Street art Sunday: From Here to Eternity

IMG_8259 (2)By which I mean, between home and Green-Wood. Because of the heat and my general laziness, I’ve been going on short, doodling runs around the neighborhood this past week. Heading south, toward Green-Wood, gives me lots of options of streets to run up and down, so that’s what I’ve been doing. And as I’ve done it, I’ve of course been looking for cool street art – like the mural at the top of this post, on 23rd St. close to Fifth Av.

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The Vale of Cashmere

IMG_8249 (2)50 Favorite Places #19

First off, that name: Vale of Cashmere. Whisper it to yourself. What do the syllables bring to mind? For me, they promise magical forests, enchanted pools, knights bold and ladies fair.

In fact, the Vale of Cashmere is a small section of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, tucked away in its northeast corner and accessed by one of several winding, descending walks. And although its name always puts me in mind of Arthurian legend (the “vale” part, I suppose), it’s actually grounded in Orientalist fantasies (the Cashmere part). The name was bestowed by the wife of Brooklyn’s then-mayor, who lifted it from an 1817 poem by the Irishman Thomas Moore. Moore’s poem recounts the legend of Lalla Rookh, a princess engaged to a prince who falls in love with a poet who – surprise! – turns out to be the prince in disguise. (Under a different spelling, Lala Rokh was the excellent Persian restaurant, now sadly closed, where I celebrated surviving the 2017 Boston Marathon. But I digress . . . ) Continue reading

Street art Sunday: kids for justice

IMG_8243They’re younger than the TikTok teens who trolled the Trump campaign so brilliantly, but they’re just as magnificent: the Brooklyn kids who’ve been turning out for marches and rallies in support of Black lives. The fence around P.S. 39 at Sixth Avenue and 8th Street has become an impromptu gallery for protest art, as you can see above.

A sampling follows. Continue reading

Tiny Brooklyn front yards

IMG_819950 Favorite Places #18

Okay, so it’s not a “place,” exactly. It’s many places, scattered across the borough. Perhaps it’s better described as a style, a statement, even a culture. But the creative things that Brooklynites do with their tiny front yards deserve a shout out. For instance, I’m not sure why the folks in the Park Slope building depicted at the top of this post turned their yard into an amusement park, but I’m glad they did. If I had the ability to embed video, you’d see those sparkly rainbow pinwheels spinning wildly and it would be guaranteed to make you smile.

In fact, many tiny Brooklyn yards seem calculated to make you smile, like the one below, in the Gowanus section. (“They must be Italian!” was the reaction of an Italian-Canadian friend.)

9th St 3-4

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Coffey Street Pier

IMG_8131 (2)50 Favorite Places #17

My world, like everyone’s, has shrunk these last two months. I no longer live in a vast metropolis, one in which $2.75 lets me hop on the subway in brownstone Brooklyn and emerge, a little over an hour and one change of trains later, at Pelham Bay in the Bronx, an easy jog from Long Island Sound. There’ve been no trips to Coney Island, or Plumb Beach or Fort Tilden or any of the other favorite places that take me away from the city while being very much of it.

Instead, there’s my block. The surrounding blocks. Prospect Park. Green-Wood Cemetery. The Gowanus Canal.

This week, I expanded my “stay at home” radius. Continue reading

Green-Wood Cemetery

IMG_8108 (3)50 Favorite Places #16

Leonard Bernstein, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Horace Greeley are buried there. So is “Bill the Butcher,” the thuggish nativist killer depicted in Gangs of New York. The names on its tombstones echo those of Brooklyn streets – Suydam, Havemeyer, Joralemon – and call to mind half-remembered pages from U.S. history texts – DeWitt Clinton, Boss Tweed, various lesser Burrs. It contains the highest point in Brooklyn. Its 7,000 trees beckon migratory birds in the spring and fall, while raucous green parrots nest year-round in the Gothic spire of its main entrance.

It was, at one time, the nation’s second-busiest tourist attraction, after Niagara Falls.

Until recently, it was hard to imagine Green-Wood as a busy tourist site. Continue reading

Prospect Park Dog Run Rules

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Not pictured: the off-leash dog nuzzling my legs as I snapped this picture

Welcome to the city’s largest dog run!

With NYC dog runs closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of you may be taking your pooch to Prospect Park for the first time. If you’re accustomed to other dog runs, where owners are expected to abide by community-enforced norms, you’re probably wondering about the rules at the Prospect Park Dog Run.

We have good news for you. At Prospect Park, there’s just one rule: have fun!

Still wondering? This welcome packet reviews the ins and outs of having fun with your dog in Prospect Park. Continue reading

Fruit feeder at Canopy Lodge (Valle de Anton, Panama)

Screenshot (19)50 Favorite Places #15

Can you have a favorite place that you’ve never been to IRL? Stuck at home, except for socially distant runs/walks and more-or-less harrowing resupply missions, I’ve started watching the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s live feeder cams – and in particular, the one trained on the fruit feeder at Panama’s Canopy Lodge.

My inspiration came from someone on Bird Twitter whom I’ve never met (how did I come to follow a guy from Patagonia who now lives in the UK? dunno, but I’m glad I did). He posted something about wood-rails, along with a photo. Instantly, I was consumed with burning wood-rail lust.

That was a week and a half ago (March 29, if you must know, when I had expected to be heading back to Mexico City from Oaxaca via Puebla). Continue reading