Half a saunter
... is better than none.
I had forgotten that this Saturday was the day of the Great Saunter, and had made an appointment for the afternoon. In previous years, I've been able to do the full walk; thirty-two miles around the rim of Manhattan. This year, I only had time to do half.
The weather, for the half that I was able to do, was beautiful: the sky was blue and almost cloudless, but it was not too hot. The fruit trees in Riverside and Fort Washington Park were all in bloom, and people were out running and bicycling and playing games. It was an almost perfect day for a lazy stroll along the edge of the Hudson.
The Saunter seems to be a bigger affair than I remembered. The lines snaking in and out of Fraunces Tavern, the starting point for the walk, were very long, and even with people starting off in separate groups, I had the impression that there were many more walkers than before. It also seemed to be more organized. The photocopied paper maps of previous years have been replaced by a glossy printed map, and instead of the indefatigable Robert sprinting back and forth to act as a human signpost on the less obvious parts of the route, they now had literally dozens of volunteers spaced at intervals along the way, giving out directions and, in some cases, granola bars. (The granola bar was very welcome; having failed entirely to prepare or even eat breakfast, I did the whole sixteen miles on one granola bar, two squares of chocolate and a few sips of water, which is unduly masochistic, even for me).
It was a good walk, and I was sorry to have to leave at Inwood and catch the train downtown. Maybe next year I'll do the whole thing again.
Anarchy in the L.E.S.
New York, NY, USA -- 06 April 2013
I'd noticed that there seemed to be more police than usual on the Lower East Side today, but until I turned onto Suffolk Street I hadn't seen any who actually seemed to have some specific purpose. Perhaps they were just out enjoying the fine weather.
On Suffolk Street, however, they were out in visibly greater force. There was a small knot of uniforms, a whiteshirt, a van, and even a few helmeted scooter cops loitering on nearby Rivington. The focus of their attention seemed to be the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center, which was surrounded by a small and slightly ragged-looking crowd.
Continue reading 'Anarchy in the L.E.S.'
New York, NY, USA -- 31 March 2013
A small collection of photographs taken in San Francisco, California.
San Francisco HDR
New York, NY, USA -- 31 March 2013
I'm not entirely convinced by high dynamic range (HDR) photographs. Used subtly, it can be an answer to a particularly vexing problem for photographers, namely how to cope with extremes of contrast in a photographic subject. Used unsubtly, it simply looks gimmicky. It's easy to get tired of HDR photos, with their distinctively other-worldly look.
That said, while I was in San Francisco this weekend I couldn't resist playing around with the HDR app that I downloaded for my iPod Touch. Here are some of my experiments.
San Francisco evening
New York, NY, USA -- 30 March 2013
A small collection of photographs taken in San Francisco during the early evening and night.
The bird is back
New York, NY, USA -- 24 March 2013
Or, strictly speaking, not the bird, but a bird. Which is to say, not the same hawk that I saw last year, but a younger, fluffier member of the same family.
Like its predecessor, this one appears to have taken up residence in Tompkins Square Park. Like its predecessor, it appears to get no respect from the squirrels. While we watched, a rather scrappy-looking gray squirrel scrambled up onto the limb where the hawk was sitting, advanced to within perhaps six feet of the bird, and sat there, tail fluffed up, seemingly challenging the young hawk to make something of it. The hawk eyed the squirrel with a rather put-upon air, as if all this rodent disrespect was putting it in an embarrassing position, but it didn't move. Evidently it had decided that being taunted by the tree-rat was less humiliating than striking at it and possibly missing. The squirrel held its position for a few minutes more, then leaped away with a flick of its bushy tail.
I've seen this before. When the hawks are young, the squirrels will often run up to within a few feet of them. I don't know if it's a threat display, to try to get the hawk to move away, or if hawk-teasing is a popular extreme sport for squirrels. What I do know is that they only do it to the younger hawks, who are presumably not yet expert at snatching prey on the wing. The squirrels give older birds a much wider berth, while the sight of an adult landing on a nearby limb is enough to send whole tree-fulls of squirrels scurrying for cover.
Chinese New Year 2013
New York, NY, USA -- 17 February 2013
A small collection of photographs taken at the Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan's Chinatown.
February snow storm
New York, NY, USA -- 10 February 2013
Despite the Weather Channel's attempt to stir up viewership by naming this (and other) winter storms, the storm that hit us this weekend was - for most people in New York City, at least - largely a non-event. Even just in the time I've lived here, there have been much bigger snowstorms. Unfortunately, my attempt to subvert Weather Channel propaganda by suggesting that the event should be renamed 'Slushpalooza 2013' didn't catch on. Still, after a mild winter, it was the first significant fall of snow we've seen, and made for a few good photo opportunities.
New York, NY, USA -- 26 January 2013
The last time that I photographed the Idiotarod, the cops were out in force. At one of the checkpoints, a band of rather thuggish-looking plainclothes cops were issuing moving violations according to some inscrutable logic of their own. The police it seems, have a special hatred for the event. According to my friend J., recent years have featured police helicopters. When the organizers reacted by making the route of the race a secret, things turned farcical as the cops submitted their own entry in the hope of learning where to go.
Continue reading 'Idiotarod 2013'
Some sad news: the Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón has been found dead. His body was discovered on the Escadaria Selarón, a flight of steps in the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro that he had transformed into his own whimsical art project, decorating the steps with thousands of handmade tiles.
Selarón made the transformation of the stair into his life work, adorning them with brightly colored tiles bearing abstract designs or idiosyncratic figures. One of his recurring themes was an image of a hugely-pregnant woman, which apparently represented his admiration for the literal and metaphorical fertility of Brazil. Following his own unique logic, he represented himself using the same figure, but substituting his own mustachioed face for the woman's.
The stairs are delightful - a splash of color and humor in a not too prosperous neighborhood - and represent an amazing labor of love by a very unusual man. It's a sad end to an extraordinary life.