NEW YORK RAMBLES (page 25)
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A 5 mile loop between Union Square and the Lower East Side
Sometimes when I look at facades they seem no more real than stage props. It’s as if they were carefully erected for no other reason than my enjoyment.
A 7 mile walk in Flushing
Leftover droplets from a passing shower dripped from the morning glories spiraling up fences, their flowers turned a wrinkled mass of pink and purple flesh. The light is stubborn, its evenness defiant. A yard looked so matter of fact and ordinary that it is suddenly removed itself from all reality. My eyes alight with fire.
A walk from Union Square to the East River and then around to Times Square
The entire scene was like something out of the imagination of a bad surrealist painter or pulp cover illustrator, but there it was right before my eyes as real as can be.
An 8 mile walk from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side and then down to Times Square
The air was filled with the grating hum of chain saws and wood chippers. In the heat the smell of fresh sap was already giving way to the sweet oder of dying leaves. The storm that passed in the night had wrecked havoc amongst the trees. Some trees had snapped in two, giants had toppled over. Branches lay scattered about everywhere I looked. Real danger hung silently from above as broken and splintered tree limbs that had not yet fallen lay in wait, ready to pounce without warning. Many sat in the park to read or sprawled out on the grass seeking sun or shade as if it were just any other day. Not a squirrel or bird was to be seen.
A walk from Union Square to Times Square
True, things are different with every new day but this route has become too familiar. When I reach Times Square I have little to show for my effort. The sun and heat have bleached the color from the day. For a moment I walk off the written page.
A 9 mile walk from Flushing to College Point via Whitestone
The field of wildflowers awaiting new housing was the largest I had seen in Queens for years. It seemed the fence surrounding the property was not designed to thwart off vandalism as much as to prevent the community from getting used to open space. This is a different world than mine, much further away than miles can measure. I had a girlfriend who lived on this side of the railroad that required some circumnavigation to see. She used to say that we both lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Years have past since she moved away but I suspect we are both still on the wrong side.
A walk from Midtown to the Upper West Side
High rises rise and empty lots once full of someone’s dreams now lie quiet, sealed of from inquiring eyes like some dead lake, their unseen waves stilled.
A 7 mile walk from Midtown to Dumbo and then over to City Hall
A woman hangs her laundry to dry atop her tar roof as if it were a grassy backyard. It is the same sun that shines everywhere. By night when blackness comes this garden will be another world populated by unyielding dreams.
A short walk in Kissena Hollow
A small stretch of what was once concrete has now been reclaimed by a full spectrum of weeds, many of which I have not seen in years. Honey bees have returned, feared gone for good after the poisons rained down upon us during the years of West Nile hysteria. A duck grooms itself while standing in a shallow on the lakeside, another sits quietly in the shade of a bush. Given a chance life will abound.
An 8 mile walk around Flushing
What magic will surround the rising castle with fountains, peacocks, and the whisper of trees.
A loop between Flushing and Auburndale
The sun, heat, and humidity are all beyond my normal parameters for walking but I am out pounding the streets anyway. It is summer and there is a debt to pay for being alive. The blue fades from the sky by late afternoon. I expect to hear thunder under the darkening clouds but am greeted with silence.
A 6 mile loop between Union Square and Central Park
The sun sat squarely at the end of the street but its intensity could barely compete with that of the illuminated billboards. There is a miraculous alignment of the heavens and earth today that no more than a handful seem to be aware of. People busy themselves buying soda, hot dogs, or duck into souvenir shops. Others rush down into the darkness of the subway as if nothing could hold them here a second after working hours. I can here the cries of hawkers attempting to fill up tour buses from a crowd with closed eyes.
A walk across Flushing
An untamed garden offers a moments respite from the more manicured yards I pass. Left to their own, plants will compete fiercely with one another for dominance, willing to kill and maim without the slightest notion of remorse. For a moment all relish in a sun shower, a peaceful kingdom is born.
A walk from Chelsea to Times Square
I knew the best spots to see the 4th of July fireworks would already be taken before my arrival, I did not expect that I would not even be able to get anywhere near the waterfront. This evening’s scenario was a perfect example of what is wrong with the way this city is run. Rather than working with citizens and organizing events to suit their needs we have now all become the mob that needs only to be controlled. The mood in the streets is somber for a holiday. I walk into to night.
A ramble about Coney Island
The sun was out today and so were the crowds. While much has disappeared from Coney Island it remains a place for life. Couples streamed down alleys with their hot dogs, ice cream cones, and corn on the cob, while wide eyed children tugged on their mothers pulling them in every which way. A barker called out to see the snake woman over the screams from those racing down the roller coster. I sometimes wish I could have the gleeful eyes of a child untainted by history and politics.
A ramble in Long Island City
The rain came down so heavy it looked as if it would never end but by the time I reached the waterfront only puddles remained. Next to an empty field of mud and gravel are geometric patterns of grass interspersed with plant beds devoid of all weeds. Grid lines were still evident in the newly laid sod that glowed the most brilliant of green. Bright yellow picnic tables have been placed nearby along with shiny stainless steel trash cans. There is always a touch of the surreal in new landscaping, life has not yet left its mark and all exists as a pure idea. The sky has its own agenda, it darkens and the rain comes down once more.
A ramble across Flushing
Many plants love fences, they can lean on them for support or even climb them in their restless pursuit of the sun. For the most part that’s not why fences are built. I suspect razor wire will be the next addition to come into vogue for residential yards, its swirls designed to mimic those of morning glories.
A walk across Flushing
The rain is light the humidity high. I am unyielding. The dampness has enriched the landscape with extra color where the sun has failed. Sometimes the simplest things come most to life under these conditions. Summer has begun.
A loop between Midtown and Chelsea
The day is steamy and my concentration is off, It’s if I’m walking down streets half in a dream. I want my heart to race and carry me onwards but my lover is absent and I just stumble ahead. The streets are as sleepy as I am under unchanging light.
A ramble in Flushing
Most forms of housing built in Flushing over the last sixty years fall into three distinct styles, the Cookie Cutter Cape Cod (also known as the Levittown Style), the rather plain Generic Brick (for one family or two), and in more recent years the overly decorated Neo-Atrocious. All have gone up without any regard to their surroundings.
A 7 mile walk from Union Square to the Upper West Side
Every time I finally began to dry off I would get caught in another downpour and get soaked again. On the streets where every upward glance is compromised by tall buildings it was difficult to determine what the weather was up to. The dull light made it much too dark to shoot but every once in awhile I could find something special that only a day like today could bring out. When I reached the open expanse of the river I could make out scattered bands of rain blowing in far to the north.
A ramble at Coney Island
It’s the last day of spring and the crowds have gathered at Coney Island for the parade despite the on and off rain. I had hoped the inclement weather would hold off ’till late afternoon but the rain was already pelting the windows of my train car as I came in during the morning. It didn’t dampen the mood on the boardwalk for the spirit in the air is good. A sea of umbrellas open as it begins to downpour that both hamper and enhance my compositions. I wished I was dryer by the parades end but this did not stop me from walking into the surf when I needed to get a shot.
A ramble in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen
A small building between rising giants sits in a slumber undisturbed by the nearby jackhammers that raise clouds of dust. It has outlived its usefulness on this street; its fate an ancient relic or perhaps nothing more than a dream.
A Midtown ramble
Lounge chairs have made their way onto Broadway as sections are closed to vehicles. People sit and eat and read as if they are at the beach only with crosstown traffic whizzing by. I like having more pedestrian space but there is nothing relaxing about this place. The whole thing seems a novelty rather than a serious attempt at urban planning. When circulation is cut off gangrene follows.
A walk from Union Square to Times Square via the High Line
I don�t know what to make of park atop the High Line or as i used to call it, The West Side Improvement. The plantings are nice and the design is intriguing but the whole effect is more like a work of art than a functioning park. I gravitate to the parts still under construction where things are not quite so tidy.
A ramble in Kissena Hollow
There are young robins bopping about, their chests still covered with a coat of grey down. They take refuge from the inclement weather under an awning where they cry an unhappy song, I’m wet I’m cold, I’m wet I’m cold, I’m wet I’m cold. The roses, which had been blooming in the morning were pounded to pieces by the rain. By late afternoon their petals spotted the ground along with the flowers of white clover that had grown lush and green.
A walk from Greenwich Village to Times Square
The days have been dark, grey, and damp but today turned into an interesting mix of sun and clouds. Now that I finally have some glistening color again I find myself attracted to the dull.
A 9 mile walk from Murray Hill to Spanish Harlem then across to the Upper West Side
From Manhattan I can see the Queens skyline beginning to grow. Though not as impressive as looking back over to Manhattan from Queens, it is a little like comparing apples to oranges.
A walk from Union Square to Soho
Bike lanes that push parked cars into the street are all the rage in the City. Apparently fatalities are down but visually they will take quite some time to get used to, if ever. The city seems asunder.
An 8 mile walk from Union Square to Central Park then down to Chelsea
It was spiting and drizzling all day. A strange gloom seems to have taken hold of the city. Even on streets that were crowded and noisy everything faded into grey and I stood there alone.
Copyright 2009 Alan Petrulis All Rights Reserved