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“There was a factory
Now there are mountains and rivers
you got it, you got it

“We caught a rattlesnake
Now we got something for dinner
we got it, we got it

“There was a shopping mall
Now it’s all covered with flowers
you’ve got it, you’ve got it

“If this is paradise
I wish I had a lawnmower
you’ve got it, you’ve got it

“This used to be real estate
Now it’s only fields and trees
Where, where is the town
Now, it’s nothing but flowers”

Nothing but Flowers, The Talking Heads

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We return to the greenhouse, my favorite place on earth after Dog Beach. What little I remember of trees tells me that the fast-growing tree below, the one so anxious for light and air it shattered a glass pane is either Juglans nigra (black walnut) or Ailanthus altissima (tree of heaven).

Juglans is a native of North America, once common to the forests of the northeast. Here’s what Edward Sibley Barnard says in New York City Trees: A Field Guide for the Metropolitan Area (Columbia University Press):

“Intolerant of shade, the black walnut secures its ecological niche by producing substances that retard the development of other trees around it. The black walnut was once plentiful in the eastern United States, but almost all the great old-growth forests are gone now, felled by lumberman seeking America’s finest cabinetry wood. ”

You might find this tree for sale in a nursery.

The other option, Ailanthus, is a weed tree imported from Asia either unwittingly or on purpose. It does not appear in Barnard’s guide, although you will find it everywhere, growing through cracks in sidewalk or old buildings. If you break a branch or a leaf, tree of heaven oozes a milky white stinky sap. The tree “suckers,” meaning that it’s roots shoot out sideways underground. If you cut down the tree or if the trunk is merely damaged, another will soon pop up nearby from the root system.

The tree above could very well be Ailanthus, on its quest to choke out all other plant life.

I won’t tell you much about it. It was sold for development when development went bust a few years ago and the inmates have taken over. God, I love it and hope they never tear it down or clean it up. It was early morning and birds flew in and out through the missing panes and I startled and flushed out a half dozen white-tailed deer.

 

More of this later.

Brutalism is a style of architecture. It seems to explain itself well enough in this image made recently of the AT&T switching center on 10th avenue between 53rd and 54th. The sun shone bright did not illuminate. No light enters, and no light leaves. Waves riding another frequency slip in, deposit their messages and exit with others to carry off into the ether.

It is said that on particularly dark nights and lunar eclipses a body can pass through the solid matter walls only to be absorbed by them. If you find it following you, walk slowly until you find help. Never look it in the eye. Image

The Upper West Side has suddenly come alive with shops, stores, and shops, restaurants, sellers, vendors, and stores. Is this an economic revival, or merely the return of civilization?

But first, some creative signs pasted to the windows of the old Starlight Diner, and whatever it was that was next door.

On Broadway in the low ’80s, the competition for cupcake dollars intensifies:


After you’ve fattened them up, have their photos taken at Amsterdam & 79th:

Occupying what was once half of Avventura (other half still there), food grown from live organs, or perhaps organisms or organizations.

Opening tomorrow, a boutique espresso machine and pod shop moving into where recently you could buy boutique tea.

Hmmmmmm… Something(s) is (are) wrong with these signs. Can you find it (them)? Answers posted August 13, 2019.

 

…I don’t feel much lately like snapping photos of closed storefronts anymore. They’re still popping up or popping out and staying empty for a long time, too. People continue to walk by giving me the blurry person effect I like so much. I just don’t take the shot very often any longer, and when I do I often delete them. Perhaps these four disconnected images should have been deleted.

Sometimes photos make their way from the SD card onto the laptop, and from there it’s only a matter of some clicks and drags and typing and here they end up. I like the rust in the first shot.

I get a lot of junk mail and you can do whatever you want to try to stop it, but it can’t be stopped. You can impede it for awhile, but it comes back in increasing volume. Here’s a typical two- or three-day accumulation. The pile on the left is unwanted catalogs and things to be shred without being opened. The pile on the right: bills and a magazine or two. Shred, recycle, repeat. I found the prospect of the never-endingness of this cycle so dispiriting that cropping or fixing anything about the image was never a consideration.

However, I do like finding old signs faded into brick.

A bicyclist barrels down Columbus Avenue early one morning.

…actually, they – a travel agent – moved already. The Place, their sign, and the bright red facade are from so long ago it’s someone else’s memory.

I shifted my gaze from the tops of my shoes and street level and there, painted long ago on the sides of brick buildings, were signs still visible decades after their businesses became defunct. 

Magid Handbags and Coblentz bags and Alan Mill, gone since the fifties. Click here for a great website and more info.

Stiner & Berlfein, again, click for the full story.  My photo is 8 years newer than the one in the story and the paint is starting to show some wear.

Shining Star, 78th and Amsterdam, closes after 16 years.

This restaurant last served a meal on New Year’s Eve. Normally an abandoned building in decay adds some character and history to a landscape or cityscape, delighting and intriguing anyone lucky enough to stumble upon it. But as this photo shows, this structure is clearly a blight and should be torn down and its construction components returned to the corners of the globe from whence they came.

First, thanks to the hundreds of people who’ve personally written me about updating CFB, and the scores of others who’ve stopped me on the street – often at swordpoint – demanding that I resume postings.

Second, a guy with yellow hair rode past this empty building in the desolate 32nd & Madison region.

Nearby, a guy leaned in the entryway of an unused structure, conversing easily with a confidant.

This young man circles the block at about ten-minute intervals, ensuring that no bills are posted. I salute you, no-bill-post enforcer: without you posted bills would sully the deteriorating landscape and grease the slide into urban blight.

This woman, (a child, really) tears of indifference staining her face, walks past the empty building on Madison.

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