Saturday, November 18, 2017

Times Square 2

The hordes. I don't think I've ever been there when it wasn't busy. And if you are a New Yorker, the sign in the first picture will resonate. 

Note Olivier in the right of the third picture.         

Friday, November 17, 2017

Times Square 1

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.       

Thursday, November 16, 2017

9/11 Museum

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.     

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


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.   

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Legos In Rockefeller Center

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.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Things To See At Moma...

. . . 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.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Signs In The Street (In Saecula Saeculorum)

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.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Along The High Line

The High Line has become a major tourist attraction in New York. It is an old elevated freight line running from W. 34th Street to the Lower West Side that has been transformed into a linear park. It has views of the Hudson, rooftop gardens and striking new architecture. The trail is surrounded by art (that red sign below is by one of my favorite contemporary artists, Barbara Kruger). The people watching is, of course, unparalleled. 

The Whitney Museum of American Art is near the southern end, more about which soon.      

Friday, November 10, 2017

Is Fashion Modern? Reflections On Very Minor Fame.

Well, it finally happened. Your humble blogger has one of his photographs published in a book by the mighty Museum of Modern Art in New York. It's the black and white one of St. Louis motorcycle policemen. If you have money to burn, you can buy a copy here.

The show, Is Fashion Modern?, is a review of 111 items of clothing and accessories from the last century, looking at their cultural, social and design significance. (The link may not work after the show closes next January 28.) The museum used my picture in the section on biker jackets. Olivier and I went there last Sunday, where the staff had a copy of the book and a couple of free tickets waiting for me. Had to have him take my picture at the entrance to the exhibit, where a couple of new fans appear to be admiring the work. It's nice to have recognition, even some as small as this. I shoot pictures for the love of it; heaven knows I don't do it for the money.  

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Subway Riding For Dummies

Americans know the Dummies series of books: Plumbing For Dummies, HTML For Dummies, Management For Dummies, and so on ad infinitum. Looks like someone at the New York Transit Authority is a fan of the genre. You wouldn't think these would be necessary but the fact that the signs are there suggests ongoing problems. Does the public get it?        

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is a very unusual bit of New York. A long, narrow island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, it was known as Welfare Island when I was a kid. The development started with a tuberculosis hospital in the 19th Century, apart from the slums of the center city and the beneficiary (back then) of fresh air. Other public hospitals were added which, over time, fell into disuse and disrepair. In 1971, redevelopment began to turn it over to mostly residential use and its name was changed.

It is quiet, a bit isolated, yet right in the face of midtown Manhattan.  There is one small bridge from Queens, a subway link from both sides, and an aerial tram to 60th street and Second Avenue. The low and mid rise apartment buildings on island itself are not that photogenic. The main attraction is the spectacular view to the west in morning light.

There is a park at the southern tip dedicated to FDR's memory. On a November afternoon, workers used air blowers to send the fallen leaves into the East River.      

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

In The Subway

New York, New York's a wonderful town.
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down.
The people ride in a hole in the ground.    
                                                                   - from On The Town, 1949 

I started riding the subway by myself in seventh or eighth grade, then used it to commute to high school in The Bronx for four years. Fifty years later, I found that there were so many portraits I wanted to make in the cars: the middle-aged Asian woman with weary eyes, her teen-aged daughter asleep on her shoulder; the beautiful young Latino couple standing by the door, much more aware of each other than the next stop; all the runners who had just finished the marathon, weary but proud, draped in their blue thermal capes; the Middle Eastern man who graciously gave up his seat to an elderly gentleman; the innumerable people absorbed in their smart phones. (There is free WiFi in the stations now, although not in the tunnels.) Nobody reads the newspaper in the subway any more.

But it's not easy to do that, even with a little camera with a flip-out screen. Everyone is so close together inside the cars. It could possibly get you in trouble, and there's no place to back away when the train is in motion. The platforms are easier to work with.