Sunday, September 28, 2014

Trip To New York City

 
(September 2014)   Brother-In-Law getting married so planned a quick trip to New York City.  Except for a funeral, I hadn't been in New York City in 16 years.  New York City--crowded, dirty, bankrupt, disgusting, in your face, I always rejoiced when I came back to California.

When I lived in New York City, 36 years ago, it was hard to imagine a worse place to live.  Read The Bronx is Burning (no--not the movie which is 80% about baseball, read the book which is 80% about bankrupt politics, finances, social policy.)  New York City was the ruined city of the past--Los Angeles, with people zipping around in cars with plenty of parking was the blueprint of the future.

This is almost funny when it takes a half hour JUST to get to a freeway from West Hollywood--and once on Hwy 101 (or 405) its usually a parking lot..and it takes a half hour to get in and out of the Dodger Stadium lot.   Who needs mass transit based cities?


We added a few days to both ends of the wedding to kick around, and when trip was planned baby daughter moving to New York City was just a scheme.   With Jessie living in NYC I wish we would have added a few more days.   While NYC is still CROWDED & EXPENSIVE what a HUGE SUPRISE, as we found New York City

CLEAN & SAFE but still in your face
 
 
NYC is such a happening place and loads of things going on.  Picking up the NY Times headlines focus on the big demonstration on climate change,  problems with local jails, and the sabre rattling around the world.
 
Of course this is all trivial and boring, so we turn to the NY Post for the REAL news.  Every day we were bombarded by front page stories about some cretin Strava cyclist mowing down a woman in Central Park on his $4,000 bike.
 
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The bike costing $4,000 is repeated often by the NY Post in every article about the tragedy.  Same NY Post--they'd only like it better if a woman sticking out in her bikini was in every photo.   Wonder if the NY Post constantly wrote about the cost of the tow truck that killed Dr. Carl Nacht.
Dr. Carl Nacht makeshift memorial on the west side bikepath--cyclist killed by a tow truck.  Don't know if NY Post reported how much tow truck cost over and over.
 

So the in your face--lets rabble up the population tabloids are the same as always.
 
In any event we walked our asses off and had a great time.  Traffic was insane--on some blocks a couple of cops AT EACH INTERSECTION were trying to little avail to keep traffic moving.  Well traffic did move--cars zoom in and make right turns 2" from crossing pedestrians.   Prices are crazy HIGH, with the cost of some food items almost double what I'm used to.    But where are the piles of garbage on the street?, strung out people laying out on any horizontal surface?, people on the street corner running a 3 card monte game, or trying to sell you something that fell off the truck?
 
I'm not imagining the change.   Talking about his Comsky Park, bordering one of the worst Chicago neighborhoods, innovative baseball owner Bill Veeck wrote in his 1962 autobiography:
"(Comsky's) neighborhoods reputation was about the same as Central Park in New York.  You did not walk your dog at night unless you wanted both yourself and the dog mugged."
 
Moving to the modern day, Bike Snob NYC/ Eben Weiss wrote in his blog last week:
 
"This is not the Central Park of 20 years ago.  It is full of people pretty much all the time."  
 
So walk we did--though always into lower Manhattan.  Watching out for traffic, enjoying the scores of unique stores on each block (though we rarely went in), laughing at tourists taking photos with their big I Pads or I Phones on a monopod for a selfie.    I'll have to come back for a Central Park tour.
Day 1-Walk down the west side to Battery Park. Day 2-Loop the east side for waffles then headed to THE STADIUM.  Day 3 & 4-Mercifully have wedding activities so limited walking, but walked the above ground HiLine and has to walk across crosstown to wedding when bus moved 1 block in 20 minutes.  Day 5-Walk down the east side thru the Bowery across Brooklyn Bridge for pizza.
 
Day 1-Walk down the west side to Battery Park.  Mostly along the water with a quick loop in and around the new Freedom Tower.  Touched 6th Avenue stuffed with people and quickly looped back to West Village and the waterfront which was clean and calm.
With my oldest, Rachie, on the ferry to Manhattan.   I was worried that when the Friday night Yankee game let out and we took my youngest, Jessie, home, we wouldn't be able to get back to New Jersey.  No worries--unlike SF BART the ferry's run after midnight and buses from the Port Authority run all night.



Bike path, gourmet eateries, golf driving range and park replace dilapidated piers on the west side

Mayor Bloomberg was a bike advocate--now that he's retired a little ad humor.

Passes many urban loaned bikes--the program seems to be going well, we saw many people on them.

Nice looking Freedom Tower which is taking the place of the World Trade Center, nondescript buildings that most NYers didn't like except for their claim to fame for height.

Fixie with new subway fare cards--wish they still had subway tokens.

Irish Memorial Oasis on the west side.

Volleyball in Manhattan.

We're a tired family and sacking out on artwork along the West Side waterway.

Freedom Tower and place you can actually eat cheaply.

$5 for a soft serve ice cream cone (vanilla)--ok, truck was next to Statue of Liberty Ferries so maybe that is why they charged tourist prices

Donnie and me in front of a Keith Harring statue.

Alexander Hamilton buried near Wall Street in Trinity Cemetery--very close to SHOE OUTLET.
 Day 2-Loop the east side for waffles then headed to THE STADIUM.  NYC is still baseball crazy--perhaps the only city besides St. Louis where baseball is still "bigger" than football. Wanted to go to both the new home of the Mets and Yankees, but could only make it to the new Yankees Stadium.  Ironically Donna grew up 6 blocks away--I had pestered her before the trip to visit her old neighborhood but she didn't want to as she remembered how dangerous it was 40 years ago.   Our kids also urged her to visit, and our walk through her old neighborhood may have been the highlight of the trip.
Bryant Park is in back of 42nd Street main library and used to be (maybe still is?) across form CUNY Graduate Center.  In the 1970's more drugs were sold out of here than Walgreens with people laying all over.  Today--caf├ęs and a square dancing festival.

Empire State Building

San Francisco exile bar in Manhattan--Jessie and I were going to catch the Giants night game here until we realized that the west coast game would first start at 10:00pm

Breakfast surprise--highly rated Liege Waffles in lower Manhattan!
Basic meal at NYC 2nd Ave Deli 50% higher than same meal at deli outside Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  Both places excellent

With Rachie and Donnie outside Yankee Stadium.  

Looking towards park where old Yankee Stadium was.  In the far background by the tall housing projects used to be the greatest, most misshaped, ballfield ever, the Polo Grounds.

Outside Donnie's old school where they painted portraits of all their famous graduates.  Donna is the girl in pink jumper.

We're next to Donnie's old school with her old apartment building in the background.

Under the EL outside Yankee Stadium.

Donnie and I inside the spacious walkway in Yankee Stadium.  Nice and light and wide and airy.  Stadium seating is too expansive but extra room is appreciated in concession area.

Expressing my feeling about the Yankees.

Yankee Stadium view from the LAST row.
George Steinbrenner convicted felon owner who made a mockery of running an orderly franchise when he bought the team.  Giving the devil his due his genius was spending free agent money on one GREAT player instead of three mediocre players.  In monument park which honors all great Yankee Players the biggest plaque is the in the center honoring Steinbrenner.   Then there is a full sized statue of him at one of the entrances (damn, I missed it.)   If that is not enough, on one side of the scoreboard is a black banner honoring the retired numbers of all the Yankee greats.  On the other side, same size banner, honoring one man--King George (shhh--he once wanted to move the Yankees to New Jersey.)



 
 
Da Bronx is right outside the ballpark.   A message later on the scoreboard indicates that liquor service is cut off after the 7th inning--EXCEPT FOR THE RICH FANS SITTING IN THE PREMIUM SEATS.  Unlike other stadiums, you can't get near the premium field seats without a ticket.

 

Al is worried that there will be a riot with Gary (a Mets fan) and me rooting against the Yankees.  Luckily Gary was blasting John Kruk and not Yankee sycophant John Sterling.

 Last time I was at Yankee Stadium, in 1977, a near riot broke out with the Red Soxs beating the Yankees.  Roger Angell wrote in one of his books about that game...with the Yankee rooters in the upper deck "losing interest in the game and showering everyone near and below them with oceans of beer, to throwing pennies and darts and fruit and other objects...to fighting one another, and wagering violent near riots with the equally violent Stadium special police." (Late Innings, 1982, p.51)  Like the rest of NYC--things have changed at THE STADIUM.
 
Day 3 & 4-Mercifully have wedding activities so limited walking, but walked the above ground HighLine and has to walk across crosstown to wedding when bus moved 1 block in 20 minutes.
An unused elevated train track was rehabilitated and made into a 1 1/2 mile above ground walkway/ park--the HighLine.  What a great idea.

Jessie on the HighLine walkway--high above the city streets.

Empire State Building from the HighLine.

Part of the HighLine still has the old train tracks.

On certain sections of the HighLine have no clue you are in a city.

I'm over some street artwork that reaches the HighLine level.



No more walking--after the HighLine we went on a boat ride.  Unfortunately very crowded when we got on and rest of our group went below while Jessie and I went to the top deck (more on this later.)  Here is multi tiers GOLF DRIVING RANGE where balls are hit into the Hudson River.

Freedom Tower and lower Manhattan from the boat.

Approaching Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge.  I like Gothic architecture and Brooklyn Bridge is great to photograph/ look at.  Much nicer than new wimpy tower on San Francisco unispan Bay Bridge.

Jessie and I go for the selfie.

Empire State Building.

The taking selfie skill on all the bike rides this year came in handy.

With my feet rubbed raw from all the warning Jessie and I sat on some crate on the deck.   Tour guide, a whiny wanna be Robert DiNiro, announced that we and all other people that followed us on the crate had to get down.  Fair enough.  But he continued to moan for another 2 minutes how he would have to take us all to the hospital, yada, yada, yada.  Before leaving the boat the tour guide begged for tips--F U.  NY WATERWAY--NEXT TIME DON'T OVERLOAD THE BOAT!!.   (My oldest daugther, Rachie, was below deck and when she heard tour guide carrying on she told the group "dad must be the one who caused all the trouble.")

Not another selfie--OK--this one has the Statue of Liberty.

Freedom Tower again.
 
On Sunday, the Wedding Day, we were going to stay in New Jersey until evening.   Ironically this part of New Jersey, right next to NYC,  still has BLUE LAWS with everything except restaurants and gas stations closed on Sunday.   Though feet ailing couldn't hang out in apartment all day so started out for a late morning walk.  About a mile away found a neighborhoods pizzeria that made GREAT cheese pie--by the slice.  Coming from a state with crap pizza smothered with 10 topping making it more crappy--this was a treat.   Thin crisp crust, cheese that doesn't fall off the slice, a little olive oil laying on the pizza.  
 
 
Later we took the ferry to NYC for the wedding and got on the crosstown bus--which moved 1 block in 20 minutes.  We got off the bus and hoofed it across town--Donna had to do this in heels.
 
 

Frank's Pizza in Edgewater-very good.

Jessie and I at my brother in laws wedding.

With Rachie and Jessie

Where did I go wrong--Jessie still drinks crap beer.
 
Day 5-Walk down the east side thru the Bowery across Brooklyn Bridge for pizza.  Down 3rd Avenue with every intersection in midtown having a police presence.   Eventually on the Bowery with every furniture and kitchen store imaginable.
 
Sculpture at the edge of the garment center.

Yet another crowed intersection at 11am with two cops trying to move the mess.

One of a string of cycling art near the Manhattan bridge entrance.  Wonder why I picked this one to photograph.

Outside the NY Supreme Court (which is not THE SUPREME court of the state) Donna finds a cheep place for food.

With Donnie and Rachie on the Brooklyn Bridge.

With Jessie and Rachie on the Brooklyn Bridge.

With Donnie on the Brooklyn Bridge.  How did we get rid of the mass of people on the usually crowded walkway (the left side is a two way bike lane)

Manhattan Bridge and Empire State Building from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Raised pedestrian/ bike lane over the Brooklyn Bridge roadway.

Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn. 

Pizza bike next door from where we ate--the owner of the pizzeria is related somehow to the one we ate at.

Brooklyn Bridge redux
The gang by the Brooklyn Bridge




More Brooklyn Bridge.



Grimaldi's Pizza under the Brooklyn Bridge, in an old bank building.  Line to get in--NO SLICES--NO CREDIT CARDS.  Pizza was great with Donnie and Rachie liking the white pizza with no tomato sauce and extra garlic and Jessie and I voting for the regular cheese pie.

Last look at the Brooklyn Bridge and the crowd going over it early afternoon on a weekday.

Leaving Manhattan.  Hope I get back there before 16 years pass again.