Morsel: Some thoughts on the Lottery

I can’t believe I’ve neglected you for over a month. I’m sorry! This is all I can offer for now, some free association…

The other day I was at the CHASE (formerly WAMU) on 88th and Madison, waiting in line to deposit a check. Only one teller was present and was busy helping a Hasidic man wearing ill-fitting pants, with a complicated cash transaction. After a few minutes a little old lady hunched over a small shopping cart joined me in line. Throughout the next eight minutes we waited and I glanced over my shoulder several times to see what she was up to. She was depositing a check- her name, an old fashioned Jewish one, and the address of a building on 87th Street between Madison and Park Avenue, were printed on it. The check was from the New York Lottery. I waited for the amount to become visible and after a few more minutes of shifting in our designated standing area, she moved her thumb over to reveal the staggering amount of $2.00. I looked her up and down and saw that her clothing was very well-made, old fashioned but definitely expensive. So that was kind of crazy.

Then, a few weeks later, I heard of an old man in a nursing home sending his younger relative often, to buy stamps for him. The stamps were for mailing in game pieces for some sort of lottery. His relative didn’t understand it but it seemed to be the old man’s favorite source of entertainment.

Then, the other day I noticed the newest New York Lottery gimmick- the ‘New York Lottery Black,’ another game piece like the rest but its design evokes classic New York luxury, like a 1950’s hotel advertisement, or a fancy whiskey.

I frown on the existence of a state-run lottery. It feels ruthlessly cynical to me that the government provides a pass time whose popularity rests on and highlights the most depressing aspects of the American condition.

I would be curious to know, though, how NY Lottery Black does in ticket sales and what demographic is buying these seemingly classy lottery tickets.

Come See: New York, N. Why? at The Met.

Rudy Burkhardt, Pedestrians, New York City, 1939
Photo via Met Museum

There’s a show up at The Metropolitan Museum of Art of which I’ve come back to three times because I enjoy it so much, maybe I can convince you to come see it too…

New York, N. Why? (1940) is a handmade scrapbook of silver-gelatin photographs Rudy Burkhardt took in New York City between 1937 and 1940 accompanied by 7 sonnets by the poet and dance critic Edwin Denby.  The Met owns the only copy which has been unbound and hung on the wall in sequence for this exhibition. Continue reading “Come See: New York, N. Why? at The Met.”

2001 Jewel Album Still Heavily Promoted on The Upper East Side

During the 1990’s HMV was the major local record store, located on 86th and Lex. Like most giant record stores, new releases were promoted in the windows. Several years ago HMV closed and eventually Best Buy opened. Amidst the shuffling of businesses in 1278-1280 Lexington Avenue which now houses the equivalent of a very convenient strip mall (Duane Reade, Best Buy, Staples, Barnes and Noble, Starbucks) one window of prime advertising space seems to have gone forgotten.

Jewel’s “This Way” was released in 2001 so we can assume that’s when the banner first went up. The banner faces the new Jamba Juice and overlooks the most heavily trafficked intersection of The Upper East Side. Imagine what that advertising would cost over 6 years? Maybe the different stores couldn’t agree who would get that window so they left it as was, or perhaps access to the window was accidentally sealed…

Although I would love to put something else in that window, I mean, if no one else is going to use it, I can honestly say that seeing that banner for 6 years did not get me to buy the album.