That's my great-grandfather. Charles Ring. He smiling and standing in front of his fruit stand in front of 136 Avenue C on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Now they call it Alphabet City.
The picture is probably about 100 years old.
Below is the Google Street View of the same place. If I did everything correctly it is not the most current street view because that has a truck parked across the street.It's the second newest street view which shows that the building diagonally across the street from my great grandfather is still there
a couple of weeks ago I took a walk over there. I stood in the same spot my great-grandfather stood a century ago.
A friendly police officer took my picture while I held up the picture of my great-grandfather
And this is the building he might have been looking at while he was selling that fruit and posing for that picture.
Charles was naturalized as a US citizen on June 7th, 1960 exactly 3 years before the day I was born.
It's hard to say what my great-grandfathers immigration status was until he became a citizen. But I do know that when he first attempted to immigrate from Poland because of extreme poverty and prejudice he was denied entry into the United States. Eventually he was permitted to settle the United States with my grandfather and then my father was born.
my father's family. circa 1940
My grandfather and father didn't just sell fruit They sold all sorts of stuff. Their descendants became doctors and lawyers and professors. The American Dream.
Till the left is a really old family picture. That's my dad in the middle. Behind him the guy in the dark suit is my great-grandfather Charles. And off to the right a little bit more in the lighter suit is my grandfather David.
My descendants came to the United States because they were living on dirt floors in Poland and they probably would have been exterminated by the Nazis if they would have stayed. They came to America because it's the land of opportunity. But not just opportunity it was a chance to live. That hasn't changed too much Millions of people are coming here every year because the alternative is a horrible life or none at all. I remember how my family got here every time I get in a taxi and the driver hardly speaks English. I am always nice to them because I know that their children are going to be my children's doctors and lawyers.
So last week I headed up to Montreal for the binual conference of the Canadian Guillain-Barre Syndrome foundation. In 2019 I went up to Toronto and wrote about it here. I honestly didn't think to explore Toronto because it's just a smaller version of New York City. But Montreal was a different thing..
Montreal is way different than New York. 4 years ago i went to Toronto and all I did was go to an airport hotel. But for this conference i stretched it out to enjoy the city. After I checked in at the hotel i asked the staff there to tell me what to do for half a day. I told him I heard there was some hill I should go to the top of so I can see the whole city. They explained to me that Montreal is really called Mount Royal. And the receptionist actually helped me with my Uber app to tell me exactly where to go.I was dropped off at a park that reminded me a little bit of Prospect Park. (not really like Prospect Park and it's architecture, but like prospect park in that it was a place where people came to relax) There was a welcome building and a coffee shop. I had lunch, then walk to the top of Mount Royal. Here's the view I was told to view. You can go to Google and find a lot of better pictures. Here's a Garmen view of my walk to the top of Mount Royal.
When I got to the bottom of the hill and was waiting for the Uber to take me back to the hotel I realized I needed to learn some French quickly. The best teacher in the world is Phoebe Buffay so I knew she told Joey to speak French.
That really didn't help. I knew enough to keep my mouth shut but more on French later.
I did make it back to the hotel where the conference kicked off.
And the conference was fantastic. I got to meet people I hadn't seen in a few years and met a lot of new people who've been on the same journey I have. That's really the point. For me I'm not really interested in any new medical research or what the doctors say about diagnosing GBS. It's been 9 years for me and honestly I think a good doctor is more interested in what I have to say about my journey.
English in a box
And part of the fun about this conference was that it was in French Canadia. I learned that for the most part Quebec is a bilingual province. But English is a distant second on that list. Part of the conference was in French and at that moment I was sitting with people from Western Canada and asked them about their traditions. What do people do when people start speaking French? They told me it's okay to play with your phone or get up and leave. Sometimes there are headphones that translate. For that speaker I got up and left and hung out in the hallway with other survivors of my lovely disease. When the next doctor started talking in French one of the head honchos of the conference gave me a pair of headphones.I learned why the UN is so dysfunctional... Live translations don't really work. Especially with a lot of technical words.
Saturday evening the conference wound down and two wonderful things happened. First I found out that in two years the conference is likely to be on the west coast of Canada. That's going to be so cool. Second, I went out with to dinner with two people I had just met. They were both Canadian but really didn't know much about Montreal. And we found out together that the place to go to dinner is a neighborhood called Old Town, or Old Port. We just directed our Uber to go there and explored. A whole bunch of clothes streets alongside of the docks. Tons of tourists tons of restaurants and none of them were restaurants that would be seen in every city in the United States. No sign of an Applebee's or a Hard Rock Cafe. No Dinseyfacation. Lots of street entertainment and happy people. I would recommend any New Yorker who wants to go on a nearby vacation destination to go to Montreal.
But that wasn't it. For my ultimate activity in Montreal I actually found a 5K. ( it turned out to be the penultimate activity) it was a high school fundraiser race. Course NDL there was a 1K and a 5K and a 10K and a 5K walk and it all started it ended at a local high school. I registered for the 5K race. They called it 5K course. I took an Uber from the hotel and got there significantly early. Upon getting there I realized that this was not a bilingual place. There was no English. But since I speak 5k I was able to figure things out. So much so that while waiting for the start multiple times strangers walked up to me and started asking me questions in French. I guess at a race I am the guy that looks like he knows what's going on.
The race itself went fine i probably finished last but along the course every couple of blocks there were high school kids cheering. It was kind of cool that in French Canadia they cheer Ooh La La, Bravo! But before and after the race I had a little problem.The first I anticipated.I was picking up my bib on race day and I would need assistance attaching it to my shirt. It turns out there were kids volunteering out in front of the school. High school kids holding up signs with question marks on them. I took off my shirt and put it on a table and ask the kid in slow English if he can help me attach the bib to the shirt because my fingers didn't work too well.He didn't say anything to me but he gladly helped me.After the race they had sandwiches. They will all wrapped up pretty tight and I couldn't tell what was in what.They had signs with French words.I noticed a couple of students speaking
English in the corner. I went over to one of them and said to him that I didn't speak any French but wanted to know what was in the sandwiches.He pointed to the sandwiches and read off what the sign said.chicken, pigs, vegetables. He was so kind I couldn't tell him that the word we used to describe pig meat is ham.
But did you notice earlier I said that this race wasn't my final activity. That's because on my Uber ride over to the race I noticed that we crossed the gigantic bridge and it had a pedestrian path. A pedestrian path! I was actually holding my breath as the Uber driver found the starting line for the school hoping we weren't far away from that bridge. We were really close.So naturally I ran back to Montreal after the race. It was just about 3 mi but I felt like I was in the place where I really belonged. Upper Giant Bridge over some sort of industrial island with a sewage plant on it and then down into the back of Montreal. It was definitely the peace day resistance of my trip.
a description of the pedestrian path and some warnings that I did understand
this is the view of Montreal from the bridge. It's a terrible picture and you can't really tell but that hill behind the brown building is where I was standing two days earlier. It is Mount Royal
That's one way to say it. But I really went to physical therapy and then left by going for a run. And I did that three times. I still go to physical therapy.
I atend physical therapy at the sports performance lab at NYU Langone, Rusk. It's a fairly medium sized building by New York City standards on the corner of 38th Street and 1st Avenue. Physical therapy is on the 5th floor and the windows haven't awesome view of the East River, the UN to the left and the rest of NYU Hospital to the right.It's kind of weird being so close to the UN. A couple of years ago I got a call one day before an appointment asking me if it wouldn't be too bad if I canceled my appointment. Because, the UN was in session. Kind of a big deal when multiple heads of states are four blocks away. A few days later I had an appointment and they let me keep it because it was early in the day. And then I watched them shut down first Avenue City buses came to a stop. It looked like people had a choice of siting on the bus indefinitely or get out and walk. After PT I walked up town a little but couldn't get too close to the UN. But I did see some of the bulletproof SUVs parked on 1st Avenue. Since I value my freedom I did not take any pictures.
So here is a crappy picture of 333 East 38th Street. I have a few doctors in that building. I've also seen many physical therapists there. And I've had a few of my surgeries on the ground floor..
And here's a picture of myself standing in front of the UN. I'm sure you can Google so much nicer pictures
Anyway this post is not about that.
But on my first run away from physical therapy i ran out the door and stop to take this really cool picture. You see, I really appreciate it. Because I exist in two worlds. When I walked out of that door I was a physical therapy patient. But I was also approaching a bike lane. I think it's really cool that cyclists are warned that people with disabilities and patients are about to cross the bike lane. We all need to be aware of each other.
Screaming get out of my way does not work. It doesn't work if you're on a bicycle. It doesn't work if you're in a wheelchair.
On run number one I decided to run over the 59th Street Bridge And then do as much of a loop as Roosevelt Island as I felt like.
On this run I noticed a large amount of scooters chained to the fence on the bridge. I didn't take any pictures but I later figured out that the workers doing maintenance on the bridge Had a pile of them on the Queens side and we're using them to get to their job site. Cool.
On Roosevelt Island i discovered that the northern end is Equally as cool as the Southern end
the Southern end has four freedoms park and the abandoned hospitals. You can Google plenty of pictures of that. But the northern end has some cool sculptures and this especially cool sculpture of Sabrina
here's the weirdest thing about Roosevelt Island. There's that new research incubator side just south of the Queensboro Bridge. It looks so unlike New York they were making a movie where they were making believe it was Sweden
But here's my favorite part of Roosevelt Island. When you go to the Southern end you could look back
at Manhattan. To me it's no big deal to look at the UN. I like looking back at the hospital where I just walked out of and just south of that is the main campus of NYU Langone. Where they kept me alive
Yeah, it doesn't get old to look back at the hospital where you stayed for months. Especially after running 6 mi. I cried when I took this photo. A little bit now, too.
It's hard to tell which one. But I think one of the smaller rectangular buildings to the right of the future UN is also 333 is 38th Street.
Anyway, a couple of weeks later I had physical therapy again. The weather was great and I came dressed to run so I ran back over the 59th Street Bridge but this time I made a right turn and headed towards Brooklyn. My plan was to make it to Greenpoint before going home. But my shoelace opened and I didn't feel like asking a stranger to help me out So I had lunch in Long Island City and went home from there. Just to the south of the Queensboro Bridge is this iconic Pepsi sign. If you're ever there you should just know that there's a great bathroom right behind it.
Then, last week I ran out of physical therapy and then North until I got to the pedestrian bridge that goes over to Randall's Island. This trip was rather a mess because they are still fixing damage from Sandy and rebuilding a lot of the parks along the East River.There was an entrance to the new park that I thought would be open but instead found a bunch of people hanging out at the foot of the bridge which was still closed. I asked a man of a certain age who was sitting there reading the New York Times when he thought the bridge would be open.He said they keep saying any day now. They've been saying any day now for a couple of years. For future reference you should know that the Promenade is not open between 73rd Street and 114th Street. It might be weeks months or years.
In any case this will be my last post about physical therapy for a while because I'm taking a break. Insurance covers it in chunks and we decided that I should save a chunk this year for the winter. This fall I'm running two marathons. I told Mike therapist I should save up some appointments for after I hurt myself. She used better language and said yes, we might need to treat your overuse injuries..... Looking forward to overusing my self
Many Sunday mornings I attend the New York Road Runners open run in Marine Park. I enjoy only open runs for many reasons. I enjoy the non-competitive atmosphere. I enjoy meeting up with new friends on a regular basis. I like the free t-shirts.And I like going out for coffee or beer, afterward. I especially like the run in Marine Park because I grew up in that end of Brooklyn.I spent a lot of time there when I was a youth.But the park was different.We mostly didn't run in the park because it was not really a safe place.In high school when I ran by marine park I would run around it. I actually did multiple loops running around the park.The weird coincidence is that the actual bench that we meet at before the open run is the same bench where people used to sell weed.
people complain about gentrification but it's really great that the parks have gotten so much better in the past 40 years. Places for families together. Neighbors to share some fresh air. i have been to all the open run parks. Some are maintained better than others but many of them are in places where 30 or 40 years ago it wouldn't have been safe to go at all.
This morning when I got to the park i walked by the new bocce courts and noticed a little bit of a mess.
Lottery tickets. I assume they were all losers but I didn't look at them very hard when I picked them up and put them in the pail that was about 20 ft away
I just don't understand how someone could walk into a park and drop that all on the floor When they was no way for them to leave the place where they were without actually passing a garbage pail
i'll say it. The world will be better off without some people
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.
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.
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.
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
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.