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Saturday, September 15, 2001


and here we are, back to . . . coffee!

caught one of those charming low-quality cable access shows on bcat, "eat brooklyn." the producers/hosts are so bad it's comic, but their enthusiasm for brooklyn food is infectious and adorable; i can thoroughly relate to people who remain undaunted by their total lack of any appreciable talent. you go, eat brooklyn!

today their show focussed on their latest find -- their cafe of the moment -- la petite cafe at 502 court st., near the bqe towards red hook. it's been open about a year. their camera lovingly followed (albeit a tad fuzzily) every step of what appeared to me to be a high-quality espresso program.

the barista took all care in grinding, dosing, tamping, and pouring the shot. i didn't have a timer, but it seemed like a 20-second shot. i couldn't tell the make of the machine, but it seemed to have two groups. as the barista foamed the milk for a cappucino, he used both the wand and thermometer correctly to produce a decent foam -- not latte art quality, but very nice.

the camera homed in on the shot, and i do believe i saw a bit of "guiness effect," where the crema, coffee, and steam all mix together in the glass, and don't sort themselves out til the shot's end. must find time to get down there and see what's up!

posted by fortune elkins | 7:10 PM | top | link to this |


Friday, September 14, 2001


the candlelight vigil this evening on the brooklyn promenade was so touching. . .

to stand on the edge of brooklyn, in a pretty little narrow park that lines the most picturesque portion of the waterfront, that gives the most beautiful view of the manhattan skyline. wall street's just a home run away across the east river. usually the lights of the financial district, the lit windows of the charming, mostly art-deco ziggurats, the landmarks so well known to all from movies, tours shine so brightly and reflect in the river's gentle swells.

tonight, the buildings are sparsely lit, mostly dark, and in place of the trade center, the two towers that served as the whole area's nightlight, there's only a broad plume of dove-gray smoke, brightly but diffusely lit. this plume undulates slowly upward at a slight slant, and its brightness serves to delineate the contours of the financial district in a romantic way. looking at it, it's beautiful -- until you remember what ought to be there, why it isn't there, and the source of that lazy plume. . .

the promenade runs along the water, elevated above a highway, at the back of some of the loveliest buildings in brooklyn. the park is separated from the back garden of these buildings by delicate wrought iron fencing; and the balustrade above the highway is also spiky wrought iron fence.

as i walked along the 7 block length of the promenade in the twilight, many hundreds of people had left their candles on the spikes of the fencing; they had tied wreaths, flowers, hand-lettered signs. . .the candle light mixed with the park's old-fashioned gas light lamps to form an intimate and introspective glow. surprisingly, it was very very quiet; overhead you could hear the fighter jets circling -- but otherwise, only the wind and solemn murmurs of new yorkers, who huddled in groups. in any corner of the fencing, any little garden nook, people had deposited more candles, and around each large group of candles, people would gather, staring at the ground, their faces glowing in the half-light of a dutch painting.

rain earlier in the day brought a fresh, slightly chill breeze off the water. all smoky smell had vanished; the scent of hot wax floated in the cool air. walking along the vigil, feeling very solemn, i saw one of the directors of my company, and called out to her. i felt so buoyed to see her, a familiar face, i was almost cheerful. even though we spoke of events, and where our little software company would relocate, i felt a little happy. i even laughed a bit. perhaps it seemed inappropriate to her. she certainly was still quite saddened.

she had not yet contacted her friends who had worked in the towers. all of us in this neighborhood have had some phone problems, so it's still a bit hard to call around. it's so easy to think about those days i took for granted at the towers, the rainbow of people i relied on there, even if i scarcely knew them -- the hispanic man who made all my sandwiches, the korean woman who sold fruit salad, the bored jamaican clerk at the cash register in sephora, the eager woman with a queens accent from whom i bought a pair of shoes. did they all escape? i saw them every day, without knowing them. we undertook, almost mindlessly, the million daily transactions that make our lives in new york the way they are. almost mindlessly.

posted by fortune elkins | 7:21 PM | top | link to this |


Thursday, September 13, 2001


talked this morning to yoga teacher nancy la nasa, who lives in a new tall building in the east village. since lower manhattan is closed, she's been trapped down there, basically. she told me an interesting story about her tuesday morning...

she was listening to a local npr station, which interrupted its usual news with a report of a fire at the world trade center. nancy has lived in new york since the 70s, and immediately thought uh-oh. the roof of her building had a beautiful line-of-sight view to the towers. she took the elevator to the roof at 9:05am. soon she was joined by a neighbor, who told her a plane had hit the building; at first reports were that the plane was small, a cessna, and people believed it a bizarre aviation accident. she told me this morning," well, i thought, a little plane had hit the big antenna on the roof." the first smoke cleared and she saw the gaping hole with little tongues of flame licking around the edges.

at that time, she simply thought it was an accident with a fire, which she could plainly see in the north tower. as she and the neighbor chatted, she glanced back at the world trade center and witnessed the commercial jet plane coming through the other tower.

soon her other neighbors joined her on the roof, and quickly all the surrounding roofs were filled with people. when the tower collapsed, everyone screamed, she reports. many threw up their hands as if to cover their heads. as i reported myself, the wind was blowing toward staten island, so she could see events clearly -- the smoke went away from her location. the cloud of dust blocked out view in brooklyn, but she could still easily see the jagged remains of the north tower, until it collapsed below her line of sight. she reports that the majority of people on her block stayed on their roofs until after dark, mesmerized at the event.

she knew several people who worked in the towers; one on a very high floor, who fortunately made it out with most of their staff.

the depth of this horror is endless and unspeakable. however, let me thank the caring and concern of all who have stopped by. this little page alone has received more than 3,000 hits in the past day and half; which indicates the great interest and sympathy that exists for those of us in new york. we appreciate it.

posted by fortune elkins | 6:45 AM | top | link to this |


Wednesday, September 12, 2001


let me take this moment to thank everyone who has written and called to express their concern, and for those of you who wanted to write, email or call, but couldn't because the phone lines are a little messed up here. i love you all too.

after the collapse of the first tower, our view here near the promenade in brooklyn was obscured by a huge cloud of white smoke and dust. the wind was blowing mainly toward staten island. the spanish-speaking workmen who were painting my apartment immediately came to sit and watch CNN with us. we alternated between looking out at the billowing cloud and the tv.

suddenly we realized it was 2pm. we had been staring in shock at the tv for about 4 hours. i posted on the blog and then tried contacting my boss, my coworkers. the painters all live in the bronx. we thought they might stay with us but they wanted to try to get home, so they left at 2:30pm. they did not come back today. although some subway trains are running, transportation is still difficult and mayor rudy guliani asked everybody to stay home anyway.

as the afternoon wore on, the cloud increased and turned black. the wind changed and the burning smoke began to come our way. at about 6:40 we heard the first military jet fly over us; they have been flying sporadically over the city since, and some helicopters can be seen up and down above the east river.

my boss, who had to walk for hours and hours to get home to long island, finally contacted me. we don't know the status of our building, 22 cortlandt, which is on the corner of dey and church, directly across from the south tower and the area with the fountain. excuse me, where the south tower and the fountain were.

i went out this morning and it's a beautiful clear day. we no longer smell any smoke, but see a large white cloud billowing on the skyline still. here in brooklyn, there is almost no traffic. many people are walking around down to the promenade and back, quiet and dazed. i've never seen such a quiet day in new york. in many ways, it would be beautiful end-of-summer morning - -except.

last night, frankly, i couldn't go to sleep. i couldn't stop seeing the people falling from the tower. finally at 1:30 am i took something to help me sleep.

at 10 am, rudy guliani closed his press conference by vowing to rebuild the world trade center. i think that surprised everyone. "we will rebuild. the skyline will be whole again. we don't know exactly what it will look like or what it will be, but we will rebuild the world trade center."

i for one would be pleased to see them replace the world trade center with a new building; it should be the tallest building in the world. part of the plaza should be a memorial park to the people of morgan stanley, the firemen, all the others murdered in this horror. i normally ate lunch every day at the fine and shapiro deli in the mall in the basement of the north tower; on monday afternoon i took out a chicken sandwich, bought lingerie at victoria's secret, picked up some face cream at the sephora, and then browsed quickly in the borders books.

all the people who worked there; all the people i normally saw sitting to catch the sun around the fountain in the plaza. vanished. so terrible.

at the same time, it is heart-breaking to see events at the pentagon, to hear the sad fate of so many there, to see the fire they can scarcely control. unimaginable. i don't know what to say. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 8:57 AM | top | link to this |


Tuesday, September 11, 2001


for those of you who are worried about today's events -- the attack on the world trade center -- i'm ok.

most of you long-time readers know that i work directly across the street from the south tower of the world trade center. my building was evacuated, and so everyone in my office was evacuated unharmed before the tower collapsed. from news photos, it appears as if only a corner of my office building was hit by debris and our office may be fine.

as you know i live very near the promenade, and so was able - as the thick smoke allowed - to see the whole thing. the twin towers have lit up my living room for ever.

i left the house at 8:35 am to go vote in the city's mayoral primary. otherwise i would have been downtown earlier. i left the polling place and went to get on the subway. i was told that my normal n and r trains weren't running due to an emergency. but the subway clerks did not say what happened. so i switched trains and arrived downtown at about 9:20 am, just after the second plane hit the trade center. there were no cops or firemen there yet. i walked down towards the trade center. both towers were burning like candles. burning paper was flying through air -- like in a ticker-tape parade. with the ticker tape on fire. debris and what i thought were people -- human beings -- was cascading off the top of the world trade center.

i approached my building, 22 cortlandt, which is directly across church st. from the south tower. no one was standing in the street. this surprised me as i would have thought a lot of evacuated people would be in the street from the building. at this point i still didn't know exactly what had happened. then i realized no one was in the street because no one had yet been evacuated! they were all still trapped inside!

then the smoke began to thicken and i heard a boom. i looked behind me. there were thousands of people lining broadway half a block behind me. no one made a single sound. everyone's eyes were glued to the towers. i went into the lobby of my building, only to have a guard tell me it had been evacuated at 9:10am. he told me to leave the area immediately because the trade center gas lines could easily explode.

i took this advice and fought my way through the throngs -- burning ticker tape everywhere -- the three blocks or so back to the wall st. station of the 4 and 5 trains. i caught a train right away and returned to court st. in brooklyn. i walked the four blocks home and joined my husband in my living room. since i live very near the promenade, i could see it all right there. i arrived home at about 10:15; we were standing with the workmen who are painting my house at about 10:20 as the first tower collapsed. after that, we could not see anything due to the smoke.

so far this is my report. . .

posted by fortune elkins | 11:22 AM | top | link to this |


Monday, September 10, 2001


today i'm struggling with the recommendations of my yoga teachers. . .to abandon beginner's classes.

of course, i still feel like a beginner. a huge list of poses i can't do immediately leaps to my mind. such as, can't do headstand away from the wall. . .can't do lotus. . . this is what keeps me in beginner classes.

open classes have some more challenging poses -- arm balances for example. i practice a couple of them regularly at home by myself. the open classes don't terrify me -- i find the only real difference is the speed through which the class moves in surya namaskar. at least that's the case with the open classes at yoga people.

perhaps at jivamukti or om it's different. open classes tend to be later in the evening, which is harder for me to get to. and there are fewer of them, so they are more crowded. but i guess in a couple of weeks i will see how i can start fitting more open classes into my schedule. . .

and this is the question i'm posing for myself -- if others don't tell you, how do you know when you're really ready for the more advanced yoga?

posted by fortune elkins | 11:27 AM | top | link to this |


Sunday, September 09, 2001


excellent weekend! yesterday i made it to di fara's for the artichoke pie. it's heaven.

with the overexpansion and decline of john's, the sale of grimaldi's, and the decay of patsy's, real pizza now means di fara's. domenic, the sage elder pizza artist, is it. this is the only artisan pizza in new york; i don't care what the neapolitan-certified hosteria fiorella thinks. order the margherita or the artichoke pie. only. everything other pizza will suddenly seem to recede in your mind. . .

domenic grinds the cheese by hand, he spreads the pizza by hand; he makes his own sauce from san-marzano-style tomatoes from noted produce provider the orchard; the dough he makes in the back in what has to be a pre-war hobart next to the pots of live basil he's growing towards the side street.

the place is a total dive; it hasn't seen a coat of paint since the korean war, i'm sure, the tables and floor are shocking. but the artichoke pizza is incredible. he uses only the hearts of the freshest globe artichokes -- five artichokes per small pie. thus you understand why the pizza is $4 slice. he sautes the hearts in a mixture of butter and olive oil from umbria. just until they're slightly soft. then he spreads them on a fresh dough circle with just a touch of sauce, fresh mozzarella, and romano. into the gas-fired oven it goes. it doesn't come out until the edges of the hearts are slightly crunchy and toasted. this gives the artichokes a nutty flavor that the olive oil carries to the entire pizza.

worth the trek on the new Q train! my advice: take the N and R to dekalb ave. in brooklyn and then catch the Q. it's a speedy trip, and di fara's is literally 1/2 block from the ave. j stop.

to cap off this great weekend, i finally had a cup of espresso that didn't require sugar. it was by far the best espresso i've ever had in new york so far. where? robin's sherwood forest, a funky neo-bistro on smith st, two blocks beyond wyckoff on the left-hand side of the street. the decor is junk-shop hip; old life-size statues of the guadalupe, a dented chandelier made for a football stadium; a couple of bathtubs, a foosball table, whatever.

have the manager/maitre d' make the espresso. they have a lovely two-group wega atlas. this is the real stuff.

posted by fortune elkins | 2:25 PM | top | link to this |

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