NEW YORK RAMBLES (page 31)
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A walk from Tribeca to Midtown on Halloween
I ramble and range about amongst spirits white and grey. I mingle with the night daring not to sleep.
A Coney Island ramble
Today is the beginning of the end, or so some say. The specifics regarding the future of Coney Island have changed so many times its hard to know for sure what the fates will leave us with. There is however no debating the closed rides and empty lots. A few remaining concessions that are open try to make their last few dollars; but on the boardwalk, it could be mid-winter. The clouds swirl endlessly around a faint sun, and the gulls gather and fly down the empty avenues.
A walk in Fort Tyron Park
“You meaner beauties of the night, that poorly satisfie our eies, more by your number, than your light; you common people of the skies, what are you when the Moon shall rise.”
A Walk on the West Side
Skyscrappers are steadily pushing westward. While their domination now seems the fate of the West Side, they have not fully been able to integrate into the neighborhood. There exists such a strange combination of forms and usage that nothing here seems real.
A 9 mile walk from Cobble Hill to the Village then on to Midtown
I do not know what to make of the new park under Brooklyn Heights. While any parkland is always a welcome addition, the time honored formula of grass, trees, and benches seems to be passe. The city administrators never seem to be happy unless some overpaid designer gets to express his ego at the public’s expense. There are no such concerns from the Brooklyn bridge. Here everything is built toward function yet it still manages to hold an elegance that few other structures surpass. No gimmicks were needed; they knew its beauty was not just contained within but would come from the light that surrounds it and the river it crosses.
A walk in Flushing
Many communities go to great lengths to keep up appearances in a very prescribed manner. There may be flower boxes, colored shutters, and just the right manicured shrubbery but beauty often just lays in the balance of shape and color regardless of what creates it.
A walk of no miles
Despite my careful plotting and calculations not all walks can be found on a map or measured in miles. The mind and the spirit have a far greater reach than ones feet. This often acts as a multiplier, adding distance to a journey in ways that cannot be simply expressed.
A walk from Union Square to Columbus Circle
Walking in a city is like being at the bottom of a great fractured landscape where ones fate is controlled by the deep canyons that can be traversed rather than by our desires. When the sun is shining there is at least the illusion of free will, but in the rain the fruit of our own oppressiveness tends to bear down. We do our best to disguise this with colorful awnings and opulent window displays, but every so often the mask wares thin.
A walk from Bryant Park to the Battery, then up to City Hall on 9/11/11
I have been searching for words all day, hoping to say something profound for this anniversary of September 11th but there is nothing. For some time I had taken it for granted that I would be out with my camera today but then changed my mind. To my own surprise I found myself on a train headed downtown this morning; my absence from the days remembrance just not permissible though I’m not absolutely sure why. Ten years ago I was highly conflicted between my deep desire to document what had happened to this city, and the feeling that I was intruding into a tragedy beyond a line I felt comfortable to cross. Though I have since paid ground zero many visits I still find many of these same feelings unresolved. A great part of this problem derives from my own forced exclusion from all aspects of the recovery so that others could spin the story of this event in ways that suit their own agendas. From the way the city was paralyzed with checkpoints and security alerts this weekend it is clear that there are many who still wish us to remain in a perpetual state of fear. Getting beyond a loss is not the same as forgetting. Hope resides in the laughing children I saw out today in the playground, right under the shadow of the rising World Trade Center.
A Midtown ramble
My visual range of interest in this city extends to the near and far making it is nearly impossible to take in all the city’s facets. This is especially a challenge in areas filled with so much hustle and bustle that I find myself putting as much effort into trying to avoid collisions with other pedestrians as I do in composing.
An evening walk in Kissena Hollow
Toppled trees still block paths and the ground remains littered with torn branches. In the world of plants however this is all taken stoically. They do not suffer regrets nor harbor bad memories. Today is a new day for them, the past not even a dream.
A Walk in Flushing and Murray Hill
I had been waiting at home for the worst of hurricane Irene to come only to discover that the worst was over. Crews were already out unblocking roads while homeowners cleared their sidewalks and cars. While there was far less damage than expected, the ground still looked as if a giant pruner had haphazardly run through the neighborhood leaving an endless carpet of twigs and branches behind.
A walk between Bay terrace and Eltingville
Even though all neighborhoods have there features that make them distinct from one another, I sometimes feel that the places I walk through could be anywhere.
A Walk from Union Square to Times Square
Darkening clouds follow my northward trek. A sudden flash and crack of thunder incites a shriek from the girls waiting next to me at a corner. IÕm not sure which startled me most. Even I now have one eye looking over my shoulder. Instead of seeking shelter as the lightning increases, I quicken my pace hoping to reach Time Square before the scattered rain turns into a downpour. I find I have plenty of company. Death is no stranger to these streets yet the tall buildings and intrepid crowds combine to make us feel indestructible.
A Midtown ramble
What makes a place, its people, its buildings? It is more than mere details yet the details entrance me.
A walk from Union Square to Times Square
Our modern use of color has created two New Yorks, the older one of subtle earthen and metallic tones often subdued by layers of soot added over decades, and the newer one made up of energized hues that draw our attention to sportswear, awnings, and ads of all sorts. It is not just an aesthetic divide but one of time, culture, and attitudes. The objects that populate our world have grown so disparate it is often like being conscious of living in two parallel universes.
A Midtown ramble
We may have illuminated our nights with electricity but this artificiality hasn’t removed it from the realm of dreams. Distortions of any sort that would readily be picked up and criticized by day seem unquestionably natural in darkness.
A walk in Coney Island
The storm coming in from the south had provided a steady damp breeze for most of the day. As it picked up, clouds of sand blew across the boardwalk and the crowds began to disperse. The venders with their fried clams and corn dogs had pulled their awnings down as much as they dared to, more fearful of loosing customers than the wind. But this is Coney Island and even the rain that followed could not discourage all. I had specifically come here today to see the sand sculpting contest but by the time I left it filled only one small piece of my day.
A walk in Coney Island
It is difficult to describe the ocean to anyone who has never seen it. While its vastness may be imagined in the abstract, nothing else about it is consistent. Some days the waves pound the shore while on others it is as smooth as glass. Its color changes with that of the fickle nature of the sky and the glistening sun can render glare in such intensity to be painful to the eye or create beauty beyond belief.
A walk in Midtown
For Me Times Square is a magnet. No matter my distain for what it has become, or my planned avoidance of it, if I am anywhere near it I’m eventually pulled in. Even as I become familiar with the wild geometries and colors that are more an abstraction than a real place, the traffic and the crowds are in such flux that no two moments there are ever the same.
An unexpected walk in Jackson Heights
My timing has been off for the last two days. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time has cost me the shots I’ve been seeking. I finally called it quits after the sky darkened and an unexpected shower began to pour. The sudden sunburst at days end made me think another bad decision had been made, my departure premature. I stepped off the train before my stop and into the rain now sparkling against the sun. To my surprise the two ends of a giant rainbow sat planted across the wide horizon.
A ramble from the Lower East Side to Chelsea
There are particular features that become ingrained into the perception of a place, their characteristics of no great distinction and they they define. I walk through them or past them more times than I can recall. Most of us take no notice until things change, our familiar routines challenged. But it is these little things that make a place, not the new skyscraper or some tourist attraction. They remain the hardest to capture even when their significance is realized.
A Coney Island ramble
After 24 hours of travel disasters I finally arrived at the Mermaid Parade tired and in a bad mood; not a good combination when at an event that requires all my energy and attention. While the parade was larger than ever it seemed both I and many of the mermaids in attendance were less than inspired. It was as if something in the air had drained us all. Perhaps it was nothing more than the effects of heat and humidity under a darkening sky. Perhaps it was just my own skewed perception. Even so I lingered on well afterwards refusing to let the day die.
A walk through Midtown
There are rarely any new grand views to be found on streets I’ve walked down a thousand times, but there are always little gems to glean that are just as significant.
A 13 mile zig zag between Midtown and the Battery
It seems that I my sense of compositional balance has replaced my recognition of gravity.
A loop between Midtown and Chelsea
At this time of year when sunlight rakes down the city’s streets, scaffolding can take on the appearance of an elaborate calendar measuring and dividing shadows into a significance that lays well beyond our ability to decipher.
A ramble in Long island City
There is talk in the air about demolishing the graffiti haven Five Pointz, which raises larger questions about street art in general. You won’t find a politician in town that doesn’t condemn graffiti when given a audience, yet its fine if placed on a building designated for that purpose. When it is officially sanctioned, is it really street art? Have we completely commodified the revolution? Half of us now spend our lives guarding what the other half makes.
A ramble in Flushing
Family and friends may lie with the dead, but it is the cherry blossoms that call to me to a field of graves.
A walk from Van Cortlandt Park to Hamilton Heights
Even the best of topographical maps can only reveal a small part of a place. Where the terrain is broken enough to break the grid of the streets, sunlight constructs the landscape anew disregarding what both man and nature have spread before it.
A walk through Flushing
There are always combinations to surprise.
Copyright 2011 Alan Petrulis All Rights Reserved