It’s not the most gainly part of town, and it might seem like a very small improvement, but I couldn’t help getting some pleasure and feeling encouraged by a boulder in an awkward traffic triangle bounded between Prospect, Carroll, and Short Streets, now named as a memorial for Staley Keith of the Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center. Even though it’s been in place since the summer, it recently struck me as a piece of earthwork art, as if someone responsible for these things finally made a trip to Dia Beacon and got some l’arnin. (Think of it as mini Michael Heizer, one of whose work is pictured below.) Let just say it’s a big improvement over the city’s default design contribution to these public places: mercilessly truncated shrubbery (one example of which is on the triangle here as well, though not pictured). As Carole Osterink has previously reported in Gossips, the rock will have a plaque to Keith on it, which seems logical — but I have a perhaps quixotic request: Please put the plaque somewhere else on the triangle and leave the rock alone!
Another sorry sight of January in these parts (temp now at 11 a.m: six degrees): the moving of the wonderful Piet Mondrian house, part of this season’s much improved Santa’s Village complex at the Seventh Street Park. In what other town could one see such a visually arresting little creation blocking traffic at a major intersection?
Here’s a shot of it in its original setting and during much balmier weather (way back in December), courtesy of DPW superintendent Rob Perry and Carole Osterink’s The Gossips of Rivertown. –Scott Baldinger
These are difficult times for a self-described flâneur. The holiday decorations are coming down; it was five degrees when I got up this morning, and, even now that the thermometer has risen to a sultry 19 and I’ve put on a pair of double-layered pants purchased at that invaluable sartorial haven, Second Show, Warren Street turns out to be nearly absent of pedestrians, shoppers, wanderers, business people, and even those ne’er-do- wells we’ve grown accustomed to (and, in many cases, rather fond of). Construction or restoration projects seem to have slowed to a crawl, save for those by the unstoppable T. Eric Galloway—what, by the way, are those brick stanchions being installed in front of the Armory, the future location of the library, and why? – or by Richard Cohen, whose hotel project at 4th and Warren seems to consist mostly of work on a torn-down historic town house, the foundation of which is being dug farther downwards by the day. (It was this week covered in burlap, pictured above, just as a very historic looking brick sistern was exposed.) The evenings are, despite the even more freezing temperatures, keeping things lively: while DABA and Vico have closed for a winter break (DABA will reopen on January 30 and Vico January15) places like Swoon, Club Helsinki, and the Red Dot are as lively as ever, even with the latter’s wonderful Madeline/Bemelmans Bar Xmas murals now dismantled. Of course there’s nothing at all unusual about all of these seasonal changes; all of this kvetching is simply an attempt to explain how polar vortexes can affect the minds of ambulatory bloggers like myself. — Scott Baldinger