Unfortunately the window was beyond dirty, so the shots lost a lot of texture and detail. The landscape looks like a miniature Legoland from up high, but here it is – Manhattan, Queens and bits of Brooklyn.
I walked into Gristedes to find this sign on the door and then again inside near the stacks of baskets. Although the phrase is virtually owned by Seth Myers and Amy Poehler, “Really, Gristedes?” How many ways can you apologize for a typographical error by replacing it with a grammattical one? Were masses of peach and strawberry loving customers complaining about the sign? How bad is the error? “Three strawberries for $wehatepuppies”?
Idea: just change the original peaches and strawberries sign. We wouldn’t have known.
Man, it’s been a while. Two full months without a blog. But Saturday night I had the camera, I had the tripod, and I made the time to get out and explore. In this city “exploring” doesn’t have to mean places you’ve never been before. Building after building, store after store, character after bizarre, intriguing or cover model character change. And there’s just so much of everything that whether it’s your second visit or seventieth, you’ll always see something new. Especially if you set out with a clear head.
There’s something about the holiday season that is stressful. For some it’s family. For others it may be the year-end work crunch, the struggle to get everything done while office mates take their last remaining days of vacation and minds are generally elsewhere (where they should be). Others may just hate the cold.
I’m never one for touristy activities. So why the Brooklyn Bridge? I make an exception for this reason: it’s awesome. As I walked along, admittedly in a bit of a fog, the flashes of cameras caught my attention. Groups of friends, families and sometimes just solo travelers snapped photos of each other and then poured over the viewfinder to see what they’d captured. Everyone was smiling, joking, and, in some cases, genuinely overwhelmed by the emotions stirred by standing on this historic bridge and behaving like children. Though some were just shivering. Their energy was infectious and soon I found myself dropping any anxiety over the side of the bridge. Not only was I lucky to be where I was, but to witness what for some was a once in a lifetime experience is special as well. I’d walked only 25 minutes or so from my apartment and was standing on the spot people had traveled across state lines and even oceans to get to. (We pay exorbitant rents for location, convenience, right?)
I saw the awe in their faces, and it quickly restored the awe that I’ve felt for this city. The awe that has taken a back seat to work and life and planning and self-enforced pressure to excel. Then I, as I recommend to anyone in New York, just stood back and took it all in — with camera in hand, of course.
It was Friday evening after a busy work week. In this city, although you can really do anything and everything you want at any hour, if you’ve got the cash of course, finding peace and relaxation can be difficult. I asked for a few suggestions in the office and was surprised when a coworker said, “You’ve got to check out the IKEA in Red Hook! Take the ferry!” I’m all for easy-to-assemble furniture and Swedish sensibilities, but is IKEA really an escape? No. It’s big and it’s blue. But the five dollar ferry, and Louis Valentino Jr. Park just up the street will take your mind off just about anything.
The water taxi, which you pick up at the pier at the end of Wall St., provides fresh views of Brooklyn and Manhattan. You get in a little closer, see the movement of cars and the inner-workings of the nation’s first “suburb”. But if you’re in it to take pictures, be careful. This thing hauls!
It’s when you pull into Red Hook that the views really get interesting. I’ll spare you the industrial shots, although one could say it’s all well and good. Instead of actually going in IKEA and wandering a maze of furnishings with names like Flurgen and Murgen, walk up to Coffee St. and bang a left until you hit, Louis Valentino Jr. Park. You’ll know when you do. This is what it’s all about.
The man in this photo, let’s call him Morris, has been fishing this exact pier since he was 12. Now in his early 50’s, he told me of when the pier was wooden and you had to watch your step or you could fall through. There were also times he said where certain people in the area might want to push you through if you looked at them the wrong way. He’s thrilled at the revitalization the area has seen. But for Morris, all that really matters is the fishing. “Caught a 38 in striper last week. Whoo boy, some nights this is some good fishin.”
Other Brooklynites gather for sunset as well. Some are families, others on a date, and some, like me, just there to take it all in. Each finds peace in the park.
As a Water Taxi passed I realized I’d missed the last one from IKEA. Woops! Luckily, there are a few busses that run routes from Red Hook to downtown Brookyln and Fulton Mall. The stop is in front of the IKEA, where you made the left to get to all this good stuff in the first place. Even though you feel a world away, it’s actually easy to stay until last light, when the sky begins to burn.
Then, the moment we’d all been waiting for. No one talked as the sun dipped behind the Statue of Liberty, melting into the swamps of Jersey. At least I don’t think anyone spoke. I’d reached the place I needed to find — peace and a focus on the beautiful moments this city and this world provide. My zen status was broken when Morris turned and said, “Beautiful, man. One more sunset. Now all I need’s a sunrise tomorrow and I’ll be cool.” He cast his line and I walked to the bus smiling. Had I just found philosophy courtesy of IKEA?
Ok, I’m not absolutely certain about that claim, but the lamb spit/creation/work of glorious art that spins at Yatagan Kebab House in the West Village is certainly a sight to behold. Especially when it’s being cut by a guy with a full-on sword! This McDougal Street shop is one of my favorites. From the random wall decorations (brick, a newspaper clipping, and a pair of antlers) to the copper top tables, this place is a legit “what the what?” of New York eateries. (It’s ok to steal lines from 30 Rock, right?)
The standard falafel sandwich is plenty big and at $2.50, pretty much the best deal in town. Smother some cucumber sauce, some other stuff, lettuce, tomato, onion and you’re good to go. For an extra buck you can put a heaping glob of hummus in the pita pocket sandwich. Beware the hot sauce though. It’s a killer.
They head the call of progress. Of duty. Of the wild. Ok, not that. But they do spring out of subways, like this Christopher Street Path Train, into an uncertain world.
They walk past monuments erected for the triumphs of our forefathers — those who set the wheels in motion and whose great vision has inspired millions. And then there is this guy…
Even when he walks down a quiet West Village street he barks instructions into a, wait, what is that thing??? Is that a full headset? Let’s take a closer look…
I can’t concentrate anymore. I’m done. Have fun at work!
When Julian rolled up on his bike I really didn’t know what to expect. I was taking photos along the East River of the sunset and a few geese splashing around below. My usual spot. All of the sudden this guy came up close and asked me if I could help him out. He looked straight out of a hip hop video, complete with a gold grill on his lower teeth. The look is authentic and completely fitting. Julian is a musician trying to make in it New York.
To listen to a sampling of his music (hip hop and electro) check out his myspace page here. Let the first song play through. He’s got a line in there, “They call me odd, but I’ll get even.” that I think is pretty cool.
Oh, and the way I helped him out? He needed a photo taken of himself. We traded emails and here it is. He’s a cool guy and I hope his music career takes off.
New York is a playground of activity. If you have the cash, or even if you don’t, you can always find about a thousand things to do each night. But most times, the best times, are spent with friends in quiet moments. Just being. Taking it all in. And capturing the moment in a photograph.
From the banks of the East River…
to the peaks of the Midtown skyline…
the sun brings life to Manhattan. This morning, dogs and their walkers stretched their legs to work off the winter chill.
And flowers, stretched their petals to soak up the sun’s invigorating rays. No doubt, they will be more radiant tomorrow.
It was another beautiful Manhattan morning.
(The first shot was taken Monday morning.)
(The shot above ended up being featured by the great people at Gothamist.com!)
The High Line, New York’s recently uncovered and renovated above ground train line, is a superb feature to photograph. Especially if you’re into flocks of tourists and lounging West Villagers. The lofted vantage point also provides new perspectives on New York City life. That’s what I wanted to explore. Here are just a few from a quick stroll the other day when I met up with a friend who is moving on from a job she’s held for six years. Good luck, Anna!
And the obligatory sunset shot (Without a filter this is the best it got.)