NYC

Upper Manhattan, Cloaked in Fog

There’s a running joke in my family that I’m completely oblivious to most things that are going on in the world around me. That “joke” once again proved itself to be true, this week.

Apparently, yesterday morning, all of NYC was covered in fog—and I had no idea until I stumbled upon these amazing fog photos.

This one, of the George Washington Bridge and my neighborhood, Washington Heights, was my favorite:

nyc fog photo

Semi-related: speaking of the GWB, have you seen the Jimmy Fallon/Springsteen tribute to the Chris Christie “Bridgegate” scandal? It’s too funny!

(Photo from USA Today WeatherВ via Time Out New York)

Humans of New York

Sometime over the past few years, you may have stumbled acrossВ Humans of New York.В Photographer Brandon Stanton shoots New Yorkers wherever they happen to be when he runs into them: on the subway, in parks, on the street.

His photos are gorgeous, but the heart of his work is really in the quotes he collects from his subjects—they dispense bits of wit, wisdom, humor and poignancy.

I’m still waiting to come across a portrait of someone I know.

Or maybe myself in the background of one.

Today, theВ Humans of New YorkВ book comes out. I’m looking forward to seeing Stanton’s photos in the printed format and seeing what stories he’s chosen to feature.

Until then, enjoy scrolling through the Humans of New York blog—believe me, you can lose yourself in it for a while!

Here are just a few photos I really liked; be sure to click through to read what the subjects have to say:

We just finished singing Beethoven’s Ninth

I’m dealing with the aftermath of a really horrible breakup

Whenever I did a show in the park, Doris would

We’ve been married 31 years

It was easier than I thought it’d be

(Humans of New York photos by Brandon Stanton)

Conducting an Orchestra in Herald Square

Here’s one more for the weekend—it’s definitely a feel-good Friday video!

Improv Everywhere, an NYC group known for staging attention-getting stunts, recently set up Carnegie Hall’s Ensemble ACJW orchestra in the middle of Herald Square and invited people to conduct them. Locals and tourists stepped up with their best conductor imitations—which are both hilarious and heart-warming to watch.

Kudos to the awesome young musicians who sounded great while following the haphazard conducting!

Also, if you’ve ever wondered what, exactly, a conductor does, check out Justin Davidson’s fantastic (and aptly named) NYMag piece, “What Does a Conductor Do?”В Davidson breaks down the nuances of conducting in an incredibly engaging and entertaining way; it’s actually one of my favorite long reads from the past few years.

On that note (ha!) have a fabulous weekend.

The NYC I Remember

WTC

In observance of the horrific event that took place 12 years ago today, Gothamist compiled a gallery of photos of the Twin Towers. Most were taken from the 1970s and 80s.

While looking through them, I was struck not only by how iconic and imposing those towers were, but how much those images brought me back to my youth. This was the Manhattan skyline I grew up seeing, and the one that encompassed all the exciting possibilities in the borough I dreamed of living in.

вќ¤

(Photo by Steven Siegel via Gothamist)

NYC Beach Day: Rockaway

For the past week, I’d kept my eye on Sunday’s weather. Each day, the forecast was holding steady at 80 degrees and sunny, and I figured it could be my last chance to hit the beach.

So I was thrilled, this morning, when I woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine. Even though I’d accidentally slept in (something I rarely do!) and wouldn’t get to the beach until nearly 1:30 p.m., I figured it would be worth it.

Rockaway is probably the nicest beach in the five boroughs. (Though, to be honest, that’s not saying much.) But it’s a trek for me—nearly two hours on the A train. I get on at one of the first stops in Manhattan and ride it through my entire borough, all of Brooklyn, and then, finally Queens.

By the time I arrive, I’m more than ready to get my toes in the sand. It helps that the stops near the shore are preceded by a “B”—for beach, of course. That always makes me smile.

b 90 street

I stopped byВ Rockaway Taco for an order of fish tacos, to go. Like me, they’re also in denial about the end of summer—until the end of the month.

summer's still here

I’m glad that the taco stand came back, this summer, and that Rockaway seems to be recovering, post-Sandy. Some houses near the water are still under construction, and portions of the boardwalk are being rebuilt. But the open concession stands and bathrooms along parts of the beach have allowed people to patronize the area all season long—which, hopefully, has helped the local economy, a bit.

we've some a long way

I got onto the beach on 95th Street and walked east until I found a decently empty, quiet spot.

rockaway beach

Then I happily tore into my fish tacos.

rockaway tacos

As I was eating, I realized I’d settled in a surfing section. Everyone around me had a board and everyone in the water was on one. (In fact, an NYC Parks department vehicle drove by about once an hour, telling non-surfers to get out of the water. I suppose the don’t want to worry about swimmers getting whacked by surfboards!)

rockaway surfersWatching the surfers made me want to learn how to do so. For most of my life, I’d been oblivious to the sport—I didn’t know any surfers, growing up, and it was something I associated with the west coast. But last year, when I was in Bocas del Toro,В Panama, I wanted to be one of the surfers who spent all day out in the middle of the ocean—they’d drag their boards into the little water taxis, then jump out when they saw a good spot. I realized that there’s a grace to riding the waves, which is appealing to me. Plus, as someone who’s afraid of the ocean (surprise—I’m a total beach girl who almost never goes into the water), I’m envious of the fearlessness surfers seem to possess!

rockaway surfers

Maybe I’ll add surfing to my list of goals…rockaway surferAnd speaking of surfing—I still find it odd that Rockaway has become the go-to beach for surfers, hipsters and twentysomethings! When I was growing up, “the Rockaways,” as we called it, was just a working class neighborhood on the edge of Queens.

I’d been to the boardwalk once or twice, back when the Parks department ran the concession stands (no saltenas or frozen bananas then!) and the sunbathers were all locals. At the time, the only beaches I’d been to were on Long Island and the Jersey shore, so I was surprised that one existed in my own borough.

I hadn’t realized how close the beach was to JFK, either—and that’s proven to be a nice surprise, this summer. As you’re lying on the beach, you’ll see dozens of planes flying overhead, so close that you can identify the airline—Virgin, Quantas, Delta, United.
plane over rockaway

Something about that just makes me happy. All those planes remind me of great trips I’ve been on, and ones I’ve yet to take. And I imagine that the airplanes are full of excited people going on vacation, or coming back with good memories from ones they’ve just taken.

airplane

airplane over rockaway

If there’s another warm, gorgeous weekend, this year, there’s a good chance I’ll be back in the Rockaways. For me, it’s worth the four hour, round-trip subway ride!

Subway Kitties Have a (Temporary) Home

Okay, this is really just an excuse to post cute cat photos—but there’s a legit NYC angle!

Last week, while I was sunning myself on the beach two kittens were spotted on the B/Q tracks near theВ Church Avenue stop in Brooklyn.

subway kitten

And then—in what I think was a pretty astounding move—the MTA shut down power to large swaths of the two lines as workers tried to catch the kitties. After an hour and a half of futile attempts, the MTA restored service to both lines. They eventuallyВ rounded up the catsВ later in the evening.

subway kitties 2

In the days that followed, numerousВ mayoral candidates weighed in on whether they would have shut the subway for the kitties. (Quinn, Thompson, Weiner, Catsimatidis, McDonald [who?]: Yes. Former MTA boss Lhota: No.)

And the cats, named August and Arthur, found themselves in comfy new digs. Bushwick resident Steven Liu, who regularly fosters cats, has taken them in.В Liu posted some photos of them on his Tumblr,В Scratching Pad, and they’re too cute!

subway kitties 3

subway kitties 4

subway kitties 5

(Top two photos by Marc A. Hermann/MTA via the Daily News; bottom three photos via Scratching Pad)

So Ready for an NYC Summer Weekend

I’ve always found it slightly frustrating that here in the five boroughs, we’re surrounded by lots of water, but our beaches are relatively small. And not exactly easy to get to, for many of us. (Like me, who lives way up in northern Manhattan.)

So we New Yorkers are forced to squeeze in sun time, in whatever space is available. Hit up any park in the summertime, and you’ll be surrounded by sunbathers of all ages, sporting varying degrees of coverage. If you walk around midtown at lunchtime, you’ll see hoards of suits perched on every ledge—men with sleeves rolled up, women with their heels kicked off.

I always appreciate those sights. As much as I love my writing and digital pursuits, I’m also a firm believer that humans belong outdoors, exploring and being active—not cooped up in buildings with circulated air, in front of screens.

Which is why I love this NY Times slideshow, “Concrete Beach.”В Photographer Ashley Gilbertson shot New Yorkers sunbathing wherever they could throughout the city—and his images are stunning. I’m not sure if these would be unusual sights anywhere else, but they’re perfectly normal here!

concrete beach 1

concrete beach 2

concrete beach 3

concrete beach 4

I’m excited that I’m going to an actual beach, this weekend, instead of just spending time on the “Concrete Beach.” I’ll be lounging in the Rockaways tomorrow, then headed to a BBQ birthday celebration on Sunday. (Happy b-day, Burg!!!) And going to my usual ballet classses…as well as my first tango lesson! I figured I could get a head start here before going to Buenos Aires.

How will you be spending the weekend?

(“Concrete Beach” photos by Ashley Gilbertson via NYTimes.com)