Seeing Trevor Little's photograph of power-washing 188 Suffolk St linked from various blogs reminded me that I'd taken a set of photographs of the same thing. I'm doing a long-term documentary project on a vague theme of “people who work at heights”, so when I saw these guys at work I ran home and grabbed my camera.
New York 2007 Archives
The weather, which was uncannily warm most of the winter, turned icy cold for several days, and then finally delivered a modest amount of snow.
Gung hei faat choi
It seems that someone in my neighborhood doesn't care for wall art that expresses anti-authoritarian themes. A couple of pieces that I like have been vandalized recently by someone throwing paint over them. I wonder if there's anything significant in the observation that what you might call the counter-culture expresses itself through carefully-created and often witty pieces of art, while the counter-counter-culture expresses itself with pots of paint hurled from a distance. Just saying.
Anyway, for your enjoyment, here are the pieces as they were before they were defaced.
For viewers in the northeastern US, the moon was relatively low in the sky during last night's total eclipse, and scattered cloud and city lights made viewing conditions less than ideal. Still, it was nice to see it. M. and I went down to East River Park and I tried — with varying degrees of success — to capture the moment with my camera. Whether because of haze, or the difficulty of focusing on a dim object in the night sky, or the fact that my tripod is flimsy enough that even a mild breeze will make it tremble during a 20-second exposure, my photos aren't as sharp as I'd like. Still, some of them aren't too bad.
Fire and Police
It's never really a good sign when you see large numbers of emergency vehicles on the streets of Manhattan. Nevertheless, recent dramatic incidents seem to have had more than a touch of farce about them.
On Saturday, as I was on my way to play frisbee in Central Park (I have finally become a real New Yorker), I was a little surprised to find the intersection at Houston and Lafayette fairly choked with firetrucks in every shape and size, from demure little red SUVs all the way up to a hook-and-ladder approximately one city block in length. Throw in a few ambulances and some police cars, and you could be forgiven for thinking that some species of major inferno had broken out.
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Great Saunter 2007
Another year, another thirty-two miles.
The Great Saunter around Manhattan is a peculiarly masochistic pleasure. I will admit that I enjoy it more for the early stages, the brisk gallop up Hudson River Park and the easy stroll through the spring blossoms in Riverside Park, rather than the foot-dragging, knee-aching, stumble down the East River at the end of the day, when I'm generally too tired to take much in. I wonder if the organizers could be persuaded to run the route widdershins one year, to give a different perspective on things.
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Dance Parade 2007
When former mayor (and current presidential hopeful) Rudy Giuliani stepped up enforcement of New York's “cabaret laws” as part of a ‘quality of life’ campaign, the irony was not lost on those New Yorkers who like to dance. Under the laws, any establishment that serves food and drink must have a license if the owners want to allow dancing on the premises. Such licenses are not easy to come by, and only about 5% of New York's licensed premises have one. In the other 95%, getting up and dancing is strictly verboten. Even music venues will hasten to quell any outbreak of spontaneous dancing, so that the unseemly public spectacle of gyrating adults doesn't get them fined or lose them their liquor license.
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(It's a) Burning Car
Working on Centre Street is anything but dull. If it's not hostage situations, it's spontaneously combusting Saturns. I don't know why this car broke down and burst into flames just outside our office, but it made for an interesting interruption to the afternoon routine. I was even able to capture some of it on video.
According to the New York Times, Reverend Billy has been arrested at a Critical Mass protest in Union Square. Apparently the police don't take kindly to having people shout the First Amendment at them through a bullhorn.
Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping are regular — and entertaining — features of pretty much any New York parade or protest. Personally, I have a soft spot for anyone who treats important topics such as freedom of speech or assembly with deadly frivolousness. And it's hard not to admire someone who has his own page in the three-ring binder issued to Starbucks managers (
“What to do if Reverend Billy appears in your store”).
“Reverend Billy has a First Amendment right to recite the First Amendment,” says his lawyer. So say we all.
Real photographers plan in advance to take pictures of fireworks. Real photographers find a good place to stand with unobstructed views of the display. Real photographers keep an eye on the time, so that they don't have to run back to their apartment to get their camera when they hear the first detonations. Real photographers have sturdy tripods, and don't spend the evening kneeling in a puddle.
I think I like my pictures anyway.
Every September, Little Italy — which over the past decades has shrunk to the point where it's a Very Little Italy — expands dramatically again to take in the Feast of San Gennaro. The streets fill up with carnival side stalls, stands selling food, and slow-moving crowds of curious tourists and locals.
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