New York Subway Scenes: The Days of Covid-19

Hassidic Elder: I hate these masks.

Middle-aged man: I hear you.

Hassidic Elder: In the street! Even in the street.

Middle-aged man: It will pass.

Hassidic Elder: Next they’ll be strip searching us.

Middle-aged man: All things will pass.

Hassidic Elder: I hate it.

Middle-aged man returns to reading his paper.

It’s a half-crowded train on the AM rush hour. Everyone wears a mask. The train pulls into Fulton Station where more people get on, masked except for a slight black woman. A policeman comes to door of train. She looks up, ready to argue. The policeman offers her a mask. “Would you like this?” She smiles sheepishly, takes it and puts it on.

Rosie Perez comes on the intercom as the train pulls out. Wearing a mask shows respect to others. And it’s the law. Come on, New York, we can do this.

Overlooked New York: 70 Pine

Surrounded by the tight streets and towering spires of Downtown Manhattan, it is more accurate to say that 70 Pine is under-looked. It is almost impossible to see it at close range.

As the plaque outside states, 70 Pine is an Art Deco building from the late 1920s and was, upon construction, the tallest in Downtown Manhattan and the third tallest in the world

The Art Deco details, prevalent inside and out, give residents of the 612 units with visual justification for their rent – ranging from $2,300 (studio) to $13,000 (three-bedroom).

This residential building also houses a couple of restaurants – Blue Park and Crown Shy – as well as a physical therapy studio where I am working on my new knees.

Sadly, the observation platform has been closed during the pandemic.

Overlooked New York: Underwood Building

Downtown Manhattan was dominated by turn-of-the-century skyscrapers such as the Woolworth’s and Singer Buildings in the 1920’s.

The majority of these buildings are now gone, although some of the lesser know ones like The Underwood Building remain on the corner of Vesey and Church.

This 17-floor edifice was constructed by John Thomas Underwood in 1911 for his typewriter company and sits across the street from the World Trade Center site.

Cheap nondescript tenants give no indication of the building’s 100+ year history.

It is only when you notice the upper floors that a sense of history is revealed.

But you really have to look for it.

Train Platform Dream

The platform was crowded, people on their way home for work, a woman with her two girls, one holding a half-eaten apple, a man slouched forward over his phone, three young women talking excitedly to each other, a man walking through, all of them waiting with her, on the platform across the tracks, the local and express, some glancing up into the tunnel, others barely aware they were there, the electronic board stuck at three minutes and then flashing orange. Train Platform DreamAshe closed her eyes. The sound was distant, moving away, echoing out of the tunnel, and then it was above, heavy over the joists, coming through the cement block ceiling and walls. The train was here. It was odd, standing there, as if in a dream, going nowhere, dark and crowded, not scared, not anything, just there. They pushed past one another, some patient, and filled the train. She pressed back against the door to the next car, the cool of metal against her hip, and the train doors closed. It was slow at first, starting, only to lose momentum, starting again, slowing, and then began to gain speed, moving alongside the local train, pulling even, looking back at the people looking at them, and them moving ahead fast, swaying back and forth, clacking over the switches and breaks, flashing past the cement pillars, yellow lights and local stations, until it was almost too fast, and then braking, the woman’s mechanized voice announcing Grand Central, clicking into the station, slowing hard, stopping and the door’s opening for the swell to go out and in. Train Platform DreamShe stayed as she was and watched, the little man dash of the one empty seat, the older woman pause and stand over him, the young women, still there, rotating around their pole, still talking, the young man moving his head side to side with his music, the hand reach in to stop the doors, waiting him and then another, before moving again, deep into the tunnel.

What The Hamptons Is & Isn’t

When people tell you about their weekend in the Hamptons, remember that the truth of it is all traffic…neighbors blaring Katy Perry…the construction next door…as well as 45-minute deli lineups. And, only if they’re lucky, maybe 10 minutes of what they claim.

Overlooked New York: Knickerbocker Post Office

New York native Washington Iriving coined the name Knickerbocker in his 19th Century writing to exemplify the New York character – graceless, indomitable freethinkers – and soon enough the name dotted the city. Overlooked New York: Knickerbocker Post OfficeThe Knickerbocker name is ingrained, especially in the older corners, such as the Knickerbocker Post Office, an old brick building on East Broadway in Chinatown. Overlooked New York: Knickerbocker Post OfficeThe Google reviews on are less than positive: “Lack of Customer Service! wasted my morning!” “Very negative experience with staff” “The package was either lost or stolen in this USPS location.” Overlooked New York: Knickerbocker Post OfficeKnickerbockers one and all.

Blog #1,000

My first blog post, 1,790 days ago, was on Christian Marclay’s The Clock.I have posted 999 times since, each somehow related to “my writing process”. Notes on The Bachelor and Hurricane Sandy drew the most traffic. Details of my actual process attracted the least. What’s next?Another 1,000, I guess.

Making Grilled Cheese for Claus Meyer

I am not a cook. I only make one thing: grilled cheese sandwiches. Making Grilled Cheese for Claus MeyerI 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. Making Grilled Cheese for Claus MeyerAnd he liked them. “The bread is right. It is crisp. The cheese is perfectly melted.” Making Grilled Cheese for Claus MeyerHe 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.

Homeless in a Box

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. Homeless in a BoxI 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.”