Save Church of Our Lady of the Scapular – St. Stephen interior

Yesterday evening after mass I had the wonderful opportunity to tour Church of Our Lady of the Scapular – St. Stephen located on 28th street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues in Manhattan. The church was built in 1854 by the architect James Renwick Jr., famously known for his work, including but not limited to, the Smithsonian Institution Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Grace Church, Renwick Gallery and the elegantly crumbling Charity and Smallpox Hospital on Roosevelt Island.

Recently the archdiocese decided to merge the parish from this church with another parish, ten blocks away. This would leave the church without a flock. In that state, while the exterior is landmarked, the interior is in danger of being destroyed.

The interior was designed by Constantine Brumidi, whose work, widely appreciated and acknowledged for his artistry, can only be seen at a few places. Such as the U.S. Capitol and Church of Our Lady of the Scapular – St. Stephen.

Time has not been kind to the interior. Water damage, dirt, grime, crudely painted over has covered much of Brumidi’s work. Painstakingly, some of his work has reemerge from the various projects to preserve his work. Sadly that work has stopped as funding has ceased to be provided to continue such efforts.

With the merging of parishes and lack of funding, the interior is exposed to potentially being lost to history. Awareness of the issue is important but also organizations who can find a way to save the interior. Below are pictures I took last night. Let’s save this jewel for generations to come.

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This Was Forty

30 minutes is all that separates me from turning 41. No longer can I cling to my late thirties. My feet are firmly into my forties. It was bound to happen. Semi-clean living, working out and a will to live is what got me here. Also luck and fate. Forty wasn’t bad. I learned to get more comfortable with my body and aging. The white hairs don’t bother me as much. Gives me character as some of the women I love tell me. I have matured in relationships. Found my voice professionally and have taken my role in community affairs more seriously. I’m also one who doesn’t put up with bullshit. My main pet peeve. I’ve noticed my penchant for chasing women under 30 has waned. A combination of being an older guy and how I could be considered their fathers is one reason. Other is maturity and life experience. I just can’t keep up with the roaring ’20s. Yes, I have been embracing middle-age. Cheers to hoping it lasts a very long time.

Lost New York

So I came across one if my favorite local haunts and found it had closed after nearly 30 years of existence. Cut down by the all too familiar aggressor: potential sky risers. As I silently mourned the loss of yet another place I called home, I started to think that the New York City I have grown up in and loved is becoming a memory. Sure NYC as with every city needs to evolve, but with each evolution it loses a piece of what made it unique amongst cosmopolitan cities. Farewell Hudson Place, gone too soon has become NYC’s broken record.

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The Culture of “Likes”, “Loves” and “Favorites”

I’m a social media fan. I have accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I use them for various reasons. Facebook to communicate with friends and play games. Twitter for news feeds and randomness. Instagram to share photos I take and see what photos celebs and others I follow take. In other words, my social media footprint is as large as the average social media user. While there is enough between the three of these platforms to keep a person busy, there is one other thing that can change the way a person handles social media.

It is the “Likes”, “Loves” and “Favorites”.

For Facebook, we can “like” a post. It can be a status update, a picture, something we mentioned or repeated on our page. For Instagram, it is whatever picture or video we posted. For Twitter is can be comments, articles, retweets. These things consciously and subconsciously can configure us how we are going to present ourselves in social media. Suddenly, speaking out, taking pictures, bringing attention to an article or a cause isn’t purely because of what we a person appreciates, but it can be what is considered popular. March to the beat of your own drum? It can be done if you don’t care what others think of you. If you care, then it can color your views.

Case in point. I like taking pictures. I take them with my Iphone or DSLR. I like to post them on the various social media platforms. I do it cause I see something and I think it would be cool to share my perspective. In some cases I don’t get anyone’s attention and that fine. Then there are those times I get a lot of attention. While I tell myself it is nothing, I can’t help but be sucked into enjoying the attention whatever I did on social media is getting. It is addictive. Intoxicating. I find myself amazed by the attention but also flattered and reveling in it. They like me. They really like me.

Not cool.

I don’t want to be driven by how many likes, loves or favorites I get. I want to keep being me. While the adoration is great, have to stay true to myself. I feel this is just a microcosm of our society. Individualism is sometimes lost because the appeal is for mass acceptance. Look at hipsters. There was a time when hipsters were outsiders. Now people try to be hipsters to the point that real hipsters are abandoning it cause trying to be a hipster is the opposite of being a hipster.

I’m not immune to seeking out appreciation but I certainly know that all that adoration and appreciation isn’t real. Real life doesn’t have every day filled with that. Real life has a number of anonymous days. The adoration and appreciation should be for the person. Not for what they post, repost, photograph or say. Conviction should be appreciated. That’s the true measure of a person.

If only it was easier said than done.

Love Letters/Letters Written With Love

This past Sunday I saw the play Love Letters. Written by A.R.Gurney, it is currently on Broadway with a rotating cast.  Candace Bergen and Alan Alda played the roles of Melissa Gardiner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III respectively. It spans the lives of the relationship between Melissa and Andy since they first wrote in the second grade. It spans grade and high school, college and World War II, and well beyond. It continued whenever they lived and whatever occurred in their lives.  While their lives evolved and revolved, the letters keep coming. Even with the advent of phones, letters find a way to rule. The letters allowed them to express their feelings, as one would in a conversation. It was a gripping,entertaining, exhilarating, maddening and saddening rollercoaster of a ride through their relationship.

This reminded me of my letter writing days. I don’t know if I ever wrote a love letter but the letters I wrote were written with love. Like greeting cards, I keep my letters. I know for a fact I have a number of letters that I saved from my letter writing days between freshman and sophomore years of college. I had written letters to Michelle while she was in Washington DC as part of a summer internship program. From what I remember, Michelle wrote of the atmosphere in Washington DC and I shared the New York experience with her. We were both interested and involved in politics. Bill Clinton was vying to become the Democratic candidate to bring hope to the Democrats and the country after 12 years of Republican rule. We talked about our love for politics, Cuomo providing the signature speech prior to Clinton’s acceptance of the nomination. We also shared our lives and love. This was at a time when I had gone from smitten to love for Michelle. We matured in those letters but also had our wide-eyed perspectives about life. We were young (18 and 20 respectively) and saw the world full of opportunities. The real world had not yet touched us in a way to make us cynical.  Those letters during that 3 month span were the only letters I wrote consistently in my life but they provide insight on our lives. It obviously takes two to write letters and had she not kept up her end, I am certain my letters would have stopped.

Nowadays I do not write letters. Instead, I instant message, tweet, text and write emails. While the medium has changed, in some of those cases and with some of those people, I still write with love. They are not love letters but a form of communication that expresses love. In other words, love can be transmitted in any way a person wants it to be.