By Carol Tannenhauser
Monday, February 20, 2023
Morning clouds followed by afternoon sun. High 58 degrees.
Our calendar has lots of local events! Click on the link or the lady in the upper righthand corner to look.
We call the third Monday of February Presidents’ Day, but it is still officially Washington’s Birthday since “neither Congress nor a President has ever stipulated that the name of the holiday be changed.” Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on February 22 until 1968 when Congress passed the Monday Holiday Law to provide “uniform annual observances of certain legal public holidays on Mondays.” More three-day weekends would “bring substantial benefits to both the spiritual and economic life of the Nation,” they said. They were half right. Searching Presidents’ Day turns up no sermons, but a ton of sales. Then again, for some shopping is a spiritual experience. (You know who you are.) Most retail stores are open, while offices, schools, banks, and post offices are closed.
While other states have been banning books and courses on African-American history, New York City’s preeminent performing arts center has been working on a project to review and reveal the most uncomfortable aspects of its own founding story — and commemorate what was lost. For Lincoln Center to be built in the 1960s, a thriving community of mostly Black people called San Juan Hill was razed in the 1950s. The story of that neighborhood — known as “Black Bohemia” — is told on Legacies of San Juan Hill, a website so extensive they’re calling it a “digital hub,” which went live last week. Through archival photographs and audio, interviews with former residents, and scholarly essays, it “tells how more than 7,000 families and 800 businesses were displaced by ‘urban renewal’ as the plans for Lincoln Center became reality,” wrote The New York Times. “’We called it ‘urban removal,’ T.S. Monk, the drummer and son of the jazz pianist Thelonious Monk [a former resident] said in an interview for ‘Legacies.'” “It’s a central place for all this information that is expected to grow over time,” said Rosie Marinelli, a spokesperson for Lincoln Center. “We invite you to enjoy exploring content years in the making.” Here’s the link.
In the category of “For Every Kind of Apartment Pet,” Curbed named Upper West Side pet store Petqua, on W. 98th & Broadway, The Best Pet-Supply Store in New York. “In addition to the usual supplies, Petqua stocks crickets and roaches to feed geckos, cages for parakeets, hay for rabbits, and aquariums filled with red-eyed tree frogs and royal pleco fish.”
“The principal of Manhattan’s renowned LaGuardia High School is stepping down next month following a controversial tenure,” according to the New York Post. Yeou-Jey Vasconcelos, 41, “known for her own musical talents, has been sharply criticized by some parents who argue she was dumbing down the academic standards.” One parent said Vasconcelos was “never really on board with the mission of the school” that “balances both instruction in the arts and academics.” Neither, apparently, was her predecessor who “left amid backlash for pushing academic rigor too strongly.” Vasconcelos’ successor has not been named.
“A red menace is stalking Upper West Side motorists,” especially on Riverside Drive, the Post also reported. Since the Rag covered the first incident on February 8, more parked cars have been vandalized with lines and squiggles of red spray paint. “’Somebody’s unhappy and they want other people to feel as unhappy as they feel,’” said local mechanic Bill Boynton, who had five of the graffitied cars dropped off at his Boynton Auto Body shop.” “It’s always a problem parking on Riverside — it’s not very well lit,” Officer Sarah Frankel of the 24th Precinct told the Post.
Finally, Gray’s Papaya was featured in the Wall Street Journal’s Time Capsule series, which spotlights places that have remained remarkably the same over the years. “The plastic pineapples and bananas that originally hung from the ceiling have been replaced by crepe-paper versions, but little else has changed. Nick calls WCBS-FM the sound of New York, and it’s been playing since the day we opened,” said Mrs. Gray, who began managing the business five years ago after Mr. Gray was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. The illuminated Gray’s Papaya sign still beckons with its bamboo-style lettering; handwritten signs like ‘Papaya Drink. Made from the Aristocratic Melon of the Tropics’ paper the walls.”
Happy Presidents’ Day!
(Thanks to Joy and Susanne for the tips.)