Street art in the form of crochet trees

tree8I was walking down Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, NYC on July 4 and noticed these cool tree cozies. They are sort of vigilante art, where they just appear in the middle of the night.

Most were on Christopher at Bedford. The first one I noticed was the barber pole made from the crocheted yarn, but then I noticed the barber pole, which is usually red and white, had blue in it, then realized it was a perfect red, white and blue for July 4th.

I particularly like the tree with the crocheted roses on it. So cool.

Did I tell you about the time I had dinner with OJ?

20155878_10154667819107541_3257643844984361583_nSo OJ Simpson will be back on the streets October 1, he received parole from the Nevada prison where he has been incarcerated for the past nine years. This reminds me of the time I had dinner with OJ.

Well, it wasn’t really dinner, but we sat at the same table at a bar/restaurant in Miami many years ago. It was a neighborhood place and very crowded,  there was a big football playoff game on and I guess that is what drew the crowd.

There were the usual tables around the place and the bar and at the back, there was one very large table, which consisted of a bunch of tables pushed together. There’s were we sat together. I was with a friend or two and we ate and drank and sort of across from me, maybe one person over, was OJ.

He just acted as if everything was normal. This was of course, after the murders, so I’m not sure how he would show himself in public, but there he was, cheering his team on. I wanted to talk with him, I never spoke to an alleged murderer before.

At one point, they turned to the weather channel, so I asked OJ why they changed to that from the game. He said, “We want to see what the weather is in Philadelphia, that’s where the next game is.” Then he explained some things about the current game that was going on.

20245465_10160282648890206_8744458707930521646_nThat’s the extent to our conversation. At one point he got up, I guess to go to the bathroom and all these fools in the restaurant were falling all over themselves to get to him, he shook hands as he slowly walked to the bathroom, with is head up. No guilt, no shame. Just another OJ day.

The next day, my friend Victor who was with me said, “That was smart of you to agree with what OJ was saying, he knows what he’s talking about.” I looked at Victor and said, “Did you think I was going to disagree with him?”

I had seen him off and on a few more times when he lived in Miami. I saw him driving out of a school once, his kids went there and another time I saw him at the post office. After he left, the clerk at the counter said, “People are so excited. I guess they like seeing a murderer!”

Governors Island; a trip back through history

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Governors Island, where do I start?

I thought I knew all of New York City. I’m amazed that I am often finding myself in areas that I had never been before and this past weekend was no exception. A few of us went on an adventure, to another land, which was only 800 yards from downtown Manhattan. It’s so close, yet is its own world.

Governors Island was settled briefly by the Dutch in 1624 but its main claim to fame is being a military base from 1794 to 1996, when it closed. It was home to the US Army and then the US Coast Guard. In 2001, President Clinton established the 22-acre as a national park and in 2003, President Bush transferred the remaining 150 acres to the people of New York.

From being used as a base in the American Revolutionary War to a National Park today, is some transformation, yet so much of it is like going back in time. It remains like it has for 200 years or so.

The island is open from May 1 to October 1 each year and it’s a pity because Governors Island would be a perfect place for a pumpkin patch and Christmas village. It’s a bit Williamsburg, VA and a bit of old Boston. There’s a meadow you come upon and you swear you are in “Little House on the Prairie,” as you see no surrounding buildings. All at once, you come upon an old movie theater where you think you are on the back lot of “The Waltons,” and the houses – the colonial houses which surround a sort of green square takes you back to a simpler time – all this mere feet from Brooklyn.

And the fantasy of the whole thing is that you have to arrive by ferry! There are ferries from different areas of the city, so hop on one and head over. The ferry ride itself is a beautiful experience as you glide by New York’s skyscrapers and cruise under its many bridges.

Once you get to the island, there is more than enough to do. Take in the greenery and quaintness and history. This is real history all surrounded by nature.

There is free kayaking and picnic lunches and biking and food trucks and hammocks and mini golf and so much more; and the best part has to be what they call “The Hills.” There is one hill, which seems like a mini-mountain, it is 70 feet above sea level. It is sort of like climbing a pyramid. There are large pyramid-style rocks piled up and you climb to the top – the only way to get there. Once at the top the first thing you see is the Statue of Liberty right in front of you in the harbor, you feel as if you can reach out and touch her.

Turn around and there, sparkling in the distance is downtown Manhattan and Jersey City. The view is spectacular. I sat there on a large rock and just watched people’s reactions as they turned and saw the view for the first time. Amazing.

There are events throughout the summer like the Poetry Festival and the Scavenger Hunt, there are art exhibits and so much more.

You can spend each weekend there during the season and find something new to do each weekend. For more info, check out their website at: https://govisland.com

Martin Landau, cartoonist?

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Martin Landau at the NY Daily News. Courtesy of Daily News

As you may have heard, actor Martin Landau passed away this past weekend, he was 89. I always remember Martin from the Mission Impossible tv series. I remember watching it Sunday nights. I never really understood it, but I watched it, I guess to prolong the weekend.

I was surprised to learn that Martin was a cartoonist for the New York Daily News in the 1940s, before he became an actor. Mike Lynch has a lot about this in his blog today.

Martin: “I did that [cartooning] professionally, actually. I mean, I started on The New York Daily News as a kid when I was 17 years old, as a cartoonist and illustrator, and I was being groomed to be the theatrical caricaturist. And I know if I got that job, I’d never quit. So I quit.

Is this the first animated cartoon?

This is the first animated cartoon, released in July 1913, heck, it’s one of the first movies period. No, it’s not “Steamboat Willy.” That was 1928. And Gertie the Dinosaur was done in 1914.

It’s called ” The Artist’s Dream; The Dachshund and the Sausage.” It shows a live cartoonist, J.R. Bray, drawing the cartoon and then shows the animation.

Is it a Republican corner?

There’s a guy on the same corner every morning in New York City who sells the NY Daily News and the NY Post. I don’t think he has any other newspapers, just the News and the Post. And you can tell the political bent on people by what they purchase – Democrats mostly buy the News and Republicans mostly buy the Post. I’m a Daily News guy.

But although the stacks look to be the same quantity, every time I buy the paper, the guy grabs for the Post, sort of out of habit, as if he mostly does that all day, so I assume most people in this area, midtown East 50s, purchase the Post. He doesn’t really look up, so it’s not like he doesn’t recognize me from going to him daily, he just doesn’t pay attention.

I stopped reading The Post due to their negative political views, but to honest, I dropped them years ago when they dropped the comics page. How do you drop the comics page? It was the only reason I bought the paper. Their comics were small and black and white and they didn’t even have their own page, they were part of a page. The Post didn’t respect the comics when they ran them, but how do you drop the six or eight comics that you did have?

Oh, and to upend everything I have said here, I have to say that the Post has the better sports section. So it all could just be that. People are buying the Post for the sports section no matter what their party affiliation is.