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“No longer shall the public have to gaze upon these unauthorized plants,” an official proclaimed.

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This corner lot has been hidden behind a plywood fence painted blue and left to go wild for the past four years. Weed trees and grasses have sprung up through the rubble of whatever had been there.

In an alternate version of the city, the public and the developers agree that this rare bit of open space so near the Empire State Building should be turned into a park. “Open public spaces are more important than squeezing every bit of profit out of an investment,” the developer said. “The well-being of the neighborhood’s inhabitants and workers make it well worth taking a loss.”

A civic group agreed to develop the park completely on the donations and labor of volunteers. The park’s design, incorporating only indigenous plants and materials, has already been approved by the mayor’s office.

 

Last post on the greenhouse for awhile. If it’s still there, I’ll go back in the fall and again in winter and again in spring until they tear it down. Here is the wide view, the three big greenhouses stacked side by side, maybe a football field in length.

It leaves me wondering about a few things I could easily find out. Who mows the area around it? Something’s been planted in neat, organized rows along the road and I wonder about that. It’s  neglected and tended, in disrepair but seemingly unvandalized, overrun by a collection of nature that isn’t all that natural. Why not just leave it alone and see what happens?

My dad, 82, lives just a few miles from this place. I live in New York, about two hours away.When he was my age, he had a place with a boat on Great Bay in New Jersey he’d go weekends during the summer with Janet, his second wife. I’m convinced that I brought my second wife there once with the kids about a dozen years ago, just before he sold it. The boat was already gone, but the dock was still there and anyone who’s ever been there could instantly conjure the smell of the salt marshes and the light just before sunset. I’m the only one with that memory and I can’t say with any certainty that it happened.

 

“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

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.

You may have seen in the legitimate media some news lately about disappointing jobs numbers like this one in the Wall Street Journal. I try not to read too much or watch too much on TV other than sports (nothing really equals playoff hockey) and Modern Family (still funny). Oh yeah, and Sherlock is finally returning to Masterpiece Theater on what used to be public television.

But I digress. I think that what’s happened is that US employment is no longer very important to the markets. Markets are interested in earnings and profits, not in how many people are working in any given location. People doing a job for less money anywhere in the world helps a company’s quarterly earnings statement (or whatever they call it – read disclaimer below). So, many companies have little or nothing at stake in any particular community, e.g., the community of the United States workforce.

DISCLAIMER: I’ve done no research on this. I don’t have statistics to cite, or scholars and pundits to quote. I’m not particularly educated nor have I been trained in economics. It just seems that way to me. Use the search engine of your choice and your findings may be different. FURTHER DISCLAIMER: I nearly failed macro economics. 

Oh, and here’s a nice picture – a few weekends ago in Central Park, New York City. I stitched two photos together, and by gum it, I like the way it came out. For the camera compulsive, I used a Fargomatic Ultra 11, model 16 (firmware version q) with a 16 caliber 1.2 mm desensored lens.

 

At a subway stop last November… 42nd Street maybe? Part of the backlog.

A woman records the moment.

Later that day, maple leaves float in a fountain in Bryant Park.

Meanwhile far away in another part of town…

 

 

Spring has signaled return of the fruit stands, little islands of spherically-contained naturally sugary fruitplosions and fruitruptions all nurtured to fruition by a little bit of warm weather.

…and horning in on the action, a few pathetic inedible houseplants, clad only in their limited shades of green.

A few weeks ago I posted an update on the economy and talked about my many interviews with ESTRADCO. Early last week ESTRADCO made me an offer and I, following 3.2 seconds of negotiation, accepted. So  the economy has improved and I am again earning a paycheck after a gap of 15 months. Civilization may still be doomed, however, I can now buy an ipod.

The YouGoGirl building on the West Side Highway shows signs of recovery. If you focus on the right side of this photo, you might notice a guy in a third floor window with what appears to be a power tool, let’s call it a drill. This building also tells us bears the starkly obvious but largely ignored message, “Cars kill.”

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Further south on the West Side Highway, this building, lonely, pre-abandoned, an arboreal takeover looming behind it, pleads for someone, anyone to lease it.

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Vacant lot with posters, West Side Highway.

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Even further south near the World Financial Center I accidentally found the Irish Hunger Memorial when swerving to avoid a string of wide-walkers, tourists oblivious to anything not in their 3″ LCD screens. There this was, this memorial sprouting wildflowers and grasses and stone walls.

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Group of protesters with Iranian flags protesting near Battery Park during the recent UN sessions.

P1020090

Other protests seen but not photographed during the past week: People wanting China out of Tibet making excellent use of a bullhorn for call and response. The Transport Workers Union deployed several large inflatable rats closing several streets in the east 40s along Madison Avenue.

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