Tuesday, September 13, 2005

home away from home - otherwise known as 'work'


I like to say I work in Manhattan's southernmost building. It's not exactly true, of course. I could work for the Staten Island Ferry or for the Coast Guard or I could work at a hot dog cart. For that and other reasons, I think I'm ok not being Manhattan's southernmost worker though I do like being pretty darned close. I like working down here because it's an easy map point to give people in need of a mental reference to where I work, but mostly, I love the unique NY-ness of the neighborhood:
1/9 Subway train - 5 stops, 16 minutes door-to-door. Clean cars, good A/C. Bitchy train operators chastising non-English speaking tourists for not being in the first five cars. Does it get any better?
South Ferry (and subway) Station -
This is what the station used to look like. And an in-construction picture of the new terminal. For about two months, people travelled to and from on the N ISLAND (FERRY) as the STATE in "Staten" I guess are very difficult letters to make . Since then, an ever changing array of new paths in and out of the new building point to what must be the fun puzzle game of balancing the traffic flow in and out with the construction that needs to take place. Here's entirely too much information on the renovations taking place. Info such as: 65,000 people travel to & from Staten Island each day. And yes, in case you were wondering, they all somehow manage to get in my way on exiting the station. And they all seem to want a damn AM New York or Metro paper immediately after exiting the station.
AM New York / Metro - NY's two free daily tabloids. Trashy, gossipy, sensationalistic, 16 page time wasters handed out by an army of .. paper-persons at most major subway entrances. Seriously - they must be making bazillions on advertising if they can keep thousands of paper.. persons employed handing out free papers. Did I mention what crap they are? For reals. They make the NY Post look like the Wall St Journal.
Bowling Green - Bowling Green was NY's first public park. Today, it's my lunch and reading spot. And a damn fine one at that. True, it's loud as hell (Broadway and Whitehall branch off around it) and it's often crowded at lunch time and sure, there's one arsehole homeless guy who does his best Angry-Homeless-Guy routine when the Parks people come around to ask him not to lie down on the benches or upon waking up from one of his drunken naps, to sit up, take a leak and then lie back down again - (the police sometimes come but cant force him to leave)... grr. ..dont get me started. Annnyway, aside from all these things - it's a great place for sun.. or for shade.. for eating lunch and reading for an hour, for people watching and more people watching. It's ideal for spotting Law and Order being shot in the neighborhood (I think the use the Native American Museum, formerly the Maritime Museum as their "courthouse") and the dozens of other commercials and movies and tv shows shooting in the area... It's great for the Tues & Thurs farmer's market that keeps my love of blueberry cornbread alive... for the banks and restaraunts and shops in the area... for the grass and flower ring around yet another beautiful city fountain.. For all these things and maybe more.. but mostly for the escape from the duldrums of work it provides.
The Wall St. "Bull" - Ohh, the Bull. You've seen the Bull. Everyone's seen the Bull. The Bull sits at the north end of Bowling Green park. It's big and stupid and people LOVE to take pictures with it. Oh god, how they love to take pictures with it. I dont blame them, it is a NY landmark I suppose. I can, however, blame the constant stream of people who take posed pictures with the Bull's balls. No matter how much I'm minding my own business, sitting in the park eating or reading.. Every Time I look up, I see someone posing the the bull's balls - cupping them, kissing them, pretending to lick them, posing & smiling next to them - Every Single Time. The beauty part of course is that they all think they've come up with this joke. I see them walk around the Bull, marvelling at it's impressive bronze form. Invariably, they get to the rear of the thing and look down and then... Eureka! Photo Op! "hey, hey hey! get a picture of this!" "oh my god, wont this be so funny??!?!" - No. the answer is No. it was so funny the first time the guy who made the sculpture did it for his friends.
Battery Park - Hmm.. how to describe Battery Park? Well... as it affects me of course! It's a fine park... or it would be were it not the tourist superhighway to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island ferries. Along the main walkway is the sphere that sat between the Trade Center towers and now is a photo op on the way to and from other city photo ops. Groups use it as a meeting point before or after their Statue of Liberty / Ellis Island trips and are usually all hepped up with touristy energy from having just gone on their ferry trip to the islands or because they're about to - which again, is understandable - but lends an aire of irreverence to the sole surviving symbol of Sept 11th. And yet.. every time I see the groups doing their group thing, there's always one or two people who stand near the back of their group and.. 'get it'. Or so it seems. I like those people.
--The park itself is inhabitted by throngs of a yet to be determined nationality of Africans who sell watches and glasses and purses in one of two ways: straight out of a briefcase. straight off a blanket that had minutes before been bunched up and placed in a 3ft by 3ft box being rolled around on a dolly. Seriously, it is either one or the other: Briefcase-guy or Big-box-carrying-a-blanket-full-of-stuff-guys. They set up their wares along the walkways and draw tourists in with an atmosphere of bargains and haggling.
--But back to me (ahem.. as it should be) - It's actually one of the best places for a sunny afternoon nap when you get away from the cattle-run walkways.

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