The creepiest, most mysterious building in the City is a concrete monolith

A marvel of Brutalism by some, a monstrosity by others. An awesome building, in a brutal sort of way, by me. Vertical. Massive. Minimal. Windowless. It looks the same from every angle. It looks like a CGI fortress.

Not surprisingly, it was featured in Mr. Robot Season 2 plot. Even less surprisingly, it became the subject of an investigation by The Intercept, where the idea that parts of the building may used as an NSA surveillance hub was explored. Sounds plausible but we will probably never know for sure. 

What we do know is that it was built for the AT&T Long Lines to house switching equipment. Although AT&T has now moved some of it to another building nearby, the monolith is still in use for telephone switching, but also as a highly secured data centre facility.

What I would like to know, is how does it feel to spend one’s working days in a windowless, fortified environment among cables and servers, with zero access to natural light? It takes a certain type of person, doesn’t it?

Adding to the layers of mystery, the AT&T building has also been the subject of a short film by Field of Vision, “Project X“. Interestingly, it was narrated by Rami Malek (of Mr. Robot) and Michelle Williams.

January 29th, 2017

On the way to the baker’s

We were walking down Broome Street looking for Pi, a Greek bakery for a taste of nostalgia (it was approaching Christmas), when this shiny happy-creepy art display caught our attention. There were no accompanying tags, hence the working titles:

Arbitrary working title 1: Money grows wings and flies away
Arbitrary working title 2: Not yet, no, not today
Arbitrary working title 3: She danced the dance of stars and the dance of space. And then she danced the dance of flowers in the wind*

*From ”The Dancer”, a poem by Khalil Gibran

The cookies were good, if I may add. Provided Manhattan prices are not an issue or Astoria seems too far away just for a trip to the baker’s, Pi has your Greek phyllo-pie cravings well covered.

Eden Fine Art, Broome & Greene St.

Pi Bakerie, 512 Broome St.

Soho,
December 23rd, 2016

Taylor made

A surprise announcement popped up on my screen a few days ago, promising a rare Sunday treat. A free performance by Taylor 2 and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

To meet the dancers for casual, behind-the-scenes chats. To walk into their rehearsal space.

To feel the dancing floor vibrate with energy. To share their youthful exuberance, dancing those springy steps away, in a choreography evoking an array of emotions, ranging from wittingly funny to melancholic, at times frightfully forthcoming and frank, with a touch of loneliness, marked by the shadow of war.

Paul Taylor 2 danced ”Company B” to the songs by the Andrews Sisters, expressing sentiments of Americans during World War II. Paul Taylor Dance Company danced ”Esplanade”, a choreography first performed in 1975 but managed to remain as fresh and relevant today as it was then. Music by Johann Sebastian Bach. 

While, as it transpired, this was actually a fundraising event, the money giving part was served very discreetly and humorously; so much so that most enthused members of the audience rushed to become donors, right after the last applause. And for a very good cause, I might add!

Taylor Studios
551 Grand Street

June 25th, 2017

Made by Google

Google me this, google me that
If you remember life before google
I’d like you to tell me that!

Do you?

In October 2016, Google opened a pop-up shop in downtown Manhattan’s SoHo, to showcase their Pixel and other gadgets. A cool place where one could try out Google Home features, walk into a Daydream VR world or past the ”Pixel Wall”, a board with rotating cubes that changed composing different images. Interestingly, nothing in there was for sale, although staff would help potential buyers find gadgets they fancied on-line. Via google search, of course.

November 19th, 2016 (now closed)

Delmonico’s

~ An institution ~

We skipped the eggs benedict in favour of their signature steaks served by courteous, mostly Croatian staff. That was surprising at first but not a coincidence, considering Delmonico’s current owner is Mr. Dennis Turcinovic, a Croatian himself.

November 7th, 2016

Canstruction

Part of an annual exhibition of structures made by unopened food cans which are later donated to local hunger relief organisations. This was at the Winter Garden, public space of the massive Brookfield Place in Battery Park, but later I learned that exhibitions, events and even design competitions are also held in other U.S. cities and internationally. And visitors can also take part by bringing their own cans for donation.

My favourite was the Guggenheim in front of a wall made out of Greek olive oil tins, but I don’t think it won the competition.

November 7th, 2016