Sunday, August 25, 2013

New York State of Mind

This little photo essay is a love letter to our city. In our daily travels we come across coded messages about the place we call home. We gather these up, and send them out to our readers when we hit critical mass. Here are some recent New York scenes we thought you'd enjoy.


Used to be, trucks were targets for graffiti artists, and were a sign of disorder in the city. This truck, like so many others we see these days, was spray painted to order. Every day, it is parked next to an outdoor fruit vendor. Too bad the door is open (it's a working truck, not a vanity truck), or you'd see the whole panorama of fabulous fruit with personality. If you look in the bottom left hand corner, you'll see it's the work of Michael Angelo!

This gent sells hot dogs from his truck, but look carefully: he's also making a political point...

The huuuuuuge checker cabs of our youth were great. One wonderful sofa-like seat in the back could fit three people, and two little jump seats folded out facing them to fit two more if necessary. (Families were bigger then - and so were cars!) We don't know where this newlywed couple found a checker cab, but it's their version of a Rolls Royce or a stretch limo. Certain clues seem to hint that they're part of the New York diplomatic corps, so perhaps it's their way of saying to those who couldn't make the wedding "can you guess which foreign country we got married in?"


Check out this wonderful flatiron (triangular-shaped) building. It almost certainly goes back to the 1880s, but the paint job brings it smack into the 21st century.

The asterisk is a very low profile punctuation mark, but Menscience celebrates it in their clever store sign.

THE FASHION SECTION (this is very short, but wait till the September issue)

This gent makes a political statement, shows great style, and fills a utilitarian need all in a single accessory.


You never know what you're going to find when you look down. We met a woman who found an envelope with $1200 in it. Not us!  We found this knife at our feet while traveling on the subway one day. Like good citizens, we picked it up (readers! always travel with a "just-in-case" plastic bag - you never know!) and tried to leave it with the subway token booth clerk when we arrived at our station in Brooklyn. She didn't want to know about it. We tried to give it to the police parked just outside the station. They didn't want to know about it either. They told us to trash it, so that's what we did.


This sign says it all!

This hilarious sign for Sacred Tattoo on a doorway on lower Broadway just north of Canal Street gets its point across thanks to another famous New Yorker.

In late July, we ran into this fashion shoot in progress in the East Village on Jean's block. How 'bout those thigh-high skin tight burgundy leather high heel boots? On that impossibly tall, thin, blond model.

Long before she styled Sex and the City, Patricia Field had a fabulous store in the West Village.  A few years ago she moved her shop to the Bowery and recently she moved to another space a few doors down.  This summer, she has a farmer's market, East Village-style, set up outside the shop on weekends. We both bought fabulous heirloom tomatoes and scrumptious corn on the cob.

Nothing says "farmer's market" quit like a platinum blond 'do, a rhinestone necklace and a crop top, right?  Not since Eva Gabor starred in Green Acres has the heartland seen such glamour!


Summer time and the livin' is easy.  Fish are jumping and the rodents have gone wild!  Jean frequently works late and when walking home on certain blocks, has to dodge little rats vying for right-of-way.  Since the row houses on East 2nd and East 3rd Streets between 2nd Avenue and the Bowery back up to the Marble Cemetery, a prime rodent hangout, she wasn't surprised when this graffiti appeared last year on one of the local stoops.  Others have since added their own tags.

As the weather got warmer this year, incidental confrontations increased in frequency.  Although Jean loves rats as much as the next person (actually, much more than the average New Yorker), having one run across the top of her shoe was a little too close for comfort.  Spotting this spray-painted wry commentary on the sidewalk shortly after - where rats actually do cross - was cause for a full belly laugh.

On the same block at the Bowery at the corner on the Bowery is this inflated rat, a frequent site at non-union worksites erected by union workers in protest. It sports pink eyes, ears and belly and actually appears quite cartoonish.  A stiff breeze makes its arms move.

The logo for Yellow Rat Bastard, a shop on Broadway in SoHo which has been in business for decades in several locations, features the lovely illustration of a white rat on a yellow background, like the one on the chest of this mouse named Gooch which stands guard in the doorway of said establishment.

And just in case you thought rats were being unfairly singled out, below pigeons and roaches also have their portraits drawn. We could have photo-shopped this picture to appear as if it were hung with a leveler, but it looks as though the artist hung it in a hurry (it's probably not strictly legal), and we wanted to give you a sense of that.

If you were a carpet store, wouldn't you put a family of toy bunnies in your window?

We had to stop these gents, Bert and Larry, who had proudly decorated themselves with dead poultry. We met them and their wives outside Lafayette's on a recent Sunday afternoon, exchanged pleasantries, and then exchanged cards. It wasn't till hours later, looking at Larry's card reading NEW YORK FRIARS CLUB that we realized the poor old chickens were fryers.


Faithful readers have already seen this picture we posted of a tree that was uprooted by Hurricane Sandy, and took with it the iron fence that it had grown into. You can see the caution tape strung up around the area. A few days later, the tree was sheared at about the six-foot point. Behind the tree stood Lutece, for many years rated the best restaurant in America, now long closed. But....

There's no knowing what the little tree's long term outlook is, particularly in New York City, but this photograph was taken about a week ago, and the tree is sprouting gloriously, even from the trunk. How's that for tough?

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Today's New York Times' Fall Fashion magazine means that summer is rapidly drawing to an end and New York Fashion Week is fast-approaching.  We've been busy but are about to get even busier and will have oodles of  hot news to share shortly, so stay tuned!


  1. Another fun post. I really enjoy the humour that you two find in New York. You capture the wit and energy of the city in your dress and outlook. I've had the good fortune to live in many great cities around the world but NYC is the best. Thanks! Peg

  2. Thanks for reminding me again why I love New York so much, even with the disturbing rodent population - Ratty crossings (SQUEE!), adorable boys selling veggies, witty street signs, yellow cabs, determined trees and you two!

  3. It's a village! There are little pockets of small town-type charm and magic in so much of the city. I'm glad you two have such a great eye and are able to capture this and bring it to us. xxoo

  4. You have truly put me in a NY State of Mind. And I loved the graffiti post!