sign in the window
says Ring 1FE—tempting,
full of promises
the lure of crystal
balls, lines written across palms–
your past, your future
yield to the lions,
passing through their golden fire–
stripped of illusion
gingerly we climb
with hope and fear, hand in hand–
seeking Lady Luck
The first thing that attracted me to this building was the brickwork, but the gold painted lions were hard to miss. As I crossed the street to get a closer look, the window on the right also drew my attention.
Hands in the window? Crystal balls, too, and other mysterious devices. Ring 1FE the sign said. For some reason this made me think of Joni Mitchell’s song “Roses Blue” on her Clouds album. Combined with the lions the invitation seemed both fated and ominous. I could see young Joni walking down this street in Chelsea and shivering a bit at the door behind which her friend Rose resided.
I continued on my way.
uncertain, I felt
a vague un
ease at how
the context had seemingly
buildings were now on
sides of the
street—no recollection of
this terrain remained
lodged in my
parallel world where nothing
retained the same shape?
or was it
just my synapses?–
the past re
recognition had been lost,
refilled with yearning
I took the subway down to Chelsea this week for the first time since 2019–I used to go often to see specific shows or just walk around the galleries, The show I wanted to see was Joan Mitchell’s late paintings at Zwimmer Gallery. But first, of course, was the walk from the subway on Seventh Avenue west towards the river.
I lived briefly in Chelsea in the mid-70s. I knew the street, but did not remember the exact address, although I narrowed it down to the two possible tenements (walk-ups with railroad apartments) above. But I was completely surprised by the door and window guardians, not only on both of these buildings, but on many other ones on this block. I had never noticed them! Neither when I lived there, or since, in my many visits to the neighborhood.
It’s true I was young, and my life was chaotic–but when has my life not been chaotic? And my memory is known to be bad–but still.
Just another example how looking at doors has made me more aware of my surroundings. That would never happen now!
And I couldn’t help thinking back to those years and wondering how easily I could have chosen differently, and who and where I would be now if I had.
I was really drawn to this painting by Joan Mitchell which I had never seen before. Sea and sky.
And as with my recent post on kblog mentioning the difference between the two Nick Caves, I know people confuse Joan Mitchell, the painter, with Joni Mitchell, the musician. The painting above is by Joan; the song below which goes so well with it (and the season) is Joni.
And look for more doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion
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.
end of summer–
still sweltering and tired
of the relentless sun
gratis, an impulse to channel
ancient oceanic immersion
keeps me company
I draw on memories
of sand as floor,
the harmony of waves
water flashes through me
like a train I’ve boarded
that has abandoned its tracks
adjoining these ruminations
is an unmasked eagerness
for the refreshing chill of autumn
but I wonder if the shape
of the year still exists–
or if it will always be now
flooded, burning at the edges–
marching into the pages of a book
we didn’t mean to write
I consulted the Oracle 2 words Jane generated this week for my September circle/grid poem. The shape of time seems to get more distorted by the day.
Maria de los
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.
neither brave nor free–
our leaders bow down to Mammon,
cast life aside
Find the cost of freedom
buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
lay your body down
Kiss—he still longed for
her smile, touch–
he thought it
lost, but it surfaced, wistful,
as a song of love
Long a musical fixture in Central Park, the Naumburg Bandshell was the site of John Lennon’s eulogy in 1980.
We were much much younger then…
In 1904 philanthropist Elkan Naumburg began funding free symphonic concerts in Central Park with picnics and waltzing under the stars. They were so popular that the crowds grew too large for the space; the original cast iron pagoda bandshell was razed, the grounds were paved over, and Naumburg’s nephew, William, designed a new limestone bandshell. It was completed in 1923, with 10,000 attending the symphonic dedication.
I was wandering around the park recently (actually on my way to an appointment on the East Side, but I got distracted) when I found myself in front of the bandshell. It looked forlorn without any performers on this grey windy day. A few other people stopped to take photos then went on their way.
The Bandshell has a rich history, including performances by Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and the Grateful Dead, as well as numerous orchestral and operatic groups. Martin Luther King Jr and Fidel Castro both gave speeches here. It was nearly razed in 1992 after years of vandalism and neglect, but preservationists, spearheaded by Naumburg’s grandson, won a court battle to save it. Renovation was delayed by the city until 2003, when the Central Park Conservancy raised funds to restore it.
Summerstage began its free concerts here in 1986. Because the park was considered so unsafe at that time, the concerts were only given during the day. The large crowds resulting from its popularity caused it to relocate to Rumsey Playfield in 1990, where it remains. Sun Ra and his Arkestra and Ladysmith Black Mambazo were two of the original acts that performed.
My John Lennon-inspired shadorma is for Merril’s prompt at dVerse, where she has given us a selection of English rose names to use in our verse. I chose Julia’s Kiss. John said when he wrote his song he was thinking not only of his mother, Julia, but his wife, Yoko. Love is complex.
You can read more about the Naumburg Bandshell here and the gathering for John Lennon here. I unknowingly lived for a couple years right down the street from John and Yoko in the Village, before they moved into the Dakota, and once saw John in the subway, running to catch a train uptown.
And, as always, there are always more doors to see on Thursday Doors. Visit host Dan Antion here.
of serendipity and
I made a folder of all my arched door photos and noticed there were a number of paired ones, some identical and some not. I like the Jizo statues (at least that’s what I think they are) on the right steps of the top photo. That’s also a very handsome door.
Two different approaches–the one on the left here is looking for more privacy. On the right they painted their railings to match the door.
These modern doors don’t live up to the wonderful surround–I especially like the faces at the top of the arches.
And here’s a pair of arched windows on a beautiful building in sad disrepair.
I’ve written a shadorma to accompany the doors. And the title? I was listening to JT this morning. He still sounds good.
And, as always, visit Dan Antion the host of Thursday Doors, here to see more doors and share your own.
The city is full of sudden plantlife, unexpected oases surrounded by buildings, sidewalks, streets, schools, gates. A potted plant outside a doorway, a vibrant treewell, a median full of flowers, a community garden. A classroom for curious students, a delight for the eyes of a walker, a home for busy squirrels, chattering birds.
colors change between
here and now—they are only
made of light you know—
each shining moment has waves–
none of them ever repeat
I’ve photographed this beautiful gate and looked inside at the garden many times, but I never knew anything about it until I stopped and read the sign on the Amsterdam Avenue side. To be fair, it’s partly covered by a tree branch, and the benches below it are often full of people chatting or just resting along their way. What I discovered is that it’s part of the high school down the block, the Urban Assembly School for Green Careers. An outdoor classroom! I like that idea.
The gate itself has wonderful details, reflecting the focus of the space inside.
The students evidently open the gates to the community on occasion to share both their knowledge and what they have grown. I will keep a lookout for announcements of such an occasion in neighborhood newsletters. You can read more about it here.
The poem is my first attempt at Tanka Prose, as prompted by Colleen for #TankaTuesday.
And here’s a look at Riverside Park, which has finally decided it’s Autumn in New York.
You can see more doors and join in Thursday doors yourself here.