Friday, April 30, 2010

Sunday in the Park

but not with George. Truth be told, I don't know any of these people:

However, I really do like the guy on the lower right hand side, facing the camera. He has a Seventies look about him, which gives the image a timeless quality. Well, not actually timeless, more like a Seventies quality. But I like that. Also, I don't think you can see a single person with a cell phone in the shot. At least, it's not overly obvious.

I suppose it's fitting that my head is killing me as I sit here to write about the closing of St. Vincent's. But it's making me think even more about how this whole census thing is complete bullshit.

The federal government already knows where I live. Each year they never fail to remind me that I have income tax that needs paying, or that nice little personalized pamphlet the Social Security people send me this time of year telling me how much I made the previous year, and all the years before going back to 1986 when I made FIFTY-FIVE DOLLARS! Look out Bill Gates, I'm a-comin'!

Some of the census propaganda says that they use the information to determine whether new roads need to be built in my area. I don't think any new roads are going to be built in Manhattan. On the subway, the signs say that the information gathered by the department of commerce can also determine where new hospitals are needed. Well, the census had nothing to do with St. Vincent's closing. It seems to be the mantra going around that the same federal government will bail out banks, yet your friendly neighborhood hospital gets the sheet pulled up over its head.

I heard that to replace the hospital, there will be an emergency care center located somewhere nearby. That's even worse than no hospital. It's like you go to the emergency room, and then if you're really in bad shape, then they take you cross town to Beth Israel. It seems that middle part is an unnecessary step in all this. It's just fucking pathetic.

You know, I once worked for the census bureau. It was January, 1990, and I was 19 years old with dreams of being an enumerator. I envisioned myself driving around in my 1986 black Thunderbird knocking on complete strangers' doors wearing a sport jacket with a clipboard in my hand and a smoldering cigarillo dangling from my lips. But being that this was January, our job was to set up the New Milford (I think it was New Milford) New Jersey office.

The head of the office just happened to be my good friend Trebor's mom, and they lived just two houses down the street. She always seemed to like me, as far as friends of her son went, but now I wasn't just showing up to hang out with Trebor and talk about all the great things we'd get for our cars in that month's Hemming's Motor News like louvers for our rear windows and roll bars and CRAGAR MAGS — the ultimate in wheels. Now I was Trebor's mom's employee.

She wasn't my direct boss. That was someone whose name I've completely forgotten, but she was a woman, probably in her mid-20s. I didn't really get along with her. It was a pretty agonistic relationship. I don't know if it was because she was a woman, or because there was just something about us that just didn't mesh, or because I was a dick, or some combination of the three. Either way, neither she, nor the other younger employees didn't like me. But there was one woman who absolutely loved me.

Again, I can't remember her name, but she must have been in her late 40s at the youngest. Maybe I reminded her of her son (god forbid). On my second day at the job, she said she had a gift for me, and presented me with a shoebox filled with cupcakes. Now I have no idea what I did to make such an impression on this woman for her to go through the trouble of baking me cupcakes, but there they were, six vanilla-frosted chocolate cupcakes, and all that goodness was just for moi. Or was it goodness?

Maybe this woman was crazy, I thought to myself. Maybe they were poison cupcakes. Maybe I take a bite and the next thing I know I'm the newest resident at Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus. I smiled politely and said I'd have one later.

After work that day I drove to my old job, which was an auto parts store. As I walked in I saw my favorite former co-worker. And by favorite, I mean the one I couldn't stand. She was a counterperson and much like my immediate boss at the Census Bureau, we never quite got along (I think I see a pattern here). Since I was a driver, my contact with her was somewhat limited. But it was still enough so we could rankle each other quite thoroughly. I hadn't been in there after I quit a few months earlier, so it was all somewhat feigned pleasantries as we said hello. "What have you got there?" she asked me, motioning to the shoebox cradled in my arm.

I opened it on the counter and said, "A coworker baked them. Have one." She dutifully picked out a cupcake and put it to her lips, while I took one also and did the same.

Why did I eat the cupcake, knowing it might have been poisoned? Well, I'm too much of a sucker for baked goods. Besides, if the coroner was going to write on my chart, "Death by Cupcake," I was going to make damn well sure that he'd have to write it just once more.

I lasted all of three weeks at the Census Bureau before Trebor's mom called me into her office and said, "You're fired." I said thanks, and let her know I'd be by later on that night. The new Hemming's had just come in, and Trebor and I had a lot of daydreaming to do.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Studying Next to Alma

Even though I took this photo when I was first testing the Medalist, I think it's apropos for today (to be explained after the shot):

Today was really my last trip up to school. Even though I thought Columbia had been fully paid off, they still managed to scare up some minor charges that needed to be taken of, "or else." Or else what, they won't let me register next semester? Did they forget that I've withdrawn from school, am on a leave of absence, or maybe we should just call a spade a spade, I dropped out? I think I like "dropout." Even though this isn't my first time dropping out of college, even in mid-semester, I have a better idea of what I'm doing with my life.

After I paid them off, I decided to walk home. It's something I've done a few times before, and usually takes a little less than two hours. Today I took Broadway all the way down, and was able to put that thick black magic marker line cutting across the map segments of Manhattan in my Hagstrom. Even though I haven't mentioned it around here lately, just about every day I've been out walking, taking pictures of street signs at intersections, and dutifully tracing my route on my map upon my return home. I've found it's become somewhat of an obsession. I look at the map at all the streets in my neighborhood that need to be filled in. I look and figure out my route the next time I leave the house, no matter how mundane an errand it might be, to see if I can somehow work in some untrodden streets as those in my immediate neighborhood get increasingly blacked out, radiating ever farther from their point of origin, my apartment.

Though I forget sometimes how massive this thing really is, until I look at all of the empty streets, unblemished by my Sharpie. I look and figure out how exactly to approach it. I do have somewhat of an idea, starting mainly with the avenues and then space-invadering my way down to get the streets. Today was huge because now, by my self-imposed rules, I can take the Broadway subway uptown and do some walking, because I'll be able to connect it to an area I've already walked. I'm not just going to go into Inwood, do some quick walking around, and then hop back downtown again if it's not connected. It's like an electricity thing. The grid has to be in contact at all times. I've been thinking a lot about the grid lately.

It was 100 years ago that the grid plan was being laid out on this island. Even as the 18th Century came to a close, ideas were already being bandied about as how to manage the ever-expanding population of New York City.

NYC is somewhat of a hobby of mine. It's history, especially. I'm also very much into ephemera. My mother was an antique dealer when I was growing up, and whenever she did shows, I was always fascinated by the ephemera dealers. There always seemed to be a more immediate, tangible connection with the past when I held some kind of document, letter, newspaper, as opposed to the English transferware that was my mother's specialty. I was also always fascinated with maps, so it makes sense that I grew up to become a collector of maps of NYC.

The oldest map I have is from the 1860s, yet it is a reproduction of an even older map, dating to the 1720s. I like the idea that even my repro map is an antique in its own right. You can learn a lot just by looking at maps from different eras depicting the same place. I'm always surprised to see that where in the 1850s, a certain location may have had a church and a cemetery only to be replaced less than ten years later by a scrapyard. Some people go out for fun, I look at maps.

I spent a lot of time looking at maps when I was a limo driver, especially in the outer boroughs, like when I'd end up going to someplace I wouldn't even want to be in the daytime, let alone in the middle of the night, and would quickly consult my trusty Hagstrom before running every red light until I reached civilization (you be a white guy driving a stretch limousine in East New York in the middle of the night and tell me you wouldn't do the same thing. Oh, and if you're wondering why a fancy limo would have business in a shitty neighborhood, it's really not that surprising. Just because someone gets famous and leaves the hood, that doesn't mean his friends get to leave. And once you drop off the megastar, if his friends are still in the car that he's paying for, you're going to end up in some very "interesting" places before you find your way home).

200 years ago the surveyors had to deal with forests, hills, swamps, creeks...all of which were ignored as the city expanded into the grid which begins at 14th and at the time, stopped at 155th. And I'll be walking each and every one of them, in their footsteps.

By the way, there are still a few physical remnants of the survey. I saw one on TV, and was able to find it on my own. In central park, in one of the corners of one of the open fields (I don't know if it's the Sheep Meadow or the Great Lawn, I don't know which one is which and don't really care), there, embedded in the exposed bedrock, is an iron spike surrounded by lead. There's another one in the park up near Harlem that a friend of mine found by accident and took a picture of it not knowing what it was, but it struck her as odd.

Okay, I don't know how to end this increasingly boring ramble of a post with its lame, pandering attempts at being profound. I have to find my way out of this, like clawing out of a paper bag.

Wait...who the hell came up with that term about clawing your way out of a paper bag? How many people have you met that have ended up trapped in paper bags and whose only recourse was to claw their way out? Is this really such a big problem plaguing society today?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Restaurant Supply

Looking into one of the many such establishments on the Bowery:

I don't think I'll ever be able to reconcile the changes I've seen in this city.

I'm glad the restaurant supply stores still have their monopoly over the Bowery just north and south of Houston Street. I guess that's the one thing about that neighborhood that hasn't yet changed. I wonder what Jane Jacobs would have said about the closing of CBGBs. I wonder what she would have thought of what's become of the East Village, the Lower East Side, and forget about Brooklyn. That's another story altogether. But I never hung out in Brooklyn. I didn't grow up going to my father's factory in Brooklyn and walking around the neighborhood. His factory was on Eldridge between Canal and Hester. It was a family business, started by my grandfather, and made parts for watches. Whenever I'd go there as a kid, I'd go out with my grandfather, and sometimes my grandmother too, who would take a bus down from the Bronx. We'd have lunch at the Garden Cafeteria, which closed in 1983, and replaced by an eatery featuring ducks hanging in the window.

I remember my father being very unhappy at this turn of events, even though his lunches were made daily by my grandmother. The neighborhood was changing. The Jews that worked and lived in the Lower East Side had already been making an exodus, while the Chinese spread ever beyond the traditional confines of "Chinatown." I guess CBs closing was a taste of my own medicine. Or a taste of what my father and grandfather experienced in some small way.

When I walk around the East Village, I can't remember the way it was. I can't see it in my mind. I just know that there were a lot less people on the streets at night. A lot less lights. There were only a few places we went, and inbetween them was nothingness. Just pulled-down grates that we didn't think about when we walked by, businesses that were open by day and long closed by the time we meandered about looking for something to occupy our time.

Now those empty spaces are filled with etched windows, lace curtains, and white people. Young white people. Where the hell did they come from. Where were they when it was dark? I mean, I know the current young white people were children back then, but where were their equivalents? Where were the young white go-getters going when the East Village wasn't some hip destination as deemed by the tourist guides?

There are places I used to go to that I don't even remember where they exactly were anymore. The Lismar Lounge? I think it's some kind of fancy wine joint now. Downtown Beirut? I used to go there. I couldn't find my way to where it was today with a gun at my back. Max Fish used to be a punk rock joint, but that got popular with the masses over 10 years ago. Mona's, somewhat the same thing, but nowhere near the popularity of Max Fish. The Cherry Tavern was a skinhead joint. Today the only people in there with no hair have male pattern baldness. Mars? I'll stick my head in there every so often. I suppose it's really the last of holdout of yesteryear, though I wonder how long it can last, considering the fancy wine bar now on the very same block.

One of my fondest memories of being in the city, or maybe just being alive involves the Mars Bar, though not directly.

It was a warm summer's night — perfect weather for being outside without the want of a jacket or being baked in the day's heat radiating from the streets. I must have been 24 or 25 at the time. Me, George, and our friend Sandy were outside of Mars drinking (myself with a Coke, most likely), and sitting on some complete stranger's pickup truck talking about god knows what, but we all felt good. Laughing. Smiling. I remember thinking I wanted that moment to last forever. I wanted to stay that age for the rest of my life. It was everything I could have asked for from the universe.

Perhaps my sentimentality is getting the better of me. This is quite possible. I think it's too easy for me to slip into, "once upon a time," mode. But I'm not one of those people who will say, "The city was better back then when it was a shithole." I wouldn't go that far. I like living in a city that's much safer than the one I moved into. Yet I keep asking myself, how do you improve a city without destroying a neighborhood? Or is that plain impossible?

I wonder, if 18 years from now some 39 year old will look at the East Village, and say, "I can't believe how much it's changed! Back when I moved here in 2010, it was hardcore, and we kept it real!"

I shudder at the very notion.

But I have a choice. I can bemoan the changes that took away the basis for my memories, or I can live in the now. The present, though if you get down to it, there is no such thing as the "present" since time is always moving forward, but I don't want to get into some whole metaphysical thing right now. But you know what I mean. I'm talking about concentrating on being the best me, doing what I can to live a fulfilling life and moving forward, regardless if all my old landmarks have become fashion stores and cupcake boutiques.

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The View From Furman St.

My goal was to cruise the promenade with my cameras that day (Bantam Special and Medalist), yet somehow I didn't know that Jorelamon from Court leads to UNDER the highway, promenade, et cetera. Though if I had ended up there, I wouldn't have gotten this:

I got some other shots from the day that I think came out pretty well. I'll have them properly run through the scanner and around here soon enough most likely. you hear that? It's me not talking about the slings and arrows of outrageous scanner antics. I think it was on the border of getting old for a while. No, I think it was well over the border, and waiting outside Home Depot waiting to get some work from some middle-classed white person looking for some cheap don't ask don't tell cash only labor.

Onward and upward. To infinity and beyond. That's a spicy meatball. I can't believe I ate the whole thing (and by the whole thing, I'm referring to a bag of candied walnuts and a bag of chocolate covered gummy bears. I need to learn self-control before Dick Gregory comes over here with a forklift to get me out of the house).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blurry Yorkie

I don't even remember taking this one. I think this came from a day a while back...Easter Sunday, actually. Even though it doesn't really feel like Easter was a whole long time ago. It's not like the dog was wearing a hat or anything:

I think (hope) my scanner issues have passed. Perhaps I've been fully forgiven for being led up the garden path to seemingly sharper pastures. I'll keep myself parked right here...

It's all good, yo.

I'm in the midst of getting some long-needed developing done, trying to get rid of the last of the HC-110B that I've had like for over a month (two months, maybe?) in one of those collapsible bottles to keep the air out, yet you can't pour from the thing to save your damn life without getting that overly viscous shit all over yourself.

Okay, there's no way in hell I'm watching Jessica Simpson's "The Price of Beauty."

No way.
Not once, not never.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cardinal Hayes Place

I'm not sure who Cardinal Hayes was, or why he has a place, but here are some pictures from said place:

And here's even more of his place:

Well, my scanner isn't quite back entirely. It's still a bit uppity, though it indulged me just enough to get off those two shots up there. I'm still not thrilled with the situation. Much like any indiscretion, I'm just hoping that we both forget about it, and we'll never talk about it again, just like it never happened...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gramercy Park East

As taken from the sidewalk of Gramercy Park North, lying flat on my back:

Yes, I'm quite wiped, but it's not one of those, "I'm really tired but don't really know why," deals. All sorts of mechanical problems today. On the outside it was automotive. On the inside, I'm still dealing with a very willful scanner that needs to be corrrected. And if you think I'm going to try to work in a certain line about Scatman Crothers you're nuts. Though I'm not ruling out an axe.

I'm still going to be returning the Epson, and I hope this doesn't lead to some kind of revolving door/Goldilocks type deal of me trying all sorts of devices/software combinations until I find the one that's just right.

But if I must...

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Late Sunday Afternoon on Christopher Street

People walking in the light of a setting sun, a photographer's shadow, and maybe a secret being passed between two men:

But now we have an installment of a brand new feature called...

Then again, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that I angered the scanner gods, specifically, those that live atop Mount Packard. I never should have strayed, but I'm like Tom Ewell over here and every trip to B&H I got Marilyn Monroe straddling a subway grate with an Epson V-750 rushing through underneath with her doing the very least to keep that airy white dress from billowing up over her head.

I fiddled with Marilyn earlier this morning, and came to the conclusion that I couldn't get it to work in the same way, with the same control I had over the ol' battleaxe (I wonder when the last time was that any man referred to a spouse as a "battleaxe"). But while my HP wasn't the cutest girl on the block, she knew how to put out something fierce. I knew just what to do to get her going and then there was no stopping her. You see, those are the ones to keep your eye on. They're good at that sort of thing because they have to be. Wait, what am I talking about again? Oh yeah.

So I made the switch and flipped the switch and did a scan and...well....

It was just a mess. Weird colors, all sorts of lines, really crazy (dare I say angry?) shit. I didn't even want to do a screen capture to show here. It would just be a reminder of my shame. I never should have looked over the rainbow. Come to think of it, that's kind of like what my preview scans are looking like now, except if that rainbow were chopped up into a bunch of long thin pieces and had all of its aesthetic pleasantness removed. It looked more like the inside of a movie popcorn bucket that someone just vomited in after finishing the entire thing along with a box of Jujubees and washed down with a 64oz Mountain Dew even before the trailers ended. Is anyone else getting hungry?

I have had similar problems like this one before, but never so extreme. I just hope that like with any wandering significant other that I'm eventually forgiven and once more she'll let me turn her on and slip my goods inside her.

Wait, what am I talking about again?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Saturday Grind

It heartens me to see things like young people utilizing various means of self-propelled wheeled transportation and hurtling themselves places that they shouldn't be, as per the laws of the land, and even better if it's a handrail on the steps of the Supreme Court of New York:

But then again, everybody knows that the Supreme Court of New York is actually the least powerful in the court system. It's the Appeals Court where the real power lies.

I forgot to ask him his name after I gave him my card. I did say that I wouldn't put the picture up if he didn't want me to. You know, maybe people don't want pictures of themselves breaking the law splashed on the internet. Then again, I don't think he's in much danger of being seen on this site. Besides, it's not like I'm the next Glen E. Friedman or anything.

I actually have another decent action shot that I took. So why isn't it up?

So for getting my negatives to the camera and into your hearts, I scan them. I was using a Hewlett Packard G4050 at either 1200 or 2400 dpi, 16 passes, using VueScan software. But lately I was thinking that I wanted to upgrade my scanner situation. So today I brought home a Epson V750 Pro, with bundled Silverfast software. and you know what?

I think I'm going to return the darned thing.

Maybe I'm just not knowledgeable enough about scanning or software and stuff, but it seems like a greater hassle and much more harder to get simple things done than with VueScan, which for some reason isn't recognizing the V750. And as I've been printing out my stuff on a newly purchased decent enough photo printer, I'm realizing that maybe this new scanner wasn't really necessary. Fortunately B&H has a 14 day return policy, so there's plenty of time for me to either figure this out, or somehow figure out how to get this back in the box in some reasonably similar fashion in which it came.

Okay, the Project Runway season finale is about to come on.

No really, I'm straight.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Once Again...

Somebody forgot to wind the Nettar forward. I wonder who that could have been...

I'd like to think that this image has some redeeming qualities:

What I was trying to do was to try to get a sense of perspective with the opening in the arch and the pillars with the woman standing there...

So I just got an unexpected knock on the door, which is unusual for this hour. I guess that's why I called it, "unexpected." It was a neighbor from down the hall having a refrigerator crisis, and it was up to me and my working freezer to save her perishables. So after I agree, she goes down the hall to get her food while I go to my fridge and open up the freezer to make some room. And then...

I don't know where it was, or how it was sitting on the freezer door, but I have one of those little hand-held Black and Decker electric screwdriver deals. It's not a full-sized drill. It looks more like a ray gun actually, but small as it may be, it sure smarts when it falls five feet directly onto your big toe, which is now staining a paper towel red, and much more quickly than I'd like. Though I only applied the paper towel after my neighbor came back with her food, and wondered if she would happen to look down and notice the blood spilling over my big toenail onto the floor.

I wonder if it's broken? No, I'm not freaked out by that. I've broken toes before without even bothering to go to the hospital (Ooh, I'm such a manly man! Look out Primo Carnera, there's a new kid in town!), but I'm wondering how this will affect my not-so-little walking around the entire city, at least in the very near future.

Actually I should be glad the damned thing fell on my foot, since it saved this post from being a complete bore.

I suffer for my art, MAAAAN!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tony and Scott (l-r)

I saw Tony and Scott approaching as I was lining up a shot of the courthouse in the background. One of them mimed taking a picture with his hands, and we were off and talking.

They're from Paris, yet Scott now lives in Brooklyn. Tony is just in town visiting. I forgot to ask if the volcano was keeping him here in America longer, but I don't think he'd mind spending extra time with his twin frère.

Scott asked me if I ever took any pictures of jazz musicians during a gig, since he plays. I forgot to ask him what instrument, or what kind of jazz, or how large a combo (or maybe he's a solo act). Will this chance encounter lead me to take photos of jazz musicians gigging?

On verra.

On verra.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Even MORE Snow!

Yes, if you're seeing snow on your screen it doesn't mean the monitor's gone out, it just means that I have a refrigerator filled with undeveloped film that really needs to be attended to. But doesn't Alma look like she's welcoming the precipitous precipitation?

And as for this guy, I walked by him every day when I went to school, yet I don't know what the hell he was doing with that bowling ball in his arm:

The top shot was taken with the Bantam Special (before the transplant), and the bottom with the Bantam F8, which I'm actually very fond of. It's got a slow shutter, but when you pull iso50 film to 25, it comes out just fine. Oddly enough, I like the looked of pulled film with this camera, than using iso25 film — Efke, in case you were wondering (and I know you were!).

I was a prisoner of UPS today. I'm surprised how much waiting for a damned package can take out of a person.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Having a Ball

I don't remember if the boy in the picture had any attachments to the woman on the left, but I like his expression just the same:

I took this with the Kodak Bullet, sitting on a bench in the park, though I was concentrating more on the conversation that was going on next to me.

There was this dude who had struck up a conversation with a pretty woman. She had some kind of work papers with her, some kind of financial stuff that I wouldn't even begin to comprehend. Though she was wearing black dress and heels, and looked pretty formal for someone just catching up on some office work on a nice day. She asked him what he was doing in the park, and he said, "I'm just catching up on the Journal, since I don't have time to read it during the week," as he raised his folded Wall Street Journal up as justification for his being in the park that afternoon.

Ugh. "The Journal?" Who the hell just calls the Wall Street Journal, "The Journal?" I bet this guy is the type who calls Southern Comfort "SoCo," and goes out at night wearing untucked button-down white shirts with jeans and sandals. This guy probably thinks Robert Chambers got a raw deal (pun definitely intended).

So I continued to listen, to see if this guy had any game. To see if he was going to leave with some kind of contact info from this broad. As far as I could tell (it was hard for me to hear her. she was a low talker and was facing away from me just about the entire time), he didn't. They just talked about downtown financial stuff and she laughed a few times before leaving. I kept an eye on him as he parked himself on a bench (no pun intended) next to a girl reading a vintage Peanuts book. That gave me a smile, since the book she was reading was of the same kind I grew up reading, and Peanuts was the biggest thing in the world to me, pretty much until Bloom County came along, but I never failed to take time out for the patron saint of St. Paul just the same.

I think within less than two minutes he stopped pretending to read "The Journal" and was surely fascinating her with tales from downtown. I saw all I needed to see and went on my way. Now here's the question. Why was I so judgmental about this dude? Why am I hatin' on him n'shit? Maybe I'm just plumb jealous.

I'm not a park gigolo. If I didn't have a stupid old camera around my neck I'd hardly talk to anyone. I haven't changed much in that regard in 18 years of living here. Hell, the camera attracts just as many dudes (if not more) than chicks. But it's not a prop. It's not a newspaper that I skim to make myself appear financially astute while trying to inject myself into the woman sitting next to me (you can take that statement however you like), it's something that I'd have with me regardless of reaction. As I've said in other ways on this blog, it's those reactions that got this whole damn project started in the first place.

I mean, I'm not in this for camera pussy. Is there even such a thing as camera pussy? Maybe if there were, the title of this blog would be, "HEY, NICE CAMERA! LET'S FUCK!!!" (, of course).

I should be so lucky.

And if I'm in the West Village...well...I'd just have to politely decline the invitation.

Hell, I should be so lucky just to be able to say, "aw shucks, I'm flattered, but do you have any female friends that have been female since birth that you think might be interested?"

Wow, somebody needs to end this post before...I don't know, just before.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Casa Puebla

I didn't put this in so much because of the image, but because of the halo-effect thing going on. Oh, if it were only framing something more interesting!

It's not an original project, as others have done it before me, and it doesn't even necessarily have anything to do with photography, though it will ultimately expand my photographic horizons. It's something I've actually thought about doing for a few years already, but now that I have more time on my hands, it's something I can finally undertake.

I'm going to walk every block of Manhattan.

According to the infallible internet, the first report of this being accomplished was in 1954. There are at least two blogs of people who did it in the 2000s. One did it in just TEN WEEKS (it was also a part of his weight loss regimen), and the other over a period of two years. Basically you buy a street map of Manhattan, and as you walk each street, you black out the streets with a marker until there's no more room ("When you're out of cards, you're done eating for the day!"). Now I've thought about certain different ways for me to approach this.

Since I've been living here for 18 years already (and hanging out, visiting, working in, for some time before), I know that there are certain neighborhoods that I have pretty well-covered. Though I don't want to just start blacking out streets I know I've walked on in my newly purchased spiral bound Hagstrom's 5 borough atlas. And no, I'm not going to be walking around over the city with a Sharpie and a big ass map. I'll be filling in my route after returning home. Besides, there are some neighborhoods I'm not looking forward to walking through, even in the daytime. Then again, it seems that white people have infected this entire island. I'll just walk with purpose, and hope people don't notice the white guy taking a picture of street signs at every intersection with a newly-purchased Lumix point and shoot digital camera.

I mean, you can say that you've walked every street while not having done it. You can just buy a map and fill in all the streets and say, "Yep, I did that!" But no. And of course, just because I'm taking pictures of street signs at each intersection doesn't mean I actually walked it. We're talking a leap of faith here. You're going to have to believe me on this. And I just realized something...

I was thinking that of course, I'll be going out on these jaunts with film cameras as well, but realize that if I should run out of film, that I'll have the Lumix to take pictures of things I might find interesting so I can come back and take a "proper" picture of it. It's when I type this I hear a voice saying, "So why not just take pictures with a digital camera and save yourself the trip?"

You see, this is exactly the sort of thing I'm trying to avoid. Yes, I know it's counter-productive, but then again, isn't film photography in general counter productive? An anachronism, even though digital images have yet to equal the quality of film? But anyway...

So yeah, this is my latest harebrained scheme. I've already filled in some of the streets in my neighborhood, since I couldn't wait to put Sharpie to Hagstrom. I like those black parallel lines corrupting the map, and bleeding through to the other side of the page, also a map (no kidding). Those back to back Manhattan pages are going to look pretty interesting at some point. Maybe as I progress with this thing, I'll start posting pictures. Yes. How exciting. Pictures of magic marker lines on a map with the guy posting them making claims that he actually walked those streets.

As for the already blacked out streets in my neighborhood, I'll be sure to take pictures of those intersections for the sake of the project, so they'll be "officially" part of the thing. But then there's also some other "rules" which I've heard bandied about.

I could have sworn that one of these people who did this said that they didn't take any subways, that the whole thing was done on foot. Now I don't think it's cheating if I take a subway up to Inwood and work my way down, as opposed to going up and down in the same day. Sure it's some nice exercise, but on the way down, there are those neighborhoods that I was referring to, and even as the longer days of summer are upon us, I'd just rather be closer to home when the sun goes down.


Okay...where was I. I think I said everything about this I could. That is, as much as I can say while listening to "Special Delivery" on Sirius/XM and watching a 20 inning baseball game at the same time.

So yeah. I think you get the idea.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Scene Behind Me

I had taken apart the Brownie Starlet with plans to make it into a pinhole camera, since when it came in the mail the shutter wouldn't fire correctly. Well, upon opening it up, and doing nothing special to it (and by nothing, I mean, nothing), the shutter began to work again. So instead of uglying it up as only an unskilled craftsman can, I took it out for a long overdue test run the other day.

This first shot was literally a no-look deal, just me holding the camera on my shoulder and going "click" (I mean, depressing the shutter, not just saying "click," which I didn't actually say):

This is another one that I like (I'm not sure what that says about my taste in photos, or maybe I'm just a narcissist because you can see my hat brim — more likely the case), even though others might disagree. I like all the foreground mush with the clearer action in the background.

I then took greater efforts to capture the grass loungers behind me:

I guess you could say I’m a sucker for hipster advertising. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older and I desperately want to be seen as “hip.” God, I hope that’s not the case. Then again, hipster advertising plus cute girls can equal a lot of money spent for yours truly, but it can also mean a new outlook on life (beyond cute girls. I can’t believe I just wrote that).

The last time I professed an interest in photography was about 12 years ago or so. I got a brand new Pentax ZX-M and shot for a while, but like with many of my undertakings, I petered out. When the planes hit, I contemplated buying a bunch of film and heading downtown to document the scene, but instead I stayed put in my apartment and watched the horror on TV instead. I remember thinking to myself that on the way down there I’d probably get hit by a speeding firetruck or ambulance. Yet today I don’t feel so bad that I didn’t fear for my life running from a toxic dust cloud, or worse yet, having to live with major health effects from breathing in said cloud. Besides, there was plenty of fear to go around that day, even if you never left your apartment, and two days later the wind started blowing northward so the rest of the city could ingest the residue of hate for another three months.

So, beyond some sporadic outings after that, I basically went 5 or 6 years without taking a film photograph until last summer. I could only walk by the Lomography store so many times before I was sucked in, and found myself walking out with a Diana F+, along with a super-wide lens and the fisheye. I liked the idea of shooting medium format again, since I had been doing it with my Ansco Shur Shot in the early 90s (as evidenced in my previous entry).

By the way, the Lomography store is a one stop shop. You can buy your camera and film there, and you can also give them your film to be developed, though that’s not in-house. They send it out to some joint in the 20s and you get it back the next day. I made many trips to the Lomo store last summer, always glad for a quick schmooze and the ritual picking up and dropping off of film, which I was dutifully buying there.

Now there are a lot of people on the internet who smash Lomo, and I don’t disagree with them necessarily. I don’t want to rehash what they say not so much because they’ve already said it, but I’m not sure I can just quite articulate it, how they accuse Lomography of being a cult and how they overly fetishize film and all that, “Look at us! We’re using film and we're so young! We’re ironic and irony is cool!” But any time you see someone online saying “Lomo stinks,” take them at their word. But the big reason why I think they stink, well, you can put this next one into the all-time sucker file.

Like I said earlier, I was buying film from them. Usually five-packs of Ektachrome VS, or Ilford Delta 100 (all 120), and never gave much though to the price. I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, but for the longest time it never dawned on me to bother doing a price comparison. I darn near soiled myself.

The price differential on the same 5-pack of film between Lomography and B&H was THIRTEEN DOLLARS!!!

That’s beyond a healthy markup. Highway robbers are even shocked by Lomo (you know, since highway robbers like to get together and talk about these things, it’s like a fraternity). I never brought it up to them, but what would they say? It was my own damned fault for never checking. I was seduced by the brand and kept shelling out the dough. Or maybe I thought I was really saving money since at Lomography, “the fifth roll is free!” I hate to think of how many rolls I purchased at such an outrageous markup. I’m sure it cost an outrageous fortune. Oddly enough, their processing charges were actually quite reasonable at six bucks a roll. Though since then I’ve taken to developing my own black and white, while leaving the E-6 to these nice Indians (Pakistanis? Who knows, people who appear to be from subcontinental Asia), of course, until I decide to do my own E-6, cutting everybody out of the picture (no pun intended).

So that’s the hate part of this love/hate thing. So where’s the love?

Well…If it weren’t for that damned Lomo store, I wouldn’t be here writing this today. This site (I mean, “blog.” I’ll always hate that word…) wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t re-discovered photography. Of course, I wasn’t content with just the Diana F+, and started spooling up 620 reels onto cameras in my collection, then started adding to the collection, and then came the purchase of Lomo’s Lubitel, which led me to my OG Yashica-Mat, compliments, even more cameras, rolling 35mm onto 828 backing paper, this site, and so forth.

This photography thing has been more fulfilling than I ever could have imagined, and I never expected that I’d be dedicating myself to adding a picture a day to a website of my own making (well, of Blogspot’s making, but you know what I mean). Though as fulfilling as it is, I know that it's also something I have to keep pushing at. I can't allow myself to get complacent, nor can I be just satisfied with my output.

I know I’m not the best photographer out there (I still can’t even bring myself to say I’m a “photographer,” and I think if you look at my pictures you can agree that’s not false modesty), yet I certainly ain’t the worst. Then again, so much of art is subjective blah blah blah puke.

So Lomo, I despise you yet I’m indebted to you all the same.

Thanks, jerk.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Then (summer 1992) and Then (summer 2009)

The same subject with the same camera in almost the same place. It's a shame they "fixed" Washington Square Park. Well, I mean, the place did need a onceover, but they didn't need to move the fountain just so it lined up with the arch (fucking stupid), and they removed a crapload of trees in the center area. Look at the difference in the shade there.

Still, it'll always be "my" park.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Parks & Recreation

Why does it seem that India has the monopoly on sewer caps?

Bad sleep + bad diet (for today at least) = bad entry.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Howie and Billy (l-r)

I was keeping to myself, waiting for a friend in the lobby of a West Village apartment building as Billy slowly made his way out. "It works?" he said, motioning to the camera.

"Yeah, I'm just loading it up with film."

"Is it warm outside? I hope it isn't too warm."

"It's pretty nice," I said, "just about right."

"My favorite temperature is 40 degrees. It keeps all the bums off the streets."

At least I thought he said, "bums." At first I thought he said "bugs," yet do bugs really congregate on the streets?

About five minutes later my friend came down and we ran into Billy again, who was slowly making his way down the street with his friend Howie, who had just met up with him. "Don't grab my ass," Billy said to my friend as we approached from behind.

"I make no promises!" I replied.

After some small talk with the two, my friend and I kept going and I said, "I wish I had asked him for a photo," after which my friend said that it would make his day, and we headed back.

When I told Billy I wanted a photo he asked, "Where is it going to appear, in the Homo News?"

Unfortunately I don't carry such credentials, so this website will have to do for now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Lines of the High Line

I think I was actually up there on Easter Sunday, not that that should really make a difference or anything, but I was surprised that there were so many people up there even though there wasn't a gosh darn thing flowering up there:

Perhaps I should have converted this to grayscale to enhance the bleakness.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Itchy Trigger Finger

I was shooting from the hip with the Nettar. I had the speed and the focus right (I'm pretty proud of that), yet I got him just as he was walking into frame:

Maybe I can figure a way to somehow crop this. Maybe with a vertical rectangle (wait, vertical is the up and down one, right?) Yeah, there is something about it I really like, but gosh darnit, if I had just held off for another quarter or half a second...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fountain Graffiti

A person (or persons) had filled the still-unfilled fountain with chalk graffiti.

Good stuff:

A CONFESSION: maybe I did take this picture on slide film and then desaturate it and adjust it accordingly in Photoshop. That don't make me a bad person right?

And I'm still not a bad person if I have this Monday marked on my calendar as the day that Adobe CS5 is being released. Right?


Friday, April 9, 2010


"I'm only saying yes because I'm a photographer," Ginger said when I asked her for a picture. She wanted her two friends to be in the shot too, but they skedaddled at the thought of this strange guy with a strange camera taking pictures of complete strangers.

Ginger is from Chicago, and was in town just visiting. When she told me she was a photographer, I asked her what kind, and I believe she said, "art, and studio." I was proud that I asked her what kind, and didn't say what I said the last time someone told me they were a photographer. That last sentence was some foreshadowing for a tale that's coming as soon as I finish this sentence.

She got in contact with me today. Besides the fact that I spelled her name wrong (it's Caitlin), she also provided me the link to her website. I'm sure now that she emailed me I'll find her actual physical business card. And I'll also take this opportunity to write something akin to what was going to be my original entry, before I saw that I only had half a Caitlin to work with (maybe just a "cait"?).

When I ran into her, she was taking pictures of a medium sized dog that was having a ball pushing a Belgian paving stone around the middle of West 4th, way over by where it ends, a block from the Corner Bistro (where I had just come from, and was full of Bistro Burger goodness). I was in old school Japanese tourist mode, with both the Medalist and the YashMat hanging around my neck at the same time. She pointed at the YashMat and said, "I like that one," and I launched into my pitch.

When I asked her what she did, she said, "I'm a photographer." What I said next made me feel like the ultimate douche.

"Do you make a living from it?"

I'm getting the creeps just sitting here writing it. It's such a stupid question. Who am I to question whether someone makes a living from what they do or not? Now you see why when Ginger told me she was a photographer, I knew better than to ask that awful question, and just ask her what kind of stuff she shoots. It's like when you tell someone, "I wrote a book," and then they say, "is it published?" And I just want to say, "YES OF COURSE IT'S PUBLISHED! WHY WOULD I SAY I WROTE A BOOK IF IT WASN'T PUBLISHED AND WAS JUST SOME MICROSOFT WORD FILE SITTING ON MY HARD DRIVE?" I don't say that. I just say, "Actually, yes!" But that's a story for another day.

I told her that when she saw my site, she'd know I was a total impostor, and looking at her site...well...It doesn't do much for my ego. I've gots a long way to go...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Posing for Someone Else's Picture

I swear when I took this shot I was looking at the family on the right and not the sleeping person on the left.

I swear.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Becca was spending the afternoon sketching people unawares in the park. She's not in school for the visual arts, but enjoys a good sketch just as long as the unknowing subject doesn't get up and leave (the nerve of some people!).

I'd like to think we had a really nice on and off sort of talk, with her sketching and me writing. It was the end of a long day for me. I had just come downtown from officially putting in for my leave of absence from school. It wasn't a hasty or an easy decision. Lots of emotions involved — fear, depression, anxiety, fear, hope, fear — and I think I live with most of those without having to make big deal decisions about my life.

And now I'm approached with another one.

Peter Gabriel?

This is either going to, no overthinking.

What was that a wise man said..."don't think, just do?"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jeremy and Amy

I plopped down next to Jeremy and Amy with my Yashmat and began doing some writing when I half-heard Amy talking about the camera. "Are you talking to me," I asked, but without the whole Travis Bickle-ian paranoia and gun up my sleeve routine. They both work for a marketing/promotional company, and in fact were "playing hooky" (as they put it) from their work.

Amy insisted that I didn't ask them to pose or do anything else unnatural, like saying "CHEESE," but I got Amy smiling nonetheless. This was the best of their shots.

They didn't linger for much longer after I took the shot.

I hope you guys approve of the image.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I don't even know where to begin.

When I told Kaitlin that her shot was the last one in the camera, I had no idea it would turn out like this. Sometimes with the YashMat this just happens. Every so often those last shots get cut off in the middle. Now I don't know if it's because I got a short strip of film on the roll, or maybe I didn't quite correctly line up the start arrows on the back of the film with the registration arrows on the back of the camera, or just plumb forgot to do it before closing the back and winding the thing to the first know, I think that might be it.

I was all ready to write about the encounter with Kaitlin, about how she saw my camera, about how she agreed to a shot, about how she's a photographer, and about how she gave me a card and I was planning on having a link to it but I've somehow managed to misplace the card. Hell, I was feeling douchy enough already before I saw what developed.

Not only is it her lower half, but she's got the indignity of the impression of a clamp bisecting her torso. Maybe I should have just said I was doing a portrait of people's knees. No, a high art project, taking photographs of the lower halves of other photographers that just happen to see my camera and are compelled to say something to me about it.

Is anybody buying that out there in tvland?

Oh fiddlesticks.

An apology to Felix Morelo.

If you're reading this...well...I want to thank you again for letting me take your picture. I was really looking forward to seeing how they came out. Well...I think I left the lens cap on, since there weren't any images on the film.

You were really gracious, and I hope to run into you again so I can (if you're willing to allow me to) correct my mistake.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Post Office

Oh, another arty perspective shot. How exciting:

Soon after this shot I got into a pointless argument with the security guard about taking photos of the post office. Pointless even to mention it.

Got too little sleep last night, not enough in the day. Could this be affecting today's creative output?

Could be...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saving Grace

Well, I tried to save this photo as much as I can. I took it with the Six-16 Brownie Junior. The horizontal "ribs" in the image (apparently for nobody's pleasure) are from the backing paper of the circa 1954 Kodacolor film. I'm still trying to figure out how to best develop that old color stuff in black and white chemicals. Which ones, how long...

Yes, I know this is quite an exciting entry. Well, I'm in an excitable mood, what can I say. I mean, who wouldn't be excited by this image:

I do have some new "Hey Nice Camera" shots on the way. They're all on slide, and I should have them back Monday afternoon. I'm thinking I might start doing E-6 processing at home, and just cut out the processing joints altogether. Okay I'll end with a complete non-sequitir, since I'm beginning to bore even myself.

"FAIL" is not the opposite of "WIN."


I think there's going to be a whole generation of kids doing poorly on their SATs...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sign Without a Home

Whenever I see a homeless person on the street while I'm with camera, I always have the same debate: whether to photograph them or not. I know I touched on this theme on an earlier post, but I'm going to expound on it a little more.

It's not just the idea of exploiting the homeless for some compliments on the photo from strangers on the internet, but it's just so hack. Of course the argument can be made that any documentary photography (and filmmaking) is exploitative, even if you're dealing with some subject that's happy and peppy and bursting with love.

The same goes for those "unique" types on the street. I saw one today as I was perambulating (you see, just 'cause I ain't in college no more don't mean I gotsta stop using them big words!) around town I saw one of these types. It was a white dude with a big beard. He didn't look homeless, but definitely wasn't too many shades removed from the possibility of spending the night on a sewer grate, or urinating on my block in broad daylight (as what happened just yesterday. and it was a female woman bum at that). I thought for a second to ask him for a photo, but also thought that the guy didn't deserve to be bugged by the likes of me. Like when I see a celebrity on the street. Even if it's someone I'm a huge fan of, I'll let them have their daily life uninterrupted. I mean, I saw Abe Vigoda on the Upper East Side once, and much as I've loved the man since childhood (mine, not his), I mean, we're talking FISH here, and Tessio for crying out loud! I let him be. He, like any other citizen, has the right not to be fucked with while he's coming out of the bank looking confused with a bag of fruit while some other strange guy is getting in his face and saying, "dude, you're awesome!"

I saw another little drama today, a near-blind homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk while a good samaritan made sure she was okay. Again, while I could have captured this random act of kindness on film, I let the moment pass. And harkening back to another subject which I recently wrote about, I think that's the difference between me and a digital shooter. Someone with a DSLR would have been all over that, especially with a zoom lens, so as not to intrude on the moment. But as much as I like to take pictures, I think there's still something to be said about letting things be, about just letting go and letting life happen around you without having to document every fucking second of it.

Of course, this leaves me with no homeless woman, no giant beard, and no story about the time I met Abe Vigoda.

So instead of giving you the drama of the person with the sign, I leave you with what's apparently where those signs homeless people make go to die:

I think I can solve the homeless problem:

Just tell them to stop spending all their money on magic markers...

Thursday, April 1, 2010


You've been good to me, Alma. Every day I'd go to school and there'd you be, arms agape (can arms be "agape") welcoming all to soak up the (mostly) white mans' knowledge.

But now it's time for me to go.

Please don't take this personally. And as cliche as it sounds, this does hurt me more than it does you, yet if I'm to follow my heart and my dreams, even if I don't know what they are exactly or where they might take me, I must still leave you behind.

I don't know when or even if I'll return, but I know when that day comes your arms will still be open, always welcoming.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop some where waiting for you