Central Park photo blast: spring hath sprung

It was a long time coming, but spring has finally arrived. I’m certain that we’ll get one or two more blasts of cold, raw weather, but unless the earth unexpectedly shifts on its axis, I think we’re done with snowstorms and winter.

After finishing some bizznizz in the city, I met Nurse H. We had lunch in Central Park and watched the big parade of humanity walk by. With commentary, of course. Don’t worry. We were in good spirits and nobody got trashed too terribly.

Do you know how “they” say that you have to have something to occupy your days? That without meaningful work, you’ll slip into a fits of depression? NOT ME, pals! I could easily spend each and every day like this and not be saddened in the least. I realize that most people require intellectual and emotional stimulation in order to feel alive, but I think that living in New York City for as long as I did gave me a lifetime’s worth of fulfillment and I could very easily coast the rest of the way. Like John Lennon, I could happily dream my life away, just watching the wheels go ’round. People say I’m lazy! Too bad it doesn’t pay.


These two were so extraordinarily attractive that they should be forced to breed for humanity’s sake. This picture really doesn’t do them justice. They’re right out of a J. Crew catalog.


This guy was a great musician. He played American popular standards with real depth of soul and feeling. And for all that ability, he’s playing for tips in the park. It made me wonder if having talent can sometimes work out to be a curse.


A shot to give the kiddies nightmares. Heh-heh.


This is the Angel of the Waters fountain on Bethesda Terrace. I’m pretty sure I’ve posted pics of this before but it never gets old for me. She was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868. Emma was the first woman to receive a public commission for a major work of art in New York City. Hoo-ha for Emma!


Lovely Central Park Lake. The best show in town is standing on that bridge and watching people row their boats stern-forward.

Ac-cent-tchu-ate the positive. If at all possible.

8-Year Old Daughter: I drew this picture for you, Dad. It’s for you to hang at your desk when you get a job.

That hurt. Do you know what’s worse than being unemployed? Being unemployed with a daughter who is old enough to realize that you’re unemployed. Should I try to explain what investment income is in order to ease her mind? Or is that pointing out a problem that she is unaware of?

Jesus Christ. How did this happen to me? I started in investment banking years ago and thought I was set for life. I was never a six-figure “earner” but I thought I could carve out a fairly comfortable life. “What could possibly go wrong?,” I thought to myself. Plenty, it turns out.

* * *

Me: Give me a little kiss on my cheek.

3-Year Old Daughter: NO!

Me: Pleeeeease? I’ll pay you for one. How much are they?

3-Year Old Daughter: TWO DOLLARS!

Me: That’s a lot of money for a kiss!

3-Year Old Daughter: Well, they’re NOT ON SALE!

* * *
3-Year Old had a secret for the Easter bunny. Shortly afterwards, we bumped into the Easter Bunny coming out of the men’s restroom, which lead to a host of questions regarding the bathroom habits of bunnies.
*     *     *
I took the girls to the Broadway Diner. I’ve done posts about this place before. It’s our home away from home. The diner opened in 1959 and has many of the original accouterments.


Honestly? The food is not that great but we keep going back. We probably always will.


There was a renovation in the 70’s so even though the structure is the same, the color palate has been changed. Unfortunately, if you ask me. I’d have preferred they keep the chrome, tube steel and red.


On the dole again

My contract at Massive Retirement Conglomerate, Inc. ended this week and I find myself on the dole and looking for work again. It’s painful and draining, to say the least. I was laid off from J.P. Morgan in December (a blessing in disguise) and found contract work a few weeks later. I knew it wouldn’t last but took it for practical reasons.

This is the first time in my life I’ve been an active participant in a full-blown crisis. Earthquakes, falling pianos and crimes are things that you read about in the paper but don’t happen to you. You tsk-tsk and turn to the sports page.

You lucky folks who are gainfully employed can afford to be blissfully unaware, but it’s still pretty bad out here. Especially in New York. You read the monthly new jobless claim figures and are unaffected, but take it from me, to be a part of a catastrophe is enough to test a man’s resolve. I have a friend who is an attorney. He recently told me his office received over 800 applications for eight openings.

Mrs. Wife and I consider ourselves lucky. We have some cash in reserve and can also live (very frugally) off of income derived from our investments and unemployment. Mrs. Wife has also picked up some side-work project managing the construction of a web site. Obviously, this can’t continue indefinitely, but we aren’t going to go underwater anytime soon. But not having work when you have two little girls looking up to you hurts, hurts, hurts. What the hell kind of provider am I?!

But it’s not all grief. There’s something sweet about being home. I painted the front door today because it needed it. It looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. I put training wheels on 3-Year Old’s bicycle and inflated the tires on all the bikes. I went to the gym and worked my ass off and then made myself a scrumptious plate of hash and eggs with rye toast for lunch. I had dinner with all three of my girls, which has never failed to satisfy me, and I gave 3-Year Old her bath. That never happens.

Tomorrow I have to visit the tax accountant in the city, but then I’m meeting up with Nurse H. The weather is going to be perfect (finally). We’re buying sandwiches and walking to Sheep Meadow in Central Park for lunch. Afterwards, I’m stopping into the International Center for Photography for an exhibit I’m dying to see—Twilight Visions: Surrealism Photography and Paris.


After that, I’m seeing a revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, that I hear is great. (The museum and theater tickets are complimentary, of course. All discretionary spending has been halted.)

So I will continue to hunt for employment and try to fight off the fits of depression with a whip and a chair. Mrs. Wife is a rock. I see no panic/fear in her eyes. And if you’ve got to be on the dole, you can do a hell of a lot worse than being surrounded by family and a stone’s throw from New York City. Amen, my brothers and sisters.

For sale: Ireland’s history

I promise not to turn this blog into a auction house “greatest hits” repository, but I thought this was particularly interesting.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Next Monday, March 23rd, Bloomsbury Auctions here in New York will hold The Irish Sale. The lots are comprised of paintings, silver, books and manuscripts. There’s a first edition of the unreadable (to me, anyway. I tried twice.) ULYSSES by James Joyce (est. $50,000-$70,000) and first editions by Yeats, Samuel Beckett and others.

The most significant (and, by far, expensive) item up for grabs is this only know existing Tricolor from the Irish Revolution. This was the Republic’s first flag and the rallying symbol for the 1916 Easter Uprising. It was captured by British troops at the General Post Office in Dublin in April of 1916. After five days of warfare, the G.P.O. was in ruins but the flag, miraculously, still flew undamaged. It was reported to still be aloft two days after the surrender.

Auction estimate: $500,000-$700,000


The design is borrowed from the French and was intended to unify Ireland. The green stripe represents the Gaelic and Catholic, the orange represents the Protestant minority and the white is the peace between them. From the catalog:

That the flag survived undisturbed for some time is not surprising. Until it was hoisted above the GPO, few of even Dublin’s citizens had seen a Tricolour before and it was certainly unfamiliar to the British forces. It was up to a Sergeant in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers to recognize its importance (no doubt after seeing Tricolour armbands in the ruins of some rebel positions and on the arms of surrendered men).

I can’t imagine this belonging anywhere except with the people of Ireland, however, it’s entirely possible that some wealthy bloke will buy this and stow it away so that no one ever sees it again.

Here’s the full listing in the auction catalog. It’s a bit lengthy but it’s compelling reading. The account of the capture of the Tricolour and its subsequent provenance is fascinating.

Riders on the storm

It was an awful moment that will stay with me forever. I almost lost her in a gust of wind.

Mrs. Wife was away for the weekend. She took a well-deserved trip down to the shore with some friends. They had spa treatments and slept in ‘til ungodly hours of the morning. 8:00. 8:30. Such decadence.

That left me alone with The Daughters and a raging nor’easter heading up the coast. My plans to take them for a walk in the woods or to the boardwalk were dust. I hate to say this because it shows a complete lack of imagination, but I threw them in the car and, with the wind starting to howl and rain falling in sheets, headed to the mall.

Out trip didn’t last. We got there as the storm intensified and after about an hour, the power went out in the entire complex. The storm grew much bigger than anyone had anticipated. Entire city grids were blown out. We watched the indoor carousel as it slowed to a halt. I made light of the events but as we walked through a darkened Nordstroms, I got the sense that we might be in serious danger. We were quite a ways from home.

We reached the exit out to the parking lot. The weather was fierce. The wind was howling and I’ve never seen rain fall in such quantities or with such force. I put their hoods up and tied them. I picked up 3-Year Old, held her under my umbrella and told her to put her arms around my neck. I put my other arm around 8-Year Old. I told her to stay with me and to not run ahead through the parking lot because people couldn’t see three feet in front of them. We slowly made our way towards the car.

We reached the car. I opened the back door and 8-Year Old got in. While she was climbing in, I started to open the driver’s door, still holding 3-Year Old and my umbrella. And then it hit us. A powerful, blast of wind that came up from hell. I’ve never felt anything like it. It caught the driver’s door and flung it open. I thought it would be ripped off its hinges.

My umbrella was yanked out of my hand and shot straight up into the air. The clasp cut my finger. 3-Year Old’s hood flew off and the wind and rain caught her square in the face. Her head snapped back and her hair was flying perpendicular to the ground. Her face was in a horrible grimace. We were both instantly soaked to the skin. In a panic, she started kicking me and was slipping down out of my arms. In one unbroken motion, I jammed her into the front passenger seat, dove into the driver’s seat and slammed the door shut behind us. The interior of the car was drenched. The whole thing lasted less than 10 seconds but I will never, ever forget the look of abject horror on her little, 3-year old face.

The drive home was murder. The entire packed mall was emptying out all at once. Because the electricity grids had been knocked out, there were no traffic lights and no police had arrived to direct cars. It was pandemonium. While waiting in the long crawl to the exit, I could feel the wind buffeting and rocking the car. We sang Christmas carols. My hands started hurting and I suddenly realized that I was strangling the steering wheel.

* * *

I spent today cleaning the detritus of the storm out of my back yard. I’ve never lived through a storm season like this one. We were pounded with one blizzard after another. And now, this. It was reported that some wind gusts yesterday reached 75 mph.

There’s a lot of this:


I also stumbled across this: