Wednesday, July 27, 2011

 
A superb summer picture: Sunflowers in Touraine by good Facebook and Blogger Buddy (another american living in france WCS), Walt Streeter. 

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As the dangerous, self-aggrandizing  and insensitive buffoons in Washington DC continue to stall and avoid any substantive work to rescue the country from financial disaster, the chart below which should be required reading for all members of the GOP, shows quite clearly where the crushing national deficit really came from:

This information has been common knowledge for a very long time, but it's good to recall it now that the American people are being thoughtlessly thrown under the bus by people who believe they can tell any lie and people will believe them.  Sadly, that's one thing about which they seem to be right.

I've sent a couple of emails to DC, particularly one to the Speaker of the House reminding him that Social Security is not some free give-away but something for which I and millions like me HAVE PAID FOR all our working lives; I also protested the policy of cutting the security out from underneath the retired, aged and infirm while protecting the ultra wealthy from any semblance of a fair share of taxes. Not surprisingly, there hasn't been even so much as a condescending form response in my email; clearly, such as I don't matter to The Speaker who has billionaires to protect.

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On Saturday of our trip to NYC, we spent the morning taking the Circle Line cruise around Manhattan Island.  The three hours were fun and informative, particularly because the trip guide was extremely knowledgeable on subjects as diverse as the rents and/or prices for apartments in particular buildings we passed to the history of whole areas of the city.  He also made the trip enjoyable by announcing politely but firmly that parents were responsible for their children who were NOT going to be running all over the boat annoying people; and that people taking pictures were not to gather at the rails and stay put so that people on the benches only got to see "a wall of butts."  Everyone complied and the three hours were extremely pleasant. 

I had suggested the cruise because Fritz had never done it and I thought that with a big family gathering in the evening, the Circle Line would let us see and experience a lot of the city without our getting exhausted in the summer heat.  Here are some highlights:

The lower West Side of Manhattan.  The building with the two cranes on top is rising from Ground Zero, the skyscraper replacement for the Twin Towers that were destroyed in 9/11.  It has reached approximately one third of its eventual height.

The famous, beautifully cleaned and restored Immigrant Terminal building on Ellis Island.  All four of my grandparents were processed here for entry into the country in 1902 and '03 (my father's parents) and 1910 (my mother's parents and elder sister).

The Statue of Liberty, of course.  I remember as a kid climbing the spiral staircase back in the days when there were rarely any waiting lines  The arm bearing the torch had already been closed by then, but you could go up to, and walk around in, the crown any time you wanted to.

The lower East Side: a Frank Gehry building said to be the result of his fascination with fish scales.

In the lower 20s on the East Side: four apartment towers that the guide on the boat called "Venetian buildings" because they are supported on old fashioned wooden piles exactly like the palazzi in Venice.  This technique may have been possible because bedrock is very high on the island of Manhattan and in the waters surrounding it.  But, the East "River" -- actually a tidal channel between Long Island Sound and New York City Harbor-- is salt water and I wonder what wood they could have used because salt water and wood don't work together.

Further north on the East 60s and 70s, some of the classic luxury apartment buildings that comprise the most expensive residential real estate in the city.

A wonderful old Pepsi sign near the border between Queens and Brooklyn.

Back in the Hudson River, large residential developments on piers stretching far out from the New Jersey shore.  These are the northernmost two,  just south of the George Washington Bridge.

Manhattan's upper West Side with the Tomb of Ulysses S. Grant on the left and the Riverside Church to the Right.  Grant is buried there next his long-suffering wife (the old general/former President could apparently be a real handful on occasion).

Riverside Church was said by the guide (and the Wikipedia article agrees) to have been inspired by the Cathedral of Chartres in France.   I was skeptical while on the boat; I have since spent time comparing pictures of the two buildings side by side and can find little if any resemblance.

Just about to pull into the Circle Line Pier on 42nd Street.  The pier just north of our destination now hosts the decommissioned Concorde supersonic passenger jet liner and, it's exhibit of fighter jets easily seen on its flight deck, the aircraft carrier Intrepid.  An announcement was made just the day before that New York City would get one of the four NASA Space Shuttles; I wonder if it will join the Intrepid and Concorde here -- it would seem to make sense.

Comments:
Hi Will,
I live about an hour from Walt in a home surrounded by these sunflowers...in the Loire (Fontevraud), and just learned from Walt, they stop turning toward the sun at maturity...
Today, I was able to take the Circle Line tour from the comfort of my desk chair, never having done so with my many trips in and out of NY...
At the risk of sounding like grandpa....wonderful thing this internet IS, but not without the kindness of talented diarists like you and Walt who share.
In pride, Tim in the Loire
 
Thanks for the shout out! How wonderful. As an upstate New Yorker, I'm ashamed to say I've never done the Circle Line. I will have to fix that one day. Your photos are wonderful.
 
Hi Will,
Your post makes me realise that it's probably 37 years since I took the Circle Line tour on my first ever visit to NYC. A friend of my Dad took me.
I honestly don't see fish scales in that Frank Gehry building. From that angle it doesn't convey the wonderful liveliness that one finds e.g. in the Dancing House in Prague.
 
what a splendid thing to do in NYC! I would enjoy this a lot.
 
Your photos of the tour are wonderful - almost like being there.
It amazes me that people can forget so quickly the harm that GWB did to your country, especially with regard to it's financial position.
 
Great photos! And very sharp. May I ask what for to f gear you were using?

You view of the expensive real estate brought back memories. I grew up at one of the less exalted addresses behind those buildings before the concrete structure was built over FDR Drive, or East River Drive, as it was known then, especially among Republicans. There is a small park at the end of 57th Street, about 1/3 of the way from the right of your photo that was separated from a splendid private garden, the clump of trees at the right, by a spiked fence that jutted out over the Drive. The great challenge for the neighborhood boys was to swing around this fence and invade the garden—very dangerous!
 
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