Posted: June 19th, 2014 | Filed under: Manhattan
It took nearly 40 years for Four Freedoms Park to be built on Roosevelt Island. Some of that was due to architect Louis I. Kahn’s death, some due to the City’s lousy finances, but the biggest reason is probably because the thing is a turd.
When the project was resurrected, my recollection was that there was this excitement about it being “Kahn’s last design” or some such. That’s basically the only thing going for it, and if it didn’t have some big name attached, you’d probably hate the thing.
There’s a lot of stupid shit going on, but the biggest sin of the memorial is how it unaccountably blocks a tremendous view of Midtown Manhattan with a bunch of granite:
Were people in the 1970s this fucking stupid? Or were architects back then so full of themselves that they actually believed their special message about this, that or the other was so meaningful that it merited a permanent censorship of a beautiful vista?
This is from 2004 — my recollection was that you could walk out farther and that it was this wonderful experience of almost floating in the East River. The perspectives aren’t the same, but I think you get the idea, and I don’t think I zoomed in with the camera, either:
Now here’s what you see if you want to look at the skyline from the tip of Roosevelt Island:
It’s so fucking aggravating, and senseless, too. No modern architect would ever think to obscure one of the most unbelievable panoramas in the world with three feet of granite.
And to what end? For Franklin Roosevelt? Who gives a fuck about Franklin Roosevelt? I mean, seriously — is what we’re supposed to consider about FDR’s legacy really more important than a beautiful view? OK, I’ll answer that: let’s be clear, not even George Fucking Washington deserves to be able to obscure the skyline. And I find it impossible to believe that any president would think it was OK, either.
Yes, somehow we’re supposed to bow at the menacing bust of FDR because it’s just too horrible to think we can just enjoy a nice spot at the tip of Roosevelt Island. No, seriously:
Kahn’s design makes perfect use of the triangular shape of the Park’s site, emphasizing it, and employing what could be called a forced perspectival parti to draw and focus the visitor’s gaze toward the colossal head of Roosevelt at the threshold to the ‘Room.’
If I recall correctly from my undergraduate Architecture Appreciation 103 class, “forced perspectival parti” is basically a fancy way of saying that despite the fact that one of the most iconic, stunning panoramas is just to your right, the architect demands that you ponder the FDIC. You know what? Fuck you. And the “room”? What happens in the “room” anyway? A reevaluation of the TVA? Please.
Because look, maybe there are some among us who travel to this marvelous spot in the middle of the East River to contemplate the Wagner Act. I kind of think that what most people want to do is take pictures of themselves and their friends in a unique place in the city:
That said, there is a great view of U-Thant Island. So there’s that:
Speaking of which, look at what the pre-Kahn, untrammeled site was — it’s perfect:
The other asinine thing — fucking ridiculous thing, really — is that the memorial is only open 9 am to 7 pm and closed all of Tuesday. Which is to say, if you would like to see the sun set from this wonderful perch in the middle of the East River, you can only do so between August 11 and May 7.
Why closed Tuesday you ask? Why no early morning communing with an oversized mug of FDR? Simply put, it’s because you can’t be there unsupervised. And why can’t you be at the site unsupervised? If I’m to understand one of the park rangers/volunteers, it’s because everything about it isn’t designed for actual park users. When we went there (June 2013), the water’s edge at the tip of the island was roped off so people wouldn’t fall in. Also the rules state that you’re only allowed to bring in water because — get this — the granite isn’t sealed. That’s right — no coffee drinks, no iced tea, no soda pop — because it might stain the granite. Who fucking creates a park like this?
The other thing — and fine, whatever, maybe this is more “subjective” — is that the thing is so bizarre and angular that it looks almost unreal. The site used to look like this:
Now the tip of the island has been sheathed in granite and either pumped up or shaved down to something unnatural looking:
It looks to me like if Roosevelt Island got a Brazilian wax — just, I don’t know, unnatural. Or an origami condom or something. Land masses — the best land masses — at least look like they’re real. This looks wrong. And it just doesn’t feel right.
The whole thing is horrible. We don’t need a memorial to FDR. We need open space. I can’t wait for the money to run out and let that site revert back to the people. What will probably happen is the fate of its neighbor, the smallpox hospital:
The smallpox hospital is landmarked but it’s too expensive to fix, so it has a “keep out” sign, and we can just appreciate it from afar. That whole concept isn’t far off from the original goal of the FDR memorial, at least if you read between the lines; it’s a place for a memorial, but not for you to interact with. This is bullshit. Go forth, spill coffee, enjoy the summer sunset. That’s what a park is all about.
Posted: February 7th, 2014 | Filed under: Queens
Latest visit to Citi Field is up, from 2013:
Posted: February 6th, 2014 | Filed under: Queens
There are a lot of 9/11 memorials around New York. A lot look like this one at Juniper Valley Park in Queens:
A lot of times they seem pretty random. But even though it’s not particularly attractive, this one works — just turn around and take a look at the vantage point:
Posted: February 1st, 2014 | Filed under: Out Of Town
A trip to Sarasota Jungle Gardens in Sarasota:
A return trip to Weeki Wachee Springs north of Tampa:
A return trip to The Ringling in Sarasota:
Posted: January 24th, 2014 | Filed under: Out Of Town
Posted: January 18th, 2014 | Filed under: Manhattan
Tatzu Nishi’ sDiscovering Columbus exhibit:
Posted: August 16th, 2013 | Filed under: Out Of Town
A journey that was mainely about the lobster, but definitely not just that . . .
June 30, 2013: Portland: PWM, Shaw’s Supermarket, Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, Street and Co.
July 1, 2013: Two Lights, Maxwell’s Strawberry Farm, Allagash Brewing Company, US Route 1, Red’s Eats, Belfast, Colonial Gables Oceanfront Village, Young’s Lobster Pound.
July 2, 2013: Chase’s Daily, Perry’s Nut House, Trenton Lobster Pound, Bar Harbor, Bar Harbor Cottages & Suites.
July 3, 2013: Acadia National Park, CJ’s Big Dipper.
July 4, 2013: Fourth of July in Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Timber Tina’s Great Maine Lumberjack Show, The Old Dutch Treat, Hadley Point Beach.
July 5, 2013: Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, Traveler’s Inn, The Bowling Bowl.
July 6, 2013: Jen’s Place, Portland Head Light.
Posted: March 10th, 2013 | Filed under: Out Of Town, Queens
So in 2011 our baseball spectating percentage was a torrid .559. Not so much for 2012, a year where we saw the Phillies take on the Mets (4/14/12), then the Cubs (4/29/12), then the Diamondbacks (8/3/12), then the lowly Rockies (9/9/12). The one team with a good record we saw the Phillies play was the Braves (9/23/12). In Phoenix we saw the Diamondbacks play the Giants (4/7/12), who ended up winning the World Series, so there was that, but back in Queens we also saw the Diamondbacks play the Mets (5/6/12), both of whom were solidly mediocre-to-terrible in 2012.
So the final standings went as follows:
San Francisco Giants: 94-68
Arizona Diamondbacks: 81-81
Colorado Rockies: 64-98
Chicago Cubs: 61-101
Philadelphia Phillies: 81-81
New York Mets: 74-88
Atlanta Braves: 94-68
A combined 549-585 record translates to a .484 winning percentage. And to be honest, were it not for the novelty of taking Mr. Baby to his first baseball games, I think my satisfaction level would be right around 48 percent — low enough not to get reelected, you know?
Anyway, here are some highlights:
Game 1 (4/7/12) — Diamondbacks vs. Giants in Phoenix — opening weekend/no more “Uptown” this year:
Game 2 (4/14/12) — Phillies vs. Mets in Philadelphia — cleaned up what was left of the Spectrum/still holding on to the glory of 2008/the debut of the Phanatic Dangle Hat:
Game 3 (4/29/12) — Phillies vs. Cubs in Philadelphia — more of these blasted Dangle Hats/the Phanatic’s birthday/Hunter Pence era, not yet ended:
Game 4 (5/6/12) — Diamondbacks vs. Mets at Citi Field — no attendance troubles here/”Foam God bless America My Home, Sweet” (also, more impressive scoreboard ads than in past years)/did anyone really expect Dickey to be so solid in 2012?/changing Lower Manhattan skyline:
Game 5 (8/3/12) — Phillies vs. Diamondbacks in Philadelphia — SEPTA sold the naming rights to the station on Pattison Avenue/more fun with bootleg T-shirts/sellout streak nearing the end (I don’t think I’d seen it below 44,000 — including standing room tickets — for some time; the streak ended 8/6/12):
Game 6 (9/9/12) — Phillies vs. Rockies in Philadelphia — beautiful day/but subpar attendance/ivy creeping to the top of the batter’s eye:
Game 7 (9/23/12) — Phillies vs. Braves — memorializing the Spectrum/we’ll call it — it took eight years for the ivy to reach the top of the batter’s eye/”with white foam, God bless America my home”:
Posted: March 6th, 2013 | Filed under: Queens
We got to visit the relatively new Elmhurst Park on the former site of the Elmhurst Gas Tanks, the gas holding tanks that sat next to the LIE until Keyspan began to dismantle the tanks in 1996.
If you make a reference to the greatest bumper sticker of all time, of course I’ll title a post accordingly. I’m guessing the language for this interpretive sign came from the top:
I don’t know if the mounds come from remediated gunk or what, but they are a fun homage to the site’s former use:
I say that because if the tanks were still there, the one thing you’d want to do would be to climb to the top of them to see the view. So you basically still can in a way:
And I think that’s what the designers intended — it’s the only way to interpret the periscope play toys located around the park:
Christ, look what my life has become: I’m deconstructing a playground.
A final note — I’m pretty sure one of those huge boulders around the park came from Fort Greene. This one looks like it matches the picture in the Times article:
Posted: October 18th, 2012 | Filed under: Out Of Town
Sunday, July 1
It’s always a treat to get a rental car because then you can go get good coffee on the way out of town. The place we wanted to go in Long Island City didn’t open until 10 a.m. — who ever heard of a coffee place not open early? — so we went to Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint instead, mostly because Goober is such a huge Lena Dunham fan. So anyway, we got a later start than we hoped and things became complicated when an exit on the Thruway was missed, which meant that we went the long way to the Finger Lakes, but which also meant that we got to drive through Seneca Falls.
A word about the car we got: We were initially very skeptical about being saddled with a Ford Crown Victoria. I went cheap with the car rental and got some “super secret” surprise upgrade for the price of a compact or something, but that car ended up being a Crown Vic. When we saw it we were like, oh hell no, but then part of me wanted to cruise around in a Crown Vic, no matter what its gas mileage. As it turns out, the gas mileage wasn’t terrible — maybe low 20s MPG — and it did cruise along like you were rolling between Tampa and Orlando — but the true value of a white Crown Vic was that it looked like a police cruiser, so it wasn’t long — maybe east of Syracuse — where we finally realized that people were actually slowing down when they saw us in the rear view mirror. Never mind that the plates were from Florida and there was a giant baby car seat in the back with two women flanking it — in the rearview we apparently totally looked like the fuzz, which gave us a huge thrill: “You’ve been Crown Vicked!” we’d guffaw as we passed some would-be scofflaw going 72. It was hilarious.
Then of course we ended up needing the trunk space in the end for all the hooch we bought:
I will always love the Finger Lakes because it was the first place that we ever really tasted wine. That said, it took me a while to figure out that listing the “residual sugar” in a wine is not a common practice, and it was kind of funny this time noticing that people pouring first sized you up by asking whether you like “sweet” or “dry” wine. They don’t ask that one at Opus One.
Anyway, from Seneca Falls, we followed New York State Route 89 along Cayuga Lake to Sheldrake Point Winery and Bellwether Hard Cider (with a stop between at Thirsty Owl):
We got into Ithaca later that afternoon, had dinner at Bandwagon Brewpub, showed the baby some sights around around downtown Ithaca (where none of us went to school) and hit the Wegmans to buy beer to drink back at the hotel (since we don’t really go out at night nowadays).
Monday, July 2
We got breakfast in Ithaca before heading out to Seneca Lake, driving up New York State Route 14 through Watkins Glen, hitting Wiemer, Shaw Vineyard, Miles Wine Cellars, Anthony Road Wine Company and Red Tail Ridge Winery. The west shore of Seneca Lake may be my favorite part of the Finger Lakes, wine-wise, what with Wiemer and Miles especially. Miles might be my favorite New York State wine, though I’m speaking out of turn for the rest of the group. Plus, it’s pretty there:
We got into Geneva late that afternoon, settled into the hotel (we’re now big fans of Microtels) and went to dinner at Beef & Brew before heading over to the Wegmans to get more beer for the evening. You may be wondering, “Why all the beer?” Honestly, after a day of tasting wine, that’s kind of what you want to drink. That, and Wegmans has a bomb-ass beer selection:
Also, this was around July 4th:
Tuesday, July 3
The next morning we drove down New York State Route 14A toward Penn Yan:
We ate breakfast in Penn Yan. Do you remember those Seth Thomas clocks that were in like every classroom? No? Well, I do:
Also, I was curious about the griddle used to break pancake world records (see, for example):
From there we went to Ravines Wine Cellars where we came face-to-face with our own mortality:
Then to McGregor Vineyard where they are super-nice and where we tried the super-weird Rkatsiteli-Sereksiya wine they make (Sereksiya is some Eastern European grape that they figured out grows well in the Finger Lakes). Then we drove through Hammondsport toward Dr. Frank, where they were celebrating their 50th anniversary (and it’s still good!). We were running out of day, but we made it back over to the east side of Seneca Lake via Tyrone . . .
. . . in time to visit Finger Lakes Distilling, which makes really good alcohol, especially whiskey (and offers quite a tasting, just so you know).
It took a while to get back to Ithaca no thanks to the Crown Vic, which got us into a slow-jam when some Honda saw it behind him/her and decided to slow down to precisely 54 MPH on State Route 79 until he/she eventually pulled to the side. We made it back — eventually — and had dinner at The BoatYard Grill:
And then dessert at Purity Ice Cream:
Wednesday, July 4
In case you’re wondering, wineries are open on July 4. We started the day with coffee from Gimme! Coffee (which started in Ithaca but which has expanded to Brooklyn and Manhattan) before driving out to the east side of Seneca Lake via Trumansburg. There are some great wineries on the east side of Seneca Lake, too — maybe we should just say that Seneca Lake has many good wineries — and we began at Standing Stone Vineyards before heading up to Lamoreaux Landing. One thing the east side of Seneca Lake has going for it is the striking beauty — I don’t know that there are many other wineries we’ve been to that are as picturesque as Lamoreaux and Standing Stone:
Farther down toward Watkins Glen is Red Newt Cellars, which in exchange for not having “estate-grown” grapes (the land is too far up the hill apparently) has the flexibility of making excellent wine that never suffers from bunk growing seasons. That was a great place to end four days of wine tasting. (Also, the baby crapped up a storm while we were in the middle of a tasting, and while I don’t totally know whether the lady pouring caught wind of the stink, we were very lucky there wasn’t a total blowout; for months since then we’ve compared poo-splosions on the “Red Newt Scale”; I somehow avoided soiling the driver’s seat; suffice it to say, it was probably a good time to wind down our trip.)
On the way back to Ithaca we stopped at Taughannock Falls State Park. Speaking of which, I’m forever grateful to the nice young lady at McGregor who hipped me to the correct pronunciation of “Taughannock,” which, if I remember correctly, sounds like “tuh-cannock” and not “tuck-a-nuck” as I was led to believe. Anyway, it was kind of dry this year, I guess:
Then we headed home, back through Whitney Point, which we always seem to stop at, before getting on New York State Route 17 which they’re still converting into an Interstate Highway:
The mighty Susquehanna:
And did you realize that’s where the store got its name?
And then the signs about restricted parking at the Roscoe Rest Area suddenly made sense:
The Tappan Zee is still there:
As is the Major Deegan:
And 13 wineries, one cider place and one distillery later, we were home.