New York 2012 Archives

Red-tailed hawk

New York, NY, USA -- 19 January 2012 | Permalink
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"Let da boid eat! Aintcha ever seen a boid eatin' before?" shouted the old man. The people gathered by the fence in the south-west corner of Tompkins Square Park ignored him. The 'boid' - a rather handsome young red-tailed hawk - ignored him too.

The hawk has been a resident of the park for about a year now, and has grown from a rather callow fledgling - treated with visible derision by the local squirrels - into a more substantial creature, definitely the apex predator of the park. Sometimes, when we walk through the park on Sundays, it can be seen perched in one of the trees, watching the squirrels and pigeons with the air of a diner hesitating over the choices on the menu.

Today, it had apparently made its choice. It sat on the ground, talons planted in what had recently been a rather plump and glossy pigeon. From time to time, it sank its hooked beak into the dead bird, and yanked loose a tuft of feathers.

It seemed remarkably unperturbed by the people watching it from behind the fences. From time to time it would rotate its head and fix the onlookers disapprovingly with one yellow eye, but then it would go back to tearing at its prey. The patch of strewn feathers around the corpse grew steadily bigger.

At last, it apparently decided that it would prefer to continue its meal in private. Grasping the pigeon firmly, it launched itself off the ground and flapped away towards the west, disappearing over the housetops on Avenue A. A few feathers swirled briefly in its wake.

 

New York Harbor Fog

New York, NY, USA -- 18 March 2012 | Permalink
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Photographs taken at sunset on a foggy day in New York Harbor, NY, USA.

 

Thomas Dolby

New York, NY -- 29 March 2012 | Permalink
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A small collection of photographs from a concert by Thomas Dolby at the Canal Room, New York, NY.

 

Viernes Santo 2012

New York, NY -- 06 April 2012 | Permalink
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A small collection of photographs from a Good Friday (Viernes Santo) procession on the Lower East Side, New York.

 

Space shuttle New York fly-by

New York, NY -- 27 April 2012 | Permalink
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Photographs of the space shuttle 'Enterprise' and its carrier aircraft performing a fly-by over the Hudson River, New York.

 

Occupy Wall Street on Broadway

New York, NY -- 01 May 2012 | Permalink
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Photographs of Occupy Wall Street protesters marching down Broadway on May 1st.

 

OpSail 2012

New York, NY -- 23 May 2012 | Permalink
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A small collection of photographs from the 2012 'parade of sail' on the Hudson River, featuring schooners from several different nations.

 

Manhattanhenge 2012

New York, NY -- 30 May 2012 | Permalink
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"Get off the street. Get. Off. The. Street." The big cop was sounding increasingly exasperated. Each time the lights changed and the traffic thinned, a small crowd of people, cameras in hand, would dart out into the middle of E 42nd St, and desperately snap pictures of the colorful sunset, just visible between the buildings. On the Tudor City Place bridge behind them, a dense knot of people wielding long lenses and videocameras pressed against the railing, waiting their moment. A squirrel scampering out of a nearby park stopped in surprise at finding its path blocked, then darted under a parked car, probably shaking its head in bewilderment.

Continue reading 'Manhattanhenge 2012'

 

Art Around the Park 2012

New York, NY -- 03 June 2012 | Permalink
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A small collection of photographs taken at the 2012 Art Around the Park event in Tompkins Square Park, part of the annual Howl Festival.

 

Shuttle barge trip

New York, NY -- 06 June 2012 | Permalink
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A small collection of photographs showing the space shuttle Enterprise being moved to Pier 86 by barge.

 

Urban Swim

New York, NY -- 17 June 2012 | Permalink
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My friends G. and D. from Urban Swim invited me to be the official photographer for their half-mile open-water swimming event in the Hudson River. These are a few of my photographs from the event. You can find more on their Flickr page.

 

Urban Swim Hudson New Jersey

New York, NY -- 14 July 2012 | Permalink
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"So, when are you going to come swimming so we can take pictures of you?" asked the jovial man in the red TriLife jacket.

"I don't know," I said weakly. "Right now, I've got this knee injury."

He rolled his eyes.

"We've all got knee injuries," he said.

Of course you do, I thought. You're all triathletes, and you're all crazy. But I didn't say it out loud.

Continue reading 'Urban Swim Hudson New Jersey'

 

Derecho

New York, NY -- 26 July 2012 | Permalink
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New York just got hit by another derecho. The storm didn't last long, but it brought some impressive wind and lightning, and the clouds were wild and beautiful. I just wish I'd had a better vantage point.

 

Night of the Bugs

New York, NY -- 02 August 2012 | Permalink
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There's no real reason why our neighborhood should fill up with brightly-lit, color-changing giant insects with four wheels. It just happens.

 

Coney Island by Night

New York, NY -- 03 August 2012 | Permalink
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Our friend Jo, the headmistress of the New York School of Burlesque, celebrated her 50th birthday this year, with a one-of-a-kind show featuring some of the most creative performers on the New York burlesque scene. Normally, when I go to Coney Island, it's for the Mermaid Parade, one of New York's more colorful and surreal annual events. Seeing it by night for a change gave me a new perspective on the place.

 

Rose Pitonof Swim

New York, NY -- 18 August 2012 | Permalink
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In 1911, a 17-year old swimmer named Rose Pitonof swam from E 26th St in Manhattan, down the East River, across New York Harbor and round to Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island, a total distance of around 17 miles. Urban Swim has revived this swim as an annual event, attracting a small but very determined group of serious endurance swimmers.

This was the third swim that I've shot for Urban Swim, and they'd arranged for me to ride on the 'media boat', a small motor launch crewed by a genial lobsterman. When we started, it was pouring with rain and both the videographer and I were somewhat uneasy about spending the day trying to keep our gear dry in an open boat. Soon, however, the rainclouds disappeared, and it turned into a beautiful day.

All eight swimmers - three women, five men - finished the course in less than six hours, with the first finisher, swimmer Elke Hofman, taking just over five hours to cover the distance.

 

Stormy afternoon

New York, NY, USA -- 08 September 2012 | Permalink
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When I heard the wind pick up, I looked out of my window. A dense wall of black clouds was moving in towards Manhattan over the East River. It looked like another derecho. I took a few shots, then ran outside with the idea of going up onto the Williamsburg Bridge and trying to get some shots of the storm over Manhattan.

Unfortunately, the storm had other ideas. As soon as I reached the bridge, it broke in a sheet of blinding rain. Visibility went to nothing and I was soaked to the skin in seconds. I covered up my camera and squelched soggily home.

 

Rainy night

New York, NY, USA -- 18 September 2012 | Permalink
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Another day, another torrential rainstorm. This one caught me as I was leaving work and soaked me to the skin in the time it take to walk two blocks.

 

Gloom before the storm

New York, NY, USA -- 28 October 2012 | Permalink
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My neighborhood, much of which is nominally at least in Evacuation Zone C, is oddly calm. The lines are a little longer at the supermarket. Closer to the East River, in Zone A, the very old and the very young are being loaded into cars. Otherwise, it could be just another cold Sunday evening in the fall.

From time to time, though, the weather gives a hint that something bigger is on the way. The wind, which has been blowing fitfully all day, will suddenly strengthen, gusting just enough that you actually have to push forward against it. There's real power in these sudden gusts, enough to remind you that this isn't just another blustery fall day. It feels as if the wind is flexing its muscles, getting ready for its big day tomorrow.

 

Sandy

New York, NY, USA -- 29 October 2012 | Permalink
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21:30 Drinking wine with F. and his roommate. F.'s young son is bored of sitting in the dark, and wants to play videogames on his phone. F. explains that he needs to keep the phone charged. The boy looks affronted.

20:35 The lights go out and stay out. F., our neighbor, says that he was outside and saw the clouds overhead lit green briefly before the power cut out.

20:25 Going to drink soup. And possibly something stronger as well. Hand my roommate a flashlight, saying "Here, you'll need this if they cut the power." He looks unconvinced.

20:10 Strange low sound from outside. Lights dim. Internet connection dies.

20:05 Weather service reporting 70-90mph gusts; 100mph gust recorded uptown. Nearby wind sounds are getting louder.

17:25 Getting noisy out there again.

18:51 Probably not. Apparently, hurricanes can have lightning, but rarely do. I now worry that it might have been my lights flickering, in anticipation of ConEd making good on their threat to cut us off.

18:50 Was that lightning?

18:10 As I get home, the building manager is taking his dog out for a walk. If he puts a leash on it, he'll be able to fly it like a kite.

18:05 The gusts are now strong enough that I actually stagger when they hit me. If the wind picks up much more, it'll start knocking people over.

18:00 The entrance to East River Park is closed off with caution tape and the trees along the roadway are swaying and creaking. My guess is that some of them aren't going to last the hour, let alone the night.

17:50 On Baruch Drive, two NYPD ESU are cutting up a fallen tree with a chainsaw and a Sawzall. The tree has landed across the hood of a car and is blocking most of the road. "You guys wanna give us a hand?" says one of the cops, so I spend the next five minutes helping drag cut-up branches out of the road.

17:40 Half a tree has come down outside a building on Houston Street. A girl in a red sweatshirt stares at it. "How the fuck'm I gonna get in the house?" she says. "Chainsaw?" I suggest, not too helpfully.

17:20 Lots of sirens outside, and lots of wind. At times it's hard to tell the sirens from the noise of the wind.

16:30 Powerful gusts. Trees swaying, sound of objects being blown about outside.

14:50 Robocall from ConEd, saying that they may need to turn off power to our area, due to damage caused by flooding.

14:20 The wind is visibly picking up, trees outside my window thrashing back and forth. Gusts of wind push the puddles of water on the flat roof of the schoolhouse around.

10:50 First casualty of Hurricane Sandy: a woman's baseball cap blows off her head and into the East River.

10:30 Battery Park is full of news crews, apparently there to do stand-ups against the backdrop of the choppy grey waters of New York Harbor and mist-wrapped Liberty Island. The walkway by the water's edge is under an inch or two of water, and every minute or so a wave sends more water foaming up the steps.

10:20 Another police car pulls onto South Street, siren and lights on. The driver's voice comes over the loudspeakers. "The waterfront is closed. Move away from the water. The waterfront is closed."

10:10 Under the FDR, two police cars are pulled up close to the water, lights flashing. The cops are all outside, taking pictures of the East River with their iPhones. The river is about six inches below the walkway here; a little further on, waves are breaking against the railings, sending up sheets of spray.

07:15 Light rain. The air smells fresh, and there are gusts of wind. There's very little traffic on Clinton Street: the usual long line of cars turning off the Williamsburg Bridge and heading north up Clinton is absent this morning. Trash cans on the street have been emptied and turned upside down. There's still plenty of other stuff that's going to fly around if a big wind hits, though.

06:45 No sign of any storm yet. The streets are dry, and the air is calm.

 

Aftermath

New York, NY, USA -- 30 October 2012 | Permalink
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08:00 Still no power, and cell service has gone too. People on the street stop to exchange what little they know, a mixture of news snippets and outright rumors. I remember this from the 2003 blackout - everyone wants to know what's going on, no one knows anything definite.

09:30 Lower New York is covered with fallen leaves and broken twigs. Here and there are fallen tree limbs or whole trees that were uprooted by the storm. A few shops are open. The owners stand at the door, allowing shoppers to enter the darkened stores one at a time to get what they need.

09:45 A small fleet of ConEd trucks is parked at the north end of Union Square. They don't seem to be doing much, but the infrastructure may have taken damage that can't be fixed with just a few trucks.

10:00 The streets are full of emergency vehicles. All the police cars have their lights on all the time, giving them priority at intersections where the signals are out and drivers have to cautiously negotiate their way across. Amongst the cruisers are an astonishing number of unmarked police vehicles, now revealed by their flashing lights. At times it seems as if one in ten of the ostensibly civilian cars on the road are actually police vehicles.

10:30 57th Street is blocked off with metal barriers and caution tape. It is raining fitfully, and the unfinished spike of One57 towers over the wet, empty streets. The damaged crane clings to its side, the broken boom dangling perilously. The wind has dropped, but occasional gusts still make the boom swing back and forth.

11:15 Times Square is packed with tourists, and the lights are on. Adverts play on the giant screens, the stores all have power. It feels like being in a different world.

12:30 In the thirties on the West Side, two men are sweeping up the remains of a giant window that seems to have exploded, scattering fragments of laminated glass over the cobbles of the street. A block further south, on a street lined with art galleries, the owners are pumping water out of their galleries using diesel pumps.

13:00 On the west side, the power comes down as far as 26th Street. You can look up the avenues and see exactly where the cutoff point is, marked by working traffic signals and lighted storefronts. On the east side, power starts north of 39th Street. There are no traffic signals below that, and drivers are engaged in a hesitant game of chicken. Crossing the avenues is more than a little frightening, although most of the drivers are respectful of pedestrians. There are many more cars and pedestrians on the streets now.

14:00 On E 10th Street, a young tree has been completely uprooted. A young guy passing tells me "Hurricane Sandy did that. You know, the hurricane we had last night?" I am momentarily tempted to feign ignorance: "Really, there was a hurricane? When did that happen?.

14:05 On Avenue B, a bodega owner sells me his last four candles for $2. None of the store owners I've seen so far seems to have yielded to the temptation to inflate their prices. Aside from the fact that all business is transacted at the door of the shop, and usually in whole numbers of dollars, it's very much business as usual.

19:15 The Lower East Side is utterly dark. A few candles show in the windows of the houses, but otherwise the only lights belong to a few cars driving through the darkened streets. The sky overhead is a strange pale-green-gray color, the low cloudbase lit from beneath by the parts of New York City that still have power.

19:30 M. and I go for a walk in the dark, staying close to home because crossing the bigger streets is even more intimidating in total darkness than during daylight. On Delancey, an Asian couple have set up a table in front of the shuttered Burger King and are selling flashlights and batteries. Again, the prices are entirely reasonable. They are entrepreneurs, not profiteers.

19:35 Motor City on Ludlow is open. They have candles, and ice, and bottled beer, and even a battery-powered boombox playing music. Everything is refreshingly normal. The bar is no darker than it normally is, the music is fine, and the beers are large and cold. The barman mixes the tail end of three or four bottles of spirits and pours everyone a free shot.

21:00 Police cars cruise down Ludlow, bathing the dark interior of the bar in blue and red light. One stops outside, and a cop comes in. "You have to close by ten," he tells the barman. "Last orders at nine-thirty. I don't want anyone stumbling out of here at one. There've been gunpoint robberies - people taking advantage of the no lights."

21:45 We walk home. The neighborhood is dark and silent. No one robs us.

 

Gridlock Wednesday

New York, NY, USA -- 31 October 2012 | Permalink
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09:30 The Lower East Side is all queues this morning. The Fine Fare off Grand St has opened and the staff are letting in the shoppers a few at a time. Further down towards the East River, people from the projects are queuing at a hydrant to fill buckets with water. It's a reminder that there are worse things than being without power for a few days.

10:20 As we cross the Bowery, a woman in a white BMV SUV comes racing north at unnecessary speed, weaving around the other vehicles. The sight of pedestrians in the road ahead of her doesn't make her slow down, so we have to jump out of her way. So much for drivers being respectful to pedestrians.

10:25 We join a queue waiting for a bus just north of Cooper Union. Most of the buses running uptown are completely packed.

10:45 An Asian man in a red car pulls up, and offers anyone who wants a ride to 63rd and 3rd. Three people take him up on his offer.

11:00 The bus arrives and we all squeeze on board. Standing room only.

11:30 The streets are totally grid-locked. The signals aren't working, and there seem to be traffic cops only at every other intersection. People who failed to get on the bus at the last stop are walking alongside, in most cases moving faster than we are.

12:00 M., looking out the window, spots Governor Cuomo walking on the sidewalk, trailed by his Secret Service escort. A line of black Town Cars and SUVs, presumably his motorcade, is trying to catch up with him, snarling the grid-locked traffic still further.

12:30 The bus driver keeps asking us to move towards the back of the bus to let more people aboard. A Hispanic man calls back "I've moved as far down as I can. If I go any further, I think these people are going to slap me."

13:00 We get off at 106th Street. We've gone a hundred blocks in two hours.

13:20 Our friends K. and H. have power. And hot water.

17:00 H. and I go out to get some food. Central Park is closed off, and you can see downed trees from outside.

17:15 On Madison, there are children in Halloween costumes and a man with a cleaver stuck in his head. The stores are brightly-lit, and there are no owners standing by the door with flashlights to let customers in one at a time. It is all implausibly normal.

 

In the blackout

New York, NY, USA -- 01 November 2012 | Permalink
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Lights are beginning to appear in our neighborhood. The police have installed a generator-powered lighting mast at the intersection of Delancey and Essex, creating a splash of artificial moonlight that seems blindingly bright to eyes accustomed to the darkness. Further down, sputtering red highway flares mark the corners of streets. A few shops in the neighborhood have installed their own generators, carving out squares of light in the blackness. Elsewhere, the darkness is as absolute as ever.

The Williamsburg Bridge is lit halfway. At the Manhattan end, the bridge is unlit, but as you approach Brooklyn, the first orange lamps appear. If you turn around and look back towards Manhattan, the orange-lit walkway disappears into a black void.

The darkened bridge is crowded. Fast-moving cyclists speed out of the night. The bright blue-white points of LED flashlights reveal walkers, sometimes alone, sometimes in groups. Often tight-packed groups of ten or twelve people emerge from the dark, huddled together as if for security, led by a single person holding a flashlight,.

To me, the darkness feels reassuring rather than threatening. There is a feeling of safety and intimacy about moving quietly through the dark; it is the orange light of the Brooklyn side that makes me feel vulnerable and exposed. Even with no electric light, there is ample light to see by once your eyes have adjusted. My camera may struggle with the darkness, but to the human eye, the night is rich with information and strangely beautiful. Shapes and colors are unfamiliar and dream-like.

On the bridge, a Hasidic couple, the man in shirtsleeves, his wife in her black coat, march briskly to the end of the lighted section, then turn and walk back towards Williamsburg. Another man, in black pants and waistcoat, payos flying, jogs out of the darkness, his breath clouding in the cold air. Beyond the wire mesh that runs along the walkway, the lights of Midtown sparkle in the night, hovering above the black slash of the darkened zone in the foreground.

From the walkway, I can look down onto the road. From time to time a car passes, dragging a bubble of light with it as it races towards the blackness of lower Manhattan.

 

Fiat lux

New York, NY, USA -- 02 November 2012 | Permalink
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I don't generally care for the sound of my own voice, but calling my apartment from Brooklyn, where I was working, and hearing the answering machine pick up made me very happy.

I've spent the last couple of days working at a colleague's house in Brooklyn, where the power is on. My morning commute, on foot across the Manhattan Bridge, is a little longer than my usual one, but it's not a bad walk when the weather is nice. It's certainly much better than trying to go the other way on public transport: the queues in Brooklyn for the subway replacement buses running into Manhattan have been insane, stretching for blocks down Jay Street.

Power in my neighborhood was restored around four or five in the afternoon, but not all Manhattan is lit up yet. After checking on the office hamster, I walked down Broadway. Power on the west side of the street was still out, making for an odd contrast: one side of the street, brightly lit, the other dark. Cross streets on the west side of Broadway were gaping black holes.

Hurricane Sandy for us has been little more than an inconvenience. We've had a few days of washing in cold water and eating by candle light. Thanks to the kindness of friends, we were able to go out of the "dead zone" to work or shower or catch up on news. I've had to walk more than usual. And that's all.

One consequence of being without power or information (lower Manhattan was temporarily rechristened SoPo - "South of Power") during the first few days is that I've only had a worms-eye view of the whole event. I still don't know the full pattern of the damage done by the storm. The pictures coming out of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn such as Red Hook, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay are frightening. It's clear that we got off very lightly indeed. A few days of trivial discomfort while the engineers and the emergency services rebuilt our city around us, and then life was back to pretty much normal. Other people have not been nearly so lucky.

 

Winter Storm Athena

New York, NY, USA -- 07 November 2012 | Permalink
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The weather people, perhaps excited at their new-found celebrity, energetically started naming things that didn't previously have names, such as snowstorms. Despite the hype, Winter Storm Athena wasn't a big deal, unless you'd already been made homeless by Superstorm Sandy.

 

Manhattan from the air

New York, NY, USA -- 14 November 2012 | Permalink
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My evening flight out of Newark passed over Manhattan, giving a spectacular view of the lights of Midtown.

 

Santacon 2012

New York, NY, USA -- 15 December 2012 | Permalink
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"Worst. Halloween. Ever." said my friend J., gloomily eyeing a gaggle of people in red-and-white Santa suits. "You can understand why there's a three-day waiting period and background checks before you're allowed to buy an assault weapon."

Santacon, which began as a relatively intimate little affair involving no more than a hundred Santas (some of whom were friends of mine) seems to have exploded this year. Lower Manhattan was engulfed in a sea of red-and-white, to the point where it seemed that every second person was wearing some kind of approximately Santa-style costume. Some had the complete outfit; some felt that wearing anything red that they owned, or putting on a hat or a set of reindeer antlers hastily purchased at the drugstore, was good enough. I mentally re-christened it "Wear Something Red and Be Drunk in Public Day".

Not everyone wore red. I saw one group of three young men wearing purple and gold pajamas that looked vaguely Middle Eastern: Magi, perhaps? As I passed them, one of them complained "They said I had to go home and change." Evidently Santa runs a tight ship.

J. wasn't the only person to think that there might be just a few too many Santas, but overall people seemed more amused than annoyed by the seasonal invasion. "They love the fat tranny Santa!" said one man delightedly as his posse of assorted Santas charged across the road. Very probably true, although I do think that the pair of Santas having public sex on E 14th St may find themselves on the real Santa's naughty list this year. All in all, it's not entirely a bad thing that Christmas comes but once a year.