It looks like I made it just in the nick of time—the Love Locks fence on Commercial Street in Portland, Maine will meet the same fate as the locks on the Pont Des Arts in Paris did. They will be torn down on Monday because, like the locks in Paris, they pose a structural risk to the fence and the sewage and storm drain that it protects.

Contrary to popular belief, the tradition did not actually start in Paris—that only began in the early 2000’s. It is thought to have started in Serbia during World War I, but the tradition has been catching on recently around the world in cities like Paris, Rome, Cologne, New York, and many other locations like Portland. While it is a sweet tradition among well-meaning couples, the locks are destroying the integrity of bridges and other structures and many believe that they are marring the beauty and architecture of landmarked buildings. 

Lincoln Center: Out of Doors

Tonight marks the opening of the 46th annual Lincoln Center Out of Doors cultural festival.  For three weeks there will be daily performances of music, dance, and the spoken word.  The festival is free, but seating may be limited, so attendees should arrive early—at least one hour in advance. Check the website at www.lcoutofdoors.org for additional information.

Isn’t It Ironic?

photo courtesy of Brady Campaign

The Grand Old Party, otherwise known as the Republican Party, has staunchly supported Second Amendment rights, even in the wake of mass shootings in elementary schools, universities, movie theaters, churches, and places of business. The National Rifle Association and other conservative groups refuse to even consider any common sense measures to curtail the sale of semi-automatic weapons. Yet, that very same party has called for a temporary ban on open-carry gun laws in Ohio during the Republican National Convention out of fear of gun violence in Cleveland. Their fears are well-founded, given the ambush killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge this past week. These murders are travesties, to be sure, but the murders of kindergarteners and church goers are  tragic as well, so why won’t they consider a ban or a revision to the liberal gun ownership rules in order to save the lives of ordinary Americans? Isn’t it ironic or hypocritical?

Happy 4th!

Today marks the 240th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress. The words of Thomas Jefferson are just as important today as they were when he wrote them “all of those years ago:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

A little rain won’t dampen my spirits as I continue to celebrate the principles upon which my great country were founded.  As I prepare to vote in my first presidential election, I will cast my vote for the candidate who I believe will uphold these ideals.

Feeling Patriotic

The quaint village of Sag Harbor, New York, settled before the American Revolution, was once an active whaling port and in its early years rivaled New York City as an important international shipping hub. The village has retained its old world charm, with many of the buildings dating back to the eighteenth century. To celebrate American patriotism on this July 4th weekend, shopkeepers and homeowners have festooned their buildings with flags and bunting and village fireworks are scheduled in the harbor tonight.

Birds of a Feather

I was taking my morning run along Fifth Avenue when I came upon a woman walking with a giant macaw on her arm. I have seen macaws before, in the rain and cloud forests of Costa Rica but never on the streets of NYC.  I wondered what kept her bird from flying away and how large an apartment she lived in to afford the bird ample space and freedom to get around, but she told me that her bird cannot fly.  It was bred in captivity and had its wings clipped, so it does not take flight either on the streets or in her home. This bird is beautiful and exotic, but it seems somewhat cruel and unnatural to keep a highly intelligent, social bird, accustomed to living in the canopies of cloud and rain forests, in a small NYC apartment where it cannot fly. The owner pictured above is pregnant with twins, to boot, so I wonder how the bird and the twins will get along.  Macaws are known to scream frequently and loudly, so between the babies and the bird, it could get quite noisy in her apartment. Imagine what the neighbors will think.

The Boating Life

The Conservatory Water in Central Park (just north of East 72nd near Fifth Avenue) is a boat pond that has hosted model boating for 135 years. The boats are remote-controlled but they are environmentally friendly because they rely on wind power rather than fuel.  You can rent a boat at the boat house and an instructor will give you a quick tutorial on sailing it. The remote control actually operates the sail and the rudder, but it is fairly simple to do. It is a fun activity on a summer’s day, but it is equally enjoyable to sit on a park bench and admire the beauty and tranquility of the pond, while others do the work.  Check out the website www.sailthepark.com for hours of operation and pricing.

Meet Me In St. Louis

Heading southwest from Chicago to St. Louis, we drove along stretches of the nostalgic Route 66. We passed through miles upon miles of cornfields and wind farms until we reached the Gateway City of St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis was often called the “Gateway to the West” during the pioneering era, when western bound settlers stocked up on provisions before departing for the frontier. In 1804, the famed explorers Lewis and Clark set off from St. Louis on their journey west to survey the Louisiana territory that President Thomas Jefferson purchased from France.

Architect Eero Saarinen designed the Gateway Arch to symbolize America’s expansion westward. The Arch holds many records: it is the tallest arch in the world, the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, and the tallest accessible building in Missouri. It opened to the public in 1967, with a tram ferrying passengers to the top of the 630 foot structure, where visitors can get a bird’s-eye-view of the city from one side of the arch and can even catch a glimpse of a St. Cardinals game at Busch Stadium below. The windows on the other side offer views of the great Mississippi River.

I love interesting architecture and this building ranks among some of the best in the world. Tickets are available online, but finding your way to the entrance is a bit complicated due to a major renovation project underway at the base of the monument. The visit to the arch and the trip to the top was definitely worth my time.


Millenium Park is also home to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a bandshell where the Grant Park Orchestra and other bands, choirs, and theater groups perform in an open air setting. The architecture of the bandshell, as well as the  serpentine bridge nearby, is the work of Frank Gehry, the famed architect behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. His use of stainless steel has become his trademark and in this structure he created strips that appear to be pulled back by a can opener to create the opening of the stage.  There is seating for 11,000 people — 4,000 seats within the bandshell and room for another 7,000 people to sit picnic-style on blankets on the great lawn beyond the seating.  There is a trellis system of steel pipes that have speakers attached to them to carry the music out to the lawn and to create the feel that the lawn is part of the structure. I heard a choral group warming up and they looked and sounded great. This is yet another reason to return to Chi-town.