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Last few days working downtown

I have loved being back downtown for my workdays. Midtown with Central Park and the Lincoln Center crowd was fun but downtown is where I started. I moved to New York City in the early months of 1998 and was working downtown within 8 hours of my arrival. Next to the U.S. Custom House and then up to WTC2. So last year when I started at Sapient Global Markets on Fulton Street I was all a flutter of being back to my early stomping grounds. Lower manhattan wasn’t the same but than neither was I. It was busier and I was more (or less) grown up. I will be leaving Sapient next week and in these last few days I will try to think about what I will miss about working downtown.

The East River Ferry was very good to me. Early monthly passes proclaimed it as “The Civilized Commute” and I very much agreed. The best start to my day was coffee on the tidal strait. Somehow I don’t think the G to the L to the N will be nearly as meditative.


Why I will miss working downtownThere is history all around. Sometimes hidden or obscured but still there waiting to be noticed. After you visit Trinity Church, Century21, or experience the memorial take a walk down a narrow street towards the water. Down John Street you might find one of my lunch spots sandwiched between two buildings. The slice of a courtyard features this replica of Joseph Beekman Smith’s View of John Street, 1768, (completed in the early 1990’s). The original, painted in 1768, is on display in the John Street United Methodist Church.

I always thought it was pretty cool that I worked on the exact spot where Edison built the first central power plant (Pearl Street Power Plant), formed the Edison Illuminating Company (financed by J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilt family), and delivered electricity to homes and businesses across the city. Still makes me tingly all over.

What can I say, I like the building! I really like it. Why? Well it looks like a neatly stacked pile of sofa cushions. I can’t not touch this building and so I always do. It’s strange because the architects, York and Sawyer, sought structural expressions of strength, stability and security. They intended to inspire public confidence in the Federal Reserve System through the architecture. It still looks like pillows to me. Also, I think its cool that 80 feet below street level is the largest gold repository in the world. Don’t get a bunion walking above the bullion.

I have a soft spot for the public art downtown. From the late 1960’s we have Jean DuBuffet’s Four Tress and Noguchi’s Red Cube. Looking for something more recent? Walk over to 7WTC for Jenny Holzer and Jeff Koons.

“It’s not warming, it’s dying.”


Busy Beaver has partnered with Glaser and New York’s School of Visual Arts to manufacture and distribute the “It’s Not Warming” buttons, which are being sold in packs of five through As the campaign’s website states, supporters are encouraged to “wear one, give the others to those you love.”

The message of “It’s not warming” is that euphemisms like ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ don’t have a sense of urgency attached to them– these terms can come across as benign or even positive.

more info on BusyButtons

Kara Walker at Domino Sugar Factory

photo by Tod Seelie (Gothamist)

photo by Tod Seelie (Gothamist)

Must see this weekend. Kara Walker’s installation at the Domino Sugar Factory.

“The centerpiece of the show, called A Subtlety, is a sugar-coated sphinx-like figure that dominates the 30,000-square foot space—the piece is 75.5-feet long, 35.5 feet high, and 26 feet wide. Nearby stand fifteen 5-foot-tall sugar sculptures of young boys “arrayed in a procession leading to” the sphinx.
The show will open Saturday, May 10th, and will be open and free to the public through its closing date of July 6th. Hours are Fridays 4 to 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 12 to 6 p.m.”
Jen Carlson/Gothamist

more info

John Cage’s 49 Waltzes

John Cage’s Graphic Score
The innovative and influential American composer John Cage created a graphic score called “49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs” as a tribute to the ever- changing city of New York. He superimposed 49 triangles on a map of New York City, using chance means to determine the locations of each angle. The listener or recorder was invited go to the apex of each angle and listen to or record the sounds of the city in that place.
Rolling Stone Magazine, 1977.

more info

John Cage 49 Waltzes