Harlem Halloween

October 31, 2008

In Harlem, when Halloween comes around, hundreds of trick or treaters head to 125th Street, the neighborhood’s legendary “Main Street.”

Starting at 3:00, when school is out, shops and restaurants open their doors and fill waiting goody bags with cookies and candies. Ghosts and goblins, witches and vampires wander in and out, up and down, gathering treats and attention. Passersby sometimes stop and drop change into the bulging goody bags.

Downtown, in Greenwich Village, there is an enormous Halloween Parade going on, with elaborate floats, corporate sponsors and lots of adults in racy costumes. But today in Harlem, the day is all about making sure that the kids (even the “fur kids”) have a safe and happy Halloween.

Painted pit bull


Purple pussy cat

Lamb and princess

Handman with toolbelt

Viking girl

Father and son psycho killers

Kitty cat girls

Elmo and Dora the Explorer

Scooby-Doo enjoying a treat

Pumpkin dog and police cat in stroller

Prisoner brothers

Mobster girl


Mom witch and princess daughter

Clerk outside a clothing store


Princess and her brothers


Police officer


Ninja in front of shoe store

Fairy princess

Trick or treaters emerge from a drug store

Family group

Three ninja piggies

Evil doctor

Snow White and Tinkerbell

This store is all out of candy
Time for the little monsters to go home

The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill

October 30, 2008

This is the final week of the art installation known as The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill. Located in a former shop in Greenwich Village, the exhibit by secretive UK artist Banksy provides an original view of pets, food and the ways they intersect.

At first glace, it seems that the space is outfitted like a standard pet shop: the walls are lined with tanks and cages, rows of cat food and dog treats. But a closer look reveals that the Village Pet Store contains no live animals.

Instead, there are fish sticks swimming in a bowl, animatronic Chicken McNuggets dipping themselves into a cup of barbecue sauce, sausages wriggling beside a bowl of olives, a rabbit at a vanity applying makeup, and a rhesus monkey, remote control clutched in his paw, transfixed by a television program about gorillas.

View from the street

Sign in the front window

Fish sticks swimming in a bowl

Chicken McNuggets dip into cup of sauce

Merchandise displayed on wall

Menu above front windows

Leopardskin coat lounging on a branch

Sausages with toothpicks

Sliced salami with bowl of olives

Hot dog with bottle of mustard

White rabbit with makeup

Monkey watching television

Monkey and observer

Molting bird in a cage

The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill
NY Times: Where Fish Sticks Swim Free and Chicken Nuggets Self-Dip

Collected Poems

October 27, 2008

One of the most honored poets in the United States, John Ashbery has won nearly every major American poetry award. He has been compared to T.S. Eliot and Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound and Wallace Stevens and remains, at the age of 81, both creative and controversial.

The Library of America has just published the first volume of Ashbery’s Collected Poems and tonight he read from the volume at the 92nd Street Y. Anyone who thinks Americans don’t appreciate poetry would have been proved wrong tonight, as the sellout crowd swarmed from the packed auditorium to the lobby, where they snatched up books of Ashbery’s works, then stood on line for hours, patiently waiting for the old poet to inscribe them.

My Erotic Double

He says he doesn’t feel like working today.
It’s just as well. Here in the shade
Behind the house, protected from street noises,
One can go over all kinds of old feeling,
Throw some away, keep others.
The wordplay
Between us gets very intense when there are
Fewer feelings around to confuse things.
Another go-round? No, but the last things
You always find to say are charming, and rescue me
Before the night does. We are afloat
On our dreams as on a barge made of ice,
Shot through with questions and fissures of starlight
That keep us awake, thinking about the dreams
As they are happening. Some occurrence. You said it.

I said it but I can hide it. But I choose not to.
Thank you. You are a very pleasant person.
Thank you. You are too.
Copyright (c) 1981, 2005, John Ashbery, all rights reserved.

Ashbery onstage

Signing books for fans

Ashbury autographs his book

Collected Poems, 1956-1987
Poets: John Ashbery
Wikipedia: John Ashbery
Ashbery Resource Center
92nd Street Y

The Howl-o-Ween Parade

October 26, 2008

Once again, Brooklyn is the site of the annual Howl-o-Ween Dog Parade and Contest. Organized by the owners of animal accessory and grooming shop Perfect Paws, the parade is a fund raiser for several animal charities (Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition (BARC), Friends of Hillside Dog Park, Blue Rider Stables and Animal Kind) and a source of amusement to the residents of Brooklyn Heights.

The procession of the animals (and owners) in Halloween costumes began on the Brooklyn Promenade at Remsen Street, where it attracted the attention of astonished tourists, proceeded north, and ended at the judges’ table outside the Harry Chapin Playground at Columbia Heights and Middagh Street.

The parade, now in its sixth year, continues to grow larger and attract more attention. Today’s gathering drew several local reporters, most of them fascinated by the two dogs — accompanied by humans dressed as moose — disguised as Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. While I’m no expert on fashion, I’m guessing that the doggy Sarahs’ wardrobes cost way less than the human Sarah’s, and generated far less controversy, too.

Judges review a contestant

NY Giant appeals to the judges

Greyhound dressed as a greyhound

I bark for Barack

Dog disguised as a bumblebee

Pug in a butterfly suit

Super hero

Alice in Wonderland

Scuba dog

Scuba dog with family

Chinese dragon

French maid guards the prizes

Spider dog

Babushka lady

Neurosurgeon and patient

Sanitation worker picks up trash

In a lion suit

Dog dragon … or maybe dinosaur

Wonder Woman

Matching dog and girl ballerinas

Girl who matches dog ballerina

Poodle as ballerina

Chinese dragon with family

Pirate dog of the Caribbean

Cow dog and milk carton

Dog pimp held by “hooker”

Austin Powers

Cat flower – the sole feline entrant

Pirate dog

Moose holding Sarah Palin

Moose with Sarah Palin

NY Post: Dog Day for Halloween
Perfect Paws
Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition (BARC)
Friends of Hillside Dog Park
Animal Kind

The Honeymoon Never Ends

October 24, 2008

One of the most successful programs in the history of American television, The Honeymooners debuted in 1955 and has rarely been off the air. The half-hour series focused on two working class couples in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn: Ralph Cramden and his wife Alice, and their upstairs neighbors, Ed Norton and his wife Trixie. Ralph was a bus driver, Ed was a sewer worker and, typical for the era, the women stayed at home.

The story of the two couples has inspired countless spin-offs and adaptations, including The Flintstones, The King of Queens, and a theatrical film starring Cedric the Entertainer. The characters of Ralph, Alice, Ed and Trixie have evolved into pop culture icons.

So, why talk about this old series? Today I stopped in a McDonald’s restaurant on Columbus Avenue for a cup of coffee to go. While I was waiting for my order, I noticed that the teen aged clerks were flocking to another customer. I didn’t glance over, though, until I heard one of them asking for an autograph.

I turned and saw a woman signing a slip of paper from the cash register with the name Joyce Randolph. The actress, who has lived on the Upper West Side for decades, graciously posed for photos with the adoring fans who were calling her Trixie — the role she played when she starred on the show 50 years ago.

Now in her 80s, Randolph is the last surviving member of the cast. She may have retired years ago, but for those who have enjoyed watching her crack wise with co-stars Audrey Meadows, Jackie Gleason and Art Carney (who played her television husband Ed), the honeymoon will never end.

Joyce Randolph signing an autograph

Still glamorous, the actress poses with fans

Wikipedia: The Honeymooners
IMBD: Joyce Randolph

A Writer Reflects on Brooklyn

October 21, 2008

In a recent issue celebrating its 40th anniversary, New York magazine asked some of its past contributors to reflect on the city they love and the changes they’ve seen over the last 40 years. Here is what Brooklyn-born author Pete Hamill had to say.

In Brooklyn, the visitor, whether native son or total stranger, can experience a very special sense of beauty. Much of it derives from a simple fact: Manhattan is a vertical city, and Brooklyn is horizontal. In a preface to a collection of his short stories, John Cheever once talked about Manhattan when it “was still filled with a river light … and when almost everybody wore a hat.” Hats are making a minor comeback, but in Manhattan, the river light is gone forever.

The reason: the soaring scale of most Manhattan buildings blocks the light. But Brooklyn is still the wide, low borough of light, bouncing off the harbor and the ocean (out by Coney Island), a place of big skies, a place where you can see weather, not simply defend against it. Clouds move swiftly, driven by the wind, or hang in lazy stupor. Storms can be tracked visually, as the immense dark clouds make their tours.

At dawn the sun begins to pass over Prospect Park, Green-Wood Cemetery, then all the way to the Verrazano Bridge, the start of its long day’s journey into the New Jersey night. The light is immanent, muted, a promise. Along the way, every neighborhood is given fresh clarity, every building assumes the kind of volume that depends upon shade as well as light.

In Brooklyn, most building is on a human scale and so the sun can do its work of gilding every surface. You walk for the morning paper, and total strangers say, “Beautiful day.” And you must assent.

I think he’s right, and that his words are too good not to share.

Pete Hamill in Brooklyn, September 2008

New York Magazine: Brooklyn Revisited

Koons on the Roof

October 15, 2008

What to do on an unseasonably warm day? How about going up to the roof?

While nearly everyone knows that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a vast and wonderful collection, fewer visitors are familiar with its roof garden. Opened to the public in 1987, the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden offers a spectacular view of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline and generally displays the work of a single artist.

The current show puts the spotlight on controversial American artist Jeff Koons, featuring three works that have never before been on public display. The sculptures, all created in the 1990s, are Sacred Heart, Balloon Dog (Yellow) and Coloring Book.

All three pieces are made of high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating and are set in the dazzlingly dramatic space atop the museum. If you can go on a sunny day, do it. Weather permitting, the exhibit will be on display through October 26, 2008.

Sign and brochures near the elevator to the roof

The group on the roof

Work entitled Balloon Dog

It is called Sacred Heart

Tourists taking photos of themselves beside Sacred Heart

The title is Coloring Book

Metropolitan Museum of Art: Jeff Koons on the Roof
Jeff Koons


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