Fleet Week 2009

It’s Fleet Week in New York and, like most New Yorkers, I love seeing scores of sailors in bright white exploring the city, and not just because this blog takes its name from “On the Town,” the underrated musical about three U.S. Navy sailors who find love and excitement while on the loose in New York.

My favorite staples of Fleet Week, in no particular order:

  • The requisite photos in the local papers of sailors in full uniform with Times Square mainstays like the Naked Cowboy (yesterday The New York Times had some guys with the Naked Cowgirl on their front page).
  • The Fleet Week sailors on the morning shows. (Friday morning they were on pretty much every channel, and on Saturday The Today Show will feature Navy vs. Marines tug of war.)
  • The large group of uniformed sailors at the Mets game (or Yankees game). I love the big applause they always get from the rest of crowd almost as much as I love the chants and cheers they do when one of their own throws out the first pitch, or gets shown on the big screen. It’s too bad they can’t do it this year, because the Mets were out of town and the Yankees are just too damned expensive.
  • The jokes about Fleet Week on late night television. Highlights of Letterman’s “Top Ten Things I’ve Learned During Fleet Week In New York City” last night include “Katz’s Deli has knishes that’ll make you plotz” and “I spent a month’s pay on Yankee tickets.”


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Seinfeld commercial filming

Part of living or working in New York is being occasionally inconvenienced by the street you need to use having been shut down for the filming of some movie or episode of Law & Order. And part of being a New Yorker is sneaking a peek at the actors at work. Both happened to me today, but just outside of New York City.

Jerry Seinfeld has spent the past couple of days filming a TV commercial right around the corner from my house. And with all the news the past couple of weeks about mishaps during the filming of a movie in Times Square, I figured this was close enough to mention here. The photo above is from today’s shoot, as is this one of Seinfeld chatting between takes:

Seinfeld on Cedarhurst Ave


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This week’s Newsweek has a great essay by historian and Brooklyn Bridge “biographer” David McCullough about the perils of the proposed luxury condo in Dumbo that would block the view of the iconic bridge for most folks on the Brooklyn side.

Sadly the project was approved by the City Planning Commission this week and now head to the City Council for final approval.

On the Newsweek Web site is a counter-essay, written partly by Kurt Soller and mostly by the development company, that argues in favor of the project. Their argument aside from pointing out that the development will include some affordable housing units and a public school in addition to the luxury condos, essentially amounts to a claim that everyone (including the Community Board and the Borough President) wants the condo except for a handful of neighborhood kooks who have “hoodwinked” McCullough, a New England resident.

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the very few New York institutions that has not been surrounded by T-shirt shops and other tourist-trap BS. In fact, a walk across the bridge is something I always recommend to out-of-towners or new transplants, because it’s so landmarky without being touristy. Living nowhere near the bridge, I don’t really have any skin in the game but I’d hate to see the view of the truly inspiring American landmark marred so that some rich developers can get richer.

An amusingly broken traffic light on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 1st Street (photo courtesy of Ethan Stanislawski at Tynan’s Anger):

angry-dont-walk-sign

Rejected captions:

“Something’s different about that ‘Don’t Walk’ sign, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

“That’s one very cross walk.”

“Who says New Yorkers never lift a finger to help a pedestrian?”

“Crossing Delancy–now rated R.”

“New York to pedestrians: F*** you!”

“New York’s traffic signals now display the state bird.”


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Every region has its own linguistic quirks. I’m not talking about accents (don’t get me started on people who say “Lawn Guyland”). I mean words and phrases that are unique to the area. Here are some of my favorite bits of NewYorkese.

1) New Yorkers don’t stand in line. We stand ON line.

2) New Yorkers say “the floor” when they mean “the ground.” Example: you’re walking down the street with someone, and they drop a piece of food, and then they pick it up. Your response: “You can’t eat that! It fell on the floor!” Many New Yorkers do this without even realizing it. And when you tell them, they don’t even believe you, because it seems like a nonsensical way to talk. But it’s pretty widespread.

3) We call a whole pizza a “pie.” Comedian Brian Regan attributes this to New Jersey, but it really belongs to the whole tri-state area.

4) “The City” means Manhattan.

5) Queens and Brooklyn are geographically part of Long Island, but when people say Long Island they always mean Nassau and Suffolk counties. NEVER Queens or Brooklyn.

More New Yorkisms to come in a future post. Meanwhile, enjoy Linda Richman.


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Listening over the weekend to Queens native Q-Tip’s new album over the weekend left a lyric of his from a much older song in my head: “Back in the days on the boulevard of Linden …” I always mumble that line to myself when passing sign for the Linden Bouelvard exit on the Van Wyck Expressway.

But I digress. My point is, it got me thinking about some of the other gazillion popular songs that mention New York, and what my favorites are. Few, if any, cities have inspired as many popular songs as New York. I mean, just Billy Joel alone could fill a couple albums with his. (Actually, he did.)

But I already know what my favorites are. So I’m wondering what YOUR favorites are. So please leave comments telling me your faves–but first, a few ground rules:

Simply mentioning New York (“Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White Ts, “We’re a Happy Family” by the Ramones, “Check the Rhyme” by A Tribe Called Quest, etc.) isn’t good enough. You can only pick songs where New York (or some part of it) is really the focus.

Same goes for having New York in the title. “The 59th Street Bridge Song” by Simon and Garfunkel may be a great song but it’s not really about the 59th Street Bridge. Well, unless somebody recently repaved it with cobblestones and forgot to tell me.

Songs can be from any genre–rock, rap, showtunes, whatevs–but must have been performed by a professional recording artist or group. I.e., no songs written by you, or your friend, or your cousin, or your cousin’s friend.

To get you into a New York state of mind (sorry), here’s a too-broad-but-still-useful Wikipedia list of songs about New York, and a couple of videos of a couple of my faves, including the one that provided the name for this blog.


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For those of who left a bit confused by this, Murray Hill is a Manhattan neighborhood, roughly defined as the East side of Midtown from about 34th Street to 42nd Street, depending on who you ask. I worked in Murray Hill twice, for a total of about 6 years.

(Side note: My favorite nickname for a neighborhood is for the several blocks just south of Murray Hill on Lexington, informally known as Curry Hill because they house so many Indian restaurants.)

If you haven’t spent enough time in Murray Hill to appreciate the song, well, come back here tomorrow when I have something new posted.


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