Close up of a London Plane tree. Pretty, right?
Close up of a London Plane tree. Pretty, right?
2017. It’s here. “I can’t believe it’s 2017,” I’ve said to .. pretty much everyone, and almost everyone has concurred. No one has said, “It seems right and good that it’s 2017. Here it is, right on time.” 2017 seems pretty close to being a year in a Sci-Fi film in which something momentous and possibly devastating occurs. The older I get, the busier I get, and the faster the years fly by. I guess that’s something an old person would say. I should watch that, ’cause I’m not old yet, though sometimes I feel like it.
Anyway, Happy New Year. For last New Year’s Eve — that is, one year ago, I went to the Hamptons with a group of people, most of whom I did not know. They were friends of my friend Sean’s new girlfriend Rachel (new at the time; they’re married now), and Sean invited me along so that he’d know somebody besides his girlfriend. It was a fun time. We ate a lot, played games, journalled (we were all Christians; Christians like to journal) and did the polar plunge — that is, we jumped into the freezing cold Atlantic with a couple of hundred locals. After we got home and warmed up we had a dance party and then watched the ball drop on Ryan Seacrest’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. That was the weekend I developed an appreciation for Taylor Swift.
Usually I do want to see friends on New Years, and I want to stay up past midnight to make noise and celebrate. But this year, for the first time in a long time, I felt no inclination to be with people on New Year’s Eve, or to stay awake until midnight. I felt like spending a quiet evening alone and that’s what I did. I was in the mood for some good old cheesy-but-not-terrible Sci-Fi and searched this list of top 100 Sci-Fi films until I found the 1956 classic “Forbidden Planet,” which fit the bill perfectly. It features a deadly serious Leslie Nielsen before he realized his true calling as the straight man in a dozen or so 80’s spy and cop spoofs. (I’ve also seen a more earnest Nielsen in a Columbo or two).
I haven’t posted here in the past two years, and I’m hoping to post more this year. I’ve written before about and marveled at how Seth Godin blogs every day. How does he have the time? How does he resist the urge to edit everything to death? Well, I recently read an interview where he said something like, “If you have time to watch TV every day, then you have time to blog every day.” And while I don’t watch TV every day, I take his point. I certainly can take the time to post *something* each day, even if it’s not perfect or even that coherent.
So I’m going to try to post one thing each day in January, even if it’s just a photo (I take a picture of something almost every day).
(not sure why these photos are so small. I’ll try to fix that tomorrow).
Here’s a picture I took yesterday just about dusk, of a lamp post emerging from a nest of London Plane tree roots.
According to this article, 15% of all NYC street trees are London Planes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the percentage is higher in Brooklyn. My neighborhood (Ditmas Park, sometimes called West Flatbush or Midwood) is full of them.
There are London Planes in this pic of my street from the first big snow we had in January of last year.
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation logo features a London Plane tree leaf. Here’s a good example from sign at Coney Island. I think they were repairing the boardwalk.
Well, that’s all for tonight. If you’re reading this, thanks, and See you soon, I hope.
So I’ve been living in New York. Brooklyn, specifically, where life is lived on the street, as opposed to Manhattan, where life is lived in tall buildings. People hang out on stoops and talk and whistle and holler and jump rope and drink beer wrapped in brown paper bags and listen to music with thumping bass. Now that it’s February most folks have retreated inside, but there are still a few die-hards who stand or sit outside and blast their music into the cold, and who can blame them? When you’re really digging something sometimes you don’t wanna keep it to yourself.
Every few minutes you can hear and feel a train from the JMZ line rumble by on its way to the Marcy stop. The JMZ line was formerly known as the JZ and was supposedly the namesake of rapper Jay-Z (although Wikipedia puts the kibosh on this theory and says nope, his name is a permutation of the word “Jazzy,” which is decidedly less cool, partly because, well, DJ Jazzy Jeff kinda already used that). The city was briefly talking about eliminating the “Z” line as part of its terrifyingly-named “doomsday cuts,” but reconsidered and the Z remains. En route to Manhattan, the JMZ goes over the Williamsburg bridge and offers a stunning view of the skyline.
My neighborhood is comprised mostly of Dominican and Puerto Rican families, with a few Hasidim and “Hipsters” sprinkled in. I fall into this much-maligned latter category even though I am not hip. I mean, just look at my shoes.
My housemate/landlord, Bearden, says I walk too slow and look around too much. “You gotta keep moving, man” he says, and whenever we walk anywhere together I have to trot to keep up even though my legs are twice as long as his. He’s a hell-raising, Barry Hannah-reading, Rolling Stones-and-Bob Dylan-listening, Razorbacks-football-loving Arkansan with the loudest voice I’ve ever heard. Bearden is a writer and the front man for a band called “Sheriff,” of which I’m an adjunct member (I play lead guitar and sing harmonies). I don’t like Bob Dylan nearly as much as he thinks I should, but we connect on a mutual love for Bob’s one-time disciple Neil Young and the great pulp writer Elmore Leonard. Bearden and his wife, Laura, are two of the most passionate, creative, and generous people I’ve ever met.