August 29, 2012

Poetry in Motion

For many years the subways had a program called "Poetry in Motion". Poems were posted in the cars above the windows. I never really took notice until on one particularly cold day I read the following poem, which I thought was very beautiful. After reading it, I remember closing my eyes and imagining myself riding horseback through the snow of a rural farm.

Anna Akhmatova 
Along the hard crest of the snowdrift
to my white, mysterious house,
both of us quiet now,
keeping silent as we walk.
And sweeter than any song
this dream we now complete—
the trembling of branches we brush against,
the soft ringing of your spurs.

August 28, 2012

Time to Ponder

I often think back to old friends and co-workers I haven't spoken to in many years and wonder what became of them. One particular boss I worked for when I was in my early twenties was very kind to me. I was often invited to his home, had meals with his family, and frequently helped him with home projects when asked. After I quit my job to pursue photography, I never saw nor spoke to him again. A week turned into a month, which turned into a year, which turned into decades. Often while visiting my family in Virginia I thought about taking a ride out to his home in Catlett and knocking on his door to say hello. The other night I did an extensive search on Google and found my old friend, Roger Newman. As I read the obituary dated October 2003, I unexpectedly felt the same sadness as if I had seen him recently and heard the news that he had just died. It made me realize that if there's someone from your past you feel the need to contact, you should do it sooner than later. I sat there wondering how many other friends and co-workers might have passed without me knowing it. 

A plane moving across a red sky above Inwood.

A successful day at the fruit stand.

Things could be worse for all of us.

Green wall.

August 27, 2012

Vendors & Braille

When I look at street photography from the 1940s, I see a lot of people selling newspapers and shining shoes. When you look around today and it hasn't really changed much. This guy was selling papers like hotcakes on 46th and Park.

Woman selling mangoes for $3 each. She peels them, slices them and bags them quickly. I saw her sell about 20 in 15 minutes on Broadway and Spring.
Overhead: Cheap cart, cheap peeler, cheap knife, cheap mangoes from Chinatown, baggies.

They still shine shoes in Grand Central station. I haven't shined a pair of shoes in over 25 years. Nor owned a pair of shiny shoes for that matter.

I find this odd. All subway platforms have these metal signs hanging at eye level.  They have Braille on them. A blind person would have to make his way down many flights of steps from the street to the get to the platform, then walk around with his arms extended, hopefully finding (and feeling) this sign on one of the countless steel pillars. In 17+ years living in NYC I've rarely seen a blind person on the subway (except beggars) much less one walking around feeling the walls for a sign in Braille.

August 20, 2012

Art & Coney

The gallery show was a hoot. Many people came and all seemed to have a good time. Afterwards, dinner, drinks and great conversation. Placement of my art, above, is result of being two hours late for hanging time.. Next show, hopefully, I'll be on time.

Took a ride out to Coney Island yesterday with my good friend Eileen. Sort of an overcast, cool day, which was nice for a change. I sat on the pier for 20 minutes watching these two people. Both walked out into the surf and stood motionless staring down into the water as if pondering life or something darker, like, to keep walking.

Achmed was obviously confused when his friends asked him to come to Coney Island and bring a suit....

Sometimes one hat just isn't enough.

Nothing cuter than a pitbull wearing sunglasses. Until you reach down to pet him and he rips off part of your hand....

What better way to finish off a day at the beach than hearing a rendition of "Reunited" by this colorful couple? Boardwalk karaoke. Now that's entertainment.

August 19, 2012


A few weeks ago I met Olga in a gallery after she asked about the camera I had around my neck, which happened to be a YashicaMat medium format film camera. We struck up a conversation and ended up talking for over an hour about art and photography. We traded information and agreed that we should shoot together soon.

Today Olga made the long trek up to the hinterlands of Inwood. What I thought would be a quick, two-hour shoot turned into a full day event. We shot a little, ate pumpkin bread and yogurt, drank good coffee, took more great photos. She was beautiful, a joy to shoot and had a fun, playful spirit. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

I never thought of Ukrainians as so exotic looking.

August 17, 2012

Today's City Sights

Today while walking past the book sellers on 6th Ave., I glanced down to see a book that I SHOT the cover of sitting on one of the tables. I told the vendor I took the photo. Unimpressed, he smiled and said, "Give me 20 bucks for it." I smiled back and said, "I already have a few copies."

I have an odd little piece in a show called "The New Portrait" at Platform (LES) gallery, opening tonight. Originally they asked for "an outrageous portrait." Not knowing exactly what that meant, I submitted images of a rooster that I had killed in a local slaughterhouse and immediately photographed his head and feet. I mounted the photographs on a piece of oak, added some black tacks and covered the whole thing with a wax-like substance. I named it "Priere de Poulet," or "Chicken Prayer." I snapped these while the show was being hung. Stop by for a glass of wine, 6:00-8:00pm,  81 Hester Street, LES.

Other portraits.

Walking through Washington Square Park today... beautiful day... people wade and swim in that filthy water... I find that disturbing.

Barbies for sale on the street. Imagine, "Here Emma, I got you a used Barbie with a broken arm, no clothes and matted hair."

Interesting pencil drawing I found that someone sketched on a wood construction wall. Such random talent. I don't know what it is but it's sort of cool (one nostril dog snout?).

Tom Waits quote I heard: "You don't have to be busy in New York, because New York is busy. Just lay back and it will take you...." So true... if you let it.

August 16, 2012

The Street

Not long ago there was a huge fire that destroyed most of the buildings on the corner of 207th St. and Broadway. A bank, a florist, a dentist office. Now there's an empty lot. It improved the view of these apartments. Why do I love hanging laundry?

There are lots of grilled chicken places in Inwood. They all have large windows that look in on the grille. I guess this is to entice passersby to come in. These windows are always splattered with grease.

While riding the bus I noticed this tiny metal plate way below the window, reminding anyone with eyes around nipple level not to put their arm out the window.

This odd little character can usually be seen flitting around town on a children's bike (usually pink), in various feminine getups. When he's not pedaling about, he's in Times Square in a children's size bikini dancing around, hoping to score a few bucks posing for a photo.

New Yorkers are infamous for scribbling their opinions on any advertisement within minutes of being installed. This one, at the corner of 200th and Broadway, had a nice healthy reminder that drinking McDonald's iced tea will more than likely kill you.

Walking along 44th Street the other night I spotted this contraption in a trash heap. A strainer taped to a long pole taped to a second pole for further extension. I pondered this gadget for a moment without coming to a conclusion as to what it would or could have been used for.

August 10, 2012

Great Shoot, Great Night

Yesterday I did a shoot with 20/20. I love shooting eyewear and I couldn't ask for a nicer group of people to work with. Our location was an enormous, beautiful open loft on 24th Street.

Huge lovely bathroom. Shower head in the ceiling, drain in floor.

Breakfast: Egg wraps with salsa, hash browns, bagels and other various pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt and fresh squeezed orange juice. Perfect.  

Getting Svetlana ready.

Love that beautiful natural light.

You couldn't ask for two easier models to work with.

Possible cover shot.

Taylor doing  his best Chris Martin.

The "artiste": 10:00am, second Bourbon & Coke.

I love a good catered lunch. Salmon, mushroom ravioli, chicken cutlets with a yummy secret sauce, vegetable medley, homemade cookies. What's not to love?

The best of crews.

Finishing early, as we usually do, I pulled out my little point-and-shoot (trusty Lumix) and popped off some quick black and white shots of the model. I love the spontaneity of snapping away with a tiny little camera. Svetlana was perfect.

After the shoot I quickly dropped off my gear at my storage unit on 17th Street. My friend Iris and I rushed down to Platform Gallery at Orchard and Hester (LES) for the opening of my good friend Anne-Marie Belli's beautiful, delicate watercolors. Cool people, art and a few glasses of wine make for a fun night. Not yet completely exhausted, Iris and I headed to some hole-in-the-wall Mexican place for MORE drinks with guacamole and chips. Finally, I staggered onto the subway and fell asleep--as far as I'm concerned, no better way to spend a day.