New York 2009 Archives

Free Tibet Protest

New York, NY, USA -- 10 March 2009 | Permalink
4 pictures

It's been fifty years since the uprising in Tibet against Chinese occupation, and more than that since what the Chinese government likes to refer to as the ‘peaceful liberation’ of the country (during which the people of Tibet were ‘liberated’ from the crushing burdens of autonomy, self-determination and, in many cases, their lives). Today was an international day of protest to commemorate the failed March Uprising and call again for China to release its hold on Tibet.

There's a sizable Tibetan expatriate community in the north-east, but even so I was surprised by the size of the demonstration: the line of marchers in white T-shirts carrying black flags seemed to go on and on. And while free Tibet is something of a cause celebre among Western liberals, this march seemed to be an authentically Tibetan affair: I only saw one person, at the very tail end of the procession, who was obviously not Tibetan. Their banners and slogans — “Tibet for the Tibetans, China for the Chinese” and “Shame, shame, Hu Jintao” were in English, however.


Barking Beauty

New York, NY, USA -- 22 March 2009 | Permalink
7 pictures

“It's standing room only in there”, the woman at the entrance warned me. She was right. Between an audience that filled the available seating to overflowing, twenty-five or thirty small dogs, their owners, a half dozen photographers, and two television crews, the small theater was packed to overflowing. I hovered at the back end of a line of stage mothers with their four-legged charges, wondering if I could squeeze past to get to where the action was without inadvertently trampling a finalist. My friend R., several kilos of professional photo gear gripped in her hands, emerged from the melee wearing the bewildered grin of a woman who isn't quite sure if she's hallucinating or not. “Just go for it,” she advised, stepping nimbly over a bulldog wearing a pink tulle skirt and stopping to snap away at a passing bichon frise in a hand-knitted cardigan. I took her advice, and plunged into the fray.

Continue reading 'Barking Beauty'



New York, NY, USA -- 04 April 2009 | Permalink
5 pictures

I was late leaving home, so by the time I reached Wall St, the NYPD had intervened to close down the pillowfight. The air was still full of flying feathers, and thick drifts had accumulated all across the intersection of Wall and Broad. Small groups of displaced pillowfighters, pillows tucked under their arms, wandered around lower Manhattan, looking rather lost and forlorn.

By the time-honored trick of eavesdropping on the cops, I learned that a smaller pillowfight had broken out in City Hall Park, so I hurried up there in the hope of getting a few action shots. Fortunately, there were still perhaps a hundred high school kids cheerfully slugging it out there.

For the record, photographing pillowfights presents a novel challenge. It's like sports photography, in that everything moves fast and motion blur is everywhere, but a massed pillow fight is even more of a melée than most team sports, and your composition is apt to be constantly disrupted by large, fast-moving white objects. By the time that the police finally showed up to put an end to the fun (having either tactfully taken their time walking up from Wall St or stopped in a donut shop along the way) I had a great many pictures featuring pillows, but not too many that were actually usable.


"In C"

New York, NY, USA -- 24 April 2009 | Permalink
1 picture

I don't know if I can really describe “In C”, but it was like nothing else I've heard — or seen. The sound seemed to ebb and flow on its own, although a small bald man — billed in the program as 'Director of Flight Patterns' — occasionally walked gravely through the orchestra, holding up a numbered card to let the musicians know where they should be, or raising one stern hand to quiet an unruly section. His intervention was minimal, however: only in the final pattern did he really step in to manage the recommended crescendos/diminuendos. Riley is billed as a 'minimalist' composer, which suggests the idea of something spare and austere. “In C” was as rich and complex as you could ask for, the music not minutely pre-scripted but emerging naturally from the interactions of a stage-full of gifted musicians playing every imaginable kind of instrument (the Kronos Quartet at the front of the stage were backed by conchs, didgeridoos, guitars, keyboards, four German women playing mysterious wooden objects that looked like unfinished architectural models, a choir of teenagers, trombones, a bathroom's-worth of white plastic piping, a half-dozen different percussion instruments, Margaret Leng Tan on toy piano and glockenspiel, and even one performer who was listed as playing 'Ancient and Neglected Instruments').

What I noticed above all was that everyone on the stage seemed to be enjoying themselves enormously.



New York, NY, USA -- 20 July 2009 | Permalink
5 pictures

Our friends Runny were playing at Pianos, a venue in our neighborhood. On an impulse, I decided to try shooting the show using just my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens. The 50mm has surprisingly good optics for such an inexpensive lens, and it works well in low light. These are some of my pictures from the show.



New York, NY, USA -- 29 October 2009 | Permalink
4 pictures

Over the summer, the schoolyard on Rivington Street has been playing host to some kind of sports league. When I walk past, I'll often see teams of mostly young adults playing a game whose rules appear to be those of baseball, but which is played with a large inflated ball like a soccer ball. The games are competitive but courteous; when one player does something particularly skillful, everyone applauds politely.

When I walked past tonight, the game was going on as usual, but with one minor difference: the players on one team were all dressed as mimes, complete with berets, white greasepaint, and black uniforms with white suspenders.

When I told M. about it, she said “And this is why we live in New York”.


First snowstorm of the winter

New York, NY, USA -- 22 December 2009 | Permalink
3 pictures

The first snowstorm of the winter hit New York on Saturday, and left behind a few inches of snow.