Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Naval Gazing on the Hudson

While tending to the flowers on our rooftop garden this morning, I noticed a lot of ship activity on the Hudson River. I'd almost forgotten -- today is the start of Fleet Week. Ahoy!

You and I are totally on board with naval terminology.  What's a crossword without a sneaky ALEE ("On the safe side?") or furtive AHOY ("Stern cry" or "Bridge call")?

I quickly snapped some photos to share (click to enlarge).

The parade of ships moves from Lower Manhattan, up the Hudson  . . . 

. . . north to the George Washington Bridge.  Then they turn around and sail back downtown.  

Ahoy, here comes the first one . . . 

It's the USS New York, commissioned into service in 2009, and forged from tons of steel recovered from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

The greenery is Riverside Park.

To my eye, the ship's color defines STEEL GRAY to a tee.  I waved like crazy at the ship and crew -- whistling and clapping as it sailed by.  No one noticed.  

On the Upper West, there's nothing unusual about a waving, whistling, clapping crazy person on a rooftop.

I wanted to stay for the rest of the parade, but darn it . . . I'm expected downtown in a few hours.

To commemorate the holiday weekend, I've chosen this patriotic Leonard Bernstein recording for its remarkable crossword connection.  Alfio Micci -- one of the best and most prolific New York Times puzzle constructors of the '70s, '80s and '90s -- was also a violinist with the NY Phil.

Somehow . . . between concerts, rehearsals, touring and raising a family -- Alfio managed to construct scores of crosswords for the New York Times, many of them Sundays.  He crafted his puzzles by hand -- long before puzzlemaking software came along.  When he started constructing, everything was done by hand. Hand-numbering the grids.  Checking for symmetry (tricky).  Typing up the clues.  No internet.  No Google.  Man, the time it took to simply produce a puzzle really ate into your creative time.

Yet Alfio managed to write a collection of beautiful, literate puzzles. His crosswords reflected the class and grace with which he carried himself.

I'm in awe of the constructors who forged the way for the rest of us, doing the heavy lifting . . . and showing us that it can be done.

Alfio played in the 1st Violin section (outside left, in this clip).  The camera doesn't pan towards Alfio's chair -- but I know he's there, playing Sousa at Bernstein's very brisk tempo.  Good show, Alfio!  Thank you for paving the way.

And a good Memorial Day Weekend to all.


Joanne said...

Sigh. I can't believe I'm missing fleet week! I could be missing out on finding my future naval husband. Sigh. Next year.

KarmaSartre said...

Beautiful post, Liz. Thanks.