Tag Archives: city life

NYC on September 11th, 2011

For many New Yorkers honoring the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the most fitting testament to progress was that a day so unforgettably extraordinary could not have been more peaceful, pleasant and ordinary.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I stood with a handful of friends on the roof of George Washington University’s Fulbright Hall and watched the smoke rise from the Pentagon. An army tank parked at the campus shuttle bus stop. Guards in riot gear patrolled the sidewalks with oversized guns and dogs eager to sniff out the slightest traces of terrorism. We called our parents and anyone we knew in New York. Was everyone safe? Who was doing this? What does it all mean? We didn’t yet realize that, as Americans, many who were studying foreign policy, this would prove to be the most defining day of our young lives.

Ten years later, I am riding my bicycle on the West Side Highway path and enjoying the cool breeze along the river. The afternoon clouds are low and thick, casting a steel gray light over Downtown Manhattan.  The tennis courts are full. The dog walkers are out.  The rollerbladers are taking up both lanes as they always do. Guys are checking out the girls running by.  Guys are checking out the guys running by and everyone is checking out each other in the magnificently open and distinctive way that New Yorkers do.  It’s a quiet Sunday in the city.

At the North Cove Marina two young boys and a girl chase each other around a flag pole. They laugh and scream and do all the little things that little kids do. The girl runs off and the boys quickly follow after. Once they catch her she runs the other way and the game goes on and on. They are wearing untucked white t-shirts, each a size or two too large, with a photo of a man’s face printed across the front.

Ground Zero is mere blocks away yet, as joggers pass by and a family throws breadcrumbs at geese in the water, all I can think of is how refreshing the breeze feels.  Most people at the marina walk with newspapers, dog leashes or ice cream cones in hand.  A few hold American flags or signs displaying the name of a particular person or rescue department.

Then, as I turn the corner onto Liberty Street, I hear a name called out – Glenn Wilkenson.  It quickly echoes before being replaced by another name.  Jeff Willett.  I stop.  The realization of what the names mean holds me still like a stiff arm from one of the countless guards protecting the area. I stand with a group of people at the barriers and listen.  Brian Patrick Williams.

A middle aged woman with purple hair and a camouflage-print skirt stands fixated on the large screen replaying the morning’s memorial service.  She has a soft, distant look on her face and her eyes are glassy, but not tearing.  Next to her a tall blonde man in a gray business suit gazes at the ground and next to him a couple in matching, green Jets t-shirts holds hands.  A dozen cyclists stand by their bikes while a woman with dreadlocks down to her waist walks up and weeps as she looks at the space where the towers once stood.  We watch the video monitor in silence as the remaining names are read.  Zucker.  Zuckelman.

A few more minutes of silence pass and the purple-haired woman walks away, then the cyclists, the Jets fans and soon I am on my bike riding towards my apartment, teary-eyed and reflecting on the names with each revolution of the wheels.

Planes from JFK, LaGuardia and Newark fly overhead and kids play with large bouncy balls while their parents chat nearby.  A man with ripped pants and a collection of plastic bags yells obscene nonsense at the USS NY dominating the view to New Jersey.  Tourists with large cameras stare at the man while an older couple barely an arm’s length away talks nonchalantly over a shared a cup of strawberry ice cream.

Despite the planes, the children and the sameness all around, I am reminded by the signs, the t-shirts and the television reports that life has been profoundly altered as a result of 9/11.  Ten years gone and troops are still fighting.  Police and fire fighters and a staggering number of men and women are still working to make the United States a better place. Lives are still on the line.  At Ground Zero, crews have been breaking their backs day and night so that the families of those who perished can find closure.  Hopefully they have found some today.

When I return to my block I get off my bike at the Italian sandwich shop on the corner.  The owner, a lifelong New Yorker, is outside.  He greets me with his trademark smile and a “How you doin’?”

“Pretty good,” I say.  “How you doin’?”

“Perfect,” he says.

To me, that’s progress.

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The LOFT Gets Presumptuous With 23rd Street Ad

Has an ad ever made you stop and question the very fiber of your being as much as this one from LOFT?  Witnessed on 23rd and Broadway, I was nearly trampled by a line of commuters close on my heels as I paused to contemplate its claim. Who is this woman that I, a man of 30, am supposed to be? Do I really look this happy in a double-button sweater jacket?  Should I have left the black rimmed hat at home?

And is it ever any time other than now?  A few more moments of contemplation and I confirmed that this is in fact not me but this is most definitely now.  And now is now, too.  With those questions out of the way I thought about the actual “you” in the ad — the model.  What happens when she sees this?  Does she stop and say, “holy shit, LOFT!  You’re right!” and hi-five the thing?   If so, I want to be there when she does. That would be an I Spy NYC moment for the record books.

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Empire State of Commuting

This blog started because I wanted to document my morning commute.  Then it morphed into a quasi photo blog and now, well, I really don’t know what it is other than a virtual wall I throw stuff at every now and then to see if it sticks. This morning, as I crossed over Broadway and 22nd, I realized that I’ve never done a post about the Empire State Building.  What???

I suppose I’ve been too intent on finding the little things, the New York nuances, the unheralded oddities that make me think twice.  But I’d be remiss to walk past this scene every day and not say here, pubilcly, to my seven regular readers, that seeing the Empire State Building every day is a real gift.

I guess you have to invest as much attention on the significance of the big things in life as in seeking out the small things. Just another commute.

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Dekalb Market in Brooklyn

Proof that salvaged shipping containers can be used for more than just shipping and containing. I’m not really sure if anyone was out to prove it before, but, well, there’s no denying it now. Good food, beer, and very cool store spaces inside the containers.  http://dekalbmarket.com/about/
market, brooklyn, new york city market

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Take a picture

No particular reason, just because.

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Manhattan Snow Piles Up Over Time

Snow Piles Up Over Time

Now that we’re in the middle of an icy, wet, sleety mess it’s the perfect time to reflect on the snow that was — in those early hours when the first flakes fell, to inch after inch, covering the city as the days and nights went on. It was debilitating, but at least it was pretty.

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New York City Snowtography

If you made it out of your apartment this morning you probably noticed that, in between awkward slips and hesitant steps, everyone was taking photos of the snow.  It’s a pretty snow (for now).  The kind that clings to tree branches and accents buildings like icing on gingerbread houses.  Great for photography.  In some places, it was actually more difficult to navigate around the photographers than the snow banks. Yes, I was one of those people slowing down your commute.  Hopefully these shots give you enough reason to forgive me for clogging the sidewalks…

Winter Serenity in Gramercy Park

Snow Paparazzi Line Up to Shoot Madison Square Park

Mine is Bigger.


No way, dude.

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Favorite New York City Photos of 2010

This weekend I went through all of the photos I’ve taken this year. Way more than I thought. In fact I can’t believe how many it is, yet still feel like I’ve not even cracked the surface of New York City.  Here the ones that got the most clicks, were picked up by Gothamist and other sites, or that I just like for whatever reason. I hope you enjoy them, and would love your comments on which you like the best.

Click Here to View My Top NYC Photos of 2010 Flickr Photo Set.

And few of the shots can be purchased at my ETSY store.

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New York City Snowstorm Brings Arctic Visitors

New York City Snowstorm, originally uploaded by marc.cappelletti.

If you live in Manhattan I’m sure you’ll agree that getting to work this morning felt more like an Arctic expedition than a commute. For me, this is appropriate, considering that I work for Lindblad Expeditions. We, in alliance with National Geographic, offer expeditions to the world’s wildest places, including the Arctic.

The streets and sidewalks of lower Manhattan are covered with 10 inches to waist-high drifts of white powder. The wind stings. There is an eerie silence in the air. By the time I walked from 21st and 3rd to our office in the West Village I didn’t think it would be too much of a stretch to combine these two wintery geographies. Maybe I was suffering from snow sickness (that’s a thing, right?), but I figured that if I saw two polar bears walking down fifth avenue it wouldn’t seem that out of place.

Two plastic ones on our rooftop was the best I could do. Enjoy the snowy day.

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Lelabar Decorates the Street in NYC’s West Village

At first glance I thought, jeez, why would someone knock over those pots full of corks in the little plot of dirt on the sidewalk. Then I thought, wait, why are the corks there anyway?  With this thought process you’d think I already had a few chiantis at Lelabar, the West Village wine bar responsible for the decoration.  You can find random flower assortments and even some doodads, yes doodads, in plots throughout the village.  But I have to give it to Lelabar for the themed arrangement. Definitely makes it more interesting.

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Does Everyone Have to Run Because It’s Spring?

My alarm went off at 5:52 this morning. The goal: be out on the East River for sunrise to take some photos. But man, the sun is popping up earlier and earlier these days. My viewfinder was still looking blurring to my morning eyes. Within minutes I was surrounded by crazy people, these swift and agile gazelles hurling their bodies along the East River Greenway.

Every shot I lined up, every scene and angle, had runners cutting in and out.  So I embraced it. And, putting them in the shots burns calories, I think.

And of course, a good time was had by all.

Download the waterfront map here.

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