nw3 to nyc

Observations on moving my family across the Atlantic

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The appeal of Peel

There is a relatively new Commissioner of the NYPD – the last one, Raymond Kelly, went when Bloomberg left office on 1 January this year. His name is William J Bratton. He tried to become the head of the London Metropolitan Police a few years back but is now Commissioner here in New York for the second time.

He has a bit of a thing about the UK and invokes the spirit of Robert Peel in his approach to police work. He even carries round piece of paper with the nine principles of policing developed by Peel in the 19th Century. Peel of course famously founding the London Metropolitan Police during his stint as Home Secretary. He went on to be the British Prime Minister twice in the 1830s and 1840s.

Commissioner’s Corner on the NYPD website provides Bratton with the perfect forum to expound his love of Peel. Even the title sounds like some cosy 1970s afternoon show on the BBC. A true Anglophile.

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No Hoppers here

The Whitney Biennial, it’s the kind of exhibition where you wonder if the seat is really for sitting on or if you are about to sit on the art.

According to the guide I picked up earlier today:

“The exhibition offers a rare chance to look broadly at different types of work and various modes of working that can be called contemporary American art.”

Sounds good, eh? Then it just loses the plot by going on to say:

“Some borders – formal, conceptual, geographic, temporal – get tested, but how the breadth of art is expanding because it is the artist and makers themselves who are pushing boundaries: by collaborating, using the material of others, digging through archives, returning to supposedly forlorn materials, or refusing to neatly adhere to a particular medium or discipline.”

I love a bit of bonkers art, but this was all lost on me. Here’s my alternative guide:

“It’s a confusing mish-mash of media and ideas so far from attractive and understandable they made me yearn for something normal, something pretty to look at that I would actually recognise.”

I doubt anyone here really gets this stuff. I saw a lot of bored looking teenagers trailing after parents willing them to be interested. I would suggest that this is no place to inspire the next generation.

The Guide concludes by saying:

“We hope that the 2014 Biennial will suggest the profoundly diverse and hybrid identity of America today.”

I’m not sure I’d agree with that hope. There’s certainly no new Edward Hopper here.

You can decide for yourself, all the artwork is on the Biennial website. On until 25 May.

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Where Fifth Avenue begins

Washington Square Park

It’s rather odd standing under the arch in Washington Square Park staring up Fifth Avenue as cars come straight at you but turn right to go around the park. This is the source of Fifth Avenue. What a great place to put a massive great arch dedicated to the first President of the United States. I think he would have been impressed.

Washington Square Park is not square, it’s rectangular; it’s not much of a park because it’s mostly paved over with criss crossing pavements and a great big fountain, but it is named after George Washington. It’s also surrounded by New York University and filled with students.

I sat for a while in the park, the first time I have been able to read outside without freezing whilst J snoozes away in the buggy. The cacophony of noise is impressive: sirens wailing, cars revving, car horns beeping, people chattering, saxophone wailing, babies wailing, birds tweeting and of course dogs barking. It’s somehow a welcome respite from egg hunting, where I have explored from Chinatown via Little Italy into SoHo and down through Greenwich Village. What a fabulous way to explore New York City. Let’s leave all the eggs in place so that all visitors can discover New York this way too.

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Slightly more serious than usual

Here’s a sobering chart. Every time I give someone a tip, I think it’s just a bit extra, a bit of cash in hand. But no, every time I tip, it looks like I am effectively topping up an incredibly low wage. The US tax man also thinks that I am tipping, so taxes on that income, so if I don’t tip, they have to pay tax anyway. President Obama is promoting a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour and most states get nowhere near that. What a system.

























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Today is the start of The Big Egg Hunt New York. There are 260 eggs around New York and they can all be found using a great app from the iTunes store. They are about 2 foot tall and all fabulously decorated.

We went down Madison Avenue today, tripping over the ladies with their fancy hairdos and bags full of clobber from the designer shops. We found seven eggs within 10 blocks. I think this may be the beginning of a new temporary obsession. Here’s three of the ones we found today.

This one is painted and has real bullets all over it. It was, helpfully, in a shop that sold stuff to do with shooting. E’s finger gives you an idea of the size of the thing. The staff in this shop just looked bemused.

Tatyana Murray's Egg

Tatyana Murray’s Egg













This one is made of glass. It looks so delicate, I was terrified of falling over and crashing into it. It is housed in a shop so fancy, I couldn’t work out what it was actually selling!

Andrew Zientek"s Egg

Andrew Zientek”s Egg













And this one was nestled in the window of the ever fancy Lauduree store. The lure of cakes was huge and the smell was very enticing, but far too expensive to waste on E and J. Not sure what this egg is made of, but looked pretty gold and shiny. I like the way the tower of macaroons is positioned to look like it’s holding up the mighty egg.

Isabelle Arpagian's Egg

Isabelle Arpagian’s Egg