Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Beautiful Irish Fairytale of New York

A beautiful Irish Fairytale of New York for Christmas time by the Pogues and Kristy MacColl.

You Tube video is here.
A great animated version here.

The British newspaper Guardian explains that Fairytale of New York is not a Charlie Brown Christmas story. According to the BBC, British radio executives have:

decided to stop censoring The Pogues' Fairytale of New York. But what is such unfestive language doing in a song often voted the nation's favourite Christmas tune?
Here are the lyrics:
It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

copyright 1988 Shane MacGowan & Jem Finer

Friday, December 21, 2007

Blackwell House Landscaping

As I was walking by Blackwell House this cold, chilly morning I noticed what appeared to be some landscaping work being done.
Roosevelt Island 360 has the answers.

East River Ferry Service Suspended for Winter

Via Curbed, a report from blogger Brooklyn 11211 that New York Water Taxi is suspending East River ferry service for the winter effective 1/1/08 and will resume in the spring. From New York Water Taxi:

New York Water Taxi regretfully announces the suspension of commuter service on the East River from 1/1/08 to 5/1/08. As you may know, NYWT took over the service in 2003, on short notice, when it was abandoned by another operator. We have added new stops and worked tirelessly to make the run economically viable.

This year, for the first time, the service broke even during the spring, summer and fall when tourists used the commuter service for sightseeing and visitors traveling to and from Water Taxi Beach.

However, fuel prices have doubled since the beginning of 2007 and during the winter months ridership on the East River commuter service decreases approximately 30%. Therefore, it is not economically viable to operate the service during the winter months. We apologize for the inconvenience that this service suspension will undoubtedly cause. NYWT will resume the service on May 1, 2008.
I agree with Brooklyn 11211 that:
From a practical point of view, ferries and water taxis are of limited appeal to most commuters. They are expensive ($5 each way from Schaefer to Wall Street), and unless you live and work near the waterfront, require another $2 for a subway or bus.
The City could make the water taxi a bit more appealing by providing subsidies, or by providing MetroCard transfers to eliminate the double fare hit.
Roosevelt Island ferry service is certainly no panacea to our transportation infrastructure problems but it will certainly help, particularly, as speculated by Roosevelt Island 360, in the event of an emergency when both the subway and tram are out of service.

Roosevelt Island ferry service could also be a component of an East River ferry commuter service with stops on the Upper East Side, Roosevelt Island, Midtown East, United Nations, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Dumbo, Wall Street and Red Hook. A well thought out East River Ferry commuter ferry system combining metro card service and public transportation subsidies (here is a 2005 report by Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance on subject) could provide waterfront neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan (which includes Roosevelt Island by the way) a transportation option similar to that available to residents of Seattle which has a wonderful commuter ferry service.

Seattle even has a ten year ferry passenger strategy report. Imagine that!

Image is from Brooklyn 11211 via Gowanus Lounge.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Coming on Christmas - But No Skating on the East River

This is a wonderful version of Joni Mitchell's song River, sung by Sarah McLachlan.

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

But it don't snow here
It stays pretty green
I'm going to make a lot of money
Then I'm going to quit this crazy scene
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on

I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly
I wish I had a river I could skate away on
I made my baby cry
Lyrics to River are here.
You Tube video of Sarah McLachlans's River is here.

Operation Christmas Cheer for New York City Waterfront Workers

Gowanus Lounge provides an interesting option to the reader who asked about Christmas Day volunteer opportunities on Roosevelt Island.

One of the most unique holiday operations in New York City is PortSide New York's Operation Christmas Cheer. It involves visits to dozens of working tug and barges on Christmas Day and the distribution of cookies, newspapers and cheer to the crews. This is the fourth year that PortSide is spreading joy around New York Harbor.
PortSide New York aims to:
breathe life into the relationship between landside communities and the maritime sector—to the advantage of both.
And to:
...create activities and spaces that benefit both groups, nurture economic connections between the two, foster their mutual appreciation, and make the waterfront neighborhood they share a better place to live, work and visit.
Although not a land based volunteer opportunity many of these tug and barge crews probably work the East River and often pass by Roosevelt Island.
Image is from PortSide New York Operation Christmas Cheer.

UPDATE 12/22/08 - Here's an update on volunteering opportunities for 2008 at Coler-Goldwater Hospital.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's Christmas Time in the City

It's Christmas Time in New York City. Enjoy a walk through Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park while listening to John Denver's version of Silver Bells.

Or, Twisted Sister's version.

For me, a nice coating of snow in Central Park will make it seem more like Christmas.

You Tube video of John Denver version is here.
You Tube video of Twisted Sister version is here.

Simple Acts of Kindness

Several evenings ago I was rushing up the the Tramway steps at the Second Avenue station trying to catch the Tram before it left for the trip back to Roosevelt Island when I noticed a woman bouncing a stroller with a baby in it passing me going down the stairs. She was clearly having some difficulty but I kept rushing up the stairs to get the Tram before it left the station. I was tired and wanted to get home. I took a couple of more steps up the stairs still hearing the clacking sound of the stroller going down the stairs. Fearing that the woman would lose control of the stroller tossing the baby down the stairs I stopped, turned around and helped the women carry the stroller down the rest of the stairs. Not a big deal but a very small, simple act of kindness.

This incident reminded me of the TV commercial showing strangers helping other strangers that in turn inspires still others to do the same. Some may think the commercial lame or cynical. I thought it was great. You Tube video link of commercial is here.

Roosevelt Island 360 pays tribute to a man named Hank Carter of Wheelchair Charities who helps others and makes life much better for many of the residents of Coler-Goldwater hospital. 360 quotes from Congresswomen Maloney's web site:

Mr. Carter formed Wheelchair Charities, which raises money to give state-of-the-art wheelchairs, speech-rehab equipment, suction machines, imaging chairs, TVs, VCRs and many, many more life-enhancing medical devices to patients. He has given the lame mobility, the mute a voice, and the severely compromised the opportunity to engage in a fuller and richer life. To date, Mr. Carter and Wheelchair Charities have raised more funds than any charity for any public hospital
Perhaps those seeking to demolish Coler-Goldwater's south campus and replace it with more luxury condos should consider, at least for a moment, what will happen to the residents of the hospital.

New York's late Senator Robert F Kennedy once said:
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
It all begins with a simple act of kindness.
Audio recording of Senator Kennedy's speech is here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Charlie Brown Christmas for Roosevelt Island

The Charlie Brown Christmas Television show was always a happy occasion at my house growing up so since it is beginning to look alot like Christmas I thought it would be fun to watch this You Tube video.
Here is a special treat. A link to the entire Charlie Brown Christmas show which was named one of the 100 best all Time TV shows.

Governors Island Says No Way to Louis Kahn/FDR Memorial! Why Can't Roosevelt Island Residents Do Same?

I have made the suggestion in earlier post that Governor's Island would be a more appropriate venue for the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR memorial than the current proposed site at the southern tip of Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island. From that earlier post:

Maybe supporters of Governor's Island development would like the honor of being the site for the Louis Kahn's memorial. In fact, a memorial based upon FDR's Four Freedom's speech (here is transcript and audio) is far more appropriate at a location facing downtown Manhattan and the World Trade Center/Freedom Tower site than on Roosevelt Island where it is not wanted and detracts from a real, green, waterfront park. A memorial to FDR, who overcame many health difficulties, on Governor's Island would also be a fitting tribute that complements Mayor Bloomberg's International Public Health Center proposal for Governors Island.

Roosevelt Island would be glad to cede the Louis Kahn Memorial to Governor's Island. To paraphrase the great, all knowing and wise Henny Youngman - Take the Louis Kahn memorial ... PLEASE!
Apparently Governors Island does not want the Louis Kahn memorial either.

I attended a recent meeting concerning the NYC waterfront. At the meeting were representatives of waterfront neighborhoods, City planners, public officials and others interested in the future development of NYC's waterfront. I had a conversation with a representative of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) about the proposed Louis Kahn/FDR memorial and asked that person's opinion on whether GIPEC would be interested in including the Kahn memorial in the plans for Governors Island. The response was that there was NO WAY they wanted that thing on Governors Island and that the 1970's concrete and granite design was not appropriate for a modern park.
So I ask again. Why does Roosevelt Island get stuck with the Louis Kahn/FDR memorial for Southpoint Park instead of the Trust for the Public Land's Wild Gardens/Green Rooms plan that is favored by the residents of Roosevelt Island and that retains these fantastic views that will be blocked by the Kahn design?

One of the arguements made in favor ot the Louis Kahn design by its advocates is that some sort of committment or binding obligation had been made by New York State to have it built. However, there is no mention at all of the Louis Kahn design in the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan (GDP) but there is a specific mention of a park at Southpoint. Had there in fact been such a committment for the Kahn memorial it would have been included in the GDP which outlines the approved development of Roosevelt Island. Since the Kahn design is not in the GDP please stop making such arguments.

Image of No Way sign is from Image Chef.
Governors Island image is from GIPEC.
Image of Louis Kahn/FDR memorial is from Architectural Record.

UPDATE: 12/23/ - NY Times article from 12/20/ describing the plan chosen for Governors Island development:
The design, commissioned by the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, calls for transforming much of the flat, sober island, which is roughly a half-mile from Lower Manhattan, into green space. That includes a two-mile promenade at the water’s edge, a new park on the southern flat expanse of landfill — where abandoned Coast Guard buildings are to be demolished — and an improved park in the island’s northern historic district. The architects proposed using the detritus from the buildings that are to be destroyed to form hills that would exploit the island’s views, which include the Statue of Liberty.
... one of the architects, said: “We tried to establish different ecological zones with the park. Topography, shoreline, freshwater places for migratory birds to land because they use the Hudson River as their compass.”
Gee, doesn't that sound like the Trust for the Public Land's Wild Gardens/Green Rooms design for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park? I don't see any concrete or granite memorial for Governors Island Park but that is what is planned for Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park.

More Openness and Transparency on Roosevelt Island - RIOC Governing Statute is Now Online

Chapter 889 of the New York State Unconsolidated Laws of 1984 is the stature that authorized the creation of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) as a New York public benefit corporation with the power to plan, develop, operate, maintain and manage Roosevelt Island. Essentially it is the governing document for Roosevelt Island and together with the Roosevelt Island General Development Plan and the Master Lease between the City and State of NY controls the fate of Roosevelt Island.
Recently, RIOC provided copies of the General Development Plan and the Master Lease which are now available for any Roosevelt Island resident to view online.
Thanks to the efforts of State Senator Jose Serrano and his staff, Chapter 889, the Roosevelt Island governing statute, is now online as well.
Image is of the New York State Capital.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Roosevelt Island Volunteering on Christmas Day

A reader sends in this question seeking places to volunteer on Christmas Day. Any ideas?

Do you know of any Christmas Day volunteering opportunities on Roosevelt Island, perhaps at the senior center? Any info you could give (including pointing me in the direction of others who may know) would be wonderful.
Here is a link to Roosevelt Island charities from Charity Guide that may be of help.
Image is from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri

Roosevelt Island Boy Scout Troop Christmas Tree Sale

The Roosevelt Island Boy Scout Troop is conducting their annual Christmas Tree Sale at the Motorgate Atrium. If you are in the market for a Christmas Tree this week why don't you stop by, pick out a tree and support the local Roosevelt Island Boy Scout troop.

Image below is from Roosevelt Island 360.

Roosevelt Island Dilapidated Renwick Ruins - A Metaphor for the Republican Party?

Roosevelt Island's Renwick Ruins has been brought into the Republican Party Presidential nominating process discussion. According to a blogger on the conservative political web site Red State:

Every night on New York City's Roosevelt Island, someone pays to have lights shoot up at the Renwick Ruin [photo gallery, vid]. It was designed by the man, James Renwick, Jr., who designed St. Patrick's Cathedral, and now it is a dilapidated shell, illuminated at night for all to see. "See what's become of me!"
It's what we risk, should our current intra-party animus linger.
On the Democatic Party side, what Roosevelt Island analogy applies to Senator Barack Obama? Perhaps the hope and promise of the new Wild Gardens/Green Rooms Waterfront Park at Southpoint Park proposed by the Trust for the Public Land and favored by Roosevelt Island residents over the outmoded, environmentally challenged, 1970's design of the Louis Kahn/FDR memorial that will obstruct these fantastic views of the East River Waterfront and NYC skyline?

Then what Roosevelt Island metaphor applies to Hillary?

Image of Republican candidates is from MSNBC.
Image of Renwick Ruins is from Weblicist of Manhattan.