Journées d’Avril

Newtown Creek Nature Walk.

As I start this post, I’m watching Vicki, a film noir from 1953 that takes place in New York. I have a bit of a film noir DVD collection, and many of them take place below the neon signs and on the rain-stained pavement of a New York I find hard to recognize. Although sometimes at night, when I’m in Manhattan, I can imagine Sidney Falco in front of the Flatiron Building or the doomed Laura Hunt strutting down Madison Avenue.

Well, the film just ended with typical noir bleakness and foggy visions of the Brooklyn Bridge. So now I can focus a little more on this blog post. It’s been a busy week. As you may imagine from my last post, I was rather tired on Sunday. However, I still made it up to Greenpoint to visit a friend. I had only seen the part of Greenpoint near my old apartment by McCarren Park, and hadn’t realized how nice it was further north. And how many bars there were. But that will have to be for another visit. We visited the delightfully odd Newtown Creek Nature Walk, which is a concrete, heavily manicured “nature trail” by the very polluted Newtown Creek. You can gaze at natural touches like a sewage treatment plant and a crane sifting through metal scraps. Maybe they should put something like this in the future Gowanus rehabilitation?

I watched the top of a water tower get dismantled from my office.

On Monday night, I went out to dinner with Elizabeth’s parents at a rather nice restaurant, whose name I unfortunately cannot remember. I hadn’t been out for a meal that involved aperitifs, main courses, wine, dessert, and coffee in ages, so that was quite decadent and fun.

Cooper Square, blocked off for Obama.

Today, all of Cooper Square and much of the East Village was teeming with police and secret service for President Obama’s visit to the Cooper Union. Sorry blog readers, I did not attend. However, I did spend some time staring out an office window at the gathered crowd and spotted many snipers on top of the buildings. There were also tons of television people set up in Astor Place.

Police dog on duty.

There was even a police officer whose main job was to stare at my office building, so I was being watched while watching.

Presidential motorcade.

Finally, I heard helicopters and watched at least ten police motorcycles zoom through Cooper Square, followed by the presidential motorcade. There were three black cars with miniature American flags, I guess so that you won’t know which car the president is actually in. I didn’t see Barack Obama get out of the car, as it drove right up to a white tent that led into the Foundation Building.

Plants in Union Square for Earth Day.

After work (I actually did work after my window spying), I went to the Ace Hotel to meet friends for coffee. I walked through Union Square, where there was a temporary garden in celebration of Earth Day. It was my first visit to the Ace Hotel, and we got Stumptown coffee and sat in the lobby. Hanging out in a hotel might not sound very exciting, but it is much more a very hip bar than a Holiday Inn. The decor includes such things as a taxidermy coyote head (poor trickster) and a sign reassuring you that “everything is going to be all right.” Better still, the coffee was great, and the people watching was extraordinary.

Owl in Herald Square.

We then walked over to Herald Square, to investigate the owl statues, which we’d heard have green, glowing eyes that flash. According to Scouting NY (really a fantastic blog), these owls have had the green eyes for more than 100 years. Apparently, the publisher of the New York Herald was obsessed with owls in a way that even surpasses the fictional Nite Owl of Watchmen. He had live owls in his office, as well as some taxidermy, and planned to be buried in a giant owl-shaped tomb. This tower in Herald Square was made from the owls and a clock from the old New York Herald building.

Cryptic owl in Herald Square.

Possibly even better, is this mysterious owl emblem on a door in the monument. It was no known explanation, although I can translate the French as “The night brings advice.” From the look of that owl’s eyes, I’m not sure I want its advice. Or is the serious moon giving the startled owl advice? So many questions!

This weekend is the opening of Recession Art’s new exhibit, which I’ll have to post about after the opening. For now, I guess I’ll let the night give me some guidance, hopefully with no scary owls. I remember an exhibit I went to in Oklahoma of a Native American calendar, and each time an owl was drawn it meant that someone had died. These owls and their blinking green eyes are up to no good, I think. In completely unrelated news, go Sooners in the NFL draft! Now I’ll have to watch some St. Louis football.

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