Tag Archives: New York City

Throwback Thursday: “Charley Chimp!”

This is takin’ it waaaay back — people were joking about creepy vintage mechanical toys on Twitter, and it totally reminded me of the mechanical monkey I had when I was not much older than a baby.  It was originally manufactured and marketed as “Musical Jolly Chimp” between the 1950’s and the 1970’s by Japanese company Daishin C.K., according to Wikipedia.  But it was resold under various names on the street in New York City.

My guess is that my father picked it up for me after work in the 1970’s.  (He was a municipal bus driver in Manhattan.)

It was loud.  It did scare me — but I also remember loving it too, and it remained in my toybox for years.  (Maybe I had a split personality as a little kid or something.) 

Anyway, you can see the thing in action over at Youtube, courtesy of echelon16.



Photo credit: YuMaNuMa, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Men of a certain age …

W. H. Auden called the mid-twentieth century The Age of Anxiety. It was the title of a book-length epic poem that won him a 1948 Pulitzer Prize, and it depicted his perception of the loneliness and isolation of the mid-twentieth century.  (I have not read it.)

Auden set it in a bar in New York City.  (He actually immigrated there in 1939; many casual poetry readers are unaware that he had dual citizenship with Britain and America.)

I wonder what Auden would think of the early 21st Century, here at his adopted home. I t started with the September 11 terror attacks and has arrived at a pandemic that has killed 443,000 Americans (along with nearly 94,000 back in his native Britain).  Evictions and unemployment have predictably risen right along with the deaths.

And America seems the closest now to civil war since … the actual Civil War began in 1861.  (We did, after all, see one side storm the Capitol to attack its democratically elected government.)

I’ll bet our anxiety could give Auden’s a run for its money.

Check out “August Morning, Upper Broadway,” by Alicia Ostriker

Well, summer is officially winding down.  (I have friends whose religious devotion to the beach has them counting down the days in August.)  There is one last summer poem I’d accordingly like to pass along.  It was included on a list of 19 summer poems published by BookRiot a couple of weeks ago.

Its title is “August Morning, Upper Broadway,” and it was written by Alicia Ostriker.  It’s a beautiful piece that reminds me of New York City, among other things.  It’s Number 6 on the list above.



Guerrilla poetry at Farragut Square, Washington, D.C.

June 2018.  This is the only part of Washington, D.C. that can truly remind me of New York City.  (The diverse array of “food trucks” help quite a bit.)  The people there, however, seem far more likely to make eye contact and begin a conversation.  (I briefly chatted with a nice photographer who took a couple of poetry mini-books home with her.)

I’m proud of that last shot you see of pigeons alighting the park’s namesake — even if it is a little fuzzy and even if I only snapped it by chance.  David G. Farragut was a Southerner who nevertheless served heroically as an admiral in the Union navy during the Civil War.  He coined the famous phrase, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”  Maybe I’m only demonstrating my ignorance here, but I didn’t even realize that torpedoes were really a thing during the Civil War, even after seeing the C.S.S. Hunley at Charleston, South Carolina as a kid.
















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Amazing street-level footage of New York City in 1911

This is easily one of the coolest things I’ve found on the Internet in a long time — street-level footage of New York City in 1911.  (I’m linking here the guy jones Youtube channel.  There’s a truly impressive collection of antique films there.)

This video surprised me in two ways.  First, I had no idea that the film quality for something this old could be so good.  Second, the added sound effects actually worked.  (I figured something like that would be awkward and distracting.)

You’ll enjoy this more if you maximize the window on your computer and lay it in a dark room.


Amateur footage of New York City, 1976

I’m linking here to the stuart bailey media Youtube channel — this is footage of Manhattan over 40 years ago, shot by some unknown tourist with a Super 8 camera.  Most of the buildings look the same.  The clothes, haircuts and cars look very, very different.

Check out the frame you can see below.  That is indeed the original “Rocky” playing at a Loews Theater — alongside the year’s truly awful “King Kong” remake that I’ve mentioned previously here at the blog.


A short review of the pilot for “Night Gallery” (1969)

In some ways, I’m a poor excuse for a horror fan.  I haven’t seen any episodes of some of the classic anthology series that my friends regard as biblically important.  Such was the case with “Night Gallery” — at least until a couple of nights ago.  (You can find it online, if you look hard enough.)

I checked out the 1969 feature-length pilot for the series, and I’m glad I did.  It was good stuff, despite the now lamentable 1960’s music and camera effects that were occasionally distracting.  I’d rate it an 8 out of 10.

There were three half-hour tales comprising the made-for-television movie: “The Cemetery,” “Eyes,” and “The Escape Route.”  “Eyes” was by far and away the best written and performed, but they were all quite good.  The twists for all three tales were quite satisfactory, and the tone was nice and macabre.  And the cast was terrific — Roddy McDowall and Ossie Davis starred in the first segment; Joan Crawford and Tom Bosley appeared in the second.  It was weird seeing such youthful versions of actors that were familiar to me in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The format, along with Rod Serling’s unique narration, was engaging, if a little quaint.  It’s easy to see how this went on to become such a popular television show.

Here’s an odd trivium -in the establishing shots for the second segment, which takes place in New York City, the Twin Towers are missing.  That’s because construction had only just begun on the first tower in 1969, when this pilot was released.  The entire World Trade Center was completed three years later.



West 34th Street today and views of the NYC skyline.

I never claimed to be a famous photographer.  (Okay, once I actually did claim to be a famous photographer, but I was twentysomething and hitting on an amazing girl in one of Long Island’s tawdrier bars “out east.”  Was it … Bawdy Barn?)

If my inelegant eye doesn’t put you off too much, then enjoy these shots of West 34th Street today and the NYC skyline.  (I regret not getting a shot of the Freedom Tower.)

A quick thanks to the U. S. Army for making me feel safer in Penn Station, really.  Those guys look tough as nails, and just as sharp.  They were visibly scanning every passerby right in the middle of the station, a task I can’t imagine is easy.  But they were at the top of their game.

Hey Stephen King fans — you see that poorly taken snaphot that is second to last?  That’s none other than the NYC entrance to The Lincoln Tunnel.  Our good friend Larry Underwood had a particularly hard time entering and traversing that tunnel, didn’t he?  (It was much easier for me, as I inhabit a different level of The Tower.)

“Baby, can you dig your man?”







“DIY: How to Make and Bind Chapbooks,” by staff at Poets & Writers

I just shared this with a writer and musician friend up in New Jersey.

I had no idea that making a poetry chapbook was so easy — especially with the formatting options for Microsoft Word. Many of us are so excited (and maybe even overwhelmed) by the online and indie publishing arenas that we forget about a more traditional approach like this.

To me, it seems like a nice way to at least seek exposure.  I’ve kicked around the idea of doing a public reading once or twice; it’s actually easy to sign up at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.  (I regrettably never got around to it.)

But the “pocket-size” chapbook here looks so inexpensive to produce that it would make a nice handout for after a live reading, even if it includes only a handful of a writer’s best poems.  If you write on a continuous basis, something like that would also be an interesting variation of the “annual Christmas letter.”

The options here would also work for a limited collection of prose, I would think.  And depending on the quality of the printer, it would work for reproductions of artwork as well.