Chalkupy Wall Street “Day of Play” and Musicians’ Jam Via Fandalism Hit the Park Saturday

Free spirits of all ages and shapes and sizes showed up at the park on Saturday. Here shown in pictures, co-habitating the space; I think you’ll be able to tell which shots are from which event:

Occupy Wall Street Day of Play With Judson Church in background:

And, of course, Elmo:

I myself happened upon the best jam at the park I’ve ever heard taking place on a bench east of the Fountain after the Fandalism event had ended (which I missed). At one point it looked like threatening rain. The group had begun singing “Here Comes the Sun” and the sun, did indeed, appear! (This is the type thing that happens at the park.) I didn’t have a camera which forced me, in a sense, to observe and absorb versus document! Some of the other songs… “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele), “Rock the Casbah” (Clash) and many other great ones, none of which I can recall now! (Clearly, I didn’t take notes either. … Oh & musicians if any of you who were there read this. Please regroup and let me know when that will be.)

Photo 1: Imagine Engine Via Twitter
Photo 2: Laughing Squid, More pics Fandalism here
Photo 3 and 4: Mickey Z.

More photos from the OWS Day of Play here via Facebook.

San Francisco-based Start Up, Fandalism, to Hold Musicians’ Jam Today, Sat’y, October 6th, 12-3 p.m., at Washington Square’s Garibaldi Plaza

Fandalism, a San Francisco-based site that connects people passionate about music worldwide, is having a meet up and jam today, Saturday, October 6th at WSP by Garibaldi Plaza (east of the Fountain) from 12 p.m. – 3 p.m.

The site is a really nice way for artists to showcase their work and unite with other musicians.

For today’s event, 500 people have RSVP’d via Facebook! This should be interesting, to say the least! Check it out.

“Person of Interest” Films in WSP Yesterday

Actor Michael Emerson on the Phone in Washington Square

Do you think this show will help bring phone booths back?

Bear the Dog and “Finch” WSP

In the last episode, key character Reese rescued a dog now named “Bear” and he is seen with Michael Emerson’s character, “Finch,” here, yesterday filming at the park.

More “Finch” and “Bear”

Director’s Chairs Against the Arch!

“Person of Interest,” a television program which airs on CBS Thursday nights at 9 p.m. filmed, for at least the second time, at Washington Square Park yesterday. I’m a fan of the series although last night’s show— the second episode of the second season — was a little gruesome and slow at points and lost my interest. That being said, I will continue to watch and look forward to seeing the episode above shot at Washington Square! This is not the first time the show has filmed at the park and last time the park was beautifully lit and the Arch in particular, looked gorgeous!

The two main characters are Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson), pictured in these scenes. Reese now has a dog who he rescued in this season’s Episode 1. The dog’s name is Bear. On the show’s Twitter feed they wrote:

Reese’s dog was one of the most buzzed about moments in the premiere of #PersonOfInterest.

If you haven’t watched the show, here’s a recap from the series premiere from Entertainment Weekly:

In this series created by Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight) and co-produced by J.J. Abrams, there exists in the post-9/11 world a vast matrix of security cameras and technology. In the premiere episode, Mr. Finch revealed that he helped set up that all-seeing system, in Manhattan at the very least, and is now using it for his own purposes. Finch told Reese that he can track potential crimes to be committed, although mere lofty observation cannot indicate whether the people caught on camera are future criminals or victims. For that, Mr. Finch needs a man on the ground, and that man is Reese. “You need a purpose,” Finch told Reese, who’d spent his most recent months not shaving and riding the subway all night without changing his clothes for weeks. “You need a job.”

It would be sort of great if they mixed the reality of the the intensive security camera situation at Washington Square Park into the show!

Thanks for the great photos, Redwingx!

Washington Square Fall 2012 at Dusk

View from Fifth Avenue At Dusk

Closer, Towards The Arch

(Still) Plume-less Fountain

People in the Fountain, Including…

This Gal Deep in Thought

The Fountain Plaza and the Arch… Look Closer

Halloween comes early at Washington Square ?

Photos: Cathryn

Occupy Wall Street Leads to One Year Anniversary with 3 Days of Community, Events & Action; Saturday, September 15th Kicks Off at Washington Square

Zuccotti Park Oct. 2011

Occupy Wall Street’s 1 Year Anniversary is on September 17th (it feels like so long ago in so many ways!). See My Visit to Zuccotti Park from early October 2011 (the two shots above are from then). There are three days of events leading up to the anniversary beginning today.

Today, Saturday, September 15th Occupy Wall Street Focus: Education will be at WSP from 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Sunday, September 16th, the focus is on Celebration with Occupy Town Square at Thomas Paine Park and Monday, September 17th (the 1 Year Anniversary) events downtown with emphasis on Resistance. See more info here.

Washington Square Park Folk Festival also happening at the Park Saturday and Sunday (not part of OWS).

Photos: Cathryn

Washington Square Park Folk Festival Returns for Year Two at WSP This Weekend (9/15 & 16, 2012)

For the second year in a row, the Washington Square Park Folk Festival will take place for 2 days at the park this coming weekend on September 15th and 16th. I spoke to Eli Smith, the organizer, a musician and host of the Down Home Radio Show who also produces the Brooklyn Folk Festival (now in year four) about the upcoming festival at the park and year two!

This is your second year doing the festival at Washington Square Park. What did you learn from last year?

I thought it went great. I felt it could have been bigger. Last year, we had 9 bands; this year we have 13. We’ll set out more chairs! (laughs)

(Ed. note: Last year, there was a bit of a chair issue. There did not seem to be many set out!)

When did you find out you got the go ahead for year 2?

They told me right away after the first festival that they wanted it to continue. I was relieved when I checked in six months later to find out that it was [definitely] confirmed.

Rebecca Ferguson, the Park Administrator, whose idea the festival was, recently left her position. How has that impacted things?

She was super cool and kept on it as her final project of the park.

The folk music I saw last year was a bit more blue grass and string-oriented than perhaps what some think of when they hear the term “folk music.” Some might consider it to be a bit more “pop” such as the music associated with artists like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, for example. Are there different types of what is considered “folk” music?

Folk music is a very wide, expansive genre. With [advent of] Bob Dylan {and his success], seemingly anyone who wrote their own songs was considered folk music. in my mind, folk is the more traditionalist, old-time string and blues as well as some wonderful and talented singer-songwriters. The festival will have something for everybody – a wide range of what people think of as folk music and think of as Washington Square Park. We’ll also have some venerable performers with a history in Washington Square Park including Tracy Schwarz and Ginny Hawker. Schwarz played in WSP with the New Lost City Ramblers in the ’50s and ’60s. John Cohen, also of the New Lost City Ramblers, has a history at the park as does Randy Byrnes who played in the park in the ’60s and ’70s. The festival will feature those with a history of performance associated with the park as well as young talent from the city.

You have a lot of different sponsors for the festival, including Mario Batali. How did that come about?

Becky [Rebecca Ferguson] took care of that from her connections from Washington Square Park. Of course, Matt Umanov from Matt Umanov Guitars was the one who first recommended me to do the festival [last year]. Also, the Washington Square Hotel and Mario Batali Foundation. It’s super nice of them to kick in like that. I heard that Mario Batlai lives in the area of the park and is super into music. I started buying his pasta sauce.

I didn’t know he had a pasta sauce. Where do you buy it?

I buy it at Fairway. (laughs) I think he stopped by one day last year. (segues)

I also was contacted by Occupy Wall Street as there’s going to be an Occupy Wall Street Action at the same time on Saturday. We’re trying to give each other space.

* * *

Stop by Saturday, September 15th * 2-8 p.m. and Sunday, September 16th * 1- 8 p.m. It’s free!

There is further description of the Festival at the Parks Department web site and a breakdown of the performances at the Festival’s site.

This Blog on last year’s festival!

Have a Problem and Need Someone to Talk To? Free Advice Girl Arrives at Washington Square Park

At Washington Square Park, you never know what you’ll encounter – whether it’s hula hooping, opera, tarot readings, bagpipes, Red-tailed hawks, and more — now, there’s something new to add to the list, of particular value when you’re grappling with how to pay the rent, the guy or gal who just doesn’t call, the boss who is giving you grief …

For the last two months, Lisa Podell, aka Free Advice Girl, has plunked herself and her sign down at varying locations throughout the park offering just that – free advice. What originally began as a “one day thing”  – she wondered if anyone would sit down – has now turned into a regular occurrence; she has fans, is never lacking for people to talk to, and a Facebook page.

I spoke to her recently about some of the people she’s encountered, why she chose Washington Square Park, ways the idea could expand into other NYC public spaces, and more.

How did the idea come about?

I’ve grown up at this park. I’ve always had this [idea] in the back of my mind but I was scared I’d be judged and thought no one would talk to me. I’m a mentor and work with students and adults with behavioral issues. I wanted to do something with my free time that could help people. I originally was going to do it for one day to show myself I could do it. As soon as I put up the sign, two or three people were there ready to talk.

What do you give advice about?

It’s a diverse community — there’s homeless, college students, tourists, people who work around there… I’m having substantial, challenging, thought-provoking conversations with strangers. I’ve talked to a father whose daughter won’t talk to him and suggested some strategies how to get back in her life. Sometimes someone is looking for good place to eat. People sometimes come up to me with substantial issues that I’m not qualified to address so I started keeping a list of resources – shelters, food kitchens. There are young people who stop by who just moved here [to NYC] with no money, no place to live. I suggest places to look for jobs, apply for scholarships.

What has the experience been like?

I’m not telling [the person] what to do. What I do really well is I listen, ask questions… break you out of your point of view, see what you’re dealing with with new eyes. They’re [the people who sit down] choosing to come to me and they’re ready and open to whatever the discussion becomes. It becomes a powerful experience with a playful element to it.

I was speaking to a man who is a musician who performs in subways and parks and he told me “You need to know more about opportunities for people who are struggling, not the shelters but places like the Bowery Mission. You don’t know what to tell them because you don’t live on the streets.” I respect what everyone brings to me. It teaches me how to respond to different people.

Do you move around in the park?

Yes. The new benches get really hot in the sun, and, fortunately for me, they’re empty so I put a blanket down and usually switch to different benches. Ownership still happens in the park… there’s a culture in the park.

What is your background?

I went to college and graduate school at NYU. I studied drama at Tisch. I didn’t want to be an actor so I went back to (graduate) school for education studying educational theater which finds ways to integrate theater into education. I received a dual masters in educational theater, grades K-12 and English education, grades 7-12. [Now,] I teach in public and private schools and work for small businesses. I do adolescent mentoring where I travel to students’ homes. [The issue is] usually not an inability to learn the content but [schools] don’t teach how to study for a test, teach them how to manage their time, and manage procrastination.

I really love one-on-one [interactions]. I’ve always wanted to be a therapist; it’s a role I’ve played in my life.

How often do you set up Free Advice Girl at the park?

I wake up every morning excited to go to the park. I typically go every other day for 2-3 hours.

Did this meet or exceed your expectation?

It completely exceeded my expectations. I’ve always been very shy; I’d rather not be noticed. And I took a big risk. The most effective conversations take 10 minutes. It’s amazing saying stuff out loud… I’m here for whatever experience happens. It pulls people out of their every day. For people walking by, it’s something they don’t see. They stop and smile, take a picture. The ability to create that in people’s every day makes me feel alive.

There’s a wealth of information and interactions and weird stories. Doing this brought up the question – what if there was an opportunity to talk to someone in public spaces in New York? At Port Authority? [As a resource] for homeless people, rich people to go to… The more I do it, hopefully the more opportunities there will be to keep creating and keep growing whatever this is.

Why did you choose Washington Square Park?

I chose the park because I thought people would be receptive to it. Something about Union Square Park doesn’t feel as friendly or open. The park has always been a creative source for me.


You can write to Lisa or find out when she’ll be at the park via the Free Advice Girl Facebook Page.

Bagpipes at the Park

On Saturday, I was sitting near the Arch and I heard bag pipes emanating from somewhere in the park. They stopped and so I basically forgot about them; my attention diverted elsewhere. As I was leaving, they started up again and I snapped this pic of a young woman playing near the LaGuardia Place entrance on the southern end of the park! They were really nice to hear. It’s a distinct sound … it feels regimented and yet celebratory and meditative all at the same time.

“Glee” Films at WSP Again Over the Weekend

Lea Michele

Hit tv show “Glee” filmed at Washington Square on Saturday, August 11th. Here’s a shot of star Lea Michele on a park bench from Just Jared Jr., entertainment blog. It is not the first time the show has filmed in the park; click here to see some really fun shots of the cast in May of 2011 dancing between the Fountain and the Arch.
Photo: Anthony Dixon/

To Raise Awareness of Homelessness in NYC, Queens Resident Yusef Ramileze Sleeping in WSP for One Week

Yusef Ramelize, Union Square by Gandhi statue

For the fourth year, Queens resident and homeless advocate Yusef Ramileze will be sleeping in a New York City public space for one week; this year his location of choice is Washington Square Park. His goal is to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless in New York City. Ramileze told DNAinfo he chose Washington Square Park because of “its reputation as a haven for the homeless.” He began sleeping at WSP yesterday and will stay through August 11th, also fasting and taking  vow of silence.

Nearby Union Square was the creative manager’s location for two of the previous years and Grand Central for one. This will be his last year conducting the project, Homeless for One Week, which Ramelize began because he was “looking for a new way to raise awareness of homelessness.”

The homeless population has been at record highs during the Bloomberg Administration’s oh so long tenure.

From DNAinfo, Homeless Advocate Plans Week-long Stay in Washington Square Park:

“We need to let politicians know that this is something that really matters to us,” Ramelize said. “Because of the economy, organizations doing really great work have been lacking in funds. We need to pick up the slack.”

Like past places where Ramelize has slept, he chose the busy Washington Square Park, which is officially closed from midnight to 6 a.m., for its reputation as a haven for the homeless.

“This is something I’m just experiencing for a week,” he said. “I can’t even imagine doing this every night.”

After years of advocacy, Ramelize said he has a better understanding of the scope of homelessness. While mental illness and drug addiction are among the most common causes associated with homelessness, Ramelize has learned about students living out of their cars to afford tuition and single mothers forced to live on the street.

“The extent of the type of person you would see going homeless over the past few years is much bigger than I thought,” he said, as people who were once middle-class have begun to struggle for survival.

Ramelize will be fasting and taking a vow of silence – which will be interesting at WSP! He hopes to raise $5000 for Muslims Against Hunger this year. You can visit his web site Homeless for One Week to make a donation or learn more.

More on Mike Bloomberg administration’s relation to homeless advocates from Coalition for the Homeless.