's the company flag in orange. When did they appear? That mystery is yet to be solved. Photos on Google Satellite reveal an unadorned flat roof at 54-01 43rd St.

Speaking as a BQE commuter, I like them. They class up the joint.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


According to the Times today, Mayor De Blasio wore number 6 on his Mets jersey to throw out the opening pitch at Citifield yesterday to honor his early hero (and mine) Rico Petrocelli. Here's the Red Sox longtime third baseman in an undated batting practice photo. Rico played his entire career (1963-1976) with the Sox, and had a lifetime batting average of .251. He graduated from Sheepshead Bay H.S.