43rd Annual Halloween Parade, year 2016

 "Reverie. One thinks of Halloween as a chance to fantasize, but more than anything Halloween lets us realize, allowing us to play ourselves, leaving the remainder of the year for sleepwalking.

We are hopeful folks will create a Halloween costume that at once expresses and feeds their soul.  As they say in Trinidad Carnival:  “Parade Yourself” to fully experience the transformative process of carnival.  This call to ACTION by way of inaction for ART is conceived and manifested in this liminal space—and making ART heals both the individual and the collective soul.

We know that delving into this realm also does some Soul Stitching (our costume designers know that sewing is a quick entry point!) 
In these moments of reverie, our eyes are fresh, a child’s eyes. Our thoughts unfettered by habit, ideas and inspirations swirl in.
So this year we celebrate Reverie, inviting one and all to recreate their waking dreams" ( from 2016 Theme Statement)

Halloween 2016 is nearly upon us. Abrakadabra!

Most of strange and bizarre traditions  associated with Halloween, like wearing masks and knocking on strangers' doors, probably came courtesy of the Christian holiday Hallowtide, or Hallowmas. Hallowmas included All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, and was a time for praying for the souls of the dead.

Halloween arrived in the United States and Canada with the Celtic immigrants of the 19th century. Ireland's potato famine sent immigrants to North American shores, and their Halloween celebrations were at first viewed as an ethnic oddity.

The term "trick or treat" appears basically nowhere in books prior to the 1940s, when it suddenly skyrockets.  Modern Halloween costumes   descended indirectly from this European penchant for celebrating with masks. Like trick-or-treating, the Halloween costume became an  American tradition in the 1950s, at the same time as  "trick or treat" .  

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has been conducting its annual Halloween survey since 2003 to see how Americans will celebrate the fright and delight of this beloved autumn holiday.

More than 171 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, spending an average $82.93, up from last year’s $74.34, said NFL. Total spending is expected to reach $8.4 billion, an all-time high in the history of NRF’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights. The survey finds that 7 in 10 consumers plan to hand out candy, and nearly half will decorate their home or dress in costume.  

More than three million children will dress as their favorite action or superhero, 2.9 million will dress as their favorite princess and 2.5 million plan to dress as a cat, dog, bunny or other animal.

But Halloween is no longer just for the kids and those with kids, and retailers can be a part of the action by helping consumers find everything they need to enjoy a seasonal party.
There are a lot of stores  in New York where you can by everything  you  need for Halloween. This year I visited   two of them that are considered among top ten best shops for Halloween in New York. These  stores  are  in East Village  and are close to each other , just 20 minutes by foot. 

 The first one is the store  with a very funny name "Abrakadabra".  Really strange name,  isn't it? The best-known use of this invocation of late would be the “Avada Kedavra” or “Killing Curse” in J.K. Rowling's popular magical fantasy Harry Potter book and movie series. 
“Harry Potter, the boy who lived... come to die. Avada Kedavra!,” screams Lord Voldermort in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" .

Look what Wikipedia wrote about the origin of the word.  The word may have its origin in the Aramaic language. The first known mention of the word was in the third century AD in a book called Liber Medicinalis.    A physician to the Roman emperor Caracalla prescribed that malaria  sufferers wear an amulet containing the word written in the form of a triangle.

 It is impossible to say now why  this funny word was chosen as a shop name   30 years ago  when the shop  started   on Christopher Street.  In 2007 two  brothers Robert (Bob) and José (Joe) Pinzón's  bought the shop and  transformed this mom-and-pop shop into a Halloween emporium.

The brothers say they trace their roots to the Pinzón brothers, who owned and captained the Pinta and the Niña, the two vessels that escorted Christopher Columbus' Santa María in his journey to what later became known as America
With Halloween approaching, the brothers are  ready for an avalanche of orders and customers of all ages.  

 "There's all kinds of people in New York, and it's not only for Halloween. There's all kinds of crazy parties in the Hamptons, and Christmas. We are busy all year long." , - said Bob. 

Halloween Adventure was founded in 1981. There are only three permanent locations  - two in PA and one in NYC,  but  over 40 temporary pop-ups that have now expanded to Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.  The  manager Tony Bianchi first opened a temporary pop-up store in 1991 in New York  and continued to open temporary pop-ups in the East Village until 1996. The permanent home for  Halloween Adventure    in 1996  in what used to be a World Gym at 104 4th Avenue. The store was  expanded in 2004. 
 A  wide selection of prepackaged costumes and a huge children’s section are      along with tons of accessories are located on two floors.  A visit to this massive costume, prop and magic mecca can be overwhelming—luckily, the store provides a handy map of its two-level space.

Both  stores stays open late in October, making this a good stop for the truly last minute costume.

Water Garden , a new project in Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brothers Frederick Jr. and John Charles Olmsted (sons of Prospect and Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted) designed   Brooklyn Botanic Garden that was originally a marshy wasteland. Now Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of the jewels not only of Brooklyn but of New York.   This 52-acre garden is home to thousands of plants and trees, as well as a Japanese garden with  a 1-acre pond.

Each year, the botanic garden uses about 22 million gallons of water to fill  the pond.     That water flows by stream to a smaller pond to the south, and is eventually discharged into the municipal sewer system. 
That annual draw will shrink by about 95% to an estimated 900,000 gallons under a high-tech water conservation project  that is now under way. The first stage of the project,   a new  1.5-acre water garden with lush plantings around a pond is already finished.

The water garden is named for philanthropist  Shelby White and her late husband  Leon Levy, who   contributed $7.5 million to the   project.
Leon Levy, born to a Jewish family,  psychology at City College of New York. For his first investment in 1940  Levi used  $200 of bar mitzvah money. In  1959 Levy co-founded the Oppenheimer mutual funds. In  1982  he   co-founded Odyssey Partners, a private management company.  It grew to be a $3 billion hedge fund before it was dissolved in 1997. When he died in his late seventies, Levy was estimated to be worth a billion dollars.

Levy and his wife, Shelby White, gave away more than $200 million, becoming well known for their philanthropic efforts. They donated $20 million to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the construction of the Leon Levy and Shelby White Court, a gallery hosting the largest selection of Hellenistic and Roman artwork ever exhibited at that museum. The gallery included a number of pieces from Levy and White's   art collection.
“The Shelby White and Leon Levy Water Garden is a remarkable new feature at Brooklyn Botanic Garden,” says Scot Medbury, president of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
When completed, the system will capture much of the rainwater that falls on the 52-acre garden and recirculate it back up to the Japanese garden pond. T

he design even incorporates computers and weather forecasting to reduce runoff from the garden that winds up in the sewer system during heavy rain falls.
"Previously, we were here throwing 21 million gallons of drinkable water into the storm system annually. And that's 96 percent erased through this project," said Michael Van Valkenburgh of Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates.
The folks at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are hoping that parks and gardens around the country will take a look at what they are doing here and perhaps implement similar systems so they can help with the conservation effort.

Cushman Row

Robert Cushman was born in 1577 in  England.  He was an important leader and organizer of the Mayflower voyage in 1620. The Cushman family has been involved in New York real estate for seven generations.   Robert was the  ancestor  of a    dry goods merchant  Don Alonso Cushman,  who was a friend of   Clement Clark Moore . According to the legend Moore  wrote a   classic poem about jolly old St. Nick as a Christmas present for his six young children.

Don Alonzo Cushman  built  the townhouses that are today known as   Cushman Row for his daughters. The seven houses   were built by in 1839-40.  Cushman’s descendants pursued real estate development as well, and a great grandson founded  the Cushman & Wakefield real estate services company.

Over the decades, Cushman has played a major role in the development, leasing and sales of many of the city’s signature skyscrapers, although in recent years it has lost its place as the city’s top real-estate firm.   In the 1940s   Cushman helped William Zeckendorf Sr. assemble the site for what eventually became the United Nations.

John Cushman, grandson of the firm’s co-founder, started working at Cushman in 1961 and is still there.
Cushman’s time in Chelsea was remembered by his granddaughter Pauline Sainsbury in her book, ”Cushman Chronicles — a Tale of Old Chelsea,” in 1932.

Fancy Animal Carnival , Garment District

The carnival is in the city.  This fall  eleven large-scale, colorful animal  sculptures  created   by  Hung Yin arrived in New York.  Hung Yi was born in Taichung, Taiwan in 1970.  Hung Yi was once an owner of nine restaurants. However,  at the age of 30, he decided to live his life fully as an artist. 

Since then, his work continues to be inspired by his surroundings and life experiences.
Typical of a Hung Yi creation are bright primary colors and bold, lively constructions. 

 The artist’s  works are encouraged by Taiwanese culture or day-to-day life in Taiwan. He  is regaled for his large and colorful sculptures that pay homage to the mythology of Taiwan. He also decorates the modern sculptures with traditional Taiwanese patterns and texts that are believed to bring about good fortune.

The artist  already   exhibited in San Francisco in 2015 and 2014.  Fancy Animal Carnival  is  the  Hung Yi’s first New York exhibition. 
The artist used metal to bring his animal collection to life and the process used to finish and preserve his whimsical creations is the procedure associated with priming and painting a car.  

Each piece looks as smooth as silk, just like a newly painted car.
 The exhibition is open to the public on the Garment District Broadway Mall that runs from 41st Street to 37th Street.