Thursday, May 14, 2009

Random Bits and Pieces

In no particular order:

I realize this ship has probably sailed, but do you think we could maybe, just maybe, reconsider the word 'ap'? Those who know me well know I have no problem with word abbreviations per se, or even with making up new words. Shakespeare made up plenty of them, and I figure if one catches on, it's because it fills a need. I'm just having a bit of a problem with this one. I know I shouldn't. I mean, if it doesn't bother any of you that you sound like a barking Pekinese when mentioning your iphones' features, it shouldn't bother me, right? I'll work on that. I will probably have to continue muting the iphone commercials, leaping with a yelp on the remote when I hear the first line ('don't say ap!') for a while though.


My building super recently planted marigolds, impatiens and a new silver linden in one of the two plots in front of our building. Back on election day of 2006 the city planted trees all along this street. I didn't know what had prompted it, but I was pleased. The linden to the north has been there ever since, unscathed and seemingly healthy. For reasons I've never ascertained, however, the spot to the south has never fared as well. The tree that went in yesterday afternoon is the third one to occupy that spot. The other two were each cut down or vandalized.

As you can see, the super is taking no chances this time. Enlarge the image below if you want a closer look at the elaborate structure that has been put in place to protect the tree and flowers. There's a wooden pen enclosing the tree; serious mesh has been added to the short metal guards, and wire has been strung liberally over the top, all in an attempt not only to keep tree cutters at bay, but also to keep dogs out of the flowers. It's hideous, of course. But I totally see the need. I thanked him for doing all this extra work. Maybe once the tree has taken, and reached a certain size, it will no longer need the protective cage. I just hope its greater security doesn't wind up turning the attention of vandals to the other tree. It's been left alone this long, I hope it stays that way.


Yesterday I had a free day, and the weather was about as close to perfect as I could get it. Sunny, breezy, cool enough to enjoy walking, warm enough to sit outside happily. I wanted to get some stuff from one of my favorite plant stores at 96th (on the Upper West Side), but stopped off first at one of my favorite bagel places. (I lived in this neighborhood for a while back in '97-'98, which is why I have so many favorites in the area.) I took my sandwich up to Riverside Park, to sit by a fountain I'm fond of. It's a pleasant space for a number of reasons. Everything is made from cool white marble, including the benches, and the large pool is equally enticing to children and dogs, though I've only seen the latter actually climb in. The trees around it, along with the mist and the marble, keep it cool even in hot weather.

But those aren't the only reasons I love it.

The fountain is part of a monument honoring fire fighters, and I'm all in favor of that. What caught my attention though was the fountain itself. Here, take a closer look.

Know who that is? That's one of the guises of Dionysus, and not just any old guise; that isn't the jolly drunk guy, it's not even the beautiful youth, that is him at his pre-Olympian, consort-of-the-great-goddess, let's-all-go-have-sex-outdoors, ecstatic best. He's got the face and teeth of a lion. He's got bull's horns. He's wearing grape leaves, just in case there were any question of who he was. He's roaring. There is nothing decorous, contained or civilized about this fellow. When I see this image, I think of the recurring description of Aslan throughout the Narnia books: "you know, he's not a tame lion." Neither is this guy; he is the life force at its randiest, and most joyful.

I can't for the life of me guess why the sculptor/architect chose this image on a fountain dedicated to fire fighters lost in the line of duty. Frankly I'd think fire fighters might have appreciated someone a little less, oh, I don't know, out there on their monument, but I'm probably making too much about it. I wonder if the sculptor simply saw this image on an older fountain, liked it, and decided to borrow it. For all I know this is a very traditional fountain image, like Poseidon and dolphins. Just because I've never seen this image out of context before doesn't mean it doesn't get used all the time, with all the ferocity removed, like fat cupids on St. Valentine's Day cards. I am not claiming any kind of subversive paganism was deliberately injected into the sculpture.

I just like that that was the result. Or it has been for me anyway. Whenever I stop by for a visit (occasionally throwing a penny into the water) I give the fire fighters their due, of course. But I'll say hello to Old Bromios too.


Java said...

I have been watching J Smooth's Ill Doctrine videos all evening, so when I read that little mini-rant about "ap" it had J's voice. That made it all the more amusing.

I wish the linden tree good luck in its protected position.

Birdie said...

I love what I can learn reading my friends' blogs. It's been far too long since I sat in an English class, and this is the next best thing.

While yappy words are your bane, mine is the announcers who apparently went to the Sportscasters School of Shouting. *click*

Greg said...

Is "ap" short for applications? My only usage is regarding the mostly annoying stuff at Facebook. Should be easy enough to manage all four syllables, trying though that may be. ; )

I'm glad you found some water to sit by, pal, and what a spot! Love this fountain. It seems to me that Dionysus is sporting the handlebar moustache which seems to be popular with firefighters...who it seems to me, often adopt the wild ways of Mr. Dionysus as their own.

Good luck, little linden!!

Jeaux said...

I did a bit of commercial landscaping for a time in NY; there was one plaza in midtown where the shrubs were secured with a steel cable attached to an eye-bolt in the concrete. That didn't deter the occasional would-be thief from ripping one out of the ground, even if he couldn't take it away.

It's been ever so long since I've heard anyone say "Let's all go have sex outdoors." Sigh. Dionysus should adorn that footbridge that leads to the Ramble.

tornwordo said...

The tree guard is sad in a hilarious kind of way. I remember once seeing a wayward youth skipping down the street and lopping down the newly planted trees. I've never wanted to murder someone more in my life. Instead I called the police.

Why would someone want to kill a tree?

johnmichael said...

I don't like the word "ap" too. And I really don't like iPhones either.
The tree and the flowers look great. Too bad that the gardner had to go through all that trouble to keep the plants from getting damaged.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I think the firefighters would be just fine with having a randy, joyous, lion-faced figure spitting water at the world on their behalf. The ones I know don't show that side very often, but it's there: Look what we stole back from the flames! Look at what who we could save!

And then, of course, after the celebration, the time to mourn what could not be prevented, and honor those who have been lost.