December 31, 2009

Sax & Pears

Sitting on the 42nd street subway platform waiting on an A train the other night, this guy was playing Christmas carols on his saxophone. I'm not a big saxophone fan but it filled the station with the most beautiful sound, low and smooth. I know nothing about a sax but it was great. So friggin smooth. I only had a two dollars in my pocket and I gave one to him.
There are some extremely talented musicians playing under this city. Nice way to pass the time late at night while waiting on that A train to come.

I've been using Pears soap for the past 30 years. I love Pears soap. I recently bought a three pack at Rite Aid. The next morning while taking a shower I noticed that it smelled completely different than my last 360 bars. I was puzzled. After I got out of the shower I Googled "Pears soap". Wikipedia had information about the company and the last paragraph explained that in 2009 it had changed its formula entirely. It's been pretty much the same since 1787. I sent an angry email to Unilever expressing my bitterness over the change in aroma. The next day I went to my local dollar store and sniffed the boxes of Pears on the shelf. They still have bunch of the old stuff. I'm going tomorrow and buy whatever they have left. The last of my beloved Pears soap.
Another asphalt reflection.

A New Year's Toast

I may have written about toast in a prior post (little rhyme there) but I can't remember and am too lazy to look back. The other day at a diner I ordered wheat toast purely for the sake of getting a bit more fiber. It looked and tasted like cardboard. I actually hate wheat toast but made an attempt at being more healthy. Basic white toast tastes like nothing, flour. It is only good if you slather it with butter and add some sort of jam. The toast becomes irrelevant. I do enjoy a good thickly sliced sourdough. Rye toast has a distinct flavor that I like very much with eggs and grits, or wheat-based hot cereals like Wheatena and Ralston. I don't like rye toast with jam, tastes weird. I never see pumpernickel on a diner menu and wouldn't order it if I ever were to see it. I find pumpernickel almost repulsive. My mother loves it. I splurged on Christmas Eve and bought some Sunmaid raisin bread. Nutritionally void but, for only $2.50, I figured it would be a nice treat. Christmas morning I woke up, made my Goya French press coffee (best in the world) and toasted a few slices of raisin bread. I smeared a little butter and wildflower honey over it. Damn... that's a tasty, quick, easy breakfast treat.

Walking through Penn Station the other day I noticed all the good fresh breads at Hot & Crusty and Zaro's bakery. I've decided my only New Year's resolution is to start buying really good freshly baked bread.

December 30, 2009


I spent the holidays here in the city. Reading, taking long walks, snapping photographs and being alone. I felt guilty for not going home to Virginia to be with my family and friends but felt I wanted some time alone. I found it hard to sleep. I stayed up reading and searching websites and blogs, all related to art and photography. I made a futile attempt to setting a time limit on these searches to around two hours but always seemed to go way over it. At one point I looked at my watch and it was 4:30am. I felt like I had been in a library all night. I'm still torn with my feelings about the Internet. The obvious vastness of information is incredible. Better than staring into a TV set in every respect but a "time sucker" nonetheless. Would I have felt less guilty if I was in the NYU library reading the same information for 7 hours? Probably not. I would have felt like some sort of academic.

At one point I was some reading some quotes from Thoreau in a book of photos by Eliot Porter. I especially liked this one:

"I want to go away soon and live by the pond, where I shall hear only the wind whispering among the reeds. It will be success if I shall have left myself behind. But my friends ask what I will do when I get there. Will it not be employment enough to watch the progress of the seasons?"

December 23, 2009


Did a fun shoot yesterday. My friend Amanda needed some photos for various projects including some music promotion. She's a singer, model, graphic designer, etc., etc. We had a nice day snapping photos around her building down near Wall St. Here are a few outtakes.

Let it snow...again.

I just downloaded my little Fuji point and shoot. Here are a few pics from the blizzard (So they're a little late). The wind was brutal...

Snow flakes under the light blowing wildly.Walking to the A train... snow just starting.
Snow lot.

December 22, 2009

A mouse, a tree and a blowout

Here's an odd batch I took tonight.

#1. Last night I saw a mouse run across the kitchen floor. I felt like jumping up on the counter. Snakes, eels, rats and mice all creep me out. Anyway, I put out a trap and it went all night undisturbed. I put "natural" peanut butter on the trap and all day wondered if the mouse may have preferred Skippy or Jif. Tonight, around 8:00 pm I heard the telltale "snap". I actually feel bad about this one, cute mouse.

#2 This Christmas tree has been sitting in my lobby for over a week, alone. All of a sudden tonight it has a little friend sitting next to it. A pumpkin. Was it left over since Halloween? How did it get there? Very odd. The Christmas tree actually seemed perkier...

#3 Walking down the street tonight I saw this sign in front of a pizza joint. I was intrigued by "$6 a pie". Then saw "Limt 4 per person". I've never seen so many misspelled signs as in Inwood. Reading down further I noticed they make a pizza with "the works". Sauerkraut, onions and chili. Holy shit, have one of those babies for lunch before that first date. Or better yet, the night before that colonoscopy. The works?, No, perhaps "the blowout".

December 21, 2009

Come on in!

I was walking around Chinatown the other day doing a bit of shooting and shopping. Nearly all of the restaurants have chickens, ducks, pigs and other unknown meats and organs hanging in the front windows on hooks. Crispy and golden, on view with hopes of luring a hungry visitor inside. Some restaurants had sparse "window meat", some were packed with edible dead things. These two windows fell into the first group... a bit sparse. I didn't partake.

Umm, tough decision but I think I'll go with the chicken head!
Not me, I'll have that tasty looking pig face! Is it smiling?

December 20, 2009

You are what you watch

I'm still reading A New Earth. I can't seem to finish it. I'll read a chapter and then reread it 12 times. There's a lot to absorb. Yesterday on the train I was reading about television. Yes, there's a section on tv. It says that by the time the average American reaches 60 years old they have spent 15 years staring at a tv screen. Holy shit. By watching various game shows, talk shows, dramas, sitcoms or even commercials and sports, it takes you "out of your being". It quiets the mind, you become "free" of yourself. It says that by watching tv you're not producing thoughts, you're absorbing them. Tv produces a trance like passive state of heightened susceptibility like hypnosis. Advertisers LOVE when you're in this state of "receptive unawareness". During these mind-numbing shows you become a hypnotized moron. "I must buy a new BMW, I must buy Tide with whitening sparkles, I must own a Chop-o-matic".
While tv does "appear" to provide a "relief from your mind" you pay the price of "loss of consciousness". Like a drug, it's very addictive. You grab the remote and try to shut it off but an hour later you find yourself still surfing for another show. The more meaningless and trivial, the more addictive it becomes (Entertainment Tonight, TMZ, Insider) You watch this crap an slip into a TV induced coma fueled by mindless entertainment. The book goes on to say that shows with a rapid succession of images that change every two or three seconds (most shows) are responsible for some degree of ADD. This short attention span makes your perceptions and relationships shallow and unsatisfying. It goes on to say that prolonged TV watching induces passivity and drains you of energy.
Tolle offers some suggestions:
ONLY watch certain shows you plan beforehand and find of interest.
Don't channel surf.
Keep the volume to a quiet level, ALWAYS mute during commercials.
Never sleep just after watching and especially, NEVER fall asleep with the TV on.

This implies, which I totally agree with, that by giving up most of your TV viewing you will become more creative, more interesting, less negative and have more energy. We are constantly bombarded with negative input in this culture. Watch any news broadcast. Pictures of war, murder, catastrophes both natural and man made, death, destruction, abductions etc. etc.. Who can watch this shit on a day to day basis and still think clearly and positively? Watch negativity, become negative. Watch moronic shows, become moronic. You are what you watch. Obviously there are exceptions... A few nice nature shows, an informative science show, but come on, for the most part about 98% of all tv is horseshit.

Here's an interesting experiment to try. I do it often and it usually makes me sick. Watch a TV show and count to yourself how long each scene lasts before they change pictures or camera angles. I did this watching The View one day (another stupid piece of shit show). Constant flashing from one face to another, never stopping for more than 2 seconds on any one person. It was nauseating. But, it had always been like, I just hadn't stopped and recognized it. In a typical commercial the scene will change about every 3 seconds. An extremely long scene in a show these days is 20 seconds. Long ago movies had scenes that lasted minutes. This new "MTV/ADD" version of what we call TV is a large number of extremely short snippets edited together to make a whole show. I've always thought this incessant, choppiness had to be bad for your brain and apparently I was right. Constant flashing images, it's a wonder we don't all have seizures.

Do yourself a favor, pull yourself (and your kids) away from the Tv. Better yet, get rid of it. It's a bad bad thing that sucks your creativity, wastes your time and brainwashes you. Apparently watching too much tv makes you uninteresting, negative, depressed and numb.

Oh, I'm not being a hypocrite... I admit, I watch too much tv (it's not on right now). But, after this entry I will make an honest effort to curb what I watch, and for how long.

December 19, 2009

Pamper me

Photos have no relevance to Pampers (in case you were wondering. See below).

Two reflections I found beautiful. Rainy sidewalk on 34th street and a mountain lake in Canada.

Diaper talk:
Someone recently sent me an email regarding diapers. I don't know why, I don't have kids. Perhaps because many of my friends consider me a semi tree hugger. I'd like to think I'm a bit more conservationist than the average gluttonous, wasteful, environmentally challenged human. Admittedly, most of my environmental practices are done by accident and lifestyle choices. I don't eat meat, don't drive a car, live in a tiny place, don't have kids, wear recycled thrift store clothes (mostly), walk a few miles a day (on average), take public transportation when needed...blah blah blah, I'm perfect. Anyway, I knew diapers were horrible but...
Did ya know?
The average kid uses 6000 diapers during infancy.
80% of all diapering is done with disposables.
27 billion diapers are used every year.
Creating 82,000 tons of plastic waste.
Using 1.3 million tons of wood pulp.
Falling 250,000 trees to produce annually.
Needing over 3.5 billion gallons of oil to produce.
Diapers create 7x the amount of solid waste when discarded and 3x more waste when manufactured. They also create 10x the waste produced by fast food restaurants (hard to believe).
First introduced in the U.S. in 1948 by Johnson and Johnson.
Pampers were invented in 1959. Brought to the public by 1961.
It's illegal to dump ANY human waste into public landfills. The waste leaches into water systems causing various diseases to thrive. However, proper diaper disposal is impossible to enforce.
Then again, using cloth cotton diapers is bad (not as) because you have to wash them. And, cotton is a horrible product from every aspect. That's another story. Cotton (non organic) is the dirtiest crop known to man. Cotton production uses 16% of all the worlds insecticides grown on only 2.5% of cultivated land. Cotton production uses Aldicarb, one of the deadliest insecticides (1 drop can kill a man) and now found in at least 25 countries and 16 or our state's groundwater.

Bottom line to all of this: Using disposable diapers stems from pure laziness, convenience and lack of regard to the environment. PERIOD! Actually, reports from mothers who have switched to organic cotton diapers say it's not that big of a deal to switch over.
In the perfect world: Don't use disposable diapers, don't use or wear anything made of cotton unless it's organic. And, wash everything in cold water.

Like that's ever going to happen.

Bottom bottom line: People don't give a shit!

December 18, 2009

Reflections of...

The view while waiting for the dryer to stop.

Flooded subway station at Christopher street.

While riding the train recently with the sun getting low, I shot reflections. Then, I put my lens against the glass, slowed my shutter speed and snapped away. I like the blends of colors and shapes you get from blur.

December 17, 2009

Thanksgiving with Sis

I just discovered snaps from Thanksgiving on a card I had forgotten about. I spent the holiday with my family in Virginia. My sister put out quite a spread. Enough food for 20 starving Biafrans , there were only 6 of us (not Biafrans, family members). But hey, that's what Thanksgiving is all about. Thanks to Sis we had a wonderful time. She does so much to keep the family together.
She lives in a clean, safe "gated community". I took a walk early one morning before anyone got up and took some photos that reminded me of something Alec Soth might have taken (Google him). The everyday views of the world around us that go unnoticed.

The "Complex"

December 16, 2009

Umpteenth time

Rode the ferry again for the umpteenth time. I can't stay off that thing. I find it so relaxing and quiet. I got on at rush hour for quick round trip. It was fairly bright when I hopped on and nearly dark coming back. The sun sets so early now. I kept shooting images of the wake. Mesmerizing. Then suddenly, I remembered once many years ago shooting over the side of a boat and feeling my expensive sunglasses slip from the brim of my hat. A quick futile grasp, watching them hang briefly in the air and splashing into the water.

Boat wave
Empty return

December 15, 2009

I'm "this" close...

Yesterday I checked my email and was informed that my health insurance is going up $60 a month. $720 more a year for half-assed coverage. Actually worse coverage than the previous year. Pay more, get less, nice. Then I'm watching some news show and they're at some rally where all these people are protesting any attempt at a healthcare plan. Besides the fact that most of the protesters are uneducated, blue-collar, rebel flag waving rednecks, I couldn't help but wonder why they are so opposed to any type of plan which might actually be good for the country. Seems we are the only industrialized country in the world without universal healthcare. How is it that Spain, Finland, Canada, Portugal, Hong Kong, Singapore, all of Europe and South America (and most of the world) can offer a better healthcare system than the U.S.? Basically, it's us and Africa without a plan. One moronic imbecile screamed into the tv camera..."If our healthcare is so bad, why do people come from all over the world to use it?". Well, Mr Redneck toothless asshole... We DO have great care and technology but we pay out the ass for it. And yes, anyone can go to Sloan Kettering and receive the best cancer care in the world as long as they can prove they have at least $320K in assets before they'll let you in the door. And, more than likely, Mr Redneck toothless asshole, YOU wouldn't qualify to get into Sloan anyway. You dumb bastard. People come here clinging to the hope of being cured by our unquestionably great medical technology. But, they pay, and they pay lots. The reality is, if you live here and don't have really great health coverage and lots of money, you're not getting into Sloan.
I just find it weird that we can't get our shit together regarding healthcare. People are screaming that they don't want to pay for someone else's problems... Well I can toss out a list of shit I don't want to pay for. Like someone's kids going to the doctor every week. Or, the fat bastard who won't stop eating junk food, going to the doctor for all his health problems all due to his crappy diet.... Or, how about George Bush's war(s) he started that are draining this country dry. I don't want to pay for that. I'd rather my tax dollars go to healthcare than a bomb, bullet, jet or tank. The 2010 defense budget for the U.S. is estimated at somewhere between $880 million to 1 trillion. That's 9 times higher than China's. And we can't afford healthcare? Maybe the U.S. is a tad paranoid given our HUGE defense spending?

So, I'm "this" close to bailing out. I looked at Airstreams again on Ebay last night and fantasized about living in one out in the woods. I'll cancel my insurance, make art, eat organic food, go off the grid, throw my cell phone in the trash, try to reduce my income tax to a minimum and get a clunker piece of crap car. I'm paying over $5K a year for crappy health coverage, $1500 a year for a cell phone, internet connection, cable tv, high rent, high food prices and high taxes. I'm tired of all of it. Life shouldn't be this complicated nor expensive. I only blame myself for being sucked into all of this.

NOTICE: Marriage proposal:
I need to get married.. Seriously! Anyone who wants to marry a broke, frustrated, semi unemployed photographer please email me. Sounds enticing eh? I don't NEED a wife, I need cheap reasonable health coverage. If you don't have a healthcare plan through work please do not apply. Oh, and you have to like Airstreams (and minimalist living).

December 11, 2009

DVF & Snaps

I did a portrait shoot today of Diane Von Furstenberg. I got there, did my lighting set up and waited for the interview for the magazine to end. However, after an unexpected makeup touch up and sudden wardrobe change I found myself with 10 minutes to pull off two shots of her looking relaxed and beautiful, worthy of a cover and inside story. Exactly 10 minutes after we began she smiled and said "That's it" and walked away. I stood there shaking my head.... So frustrating. She was very nice, I'll give her that.

Winter's coming:
It's 20 degrees outside tonight.
I came upon this image in an older file. I shot it from the window of my apartment on Christopher street last year. I had my head poked out the window watching the fresh snow below. This person was walking along and just collapsed. The friends didn't stop or even pause. Eventually he/she got up and walked away. Very odd.

While gallery hopping not long ago I stuck my head out the window to see if it was still raining. I saw these three shiny trucks and snapped a photo. They just jumped out at me.

December 9, 2009

I was doing laundry yesterday and after loading the dryer I took a walk around the neighborhood. The sky was an intense blue. There's a large white birch (I think) tree in the park across the street from the laundromat. A big sign above the dryers says "Please remove clothes from dryer as soon as they are done". I came back 45 minutes after my dryer shut off.... I felt guilty. I quickly loaded my clothes in a bag and left. I committed a laundry crime.

December 8, 2009


About a year ago I was having lunch with a friend and she ordered a lettuce wedge with blue cheese as an appetizer. I had never ordered a wedge of lettuce before, only salads. It came and looked delicious even though it was iceberg and had zero nutritional value. As she ate this crunchy, crisp wedge I was very envious of her appetizer choice. A few months ago while walking through the produce section at my local market I remembered her appetizer and bought a head of iceberg lettuce and some Ken's blue cheese dressing. Later, I made myself a wedge before dinner. De-friggin-licious! Since then, I often eat wedges instead of a salad. The other day while shopping I thought I'd try a different dressing. I used to mix Paul Newman's balsamic vinaigrette with cheapo Kraft Zesty Italian for a nice basic tangy dressing. Since I had been eating Ken's blue cheese on my wedges I thought I'd give Ken's Italian dressing a try. Damn, this stuff is great. Instant flashback: When I was about 10 years old, my parents took me to a nice restaurant named Emerson's. I remember they had a salad bar, I had never been to a salad bar before (weren't as popular back then). I must have eaten about a pound of lettuce that night. I was amazed at the amount of things one could put on a salad. I remember their awesome Italian dressing and sprinkling parmesan cheese on top. All these new flavors and tastes, it was a food epiphany. Until today, I can't remember tasting anything like it. Ken's instantly reminded me of what I had at Emerson's. I'm going to eat a salad everyday until I'm sick of it.

This has been an art filled few days. Yesterday I went to Christie's auction house and saw a preview of photographs for the auction held today. Most were iconic images seen in galleries. Many estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars. A great show. Today I went to a similar preview at Swann auction house with my fellow unemployed friends Todd and Bryan. Not nearly as good and Swann's presentation was sloppy...not nearly the class act as Christie's. Prior to that I had a nice Thai lunch with my friend Ron. Just as we left the restaurant I stepped in a big pile of dog shit which got embedded into my sole. I couldn't get it out. I walked in a puddle, stomped my foot like a crazy person, nothing worked to dislodge the poop. Damn I hate it when people don't clean up after their dogs. Ron got a kick out of my misstep laughing his ass off. I wasn't so amused.

December 6, 2009

Fall and Paul

The last remnants of fall are quickly disappearing. I was walking through the west village yesterday and saw these beautiful delicate Japanese maple leaves blowing in the wind in front of a townhouse. One by one they were rapidly falling off. A very tanned woman from California stopped as I was taking pictures and we struck up a conversation about how beautiful the leaves were. We moved on to a brief discussion of cameras, photography and art. Then we smiled and went our separate ways. An interesting New York moment.

As I continued my walk into Washington Square Park I noticed "The Birdman" Paul sitting on a bench feeding his friends. I sat next to him and we talked for about 15 minutes. He asked me to bring him a print next time I was in the park. He mentioned that many many people take photos of him feeding the birds yet no one ever gives him a photo later. I have to remember to do that. He's been feeding these birds every day for 9 years and has names for most of them...

December 4, 2009

Bagels and Thanksgiving

These two posts are in the wrong order...Too much trouble to change.

Honey Packets:
Yesterday I went to Starbucks. My sweet sister and mother both gave me Starbucks cards which was really nice. I looked at all the food items behind the glass and weighed the good and bad with each one. New York requires a calorie content beside each item which helped in my decision. "What? An oatmeal raisin cookie has 4000 calories? Who knew?" Personally I was more concerned with fat grams which wasn't listed. After 5 minutes of wavering, I decided on a multigrain bagel. They put it in this oven like thing that sort of toasts and bakes it. It was dry and plain so I asked for some butter and honey. This is the point to this post: Those honey packets are the most worthless product on the planet. One ounce of honey in a container that is nearly impossible to extract it from. And, even after you squeeze the packet, half of it ends up on your fingers. So stupid. The packaging weighs more than the product. There has to be a better way to get honey.

The Bus:
Back from the Thanksgiving family extravaganza. It was an odd few days. On the bus down, there where the usual group of strange characters. Vamoose has increased their fare to $30 (one way) so it's weeded out most of the stinky and mentally unbalanced riders who opt for the $20 chinatown bus. In the seat across from me a guy in his mid 30's sat with headphones on watching The Godfather on his laptop. He reached into his pocket and took out a pack of gum, the "new" kind with the plastic slide out compartments. He'd take out 2 or 3 pieces and chew them frantically. Then after about 6 minutes he would wad up the gum in his mouth into a little ball, take it out of his mouth and place it back into one of the little empty plastic compartments in the gum pack. Then he'd press out 3 more pieces and begin the whole process again. Each time he would do this I would elbow Rebecca and whisper "watch". She wasn't nearly as interested as I was in this odd ritual. I felt I had to say something. I reached into my bag and took out a small scrap of paper. With the bus bumping around I scribbled out a message. I showed it to Rebecca and we both giggled like little kids.. Then I extended my arm and acted like I was handing to him... I chickened out before he turned around.