The Statue of Liberty as seen from Battery Park. The photo makes it look like I've hacked my way through a jungle to reach the shore, but the trees are just part of a small but verdant copse at the southern end of the park.
Wondering about that enormous yacht in the Upper Bay? Thanks to Doug Nervik for doing the following research:
"The ship is called Le Grand Bleu. In 2008, it was the tenth largest private luxury yacht in the world. Built in Germany in 2000, it is 370 feet long (that's 70 feet longer than a football field) and boasts two 3600 hp engines and a crew of fifty!
It's currently owned by Russian oil billionaire, Eugene Shvidler, and it was GIVEN to him by Roman Abramovich. A 2006 article in The Sun claimed the gift was worth 75 million pounds (around $150 million), but today a boat like this would cost twice as much.
It is one of the greenest boats out there--it features a system which can reuse wastewater rather than pouring it into the sea.
It was originally built for one of the McCaw brothers of cellular phone fame and was then purchased by MicroSoft's Paul Allen. (He traded it up for larger vessels, one of which carries two submarines.)
You can see two boats sitting on the deck of Le Grand Bleu. These are called tenders. One of them is a 74' sailing boat, which itself would cost well over $1 million! The other is a 68' Sunseeker Predator, a $1.5 million yacht with three staterooms!! This boat alone is a quite luxurious yacht which charters for thousands of dollars a day.
A helicopter is also on the deck. You gotta get places, you know.
There's a "garage" on one side of the boat--open it and you will find four large jet skis, kayaks, scuba and snorkeling gear, and every toy imaginable.
And last, just in time for the Fourth of July fireworks, there's a wonderful little dock which has been affixed to the rear of the boat, so that others can pull up and park and where you can sit or sunbathe or jump off for a swim."
This entire season could be titled "Partly Cloudy with Chance of Rain." Last week's fog though did give a visit to Liberty Island an eerily beautiful feel.
No part of the Statue could be seen from the first three ferries. Passengers boarded in fog, floated through fog and stepped out on an island completely isolated by fog. It felt like a haunted place.
My group from Idaho, who had arrived a day earlier in the rain and fog, had no idea how much was surrounding us. They couldn't see the Manhattan skyline, Brooklyn, Staten Island, or New Jersey. They could only see the occasional phantom boat emerge from the white and the ghostly outline of a colossal woman with arm raised. The fog began to break by the time we left for Ellis Island around 10:00.
On Sunday, I told my group of forty eighth-graders to meet at 12:45 on Mulberry (which was completely empty) because I figured Mott would be too crowded. After letting them go, I walked over to Mott to learn that an entire parade (fire trucks, humvees, soldiers, and re-enactors) celebrating the 200th anniversary of the old St. Pat's would be rolling up Mulberry at exactly 12:45. Perfect.
(But, let the record show, I was still able to get the group to lunch in Times Square with five minutes to spare.)
Here they are lining up on Mott for their parade up Mulberry.
With only five channels on my television, I didn't get a chance to catch Lifetime Presents the 2009 Nora Roberts Collection, the adaptations that ran on FOUR consecutive Saturday nights from March 21st until April 11th. But I absolutely loved the ad campaign that greeted me at my nearest subway station every morning for the last month.
I would wager at least one agent received an angry phone call.
But which of these eight actors would have been most embarrassed? Maybe none...what do I know?
The more important question, however, which I asked myself every day as I stood in front of these posters and seriously contemplated each one of them (the stars, the poses, the chemistry, the pictures that hinted at the story):
If I could only see one of these movies, which would I pick?
After a month, I'm going to go with the green one.
This photo isn't the greatest, but I didn't want to stand around a men's room taking too many pictures. This was taken on Liberty Island and I just loved the parenthetical clarification. (Click on the picture to enlarge.) While listing the "many features that are environmentally preferable," someone thought it necessary to explain that the water-less urinals could be found in the "Men's Restroom only."
It reminded me of the sign in Braille on the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building telling Braille readers that telescopes are located on the 86th floor observatory. That just seems cruel.
I was also recently puzzled by another extraneous statement on the side of a Starbucks cup. Here's what was printed on that grande drip:
The Way I See It #21
"People need to see that, far from being an obstacle, the world's diversity of languages, religions and traditions is a great treasure, affording us precious opportunities to recognize ourselves in others."
Youssou N'Dour, Musician
This is the author's opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks.
In other words, Starbucks might believe that the world's diversity is indeed an obstacle and one to quash the world over. Really? Until they start printing excerpts from Mein Kampf, I'm going to assume that they agree with the quotations they're selecting.
In the poll we posted back in December, Little Byters recommended Gypsy and Spring Awakening as the two shows to see before closing. On January 11th, Gypsy played its final performance and last week's New York Magazine printed a wonderful behind-the-scenes photo journal (by Gillian Laub) of Patti Lupone on that day--from waking up in her windowless pied-a-terre through stretches in her dressing room and backstage respites to the curtain call and autographs at the stage door. There are many more photos included online at their website. To see all 37 pictures, view their slideshow.
This is one of my favorite amateur shots taken yesterday--if you look beneath the plane, at the edge of the water, you can see the tail fin of a Concord jet in the river as well. The Concord and part of the aircraft carrier, which you can see to the right of the water tower, belong to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. The US Airways flight crashed four blocks north of the Intrepid's flight deck, an irony that went unreported. Both the Concord and the Airbus are facing east and until 3:30 yesterday afternoon the Concord was the only plane floating in the Hudson. An interesting byte of trivia--when the Intrepid first brought the Concord to the museum, headlines described the move as "Concord Lands in Hudson River."
The Intrepid, by the way, is where we began our video tour of 46th Street which features the video, "Things That Fall from the Sky." Another irony is that this view is very close to the view from the window of Leo--the World Record Breaking Cat who a few years ago jumped from the 46th floor of Manhattan Plaza and survived. I think yesterday's miraculous (and still unbelievable) survival of all 155 passengers and crew (and the George Washington Bridge which the plane only cleared by 900 feet) win out over Leo.
Two things I wanted to note about the city yesterday. I was with a friend in a coffeeshop exactly three blocks east of the crash but thirty minutes passed before we heard anything about a plane and we learned about it the same way that most in the world do--by television. As we were getting up to go, we noticed the footage and titles but didn't believe they were real. Everyone around us in the coffeeshop and on the streets were going about their lives as though there weren't 155 people standing on the wings of a downed jetliner three blocks away. I'm often in awe of how many major events this city can absorb without breaking its stride. I'm also in awe of all the people who stop what they're doing to help whenever they see someone in trouble--that goes for all the ferryworkers and first responders who turned their attention to rescuing the US Air crash victims as well as to the ten people on Ninth Avenue who helped the older person passed out in the cold, calling 911 and finding blankets. It is an amazing city.
And about that cold: for those out west or down south, it is FREEZING here! If you walk outside for two minutes, you talk about it for three. I cannot imagine standing, without a jacket, my feet submerged in frigid water, on the wing of a jet in the middle of the Hudson. Shock and relief were probably useful tools.
Well, I'm off now to meet a group landing at LaGuardia. Hoping there are no geese...
This is the house of Lucy Spata whose family has been decorating their home for over forty years, but whose house in the eighties had become so over-the-top and was attracting so much traffic, that the police were often called. The neighbors, though, have long since joined in and displays that can cost over $30,000 can be seen throughout the neighborhood. (And on YouTube. See the posting below for three videos.) Is it worth the $5000/month electric bills? It's reported that 100,000 people make the pilgrimage each holiday season and that several of the houses collect donations to support various charities like St. Anthony's (the Spata home) and the American Cancer Society (the Polizzotto Toyland across the street).
It's been reputed, and many times repeated, that Guy de Maupassant would have lunch at the Eiffel Tower because it was the one place in Paris where he wouldn't have to look at it. Frankly, I'll take the Eiffel Tower over the New York Palace any day.
But some of our uglier buildings offer some of our better views. I recently spent some time in a corner suite on the 53rd and 54th floors...
And can now take you on a bird's eye tour of midtown.
Here's St. Patrick's, the largest Catholic cathedral in the U.S. (but not the largest church in NYC), begun in 1851, abandoned during the Civil War, and then resumed and completed in 1879. (Well, not the towers--they were finished nine years later.)
Yesterday, I shared some of my humble amateurish photos of hawks, crows and prey, but today I want repost an entry from the spring when my friend, Tessa (a frequent director of Little Bytes currently serving her second year as a New York Teaching Fellow) sent me an incredible series of professional photos with the note below:
"Look at these beautiful pictures. Two Red-Tailed Hawks have picked P94M on the Lower East Side as their new home. We are so honored. They spent weeks building a nest (well, the female did all the work - typical) and she even insulated it with plastic bags she found. They had three eggs she incubated during the cold months and just recently three little fuzzy heads popped out to greet us. This is great proof against those who think we live in an asphalt jungle. 8 years in Alaska and I never once had a hawk roost on my secretary's a/c."
See the babies--and get the progress report--after the jump.
These beautiful photographs were taken by F. Portman, a professional photographer brought in by Bill Tatton, the school custodian. Portman has several gorgeous avian portfolios featuring penguins and condors.
On Thanksgiving morning, I was at home at the top of Manhattan watching the parade on television when the cawing behind my building drowned out the horns and drums and commentators. I rushed to my window to see several crows (it sounded like fifty) verbally harassing some kind of large fowl.
Since it was Thanksgiving, I assumed it was a wild turkey. (It kind of looks like a turkey, right?)
I quickly realized that it was, of course, not a turkey in my oak tree. But what was it and why were the crows crowding it?