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March, 2007:

Didn’t win the Truck contest!

Well, as I expected, I did not win the truck contest. Perhaps I should have gone with “The Magic of Recycling”

I’m not really that disappointed– although it would have been very cool. They haven’t shown the photos or proposals of what was given, but when they do, I will follow up with either photographs of these trucks in action or the proposals– depending on what’s available.

Here’s the rejection email I got:

Thank you for submitting your proposal for the Yonkers Art Truck project. We apologize for the delay in announcing the selection of the winning artists but were only able to arrive at a final determination last week. Approximately two hundred entries were received and with so many creative, eye-catching, and just plain beautiful designs to choose from, narrowing down to only six was a very difficult process.

In the end, the six artists selected are: Nicoletta Barolini, Joseph D’Alessandro, Chuck Davidson, Tom Duncan, Joy Taylor, and Patricia Villate. Currently there are plans to unveil the six trucks at Yonkers Raceway on May 2, as part of Yonkers Business Week 2007. Further information and details will be posted on the City of Yonkers website in the weeks to come.

We greatly appreciate the time and effort that was put into your submission and will notify you about other public art opportunities as they arise. At the moment we have heard that the City of Newburgh is also interested in implementing the Art Truck project and we will forward your contact information to them.

Again, thank you for your interest in the project.



So who knows, perhaps the Circus Recycling truck will be in New Rochelle!

(and if it does, I clearly must start a blog named Rochelled)

Great article about Park Hill in Today’s NY Times!

Opened my Internet connection today to find a big article on Yonkers/Park Hill in the NY Times! We live just down the hill from Park Hill, in the oft forgotten section of town. (mentioned in the article as “the poverty-ridden southwest section of Yonkers”) As the crow flies, it’s about a quarter mile. But as the suburban soccer mom drives, we might as well be a million miles away. (If I ever write my book about this neighborhood, it may well be called “In the Shadow of the White Castle” Well, maybe it should just be an epic poem)

The major difference between our house and most of the houses on Park Hill (architecture-wise) are the number of stairways. Most of them on Park Hill have two stairways, while we only have one. (We have some good friends who bought a fixer upper in Park Hill 10 years ago, and we theorize that our original house holders worked for our friends house holders up the hill– They’ve got a beautiful grand entrance with fire place and stairs, a third floor cupola. a gigantic kitchen, a backstairs, and a lot of other beauty features. We’ve got — well, let’s just our entrance is, ummmm…, not so grand. (Best entrance is through the kitchen in the backdoor– Hey, at least we have a backdoor!)

The other big difference is that Park Hill is kind of isolated and bucolic, and has a real “suburban neighborhood” feel– albeit with big beautiful old houses in it. Our neighborhood has much more of an urban feel– sometimes a little too urban, as when you have the unconfirmed suspicion that the guy walking by your house and letting his pitbull-looking dog crap on the sidewalk in front of your house may be a member in good standing of any one of the approximately 30 gangs that are supposed to be operating in Yonkers (Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha, which literally means “Bad-Ass Salvadorans”) Kind of makes you want to avoid confrontations, if you know what I mean.

Of course, the plus side is that we can afford our neighborhood, and if the neighborhood does make the hoped for transformation, we’ll be sitting pretty and oh so happy, and revered by the city as urban pioneers that made the transformation possible (and reviled by local residents who feel that we are the people that started that yuppie invasion)

That is, if we haven’t been stabbed over a turf-war incident first.

All unsubstantiated fears aside, our neighborhood is mostly safe, except that the unsavory element is much closer than our parents (or we) would like. (Maybe five percent or less of our neighbors are unsavory) But for ANY amount of money, we couldn’t find a Park Hill house with our layout or garage (we’ve got a 700 sq. ft garage which will become my studio, eventually) And we’re much closer to public transport (one block from a bus line, and five blocks from the Metro North train. And our house was a lot cheaper than what was available on Park Hill… and overall, I’m very happy to be living here…. Just a little frustrated with the neighbors, especially the ones with dogs that take them for walks without bringing along plastic bags.

So, here’s the article from the NY Times (well the beginning of it) Click at the bottom to read the rest!

Living In | Park Hill, Yonkers, N.Y.
Preservation, vs. Live and Let Build
Published: March 18, 2007

Alan Zale for The New York Times

COMING upon Park Hill, a stately 19th-century neighborhood of mansions and bungalows on a 300-foot-high wooded plateau overlooking the Hudson River, is like discovering a never-never land. It is perched, almost symbolically, above the poverty-ridden southwest section of Yonkers, New York’s fourth-largest city, with just under 200,000 residents, on cliffs that afford a far different, more bucolic view of the surrounding countryside.

Developed in 1888 by the American Real Estate Company of Manhattan, it was one of the first planned suburban communities in the area, and its Victorians, Gothic Revivals and Georgian colonials were advertised to attract city-weary New Yorkers.

Since that time — notably in the years after World War II — more modest Cape Cods and ranches have sprung up among the grander of Park Hill’s 1,200 or so properties. Nowadays, there is even some new construction, on lots relatively free of the large old trees that define the rest of the neighborhood.

The old-new divide is reflected in residents’ attitudes toward preservation. According to petitions circulated several years ago, about half see a need to regulate renovations and new construction through the use of municipal landmark designations. They argue, among other things, that this would help maintain higher property values.

But there were enough opponents to this approach four years ago to defeat a preservation proposal. Although debate then was sometimes rancorous, said Shelley Weintraub, president of the Park Hill Residents’ Association, which represents about 400 families, “we’re going to give it a second shot.”

Ms. Weintraub has lived for the last eight years in a four-bedroom Arts-and-Crafts-style bungalow with her husband, Lee, who sat on the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission under Mayors Edward I. Koch and David N. Dinkins. She said the group in favor of landmark status had hired a historian to prepare a new application and would reintroduce the proposal after trying to “educate” the opposing faction about preservation.

But judging from the stance of one opponent, Rosemary J. Uzzo, that process may prove challenging. Ms. Uzzo, a former director of public information for the Yonkers schools who has lived in her English Normandy home since 1965, feels the neighborhood should be allowed to evolve, unimpeded by external forces.

“You can’t always go back to the way things were,” she said, “and maybe it’s better to let the old mix with the new.” Noting that the city already oversees planning and zoning through various boards, Ms. Uzzo said current controls were enough to prevent “shacks” from going up. “A new house may not be historic,” she said, “but so what? It will look like houses look today.” READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE

The clocks they are a changin’

We spent the weekend at my mom’s house which was great and a lot of fun. Stephanie had never been to Newport before, so we gave her the driveby mansion tour. She was definitely oohing and aahing at all of the amazing architecture– and she hasn’t even seen the inside! We’ll definitely go back at some point (to my mom’s surely, but also to Newport. Maybe even go into one of the gigantic mansions….)

We also saw the movie Ms. Potter, which is based on the life of Beatrix Potter, inventor of Peter Rabbit. (Click on the link to go to Amazon and check out some of her books.

The movie was really fantastic, and considering that it was primarily a chick flick, that’s saying something. It really did a great job of sketching out her life and eccentric foibles in a fun way, and the romance and tragedy and good fortune that beset her life (any more would be telling– go and see the movie if you want to know more!)

The next day we drove back to Providence, trying to stop at a fabulous PHo place in New Haven (sadly closed on Sundays) We’ll get it next time.

That was yesterday. When we got home our house had not fallen apart as the mini-Y2K doomsayers were suggesting might happen. So today I was set with a seek and repair mission to figure out where all the clocks are and how to fix them. I should probably know where they are anyway, but I don’t have it written down anywhere– at least until now. This list will hopefully come in handy in case of melt-down emergency and I suddenly NEED to know what time it is… I can always find a clock!

book case

bedroom alarm
DVD/VCR player

alarm clock


Cellphones and computers generally take care of themselves (thank you Sprint and Apple!)

Little tiny holes in the house, and a very cold closet

The weather has been extremely cold, and that means that the house has been surprisingly cold. I go around the house, wearing my sweater, putting my hands around every opening in the house (doors and windows), and trying to figure out where needs to be caulked. I’m not very good with a caulk gun, but at least i know where it SHOULD be caulked.

Last year we had our house insulated, and generally the house is pretty comfortable at around 65-66 degrees, which is pretty good. There are two exceptions. Our bed is up against an exterior wall, and it is a little colder then I would like. But that’s where the bed fits.

And the other place where the house is cold is in our walk-in closet. It’s over the outside porch, so there’s not a room underneath, and it is nippy in there (with a capital NIP). It’s kind of like the cold room at Fairway (a great market in Harlem, which has a whole refrigerated room where you go in and buy your meats– they have extra parkas hanging on hooks if you forgot yours.) I guess the floor doesn’t have insulation in it, and that’s why it’s so cold. Perhaps I should call the insulation company and say “Hey– what the hell!– Insulate my ENTIRE HOUSE, dagnabbit!”

The front door still has some draft too– I foamed the exterior, but I apparently didn’t do as good a job as I thought I did…. I should probably hire somebody who knows how to do it, but it seems like it should be such an easy thing. The next time it’s warm enough to keep the door open for a little bit, I’m going to add more foam and see where I missed…

Yonkers Mobile Art Galleries

The City of Yonkers’ Office of Economic Development sponsored a contest/competition to transform garbage trucks and recycling trucks into “mobile art galleries” Although I’m not an illustrator, I entered the contest with the concept of a “Recycling Circus” Truck. My idea is that the trucks should be brightly colored, fun to see, and generally cross-connect fun, recycling, and circus. The images that I’ve chosen (that will adorn the truck) are subject to negotiation and if chosen, I’ll find better images to use.

Recycling Truck Circus Proposal

I won’t learn for a couple of weeks whether or not my proposal has been accepted. I’ll keep you informed (actually you’ll only hear from me if I win. I’m that kind of guy!)