Monthly Archives: April 2009

It’s a Grand Old Flag

Long gone are the days when I walked with my dad north along Park Avenue from Grand Central Terminal en route to his place of work and then mine. One of the games we’d play, yup, it was a game, though I was in my early 20s, he in his 50s, was to try to guess the country of origin of the flags that adorned the exterior of the Waldorf Astoria.

I had warm feelings of remembrance as I trekked south this week, sun on my face, hop in my step. The heels of my shoes made a clip-clopping sound as I passed other New Yorker’s in the summer finery and admired the green and blue of the flag that flew beside our own red, white and blue stars and stripes. I guessed the former was the flag of Brazil.

Flag of Brazil

Flag of Brazil

Back in the day there was a plaque on the Waldorf facade that confirmed or clarified our guesses. Yesterday, there wasn’t a plaque but thanks to google images, I confirmed my speculation.

I haven’t been to Brazil but hope some day to get there. In the meanwhile, most days, New York City offers plenty of international flair, by no means does this replace the first hand experience of travel but it’s what I’ve got.

The one word I know, thanks to dear sweet Gi and Lu in LA is kisses. So to my friends, beijos (Bay-zho). xoxo

Meet the Press: His

The physician/scientist/husband (p/s/h) had a media messup earlier this month. An article he’d written covered the discovery of something newsworthy. The journal in which it was to be published, issued a press release on a Monday with an embargo until Thursday. I’m told that this is often what happens with some stories; the lead time permits reporters to do their homework in an effort to cover the “news” with accuracy and depth. The press office at the p/s/h’s place of work was contacted by the NYT, Time Magazine, Bloomberg, NBC, Reuters – you name it. Meanwhile, the news leaked. Most interviews with the good doctor were cancelled. The storm and fury and excitement over the news is that it was no longer news, it was on “the wire.”

dnaStairway

dnaStairway

Suffice it to say, this happened to the guy who, in general, doesn’t talk with the press. Maybe he’s shy. But this go ’round, he was excited. Whoever leaked the story did a disservice not only to themselves, as in, had they let the media do its job, the leaker likely would have received deeper coverage not to mention a loss for information’s sake.

The lesson is to decide in advance which media outlet should have the story. In the end, it’s all about trust and that’s what went awry. Carry on.

Uptown Out of Town: Denver

Some people might think that Denver is a cowtown. scottish-angus-cows-by-dan-ostermillerI think otherwise. The physician/scientist/husband asked me to join him for dinner on Saturday night as he was being feted with a lot of other people at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Cancer Researchers. So away I went for a brief visit to the wild west.

My reason for going was two-fold; to support my husband and to find out if a 150-year legacy of a newspaper can reinvent itself online.

Despite our arrival in the midst of a heavy downpour following the previous day’s spring snowstorm, we had fun exploring the City by foot. Highlights included viewing lower downtown’s buildings from the late 1800s/early 1900s, Sunday breakfast at Dixon’s and a walk around the Capitol building at the south end of the business district. We wandered past the Denver News Agency and Denver Post headquarters, through a public park around the Denver Art Museum with it’s 2006 addition by Daniel Libeskind. It was fun to discover the architecture of the Public Library designed by Michael Graves. Everything about downtown struck me as that of a city that cares about its public places.

Photo by John Boak

Photo by John Boak

I mentioned the Denver Newspaper Association (DNA). Less than two months ago, The Rocky Mountain News printed its last edition on February 27, 2009. Denver is now part of an increasing number of cities that offer but one newspaper.

A group of 30+ Rocky staffers have stuck by their brand and with the financial support of three backers, they are in the midst of building an online media outlet, INDenverTimes, in an effort to preserve “the voice of The Rocky.”

Colorado State Flower

Colorado State Flower

Coincidence or not, today is the 10th anniversary of the “Columbine”shootings. The prize winning Denver publication was awarded a Pulitzer for its photographs documenting two teenage gunmen of their schoolmates. Speaks to just one element of the significance of local reporters… and photographers.

Rest in Peace.

Saturday Short Cuts

There are rare times in April when we have beautiful spring days that would rival a typical Los Angeles day (weather-wise, at least). This past Saturday was one of those days. After being awakened at 10a by a totally awesome phone call about a potentially fun collaboration (if you click the link, you have to watch the whole thing), I rolled out of bed, charged my iPod and headed out for a walk.

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Everyone in my village neighborhood was outside. It felt like a giant block party: My neighbor with her month old twins, Blu (my other neighbor that dresses head-to-toe in blue) came out to sit on the stoop, in blue flip-flops, of course. And, even Lady Miss Keir made an appearance as her normal, non-rockstar self.

Turning off my street and onto Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas, for all you out-of-towners) here’s what I saw:

A group of tourists following a man holding a stick up high with a Yankees cap dangling from it

A man walking into the subway with a cat balanced on his head. The cat was on a leash.69685430_083f209429 Actually, this is the second time I’ve seen this man with his cat.

Tons of brunching New Yorkers sitting in the sun at sidewalk cafes.

As I headed down Cornelia Street to look for my favorite painter (did you ever notice howlrg-893-dscn4758 some artists will set up shop and paint a particular building or street for weeks?) I noticed all the beautiful trees in full bloom, with pockets of sun peeking through in between.

At Bleecker Street, a group of Motown singers were performing on a small patch of sidewalk between Amy’s Bread and Murray’s Cheese Shop. A bunch of people were watching until two women (definitely B&T, can spot them a mile away) started dancing to the music, within minutes an impromptu dance party broke out. It reminded me of a small-scale version of this. I headed into Amy’s to buy cupcakes for the Grey Gardens viewing party I was attending in Brooklyn later that evening. After Amy’s, I past the streetmurrays1 dancers and pushed my way into Murray’s, where I took a number and waited patiently for assistance. Luckily, I scored my favorite cheesemonger (I don’t know his name, but he always wears a dog tag earring. Snag him if you can, he’s the best) who helped me pair a cheese (a mild, aged Fontina) with my Cornichons and recommended a good Dijon mustard.

From Bleecker, I circled around Winston Churchill Park and Minetta Lane (I’m dying to have a kickball game on that street, it just seems like the perfect place for one) before 524333193_f1bfed55d4making my way over to Washington Square Park, where I saw:

Asian tourists trying to feed a squirrel a hotdog bun (this is a common occurrence. Perhaps no squirrels in certain Asian countries?)

The chess tables set up and people in various stages of chess games. All of the tables had signs advertising “Free chess games with Chess NYC members.” I talked to one of the players who informed me the class was brushing up on their techniques by challengingwashington_square_park_chess_players_by_david_shankbone anyone to a game. I watched the players for a bit. They appeared to range in age from 14 to about 70. Their skill levels also ranged from beginner to advanced. I was tempted to stop and play, but I knew my competitive streak would take over, and I’d never make it home.

A 16-person drum circle lead by a man with a cymbal. Though they were quite good — you could feel the beating of the drums reverberating on the pavement beneath your feet — but I couldn’t figure out why a cymbal …

As I headed North around the periphery of the park (the arch area is still closed for renovations) I nearly ran into a five-year-old boy with dark, curly hair, whizzing around on a scooter. He was also wearing a black cape. As he gained momentum on his set of 800px-washington_square_arch_by_david_shankbonewheels, he would yell to his Dad to look at him and then, glance behind him to make sure his cape was properly aloft and flowing in the breeze. A pint-sized superhero on a scooter.

Walking up Fifth Avenue my pace slowed due to the tourists and locals taking in the view up Fifth of the dogwood and magnolia trees in full bloom. It was a beautiful sight, with pink and white blossoms against the various shades of gray buildings and the clear, blue sky and the Empire State Building framing the scene. I wished I had thought to bring my camera, but like most New York moments, it was one I mentally photographed, in hopes I would later find the right words recreate the the scene on paper and allow myself the opportunity to conjure that moment up whenever I wanted it, remembering every sense: the smell of the flowering trees, the sounds of the city mixed with the faint echo of the drums, the feel of the shiny black wrought iron gates I ran my hands along as I walked up the street, the leftover taste of the Cornichon and cheese combo I had sampled earlier at Murrays, and the sight of the 5th ave tableau, looking both like a Victorian flashback and a present-day scene at the same time. Old and new, just like the seasons.
–Downtown

Nuts For Nuts

I’ve often wondered how food carts around the City get to their destination. This morning I passed an unassuming white truck with the letters M & M painted in black on the driver and passenger doors. Four men unloaded boxes of hotdogs, bags of ice and paper goods for the day’s work along the Southern edge of the Mall’s Literary Walk. img_50012 img_50051

Boys Club

What’s wrong with this picture?

Taste of the Upper West Side

Taste of the Upper West Side

OR this picture?

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In 1999, Marion Burros summed up some of the reasons why women chefs were missing in the kitchen. Citing NYC’s competition as the prime reason for men’s rise to celebrity status, it’s interesting to see that, if you base an assumption on the upcoming “taste of the upper west side,” the boys still outnumber the girls.

Maybe it’s because women chefs work on the Upper East Side or Downtown. Coincidentally, or not, on the very same day I learned of the UWS Taste Fest, I met Jennifer Yee, pastry chef at Aureole. She’s kinda photogenic, eh?

Jennifer Yee, pastry chef, Aureole, East 61st Street

Jennifer Yee, pastry chef, Aureole, East 61st Street

The Office

For the next five weeks, I’ll be living in work bliss. Normal 9a to 6/7p hours and lots of downtime during the day. We’ve shipped 40 of our crew members to LA for the month-long Santa Barbara shoot and have our left coast counterparts taking over the reins while we hold down the production office (attempt to recover) in Brooklyn. Though I’ll miss crossing paths with the likes of this smiley face, stealing Fritos from her, impromptu banjo jams courtesy of this guy or discussing the merits of window vs. aisle seats with him, they’ll all be back in five weeks’ time, sans Steve.
officeopener_l2

With my new free time at work, I’ve been visiting some whales, reading some really god-awful blogs, obsessively checking this and this, and really not doing any of this or even this. But, after 4 1/2 months of 12-14hr days (almost halfway there!), doesn’t everyone deserve one week of this?
–Downtown