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A touch of the swine.

All weekend we have been bombarded with stories of a possible Swine Flu pandemic. We've seen the pictures of people in Mexico walking around with those blue face masks(yes officer the man who stole my wallet had dark hair and was wearing a blue face mask). We have heard that perhaps a couple of hundred people in Mexico have already died from this desease which is apparantly contracted by having contact with infected pigs. A high school, not too far from where I live by the way, is closed this morning due to the fact that at least 8 of its students have indeed come down with this strain of flu after returning from a trip to Mexico during Spring break. The local T.V. and radio stations have been broadcasting stories of what to look out for if you think you have the illness. You know what they are. Coughing, sneezing, aches and pains, chills, diarrhea and fever. The problem is that at some time or another we all have one or more of these symptoms during the day.
Take my next door neighbor for instance. I hear him cough and sneeze and wheeze every morning. Even my heavily plastered walls can't muffle the sound. Does this mean that he has Swine Flu? Should I close the windows and barracade myself in for the next few weeks? I myself have had over the last few days at least two or three of the symptoms. In fact I have a couple of them going on even as I type this. Maybe I actually do have a bit of the pig virus. As I said I live near that Catholic high school here in Queens. I have shopped in a supermarket and eaten in a diner directly across the street from the school. Hmmm. But that was a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I caught it from one of the pigs I photographed at  Old Bethpage Village. I'm sure I heard one of them sneeze. But that was last summer. Maybe it's one of those slow incubating strains. Most likely I got it from one of those Mexican mariachi musicians who stroll up and down the aisles of the "E" train singing about some rancho grande. I'm sure the one with the guitar had a runny nose. Maybe it was that taco I had at Taco Bell last month or from the bacon in that BLT I ate, although the bacon was turkey bacon and not from pork. Hey wait a second! Isn't some of this pig flu also combined with bird flu? Isn't a turkey technically a bird? I'm so confused.

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper


Is it Spring yet?

Normally on Friday I'd be posting some photos here but I don't want to waste the great weather we are about to receive this weekend. The sky's are blue, the temperature is mild, my car has a new battery and the virus-flu-plague thing I've had for the last week seems to be subsiding although I'm keeping the Immodium close at hand. Have a nice weekend.

A tree (and other stuff) grows in Brooklyn

     It's Monday and it's gray and cloudy out which is okay because I'm stll not feeling too well and really don't feel like going out. Actually I would like to go out but due to my delicate condition I need to be near a porcelain facility. What ever this strange malody is which seems to have affected only me and some middle school kids on Long Island, it has manifested itself in the bowels of my bowels and is hanging on for dear life making it necessary for me to hang around my house. I haven't picked up a camera in five days so, no new pix.
     A couple of weeks ago I made my twice yearly pilgrimage to the Brooklyn Botanical gardens to see what's sprouted and to look for signs that, yes Suzy, there is a Spring.

I took these photos about a week and a half ago and many of the flowering plants and trees were not in full bloom. I imagine
they are probably magnigicent by now considerng the spectacular weather we had here over the weekend.
The "gem" of this garden is the Japanese gardens and tea house. The pond is stocked with koi and turtles and you can find
a cool niche to sit, relax and just chill out. Fans of the hit series "Damages" will recognize this place as Ted Danson's meditation

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper

Recharge Thursday

      I woke up yesterday morning feeling lousy. Every bone and muscle in my body ached and despite the brick oven-like ambience of my bedroom(The heat in my apartment was set on the higher of it's two settings, pizza oven) I actually had a slight chill. I popped a couple of Tylenol and fished around in my medicine cabinet for a thermometer. I found one of those old glass ones. I shook it down past the 98.6 mark and put it under my tongue hoping that it was an oral therometer. After about four minutes I removed it from my mouth and held it under a lamp. Squinting to read the glass enclosed silvery stream of mercury I relented and put on my glasses. 100.5 F. I officially had a fever. Not good. I needed to go to the store today. There was nothing in my fridge to eat. And besides I was running out of Tylenol. I fugured I would just jump into my car and run over to the supermarket. Unfortunately my car did not have the same idea. I turned the key. Nothing. The dash lights came on for a second and blinked out. Click, click, click. Dead. After four years of flawless starts the Civic let me down. I lifted the hood as if staring at the battery would suddenly make it come alive. I jiggled the wires. Nothing. I cleaned off some of the powdery corrosion that had collected on the terminals. Nothing. I called the AAA.
     An hour later a nice man in a tow truck came by and after a few minutes managed to pump some life into the corpse that was my battery. "It looks like the battery is dead" he said. " I ain't getting a reading on the meter". "You gotta' get a new one". Terrific. Just what I needed today. A fever and a dead battery.
     I let the car run for a few minutes and drove over to my local Pakistani service station where a Spanish speaking mechanic deftly installed an new Interstate battery. The car restarted instantly. I drove off a hundred and forty three dollars lighter.
     I guess the Tylenol was taking effect because I was actually feeling better.As I drove east on the parkway I decided that what I needed was some good, clean sea air. I found myself at a small state park right off the Robert Moses Causeway. Captree State Park has been home to one of Long Island's largest fishing boat fleets for many years. It's also fairly quiet and the parking lot is rarely full.

At one time these "party" boats would head out for a whole day's fishing leaving at about 7am and returning at four in the afternoon. In later years these boats have split their sessions returning at one pm and then going out again until five or six. If you go out on one of these boats you are almost guaranteed to catch something. The captains know these waters and won't even leave the dock unless the fish are biting. It's too expensinve to run one of these vessels and come back empty handed with a boatload of disgruntled patrons.
The park is located between the Captree Inlet on one side and Zack's bay on the other. Two of LI's best fishing areas.

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper

     Like tulips, robin's and young men's fancy's the 2009 New York International Auto Show blew its way in to the city and landed at the Javits Center amid growing fear that many of the manufacturers exibiting their wares will not be here next year. And from what I saw maybe some of them should not. The Auto Show, once a right of Spring for every hot blooded American male and their bored girl friends, had very little new to offer. Unlike the old days* when the world's auto makers could not wait to show off their latest and greatest as well as what might be in store for us in the future in the form of concept cars, this year was what could best be described as "more of the same". More small cars, more hybrids, more electrics and more cars that leave the show attendee wondering why they paid $14 to see the same cars they could have seen for free in the showroom.

The Lobby:
Why buy a ticket when you can get the best for free?
The show starts even befor you buy your ticket. The lobby of the Javits Center has plenty to see and some of it is better than what you
would pay $14** for on the show floor.
The lobby of the Javits Center is awesome. If you have never been here befor it's probably worth the trip just to see the place. Once you've admired the architecture you might want to glance at some of the really nice cars displayed in the glass enclosed lobby. My personal favorite is a car called the BATT II (top row right and second row left). The styling was probably the most futuristic of anything in the building. If radical design is not your thing than perhaps a nice plain Ferrari or Lamborghini might fill you automobile needs. For those of us who remember car shows of the past, a company which rents small antique exotic cars has a display featuring some auto-oddities such as the two seater Messerschmitt and it's Axis alli the Isetta ( bottom left). If really small is your thing you might want to rent the record holder as the world's smallest car (bottom center). It's called the "PEEL". The steering wheel takes up most of the front seat. Finally, a vehicle that not only has great mileage but also has a built in freezer, the 2009 "Haagen Dazs", shown with the top down.

On the show floor:
You get what you pay for.

If you do actually buy a ticket and venture on to the main exibit floor you will be treated to what is essentially your friendly neighborhood auto dealer's showroom without the annoying salesman.
Mercedes Benz had its usualy large exibit area and why not. They continue to make one of the worlds most desirable cars. I particularly like Mercedes intreriors. They seem to have hit the perfect combination of masculinity, with all the switches and dials, while not forgetting that many Mercedes owners are women. Missing from the Mercedes exibit this year was their ultra expensive, ultra luxury answer to Rolls Royce, the Maybach. Even Lexus' exibit was toned down featuring mostly their Hybrid model(top right) How dull.
Chrysler (probably not long for this world) made a brave effort with a sort of sporty electric car( second row left).
One of the best attended areas was the Smart Car exibit(second row center) A lot of people just wanted to sit inside one. It's roomy and the driving position is quite comfortable. Toyota proudly showed it Prius(second row right) while an all electric GEM (third row left) makes me feel like playing a round of golf. May I drive through please?
For some reason Toyota does not like to admit that the Scion(third row center) is their's. It's the most customizable car in the show as demonstrated by that thing without windows(third row right).
At the far corner of the floor was the FORD effort to sell cars. For some reason they decided to go with a blue colored theme. Blue cars, blue lighting, blue people. I'm sure there is  some psycho-reasoning for this azure theme which I fail to grasp. In any event FORD cars, as in the past, are dull boxes that will probably sell well, or as well as a car can be sold these days.
The photo, bottom center, just shows that there are still some maniacs out there that know how to enjoy themselves. On the bottom right is a car more my speed. A 2009 Honda Civic. It's plain and grey and perfect for NYC.
I have no photos of GM's efforts. Quite frankly I got so bored walking through it that I forgot to take any pics. The only thing mildly interesting was the Chevy Volt all electric car. I know GM is banking on this one but I'm affraid it's just too little too late.

You may have noticed a theme of fatalism running through my story. I'm sorry to be so down on cars but I guess as I get older and realize that cars as I remember them will be a lot different in the future than they used to be in the day's when the U.S.dominated the automobile industry. While I'm glad that cars with tail fins went the way of giant shiny chrome bumpers and whitewalls, I'm sorry to see that there is little or no imagination anymore. It's just follow the leader and try to make something that will sell.

*The good old days. My first recollection of the N.Y. International Auto Show goes back to the 1960's when the show was held at the old N.Y. Collisseum on Columbus Circle. The show was magical and truly "international" with cars from all over the world. Even those  cars that were not available in the U.S. Today's show is just a mere shadow of what once was. Where are the FIAT's, the Renault's, the Pugeot's the Citroen's and all those cars from China, India and Russia? I used to love those Moscva's and Vulga's.
** I have something to admit. I did not pay $14 for a ticket. In fact I paid nothing. I actually won a ticket in a contest sponsored by the Auto Show itself. Somehow I got on their e-mail list and a couple of months ago I answered a question correctly and won a ticket. I don't think I would have gone to the show if I had not won. Fourteen bucks is fourteen bucks and, well, free is free.

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper

Following the High line

     Thirty feet above the streets of the meatpacking district and Chelsea is an elevated structure that will soon become a public park. That's right, and elevated above ground park. The only other park of it's kind is in Paris where and old rail line was converted to a promanade in 1990.
     Like Paris, New York's elevated park was also a former rail line that once snaked around and through the large industrial buildings that dot the west side of Manahattan.
    I have been putting off any pictorials on the high line because, quite frankly, it's not finished and, from the ground, it's not much to look at. Only a handfull of photographers have been permitted to enter the area to check on the progress of the construction. It kind of makes me wonder what the heck is going on up there. As it stands now the project is almost two years behind schedual.     Here are some facts about the high line:

     Originally constructed, 1929-1934, as a freight rail line that brought freight cars directly to and in some cases into the buildings.
     The high line spans 22 blocks from Gansevoort Street (approx. 14th Street) to 34th Street. It's 1.45 miles long.
     6.7acres of space atop the elevated deck.
      It's width varies from 30 to 60 feet wide and in some places it's only 18 to 30 feet high.
      It was originally built to support two fully loaded freight trains and is made primarily of steel and reinforced concrete.

Top, left to right: A new hotel rises above the high line.As in the past the elevated structure passes right through the building. Hector's diner sports a new paint job nestled under the steel structure. Hector's services the workers of the meatpacking disrict by providing 24 hour service. The original rail structure had branches which went directly into the loading bays of nearby buildings. The Chelsea Market, bottom row left, will be an integral part of the new park which if it ever gets finished, will actually have a couple of trees. The good thing about an elevated park is that it won't disturb the businesses that are underneath it like this parking lot.

The High line makes it's way through one of NYC's most eclectic neighborhoods. Chelsea, has a strange combination of the very new and the very old, the very cheap and the very expensive and the very rich and those who carry ther belongings around in a milk crate.

We hope they actually get this thing finished in time for summer. Some folks are predicting and August opening. We'll see. I just think it will be neat to be able to walk 22 blocks in the city without having to wait for a green light or dodge traffic.

for further information on the High Line go to....www.thehighline.org

The blog is a little late today because I actually spent the morning at the New York International Auto Show at the Javits Center. Sure I took pics and I'll show them to you on Wednesday.

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper.


Weekly wrap up...

     It's either the first day of Passover or Good Friday or whatever religious festival you let govern your life* for the next few days and that means that it's time once again, boys and girls,for "Bruce's Weekly Wrap Up". We like to think of it as a place to post some of the photos that I took just wandering around these past few days.

One of last week's posts included some photos I took of the Long Island town of Greenport. Since you really don't want to spend all day in Greenport there are one or two other places nearby to visit. I mentioned that there are numerous wineries that offer tours and tastings but if you're a tea toteler or just don't care about wine you can take alittle side trip to Horton Point State Park which is a few miles west of Greenport and just off route 25. You can visit the lighthouse or , if you don't mind the 130 some odd steps you can head down to a really pretty beach and enjoy the blue-green waters of Long Island sound. P.S., it's free.

Take a nice early Spring day and combine that with lunchtime in midtown Manhattan and you've got  hundreds of folks hanging out behind the library in Bryant Park.The newly replanted lawn was just a little too new to stretch out on but there were places to sit and even some time for a friendly game of Bocce.

Meanwhile on the upper East Side... Yes there is an Upper East Side as compared to the very trendy Lower East Side. In fact the UES has been trendy for years. I consider everything above 57th street to be "upper" so these photos cover an area roughly from 59th to 70th street. Much of this chunk of Manhattan was once owned by the Rockefeller's and was for the most part undeveloped. I guess old John D. and the rest of the clan realized that it was all just too much and decided to give most of it away. Some of those recipients of this philanthropy were hospitals thus spawning such renowned institutions like New York Hospital, The Hospital for Special Surgery and The Rockefeller University. Mr. R's holdings stretched all the way down to 42nd Street so when it came time for the United Nations to build a new home a nice piece of east side river front property was waiting for them.

I almost forgot...      This past week marked the 100th annversary of the 59th Street Bridge (also called the Queensboro Bridge).
                                     " ...slow down you move too fast. Gotta' make the morning last..something...something...something,feeling

It looks like it's going to be a so-so weekend, weather wise, so we may or may not be able to get out there with the old cam. But fear not photo fans, Bruce has a stockpile of photos waiting in the wings. I am. if not anything else, prolific.

*New Yorker's who own cars love this time of year. For a two week period most all alternate side parking is suspended.

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper

Cutting back

As some of you might have guessed I'm cutting back on posts to this blog. It's not that I'm lazy...okay, I'm lazy...but mostly it's just that I haven't felt like going out lately. The weather has had a lot to do with it. I know that those April showers are supposed to bring May flowers but come on, enough already. We haven't been able to string two days of sunshine together for weeks around here. And when the sun does matter to shine I've been running around like a headless chicken trying to get in as much picture taking as possible. This has led to quantity rather than quality. Something I'm not proud of. So I'm just going to cool it for a while and limit my excursions to once or twice a week until the water rings out of the atomosphere.  Here's some stuff I did last week during some brief moments of sunshine.

Greenport, Long Island

There's a great little town about 75 miles east of New York City on the north fork of Long Island called Greenport. Unlike it's toni south fork cousins aka "The Hampton's", this town has no cutesy shops, no celebs in SUV's vying for a parking space on the main drag and none of that " I have a house in the Hampton's and you don't atomosphere. Greenport is a welcoming little town on route 25 that offers harbor views, great restaurants and shops run by locals who have lived there for years.


Greenport is primarily a seaport town. This means that the town's livelelyhood revolves around all things nautical. Greenport is home to a small commercial fishing fleet as well as a place to catch a ferry to Shelter Island across the bay. The shops and restaurants are one of a kind and offer probably the freshest seafood on Long Island. Claudio's restaurant (4th row, far left above) is the oldest restaurant continuously owned by the same family in the United States.

If you go. The best way to get anywhere on Long Island is by car. Take the LIE to the end* and continue on route 25 until you get to Greenport. There is a LIRR station here but train service is spotty especially on off hours. Park your car for free on the street or in the town's municiple lot and walk around. The best time to go is during the week and after April 1st when most of the restaurants and stores have reopened for the season. The town is desolate and cold in the winter as is most of Long Island's north fork. On your way back you can visit one of the many wineries (you saw them on the way out) which offer tastings and tours, again, in season.

*Unfortunately the last exit on the Long Island Expressway leaves you out  practically in the middle of one of largest factory outlet centers in the nation. Try to resist the lure of bargains, bargains, bargains and drive on by or you will never make it to Greenport.

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper

So it ain't Niagara

There is nothing like the sound of water cascading over a rocky cliff into the abyss below. When we think of great waterfalls we usually think of places like Niagara or Victoria.But these places are far away and require an overnight stay at least. So where near the NYC metro area can we commune with nature and view a nice, if not spectacular, waterfall. The Poconos, that's where.

This is Ravenskill Falls just off route 209 in the Pocono region of Pennsylvania. As waterfalls go it's not that spectacular but it is close to New York and if you have that urge to commune with nature after a long cold winter this is the place to do it. The day, to say the least, was spectacular. The temperature was in the low 50's with bright sun and a crystal clear sky. The cool temp was perfect because just getting to the falls from the parking area is a long diffcult journey, downhill via a path that is not very well maintained. There were fallen trees, rock strewn "steps" and shakey handrails. And then there is the climb back to the lot. I found myself taking a couple of breaks litterally collapsing on a nearby log just to catch my breath. If I had needed medical attention it might not have come for hours. I was the only person at the falls this day. Nice if you crave isolation but not so good if you have an accident. Cell phone service is spotty in the area.

If you go: The only way to get there is by car. From New York City take I-80 West past the Delaware Water Gap to Route 209 north. I suggest you get a map available free at the Pennsylvania Welcome station just over the Delaware bridge. Figure at least two to three hours drive. There are plenty places to eat and stay in the area. The best time to go is during the week and,yes, it's free. Figure on using a full tank of gas.

all photo's (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper

Gonna take you on a sea cruise...

     Boy, this flu thing really likes to linger on. Even though I was asymptomatic I still felt lousy all last week. You know. Aches and pains and just a general feeling of malaise. By mid week I was feeling much better so I decided it was time to put on a pair of pants and get myself out of the house. I needed a place to convalesce and relax for a while. I knew just the thing. An ocean voyage. But how could I manage this on four dollars? I have a feeling you know the answer.

The trip started at the spanking new South Ferry subway station which just re-opened after a long period of construction. It's the first new subway station to open in Manhattan in over twenty years.


The entrance to the ferry terminal is only a few steps from the subway and then it's just an escalator ride up to the terminal where there is a spacious waiting area*. My timing was impeccable on this day as the 11:30 boat was just beginning to board. The weather was relatively mild and many of  the passengers took the opportunity to stand on the aft deck and enjoy one of the best views of lower Manhattan available.

After about 35 minutes you arrive at St. George, Staten Island. So what now. My suggestion is not to get back on the boat. Leave the terminal and take a short walk on the promenade adjacent to terminal. Not only do you get a great view of the harbor but you can visit one of the only official 9-11 memorials in the city. This striking gull wing monument overlooks the spot where the World Trade Center would have been across the bay. Niches with the names, and sometimes photos, of Staten Islanders who perished on 9-11are viewable. Also along the walkway is the Richmond County Ballpark. The home to the Staten Island Yankees.

I've always said that a ride on the Staten Island Ferry is the best thing you can do for free in NYC. Many tourists are surprised that there are no ticket booths or turnstiles or that no body collects a fare. A few years ago, I think it was in the 70's, they did actually install turnstiles and for a couple of years the round trip cost 25 cents. This was so unpopular that the fare was dropped leaving only the remnants of non-working turnstiles as a reminder. Collecting a fare for the ferry has never been spoken of again.

*I have no photos of the interior of the ferry terminal. Ever since 9-11 the terminal has been considered a level one security area. The last time I attempted to take a photo of the waiting room I was approached by an armed, uniformed security person with a dog and was told in no uncertain terms that picture taking inside the ferry terminal was verboten.

all photos (c) 2009 Bruce Cooper

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