Everyone has seen pictures of Times Square and many of us have walked through it. It used to be rather tawdry but the city cleaned it up, after a fashion. Now it's all megawatt advertising glitz and family friendly if your eyes aren't too sensitive. During my recent visit, many of the blinding signs were advertising movies. Incongruously, the display on Walgreens pharmacy was rotating beautiful black and white photos of African people. It was packed during a damp, chilly autumn evening.
Tomorrow, some of the people in the swirling scene.
Beneath the plaza of the World Trade Center is a museum about the devastating events of September 11, 2001, and the thousands of people who died that day. I've been there once before and I still find it a very difficult place. The horror and suffering it depicts are overwhelming, almost too much to bear for the living sixteen years later.
Olivier and I visited it on the last afternoon of our meet-up in New York. I took a lot of pictures on my first visit. but could not make more than a few this time. It was just too hard. As you descend the escalator into the cavernous space you are met with the sign in the first picture and wonder if it will literally be true. Just beyond is the mangled fire truck. The blue escalator in the last picture is the exit back upstairs. Stairway to heaven? The color could not have been accidental.
One dictionary defines oculus as a circular or oval window or a circular opening at the top of a dome. I do not know how this new building at the World Trade Center got its name. It has ribs that flare in like a cathedral ceiling and then back out like wings. The general shape, seen from above, is something like a football; maybe sort of oval. The eye reference may be that it contains a major transit hub, completely reformed after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Then throw in an upscale shopping mall (there are Apple, Kate Spade and Hugo Boss stores). The name doesn't exactly work, other than it is memorable.
But it is such an eyeful! Every angle, every view has something uniquely interesting. Sometimes, like in the second picture, you get the tower of One World Trade Center in the frame.
If you've been to New York, you can imagine how expensive ground-level retail space is in Rockefeller Center. Some companies will pay up, though, to show off their stuff in a spectacular, high-traffic location.
There is a big Lego store on the concourse leading west from Fifth Avenue to the central plaza and skating rink. The picture above is a model of just that, all made from Legos. The second photo looks like a giant Lego insect buzzing the entrance to Radio City Music Hall.
. . . other than the show that has my photo in the book, if not out on the floor. You could look at Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, or not. Or the clothing in the show, ranging from wild to mild. Or one of Louise Bourgeois' spiders. Or one of the museum's escalators that is awfully reminiscent of some of M. C. Escher's work. Or a Dada eye-twister. Fun for the whole family.
Most of the time you need to keep your gaze forward while walking the streets of New York. Don't run into the hoards of other pedestrians, food vendors' pushcarts, potholes or traffic. (Although New Yorkers, including me when I'm back, have a particularly aggressive way of crossing the street, as if saying to oncoming drivers C'mon. I dare you to hit me. I've got a badass lawyer.)
But sometimes you should look down at the pavement for unusual detail. The words in the first picture are painted onto the sidewalk at the entrance to the International Center of Photography, much beloved of us shooters. For ever and ever throughout the universe? So, after our species extinguishes itself, which does not seem a remote possibility, the computers that may replace us can use your image millennia from now on billboards on Tatooine? The lawyer in me says nobody who enters the building sees this and the release is unenforceable.
Further down, playing cards that have somehow affixed themselves to the sidewalk on E. Houston Street (New Yorkers pronounce it HOW-stun, not HOU-stun), and a stencil that is all too believable.