Shown: decorative twinned fish above a doorway; an iconic caution against dumping waste that would befoul nearby waterways; the maker's mark of a concrete contractor; fishermen trying their hands from the breakwaters that extend into Absecon Inlet, near the remains of a boardwalk destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Their efforts this afternoon had less the appearance of sport fishing than of subsistence fishing.
For many centuries, the soft inner bark of Broussonetia papyrifera has provided raw material for paper-making and cloth-making, especially in East and Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Often planted as an ornamental, the tree has been naturalized in New York thanks to its tolerance for pollution in less-than-gracious urban settings such as the roadside verge shown here.
Originally identified as a member of the genus Morus, which includes the familiar finger-staining mulberries, the paper mulberry is in fact only a close relative. Even so, the ripe red fruits are reported to be edible; if you know someone who's actually tried them, clue me in.
Polished and frosted by the physical and chemical weathering of salt water, the most beautiful sea glass is often decades in the making. In recent years sea glass has been difficult to find on the Jersey Shore, a welcome indication that less waste glass is finding its way into the ocean. Environmental-protection efforts, the greater use of lighter and less expensive containers, and the nickel deposit levied on beer and soda bottles likely all play a part.
I was surprised, then, that sea glass was so easy to find on the beach of Conference House Park, on the southern tip of Staten Island. (It's also the southernmost point of New York State, marked by a literal "South Pole.") Shown here is the booty of not-especially-diligent beachcombing, in green, white, and the less common pale blue. (Red and amber are rarer still.) Of these, the two pieces of white sea glass may have been longest in the water: They have the heaviness and squared-off shape of old medicine bottles.
Also known as the fruit of the American cranberrybush, highbush cranberries are botanically unrelated to that mainstay of the Thanksgiving dinner table. From their size and color, and from their adaptability to jellies, preserves, and sauces, you can easily understand how these cranberries earned their name — but, this being a New York City park, limit your "harvest" to what fits between forefinger and thumb.
A handbill, passed to me blindly and wordlessly by the seated fellow with the earphones, elaborated that the folks at East America are "agencias de empleo." It sported a smattering of English and Korean, too, apparently intended to steer hopefuls to the office. The jobs board itself included very little explication — if you have to ask, you can't handle the "teriyaki" — but enough to tempt some busperson-to-be with the promise of "all you can eat." The best-paying position, posted on a golden slip at bottom right, offered $3,400 (per month?) to someone expert in the ways of stir-frying vegetables, Sichuan style.
Also shown, from within eyeshot of the jobs board: a detail, from a badly deteriorated mural, of the former RKO Keith's Theater several blocks to the north.
East America Services Jobs board, Main St. (west side, beneath the LIRR overpass), Flushing, Queens
Several works from this exhibition, the third in a two-year series of ten under the collective title Food Systems, Surroundings & Sensibilities. Shown: "59 cents" (Project 59, 2015), which name-checks a frequently recurring price for food and farm produce; "Electrolux" (Lisa Hein and Bob Seng, 1993), a vacuum-bag cornucopia whose "fruit" has been shaped from dirt; "Reflections in Tea" (Michele Brody, 2007-current), stained filters annotated by the patrons of the artist's mobile teahouse.