2000s

Signs of the Times - "Face Mask Required"

Happy face with mask

 

As 2020 wore on, and COVID-19 became part of our lives, more and more Americans took to wearing face masks to protect themselves and others from the spread of the virus.  Some wearers made the best of it and made fashion statements with these protective coverings.  However, I became more fascinated by the more mundane signs displayed on the doors of stores, restaurants, office buildings and apartment buildings instructing those entering to wear a face mask.  Unlike mass-produced signs purchased from a hardware store that say 'Welcome' or 'Closed', face-mask signs have more personality.  And much like snowflakes, it seems that no two are alike.  Here are some I've seen in Greenwich Village in the past few weeks that got my attention.

 

- HUMOROUS -

 

Cuomo

 

Pleasure chest
This sign was displayed on the door of The Pleasure Chest.

 

Pj clarke

  With buddha

 

- THE POLITE APPROACH -

 

Another smiley face with mask

  Per tutti

  Polite sign

Alex barbershop

  Masksign protect you protect me

 

 

- CIRCLES -

 

Acne studio

  Color factory
  Chelsea radiology

 Nail salon

 

- NO FRILLS -

 

Liquor store sign

 

Wine store

  Sullivan st

Xmas store on christopher

  Masksign simplistic

 

- CLUTTERED -

 

Near the iufc

 

Corner bodega

  Vape shop

Cluttered

 

- BI-LINGUAL -

 

Caution cuidado

Cuidado careful

  Bilingual

 

Bilingualfacemasksign


 

- OFFICE BUILDINGS -

 

Oct 25 varick st

Varick st

  Corporate

East 40th

Masksign post office

 

- APARTMENT BUILDINGS -

 

Jackson square lobby

  West 17th

 Jones st

Barrow st
  Masksign soho apartment

 

- RESTAURANTS -

  Organic crepes

  The spaniard restaurant

Mexican restaurant on greenwich ave

  Pre-emptive

 

- FINALLY ... THE MOST COLORFUL! -

 

Masksign most colorful


New York City in the 21st Century - A New Type of Ghost Town

Risoteria for rent

 

When I was a kid we learned in school about "ghost" towns, which were once bustling towns in the West and Great Plains that popped up due to farming or the mining of natural resources.  They thrived until the minerals were depleted  or because of persistent drought and were then abandoned.  This was also the fate of many factory towns in the Rust Belt in the last few decades of the 20th century.  Now, in the 21st century, some neighborhoods in Manhattan are bringing to mind ghost towns as their stores and restaurants go out of business on an all-too-regular basis after landlords jack up their rents to unreasonable levels.  Each day when I return home from work I brace myself for yet another "Space for Rent" sign in the window of a store I used to patronize.

 

Retial space available

 

To quantify the magnitude of these closings my friend Maury and I spent a recent weekend canvassing Greenwich Village and Chelsea to see for ourselves how pervasive the situation was, and we came across not 50, not 100, not 150, but 208 retail spaces that were closed.  We found the omnipresent "For Rent" signs on fifteen streets, with the greatest concentration on Bleecker St., 8th St. and Christopher St.  And if we had walked on every street in the West Village and Chelsea the number would likely have exceeded 250.  While this is a disconcertingly high number, an article on the website DAN Info reported that the area with the most empty storefronts wasn't Greenwich Village, but SoHo and TriBeCa.

 

Vacant Stores and Restaurants

What's so troubling is that many of these vacant storefronts were businesses that served the residents of their neighborhoods - delis, laundries, shoe repair stores, and barber shops - only to be replaced by high-end retailers that cater to tourists.  Some of these storefronts can stay empty for a year or longer (the spaces formerly occupied by Manatus restaurant on Bleecker St. and Barnes & Noble on Sixth Ave. have been vacant for more than two years), but landlords have no incentive to find new tenants in a timely fashion.  In fact, it's considered a business loss which is a tax write-off.  As these establishments sit empty, they detract from the quality of life of the streets they're located on (especially since there are multiple locations on each street).  I feel rage boiling up inside of me when I walk by these eyesores knowing that the primary reason for them sitting empty is unrestrained greed.

 

Retail space

 

A SAD GALLERY OF EMPTY STOREFRONTS

 

Space for Rent
On Christopher St., the sign on the window reads "Trendy Retail", which is code for "rent is $25,000 per month".

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Hsbc 14th and 6th
Stories about the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl era were often accompanied by a photo of a shuttered bank. However, this photo isn't from Nebraska, but the bustling corner of W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. where HSBC boasted a once handsome branch office which has now sat empty for 18 months.

 

Chelsea vacancy
8th Avenue in Chelsea

 

Chelsea
Across the street from the Chelsea storefront above.

 

Corner of bleecker and sixth former american apparel
The corner of Sixth Ave. and Bleecker St. was briefly an American Apparel store. Before that it sat empty for a year after being a Banana Republic for many years.

 

Hairdresser note to clientele
On this door of a shuttered hair salon on W. 10th St. the owner has a message of thanks to customers. The salon had been in this location since 1997.

 

Restaurant across from me
This site of a former restaurant is at the corner of Barrow and West 4th Streets and is across the street from my apartment. It has sat empty for two years.

 

Eighth street eyesore
This eyesore on W. 8th St. is just off tony lower Fifth Ave. Once a branch of HSBC Bank, it's been in this condition for years.

 

Spa belle
Nearly as ubiquitous as Starbucks, six Spa Belle's have been shuttered in Chelsea and the West Village due to a glut of competing nail salons.

 

Associated
The closing of a supermarket is always a concern for residents, especially one like Associated, known for its low prices. It had been an anchor on W. 14th St. for more than 25 years.

 

Polo store
The retailer with the most square footage on Bleecker St. was Ralph Lauren's Polo store, but apparently the bragging rights were no longer worth the expense.  On the window shoppers are directed to other stores in trendy neighborhoods: East Hampton, West Broadway and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

 

Simplicity
Just one of 25 empty storefronts on 8th St. - only Bleecker St. has more.

 

Restaurant for lease on bleecker
This restaurant is east of Sixth Ave. Empty storefronts can be found in equal numbers regardless of which side of Sixth Ave. they're on.

 

Big blue for rent sign
I have enough photos to create a decent-sized Pinterest board. This empty store is on W. 14th St. between Fifth Ave. and Union Square.

 

Store for rent
Not all signs are fancy ones. This one is on the window of a former consignment store that had been at this Jones St. address for more than 30 years.

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Update. Since writing this post in September 2016 the vacancies continued to grow, especially on Bleecker St. in the West Village  The space that used to be Manatus restaurant on Bleecker St. has sat empty for six years, the former site of Barnes & Noble at the corner of West 8th St. and Sixth Ave. has been empty for seven years and the grand building at the corner of Sixth Ave. and West 14th St. that was occupied by HSBC Bank had languished for nearly four years (before it was taken down to make room for condominiums).


Remembering All of the Office Views in My Career

Worldwide plaza nyc
Worldwide Plaza
3ParkAvenue.NYC
3 Park Avenue

Over the course of my career I've worked at nine different addresses, all in Midtown Manhattan, from 34th St., north to 58th Street, and from Third Ave., west to Eighth Ave. - an area covering all of 1.25 square miles.  In the past ten years office floor plans with private offices have largely been eliminated in favor of "open architecture" layouts, with workers sitting side-by-side and facing each other (not unlike garment workers in Bangladesh, but instead of sewing machines we have laptops!).  Of course, it's been an adjustment for those of us who worked in the private office era, but not as difficult a transition as I feared.  And I have great memories of those offices, some of which afforded spectacular views.  What follows is a list of those varied views - think of it as my office resume.

 

 

800 3rd Ave. (between E. 49th and 50th Streets)

My first office situation, which I shared with a co-worker, was on the 39th floor and looked south down Third Avenue.  (1980-1981)

 

800ThirdAve.ScaliMcCabeSloves
Here I am at 23, a junior media planner at ad agency Scali McCabe Sloves, and I had an office with a great view.

 

285 Madison Ave. (between 40th and 41st Streets)

Although taking a job at Young & Rubicam was a good career move, it was quite a step down from my previous job in terms of office and view.  My office, a converted supply room, looked north onto E. 41st St. so there was little in the way of light.  285 Madison was an old building with windows that could be opened.  (A few years before I moved to Y&R an account executive had jumped to his death.)  Later I moved to an office on the other side of the building and my view looked south onto 40th St.  I had light but not much of a view.  (1981-1987)

 

1345 Ave. of the Americas (between E. 54th/55th Streets)

My office at ad agency NWAyer was on the 39th floor and looked south onto the roof of the Hilton across the street on 54th St.  (1987-1989)

 

Burlington.building.movingday

 

BurlingtonBuilding.view
The view from the side of the floor looking north was far superior than mine, but I could stroll over to see it.

 

Worldwide Plaza (W. 50th St./Eighth Ave.) 

NWAyer relocated from urbane Avenue of the Americas to this brand new 50-story skyscraper on the "frontier".  This would be the furthest west of any of my work addresses.  At the time the new neighborhood was a bit sketchy but my office on the 34th floor, which looked west over the Hudson River, afforded views of spectacular sunsets (and on hazy days the view of New Jersey was obscured).  In the brutal winter of 1994 I had a great view of the ice-covered Hudson.  In the last six months I worked there I moved into a spacious corner office on the building's southwest corner, but I often had to draw the shades because of the blinding afternoon sun.  (1989-1995)

 

Ice.covered.hudsonriver
The Hudson froze over during the frigid January of 1994.

 

RobFrydlewicz.CornerOffice.NWAyer
Those were the days ...

 

GM Building (Fifth Ave. between 58th & 59th Streets)/

150 E. 42nd St. (between Lexington & Third Avenues) 

My first office at Foote, Cone & Belding was on the 18th floor and looked north onto 59th St.  If I looked at an angle from my window I could see Central Park.  Then a few months after I started we relocated to the old Mobil Building at 150 E. 42nd St. (across the street from the Chrysler Building).  There I had three different offices, none with views that were noteworthy.  (1995-2002)

 

GM Building.RobFrydlewicz
Left the corner office behind for a sizable increase in salary - a fair trade-off.

 

3 Park Ave (34th St./Park Ave.)

This vied with Worldwide Plaza for the best views.  There were no towering buildings obstructing the view in any direction (the Empire State Building loomed three blocks west, enhancing the view).  My corner office on the 36th floor (for those keeping score, this was my second corner office) looked southeast so I got plenty of light all day.  Fifteen months before I started at Carat the 9-11 attacks occurred and co-workers told me of the chilling view they had of the towers.  I was working here on the day of the 2003 power blackout and had to walk down 36 flights of steps - without the aid of emergency lighting, which didn't work. (2003-2006)

 

Carat.3ParkAvenue
The glare from the sun obscures the view through the window shades.  (If only there were smartphones back then I'd have a whole album of the views!)

 

622 Third Ave. (between E. 40th and 41st St.)

26 years later I was back on Third Avenue, but eight blocks further south. This is the only office I had that looked east.  I usually had the blinds drawn because of the morning sun, but in the late afternoon the sky could have a nice light pink and blue glow created as the sun was setting (especially in the winter months).  The work environment at Universal McCann was the most toxic of any I'd experienced and my only respite was gazing out the windows.  (2007-2008)

 

1540 Broadway (corner of W. 46th St.)

Working part-time for Viacom, this was the first time I worked in an office with open architecture, but I still had a spectacular view.  Our building overlooked Times Square and my work space was situated in the southwest corner of the 23rd floor, offering me a view of the large electronic billboard on the building where the ball dropped on New Year's Eve.  And the building's cafeteria had a great view overlooking the area around the TKTS booth.  This was also the first office where I owned a smartphone so I was always snapping photos of the view.  (2012-2014)

 

TimesSquare.NewYearsEve.Afternoon

 TimesSquareOfficeView

 

TimeSquareVista.Spring2014.RobFrydlewicz

 TimesSquare.Christmas2013

 

150 E. 42nd St. (between Lexington/Third Ave.)

This is my second time working in this building, but 13 years apart, and working for a different company (actually, it's Carat, the company I worked for at 3 Park Ave.) and with a different layout.  I'm situated on the 12th floor, once again with open architecture.  My department is situated on the southwest corner and the view looks down Lexington Ave.  There are also windows that look east so there is light throughout the day.  (2014 - present)

 

150E42ndSt.view
View from the 12th floor, looking up at the buildings on the corner of Lexington Ave. and E. 41st St.

 

Winter.view.midtown.2015
The sun doesn't need to be shining for there to be interesting views. This photo was shot during the never-ending winter of 2015.

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A Ho-Hum Night: Commentary on the Commercials of Super Bowl XLVIII

Superbowlxvliii.screenhotI watch the Super Bowl for every facet of it.  The singing of the National Anthem by opera star Renee Fleming was OK, but couldn't compare to past efforts by Beyonce, Cher or Jennifer Hudson.  Bruno Mars' halftime show was a treat (I could have done without the brief appearance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers).  I didn't stick around after the game for the airing of The New Girl but I tuned in later for Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  As for the game itself, I waited for the Broncos' comeback, but it was not to be, but watching the Seahawks pounce on them had some entertainment value. 

 

SuperbowladsAnd then there is the advertising, a different animal from the game's other components because the ads aren't monolithic.  Each has to be considered separately.  But overall, they were an uninspiring lot.  Rest assured, no ad from this year's lineup of advertisers will be part of any Advertising Hall of Fame induction.  On a scale of 1-10 I would rate none at 8 or higher - even a 7 might be generous.  Nonetheless, I had a few favorites (relatively speaking).

 

  • Wonderful Pistachios - I've never liked this campaign, which has been running for three years, but with Stephen Colbert featured, I was amused.

Stephen.colbert.pistachios

 

  • Doritos - The time capsule made from a cardboard box made me laugh, especially when the fellow thought he had traveled to the future and the angry old neighbor greeting him when he opened the box was the little kid.
  • Chevy Silverado - This ad, showing a bull being taken to stud, got my attention because of the disco song "You Sexy Thing".  It was cute and I thought the photography of the bull and cows was great.

Chevy.silverado.bull

 

  • Butterfinger - A silly set-up with a couples therapy set up, but it did get my attention because of the product introduced, i.e., peanut butter cups.
  • Toyota - Featuring Terry Crews and the Muppets, Crews is appealing because of his exasperated muscle-hulk persona (somewhat like the Rock).  By coincidence, he also co-stars in the Fox sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which aired after the Super Bowl. 

Terry.crews.toyota.ad

 

  • Subway - Despite its usual uninspired creative, the ad nonetheless gained my attention with news about its Fritos Chicken Enchilada sub.
  • Go Daddy - The swarm of shirtless hulks running (along with a muscle lady) got my attention.  I watched it with interest to see what the ad was for and was, not surprisingly, disappointed by the payoff.
  • Esurance - Airing immediately after the game, it wasn't technically in the Super Bowl, but close enough.  I liked it because of John Krasinski's delivery.

 

Like all of the Super Bowls, the vast majority of ads were boring, nonsensical, derivative, aimed at the masses.  Rather than go through each one I'll feature just a few to berate (actually, fourteen of them):

 

  • Coca Cola - Despite it being on of the unofficial sponsors of American obesity not one overweight individual was shown.
  • Audi - Although the "doberhuahua" was somewhat amusing, the ad's tag line, "Compromise scares us too", turned me  off.  I half expected a voice at the end announcing that Audi was official car of the Tea Party.

Audi_dog

 

  • Chrysler - I was told this wasn't a Saturday Night Live parody commercial, but I'm not convinced.  Bob Dylan took the place of Clint Eastwood and Eminem who did similar rah-rah Detroit ads in previous Super Bowls.  Great, someone in their 70s touting a struggling industry.  I wonder if viewers under 30 even know who Dylan was?
  • Anheuser Busch Clydesdales - The "awww" factor stopped working for me years ago.  Now I just roll my eyes as I think of all the easily manipulated misty eyes across America.  A-B should have a tie-in with Hallmark.
  • Chobani Yogurt - So much build up for so little pay-off.  A bear eating yogurt?  Wow.
  • H&M - David Beckham has been featured perhaps one year too many.   Or is H&M planning on showing him every year as he ages?

David.beckham.handm

 

 

  • Beats Music - Ellen Degeneres once again milked her tiresome dancing routine.  (And I'm not looking forward to her hosting the Oscars.)  When I started writing about this ad my incorrect recollection was that this was an ad for Beats by Dr Dre. headphones.
  • Carmax - Yes, there were a number of funny aspects but too much of it was ho-hum, including the central character, who was an uncharismatic schlump.  And at the end of the ad I didn't know exactly what Carmax was.
  • Honda/Hugfest - This spot began with an earnest Bruce Willis, but then it turned stupid when the camera panned out to show Fred Armisen hugging him - what was the connection between the two?

Brucewillis.fredarmisne

 

  • Hyundai - I like Johnny Galecki but I hardly think of him as a spokesperson - and Richard Lewis?  He was barely recognizable.  And similar to Bruce Willis/Fred Armisen, what was the connection between the two?
  • Jeep/Are You Restless? - Puh-leez, much too pompous and the product pitch came much too late.
  • Volkswagen - A dad tells his uninterested daughter that an angel gets his wings every time a VW reaches 100,000 miles.  Too many examples shown, I got the point the first time.  And why did one of the guys at the urinal have small wings?  Only 50,000 miles?
  • Bud Light/Ian Rappaport's Night on the Town - I hate all mass-market beer commercials, and Anhueser-Busch is the exclusive beer advertiser at the big game. 
  • Crackle.com - Featuring Jerry and George from Seinfeld, I didn't realize this was an ad (for a website that airs Seinfeld's show "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee").  The only thing that went through my mind was how Jerry and George had aged but not Newman (who showed up at the end).

Jerry.george.superbowlad    

 


Memories of Superstorm Sandy: A First-Person Account

Sandy_cloudsAs the monster storm named Sandy approached New York my chief concern, as it was with Hurricane Irene the year before, was my living room window.  Measuring 8 X 8 feet, this large panel of glass shakes whenever strong winds come from out of the east.  With the forecast warning of winds gusting between 60 and 85 miles per hour, I lined the window with cardboard from discarded boxes collected from the supermarket.  I did this the evening before the storm hit while watching the final innings of Game 4 of the World Series (which would be the final game as the Giants swept the Tigers). 

 

Since Manhattan has no overhead power lines I wasn't overly concerned about losing power; therefore, I was thrown for a loop on Monday afternoon (Oct. 29) when Con Ed sent out a robo-call alerting its customers that power might be turned off as a precautionary measure because of the prospect of flooding where its generators were situated.  I wasn't prepared for this so I scrambled to find a flashlight and the few candles I had in the apartment.

 

Sandy_subway 

 

I stayed indoors all day keeping my fingers crossed as gale force winds shook my building and rattled the windows.  Then, early in the evening, perhaps because of cabin fever, I ventured outside with my friend Tom, who lives in the apartment building next door.  Perhaps foolishly, we braved the high winds and walked over to the Hudson River to see what conditions were like, dodging the occasional tree branch or trash can rolling down the sidewalk.  When we got to the Christopher St. pier the river was just beginning to splash and spray over its banks from the storm surge (which meant the water level of the river had risen six or seven feet).  This was at around 6:00.  A few hours later the water had risen high enough to cover the West Side Highway and flood shops adjacent to the highway.

 

Sandy_pier

 

Sandy_surge

 

Back in my apartment, the lights flickered a few times as I ate dinner.  Then, shortly after I had finished eating and washed the dishes, the power went out at 8:15 - and stayed off until Saturday morning (a period of four-and-a-half days).  I went on Facebook where I saw status updates from friends reporting on the flooding that had begun in Manhattan.  A bit later I heard police announcements from speakers ordering people to stay indoors.

 

Sandy_flooding_nyc

 

Because three grocery stores are within walking distance of my apartment I rarely stock up on food.  However, with the impending storm creating panic shopping, on the Sunday before the storm I decided to buy provisions for a few days while there was still food on the store's shelves.  Now with the power off I regretted this decision as I now had a well-stocked fridge.  Luckily, the weather was on the cool side (40s at night, 50s during the day) so I didn't lose anything in my freezer and I ate the perishables I had over the next few days.  (I drank a pint of vanilla ice cream like it was a milkshake.)

 

 

Channel7_Sandy

 

I awoke on Tuesday morning and not only was there still no power, but my cell phone and laptop needed recharging.  In my laptop's waning moments I read that most of Manhattan above 38th Street had power, so I called my friends Bob and Audre on E. 43rd St. in Tudor City to ask if I might stop by to recharge my devices.  Before I ventured up to their place I stopped by Tom's apartment to see if he had any interest in walking there with me to do the same.  He was very happy to see me because he had no cell phone service through AT&T and wanted to phone his boss.  Luckily for him, my cell provider was Verizon.  When he called he learned that the hospital he worked at on the East Side was closed because of serious flooding. 

 

As we walked to Tudor City from the West Village (40 blocks away, the walk took about an hour) we passed by Washington Square Park and surveyed the extensive tree damage there.  Tudor City, too, had large trees blown down. 

 

Sandy_washsqpark      

 

Once at my friend's place I heard for the first time the extent of the damage suffered throughout the area.  Walking back home later that evening was a creepy experience because there were no lights south of 38th St., and the streets were eerily quiet.

 

Sandy_darkened_streets

 

The next day, Wednesday, was Halloween but Greenwich Village's famous Halloween parade had been cancelled.  However, the gay bar down the street from my apartment, the Monster, was open.  It had a generator along with a plentiful supply of candles and stayed open as long as its supply of ice held out.  The darkness outside made for an appropriately spooky atmosphere.  I went there with my friends Andy, Maury and Tom and we stayed for about half an hour.  Because public transportation was still largely shut down the gathering of patrons was limited to people from the neighborhood, which was nice.

 

Sandy_halloween 

 

Venturing back out into the pitch black night, we were curious if any restaurants might be open.  We lucked out on Christopher St. where a Peruvian place, Lima's Taste, was open - with a very limited menu.  To provide light the wait staff wore headbands that had small flashlights attached to them!  And although the streets were dark it wasn't too unnerving because very few ghouls or goblins were out - and there was a police presence.

 

After roughing it on Tuesday and Wednesday, once subway service was partially restored on Thursday, I decided to stay with my friend David who lived in Astoria in Queens.  It was wonderful having power, heat, hot water, and TV once again.  I stayed there until Saturday afternoon when I got a text from Tom telling me the power had been restored to our neighborhood.  Once home, the first thing I did was go to the gym - which I hadn't been to in a week.

 

Prior to this nearly five-day blackout the longest I'd gone without electricity was 20 hours during the blackout of Aug. 14, 2003.  However, that experience was more trying because it happened on a 90-degree day.  As with that blackout I considered myself fortunate.  Despite the inconveniences Sandy caused, at least I had running water (those living in high-rises weren't so lucky because of water pressure issues), and I only had to walk up five flights of stairs.  And, of course, I was so much more fortunate than those residents who lived near the ocean and had to contend with the loss of more than just their power.

 

Sandy_aerial_view 

 

 

 

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INS Takes Elian Gonzalez by Force, Reunites Him with Father (April 22, 2000)

Elian_gonzalez_time_coverI was visiting my mother in Pittsburgh for Easter in 2000 when little Elian Gonzalez was forcibly removed from his relatives' Miami home by an INS SWAT team.  6-year-old Elian had become an innocent, and adorable, political football ever since he was rescued from a piece of flotsam off the coast of Florida during Thanksgiving weekend in 1999.  He, his mother and twelve others set off from Cuba but their boat capsized and Elian was just one of three to survive (his mother died).  Elian's U.S. relatives wanted custody of him but his father in Cuba demanded his return - and he was backed by the U.S. judicial system.  The little boy's relatives, however, resisted and put up countless legal challenges.  Finally, having lost patience with the family's willful ignoring of court orders to turn him over, the Justice Department took action the day before Easter.  In the pre-dawn hours an INS SWAT team swiftly and forcibly removed Elian from the relatives' home in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood and reunited him with his father, who had been allowed into the U.S.

 

Elian_gonzalez

 

Justified as this action was, I found it a bit jarring coming as it did during Christianity's most sacred time of year.  And as we dyed Easter eggs it was hard to get the above image (seen on the front page of every newspaper) out of my mind.  A few months later, after more legal attempts by his unreasonable relatives were exhausted, he and his father quietly returned to Cuba.

 

From the time of this incident Florida has regularly been the center of various controversies.  Later that same year it was the focus of the disputed presidential election.  Then in 2002 Rosie O'Donnell brought attention to the state's gay adoption ban.  2005 saw the political grandstanding over the pulling of the plug on comatose Terri Schiavo.  After the nation's financial meltdown in 2008 Florida was one of the states hit hardest by foreclosures.  And then just a few months ago the Trayvon Martin shooting caused a nationwide uproar followed recently by a backlash by Cuban Americans after Ozzie Guillen, the new manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team, made pro-Castro comments.    

 

Hanging_chads_florida

 


New York's Biggest Snowfall of All Time (February 11-12, 2006)

Please note that since writing this post back in 2013, this storm has been supplanted as New York's biggest snowstorm by the blizzard of Jan. 23, 2016.

Despite a cold start, the winter of 2005-06 had turned into a relatively mild one.  In fact, during a seven-week period beginning just after Christmas temperatures averaged nearly ten degrees above average - and January was the third mildest on record.  So it was somewhat of a shock when a major snowstorm came calling. 

 

The first flakes began falling Saturday evening just as I was leaving a movie on the Lower East Side (Steven Soderbergh's indie film Bubble).  By midnight about three inches had fallen.  The snow continued until mid-afternoon Sunday, but the bulk of it fell in a 6-hour period between 5-11AM when an incredible 18 inches fell (a ski resort-like snowfall rate of three inches/hour).  The storm's total was 26.9", breaking the old record from Dec. 26-27, 1947 by one-half inch.  In a rarity, New York was in the "bulls-eye" of the storm's heaviest accumulation, so no other locality received nearly this much.  At around noon on Sunday I ventured out with my camera and spent an hour or so in Washington Square Park snapping photos.

 

2006snowstorm_buildingentrance

2006snowstorm_WashSqPark

 

Interestingly, although the blizzards of January 1996 and the post-Christmas blizzard of 2010 dumped seven inches less than this 2006 storm, the City seemed more crippled by them.  And to me this record snow seemed no deeper than those storms.  It could very well be that the accumulation in my Greenwich Village neighborhood, about three miles south of Central Park, was less.   This record-breaking accumulation would be the only snowfall of February.  It ended up accounting for two-thirds of the winter's total snowfall. 

 

Nyc_snow_parkbenches

 

 

 

 

 

If you'd like to read about other New York City snowstorms, I've written a post on my weather blog, New York City Weather Archive, that recaps the snowstorms we've experienced since 1970.  To go to it, double click here.  And below are links for other posts from this blog about specific snowstorms in New York:

 

Blizzard of '96 Brings New York & Mid-Atlantic to a Halt (Jan. 1996)

1993 "Storm of the Century" Immobilizes Eastern U.S.

April Blizzard Stops New York, Puts Spring on Hold (April 1982)

The Lindsay Snowstorm (Feb. 1969)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Christo's "The Gates" Offers New Yorkers a Winter Respite (February 12, 2005)

 

TheGates_Rob2Renowned environmental artist Christo's widely publicized outdoor installation known as "The Gates" was unveiled in Central Park on Feb. 12, 2005 (a Saturday).  At my friend Tom's suggestion we hopped on the #1 subway at noon and went up to the park to experience it for ourselves (that's me in the photo).  I didn't quite know what to make of this "art", and didn't find it particularly aesthetically pleasing.  The "gates" were made from a canvas-like fabric which was a safron/orange color, giving the gates somewhat of a harsh, industrial look (but ING Bank was probably delighted to have its corporate colors on display without paying for a sponsorship).  Nonetheless, there was a sense of wonderment to this ambitious undertaking and its 7,500 fabric gates covering twenty-three miles of the park.  Tom and I each got one of the small square fabric samples handed out as keepsakes.

 

 

Because the sky was overcast the colors really popped.  This was great for picture taking and it's likely that most everyone living in Manhattan has a stash of photos snapped or video clips posted on You Tube at this out-of-the-ordinary exhibit.  After spending nearly 90 minutes wandering park trails, a chill eventually settled into our bones and we took our leave and went to lunch.  We were two of the estimated one million visitors who had come to gaze at "The Gates" in its opening weekend.  Later on during the installation's second, and final, week it took on a softer look after two significant snowfalls blanketed the park.  All in all, it was a unique and pleasant diversion in the dead of winter.

 

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Space Shuttle Columbia Breaks Up Over Texas (February 1, 2003)

Columbia_disaster_TimeMagazine February 1, 2003 was a gray and chilly Saturday and I was immersed in my winter project, which was a makeover of my apartment.  I did it with the help of my friend William.  I supplied ideas and the capital and he made it happen, which involved painting the bedroom Arctic Blue, California Gold in the living room and the kitchen Antique White; hanging artwork; assembling a glass TV stand for my new plasma TV and drilling decorative shelving into the living room walls.  We had just returned from breakfast when we heard the news on the radio about the disintegration of space shuttle Columbia.  It happened over the skies of Dallas during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere - just 15 minutes before it was scheduled to land in Florida.  All seven astronauts on board were killed.  By eerie coincidence NASA's two previous fatal space accidents also occurred in the dead of winter: On Jan. 27, 1967 a fire on board Apollo 1 as it sat on the launching pad killed the three astronauts on board (pictured), and on Jan. 28, 1986 the Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff, killing all seven crew members. 

 

 

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"Nipplegate" - A Split Second of Titillation at the Super Bowl (February 1, 2004)

Nipplegate For the most part I watch the Super Bowl for its commercials and the game but I usually don't stick around for the halftime show.  However, I have seen a few of them, e.g. Diana Ross leaving by helicopter after her performance in 1996; U2 performing in 2002 as the names of 9-11 victims were displayed on an electronic banner; Prince stoically prancing around in the rain in Super Bowl XXXI.  But halftime is usually when I'm in the kitchen preparing dinner or washing pots and pans.  And that's where l was when halftime festivities of Super Bowl XXXVIII began (Feb. 1, 2004).  Although I could hear Justin Timberlake singing his hit song Rock Your Body, I missed "the incident" when he aggressively exposed Janet Jackson's right breast to the night air - and to 90 million viewers nationwide.  In fact, I wasn't even aware of it happening until the next day when I went into the office and overheard the water cooler chatter.

 

 

 

Tom_brady_super_bowlAlthough Janet Jackson's career went into somewhat of tailspin after her "wardrobe malfunction" Timberlake's wasn't hurt one bit.  By the way, there was a football game played that evening as well, one with a thrilling ending.  After the Carolina Panthers tied the game with one minute left to play the New England Patriots won the game on a field goal with four seconds remaining.