Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘history

The first tunnel, first of many… but you never forget your first…

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CollegeAvenue-Bronx-3This is an underpass. It’s on 167th St in the Bronx and runs under the Grand Concourse. We lived in a block of 6-storey red-brick apartment buildings a few blocks away and this was where we shopped. It really hasn’t changed much since I lived there back in the early 60’s. Deep discount shops, fast food, bars, second run movie houses – chain link fences, barbed wire, guard dogs, alarms. Not a very nice place to gow up to be honest – but I didn’t really know that then.

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The old Kent Theatre on East 167th St in the Bronx. Oh yeah… look what they’ve done to my song, Ma!

My movie theatre was there – The Kent Theatre – full of dreams and all the other places in the world. My pizza joint, where the jukebox had the Beatles and Herman’s Hermits and The Supremes and my Chinese Restaurant with real Chinese people – all of which totally directed me to exactly where I am now. Fortunately, I left when I was 7-going-on-8 and didn’t go back until November last year – so I didn’t notice all the drugs and related violence also going on there.

But back to this tunnel… you can see that the sidewalks have been sealed off and there is no pedestrian access. Not so 50 years ago, when my mother would give me a dollar to walk up to her favourite bakery on the other side of the Concourse to buy her favourite cake. It was a six block walk to get to the other side, 4 of them in the underpass. Dark, filthy, smelt of urine and and vomit and rotting food. Sometimes I had to walk around a sleeping drunk or bum (back before they were renamed homeless). I was terrified of everyone coming toward me or coming up behind me. Frightened of the rats and the cars careening past and of losing the money or dropping the cake… I walked tough, with clenched fists, totally ready to take on anyone that messed with me. No one ever did…

I’ve walked through a few tunnels in my life that later proved to be metaphorical and utterly transforming… This was the first.

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Written by Titirangi Storyteller

09/07/2015 at 5:58 pm

A short stroll down Mulberry Street

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Wandered into Little Italy a few weeks ago. It’s a bit of the same as it’s ever been and a lot like it never was, except maybe in movies and TV and what we expect of it. Part history, part fantasy. We had a brilliant cannoli at Cafe Roma though, along with an exquisite piece of Italian cheesecake, which might be the most important thing.

The streets are narrow and cluttered with cars and people and lights and banners waving in the air, trying to grab your attention. Despite the cold winter day, vendors and restaurateurs beckoned as the aromas of a few thousand years of tradition wafted by.LittleItaly-4 Classic restaurants, straight out of 1952, or maybe Goodfellas or The Sopranos: LittleItaly-6This guy was determined that we were going to eat here… no discussion! Would you say no to him? Really?

LittleItaly-5While I enjoy al fresco dining, there was snow on the ground! This old place probably hosted a speakeasy back in the day.

This guy with the accordion however, as enchanting as could be! Did not notice the creepy dude peeking out over his right shoulder until I got home, though.LittleItaly-3 And who could resist Umberto’s Clam House??? LittleItaly-1 Or the charm of statues of Native Americans guarding the entrance to the cigar shop? LittleItaly-2 LittleItaly-7And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a slightly menacing corner, with a couple of slightly unsavoury characters strolling by.

But despite the sentiment, Little Italy has all but disappeared, mostly gobbled up by Chinatown and SoHo and areas that have just stopped being Little Italy and become something else.

Kinda sad, kinda just how it is. Kinda weird being old enough that history is not something relegated to old books and movies. I remember how it used to be and see how it is now. And it’s not that I think it should be any different than it is – I just marvel at what has changed.

And if Little Italy is transformed, then I suppose I am too…

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06/04/2015 at 11:14 pm

Sometimes it’s just black & white

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Written by Titirangi Storyteller

01/11/2014 at 9:48 pm

St Patrick’s Church, Hawea Flat, New Zealand

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My daughter’s friend lived in this charming historic church in Central Otago, which was designed by the renowned George Gilbert Scott. He was the architect of the Christchurch Cathedral which was destroyed by the earthquake of 2011. It was the first church in the area (soon followed by St Ninyans and another near Tarras). It was deconsecrated around 1980 (I think) and has been used as a community centre and now a residence.
It would be wonderful to see it restored sometime, but the current owner seems to be doing a fairly decent job of preserving it.
The light was quite amazing the first day we photographed it, but we went back a second time and got some more, equally interesting shots.

The view from the road as we approached.Wan14FB---15

The light was just amazing that day – it was very cloudy, but there were breaks to the west, giving the church a very warm, welcoming look.Wan14FB---9

The cross at the front of the building.Wan14FB---10     Some little girl’s shoes left in the window a while back…Wan14FB--60

When the sun disappeared, the church appeared almost Gothic, with brutal detail. This is the rear view – the altar would have been just behind those windows back in the day. It is the kitchen area now. StP-ext-fb-2Similar view to the golden light a few images up. Not so welcoming here.

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Let me introduce you to two of the residents. Straw men, wearing old prisoner and guard of the local work camp. I don’t recall how they were obtained exactly – but they were sold to the local Moari after the prison system shifted to the much more fashionable day-glo orange.Wan3-StP-7 FB

Last light of day – a bit Wuthering Heights… it doesn’t really get much more romantic than this…Wan14FB---13

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10/06/2014 at 11:04 pm

Garnet Quiggley

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Garnet Quiggley of Krakens Lair

Still working on the photos from the Easter Steampunk shoot. Very pleased with how they’ve turned out, especially the studio shots as I’m always a little nervous working with studio lights. But not a bad result…

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With her partner in crime, Mac Hanical.

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25/04/2014 at 4:50 pm

Don’t mess with Kraken’s Lair

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Time travelling denizens of another dimension… they arrived on Easter Saturday. We met them in the old Whangarei Quarry. They’re rather like us, but different. They do love their weapons…

Last Supper copy

A sentimental moment…. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, so long it seems like another lifetime… I met someone I’ve never forgotten… I wonder where they are now, what they are doing, and if they ever think of me…

SPAPR-PR-GQ-3 But they can be more deadly with the passage of time… Lefty Lacy Lawless – always gets her man SPAPR-Ll-8 copy

Deceptively congenial, the diabolical Mac Hanical…SPAPR-MH-2

Stay tuned for further developments…

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22/04/2014 at 11:28 pm

Steampunks in their native habitat…

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19/04/2014 at 11:35 pm

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