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Six Happiness (Thursday Doors)

Her life was overflowing red,
painting absence into corners.
How much joy can one hold? she said–
it’s crossed over every border.
I can taste the good luck, the wealth–
like chili peppers—hot, untamed.
Mix it with longevity, health–

the Phoenix rises scarlet, flamed.

I’ve always been intrigued by this Six Happiness door, which belongs to an Asian Fusion restaurant, although I think the door is older than this iteration of Chinese Food. They have a pleasant outdoor dining space too.

It was only when doing research for this post that I discovered this is the back side of The Endicott, a co-op apartment building that was formerly a hotel. It takes up the entire block between 81st and 82nd street on Columbus Avenue.

The actual apartment entrance, on 81st Street, is imposing, but not as memorable as Six Happiness. Storefronts along Columbus Avenue include a Starbucks, a branch of the Strand Bookstore, a restaurant, and several clothing stores.

The Endicott Hotel was built in 1890. The architect was Edward L Angell, who designed the brownstones in my Juliet Balcony post. In the early 1900s, it served as a meeting place for “society” and the city’s Republican Party. Plagued by disasters, scandals, and money problems, it became a center for organized crime in the 1930s. The 60s and 70s saw its deterioration, along with much of the neighborhood, into a welfare hotel that was the scene of many violent crimes.

One positive note: it was also the site of the NY Dolls’ first public performance.

In the 1980s, again like many of the buildings on the Upper West Side, The Endicott was renovated and converted into luxury co-op apartments, as part of the re-gentrification of New York. It has since been landmarked, so the ornamentation and window guardians will be preserved.

The Endicott Hotel has its own Wikipedia page, if you want a more detailed history.

The poem is a Dizain for Muri’s W3 prompt, which asks us to write from the perspective of someone with synethesia.

I learn new things with every one of these posts. In Chinese culture, there are Five Happinesses–variously called, in the course of my research, good luck, joy, happiness, prosperity, wealth, harmony, longevity, good life, blessings, fertility, virtue, health, and peaceful death. And all things related to joy and happiness are associated with the color red, the most auspicious of Chinese colors. And also the color of the auspicious Phoenix and its fire.

The Sixth Happiness? –evidently, that’s the one you discover within yourself.

Visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors, here, to see more doors and add some of your own.

Faith, Hope, Love (Thursday Doors on Friday)

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
–1 Corinthians 13:13

Love brings together what is in danger of falling apart.  Love supports what is in danger of falling down.  Love extends itself to embrace those who are in danger of being lost.

Love can be expressed through ritual, repetition, ceremony.  Love can be expressed through music, words, movement, art.  Love can be expressed through sight, sound, touch. 

Love enlarges its container, its vessel, its heart.  Love fills what is empty, feeds what is hungry, connects and includes.  Love is doing but also being.

Love trusts and is trustworthy.  Love opens doors, lets in light, reveals truth.  Love always answers need in the affirmative:  yes.

When I entered this room in the Jewish Museum I was stopped by the beauty of the far wall. I recognized right away the work of Kehinde Wiley on the left, and was captivated by its juxtaposition with the Torah Ark on the right and the shadows cast by the room’s lighting. No one else entered the room while I was there, providing me with an intimate experience of the presence of spirit that the room evoked.

A Torah Ark is a cabinet constructed to hold the Torah scrolls in a synagogue. The doors are opened only to remove the Torah for prayers and the reading of scripture. When the scrolls are returned to the Ark, the doors are once again closed.

This Ark, beautifully carved by Abraham Shulkin in 1899, was originally located in Adath Yeshurin Synagogue in Sioux City, Iowa. Shulkin was a Russian immigrant who included elements of the folk art ornamentation of his birthplace in the design, which was common in Eastern Europe Arks of the 18th and 19th centuries. None of the wooden Torah Arks of this style in Eastern Europe survived World War II.

Kehinde Wiley’s painting is part of his “World Stage” series, in which he “inserts images of people of color from around the world into the Western tradition of portraiture”. This is a portrait of Alios Itzhak, an Ethiopian Israeli Jew. The work includes many of the ornamental images found on the Torah Ark, providing both an echo and a mirror.

I have a soft spot for the work of Kehinde Wiley. You can read about it in one of my previous posts, here.

And learn more about this Torah Ark here.

My poem was written for the W3 prompt, where Britta asked us to respond to her poem “Boots on the ground”, with a prose poem on the subject of love. Fortuitously and quite by accident, it also answers Bjorn’s dVerse prompt for a poem that includes our own aphorisms.

And as always look for more doors and share your own here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.

Jimson Weed 2022

I missed the flow’ring of the weed–
my photo shows instead the seed.
It did return this year indeed
to Riverside Drive.

You may remember that last year I was surprised to find jimson weed growing by a tree planted near 96th Street on Riverside Drive. The Parks Department cleared all the growth around the trees sometime in October (hopefully wearing gloves!) and I wondered if it would return this year. Below are my first sightings, taken in early and mid-August.

I didn’t get back to photo it until the end of August, when I took the above photos. I had missed the flowers! But there was a seed. Below is a flower photo from last year’s plant.

But my last year photos were from September, so maybe it will have a second flowering this year. I’ll try to check on it from time to time.

My poem, for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday Share your Day theme, is an Ovi, as conveniently suggested by Muri in her scavenger hunt of “name” forms.

And here are some other photos from my walk through Riverside Park. That’s New Jersey across the river.

You can read all about jimson weed here.

aka The Evelyn (Thursday Doors)

Who was the first to embellish their shelter?  I imagine a bird, gathering material –sturdy and warm, but what’s this?—also eye-catching–to build a secure place to raise their family.  Practical, useful, yet at the same time pleasing in a way that lies beyond rational thought.

Humans often stray too far beyond logic in their abodes, valuing ornament over comfort.  But there is delight in beauty. 

As I walk the city streets, examining and photographing the buildings I pass, I not only think about the exterior décor, but what exists behind the façade, inside.  Who lives there?  What stories can these walls tell?

late summer light is
harsh, sharp with lingered shadows–
autumn ghosts await

101 West 78 Street, “aka 380-384 Columbus Avenue aka The Eveylyn” (as Landmarks put it in their Historic District designation), was planned as a luxury building by developer James O’Friel in the late 1800s, and has undergone a recent renovation to make it (supposedly) even more luxurious for the 2000s. The original architect, responsible for the terracotta embellishments, was Emil Gruwe, although after O’Friel went bankrupt and sold the building additional stories were added by architects Douglas and John Jardine.

The actual entrance to the building, on 78th Street, doesn’t have the cachet of the Columbus Avenue storefront, which may have originally been a restaurant, as one article I read said it had one when it was built. Now it’s an empty storefront, vacant since the building-wide renovation began.

Here’s some close ups of the terracotta above the doorway. An angel, cherubs, possibly griffins.

The corner windows on Columbus Avenue also have similar figures. The door to the right of them, made by extending a window, evidently caused a lot of controversy when it was constructed. At least they were not allowed to remove the terracotta embellishments, which they wanted to do at the same time. And now the building is in the Historic District, so it will hopefully be protected from further exterior changes.

Some of the 78 Street corner windows have guardians.

and more angels. If you’re interested in a detailed history of this building and its residents, which included deaths and suicides, marital scandals, at least one pyramid scheme, and a ransom attempt, the Daytonian has a great article that you can find here.

My haibun is in answer to Mish’s dverse prompt on the subject of shelter. I’m probably too late for Mr. Linky, but couldn’t resist using it for Thursday Doors. Which you can find, as always, with host Dan Antion, here.

Oh, and there’s still one newly renovated apartment available, if you have an extra 10 million…

The Lolita (Thursday Doors)

Maria de los
Mary, Full
of Sorrows—reclaim your name–
become who you are

The Lolita, 227 Central Park West, is another building I’ve walked by many times without paying much attention to it. I was sitting on a bench across the street drinking coffee and something on the facade caught my attention–was that a face? I picked up my phone and snapped a 10x photo–yes! it was.

The door, which is on the side street, is handsome, but unless you are looking closely, up, you could easily, as I had, miss all the beautiful ornamental details above.

Designed by architects Thom and Wilson in 1888, The Lolita is the second oldest co-op on Central park West (the Dakota is the first). I could find no history as to why it was named The Lolita–this was long before Nabokov–but even without that association it seems a strange choice. Lolita is a diminutive of Dolores which means “sorrows”. Not an auspicious name.

Thom and Wilson were considered pedestrian architects, but they designed hundreds of buildings known for their terracotta details and ornaments that “contribute to the special architectural and historic character of the Upper West Side.” I’m sure I’ve photographed many of them in my wanderings–I’ll have to look again now that I have a list from the Landmarks website.

Lolita reached its highest popularity as a girls name in the United States in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for the owners of the name to disentangle it from the shadow of Nabokov. And Lola, another diminutive of Dolores, will never be free of the Kinks.

One other note–there’s an apartment for sale in the building for just under 5 million(!) dollars. it’s true it has a view of the park, but still…even for someone used to NYC real estate that seems somewhat unbelievable.

And, as always, find more doors here with host Dan Antion.

Rachmaninoff Slept Here (Thursday Doors)

hands play,
the piano

thresholds, open

I’ve often passed the red plaque noting that 505 West End Avenue was once the home of Sergei Rachmaninoff, but it’s only recently that I really looked at the building and examined the door. The awning is a distraction, but above it there is a very large guardian keeping watch, which I noticed first and photographed from the side.

The building was designed in 1922 by architect Gaetano Ajello, who is responsible for many buildings on the Upper West Side. I think I may have even featured guardians from one of them–I’ll have to go back and check the exact address. An immigrant from Italy, he retired from architecture after 20 years to become an inventor, obtaining patents for airplanes, bicycles, and shoes.

A close up of the guardian makes me think he is yet another green man.

Rachmaninoff, in addition to being a well-known composer, was also a fine pianist and conductor. Also an immigrant, his family left Russia after the Revolution and settled in New York in 1918. He moved into 505 West End Avenue in 1926 and lived there until his death in 1943.

The building is also known for being the location of Barbra Streisand’s apartment in the film “The Mirror Has Two Faces.”

My poem is a lanturne, for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday form prompt, chosen by Lisa, the VerseSmith.

And, as always, find more doors here with host Dan Antion.

St Ignatius Loyola Church (Thursday Doors)


I summon the sun  I summon the moon
God the Father  Mother Mary
worship His light  circle the seasons
above all  intermingled
powerful  nurturing
sovereign  beneficent
the beginning and the end  always returning

St Ignatius Loyola Church, “designed in the Baroque manner by Ditmars and Schickel”, is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Park Avenue. It was dedicated in 1898 and landmarked in 1969. The front doors are large, angular, and imposing.

It houses several schools in the surrounding buildings.

The side doors are all different, but have half-moons above them to form arched entrances.

I really liked all the details of this one.

The parish, administered by the Jesuits, was founded in 1851 by Irish Catholics who fled the Potato Famine for a better life in America. This building was designed, according to the website, following the Jesuit philosophy of “honoring god through beauty and permanence.” The church has a well-known music program and contains a 30-ton pipe organ almost as large as a subway car. You can see interior photos here.

My poem is for the W3 challenge where Punam asked us to respond to her poem “Slavery” by writing about the moon from the sun’s perspective or vice versa. I’ve written a cleave poem, which doesn’t exactly answer the prompt, but gives both points of view. Many of the world’s major religions seem to take the patriarchal view of the sun, but they would do well, in my opinion, to pay more attention to the circular wisdom of the moon.

Find more doors here with host Dan Antion.

Townsend Mews (Thursday Doors)

each building, each element
sovereign in its own way

yet blended to rights–
a coherent whole–

look closely—the flow
interrupts itself

with slight variations–
the echo altered

above and between
the windows and doors–

confident in its place,
a solid geometry

 of curves and angles,
rooted to the street–

a shelter of permanence
and simple beauty

Townsend Mews, a row of five buildings on West 85th Street, was built in 1890 and landmarked in 1991. Named for its architect, Ralph S. Townsend, it is not really a mews, which implies a former stable or carriage house. The name seems to be something made up by local real estate brokers to enhance the sale of its one bedroom apartments.

In the Landmark designation, the author states that the house originally had stoops with stairs to the arched opening above the current rather bland door-and-awning structure. That would have located the guardian above the original front door, where it properly belongs. Still, they noted the beauty of the buildings, eclectic in the style of the Aesthetic Movement, which blended a variety of elements to create both consitency and surprise. I especially like the pagoda-like roof details.

Always on the lookout for guardians, I was delighted to see that the ornamentation of each building was slightly different, and photographed them all. You could easily miss the guardians if you are not always, like me, scrutinizing buildings and their doors.

Ralph Townsend designed many buildings all over the city, including quite a few brownstones on the streets surrounding where I live. He lived in two of his larger buildings and also one brownstone on the Upper West Side and is probably best known for designing the Kenilworth on Central Park West–I’ll definitely have to go take a look at that one.

The poem was written for the W3 challenge prompt, where Ami asks that we respond to her poem using the words sovereign and rights. I’ve had enough of Supreme Rulers and the things they keep taking away.

And as always you can find more Thursday Doors or join in yourself with host Dan Antion, here.

Arches with Wooden Doors (Thursday Doors)

vaulted tree spirits
bridges of transformation
gateways of between

This doorway is flanked by two arched phantom doors

There is something solid, welcoming, and protective about a wooden door, made even more inviting by an arched doorway. 

These are just a few I’ve collected while wandering around the Upper West Side.

I really like the ornamentation on the bottom of the stair railings here.

Find more doors and join in with your own with host Dan Antion, here.

Green Man: Thursday Doors

Green Man first appeared as an architectural element in ancient Rome, where he was associated with Pan and Bacchus.   As a symbol of resurrection, Green Man was incorporated into Medieval Christian architecture along with other Pagan images.  Victorian architects began adding representations of Green Man, along with other decorative elements, to secular buildings, where the Guardian of the Forest now protects the doors and windows of both public buildings and private homes.

many hands
gathered in circles,
tree dancing

crossed over, bridged

When I began looking at my door guardian photos, I was struck by the recurring face of Green Man, a figure embodying the relationship of humans and nature. A spirit occurring in many cultures, he has been resurrected as a symbol of the Green environmental movement in modern times.

I did a collage of him in 2016 for Earth Day.

I like the way the paired doors, of two adjacent brownstones, work together. The doors themselves are different, but complement each other.

My poem is in the tanka prose form for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday.

And, as always, find more doors with host Dan Antion, here.