Archive for January, 2009

Furry Furry Fashionable

I am still basking in my post Inaugural ceremony glow. I have taken my time writing about what I saw and felt that day in DC.  A couple of days ago a friend sent me a link to The New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham’s photos of what people were wearing at the Inaugural ceremony. I had seen them and this is what I replied back:

I saw this.
I love Bill Cunningham’s on the street photos.
I must say he did take my photo once at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, I was carrying an armload of peonies and wearing my vintage waterfall print skirt.
I was leaving the market, on my way home walking toward 5th avenue.
He sprang up from behind me and I was blinded for half a second by super bright white light.
I did not have time to protest.
I didn’t know who he was.
He didn’t ask if he could take my picture.
But he stepped back looking at me and said, “Marvelous”.
How could I protest after that?
I see him from time to time there.
And once riding his bike in Central Park. With camera around his neck of course.
I would love his job.
So I”m surprised he didn’t have better access for the Inauguration.
I disagree with him on his comment about “no fashion” among the spectators.
I was in fact surprised to see just how sophisticated and elegant a lot of women looked.
And to stand outside in the frigid air for several hours no less!
A lot of women had on high heels!
That I didn’t understand.
Two women brushed by me — very fancy — fluffy Donna Summersesque wigs (or weaves, though wigs would’ve probably been warmer — they weren’t wearing hats), one in a long pink mohair cape and high heeled boots.
Faces done. That cape was really stunning and made me rethink my outerwear choices.
I seriously felt like I was on my way to pick apples or stir my compost heap.
I haven’t seen that many full length fur coats in one place in a very long time.
Even the men were wearing them.
But the weather was the ideal condition for them.
It was nothing for a half a dozen women to walk by all in full length black mink coats.
Like they were going to church.
They reminded me of my mother and her friends and my aunt going to the Ebony Fashion Fair in the 70s.
They would get completely dressed up to go to this fashion show in downtown Chicago.
My mother didn’t own a fur, didn’t care to own one, but she’d borrow her friend’s coat just the same, to go over a new dress she’d sewn overnight.
I was reminded of all of that.
What these women were wearing and how they were wearing it hit me in a much deeper place than any of the women he shoots crossing Fifth Avenue and 57th Street near Bergdorf’s.

The women in DC were not trendy.
And yes, in that vein not fashionable.
They were wearing a lot more than those sweeping fur coats that day.
And he said he would have surely regretted not being there.
I certainly agree.

Here are other joyous spectators I captured on Inauguration Day.

Tell a friend, or two, about this post…

January 30, 2009 at 1:39 am Leave a comment

The Bronx in The Smithsonian and Abe

Crazy Leg's Jean Jacket in the Smithsonian

Crazy Leg's Jean Jacket and MC Lyte's journal in the Smithsonian.

Smithsonian Placard for Crazy Leg's Jacket
Dorothy's Ruby Slippers in the Smithsonian

Dorothy's Ruby Slippers in the Smithsonian

Last week on Inauguration Day, the Smithsonian, thankfully, was open.  So we had a nice spot to get warm and to use the facilities.  [As a side, I did not know that the Smithsonian was not one museum but nineteen.  We told ourselves that we’ll definitely come back to DC for a weekend visit in an effort to up our identification of buildings other than the White House.] We stopped in the Air & Space Museum and then later walked across the Mall to the National Museum of American History.  I overheard two women mention the Julia Child kitchen had just closed, darn, I really would have liked to see that. But a nice woman in early American dress, either Jamestownian or Williamsburgian, I’m not certain, told me that Lincoln’s top hat was on display upstairs. We got a bit side tracked with Stephen Colbert’s portrait, then ended up in an alcove with Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, the original Kermit and Oscar the Grouch, a beaded gown and super high heeled wedges worn by Celia Cruz. Further in was a case of objects once owned by the Founding Fathers and Mothers of Hip-Hop:  Grandmaster Flash‘s turntable resting on top of Fab 5 Freddy‘s Boom Box,  Crazy Legs‘s jean jacket, (The Big Guy recognized graffiti artist Shy 147′s tag painted in the background, maybe he painted the entire jacket? No mention on the placard)*,  Afrika Bambaataa‘s Zulu nation pendant and MC Lyte‘s suspiciously brand new looking journal.   A few years ago, The Smithsonian launched a multi-year collecting initiative to begin documenting the impact and importance of Hip Hop in American culture.  Ahhh, the Bronx representing in our Nation’s capital.

Grandmaster Flash's Turntable at the Smithsonian.  The white line on the record is the mark made by the DJ where the beat begins.

Grandmaster Flash's Turntable at the Smithsonian. The white line on the record is made by the DJ to mark where the beat begins.

Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat worn the night he was assassinated.

Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat worn the night he was assassinated.

Here is Lincoln’s top hat, the last one he wore on the evening he went to the Ford Theatre. I had a spooky feeling looking at his hat, half expecting to see a round bullet hole. I didn’t see one. I didn’t want to see one.

A wall of Lincoln portraits from the age of 37 to 56 showed how much he’d aged and so quickly.  What a transformation! Upon seeing his face at 37 — clean shaven, bright eyes and dimpled chin, I gasped. Loudly. Others nearby laughed knowingly. His face at 56, with dark shadows around the eyes, the full beard, looked haggard but the more familiar Lincoln image.  (Oddly, though, his hair had not turned white, unlike most recent presidents at the end of their tenure, ie Clinton and Bush Jr.)

Abraham Lincoln at 37 years old.

Abraham Lincoln at 37 years old.

Abraham Lincoln at 56 years old at the Smithsonian.

Abraham Lincoln at 56 years old.

The man standing next to me said, “Hey if you it was your job to free the slaves, let’s see how good you’d look.”

*UPDATE 4/6/09: Legendary break dancer Crazy Legs, sent a comment regarding the artist who painted his jacket — West Coast dancer, Easy Roc did the artwork. See his full comment below.

January 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm 3 comments

Inauguration Day

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January 24, 2009 at 12:46 pm 1 comment

Songs In the Key of The New President’s Life

Odetta performing at the March on Washington.  She had hoped to perform at the Obama Inauguration.  She died last December.

Odetta performing at the March on Washington in 1963. She had hoped to perform at the Obama Inauguration, but she died last December.

Here are 44 songs for the day that Barack Hussein Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States.

Songs to be stuck in traffic on the way to DC by…
Songs to sing to on the bus, the train or the subway…
Songs to deflect hypothermia while shivering in the cold on the Washington Mall…

Songs to dance to at your own Neighborhood Inaugural Ball…
Songs to jam to in your living room on January 20th…

Songs marked with an asterisk * are apparently from Obama’s own iPod or from his sound engineer played during his campaign rallies, or songs that Obama has claimed are his favorites. I have no way, of course, to know if this is entirely true as this info has been gleaned from the interweb.

Many of the songs have a video of some sort that can be viewed on youtube. (I couldn’t find Odetta singing “We Shall Overcome”… if anyone does, please kindly send the link…)

And let me know what songs you would include!

Bronx Bohemian’s Playlist for the Obama Inauguration 2009:

Sam Cooke
“A Change is Gonna Come”

“This Little Light of Mine”
“We Shall Overcome”
“Freedom Trilogy” is how Odetta referred to the three songs she sang at the March on Washington in 1963:
“Oh Freedom,”
“Come and Go With Me to That Land,” and
“I’m on My Way”

Donny Hathaway
“Someday We’ll All Be Free”
This song is so gorgeous, so moving and one I had not heard in a very long time.
Great choice discovered on the Obama Playlist of The F$%K It List
(Aretha Franklin also sings a version of this song)

Aretha Franklin
“Rock Steady”

Sly & The Family Stone
“A Family Affair”
“Everyday People” *

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” *

Bob Marley
“One Love”

Bob Dylan
“Blowin In the Wind'” *

“There’s Hope” *

Earth, Wind & Fire
“Shining Star” *
“Keep Your Head To The Sky”

McFadden and Whitehead
“Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” *

The Isley Brothers
“Shout” *
“Climbin’ Up The Ladder”

James Brown
“I Got You (I Feel Good)”

Third World
“Now That We’ve Found Love”

Counting Crows

Emily King

Marvin Gaye
“What’s Going On”

Curtis Mayfield
“Move On Up” *

Kanye West
“Touch the Sky”

Edwin Starr

The Doobie Brothers
“Long Train Running” *
“Takin’ It To The Streets” *

Stevie Wonder
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” *

Simon & Garfunkel
“Mrs. Robinson”

Staples Singers
“I’ll Take You There” *

Ben E. King
“Stand By Me”

Rolling Stones
“Gimme Shelter” *

“Good Times”

Sam and Dave
“Hold On I’m Coming” *

Jill Scott

Bill Withers
“Lovely Day”

The Pointer Sisters
“Yes We Can Can”


After reading my previous post about the Obama Inauguration, a dear reader sent me two links showing the front pages of newspapers across the US and around the world after Obama’s November win.  Looking at them gave me chills all over again. I can’t wait to see the covers the day after the Inauguration.

January 18, 2009 at 9:52 am 4 comments

National Day of Service is coming to The Bronx

The new President will need our help.
He said so the night of his victory speech back in November.

Next Monday, January 19th, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Holiday is

National Service Day

I know I said I would help him.
And I know others that did too.

Here’s our chance to roll up our sleeves and get busy!
Right here in the Bronx…

We can sign up to volunteer or to request volunteers here:

January 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm Leave a comment

Pancakes on Ice

Sunday morning I made pancakes and turkey sausage, filled our thermoses with steaming hot chai, packed it all up and we ate outside at Orchard Beach.  I wanted to see how the snow was looking. The Big Guy agreed, but he really did not want to go.  I could tell.  But the beach was so beautiful. All the tree branches were shimmering with ice.    I was reminded of that silver tinsel we’d hang from the Christmas tree for icicles.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen trees so silvery. Almost every surface was wrapped in a skin of ice. The pancakes were still warm when we unwrapped them and buttery and syrupy and cooling quickly.  What was most startling was the sound of the ice crackling and snapping over our heads — it was melting.  Soon we had an arc of squawking gulls and pigeons around us.  Skittish creatures. But their hungry distance was slowly closing  in.  Soon we packed up our plates and walked up the boardwalk a bit, then veered off onto the sand — crunchy snow covered sand.  The Big Guy was laughing.  “This beach looks like Mars.” We walked out of the snow into the ocean.  Our boots ankle high in the water.  We looked for horseshoe crabs.  We didn’t see any.   Actually I can’t think of a better start to the New Year.

Happy New Year Dear Readers!

p.s.  If you’d like the recipe for the pancakes (made entirely from scratch!) I’d be happy to email it to you.  Just contact me through the comment field below.

January 13, 2009 at 12:22 am 1 comment

Borough In My Hands — Maps of the Bronx


My Favorite Bronx Maps

Even in this day of mapquest, hopstop and gps, I really like a good paper map. Oversized. Fold out style. A bit unwieldy. Yeah, I like the heft of a fold out paper map. In our Chelsea studio, as “cozy” as it was, we had a “Map Room”. It was actually the underside of our loft bed where we had our work space. We tacked maps from everywhere to the support beams and we’d tilt our heads back to gaze at Jamaica or the world or the U.S.

Now I have two fold out maps of the Bronx that serve me well.

Close up of Parkchester/West Farms nabes in the Bronx

NYC Transit Bronx Bus Map: Close up of Parkchester/West Farms nabes in the Bronx

I can find out how to get anywhere in the Bronx by bus or subway or even Metro North with the MTA Bronx Bus Map. The MTA’s bus maps are great to have even if you’re not a city bus rider. The streets are clearly labelled as well as the names of the neighborhoods and notable points of interest (museums, galleries, universities). One drawback is the building numbers are not noted. For that information I use a Hagstrom map, “Borough of the Bronx, City of New York, Street Map.”

Close up of Parkchester/West Farms nabes in the Bronx

The Hagstrom Map shows the same Parkchester/West Farms nabe with more detals: building numbers and zip codes, for example.

This map is perfect for finding out the exact location of a known street address and the map to use for driving to and around the Bronx. All the Bronx streets are listed and can be located in the map’s grid. It lists more City Island streets than does the bus map. I discovered other Bronx islands too: Cat Briar Island, Chimney Sweeps Islands, Hog Island and Rat Island on this map. (I think no one lives on any of them). This map also notes the postal codes throughout the Bronx. I like this detail even if the map is not entirely accurate, but it gives an idea of where to find a particular zip code.

Can't get over that knot of lanes leading into the Whitestone Bridge.

Can't get over that knot of lanes, near the top, leading into the Whitestone Bridge.

I like to sweep my eyes over a map of the entire borough all at once.  I like the surprise of spotting something new or odd. I feel cheated of this when I use the computer. Or on my “smart” cell phone. And I’m convinced that I can find a location and the route to get there faster with my paper fold-out map than if I used mapquest.

I found the Bronx Bus map in the local library. But I’ve also seen bus maps for all boroughs in the main library Mid-Manhattan branch on 5th Ave & 41st St. The Hagstrom map I found in the local card shop on Metropolitan Avenue.

January 10, 2009 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

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