Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jody


I knew about the building for years, ever since my old dentist retired and I started seeing Dr. Jerry up in Yonkers. I knew about the building in the sense that I would see it, but I had no idea what it was. Every time I drove up Executive Boulevard I'd see it; this massive, abandoned, out of place monstrosity in a field of unmowed, overgrown vegetation right next to a modern corporate office plaza. I figured it had probably been some kind of factory maybe, but never bothered to investigate — until a few weeks ago.

It was an overcast day, and I only had two rolls of 3200 with me (pulled to 800iso); one for the SWC and one for the Rolleiflex. I parked in the complex and nobody seemed to notice the man with the soft briefcase walking his way around to the back of the building. I came across this flat expanse. The building had the footprint of a C, the large concrete expanse in front of the main entrance, over which was chiseled, "Boyce Institute."

As I pondered what the Boyce Institute might have been, I sensed I wasn't alone. I turned to my right to see a man and woman coming my way. The man looked as though they were going on a nice summer's outing. "Nice place for a picnic, eh?" I said. As they walked up to me I complimented the woman on the Pentax K1000 slung around her person, and she couldn't help but say something about the SWC, and we got to the business of small talk.

Jody is a senior at Tisch (I seem to be meeting all these Tisch film students lately, it's like they're somehow rubbing it in that I never had the fortitude to finish) majoring in filmmaking (experimental mostly). She's well practiced in "urban spelunking" (as some people call it. I'm not sure I like the phrase), and the Boyce Institute was high on her list of places to investigate. She told me it had been a botany school, and mentioned that on the other side there was a whole complex of greenhouses. I remarked that I was shocked at how accessible the building was. You can see in the background the unboarded ground level window openings.

When I asked Jody to pose, she thought I was asking her for some kind of professional appointment where I'd be taking model-type shots of her (which she does, which you can see among all her other endeavors on her site). But of course we know that's not what I was after, and I took this single shot of her with the SWC.

Even though I had the viewfinder with me, I didn't use it for this shot. I'm still trying to figure out If I can claim the massive amount of headroom as an artistic choice, or is it simply someone who's still not used to taking portraits blind with a super wide-angled fixed lens camera. Though I do like the idea of using the SWC for portraits, and have had the chance to take some more that hopefully will be developed sometime before December 2012, The Big Crunch, or a fourth term for Herr Bloomberg.

All that said, I really do like this shot.

Monday, August 30, 2010

HP TEL

On Greenwich Ave:


I don't know if the fireboxes even work anymore. I think I heard sometime back that they were going to slowly get rid of them, now that they've been made obsolete by the proliferation of cell phones. However, I have seen a lot of people using pay phones lately, and I don't even think they're all drug dealers or people calling drug dealers.

Do drug dealers still have beepers? I mean, not that I'd know about that sort of thing, but these are the kinds of things you hear after living in NYC for 18 years.

The latest song obsession is Beyond and Before by Yes. It's the first song of their debut, eponymous (ooh, what a big word!) album. Or maybe I just like it because it starts out with a solo bass guitar, like Chris Squire was stamping the fact that Yes was his band.

Masquerading leaves of blue
Run circles round the morning dew
Patterns understood by you
Reaching out beyond and before


Though right now I'm listening to Bach (my all-time favorite composer), Six Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord. Glenn Gould on the keys (my all-time favorite piano player. yes, I am a Gould person), and Jaime Laredo on violin. Later on the CD there's a sonata featuring Leonard Rose on the Viola, who was Yo-Yo Ma's mentor.

In The Salmon of Doubt, the collection of posthumous writings by Douglas Adams (who I actually met once), he wrote that it was his belief that J.S. Bach was the single greatest genius to ever live on this here earth.

I'm inclined to agree.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

No Focus

I think that might sum up this entire blog, and not just this picture:


I still have to get the hang of the fast focus pull with the Rolleiflex, or hell...with any camera. I really dug this chick's heart-shaped frames, especially with Sol Moscot's in the background. Though I think my lack of focus (pull) had more to do with not wanting to look ostentatious with the camera, not wanting her to know that I was focusing (my attention) on her, you know, not wanting to be obvious. You know, I still have that self-conscious thing going on (you know?).

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Deco-rations

Up by nearby up by near the Chrysler building there:


I'd like to think that there were people who called Abraham Lincoln "Abie." Who says "Abie" should only be left to old Jews?

And what about Marty "I have a dream" King? Was he always so Martin formal for his entire life?

Rommel, you magnificent bus stop!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fred Sanford, Is That You?

Oh, how I wish it really was:


I've pretty much stopped watching network tv. I have no interest in it. I've never seen Lost aka Gilligan's Island in the Fourth Dimension (I think that show should have had a guest spot by the Harlem Globetrotters. That would have jazzed it up a bit, and maybe would have gotten me as a viewer). I hear 30 Rock is good, but I don't care to invest any time to find out. I'm now watching the American Office, but only in reruns. It's okay, but doesn't approach the brilliance or the pathos of the original. Gervais and Merchant knew that two six-episode series and a Christmas special have way more power than running something into the ground.

That even happened to Sanford and Son, one of my favorite shows, though I guess we now all use the phrase "jump the shark." But we want what we like, our culture of excess.

The left ridicule Sarah Palin because they're scared of her. I don't think I've seen a nation of hipsters more scared of one woman. If I were a moose I might be scared. The more they protest and give voice to her actions the more powerful it makes her. Let her have her show on Discovery or TLC or wherever it is. Let her have an opinion on the "Ground Zero Mosque." Who gives a fuck. I'll be at home with Redd Foxx on the TV giving LaWanda Page what for:

I could stick your face in some dough and make some gorilla cookies!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Amsterdam Ave

Just below 110th:


I'm feeling very distracted lately, very moreso than usual, and that's saying something for me.

Today I post my 365th photo, in my 366th blog post. I think that's the extent of my anniversary observances.

Very distracted indeed.

Not by any kind of a big deal issue type deal. Nothing like that. Just...distracted. The distractible one is distracted. Who distracts the distractors? Who makes the shoeman's shoes? Does your gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

North Portal

Of St. John the Divine:


It's amazing how quickly knowledge leaves your brain.

For the mandatory art history class at Columbia, we had to learn all the ins and outs of Gothic cathedrals, especially the front door section. I can remember some terms like quatrefoil, trumeau, but I forgot exactly what these dudes would be called. Not the dudes themselves, but their title in the greater architectual sense of the word.

It's sad to think that all that knowledge that gets crammed into your brain in college only temporarily resides there until the next semester's load comes in and you have to dump the old. Now I know this isn't entirely true, but I used to look at notebooks of mine even from previous semesters, and I'd have no recollection of even writing those words down. It's like someone else can write in my handwriting. Did I really know all that stuff? Did I really know enough of that stuff to get an A in whatever class that was?

You remember some small things, you know, things that can impress people during a game of Trivial Pursuit, as if people even still play that game anymore.

Do people even play games, period? It doesn't even seem that long ago that there used to be television advertisements for board games. Life, Headache (though I much preferred Trouble), Stratego, Battleship...But now we all get together on XBOX live, right? We all put on our headsets and curse at each other and use racial slurs because we can all be big men hiding behind our consoles in the privacy of our own home as we stun grenade and eviscerate each other, right boys? That's the same thing as sitting in front of the fire with Monopoly, right?

Maybe King Crimson said it best:

Nothing he's got he really needs,
Twenty-first century schizoid man.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sitting Around St. Vincent's

This is just about all the action the hospital sees lately:


One goes one way, the other goes the other, but there's nobody in the middle to say, "What do you want from me?"

I think I've exhausted all my St. Vincent's material. I've established I'm not thrilled that it's closed. And well, it ain't coming back, no matter how much I bitch about it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Waiting for Alms

Up on 96th, between Broadway and Amsterdam, walking by with the SWC:


Far away from the needy is Jersey Shore, which is both the pinnacle of television programming and the downfall of Western society. Someday in the future when we have to answer to our Chinese overlords, we'll be able to point at Jersey Shore as one of the reasons. That, and whoever pays a million dollars to Lindsey Lohan to get her first post-prison/rehab interview, and whoever's taken the most pictures of Britney Spears' vagina.

So why do I love this show so much?

It reminds me that there for the grace of God (or Satan, or punk rock, or Black Sabbath, or common sense — pick one), went I.

I didn't grow up on the Shore. We didn't even vacation there when I was growing up. We weren't a shore family. But there was plenty of Americanized Italian culture to go around. Half of my little town was Italian and half of them were related to other and were involved in all aspects of municipal government. But that's getting off the track here. I like those people because I know them. I knew them. Not personally, but their ilk. Maybe it's more accurate to say that I knew their forebears, especially 20 years ago, when I was a student at Bergen Community College.

We called community college, "high school after high school," or "the thirteenth grade." I was fond of using the former. Even though I never dressed or comported myself like "those people," I didn't think they were odd. It just wasn't me to have my hair done in a rattail mullet, nor did I drive a white IROC-Z with ground effects and a talking alarm. Neither did I wear muscle shirts (not that I could have filled one out), or loose-fitting black and white tiger print pants with a New York Giants helmet on them. They wore lots of neon, too. I referred to them as "day-glo dagos" (not to their faces, of course).

Another thing about the cars is that they'd do them up with purple neon lights under the carriage that they'd turn on at night. The first time I saw it I thought it was a UFO driving down the street. Or maybe that's because I was with a bunch of drunks walking from one of our houses to a restaurant bar.

And what does this have to do with me liking Jersey Shore so much? I'm not sure, really. Maybe it's just that the show reminds me of all these silly people from way back when. I wonder what ever became of the Guidos of Yesteryear? Did they get their associates' degrees and move on to the 14th or 15th grade? Did they steer clear of becoming faggot-hating wife-abusers? Though I guess today their greater fear are towelheads, sand-niggers, and people in favor of the "Ground Zero Mosque." Though "sand niggers" got lots of play during the First Gulf War. Yes, these weren't the most enlightened people in the world.

I'd like to think that Snooki, The Situation, DJ Pauly D, and the rest carry with them a more current, broader understanding of the world today. Of course they try to live in a "Grenade-Free Zone" (and who wouldn't), but that doesn't preclude a more enlightened weltanschauung (a word I learned in community college! You see, it's not all worthless!). Perhaps they do carry a certain tolerance their forebears didn't have.

I really hope so.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Post Office

I don't know in which circle of hell resides the post office. I also haven't read The Divine Comedy so I can't fill this post with, "I'm showing off by making references that only people who read The Divine Comedy," will get:


I love the rain, or as Albert Einstein put it, "It's only water."

I walked to B&H today to pick up some DDX (that's for all you photo insiders out there) in a wonderful, at times unrelenting downpour. It was just warm enough outside for it not to be uncomfortable walking casually with my clothes stuck to my body as people ran in vain to avoid the inevitable from the heavens, or were just hiding in doorways.

"I love this! This is great," I heard a man say to my right as I walked down 34th street. He too was completely soaked, yet didn't add any haste to his stride.

"I think we're the only two!" I responded, as we both laughed.

Not my best work, writing or picture taking, I know...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coming Soon

Mendez Boxing!

See for yourself:


I've never seen the musical Wicked. I've never even read the book. To me that's blasphemy. I'm not going to read a book by some L. Frank BUM about what Oz was like "back in the day." Witch please! It's Baum or bust. I read a lot of the Oz books as a kid, and I've discussed my love of the 1939 filmed version of the story. Though I've never seen the 1925 version. I don't even know if it's survived. I have seen the clips of the Edison version from 1910. I like saying "version" a lot, don't I.

So what's all this got to do about the freshness of Mayor Bloomberg's testicles?

Popular.

I can't stop listening to that reedy Kristin Chenowith singing that damned song. It's a good one, I gots to admit.

Laaaaaaaa Laaaaaaaaaa, Laaaaaaaaaaaa Laaaaaaaaaaaaaa, you'll be popular!

Just not quite as popular as MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!


Coming tomororw, a discourse on Hello, Dolly!

Or maybe not. You'll have to tune in to find out (as if...).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Walking Her Bike

Put your ray-gun to my head...

If you've guessed that I'm listening to David Bowie right now, you've guessed correctly. But to be more specific for the more specific crowd out there I'm listening to his David Live album.

One of the things I like about this shot is that I barely touched it in photoshop. This is pretty much the way it scanned:


Boys, boys, it's a sweet thing...

Okay, I'm realizing that it's pretty hard to keep one's concentration on a blog post of supreme importance while listening to music. Then again, I shouldn't be surprised by that. I can't get any real, serious writing done with music playing (music with lyrics, usually). I'm too...no, I don't want to say "distracted" because I don't see music as a distraction. Music moves me way too much to be a distraction.

In the time I wrote that last sentence to the time I'm typing this one, I ended up farting around on the internet completing a whole lot of nothing. Now that's a distraction.

I still don't know what I was waiting for...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Astor Place Station

Uptown entrance:


Entrance, or entrance?

Holy crap that might have been the worst entry ever.

The only thing that would make this entry worse would be me admitting that I'm all revved up for the next all-new episode of Jersey Shore, the best show in the history of television. I'll use another entry to expand on why I feel this way. But until then, it's Situation time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Empire of the Sun

I enjoy being a girl.

No, that has nothing to do with this entry. That's just Nancy Kwan singing in the background as I'm writing this entry. I love how Flower Drum Song can simultaneously push Southeast Asian culture forward while pulling the feminist cause farther back. Rodgers and Hammerstein were really ahead of their time.

What does all this have to do with a picture of the Empire State Building taken with a camera with a really wide angle lens? Nothing really:


I had a good driving soundtrack earlier today. Lately I've been in the habit whenever I get in the car to leave the city to set the ipod (which is hooked up to the car stereo) to Exodus' Fabulous Disaster. Nothing quite gives the car more pickup than some serious thrash. And yes, I do have Slayer, Metallica (nothing after And Justice For All... and even that album is pushing the limits of good taste as far as thrash/speed metal goes), and the rest, but there's something about that Exodus. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a good double bass roll.

I was heading up to Yonkers, to take some abandoned building shots. I'll admit, I'm a newbie at "urban spelunking" (as some call it), and I didn't venture far into the building, though I plan on making some return trips. Of course, the results will end up around here (that goes without saying, of course).

After taking three rolls with the SWC, Rolleiflex, and Medalist, I headed back into the car and menued up some equally inspiring music — Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet.

'cause the brothers in the street are willin' to work it out...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sniffen Court

Yeah, I was sniffing around Sniffen Court, and here's what I snuffed:


Normally this little private half of an alley is gated with a key. Fortunately the day I walked by there was construction going on, as you can see by the plywood path covering over the more aesthetically fitting flagstones. I'm happy I was actually able to get in there to take pictures instead of poking through the gate. Also, I was happy to walk to the end and back, so I can mark off on my map that I actually traversed the alley. There are a few private streets that I hope to get access to for my walking project, the big ones being Patchin Place and MIlligan Place, which are right around the corner from each other. Years ago I was in MacDougal Alley, so I marked it off on the map. I think that should count. Though I'd love to get in there again, "officially" as my project goes.

Oh yeah, I also got in Broadway Alley, but I didn't have any film cameras on hand and it's nowhere near as charming as Sniffen Court.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aaron and Friend (l-r)


Aaron couldn't help but notice the SWC hanging around my neck. He's from Austin, going to college at Yale (studying photography), and spending the summer in NYC. I told him it was my first time taking a portrait with the SWC and was maybe standing between 4-6 feet from him when this other person jumped into the shot. She was friendly, yet I didn't know if they knew each other, or if she was just some random pretty girl needing to be part of the action. Well, she was sort of both, since they were coworkers, beating the pavement to promote a salon (or maybe a spa. it was something geared toward feminine types to sit around and pay for the privilege of being preened and pampered).

I have to say I'm pretty happy with the shot. Even they're in somewhat softish focus, I don't think it's detrimental to the image. I even did a closer crop:


And yes, I know I cropped closely to his closely cropped Robert Terwilliger inspired hairdo (though I think he wears it well).

Cookies. Yesterday was all about the cookies.

Homemade cookies, I believe from scratch, baked by my friends' 10 year old daughter and her friend of the same gender and age. They were the first things cooked at yesterday's get-together. There were a lot of kids at the house. Only three of them belonged to my friends, the rest were neighborhood hanger-oners who decided it was the place to be on a Sunday afternoon. Myself and another friend were up for the day to hang out with the older generation, but unlike the youngsters we didn't run around the backyard hitting tree branches with sticks. We just guessed who would get hurt first.

The boys were clamoring for the cookies when they were done, but the head of the household would have none of it. The privilege of having cookies and Coke went to the adults, guests, and to the issuance of my friends. I stood in the kitchen with a freshly-baked cookie in hand when one of the non-related, non-resident children came to the back door and asked my friend (the head of the household), "Can I have a cookie?"

"Get out of here!" he said.

"But he has a cookie," the boy said, motioning to me.

"I'm forty," I said with as much adult emphasis as possible.

"I'm four-teen," he threw back.

"How often are you over here?"

"A lot."

"Exactly. Go away."

I think I'm finally an adult. I've discovered the joys of throwing around my age, bossing other people's children around. All the while eating my warm, oozing cookie — washing each bite down with sugary goodness straight from Atlanta GA.

Ah yes, the little things...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Girl With Balloons

Oh, if they only had big square mylar balloons when I was a little boy. Then my memories would be so much sweeter:


So I'm noticing that this is now the third picture I've posted of late of a chick on the street taken with the SWC. Is this what I'm turning into? One of these photographers that all he does is take pictures on the sly of hot women walking down the street, minding their own businesses and they have to be subjected to creeps like me who are going to post their pictures on the internet without their knowledge or consent? Now why would I even write, "knowledge or consent," since if I put it up without their knowledge it goes without saying that consent is not given either, right?

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hanging Wires

Somewhere on the East side, midtown or a little bit lower:


I gots nothing today.

And no, this blog isn't just slowly turning into a more picture, less words kind of blog. I suppose the word count per post will always fluctuate. This is something we'll just have to accept.

à demain...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lafayette and Spring

Looking north:


I wasn't sure about this one at first. I'm still not sure about it. I guess I wanted that whole unbroken expanse look, but I suppose the woman directly in the center of the frame in mid-stride isn't so bad either. And yes, this was taken with the SWC. I don't know why I have to mention that just about every time I put up a picture that I used with the camera. Maybe I'm just happy to be having fun with the durned thing and want to pass it along.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Albanese Meats

This one is hot off the presses, just taken yesterday and developed today. I'll get to the meatier (no pun intended, I swear) parts of the story after the photo:


Me and the SWC were walking north up Elizabeth between Prince and Houston when I saw them. Three neighborhood guys. The third one was sitting opposite and slightly further down the block than these two forming an obtuse triangle. But I was drawn to the two in the picture, both straddling their chairs like Ernest Thomas. I slowed down for a second and kept walking up the block.

I blew it. I should have asked them for a photo and I blew it.

I stopped and turned around. One of them looked down at me. I turned and walked farther down the street.

I should have asked them. I should have asked them.

I stopped again, turning around. I could still see them.

I should have asked them. I could go back and ask them. No, that would be stupid. You blew it.

I stopped once again, now almost unable to see them.

But why not? Go back and ask them. The worst thing they're gonna say is no, right?

I turned around and headed back. As I approached them they didn't stop their conversation. I pretty much broke in. "Can I take your picture," I asked, motioning to the two gentleman in their chairs. The one on the right shrugged his shoulders. I looked to the one on the left, and he didn't respond at all, which I took as an okay. "My name is Evan" I awkwardly shoehorned as I stepped back and snapped off two shots (this being the second one). "Thank you very much," I nervously sputtered as I scurried back up the street.

Christ, I didn't even ask them their names. Stupid.

I didn't know how the shot would come out, even though I knew the super wide angle lens (yes, the S and W of SWC stand for Super Wide) could take in a lot, I wasn't sure if they'd be in the frame. They just seemed too close as I was standing at the edge of the sidewalk. This is what I get for shooting without the detachable viewfinder. I have a photographer friend (more of an acquaintance really) who really digs my SWC, but can't imagine shooting blind. He is a control freak by his own admission.

I was anxious to get this shot back, and I was surprised that they were in the shot with room to spare. In my mind, they were just on the edges of the frame. Perhaps I should start using the SWC viewfinder from now on.

These gentlemen definitely deserve better.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bike

Not like the bikes I posted yesterday, but more like a motorcycle:


I believe the maxim on the front says, "Support Your Local Ghetto." If the ghetto is populated with women holding up mens' severed heads, I'm not sure I'll be getting out my checkbook at pledge time just yet.

I'm watching the original The Bad News Bears on TCM right now, so if I seem a little distracted...

And why the hell is it that I'm one of those people that has a wall full of DVDs that I hardly ever watch yet when something comes on that I have on DVD I have to watch it, even if it's at some ridiculously later hour and I have to be up early in the morning. This most notably happened when I happened upon The Seven Samurai starting at 3:00am on a school night. But goddamn do I love that movie. And I actually have watched the DVD so it's not that bad, but you see the point.

And yes, I have The Bad News Bears on DVD. I should be developing film, but Walter Matthau is wooing Tatum O'Neal to pitch for the Bears...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bikes

All lined up, waiting to service the agoraphobes of New York City:


Like I should talk. I feel like I've been keeping a few diners and delis afloat for the past 18 years with my cravings for pizzaburgers and mozzarella omelets combined with culinary laziness. Or that just might be general laziness, who am I kidding.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hummer

Who doesn't like getting a Hummer, I ask:


Of course I was talking about the automobile! What did you think, that I'd make some crass pun about blowjobs? No way. Not now, not never. You can save that for all those other smutty, potty-mouthed photoblogs out there.

But when you think of it, "Hummer" might be one of the worst names for an automobile since the "Stanley Steamer."

Please don't make me explain that one.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Checking Her Phone

What was she checking? The time? A very important message? Was she late for a very important date perhaps:


I try not to be a "cell phone person," even if I do own a superphone. I don't walk down the street talking on the phone like there's nobody around me. I don't even like talking on my phone outdoors if I can help it. Hell, I still use my landline as much as possible. I prefer it, yet.

I entered the cell phone generation in 1999, which by some standards even then was considered a little "late." I don't think I replaced it until 2003 or so, which is beyond several lifetimes in the world of electronics. I knew it was time to get a new phone when I took the black massout of my pocket in a group of people and someone asked, "is that a VCR?"

"No," I replied, "It's a rotary cell-phone."

I got a similarly low-functioning phone after that. Just calls. If I wanted to email or message, it took over five minutes of going through different screens and hitting "OK" just to complete the process (I kid you not). But even then, my feelings about using the phone were the same. It wasn't anything I'd want to be doing out in public, and would never forsake the landline I got when I moved in. I remember around that time seeing someone with a Treo device, with the keyboard on the phone, and I thought it was the most obnoxious thing in the world.

I got my first Treo in the fall of 2005, and by doing so entered the superphone generation. No more waiting ridiculous amounts of time to make a simple text or email. Now I had the world in my pocket: email, web, messaging, phone, and before I knew it I joined the ranks of people looking down and typing with their thumbs while walking down the sidewalk, a skill akin to checking the radio while driving.

But I remembered having mixed feelings as I walked to my friend George's house. The whole way I had been rapid-fire emailing some woman I had been seeing, indulging this power I previously never had. And yet something kept nagging at me. I couldn't help but feel that maybe I had become part of the problem.

I was now "connected." I joined the Borg. I was no longer on the outside, but completely reachable at all times (if I so chose). I still have mixed feelings about it. Checking your email obsessively is bad enough when you're sitting at home in front of the computer but it's ten times worse when all you have to do is look at your phone.

I read an article recently about how all this information checking is dulling people's creativity. I believe it. I don't feel I've really been the same creatively since I first started going online back in 1994. It's eroded my creativity somewhat. I've had my moments, but I can see how the anxiety of wondering who's out there and who may be wanting to get in touch (or not)...

It's hard to block these things out sometimes. A lot of the times, actually. Finish a sentence, hit the tabs. Any email? Any Stupidbook messages? Any activity on my Flickr since I uploaded those pics...It can be fucking maddening if you allow it to be.

And now we depend on those damned things, our phones. In oldern times that don't really feel so long ago, I drove across this fine country without a cell phone. Me and millions of other people. Now I can't go around the corner for some groceries without the tether in my pocket. It's a goddamn shame.

Am I going to get rid of the thing? Of course not. But I'd like to think I'm still not a "cell phone person." I don't use it to check the time because I have a watch. And I no longer do rapid fire emailing and texting while walking (if I can help it). Though I find that when I'm out and about it's good to have something else on my mind so I'm not just mindlessly thrusting my hand into my pocket to see if an email came in.

I find being out taking pictures is a good distraction from the stupidphone. Having a camera in my hands keeps them occupied. I'm reminded of a quote from Aqua Teen Hunger Force: "Idle hands spend time at the genitals." Well, not in public (for me, most of the time), but I think it can be said for many people that if they're not manipulating themselves, they're probably on the phone. Unless of course they're having phone sex (god love 'em).

And so our phones that were supposed to bring us all together have actually driven us farther apart. We can hide in plain site just by putting a phone up to our ear while walking down the street, choosing to isolate ourselves rather than interact with those around us. Perhaps it refines the concept of "alone together" (as Luc Sante described what it means to be a resident of NYC in Low Life), even further.

I feel I have more to say, but it would be too tangential (and that's saying something, even for me). So I'll pick it up another time. And maybe I'll leave my cell phone on my desk and not take it to the couch to play "Word Ace" while I watch TV, and maybe I'll turn the computer off too. Or wait, maybe I don't even have to turn on the TV. There's a lot of books that need readin' in this here apartment, and that film in the fridge ain't gonna develop itself...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Silhouetted

So last Sunday for $50 I picked up a Pentax K1000 at the flea market. It's a camera I've always coveted ever since I first used one that I borrowed back in 1991 (I posted a story about this in another post). So now I have my own K1000, and even though I knew the shutter would probably be running a bit slow, I took it out for a test run anyways. And yes, much of my stuff is predictably overexposed, but I like the way this came out:


I just love that camera. It's like the ultimate O.G. street shooter. I'm going to have my guy do the tighten up on the shutter so it'll really be off the hook. But what if it's off the chain? What if the chain is off the hook, but you're still on the chain? What if you're off the chain but the chain is on the hook? If you're on the chain does that mean you're standing on it? If a chain's on a train going 75 mph towards Cleveland and a hook's on a book to Pittsburgh will we ever meet again on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pipe Stuff

These things look like drum shells without the heads. But they're pipe things. I'm not sure what exactly they're called, but I know that they go around pipes, maybe they somehow help to fit them together:


This was on Lafayette last week. I'm sure the street is still torn up (at the rate the city gets things done). I have a wider shot of the damage, and it may yet see the light of day on the site. But for now, you get this more close up affair taken mit der Rolleiflex.

I haven't been playing the piano enough lately. I'm going to remedy that immediately.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

At Arms' Length

A self-portrait with the SWC:


I don't know what this picture conveys, other than it's a man holding a camera out at arms' length taking a picture of himself. It was a picture of a man who went on a bus ride that day, taking him through all the hot spots of New Jersey; both Carlstadt and Moonachie! It was a man who would stay up late into that night commiserating, remembering, laughing...telling stories almost too hard to believe about the past, and about people no longer with us. It's a picure of a man looking at the second half of his life, and wondering how he'll finish it out. How the next five to ten years will unfold.

We have a say in our lives, in our futures. I think it's so easy to forget that. It's also too easy to give in. To hide. To run away. It's easy to become a spectator in one's own life. It's something I've been well-practiced at for years, and something I've been breaking — though it can get pretty damned hard at times to keep up. The comfort of resignation is an all too scary thing.

So there I stand on railroad tracks, extending for miles and miles ahead of and behind me. Am I trying to make some kind of metaphor, or am I just standing on railroad tracks next to a dead-end street early on a Monday evening, indulging myself with the last shot of the roll.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Painting With Sand

I'm not sure if it's technically "painting" if you're using sand, but until someone figures out a better way to put it:


The man kneeling in the bottom right hand corner of the frame is Joe. He is the creator of the sand mandalas or "sandalas," as I call them. I don't think he calls them that. He takes hours to create each piece, working ever outwards from the center, and they get pretty big. Near the upper left hand corner you'll see a little table. That's Joe's table, and by evening the edge of the sandala will reach it. In fact, he'll pull the table out to make more room for his work.

Of course, my black and white film doesn't do justice to the many colors that Joe employs. Then again, I only could have gotten this shot with the SWC. Either way I'm glad I got it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

At Track Level

I took two rolls at the tracks last week. One was a slide roll with the Rolleiflex, and the other was black and white with the SWC. Here's a shot we've all seen before:


I do like the errant piece of wood in the foreground. I'd like to think it adds something to the picture, well, adds something beyond more wood. I'm also trying to figure out what the deal is with the lens flare in the upper right hand corner. At least I think that's lens flare, though that seems impossible since the sun was behind me and to the left ("back and to the left. back and to the left."), as can be seen in the spike shadows along the right hand rail. Maybe I was privy to some kind of physics anomaly? Somebody get Stephen Hawking on the line.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saturday Without Art

Here's Union Square Park, the photo taken on the first Saturday under the new rules. It's also my first shot taken with the SWC:


I actually think this shot would have been better without the bicyclist in the foreground (or is that middleground), like maybe if there were just some of the people farther in the shot to really show how empty an expanse it is, especially with the 38mm lens. They say (you know, "they" being "them") that the 38mm Distagon lens has a 90 degree field of view. I think it was over 90 degrees when I took this shot so I think that's apropos. I think.

I put three rolls through the SWC today. I really have to develop more rolls so I can find if I know what I'm doing yet with the damn thing. Oh, and that thin line going up and down through just the right of the center of the frame is some kind of scanning artifact, but I made a promise (I think) that I've turned the corner on scanner rants.

Let's hope so, for all our sakes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Over There

The man on the left thought he could just lean a painting on any old railing at Union Square Park and offer it for sale. One of the "Pep Boys" (as I'm now calling them) approached him and politely said that if he wished to sell his art that he should position himself behind one of the 18 green markers that denote designated spots for artists to sell on days that the farmer's market was in the park (such as this day, two Saturdays ago):


I watched the man with the painting disappear around the corner to investigate whether there were any spots available to him. I didn't follow, since I already knew on a sunny Saturday afternoon he'd have no chance to legally sell his work (I don't even know if it was his work or someone else's, not that that matters). The spots had long been occupied.

That's the way it's going in the park now. As people have gotten over the shock of the new regime, the spots are now getting filled earlier and earlier, especially now that the weather is a little cooler and a lot less humid. And this is in July and August, which I'm told are slow months in the world of selling art on the streets. It really picks up in the fall (so I'm told), and then things are going to get even more cutthroat.

Thank you Mayor Bloomberg, for this Brave New World New York you've given us.