Extra Dynamite

Extra Dynamite

The pictured crate of dynamite is at the NYC Transportation Museum. It is part of an exhibit that describes the digging of the subway system. It makes a nice visual, but what intrigued me more it the title of its contents. What is “extra” dynamite? It’s a different formulation that is less explosive than regular dynamite (40% strength), but can be more safely handled. But why is it called extra?

Is it because you would need more of it than regular dynamite or is it just a marketing ploy, making more out of less? That’s not the only mystery. Why is it also affiliated with the Red Cross? That doesn’t make any sense at all. As near as I can tell, Red Cross Extra is DuPont’s brand name for this type of explosive. I found a 1916 company catalog that listed this product and described it as a low freezing insensitive explosive, suitable for situations without water troubles. 


Last night, we celebrated Christmas in February, with Joanie. Why the delay? A gift that Anne had bought was on backorder and just arrived. I fixed shrimp and zucchini pasta in an alfredo sauce, with garlic bread. It turned out pretty good. We exchanged gifts and had rum bunt cake that Joanie had brought for dessert. On the eve of Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed our very little Christmas together.

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. 

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

Move On, Nothing to See Here

725 5th Ave President Barack H. Obama Ave, New York, NY 10022

MoveOn.org is petitioning NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to rename the portion of 5th Ave in front of the Trump Tower to President Barack H. Obama Ave. There is precedent for this. The portion of 6th Ave in front of the Rockefeller Center is called Avenue of the Americas. Currently more than 25,000 signatures have been gathered, with a goal of 75,000. Sounds implausible, but it would be nice. 

Yesterday, amongst all of the hubbub about the government shutdown and the Wall, there were new developments in the Trump-Russia collusion case. First, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who during the 2016 presidential campaign met with Trump campaign officials at Trump Tower, was charged with money laundering. As part of her scheme, she is alleged to have cycled this money through Manhattan properties. Veselnitskaya is in Moscow now and is very unlikely to face any of these charges.

Another development was triggered by what appears to be a mistake made by Paul Manafort’s legal team. A redacted court filing was made disputing Robert Mueller’s contention that Manafort violated his plea agreement by lying. The redaction was easily circumvented by a simple cut and paste. What was revealed is that Mueller claims that Manafort lied about his sharing of campaign polling data with a Russian operative, while he was Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman.

Finally on Tuesday, Chief Justice Roberts denied a stay involving a bank owned by a foreign government. This case is shrouded in secrecy, but is believed to be associated with the Mueller investigation. Reporters staked out the courthouse, but were kicked out when officials cleared the floor. The bank and the country are not known, but what is known is that their continued failure to comply with a grand jury subpoena will now cost them $50,000 a day.

I can guess where these lines of investigation will eventually lead. The pieces disclosed indicate a pattern of investigation that has been used before to take down Mafia crime families. In this case there is only one family of note. As the noose tightens expect further disruptive behavior from Individual 1.