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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Photo Wednesday Returns, Musing Edition

out of the sky I landed with a thud. New York, again New York. The city, it's cabs, subways, hotdogs, wisecracks always right on time. It would be like this for 36 hours more, at least. I wondered how much more?

I've been away from the blog, the borough, the whole damn thing.
I found what was left, yes it was me, and the experience all cliche and true.

Here's some photos I've taken since the return:

I (still) hate this building
I still hate this building (situated north of Myrtle Ave, Btwn Hall & Washington, Clinton Hill), too big (again, it blocks the view from two miles away on Washington and Eastern Parkway, at least the view I'm used to)

I made it into the Pratt Walk w/o a hassle.
I got through Pratt Campus to see how my alumni donations are spend, this time they let me in....

This factory has always given me a chill, for years I thought I imagined it, and even then, it only existed in twilight's haze.

Cycle shop on Myrtle btw Washington and Hall
Huzzah new cycle shop, this one on Myrtle (it's news to me) I dig the old trim of the store's metal rims

Saturday, November 7, 2009


In need, I spied the B45 bus lumbering up to the stop at Kingston Av. It was a reward given me for not stopping to buy beer. I was sure of it. Now I'd arrive on time and sober. Sprinting into traffic I was heralded by car horns, one stopped waving me along as I waved it, along, the two of us; idiots, in our polite protocols. My feet hurt. The previous 8000 miles were easier, long but leisurely nothing so dramatic as an impending city bus and the B45 drivers were known fr their disregard. But that was inky truth of people who got left behind, so I hauled ass down St. Johns Place. Running, the bus passed me before as I was midway to the next stop. My exercise was pointless. Naturally my running slowed futile. Until being from Brooklyn reminded me we go hard and hardly quit. The bus seemed off it's pace as well. Fact was in passing the driver took note of my desperate steps.
A yellow light blinked on the side of the hunkered down blue and white plastic covered transport. The doors hissed open twenty feet ahead of me, ignoring the fact there were no passengers at the stop or disembarking from the bus. He waited.

 A sound wheezed from me. A "thank you" croaked out and barely cleared the tongue after a more determined exhalation of barely there air. The driver nodded to my sentiment or my presence or both or neither. I babbled on, my wallet stuck. I trying to hurry the light still red and the driver finally offered, "it's the weekend" I thought I knew this information so I nodded.

"if it was a weekday with people having to get to work" The bus driver let the sentence drift like a likely birthday balloon, finally punctuated by a "hmmmp!" for empathizes. Now I got it. I tried to pay it back offering my grin of awareness and friendship plus a second dose of "thank you" I didn't need to. The deed was paid for. It was rewarding in Brooklyn.

(a piece of brooklynborn fiction)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NYC Mayoral election 09 - An admission

Watching the sun go down on change
Watching the sun go down on Change.

Yesterday morning my first thought when I learned Bloomberg was reelected Mayor by a 5 point margin (basically squeaking into office more like an ambitious rat than a financial wizard) first thing I wondered was who to blame. Of course I blamed Bloomberg for running a campaign that was more of a purchase than an anything else. And then I gave some time to the what had been been and could have beens, which is when I began blaming Obama for the way I felt he fostered doubt in the form of neglect for contender Bill Thompson.

But eventually this morning I brought it home. We don't like to hear it, but it's the fault of any New Yorker who has a problem with the way things are and yet voted to prolong the problem or worse didn't vote at all. I'm sure you know self-incrimination is not concept we're excited by. Not as New Yorkers, not as Americans. It's not an attractive concept.

An attractive concept is that we are a nation of rules and principals. That we stand for something good and right. But at times some of us are too often willing to be very human and ignore the rules and our principals if we think there is something in it for us. And then worse, sometimes we close our eyes and pretend invisible.

A majority of voting New Yorkers decided it was okay to let our principals slip, and let Bloomberg get away with causing of a lapse in our democratic process.

We gave up on ourselves and so from this point on if Bloomberg fails anyone in this third dynasty turn, it wont be as much as what we the unprincipled and or apathetic have failed in ourselves.

I can't help thinking of that saying, that "Americans get the president we deserve" (based on our actions, which was brought up often in describing the Bush presidency as a reflection of the citizenry). This (and whatever may come) is what we get. The blame is not Bloomberg's for running a third time, the blame is ours for getting out of his way.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Running Affair (a true NYC Marathon Love Story)

Last year as I wandered along the NYC Marathon route I met an amazing bunch of people and one story, demonstrating the positive potential of random New York City encounters particular stood out. Here's that story in video and written form. Hope you have a good view of the Marathon.

Music:"Reach Out I'll Be There" by The Four Tops
The Four Tops - Essential Collection: Four Tops - Reach Out I'll Be There

Today's running of the New York City marathon will offer many intense and passive means of bystander participation. Some ways are almost as involved as running the race itself. But you don't have to be one of the hundreds of water bearing volunteers passing out hundreds of ounces of H2O to the masses. You don't have to play an instrument as is done at various points along the route, although it can greatly enhances the mood if you're belting out great sounds adding to the runner's sonic cacophony. You don't even need to bring a flag, although it's cool when people put on a giddy display of national backing.

However if you want low cost high impact results, I'd say pound for pound clasping hands (or giving five as we'd call it in the old neighborhood) with a marathon runner is one of the most fulfilling actions of the entire passive marathon watching experience. You, leaving your hand out to be slapped by a marathon runner you may never even see is the best is the greatest interaction for the generally uninitiated because it requires so little of the bystander. You only need extend your arm, hand and palm open, fingers spread like a wide welcoming smile. the runner stretches their hand out and in that brief contact you're able to offer good luck, hope, praise and allegiance to dozens maybe even hundreds. Which of course stimulates you as well, to embellish if nothing else. After all if you give "five" to a deflating runner who surges on after and wins, how can you not claim having had a hand in the victory?

But it's gotta be more empowering for the runner. Perhaps after six or nine or fifteen, certainly after twenty or so miles the mind must begin to peer dimly through a tunnel vision that can enhance focus but is just as able to become so transfixing as to block awareness and motivation. I imagine the runner in those fixated stretches, then a hand reaching out before them inviting, waiting passively. Then crack! It happens.

I've never run the marathon so I can't know from the runner's perspective, but it's gotta be more empowering for the runner. I've seen something happen when runner and bystander make that manual contact. Yours and their hands crash like human cymbals. A sudden jolt of focus, an explosion of unexpected encouragement. You become a pacemaker encouraging their required rhythm. And then it's over but the runner is sharper, more aware, redirected.

Amazing that it happens at all given the physics of the event. Marathon runners travel at an average of twelve miles per hour. If a moving car hit a parked car at that speed expensive damage would result. Despite the meaty mitt encircling much of our palm, it seems likely to think having somebody run their hand into yours at twelve miles an hour is gonna sting at least. So overcoming risk aversion is the first hurtle. Then there's the issue of aim. Again think twelve miles an hour. And consider it's not the comparably smooth ride of a car but the up and down, back and forth, bumpity jumpity of running. You'd be a head bobbing in a sea of bobble heads. Packed as well, so add to that a visibility limited to the back of the person a few inches in front of you. Objects are flashing into view, then gone. Salmon have an easier time locating things.

From my observations, of the hand-shake/clasps,pounds,fives I saw it was fifty-fifty between last minute sudden clasps and runners deliberate honing in on the supportive hand like a targeted missile.

During last year's marathon I was in Brooklyn, where Fort Greene tumbles down into Clinton Hill which promptly runs into Bedford-Stuyvesant. I took note of the many people giving that supportive hand to the runners. Eventually I reached the corner of Bedford and Lafayette avenues, across from KFC in what is usually accepted to still be Bed-Stuy. I noticed a spectator whose entire method of handshake, hand clasp, high five giving, separated him from the rest and that was Danny. Clearly he chose his spot, that corner where literally and sometimes figuratively the race turns. His hand remained aloft, just enough into the race as to matter, all the time I was there and I imagined long before and after. He was the Grizzly of the stream for that corner, except that instead of destroying hope with a swat he seemed to pound life and good will back into the runners he caught.

I was curious and spoke with Danny he explained that he held his hand out as a half target half energy boosting social connector because he made the runner's happy and that at the very least it made him happy. Then Shereen, the lovely woman standing beside Danny added it was also a showing of support. Shereen would know, thirteen years ago she and Danny met on that very corner.

On that day years ago Danny and Shereen exchanged numbers, courted, eventually married and have returned to that same spot every year since to continue their marathon watching tradition and share the love.

After meeting them I began to see, probably for the first time in 30 years of viewership how the New York City marathon strengthens and demonstrates that very New York City phenomon of possible, sudden, sometimes emotional bonds being created instantly between the diverse millions of New York's passing strangers. Often with lasting effect. While at the same time for those more deeply invested in New York City day in and day out, the marathon offers a warm touchstone for relationships that run and never lag.