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.
Mirrored and split apart by space and time–
the architecture of a larger age
rises above instead of seeking rhyme.
Waves of the future on a bigger stage
eliminate most ornament–design
for residents desiring to upgrade.
No need for detail, guardians of stone–
clean lines, refinement, now adorn their homes.
I was walking along West End Avenue when I spotted some window guardians on a brownstone and took a few photos–then right down the street there was a mirror image house. This made me curious. Had it always been this way? Now there was a large mostly brick apartment building in between.
A little research showed me that yes, the block had once been all brownstones. Here’s what I found on Landmarks West: These two noncontiguous brownstone fronted rowhouses, each twenty feet wide, are four stories in height above raised basements and were designed as mirror images.
They go on: The houses at Nos. 605 and 615 West End Avenue are survivors of a ten house row which originally extended from No. 601 to No. 619. Designed by Thom & Wilson, this row was built between January and October of 1888 for Bernard Wilson, principal in the architectural firm. The row occupied the entire western block front of West End Avenue between West 89th and West 90th Streets and included large houses at the corners. The row was first broken in 1916 when Nos. 601 and 603 were demolished for a twelve story apartment building, again in 1925 when Nos. 607 to 613 were demolished for a sixteen story apartment building, and again when Nos. 617 and 619 were demolished for a fifteen story apartment building.
I do admire the way Rosario Candela, the architect of many apartment buildings in NYC, designed the larger building so that the bottom part echoed the lines of the two surrounding brownstones. I could not find a photo of the street as it originally was, but I bet there were more guardians to be found on those houses.
The brownstones have been slightly altered over the years, so they are not exactly alike now. But they still have their window guardians. This one, at 607 West End Avenue, is evidently still a private home.
615 West End Avenue is a rental–in fact the upper triplex is for rent right now for a mere $16,000/month. If you want to see the listing, and take a virtual tour, you can find it on Streeteasy, here.
I myself love to look at real estate listings. There’s nothing for sale right now in the larger building, but here’s the listing for the most recent sale if you’d like to see what the apartments are like. This is considered an aspirational-size apartment for all New Yorkers–“7 rooms”–most people occupy much smaller (and darker) spaces.
My poem is in the ottava rima form, for Muri’s April Scavenger Hunt.
And you can find more Thursday Doors at host Dan Antion’s site, here.
Too many glass boxes
disguised as buildings–
a mirror of themselves–
I prefer a threshold
under a stone guardian–
one that remembers landscapes
filled with foliage and wings.
I’m lucky to live in a city with a political climate that leans towards saving some of its beautiful architecture. No, they don’t build them like this any more–it’s too expensive.
Here’s another guardian on West End Avenue, with some lovely metalwork too.
Another door with multiple guardians. When I looked through my photos, there were a lot of them, but I’ve saved some for future posts. And I’m sure there are many more left for me to discover.
The poem was written for Sarah’s dVerse prompt, where mirror was one of the suggested words.
And as always find more Thursday Doors here.
a book of luminous things–
the sun and the moon,
the beautiful things that heaven bears
St Agnes is now my local library branch. I’ve been going there for years, though, because once a month, pre-pandemic, they had a booksale in their basement with thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, and paper ephemera donated by patrons. I’m anxiously awaiting its return, not only as a source for books to read, but for inexpensive reference books for my collages.
I decided to do a book spine poem in tribute–the top two books are books I’m currently reading, and the bottom one is one I’ve already read, all courtesy of sales from years past. All highly recommended.
Here’s the well-worn and welcoming front door. There’s a ramp on the left side for strollers or wheelchairs, and an elevator inside, making the books wheelchair-accessible. I was so happy when it reopened at the end of last summer.
The library originally housed the NYPL Library for the Blind, which has since moved to 25th Street. The building was designed by architectural firm Babb, Cook & Willard for the West End Club, taken over by a bicycling group, the Century Wheelmen Club, and acquired by the city in 1905 when Andrew Carnegie donated over 5 million dollars to establish free libraries in NYC. The original book collection was housed in space owned by the St. Agnes Chapel on West 91st Street, and, having outgrown itself, was sold to the city in 1901 for one dollar.
You can read a more complete history, and see more photos, here.
My mother was a librarian, so books have always had an important place in my life. Libraries are truly a gift we should support and cherish, a world of knowledge open to everyone.
And see more Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion, here.
Stop war. Help.
Where to go?
The life left.
Tried to flee.
Stop war. Help.
For what? What?
So much grief.
Can’t go back.
Stop war. Help.
I wanted to wait until the scaffolding on the left side came down to photograph St. Volodymyr, but now seems like the time to look at its front door, scaffolding or not.
The door is a simple one, of plain wood with lace curtains, in contrast to the ornate building itself. The interior is quite spectacular, to judge from the photos here. St. Volodymyr “was first constructed in 1894-96 to be a synagogue by noted New York architect Arnold W. Brunner and became a church in 1958.”
There was an interfaith prayer service held at the cathedral yesterday, attended by Gov. Kathy Hochul and other religious and political dignitaries.
Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday prompt this week was to Create Your Own Syllabic Form. I’m calling mine “333”:
3 verses/3 lines in each verse/3 one-syllable words in each line
Line one repeats as line 2 in second verse and line 3 in third verse
The words in my poem were taken from interviews with Ukrainian refugees and inspired by the signs on St Volodymyr’s door.
Dan Antion hosts Thursday Doors here.
innocent of the leaving
that has no return.
You know the
adage—when one door
it’s true, this
world contains millions of doors–
they are everywhere.
I still greet
each new door with hope–
by unjaded promises–
freshly painted dreams.
Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt of the color green led me to look through my files for green doors. I love the detail on both the entrance to the building above, and its door.
I’ve never lived behind a green door, but this one, a few steps down, in inviting.
I like the grand surround to this door, especially when contrasted with the simplicity of its brick house.
Dan Antion hosts Thursday Doors here.
My poem is a shadorma chain. I can’t help it, it’s my favorite form.
in and out
linger in passing–
This week I’m showing some recessed doors. They make for handsome entrances. I’m not sure what the turquoise stripe at the top is in the doorway above. It looks like a reflection of some sort–I’ll have to look for this doorway again.
The doorway below has interesting brickwork.
Here’s some information on the organization that owns The Three Arts Club building, above. “West Side Federation For Senior and Supportive Housing, Inc. (WSFSSH) was formed in 1976 by a coalition of social service agencies, religious institutions, and community organizations. Together we worked to create a new form of housing – one that would meet the diverse needs of older people and persons living with special needs.” I like the way their buildings are integrated into the neighborhood. There is certainly a great need for this kind of housing.
You can see more doors, hosted by Dan Antion, here.
Will life spill over, fall from the heavens,
cascading down below, overflowing its limits, breaking through?
How to become the ritual that includes, gathers,
distributes everything as if it belonged to all.
Spirit dancing on currents, following the vibrating lines
of a delicate web, through portals, ancient stories
that talk of roots, the branches of trees
keeping the world order balanced and growing—true.
Everyone is born with the ability to make a choice.
You cannot stop the spread of lies by spreading more lies.
Fear stalks its own reflection.
The call of truth involves danger.
A compromise with evil is not possible.
Move at the abiding center of things and you never go astray.
I started my Beach I Ching series the first year Nina and I began our blog, 2014, when I was photographing the things I had collected on the beach and noticed they formed hexagrams. I did a lot of them the first two years and then they fell by the wayside. But each trip to the beach I photographed more. One of my intentions for the past two years is to get back to doing them.
In Guai the water is above, the heavens below. It is a time when renewal is possible, a breakthrough. But it is a mistake to go about this cleansing in a negative way. And remember to be generous, and share the bounty. Be resolute and persevere.
The poem is in the Bagua form, which consists of 8 lines of 8 words each, divided into 2 stanzas.
It looks like
long ago and
waiting for once
seems to be expecting us.
Diana Peach provided the above image for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday which, of course, was perfect for Thursday Doors. I wrote my poem, a Whitney (3/4/3/4/3/4/7) to her image and then looked in my door photo archive for suitable doors to match. I was enchanted by the way the top door matched so beautifully its gate.
This door has always seemed mysterious to me. Where does the shadowy staircase inside lead?
And for some reason this door always makes me think of Hobbits. Plenty of enchantment there.
Dan Antion is the host of Thursday Doors–you can visit them all and add your own here.
An opening is full of mystery–
new passages, a shifting point of view.
What lies beyond this threshold—destiny?
Whose feet have trod this path, what history
has left its imprint here, its residue?
An opening is full of mystery.
Myriad layers of peripheries
cause our vision to be displaced, confused.
What lies beyond this threshold—destiny?
We wish for knowledge, rules, simplicity,
something more than a vague amorphous clue–
an opening is full of mystery.
A mirror to affirm validity,
a way to start again, transform, renew—
what lies beyond this threshold—destiny?
A life of meaning, synchronicity–
the what the where the why the how the who–
an opening is full of mystery.
What lies beyond is waiting—what will be?
This closed off doorway to what must have once been an elegant building, the Saxony, has always seemed mysterious–particularly since it’s been ornamented with a potted tree. A little research indicates it’s been merged with a neighboring building into a larger co-op, so I guess that’s where the entrance is located now. I’ll have to go back and look for it. It seems a shame that they closed it off. Emory Roth is a well known architect and designed many residences on the Upper West Side. You can see a photo of the entire building here.
I wrote the villanelle for Ingrid’s prompt at dVerse, bending the rules a bit, as I tend to do.
You can join in Thursday doors here.