Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday

Tompkins Square had its own share of post-Thanksgiving frenzy on Black Friday.  Rats were going for a dime a dozen and, as one hawk sank its claws into a tasty rat snack, an aggressive squirrel (who I'm sure had been camped out all night in anticipation of the holiday bargains), tried unsuccessfully to drive its rival away.

The ballsy approach...
Hawk vs squirrel

Are you nuts?
Hawk vs squirrel

Don't you dare!
Hawk vs squirrel

In the end, the hawk gets back to its rat-spagetti...
Hawk eating rat 

Check out GammaBlog for a great video of the confrontation.

See more hawk photos here

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving leftovers

 After the chaos of Hurricane Sandy and the absence of Halloween, Thanksgiving snuck up on me and I have absolutely nothing prepared!  So, here is a re-post of my trip to the UWS last year to see the inflating of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloons.  Have a great holiday, everyone!


There are a couple of only-in-New-York things I've wanted to do for a long time.  The first is to see the circus elephants march through the Midtown Tunnel at midnight.  As of yet, I've not mustered the energy to go see this, but I have a feeling this tradition might not last long, so it's definitely on my list of unique things to do.

The other is to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons being inflated on the eve of the parade.  And, on the spur of the moment, I decided to check this off my To Do list..

I was stunned to see how many people were gathered around the Natural History Museum, where the balloons come to life - millions!  It was almost like being at the parade itself - being squished and funneled down the sidewalk with what felt like everyone in the city.  The crowd was happy, though, and the positive energy really made it a special experience.

Here is Tim Burton's B. Boy getting ready for his maiden voyage.

B Boy

Almost all the balloons were face-down, by the way.  I assume that's because they fly that way, but it was a bit creepy to see these characters with their faces pressed to the pavement.

Kermit is still looking a little sleepy...


As the Energizer Bunny is alert and ready to go.

The scene on 81st Street

Aaa!  Look out behind you!


Spidey was my favorite.


And, I couldn't resist this parting shot...

Spiderman takes one for the team

See more photos here.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lonely seaport

I've always loved the Seaport at night as it's dark, quiet and mysterious.  All the old buildings and cobblestone streets make it easy to imagine the city as it was back in the 19th century.

Lonely Fulton Street

The Seaport was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.  Two weeks after the storm, electricity is back on, but the area is still in the dark.  A light on here and there reveals the destruction to all the ground floor businesses and residences from South Street up to Water Street:  windows boarded up, trash piled on the sidewalks and in the gutter, dumpsters in abundance...

Seaport storefronts

A woman gets out of a cab on Front Street and her jaw drops.  "I had no idea!" she exclaims.  She'd spent the days since the storm helping hurricane victims at the Jersey Shore, only to return home and find her own home devastated.

Seaport storefront

A stillness saturates the shadowy blocks. The only signs of life emanate from Jeremy's Ale House, which miraculously survived the storm.

Alone at the Seaport

Recovery is well under way and I've heard some businesses may return in 3-4 months.  In the mean time, you can show support by donating to the Seaport Museum, which is a fantastic resource for learning about the city's early history and evolution as a world-class port.

See more post-Sandy Seaport pictures here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sandy vs. Jeremy

Down at the Seaport, the mess left behind by Hurricane Sandy is still being cleaned up, and will be for some time.

Hurricane Sandy aftermath

The only business I found open in the area today was Jeremy's Ale House. Jeremy's has always been something of a disaster, so perhaps the flooding didn't make that much difference...and I say this lovingly because I consider it the dive of dives.  So, if you're near the Seaport any time soon, do go in and give them some support.  They're going to need it as it will be quite a while before the neighborhood is rebuilt.

See more photos of Sandy's aftermath here.


Friday, November 9, 2012


Enough with the storms already!

Still reeling from Hurricane Sandy last week, a nor'easter was really the last thing we needed two days ago.  With people still without electricity, heat and hot water, Winter Storm Athena wasn't welcome.  Fortunately, the damage caused was minimal compared to Sandy and the snow is already gone.

Here are a few scenes from my trudge home from work Wednesday night.

6th Ave at Broome:


Vesuvio playground:

Nor'easter Athena

A tree felled by Hurricane Sandy:

Nor'easter Athena

Blinding snow on E 5th Street:

Nor'easter Athena

See more photos here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sandy, queen of darkness


What a storm.  I have to say, Hurricane Sandy was unlike any other storm I've ever experienced.  I expected a lot of wind and rain, but as the storm slowly moved into the city Monday night, I admit I was a bit disappointed that it didn't seem all that dramatic.  That evening around 5pm, I shot this video on 2nd Avenue and St Mark's, which shows how seemingly dull Sandy appeared:

About an hour later, the intensity picked up and it got dark quickly, so I decided to head home.  Even then, you can see in this video of my walk to First Avenue that things are still not that unusual - there were strong gusts of wind, but more blowing rain than anything else.

But, by then it was already too late.  Sandy was sneaky and deceptive.  Flooding from the storm surge had already begun and the power would go out two hours later and last almost five days.  And, the nights in between each of those days were the darkest I've ever known.  I've concluded there is no darker place than the city without its lights.

Here we are looking west on 6th Street at Avenue A (that's the Cherry Tavern on the right):

Looking west on 6th St

This is First Avenue and 6th Street, which is normally illuminated by thousands of Christmas lights in the Indian restaurants (as seen at the end of the video above):

Looking SW on 1st Ave 

Gem Spa, which was actually open for business:

Looking SW on 2nd Ave

I thought St Mark's between 2nd and 3rd Avenues was the darkest block.  I couldn't see a damn thing along here and it was frightening to walk down this street. 

Looking SW on St Mark's Pl

A truly spooky Halloween night on 2nd Avenue at 7th Street:

Looking NW on 2nd Ave

All these photos were taken around 6pm, not long after sundown.

You can see more photos of the hurricane and aftermath here.

So, now we prepare for a nor'easter due to hit in two days.  People are still without electricity, heat and hot water.  It's encouraging to see New Yorkers pulling together and helping each other out, but the loss and devastation is still so heart-breaking.

Everyone out there, stay strong, warm, positive...and we will persevere.