Greenpoint, October, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Brooklyn Towers

Sitting in traffic at the apex of the Gowanus Expressway Viaduct has its rewards. On one side, the Smith-Ninth Street station and the Williamsburg Savings Bank building beyond. On the other, an empty billboard, buildings, and a water tower.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bridge for Bess - Winner!

(Photo courtesy: MTA)
It's the Henry Hudson Bridge, which carries the Henry Hudson Parkway over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, with a magnificent view of the Hudson River to the west, and beyond it, the shores of Hudson County*. That's an awful lot of "Hudson's" in one sentence. I don't think anyone should mind giving up one to honor Bess Myerson. (Here and here for runners up.)
(Photo courtesy: My Inwood)
The bridge opened in 1936, when Bess was 12. (According to the fine My Inwood site, the ribbon-cutting was overshadowed by the abdication of King Edward). When it opened it was the longest plate girder arch and fixed arch bridge in the world. A kind of Miss America of plate girder arch and fixed arch bridges! Soaring 143 feet above the waterway, there is definitely something glamorous about it. From the span, it provides a beautiful view not only of the river and New Jersey but of the southern Bronx where Bess grew up. I think she would like it.

(Courtesy: Associated Press)
As a longtime consumer advocate, I think she'd appreciate the automated (no-stopping) toll system. Yes, I think we have a winner. I look forward to my first drive across the Bess Myerson Bridge. I'll stop off at Liebman's in Riverdale for a pastrami on rye and a Cel-Ray to celebrate.

(*Poetic license: It's actually looking Bergen Co., but Hudson Co. is just below it.)

At Least It Wasn't a Snowplow

Missed the turn at Roosevelt Avenue and Baxter Avenue, I guess. Doesn't appear that anybody was hurt.
Good thing he didn't take out the stairway at 82nd St., or we'd be down to two. Again

Friday, January 23, 2015

Branches, Bags, and Bayonets

Something in the air. Actually, there's quite a lot going on in the airwaves between 65th St. and the BQE.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bridge for Bess - Option 2

(Photo: Wikipedia)
The closest Bridge to where Bess Myerson grew up in the Sholem Aleichem Houses is the Broadway Bridge. A pretty undistinguished structure but a fascinating history. It connects the far northern end of Manhattan to Marble Hill, just a few minutes walk to Bess's childhood home on Sedgewick Avenue in Kingsbridge. The bridge not only carries Broadway across the Harlem River, on its long and winding journey to Albany, but three IRT subway tracks. It has narrow sidewalks on either side. And it's a lift bridge. It's multitasking suits Bess's own.

The first bridge at this site was built in 1693. The King's Bridge was so named because it was the property of the King of England. If you weren't a British soldier or representative of the Crown, you paid a toll to use it. Which led to the construction of the so-called Free Bridge by merchants and farmers in 1758. According to the DOT's Harlem River Bridge site, this constituted a revolutionary act--it seems building bridges does not always build bridges.

The current bridge was opened in 1962, the year of Bess's second marriage (to Arnold Grant), and just after completing her appearances on Allen Sherman's I've Got a Secret celebrity quiz show. Here she is (second from right, as if you needed to ask) with other cast members announcing a move to Monday night.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Toll House Crooked

A lane closure on the Whitestone Bridge on Monday held up traffic through the EZ Pass gates. I had the rare chance to photograph (possibly illegally) the interior of one of the observation stations at the toll plaza. The small American flag in the window facing the bridge, alas, did not come out, thanks to some icy water on the windshield.

(Note: We are not proposing the Whitestone Bridge for renaming to honor Bess Myerson.  Myerson had no special link to Queens. Except that it was Donald Manes, the crooked Queens BP, who introduced her to Carl "Andy" Capasso, a key step on the road to the "Bess Mess"! Well, I don't think anyone will be renaming any bridges after Donald Manes anytime soon.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bridge for Bess - Option 1

The Research Bureau has been hard at work developing candidates for a bridge to be named to honor Bess Myerson: Miss America (famously the first Jewish one), Commissioner of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs (first), Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, candidate for U.S. Senate (failed), the list goes on.
This drawbridge carries the Hutchinson River Parkway across the upper reaches of Eastchester Bay in the Bronx. It's not too far from where Myerson grew up in the Sholem Aleichem project in Kingsbridge Heights. It's a modest bridge, not very high of the water, with a nice view of the Pelham Bridge and Pelham Park. One advantage: It does not appear to already have a name. It might work poetically as well: like Bess's career, it goes up and down.

More candidates to follow. Submit your own! For readers who tweet: #BridgeForBeth.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Red Hearts and Coronets

I've been working my way through the first two seasons of The Americans, the FX series about Soviet spies living as middle class American citizens. The show is set in the early 1980s. The stories are fairly preposterous, as Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Phillip Jennings (Matt Rhys) juggle their cover lives as co-operators of a travel agency, living in the DC suburbs with two children, with the daring exploits "the Center" assigns them. The show gets a lot right about the time though: music, video games, food ("there's French-bread pizza in the freezer"), and especially the cars. The one that gets the most airtime is a mid-70s Dodge Coronet, big brother to the Dart and Demon.
One of the pleasures of the show is how beautifully it is shot, especially when the Coronet is in the picture. But I think you'll agree, the lighting in general was better then.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Run, Don't Walk

A sold out showing at BAM of Z, Costa-Gavras' 1969 political thriller, based on the takeover of the Colonels in Greece in 1963. Selected and introduced by William Friedkin, he told us that for years he'd been saying that without Z there could have been no The French Connection. "What a stupid thing to say. Z is a far better movie." Loving them both, it's hard to disagree.
The assassination of the pacifist MP and opposition leader (based on Grigoris Lambrakis) happens early in the movie. As he leaves the lecture hall after a rally, he orders an aide to call the local Chief of Police to demand protection from the right-wing thugs that surround him--even though he knows the police side with the military. "The police have responsibilities," he says. Words with some currency in New York City, with its NYPD "slowdown" (less policing at full pay).

The real drama comes with the investigation by the examining judge, in the face of opposition and sabotage from the right-wing military establishment. Prosecutorial courage, something in short supply here (Staten Island, Ferguson, MO, and dozens of other places). And journalistic courage, in the person of a very enterprising photojournalist Vive la presse! James Risen! Charlie Hebdo!

The story is Greek but the stars are French: Yves Montand plays the opposition leader, Irene Papas, his wife, Jacques Perrin, the photographer, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, the unflappable examining judge. And so are most of the cars, like the old Peugeot chasing one of Lambrakis' aides (Charles Denner) above on his way to testify. (The Colonels drive Mercedes-Benzes, naturally.) Amazing score by Mikis Theodorakis, himself jailed by the junta. And, along with All the President's Men, one of the great typewriter movies--IBM Selectric with an Prestige Elite 72 font ball (12 pt.).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

All Along the Water Tower

The latest addition to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Tom Fruin's plexiglass sculpture, "Watertower: 3: R.V. Ingersoll." He's done others like it but this is the first one I've seen. My first thought was, way too Brooklyndia. I suppose I am getting used to it. But I'd rather have my view of the harbor back, destroyed by the park's artificial "Uplands" (seen below in snow).
Playground or burial mound for old Brooklyn? (Hint: There's a harbor behind it.)

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Bridge for Bess?

Traffic on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is moving well. Mario Cuomo is dead, and now Bess Myerson. They make our current crop of New York pols look pretty shabby (even without throwing in Bella Abzug).
(Courtesy Daily News)
Here's Ed and Bess celebrating Koch's 1977 mayoral primary victory over Mario Cuomo. Was Bess on board to bring a sheen of heterosexual legitimacy to Koch's campaign? It's water under the bridge now. We leave the "Bess Mess" of the early 80's for another time. All in all, I think she deserves a bridge named after her too.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Half Staff

I saw a lot of flags at half mast yesterday, presumably to honor Mario Cuomo. Some may already have been lowered to honor the two policemen ambushed in Brooklyn. This one is at the Department of Sanitation depot on Richmond Avenue by the S.I. Mall (shot through the blinds of a Starbucks across the avenue).
Another, intentionally lowered or not, was attached to the antenna of a pickup truck on Roosevelt Avenue.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bumper to Bumper - Oscar Edition

The Oscar buzz is already under way. Best Actor, Best Picture ... Who cares? For Best Car, Inherent Vice is likely to sweep the category. Below, the opening image from the trailer.
That's the rear end of Shasta's '59 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz ragtop on the left. Here's more of it, with its owner (Katherine Waterston).
Doc drives a '64 Dodge Dart. In the Thomas Pynchon novel, he has serviced at Resurrection of the Body, "a collision emporium somewhat south of Olympic." Couldn't find a photo of the Dart, but there are plenty of other great cars in the movie, including the Plymouth cruiser driven by Doc's cop nemesis Bigfoot (Josh Brolin).

If the movie's plot is complicated, the cars aren't. Internal combustion all the way. Not a hybrid on the horizon.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Local Flurries

My only window on the BQE these days is the 7 train crossing between Woodside and Jackson Heights. Thus the faint green circle (le rayon verte) of the local. Traffic seems to be moving well in light snow.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Done, Papi

(Times Square-bound platform, November 8, 2014)
The MTA is in the process of installing Help Point Intercom (HCI) emergency communication systems on subway platforms. It's been a long process, at least at 82nd St. The high-tech towers are still in their boxes nearly two months after somebody official declared the work done.
(Flushing-bound platform, January 1, 2015)
This one has a seasonally appropriate ribbon and a nice tag. 

Here's a peek at what's inside the box, courtesy of the MTA. Conference room secure, check.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Vapor Tales

Travelers above and below. (December 2014)