As of January 27, 2011 the army is 348,857 women strong!!! SIGN UP!! SPREAD THE WORD!!! There is still 651,143 recruits left to go!!! ........ To get more information click on the banner to go directly to Army of Women's website.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Time for Harvest & Fall Festivals in New York City

The summer officially transitioned into fall, September 22nd, 2010, the autumnal equinox. But don't go running to get your flannels on. It's still flip-flopping, bermuda-shorts time in NYC. At 84 degrees those precious A/C's are still cranking on high and not ready to go into anyone's closet, basement or garage until Summer 2011.

Many NY'ers are tired of Mother Nature dishing out hot plates and ready for something a bit more cool but she controls the elements of the weather kitchen, so there's nothing one can do but get out and have some fun! Before you know it autumnal equinox will pass the baton to winter solstice and we will all be seeking the comfort of Swiss Miss as we await the coming of spring.

In our city's once upon a time there were farms and farm gardens galore. Even children got into the action through our public schools as result of the efforts of Frances (Fannie) Griscom Parsons (1850-1923), the city's first female park administrator.

1908 Parks Annual Report: Children tending De Witt Clinton Park Farm Garden.
While there are only a few farms left in NYC dating back to the late 1600's, such as The Queens County Farm Museum, Wycoff Farm, Red Hook Farm, NY'ers are proof that the bond between man and nature is strong and cannot be broken by skyscrapers and concrete. Over the last decade the farm and farming gardening momentum has gone from a horse trot to ING Marathon speed. Once abandoned lots and even warehouse rooftops are serving now as beds for oases sprouting everything from fancy organic greens to grapes.

With all the farm and farm gardening going on surely there must be some fun after the hard work of harvest. Those toiling and not have a great selection of activities to enjoy in the coming weeks; Fall Festivals, Beer Fests, October Fests, Street Fairs and more.

Still need some help getting into a Fall, Harvest state of mind? Maybe Neil can help.

Fall Festivals (most start and end from about 11AM-6PM)

Saturday September 25th
Broadway Autumn Fair (on Broadway from Waverly Pl.- 14th Street)

Sunday September 26th
Lexington Avenue Fall Festival (on Lexington Avenue from 34th - 42nd Street)

Friday October 1st
Grand Central Fall Festival (on 43rd St. from Lexington - 3rd Avenue)

Saturday October 2nd
Union Square Autumn Fair (on Broadway from 17th - 23rd Street

Sunday October 3rd
N.Y.C. Oktoberfest (on Lexington Avenue from 42nd - 57th Street)

Sunday October 10th
Eighth Avenue Autumn Festival (on 8th Avenue from 42nd - 57th Street)

Saturday October 23rd
Union Square Fall Fair (on Park Avenue South from 17th - 23rd St.)

Sunday October 24th
Times Square Autumn Carnival (on Broadway from 47th - 57th Street)

NY CRAFT BEER WEEK  September 24th to October 3rd

September 29th- 7PM-10PM  
The Ultimate Brewmaster's Degustation
at Mas FarmHouse 39 Downing Street

September 30th- 6PM-11PM 
Brewers's Choice

October 2nd
Ale Street News Disc Golf Outing & Beer Fest

Links of Interests

Looking for places to go and things to do with your kids in New York City check out Mommy Poppins

For Street Fairs in NYC check out Mardi Gras Festival Productions

The Rise and Fall of  School Gardens in New York's Past Can Guide Us Into the Future by Daniel Bowman Simon


Thursday, September 16, 2010

When MTA Doesn't Go Your Way & LIRR Falls Short: Tips for Surving the Commuting Storms in NYC

James A. Farley Post Office, NYC, built 1912, 421 8th Avenue, located between 31st and 33rd street. Firm of McKim, Mead & White, Architect
Herodotus beats the elements

You would think that the powers that be who are in charge of managing mass transit in NYC would have sufficient experience and preparedness to handle the inclement weather that bombards the city historically, throughout the 4 seasons of the year. But, unlike the postal service which is undeterred in delivering your package, as noted on the facade of the James Farley Post Office "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds (adopted from a saying by Herodotus about messengers)," the mass transit system in NYC makes no such promise.

While NYC may be one of the service capitals of the world. Home to some of the worlds largest and finest educational, medical, science, culinary, performing, visual art, think tank and financial institutions, it is falls short in providing consistently good quality public transportation. It is like a potluck super. Potlucks can be good, but it all depends on the baker or cook and their mood that day. So instead of saying "Bon Apetite," we say "Buena Suerte," at our transit feast.

The range of weather patterns that can capsize the bobbing Big Apple is astounding.

It's too hot -- No train service.

It snowed -- No train and sometimes no bus service.

It rained -- No train and sometimes no bus service.

It's windy outside, "fogetabou" your hair concern yourself with how you'll get to where your going.

Today thousands of New Yorkers hi-hoing their way home after a long day found themselves stranded in Manhattan trying to figure out how to get to Long Island, serviced by the LIRR or neighborhoods nestled in the path of the NYCTA #7 train which runs from Times Square to Main St. Flushing. Yours truly included.

The lesson to be learned my friends is you cannot depend on the mass transit powers that be to get you where you have to go with any consistency so you have to take power into your own hands-- be a more savvy commuter. How do you do this? Know where you are heading and have a backup plan. Do your homework in advance and know what trains or buses can take you from point A to B and at what points if any along your journey you will have to take a yellow cab or car service and at what cost.

E.T. Phones home

My journey started shortly after 6PM. I took an F train to 34th Street to catch the LIRR at Penn Station. Commuters were flooding in as usual but the outflow made me wonder "what's up?" I saw the storm from the windows of the office. It was bad but didn't last long. I thought, "perhaps some sporting or other event is taking place at Madison Square. Yeah, that's the ticket. No need to worry." But the crowd at the end of the escalator red flagged me to "time to start worrying." Like many commuters my first thought was like E.T's "PHONE HOME!" "PHONE HOME!" My daughter goes on the internet and tells me there is no LIRR service. Fortunately I have an alternate route home via the #7 train and connecting bus service.

After getting off the train at 42nd St.-Times Square I grab a seat on the train and close my eyes to take a nap. Moments later I am awakened by an NYCTA employee announcing that "Number 7 train service is suspended," and for alternate routes take the E, F, or R service to stations in Queens with connecting shuttle bus service. It's just before 7PM. We have gone through this before. Service is suspended and 15-20 minutes later it is back. Too tired to fight with the crowds flooding platforms for the other trains and connecting buses I sit tight.

Fifteen minutes pass. The crowd continues to grow. No change in service. Another NYCTA employee comes by with the same announcement. Commuters still take to filling the trains. Five minutes later the trains are taken out of services and the platform clears except for a few who stay behind to read, nap, listen to music, play with hand-held games or chat. It is at times like this that NY'er let their guard down to engage each other in polite if brief conversations.

Someone is without their gift tonight!
8:01PM- I am setting on a bench. Transit workers come around to remind stragglers there is no train service. No one is in a rush. Those who were in a rush are long gone and some long parted from possessions they were toting. It can't be more quiet or stress free where the throngs are waiting to exit stations and board buses. The reading, napping, music listening, gaming playing and chatting continues. If the moving of commuters elsewhere was in part just for crowd control it was a success. I rather stay to write and read.

8:07PM- One of the workers smiles at the benchwarmers and announces there is a "nice air conditioned" car at their disposal that will be making limited stops. Limited. C'mon this is NY. You are only as limited as you choose to be. Got a worm in your apple cut it out. Got a sour apple drizzle it with some honey or Bake it.

At 8:15PM less than 20 people fill the car as the first train leaves. It stops at each station and there are delays along the way. But at least we are finally on our  way home.

Online Trip Planners

You can plan a trip via MTA's website, using "Plan A Ride"  or the following: 

Hop (NYC) Select your transportation mode, Subway/Rail Only, Bus Only, Subway/Rail or Bus Only, Walking Only

511NY Gives you an option of selecting carriers such as Amtrak, NJ Transit, Suburban Transit, Westchester Bee-Line, etc.

Trip Planner Choose Travel By Subway, Local Bus, Express Bus and starting and ending line preferences

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years Old: 9/11 Changes

"It's the economy stupid." "It's the jobs stupid." "It's the Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, Cuba."

"It's Communism." "It's Socialism." "It's Capitalism." "It's Castro, Chavez, Obama, Bush, Americans."

"It's the Chinese." "It's the Russians." "It's the Jews, Muslims, Christians, Whites, Blacks, Mexicans, Japanese."

"It's Men, Women, Teens." "It's the generation gap, gen X-ers and Y's, Millenials and Boomers."

"It's Beethoven, the British Invasion" "It's all the shaking and gyrating." "It's not enough shaking and baking." "It's Rock, Rap."

"It's Alcohol, Cigarettes, Drugs, Guns, Over/Underpopulation." "It's the Axis Evil, Hopelessness, Fear."

"It's interest rates, inflation, over spending, over saving, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the snack food industry."

"It's the Auto Industry." "It's Outsourcing, Offshoring, Protectionism, Globalization, the Dollar, Euro, Yen, Yuan, Pound, Peso exchange."

"It's Fat Cats with deep pockets." "It's Welfare recipients with no pockets." "It's Wall Street." "It's Main Street." "It's the A/Bi/Hetero/Homo/Transsexuals." "It's Walmart."

"It's the NRA, ACLU." "It's the Unions." "It's not enough Unions." "It's the Schools."

"It's deforestation, global warming and not global warming." "It's the Oil Industry." "It's the Fashion Industry." "It's the Fed."

"It's taxing too much." "It's not taxing enough." "It's the City Folk, Country Folk, Village People."

"It the Southern states." "It's the Northern states." "It's the Midwest." "It's California, Arizona,Washington." "It's Hollywood, NASA, the Pentagon."

"It's too much Surplus, too much Deficit." "It's the Great Depression, Global Recession."

"It's the Housing Bubble." "It's the Dot-com Bubble." "It's the Asian Contagion." "It's the Greek Contagion." "It's the Politicians, Economists, Businessmen, Lobbyists." "It's the Pharmaceutical Industry." "It's TV."

"It's the Internet." "It's Porn." "It's Video Games." "It's Gambling." "It's Sex and the Media."

"It's too much sugar and candy." "It's Mad Cow Disease." "It's Swine Flu." "It's Bird Flu." "It's the Plague." "It's Yellow Fever, HIV/AIDS." "It's West Nile Virus." "It's DNA."

"It's NOT ME, it's YOU!" "It's not YOU, it's ME!" "It's not US it's them!" "IT'S BIG FOOT." "IT'S ALIENS." "IT'S LEPROSY!!!" "IT's...

There are so many IT's we can choose from to make excuses, sense of or to lay blame for our and others' actions. On what is happening at home and all around the world. In that no one country, people or group is alone. What an astute and growing population there is globally in the art of finger pointing. That it is being past down generations like a precious heirloom should move us inside from ORANGE to RED ALERT. One can only imagine how our human race may appear in the sight of LIFE beyond the parameters of our solar system. God, Deity, Creator, etc. The Alert Systems some may have in place. Perhaps something like this...

The Human Security Alert System
It's hard to blog about New York City and not make some commentary about the September, 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. How once upon a time you road the trains and the only security you expected to see was your Finest NYPD blues. The shock to see Armed forces in camouflaged fatigues joining their league underground. The initial shock, comfort and discomfort to see so many armed and ready. And joining the ranks of service dogs for the blind and disabled, the dogs on duty to sniff for bombs and collateral materials. Thinking that some day the heightened alert would end and their services would no longer be needed. At some point I think most NY'ers came to the realization that our reality was forever changed. This it the New, New York. Troops, bag checks and all.

The amount of hatred, bitterness, resentment, violence and oppression people have and exert towards others all around the world is astounding. That it continues to be perpetuated among generations alarming. Have we learned nothing from these tragic events? The commonalities we all share? The life forces that bind us? Is there no longer enough sense of humanity to turn the bad tide around or shore up against it?

December 21, 2012 the Mayan's predict will be the end of the world as we know it. Some say with the increase in natural disasters year over year some major cataclysmic event will unfold, others that the end is the end of an age bringing forth another. An awakening of human consciousness. Perhaps a rebirth. A joining of all across the world as ONE PEOPLE. We are after all, ALL related? We all start life off the same. A small,  blastocyst, unfolding. Cells differentiating to form inner organs, frame, nervous system brain and flesh. We are touched by the same universal events of life, birth of a child, unions by individuals, death. Cause for joy, celebration, tears.

There are many events throughout New York City held in remembrance of 9/11 filled with speeches, quiet moments for reflection, interfaith prayers and music. From Memorial Floating Lanterns Ceremony to Tribute of Lights.

It is a happy-sad day. So many of us have or know someone who has the story to tell of how a lost wallet or keys or some other delay that morning is the reason the breathe of life still rises within, or of others who died or are sick today because they were exposed to contagions in the air. We must use remembrances as opportunities to build bridges, fill the gaps that divide humankind, with love and compassion, patience and understanding. Tolerance. Otherwise it is all for naught.

Next year it will be a decade gone by since the terrorist attacks. Seize the day, the opportunity to reach out to your neighbors to learn about another culture, faith, philosophy, way of life. Seek out to engage in random acts of kindness indiscriminately each and every day. Set out to be a brick in the foundation of a humanity united across divides and let's see the difference all can make in the coming year. 9/11 Changes.

Today I woke up listening to songs filled with messages of hope, calls for peace and reflection. John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," is beautiful in its simplicity of word, poignant in message as heartfelt today as when it was recorded in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal 41 years ago.

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