Mangoes for Sale

July 29, 2008

These ripe, juicy mangoes were displayed for sale at a fruit stand on the corner of Greenwich Avenue and Chambers Street.

The sign above the fruit guaranteed its quality, saying “If no good bring back!!!”

Boxes of mangoes

If no good bring back!!!

Return to the Arab-American Heritage Festival

July 20, 2008

It was a hot, busy day, and by the time I arrived in Prospect Park, this year’s Arab-American Heritage Festival was nearly over. I still had time, though, to hear some rousing music, rummage through the stalls and enjoy some delicious treats.

As the vendors began to pack up their wares, I rushed to buy something I could take home for tomorrow’s dinner, a home made dish of garlicky, cumin-scented chicken, rice and beans prepared by a beaming Egyptian mom.

Chicken cooking on grill (not my dinner)

Home made stuffed grape leaves

Vendor at his stall

Jewelry for sale

Decals for sale at a vendor’s stall

Buttons for sale

Kuffiyehs for sale

Artisan applying henna tattoo

Banners hanging from tent



Home made spinach pie

Home made baklava


Woman with cell phone

2007 Arab American Heritage Festival
Arab American Association of New York
Arab-American Family Support Center
Prospect Park

Snow in Summer

July 17, 2008

In 1974 her first album, a collection of self-penned folksy, blues-tinged pop and jazz tunes, zoomed up the charts. It earned a Gold Record, put her on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and earned her a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Overnight, she was one the biggest stars around. And just as suddenly, she disappeared.

At the peak of her success she married a fellow musician, Phil Kearns, and in December 1975, they had a child. Their daughter, Valerie Rose, suffered severe brain trauma during birth and wasn’t expected to survive.

Defying the advice of family and medical experts, who urged her to institutionalize the girl, she decided instead to devote her life to loving and caring for the profoundly disabled child.

That decision cost her nearly everything, including her marriage, her money, her career and her own health.

For more than three decades, she stayed out of sight, paying the bills by singing advertising jingles for General Foods International Coffees (Celebrate the Moments of Your Life) and Stouffer’s Frozen Foods (Nothing Tastes Closer to Home).

Now she’s back. Today, as part of the BAM Rhythm & Blues Festival at MetroTech, Phoebe Snow gave a free lunchtime concert in Downtown Brooklyn.

The outdoor show was a love-fest, filled with devoted fans who have followed her career for 35 years and had brought their children and grandchildren along “to hear what real music sounds like.” While they waited for her to appear, the crowd swapped stories of the first time they’d heard her voice and what her songs meant to them.

After she — seemingly hesitantly — took the stage and shyly mentioned that it was her birthday, knowledgeable audience members rushed forward and handed the astonished singer gifts and flowers.

Her distinctive, soaring voice, as strong as ever, moved the crowd through a set that included R&B (Do Right Woman, Do Right Man), blues (Piece of My Heart), rock (Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu) and her biggest hit, Poetry Man.

A particularly powerful moment occurred when she sang You’re My Girl, a song she originally composed for her mother, which she has rewritten as a tribute to Valerie Rose.

Welcome back, Phoebe Snow.

BAM at MetroTech
Phoebe Snow
Bloomberg: Phoebe Snow Revisits `Poetry Man’
Don Shewey:The Blues of Phoebe Snow
NY Times: Phoebe Snow, Singing Her Way Back to the Top
Roger Friedman: Saying Goodbye to Valerie

Fresh Corn

July 7, 2008

I know, I know, it is the corniest shot in the world, but I don’t care — I still like it. This is the sun setting behind Lower Manhattan, as viewed from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.


Pink in the Park

July 6, 2008

These bright pink flowers, known as echinacea, are growing at the southernmost tip of Manhattan.

I found them thriving — safely away from tourists’ feet — behind an iron fence in a quiet corner of busy Battery Park.

By the way, in case you were wondering … no, these images weren’t Photoshopped (I don’t even own Photoshop). Mother Nature gave the flowers that color, not me.

Echinacea in Battery Park

Echinacea behind iron fence


NYC Department of Parks & Recreation: Battery Park
The Battery Conservancy

Independence Day

July 4, 2008

Today is America’s Independence Day. July 4th marks the 232nd anniversary of the day this country declared its independence from Great Britain and adopted the document known as the Declaration of Independence.

Written over the course of a few days by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence states the reasons the colony chose to break away the King’s rule and describes the principles the new nation would strive to uphold.

Living by those ideals has proved to be much more difficult than writing them down, of course, and many times our nation has failed in its quest; but I believe that most of us here in the US still fervently wish to see Jefferson’s dream become reality: that this country should be a land of happiness, equality, safety and liberty for all.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In New York, the holiday is traditionally celebrated with concerts, picnics and displays of fireworks. For the past three decades, Macy’s department store has paid for the city’s fireworks show, and every year it has grown bigger and more spectacular.

For 2008, six barges laden with more than 35,000 shells were anchored in the East River. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on both sides of the river to watch the show, and despite the rain, most stayed to the end, when the last streaks of yellow and red began to fade from the sky.




Independence Day
Declaration of Independence
Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks

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