Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The yin and yang of New York City

Random thoughts on NYC...

It certainly is vibrant; at least, the areas I saw were. Lots of people, lots of small businesses, and lots of activity. I know of nothing like it in Detroit. I'm not saying there aren't parts of the city where similar traits exist. Even if there are though, they don't exist to the degree they do in New York.

Yankee Stadium is lovely. It is one great baseball park. I still prefer the classic stadiums such as Fenway in Boston (nothing personal, Yankees fans, and I'm not trying to trip your triggers either) but the new Yankees park is well built. You're reasonably close to the field wherever you are, and the sight lines are fantastic. After seeing it and PNC Park in Pittsburgh, you really understand that Detroit messed up badly with Comerica. I don't quite get why they played 'New York, New York' after a Yankees loss though.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is a gem. I'm glad we went there for Mass.

Times Square was pretty crowded. It was a summer Saturday evening when we walked through it though. I can't imagine what it must be like on December 31st. I don't think I want to know either.

The Oculus is awful; four billion dollars for what amounts to a shopping mall. It looks like a massive skeleton which has been bleached white by desert heat. I read that it's supposed to be a dove extending its wings. A hideously oversized, very dead dove maybe. Plus it's entirely incongruent to downtown Manhattan, where it's part of the World Trade Center. I don't see it as anything more than a monument to hubris quite frankly.

The prices weren't all that bad. Other than the shops which were clearly aimed at the more affluent, and you find those everywhere, I thought that the grocery, restaurant, and cost on general amenities comparable to what I find in Michigan and its surrounds. I do gather that housing and parking can get expensive. Fortunately, that did not affect me.

I don't know if I could live there. There are just too many people, the metropolitan area is so spread out, and the sensory overload of the town can be staggering. But I definitely like New York City. I look forward to my next visit.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What was and what will be

I have them today: the post trip blues. Having just gotten back from a nice long weekend in New York City, I'm dealing with that bit of depression which most all of us deal with after a long anticipated event is past.

The worst thing about it I believe is the feeling that it didn't actually happen. It did of course. But upon the return home there's a sensation that it in fact did not. It's not like it's simply gone. It's as if it was never there.

Part of that is wistfulness tinged with a vague melancholy speaking. Then too it reflects the natural human desire that the good things keep going. But as I told my son Sunday night when it was too obvious that we both needed to get some sleep, we have to recognize when the party's over. You have to know when you have to move on.

It's the right way to approach such things. Because humanity is imperfect we must earn our daily bread. We have to take the breaks as we get them, and see to our more regular needs the rest of the way. For after all, it's the seeing to those needs which make the vacations possible, right?

So I'm home to earn more time off with family.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mulberry Season 2017

Funny, isn’t it, how we sometimes identify people with certain times, places, or things.

In the alley behind our old family repair shop there is a row of mulberry bushes which have been there for years. My grandfather would, in the late spring or early summer when they were in season, always stop and treat himself to a few of the little fruits as he went to and from work.

Little? Well, mulberries are small compared to most fruits. In context, they’re like raspberries who have spent a lot of time in the gym; a scant few are a handful. They’re juicy and sweet, and Grandpa Joe liked them. I remember vividly his picking and popping them into his mouth as he made his way down the alley, as though he were a kid again.

Time passes, and so, sadly, did Grandpa Joe. Yet the mulberries still grew, and I couldn’t help over the years but develop a liking to them myself. As I hike to and from work nowadays I’ll stop and have a few. As it were, my daughter also came to know and like the mulberries too. Often we’ll take bowls and go fill them with the little purple black fruits, snacking as we pick, and my wife will make pies out of those which make it back home. I like the idea that three generations of a family have been able to enjoy those berries ripening on the same bushes.

Now, I’m not all that naive; I know that Joe Cosgriff was ornery and arbitrary, with a hair trigger temper. I know it from the tales my Dad and his siblings have told, and from the personal experience of having worked with him for a good 15 or 18 years. I know too that there was a part of him which was somehow kind and appreciative, and that there were moments when these came out despite, perhaps, himself. There were good times and trying ones, and lasting impressions. I find as I grow older that, in the end, it is the good times which matter more than the difficult, even if it seems there were more tough days than easy. I believe too that the smallest, almost innocuous memories can also be the greatest insights into the honest character of someone.

What prompts me to write this? It’s June, and the mulberries are in. And I’m thinking about you, Joe.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Saturday in New York

Hey Pops, how are you today?

I'm in New York City, would you believe? Frank and I went to Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. It is a gorgeous, impressive Church. I can see why you liked it. It seemed to come out of nowhere too. We were walking among all those skyscrapers and all of sudden, it seemed to me, there was a Church. As big as it is, it still seemed dwarfed by the other buildings. And it is big, as you know.

We also took in a ballgame. We went into that den of iniquity, Yankee Stadium. But I gotta tell you Pops, it's a great baseball venue. You're close to the field all the way around, and the sight lines are fantastic. You'd have liked it. You could actually follow the ball, not just watch the fielders react as you do from so many seats in Comerica. Just a good, solid baseball park.

The Yankees have this rookie right fielder, Aaron Judge, and he's a monster. Six foot seven and close to three hundred pounds. He's hit 26 home runs already, including one yesterday into the Rangers' bullpen (the Yanks were playing Texas) which I'm guessing went 420 feet. It crossed at the 399 mark in left field, so I think I'm close. It was a magnificent shot.

That was the only highlight for the home side though. Texas won 8-1. I actually felt bad that the Yanks didn't win.

I know. Fawning over the New York Yankees, their park, and their star player. I'm going to Hell, aren't I?

Maybe from your view though, you might put in a good word for me with the Almighty just the same?

Until next time,

Marty

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The streets of New York

It's raining in New York this morning. I supposed there's worse fates.

What I really don't like about that though is that it's supposed to get up to 88 today. Rain in the morning followed by sun usually means hot, sticky weather. I like it better when it rains late.

New York City is interesting. I don't know that I could ever live here; there's just too many people, and that coming from someone who considers himself a people person. But there's definitely stuff I like. The neighborhoods, well, the one I'm staying in anyway, does seem vibrant and alive. I doubt there's a comparable one in Detroit, and I do find that a little sad.

Stores and businesses abound; there certainly is variety. And the traffic isn't really that bad. Again, at least not where I am; I'm not trying desperately to get to a home an hour or two away. It isn't particularly noisy either. I had expected noise.

We're going to the Yankees game this afternoon. They play the Texas Rangers. It is, in a certain manner, my favorite kind of baseball game. I don't particularly care about the outcome. Interestingly, that makes it easier for me to watch any given sport: not actually caring who wins.

But tomorrow I'll let you know what happens anyway.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Hobo Joe

I'm not to going to complain about Amtrak today. Oh, it'll get its day under the Marty microscope. But not this day. I'm on a short vacation here in New York City and will keep things properly light.

Me Grandpa Joe rode the rails back in the 1920s. He hopped freights whenever the spirit moved him. Consequently, he lived all over the United States in his late teens and early twenties. I have to admit there's a part of me who admires that roaming lifestyle. Go where you decide when you decide. It was certainly easier to do that a century ago, to stay off the grid and just live your life. Ah well.

He wasn't a bum, though, as many folks think of those who traipsed around the nation as he did back then. He was a hobo. Hoboes worked their way around. When Joe got off a train somewhere, he looked for a few weeks' work. Even hoboes needed a couple bucks.

Consequently he worked on many farms and in factories, and even a couple stints on ranches, once in Montana and once in North Dakota. Part of his job in Montana, oddly, interestingly enough, was taking the ranch owner's wife to Church. Joe was a serious Catholic and went wherever he landed; in that case the rancher wasn't and didn't attend Church, but his wife was and did. So when Joe was there he drove woman to Church. He was going anyway and at the time it saved the boss the trouble. It didn't hurt that he apparently made a couple extra dollars on an off day doing what he would have done anyway.

But to the real point. Hoboes worked (well, okay, other than with the stolen train rides) while bums just wanted a handout. Hoboes looked down on bums. Joe was a hobo. Don't call nuthin' but that.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

De train! De train!

I-a fixin' to go to New York to visit my son. We're going to take in a Yankees game Saturday. I never thought I'd look forward to seeing the Yanks, but so it goes.

I'm taking the train there. I have to drive to Toledo to catch it as there's no Amtrak service from Detroit to New York except through Chicago. That would add about 6 hours each way to my trip and better than a hundred bucks in cost. For a C-note and a half day's time, I'll drive to and from Toledo.

My first thought at discovering that was, gee, no train between Detroit and Toledo? That's when I had to remind myself that the trains don't exist for Marty's convenience. Indeed it set me to wondering whether passenger rail is necessary at all these days, especially when underwritten by the Feds. Yet that is perhaps another issue this moment.

As it is, I like the train. I've taken a couple train rides before. It has been and will no doubt be nice to travel without watching the road, to be able to cat nap or read or, who knows, post a blog as I ride the rails. If Amtrak isn't running late (and it is notoriously tardy) I may even say something nice about it.

But don't presume too much. I am becoming a curmudgeon, you remember.