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Strawberry Fields For Wi-Fi … Forever

June 26th, 2017 · Tags:Arts · Cities · Coffee Shops · Uncategorized · Wi-Fi

Imagine mosaic


“No one told me there’d be days like these … Most peculiar, mama.” – John Lennon

After the most recent trip to Strawberry Fields in Central Park I saw that a Facebook friend posted that it was Worldwide Beatles Day. What a coinkydink … rather … “most peculiar.” I really hadn’t even planned to go to Strawberry Fields and didn’t know about the Beatles event, but that is how I roll … or prefer to.

My travel philosophy on the blog is to plan little and see much … and occasionally stumble upon some nice surprises.

As usual, there were lots of tourists stopping to pay their respects to John Lennon at the little acreage … Perhaps more than usual. Have you been there? Frankly, there is not much special about Strawberry Fields, other than the Imagine mosaic in the sidewalk and a plaque or two. I had expected a rose-and-hedge lined English garden. But then again, imagine the value of the land that was set aside to honor the Liverpool lad.

Strawberry Fields

So as the tourists streamed through, some guy “was crucifying John Lennon” … (a great line borrowed from a John Mellencamp song,) referring to cover bands playing songs of The Beatles. This guy was a solo act, belting out and falsetto-ing his way through classics … He must have played every Beatles song he knew, because I listened for a good while and he was still playing as I left. Funny. When he sang, he came across as an artsy, sensitive, soft-spoken minstrel. But between songs, his more harsh New York persona came out as he joked and also harassed the passersby who didn’t leave cash in his guitar case. Busking with attitude, I suppose.

After several songs, I concluded that he didn’t sound like Lennon nor McCartney … not even Harrison. Ha! It was more like Ringo singing all The Beatles classics.

Regardless, as I left I threw in a buck fitty, as he took a break on his cell phone. He thanked me, and I quipped, “A righteous, live version of ‘Helter Skelter’ would have gotten you five bucks.” He laughed, but it was not to be.


Goathead Stick Profile

The first part of the day was a 7-12 Sunday morning at the rail road power station — cleaning soot-covered, giant transformers on “The Dirty Gig.” Then after a quick lunch, I hoofed it over to Socrates Sculpture Park, where Broadway Avenue hits The East river in Queens. Socrates is a park built on a former landfill, and features what I perceive to be sculptures made of found objects juxtaposed with more traditional sculpture. For instance, there are huge goat heads (not the thorned variety) scattered about the park … and also life-like goat statues impaled on golden painted rebar. Interesting.

Socrates Ghetto Blaster


Socrates Hoodie BW


Goat Rebar


Next, I headed southwest of the park, along The East River, and headed out across the first bridge I saw. It was considerably smaller than the Brooklyn and the Queensboro bridges … Interesting thing about this bridge — it only goes halfway across the river, which landed me in the center of Roosevelt Island. I’ll admit that I knew zero about the island … not even the fact that it was once known as “Hog Island.” Perfect. Explore!

Roosevelt Island

My “keen” sense of direction soon led me to a Starbucks along the two-mile island, with exceptional Wi-Fi, a few of New York’s finest hanging out, and an oddity. Many of the NYC and Manhattan Starbucks have added, industrial size, portable air conditioning units this summer. Lucky us to be in NYC during the heat …

The island is mainly home to large apartment towers, condos and public housing with some nice restaurants and cafes mixed in. There’s nostalgia too, in the form of adults playing kickball in the shadow of the Queensboro bridge, looming high above. Once there was a prison there, and on one end of the island there is a park designed by notable architect Louis I. Kahn. (Think I’ll go back for that …)

So I found my way onto the island easy enough. “How to get off? Glancing around I saw the bright red cars of the Roosevelt Island Tramway. Cool … I hopped on and got a great birds’ eye view of Midtown Manhattan as the car dangled on rusty cables several hundred feet over The East River between the bridges.


Roosevelt Tramway

On the other bank of the river, I hopped off the tram, meandered through Midtown, and ended up on the west side of Central Park and then on to Lennon land. When I had my fill of Beatles tunes, I walked 30 blocks south, down 8th Avenue, hopped on my friend the E Train, and then across the river, back to Queens Plaza. Fun day … albeit without much Wi-Fi. No Wi-Fi on the tram!?!



Earlier in this NYC residency … just a few days earlier, on another day of exploration, I returned to what was my first lodging ever, in New York City — the building that previously housed The New York Downtown Athletic Club … yes, the previous home of The Heisman Trophy. The club moved out of the area years ago, after suffering some damage during the 9-11 attack. Since that time, developers have bought and refurbished the old art deco building, and put it on the market as apartments and condos.

I know this because, as I was reminiscing and taking a few photos, a young professionally dressed profession woman (on a Sunday) approached me and struck up a conversation about the building.

Ha … she is a real estate agent and was hosting an open house for several of the apartments for lease and for sale in the highrise. In all honesty, I am probably not the target demographic to be renting or purchasing an apartment on the southern tip of Manhattan down around Wall Street … I think she just wanted to see if I had gotten any good photos.

But still … I wouldn’t turn down an invite to check out some NYC upscale. I was pretty sure this woman was legit and that I would not be knocked on the head and kidnapped and sold into slavery or anything like that … she looked legit enough. But, it was not until I saw her business card that I felt 100 percent safe going into the building with this, a complete stranger. On her business card — what really put my mind to ease — was her profile photo. Again, in the photo she was quite professionally dressed. Ha … but at a glance, I detected that in the photo she also had a rather large parrot on her shoulder. She had me at parrot.

Know what I sayin?