is looking good in this clip from New York 1. People keep saying the
pricing and hours aren't set, but we passed along the goods on that one
already here. I like Billie Tsien's comment about the granite working
with the rest of the park. This sucker is really happening.
At today's Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, a soft November sun turned so much to molten gold. It was like a child's picture-book version of Thanksgiving bounty.
Peppers, incredibly, are still abundant, although one has to pick to avoid those with soft wrinkly cheeks; eggplant and zucchini from southern Jersey were also remarkably good.
I gave the summer veg one last chance, deciding to wait on things like this golden cauliflower that peeked from its bonnet of leaves. These and the other cruciferous guys will be around a good while longer.
Apples are still at peak. The Honeycrisp variety is more expensive, but has an extra flavor note that I think of as "gingersnap."
On hand today were Emily and Melissa Elsen, the enterprising young ladies behind Four & Twenty Blackbirds, a superb pie establishment I have haunted down near the Gowanus. Their new cookbook, The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book, looks phenomenal and has the magic instructions for making Salted Honey Pie, my current addiction. I enjoyed a wonderful conversation about all things Pie (although I stopped short of an exposition of my theory of the Pieness of Pie). and assured them that the book will shoot to the very top of my Christmas list.
The backdrop for today's market was a scrim of gold, russet, and a bit of green. This tree is one of the park's brand-new youngsters, a sapling with the mighty task of replacing some of the countless trees lost to Sandy and Irene. It sheds its leaves onto the history-rich soil of Prospect Park for the very first time.
GREENMARKET DOG OF THE DAY
Moses is a 7-year-old English bulldog who was born in Pennsylvania. His human says Moses likes chilling on soft blankets. I would love to join him in that.
On the day the first Brooklyn snowflake falls, good news (I think). In what is being reported as a departing gesture of largesse, Mayor-for-a-bit-longer Bloomberg has apparently decided to have the city run the gigantic new Lakeside rink project for a year for free.
The implications of the financial arrangements (still uncommented-upon by some key players) are utterly beyond me; this is the sort of thing I had nightmares about covering if I ever became a metro or financial reporter (and lo, I am neither). Gothamist calls it a "wildly generous sweetheart deal," which sounds good to me as a Prospect Park lover/user (and sounds overdue, given our measly support from both the city and the private sector when compared to Central Park). Geoffrey Croft of the sharp-eyed advocacy blog A Walk in the Park (an organ of NYC Park Advocates) is less sanguine. He reports (in what appears to be the original source for this news):
Alliance will be required to pay the City of New York nothing for the
first year and just $100,000 beginning the second year of a 17-year deal according to the license agreement obtained by NYC Park Advocates. The
annual fee to the city increases by just a thousand dollars a year
over the life of the deal culminating with $116,097 in the year
lucrative license agreement -potentially worth tens of millions of
dollars over the life of the agreement - seeks to reward the
public/private partnership handsomely for raising $19 million of the
Lakeside Center's $74 million dollar budget, while also requiring
the group to continue to raise private money for the general operation
of the public park which they have done for years.
Croft takes the Parks Department and the Alliance to task for not releasing projected revenue figures for the rink; he accuses the city of trying to abdicate its responsibilities through public/private agreements that he calls "pay-to-play funding schemes" that "hand over enormous power and decision-making authority to..groups with little transparency and accountability on what is supposed to be public land." I have a hard time picturing the Prospect Park Alliance as a secretive or nefarious presence. Croft really loses me with this claim:
park groups are increasing relying on revenues generated from parkland
being diverted from the City's general fund into their coffers.
Sorry, I don't get it; how is that a bad thing? Shouldn't a reasonable amount of the revenue from Lakeside go back into historically underfunded Prospect Park? Or is the agenda here to spread the moolah evenly throughout all parks--especially to some of the even more historically underfunded parks, like poor wretched Flushing-Meadows Corona Park? (Prospect Park may play Cinderella to Central Park, but we're the envy of many obscure outer-borough green spaces with no established advocacy group.) To borrow some current agency jargon, it all seems to be a matter of "silos" and "buckets." I will invite Mr. Croft to illuminate his objections further, and welcome others to explain the ramifications of this in language suitable to a six-year-old clutching her allowance.
Speaking of journalistic acumen, even the New York Post covered this story, and managed to work in "animal sacrificing rituals," God bless them. See, I coulda been a metro reporter after all.
LAKESIDE SKATING PRICES REVEALED
Okay, everyone including me "buried the lede": The NYC Park Advocates report, citing the city's license agreement they have "obtained," claims that ice rink admissions will be $5 on weekdays and $8 on weekends and holidays, with skate rental $5 at all times. That sounds about what the old rink charged, causing me to breathe a huge sigh of relief that they won't be jacking it up to Rock-Center levels. The minimum public hours of operation for skating have been set for Fridays (3 to 9 pm), Saturdays (10-10) and Sundays (10-6), with another 20 hours a week Monday through Thursday on one or another of the two rinks.
This is the pristine southern entrance to the new Lakeside area--pristine because it remains fenced off to the public. The garden design is beautiful, done with a painterly eye to composition as well as color. In nine days, the golds and reds appear to have fallen into the undergrowth, where they keep up a dull radiance; soon, that flame will go out, too.
From our doorstep every year, I watch a row of young oak trees in the Parade Grounds turn burnished russet. As a rain storm blew closer, I headed for them. Doing crunches on a picnic bench, I watched them blow off and away overhead.
This got me contemplating how we are all as individual and ephemeral as oak leaves, until I noticed that the new ladies' room on the Parade Grounds is finally open! Workers have also been dutifully bagging countless leaf-souls. Note to our new Mayor DiBlasio: I can't imagine how much more liberal, er, "progressive," New York could be, but hopefully what the New York Times calls a "sharp leftward turn" will involve more money for parks.
In the park itself, gorgeous late color is at peak. The cretinous geese were oblivious, but even they seemed to give a collective shudder when this redtail swooped low and perched. And even the redtail seems to realize that a goose is too big a meal for one.
But what about for two? Moments later, another hawk flew in. Look closely for their silhouettes! Are they a mated pair, I wonder? I'm not one of those hawk wonks who tracks their every move, but would love to hear from any of you who are.
The lake's southern shore is still a place of seclusion and mystery. Today's find: a Bob Marley shrine, with bicycles, garbage bags, and lawn chairs nearby but no occupant seemingly in residence.
One ruddy oak leaf scuttled at my feet, in a desperate bid to recapture my melancholy attentions. Before I could get a second shot, it blew away.