Above is a recent photo of the ongoing, long-term construction of the Second Avenue Subway (SAS) - the subway line that has been on-and-off again over several decades due to lack of funds. As of last year, SAS was back in construction mode with Phase I (consisting of two miles of tunnel and three stations) work underway, all underneath Second Avenue on Manhattan's East Side. According to the MTA, two contracts have been finished with two more to be completed by the end of the year. More will follow over the next few years with a projected completion date of 2016. Fans of abandoned subway stations and never-completed ones should check out this map on the subject care of WNYC.
As the summer's official end quickly approaches, the deluge of free park concerts and other outdoor events begins to slow down with Labor Day weekend being the last run of most (but not all) park events. The two-decade strong tradition of Bryant Park Monday night movies summer series wound up its run on Monday of last week with (despite some light rainfall) a packed lawn of moviegoers assembled on the midtown public space to view ET. Some other series are finishing this week including at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy where they exercise true democracy this week. The Park Conservancy, along with their co-sponsors Syfy, invited the public to vote on the last film of the summer, which will screen tomorrow (August 29th) in the Brooklyn park.
Contenders in the running for film included
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Good Will Hunting, and Lost in Translation. The votes were tallied and the winner was Fear and Loathing. Movie begins at sunset. DJ Geko Jones spins before from 6pm. More info here.
The recent addition of Louis Armstrong's exclusive tracks to Amoeba.com's Vinyl Vaults section got me seeking more information on the New Orleans-born and raised jazz legend. So when I heard about the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona Queens, I had to make a visit there - especially since it is not far from where I stay. Milwaukee transplant/musician producer Eric Mire and I cycled over the tree-lined avenues of Jackson Heights into Corona to the museum, which is situated in a regular working class Queens neighborhood amongst rows of family homes. The House Museum was the home of the jazz great for the last three decades of his life starting in 1943 when, after he had relocated north, he and his wife Lucille moved into the house that would become their home for the rest of their lives. No one moved into the house after Armstrong passed on in 1971 or after Lucille passed on in 1983.
Today Armstrong's house is a museum that is overseen by the nearby Queens College. The building is both a National Historic Landmark and a New York City Landmark. In addition to maintaining nearly all of the home's contents exactly as they were the museum has guided tours, a small exhibit section, and a gift shop. Several trumpets are on display including the Selmer Trumpet that was given to Louis in 1933 by King George V. While much of the house's furnishings, that include some distinctly mod sixties decor - the work of Lucille since Louis was out on the road on tour constantly, have little to do with the jazz musician or his musical legacy there is still plenty to appeal to Armstrong and jazz fans. These include his upstairs office that has his book and record collection and reel to reel tape recorder/player and the audio clips of Louis’s homemade recordings that are played throughout with Louis heard Louis practicing the trumpet, or talking with friends. For me the most engaging of these was the audio clip where Armstrong talks about this particular Queens neighborhood and how its inhabitants were the inspiration for the lyrics of his hugely popular song "Wonderful World."
The Louis Armstrong House Museum is located at 34-56 107th Street, Corona, Queens, NY 11368 (718-478-8274) and is open Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm. 40 minute tours begin on the hour every hour with 4pm being the last one of each day. The exhibit area and the adjacent Japanese-inspired garden are open during anytime the museum is open. Admission is $10. Students $7. Children under 4 free. More info here.
After winding up their Diggers Delight DJ themed series - Tuesdays in July at St Nicholas Park in Harlem (pic above from last week's jam in the Harlem park at 135th St and St Nicholas), the Tools of War True School Park Jam summer series (now in its tenth year of bringing legends of the genre to perform in city parks) move things over the Bronx to Concrete Plant Park on the Bronx River for the next few Thursdays where they promise classic party rocking plus some classic slow jams. First up in this coming week (Thursday Sept 5th) will be Dr. Duss, GrandMaster Caz, Chuck City, and Jazzy Jay. 4-8pm Free. All ages. No alcohol. The Concrete Plant park is on the Bronx River betw. Westchester Ave + Bruckner Exspy, Bronx NY 10472. Take the 6 to Whitlock -it's right across the little bridge or check online here.
New York Public Library
Above is an informative promotional video about the New York City's wonderful public library system which is a wonderful resource and has branches scattered throughout the five boroughs where many programs, projects, and exhibits take place. For more information visit the NYPL official website. And finally I leave you with video of the latest large scale prank from the funny folks at Improv Everywhere. It was for the recent fourth annual Black Tie Beach - the ongoing prank in which hundreds of Improv Everywhere followers spend a day at the beach - not in swimsuits but in formal black tie attire down at Coney Island and adjacent Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. The event, filmed here in NYC, also happened on the same day in five other cities including Los Angeles.