October 29, 2011

Big Things

In Central Park there are a few guys drawing crowds, equipped with only buckets and sticks. They fill the bucket with water and dish liquid. They tie some rope on the end of two long sticks, making a noose-like thing that reminds me of something you might see a Vietnamese fisherman using. Then they dip this "noose" into the soapy bucket, pull the noose apart, let the wind blow into the opening and suddenly they're making giant bubbles. Fairly effortless. Now, take some kid, teach them to do it, have Mom and Dad toss a few bucks in the tip bucket... Brilliant.

My local 99-cent store.... The sign pretty much sums things up. There are few items that cost 99 cents, my observation has been that most items start around $1.49.
I like the charm of a small house, so much more than some big McMansion that takes forever to heat, to cool, to clean, to paint, to maintain, to furnish, with its high taxes and glut of unused space. Most people I know with large homes have at least two unused rooms that end up being used for storage. Not to mention they're an environmental nightmare. Unless you have a very large family, big homes are nothing more than an ego trip--"Look what I have, look what I've acquired, look how successful I am." And sadly, when you finally get that big energy-sucking Castle remember this: nobody cares and nobody is impressed. It represents gluttony and debt. No one needs over 500 sq. ft. per human.

October 27, 2011

Coney Island in the Fall

Yesterday I made the hour+ subway trek to Coney Island, starting at at 6:15 in the morning. First stop was at McDonald's for the weakest, nastiest cup of coffee I've had in years. I finally arrived shortly after sunrise. The morning light was nice, the beach was somewhat uninhabited and more filthy than I had expected, with litter strewn everywhere. Walking toward Brighton Beach (dubbed "Little Odessa" because many of the residents came from that city in the Ukraine), you hear the locals speaking to one another in Russian while out for their morning walks along the boardwalk. The walk from Coney to Brighton and back was probably 5 miles or so. My last journey there until next year.

These people enjoy the sun. It was a chilly 56 degrees and I was dressed in layers while many of the locals were shirtless, all with faces aimed towards the sun.

Coney Island camping. A sleeping bag and a fake palm tree, what more do you need?

Ukrainian stroller with fish.

The usually crowded (and disgusting) public bathroom, now empty for the season.

October 24, 2011


I went to see the protesters with a friend Friday night. Walking through the crowd someone suddenly screamed "Mic check!" at the top of his lungs and the whole crowd in unison screamed back "Mic check!" It seems the NYPD has banned the use of any amplifying devices such as megaphones or the use of speakers. Therefore, when someone has something to say to the masses, they yell out "Mic check!" The crowd then quiets down momentarily, followed by loudly repeating whatever the speaker says in spurts of a few words for all to hear.

Speaker: "Mic check"
Crowd: "Mic check"
Speaker: "The general assembly..."
Crowd: "The general assembly..."
Speaker: "Needs to address..."
Crowd: "Needs to address..."
Speaker: "The issue of..."
Crowd: "The issue of..."
Speaker: "Dirty laundry."
Crowd: "Dirty laundry."

This incredibly annoying procedure went on for an hour to get out what seemed like 5 full sentences. There must be a better way to communicate, like an LED message board. The subject in this case was that there is a ton of dirty laundry that "needs to be taken care of." They were asking for $3000 in donations to do all the protesters' laundry. Here's a suggestion: Have everyone do their own laundry. Brilliant solution!!

I have to say that after watching these people attempt to conduct an orderly meeting and seeing their obvious inability to show any trace of organization, I realized that most of them have no clue how to run a protest, how to organize one or even what they are protesting. They're dancing, playing drums, holding misspelled signs, chanting, sleeping, arguing, handing out fliers and eating free donated food and supposedly "hooking up" with one another. Many of the participants appear to be homeless, or very close to it, and only there for the food and camaraderie. Granted, there is a percentage of concerned citizens like myself who want to see some sort of banking reform. But, camping out under tarps and stinking up a small park in lower Manhattan is not going to convince anyone in power to change anything. Do you think the execs at Goldman Sachs or Chase give a rat's ass about some dirty hippie with $38 to his name protesting about Wall Street's policies and corporate greed? Not a chance.
Good intention, piss poor execution.

The weather is getting cold... I think this protest will fizzle out soon.

Losers: "MIC CHECK!"
Me: "People, Please, Get a Life..."
Losers: "People, Please, Get a Life..."
Me: "Go Home."
Losers: "Go... what? Home?"

My thoughts on this matter? You want to affect the banking industry and make a statement? Encourage everyone you know to take ALL of their money out of the banks. Tell everyone to purchase as much as possible using cash and make any other payments with Postal Service money orders. Don't buy anything on credit. If you don't have the money for something, don't buy it.

See how the banking industry likes that. Then maybe there won't be a branch on every corner and America will get off its materialistic path of self destruction.

October 22, 2011

Which New York?

There are roughly three New Yorks.

There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and turbulence as natural and inevitable.

Second, there is the New York of the commuter - the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out at night.

Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last - the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York's high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion. And whether it is a farmer arriving from Italy to set up a small grocery store in a slum, or a young girl arriving from a small town in Mississippi to escape the indignity of being observed by her neighbors, or a boy arriving from the Corn Belt with a manuscript in his suitcase and a pain in his heart, it makes no difference: each embraces New York with the intense excitement of first love, each absorbs New York with the fresh eyes of an adventurer, each generates heat and light to dwarf the Consolidated Edison Company.

-Here is New York, E.B. White, 1949

October 20, 2011

Random Crap

In the Bronx yesterday I glanced up to see this nice sky. (Yes I like the large glowing lamp in the middle of the shot.)

In Chelsea I noticed an impromptu Michael Jackson shoot going on.

More protesters.... They're diligent, you have to give them that.

Do you really think your vote counts? It's a joke. ALL politicians are getting funds from some crooked source somewhere (oil, tobacco and pharmaceutical companies). Therefore they can never be unbiased and truly change anything.

I have constant arguments with my friends who drive SUVs. I believe ALL cars should be required to get at least 30-35 mpg. If your car gets less, you're a Gashole. Americans want to be less dependent on fossil fuels yet nobody wants to compromise comfort and convenience and give up their big-assed, gas-guzzling luxury vehicles.

October 18, 2011


Walking down the street the other night this guy asked me for a cigarette. When I told him I didn't smoke, he asked me for money. I said "I'll give you a dollar if you let me take your picture." He glared at me and said, "You already did." I gave him a dollar.

A protester's boots. Oddly southern Confederate Flag motif.

Brains? Guts? No, smoothie (I think).

October 16, 2011

The Protest

Out of curiosity I went to the protest down by Wall Street. The park was smaller than I expected and I found it full of exactly the type people I expected to be there. Many of whom were hippies, bums, street urchins and near homeless people who probably don't vote and surely don't have bank accounts large enough for corporate executives to care what they think of the banking/trading industries. People with low to no income seem to care a lot more about these issues than people with lots of money which I find odd. Why does a person with $95 in their account give a shit about corporate greed? In the whole crowd I saw one guy nicely dressed with an expensive watch. I doubt many of the protesters actually know what they're protesting. But, many people did have signs that struck a nerve.

How true! Thank you Mr Bush (you dumb son of a bitch).

Like I've always said... most people are basically stupid and sheep-like. Give them a job and a few benefits and they're happy. People question very little in life.

The sign should include Democrats. Sadly, most Americans (sheep) actually believe that by casting their vote they may have some effect on making changes in our government. How naive people are. It's all a sham. Name one time in the last 50 years this has happened.

I have no idea what these women stood for. But, they had the least clothing on...

October 14, 2011

Crappy Art and free drinks!

After a horrible week spent doing taxes and battling a sinus infection a friend called and asked me to spend an evening with her going to gallery openings. We decided on the Chelsea art scene starting off at Bruce Davidson's show at Aperture. The show was series of shots he did on subways back in 1980. Dark, moody, edgy. Not my favorite of Davidson's work, but a nice show. I spoke to him briefly asking about his lighting. Interesting man who is a member of the exclusive Magnum agency and one of the true photo greats.

We drank wine as we browsed the images.

Moving on it, was definitely downhill from there. The next gallery had really crappy art but served ice cold Grolsh beer.

You can have this mess for only $10,000.

String stretched across wall at eye level, with silly string added (photo shot from ground looking up). Genius! (Um, that'd be sarcasm.)

Obviously trying to incite a race riot.

Lots of drunk "bad art" lovers.

Empty Chelsea streets.

After viewing lots of bad art, drinking free beer and cheap wine we decided to end the night with some good Thai food at Spice on 8th Ave. A very nice night overall!

October 11, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I've been in Virginia since the end of September. My niece Kristen was married to her love Brian down in Richmond. We are all thrilled to have him as part of the family. The wedding was perfect. Beautiful weather, cool temperature, blue skies and the whole thing went off without a hitch. I came down a day before and took many photos. Though obviously not a real "wedding photographer", I was the designated shooter for the event and I did the best I could. I'm sure I have some beautiful photos....

In the years since leaving Fairfax, so many things have changed. Friends and family members have died, married, divorced and have moved away. All familiar landmarks have been torn down or changed drastically. Maybe that saying "you can't go home again" is true. I'm sad about what has happened to the place I grew up. The greed and desire for growth has turned a once lovely town into an ugly, traffic congested, chain store mecca. It's become impossible to drive in any direction in the morning and afternoon during rush hour. The powers in control of zoning have let anybody with significant assets build any store wherever they want to drop one. Fairfax Virginia has all the charm of a festering boil.

With that said, I also realize that I have changed while my friends remain much the same. For the most part, they go to their 9-5 jobs, come home, eat, watch some TV and go to bed. Which is all fine, except I haven't done that for a very long time. I have no 9-5 routine. Dinner for me happens around 9pm. There's little difference between a Tuesday and a Saturday. I have no "hump day" or "thank God it's Friday" to celebrate. Familiar topics of conversation in Virginia include kids, sports, jobs, retirement, IRA accounts, divorces and the farmer's market. I've got nothing there... I can't relate. I DETEST sports and usually loathe the people who watch them finding them boring, obnoxious and uninteresting. Subjects that interest me, such as art and music or one's own creativity, rarely come up in my conversations in Virginia.

The truth is, I think differently, I act differently, I talk differently, I dress differently. My political views are different. I'm not judging, I'm just very aware of the dissimilarity. So, with that said, I've come to realize that no, I can't go home. New York City is my home now.

And lastly, I lost a very close friendship this week due to poor judgement and deception. Whether on my part or theirs is irrelevant. Sometimes things happen that can't be taken back or be forgiven. And, in those times it's better to walk away and remember the good times than struggle with trying to repair the damage. Beating to death questions of "why" and "explain that again" is exhausting and rarely fixes anything. Walking away is the only option in this situation. Sadly, it's like a death, knowing you'll never see that person again....

The past few weeks were brutal to my psyche. The above realization that I have little in common with many of my hometown friends, suddenly coming to terms with my mother's absence while at the wedding, the changes in and my disenchantment with the place I called home and the loss of a close friend. Damn!

I just remembered, my taxes are due Friday.....