I’ve always been fascinated by the Metronome. Perhaps because it is so arresting — one cannot avoid noticing it upon setting foot anywhere in Union Square — but also because it is so uniformly hated by the locals. The interesting part is even most born-and-bred New Yorkers have no idea what this public art piece is, let alone it what it’s called. Many don’t even realize that the bank of LED digits to the left is actually part of the overall piece. But it is part of the fabric of New York City, especially Union Square. When I was writing the story that would eventually become “The Metronome Winds Down,” I made the protagonist somewhat numbers obsessed (you’ll find out why upon reading it). At two crucial points in the story, he enters Union Square, and is confronted by the ominous presence of the Metronome. I actually used this photo for the single-story eBook version of “The Metronome Winds Down,” which is no longer on sale, but luckily you can still read it in Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners.
I always loved this photo as it comes from one of those lazy summer days walking around what used to be the quiet backstreets of North Williamsburg in Brooklyn. This was when the industrial waterfront area was still relatively unsettled. There are no quiet streets left in that neighborhood anymore and the waterfront is now a string of condo towers. But this image also served a special purpose as the end sign at the conclusion of the stories in Songs of Vagabonds, Misfits, and Sinners. I thought it would be creative way of closing out the tales and giving readers another dose of the New York City character.
This sign for a now defunct company has become a bit of a landmark on 9th Avenue. Yet no one seems to know if Network worked in theater, television, or film. With a name like “Network” I would suspect it was television. However, most people forget that Hell’s Kitchen used to be the home of the film industry in New York City. Over seventy-two film distributors had their offices in Hell’s Kitchen including Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Vitaphone. Fox Movietone news also had an office there so they could rush news reels off to the movie houses that used to line Broadway.
There is something about religious festivals in New York City. You can’t find that same character or gothic feeling in other parts of the country (except maybe in ‘Nawlins). Maybe it’s the old ritual of parading a saint down the street with a marching band, while scores of devout followers line the streets. You don’t find that much in the South or Midwest.
Brought to you by my new book (w/ soundtrack): Songs of Vagabonds, Misifits, and Sinners.
I remember that she actually used to hang out around Broadway between 56th and 57th, just south of Central Park near where I work. She disappeared for a while but while walking through Hell’s Kitchen in October we saw her over by 10th Avenue. The interesting thing is that a flock of pigeons now permanently resides on the east corner building of Broadway and 56th because they had grown accustomed to her feeding them. Now they seem sort of lost without her around.