Exhibitions. Rise & Fall of Apartheid.

We took a trip over to the International Center for Photography to see the new exhibition, “Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life.” They’ve assembled a pretty stunning collection. Many of the photos address the horrendous brutality and cruelty of the segregated apartheid system, and these pictures are without question deeply stirring and upsetting.Although these images never fail to shock and outrage, what I personally found eye-opening about this particular exhibit were the photos and archival videos that depicted what daily life was like under apartheid. I’m talking about the day to day stuff that you don’t get in a history book or newspaper archive. These depict slice of life, getting-the-groceries, mundane happenings of every day existence but in the broader context of what was happening in South Africa at the time these images have a much richer and more complex resonance. It offers a glimmer of understanding how ordinary people of all colors lived, prayed, shopped, laughed, worked and died under a terrible and racist regime of government. 

The ICP did an impressive job telling this story, and it’s a great facility in which to view it. It will be running through January 6th, 2013. Please go see it.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Old School. ’76 Monte Carlo.

Spray painted gold on Lafayette Street. Hell to the yes!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Local. Burger Joint.

Behind and unassuming curtain and a set of worn velvet ropes in the lobby of Le chic Parker Meridien hotel is an establishment that serves up of the best feet-on-the-ground no b*** s*** burgers in the city.

There is almost always a line to get into the crazily downscale Burger Joint where you’ll get your paws on one of their juicy gems. The place is packed with just about every language on the face of the planet and the walls are covered in old movie posters, hand scribbled notes and the ubiquitous signed celebrity headshots.  The pricing gets me every time.  $6.89 for a burger. $7.35 for a cheeseburger. $5.51 if you want anything on them. $1.38 for fries or a whole pickle. $5.05 for a cup of beer or red wine. And the priceless note at the end of the menu, “If you don’t see it, we don’t have it!” This one is a classic and worth the wait as long as the line hasn’t made it through the lobby and onto the street.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Weekend Beats. Gummy Soul.

To get your weekend started right, check out this free album download from record label Gummy Soul by clicking here. It’s pretty much pure genius: DJ Amerigo Gazaway blends up the original jazz, soul and funk recordings from A Tribe Called Quest’s catalogue with vocals from The Pharcyde. It’s an awesome reinterpretation of two Golden Era hip hop masters and if you were ever a fan, it will blow your mind. Brought back floods of memories for me. Enjoy!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Local. The Smile.

The new (and old) restaurants on Bond and Great Jones Streets have been sucking me in to sample their tasty offerings lately.  This morning, it was The Smile at 26 Bond Street.

Stepping down off the sidewalk into the basement of this old Noho loft building, you are taken by the herb-adorned entrance and old word charm of this rustic restaurant/coffee shop/general store. I grabbed one of the window seats in the front and decided to keep it simple…scrambled eggs with Gruyère, sourdough toast and a salad.  Great way to start the day.

For lunch, The Smile has a great choice of fantastically prepared salads and sandwiches and the dinner menu, while short, focuses on amazing fresh selections such as whole roasted brook trout and seared flank steak over sautéed sweet corn. The Smile perfect for a low-key lunch meeting or glass of wine and an appetizer after work. Cool place.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Old School. Theodore on 8th Street.

He’s a little faded and his next stop is probably the dump, but he makes me laugh every morning as I walk the dogs past him sitting cheerfully in the Green Oasis Garden. Alvin!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

The Greening of NYC.

New York City is full of sharp edges. Bricks and mortar, steel girders, massive expanses of glass and chain link fences.  Left raw, these materials make for a downright brutal place to look at and live. Here’s a sliver of my silver painted roof and chain link fence. Slap a tree, flower or bush into the mix (or all three in massive quantities) and it becomes another room for at least six months out of the year.

Do the same to the city and it becomes a much more palatable place to call home 12 months out of the year. Fan of Mayor Bloomberg or not, his Million Tree Campaign has made a tremendous impact on once aesthetically impoverished neighborhoods. My block in Alphabet City alone had eight new trees planted on it last year.  The Bronx has over 150,000 trees planted in areas that were once full of crumbling buildings. Broadway and First, Eighth, Ninth and soon-to-be Second Avenues have trees planted IN islands built to separate bike and car lanes! Really?! Trees in the middle of nasty First Avenue? Kind of amazing. Have you been to Union and Madison Squares lately?

     

These huge planters tastefully packed with an amazing array of tropical looking leafy things line the edges of the park and surround pedestrian areas that were once potholed throughways to carbon monoxide generating four wheeled machines. And forget about the amazingly lush Hudson River Park which 20 short years ago was a dilapidated falling-into-the-water mess. Just walking down the street in New York City has become a vastly more enjoyable experience with all of these new and growing green friends giving of shade and offering a welcomed juxtaposition to the concrete and glass.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Eleven Years. 9/11.

I arrived at work at West 55th Street at 8:30am.  In 2001 I worked in TV production and people generally don’t roll in until later, so it was just a handful of producers and PA’s drinking their coffees.  I walked in to the Executive Producer’s office to say good morning and he happened to be watching the news.  He said, “There’s been some kind of explosion at the World Trade Center, no one knows what it is yet.”  That was disturbing; I pulled up a seat next to him.  One or two other colleagues wandered in and also pulled up chairs.  We began to hear sirens outside. And then when the second plane hit, there was a collective shock that went through the room. It was the realization that we were under attack, in our own city.  By then, everyone in the office was gathered around that one TV, many of us crying at the live footage and all of us incredibly frightened.  It was one of the most powerful and upsetting shared experiences I suspect I will ever have.

After moving to the city in October of 1994, I had half-heartedly relocated to Baltimore a few months before. I came back for my first visit on September 10th. I was staying at London Terrace with a friend and the first plane woke me up as it barreled toward the North Tower. I didn’t realize what had happened until my friend Jennifer frantically started banging on the door screaming that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center.None of the phones in the studio worked, they were all jammed.  I couldn’t reach my girlfriend, my family, anyone. The TV news was saying that the subways were going to be shut down, that buses would be shut down and that bridges and tunnels would soon be closed to traffic. At the time, I lived in Williamsburg and we were all ordered to get to our respective homes and find our loved ones. I remember leaving the studio on Ninth Avenue and cars were just speeding through the lights at that intersection.  Across the street I noticed there was a cycling shop still open. I ran in, pointed at the first bike I saw, slapped a card down and biked out of the store. I proceeded to race downtown to get across the Williamsburg Bridge.  Both Towers had collapsed, and the air was thick and white with dust to the point the sun was obscured. It felt like twilight. Most people were on foot, civilians were directing what little traffic there was. I pedaled as fast as I could.

We went down the hall to our friend Melissa’s apartment and sat down in front of the television just as the second plane hit. We all immediately realized that this event was going to change everything and sat in horror watching the towers burn and eventually fall. The city outside was dead silent. There was no traffic except for the occasional siren. That night, I walked alone to St. Vincent’s hospital where they had set up a triage unit on Seventh Avenue to tend to the injured. There were no injured. The unit was quiet.I went to the pile a few days after to lend a hand and I stood on line for 4 hours.  That’s how many people were there to help, to do whatever they could.  The line snaked around for blocks and blocks. And it wasn’t just New Yorkers lined up, there were people that had driven there from points all over the map. No one knew what needed doing, but there was the sense of wanting to do something, anything. As horrendous and unfathomable as the tragedy was, the way my fellow New Yorkers and the entire country came together in the days and weeks that followed was one of the most profound and humanity reaffirming experiences in my life.

The next morning I was leaving town and watched from my train headed south through New Jersey the smoke from Ground Zero rise above lower Manhattan. I’d never had a pit in my stomach like the one that I had right then. I felt as if someone had lit my house on fire and I was leaving it to burn with everything I loved inside. It was at that moment that I knew New York was my home and had to get back as soon as possible and at any cost. I did just that a few months later. The following few years were not easy ones…downright scary ones in fact. But, had I not moved back when I did, how I did and where I did, I would not have the beautiful family that I am so grateful to have here in Manhattan 11 years later.I’m probably not alone in feeling pissed initially that it took so long for the various bureaucratic and governmental agencies to agree on issues like who pays for what.  As opposed to the admirable way the citizenry banded together in the aftermath of 9/11, I think the way the rebuilding effort was handled was pretty embarrassing.  Better late than never, I guess.  To date, I have watched 1 World Trade reach for the sky from my window in Brooklyn. It started slow, and then it seemed to grow noticeably every day.  I like having it in the skyline.  It belongs in the skyline.

When the real and proverbial dust settled, I was disheartened to see how disparate the entities working to design a memorial and figure out what, if any, kind of commercial development was going to be built on top of this grave to so many brave souls. I was disappointed that such a huge deal was made of the competition to design the World Trade center’s replacement which Daniel Lebiskind “won”, but then how almost none of his original design will stand when construction is complete in 2013. It made my blood boil to see so much ego, cronyism and greed stand in the way of what could have been the strongest signal to the world that we Americans will always stand together and never back down.I understand this is a hot button for a lot of people but I personally like what they’ve done with the Memorial.  In truth, my initial reaction to waiting on line to get in was that it felt inappropriately touristy.  I had my hackles up a bit, I wasn’t sure what the experience was going to be like and I was concerned about the memory of the people who died being profaned.  But once inside, there’s none of that.  It is sacred ground, and I think the landscaping and architecture are incredibly appropriate and entirely respectful.

I visited the memorial for the first time about six months ago and again last week.  I think it is a powerful and respectful tribute to the events that occurred and the lives that were lost 11 years ago today.  I am so thankful that gluttony did not prevail and that the footprints of the North and South Tower were preserved with Michael Arad’s plan and that so many trees were planted in Peter Walker’s landscape design.  As the 400 sweet gums and white swamp oaks grow to form a canopy and the awe-inspiring fountains continue to drown out the noise of the city, the memorial will hopefully be a place where families of the victims and anyone else who was affected by that horrible day can come to not only reflect on loves and lives lost but to focus on moving forward everyday with grace and humility.

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.

Mondays with Lu. Retired.

It was a big morning in the McHale household. Our sweet baby soon-to-be-three Lulu began what we hope will be a wonderful and prosperous journey into the world of higher education…the caterpiller class at her brand new pre-k school in the East Village. We took her inside, she dumped her shoes, backpack and lunch box into her cubby and promptly ditched Mom and Dad for the peg board, play dough and promises of a great day with new friends.

So, when I came into the office this morning and saw these shoes that I keep on my desk at the suggestion of some sort of how-to-brighten-your-day article I read a couple of years ago, I realized that my Monday’s with Lu will now be taking her to school in the morning and coming home at the end of the day to hear about her new adventures in a new place with new friends. I already miss my Monday’s with Lu, but can’t wait to hear about every one of hers as she navigates forward on this grand voyage that is her own. Go Lu!

About the Author |
We earn our living selling New York City. The next day is never like the last. The last is never ordinary. We witness all sorts. We listen to the City’s noise. We devour its phenomenal food. On the Real is our documentary. It is your pack of unfiltered New York 100s.