The Chanin Building

Chanin Building Terra-cotta Frieze

The Chanin Building, a brick and terra-cotta skyscraper, is located at the corner of 42nd and Lexington, in Midtown Manhattan. It is designed in the art deco style. A terra-cotta frieze runs the length of the façade, presenting a dramatic collection curvy leaves. Below it is a bronze relief depicting scenes of evolution.

Chanin Building Bronze Relief

We were walking along 42nd, having just visited Grand Central station and were on our way to visit the Chrysler building. Anne first saw the Chanin building, with its details and asked me to photograph it, with the big Canon. She likes detail like this, if only because it gives her quilting ideas. Most famously, down the street, she has already made a quilt of the Chrysler building. That quilt used a representation of that building, that can be found on its lobby doors.

Today, I began doing our taxes. After a preliminary survey, it appears that unlike last year, where we itemized for the first time in years, we will be back to taking the (newly enlarged) standard deduction. This on the same day that news reports that IRS employees, who had been recalled (without pay) to process these returns, have the right to skip work under a hardship clause in their union contract. Early reports indicate that they are abandoning their desks in droves. So, this might be just an academic exercise. Any delay will be our first personal effect from this government shutdown. 

Leveque Dining Set

On last summer’s westward excursion, we stopped for an afternoon in historic Deadwood, South Dakota. After lunching in a saloon, along Main Street’s strip, we explored the more gentile side of town. The Adams Museum delves into the town’s local history, which during its gold rush days featured such luminaries as Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. In this museum we saw the pictured oak and walnut dining set, which was built in the 1930s by Anthime Leveque. Anne took these photos, because they reminded her of quilt designs.

Anthime Leveque emigrated from Quebec and at fourteen, began to work for the Home Stake Mining Company in nearby Lead, SD. He worked there his entire life. During his last twenty years of employment, he made furniture with a process called marquetry, a technique using small wood pieces to create surface decorations. Most woodwork of this kind uses thin layers of veneer. Leveque’s pieces are a full quarter-inch thick. His most ambitious set consisted of a quarter million pieces. This set of table and chairs includes a mere 4,500 section.

Fleet Week

Fleet Week Car Card

New York, New York, a wonderful town
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down
The people ride in a hole in the ground
New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town!
Song Writers: Fred Ebb / John Kander

When we were in New York City, we visited the NYC Transportation Museum. In its lower gallery are dozens of subway cars, from all eras. Many of these cars are open and still period decorated. Chief among these decorations are subway car cards. These placards are nestled in the soffits that run the car’s length and the advertising gambit. The black and white one pictured above caught my attention. It is selling the 8th Avenue subway as the way to get around and see the US Navy on parade, during its annual Fleet Week visit to the Big Apple.

This car card doesn’t mention its particular year, but it could very well be 1934. Many of the ships advertised were sunk in WW II. Most of the battleships that were then named after states were also at Pearl Harbor. Coincident with this year’s fleet week, the WPA artist Paul Cadmus painted his notorious depiction of sailors on liberty, The Fleet’s In. The debauchery portrayed so incensed the admiralty that it was pulled unseen from its scheduled WPA show and remained hidden from view for almost fifty years, until 1982. 

Then 77, Cadmus (1904-1999) expressed gratitude for getting to see his painting again. He also remarked that after so many years hidden from light, how new it still looked. He recalled, ”What I actually saw sailors and their girlfriends doing in Riverside Drive Park far exceeded anything that I could have put on canvas.”

The Fleet’s In, Paul Cadmus, 1934

Vulgar Fractions

Distorted Circles, Jim Wilcox, 1982

Lord Tennyson, the poet, once received a letter and a fraction of shade from Charles Babbage, the mathematician, which read:

In your otherwise beautiful poem, Vision of Sin, there is a verse that reads:

Every moment dies a man,
Every moment one is born.

It must be manifest that were this true, the population of the world would be at a standstill. In truth the rate of birth is slightly in excess of death. I would suggest that the next edition of your poem you have it read:

Every moment dies a man,
Every moment 1 ⅙ is born.

Strictly speaking this is not correct. The actual figure is a decimal so long that I cannot get it in on one line, but I believe 1 ⅙ will be sufficiently accurate for poetry…

Vulgar fractions is a term used to designate common fractions. Unicode that!


Two Turtle-doves

It is the new year. People want to put the old one behind them. This includes Christmas. I’ve seen trees tossed to the curb. One unfortunate had even been leaf blown over, so that it looked camouflaged, like an extra big pile of leaves. They weren’t fooling anyone, least of all the guys tasked to collect this stuff. I mean, whatever happened to the twelve days of Christmas? If you do the math, they don’t end until the sixth, Epiphany. I mean, what’s the rush? Are we really that anxious to see February? Even the serfs got all twelve off. I’m not arguing a fighting withdrawal in the war on Christmas. It just so happens that I’ve come into a treasure trove of holiday pictures. They are all of seasonal decorations at the botanical gardens and I want to use this full holiday season to share them with you. I certainly don’t want to have to wait until next year.

Joanie graciously invited us to accompany her on the garden’s last night of their Glow-fest. Unlike in past years, it wasn’t freaking cold. New for us this year was the model train exhibit, but you’ll have to wait for that. I’d spent the better part of the afternoon re-culling our 2018 photo archive for a few more acceptable pics to post. In my humble opinion, the cupboard is beginning to look bare and it is not even Lent yet. That’s why I intend to milk this new trove.

After the gardens, we adjourned to the City Diner for a late sup. We’ve eaten there often, but always for breakfast. Walking in I wondered what I would order. As it turned out, a hamburger and fries was at their limit. The service was slow, but once delivered the offered mustard and ketchup never arrived, at least in time. Nor were we asked about ordering additional drinks or even offered water refills, let alone the obligatory ask about how’s your meal, which never occurred. Confronted, the waitress complained that they were short-staffed.

Meanwhile, the next table that was seated after us, was already leaving. In anger, I stiffed her on her tip. I almost never do this and can remember when I did it last. There the waitress just ignored us in favor of more lucrative tables, in a very busy restaurant. The staff from this evening’s outing had no such excuse. The number of empty tables increased exponentially, while we sat there and it wasn’t half full when we entered. Still, I feel bad for stiffing her. She tried, just didn’t succeed. Anne had earlier asked me, what I wanted to do in this new year. I offered kind of a lame answer. Maybe, I should try to be kinder to others. It’s an epiphany that I wish had come sooner and it is in the Christmas spirit.