Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Kinda book review: Brooklyn's Sportsmen's Row:: Politics, Society and the Sporting Life on Northern Eighth Avenue


Sportsmen's Row
A friend of mine recommended I read this book because it's basically about the street I live on 150 years ago. In a nutshell Brooklyn had 3 horse racing tracks in the late 1800s. I knew that and they were in Sheepshead Bay, where I grew up and Coney Island. I also know that it's easy to get to Sheepshead Bay from Park Slope because of what we now call the B train. In 1875 it was called the Brighton Line. What I learned in this book was that the owners of these race tracks and some of the best jockeys lived in a few of the houses down the block from where I live now. I also already knew that the mayor of New York City lived in that row of houses. He often walked to City Hall, over the Brooklyn Bridge. I knew that.

The book was about a lot of the drama between the people that lived on the block. Stuff you would expect from 1875 to 1890 Brooklyn New York.

But there are some interesting things that I learned. For example at the end of his term President Garfield considered buying a house on 8th Avenue. He did not. On his retirement from the Secret Service Sam Pinkerton moved to Brooklyn and lived in the house diagonally across the street from my own building.He was the head of security for all of the race tracks in Sheepshead Bay. His personal stable was on a lot of land that is now occupied by the Park Slope Food Co-op. On a day that he was not home the stable was raided by the police department because his children were organizing a cock fight.

I learned that "the Industrialist J.Rogers Maxwell lived at 78 8th Avenue" Wikipedia says he was more of a sailor than an industrialist.Apparently he gave a large gift to Long Island College Hospital. If someone reading this has access to the New York Times online perhaps they can send me the words of this article and I will add it to the blog. According to this website Maxwell died at 78 8th Avenue " 

Eventually in the late 1900's the interest in yacht racing decreased — races and transatlantic sprints lost in popularity. Nevertheless, John Rogers Maxwell died from cerebral apoplexy on December 10th 1910 at his home at 78 Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

I think it's raining

Yesterday I got a Facebook message from a bunch of friends I usually run with that they were going to The Met. So what the last minute I went to get some culture.

We ran around looking for certain pieces of art that some of us wanted to see.But in a hallway I stopped to look at this.I honestly have no idea what it's supposed to be. But it is actually a portrait of Joan of Arc painted bt Jules Bastien-Lepage. Please click on the links, so that you will be able to read an accurate description of this piece.Apparently it is important.  But I disagree with the descriptions. I think it's a painting of a young woman who's told to clean up her backyard but doesn't want to because she just realized it's raining.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

I like playing tour guide

My phone buzzed on New Year's morning while running a race.It turned out that my Florida family was visiting.So I went home and changed my smell and met them in Central Park. Trying to find people on their way to Central Park is kind of tough, and my cousin kept sending me messages That she thought were helpful but not so much."We are heading to Central Park by 5th". Yeah, Central Park has a few miles of Fifth Avenue near it. But I figured out they were near The Zoo they sent me this picture to the right. The description on the picture was "we are at the puppet guy just past the children's zoo". I didn't look very hard at the picture but I knew there's usually a busker just north of the zoo,  in the park. I should have actually looked a little harder at the picture because I could have responded that his name is Ronnie.He staffed the birthday party my kids had when they were in kindergarten at Puppet Works.New York City is a very small town.

Then we gathered up there five kids and headed down to Chinatown.My cousin commented to me that he thought five kids was easy compared to having twins. No, in fact it's the other way around.I had two kids at once, but we had one agenda. We fed them bathed them put them to sleep all the same time. And they kind of entertained each other. His kids all have different agendas. Five agendas. Not so easy.

Anyways, the Florida family wanted to do a museum day.The Museum of Natural History and then next door, The New York Historical Society had a special exhibit on the Jewish Deli. (That exhibit was about as interesting to me as the Harry Potter exhibit would have been. But it gets people to pay the admission fee.)  After I slept in the museum of natural history I really felt no need to go back. But, believe it or not, I've never been to the New York Historical Societies museum.The plan was that the family of seven would meet me at the deli exhibit at 3:00 p.m.knowing they would be late, I got there around 2:30 so I can enjoy the museum.The painting is called nurse Tracy and a better and authorized reproduction can be found here and here. Having spent an inappropriately long time in the hospital this pees really struck a cord with me.She looks like all the nurses who kept me alive. And of course the real model for this works at NYU Langone. 

I've said this before but let me try to put it in other words.I really don't know anything about art, but I have learned that it's not a bad idea to go to museum and look at the stuff.People with a critical eye have determined it's good stuff.Just sit down and try to figure out what's good about it. Sometimes you can find it on your own.

To the right is an image of the Ramones standing in front of a sign that says Gabba Gabba Hey. It's kind of weird to see this in a museum now because based on this photograph I chose how I dressed for about 10 years of my life.

Below is something that doesn't really look like a big deal. At first look it would look like a college diploma but it is actually the actual Pulitzer Prize given to Robert Caro for writing the Power Broker. When I got to the end of that book I remember thinking to myself that this is why books went awards.It was really neat to see it.If my career path years ago would have stayed in academics, this would have been my highest accomplishment. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

I had to Take a picture of this no smoking sign.

1) Alarm Will Sound 
2) Fire Dept. Will Respond 
3) $500.00 Fine Will Be Issued 
4) Hall Security Deposit Will Not Be Returned

I left the capitalizations the way I found them.But to give this some context I went to a party at an American Legion Hall in Hackensack

This party was part of what I would consider a great accomplishment for a New Yorker. The morning started with a short race in Staten Island.Then we headed over to a party in Hackensack. On the Way back home to Brooklyn from Hackensack Traffic was so bad in Manhattan that the Google machine told us to take the George Washington Bridge to The  Bronx Expressway and then take the Triborough Bridge back to Queens and then to Brooklyn. So I was in all five boroughs of New York City on a day that I was not running a marathon.I don't think that many non-professional drivers can say they did that. If you're not an actual New Yorker I'm sorry you read that last paragraph

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Late Fall in Brooklyn

No, I did not trip again. But I was walking down the street and so are this very pretty autumn scene.

BTW, diagonally across the street from my house there's guy who puts the biggest pumpkin in the world on his stoop. 

Like most things I guess I kind of take that pumpkin for granted at this point.Kind of wondering how they're going to get rid of it, or waiting for a squirrel to move in. 

At about 3:00 in the afternoon I was walking down the street. It rained all morning, And the last bits of leaves were falling off the trees.

Here's a picture of the pumpkin from a different angle.

with the zoom lens
And looking the other way
I just thought those leaves were worth taking a picture of. And the pumpkin happened to be there

Thursday, November 24, 2022

The guy who typed this sign must have been high

No Entry to
 smelling of 
 Marijuana it a 
family place 

NY may be legal but
 This is private propety
 Thank you for respecting other people's space

Last night I saw the new Marvel movie at the Kent Theater on Coney Island Avenue and Avenue H, in Brooklyn. 

I got to the theater about an hour early and needed a snack. I went next door and got a turkey bacon and egg on a roll.The restaurant is both halal and kosher. I think that means I was in the Brooklyn of  Brooklyn.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Maybe I'm worthy

I'm really not sure what more I can say that I didn't say in 2018 when I went to watch this race. You can read that blog post here.  Today I went over to Edison High School and checked out the 3100 mile race.I think it's still one of the greatest things in sports that gets the least amount of attention.But I'm sure the people who do it could do without any additional tension.When I get there there's no applause It's a lot of silent respect.It turned out I missed the first person to finish 3,100 mi by about 2 hours.But I really didn't miss much because he kept going. Just below is the video I managed to capture of Andrea Marcato finishing 5,000 km. 

When I left I told one of the rice organizers that I didn't feel I was worthy to walk on the same sidewalk with these people.She politely discouraged me from saying things like that. She said everyone adds to everything with their existence.

Monday, October 10, 2022


So yesterday when I was running the Staten Island half a marathon my tow caught on a piece of asphalt, and I had a quick introduction with the ground. I scraped my knee my elbow and a little bit of both wrists. 

I was really fine. In fact the whole episode was a great metaphor for my life. I was running, I fell, I got up.Shit happens. In fact I was lucky to be with the people I was with. And I wasn't with them as a coincidence. It was a plan.As an athlete with a disability I run with guides. John and Julie ran every step with me. They helped me up and without them there I probably would have walked off the course. But a weird thing happened when I was falling.

Once I regain my composure and we started running again I asked them if I fell in slow motion.They both thought that was a crazy question because they said I just was suddenly on the ground. But for me a lot of things were going on while I was in the air. I really really remember the flying part of the falling.I remember thinking that wow this is kind of neat,  I'm at mile seven and suddenly my quads don't hurt anymore. I remember thinking that in a moment everything is going to hurt because I'm going to hit the ground and I remember thinking that I'm going to have to run another 6 miles or so and I hope I don't break anything. And then I hit the ground. That was a lot to think about in the time it took me to go from vertical to horizontal. 

My new friend and guide John told me there's a word for that. 

“Tachypsychia” is a neurological condition that distorts the perception of time, appearing to make events slow down or speed up. While we don’t hear often hear the word much in conversation, most of us have experienced it—whether during a traumatic accident or some other stressful moment.Slow-Motion Emotions 

I couldn't remember the word John used so I had to look this up.It's almost like I didn't believe him since the kind of word I would make up. But he's a firefighter and had to learn how to neither fight nor flight so maybe he uses this concept in dealing with danger. And anyway in looking it up I found out that people go bungee jumping so they can actually enjoy this sensation.I'm not going to go out of my way to do this again.

In any case the Staten Island half marathon was not a total bust. Even with the fall I was able to run at the same pace I hope to run the marathon at in 4 weeks. I'm actually happy to have gotten to the medical tent at the finish line without jumping in a truck.


Here's an update from 7 days later.I fell again on a long training run this time I stuck my toe on a piece of concrete that was left on the asphalt by some lazy construction workers.Less went through my mind as I was flying in the air. More specifically......  "Not again!".  Hoping this is not a trend. Only twice in 2 weeks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Don't take nothing for granted

 Whenever I can I go to the open run at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Tuesday evenings.It's a little bit of a reunion and it also has the greatest sunset on the east coast. Last night was one of those nights. As I was heading out on Pier 3 I had to come to a dead stop and get out my camera and do my best to take this picture.I was surprised at how good it came out but honestly what I saw with my eyes was 10,000 times more beautiful. And when I made the turn there were at least two dozen photographers with thousands of dollars worth of cameras taking the same pictures.I joked and said hey guys haven't you ever seen the moon before.

But looking back at the picture All I'm really thinking is about my grandparents.three out of four of them came to New York City on a boat. Just wishing I could have asked if what it was like to see that lady from the other side for the first time. Was it daytime....  Did someone have to wake them up? Was it a warm day a clear day what was the weather like? Who else were you with? Did you maintain relationships with these people besides your family? Lots of stupid questions that I never asked.I'm going to think of a stupid question to ask my oldest relative.......

Monday, September 26, 2022

getting recombobulated

Thanks for capturing this picture Sam
There Is a lot going on at the picture

A lot.

First of all, it's about 1 mile into a 10 mile race.The Bronx 10 miler.The race was on September 18th, 2022.That date means a lot to me because on September 18th 2014, I came home after being hospitalized for 135 days.I came home using a wheelchair and on that date I was unable to transfer myself between a bed and a wheelchair.But I came home because it only took one person to transfer me.That was 8 years ago.

It took a lot to get to the point where I can run a 10 miler. In fact in the last 8 years I've run many races. More than a few of them at distances greater than 10 mi.But as you can see from the picture I'm not alone and I didn't get there by myself.

I'm not alone because I wouldn't attempt to run a 10 mile race by my right is my friend Janet Janet and I have run a few races together and I'm glad you ran this one with me because she's a Bronx native and she pointed out that "As we passed the building formerly known as the Bronx YMHA/YWHA, which our West Bronx Y day camp used to visit on rainy days, because it had a pool.

To my left is my friend Linda.During the race she pointed out that she thought the course was long and I told her I thought her GPS was wrong. It turns out she was right. They put one of the cones in the wrong spot and we got to run a tenth of a mile for free.

Janet and Linda helped get me through those 10 miles.But it took a lot to get to that point. Take another look at the picture.I'm holding up my right arm.But if you look closely at my right hand I'm not really holding it up. That wrist is fused. And the tendons were transferred, so that I could move my fingers a little but with one of the tendons that used to actually move my wrist in a useless direction. Can you see my left hand there. It kind of looks like I'm making a fist.But I'm not. I cannot make a fist with that hand. Before I had three surgeries on that hand the fingers just hung there. Now all the knuckles are fused. So I can place things in my hand and hold them.I have a little bit of motion in the end of my fingers but it helps to have the knuckles stay in one place. A little bit of my wrist tendon was transferred so I can move my thumb. Now, with my right hand I'm now able to do things like hold a pen or a fork or open a door knob (Not a tight one). With my left hand I can now do things like hold my phone or more importantly use toilet paper.

Now look at the bottom of the picture.You see my right foot.  That is an ankle foot orthotic. It straps onto my shin with some velcro and a tcarbon fiber rod goes down behind my ankle and there's a plate under my foot that keeps me from tripping over my toes. On my right shin I'm actually wearing half an arm warmer to reduce some chafing from the velcro. I should have had one on my left hand because I came home bleeding. You can't see what's going on inside my right leg. Just five months ago I had three little surgeries all on one day. Mainly to reduce the hammer toes in my foot so that the bones of the ball of my foot don't hit the ground so hard.Because I have no muscle tone in my feet and I have a solid plate between me and all the padding. So it used to hurt a lot. Now it only hurts a little

Also, there's a thing you can't see in the picture. Because it's not there anymore. It's the 65 lb I've lost in the past 3 years.I'll admit I was kind of getting fat when I got GBS 8 years ago. But the fact that I kept eating like I was training for a marathon when I was in fact paralyzed, and on also it's a medication including chemotherapy and steroids help me gain a lot more weight. But 3 years ago I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and I wasn't going to live the rest of my life with a mask on my face when I had to sleep. So, I looked into other ways to get rid of sleep apnea. And it turned out that losing weight was the key for me. I also don't have high blood or cholesterol issues nor am I pre-diabetic anymore.For me anyway, losing weight was a really good thing. Because most importantly look at me run!

But I wasn't running alone.Of course Linda and Janet was still right next to me.But I was with the team of doctors that figured out how to stop the progress of my disease.The scores of physical and occupational therapists who literally taught me how to walk again. And of course the surgeons who physically rearrange my parts so they became more useful.

I hope no one thinks I'm bragging. Cuz I'm not bragging about going out and racing at half the speed I did 10 years ago.I just wanted to use this blog post to point out that it literally took teams of people to get me to where I am now. 

updating this to add a short video of me running In the middle of an 18 mile training run. Actually, 30 km because I ran 150 laps of a 200 m track.

This is not me

This is not me
Not me.

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