Maureen Seaberg can see as many as 100 million colors, while an average person sees about a million. Here, she walks through the secret colors of New York City that she can see. Photo via Flickr by Anthony Quintano
Not many people see New York City with the intensity that Maureen Seaberg experiences it every day. Most humans of the world are trichomats, boring normals, who have a mere three cones for color perception: red, blue, and green. Trichomats see roughly a million colors. But Seaberg is what scientists call a tetrachromat, that is she has a fourth yellow cone in her retinas that creates exponentially greater color perception. Those with this rare genetic gift see as many as 100 million colors. It is because of this gift that a fifty-year-old Staten Island journalist with bubble gum pink lips and huge light-blue peepers is the inspiration of Liptensity, a red-hot new make-up line of unusually-hued colored lipsticks for MAC cosmetics.
The Peking. Photo via Flickr by David Yu.
Last November, I read a long New York Times piece about the return of the Peking to its country of origin, Germany. The square-rigged sailing ship at South Street Seaport was slated to leave sometime in 2016. Cash-strapped South Street Seaport Museum staff feared that their ship, which had stood tall at Pier 16 for four decades, had to be scrapped after she weathered damage from Hurricane Sandy, but the German government saved the day, allocating 30 million euros for a journey to return the Peking to their protection.
Last week, the Seaport Museum posted on social media that these were the final days to step aboard one of the last great merchant windjammers. No way was I going to miss this farewell, even if I took a familiar friend for granted: I remembered from some fold in my brain that in her heyday she had an acre of canvas, with 32 sails.
The pleasant but befuddled young media handler interrupted my story: “Bloomingdale’s has a time capsule?” Well actually, there were two time capsules, I told her, placed in the cornerstones on Lexington Avenue, by Fifty-ninth Street, back when the economy was careering off the rails during early Great Depression days. Did they have forgotten documents related to the event?
“To be honest most of our early archives are not yet digitalized, so I don’t know who to even ask, I need to get back to you on this…”
It’s not that Bloomingdale’s staff never knew their Art Deco-era flagship store housed time capsules. Starting at 4 p.m. on April 23, 1930, a number of bigwigs spoke before several hundred businessmen and city officers. But as Jim Morrison said, “The future is uncertain but the end is always near.” It is very likely that everyone who witnessed the event is dead, and their collective memories are buried with them.
New Yorkers have recently been abuzz on social media about Alamo, the steel cube at Astor Place that thousands have stopped to swivel. The sculpture, which was removed for protection when construction on Alamo Plaza’s redesign began in 2014, will finally be coming home. It was previously missing in action for a cleaning in 2005.
Midwestern sculptor Bernard “Tony” Rosenthal died from a stroke in 2009 at the age of 94. Wikipedia states Rosenthal made five large outdoor cubes. But as they say, never trust Wikipedia as a historical source. There is at least one more large outdoor Rosenthal cube, on the lawn of a Westchester waterfront home off the Long Island Sound. I saw it with my own eyes in 2014 while attending a private concert in that impressive home.
Photo via Globus Washitsu
One of Rainer Maria Rilke’s most beautiful poems contains the line: “I want to be with those who know secret things or else alone.” Having stumbled upon a recent video on Eater by apprentice sushi chef David Bouhadana, who recently toured a secret tea house (chatitsu) called KeiSui-An near Union Square, we hurriedly found the Facebook page for Globus Washitsu, the larger organization helmed by venture capitalist Stephen Globus that owns the tea house.
The next day, hypnotic modern kimonos appeared in our feed, and we realized there was a secret kimono show going on and closing on that very day. We wrongly assumed we could just push a button to the seventh floor and enter – but in our rush we missed that it was strictly appointment only, and dammit, the elevator did not open on the floor.
The line started near 63 Fifth Avenue and snaked east around 14th Street as far as the eye could see. The miserable souls at the end were rightly panicking that they wouldn’t get in. A passerby wanted to know: Was there a rock star in town? No, a tall man in well-designed glasses stopped to explain. “A starchitect.”
“A what?” And then after a short explanation, an incredulous follow-up: “An architect is causing this kind of line?”
Yes, and not just any starchitect, the masses were here to have a live encounter with perhaps the greatest living starchitect of them all, Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Frank Gehry.