April 22, 2010

Evolution and KFC

These chicken heads are really fascinating me. I don't think I've ever shot so many images of one single thing. Such a lizard-like appearance. Perhaps Darwin was on to something. From my in-depth 15-minute investigation on evolution, somewhere around 245-260 million years ago scales turned into feathers and lizards started gliding around and one thing lead to another and pretty soon birds were all over the place, eventually leading to Colonel Sanders opening the first KFC in 1952. And now, I'm taking photos of rooster heads making me ponder evolution. Crazy shit.

Note: Did you know that the top 3 poultry producers provide 356,550,000 lbs of meat a year for us to eat? That's just the top 3. 356 MILLION pounds. Their business practices, animal rights issues and environmental issues are ALL in question and all have had multiple charges against them. The poultry and meat industries are horrible at best. I'm seriously thinking of being a vegetarian. Or, only eat what I can shoot, spear or catch.

April 20, 2010

Playing Chicken

Today I grabbed my newest camera, a few lenses and took a long walk through my neighborhood. What a beautiful day. The locals filled the sidewalks hanging out, playing dominoes, eating, drinking beer in little brown paper bags and socializing. On every corner there were little carts selling various foods and beverages. Snow cones, grilled meat, tacos, fresh squeezed orange drinks, empanadas and frozen fruit ices (I got a mango cup for a $1). Pretty much any type of Caribbean street food you can think of is out there. I usually grab a cafe con leche at a little bakery and zig zag through "the 'hood" on these walks. I tried to take a few portraits but the locals wouldn't have any part of it. I walked past three heavily tattooed Dominican guys about 19 years old who asked me if I was a cop. I said, "Do I look like a cop?" They laughed and said in unison, "Yeah, you do." Then they walked towards me in what might be perceived as a "threatening manner." Definitely intimidating. Feeling like I was about to get my ass kicked and lose $4000 in camera equipment I quickly blurted out, "I'm a friend of Al's. You know Al, big Al, really nice big guy. Walks around with a camera?" The leader of this group paused a moment and then extended his hand and introduced himself. "I'm Eddie, I know Al." Al is a local guy who hangs out on the street and is an amateur photographer. He approached me on the street one day and we struck up a conversation about photography. Nice guy and a good photographer. Now we get together every couple of weeks for breakfast and a chat at the local diner. Thank God Eddie knew Al.

After that tense little moment I decided to walk up to a place that sells live poultry on the other end of the block about a half mile away. I walked in and told the guy behind the counter I wanted three chicken heads, actually, rooster heads. The guys working there looked at me like I was crazy. I explained that I was going to take some photos of the heads. A few minutes later they came from the back with a small black bag. They offered the heads for free, digging them out of the trash but I gave them $5 and told them to buy a cerveza for the effort. I walked home with that little bag of heads, set up a light and tried to channel Irving Penn. I washed off the largest rooster head, dried it off and set it on a film canister. I was amazed at the detail and how much it looked like some prehistoric lizard. I had never really studied a rooster head before. Amazing.

April 18, 2010

Crappy weather and boring pics

The weather has been shitty the past few days. I usually walk around and take some snaps but it's been raining, crappy and cold. I haven't felt like shooting. Last week it was 90 degrees (actually set a record one day) and I was dressed in my "summer mode" wearing painter pants, a t-shirt and Teva sandals. This week it's in the 40s and 50s and I'm back to a heavy jacket, jeans and boots. It's like fall out there. I'm ready for summer. Coney Island is calling.

Today I took a walk in the Bronx. I expected it to be unsafe and run down--it wasn't. It was like Inwood. Maybe next time I'll go more towards the South Bronx. The ghetto slums of the '70s and '80s just aren't here anymore. I might take a trip to Camden, NJ. I hear it's awful. I love awful.

Expected to hear a report of some guy falling out of a window in the village. He was five floors up. Afternoon light, west side.
On the bus... textured hat.

April 15, 2010

Another beautiful, art filled day

Walking down the street my friend Todd pointed at some men working high up on the scaffolding. Normally I wouldn't steal another guy's shot/idea but he didn't have a camera. Somebody had to take a snap of them hanging up there.

I went to Phillips this afternoon to the pre-auction viewing of photographs. Room after room of great iconic photos. Hundreds of them. Auction estimates varied from a few thousand dollars to a quarter of a million for a Steichen. After that, my fellow art-loving friend Todd and I walked over to the Chelsea Hotel to see another show. It was in a room on the 5th floor which is something I've never seen before. A show in a hotel suite? Odd but interesting. Anyway, it was a cool show of 500 polaroids made by photographer Mikael Kennedy. These were beautiful photos taken between 1999 and 2009. Each one documenting a moment of his life and no two alike. They were for sale for $500 each. Most of the 3x3-inch original photos were mounted in little individual plastic sleeves on the wall in a line around the perimeter of the room at eye level. Some were grouped. It just happened to be opening tonight so I got to speak with him briefly. Nice guy, very interesting work. I have to admit, after leaving the show I wanted to pull out my SX70 and my Spectra and start snapping.

Walking down the art filled staircase, I put my camera over the rail and pointed it up. The Chelsea has so much history. Too much to write about so click on this link for some interesting info about the hotel.

April 14, 2010

Lights, blossoms and shoes

More walking around snaps.
A small bar in the Chelsea gallery district had these lights hanging out front. I thought the shadows were interesting.

Finally, tree blossoms against a blue sky. A record 90 degree day here in the city. No allergies to report as of yet. Stocking up on Sudafed tomorrow, just in case. (I know, another "flower" shot. Sorry).

Chinatown cobbler.

April 13, 2010

Beverages and snaps

I apologize for my post yesterday. Snapshots of flowers was a lame-assed thing to put up. Compared to today's post, which is much more informative and interesting (um, yes, that's sarcasm). I'm talking about my CRAZY french press collection. Here's the deal: as most people know, I go to thrift stores. Apparently people donate french presses to thrift stores pretty frequently because I find these things all the time for about $3.99 each. Priced a good french press lately? They're about $40. Just the little replacement screen for one costs $3. So, if I have the opportunity to buy a complete press in perfect condition for $4 why wouldn't I? And, anyone who drinks a cup of coffee made from a french press would understand. They'd soon find out that comparatively "drip" coffee tastes like cat pee. Maybe I'll send one to my sister.

I found this odd, "good taste teabag"

This guy looked ready to collapse. It seemed very heavy
Shadows in Chelsea

Late afternoon on the west side. Very "Hopper-esque".

April 12, 2010

Spring walk

I must have walked 12 miles this weekend. The weather was beautiful. In the little park across the street from my apartment, all the trees are in full bloom.
Rear doors of a church in Chinatown
This evening's clouds
Walking through Tribeca

April 8, 2010

Kids, life questions and the hourglass

I'm constantly reading books and articles looking for answers regarding my life choices. Did I make the right choice by not getting married, not buying a house, not having a 9-to-5 job, not having kids, not going to church, never buying a new car and not having a 401K plan. Compared to the typical American, I'm basically socially retarded. Reading Stumbling on Happiness it was interesting to read the page below regarding kids and how they affect your life. Consumer Reports did a survey that put "attending to one's children" just above washing the dishes on a level of fun activities. Ask any parent with a kid between 12 and 18 and I think I've found my answer to one of the questions (or two actually, kids and marriage). Five studies can be pretty convincing. According to everything I've read, the only things I've missed out on are lots of screaming and yelling, crying and fighting and spending shitloads of money on raising kids. But, am I lonely? Let me think... No. It's all been pretty good so far.I'm guessing some guy waiting for a bus who just turned 40 wrote this trying to convince himself that it's all okay. But knowing in his heart that in the great "hourglass of life" he has more sand on the bottom than on the top. Keep scribbling my friend, keep scribbling.

April 6, 2010

Trash & junk

Walking by a dumpster in Chelsea's gallery district I felt someone staring at me.This van was parked in Soho. There was a cardboard note on the dash pleading not to be ticketed. There wasn't a single light that wasn't busted out. And, what a great job they did making the new reflectors. You can hardly tell they were missing.

April 5, 2010

Easter freak show

What a beautiful day in NYC. The weather was perfect. I started my day by going to the Easter Parade on 5th Ave. I'm not a parade person nor do I celebrate Easter but I was hoping to snap some photos of those wild hats that black women in Harlem are known for. They obviously stayed in Harlem today because the only people wearing hats at this parade were freaks. I stayed a short time and left. Ventured down to Little Italy and ate some great Italian food.

Religion is a funny thing. As comedian Jim Gaffigan and others have pointed out, I don't know how Easter got mixed up with making and hiding colored eggs, bunnies, baskets filled with candy and stupid hats. And, let's not forget Christmas... How did a fat bearded guy in a red suit become the symbol for the day Jesus was supposedly born? I'll tell you how: Materialism. What America is built on. Holy shit.

Speaking of religion and how screwed up it is, during the parade, in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral, a group of gay people were protesting the Pope's participation in the cover up of that latest priest's recurring child abuse/molestation. Year after year, never seems to go away. Priests abusing little boys... Vatican, we have a problem.

April 4, 2010

The wee hours

After having really good Indian food with friends on 6th street we stopped by Arthur's Tavern on Grove Street. Sweet Georgia Brown was playing. The place was packed and they seated us behind the band which was very cramped and kind of weird. I pulled out my point and shoot and snapped some pics in pitch darkness at 3200 iso. Sort of an interesting look. She puts on a fun show and her band was great. Very funky.
What's better than hanging out with friends, eating some poori and chicken sagwalla and listening to funky soul music 'til the wee hours in New York City? Nothing, that's what.

10th avenue shadows earlier in the day.

Coming home very late on the A train a bunch of subway workers got on at 135th street. They looked like coal miners with their lanterns and tools. They were loud and talked about Michael Jordan being God and the possibility of Derek Jeter going to the Mets. They got off at 190th street.

April 1, 2010

Wet and cold

Night before last I was walking to the E train on 23rd street. It was cold and spitting rain. Just before going down the steps into the station I noticed this older man standing alone on the corner, wet and motionless with a blank, vacant look on his face. I stepped under a restaurant's awning close by to watch him. He stood there, completely still for a few minutes, and then suddenly pointed a finger to the sky and started barking out strange growls and grunting noises. Sort of like the sounds Danny DeVito's character the Penguin made in Batman Returns. I started to walk away at least ten times but couldn't stop watching him. Partly out of concern, mostly out of curiosity. It was getting late and the temperature was falling and it began to rain harder. About an hour passed and he was completely soaked. As he growled and pointed, his pants began to fall down from being soaked and heavy. He tried to pull them up with one hand still pointing with the other. Two people approached him asking him to step out of the rain but he didn't even acknowledge them. At one point I asked myself, "We're both out in the rain, wet and cold. Even though he's disturbed he seems to be fairly content. Who's the crazy one here?" Finally, after an hour and 15 minutes, I called the police. They arrived 7 minutes later and tried to talk to him. He was off in another place and didn't respond. I spoke to one of the officers and told him that I was the person who called. They said they knew who he was and were calling an ambulance. He was suffering from Alzheimer's. As I walked down the steps to the train I could hear the siren off in the distance getting closer.