Meditations on the quest for The Upper East Side or Sometimes I feel like Indiana Jones…

I know lately it might seem like the journal has been focusing on superficial aspects of the area – cabbage, signage, etc. But I hold all of these things in my line of vision as suspect; suspect of containing an interesting story, an anecdote; or of possessing the potential to inspire some meditation leading to the unleashing of unusual thoughts only accessible by that trigger.

Walking around the neighborhood, I am an outsider to everything except my apartment and the schools I attended. Starting from the outside, penetrating the red bricks, the co-op boards, to a specific conversation or debate would thrill me. I want to know how each decision was made that brought about what we see here today – those decisions collectively being so powerful as to intentionally and accidentally design what we the public experience as The Upper East Side.

Seeing something and then investigating it- this method of inquiry often leads to something fruitful like after seeing the big American flag on 1088 Park Avenue and finding Charlotte Kidd who knew how to illuminate the subject personally and skillfully. Everything has a story and it’s a matter of finding the person who realizes that the story is worthwhile and can tell it well.

Ask yourself, do you possess any of these treasures of hidden knowledge?

Do you or someone you love have a story about The Upper East Side you would like to reveal to the public on the internet?

Walking Photo Journal

On January 23, 2006, I walked around the neighborhood for a few hours. Here are some things I saw which I had never noticed before:
This building whose symbol is strangely almost identical to the Chanel logo.


I never noticed before that the bellhop for The Franklin wears a top hat.


This pretty little enclaved entrance below faces this giant luxury building across York, I think it was. You can see the reflection of the building on the left in the windows of the building below.

I actually went in here- Doyle Gallery, because there was a sign outside that said “Exhibition Today”. I didn’t have the guts to take photos inside after I felt slightly condescended to by the man who checked my umbrella. This is actually a preview exhibition of items which will be auctioned live, today, January 25th (which is when I am writing this description). When I was on the inside of this window I saw people picking up and turning over antique furniture in order to inspect the pieces. I didn’t know you could do that, and I soon realized that I could go to the front desk and get a complimentary piece of Doyle notepaper and a Doyle pencil, and write down the lot number of any item I was interested in- to look up now in the sample catalogs hanging from various ribbons throughout the gallery, or later at home if I chose to buy the $20 book, or on-line which I tried to do but was unable to figure out how to search by number. Inside Doyle were several ladies in all black and black rimmed glasses with official Doyle staff pins who were talking to visitors. I had a dream last night that I went to the auction but it was in a different city. I didn’t bid on anything.

Forgive the soda stains. I later learned that one of the items (where I wrote “what is it?”) was called a monstrance, used for holding a medal or the “body of Christ” in a church service.

Introduction

During high school, as I was becoming acquainted with the downtown music and art scenes, I was embarrassed to tell people I was from the Upper East Side- even more embarrassed to tell them I went to Dalton. However, after four years of living downtown near college I became sick of the redundant hipness everywhere and began to long for the quiet streets of Carnegie Hill at night and even the quilted jackets and loafers. Since I moved home I have been exploring the neighborhood as an untapped resource for ideas. I am hoping that kids like me will not be as embarrassed of where they are from once there is actually an underground cultural exchange of ideas and art in which they can participate. The original format of this zine was meant to bring the d-i-y photocopy tradition of the Lower East Side uptown for those of us who, although living in an extremely wealthy neighborhood, don’t necessarily get giant allowances from our parents. This issue is still available in print for a little while longer, but I guess I just have to get with the times- d-i-y now necessitates using the internet. This first issue does poke some fun at the neighborhood but it’s all done “out of love”. Most of all I am trying to explore areas that are not generally covered by mainstream publications. I hope you, reader, find something interesting or surprising in here.

-Rebecca