Saturday, March 27, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Friday is the official opening of the latest outdoor, large-scale art project in NYC, something called "Event Horizon" by the artist Antony Gormley who has placed statues of 31 naked men on the precipices of buildings in and around Madison Square Park.
The idea of the project, Gormley says, is to get New Yorkers to look up at the men/statues, wonder what's going on and, in so doing, think of their environment in a completely different way. In effect, to pay attention to what's going on.
When I first heard of this project, I thought it was the last thing New Yorkers needed, given that those statues are an eerie reminder of the dozens of people who jumped to escape the horror of the World Trade Center towers. But now that I've thought about this for more than a moment, I think Gormley is onto something because New Yorkers make a very conscious effort to remove themselves from their environments every single day.
Maybe that's necessary. Certainly on the subways, which at times can be uncomfortably intense, it's better to seal yourself off with headphones and a good book. But what about when we're just walking around the city streets. Take a look now that the weather is getting warmer at how many people walk along chattering into their cell phones while completely ignoring their surroundings. I don't think that's healthy -- when do people give themselves a chance to think anymore, or to notice what's going on around them?
Gormley probably would have loved what happened on my subway ride today. A cute little girl loudly said "hi" the moment anyone came within ten feet of her. People began to smile, and say hello back, and chat with the mother. I felt better watching the interaction, and I'm sure others did too. That little girl changed the way we saw and felt about our environment just by saying "hi."
Sometimes we need to be shaken up and removed from the box we place ourselves in day in, day out.
Apps -- short for "applications" that you can put on your smart phone and use to pilot you through life -- are all the rage. I'm sorry but I think most of them are dumb.
In fact, whenever I hear that irritating phrase "there's an app for that," I can't help inserting the letters C and R at the beginning of the word.
Last week, I heard two women going on and on about their iPhone. One of them had lost hers and didn't know how she would live without her apps. Hey lady, I got news for ya -- the world existed before the iPhone.
I know it's kind of a cool phone because my wife and son have one (me and my daughter are more the blackberry type). But do I really need an app that's a leveler, or a mirror, or a flashlight or one that tells me where the nearest boutique coffee bar is?? I think not.
I asked my wife how many of the apps she downloaded had she really used. The answer is one -- Facebook.
Yeah, it would be kind of cool to hold an iPhone up to a radio and have your app instantly know the song playing but...when was the last time that happened? Who listens to radio anymore anyway? And when was the last time any radio station played a song that you cared about?
But I do have to hand it to Apple, the company that made apps part of our lexicon. A brilliant marketing ploy because it has convinced millions of us to buy esoteric software that most of us have absolutely no need for. All those apps designed to help us carry on with everyday life? I don't need 'em because, y'know, I have a brain for that.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I love hot dogs but I know they're no good for you so what to do? Sunday, I may have found the answer -- the politically correct hot dog. On a long walk along Park Slope's 5th Avenue, I turned up Bergen Street and found, along a little strip of cutesy-pie stores, one called Bark. It sells hot dogs for the locavore.
Bark makes hot dogs hip and, more importantly, okay to eat. The tables are made from recycled wood, the paper products are all from recycled stock, and the meat and nearly every ingredient is made locally. The hot dogs come from a sausage factory in Rochester, the beans are heirloom, and the pickles and sauerkraut are made in-house.
The place was packed with those of us who eschew traditional brunch in favor of something more naughty -- hot dogs. And Bark made us all feel good about our choice. Finally, I can feel virtuous about one of the city's great food choices and not worry about my hair falling out...too late for that anyway.
P.S. I am just beginning to transfer my established blog to this format. If you'd like to read my past posts, please click here.