New York, New York

photo, fishermen, coney island, brooklyn Find the good life at Coney Island.

Five Weeks In Queens

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 11. September:–  The sun is shining, the sky is cloudless and blue and the wind is a mere wisp, and it's 30 degrees (86F). How am I supposed to remember 35 wonderful days in New York? But first let's have the weather by scooting straight to page 4127.

Fair Sailing

On Thursday, 10. August the skies opened up over New York and dumped a vast amount of water on the city. It was like tropical rain because it was still pretty warm. For most of the rest of the time it was dry with temperatures in the mid–80's, right up until last Tuesday when it was raining steadily when I arrived at JFK for my return flight.

photo, 42nd street, broadwayMid–town Manhattan, centre of the world.

Imagine my pleasure then, as the jetliner I was in cruised into French airspace at 11,000 metres last Wednesday morning just as the sun was rising, over a completely cloudless France. I had a window seat and could clearly see small wisps of fog lying in river valleys. Towns looked like piles of grains and as the plane got lower and the sun higher, folks got into their cars and began driving to work or school. It looked like a particularly fine model train layout.

After a while the plane flew just north of the city and swooped into Roissy. It was the first time I've seen Paris from the air. I was wrecked because it's a short flight and CDG always takes a toll, but when I got to the rue Daguerre I saw the pharmacy sign advertising the temperature as 30 degrees. Now, although it's been cooler, it was 30 again today.

According to tonight's TV–news they expect the high here to be 29 tomorrow afternoon. This is supposed to be with a slightly cloudy sky that may seem like it's mostly sunny.

On Wednesday local weather will be affected by some mish–mash out west. This may result in clouds here but if it isn't too agressive it may be just as sunny as Friday. Take into account that the temperature may be no more than 24. For Thursday expect this bit of murky weather from the west to be more in evidence, probably pushing the day's high down to 22 degrees. It's a thin front so it may not take long for it to past through.

Poetic Météo Jim

This week Météo Jim, obviously refreshed by annual idleness, is looking at the sky again. In his own words –

August was dry. Very little rain had fallen since the beginning of the month. In some years August becomes hazy and humid, falling into a languishing dream so beloved by Baudelaire and dreams on, gliding imperceptibly to summer's end when, unnoticed, it has changed into the haze of early autumn.

But this year, it was a seagull soaring above a deserted beach and then turning out into the ocean towards a dark and stormy horizon which is bringing the autumn rains to the summer lands. The end of August was washed away by the autumn rains and the remnants of tropical depression Ernesto. When the rains had stopped, the summery haze was gone, replaced by the cool, clear light of September to guide les aoûtiens et les rentréeistas back to the world they had left behind.

photo, hoboken cigar company Has Cuban cigars, not French cigarettes.

It is not yet autumn in Pommeland but it will be in less than two weeks. The end of this week saw temperatures in the lower 80's a–grad as summer attempted to make a comeback. It had another 15 minutes of fame as a cool front arrived on Sunday to guide the mellowing September light into autumn and cool the thermometer to the lower 70's during the day.

In the meantime, Florence has upgraded herself by hard work and determination into a full fledged hurricane. The storm will pass either near or over Bermuda and then swing in a northeasterly direction out over the Atlantic but it may be too late for Paris Plage. It will have to stay in Paris for a year and try again next summer.

Café Life

August In New York

According to people who may know, I spent 35 days in New York City, starting at the beginning of August. This began right after Paris was getting over its heatwave so when I stepped out of the air conditioned terminal at JFK into the local 100F temperature I was – smitten by a sog of humidity. So I immediate started running around.

photo, lotto, tabac shop, new york American style 'Loto–Tabac,' sans café.

Unlike Paris there is a lot of air conditioning in New York. You climb up or down to the subway platform in the thick heat and freeze in an air conditioned wagon. Leaving, the temperature jumps 30 degrees on the street, and then falls again going in to the mall where the shivers start. It's a weird kind of hell.

It's very noisy too. The whole thing is in a continual heavy metal mode, demanding that diesel motors put out raw sound, and when you are walking around with your ears tuned to the birdies all you can hear is a waterfall roar of air conditioners. Add to this all the drivers talking on portables and everybody else is tuned into their iPods. Guess how loud emergency sirens need to be. One lousy NYFD ambulance can sound like the Bay of Pigs invasion.

None of this is any secret. Roadways full of craters; roadways full of U–turners, roadways full of yellow taxis, burbling buses, huge racing trucks delivering fruit from the hurricane zones, the elevated subways – rolling hard stainless and steel wheels running hard on old iron.

A lot has a temporary look. As if it were built cheap to last 25 years and 75 years later it's been classified as a national monument. In Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens there are hundreds of thousands of houses, homes, largely built of wood, many before WWII. They are well kept–up, tidy. In some places sidewalks are in poor repair but in others crews are pouring new cement for them.

photo, mr taco, astoria, queensMr. Taco comes to where you live, in Astoria.

You say so what? Me, it's taken several visits to get my brain to automatically pick up my feet higher, to bound over the craters and heaved up sidewalk slabs. Noise doesn't bother me when I sleep. The subway, warts and all, gets me where I'm going. Even if it's a jiggly ride, its entries and exits are narrow, it is clean and quick and the MTA gives a bonus when you renew a $20 Metrocard. I like New York.

Water Taxi Beach

Friday, 18. August:–this has been a welcome oasis for New Yorkers too lazy to haul themselves all the way out to Coney Island during the recent fine weather. Even though it isn't as blisteringly hot as it was, having a tropical beach 5 minutes away by water taxi from East 34th Street in Manhattan – equally accessible via subway line 7 in Long Island City, with appropriate ratlands – parking lots, gravel piles, wire fences, junk yard dogs, grim warehouses, odd saloons – it is new world reply to the tidy bourgeois charms of Paris Plage.

The sand is just as fine and beach volley ball is conveniently at hand, along with sturdy picnic tables, beertaps, barbecues, beach music and a warm breeze flitting along the East River. Tonight's special bonus – available most nights, always for free – is the sundown view, with the sun spreading its mellow yellow behind Manhattan's towers, with the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building being the outstanding examples. As Jackie Gleason might have said, "How sweet it is!"

Took Me Out to the Ball Game

Queens, Flushing, Shea Stadium, Saturday, 19. August:– We had to leave the spicy restaurant early because Z's sister wanted to get the fre replica baseball cards being handed out to the first 20,000 comers. She and Cookie intended to take a limo for the one subway stop ride but took the subway anyway because the jam to park at the stadium was backed up to Flushing.

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