A Rain-Soaked Day of Golf for Sibling Courses’ Bragging Rights

On Wednesday morning, the Vanny Lu Cup — a modest trophy with a gilded golfer on top – took its place on a shelf in a small dining area at the Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx.

“It’s not the U.S. Open or the Ryder Cup, but it means something to us,” said Tony DeSimone, a part-time cashier at Mosholu, a city-owned course that opened in 1914.

Mosholu lies next to the Van Cortlandt Golf Course in the northwest part of the borough. Van Cortlandt, which opened in 1895, calls itself the nation’s oldest public course. There has long been debate whether Mosholu or Van Cortlandt has the better layout, faster greens and shorter waits — and which has the better-playing employees.

Van Cortlandt is an 18-hole, full-size course, and its players claim superiority as long drivers and all-around golfers. Players at Mosholu, a nine-hole course with many par-3 holes, have a reputation as short-game specialists. While Van Cortlandt has a bigger staff to choose from, Mosholu has some highly skilled instructors working at youth golf programs that have flourished at Mosholu in recent years.

Four years ago the clubs began an annual challenge match between Mosholu and Van Cortlandt’s rangers, who patrol the courses in golf carts. Last year, the competition was opened to the rest of the staff, including teaching professionals. The challenge was named the Vanny Lu, a catchy melding of both course names, and the trophy was displayed in the winner’s home clubhouse.

Van Cortlandt won the first year, lost the second and won again last year.

“This is the revenge match,” said Mr. DeSimone, Mosholu’s team captain and the organizer of the competition, as the teams played on Tuesday in the rain.

The participants are decent golfers, mostly shooting in the 80s, and the eight-member teams were divided into four pairs each, with scores counted for each hole won. They played 18 holes at Van Cortlandt in the morning, where Mosholu won three matches and tied the fourth.

During afternoon play on Mosholu’s nine holes, the rain turned torrential. Just ask Mosholu’s Carlos Echeverria, who at one point chose a five-iron for his second shot, only to have the club slip out of his hands and fly down the fairway after his ball.

Mr. Echeverria’s partner, Tom Palmgren, laughed, and their opponent, Chris Ryan, said, “He couldn’t do that again if he tried.”

Mr. Ryan, who works in the Van Cortlandt pro shop, said his partner had thrown in the towel at lunchtime. So he had to play solo against the Mosholu pair’s best score and was permitted to hit two shots each time and use the better one.

“It’s mulligan golf,” he said, referring to the golf term for a second-chance shot hit after a poor first one. Mr. Ryan was playing well, which he attributed to having a supply of beer in his cart.

“The more I drink, the better I play,” he said, taking a swig. He went on to prove it, sinking a four-footer for a par 4 on the fourth hole, to tie Mr. Echeverria and Mr. Palmgren, who runs the Harlem Golf Academy at Mosholu as well as drives a truck for The New York Post.

Playing behind them were Amir Loghmanieh and John Rice, who both work weekends as Van Cortlandt rangers. They were losing to Jose Del Pilar and Al Sannella from Mosholu, and by the eighth hole, Mr. Rice, a lighted cigarette dangling from his lips and a few golf tees wedged up under the brim of his Yankees cap, left his second shot short of the green, allowing the Mosholu pair to win the hole.

Mosholu won three matches to one in afternoon play, to take the Vanny Lu Cup.

Wayne Humanitzki and K.B. Singh, both rangers at Van Cortlandt, were beaten soundly in both morning and afternoon matches. And afterward, in the Mosholu clubhouse, Mr. Humanitzki, the Van Cortlandt captain, grumbled and pointed out that the Mosholu team had stocked its lineup with teaching professionals from the club’s youth programs.

Kevin Sheehan, an assistant general manager at Van Cortlandt, said he and his partner did not stand a chance against a Mosholu duo that included Todd Bordonaro a teaching pro at Mosholu and director of golf instruction for a youth program. Later, when Mr. DeSimone raffled off prizes, including a free lesson with Mr. Bordonaro, Mr. Sheehan quipped, “I just got a two-hour lesson from him on how not to play golf.”

“Don’t play him,” Mr. Sheehan added. “That’s the lesson.”

Mr. DeSimone said he hoped the annual matches would help to bring the two staffs closer together.

“Even though the two courses are next to each other, and we send golfers to each other all the time, you can’t get from one course to the other without getting in your car and driving the long way around,” said Mr. DeSimone, a retired engineer from Riverdale who is a golf coach.

He said he hoped that the clubs could eventually combine their teams and challenge the staffs from the city-owned Pelham-Split Rock Golf Course in the northeast Bronx.

“We’ll call it the Showdown in the Bronx,” he said.

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Architect of Hearst Tower Chosen for Park Avenue Site

Norman Foster of Foster & Partners, the architect of Hearst Tower and of the planned 2 World Trade Center, has been chosen to redesign 425 Park Avenue, a nondescript 55-year-old white brick office tower on a prime site, between 55th and 56th Streets.

Building Blocks

How the city looks and feels — and why it got that way.

The preliminary conceptual design by Mr. Foster has few of the structural pyrotechnics evident in his other New York projects: the diagonal grid and crimped corners of Hearst Tower or the diamond-shaped pinnacles of 2 World Trade Center. It was chosen instead for its provision of common areas throughout the building where occupants can gather informally.

“The whole idea of office space is to have places where you can have an intersection of ideas, areas of collaboration,” said David W. Levinson, the chairman and chief executive of L&L Holding Company, which expects to control the site in 2015, when the reconstruction would begin.

Mr. Foster was picked from an invited field of four internationally renowned architects — starchitects — who competed for the 425 Park Avenue commission. The others were Zaha Hadid of Zaha Hadid Architects, Rem Koolhaas of OMA, and Richard Rogers of Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners.

“We spent many hours with each of the firms talking about the concepts over a period of many months,” Mr. Levinson said. As each of the four proposals evolved, he said, it grew tougher and tougher to make a final call. Among the criteria applied to the winning choice, he said, were the prospective costs of the building and the architects’ familiarity with working in New York City.

The public will have a chance to second-guess Mr. Levinson’s choice on Oct. 19 at the Municipal Art Society’s Summit for New York City, when all four proposals will be on view.

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A Real ‘Mad Men’ Episode

Dear Diary:

The new TV season is upon us. While many viewers look forward to new episodes of fictional “Mad Men,” there are many real-life ad agency characters who never make it to the final shooting script. The stand-in for Tony the shoeshine guy is a prime example.

At the New York City ad agency I worked at during the era portrayed in “Mad Men,” Tony showed up every morning, rain or shine, heat wave or cold front. Making his way unobtrusively from floor to floor, he tapped gently on every office door and, in a rich accent, asked, “Shoeshine today?”

One morning, the familiar tap on my door was followed by a voice whose DNA was strictly Big Apple.

I looked up to see a 30-something young man with Tony’s shoeshine box in hand. Surprised, I asked if Tony was O.K.

“Yep,” the young man replied, “I’m just filling in for my dad.” He was not only Tony’s son, but also a New York City schoolteacher on summer break.

“The only way I can get my father to take some time off is to promise I’ll take care of his customers,” he said.

As I said, there’s never a scriptwriter around when you need one.


Read all recent entries and our updated submissions guidelines. Reach us via e-mail: [email protected] or telephone: (212) 556-1333. Follow @NYTMetro on Twitter using the hashtag #MetDiary.

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Parks Department Fined for Failure to Display Leash Rules

Dog owners claimed victory over New York City on Tuesday when an appellate panel ordered the parks department to pay $5,000 for ignoring a 2004 court order to post signs regarding leash rules in Riverside Park.

The court found that the department did not begin to post the required signs until 2010. The signs were meant to alert parkgoers to just where and when they could have their dogs off the leash. Dogs are not allowed to be off leash within a five-block radius of the park’s dog runs at any time.

The nearly seven-year delay led to a sharp decision from five judges in the First Department of the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court.

“Compliance with court orders is essential to the integrity of our judicial system and thus, litigants must not be allowed to ‘ignore court orders with impunity,’” they wrote, declaring the parks department’s conduct “frivolous.” (Read the opinion.) Their decision overturned a 2011 ruling by a State Supreme Court justice, O. Peter Sherwood, that said the city did not have to pay a fine.

Despite the absence of signs, the leash law was enforced and dog owners were fined without a posted notice, said David F. Dobbins, a lawyer for a group of dog owners who use the park.

Mr. Dobbins, 84, has long crusaded against the park’s leash rules. He is something of an unlikely champion for the cause of leash freedom, since his Doberman, Anteia, was fatally struck by a car in Riverside Park while chasing a squirrel while off leash two years ago. His current dog, Jesse, lacks the confidence to be without a leash, Mr. Dobbins said.

Mr. Dobbins fought the rule, which was enacted in 1999, that made the five-block restrictions effective round-the-clock rather than only between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. He lost that battle, but the court order that the city must post 20 signs in the park announcing the rule became his consolation prize.

Mr. Dobbins said the $5,000 fine was a drop in the bucket for a department with a $338 million operating budget for the 2013 fiscal year. And the fine will be paid to the state Department of Taxation and Finance, so essentially one government entity will just be paying another.

The parks department, however, said it did not believe any fine was needed.

“We are in compliance with the court order now and have been for some time,” wrote Vickie Karp, a spokeswoman, in a statement. “We do not think sanctions were warranted in this case.”

Still, Mr. Dobbins said, the ruling sends a message to government bodies: obey the law in a timely manner.

“I’m a private practitioner, and if I continue to ignore something that I’m supposed to do, my client can sack me,” he said. “We can’t sack a government agency.”

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Honoring a Very Early New Yorker

Juan Rodriguez is not a household name — not yet, at least. In fact, the name has been so lost to history that people cannot agree even on how to spell it. Nonetheless, one version will soon grace street signs on three miles of Broadway in Upper Manhattan, and the honor may prompt a debate about when to start celebrating New York City’s 400th birthday.

Who was Juan Rodriguez? That’s not certain, either, but enough agreement has emerged that Rodriguez, a native of what is now the Dominican Republic, was the first non-Indian to settle in New York that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed legislation on Tuesday to co-name Broadway in Rodriguez’s honor from 159th Street in Washington Heights to 218th Street in Inwood. Both neighborhoods have heavily Dominican populations. Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (no relation, apparently, to Juan) sponsored the legislation.

In 1613, Juan (or Jan or Joao) Rodriguez (or Rodrigues) appears to have accompanied Thijs Mossel, a Dutch sea captain, on the vessel Jonge Tobias from San Domingo, now known as Santo Domingo. Mossel returned to the Netherlands, while Rodriguez was marooned in what became New York (on either Governors Island or Manhattan) or more likely decided on his own to remain.

Something of a linguist, he is believed to have mastered the local Indian language and manned a tiny trading post (the Dutch apparently gave him 80 hatchets and other tools and weapons as payment for his services).

Much of what is known about him comes from affidavits by another captain, Adriaen Block, who complained that Mossel, presumably through Rodriguez, was overpaying for beaver pelts and was ruining Block’s business. Mossel insisted that Rodriguez was not his agent, but rather that Rodriguez had abandoned ship and remained on the island voluntarily (at least into 1614, when Mossel returned) and might have eventually married an Indian woman.

Crew members said in affidavits that the “mulatto” or “Spaniard” had “run away from the ship and gone ashore against their intent” and that Block’s crew “ought to have killed him” when he refused to go with them to Holland.

A report by the Dominican Studies Institute at City College of the City University of New York concluded this year: “Juan Rodriguez happens to be the first historically recorded individual of non-Native American ancestry to have ever resided in what is today” metropolitan New York, before the Dutch named their settlement New Amsterdam.

Since there is no archival evidence that Rodriguez left, said Ramona Hernandez, director of the institute, Rodriguez is “the first immigrant, the first black person, the first merchant, the first Latino and, to us, the first Dominican to have ever lived in New York City.”

The city seal proclaims 1625 as the year New York was founded by the Dutch. But with Rodriguez now freshly remembered as having become a New Yorker a dozen years earlier, maybe New York City’s 400th birthday candle will be lighted in 2013.

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A Few Words With a Royal Artist

Alexander Creswell was saying he had drawn while bouncing in a speedboat alongside a yacht and while hanging out of a helicopter. So the watercolor showing what happened on April 29 of last year — something that happened indoors, that did not involve splashing or motion sickness and that was over in less than an hour — must have been an easy assignment, right?

“No,” he said.

Mr. Creswell is a British artist with 38 watercolors in the Royal Collection, which has its Rembrandts and Vermeers, and also the crown jewels — and which has been making acquisitions since the Middle Ages. That’s a lot longer than April 29 of last year.

Why does April 29 of last year keep coming up, anyway? For Americans who do not memorize important dates in the royals’ lives, April 29 of last year was the day on which Prince William married Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey.

And Mr. Creswell’s maquette — in effect, the final draft of the larger one that went to the newlyweds — is on display in New York in an exhibition at the Hirschl & Adler Galleries at 730 Fifth Avenue, where a reception was held on Tuesday.

Back to April 29 of last year. For Mr. Creswell, it was a workday, and a complicated one. “I very nearly didn’t get there because of the crowds,” he said, and he had allowed time for an early start.

As it was, he was in his seat, sketching, “two hours before and four hours after.” He said he covered 25 pages in his sketchbook. He even did “watercolor notes” — sketches in color — so that he would have a record of the colors of the day when he painted the final version, back in the studio.

“I was drawing as all the guests arrived,” he said. By the time the ceremony was over, he said, “I was drawing without looking at what I was drawing. You download from your eyes. You’ve got to get it down while you remember it.”

The maquette apparently passed muster with the bridegroom’s father. Prince Charles visited Mr. Creswell’s studio — “not to approve it or anything,” Mr. Creswell said. What was the prince’s reaction to the maquette? “I survived to paint another day.”

At the time, Mr. Creswell was working in the studio of the late-Victorian painter George Frederic Watts, who is famous for large allegorical scenes and for the way G.K. Chesterton described him: “He may not be certain that he is successful, or certain that he is great, or certain that he is good, or certain that he is capable: but he is certain that he is right.”

Mr. Creswell was the first painter to work in Watts’s studio in Surrey since Watts died in 1904; the reception at the Hirschl & Adler Galleries on Tuesday honored the Watts Gallery in Surrey’s efforts to save Watts’s house there.

Mr. Creswell has said he found watercolor appealing because it is considered the most difficult medium. “You cannot make mistakes” in a watercolor, he said. “Well, you cannot correct them.”

He does not work on a small, delicate scale: The maquette of the royal wedding is 22 inches by 30 inches, and “Roman Forum,” completed in 2006, is nine feet wide by five feet tall. “I’m pushing the boundaries,” he said. “I’m starting a 12-by-5.”

He has been closely associated with the royal family for more than 20 years, but said he had not met Prince William or Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. “I’ve been in the same room as them on occasion.”

The royal family and the House of Lords commissioned him to paint the lying in state of the Queen Mother after her death in 2002, and he was the official artist when Prince Charles went on a tour of Central Europe in 1998.

“The artist’s job is to see things he is too busy to see,” Mr. Creswell said, describing Prince Charles’s trip as “six manic days, drawing at state banquets” in Slovakia and Bulgaria, among other places.

The conversation turned back to what he was doing at the royal wedding: being a witness, documenting an important event. “The tradition in the Royal Collection is they commission artists to record events, be they happy or sad,” Mr. Creswell said.

He mentioned the painter and printmaker John Piper, who was appointed an official war artist in World War II. “There are millions of photographs” of London during the blitz, “but the idea is you get something more than the literal truth of the event.”

Half a century later, it was Mr. Creswell’s turn to document a gloomy moment in British history, the devastating fire at Windsor Castle in 1992, the year Queen Elizabeth called “an annus horribilis.”

What if there had been an official artist in Las Vegas in August to document the party at which, judging by cellphone videos that turned up on the celebrity Web site TMZ, Prince Harry lost more than his shirt at strip billiards?

“I would have done a much better job than an iPhone,” said Mr. Creswell, who is 55, “but I’m too old to go to that kind of a party, I suspect.”

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