From Liberty Island…
HAPPY 4TH OF JULY !
Photo of the day: DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES – It’s all in what you see…this moment caught yesterday on Ellis Island.
Photo of the day: MY ALL-AMERICAN LUNCH – on Ellis Island Thursday afternoon.
Photo of the day: THE BAD SIDE EFFECTS OF GLOBAL WARMING: . . . is this.
It was 72 degrees (22.2 Celsius) today in New York City! And what does that result in – one of the older ‘regulars*’ in Times Square, still wearing winter mittens and a pair of Uggs. Of course the Christmas velvet reindeer antlers with a Statue of Liberty crown to hold them in place. The pink wig matches his pink bike and matching pink streamers. Since it was so warm today that rest of his outfit was shed to reveal tiny polka dot bikini.
But . . . don’t you just hate it – when you realize, after you’ve left the house, that your bikini top doesn’t match your bikini bottom? I hate when that happens!
* We have several ‘regulars’ – the naked cowboy, the naked cowgirl, the naked Indian and the naked candy man.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Dreamy desserts with bright colored berries,
Nuns back and forth on Staten Island ferries,
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings,
These are a few of my favorite things!
(I think this nun’s name might be Maria)
Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
Photo of the day: HANS CRUISES NEW YORK – I spent five days taking 35 Germans and one American on a total sightseeing tour of New York City! They saw the whole big apple from top (Harlem) to bottom (Battery Park/World Trade). The minuses: getting up at 4:30 am to travel from Queens so I can meet them at their hotel in Seacaucus, Jersey at 8:00am. Dropping them off in Jersey at night and that long, long cold mass transit bus ride back. The pluses: The wonderment in their eyes seeing Times Square for the first time. Taking the famed Circle Line Manhattan boat cruise at sunset. Their eagerness to walk along Fifth Avenue decorated for the holidays. The giddy Empire State building visit. The look in their eyes the next morning after they visited the places I had recommended. The hugs and German home made cookie I got at the airport as they sadly said goodbye…makes all worth while 🙂
Can you tell it was cold?
#7 train subway booth, Sunnyside, Queens
Photo of the day: SEEN AT MY SUBWAY BOOTH ~ A LESSON IN MANNERS: “Excuse me please, can you, can I have, thank you have a nice day.”
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: DESPITE THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN, THE FIGHT FOR LIBERTY CONTINUES BY MURALIST VERONIQUE BARRILLOT – Today the despicable Republicans have shut down the government. Tourists here in New York that have traveled half way around the world to go to Liberty Island are literally left out in the cold. The most upset are those who have crown visit tickets, those tickets have been ordered two to three months in advance and you arrive in New York = closed.
One of the places you can see Miss Liberty still fighting for her freedom is at the Graffiti Museum 5 Pointz on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, right next to the 7 train Court Street Station. World famous 5 Pointz, as so many other treasures in New York, thanks to the greedy cancer that is the Bloomberg administration, is in great danger of being torn down in favor of twin mirror glass apartments.
5 Pointz, Jackson Avenue at Crane Street and Davis Street, the whole block, Long Island City, NY 11101, #7 train Court Street stop.
To make her (perhaps final) statement, French muralist Veronique Barrillot has been given permission to paint a giant mural directly on the Jackson Avenue side for all to see. It is the Statue of Liberty, grimacing as she holds a paint pallet and paint brushes. Veronique is finishing the mural today, so I will not reveal the full image of it yet. Veronique states: “The homage I would like to pay to 5 Pointz is that of our common heritage and of our faith in the future and in liberty.” As of this moment’s government shut down, that immediate ‘future’ looks grim. The longest government shut down was also the most recent, from Dec. 16, 1995, through Jan. 5, 1996. That’s 21 days. No Grand Canyon, no Yellowstone, no national zoos, no landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial or the Washington Monument – no Statue of Liberty.
Paint on Veronique, paint on ! Vive l’art!
Photo of the day: GATEWAY TO LIBERTY – When in Paris – you have to go to see the Eiffel Tower. When in New York – you have to go to see the Statue of Liberty. Every portion of the grounds are a treat for the eye! Whether you have crown access tickets (sold out till November 2013) or pedestal/museum access or just tour the grounds, it is an experience you won’t forget.
If you have access passes to the pedestal you will see the lobby yields many treasures, such as this awe inspiring view from the second floor balcony.
The Statue of Liberty exhibit, which opened in July 1986 and is located on the second floor in the pedestal of the Statue, traces the history and symbolism of the Statue of Liberty through museum objects, photographs, prints, videos and oral histories. In addition to historical artifacts and descriptive text, full scale replicas of the Statue’s face and foot are also on display. The main historical sections include: From Idea to Image, Fabricating the Statue, Stretching Technology, Fundraising in France, The Pedestal, Fundraising in America, and Complete at Last. The next area focuses on the symbolism of Liberty with sections titled Mother of Exiles, Becoming the Statue of America, Century of Souvenirs, The Image Exploited and The Statue in Popular Culture.
Photo of the day: CROWN HEIGHTS – From 265 feet (80.77 meters) above ground, there are 25 windows in the crown of the Statue of Liberty, some of which are open slightly giving you the opportunity to try to take the most amazing photographs of the iconic symbol of freedom. The seven spikes in her crown, just above the windows, represent the seven seas. To look out of these windows, one can truly use the expression “breathtaking.”
Crown tickets are usually sold out months in advance (till October 2013), but if can plan your trip in advance, reserve a ticket and take a lifetime climb and experience this magnificent ‘breathtaking’ view!
Photo of the day: MEET 35 OF MY NEW FRIENDS FROM INDIA – Through my friendship with Ajay and Ankur Bansal of the India Unexplored travel agency in India, I get the sheer joy of showing stary-eyed students the city of their dreams. Since they come from all parts of India, the reaction to New York ranges widely from bewilderment, confusion, to the thrill of recognizing places from their movies and music videos.
The children in this group ranged from age 8 to 15, so therefore their reactions varied greatly. The group always is divided into the expected subsections. The cool pretty girls, the science geeks, the way too cool coming-of age guys dressed as ‘NYC’ as possible, the introverted, the shy and the terribly obdeient to parents and tradition. It amuses me greatly to watch this predictable age old tradition and dividing up carry on. Can you pick out who is who in this group photo?
On Sunday, July 7th we first visited the Statue of Liberty. The high rate of security overwhelmed them a bit at first. To watch their eyes grow wider and wider as the boat drew closer was endearing. Some children just grow very quiet and look studiously up at her. Here she was! The statue they had seen in every movie, “Did you see ‘I Am Legend’?! That movie was cool!” I always point out to them that the statue is not standing still as it first appears, that she is breaking the chains of oppression at her feet and is moving forward towards freedom, “Oooooh!” I always ask – do you know what the 7 points in her crown represent? “The 7 continents” is the most frequent answer as opposed to the correct answer, the 7 seas. I then ask them to take 2 American pennies out of their wallet to show them just how thin her copper skin is, there is always amazement at that. Despite the oppressive heat wave we took the time to make sure everyone got that one special photo with Miss Liberty – you know, you get on your knees and photograph upwards so that friends and Miss Liberty are all in one shot. Then it’s the race for the gift shop. “I wanted more Liberty Statues” one adorable girl exclaimed. I assured her, once we got to Timers Square, there would be dozens including many live ones for her to choose from!
Next it was on to the 9/11 memorial. More stringent security. Since half the group was of such a young age, I had to explain the whole tragedy to them and the importance of the site. Many had thought the waterfalls would be above ground “you know, like Niagara Falls.” I told them to look up and imagine 110 floors of people working at their desks possibly about to loose their lives. Silence and bewilderment came over their faces. ‘But why?’ their faces seemed to say. How do you explain terrorism to an 8 year old? I tried in the gentlest manner possible, trying to explain “hate”. Many also sought to touch the ‘survivor pear tree’ and felt it was a true miracle.
Since they wanted an American lunch, where else but – McDonalds on Broadway with the live piano player, this was very exciting to them. They were like kids in a candy store. Very happy and very placated. We then walked around the City Hall area and waited for our bus to take us to the Empire State Building. What was incredible to them was that it was built in just 13 months. “That can’t be sir? It is not possible to construct such a thing in so short a time.”
Out of respect, I am called “sir” – it is endearing, an old age culture of respect and a bit surreal. Some dared to call me “Sir Hans” but that was tried by only 1 or 2 of the older boys. Imagine this soft little voice calling you “sir”, it warms you heart to the fullest.
The Empire State Building was the third time they were subjected to the heavy ‘welcome to New York security’, this is how our lives have changed. Security guards took away a golf ball from a little boy. I was furious and in disbelief. I had an umbrella which I could have dropped down as a missile, but this little boy’s NYC golf ball he had bought for his dad was confiscated?!? (I bought him another one at twice the price, but I was NOT going have this
be his memory of the Empire State Building!) Once we got to the top, having come from the other side of the globe, I was asked if that land mass to the west was Canada – I had to explain, no…”it’s Jersey”.
Our final stop was the much requested Times Square. The ooohs and ahhhs were abundant. Each older student was required to hold the hand of a younger student. I lead the group holding up an American flag they could follow, we were quite a parade. “Sir! This is where we should have spent the whole day!” Most of them just wanted to shop, try on Nike sneakers and buy as many I ♥ NY t-shirts as possible, and oh yes, and buy many little mini Liberty statues.
Here is where our culture differs greatly from India’s. We made our meeting point by the red glass TKTS stairs. As we waited I looked in their bags and would ask them “so – what did you buy?” Many of them responded that they had not bought nothing for themselves, but something for their sister, father, brother or mother. It was truly humbling. One little girl was so proud that she had bought a red, white and blue teddy bear with big eyes for her little sister, “I know she will like this very, very much.” I couldn’t have loved them more in that moment. Now it was time to head back to their hotel in Long Island City and continue their NYC adventure Monday . . .
FAVORITE QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Is King Kong really real? Where does he live now?” asked 8 year old Kavish Singh with thoughtful wide eyes and wonderment. I had to bite my tongue from laughing and remember I believed in Santa Claus till 5th grade, so it was with a smile I tried to explain that it had been an animated doll – he seemed disappointed.
View of Manhattan from Liberty Island, July 4, 2013
Photo of the day: ABC’s the VIEW – A.stonishing B.ig C.ity View
Come to New York, it’s bigger than life!
Bigger than a 3D movie!
Bigger than your imagination!
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: HAPPY 4TH OF JULY ! – Today I have the great honor of being one of the first and only few today to be allowed into The Statue of Liberty’s Crown! ! ! I am so excited to experience this today! The last time I was in the crown I was in 3rd or 4th grade! I feel like a child on Christmas day !
HAPPY FOURTH Y’ALL !
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!
Photo of the day: I ♥ NY ! Banged up as she is, this mannequin’s enthusiasm for the honky tonk of Times Square can’t be suppressed! Happy weekend everybody !
MEET 59 OF MY NEWEST FRIENDS FROM INDIA! – Three years ago my friend Ajay Bansal took one of my NYC tours while I was working for a horrible private touring company which wasn’t very “receptive” to their guests. Ajay left that company and came to me privately to lead his student tours through New York and it has been a joyful relationship ever since. This spring 2013 tour was comprised of 52 gifted students (all boys) and 7 chaperones. Their eyes were filled with wonderment and eager with anticipation, hanging on my every word. As with most children abroad, their only concept of America and New York is through movies, videos and commercials.
Their naïveté is adorable – upon seeing the Empire State building the youngest ones asked “Ooooh, is that the World Trade Center?” “Where is the Liberty Statue?!” “Can you see movie stars on the street?” “Have you met the president?” “Do you live in a penthouse?” I simply fell in love with all of them. The age range was from 13 to 18, so the group ranged from total innocence to hip hop wanna-bees. But one thing they all have in common is a stringent politeness. It took me a whole day to stop them from calling me “sir’ and we finally settled on “Mr. Hans”.
It was a full three day schedule including: the Empire State Building, bus tours, a harbor cruise to see Miss Liberty, The 9/11 Memorial, Wall Street, South Street Seaport, the United Nations, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum (who knew they had a Bollywood exhibit?!), the Museum of Natural History (dinosaurs!) and of course M&M World in Times Square. It was a busy schedule. As we toured through the city several quotes come to mind:
“What are all those white boxes in the windows?” = air conditioners.
“The water coming from the sky is definitely making me wet.” = rain.
“Was King Kong really right here?” = no…that was a doll (the little boy seemed rather disappointed.).
“Is that Canada?” = no, it’s New Jersey.
“Will it snow today, please?” = no, it’s too warm.
“This food is most pleasing” = ‘delicious.’
We may laugh at some of these comments but they are terribly endearing. To have had the privilege to spend time with such innocent, polite and loving children made the tour such a joy. All the sights excited them, I think the big ‘hits’ were the Liberty Statue and the wax museum. They were fascinated that are streets are filled with such diversity “in our country – everyone looks the same.” But above all that, they had only one consuming desire and that is – to shop! (Head phones seemed to be atop most of their lists.) So Best Buy was their main goal.
Their next stop is on to Washington, D.C., and then on to Disney World. Not bad, huh? It was hard to say goodbye to them, but same time next year, I’ll have some little boy tug on my sleeve and say “Sir . . . how far is Best Buy from here…?” I look forward to that already.
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 ♥ !
In New York City – shopping is a sport !
BLOOMINGDALE’S Friday’s hours:
7:00AM – 10:00PM
Saturday, November 24
9:00AM – 10:00PM
Sunday, November 25
10:00AM – 9:00PM
Monday, November 26
9:00AM – 10:00PM
Tuesday, November 27
9:00AM – 10:00PM
Wednesday, November 28
9:00AM – 10:00PM
|MACY’S HERALD SQUARE STORE HOURS
|Friday, November 23:
||12:00AM – 10:00PM
|Saturday, November 24:
||7:00AM – 11:00PM
|Sunday, November 25:
||10:00AM – 10:00PM
|Monday, November 26:
||9:00AM – 9:30PM
|Tuesday, November 27:
||9:00AM – 9:30PM
|Wednesday, November 28:
||9:00AM – 11:00PM
SAKS FIFTH AVENUEMon-Sat 10 am – 8 pmSun 12 pm – 7 pm
LORD & TAYLOR
Mon – Sat: 10am – 9pm
Sunday 11am – 8pm
Holiday hours begin November 26: Monday to Friday open 10am until 9pm. Saturday until 8. Sunday 11am until 7pm
LILLIPUTIAN LIBERTY: “Huh?!” She looked bigger on TV.” “Mum….did the green lady shrink in the rain?” “Isn’t she supposed to hold the big candle?”
I captured this priceless moment in Times Square as these little visitors from England just knew something was wrong with this pint sized Statue of Liberty, but were too polite to say to say something. Their faces pretty much say it all creating one of my favorite pictures of the year!
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.
PIECES OF NEW YORK: An old shipping container becomes a pop-up Chinese food restaurant in Times Square. Segmented tiles become Liberty art. Neatly placed paint buckets and a work ladder, it becomes a still life of New York.