Overlooked New York Part II: Elizabeth Berger Plaza

Only a block away from New York’s oldest park, Bowling Green, sits Elizabeth Berger Plaza. 20140415_170050This triangular, nondescript green space sits at the entry to Battery Park Tunnel and is an exit for Rector Street Station for the #1 train. 20140415_170606Berger Plaza offers potted plants, trees and benches to relax. 20140415_170150 20140415_170721Historic plaques adorn benches. 20140415_17064820140415_170826These commemorate that the location was once called Little Syria – before being displaced by the construction of the tunnel. 20140415_170004Undoubtedly a much quieter space then.20140415_170248

Ferry Sinking & Easter Chocolate via The Cold Medium

The headline from yesterday’s Globe & Mail web page read: Haunting text messages from the ferry disaster. Plus: spring home-buying tips and a DIY Easter egg recipe.

A vaguely intelligent-looking woman in purple jacket and glasses offered a pithy sequence of thoughts in rapid succession. Screenshot (1143) “As the hours tick by and conditions continue to hamper the search, the likelihood of anyone left on board will survive lessens.” Screenshot (1148)“I know personally from anecdotes that some homes get multiple multiple offers. Why is this?” Screenshot (1141)“This weekend will involve chocolate, lots of chocolate, if you’re like me.”Screenshot (1142)How cold can a medium get? (Thanks Lexus)

Good Apocalypse

The city is in ruins, not still smoldering but that feeling there, the sky bright, endless, the depth terrifying and clear. IMAG3113There is nothing. And it is a good thing. 20140408_181741Yes, a good thing. It is not that people haven’t been lost. They have. They are distant and gone. There is a gap from that. But not as much as would be expected. 20140401_160751The screams have gone, not from dying, but the drunkenness, the all-knowingness, the certitude banged up against in the street, dumb-eyed, suddenly stopped, turning. There is none of that. 20140322_135650The quiet is sure. It is a free place, drifted to, away and alone, the climb to the top, the twist through the shoulders, feet firmly planted, hands tight, watching, clear-headed, almost happy with nothing on TV but Gilligan, too poignant, verging on Camus. gilliganBut the funny thing is I feel good, too good.20140401_153145And I know I should feel guilty about that.

Spring? in New York

Finally it is time to observe the old ritual/of opening the windows, easily performed.

Snow in New York on April 15, 2014

Snow in New York on April 15, 2014

It is spring./Crocuses break forth. The dogwood trembles/Persephone touches the Earth with her wand.*

(*From Billy Collins’ Spring Fever)

Overlooked New York Part I: Tunnel Approach and Tunnel Exit

Forget Wall Street, Park Avenue and Broadway. 20140414_105838Tunnel Approach and Tunnel Exit Streets, perhaps the most heavily traveled thoroughfares in the city, remain the least visited.20140414_110853Only a few blocks from Grand Central Station, Bryant Park and the United Nations, to say nothing of the Midtown Tunnel, these aptly named streets give access to the city for some 70,000 cars per day.  20140414_105729It is true the Tunnel Street sidewalks are narrow.20140414_110603However there is an abundance of artwork 20140414_110449Plenty of street food20140414_110415Even a few wildlife specimens. 20140414_110745One only has to look beyond changing lanes to see.20140414_110355

Stephen King’s Plagiarism of Albert Camus

One of the keys to the success of Stephen King’s The Shining is the revelation that the main character, Jack Torrance, is going mad: All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy.tumblr_lm4fguaftf1qbpsncThe manuscript on which Jack has been working throughout the story contains this same phrase written again over hundreds of pages and is an excellent device to convey his lose of touch with reality.2009shining_chairAnd it this very device that seems to have been plagiarized from Albert Camus’ The Plague in which Grand’s emotional imbalance is realized late in the narrative when Dr. Rieux reads over a manuscript of 50 pages documenting the same phrase again and again:One fine morning in May, a slim young horsewoman might have been seen riding a glossy sorrel mare along the avenues of the Bois, among the flowers…LaPesteAnd while the purpose – and indeed content – is quite different, the device is not. The repeated phrase – a secret held from the reader and all other characters – is only revealed late in the story as a surprise to all. Did King acknowledge his source? Did he give credit to Camus?

Camus Or does he, like so many of the writing workshop gurus, rely on the specious credo that all writers steal from each other. I, for one, am not buying it.

The Ten Worst Concerts of My Life

Concerts are not always what we expect. Indeed they can be so fraught with the promise of excitement, that they turn into just the opposite. BadticketsUnderstanding that some of the worst events have probably been permanently deleted from my brain, I offer the worst concerts which I remember:

10. Amon Tobin (Brooklyn Masonic Temple, October, 2011) Amon Tobin - ISAMA spinning electric thing mess that clacked and clanked, all so monotonous and loud.

9. Sebadoh (The Rage, Vancouver, September 1996) SebadohLiveMikalaTaylor4The highlight of the evening was the lead singer announcing that tour t-shirts were available “for anyone who still has a pulse.”

8. Bob Weir & Rob Wasserman (Ontario Place, Toronto, July 1990) 220726_198378933539730_171771132867177_538449_2519996_oBob Weir should never play lead guitar nor sing Take Me to the River again. Ever.

7. Elton John (Barclay’s, Brooklyn, October 2013) Elton John-1342899The song-writing great went through his catalogue and butchered every last one. That wasn’t Rocket Man, was it?

6. Destroyer/Dan Bejar (Miller Theater, New York, September 2009) destroyer_daniel_bejar_googleganger_1-1Bejar subjected the audience to a naval-gazing slide show and wincing music.

5. Cabaret Voltaire (Concert Hall, Toronto, May 1985) cabaretvoltaire310112wArriving two hours late, the band played a haughty 45 minutes with slaughterhouse videos as a backdrop. No encore, thank goodness.

4. Bob Dylan & Tom Petty (BC Place, Vancouver, July 1987) farmaid_2Great music transformed into distorted abominations. Like a Rolling Stone wasn’t even decipherable.

3. Jimmy Cliff (Roman Amphitheatre, Carthage, July 1989) amphitheatreCliff’s terrible Las Vegas style performance was undoubted torture for the performing ghosts from centuries past.

2. The Grateful Dead (Syracuse Dome, Syracuse, October 1984)1983-03-29warfield6Terrible sound and energy, low-lighted by Jerry Garcia missing verses and, in the end, unable to pick up his coffee off the amp.

1. The Who (CNE Stadium, Toronto, July 1980) 7104372_f496A bitter experience with fights in the stands, hollow sound and the empty realization that live music was sometimes a terrible disappointment.