Showing posts with label New Haven Railroad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label New Haven Railroad. Show all posts

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New York and Boston

It is challenging writing while on the boat.  There is limited broadband connection, and it is frequently lost, so frustration is a prevailing theme.  And while we’re here for such a short summer, other activities compete for time. 

Nonetheless, I don’t want to find an impossible chore when we return in the fall, so, as a placeholder, this is a relatively brief entry on the last week, for which I have about 150 photographs and I can only offer up a few, covering the huge canvas of, first, our day with our friends, Harry and Susan, at NYC’s Museum of Modern Art, and then, two days later, our trip to Boston, to see our son Chris, and our friends Bruce and Bonnie in Sudbury MA.

Several years ago I edited a collection, New York to Boston: Travels in the 1840's, which incorporated parts of Charles Dickens' American Notes (1842) and D. Appleton & Co.'s The American Guide Book (1846).  I’ve been fascinated by the history of the two cities (and the rivalry when it comes to baseball).  Visiting Boston again, but this time as a tourist, really brought home the differences, the influences of the English, vs. the Dutch on NYC.

We ventured into New York for a day with Harry and Susan, lunch and dinner and in between, an exhausting tour of MOMA, not having been there for years and years.  Although it was a weekday, the throngs of people were overwhelming, not to mention the size of the museum as well.  It gave us a new appreciation of our local Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, much more negotiable.  But of course, nothing can compare with MOMA if you have the time and stamina. 

After the New Haven railroad delivered us about ½ hour late, we finally made it to the Fireside Restaurant at The Berkshire Place on E 52 Street (where we had the pleasure of staying when I was in NYC for overnight business meetings).  It was “restaurant week” in NYC so we had a wonderful fixed price three course luncheon.  From there, it was a short walk over to the MOMA.  The photos below are just a few of the highlights (for me).  I hope to have more complete coverage later in the year.

On the way back to Grand Central, we stopped at a fast food Hamburger Heaven for a light dinner.  NYC Hamburgers are the best and the ambiance of an old coffee shop allowed us all to linger and talk until it was time for us to catch our train and our friends to find their ferry back to Ft. Lee.

Two days later we drove to Boston, letting the GPS take us through the labyrinth roads of downtown, so evocative of London, to the venerable Parker House Hotel, which is an historical site onto itself.  Dickens stayed there and John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie in a corner booth in the historic restaurant.  We saw the marble table on which none other than Hô Chí Minh rolled dough in the hotel’s bakery from 1911 – 1913. (Oh, the supreme ironies of life, that JFK had to deal with him some 50 years later as the North Vietnamese nationalist leader.)

One of the main reasons for our visit was to see our son, Chris, who had recently moved to Cambridge and showed us his office in the historic Old City Hall, built in 1865, just one year before his great-great grandfather established his photography business in New York City.  We had two dinners with him and as a fish fanatic, I requested only seafood restaurants.  We had outstanding meals, the first at Dolphin Seafood in Cambridge and the next night at Scollay Square Restaurant which was right near our hotel, both reasonably priced and serving great fish.

Boston is immersed in history, and in such a concentrated area within a short walking distance of our Hotel.  We tried to hit the highlights of the Freedom Trail, such as the Old South Meeting House, the Old State House, Paul Revere’s home, and, Faneuil Hall.  We were lucky to have ventured out early on Sunday morning, before the mobs descended, to Quincy Market and then to Faneuil Hall, a public meeting place which is still used to this day, where we had a private tour given by one of the Park Rangers.  (In the men’s room there was a sign which read “As the first President of Boston’s Board of Health, Paul Revere supervised the city’s privy (outhouse) inspectors, who made sure residents properly emptied out their privies and didn’t let them overflow.”)

By Sunday afternoon the Hall became so crowded that we strolled down to the waterfront and sat with Chris, taking in the sights and sounds of Boston before our last dinner together.

Monday morning we drove to Sudbury to see my college friend, Bruce, and his wife, Bonnie.  I had last visited Bruce in his home half my lifetime ago, and was able to dig up a photo of that visit to juxtapose it to the present day.  I had remembered where the photo was taken, but not where we stood, and why that should matter, I have no idea – perhaps it was merely an exercise of Absurdism.  But here we are...

And now….

While we’ve changed physically (merely a little less hair), the years have not changed our outlook on life and the need to laugh at some of the same silly things we did as college students.  We four had a lovely lunch at, where else, Legal Sea Food in Framingham.

From there, it was back to the boat which we took out a couple of days later for a brief cruise on the Long Island Sound.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Infrastructure and Politics Redux

Inevitably, this headline  -- Probe begins after Conn. commuter trains crash -- will lead to the conclusion what any rider of the New Haven Railroad could tell you:  the tracks are in need of serious upgrade.  Yet, investment in the railroad's infrastructure is one of those things that is constantly postponed -- until a tragedy occurs, and this could have been a much more serious accident with loss of life in addition to the injuries.  But making this expenditure is a political hot potato, no one wants to take on.  Again, until.....
Fact of the matter, not only do the tracks need upgrading, the entire system -- which to a degree is still mired in its late 19th century beginnings -- needs to be addressed, bringing public transportation for the heavily populated northeast corridor into the 21st century.  We are a third world country when it comes to such transportation -- ask anyone from China or Japan who visits and rides those rails.  And, with easy credit and the need for jobs, it would seem to be a no brainer to make this investment, but do we have the vision and determination?

Meanwhile, on the Florida political front, an apparent self-serving decision by Governor Rick Scott: to deny the ability to build a warehouse in the State as it would appear that he (the Governor) is supporting an Internet sales tax and he wants to be perceived as being against tax increases. Consequently, the Governor has given tacit approval of the commonplace practice of avoiding the payment of "use tax" on such purchases, a law already on the books.  In rejecting Amazon's application for a warehouse in the State, he is also foregoing more than a thousand new jobs, an initiative that was the centerpiece of his election campaign.  No surprise, he is up for reelection next year, and being perceived as a champion of tax avoidance now seems preferable to job creation.

And speaking of things that never seem to change, the Mourning Doves (or their descendants) that have made their nest year in and year out underneath our roof eaves have two new chicks and here mommy is feeding one of them. They are messy nest makers and it is amazing they don't all fall out.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Play Ball!

Build it and they will come. But how? It took my first visit to the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to clearly see the growing disparity between the haves and the have-nots. We can build a stadium while our infrastructure is allowed to crumble.

My son, Jon, and I had been talking about going to the new stadium for some time, my having taken him to his first Yankee game at the old stadium. And when I used to go there decades before as a boy, I sat in the bleachers – 50 cents a seat. In those days my Yankee heroes, Mantle, Rizzuto, Berra, Ford, etc. made salaries that hardly approached six figures.

When we went to games with our sons in the 1980’s, occasionally we would go to the Stadium Club before the game and one time Bill White and Phil Rizzuto (after they became announcers for the Yankees) were having dinner at the next table. Phil was joking with Bill, calling him a huckleberry, when he asked the fellow diners whether anyone had some aspirin. My wife produced her handy pill box and offered Phil a couple so we talked for a while with him – my father graduated from the same high school as Phil and in about the same year. I wonder whether today’s players would be as friendly now that they are paid the same as elite entertainers.

The trip to the stadium on the New Haven railroad, changing at 125th street for a short express to Yankee Stadium at 153rd street, underscored the new two-world order, the trains the same ones I rode on to Grand Central some 30 years ago, on tracks that were built long before that, the air conditioning barely working, the transportation infrastructure hanging threadbare. The return trip was even worse, typical delays, waiting at 125th Street station, and making a connection that was so packed the standing room only did not even provide a space for putting down one’s bag. Amazingly, everyone just seemed resigned to this reality, along with the extreme shuddering of the train because of the poorly maintained track bed, conditions that would not be tolerated in most other advanced countries. Perhaps not coincidentally, the day we went to the stadium there was a major water main break in the Bronx, 100 year old pipes bursting and creating a river in the streets. Maybe we can get another 50 years out of them?

While the funds or motivation for rebuilding our infrastructure seem to be lacking, that does not apply to tearing down the old Yankee Stadium to rebuild one with Disney-like features. Good seats are now all corporate owned at astronomical prices and as an individual you can bid on those that are posted on such sites as StubHub, but with after tax dollars while corporate holders buy them as a deductible corporate expense. Why bother closing such tax loopholes that subsidizes professional sports?

The prices for food and drink are commensurately expensive, a cup of $12 beer or an $8 hot dog. A Yankee cap is a mere $27. Perhaps that is what is meant by trickle-down economics –corporations buy tax-deductible seats at preposterous prices, that revenue (with those from broadcasting) shifting to MLB owners and players, and then trickling down to those people employed at the ball park to move hugely inflated priced merchandise and food to the masses. Everyone wins!

But if one can look past those economic realities, there is the intrinsic beauty of the ball field, a near facsimile of the old stadium and its rich history, and that certain feeling when, after the national anthem, “play ball!” settles in one’s mind, harking back to a time of innocence. It is nice to remember, and to share the day with my son, but sad as a society we have become so divided, with no clear vision of economic priorities.