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Travel Feature

A Photographic Return to Hurricane Sandy

photos: © h. nazan ışık–

One year ago today, Oct 29, 2012, New Jersey and New York were hit by Hurricane Sandy, also known as Superstorm Sandy. The damage was enormous: so many homes, businesses were destroyed. The storm surge at Battery Park in New York City reached 13.88 feet (4.23062 meter). Downtown Manhattan was flooded, and part of the city was in the dark for so many days. Manhattan wasn’t the only place in New York was affected by Sandy, but Coney Island in Brooklyn, Rockaway and Breezy Point in Queens and Long  Island were also badly damaged. Wikipedia says that “at least 286 people were killed along the path of the storm in seven countries”. And according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) 53 of them in New York.

I live in the Upper East Side somewhere close to the East River. When authorities gave a warning on November 28th about the severity of the approaching storm, I, like everybody, bought candles, batteries, canned food, water and filled containers with water, in case.

And, then on that November 29, Sandy hit the city the boroughs and New Jersey as well. Upper Manhattan was OK, but not the Lower Manhattan.

Let me take you back to those days and my experience of it through the images I took.

On that Oct 30th, I walked from where I live towards downtown. At that point in time, there was no visible problem — the power was on and stores were open.  But when I arrived at, I believe somewhere around 40th Street, the area plunged into darkness. People with flashlights in hand were very careful not to step on something dangerous. It was very eerie.
Two days later a photographer friend of mine and I decided to go to the affected areas. Our first stop was Red Hook in Brooklyn.

Red hook bot
First thing we saw in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a boat landed on the street.
Then we went to Coney Island. I clearly remember Coney Island Beach. The last time I was there it was nice, clean and full of people. This time it was filled with debris.
coney island
From there we drove to Breezy Point, Queens.

su breezy point

restaurant two


“Chaos vs. serenity.” Badly damaged, the restaurant’s floor was full of debris, yet glasses on the rack were intact, creating a wind chime-like, pleasant sound.
The next day I went to Long Island, NY by myself.  Sandy had caused severe damage there too. Houses were without roofs, boats were on the street, and there were piles of broken furniture, refrigerators, dishwashers, toys…. etc. everywhere. Signs that read “Looters will be shot” were everywhere.

A car got stuck in two houses in Lindenhurst, Long Island, NY.

M15 bus

And in Manhattan — since NY subways weren’t working after Sandy — buses were the only vehicles to take.
As a result of the huge damage and deaths caused by Hurricane Sandy in many countries, the World Meteorological Organization decided never to use name “Sandy” for a North Atlantic hurricane.

Today, a year after the storm, on this October 29, Hurricane Sandy is being remembered. Museum of the City of New York and the International Center of Photography organized an exhibition: RISING WATERS: PHOTOGRAPHS OF SANDY.

The invitation says: “Rising Waters is an exhibition of photographs taken in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan as well as New Jersey: they capture the superstorm, the damage, and the aftermath. Culled from over 10,000 images sent by both professional photographers and New Yorkers…”

There are 200 photographs in the exhibition — and one of them is mine -- which will be on view until March 2, 2014.

© h. nazan ışık

Summer Theatre: Shaw Festival 2013

Guys and Dolls
Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser

Lady Windermere’s Fan 
Written by Oscar Wilde
Our Betters 
Written by M. Somerset Maugham

The Shaw Festival—Behind the Curtain 

At Canada’s eminent Shaw Festival, Bernard Shaw’s plays always receive pride of place—until this year. Only one Shaw play, Major Barbara, is being staged, along with an update of his Geneva to something called Peace in Our Time. I skipped both on my annual visit to the most picturesque small town in Canada, instead taking in a top-notch Oscar Wilde comedy, an obscure Somerset Maugham play and a great American musical. I (mostly) made the right choices.
Guys and Dolls (photo: David Cooper)
The musical, Guys and Dolls, is far more enjoyable than the recent Broadway revival. Most importantly, director Tadeusz Bradecki keeps the tough yet tender tone of Damon Runyon’s original New York stories—coupled with Frank Loesser’s first-rate, immediately hummable songs (like “Luck Be a Lady, “A Bushel and a Peck” and “Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat”), this is a delightful production from start to finish, with a good cast in top form, highlighted by Jenny L. Wright’s hilarious yet vulnerable turn as Miss Adelaide. Her rendition of “Adelaide’s Lament” is the ultimate showstopper.
Lady Windermere's Fan (photo: David Cooper)
Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, subtitled A Play about a Good Woman, is so artfully crafted that one never realizes until the end how subtly it treats what seems an hackneyed theme: how gossip morphs into scandal, which was especially true in Wilde’s era. Why director Peter Hinton has cluttered such a sly, straightforward classic with unnecessary baggage like models posing as if in Whistler or Sargent paintings and epigrams written on curtains during scene changes or ludicrously blasting Katy Perry’s vapid pop song “Firework” as a coda is beyond my comprehension. Luckily, his largely compelling cast (Marla McLean is especially lustrous as Lady Windermere and Tara Rosling splendidly scandalous as Mrs. Erlynne) does its utmost best to keep the play in our sights. For that, we (and Wilde) are grateful.
Our Betters (photo: David Cooper)
In Our Betters, a 1923 M. Somerset Maugham play receiving its first Shaw staging  (I’ve neither seen nor read it), Americans in England are a desperately social-climbing lot hoping to be taken seriously by their “betters”: the English men and women whom they want to impress, maybe even marry. Although it sounds farcical, Maugham has sympathy for these people, giving them a dignity amidst their flaws that would be missing from a nastier portrait. In director Morris Panych’s nicely-paced staging, Claire Jullien and Catherine McGregor—two of the festival’s best—give vivid portrayals of American women who have been in England so long they’ve come to accept their position. This bittersweet play is beautifully played.
For those who can’t get to the Shaw for enriching and entertaining theater (or for those who’d like a
souvenir of their visit), a new DVD, The Shaw Festival: Behind the Curtain, is not only a fine primer on the festival’s plays, theaters, and lovely Niagara on the Lake ambiance, but also an arresting demonstration of the rigor with which North America’s greatest repertory company develops its creative process for the dozen or so shows put on each season. Watching plays come to life in the hands of luminous performers as Moya O’Connell—whom I didn’t see in person this time around, alas—makes this well worth watching.
Shaw Festival 2013
Performances through November 3, 2013
Niagara on the Lake, Canada

Cityscape: The Historic City of Charleston

Charleston was a battleground during both the American Revolution and the Civil War. 1779's Battle of Charleston was one of the last British victories over the American colonists. South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union when state officials, unhappy with the election of President Abraham Lincoln, met in Charleston on December 20, 1860 and voted to leave. President Lincoln retaliated by having the Union Navy blockade Charleston. Confederate forces retaliated by shelling Fort Sumter, a key Union outpost in Charleston Harbor, on April 12, 1861 and the Civil War was underway.

What is not as well known about Charleston is that it was a bastion of religious tolerance from its founding in the 17th century. Prior to 1800 there were more Jews living there than either in New York or Philadelphia. Congregation Beth Elohim was founded in 1740, and its current home, a magnificent Greek Revival structure, was completed a century after that. The oldest continuous house of worship in Charleston is St. Michael’s Episcopal Church that opened in 1761. Both George Washington and Robert E. Lee attended services there.      

Charleston officials have always been concerned about preserving the city’s rich history and have strict regulations over the construction of new buildings which require them to be in an antebellum style. You can certainly walk all over Charleston’s sizable historic district from its battery where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet to form Charleston Harbor to its famous City Market where vendors selling food, clothing, and the market’s most famous product, sweetgrass baskets. While exercise is certainly encouraged, I heartily recommend guided tours of the area to get the most out of your visit. If you want to learn Charleston’s history and simultaneously feel as if you are back in the 18th century I highly recommend Palmetto Carriage Tours which use horse and mule-drawn coaches. It is best to take a ride in the early morning before the city’s heat and humidity kicks in.

A great way to beat the heat as well as learn about the city maritime history is to enjoy a 90-minute Charleston Harbor Cruise that goes around Fort Sumter. If you want a more personalized excursion, Janice Kahn, a lifelong Charlestonian, will take you in her car and show you not only the points of interest such as the famous military college, the Citadel, but she’ll also give background stories and anecdotes that very few know about. You will feel like an area insider after spending a couple of hours with her. Kahn Tours can be reached at (843) 556-0664.

The South Carolina Aquarium opened on the Cooper River in May 2000. While there aren’t any big mammals such as whales and dolphins here (you can generally see a dolphin in Charleston Harbor), there are lemurs, various sharks, area fish, and even an albino alligator.

The Charleston RiverDogs are the Yankees South Atlantic League affiliate and they play their home games at Joe Riley Stadium which opened in 1997. The season runs from early April to Labor Day. The RiverDogs got a lot of attention recently when Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez played a few games there.  

Aside from history, Charleston is getting known by foodies for its fine restaurants which have attracted James Beard Award-winning chefs. Fleet Landing, located right on the Cooper River, has a large festive outdoor dock, and is renown for its reasonably-priced freshly caught seafood. I recommend the crab cake and the she-crab soup. The Charleston Grill and 82 Queen are fine dining restaurants that offer both seafood and chops.

There is a wide array of lodgings that fit all budgets. The Mills House, located on Meeting Street, is nearby to all of the historical sites and it has spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, and offers a complimentary breakfast to all guests. If you want a five-diamond experience without having to pay through the nose, Charleston Place, located across the street from Congregation Beth Elohim, is highly recommended.

Queens’ own JetBlue started service from JFK to Charleston last February and the flying time is roughly 90 minutes. JetBlue has two daily flights.

For more information, log onto or call the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 868-8118.

Philadelphia Ideal for Short or Long Vacations

PresidentsHouseFor New Yorkers looking for vacation ideas that won’t break the bank during a tough economy, Philadelphia is ideal for one-day visits, weekend getaways and longer stays. I visited Philadelphia twice last month, both for a one-day trip and extended stay, and perhaps the toughest part of both was leaving a city that has so much to offer.

Philadelphia, known as ‘The City of Brotherly Love’, derived from the Greek meaning of brotherly love, is a short two-hour bus ride from New York City, and, depending on what bus company you use, tickets are usually under $20 for a one-way trip.

Read more: Philadelphia Ideal for Short or...

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