One of the small things in my daily routine that always makes me happy is seeing the large tank full of fish that sits in the front window of the 38 Aquarium Store at Broome and Mott. The owners of the store leave the riot gates up until late in the evening, so if you're passing by you can enjoy the sight of the hundreds of red fish, swimming around in their brightly-illuminated tank.
Or at least you could, until today. This morning a fire broke out at 371 Broome. The fire department (including firefighters from the station just a couple of doors down) turned out in force, cut through the riot gates and smashed their way through the tank with their axes to get access to the store.
The fire was quickly contained, but there were no survivors among the fish.
Art Around the Park 2011
New York, NY, USA -- 05 June 2011
A small collection of photographs from the 2011 Art Around the Park and Howl Festival, in Tompkins Square Park, New York.
Mermaid Parade 2011
New York, NY, USA -- 18 June 2011
A small collection of photographs from the 2011 Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY.
See also Mermaid Parade 2010 and Mermaid Parade 2008.
New York, NY, USA -- 23 August 2011
The shaking was not strong, but it was impossible to ignore. I stopped what I was doing and stared at my desk. As I did so, I pushed my chair back slightly. The shaking stopped, but the feeling that something was wrong persisted. My desk seemed to tremble ever so slightly. I rolled the chair forward again, so that the arm made contact with the desk. As it touched, I felt the shaking again, a very regular, insistent motion. It wasn't violent, nothing was falling over or crashing to the floor, but it was a sensation quite unlike anything else I'd ever felt before.
I turned to my colleague J., who was pulling off his headphones.
"Earthquake." I said. He nodded.
"Yeah, they just said on the radio." he said.
"Somewhere down by D.C."
My Twitter client was open. I typed
"Whoa, earthquake" and hit the Send button. It was about all I could think of to say.
By the time the seismic waves reached New York, it wasn't much of an earthquake, but an earthquake is a rarity in the north-east. When I went out a few minutes later, people who had been evacuated from their offices were still standing on the street looking faintly bemused. Everyone was curious to know what damage, if any, the very gentle tremors had done.
The earthquake was too weak to be frightening, but I understood for the first time how frightening an earthquake might be: not simply because of the actual damage or the risk of injury, but because of the sheer inexorableness of it, the sense of casual power. The earth shrugs slightly, and everything around you starts to move to a slow, rhythmic pulse. It's a feeling that is so far outside our normal experience that it can only be described as 'eerie'.
New York, NY, USA -- 11 September 2011
In 2001, I was still living in Paris. Some time in the mid-afternoon I happened to glance at a news site and read that two aircraft had struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had been hit by what was thought to be a rocket. M., a native New Yorker, happened to be staying with me at the time. I called her and told her:
"This looks very serious. You should call your friends and family."
Continue reading '9/11 Anniversary'
Occupy Wall Street N17
New York, NY, USA -- 17 November 2011
The intersection of Pine and Nassau was jammed solid. From my vantage point on the side of a building on Pine, I could just make out a line of pale blue helmets and dark blue uniforms, threaded through the more colorful and heterogeneous mass of the protesters. From time to time, chants of
"Shame! Shame!" and
"The world is watching! The world is watching!" signaled that the police were trying to put zip-ties on someone.
If the world was indeed watching, there was a good chance that its view was pretty similar to mine. I had ended up on the corner of Pine in a small nest of photographers and videographers, some amateur, some professional. I suspected that the professionals might have picked that spot because it was close enough to the center of any likely action, but just enough on the fringes that their expensive gear wouldn't be in danger if the NYPD decided to go in swinging. Or maybe it was simply that there were so many cameras and video-cameras at that demonstration that wherever you stood you were likely to find yourself within arms-reach of not less than fifteen cameras of various makes and models.
Continue reading 'Occupy Wall Street N17'
And goodwill to all men
New York, NY, USA -- 25 December 2011
The intersection of Clinton and Stanton is blocked off with yellow crime scene tape this morning, and two police cruisers squat in the middle of the road. A little further down the block, there is a fairly extensive trail of blood and a bloodied man's undershirt.
I didn't at first connect it with the string of loud bangs that woke us last night shortly after midnight.
"Sounded like someone kicking a door," said M. as we both sat up in bed.
"Meh," I said, replaying the sounds in my mind: one bang, momentary hesitation, then three more bangs in quick succession, evenly spaced.
"Handgun, semi-automatic, sounded louder than last time. At least two rounds left in the clip, probably more." I thought to myself and then immediately went back to sleep, forgetting all about it. Apparently the analytical part of my mind works well enough when woken from a deep sleep, but either I've become blasÃ© about gun violence or my sense of urgency takes longer to wake up.
Bowery Boogie describes the incident as "an altercation" that apparently involved both stabbing and shooting. From the lack of other news coverage, I'm guessing that it was non-fatal and that (happily) no one actually got four rounds of 9mm for Christmas. If that's correct, the owner of the undershirt was probably the stabbee and is presumably celebrating the holiday in hospital.
The blood has now been washed away, the tape is down, and the police cars are gone. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled Christmas Day.