Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

Posts tagged “subway

Photo of the day: THE PHONE CALL

#7 train, Court Street Station

#7 train, Court Street Station

Photo of the day: THE PHONE CALL – “I love you not only who you are but for who I am when I am with you, and words can not express how much I love you and care about you. I hope that you will never forget how much you mean to me & love. But I can’t keep going on knowing that you don’t feel the same way about me. If you love me let me know, if you don’t let me go, oh and…we need a pound of potatoes, oregano, chives and bean dip.”

Photo of the day: THE WORLD WAR II VET


Photo of the day: THE WORLD WAR II VET – In 2012 I spotted this old veteran outside Penn Station. He had the most determined walk and I loved his unique flair, so I followed him with my camera till he eventually got lost inside the cavernous train station. I approached him to ask if he needed help, he kept telling me he wanted to go to Central Ave in South Orange, New Jersey. So we looked for the train together. Everything about him touched my heart. His tattered clothes, the scraps of cloth he had tied as kerchiefs, he hadn’t shaved very evenly, his inside-out t-shirt and his perfectly tilted beret which was absolutely covered in (his favorite) cat hair, but his medals were perfectly polished and cared for. I just fell in love with him. He told me he is a lecturer on wars, esp. WWII in which he served. He was very spry, I believe he was at least 85 years old yet still filled with such gentille determination. We reached the Jersey bound train platform but no personnel in Penn Station knew of the address he wanted to go to, but I luckily found a kindly conductor who promised me he would look after our vet. I finally helped him get on the train and off we went, each our separate ways. . .

Photo of the day: “LET US DIRTY”

B train, 1:00am, New York City

B train, 1:00am, New York City

Photo of the day: “LET US DIRTY” – 1:10am, Anthony Alonzi fixing his eyeliner after the Cher concert. On the B train,  Brooklyn.


Photo of the day: THE CAVEMAN’S PREGNANCY COMPANION – Uh! Even cavemen need advice when it comes to the big day! I witnessed this priceless scene on the #7 train heading home yesterday.
“A three-trimester evolutionary crash course to guide the prehistoric papa-to-be through the prenatal, pre-parental wilderness. Every man should read it!

What’s a clueless caveman about to become DAD to do? After all, it’s tough carrying a child for nine months—for him as well as for her. He’s just not sure how to behave. But help is on hand, in the form of a reassuring (and hysterically funny) course for the totally perplexed. Along with a large dose of humor, it provides the father-to-be with all the know-how he needs to become a well-prepared, well-heeled partner who’s really ready to stand upright and embrace his new responsibilities…rather than cowering from them. Every cave-student will find out how to support his mate through this emotional time, cope with his own feelings, deal with baby-related projects, and perform admirably during labor and delivery. So whether it’s catering to his exhausted companion’s needs by preparing a nutritional and tasty meal or engaging in a snuggle session when she craves a little cuddling, with the help of this book a guy will become the proud Cro-Magnon caregiver he longs to be!” Book written by David Port and John Ralston.

Photo of the day: VANISHING VIEW

#7 train, Court Street Station, before the station's  renovation.

#7 train, Court Street Station, before the station’s renovation.

Photo of the day: VANISHING VIEW – As the over zealous, over greedy and over crammed building continues in the neighborhood of Long Island City in Queens, joyful surprise views like this one of the treasured Chrysler building, are rapidly vanishing as the new glass wall of condo towers obliterate the century old Queens view of Manhattan. Next stop, Blandville.

Postcard story of the Week – A DARK AND GLOOMY DAY IN 1906

GLOOMY collage

Postcard story of the Week – A DARK AND GLOOMY DAY IN 1906

Description: 9054. A subway station in New York. 

November 20, 8pm, 1906

To: Miss Mary Ostrander*

Home Farm

Wallkill, N.Y.

This is a dark and gloomy day,


*Today there is a Ostrander Elementary School – 137 Viola Avenue – Wallkill, NY 12589.

The subway station is from the Wall Street area.  Note: the .5 cent subway fare was on the honor system – you came down the stairs, bought a ticket and then handed it to the clerk.

Having checked weather patterns for November 1906 Manhattan, it was an unusually rainy month. So, is Lisa’s “gloom” referring to the weather or is the dank and dark subway station representative of some sort of sad news?

Photo of the day: HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY !


Photo of the day: HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY from the subways of New York City!


The family that drops trow together, stays together.

The family that drops trow together, stays together.

Photo of the day: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON – THE NO PANTS SUBWAY RIDE CONTINUES . . . – Keeping in the glorious 13 year tradition of dropping your pants in the public subway system while pretending nothing is wrong continues. Here dad and mom see to it that there little one is indoctrinated at an early age at Union Square.
        What started out as a prank by 6 college buddies, is now a international flash mob event taking place in for it’s twelfth annual No Pants Subway Ride, over 4,000 people participated in New York with tens of thousands more participating in 60 cities all over the world, including debut rides in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Photo of the day: BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

#7 train, 46th Street, Sunnyside

#7 train, 46th Street, Sunnyside

Photo of the day: BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE – It is 15°F (-9.5°C) here in New York City and last night winds were howling as we received 10″ inches (.25 meters) of snow for our first blizzard of 2014. But the commuters aboard the local #7 train at the 46th Street station in Queens were oblivious to the frigid conditions outside as they concentrated on their books and iPhones on their way home.



Photo of the day: HOW ARE YOU BRINGING HOME YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE? – Despite the fact that you see endless traffic in New York City, most New Yorkers don’t have cars nor even know how to drive. (I didn’t learn till my move to Tucson, Arizona at age 38.) The cars you see are from the far reaches of the outer boroughs, from tourists and rentals.
So we have to be a little more inventive when we bring home our Christmas trees. I have seen Christmas trees rolled home on skateboards, pushed in shopping carts, taken on the subway (a 7 footer!), by sleds in the snow, in taxi cabs and even in baby carriages.   So, how are you bringing home your Christmas tree?
Mine came home via mom's mint green Floridian shopping cart

Mine came home via mom’s mint green Floridian shopping cart


#7 train subway booth, Sunnyside, Queens

#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: “NEVER FORGET” 5 POINTZ, COME JOIN US TODAY 11-23-13

5 Pointz Graffiti Museum, Long Island City, Queens

5 Pointz Graffiti Museum, Long Island City, Queens

Photo of the day: “NEVER FORGET” 5 POINTZ, COME JOIN US TODAY – We will still be there today! Saturday, November 23, 2013. Our tents will be there with Meres and Marie (curators and lead fighters) as well as the artists selling their works. We will not be white-washed away, we will always be here. The fight is NOT over. Come view the cruel hatefulness of the vandalism. The pettiness of the whitewashing.
5 Pointz will live on in one form or another, whether it is here or at another building. But it will especially live because of all of you, through your thousands of photos, stories and passions. If you have photographed the building in all it’s glory, photograph it now and tell the story of one of the greatest crimes against the art world. Let your friends and the world see what greedy, hateful, vindictive, fearful and cruel men the Wolkoff owners are. Spread the word.
I will see you there today with my dear friends from approx. noon till 4 or 5 pm.
45-46 Davis Street/Jackson Avenue, Long Island City.
#7 train – No trains between Queensboro Plaza and Times Sq-42 St.

Take N or Q train to Queensboro Plaza.

Take the free shuttle bus from Queensboro Place. Get off Court Street stop. Walk following the rail line towards 5 Pointz.


Jacqueline Kennedy, early 1970's, Forest Hills Queens tennis matches.

Jacqueline Kennedy, early 1970’s, Forest Hills Queens tennis matches.

Photo of the day: REMEMBERING THE DAY – JOHN F. KENNEDY – On November 22, 1963 we did not own a television, mother thought it was a bad influence on me. I was six years old. My great aunt “Anny” from Germany was visiting with us for the holidays. Anny came racing home in a frenzy asking us if we had heard the news. This was not such a media savvy time. We hadn’t had the radio on – we were playing records. It was an exceptionally cold day, so we stayed inside. Anny cried as she breathlessly told us the news of Kennedy’s death.
Anny was in the lower level of the Lexington Avenue ‘E/F’ train subway station, when a screaming woman came racing down the mint green staircase declaring Kennedy was shot. My aunt witnessed a moment of American history as the entire platform rushed to this woman to hear her tell the news. No radio, no IPhone, no cell phone, just one distraught woman. Anny remembers an eerie silence falling over the platform, just the sound of crying could be heard and men removing their hats. People did no bother to get on their trains, they just stood there. As more people came down the stairs crying out the news, the gruesome story became a reality. Anny raced home to tell her American family the news. I will never forget the moment. I remember the houndstooth coat, black felt hat, suede shoes she was wearing. I remember her perfume as she held my hand to explain what had happened, and I remember the look in her eyes.
Kennedy New York Daily News  November 23, 1963

Kennedy New York Daily News
November 23, 1963

I briefly once met  Jacqueline Kennedy  at the Forest Hills Tennis matches in the early 1970’s. We had box seats diagonally behind her. I never watched the games, I was mesmerized by her grace and elegance. She turned around and shook the hand of everyone behind her, whispering hello. We got the handshake because we were in these fancy seats. This was the days before the assassination of John Lennon, today she would have been surrounded by security guards in a private roped off area. I was in respectful awe how she remained cool, calm and polite as the crowds surged towards her as she freely walked around the grounds which is incomprehensible today.
She was/is the personification of grace and elegance.

Touching email from a German guest mourning the loss of 5 Pointz

Karin Glietz-Rothsprack

Karin Glietz-Rothsprack

Touching translation of an email from a German guest:
Dear Hans von Rittern,
On the occasion of a cruise with the AIDA BELLA/Harlem Spirituals, we visited New York, on Nov.2.2013 and we were lucky enough to take a city tour “Complete Brooklyn”  with you as a city guide. My view of New York became changed by your affectionate and competent guidance. You led us to the graffiti museum at the end of the excursion. What a sight, a factory, in a dreary trade settlement, with miraculous pictures, in all different conceivable style kinds and colors. Enthusiastically I have taken photos so many pictures as possible and even have bought one more T-shirt. I have carried these photos home and have shared them, also the T-shirt has brought a lot of joys. Now I have found out on-line from “Der Spiegel” (Germany’s ‘Time’ magazine)  that the pictures were destroyed by painting over them. This has made me very sad, and the many other people who love this art. We are outraged and feel with you and the many involved and the artists. We will preserve our photos as a treasure and provide for the fact that these pieces of art are shown over and over again, so live on. I embrace you and wish you a lot of strength and courage. With many dear greetings,
Karin Glietz-Rothsprack

From: karin.glietz@gmail.com To: hansvonrittern@aol.com Sent: 11/20/2013 6:23:53 A.M. Eastern Standard Time Subj: 5pointz

Lieber Hans von Rittern,
anlässlich einer Kreuzfahrt mit der AIDA BELLA, besuchten wir New York, am 12.11.2013 hatten wir das Glück eine Stadtrundfahrt
“Brooklyn komplett” mit Ihnen als Stadtführer zu unternehmen.
Meine Sicht auf New York wurde durch Ihre liebevolle und kompetente Führung eine andere.
Zum Ende der Exkursion führten Sie uns zum Graffiti Museum. Welch ein Anblick, eine Fabrik, in einer tristen Gewerbesiedlung, mit wunderbaren Bildern, in allen nur erdenklichen Stilarten und Farben.
Begeistert habe ich soviel Bilder-wie möglich- fotografiert und zum Abschluss noch ein T-Shirt gekauft.
Ich habe diese Fotos nach Hause getragen und weiter gegeben, ebenso das T-Shirt, welches sehr viel Freude bereitet hat.
Nun habe ich durch Spiegel Online erfahren, dass die Bilder durch das Übermalen zerstört wurden.
Das hat mich sehr traurig gemacht, mit mir viele andere Menschen, die diese Kunst lieben.
Wir sind empört und fühlen mit Ihnen und den vielen Engagierten und Künstlern.
Wir werden die Bilder- wie einen Schatz bewahren- und dafür sorgen, dass diese Kunstwerke immer wieder gezeigt werden, so weiterleben.
Ich umarme Sie und wünsche Ihnen viel Kraft und Mut.
Mit vielen lieben Grüßen
Karin Glietz-Rothsprack








Tuesday November 19, 2013 is a day I will not long forget. It was a twist of events and cruel fate that brought many powers of good and evil together.



My dear friend and fellow tour guide Tom Orzo and I picked up 6 German tourist guests at the Queen Mary 2 at the Brooklyn piers for a 3 hour city tour. Normally Tom and I end our tour with a surprise visit to 5Pointz. Since we were coming from Brooklyn, Tom (doing the driving) insisted we make 5Pointz our first fateful stop. At 10:45 we were heading down Jackson Avenue when Tom kept calling out “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”. I thought it was his over-reaction to a smaller building in front of the Graffiti Museum that was being torn down. My back was to the museum, I’m facing my German guests telling them how extraordinary a site they are about to see. Now I realize their faces seemed odd and puzzled, so I turn around to the shock of seeing men on high cranes slopping white paint all over the building, obliterating 12 years of spectacular intricate art. I quickly got out to see if I recognized anyone.



I ran back to the van and we sped to the main loading dock/entrance to the building. And there it was, a vandalized, obliterated work of art – 12+ years destroyed. I ripped open the door to the van and ran into the arms of curator Marie Flaguel and held her as tightly as I could. I cried deep from the gut. I couldn’t stop, I could not speak, I kept gasping for air. I was afraid to let go for fear of seeing Marie’s face. Finally I had to. “It’s all gone…” she said as tears streamed  down her face. The owner Jerry Wolkoff, the same man who had asked the artists to paint the murals on his building, had hired non union thugs to destroy over 1,500 pieces of art outside and even throughout the entire inside of the building. Murals that would take your breath away now had erratic white brush strokes all over them. Oddly enough, the greater more powerful murals – had extra coats of white paint over them, it was deliberate, fearful, vindictive and hateful. How do you find words in a moment when you realize it was one of the greatest mass desecrations of art in the 21st Century. An art genocide.

One of the most haunting incredible  unseen inside murals by Carlos "See TF" Game

One of the most haunting incredible unseen inside murals by Carlos “See TF” Game

As Marie was filling me in on what happened, one of my German guests, Andrea Pröscholdt-Krulich, ran over in tears. “Why?! Warum?!” she kept asking. She was quite shaken. You see – her son was a graffiti artist who had recently committed suicide. She had planned on this trip to New York to visit 5Pointz to pay homage to her son. She never thought that a ‘routine Manhattan city tour’ would have included our surprise visit here. Andrea and my guests were stunned at the amount of press around us and the unexplainable goings on. They looked on in wonderment – here they were in ‘free’ America’, in ‘progressive’ New York and they were watching Hitler-like tactics unfold before their stunned eyes. Some of my older guests were survivors of World War II. I had to get back on the coach and explain what was happening. Then  I realized something. I was with a group of Germans, some of whom had been through a time in Germany when Hitler from 1936 to 1937 rounded up all “modern” art – “Entartete Kunst“ and declared it ‘degenerate’ and had it all destroyed. Over 5,000 works were seized, including 1,052 by Emil Nolde, 759 by Heckel, 639 by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and 508 by Max Beckman, as well as smaller numbers of works by such artists as Alexander Archipenko, Chagall, James Ensor, Matisse, Picasso and even Van Gogh. What Jerry Wolkoff did was no different!





But we were not there to mourn the destruction of the museum, their clock was ticking and I was there paid to give a tour. We continued with our tour, but every time we came to a red light or got stuck in traffic, the conversation always went back to the disbelief of 5Pointz. We dropped off our guests and I headed to a candle light vigil that was held at 5pm.



The vigil’s atmosphere was like a tomb, what had been vibrant was dead. At night the ‘white” was even more ‘deadly’ and eerie. People kept coming, looking up in silent tearful disbelief and anger. Poster boards were taped onto the building for us to leave our messages. The purpose of the posters is – we will never ever again grace his walls with a single piece of art, line, scribble name or even a dot. Wolkoff had the audacity to claim he too cried. He claimed he had done this so the artist wouldn’t have had the pain of seeing their art work torn down over a period of months.  This scumbag reasoning is because he was afraid of the momentum we were gaining. On last Sunday’s rally, when 5Pointz was packed, Marie and Meres (co-curators) had gathered over 1,000 signed petitions in ONE day, to have the building land marked and saved. The owner Wolkoff cleverly erased the value of the building. Let us also not forget, the approval of the two twin glass towers that he plans to build on the same spot were approved by the weasel of a lying two-faced councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, the lowest form of politician there is: big smiling child like innocent face, with his hand holding a knife behind his back, ready to strike for his financial gain.  Wolkoff and Bramer – greed is the intoxicant but karma is the bitch.



So joining the ranks now of Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh are artists Onur Dinc, Esteban Del Valle, Meres One, Spidertag, Kidlew, Kkade, Rubin, Aka Shiro, Veronique Barrilot, Contort, Jekl and Dyzer5, Bisco, Bishop203, Just One, Leias, Zeso, and Zimad, Lord Roc, Bisc1, one of my favorites Carlos “See TF” Game and so, so many, many more. Who is anyone to say they aren’t the next Keith Harring, Basquiat, or Matisse? It is a knife in the soul of a fading New York.



Rest In Paint 5POINTZ




Photo of the day: IS ELVIS DEAD?


Photo of the day: IS ELVIS DEAD? – This being the weekend of Dia de los Muertos, I found it rather eerie to find this ageing ‘Elvis’ on the subway who got off at (of all places) Madison Square Garden. Does the king want to make one comeback tour like Cher? Does he want to recreate his 1972 Garden concert? Why does he look so perturbed – did he find out how much music acts are earning today? Does he even know who Madonna and Miley are? Before I got a chance to ask, Elvis had left the subway . . .



Mondays on Memory Lane: STOUFFERS ‘TOP OF THE SIX’S’ RESTAURANT – As a child, “Top of The Six’s” meant a special occasion. You had done well in school or it was prom night or you were in love and wanted to impress with the sweeping view of the Empire State Building. The rooftop restaurant was located at the epicenter of the posh section of Fifth Avenue, between 52nd/53rd Streets, with a lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi and easy subway access downstairs. Today it is but a postcard memory.

Lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi

Lobby fountain wall designed by Isamu Noguchi


It all started in 1922 the Stouffer family opened a lunch counter on East Ninth St. in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. They sold sandwiches, dairy products and Lena Stouffer’s soon-to-be-famous deep-dish Dutch apple pie. By 1935 they expanded to six restaurants in the Cleveland area and in 1937 they opened the first Stouffer restaurant in New York City.

In 1946 Stouffer’s opened on Shaker Square and at the Westgate shopping center in the Cleveland suburbs. It was at the Shaker Square location that patrons began requesting takeout orders of items on the menu and the Stouffer foray in to frozen food began by 1954. By this time Stouffer’s had restaurants in Florida, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Detroit.

1958 – Opens restaurants at the stainless steel deco-like #666 Tishman Building (built 1957) located at 666 5th Avenue in New York City one on the 1st & below-street levels, the other on the 39th floor, at the time the highest public restaurant in N.Y. They went there, by the millions. In July 1973, about 15 years after it opened, the restaurant announced that it was about to serve its 10 millionth meal. Ominously, a review that month found the cuisine anything but haute.


They continued to expand, building a frozen food processing plant in Solon, Ohio in 1968 and they ventured into specialty casual dining eateries with names like Rusty Scupper, Cheese Cellar and the Grog Shop. In 1969 NASA chose Stouffer’s products for Apollo 11, 12 and 14 for astronauts to dine on.

But it was the Stouffer’s “Top of the…” restaurants that became the special occasion places to go. “Top of The Hub” in Boston, “Top of the Rock” in downtown Chicago, “Top of the Sixes” in New York City, “Top of the Flame” in Detroit and “Top of the Town” in Cleveland.

The view was terrific from 40 stories up, especially in those days long before the World Trade Center, when a restaurant on top of a skyscraper was a novelty. Prices were reasonable. Children liked the view, and so did young couples on dates. Men proposed to their wives there,” it was a time when going to ”the city” meant journeying from Queens to Manhattan. You didn’t necessarily go there for the food, it was that wonderful atmosphere.

Tishman Building #666 Fifth Avenue

Tishman Building #666 Fifth Avenue

On September 18, 1996, The New York Times announced the closing of this beloved rooftop gem. The new tenant would be the Grand Havana Room, a cigar temple that will bear as much resemblance to a smoke-filled parlor as, say, the Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel. Right now I’d give anything for a mid-west cooked Stouffer’s meal atop of the Six’s. The best I can do, is to go to my rooftop, spread a tablecloth and open my microwaved Stouffers dinner – it’s just not the same.

What are your memories of “Top of the Six’s”?



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.

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!
VERONIQUE’S AWESOME VIDEO ‘PORTFOLIO’! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPFiydrnAYg
VERONIQUE BARRILOT’S WEB SITE: http://www.fresquesmurales.fr/
5 POINTZ WEB SITE: http://5ptz.com/

Photo of the day: COME INSIDE


Photo of the day: COME INSIDE – Take it to mean whatever you want, but this mural ad certainly draws your attention for the Station Restaurant & Bar at 166 North 7th Street and Bedford Avenue in hotter than hot Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Just take the “L” train to the Bedford Avenue stop.
Located at the heart of the bustling Williamsburg scene at Bedford Avenue, Station brings the feel of an old-world European train station café and restaurant in a contemporary setting. Amazing dining and drinking in a casual atmosphere, serving a premier selection of curated foods in a comfortable and friendly environment where guests are old friends. The food is Bistro Cuisine on vacation in Brooklyn, an eclectic mix of cultures and flavors emerging from the traditions of Europe.
Come to Brooklyn where old world New York still thrives!
STATION: 166 N. 7th Street Brooklyn, NY 11211. Tel: 718-599-1596

STATION: 166 N. 7th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211. Tel: 718-599-1596

Mondays on Memory Lane: I REMEMBER SUBWAYS WHEN . . .


Mondays on Memory Lane: I REMEMBER SUBWAYS WHEN . . .  – They had rattan seats – when the rattan came loose, it would pinch you in the ass – all you needed was a nickel and a dime to ride the subway, 15¢ – they gave out paper transfers – porcelain handles that squeaked – the subways were so noisy you had to wait till the next stop so that you could talk – they had vending machines on the platforms: assorted gums like Chicklets for 1¢, Dole orange juice machines with separate spigots for water and juice concentrate – there was still a Miss Subways – there were large paper ads shellacked onto the walls instead of the peel and stick kind today – the stations were dimly lit with simple household light bulbs – we still had token booth attendants – those thick wooden turnstiles – there was a dusty/musty smell in all the stations – garbage was piled high on the tracks – ladies wore white gloves on the subways (this helped keep your fingers from not getting black from reading The New York Times) – all businessmen read their cleverly triple vertically folded NY Times, it was an art – there were wonderful square cardboard ads on the car walls advertising the movies with a show at Radio City Music Hall – when (I Love) Lucy got the loving cub stuck on her head and takes the subway disguised as a beekeeper – there were no musical performers on the trains – that vertical emergency brake pole that was on one end in every car, that would clank as the train rattled – trains shook, rattled and rolled – going from car to car while the trains sped through the tunnels was really dangerous and scary – men gave ladies their seats – porcelain ceiling fans – those teeny tiny tokens! – you could open the windows at your desire – the conductor changing the route signs at the end of every station – you got dressed nicely simply because you were taking the New York City subway, wondering if you might sit next to an actual ‘miss Subways!’ . . .
Radio City movie & show - 1974 subway ad

Radio City movie & show – 1974 subway ad

Photo of the day: THE MAGIC SUBWAY RIDE . . .


Photo of the day: AND FOR MY NEXT TRICK . . .: New York City has the most free entertainment you can imagine, above ground and below. In addition to the thousands of street performers on our sidewalks and parks, there are hundreds more in the subways. The MTA (Mass Transit Authority) holds auditions for musicians so they can sing at designated regular spots and hopefully gain some recognition like my friend Alice Tan Ridley who went from performing in Times Square’s main station to appearing on America’s Got Talent TV show and she now has a successful concert schedule and CD!
Now you know you are a “real” New Yawka when you come to know the schedules of the subway performers on your subway line. That’s a real New Yawka! “Oh it 4:30, it’s time for the lady mariachi band!”. We have such performers as The Saw Lady who plays musical saw, pianists, opera singers, tap dancers, belly dancers, jazz musicians, contortionists, flutists, accordion players and my personal favorite ‘Lady Charisma’ – a Brazilian melodica player who only seems to know a few chords from one song,  Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “The Girl From Ipanema”. Lady Charisma’s schedule is about 10:30/11:00 pm  on my Flushing bound  #7 train line and I always have $1 ready for her.
The Saw Lady - Natalia Paruz

The Saw Lady – Natalia Paruz

So it was with great pleasure, while boarding the #5 train at 149th Street & The Grand Concourse in the Bronx, that I came encountered this magician with this wonderfully korny ‘magician’s carriage’ adorned with gold tattered fringe.  His pulled a white dove out of his hat. Did the usual handkerchief trick and made this bunny rabbit appear and disappear to the applause of the riders on the train. God I ♥ NY !
Bullwinkle: Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
Rocky: Again?
Bullwinkle: Presto!



Photo of the day: “GREY GARDENS” BIG AND LITTLE EDIE ARE BACK IN GRAND CENTRAL – One of the most riveting, entertaining and yet sadly disturbing documentaries in the last 50 years is the story of Little and Big Edie in “Grey Gardens”
Grey Gardens film scene

Grey Gardens film scene

Grey Gardens 1975 film program

Grey Gardens 1975 film program

Edith Ewing Bouvier Beale (1895–1977), known as “Big Edie”, and her daughter Edith Bouvier Beale (1917–2002), known as “Little Edie”, were the aunt and the first cousin, respectively, of former U.S. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The two women lived together at Grey Gardens for decades with limited funds in increasing squalor and isolation. The house was designed in 1897 by Joseph Greenleaf Thorpe and purchased in 1923 by “Big Edie” and her husband Phelan Beale. After Phelan left his wife, “Big Edie” and “Little Edie” lived there for more than 50 years. The house was called Grey Gardens because of the color of the dunes, the cement garden walls, and the sea mist

Little and Big Edie

Little and Big Edie

In the fall of 1971 and throughout 1972, their living conditions—their house was infested by fleas, inhabited by numerous cats and raccoons, deprived of running water, and filled with garbage and decay—were exposed as the result of an article in the National Enquirer and a cover story in New York Magazine after a series of inspections (which the Beales called “raids”) by the Suffolk County Health Department. With the Beale women facing eviction and the razing of their home, in the summer of 1972 Jacqueline Onassis and her sister Lee Radziwill provided the necessary funds to stabilize and repair the dilapidated house so that it would meet village codes.

Grey Gardens  film scene

Grey Gardens film scene

Albert and David Maysles became interested in their story and received permission to film a documentary about the women, which was released in 1976 to wide critical acclaim. Their direct cinema technique left the women to tell their own stories. The film went on to become an award wining Broadway Musical staring Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson; and then award wining film with  Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange.

After Big Edie died in 1977, Little Edie was forced to put Grey Gardens on the market. Edie was distraught when she found that most of the prospective buyers wanted nothing more than to demolish the home and build a brand new one on the beachfront lot; never one to waiver, Little Edie refused to sell the home to anyone that did not promise to restore the mansion to its former glory. Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post, and his wife, the writer Sally Quinn, made that promise and bought Grey Gardens from Little Edie in 1979.

The home was fully restored, the gorgeous gardens were brought back to life, and a swimming pool was added. The home now hosts many parties and charity events yearly and has been featured in several architectural and home décor magazines. In the June 2003 issue of Town and Country, Sally Quinn says that her real estate agent initially tried to discourage her from buying the home; however, Little Edie was the ultimate salesman declaring, “All it needs is a coat of paint!”

So, it was to my great delight and surprise that perhaps “Big” and “Little Edie” aren’t really gone, they are just living in a grander home – Grand Central Terminal! I spotted the pair while rushing home and immediately was fascinated at the resemblance and fell in love with them.

The 'Edies' in discussion

The ‘Edies’ in discussion

Mother and daughter luggage

Mother and daughter luggage

Details/similarities to observe: They are homeless, the doubled Duane Reade bags are always a clue. They are enjoying some drinks people had left behind on other tables. Their luggage/belongings closely guarded nearby. Despite their homeless situation they are in good spirits and ‘impeccably’ dressed, oddly similar to the Beales. ‘Big Edie’ has the scarf over her head, matching all in black, the black nylons hide the swollen bandaged ankles, the diamond studded shoes make her feel pretty. ‘Little Edie’ matches mom in all black, with head band to match. Daughter dotes on mom looking lovingly into her over made face. Their desperate situation hasn’t robbed them of their grande style and their elegance, they are in their own world. I only wish that I had the time to sit nearby and overhear their conversation. I will look for them on my next visit to Grand Central ‘Gardens’…


The documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE7E4Flp8p4

The musical  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdh8EoYoAoM


Grey Gardens today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqwuSFj7wMg

Grey Gardens 2013 Manhattan Mini Storage's subway ad

Grey Gardens 2013 Manhattan Mini Storage’s subway ad


1961, my 6th Birthday party

1961, my 6th Birthday party

How we found our missing chairs after 20 years!
New Years Eve 1992 with grandmother aka "Oma"

New Years Eve 1992 with grandmother aka “Oma”

In the summer of 1960 my family, consisting of my mother Ursula, her mother Amalie and me, had moved across the street from a furnished walk up apartment to a brand new sprawling modern apartment building on Woodhaven Blvd named The Imperial. The lobby of the building looked like George Jetson’s living room, furnished in very high 1960’s modern style, it was wonderful, but there was more furniture in the lobby than there was in our apartment! Having come from a furnished apartment, we didn’t have much to move in with. Mom was a single parent secretary with impeccable skills who supported her family all by herself. Coming from a proper German family she had been taught you only buy what you can afford. Now that mom had arrived in America, her co-workers convinced Ursula that buying things “on time” was the all American way!
Bloomingdales 1959 American Design Foundation furniture ad

Bloomingdales 1959 American Design Foundation furniture ad

With that in mind, since we needed a dining room set first, mom would look in the stores after work. Ursula’s finer taste led her to Bloomingdale’s, which in those days had an elaborate furniture department. There on the upper floor were the latest of modern designs, and this being 1960, the style was of course Danish Modern. Mom tells me it was “love at first sight” when she was instantly drawn to a display island in the middle of the floor, roped off by velvet ropes, showing a complete dining set designed in 1959 by Kipp Stewart and Stewart MacDougal for the American Design Foundation for the Winchendon Furniture Company.
Six chairs, dinning table with extender leaves, end table and china cabinet. Solid cherry wood with black leather upholstery. “It was exactly my taste!” mom tells me. Although she does not recall the price, she does recall it was “terribly expensive” but fate had intervened – it was on sale! Even with this good fortune, it was still out of her budget range. “Why not buy it on time?” familiarly chimed the sales clerk. Sold! It was delivered soon afterwards.
For 53 years our family history has revolved around that set. It has been photographed for every special occasion, every birthday, every holiday, it has truly been the center of our lives. But, lives change. Situations change. So, in 1993 we left New York for Tucson, Arizona believing in the theory that ’the grass is always greener on the other side.’ We hired Mayflower movers who specializes in cross-country moves. We were one of about four families on board the huge, huge truck having their things moved out west. Ursula supervised the movers with an eagle eye, especially her beloved dining room chairs. Since the chairs are so light, it was decided they would be placed at the very, very top of our piled section so as not to dent or crush them. Once we got to Arizona we stayed in a furnished motel first, till we could find the house of our dreams. When the Mayflower movers finally arrived a week after our arrival, our furniture was placed in storage. We first settled on a rental house with option to buy (which we didn’t) and had our furniture packed up again and delivered to our new ‘temporary’ home. As the truck arrived, we watched as the doors opened. There perched at the top were their  treasured chairs. One, two, three, four came off the truck. “Where are the other two?” mom asked with great concern. “Don’t worry lady, they’re there,” the movers assured her. They were not.
Tucson Thanksgiving 1994

Tucson Thanksgiving 1994

We filed claims with Mayflower movers, they gave us the run around with excuses as to where they could be. The stop before us in the mid west, the stop after us in California, somewhere. Surely we thought, surely someone would be decent enough to say, ‘hey, we have two chairs that don’t belong to us.’ No one ever did. We believe that since the partition dividing each families furniture was not completely from floor to ceiling on the truck, the chairs must have toppled over into another families things and were never reported, too much of an inconvenience to some one else.
In time, Ursula finally found the house of her dreams on East Hawk Place at the foot of Mount Lemon. Once again the movers were called. By the year 1999 I realized I was the quintessential New Yorker, miserable in Tucson, and in January 2000 moved back to NYC. One year later my mother to move ‘closer’ to me decided to move to Ft. Meyers Beach, Florida. So the movers (not Mayflower!) were called yet again. Mom’s first  house kept getting flooded by the hurricanes so she  moved yet again to one final house in Ft. Meyers Beach, until three hurricanes descended onto the Florida Gulf within three months. The one thing mom was determined to save each time was her beloved dining room set and she perched it up onto other furniture, thereby saving it from all the floods. Three hurricanes being too much, mom finally moved back to NYC!  For each and every one of the seven moves Ursula’s beloved dining room set has survived – except for the two chairs. Now in 2013 she is firmly ensconced around the corner from me in Sunnyside, Queens. But in all the years since 1993, whenever we have a special occasion at the dinner table, it is only a matter of time till mom will say, “you know, we had six of these chairs!”
On July 18 this year, in the midst of New York’s scorching 100F degree heat wave, I volunteered to go to mom’s holistic pet shop, located on 9th Street in the east village section of Manhattan. Now fate begins to intervene. I have gone to this shop many times before. The subway stop is 8th Street. Oddly enough, I automatically got off at 14th Street. So by foot I headed south. Instead of turning onto East 9th Street, for some unknown reason I turned onto East 12th Street. As I headed down the street, I was drawn into the wonderful The Cure Thrift Shop where proceeds go to the diabetes foundation. The lure of cool air and wonderful things pulled me in. I kept walking as if pulled to the back of the store. Then, when just about 6 feet from the back, my eyes saw – our dining room chairs, exactly two of them! !  It was an absolute surreal moment. Was I seeing right? This couldn’t be. In my days, I have been to every last thrift shop, antique store, garage sale, estate sale, street fair and flea market in New York, upstate, New England, Arizona and Florida – I have never ever seen any part of our dining room set – and here they were…the two of them, as if hey were waiting for me. I was almost afraid to touch them to only then discover the mirage wasn’t real – they were real, priced at $500 for the pair. “Do you know anything about these chairs” I carefully asked?
Stewart-MacDougal Chair in CURE Thrift Shop

Stewart-MacDougal Chair in CURE Thrift Shop

CURE Thrift Shop 111 East 12th Street

CURE Thrift Shop 111 East 12th Street

Chair in the #4 subway

Chair in the #4 subway

Hans' private seating

Hans’ private seating

I was told by a very delightful girl named Ali that they were donated by a woman who had had them for “many years.” My hand started going for my cell phone as I tried to walk calmly out of the store. I rushed across the street and speed dialed mom, “You’re not going to believe this, but I found your chairs!” Mom insisted I was clouded with romantic notions and that it just could not be. Maybe the back is different, different legs, different wood or seat, it just couldn’t be, not after 20 years!  “No mom…it’s them!“ We agreed that fate had intervened and that despite the fact this was certainly not planned for in our budget, if these were truly, truly the chairs, I had to buy them! I recognized the nicks and dents we had accidentally put in them over the years – these were undeniably OUR chairs! Unbelievable! I offered Ali $400 which she warmly accepted. I told Ali the entire story as we both got the Twilight Zone chills and teared up and hugged. I rushed home to show mom the photos I had taken of ‘her’ chairs. “It’s them” she exclaimed, as she just kept staring at the photo in the camera.

The very next day I planned to take the chairs to mom’s apartment, one by one on the subway. Liz the manager greeted me only to reveal that she herself had been the past owner of the infamous chairs for just a few years, before that they had been found in a second hand furniture store. Liz herself reupholstered the seats in white vinyl and insisted the original seats are still underneath, which they are. I thanked her profusely and gingerly carried the first chair to go home to mom.
Ursula and her chairs - 20 years later!

Ursula and her chairs – 20 years later!

Now in New York City, you see all characters carry all sorts of odd things on the subway. The subway doors opened, I placed my chair in the corner and sat down. I got all the required bemused looks. “You Won’t believe the story behind this chair!” I exclaimed, I just couldn’t hold my excitement back as I told a young surprised design student the story. My stop arrived, I rushed to her apartment building and got into the elevator as quickly as possible. Ursula was waiting at the door, “Oh my god, it really IS the chair”, mom just looked at me and then the chair and then me, then the chair…We went into the living room and I placed the first of the missing two chairs, next to it’s mates. After twenty long years they were together again! But wait – I had to go back to the city and do the whole trip over again with chair number two! I headed out the door, heady with excitement and rushed to get missing chair #2. After several hours on July 19, twenty years later, I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but our historic beloved chairs were together again, the dining room set was just as it was on that day in Bloomingdales when that sales person said to Ursula: “Why don’t you just buy them on time?” !








THE CURE THRIFT SHOP benefiting The Diabetes Foundation
111 East 12th Street, open daily 11:00 – 8:00
PS: Bizarrely enough, a few days later, TCM (Ted Turner Movie) channel showed the 1970 Mel Brooks comedy film “The Twelve Chairs” for the very first time on their channel.
Sunday July 28th, I actually found the original Bloomingdale’s ad for the chairs on the internet. Life is surreal.

Photo of the day: HOW TO HAIL A CAB ~ “TAXI, TAXI”

Model Shaniqua Myoshi Smith

Model Shaniqua Myoshi Smith

Photo of the day: TAXI, TAXI – The monsoon rain has finally stopped in New York! It is impossible to find a cab in NYC  when it rains, but now that it’ sunny ~ do you know how to hail a cab in NYC? No, you just don’t whistle and wave – you have to know the light system on top of the cab.
– When the letter and number combo is lit (6X47B) that means he is free (no passengers).
– When the letter and number combo is NOT  lit (6X47B) that means he is occupied (has passengers).
– If the words are lit on either side of the letter/number combo, it reads “OFF DUTY” that means he is going home. He may stop for you if where you’d like to go is on his way home, but he’ll quote you a flat predetermined price. (The meter is turned off…I’d wait for a working metered cab.)
– You are allowed to tell him to turn off his personal loud radio.
CONGRATULATIONS! You have just graduated Taxi Cab 101 !
“Invincible Summer Art Fair”!
Featuring Hans Von Rittern’s work
at Queen of Angels Parish Hall, 44-04 Skillman Ave, corner 44th Street, 2 blocks from subway
N/Q/R train to Quensboro Place, 7 train to 36th Street, walk 4 blocks