Wednesday, October 11, 2017

NYC Days 39 & 40: In Which Hollywood Comes to Town and I Go To New Jersey

My local neighborhood supermarket.
Click images to view full sized.
Well, wouldn't you know it, a light rain is falling over the city as I write, and the temperature has once again dropped down into the very cool 70s. Not for the first time have I noticed that the temperature is always cooler in Washington Heights compared to that at Midtown, especially at night. Last night for example, when I left the AMC25 cinema, Midtown was its usual hot, steaming self, as were the subways of course. But when I left the 181st street station the temperature was at least 10-15 degrees cooler. I'm tempted to buy a thermometer just so I can check the temp above and below ground in various locations. A little bit of empirical data can go a long way.

By the time the rain had eased off and then stopped completely, it was well into the afternoon, and there didn't seem much point heading downtown, so another day inside seemed to be the order of the day. In the end, I did pop out to do some more grocery shopping, which accounts for my total expense for the day.

When I went out, I immediately saw numerous brightly colored notices taped to trees and other convenient places along West 187th Street, my neighborhood shopping strip. Hollywood is coming to Washington Heights, and tomorrow is the filming day.

Hollywood comes to Washington Heights.
The Internet Movie Database has a listing for a thriller called Asher with a synopsis that reads: "When an ambitious college student infiltrates a militant religious cult for his thesis paper, he befriends a young devout member - who he comes to suspect is plotting a terrorist operation."

IMDb gives a release date of 2017, and only provides the names of four male actors, one of whom is Danny Glover, an actor that seems to have been missing from the silver screen since his peak years in the Lethal Weapon series of movies. No other information is provided but I'm wondering if this may be a series being made for Amazon. Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017: Hollywood Comes to Washington Heights

The lifting apparatus in the image above, is providing lighting for an indoor shot. Why this particular apartment in Washington Heights? How do decisions like this get made? Below are just some of the production trucks and units lining both sides of W 187th Street where filming was taking place. I would have liked to have hung around to catch more of the action, but I had places to go and things to do.

I caught up with my cousin Steve for lunch, after which I headed down to the Apple Store at the Oculus to take another look at the new 10.5" iPad Pro.

I figured that buying the device using credit (which I would need to do), might seem okay, but if I can't pay the card off pretty much immediately -- and I can't -- then the interest for say, two months, along with the currency conversion fees I would be charged will pretty much eliminate any 'savings' I might have made. On the other hand, I will have had a new iPad to work with, and surely that is worth the extra expense. Isn't it? If the Aussie dollar continues to go higher, I will be very tempted to buy. I will keep an eye on the exchange rate over the next week before taking the final plunge.

A 256Gb model will cost me the equivalent of AUD$1,025.00 here, whereas in Adelaide it would cost me $1,129.00. The young man I was speaking to seemed uninterested in encouraging my purchase, so I said I'd go have a coffee and think about it, and think about it I did. And decided not to buy at this point. I went to Brookfield Place for coffee, and then decided it was time to pay a visit to New Jersey.

Above and below: The views of the Manhattan skyline are quite spectacular from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. Also below, pier supports for one of several long gone shipping jetties still visible on this side of the river. 

I went looking for the longest ferry trip I could find but due to my ignorance, didn't quite make the right choice from the numerous ferry routes available. So instead of going to Edgewater, NJ, which is opposite 138th Street on the Manhattan side of the Hudson. I ended up going to the Port Imperial ferry stop (roughly opposite West 54th St.). Having disembarked there I decided to explore further. Sadly, the main road was bereft of interest, so I walked along the river front for just over a mile to the Guttenberg/North Bergen Waterfront Park at North Bergen.

The walk along the river passes block after block of very fine looking apartment complexes, and I have to say I was very impressed with what I saw. The apartments facing the Hudson River (seen above), have great views of the Manhattan skyline, and the new developments are surrounded by lush flowerbeds, beautiful trees and shrubs, large areas of lawn, water features, and at least one development had its own swimming pool. I had to admit the location was perfect, except for one major problem - the awful stench of sewage that wafted over the neighborhood.

The foul odor could be noticed all along the section of walk I undertook, and I thought if this smell is here all year round, that would be a real bummer (no pun intended). There had to be an answer to the stink somewhere, and of course. Dr. Google provided it. A search for 'sewage works near Port Imperial' turned up not one but two sewage plants both within about half a mile of each other, and Google Maps provided the evidence.

In the image below at bottom left on Port Imperial Blvd (look for three circles that look like pearls), is one facility which seems to be nameless. At top right of the image you will find another three smaller pearl colored circles where the Woodcliff Treatment Plant is located at 7117, River Road, North Bergen, New Jersey. No wonder the air reeks with foul odors. And it was just my luck to have chosen the smelliest part of this lovely section of the New Jersey shoreline to take my walk! Some luck. I can only hope that these two facilities, and others like them are not pumping effluent (even treated effluent) into the Hudson River.

Above, a Google Maps screen shot of the offending facilities polluting the air along this section of the Hudson River. As for looking for places to eat - no thanks! 
After a short rest at North Bergen, I walked back to the Port Imperial stop and caught what I thought would be the ferry back to the World Trade Center stop near Brookfield Place. Instead the ferry bypassed that stop and continued around to the ferry terminal at the South Street Seaport, which was a nice bonus.

This area seems to have become a very popular over the past couple of years, with new fashion outlets, restaurants, and cafes springing up close to the waterfront. There is much new development still taking place in the proximity of the old Fulton Fish Market and I expect within another year or two this area will have been transformed into a very hip part of Lower Manhattan.

I found somewhere to eat in the area, then headed back to the apartment. And that dear reader is how I spent my 40th day in New York City.

The South Street Seaport is going off! 


Monday 24, July | Expenses $79.46 ($100.25)
Tuesday 25, July | Expenses $61.35 ($77.55)

Any questions, comments or suggestions? How about complaints or compliments? Let me know via the comments box below.

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Story So Far... So Far...

No, that's not me in the image above, but it might as well be.

Just one week after returning from three great months in New York City, I walked head first into the tail-end of the annual cold/flu/viral infection season which has left me bedridden for several days while hawking up seemingly endless amounts of multicoloured mucus into the bin beside my bed.

Before the virus struck, I thought I was tired due to my constant exertions in New York while trying to make the most of my visit. However, I didn't know what tired was until I woke up on Tuesday morning aching all over and lethargic to the point of complete collapse. Since then I have run through the list of major symptoms and have ticked off pretty much all of them –– including diarrhea!

As if this post, I think I have bottomed out (no pun intended), and I am once again on the mend, but I am sure that I won't be completely virus free for several days yet. Maybe then, I will be able to get back to finishing off my daily New York City reports.

More Information
Norovirus infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention...

Stay Well.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

New York City: The Story So Far...

The story so far... is that I have been so preoccupied making the most of my final weeks and days in New York that I have not made the time to update this blog. However, for the record, here are my main events and activities up until Spetember 6th. This will be my last update until I return to Australia next week. Once I settle in back home, I will return to make a full accounting of the days noted below, and for the remaining four days in this amazing city.

Dateline: New York, New York : Day 74
Monday 28, August | Expenses $14.00 ($17.70)

I met my friends Joe and Katherine (who had driven all day from Niagara Falls to New York), at the Tavern On The Green in Central Park at 6:30pm and we settled in for a long night of seafood and catching up. We ordered a massive seafood spread that was mostly King-sized shrimps (prawns), crab claws and lobster parts, and oysters of various types, plus several dips and condiments to perk them up with. We shared a bottle of champagne, and finished off with coffee and cake. My friends insisted on paying for the evening, hence my very modest expenses for the day.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 75
Tuesday 29, August | Expenses $182.62 ($234.32)

I met with Kath and Joe for brunch at one of the Bluestone Café outlets on Fifth Avenue. It was my turn to play host for the day, which explains the more than usual high expenditure today. From the Café we went to the Met Museum where I used two complimentary passes to get them in for free. They were happy to let me lead them to some rooms that I thought they would be interested in, especially the period rooms, the American Wing (where we saw Sara Berman's Closet, the monumental painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, and the even more monumental Master Piece by Cristóbal de Villapando, The Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Christ.

We spent several hours at the museum before leaving at around three. We agreed to meet again at The Comic Strip (at 1568, 2nd Avenue), at 7:30pm, for an evening of drinks and laughs. The best of the comedians was Steve Marshall [], a Jewish guy who spurned the stage and performed his routine while walking among the audience. His was by far the most dynamic, humorous and seat-of-your-pants routine. There were five main acts –– three male and two female. The MC added plenty of laughs, and the night ended with three young comedians who got to try out their five-minute routines on a well-lubricated and receptive audience. The main players each got around 15 minutes each for their acts.

The comedy formula seems to be a mix of self-deprecating personal stories, exposés of family members and their weird habits, and poking light-hearted fun at audience members.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 76
Wednesday 30, August | Expenses $61.24 ($77.55)


I go back to the Museum of Modern Art yet again.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 77
Thursday 31, August | Expenses $23.12 ($29.19)

David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
Founded in 2014 as the house band of a Munich club, the 40-piece ensemble, Jazzrausch Bigband (rausch is the German word for intoxication) has been quietly revolutionizing the German club scene with endlessly inventive performances of everything from hip-hop and house to dubstep and classical. Over the last two years they have become a regular presence at several renowned Munich music venues, including the famed jazz club Unterfahrt, indie spot Cord, and techno club Harry Klein, probably making them the only resident big band of a techno club in the world. With German fans already won over, the band has begun to attract a fervent international following soon to include Lincoln Center audiences.



Dateline: New York, New York : Day 78
Friday 1, September | Expenses $64.70 ($81.58)

I was a fine cool day as I set out to walk across the George Washington Bridge to Fort Lee, New Jersey. I first did this walk in 2010, and as I remember it, I encountered maybe half-a-dozen other people on the walkway on that occasion. Today, to my surprise, during the time it took me to complete the walk, I estimate that at least 40-50 people were walking or riding bikes across the bridge.

Once at Fort Lee, I spent some time looking through the small but interesting displays on show in the museum there. I also explored the park more this time, and was surprised to see a number of reconstructed buildings and battlements in the park. These are used for historic reenactments which take place from time to time on the site.

On my last visit, I had seen a deer wandering nonchalantly through the grounds, and I wondered if it, or its kin were still there. Sure enough, during my walk through the grounds I spotted another deer (surely it could not have been the same one). I couldn't help wondering if other visitors had seen it. It occurs to me that most people walk through nature, not in nature, and therefore miss much of the beauty of the natural environment. This fact is made even worse today, when people close themselves off from nature and the physical world with smartphones and ear buds that drown out natural sounds with a constant stream of social media posts and updates, music, games, and video streaming.

From Fort Lee, I decided to walk to the Edgewater ferry stop and take a ride back to Manhattan. I made the journey in time to catch the first ferry of the afternoon which deposited me at 79th street. I was by this time very tired, and my feet were killing me. My right ankle was especially sore, and I was grateful for the relief the 12 minute ferry ride gave me, despite its briefness.

I mapped the walk and it totaled 10.2km, which is the longest walk I have made during this visit to New York. Ask me tomorrow morning if it was a good idea. I did a little grocery shopping before settling in for the evening, and thus ended Day 78 in New York City.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 79
Saturday 2, September | Expenses $19.00 ($23.85)

I arranged to meet a friend from Adelaide at the Brooklyn Museum at 2:00pm. The museum offers pay-what-you-wish admission on the first Saturday of the month, and after a ridiculously convoluted fight with the dysfunctional subway system (the 2 and 3 trains which run closest to the museum a not running at all this weekend!), I finally reached the museum some ten or fifteen minutes after three.

I had a quick look at a new exhibition, The Legacy of Lynching, and that was about it, before leaving with Clayton and heading back to Manhattan and Greenwich Village, where we dropped into the Bitter End for the last hour of the Saturday open mic. He had to return to his future in-laws place at Cobble Hill, where his son is also staying. After we parted, I was going to treat myself to a decent meal, but then decided to return to Washington Heights and eat in––a decision which made for a very cheap day out.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 80
Sunday 3, September | Expenses $78.00 ($98.00)

Dropped by the square on my way to the Bitter End. The place was buzzing with visitors and locals including a Japanese jazz combo, and the usual group of guitarists bashing out old pop hits.

I met my Australian friend Clayton at The Malt House ( at 206 Thompson Street, Greenwich Village), where we both had a burrito and a beer. We made it to the Bitter End in time to see an exciting young singer-songwriter called Alex Creamer who played and sang with lots of confidence and wrote songs with a strong political focus. I bought her four-song EP ($5.00), and will follow her development and career with interest. She is online in all the usual places:, and elsewhere.

Alex was followed by a male and then a female singer who were both okay, but I didn't get the sense that they were going to set the world on fire anytime soon. The last act was a guy from England by way of Tokyo where he lives and works and has his own group. He was very entertaining, both with his songs and his introductions. He also played a very affective 'Mouth trumpet' using only his pursed lips, and a powerful set of lungs. I wish I had made a note  of his name, but I was enjoying his performance too much to do that.

We stayed to catch the first hour of Luba Dvorak’s Acoustic Ramble, which I thought was really rocking more than usual. A local New Yorker who shared our table said that Luba had moved to Houston, Texas, and that he was now pursuing his musical career there. His guitar playing and his stage persona have improved greatly since I saw him last year, and his is another career that is worth following.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 81
Monday 4, September | Expenses $33.80 ($42.55)

Once again I made my way to the Met Museum for possible the penultimate time. I made a point of visiting galleries I had not previously been to, including the Middle Eastern ones, as well as several others. While I was passing through the Oceania rooms, it occurred to me that neither the Met or MoMA have any contemporary Australian works on show. This was borne out when I asked a staff member about the lack of Australian representation in the museum. She immediately used her iPad to search through the online site and pretty much all she could find were aboriginal artifacts.

I later did my own search and sure enough, there appears to be no major Australian artists like William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, Arthur Boyd, Arthur Streeton, Albert Namajira, or others. However, there do seem to be plenty of cartoons by Mark Oliphant, but the big names are conspicuously missing. I will undertake a more detailed search of both sites to see who they have in their collections, and try to establish whether any are on show.

From the Met, I bussed it down to Crosby Street where the Housing Works Bookstore Café was having a 30%-off sale on all stock this past weekend and holiday Monday. I went in hoping to find one or two Rebecca Solnit books to add to my collection, but I could not find one, which is not to say they didn't have one or two of her books. I just was unable to find them, if they had them.

You know what I'm going to say now, of course––since I couldn't find Solnit I bought other books instead; namely If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, by William Faulkner (($4.00; $5.03, 290pp); The Unvanquished, also by William Faulkner (($4.00; $5.03, 254 pp), and One of Ours, by Willa Cather ($4.00; $5.03, 370pp). Tomorrow night I will add Jesmyn Ward's new book, Sing, Unburied, Sing, and that will definitely be my last book purchase for this trip.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 82
Tuesday 5, September | Expenses $73.85 ($92.30)

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage The Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. 
Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. 
Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.


Dateline: New York, New York : Day 83
Wednesday 6, September | Expenses $21.00 ($26.25)


Any questions, comments or suggestions? How about complaints or compliments? Let me know via the comments box below.

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