Liberty Park has recently been opened atop the parking garage immediately south of the 9/11 Memorial in Downtown Manhattan.It has the same design aesthetic as the Chelsea Highline but is much less crowded, although it is also marred by an excessively almost angrily worded memorial, America’s Response Monument.And so, while the crowds of the 9/11 Memorial may not be here, this statue can give the feeling of impending doom
North of City Hall and the World Trade Center Memorial is a spot much less frequently visited: The African Burial Grounds National Monument. Africans – enslaved and “free” – were buried here, outside the boundaries of what was then called New Amsterdam in 1690-1794. The grounds were rediscovered in 1991 during the planned construction of a Federal office building. It’s as good a place as the 9/11 Memorial – and far fewer people.
What do Fatty Arbuckle, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Irving Berlin, Joan Crawford, Mario Cuomo, Judy Garland, John Lennon, Jackie Kennedy Onasis, Igor Stravinsky, Mae West, The Notorious B.I.G, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ayn Rand all have in common? A funeral service at the Frank Campbell Funeral Chapel on the corner of Madison and 81st Street – just two blocks from Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum. As far as funerals go, this appears to be the last place to be seen.
This was my first political rally, complete with chants – No Hate, No Fear! Refugees are welcome here! – signs and speakers. New York politicians showed up in force: Senators Charles Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, Mayor Bill De Blasio, Congressmen Jerry Nadler and Adriano Espaillat, along with a host of city council members. The only thing that Trump’s despotic methods have managed to achieve so far is galvanize the opposition against him; the past indifference – liking, tweeting and such – has evolved into activism, protests appearing everywhere in the country and around the world. What wicked thing has he in store next? Week two has only just begun.
I am not a cook. I only make one thing: grilled cheese sandwiches. I mentioned my grilled-cheese sandwich abilities in passing during a party, and truth be told, I wasn’t really aware of who I was talking to, nor even really what I was talking about, but I did not tell the person before me, Claus Meyer, that I was good at making grilled cheese sandwiches.
Surprisingly, he seemed interested. “I would like to try that.”
Shortly thereafter I had learned who he was, that he was a famed chef and restauranteur, co-founder of Noma in Denmark, voted best restaurant in the world four separate years.
“You say it is a good sandwich. I would like to try them too.”
And so we invited Claus and his wife for dinner, and, yes, I made my grilled cheese sandwiches, or “cheese toasts” as he called them. And he liked them. “The bread is right. It is crisp. The cheese is perfectly melted.” He had three pieces. “Yes, they are very good.”
My secret you ask? Well, I’ve just started working on my book, Melted Just Right which should be ready in the fall of 2017.
Two homeless men, young, lay side by side in matching boxes, asleep in the dull rising light. The shallow boxes, flat and wide, looking like they had just been delivered for the morning rush, gave no warmth or shelter, no comfort of any kind, just a lip, an edge a few inches up, as if it might keep the bugs and dust out. I had walked almost a full block past before I realized I had to go back to take a picture.
It was a funny image, striking how they looked they had been delivered and slept so soundly for the people streaming past. I had my camera out as I turned around for the shot and saw the young man was awake. I was caught in an awkward stance, looking down at him, mocking him, and dropped my arms and continued past.
“Yeah, that’s right.” The young man muttered after my receding steps. “No pictures.”