New York City 2019


If you have to travel to NYC and go there on Sunday, you may as well make a day of it.  My day was 10+ miles walking past Rockefeller Center to Central Park, the High Line park in Chelsea and a quick jaunt to the Brooklyn Bridge.  Regrettably, the sky was a dreary gray for a photo walk.

So, photo journal, of a sort:

My first stop was near my hotel at the Daily News Building.  Like most buildings in NYC, I lose the sense of scale, but it's 476' with 36 floors and regarded as an Art Deco masterwork.  The Daily News moved out in 1995, but they left behind a 4,000 lb, 12' globe that rotates once every ten minutes that was installed within three months of the building's completion in 1930.  The building and lobby were used in 1978's Superman movie as the setting for The Daily Planet, Clark Kent and Lois Lane's newspaper.


Surrounding the globe on the floor is a listing of cities and their distances from NYC.


At the base of the globe are various comparisons in size between the globe, the sun, the moon, Andromeda and similar.  Note the mirror underneath. For anyone curious, the lobby appears to be open any time, with access beyond the lobby restricted by access card and desk security.


Rockefeller Center was bustling, with some ice skaters.  The famous Christmas Tree was "under wraps" at the time.





Arriving at Central Park, I had forgotten about the ridiculously sized skyscrapers that now intrude on its southern skyline.  Below is "Billionaire's Row" is 111 West 57th Street, a 1,428' residential tower described as being on the 50-yard line of Central Park.  Forty-six full-floor and duplex condos are available now starting at $16M.





Below provides a sense of scale, only this includes Central Park Tower.  It will stand 1,550' tall and offer condos for as much as $63M for a 5-Bedroom (112th floor) or for a more limited view, $6.9M for a 33rd floor 2-BR.  Nordstrom will occupy the first seven floors of the $3B building, which will be the world's tallest predominantly residential building when it opens in 2020.



It's not as if the older buildings weren't suitable as an impressive backdrop...



Central Park's Chess and Checkers House

When you get gray skies... dabble in color.

A bronze inset into the NYC sidewalk.  Appears to hold up pretty well.
A "mixer" work event was at an area restaurant Monday evening, with the below as the elevator decoration.  It reminds me years ago of a table tent ad in a motel restaurant reading "Make the moment last.  Take the elevator home."  I guess NY says the same with a picture.  Or was there was a more privileged menu available?

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I was caught without an umbrella after the event, but the opportunity to catch the city's lights in reflections was worth getting soaked.  So, I detoured towards Times Square, where there are a lot more lights, right?  All of the below were taken with my iPhone.




I felt secure.





Helpfully, the NYC transit system has a great app for helping you get from point A to B, including where the subway entrances are, the bus locations, live tracking for their arrival times, and estimates to get where you're going.  I used this from Central Park to the High Line, from somewhere near there to the Brooklyn Bridge and the return to my hotel.  It was flawless.

It was only 5:30 or so when I arrived at City Hall, where the pedestrian entrance to bridge is located.  I had read "touristy" reviews about the bridge which indicated that the bridge was heavily used by pedestrians to and from Brooklyn.  That turned out to be true, along with the junk salesmen at the entrance and a conspicuous police presence.  So all good, except for tired feet.  It was getting colder, gusty and difficult to hold the camera still for a reasonably tight photo of the city lights.  A tripod and wide angle lens... maybe next time.


Yes, big brother is watching even here.  A good thing.

The pedestrian path is elevated and split between the one-way vehicle lanes.  Even though the path is marked for bicyclists, they rush through yelling at people without braking.  I imagine it's easier for them during commuting hours when the tourists aren't as intrusive.




The High Line, Chelsea, NYC


The High Line is a public park in NYC, built on the remains of an elevated train line that served the City's industrial sector.  The group that led its redevelopment has a quick timeline of interest as well as some historical photos.  

It's only a 1.5 mile walk, and even on a 42oF day, it was very popular.  I started on the north end, near the Hudson Yards, where the subway system gathers many of its cars.



Some sections, such as this, clearly point to its past usage.  The handrails are new and concrete has been added to level out the rail road tracks.  




The park runs from the rail area to the lower West Side of Manhattan, through Chelsea and the historical meatpacking district.  As far I can tell, it's all being converted tor residential properties at a frenetic pace.  The sign below, 507, shows that rent varies for a studio at $3,700 per month to a 2B unit for $6,200 to $8,400 per month. That said, somehow the area appears to be popular among 20-30 somethings.  A quick check for the per capita in Chelsea reveals $140,000 in income.  So, I guess that's doable, especially without car expenses and assuming no other debts.  Good luck, kids!  (The good news about living in NYC is that you can buy anything - you just have no place to put it.  Maybe that's why everyone eats out all the time.)



The below is 520 West 28th, a condo unit for those who would rather invest than pay rent.  Your 2BR can be had at $4.5M, but if you need some space, you can get up to a 5BR for $29.7M.  That said, you did get 6,800 sq.ft.  It's worth clicking the link above to see what it is you're getting.




Don't know what street this is (there's not a street sign on the walkway), but it's a nice safe way to take a picture down the middle of the road.


The London Terrace Gardens just struck me as a massive row house.  If you go the apartment rental site, you'll see a better street level photo and find that one 1BR is available for $4,300 per month.  I guess it's popular. 


 Andy Warhol has his eye on you.


The below are under construction and appear to be residential.  No, these are not pods for growing humans as seen in The Matrix.  These are pods for growing humans in Manhattan.  Heck, I don't know.  Good luck finding blinds or curtains, so people will be living in a bubble and watching people walk by.  Regardless, the window washers are going to charge triple.



The below just humored me.  At street level, you don't really think about what goes on on the roof.    The street level is vacant, but upstairs you have a all glass structure maybe for parties, a steel tank for water or grain or a chemical, a red metal building which says "cheap storage," and of course the open sided metal building to the rear with flying tarps, which says... mob business.  Look no further.  Keep walking.



Below is Selfie Central, where one can benefit from a naturally occurring breeze to sway one's hair or scarf, while getting a scenic backdrop of 10th Avenue.  It was very popular, with some bringing extra lighting for professional photography.  I'm sure the location is trending on Twitter now, get there while it's hot!


A friend pointed out that this bridge connects two Google offices, and it requires an executive pass to be able to use it.  So, there's that.  I was happy with this photo, obviously post-processed.


I guess this was a major junction.  Now it looks like an alien with long limbs... weird.


This is an interesting "framed" walkway.   There are a few other artist-y things along the path along with quite a number of benches.  Post-visit research reveals, pun intended, that this is The Standard, a hotel with glass floor to ceiling windows for that inner exhibitionist.  It's located directly across from an office building, so no telling what goes on there.  That said, there are curtains and the price is fairly cheap as NYC goes - ($160/nt presently). 



I believe the High Line has been extended, but I had other travels and called an end to this hike at the former National Biscuit Company and now Chelsea Market, described as a food hall, shopping mall, office building and television production facility.  I guess it had all that, and it's good to see old buildings being put to good use. I'd give it 5 Stars if only for the restroom cleanliness.










The Pineapple Thief - Live at Variety Playhouse


Sometimes you listen to an artist but you don't figure that you'll have the opportunity to hear them live.  The Pineapple Thief is one of those, an English progressive rock band that's been around since 1999 but now touring the U.S. as a headlining act.  This was their first stop.




The band is following up on their critically (and personally) acclaimed Dissolution album from 2018, which was their first to draw me in, despite occasional check-ins on their prior music.  There's a few reasons for that.  First would be that the lyrics hold and the tunes are memorable. And, the addition of drummer Gavin Harrison provides an instrumental element that keeps my attention, and probably most listener's. Eleven of the 16 songs were from their last two albums, when Harrison joined the band.  My thought, though is that songwriter, singer Bruce Soord happened to find his stride at the same time. 






From their entry, you could tell that the band wasn't rusty.  They played a couple times in March and otherwise had taken a break from touring since March, but their set list remains the same.  Soord confidently took the stage, and Variety Playhouse's sound system again delivered a well mixed sound, with clear vocals and instruments.


One benefit, of a sort, is the music is in the background when Soord sings, giving his voice plenty of room.  Arguably, as a "prog rock" band, one could argue that the band rarely has a chance to stretch itself musically.  In concert, you appreciate the musicianship more than on their recordings.  The chops are there, just shorter in duration than one might expect.


 It's pretty clear though, that while many bands labeled in the genre write music with fairly crappy lyrics, Soord writes lyrics, often personal and perhaps too often about relationship problems, and the music comes after. It's not that this is a better way to write a song, but it delivers a helpful context and meaning for the listener, as opposed to those who dispatch cliches based on prog's early 70's lyrical indulgences.


 Highlights for me were a strong choice for an opener in "Tear You Up," the followup "In Exile," "White Mist," a rocking "3000 Days," and really everything else from Dissolution.  Every band is going to throw in a slower song, but "That Shore" didn't carry its weight in the lineup. 



Overall, it was a great performance, particularly from Soord who carried the show.  Harrison's fluidity behind the set was often the eye candy, and bassist Jon Sykes brought the fire when the band was turned loose.  A great show!


Set list:


  • Tear You Up - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • In Exile - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • Alone at Sea - Magnolia - 2014
  • Threatening War - Dissolution - 2018
  • Far Below - Dissolution - 2018
  • No Man's Land - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • That Shore - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • Uncovering Your Tracks - Dissolution - 2018
  • Shed a Light - Dissolution - 2018
  • 3000 Days - Someone Here is Missing - 2010
  • Part Zero - 3000 Days - 2009
  • White Mist - Dissolution - 2018
  • Nothing at Best - Someone Here is Missing - 2010


Encore:


  • Not Naming Any Names - Dissolution - 2018
  • The Final Thing on My Mind - Your Wilderness - 2016
  • Snowdrops - Little Man - 2006

Dinosaur Jr. Live at Variety Playhouse

They come by so often, and this was the trip for me.  Special thanks to an "unreliable" who skipped the concert and freed me for a free ticket.

Who is this man of mystery?



That would be J Mascis.  Their music isn't as much a mystery.  Wiki says "alternative rock, indie rock, and noise rock, also noise poop, hardcore punk and grunge."

Let's see if we can shine a little light on our singer/songwriter/guitarist.




There he is.  I'd just offer that "extraordinarily loud" rock might also apply.  Six Marshall amps? In a wall?  The guy has to be deaf.  I brought hearing protection for this show on a hunch, because I'm not a huge fan, but there's a place and a mood for their music.  I knew when I saw the stage and a lot of younger guys with ear plugs I had made the right choice.

The right choice also was in no small part due to the venue, my favorite, and the local watering holes enjoyed pre-concert. 


I don't really have much to say beyond that.  Down low, it's all guitars, but the band gave an early disclaimer that if you wanted to hear the vocals, you had to back up a bit.  I did after an hour or so, all the way to the back where I took the ear plugs out and... yep, still crazy loud.  It was a near full, enthusiastic crowd, which means they'll be back.

Some photos, then the setlist.

Note the hearing plugs.  They glow in the dark.



Vocals emerge from within


"Forget the Swan" was an awesome closer for the main set.

His solo music is actually quite non-loud.
Setlist:


  • The Lung (You're Living All Over Me - 1987)
  • No Bones (Bug - 1988)
  • In a Jar (You're Living All Over Me - 1987)
  • The Post (Bug - 1988)
  • Left/Right (Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not - 2016)
  • The Wagon (Green Mind - 1991)
  • Pieces (Farm - 2009)
  • Crumble (Beyond - 2007)
  • Feel the Pain (Without a Sound - 1994)
  • Little Fury Things (You're Living All Over Me - 1987)
  • Raisans (You're Living All Over Me - 1987)
  • Start Choppin' (Where You Been - 1993)
  • Freak Scene (Bug - 1988)
  • Mountain Man (Dinosaur - 1987)
  • Forget the Swan (Dinosaur - 1987)


Encore:

  • Kracked (You're Living All Over Me - 1987)
  • SludgeFeast (You're Living All Over Me - 1987)
  • I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges cover)