Friday, December 28, 2007

Rural Massachusetts Through the Viewfinder

While home with my family over the holidays, I spent some time playing around with "TTV" - a technique known as Through the Viewfinder, where you shoot through the viewfinder of a 1950s era camera with another camera, using the older camera solely as a lens. In trying this out, I was inspired by the flickr group Through the Viewfinder. This technique produces a slightly distorted effect, softens the colors, and allows you to capture the crackles and scratches on the older lens.

Though not without its difficulties - I found myself wishing I had a third hand to help juggle two cameras while also keeping my image framed, in focus, and out of the sun's glare - I like the new way it lets me see the world.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Flashback to 1979: Military Ads

Since America ended the draft, the military has had to recruit. Like any good advertiser, they've learned how to couch their message in the style and medium of teen culture. Today, they produce video games where you can fly combat aircraft. In 1979, their target audience wore bell bottoms and rode Harleys. And in that more innocent time, the selling point could still be the path to an affordable college education that the Army could provide.

Army National Guard ad, November 1979, from Currents Events magazine

Army ad, December 1979, from Scholastic Search magazine

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dyker Heights Christmas Lights Extravanza

To those of you who, like me, have an odd soft spot in your heart for suburban homes dedecked with over the top Christmas decorations (yet have no car), look no further. Let me point you to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights.

Dyker Heights sits between Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Gravesend Bay, with a lovely view of the Verrazano Bridge. Its residents go to town at Christmas time, festooning their homes and yards (yes, Virginia, they have yards) with lights, moving reindeer, and plastic blow-up Santa dolls. I wouldn't want to pay anyone's light bill, but it's quite a spectacle.
In the early days, I'm sure each family was responsible for their own decorating, and a few clearly still do the work themselves. But many call in the professionals. B&R Floral Decorators, for example, take some time out from their usual work providing floral arrangements for funerals to decorate some of the most elaborate houses.

If you plan to visit, the epicenter is 84th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. And, if you don't have a friend with a car and are too lazy or cold to brave the walk from the subway, you can watch Conan O'Brian's trip in 2000 from the comfort of your warm living room.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Lost in Red Hook

Seen on the streets of Red Hook - someone lost their cat.

Despite the cat's technical difficulties ("does not meow properly"), mediocrity ("not worth very much") and "general scruffiness and bad behavior," the owner does sorta love kitty and wouldn't mind having him back, if just for the whoa-dude trippiness of its two different colored eyes.

Mini Concerts in Back Alleys

Totally last minute but this looks cool. Enjoy before we're all confined to our mini-apartment muffled worlds by tomorrow's snow. Here's the 411 on today's performance, presented by Lower East Side gallery Smith-Stewart and local nonprofit Creative Time, just back from a nationally-acclaimed performance in New Orleans of Waiting for Godot:

Though your mother may have warned you not to go into the back alleys, this certainly won’t be the first time you ignore her, and this time for good reason. Creative Council Member Carlton DeWoody, with Jen DeNike and Smith-Stewart Gallery, invite you to a one-day rock out in Lower East Side.

Mini Concerts in Back Alleys
Saturday, December 1, 2007
2:00 – 11:30 PM
locations throughout the Lower East Side (see schedule below or click for more info)

Mini Concerts will make various interventions on sites chosen by each artist throughout the Lower East Side. Be it on a mews or median, in an alley or cellar, each site specific location marries the audience to the performance, which collectively can only be described as shiny moments in dusty corners. All performances are between 5 and 15 minutes long, and are only performed once, serving to expose the drama of time. In a land where ‘before’ and ‘after’ are as significant as the ‘during’, the planned meets the impromptu and the important meets the forgotten.

Here’s the musical line up featuring Creative Time curator Mark Beasley.
2:03 pm Rachel Mason Hamilton Fish Park- Pitt btw Houston and Stanton
3:11 pm Mind Castle Freeman Alley- Rivington btw Bowery and Chrystie
3:41 pm Dirt Mound Rivington btw Chrystie and Forsyth
4:29 pm Artic Circle Hester btw Chrystie and Forsyth
5:43.21 pm Y.O.U. 1st btw 1st and A
6:27 pm Mads Lynnerup 227 Bowery btw Rivington and Stanton
9:03 pm Georgia Sagri Delancy and Allen
9:36 pm Caroline Breton 162 Eldridge btw Delancy and Rivington
10:16 pm Brian Bellot 71 Hestor btw Orchard and Ludlow
11:01 pm Mark Beasley and Rose Kallal 35 Orchard btw Hester and Canal

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Most Depressing Thanksgiving Article

NYU undergrads say that for the right price, they would sell their vote. Two thirds would give up their vote for a free ride to NYU. And half said that for $1 million, they'd give up their vote forever.

More than 3,000 undergrads were surveyed for the study, conducted by an NYU journalism class. The study found that "sixty percent of the students who said they'd give up their vote for tuition also described their families' income as upper middle or high."

Not everyone can be bought, though - one undergrad responded that "anyone who'd sell his lifelong right to vote should be deported."

[Src: Most say their vote has a price, Lily Quateman, Washington Square News]
Media Credit: Illustration by Dana Laventure/WSN

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Hole in a Fence

Last summer I was interviewed by D.W. Young, a documentary filmmaker, who was shooting a film about an abandoned lot in Red Hook. This chameleon of a site has been, variously, a graffiti spot, a homeless encampment, a formerly industrial truck loading zone, a magically-invisible overlooked and forgotten lot, contested urban space, a possible Ikea parking lot, and a reed-filled shallow pond. D.W. Young tracked me down because I had shot a series of photos of the site (you can see my set, Red Hook Marshland, on flickr).

The film, A Hole in a Fence, has just come out and is pretty damn cool. Young interviews a range of people about the site, from local teen graffiti artists who use the site as an artist wall, to a Yale Architecture School student interested in sustainable building, who used materials found on-site to build a shelter and live there for a week. And you can see yours truly opining about the site, and catch some of my photos.

Watch the trailer on YouTube.
Or go to the website for the film.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day in Chinatown




Members of the American Legion post in Chinatown -- Lt. B.R Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291 -- gathered yesterday at the Kim Lau Memorial Arch in Chatham Square, Chinatown, to commemorate Veterans Day and honor their service.

The Kimlau American Legion Post was formed in 1944 by a group of Chinese-American veterans of World War II.

The post is the largest in New York City, promoting numerous patriotic programs and community service initiatives within Chinatown.

The Post is named after Lt. Kimlau, who was an American of Chinese descent who served as an Air Force bomber pilot in World War II. While assigned to the Southwest Pacific theater, he was killed in action during air battles over the New Guinea Islands.
[Src: History of Kimlau Post, NYC Parks Department]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bronx 9/11 Graffiti Memorial

Bronx 9/11 Graffiti Memorial
170th & Jerome, The Bronx.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rock Camp for Girls Rocks


School of Rock isn't just a movie.

The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls played a noon show today at the Highline Ballroom. The show was the culmination of a week-long crash course in every aspect of rock - picking an instrument, getting a band together, silk-screening band t-shirts, and more. One volunteer teacher estimated that only about a quarter of the girls, who ranged from 8 to 18, had any experience on their instruments before getting to camp Monday morning. By the show today, they were poised, confident, and ready to rock.

If you missed today's show, there's no need to wait until next year. You can catch the second session's show on August 25th at the Highline Ballroom.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Mermaid Parade Characters

This year at the Mermaid Parade, some political commentary against the anticipated destruction I mean development of Coney Island, and a green creature from the Gowanus Canal crawled all the way down to Coney to join the party.

NYC Dyke March

My favorite photo from yesterday's Dyke March shows two spectacularly turned out groups - New York's own Vixxxens, in the pink sequins, and a hotter version of the Village People that I happened to run across last year as well.
More photos here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Spectators & Spectacle: Photos from the Dyke March

flyer for Spectators & Spectacle: Photos from the Dyke March
I'll be showing photos from the NYC Dyke March on Wednesday June 13th (tomorrow!) at Sincerely, an incredible new afterwork dyke party at Dirty Disco on 14th Street.

The photo series is called Spectators & Spectacle: Photos from the Dyke March. At the last few dykes marches, I've turned the camera back on the spectators and taken pictures of those observing. And of course there are lots of fabulous photos of eye-candy paraders in the dyke march.

The Show:
Wednesday June 13, 5-10pm
Sincerely at Dirty Disco
248 W. 14th St
RSVP required to

Thursday, May 31, 2007

June Begins

An annual site-specific dance festival, part of River to River. The first performance is a Martha Graham dance originally from 1936 that was created to protest the killings of the Spanish Civil War by Franco and the fascists. It's the first outdoor street performance the Graham Company has done, and is an interesting anti-war commentary.
Intersection of Wall and Broad streets, outside the NY Stock Exchange, Manhattan
12:30p; free. Also on June 2nd and 3rd at the same time. 18 minutes long.

Arts in Bushwick presents: Bushwick Open Studios and Arts Festival
The festival kicks off Friday night with Hotbox, a night of dance,theater, sex, and magic. The evening features performance and theater followed by music by the Dive, Pass Kontrol, and Ways. Festival continues through the weekend. Check website for complete listings.
Bushwick Starr 207 Starr Street, no. 4, Brooklyn
L train to Jefferson station, 7-11p; free
Festival continues through Sunday

Rooftop Films summer kick-off
Black + White = Grey
Rooftop Films' Summer Series sneak preview. Quirky comedies, startling dramas, and powerful political documentaries about racial misunderstandings, subtle deceptions, and flat-out lies.
8 PM: Music by Noble Society
9 PM: Short Films Begin
On the lawn at Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn. Free.
Directions: G train to Fulton; A or C to Lafayette; 2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins; R, Q, B, M to Dekalb. Enter at the Myrtle Avenue Side of the park and you will see the big screen at the bottom of the hill.

Jonathan Monk presents Five Ballerinas in Manhattan
Jonathan Monk will restage Daniel Buren’s key performance work, Seven Ballets in Manhattan, on its 32nd anniversary. This enigmatic work in its original presentation prompted questions regarding the status of art in the public realm and how such confrontations are defined in its initial presentation. For example, audiences in SoHo, then the center of the commercial gallery scene in New York, accepted the work as art, but audiences on Wall Street interpreted the parade of placards as a potential unidentifiable threat.
Friday, June 1, 2-3pm: CENTRAL PARK beginning near Rockefeller Center
Saturday, June 2, 12-2pm: WALL STREET beginning near Greenwich and Fulton Street

My friends and I are kicking off a new monthly dyke party. Come before 11 for 2x1 drink specials.
**go-go dancers ** pool table ** drink specials ** dj **
Saturday June 2nd 9pm
40C (40 Ave. C btwnn 3rd & 4th St), Manhattan

3rd Annual Tour de Brooklyn
This year’s 18 mile tour features Brooklyn’s southern neighborhoods along the waterfront like Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst and loops towards the heart of Brooklyn, Kensington and Prospect Park South to end at the Carousel. Family friendly ride.
Check-in: 8 am; Line-up: 9 am; Ride: 9:30 am

Manhattan Chili Takedown
A chili contest from unholy hell. The Village Voice raved: "the fieriest concoctions this side of Texas."Competitors are invited to come down and go head to head against other amateur chefs for the much-coveted Judged ($100 prize) and People’s Choice Award ($200 prize). Hosted by NYC comedian and chili producer Matt Timms. This event has grown from its humble beginnings in Williamsburg to its chili monster status in the Lower East Side. We bring in real chefs, food writers,and experts to judge the proceedings.
Mo Pitkin’s, 34 Avenue A, between 2nd and 3rd streets, Manhattan.
4-8:30p; $15 to enter, bring down two gallons of your best recipe, or $8 buys all you can eat plus the opportunity to vote for your favorite.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The US ZipScribble Map

From Robert Kosara at Eager Eyes comes the US Zipscribble map. He says "What would happen if you were to connect all the ZIP codes in the US in ascending order? Is there a system behind the assignment of ZIP codes? Are they organized in a grid? The result is surprising and much more interesting than expected."

Very few of the zip codes connections cross state lines. As a result, you can clearly see the state lines even in the monochrome black and white version. Even fewer of the actual zip codes themselves cross state lines - but a few do.

Interest piqued? More at Wikipedia. Geek away.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Graffiti

Live Free or Die
Williamsburgh, May 2007.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Which Famous Photographer Are You?

Thomas Hawk's blog pointed me to this entertaining quiz over at YouThink. It has seven sort of random questions, but evidently my answers matched me with Cartier-Bresson. I'll take that company!

Which famous photographer are you?

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Known for street photography and photojournalism

"We are passive onlookers in a world that moves perpetually. Our only moment of creation is that 1/125th of a second when the shutter clicks, the signal is given, and motion is stopped..."

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's Bike Month, Yo

May is Bike Month!

The Bicycle Film Festival kicks off tonight and runs through the weekend. The line up looks excellent and as always, one of the non-movie highlights should be the street festival on Saturday afternoon.

Some other highlights:
Thursday 17th - Bike night at the Brooklyn Brewery, proceeds to benefit the HIV/AIDS services of the Center
Friday 18th - National Bike to Work Day. Join the crowd.
Saturday 19th - Bike lessons for kids in each borough (also on the 26th)
Saturday 19th - New York Adventure Racing Association's Urban Bike-O scavenger hunt. Sorta like an alleycat, it seems.
Sunday 20th - Street art and graffiti tour. Last year's was great, I highly recommend this.
Thursday 24th - Bike lane liberation with the Bicycle Clown Brigade.
Friday 25th - Single-speed showdown and of course, it's the last friday of the month, Critical Mass
Saturday 26th - Bicycle Fetish Day in, duh, Williamsburg
Tuesday 29th - Drawing the Bicycle with Taliah Lempert

There are so many other great things going on, definitely check out the entire calendar. This list should just whet your appetite!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Frogs in His Bed

My brother, circa 1984, tells a unique version of the Passover story, in rhyme.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Homelessness Hits Record High in NYC

And yet...
Source: Coalition for the Homeless' eighth annual State of the Homeless report [pdf]

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Fallen Fruit

Now this is an LA export that we'd be happy to have. Fallen Fruit is all about mapping fruit trees on public property so you can get your grub on. Oh yeah, and they also want to encourage the creation of community gardens and smart planning of public space. Beginning in the Silver Lake neighborhood of LA, Fallen Fruit later branched out and created fruit maps of neighborhoods in Seattle, Portland and Santa Fe. They also do some crazy shit like night fruit walks and communal jam-making. Above: what you can find in Griffith Park.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Pre-Civil-War Buildings of Brooklyn Heights

(source: Brooklyn Geneology)

Brooklyn Streets That Are No More

When I bike out to Coney Island along Ocean Parkway, judging how close I'm getting by where I am in the alphabet of street names that starts at Avenue D and ends at Avenue X, I often wonder what happened to the missing letters. There's no A, B, or C, or for that matter, no E, F or G. (I must note, though, that except for E, each of these streets starts with the appropriate letter (Ablemarle, Beverly, Clarendon, Farragut, Glenwood)). And, in fact, both Farragut and Glenwood used to be the more simple Avenues F and G.

If you want to see other Brooklyn streets that used to be known by another name, check out Steve Morse's list, which compiled by poring over old maps and city directories.

Some streets haven't just changed names - they've disappeared altogether. For those, the master is Kevin at Forgotten NY. Many of the Brooklyn streets that he catalogues were destroyed by construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, Cadman Plaza, city and government buildings, or by Robert Moses' construction of the BQE.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Travel-Time Maps

Travel-time Maps, originally uploaded by NIXON*NOW.

From Nixon*Now comes this color-coded map showing how long it takes to get from one area of London to another. He says:

"These are much more complicated questions than those about individual journeys, but one thing they all have in common is transport: can I get to and from the places I'm considering quickly and easily?"

The maps on this page show one way of answering that question. Using colours and contour lines they show how long it takes to travel between one particular place and every other place in the area, using public transport. They also show the areas from which no such journey is possible, because the services are not good enough."
Basically, this answers the question of "how early do I have to get up to work on time?" Now if only someone would make this map for the New York subway system. More at mySociety.

Photo Tour of Borough Park

Borough Park is home to a large community of Orthodox Jews. While the Satmar Hasids are based in Williamsburg, the Hasidim in Borough Park (also spelled Boro Park) primarily belong to the Bobov community.

Giving a taste of the neighborhood, a community blog suggested possible neighborhood slogans, among them "Boro Park- my Rebbe is bigger than your Rebbe"; "Boro Park- nu, so where else are you going to live? Flatbush? Why don't you just put on a knitted kipa, you freier. Feh"; "Boro Park- otherwise you'd have to go to Yerushalayim to see Chasidim riot"; "Boro Park: The World's Competitive Eating Capital!"; "Boro Park- come on, Bobov can't fight forever"; "Boro Park- just leave your car anywhere"; "Boro Park- the nicest frum neighborhood on Earth, more or less," and last but not least, "Boro Park-The Melting Cholent Pot."

13th Avenue is the main shopping strip in Borough Park, a lively thoroughfare lined with kosher meat markets, bakeries, clothing stores and more. It evokes an earlier era, as the lettering and graphics of many storefronts have not changed since the 1950s or earlier. Here's an assortment of sights from the strip:

Clothing Stores
Freund's F&F Family Shop
Domonick's Shoe Repair
Yeedl's Juvenile Shop
sells furniture for children's rooms.
Brach's outfits
the well-groomed gentleman.

Food Shops
Shem Tov restaurant and catering
Paskesz kosher candies. They say they
marketed the first kosher chewing gum.

The New Thirteen Avenue Bagel Corp
another 13th Ave bagel shop
Tuv Taam Fish Market & Appetizing
Ossie's Fish Market
Appetizing Plus
Meal Mart
Deli D'Lite
Herbst Mehadrin Meats

Wig stores
Many Hasidic women wear wigs (sheitels) as part of tzeniut (modesty) standards.
Halacha (Jewish law) requires married women to cover their hair.
Books & Judaica
Flohr's Judaica
Tiv Tov Book Bindery

Getting around

Yeshiva Beth Hillel school bus
Zion Car Service
For another cool photo tour of Borough Park, check out Bridge & Tunnel Club.