In some New York neighborhoods amateur basketball is very serious business. This Alpha N Omega League game was held in an East Houston Street playground on the Lower East Side.
Located in midtown Manhattan since 1929, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) began a vast $858 million expansion and renovation project in 2002. Rather than put the entire collection into storage during construction, or shut down completely, the Museum temporarily moved lock, stock and barrel — along with a selection of masterpieces — to a former stapler factory in Queens.
A series of blockbuster exhibitions enticed dedicated art lovers to make the long subway trip out to the hinterlands (at least once, anyway), but New Yorkers rejoiced when MOMA finally moved back to Manhattan (the library and archives have permanently relocated to Queens).
The renovated museum has nearly twice the space of the former facility, including the newly created sixth floor that is currently the site of Pioneering Modern Painting: Cézanne and Pissarro 1865–1885. Seeing how these two masters of French impressionism influenced one another was fascinating (unfortunately, cameras were not allowed inside the show). But on a gorgeous day like this the best place to be was outside in the sculpture garden, enjoying the bubbling fountain, the leafy shade and a cool, creamy cup of gelato.
Sunset Park is home to Brooklyn’s rapidly growing (and largely invisible to the rest of us) Mexican community. About 30 blocks along Fifth Avenue, once home to a Scandinavian colony, seem to have been transplated directly from south of the border.
Spanish music spills out of shops and car windows, travel agencies advertise special fares to Chihuahua, Mexico City and Guadalajara, campaign posters for candidates named Ferrar and Gonsalez are tacked to the lamp posts, and the awning of nearly every shop is a riot of red, white and green (the colors of the Mexican flag).
There seems to be as much business conducted at curbside as there is inside the shops. Stroll along the street past the taquerias (taco shops) and panderias (bakeries), try on a sombrero and a pair of hurraches, buy a steaming tamale fresh from a cart, sip some homemade horchata and a flip through a stack of Thalia CDs. You’ll never think that you are in the US.
While I was taking photos, a well-meaning man approached, asking what I was going to do with the pictures. He then warned me to avoid photographing the adults who crowded the streets. “They wouldn’t like it,” he explained. “They might think you are … how do you say it? With the border patrol.”
Me? La migra? Hardly. But I know good advice when I hear it and after receiving the warning I stuck to simply taking pictures of the kids in the sunny streets of Sunset Park.
The Greenmarkets are a city-sponsored program designed to help regional farmers stay in business and give city residents access to fresh produce. The program started in 1976 and today nearly 50 Greenmarkets are located throughout the city on selected days during the growing season. The rules say that “all items must be grown, raised, foraged, caught, or otherwise produced by the seller.”
For many New Yorkers, the Greenmarkets are our only opportunity to interact with farmers, so every shopping trip becomes an education — for both buyer and seller. Many Greenmarket farmers have learned that we are happy to try new and exotic items, so, as the seasons change, the tables often feature products rarely (if ever) sold in most supermarkets: tiny lavender and white striped eggplant, cucumbers the size and color of ripe lemons, stalks of ivory-white rhubarb, baby golden-hued beets, pale green fiddlehead ferns, shiny, chocolate-brown peppers, deep blue fingerling potatoes, knishes stuffed with black beans and corn, ginger-flavored lumps of maple sugar, goat cheese studded with caraway seeds, red, yellow and orange nasturtium flowers and Japanese turnips sweet enough to be eaten raw like apples.
On summer Saturdays a Greenmarket operates on the plaza in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall and the Federal Courthouse. A bustling, green oasis in the middle of one of Brooklyn’s busiest areas, it is a movable community — a place where, once a week, the hustle and noise of the city seem to fade while people gather to snack on a fresh-baked cookie, search for the perfect centerpiece, exchange cooking hints, flirt and gossip.
This is a perfect, clear Saturday and season’s gorgeous, delicious bounty is filling the plaza. Sweet corn on the cob, crispy green peppers, tree-ripened peaches, fragrant raspberries, gigantic, bulbous leeks, carefully-packaged green and yellow squash blossoms and delicate, curling tendrils of garlic shoots are displayed next to stands filled with fresh baked goods, herbs and flowers, fish, meat, poultry, honey, eggs and cheese.
The turkey farmer was sizzling samples of his homemade sausage on a grill. At a bakery stand, a tray of broken cookies was available for sampling. A farmer who specializes in fruit spread her homemade jam on crackers and artfully arranged them on a paper plate while a girl nearby set out slices of ripe, juicy peaches. It was impossible not to taste and buy, taste and buy, taste and buy.
This is the 17th summer of Midsummer Night Swing, the city’s largest outdoor dance party, which is held on the Plaza at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Last week’s dance was rained out. But on Wednesday evening the rain that had been predicted never arrived … and the eager dancers did.
The band was hot, the drinks were cold and admission to the Plaza was free. Tickets to the fancy dance floor sold for $15 each but (as all New Yorkers know) you don’t have to be standing on a dance floor to dance. As the sun went down and the lights came up, the Plaza filled with fast-stepping jitterbugs who swirled, twirled and dipped the night away.
July 7 brought news about the terrorist attacks in London. July 8 brought an opportunity to send a message of support to the people of London. In response to the bombings, Art Aid decided to create a banner and have people sign it with messages of solidarity and sympathy. They asked for help with the project.
“What is needed: several volunteers to take shifts throughout the day Saturday and Sunday to watch the banner, make sure it is not taken, and to explain to people (it will be obvious) … I may be pushing it, but I want to have a piece designed, printed, installed at Ground Zero over the weekend, and shipped to London on Monday. I think time is of the essence.”
Four banners (one for each bomb) were produced and hung for signing at the site of the World Trade Center and I spent some time as a banner sitter.
Before locating the banner, I spoke to the Port Authority Police (who gave me a bottle of cold water) and entered St. Paul’s Church.
I was relieved from my post by representative of the September 11th Families’ Association. After banner sitting for hours in the blazing sun, I cooled down with a tall cup of cold coffee and, thanks to a sympathic clerk at Century 21, a generous slathering of after-sun lotion.