Five boroughs make up NYC: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. They are unique governments, like counties. Most of what west coasters think of NYC is Manhattan as the others are “up-island” like The Bronx, or off island. Served by ferry, train, bus, bike routes, 12 bridges, 286 miles of track and countless tunnels, there is no place in the U.S. that can compare to NYC’s public transport system. In fact, 70% of our Nation’s use of mass urban transportation is serving the NYC demand. We routinely use ALL of the above when we are here, even if it means just a round trip on the Staten Island ferry as pedestrians, to get out on the water.
Taking the Circle Line Tour to circumnavigate the island allowed views of all the boroughs and to see all of its’ bridges. We watched commuter trains rumbling overhead and waited for the swing bridge to open for us, after freight trains have passed. We passed barges filled with treated sewage hauling to Brooklyn for further treatment into fertilizer, requiring some patron to yell in English, “No Shit!” Clearly other English speakers on board, but otherwise we heard more foreign language than English, so we knew we were experiencing the ultimate NYC tourist experience…and it was wonderful! Our dock was pleasantly situated next to the Space Shuttle (on exhibit on the deck of the aircraft carrier Intrepid) and the Carnival Splendor. The Splendor was the Carnival Ship that was towed to shore adrift in Mexico 2 years ago with the ‘Ronald Reagan’ aircraft carrier as the escort. My brother was the Senior Physician on board for that cruise and noted that the Splendor towered over the smaller aircraft carrier, as it does at port in NYC.
All NYFD images, including the fire boat, make us grieve again for the victims of 911. Having visited Ground Zero a year ago, we chose to aimlessly wander through NYC’s neighborhoods. In search of a dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen, we found next door, “Poseidon Confectioners”. We wandered in, bought some Greek pastry, and returned after a beer to buy more to take home to the family. Imagine custard wrapped in layers of filo dough soaking in honey….still warm from the oven…the ultimate comfort food! We learned later it has been in business since the 30’s and is quite famous. Somehow, finding a great place by serendipity really increases the fun and adventure.
We explored Brooklyn on foot with my darling filmmaker godson Erik. We ran into the lead actor on Erik’s first feature film, “El Camino”, who was in Brooklyn shooting a comedy show with Amy Sedaris. Am I the only one who is still shocked seeing actors in person, when they are out of character, especially given his clean-cut, dark suited appearance in the film, and his scruffy bearded presentation on the street? By the way, “El Camino”, a fabulous road trip film with noteworthy cinematography, can be rented on Netflix.com, and was reviewed very favorably as his Pick-of-the-Week at the Chicago Sun Times, by the recently deceased film critic Roger Ebert. It also features Elizabeth Moss who is in several TV shows you may recognize including West Wing, and 7 seasons of Mad Men.
Erik steered us toward “Lucky Dog” around the corner from his flat near the Williamsburg Bridge, for our afternoon beer. What a pleasure to sit in the sun with Lety and all the other neighborhood dogs to enjoy a dog friendly saloon with a back patio. We all felt like lucky dogs.
It was such a lovely Spring day, with flowering trees and bulbs, we headed up to the Brooklyn Bridge to cross to Manhattan. The Bridge was thronged with pedestrians and bikes. The pedestrians seemed in too happy a place to pay attention to their jeopardy as they sauntered casually into the bike lanes, in spite of horns, bells, whistles, and shouts from the bikers. Clueless. Amazingly, no one got hurt.
The next day winter descended again. Other than one bizarre 85 degree day a week earlier (hot and humid like summer), Winter in the Northeast is still sitting on us, with 22 degree temps last night. It made it possible for two attackers to bundle up and carry their bombs to the finish line at the Boston Marathon without causing attention. We will head to Boston after a week on Long Island with hopes of donating blood to the Boston Red Cross in support. We discussed this violence against innocent people with seething anger. Yet, seeing that sweet 19 year old perp’s face, made me sad…also so grateful that my 19 year old son had great male role models supporting his healthy ambitions. He focused on education, caring about others (including his mother!) and pursuing his interest in American Politics with non-lethal ideas on how to repair our Nation (although he did mention that meeting with our Congressional Aide in Washington DC was a big fat waste of time!)