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Poe-try for Halloween

18 Oct

To inspire some Halloween dreams, why not visit Poe Park in the Bronx? Edgar Allan Poe Poe rented the white farmhouse that’s there for a few years, and it’s conveniently located along the Grand Concourse. The visitor’s center keeps a full schedule of creative-arts events. Or take the walking tour of Poe’s Publisher’s Row. We all know about the famous, scary stories Poe wrote. But there’s his poetry, too—and yes, “A Dream” and even “A Dream Within a Dream.”

The cottage at Poe Park in the Bronx

The cottage at Poe Park in the Bronx

It’s gonna be a strange and wonderful weekend

2 Aug

Trying to be disciplined about staying on theme here, I don’t indulge much in posts about things that are dreamlike. But a selection of activities in New York City this weekend (and honestly, I’ve searched only Thursday and Friday at ClubFreetime.com) is too quirky to pass up commenting. And anyway, there really are some dream-titled ones among these events.

And me with a camera that’s refusing to work. Assuming I’m in town, I plan to get to as much as I can; thanks to the apartment search that’s become never-ending (and no further word from my landlord), I’ve been missing summer in a big way! Regardless — If you get to any of these events and find truly dream-related material (or have resulting dreams yourself), report back here!!

THURSDAY

Arctic Summer, Part 1, National Museum of the American Indian,several times during the day (and Friday, too)

The Owl and the Lemming: The quick-witted lemming outwits the hungry owl. Puppets made of sealskin by local artists act out this Inuit folktale.

The Twenty-First Annual World Eskimo-Indian Olympics: Competitions in strength, agility and traditional skills highlight this 1982 event. We see such events as the two-foot and one-foot high kicks, the knuckle hop, the blanket toss and the four-man carry.

The Owl who Married a Goose: An owl falls in love with a goose, but has a tough time adapting to life on the water. Continue reading

Fire in the Sky

6 May

Today is the 75th anniversary of the crash of the airship Hindenburg at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

The Hindenberg burns (Photo from the Lakehurst Naval Air Station website)

The Hindenberg burns
(Photo from the Lakehurst Naval Air Station website)

(Other views can be seen at Airships.net.)

The Hindenberg was 804 feet long and 15 stories tall, according to the New York Daily News today, and I think if that thing were seen flying around Manhattan in our era, it would induce more than a few nightmares. (The Daily News’s page 1 headline today was “Evil’s Smile,” about the all-day arraignment at Guantanamo Bay of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others.) Continue reading

Food as dream

26 Apr
Empellón Cocina

Empellón Cocina (photo from the restaurant's website)

The premise of this blog has been to explore how New York affects our dreams, how our dreams can help us appreciate New York, and what we can discover about dreaming while out and about in New York. Now, in “A Taste of Mexico, as in a Dream” in the April 24 Dining & Wine section of The New York Times, Pete Wells demonstrates one more angle: how the dreaming experience can help us express our experience of New York.

Wells reviews the restaurant Empellón Cocina in the East Village, whose chef is Alex Stupak:

A 32-year-old former pastry chef, he has read the classic cookbooks and spent some time in Oaxaca and the Yucatán, but he hasn’t studied this intricate and endlessly complex cuisine with an anthropologist’s intensity, as Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy have. If everybody with a similarly brief education opened a Mexican restaurant, the world would be full of foolish empanadas, pretentious moles and goofy adobos.

But some beginning students of a language can wake up to discover they’ve been dreaming in it at night. At its best, Mr. Stupak’s cooking at Empellón Cocina resembles the food of Mexico the way a dream resembles life. Everything looks familiar, except that the light seems to be coming from a different direction, and did that river always run right through the bedroom?

When you slice into a gordita, does it always gush with warm egg yolk? The one here does, the deep-fried flying saucer of masa giving way to the yellow yolk that curls around smoked plantains and a crumble of chorizo.

There are a few low notes on the menu, but overall, Wells seems intrigued and satisfied with the results of Stupak’s relatively casual education in Mexican cuisine.

What my German great-aunt and Run-DMC have in common

18 Apr

Hollis. It’s a neighborhood in Queens that the Real Estate section of The New York Times on April 12 described as “Serene, for All Its Hip-Hop Cred.” Jake Mooney writes:

Since1962, Anita Friday’s home on 205th Place has provided her a vantage point for the waves of change that have come in succession to Hollis, her family’s corner of Queens. At the start the population was predominantly white, said Ms. Friday, 80, who is black, and who recalled that over her first decade as a resident, most of her white neighbors moved away to Long Island.

Not my German-immigrant great-aunt. She was already in her 70s or 80s when Anita Friday moved to the area, and she spent the last part of her life there. In the ever-changing ethnic makeup that is New York, Hollis’s more recent residents “have come from farther-flung places: Haiti, Panama, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic,” says the Times. Ava Winston came only from somewhere else in Queens, but in Hollis, she lives in what has become, post–German great aunt, a famous place:

A few blocks away on 205th Street…Ms. Winston’s street is also known as Run-DMC JMJ Way, after the rap group, which made the neighborhood famous with songs like “Christmas in Hollis” and “Hollis Crew.” Joseph Simmons, known in the group as Run, grew up on the street, as did his brother Russell Simmons, the music impresario, who has recalled Hollis in the 1970s and ’80s as a middle-class neighborhood increasingly plagued by drugs. Run-DMC’s D.J., Jason Mizell — also known as Jam Master Jay — lived in the area until his murder in 2002 in nearby Jamaica. One side of the Hollis Superette, on the corner of 205th Street and Hollis Avenue, bears a mural commemorating his life.

(That difference between Street, as in Ava Winston’s block, and Place, as in Anita Friday’s, trips up just about any driver new to Queens. Perhaps the subject of another post, if I ever come across a dream of being lost and bewildered by Streets, Places, Roads, Avenues, Terraces, and Circles.)

Google map of Hollis

Google map of Hollis

Hollis has been known for a long time now as the birthplace of hip-hop, but despite  my pretty eclectic interest in music, particularly music of a variety of cultures, I haven’t warmed to hip-hop.

It took a dream to make me check out a DVD I kept seeing on the shelf of my local library branch, and which brought me more up to date on Hollis: 2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master J.  In the video’s interviews, there’s a lot about what Hollis means to JMJ’s friends. If I recall correctly (it’s been a year and a half since I watched it), included among the memories are Hollis Superette, its owner, and its mural.

"2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay"

(image from Amazon.com

Continue reading

“Hamlet” and hamlets

14 Apr

I woke this morning (4/13)

hearing the name (Something) Hamlet, probably at the end of a brief conversation between a man and a young-ish blonde woman with a high ponytail.

In other words, “Hamlet” was someone’s last name in my dream.

A series of associations came to mind right away: 1> Shakespeare’s play. 2> I have a videotape I bought recently titled Discovering Hamlet. (Then later) 3> I’d love to be able to get my videos, cassettes, and LPs recorded to a hard drive before I have to move. It would make one less set of stuff to pack.

That “have to move” part was roaring through my mind as I went to sleep (or attempted to) last night. I’d called my landlord in the afternoon to report a couple of things that need taking care of, and got his secretary, as usual. “He hasn’t talked to you?” she asked. Um, no. Then she dropped this bomb: “He wants to sell the apartment.” Continue reading

Montague Ullman’s influence lingers at publication parties

11 Mar

On what’s probably the last day of vaguely winter weather of 2011–2012’s vaguely winter season, I’m getting back to work here by writing about a holiday party I attended at the other end of the season, in December.  More to the point, about the books I received from the party host, Cosimo.

Appreciating Dreams, by Montague Ullman

Cosimo, a specialty publisher in New York City (whose owner is a Dutch expat),  does “publishing on demand” in several categories. In 2006, Cosimo republished Appreciating Dreams,

in connection with a seminal 2005 talk by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Montague Ullman (1916–2008). The Ullman Method of group dreamwork has widely influenced how people work together to understand their dreams. Appreciating Dreams is the “manual” for the Ullman Method.

Montague Ullman, on his site maintained by Markku Siivola

Montague Ullman, on his site maintained by Markku Siivola's

Understanding Dreams, by Markku SiivolaCosimo gave out gift bags at the party, and some of the bags included a just-published book by Finnish psychologist Markku Siivola, a friend and student of Monte Ullman’s. That book is a restatement and introduction of the Ullman Method, titled Understanding Dreams: The Gateway to Dreams Without Dream Interpretation. Markku and I met at one of the weekend-long dream group dream leadership trainings that Monte used to conduct in his home in Ardsley, New York. That weekend afforded a convincing demonstration of the Ullman Method’s ability to be just as insight-inducing and satisfying for group members as for the person whose dream they’re working on: at some point in using the Ullman Method on a dream I’d brought, both Markku and I were deeply affected, each for our own reasons. So I’m particularly looking forward to reading his take on the method. Continue reading

200,000 descendents of Nieuw Amsterdam’s miller

25 Jul

This past week I finished reading the novel City of Dreams, by Beverly Swerling, which traces several generations of surgeons and apothecaries from the Dutch colony of Nieuw Amsterdam through the English takeover (making it New York) to the American Revolution. (Vivid and fascinating. It was frequently my bedtime reading, and to my surprise, few or no nightmares resulted: the era’s surgery, medicine, and public punishments were all gruesome, and all vividly and copiously described.)

After six months of that, I’m highly alert to anything Nieuw Amsterdam…such as a June 22 article on The New York Times website: “The Van Dusens of Nieuw Amsterdam.” The Van Dusens in question are the numerous descendents—now spread across the country—of “one of Manhattan’s first few hundred settlers, the operator of a windmill where the Dutch ground grain….

It all began with Abraham, whose forebears were from the town of Duersen in northern Brabant. Known in official documents as “Abraham the miller,” or “Abraham Pieterszen,” as in son of Peter”….Two of Abraham’s progeny — Martin Van Buren, a great-great-great-grandson; and Franklin Delano Roosevelt (add four more greats) — served as presidents of the United States. A third, Eliza Kortright (Generation 7), married one, James Monroe.

Another is the current mayor of Astoria, Oregon. (Lots of multimedia with the article—including recipes from a 19th-century cookbook, Civil War diaries, and a bucolic 1814 view from 110th Street.)

I wanted to blog about the article, but I had to come up with my own excuse, because there’s no mention in it of dreams. So naturally I Googled: “‘Van Dusen’ and dream.” I was handed plenty of news hooks. From just the first page of search results: Continue reading

Remembering Nicole Carstens

26 Jun
Nicole Carstens, 1958–2001

Nicole Carstens, 1958–2001

Over in Kerkrade, Netherlands, the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) will have completed its second day of annual conference workshops and symposia today.

And here in New York, the Blue Note Jazz Festival is going on throughout June, mainly at venues such as the Blue Note and B. B. King’s.

So it’s a fitting day for me to continue my dream-related appreciation of Dutch New York by writing about my late friend Nicole Carstens. I met Nicole, who was from the Netherlands, in an eight-session dream “class” / dream-sharing group here in New York in 1996. She died in the spring of 2001, while in her early 40s.

Looking back at several letters we exchanged and some notes from various conversations, I realize just how few actual contacts we had in those four and a half years. It seems otherwise, because Nicole and I quickly noticed that the dreams we shared in the class each week had surprisingly—spookily—similar imagery. This gave us the opportunity to delve into some difficult issues we had in common, despite their differing waking-life manifestations in our personal histories.

Nicole was an artist; she supported her art by working as a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines flight attendant (so was frequently out of town), and as a translator. Exposure to her art, in juxtaposition to doing dreamwork together, gave me another opportunity: a rather large leap forward in my level of art appreciation, given my relatively scanty art education. Continue reading

The Nieuw Amsterdam of “Mad Men”

11 Apr

Returning for a moment to my Dutch fascination because of the upcoming International Association for the Study of Dreams’ 2011 conference in the Netherlands…a small synchronicity:

Back in January, when I was in the midst of sending out emails announcing Robbie Bosnak’s “Nieuw Amsterdam and the Golden Age” talk, I watched episode 4 of Mad Men‘s first season (on DVD). The episode title is “New Amsterdam.” It emerges in the story line that Pete Campbell, the obnoxious junior account executive trying alternately to suck up to creative director Don Draper or to show him up, is a descendant of the Dyckmans. Continue reading