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Lower Manhattan from a boat

June 15th, 2014
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My present job occasionally demands travel between Wall Street area in Manhattan and Exchange Place location in Jersey City. The most convenient way to make the trip is via NY Waterway service, which takes about 10 minutes to cross New York Harbor. On one of such trips I brought along my camera and snapped a couple of hundred perspectives of Lower Manhattan. The highlights can be found in my Flickr photostream.
 

View of Lower Manhattan from New York Harbor

 

New York City & Environs, Photography

Carnegie Hall

March 5th, 2012

I’ve heard it many times in the past that performing at the Carnegie Hall in New York always features among the major highlights of a musician’s career. Well, one of my children have gotten it out of the way at a pretty early stage. Becky and her high school choir participated in a program at the Carnegie Hall earlier in the week. With her name in the playbill, she officially arrived
 

 
Here is a less-than-perfect mobile phone photograph of what the auditorium looked like before the show.
 

 
I suspect that there will eventually be videos of the performance available through the usual sources. If/when that happens, I will be sure to link it.

Children, New York City & Environs

09/11 Memorial

February 12th, 2012
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A bit overdue, we went to see the 09/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan on Saturday.
 

09/11 Memorial, New York City

 
 

09/11 Memorial, New York City

 
 

09/11 Memorial, New York City

 
 

09/11 Memorial, New York City

 

New York City & Environs, Photography

The NY Giants victory parade

February 7th, 2012

I don’t get these victory parades. You stand in the crowd for several hours. You block passage for people who actually have business walking down the streets that the mob you’re part of is blocking. You have to exercise a significant bladder control above and beyond your normal exertion. And then a bunch of double-decker buses with people whom you’ve never seen in your life goes by, interspersed with some marching bands. And a few floats carrying your conquering heroes. Only the floats move at such a brisk pace that you can at best get just a glimpse of the people you came to see. Total cumulative amount of gratification: sixty seconds, tops.

I guess I am just not a hard-core fan, for all of my overall interest in sports.

The bright side for me and my co-workers was in the fact that the office windows come out directly onto the parade route. So, for about an hour, everyone including senior managers dropped what they were doing and lined up by those windows. A nice break. I made a few dozen shots, but none were exciting. I am posting one picture solely as a proof of participation.
 

 

New York City & Environs

New York imagery: Madison Square Park

January 10th, 2012
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Finding myself for the first time in ages in a place that I used to walk through daily, I could not restrain myself from taking a couple of shots of things reaching for the sky. (Despite less than optimal lighting due to overall weather.)

These are couple of perspectives from Madison Square Park (not to be confused with the sports arena called Madison Square Garden). The first one is what I think is an erstwhile fountain, with the Empire State Building providing the background.
 

Madison Square Park, New York

 
The second is a curious combination of disparate architectural solutions.
 

Madison Square Park, New York

 
Clickable for larger versions, as always.

New York City & Environs, Photography

Liberty Science Center

December 18th, 2011

When we lived in London, we made several trips to its Science Museum (for instance, as recorded in this old entry). But in all years of living in New Jersey, we have never visited our own Liberty Science Center. Today, Kimmy and Natasha rectified the glaring oversight (yours truly stayed home with the baby).

The 11-year-old – and Mom! – had smashing time. They watched an IMAX movie about Hubble Telescope, a 3-D offering on dinosaurs, participated in tons of interactive activities, played with air and light, among other things, impersonated tadpoles growing into frogs, et cetera, et cetera. The day went by really quickly.

Unlike its counterpart in the British capital, the place is far from free to enter – and not exactly cheap, if you are buying movie tickets in addition to exhibition entry (movies do cost extra in London, but the exhibition itself is free). The cost possibly contributes to smaller crowds on a regular weekend, which is a plus. We were the beneficiaries of a Groupon discount deal, generously presented to us by friends who could not go themselves. At less than half the price for all-inclusive tickets, it was too good to pass up.

Kimmy never leaves any museum without buying something in the shop. One of the things she brought home with her was the following Periodic Table of Texting. I am sooo behind the times…
 

Periodic Table of Texting

 

New York City & Environs

Empire State Building

April 5th, 2011

There is nothing especially striking about this picture. Simply beautiful azure skies pierced by a graceful spire.

Just the way I happen to like it.
 

Empire State Building

 

New York City & Environs, Photography

Minis on the walls

February 10th, 2011

There is currently not one but two real Minis scaling the walls of the building on 42nd Street where Broadway and 7th Avenue diverge away from the Times Square. I thought at first that these were well-executed models, but close inspection of the brackets which hold the cars in place suggests that they are, in fact, real.

Pretty cool.
 

42nd St & Broadway 42nd St & 7th Ave

 

New York City & Environs, Photography

NYC encounters: Bicycle vs pedestrian

September 24th, 2010

In many European cities (not so much in London, though) bicycle riders are provided with enough dedicated riding space to make it appear to a fascinated visitor that practically everyone in the city rides a bike instead of a motorized vehicle. Amsterdam is an obvious and well-known example, but, say, Munich would also surprise you with the volume of its bicycle traffic. It is all enabled by plenty of bicycle-only lanes and a certain amount of preferential treatment given to cyclists at crossings and intersections.

New York City does not have many bicycle lanes in Midtown. Those that do exist are more often than not blocked by illegally parked cars or walking pedestrians.

Yeah, let’s not forget every New Yorker’s near-constitutional right to walk wherever they please: Sidewalks, grass, driving lanes, biking lanes…

One of the cycling lanes goes by the Port Authority Bus Terminal along 8th Avenue. I almost never see it used by any cyclists. But, at the end of the workday, with thousands of people simultaneously walking towards the terminal to catch their commuter buses home, it is always a well-traveled walking lane, used by anyone who is keen to avoid the unpleasant navigation of the sidewalk. Yours truly, admittedly, is one of such people.

Imagine a middle-aged woman, in a full biking get-up, complete with a small rear-view mirror attached to her helmet, pedaling along the 8th Avenue. She can’t stay in the bike line, on account of all of the pedestrians, but she tries to stay as close to its boundary as possible.

When she crosses 42nd Street, she is now going directly against the human stream. Most of these pedestrians keep to the outer edge of the bike lane, not because they are considerate of the practically non-existent cyclists, but because they are wary of very much existent cars that are jousting for free space themselves. But an occasional pedestrian would dare the motorized traffic to go around him, by walking pretty much in the outer car lane.

So here is this big fifty-something guy, purposefully walking towards the terminal. He is clearly not going to tolerate the stop-and-go-and-dodge of the sidewalk – or even bike lane. He is passing the slower walkers on the divide between the bike lane and the car lane.

The cyclist going in the opposite direction, trying to squeeze herself between a passing car and this guy cannot avoid brushing against him. He continues walking as if nothing happened. She almost loses her balance and nearly veers into the next car’s path.

She recovers. Turns around. And hollers. “You a@#$%le! What the f#&% are you doing walking in the bike lane!?”

He acknowledges her by half-turning and hollering back, “F#&% You! Watch where are you going!” And continues to his destination.

The rest of the bus-terminal-bound crowd pauses for a split of a second, smirks, and keeps going as well.

Gotta love New York!

New York City & Environs

New York imagery: Bryant Park jugglers

August 11th, 2010
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On a nowadays rare workday spent in Manhattan, I had a chance to stroll through Bryant Park in New York Midtown. Around lunchtime, it held a City Library-sponsored book reading in one corner and a musical performance in another. Some people played ping-pong, while others idly lounged around.

In yet another corner, there was an impromptu juggling center. One guy juggled tennis balls, two more guys practiced juggling clubs, but the center was taken up by a group of four people who toss-juggled clubs in a square-and-diagonals pattern. They weren’t exceptionally good, but they kept trying over and over again.

I had a hard time catching them in a nice shot, and did not really succeed. But one detail can be rather clearly seen in this shot. Two of the four were dressed in an office attire, marking them as office-dwellers who came out to play during lunch. I found the concept of going for a juggling exercise during lunch fascinating.
 

Jugglers in Bryant Park

 

New York City & Environs, Photography

One of my favorite vistas

May 16th, 2010

This weekend, chauffeuring our guests around Brooklyn, I found myself for the first time in ages on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. In our early days in America, my Mom said on occasion that the view of Manhattan from there is worth coming to New York City all by itself. It is definitely one of my most favorite viewpoints in the world.
 

View of Lower Manhattan from Brooklyn Heights Promenade

 
Don’t forget to click on the picture for a larger view.

New York City & Environs, Photography

A visit to the MMA

April 19th, 2010

I wonder how many Parisians visit Louvre more than once in their adult lives, if ever. Or Londoners National Gallery. Or Madrileños Prado. Outside of a small group of art students and fanatical art lovers, I doubt that the majority of local population ever finds time in their busy daily routines to come in and admire the magnificent collections in their top museums.

I’ve lived in or around New York City for nearly two decades (with the obvious notable interruption of three recent years). During the first months of immigration, I visited Metropolitan Museum of Art at least half a dozen times. And yet, the last time I’ve set foot there was probably sometime in 1992.

On Sunday, having left the children in the care of willing grandparents, Natasha and I went for a day in the City. The main aim of the outing was to get together with our cousins who reside in Manhattan and whom we see much too infrequently. But when we were contemplating our specific plans for the day, Natasha had a brilliant idea: Why not spend a couple of hours at the Metropolitan before proceeding to our usual combo of food, drinks and catching up.

I don’t offer any resistance when a trip to an art museum becomes a possibility. And I’ve long felt a tinge of embarrassment that I had visited many of the Old World’s foremost art collections in the last 7-8 years, but neglected the one in my own backyard for so long. It was high time to rectify that.

We started with the respectable Impressionist collection, headlined by several wonderful Monets and Renoirs, but also including works by Van Gogh, Signac, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, Seurat, Cézanne. We then proceeded to earlier centuries, to Caravaggio and Rembrandt, Titian and Goya, Rubens and Ruisdael, van Dyck and Lorraine, Vermeer and Tintoretto, and scores of others. There is only one Canaletto in the collection, but several Guardis, which do just as nicely.

We also visited the Musical Instruments rooms and walked through the Greek Sculpture section and the Middle East art section.

I do not feel knowledgeable enough to lend an opinion on whether the Metropolitan can fully compete with Louvre or Hermitage on the strength of its art collection, but there is little doubt that said collection belongs to the top tier in the Western World. We probably covered less than 5% of what is on display at the museum. We were very much impressed by what we saw, having forgotten how good the Met’s collection was after all those years.

The Metropolitan is one of two museums in New York City that work on “suggested” admission-fee basis, i.e. you can enter it virtually for free even though there is a posted “recommended” adult admission price of $20. And here is what I find weird. In London, many major museums have free admissions and they are truly “free” – you walk in and simply proceed to the exhibits that interest you (except for “special” exhibitions, which carry a separate admission price). Each exit at such museums is adorned with a large donations box, and after a pleasant visit, you can’t help it but feel compelled to put some money in.

The Metropolitan works differently. You have to get a ticket. You come to the ticket desk, tell the person who sits behind it how many of you are there, and hear her respond with the total, “Eighty dollars”. You feel that you are entitled to pay less, and yet are confronted with the embarrassment of having to actually transact with someone who will know that you paid less. I am no psychologist, but I am pretty sure that most people would view themselves as not donating under these circumstances but rather as falling prey to extortion. I suspect that a fair share of people feel sufficiently embarrassed and pressured in this situation to fork over the full suggested amount (to say nothing of people who possess neither enough English skills nor the advance knowledge of the museum to realize what “recommended” admission price means), even though they are completely within their rights to pay next to nothing for entry. Quite possibly, this helps to at least partially cover for all of those visitors who pay no heed to the unspoken shaming and give the person at the ticket desk just a dollar or two. She will still welcome them to the museum and give them the bright lapel pins that perform the function of tickets…

Anyway. After having fed our inner art lovers for a couple of hours, we moved to another part of Manhattan, for a nice repast at an Italian bistro in SoHo. A couple of years ago in London, such trips combining a museum visit and a great meal out were a staple of our weekend routine. It was nice to recapture the feeling a little bit in New York City.

I wonder if I will have the same positive impression of the Hermitage when I finally decide to visit St Petersburg. The last time I visited was in 1990…

Art & Culture, New York City & Environs

Holiday season in New York City

December 9th, 2009

I am starting to dislike Manhattan just a bit again. The main reason is this:
 

Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza, New York

 
The damn thing stands practically in front of the building where I work, and is surrounded by so many gawkers that it makes it a challenge to get through, especially at the end of day. And overall, during the winter holidays, New York City is too overrun by tourists for my taste. Hooray for being able to occasionally telecommute!

On the plus side, we could see the whole tree lighting show from our office windows last week. It made for a nice little office party, attended by several families. Brian has a photo report on what we saw.

New York City & Environs, Photography

Random Illustrations: Cranberry Fair

November 9th, 2009

One of the few fun things about working in NYC’s Rockefeller Center – there are many negative counterweights to it, trust me! – is the various fairs regularly held here. One day they display a fleet of historic fire engines and then torch an old car and demonstrate proper firefighting techniques on that as part of some Fire Safety Awareness deal. The other day it is on to interactive winter sports games to publicize Olympic Team USA. And so on.

To say nothing of a couple-of-times-a-week market during the summer.

One of these recently-held fairs revolved around cranberry. I did not bother to get into details of the occasion, but it lasted a couple of days, with long lines to the couple of points where cranberry-based products were sold – or, maybe, given away. Must have been some publicity event for Ocean Spray.

The centerpiece of the occasion was this large cranberry bog. I ended up taking a picture that did not feature a human in it, so you’ll have to believe me that it’s almost knee-deep. The machine in the corner does point to that.
 

Cranberry bog at Rockefeller Plaza

 

New York City & Environs, Photography

New York imagery: 6th Avenue

September 16th, 2009

I’ve taken this picture a while ago, on one of the first days of resuming my Manhattan working life. There is nothing expressly special about it. I just happen to like the wide expanse of New York’s 6th Avenue above 42nd Street.
 

 

New York City & Environs, Photography

New York imagery: 8th Avenue Westin

September 3rd, 2009

Maybe I’ve become more attuned to noticing them in the past few years or possibly they simply were not here in my previous New York City life, but I keep coming across pretty cool modern buildings in Midtown that I don’t recall seeing before our expatriate period.

Such as this Westin Hotel on the corner of 8th Avenue and 43rd Street.
 

 
By the way, Hugin Panorama Tools Front-end rulez like no other. Half a dozen clicks was all I needed, with no manual adjustments.

New York City & Environs, Photography

Debout les damnés de la terre

August 25th, 2009

I lately find myself party to occasions where my friends – who share the same background with me and, like me, deeply loath socialism in its most manifestations – lament the approach of the end of the world as we know it on account of current administration’s proposed policies.

From where I stand, socialism has long been here in the States.

At least, if you go by the ornamentation on a building near where I work.
 

Hammer and sickle, anybody?

 
Bonus points if you know where the title comes from.

New York City & Environs, Photography

New York imagery: Times Square

August 16th, 2009

I recognized in the last couple of weeks that I very much enjoy walking the streets of New York City. Even such tourist-infested locations as Times Square.
 

  

New York City & Environs, Photography