August 16, 2014

SUMMER in the CITY: here and there, this and that

I hadn't found a compelling, viable at best, topic for another post. Coffee has gotten old, I've said that before, and I need to rethink what this blog is about or let it go once and for all. Sorry, thinking out loud. However, with that lack of focus in mind, I put together this latest post. Mostly its composed of  snapshots taken here and there as I explored my new found leisure (no summer school this semester) with my camera or iPad along, to places I hadn't been, or hadn't been to, in a while. Nothing much happened, as promised, but coffee, or tea, showed up in the course of my wandering, I just had to look. 

The pics below are loosely ordered starting from early summer, July, through mid-August, the most recent. In early July I was called for Jury Duty, at the courthouse on Centre St. Just steps from the courthouse, located in a little sunny plaza, is this MUD coffee kiosk. At the Cathedral of ST John the Divine, on the upper Westside—a magnificent community church with an interesting history—I went to see Xu Bing's 'Phoenix,' a magical installation soaring aloft the Cathedral nave. The local Hungarian Pastry Shop, diagonally across the street, is still there, as it has been for as long as I can remember. In early August, a haircut on the Lower Eastside (I love Melissa!) took me by another MUD kiosk, the hub of a small neighborhood park/playground, First Park really, but locally known as MudPark. Below that is Ollie, my gal-pal, on a day trip we took via the East River Ferry to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Ollie enjoyed the grass (near non existent in our neighborhood) and I had a Pink lemonade-tea. Last week I treated myself to a Fringe Festival one woman performance by an octogenarian actor, Jean Shepard, in her Confessions of an Old Lady #2 (the title taken from a sign that had designated her dressing room door). (Camp, but fun, what else to say.) And, just south of the theater, the C.O.W, on Clinton Street, in front of a funky coffee shop, this great sign appeared, "Coffee that Doesn't Suck." Encore!

Find links and a few related facts below the photos in captions.

MUD. Near the Courthouse, Centre St.
Phoenix:Xu Bing at the Cathedral. 
St John the Divine, Amsterdam Ave @ 112th Street
The Hungarian Pastry Shop, Amsterdam Avenue.
"... customer loyalty has made it possible for the Pastry Shop—known for its bohemian crowd of students, professors, and a few notable authors—to celebrate its 50th anniversary with 50-cent pastries and coffee on April 20. "
MUD again, MudPark. First Park, 1st St. and 1st Ave.
On FB at:
Olivia, and pink lemonade-tea. Brooklyn Bridge Park.
"Coffee That Doesn't Suck" sign. Clinton St. LES.

July 11, 2014


Trekked to Greenpoint Brooklyn on a hot weekend in June to an open-house of a new gallery, DUSK, for a show of works on paper—a favorite medium. Trek might be an odd choice of words considering it's only a short subway ride (albeit via Queens) to the location, but it could have been the end of the world considering I've only visited Brooklyn sporadically since I lived there, in Park Slope, I won't say how many years ago. Greenpoint, like other parts of Brooklyn, has been, or is in the process of becoming, gentrified. It doesn't show all that much here, yet. There is still a preponderance of Polish shops, and old outer-boro homes that have seen better days, but there are trendier shops, restaurants, coffee bars and the like, and the art and handcraft scene that have newly claimed their turf. And, of course, it is young.

Dusk is located in a small space, in an old industrial warehouse. It was started, in January of this year by Ky Anderson, an artist as well. The gallery is dedicated to prints and works on paper. You can read more about the gallery, the artists and their work, at All the art in this show struck me as unique to each artist, in a certain contemporary fashion that is shared by younger artists of the LES, Bushwick and Williamsburg. I'll add, what little I've seen of it, and again refrain from playing critic. I liked what I saw.

There is nothing that makes me happier than combining my favorite things in life, art for one, flowers and gardening, and, of course, a café with good coffee (or tea). Around the corner from Dusk, quite by accident I found 'homecoming' (aka cominghome) a charming, somewhat 'rustic' (the look du jour) wood and light-filled café, retail shop and flower market. You can have a coffee, buy the beans, and 'smell the roses' all under one roof. Visit homecoming at:  Pleasant space, pleasant staff, and a nice cold, caffeine free, iced Hibiscus tea, made my day.

I walked to the Greenpoint ferry dock hoping to take it home to the Eastside of Manhattan, close to where I live, and continue my 'adventure.' Unfortunately the dock is shut down for repair, and as a local told me, it has been for some time. So my trek to Brooklyn ended where it began, with a subway ride. Next time.

Yifat Gat. Untitled (small blue drawings), ink on paper, 12 1/2 x 14 in. Ky Anderson. Untitled, Acrylic on canvas. 

Vicki Sher. Process Pieces, mixed media collage, 24 x 18 in.

Benjamin Gardner. Untitled, works on paper, 20 x 15 in.

Homecoming, café, retail shop and flower market. Franklin Street.

Inside the café. Have a coffee and 'smell the roses.'

April 12, 2014

SUNDAY MORNING COFFEE: Bryant Park, Signs of Spring

I have the good fortune to live nearby Bryant Park, a lovely (mostly) tranquil haven tucked away in an otherwise non-descript midtown neighborhood, and a favorite destination for the dog and I, especially on warm, sunny weekends. This past Sunday was one of those sunny days and spring was in the air. The Park was arrayed in signs of the new season—the remains of winter decay had been swept away, the grass lawn newly laid (please do not step on, yet) and the many decorative planters freshly potted with purple Pansies and yellow Daffs. New shrubbery, at the ready for bedding, lined the walkway in front of the potting shed, and the quintessential green park chairs, out for the taking along the many garden paths, were readily claimed by the 'locals' and tourists massed in a variegated display of postures and attitudes.

For those of you who might not know Bryant Park, it is located directly behind the imposing Beaux Arts building of the New York Public Library designed by Carrère and Hastings, completed in 1911 and erected on the original site of the old Croton Reservoir, then called Reservoir Square. In 1870 Reservoir Park was laid out on the adjacent land and renamed Bryant Park in 1884 after William Cullen Bryant, editor of the New York Post. The Park was redesigned in its current classical scheme and opened to the Public in 1934. As you might imagine there is a lot of history between 1870 and 1935, let alone up to the present—see: Bryant Park, history for an interesting read on the Park's beginnings to the present, and all that it offers today.

Spring Greening, across from the potting shed, 45th Street east entrance. 
Tuning in.
Tuning Out.

February 25, 2014

SUNDAY MORNING COFFEE: Steaming Hot Coffee, acrylic on canvas

I took off in a rush this past Sunday morning, a lovely 'spring tease' of a day—one of the few warmer, sunny days we've had all winter—and a perfect day to get out with my camera. I headed downtown to the Canada Gallery on the LES to catch an art exhibition before it closed. The show, Stupid, Crazy, Ridiculous, Funny Patterns, of  oversize paintings by Katherine Bernhardt, was written up by Roberta Smith in Friday's NYTimes, 'Art in Review,' section. You can check out the website and Bernhardt's paintings at CANADANEWYORK

What initially caught my attention in the Smith review, and fittingly a subject for this blog, were the titles, Steaming Hot Coffee... of two of the paintings in the show (favorites of course). I'd seen the artist's work before on FB postings but not up close, and I won't pretend to play at being an art critic, but in a word they are bold, colorful, clever and whimsical. They remind me of street art, taken to another level. I wish I had gotten there early enough to recommend the show, but if you can't make this one, keep a lookout. 

Ice Cream (Chocolate and Pistachio) and Steaming Hot Coffee, 2013, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 72x72in

Steaming Hot Coffee and Cigarettes and Pizza, 2013, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 120x96in.

And, on the way home, an advantageous quick shop at Whole Foods, and... a quick cup of coffee!

Whole Foods, Coffee Bar, Bowery @ Houston.

February 14, 2014

CAFE AU LAIT: Hemingway in Paris

"...I came to a good café that I knew on the Place St.-Michel. ... It was a pleasant cafe, warm and clean and friendly. I hung up my old water-proof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a café au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write." ...A girl came in the café and sat by herself at a table near the window... "
                               —Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast: Chapter One

Hemingway wrote these lines in the throes of a wet winter day—the 'good café' he refers to in this excerpt no longer exists, but Brasserie Lipp, St Germain des Prês, where Hemingway wrote his pre-war correspondence, is still around. I took this pic there, sitting alone near the window, on a sunny spring day—oh for a sunny spring day—much too long ago.

Many of the 'old' haunts still serve as tourist meccas, places for nostalgic reverie, never mind that the coffee was not very good. But Paris's new cafés, the trendy cafés of les jeunes, have elevated the beverage to designer status. What better reason to return again, soon.

Brasserie Lipp, Paris, 1980?

And, here's a charming link I like, a FBpage, on Paris, 
coffee and assorted other delicious goodies:

January 3, 2014

SIGNS: a few of my favorites—Happy New Year, 2014!

Happy New Year all! Almost three years at this—whoopee, I had no idea really—and admittedly, I continue to peter out. No freshly photographed posting this time either to ring in the new year, just some trusty signs, a (very) few of my favorites, shown present to past. Maybe they will peak your interest just enough to take a look at the earliest entries. I'm reading back as well, with a sense of nostalgia and a curiosity as to what future wanderings might bring. So... when it warms up enough—NYC is currently under siege of freezing temps and piles of snow—I intend to roam again, and explore the possibilities. Please join me.