Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and beer. Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. You’ll wish that summer could always be here. Really Yvonne. Every year, just about this time, you repeat the same refrain. What can I say? I love this time of year. I am one of the few who hates air conditioning. My biggest thrill is feeling a soft wind blow and the air is undecidedly warm. I know there are a few of you out there who know what I’m talking about. Don’t’ be shy.
What would summer be without fireworks? With the snap, crackle and pop all around the city, everywhere you look there’s a display somewhere, celebrating something. Did you know that the earliest account of fireworks appears to be around the ninth century during the medieval Chinese Tang Dynasty (581-907 AD)? It was believed that the fireworks very loud bang would scare away the evil spirits and bring about luck and happiness. A small portion of gunpowder, wrapped in parchment and attached to an arrow was lit and shot into the air, and—boom—a magnificent display was born.
There is a huge gap in knowledge as to how fireworks evolved. The next set of fireworks took place in Philadelphia, July 4, 1776, also known as Independence Day. Although the skies were ablaze, America wasn’t quite independent yet. It was during the War of 1812, when America was in a fierce battle against the British (in 1814) that the fireworks were used on this particular night as a means of lifting the people’s spirit. And the rockets’ red glare was bursting in air, gave proof to the night that our flag was still there.
BLVD Bistro is no more. They have closed their location of 122nd Street and Lenox Avenue. Fellow businessman Marcus Samuelsson sold his eatery, Streetbird Rotisserie, on the corner of 116th Street and Eighth Avenue to the husband and wife team of BLVD Bistro, so look for them at their new digs. As long as they continue to make the best blueberry pancakes in the city, I will follow them anywhere.
Also a thing of the past, and this one is really sad, Central Park is now closed to all cars. You can no longer drive through the park by entering at 59th Street and exiting at 72nd Street. It was bad enough when the drive up to 110th Street was shut down, but this is beyond belief. Our then Assemblyman Keith Wright tried very hard to let the drive remain open, especially because traffic clears out considerably once you passed 96th Street. De Blasio wouldn’t hear of it. Traffic is horrendous and seems only to get worst because of decisions by people who probably don’t even drive. Driving down Fifth Avenue between 57th Street and points further south is a nightmare because two lanes have been blocked off for buses, and now the park. Quelle dommage!
Most recently, I saw some photos of old New York. I mean really old, before avenues such as Park and Fifth had any houses at all. The area was mainly farmland. It wasn’t until the early 19th century that DeWitt Clinton peeked into the future and began laying out “the grid” of the city’s streets, blocks and avenues. Shortly thereafter, the railroad track emerged from underground and rose above Park Avenue and 96th Street. Slowly, one by one, row houses were built. Although this new civilization hadn’t reached uptown yet, it wouldn’t take long before more and more people flocked to develop the new territory.
Wait a minute. What’s this? A photo of an old wooden shack, posted in the latest edition of Harlem World Magazine (harlemworldmag.com), located on the west side of Broadway between 123rd and 124th Street, in Harlem. It looks mighty raggedy, run down and lived-in, but still it stands. The photograph, taken by James Reuel Smith, dates the house back to 1898. According to the source, “James Reuel Smith was born in 1852 in Skaneateles, N.Y. Smith loved photographing and investigating the springs and wells of Northern Manhattan from 1897 to 1907. In 1922, he published ‘Springs and Wells in Greek and Roman Literature, Their Legends and Locations.’” I wonder who lived there. Where did they come from? What did they do? Here we are today, 100 years later. Is it better? Is it worse? Mercy, mercy me, things ain’t what they use to be.
There’s a lot happening this July. Summer soirees, the beach, the park, cookouts or maybe just sitting under the stars, waiting for that warm breeze to come by. When you’re out during the day be sure to put on sunscreen and bug spray; in fact, don’t leave home without them. The summer has barely started and I’ve been bitten by a tick and broke out in hives. On both occasions, I dashed over to Harlem Hospital’s emergency room, where they still have the best doctors, nurses and professionals in the world. For the tick bite, I was given a dose of something I will never be able to spell or pronounce, but I trust them, so it’s all good. It was followed up with a tetanus shot, so I guess I’m good at least for the next 10 years. Can’t say where the hives come from. As my mother use to say, “We’re from good peasant stock,” so I usually don’t come down with these things, but whatever it was, it sure was funky. With my entire body aflame, the only resort was to have an IV of a combination cocktail to counteract whatever it was. Did it work? Yes, it did! All’s well that ends well.
Until next week … kisses.