Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Reminder From George Orwell

"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."
------ George Orwell

Are you sure this is still fiction?

Sunday, October 28, 2018


As far as I'm concerned, the White House might as well be vacant.  We have no real President right now.  There is no real head of state to do those head of state duties that a moment like this requires; to represent the nation -- all of it, to bring consolation to the bereaved and encouragement to the injured and displaced, to let the suffering know that the whole nation stands with them, and to encourage the nation to rebuild.

And so we must do this duty ourselves and for each other in the absence of any real leadership.

I can't speak for the nation as a real head of state would, but I can speak for myself and tell all of my Jewish neighbors that I stand in solidarity with you at this moment.  Please accept my condolences for so terrible a loss.  I am deeply shocked by what happened today.  I will not stand silent while friends and neighbors suffer attack.  I make no peace with bigotry and violence.

I stand in solidarity with my African American neighbors who've also suffered terrible racist violence over the past few days on top of so much other violence in recent years.  Please accept my sympathies for your losses.  I cannot accept the hatred and violence inflicted upon my African American friends and neighbors.  I support you in your struggles to resist and undo the injustice that you've suffered, to claim the freedom and dignity that is your birthright.

I stand in solidarity with Trans neighbors and friends.  No matter who tries to "erase" you, you will always be indelible.  I will continue to be proud to count you as friends despite whatever bigotry people spout at your expense.  I hope I can be as faithful a friend to you and you have been to me over the years.

I respect and support the struggles of each of your communities.

Unlike a head of state, I can't bring relief and promises of of help to rebuild.  I have only my sympathies and solidarity to offer, and my support for your struggles in whatever way I can.

Keep fighting the good fight, and in your struggles and triumphs may we all create Liberty, Equality, and Friendship.  May we make a home for each and all.  In your courage, I find my courage.  In your hope, I find sustenance.


The Statue of Liberty photographed by Andreas Feininger in 1945.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


The Tree of Life

A small Venetian millefiori glass plate with the Tree of Life that I bought many years ago at the Jewish Museum here in New York.

Remembering today the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and holding them in my prayers after a gunman burst in and shot several people, killing at last count 11 people with an AK47 rifle.
This is the worst act of antisemitic violence in American history.

Remembering today also 2 people killed in front of a supermarket in Louisville, Kentucky after the gunman was prevented from breaking into an African American church to commit an even worse atrocity.

Grateful that none of the package bombs mailed to political leaders and celebrities went off.

And all of this is from only the past 3 days.

You can't spend the last 2 years advocating violence with violent rhetoric, and then pretend surprise when someone takes you literally and does something violent.

You can't publicly whine about loss of civility when your whole political agenda rests on a foundation of demonizing everyone outside of your charmed circle of ideology, race, religion, and class.

I dream of a world where such bloody outrages are unimaginable,
and where people no longer confuse Mutual Assured Destruction with peace.

ברוך אתה ה' אלוהינו מלך העולם, דיין האמת.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam, dayan ha-emet
Blessed are you Lord, our God, King of the universe, the Judge of Truth.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Matthew Shepard

Remembering Matthew Shepard as his ashes are interred in Washington’s National Cathedral today.

Remembering him, and remembering all the victims of the Pulse Nightclub Massacre in Orlando in 2016, all the victims of the Upstairs Lounge Fire in New Orleans in 1973, Harvey Milk murdered in 1978, Marsha P. Johnson in 1992, Rebecca Wright and her partner Claudia Brenner murdered in 1988, James Zappalorti in 1990, Pierre Brousard in 1991, Allen Schindler, 1992, Brandon Teena in 1993, Scott Amedure in 1995, Roxanne Ellis and her partner Michelle Abdil in 1995, Ali Forney in 1997, Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder in 1999, Barry Winchell in 1999, Steen Fenrich in 1999, Billy Jack Gaither in 1999, J.R. Warren in 2000, Danny Overstreet in 2000, Gwen Araujo in 2002, Nizah Morris in 2002, Sakia Gunn in 2013, Richie Phillips in 2003, Nireah Johnson and Brandie Coleman in 2003, Glen Kopitske in 2003, Jason Gage in 2005, Kevin Aviance in 2006, Sean William Kennedy in 2007, Duanna Johnson in 2008, Lawrence King in 2008, August Provost in 2009, Mark Carson in 2013, and all others in the USA and around the world whose lives were stolen from them for no other reason than they were simply being themselves.

May Matthew Shepard at last rest in peace.

May Matthew and all those who were killed by violent hatred rest in peace and rise in glory.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Walking in New York.

One of the things about New York that I missed the most while I was down South was walking.  And I did a lot of it since I've returned to the city.
I took my camera with me on a couple of walks that I did over the past few days.
Pardon the schmutz on the lens in some of the pictures.  That's all on the inner lenses and has to be cleaned at the shop; another trade off for a cheap functioning digital camera that I've had now for almost 10 years.  It also doesn't do very well in the dark.  Despite that, I got a few good night time shots below.

All these are my photos and are freely available.

Walking Home at Night Across the Williamsburg Bridge 
October 13, 2018.

The Delancey Street entrance to the pedestrian and bike path across the bridge.

Downtown Brooklyn from the bridge.

Looking north from the bridge to the Queensborough Bridge.

The Empire State Building and Midtown from the bridge.

A light on the bridge amid the cables and girders.

The Manhattan tower of the Williamsburg Bridge.

The moon over Brooklyn.

A view back across the bridge from the Brooklyn side.

The Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.

The Financial District in Manhattan; the bright area on the left is traffic on the FDR Drive.

The World Trade Center

A building on the Brooklyn side of the bridge.  I'm not sure what it is or was.

The J train rushes past to Brooklyn.

After the train passes, a beautiful view of Midtown Manhattan.

The old Williamsburg Savings Bank from 1876, now a posh nightclub.

A locust tree at night on Driggs street in Brooklyn

Morning glories blooming at night.

Anubis in a junk store window.

The BQE, almost home.

Walking Through Downtown with 
Andreas and Andrea Hellgermann.

Ms. Liberty and Staten Island

The new World Trade Center from the Manhattan ventilation tower of the Holland Tunnel. 

Weiben Wang, Andrea and Andreas Hellgermann visiting from Münster in Germany.  I tour-guided both of their sons in previous years, and now I get to give the parents a tour.  We are standing on a walkway going out to the Manhattan side ventilation tower of the Holland Tunnel.

Contemplating Michael Arad's memorial on the site of the South Tower of the old WTC.

The great glass and steel obelisk of the new 1 World Trade Center.

The west entrance to the new Calatrava designed train station; more a very high end shopping mall than a functioning train hub for the subways and PATH trains.

It may be a $4 billion boondoggle, but it is spectacular.  This was my first visit inside the thing.

The Hellgermanns contemplate the grandeur.

A downright Baroque staircase on the east end.

Weiben, Andreas, and Andrea standing on polished marble floors.

A familiar building seen through the skylight.

Coming out the east end.

Weiben calls it a giant dinosaur skeleton.

The east entrance to Saint Paul's Chapel

Inside the chapel.   All the old September 11th stuff is gone.  The place is clean and polished.  The old Easter egg colors are now gone as are the old pews including the traditional President's pew.

The oldest surviving painting of the Great Seal of the United States, hanging about where the Presidential pew once stood.

Pulpit and altar

The organ

The very Protestant altar.

A memorial to the Chapel's most famous regular parishoner.

The tomb of General Richard Montgomery who tried and failed to take Quebec during the Revolutionary War on the east portico of the Chapel behind the altar.

The Municipal Building and the top of the Federal Courthouse from Park Row.

The Fuller Building, the last of the newspaper palaces that once lined Park Row.

The Woolworth Building.

The Brooklyn Bridge crowded with tourists from end to end on a Sunday evening.

The old Brooklyn docks at sunset from the bridge.

The Financial District.


Looking back up the East River to the Manhattan Bridge with a huge new building locally known as "The Cheese Grater."

And Finally, the View Back Toward Manhattan from the 
Burnside Avenue Station on the Subway 
Where I Get Off to Go to Work.  
October 19, 2018

Manhattan looks more and more like the back of a porcupine these days with all the slender new buildings going up.  The big one on the left is 432 Park Avenue locally known as "The Cigarette."
It is the tallest residential building in the world and officially the second tallest building in town.  Unofficially, it's the tallest.  It sits on higher ground than the WTC, and if you get rid of the broadcasting mast on 1 WTC, then this would definitely be the tallest building in the city.  You can see 1 WTC just to the right of the Empire State Building and behind Rockefeller Center.  To the right of that are the 4 new slender towers going up along 57th Street.  The biggest one to the right is the new Nordstrom Tower which may top out 432 Park Avenue when it is finished.  I have a lot to say about these buildings, but I'll save it for a future post.

The Woodlawn bound 4 train coming into the station.


Visiting Rockefeller Center with Jan Hellgermann Last Year.

And here he is, on Top of the Rock in 2017.

 Looking north and east to 432 Park Avenue, "The Cigarette."

 Probably the best view of the Empire State Building.

 The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

 The Williamsburg Bridge and Brooklyn with the Atlantic beyond.

 Brooklyn out toward Prospect Park, Coney Island, and the Atlantic with Sandy Hook, NJ in the far distance on the right.

 Midtown below 30 Rock.

 A splendid view of Manhattan downtown.

 The very top of Rockefeller Center

 Raymond Hood's masterpiece, and centerpiece of Rockefeller Center, 30 Rock.

 Jan contemplates Jose Maria Sert's murals on the walls and ceiling of the entrance lobby to 30 Rock. 
Diego Rivera's lost mural was on this wall.

 Paintings on the ceiling by Jose Maria Sert.