Posts Tagged ‘manhattan’

Memories are Motionless

June 2, 2016

“Memories are motionless, and the more securely they are fixed in space, the sounder they are.” – Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

tribeca $1900 300sqft

Earlier today, taking a break from painting, I googled studio prices in NYC to check out the going rate. The above studio is on the market in Tribeca. For 300 sq. ft. you will pay $1875.00/month!

Once upon a time, I rented a painting studio of my own. The space was larger than the the space above. For 400 sq. ft. I paid $400.00/month. Situated above a clock store in Williston Park on Long Island, a decidedly unhip but affordable and convenient location at the time,  northern light flooded my studio all day long. I was in heaven.

Excited to have a dedicated workspace I could get as dirty as I wanted, I laid down a roll of cheap linoleum, moved in my work table and supplies and got to work.

One morning as I arrived, the proprietor of the store below me was standing amidst a forest of chiming grandfather clocks, front door open. He introduced himself right away and asked me what I was up to, mentioning he always heard music playing. He then said he enjoyed (rather than objected to) the music and seemed a bit tickled to find out that someone was making art in the space above him instead of preparing tax returns or teaching traffic school.

I fondly recalled my studio days as I stepped back from the easel this afternoon to assess the progress of a new painting. My studio is the second bedroom of the two bedroom apartment we rent in Queens. I never did put down linoleum, but I guess I should have.

It’s fun to fantasize about the days when I painted full time as I spend my days off from a dreadful office job. I’m not complaining, per se, but occasionally on days like these I enjoy torturing myself by thumbing through an artist book I own called Studios by the Sea. 

To refer back to Bachelard in Poetics of Space, he writes: “…even when we no longer have a garret, when the attic room is lost and gone, there remains the fact that we once loved a garret, once lived in an attic. We return to them in our night dreams.”

This is so true. At heart, I’m a romantic. A big part of me loves to dream and yearn. Loves the yearning part more than the actual getting. The aroma of coffee beans in the grinder more delicious than drinking the brew. As I flipped through Studios by the Sea I wished and imagined. Sometimes walking around NYC, I will find myself gazing longingly at a 19th century townhouse on the Upper East Side — yearning to live there. And enjoying every minute of yearning.

During my recovery from a broken ankle last summer, I would pass a particular townhouse on East 63rd St. on the way to physical therapy. A painting hanging on the wall by artist Caio Fonseca was visible through the expansive front window. It held my eye each time I passed by. His work is a favorite of mine. As I stopped to gaze, I conjured an entire fantasy scenario based upon seeing his work hanging in that space. On the landing beneath the painting an elegant ebony grand piano, keyboard exposed, was poised to be played. Above hung a glittering crystal chandelier. Aware Fonseca played the piano, I was convinced it was a Steinway and that Fonseca lived in the townhouse.

But he didn’t live in the townhouse as I would come to find out. The scene – his painting, the piano, the splendor of the decor  – had been staged by a real estate agent, likely another “romantic” like myself. That agent, through his or her design, had gifted me many evenings of yearning and pleasurable wanderings.

Fantasy is better than the reality. I suppose people who invest in their “dream house” spend the rest of their lives “making it even better than they imagined” with continual remodeling because intrinsically they know that dreams are never realized. Otherwise, they would no longer be dreams.

…the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.” – Bachelard


Who Moved My Jeeves?

November 22, 2013

9:00 AM, 57th Street



5:00 PM, 57th Street



The Medium is the Message


This Bird Has Flown

July 19, 2013

A Brief Homage to the Hummingbird

If you saw my post on Monday about the farewell luncheon I was invited to for my coworker, the Hummingbird, on Tuesday…this is what she ordered:

Two very large Blood Orange Martinis. Not a morsel of food.

8 coworkers showed up for the blowout luncheon. It took place at a diner-cum-Italian restaurant on 6th. The event was booked by the Bowerbird (but chosen in advance by the Hummingbird). Without a glance at the bar menu or missing a beat, she ordered the two martinis.

The Bowerbird acted as if he were paying for the whole thing, which he wasn’t. Administration funded the luncheon, in keeping with their practice of enabling their worst employees’ bad behavior, particularly those that spew venom and swear out loud like a hip hopper in the middle of a workday.

The ersatz salmon panini I was served (salmon salad minus the mayo, pretty much, between some sort of bun etched with parallel charred lines on top) was recommended to me by the Hummingbird.

Suddenly, the Hummingbird, sloshed by now, began pontificating about the meaning of life and the importance of loving what you do and giving back and following your bliss — which was the reason she was going to open a yoga studio.

Her stream of conscious cliche fest was interrupted by the Bowerbird, who shouted: “Pass the fries.”

Sadly, he was referring to the communal paper cone stuffed with soggy fries, which he ordered for all of us to share as an appetizer. Big spender. And it’s not even his money. His own “meal” was left untouched. He said he didn’t like it. It looked disgusting. I couldn’t even guess what it was.

I admit, I thought this day would never come. But today was really the Hummingbird’s final day on the job.

As always, she showed up at the office dressed for the part. Wearing shorts!

Gracing us with her presence for 3 hours, she and her shorts abruptly leapt out of her office chair at noon. In a dramatic display of weepiness, she rapidly rounded the corner toward the exit calling out a breezy: “I don’t do goodbyes” — and she was gone.

For good. I can hardly believe it. I should be happy. But I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. We still have the Bowerbird.

The Hummingbird’s gallery of personalized post-it notes pinned to her cubicle wall of self-love she abandoned without a second glance.

She even left this final post-it note behind, which was tacked up only yesterday:


Who knows…maybe she wrote all those post-it notes herself — to herself. Hey, if you don’t love yourself, nobody else will.

Pass the fries!

Merry Christmas and Random Peace in the New Year

December 24, 2010

Poor guy

There’s an awful lot on this snowman’s plate. Carrying off the holiday window in a Jackson Heights pharmacy is challenging, to say the least, especially when competing with, say, the decorating budget of a Manhattan establishment:

Van Cleef & Arpels


Still, it’s the intention that counts. For instance, I ran across this subliminal message on the subway station floor at my stop in Queens:

I like to call it “Peace Glove”

Fallen from someone’s pocket, intentionally dropped there, who knows? But a message is there if you want to look for it.

The Mitzvah Mobile

Around Hanukkah a few weeks ago, a Mitzvah Mobile was parked at 5th and 57th, right outside the building in which my office is located. Its formidable presence (klezmer music, rabbis on loudspeakers, waving hands beckoning you inside) may have rubbed off on the attorney I work for. Above and beyond the Christmas bonus and pair of gloves he gave me, he did a mitzvah for the military (and for me, because, I must admit, it did my heart good).

He donated an undisclosed sum of money in my name so that soldiers serving in the Middle East could phone home for the holidays. A nice thing to do. (You’d think the government would fund those calls, but that’s another post, for another time…)

We have been, and still are, freezing here in New York, as many are everywhere else (well, except for my former stomping grounds in L.A. — but they are getting very wet, at the moment, so let’s wish them a swift return to non-stop sunshine and blazing heat).

The cold has not affected the fun of Christmas week from expressing itself here in the city.

One of the perks of working in Manhattan is witnessing an imaginative parade of costumes and fashion on a daily basis.

Courtesy of The N.Y. Times, click the following link for a fun peak of N.Y. style. You’ll see lots of red and, of course, the ubiquitous black — the color most New Yorkers cannot live without:

Here’s wishing one and all random peace, many cease-fires, fewer suicide bombers, and no more “my religion is better that your religion” (atheists included here, who are becoming as evangelical as, well, the evangelicals).

Feelin’ Groovy

October 27, 2009


Tramway cables on the left, the 59th St. Bridge on the right.

I’d always wanted to ride the tram to Roosevelt Island — the narrow strip of land situated in the East River between Manhattan and Queens — mostly, for the view it offers of the city.

So, the other day, we took a breather from the job hunt and DMV hell and the social security card nightmare (it appears you need an actual “card” in N.Y., in order to apply for a job), took the R train to 59th and Lex, walked to Second Ave., and climbed the concrete steps leading to the platform where the tram was docked.

Whew. What an opportunity to rise above it all.

Since a Metro card will take you just about everywhere here in N.Y., two swipes got us each a four-minute ride on the tram.

There’s something magical about watching the ground and the people on it shrink incrementally before your eyes. It feels so peaceful.


tram3A little bit higher now…

tram5Hey, a techno dog park right next to the East River — lucky K9s.

tram6I wished I could’ve kept rising higher and higher…

tram7A spidery shadow was cast over the river on the approach to the rocky shore of Roosevelt Is.

Once our feet touched ground, a stupendous view was there to greet us. Don’t you love it when you stand beneath a monumental structure, like a bridge, and feel so small? I do.


Since we’d done a little googling before our visit, we knew what we wanted to see. We strolled south down the lovely Riverwalk toward the remains of an old small pox hospital.

Gothic and spooky, the structure instantly brought to mind Mandalay and Dragonwyck and Thornfield Manor…


Notice the funny Casper-like graffito on the left. It really did feel haunted.

In fact, the entire Island felt out-of-time and seemed to harbor an undertone of ghostliness.

Scarier to imagine than the small pox hospital is the New York City Municipal Lunatic Asylum, a mental institution that once resided on the Island. All that remains of it is an octagonal building called — what else? — The Octagon. It’s now an apartment building.

Can you imagine living in an apartment that once housed what the tourist pamphlet calls “woe-be-gotten inmates”? It like the stuff of horror movies.

Anyway, you can read more about the asylum in the February 1866 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine by clicking on this link. It’s a fascinating, first-person account that’s definitely worth a visit.

The most interesting section of the Island turned out to be the middle coast, from the westside down to the southern tip. Still, before departing for good, we shelled out the 25 cents apiece for tickets so we could ride the red commuter bus to check out the Island’s northern tip and visit the lighthouse.


As lighthouses go — and I’ve seen lots of them — it was a pretty good specimen, but didn’t compare to the dramatically romantic lighthouses that inhabit the Oregon coast. I know, apples and oranges. But this lighthouse actually looks better in J.C.’s flattering shot than it does in person.

On the north end of the Island, the view underwhelms — off to the Island’s east side, you have Costco glaring back from the Astoria shore. From the west, the tableau is the upper east side of Manhattan — patently boring.

Still, I’m glad I made the trip and satisfied my curiosity.

To make a fun day even more fun, we headed for Greenpoint to meet our good friend, B., for dinner. Descending the steps down to Roosevelt Island’s only subway stop (the most deeply dug tunnel in the city), we waited on the platform for the F train to arrive.

A bit creepy waiting and knowing you’re standing so far under the East River.

We arrived in Manhattan, boarded the #7 train and took it to Vernon/Jackson Ave’s. Then, we walked over the Pulaski Bridge toward B’s painting and sculpture studio.

pulaskiwalkwayBefore going out for Mexican food and a few beers, I gazed through the studio’s window as the sun set  over Newtown Creek, fantasizing about having a studio of my own, once again — now that I’m back in my very favorite city. Sigh.


Part 5 – Trains, Sidewalks and City Legs

May 18, 2009

My New Ride: the Old #7

My New Ride: the Old #7

Check out the view from my new commute! We had finally left the suburbs and moved to Jackson Heights, a 15 minute train ride to Manhattan. Car-less-ness, for me, was blissfulness.

Although the Chevy II was history, the Pinto had made GM’s recall list. Waiting for its number to come up, D. still drove it to work, hoping it wouldn’t get rear-ended and blow up.

Adding insult to injury, one of the Pinto’s hinge-challenged, bottom-heavy doors no longer opened. To exit the car, the passenger (yours truly) had a choice: either to roll down the window and hurl herself out legs-first  or clamber to freedom over the console.

aww, beep beep

aww, beep beep

For the most part, I hoofed it around the city, rode its astonishing network of trains , avoiding the role of car passenger as much as possible. I’d found a new job in Manhattan and the #7 train would take me there.

To qualify for my position as “psychometrist” — a fancy word for one who administers and grades psychological tests — I had to personally endure 5 hours of psychological and intelligence testing.

Ironically, the same battery of tests I had taken I was now administering to business professionals who were up for promotion — and sent to us by major corporations and brokerage houses.

A follow-up personal interview with one of the shrinks on staff would determine if these individuals were indeed worthy (or ruthless) enough to move up the company ladder.

(Regarding this practice, in retrospect, all I can say is: egads…)

Seventy-something Arthur was head shrink and elder partner. The rumor was he had only one testicle and that the other one had been shot off in WWII. This did not prevent him from meeting  a call girl named “Sari” at the Biltmore Hotel during his lunch hour.

The Biltmore was located next to Grand Central!

The Biltmore was located next to Grand Central!

I was the relief receptionist, so that’s how I knew. Because, occasionally, “Sari” would telephone  to cancel. And when she did, Arthur was hell-on-wheels for the rest of the day. Unless, of course, his 90 year-old mother telephoned to tell him how great he was.

His partner, Buddy, a 40-something married hipster shrink (who didn’t even bother getting a hotel room and just used his office), played “good cop” to Arthur’s “bad cop.”

Office manager, Tish, was the daughter of a retired famous sports figure who would churn out autographed baseballs on-demand for Arthur and Buddy — which they then used to bait new clients.

But, sadly, all good things have to come to an end. One day in 1979, Sid Vicious died of a heroin overdose. Our receptionist, Anna — a practicing witch, gun-owner, and groupie infatuated with Sid — totally lost it.

Her black-clad, stockings-rolled-to-the-knees, hair-in-a-bun elderly Italian mother telephoned the office to say that Anna had locked herself in her bedroom and was never coming out.

The next thing I knew, I was sitting in Anna’s chair answering the phones. That wasn’t what I had signed on for — so I quit.

Undoubtedly, another crazy  job would be waiting for me right around the corner. It was, after all, New York City.

What I Was Reading: Lots of “subway” books: Interview with the Vampire (Rice), The Other Side of Midnight (Sheldon), Jaws (Benchley), Helter Skelter (Bugliosi), Your Erroneous Zones (Dyer), Passages (Sheehy).