Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

Service of Don’t Hold Your Breath

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

I attended a Master Plan for the Aging town hall meeting, a New York State initiative. The most enlightening information came from the audience. Otherwise after a far too long list of acknowledgements and thanks—almost 20 minutes’ worth–we heard about the priorities and committees and subcommittees addressing the issues before attendees were invited to speak.

By 2030, 1 in 4 New York residents will be 60 or over. Right now, there are 4.6 million in this demographic.

We heard about a 2022 executive order to:

  • Create a blueprint of strategies
  • Address challenges related to communication
  • Coordinate all State policy and programs

It has taken two years to listen to those in the trenches–or their prospective clients–so I don’t have great hope for much implementation anytime soon. I kept thinking of a committee gathered for an hour to plan the menu for a gala dinner leaving the meeting, inflated with pride, with a fancy PowerPoint presentation and this menu, bereft of detail: a starter, main course, salad and dessert.

The citizen gatherings across the state were to shed light on the public’s concerns. The audience seemed to be made up of seniors, volunteers and directors or employees of the not for profits that address the concerns of the aging. Many of the New Yorkers who spoke asked that their needs be met immediately, not tucked into some subcommittee’s agenda never to be heard from again.

The State is looking into transportation and housing; healthcare services as people age; family caregivers and remaining in community to name some of the master plan’s “bold agenda.”

In no special order, here were just some of the public’s concerns expressed last week.

Safety came up due to the unregulated, life-threatening motorized bikes that fly through the city in every which way, even on sidewalks, knocking over people of all ages. Interpreting the safety issue in another way, one woman said she’s afraid to go outside because unsavory neighbors make her community so dangerous.

Loneliness. One man who lives in Stuyvesant Town, the private development on 80 acres with 11,250 apartments, described what a coalition of older residents asked the owner to do. Two benches now have plaques that declare that anyone sitting on them would welcome a chat. Another speaker suggested the plan explore initiatives that put together young and old New Yorkers.

Nursing homes. We learned that residents in such homes are treated worse than prisoners, and, for example, are not allowed to leave for an outing, for insurance reasons. Another person said this wasn’t true where she worked.

Erratic bus schedules. A 73-year-old described that after waiting 25 minutes on Lexington Avenue to get to the 1:00 pm town hall, she walked to the meeting leaving behind a woman with a cane who did not have this option.

Lack of or shrinking funding to support crucial volunteer services that nevertheless need some paid administrators and/or directors. One provides weekly speech therapy, free, to stroke victims whose health insurance runs out far too soon said a speech therapy volunteer.

We were given an email address to send other ideas— mpatownhall@health.ny.gov. I did, asking that the state provide professional grant writers for diminutive organizations like the speech therapists to tap into the money provided by foundations and government initiatives that support the elderly. [I didn’t think of it in time to speak up.]

However, I did ask that the master plan put the squeeze on federally funded Medicare insurance decision makers asking for full or partial coverage of eyeglasses and hearing aids for those 60+. An attendee sidled up to me thanking me and admitting that she’d just paid a fortune for hearing aids.

If you would like to chime in to the Master Plan powers that be in New York, again here is the email address to send concerns for yourself or loved ones: mpatownhall@health.ny.gov. Regardless of where you live, about what else should a state concern itself to make it possible for aging citizens to live a safe and comfortable life hopefully at home.

Service of Christmas in New York

Thursday, December 7th, 2023

Every city has its special time: For Paris it’s spring and New York–Christmas.

The joy and delight from the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show remains if after seeing it you walk east past the Rockefeller Center tree and Saks Fifth Avenue displays. Following are just some of the images I found around the city this season.

Send me a photo of a favorite holiday scene at home or outside and I’ll add it to the post.

The stage at Radio City Music Hall
“Are you worthy of entering my library?” says the iconic lion in front of the NY Public Library on Fifth Avenue
Santa in front of a Saks Fifth Avenue window.
Radio City Christmas Show –the Creche scene
Saks Fifth Avenue Fifth Avenue lights
Wreath on the Park Avenue South side of Grand Central Terminal
One of the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue
Creche in St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Trees in front of Whole Foods on the UES two days before Thanksgiving. On December 5 there wasn’t one tree or pine needle left.
Lotte New York Palace Hotel
West 42nd Street
Cartier on Fifth Avenue
Lotte New York Palace Hotel

One of countless trees lighting up office and apartment lobbies throughout the city
Actor Simon Jones in the red sweater, currently playing Bannister, the Butler in “The Gilded Age,” was the narrator at Marble Collegiate Church’s “A Caroling We Go Concert & Carol Sing,” on the first Sunday of Advent. It’s a not-to-miss concert for next year!
Baby it’s cold outside!
May be an image of 1 person
Nancie Steinberg posted this on Facebook
No photo description available.
Nancie Steinberg posted this on Facebook
No photo description available.
Nancie Steinberg posted this on Facebook

Service of the Golden Rule Ignored

Monday, November 13th, 2023

Golden Rule

I often wonder if people think about the ramifications of their actions. Empathy needs to be taught and it seems to have been left out as a priority for too many.

Please stay silent, dear audience

I attended an amateur production of a musical in a small theater filled largely with the actors’ friends. I was on the verge of screaming “STOP PLEASE” if I heard another earsplitting “WHOOOOOOOOOO!” in the middle of a song or after an uttered inconsequential phrase or when a minor actor appeared on stage. Did these people think that they were at a sports event? If it happened once or twice, OK. But it was constant. Grumble.

In addition to the usual request to turn off phones and unwrap candies before the start of the production, I wish the audience was also asked to leave the hollered WHOOOOOOs and shrieks in a stadium or at least to wait for the end of a song though better yet—don’t do it at all. Energetic and enthusiastic applause and a standing ovation at the end says it all.

Do you need to pull away so soon?

Even if I’m not hoping to catch a bus, it drives me nuts when the driver pulls away from the stop just a few feet, only to brake for a red light. [See the photo below for placement of bus stop and traffic light.] I’ve written about this before and have notified the MTA as well. Because they are no longer at the bus stop, even though a few feet away, most drivers won’t open the door for a passenger pleading to get in. Aren’t the drivers supposed to transport as many passengers as possible?

A friend caught up with a bus on a weekend and asked the driver to please wait a moment for her colleague who is disabled and can’t run. The driver responded that there was a bus right behind [which any New Yorker knows is subject to interpretation as “right behind” might be eight minutes away]. The driver closed the door on her face. She yelled through the closed door, “she’s here!” The driver hesitated before reopening the door. Her friend thanked him and slowly slipped her MetroCard in the fare slot. Off flew the driver—using his gas pedal to show his anger and impatience. Her friend, unsteady on her feet, almost fell.

Empathy, compassion and etiquette would eliminate these irritations don’t you think? Can you share other instances of Golden Rule trashed?

From a bus stop like this one the driver can see the traffic light and should not pull away if the light is red.

Service of Gambling II: Not in My Back Yard

Thursday, January 19th, 2023

I would lose the East River view if a developer wins a bid to build a casino where the [dead] grass is. The parcel continues a few blocks uptown [to the left].

The developers bidding on winning one of three gambling licenses to build casinos in NYC, Long Island or Westchester County are serious: Each proposal is accompanied by a $1 million entry fee.

Expect protests against the gaming tables by businesses and residents in some communities.

What would you think of going to Saks Fifth Avenue, across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, facing the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree–between 49th and 50th –for a night at a casino? “The project, starting on the ninth floor of the luxury department store, will cover about 200,000 square feet, including a new lobby with a separate red-carpet-lined entrance for the casino,” Stefanos Chen reported in The New York Times.

“Compared to many of the other casino bids, which include sprawling development projects, the Saks proposal is relatively modest — which could ultimately work in its favor,” wrote Chen. “The redesign, which would not involve changing the size of the building, could be completed in fewer than 12 months, Ms. Danuser said, while more complicated proposals could take years to get underway.” Spokeswoman Trenesa Danuser works for Saks’ parent company, Hudson’s Bay.

I’m in trepidation about one of the proposed sites—the 6.7 acre lot across the street from my apartment building. There goes a chunk of my East River view. Tenants—co-op owners and renters–in the new luxury skyscraper also directly across the street from the now empty lot must be hyperventilating as their views would disappear altogether. Parking spaces under the proposed buildings are no doubt part of the plan as the neighborhood has so few currently. And the disruption…oh my. Among the plans are a Ferris wheel and a museum.

I worked at Art & Antiques magazine when it was located at 1515 Broadway in the Times Square district. That’s where a conversion from offices to a casino and entertainment center is being proposed. The streets are already jammed in Times Square.

Hudson Yards is also a site under consideration, turning it into “a convention and casino district with a school and new housing,” wrote Chen. My question: With the Javits Center so close, does NYC need another convention center there?

Chen mentioned areas near Citi Field in Queens and Coney Island in Brooklyn as well as “the so-called racinos in Yonkers and Queens that have horse racetracks and digital betting.” In addition, there’s an 80-acre site on Long Island—the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum—also being considered.

A casino would change the complexion of some neighborhoods more than others. The possibilities inspire so many questions. Here are only a few: Would a casino on Broadway hurt or help the theater business? Would developers compensate apartment owners and landlords–who lose their views–for the decreased value of their apartments? With traffic and parking difficulties as well as bridge and tunnel tolls to enter Manhattan as high as $16, not to speak of impending congestion pricing–$23 per car—and $40+ parking fees, is this borough viable for a casino that out of towners would visit?


Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay

Service of Courage

Monday, October 24th, 2022

I know–and have known–people whose lives have been drastically altered by circumstance–such as war–or illness, causing catastrophic career reversals and forced gear changes. I never met Peter Haskell, a reporter at WCBS 880 News, but I’ve heard his news reports for decades. He shares the same trait with the others: astonishing courage and no self-pity.

He’s been on the air for some 30 years and lately his voice has been wobbly. He resigned—his last day is October 31–because despite frequent Botox injections to his vocal cords the progressive spasmodic dysphonia that afflicts him has made it increasingly difficult for him to do his job.

He covered everything from Sully Sullenberger’s miracle on the Hudson landing to 9/11. “Haskell’s coverage of the mission to fully fund the World Trade Center Victims Compensation Fund has been cited by advocates as having contributed to that successful fight,” wrote Tim Scheld, news director and brand manager for the station. [Scheld will leave the station by year’s end because of a newsroom consolidation with another NY radio station, 1010 WINS.] In addition, Haskell covered eight political conventions, seven World Series, Super Storm Sandy, the Sandy Hook school shooting and more than 20 New York City Marathons, wrote Scheld.

Quoting Haskell’s letter to coworkers, Scheld wrote: “From the time I was a kid, I wanted to be on the radio. I had a cassette recorder and microphone from the five-and-dime and would do play-by-play off the TV and host my own shows. I’ve been fortunate to have lived my dream.”

Haskell added: “I’m not sure what’s next, but I’m not retiring. I’m figuring out my second act and am open to suggestions and opportunities.” And “I might have trouble speaking, but I haven’t lost my voice.” Wish him well. I did in a Tweet. I whine about trivial irritations both here and to my friends and am ashamed in light of what happens to some who utter not a squeak of complaint. What is it about those who, when faced with a life-changing crisis, handle catastrophe and heartbreak with such grace?


Image by Alexa from Pixabay 

Service of It’s Not Over Until……….

Thursday, August 25th, 2022

If you are of a certain age and you grew up in NYC you may have fond memories of conversations between strangers especially on the bus. I learned at my mother’s knee; she was an expert. Such chats happen today but not nearly as often.

This week I was on a bus–they still require passenger to wear masks–when I heard juicy hacking coming from the only person without a mask, the woman in the photo above. I jumped out of my seat to move back.

Meanwhile another passenger called out to the cougher: “Put on your mask!” The entitled woman claimed she wasn’t sick but found a mask and put it on, mumbling as she did.

The proactive passenger and I started speaking about stores we liked and states we enjoyed visiting–and as I was about to get off she told me that she was on the way to get chemo for kidney cancer. She didn’t have to explain that she couldn’t afford to catch a cold or worse. The selfish or lazy or clueless fellow passenger clearly hadn’t thought about others who were sharing her space. Maybe she found the mask uncomfortable. Too bad.

Bus drivers no longer enforce the mask issue.

The nyc.gov website reports: “There are currently high transmission levels of COVID-19 throughout the city, so you should continue to take the following precautions: Wear a high-quality mask in all public indoor settings and around crowds outside. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations.”

Does the pandemic appear to be over according to people you know and see when you’re out and about? What prevents people from thinking of others, concerned only with their comfort?

Service of Good Things that Happen When Nature Obliges

Monday, February 8th, 2021

I shake a finger at nature after a destructive hurricane, tornado or fire started by lightning. But at times good things happen when she intervenes–even as a result of a murdering pandemic.

As I stood in line at the post office, six feet from the man in front and woman behind me, I thought, “Social distancing during the pandemic discourages pickpockets.”

Speaking of discouraging, jaywalkers are also out of business in NYC after a big snowstorm. The photo, above, of Third Avenue between 41st and 42nd, taken a few days after last week’s snowstorm, illustrates the point.

As I ran an errand on a very cold morning my mask kept my face warm. Imagine that–something else to thank the pandemic for!

Last, I welcome the photos taken in backyards or around the world that I see online or that friends send of extraordinary landscapes and animals, [such as the shot pictured below].

Even as the pandemic rages and more snow descends on the Midwest and temperatures drop below zero in North Dakota and Minnesota, nature smiles. Can you think of more examples?

Service of Eating Out During a Pandemic

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Living alone during a pandemic has its benefits and drawbacks. You get to see what you want on TV and watch until the wee hours and there’s only yourself to blame if you don’t like what’s for dinner.

However if you live in NYC and have a yen to meet a friend at a restaurant and you practice social distancing, you’ll hit a snag. The tables are understandably small [see the photo above] so that restaurants can squeeze in as many as possible in the allotted tiny sidewalk or street spaces. As a meal involves speaking, eating and unprotected mouths and noses, being only two feet from another person you don’t live with is risky. Yet you can’t blame the restaurants.

I don’t mind eating alone and would feel safer doing so these days rather than with a pal although in July’s heat and humidity I’m not rarin’ to bake while I eat. I also think that a restaurant would much prefer to ring up two meals in these times of slim pickings so I’ll leave tables to couples.

And how comfortable are we in NYC’s restaurant retrofits? Desperate measures make for unusual placements of some outdoor eating arrangements. I wouldn’t anticipate a relaxing break in this shelter [photos right and below] with Second Avenue traffic and vehicle exhaust passing on one side and all manner of two-wheeled vehicles on the other. But as they say across the pond and I often hear on Call the Midwife, “needs must.”

Have you eaten at a restaurant alone or with a friend, spouse, companion or business contact indoors or out during the pandemic? Do you plan to soon?

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Service of Pride of Place: NYC My Hometown

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

View from my apartment

Considering I was born in NYC, have lived here most of my life and I love the place I’m surprised that in the 11 years I’ve written this blog the city hasn’t grabbed even more lines.

New York is like anything or anyone I love: it makes me burst with pride and yet it can irritate me as well.

I was giggling in a Seventh Avenue subway recently because of the conductor’s quirky comments. As he announced each stop he also identified a lineup of key landmarks–which is unusual–and his comments were clever and refreshing. When I got out at 72nd Street heading for the stairs, as the car with his cubby passed me, I gave him a thumbs up. He smiled in response and tooted his horn twice. Made my day.

On the other hand, I don’t always have such luck with the bus system. Astronomical waits on major arteries and avenues followed by a clump of busses is trying. [If you live and work as far east as I do, the walk to the subway–my usual transportation option–doesn’t always make sense especially if your destination is also way east.]

In addition, identifying where the bus stop is can be a challenge. Last weekend I watched a local bus sail by on Madison Avenue as I stood next to a bus shelter [photo right]. Guess the shelter at that spot was decorative and had nothing to do with a NYC bus.

Bryant Park

When the subway’s executives whine about lack of funds, it comes as a surprise to see a very long line outside a booth with two windows and mics and only one MTA worker in it–as at a crucial hub: Grand Central/42nd Street. I was in that line recently and a tourist, staying at the Roosevelt Hotel I learned as we chatted, asked me in her charming Scottish accent: “Why is there only one worker in that booth?”  Good question given that 98 percent in the line were buying MetroCards. The do-it-yourself kiosks had even longer lines. Me to the MTA: Consider adding a few more kiosks where people are spending money, OK?

I’ve bragged previously about Bryant Park where I love to eat lunch. Once needle park, today the space welcomes locals and tourists who bring food–or buy a snack at a local takeout. There are plenty of trees, tables and chairs and a brisk turnover so it’s easy to find a spot.

I have an argument with restaurants and small retail businesses located on avenues here. Dollars to donuts they don’t identify the cross streets on their websites and it drives me NUTS figuring it out. Shakespeare & Co. does it right. They are at 939 Lexington Avenue and on the web they add “between 68 and 69th Streets.”

What is it about your town or city–or about NYC–that you love and what exasperates you?

 

Bryant Park

Service of a Bad Sign: Who Approves the Proofs?

Monday, August 19th, 2019

It’s not just road signs in the NY Metro area that need to be corrected at significant expense, but sloppy work by admins that when added up must cost corporations a pretty penny.

I read an Associated Press story in The New York Post which reported that all the signs to the newly named Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge need patching to add his initial–M. “The nearly $4 billion bridge over the Hudson River opened last year. Connecting Westchester and Rockland counties north of New York City, the span replaced the former Tappan Zee Bridge — or, officially, the Gov. Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.”

The article continues the “missing ‘M.’ fixes come as a state agency is also correcting a misspelling of the name of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. For over 50 years, one “Z″ was missing.” Hmmmm.

On a far smaller scale, a bank put the III that had been at the end of my husband’s name at the end of mine, i.e. Jeanne-Marie Byington III. I called to correct the error for future statements. It took three calls and additional incorrect references to my name for III to disappear.

At another institution, I changed a joint account to one in my name. After asking me all sorts of financial questions for 10+ minutes, the customer service person ordered new checks. [I may be the last person on earth to use checks.] I noticed that the account numbers on the new checks matched those of the closed account. Can you hear the bounce of checks near and far had I not caught the error?

As for the road signs: Who proofs them? Must we spend money to fix them right now when funds could be better applied to road repair?

So who pays for the reprinted checks? I don’t know what to think about the banks’ administrative errors except that I hope that the departments at each institution that add and subtract deposits and withdrawals do a better job.

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