South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 as you see it has been torn down, one of the 100 year old German ships The Peking will be scapped – along with it…any atmosphere that bespeaks the sea. The old buildings are boarded up and ruined from hurricane Sandy and no one has the money to repair them. What will replace it? A shiney big glass box and super high rise. It is an utter destruction and wipe out of New York City’s grand seafaring history.
Photo of the day: MAY 14, 2014 THE WORLD TRADE CENTER MUSEUM FINALLY OPENS
1am, Macy’s and 34th Street
Photo of the day: THE COLD IS SO HARD ON THE KNEES – It was 11°F (-11.67°C) last night in New York City, with wind chills 10-15° degrees colder. To most of us that didn’t matter in our warm beds. Last year the number of homeless people sleeping each night in the New York City shelter system surpassed 50,000+ people for the first time since modern homelessness emerged three decades ago. That grim milestone includes more than 21,000 homeless children. More children and adults are homeless now in New York City than at any time since the Great Depression.
Thanks to despicable billionaire mayor Bloomberg New York City’s record homeless shelter population continues to grow at an alarming rate – up 19% percent in the past year alone. And this does not even include the thousands of New Yorkers still displaced by Hurricane Sandy, many of whom comprise extremely low-income households.
In total the homeless shelter population under billionaire mayor Bloomberg rose by a staggering 61% percent and the number of homeless families has increased 73% percent. During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, New York City homelessness has increased both in absolute numbers and at a higher rate than under previous mayors Koch, Dinkins, or Giuliani. One can only hope our new Mayor DeBlassio and our new administration can rectify these horrific numbers.
Please donate to your local charities.
Photo of the day: 121212 WHERE IS THE HELP NOW? – One year ago today there was a monumental concert effort to help the victims of our hurricane Sandy. While a valiant effort it was, there are still today thousands of people without homes in New York and New Jersey, miles and miles of seashore destroyed.
One year later, there are thousands of people suffering in the Philippines from Super Typhoon Haiyan. The destruction was catastrophic. Storm clouds covered the entire Philippines, stretching 1,120 miles — equal to a distance between Florida and Canada. The deadly wind field, or tropical storm force winds, covered an area the size of Montana or Germany. Winds gusted an unequaled 195 to 235 mph! Over 10,000 are dead, most of the poor population is homeless. 80% of the structures are flattened.
One year later: Where is the 121213 concert?
Sunnyside, Queens November 8, 2012
Photo of the day: FROZEN FRIDAY 2012 – It’s hard to imagine but one year ago today, just nine days after hurricane Sandy, New York received 4 inches of snow, it was the heaviest early snowfall ever in November that night. (In the Philippines last night was the biggest typhoon storm ever with 225 mile per hour wind gusts…global warming…)
We have such a dense canopy of trees in Sunnyside, the weight of the heavy wet snow made for an eerie yet beautifully dramatic walk that night as they bowed dangerously low. Silent night, snowy night. All wasn’t calm, but it was quite a sight. Today November 8, 2013 it will thankfully be 54°.
Photo of the future: VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE DeBLASIO! – GO out there and vote! I want a real human being in City Hall. A man whose family looks like the rest of us. A man with feelings and a heart. Not ice in his veins. I don’t care if all his promises can’t be reached, or if he will screw up and falter – I want a mensch, a human being I can approach and relate to. I want my city back! I got rid of Christine Quinn, one of the most cold calculating, selfish, power mad, destructive politicians of modern times, lets make sure MTA-thief Joe Lohta losses by a huge margin!
YOU can make history and get rid of the elite detached nanny-rule of this Bloomberg tyranny. In my born and raised 57 years as a New Yorker I have never seen a mayor do as much to destroy and harm my beloved city as bastard Bloomberg. We have NEVER lost as many long time established stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, historical neighborhoods and places and business places as with his greedy rule of allowing quadruple rent increases to squeeze (in some cases) 100 year old businesses out of business so he could build yet another mirror glass ivory tower for his billionaire friends. He has done more damage than 9/11 and hurricane Sandy combined, both of which we are rebuilding from. You cannot rebuild from the onslaught over priced glass ivory towers, the destruction of historic neighborhoods, the squeezing out of the middle class, the invasion of chain stores in even the most historical of neighborhoods, the racial and socioeconomic division of this city, the genocide of the middle class as what has occurred in the last 12 years of Bloombergistan.
Bloomberg is a thief. Oddly enough he went from being the 18th richest man in the country to 10th richest man as the zoning laws, historic district laws and street patterns changed and Citi-bikes have invaded and devoured our city. All those deals went into his back pocket. The zoning commission is working around the clock to cram through all of Bloomberg’s excessive destructive plans such as encircling Grand Central Terminal and the iconic Chrysler building with glass super towers!
I am tired of the little dwarf who is about as much a part of the rest of us as a cold rock from outer space. His Napoleonic syndrome of dominant power over every little aspect of New York went too far.
DON’T “ASS-U-ME” DeBlassio will win or win big: May I remind you , that is how bastard Bloomberg got this third term because of the anger and apathy that let everyone assume he would win his bought third term. Apathy and laziness looses you your city. VOTE! – Take 15 extra minutes before or after work, take the dog on a voting walk, turn off the TV, grab a warm coat, take your children with you and let them know they are a part of something great, take someone you love and share this exhilarating chance, but most of all, know that this vote is one of the most crucial votes you will cast in the last 100 years of this city’s glorious history and certainly determine our next 100 years.
HELP SAVE NEW YORK – VOTE BILL DeBLASIO ! ! !
Photo of the day: THE CALM AFTER THE STORM – One year later after hurricane Sandy, the scene yesterday on Coney Island Beach was so serene, one would never know there had been chaos and destruction all along our coastline just a year before. Just a few strollers shell hunting on the windy beach. Most of the strollers were enjoying the sun on the boardwalk, sunning themselves while enjoying a Nathan’s hot dog. In November the rides will shut down awaiting the children’s laughter again in the spring of 2014. Hopefully time will heal the wounds of the heart and finances so that Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, as well as Ellis Island will be able to return to their former glory.
Photo fo the day: EXPERIENCING THE ONSET OF THE HURRICANE IN NEW YORK CITY – 1 year ago today, I wanted to document the experience of a hurricane. I was blown down the street for two blocks several times, not having a thing to grab onto. But I made it to the water’s edge of the East River.
The statistics are: 820 mile wide storm, 13.88 feet high water, 44 deaths and then twice as many more afterwards, 2 million people without power, many neighborhoods today remain wiped off the map and over 500 people still don’t have any place to go. It has changed the city and people’s lives forever. Here is the storm in photos. (I don’t have the time or understanding how to post a whole albums of photos, so here is my link of the complete photo album on myFacebook page.) https://www.facebook.com/hans.vonrittern/media_set?set=a.437954789596068.95638.100001446524326&type=1
Mondays on Memory Lane: HURRICANE SANDY LIVE VIDEO – It was 4pm, October 29, 2012, and I was determined to witness hurricane Sandy from the water’s edge on the East River. I was the only one on the streets, soaked to the bone.
This photo was taken from Long Island City, Queens. I braced myself against a cement bench to prevent myself from blowing away. United Nations, Trump Tower, Empire & Chrysler building in skyline.
See my YouTube video below:
Ladies and gentlemen, Grace Jones . . .
Photo of the day: LADIES AND GENTLEMEN – – – GRACE JONES – 1 year ago today, Grace Jones hit New York City with her show called “Hurricane” two days before the most disastrous hurricane ever destroyed parts of New York forever, hurricane Sandy. Eerily now in hindsight, the audience and I screamed and cheered in Grace’s defiance of the oncoming storm. None of us had any idea of what was to come. . . here is my review of that ironic and incredible night at Roseland Ballroom, which it was announced this week – Roseland be torn down, not due to hurricane damage, but torn down by greed:
“Thirty four years after the legendary performance of her 1978 concert at Roseland Ballroom, NYC – Grace Jones returned Saturday night, October 27, 2012 and gave what perhaps will go down as one of her most legendary concerts of her career. She has not changed a bit. At 64 years old she is an astoundingly fit statuesque Amazonian creature as she was then. When she asked “Who was here in 1978?” the roar in response was deafening. (I was there that night in 1978). Last night’s sold out concert crowd recreated the height of the atmosphere of the divine Studio 54 disco days. Extreme outfits were the norm. Glam, glitz, drag, shock and over the top seemed to be the order of the night.
Grace outdid herself for her die hard fans, even the Hammerstein Ballroom concert performance of July, 2009. She was more animated, loose, filled with naughty adlibs (Grace is obviously an oral sex fan). Roseland’s lighting crew was off their game for which Grace retorted with a flurry of quips, zingers and re-starts of her legendary disco and new wave songs. No dubbing, live for almost 2 hours! “Keepin’ it tight!” It was Grace unleashed.
Every move was a camera pose. Every gesture calculated to cause frenzy and cameras to go wild. She is still a fierce, angry, cocky sexual diva. Her legendary toned body is remarkable, her legs are longer than a Barbie doll’s, her ass firmer that a 30 year old. One of her songs was performed while consistently swirling a hula hoop around her waist and then while continually twirling and moving about the stage she introduced the band – constantly twirling! Lady Gaga, Britney, Madonna, Rhianna, Taylor Swift or any of the young acts today do not have the stamina of this remarkable icon. With a hard pounding rock/reggae beat flavored with disco and new wave, her mega hits did not disappoint. Ironically called “The Hurricane Tour”, Grace ended in defiance singing “Hurricane” while huge fans blew her about on stage and whipped the crowd into an ecstatic frenzy leaving euphoria in her wake.”
Photo of the day: REASSURING THE SHORE – I am taking my German tourist guests on my 5 hour long tour of Brooklyn today, via Harlem Spirituals Tours. From the Fulton Ferry landing at the Brooklyn Bridge allllllll the way to Coney Island for a Nathan’s hot dog lunch – wunderbar! Our last and final stop will be the 5 Pointz Graffiti museum as a surprise ending 🙂
At Coney Island for the past few weeks we have been met by this long pipe snaking along the beach. Early in September the $7.2 million Army Corps of Engineer’s project to pump 600,000 cubic yards of sand along Coney Island’s shore began. Although the beach closed for the summer after Labor Day and red flags indicated no lifeguards were on duty, there were a few sunbathers and swimmers adjacent to the area where the work is getting underway.
While restoration work is going on, there were rolling closures of roughly 1,000 foot wide sections of the beach where construction work is active, according to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE). The beach nourishment project extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach, and is expected to be completed in the fall.
Coney Island was hit hard by Super-storm Sandy and soon, its beaches will be well on their way to being protected against future flooding. There’s a ship out on the horizon pumping the sand from the ocean’s floor (and surprising a few startled crabs I bet) and pumping it methodically onto the beach where it is sifted and raked. You can hear the rumbling of the stones and shells as they go whizzing by inside the large rusty pipes lining the beach. Soon we will be enjoying pristine sand to stick our toes into! Join us?!
Photo of the day: GIVE ME THE LIBERTY TO TOUR ! – French muralist Veronique Barrilot painted this great mural as a (hopefully not) final statement at the 5 Pointz Graffiti & Mural Museum on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, which is in danger of being torn down in favor of twin glass high rise towers. (See my earlier post). Her bold Liberty statue proclaims in French “Give Me The Liberty to Paint!”.
For the past week I have been faced with the frustration of leading my European tourists who have come so far to see (shall we say) their Eiffel Tower, our Statue of Liberty – only to find signs posted that the despicable government has shut the symbol of freedom down and their tickets have been canceled. There we are left standing in Battery Park which is still mostly destroyed from hurricane Sandy. No park. No island. No Liberty.
I too join my friend Veronique in proclaiming “Give Me The Freedom – to Tour!”
Photo of the day: CARRYING THE TORCH OF FREEDOM – ( or . . . GETTING INSIDE A LADY’S HEAD ISN’T THAT EASY!) Having had the privilege to attend the opening of the Statue of Liberty’s crown on the 4th of July was a thrilling and very moving experience. The crowds were huge. The line in Battery Park to buy non reserved tickets was two hours in the heat. My reserved ticket line wait was only about 45 minutes. I bought the ticket May 7th on line the second they announced the reopening. Security everywhere is very tight. The screening tent is still at Battery Park and not at Ellis Island as at one point suggested, since Ellis Island is more destroyed than we thought. I was told by many of the park rangers (I kept asking again and again) when Ellis would open – the unanimous answer was “up to two years.” The damage was so severe to the understructure and main lobby and also the pier/harbor.
The Fourth of July ticket !
The boat ride to Liberty Island was just ‘different’ than usual. There was an electricity in the air of ‘being the first’. It was truly moving to see every color of skin, to hear so many different languages, all ages, all religions coming together to marvel at Auguste Bartholdi’s statue from France. The excitement on board was like little children about to see the Christmas tree. Everyone had huge smiles. We were there! The original landing pier is no longer in use – half of it was wiped away in hurricane Sandy. An old smaller pier at the tip of the island is now being used.
Security is over the top if you want to go into the crown. “No back packs!”. Fine I thought, so I bought myself a small fanny pack and carried my camera. I was stopped by security and asked what was inside the fanny pack. “My keys, phone, wallet, some pills, etc.” “No keys or change allowed,” I was told to my stunned surprise. You are forced the rent a $2.00 locker and have to leave yourself only with: wallet, phone, pills (if needed, but no liquids allowed) and a camera – that’s it! This caused quite an angry commotion by many of the tourists and I was quite annoyed myself, not even a fanny pack! Later I came to understand why = because the space in the crown is so very small.
Red, white and blue bunting greeted us.
Inside Lady Liberty’s robes
Ok, into the restored pedestal. The park rangers greeted you with beaming smiles “Welcome Back!” they all cheered. Inside the ground floor of the pedestal is the original glass torch, beautifully restored. I decided to marvel at that later, the crown was waiting! The climb begins. Fair warning: if you have a heart condition, are overweight, claustrophobic, afraid of heights . . . this is not for you. Regular stairs at first in the pedestal, but then as you enter the statue herself, it still is that extremely narrow staircase wrapped around to what amounts to basically a large vertical pole. (Woody Allen once quipped: “The last time I was inside a woman was when I went to the Statue of Liberty”).
The narrow climb
Close quaters !
The last time I myself visited Lady Liberty was when I was in 3rd grade in 1964 with my classmate Dagmar Kiefert (we are still friends). To be climbing these stairs again 49 years later was an emotional climb. And then…you feel a breeze, you hear park ranger’s voices, you start to see light and then all of a sudden, it is as if you are living a movie-like dream – you are there! A view of New York’s harbor! It was surreal. My first reaction was ‘This is IT?!’ The space is so very much smaller than I had remembered as a tiny tot. Everything is bigger when you are in third grade. I was somewhat stunned. What to do first? Get someone to take my picture? Take pictures? Take it all in?? As welcomed as I felt, I felt rushed, who knows who is coming up the stairs next, and how many? Most of the ‘windows’ are now sealed with plexiglas, but some are opened on the right lower side. Three medium sized windows which I didn’t even realize were opened (I was that excited) and 3 porthole-type windows only about 12″ in diameter. I was advised to strap the camera around my wrist, stick your arm out the porthole window and you can photograph her torch. Incredible! I was too excited and emotional to concentrate on the quality of the photos, luckily I am going back on July 10th and will concentrate more on the photos, rather than the experience.
49 years later – I made it again !
In the clouds, a birds eye view.
Inside Lady Liberty’s face!
As you climb a few steps down, there comes the most haunting thing of all, you are inside her face! Sadly the structural beams hinder a decent photo, but it is almost more thrilling than the crown – so Alfred Hitchcock like. At certain points in the climb you can touch her skin and realize how thin it only is, 3/32 of an inch (about 2.5mm) thick, the same as two American pennies placed together. It is amazing that she has weathered all the storms in the harbor. Next stop is the pedestal on the way down and the view of Liberty Island and the city is breathtaking. *Don’t forget to look up at her!* Sadly you can see that many of the trees on Liberty Island are dying or dead from having been immersed in the salt water for so long after the hurricane. All the landscaping has been replaced with new sods of grass and the areas are roped off. The restaurant is opened again and I ate lunch by the waterside, listening to a little jazz trio playing, while literally watching the world go by, every nationality you can image. It was the ultimate American Independence Fourth of July Day I could have possibly spent and will treasure it for the rest of my life. I took hundred of photos and have so little time to edit and post them all, but here are a few for you to enjoy. HERE’S TO LIBERTY !
(More to come…)
In the arms of Liberty.
A TRULY HAPPY 4th OF JULY !
Photo of the day: WHY I MARCHED WITH PRIDE AGAINST NYC COUNCILWOMAN CHRISTINE QUINN
I lost my Gray Line tour guide job of seven years because of her bullying through a ‘headset bill‘ in New York City. It all started two years ago when two older residents on Greenwich Avenue complained about guides on open mic and insist we be rerouted. We tried all diff routes, but Greenwich is largest, best flow and connection to the rest of the routes and bus stops.
These complainers had the sirens of St. Vincent’s Hospital, a school yard with screaming grade school kids and the bars showing European soccer matches to boisterous patrons till 4am – if u do not like the noise – move to a better location, you knew what u where getting into when u moved in. So a headset law was suggested.
No one seemed to hear ’noise’ but them. Guards were placed at the corner to see if we were off mic. A noise “study” was supposed to have been done and magically was never needed.
NYC councilwoman Gail Brewer tried to help us and insisted a proviso be put in the bill the headsets be connected to a live guide. ALL tour guides rallied, spoke on TV and radio and press to “Keep New York Live”. Greg Mocker/WPIX11 befriended me and joined our cause. Rumor was that Twin America, the monopoly that owns blue City Sights and red Gray Line double decker buses was trying to get the ’live guide’ proviso thrown out. No tour guides = no high licensed salaries, no health insurance. BINGO! The proviso was erased in the middle of the night by Quinn, because Quinn is in the pocket of Twin America and they padded her coffers for her mayoral run. She simply claimed the proviso was ‘not needed’.
We held one big last ditch effort rally on the steps of city hall at noon time. 12:30….no press, no one. I called TV transit reporter Greg Mocker “Where are you?!!” ‘It’s canceled, isn’t it?’ Quinn had called the press and told them it was canceled. The bill passed with live tour guides eliminated. Councilwoman Brewer cowered under Quinn and was a bit of a wimp, she needed funding for her district. Next came the slaughter of the guides. We had a sign up book, you would sign the days you wanted to work for the next few weeks. Allllll of a sudden, any guide who was seen at NBC, ABC, WPIX11, CBS News, etc was not ‘allowed’ to sign up with no reason given. I was one of their top tour guides. I never had one complaint. I was requested world wide, did all their celebrity tours (Liza Minnelli, Heidi Klum, Cyndi Lauper, etc.) yet I was no longer allowed to sign the book. A fellow tour guide overheard my boss Eva Lee tell the dispatcher “these people are effectively no longer here.” With pressure mounting by the guides, Gray Line said we could re-apply for our jobs, but not at $17.75 an hour with insurance, but with $12.75 and hour, no insurance. We applied. “If a position arises we will contact you” we were told with the iciest of cold faces. Meanwhile through the tour guide grape vine we heard they were begging and pleading other less experienced guides to please come in.
Senior guides were offered insulting low buyouts. Gray Line wanted no one left with a memory of what it used to be like. Guides who had worked there 18 years!!, spoke 5 languages!, were now gone. They wanted no one to question the ‘new authority.’ No rebels, just quiet frightened to death zombie guides. Then they realized no one was watching the tourists on top, so they hired illiterate ‘watchers’ to sit on top and make sure guests didn’t stand up. Pay was about $7-11 per hour. The recorded tour tapes didn’t and don’t work well (at first they didn’t at all!) so now they are hiring guides who are given the answers to the Tour Guides License test, so any idiot can pass the test. Watch them, the buses pass by and the guide is saying nothing, or babbling utter incoherent nonsense. And so here we are. New York tourists are greeted by these “ambassadors to the city” – it’s a joke. The headset law was bullied thru by Quinn, the required noise study was NEVER done and hundreds of guides my age (57 and older) don’t find it easy at all to find work in this city at our age or at other companies. It is almost impossible. You have to be minimally bilingual (I am/German) or be the darling of one of the smaller companies. Smaller companies don’t have the work, salaries and clients. So many guides went bankrupt, moved, sold their things, took several other low paying jobs = slaughtered by that greedy dictator!
There are many other reasons I will cut my hand off before I vote for Christine Quinn. Zoning variances have become the norm in New York and we are becoming a city of soul-less glass boxes since she is in the deep pockets of the real estate Rudin family. Councilmembers are afraid of her. Vote against her – your funding is cut. She over turned term limits in the middle of the night as well so that elitist mayor Bloomberg could buy a third term. NYC had voted TWICE for a two term limit. How is this a free country?
She is “gay for pay” – on gay pride day she runs to the front of the parade, but has not voted for one pro gay health, housing or community bill – NOT ONE. Her ultimate sinful act was to tear down St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village as well as the ‘Tiles For America’ memorial across the street. Built in 1849, St. Vincent’s took in the only survivors of the Titanic, was at the epicenter the AIDS crisis, and 9/11. The Rudin real estate family wanted condos there. Quinn saw to it, and while at it, tore down the adjoining church as well. She is the most dangerous thing that has happened and could happened to New York City. We rebuilt after 9/11 and hurricane Sandy – we cannot tear down the glass boxes that are rising at an alarming rate where the mom and pops used to be. We have lost more long time establishments under the Bloomberg/Quinn administration than in the entire history of New York City. Affordable housing tenants are squeezed out, the middle class is ceasing to exist. VOTE this election,
VOTE FOR “ANYBODY BUT QUINN!”
WATCH THIS! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXoANkQh93I
Photo of the day: GOLDEN GIRL WITH PARACHUTE – Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower ‘The Parachute Jump’ has been towering 250 feet over the seashore since 1941. It was built for the 1939 York World’s New Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens and was moved to Coney Island in 1941 as part of the famed Steeplechase Pier. The ride ceased operations in 1964 when the park shut down for good. Today it is the only remnant of that bygone era.
What has not changed, despite hurricane Sandy, is the tradition is basking in the sun on a hot summer’s day, sitting not too far away from the famed Nathan’s hot dog stand. Life will always be a beach and a boardwalk – the amusement park, the smell of Coppertone, sand between your toes, sounds of children splashing with delight in the water, beach umbrella hawkers and young men perusing the boardwalk for their golden girl.
**(Celebrating my 300th post!)**
Photo of the day: A STREETCAR NAMED FRANCET
– A trip Brooklyn go to the supermarket/grocery store is more of an unusual experience than you think! The local Fairway Supermarket chain has turned the Red Hook Brooklyn waterfront into an day-trip shopping experience. Built into an old industrial building and site, it has become a day at the beach.
On the back patio are three wonderful old trolley cars from a bygone era in New York. They were supposed to be part of a planned waterfront trolley from Red Hook to the Brooklyn Bridge that has been debated since the 1980’s. About a decade ago they were restored by trolley buff Bob Diamond, who hoped to run them on a line on Columbia Street and Furman along the waterfront for a proposed Trolley Museum and restoration project that has never happened. (He was also was the guy who found the first tunnel in NYC under Atlantic Ave.) He actually got some tracks built before the city pulled the plug. They have been left to deteriorate in back of Fairway since. Further ravaged by hurricane Sandy, their streamlined beauty remains.
As for Fairway – many were skeptical (and quite vocal) back when Fairway planned to open a store in Harlem. And then for their fourth store to be in industrial Red Hook, Brooklyn, well, people thought they were just plain nuts. But how could they resist the gorgeous waterfront with a view of the Statue of Liberty? The Red Hook location ended up being a diamond in the rough, having the advantage of space and size (the largest store at the time at 52,000 square feet), plus all of the qualities that made them a star in Manhattan – on premises-roasted coffee beans freshly ground to order, the largest artisanal cheese counter around, the best of the best deli and appetizing organic and natural foods at competitive prices, the highest quality USDA Prime Beef from their Butcher shop including our own USDA Prime dry-aged beef, the freshest seafood, the largest selection of daily-delivered produce, traditional groceries, kosher selections, and a made-from-scratch bakery. Oh, and the specialty imports – olive oils, exclusive artisanal oils and vinegars, tapenades and sauces, spreads to perfectly complement your perfect cheese, it’s the stuff you dream of. Red Hook is a one-stop-shop that holds a special place in the Fairway Market family of stores. The word ‘cavernous’ comes to mind – IT’S HUGE! !
With café seating for 50 and a waterfront view, Fairway Red Hook is a joy for people to come to shop and for lunch! Customers can set their carts aside, order a scrumptious meal, and in no time be sitting facing the Statue of Liberty having a nice chat with a friend. Surrounded by up-and-coming housing developments and an artist community, the Red Hook store has a unique opportunity to be involved with the community. They donated $30,000 to help rebuild the hurricane Sandy ravaged community. The store itself was completely wiped out inside – a total loss. But they are back stronger than ever in such a short time. Grab your flip flops, sun tan oil and go – – – to the supermarket!
I‘M HERE, I‘M OK ! THANK YOU to all those concerned posts that I didn’t ignore but simply couldn’t answer. After Xmas there was frightening health news for my mom and lots and lots of additional disappointments and bad news all at once and I just emotionally shut off. I had absolutely no desire to photograph or to speak to anyone. I couldn’t feel. I actually also couldn’t find the words, me speechless = rare. I am now slowly grappling how to put it all into words and come back to Facebook and blogging.
Some said “just start posting/blogging again with no explanation,” but I felt after so many of us have shared our lives for so long I should explain…
So here goes: 2012 was one of the most unpleasant years of my life. Two horrible (Gray Line & On Board Tours) jobs and financial disappointments, a struggle with my photography/book and then a culmination of awakenings from watching the news just brought me to an emotional shut-down.
I did launch my blog, that was absolutely wonderful! My photography web site by now has had over 6,700 hits, but no photographs sold. I have been told over and over by good friends of mine like Paul Ker, “No one buys photos anymore.” A very depressing reality, but that a book is the way to go. The answer was to create a book with the photos and the stories behind them but the people who offered to help were phonies and the computer program needed to self publish and print the book in (sadly) China or India is so confusing, I couldn’t learn it since my brain was already on overload. So I tried to concentrate on the book by years end, but then my printer isn’t good enough and to top it off, both my camera and lens fell, broke and cost me an expensive repair I wasn’t counting on.
I had wanted to do a 2012 year’s end blog and researching for it led me to be more and more distressed of what is happening to my beloved New York City. 2012 was a record year of losses of iconic stores, lounges, restaurants, mom and pop places, Tiles for America, hotels, buildings, etc., that were wiped out due to the greedy under-the-table real estate dealings of mayor Mike Bloomberg and evil councilwoman Christine Quinn. Zoning variances have become the norm. Quaint neighborhoods are now collections of glass boxes and look and feel like strip malls. Harlem is 60% white, Greenwich Village is now nothing but yuppies, European hipster-wannabees and chain stores. It depresses me to visit many of my once beloved neighborhoods, to give tours in them is a farce. Hospitals and schools are being torn down to make room for luxury condos. (The hospital I was born in is now closed and boarded up.) If councilwoman Christine Quinn were to become mayor it will be the end of New York City permanently as we know it. A depressing way to enter 2013.
It seemed every day I wanted to write the blog or post a photo – another news story hit of yet another demolition or closing, they were coming almost daily. I just couldn’t take it anymore. Political news added to my depressed feelings – I simply cannot take this damned bickering in Washington DC anymore. I am a staunch Democrat, but I am open enough to say – when we have a Republican president the country should be run by republicans and when we have a Democrat, things should go their way = an ultimate test to see who can fuck it up better or make the country better – ultimate proof. But this daily bickering, stalling and impasses has had me say ENOUGH! I used to be a MSNBC Rachel Maddow addict, I cannot take her anymore, she is brilliant, her research team is one of the best, but if the daily results are the same thing over and over “stalled, denied, fighting, bickering, more mass shootings” why bother to watch the news?? It is the exact same thing every day. So…I shut down news and Facebook wise. I discovered two great cable TV stations called METV and AntennaTV which show all the old shows, so I escape to see Mary Richards and Rhoda, Oscar and Felix (just to hear that theme song cheers me up!), Leave It To Beaver=my favorite, Dick Van Dyke, Jeannie and of course the divine Aunt Clara and wonderfully wicked Endora on Bewitched. If god forbid something happens to the president, or another hurricane is headed this way – I’ll know about it, otherwise, leave me alone and stress free.
Hurricane Sandy added to my already dreaded feeling of loss of NYC. To this day Battery Park is wiped out, The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island won’t open till July 4th, some Wall Street buildings are still on generators, South Street Seaport is ruined and now they are going to tear much of it down in favor of…….glass boxes. Lest we not forget the thousands and thousands in Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn that FEMA has not helped, that are without daily necessities like hot water, toilets and grocery stores. It is disgraceful. Childhood shore communities are gone – but the mayor and councilwoman Christine Quinn want to build…MORE glass boxes in midtown Manhattan, it is their ultimate mantra “let them eat cake.” It is like living in Alice In Wonder/Greed-land and the emperor and empress are wearing no clothes.
Then shortly after Christmas I thought I was going to loose my mom. She has injured her hip by pulling a heavy box across the floor and that action, somehow caused the cartilage to slip out of place between the two main hip bones and she now has the bones grinding bone on bone which I am told is quite painful. We were told there are two answers: hip replacement surgery or really strong painkillers. Mom can’t even make it up one step much less bend, turn or kneel. So all of a sudden I had to be there all the time. The Von Ritterns live to be in their high 90’s. Mom being 87 wasn’t at all any concern, she is otherwise healthy as a horse except for slight high blood pressure. One day we were at her dinner table and she couldn’t get up and for the first time I saw this old feeble woman and that was what sent me into shock. This isn’t my mom! Could this be the end? This vibrant woman who stood hours on line to vote for Obama can’t even get out of her chair?
We visited endless doctors offering all sorts of surgeries and pills. Mom refused all. You see, we lost my grandmother/her mother due to hip surgery – she was under anesthesia so long, that the oxygen didn’t properly flow to the brain and she came out of it with instant senility. My grandmother’s sister, had a botched spinal surgery and was given mega doses of pain killers which caused her to loose her mind to the point of being senile as well. Both extremely vibrant women, gone due to back/spine surgeries and all those pills. Mom was instantly haunted and frightened by that and said “God dammit, I am going to be here a long time, I am not making a doctor richer with hip surgery and I am not poisoning my brain. I’ll just take Tylenol!” (Well…sooner or later we will need more than just Tylenol…)
I couldn’t talk to anyone about it because when I did, as a few of you know, I lost it and broke down. I might be loosing my only living relative, my only living connection to my childhood, my history and my past. So I just shut down/disconnected. To top it all off, I threw out my back helping her and I also got blurred vision, explained to me due to stress. But – you have to learn how to make the lemonade out of the lemons or think sharply and say ‘what message are we getting here?’. The answer was finally a book, for both of us!
Our family history is astounding. Fiercely independent women who traveled the seven seas on their own, great-great grand parents who owned a coffee plantation in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, grandmother/‘Oma’ and her sisters were opera singers for the Berlin Opera, surviving Germany in World War II, mom coming to America and starting a new life. It’s the German “Gone With The Wind”!
We realized we need to record this legacy. Mom being viewed as forever young would come to haunt us if she were suddenly ill one day and not capable to record our history. NOW is the time for us as I research the Von Ritterns. Since she can mainly just “sit” – I have set her up in a comfortable office space in her kitchen and soon the great autobiography will begin. As for me, a book is the way to go. A $9.99 paperback in perfect carriable size &/or E-book, that anyone visiting New York would say “this is truly the real New York“.
So mom and I are settling into a new pattern of me helping her daily as well as trying to run my household (such as it is), photographing, walking Noel her dog and of course feeding Oscar my pet squirrel on time. With spring having arrived and many of my touring regulars visiting, I am slowly ‘making a mental comeback‘. Two people responsible are two very dear friends Lynn Benton Black and Pamela Martin Hughes who gave me wonderful loving insight and support on our recent tour.
Most importantly I want you all to know, I wasn’t trying to be mysterious or rude or diss-ing anyone. I just needed to be thoroughly alone to think and reassess. I couldn’t even think about “photos/blog of the day” (it seemed so trivial) when I thought I would loose mom suddenly – my brain just did an instant disconnect from all else. Please know I am very heartened by all the kind posts of concern here. I read all your posts and treasure you all.
So – I’m going to try to juggle it all: Touring, mom, me, Facebook, socializing, photographing, our books, blogging (it‘s a lot). On Facebook I’m going to start a new feature called ‘Mondays on Memory Lane’. I may not have a P.O.T.D. (Photo of the Day) every single day yet, and some photos may be a few months old, but – – – hey, I’m making a comeback ♥ !
DRAPED IN LIBERTY: The Statue of Liberty is closed. Her harbor has been damaged by hurricane Sandy and will not reopen till at least spring 2013. So Times Square always has a steadfast alternative you can count on. It is overcrowded with competing ‘Liberties’.
A mute (because they don’t speak English) person draped in a mint green cloth, standing on a milk crate, wearing a Halloween Liberty mask with sunglasses and carrying a souvenir shop torch (some have flags too) – all beckoning you to come take a picture with them…for a price. ‘Ms.’ Liberty has been known to get ugly if ‘she’ is not paid a fair price. Yes, it is substantially less than a Circle Line Ferry to Liberty Island, but if you wanna play – ya gotta pay.
SPECIAL DAY: As New Yorkers struggle to get to work due to lack of electricity, subways, enough buses, lousy political leadership, gas shortages, roads impassible and some neighborhoods completely wiped off the map, life does go on. This street vendor amidst his lack of customers declared it a “Special Day.”
“BUT THE WORLD GOES ‘ROUND”: The lyrics from Liza Minnelli’s 1977 film “New York, New York” seem appropriate in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.
Sometimes you’re happy, sometimes you’re sad
But the world goes ’round
Sometimes you lose every nickel you had
But the world goes ’round
Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn’t alter a thing
Take it from me, there’s still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a fall and a spring
And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes ’round
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound
Somebody loses and somebody wins
And one day it’s kicks, then it’s kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes ’round-
But the world goes ’round
But the world goes ’round
Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn’t matter at all
Take it from me, there’s still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a spring and a fall
And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes ’round
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound
Somebody loses and somebody wins
Then one day it’s kicks, then it’s kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes ’round
And ’round and ’round and ’round and ’round
The world goes ’round and ’round and ’round
Lyrics by the great iconic team: composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb.
(Photo is of the lobby of The Daily News Building on 42nd street aka ‘The Daily Planet’ in the Superman series.)
NEW YORK HALLOWEEN 2012: In a Photoshop world, we might have created the eerie surreal spooky landscape of New York City for great effect. It need not be done, this is real. Some say life must go on, others say in a place of devastation – to celebrate Halloween is sacrilegious. The world’s largest (3 million people) Halloween parade in Manhattan has been canceled for the first time in it’s 39 years. There are many neighborhoods where there are no houses, if there are houses – no sidewalks. If there are homes – no stores open to buy candy. If you are safe – the streets are currently not at night. With New York at it’s longest standstill in it’s entire history – you decide. Happy Halloween ~ in spirit.
Many of our street are impassible. Giant 85 year old trees barricade the lovely streets. Worries of fire engine and ambulance access grows as Tuesday comes to an end.
Taken from Long Island City, Queens. I braced myself against a cement bench to prevent myself from blowing away. United Nations, Trump Tower, Empire & Chrysler building in skyline.
See my YouTube video below:
WOMAN NARROWLY ESCAPES DEATH: She had meant to cut down that old dead tree in the front yard. But the expense was so great. It was on her ‘to-do’ list. Last night the old tree saved her life. A huge mighty 85 year old elm tree crashed toward her house and is merely resting on the entranceway, barricading her door shut, because the old dead tree acted as a shield and saved her from being crushed in her home.
47th Street in Sunnyside, Queens.