simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: August 2008
2 ... 2 ...

Friday, 29 August 2008


Today's posting is more about a personal frustration than something that is strictly related to New York City. I have had this photo for quite some time - I always loved this small elegant sign hanging outside the fine tiny French restaurant, Le Gigot on Cornelia Street in the West Village. But how to use this photo? There really isn't anything about it which is particularly remarkable, but it is quite elegant. Ah, there's the source of my irritation - subtlety, nuance and understatement.
I recall years ago have a conversation with an acquaintance regarding the perpetual debate regarding Apple vs. Windows based pcs. Ease of use, graphics or music professionals do not explain much of the large user base - there are plenty of scientists, business people, attorneys and computer geeks who use Apple. At one point I stated that many of the differences were due to nuances in the interface like subpixel font smoothing and that customers are willing to pay for that difference. My friend concurred and make the statement that subtlety and nuance were things all too underappreciated in this country. But nuance is the very thing that typically separates the ordinary from the finer things in life whether it is clothing, food, wine, cameras, furniture.
So in light of a culture dominated by bigger is better, deep discount big box stores, reality TV shows, gratuitous violence and other extreme, in-your-face manifestations of a utilitarian, dumbed down world, let's celebrate nuance today ...

Thursday, 28 August 2008


OTB is a rather invisible enterprise, lurking in the underbelly of New York City. This is the type of place that caters strictly to a niche clientele and those not seeking to place bets through the city's Off Track Betting parlors, will probably never notice there existence.
This is one of the few things in New York City that I do not consider a must see. In fact, the atmosphere is rather unsavory, perhaps seedy. Unlike racetracks themselves which have the added elements of horses, paddocks, jockeys and an outdoor environment, OTB is stripped of all these human and equine elements and has reduced horse racing to a betting experience. Although one can feel some excitement at the close of a race, there is the distinct sense that the excitement is largely predicated on winning money with a leveraged bet. Unfortunately, It is also the home to many the disenfranchised hoping to hit it big, with a longshot or perhaps a gimmick bet like the exacta or trifecta.
At one time these parlors were smoke filled, adding insult to injury, but certainly providing a sense of authenticity - a smoky haze conjures the right images for this type of place, evoking the feelings one might have in a poolhall or a dart area in the back room of a bar ...

History of OTB: Approved by voters in a 1963 referendum, the official history of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation began on April 22, 1970. NYCOTB was designated to operate as a public-benefit corporation, a relatively new form of governmental entity run along the lines of a private enterprise whose profits accrue back to the taxpayers in the form of public revenue. The mission given us was three-fold: to raise needed revenue for the City and State, to combat organized crime's hold on gambling by providing a legal alternative and to help New York State's racing industry.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fung Wah

If you're going into business, I would not suggest competing against members of the Chinese community. As we saw in my recent posting Ridiculous, produce can be had in Chinatown at an absurd fraction of going retail prices elsewhere. If you are traveling to Boston or any other number of select cities in the Northeast, the price of a bus ticket from Fung Wah or other competitors makes one wonder - how do they do it? and will I get there alive?
I was first told about the Chinatown bus phenomenon by a college student, typically a good source of information on the latest in deals and discounts, online and off. Word travels fast in the price savvy and networked student community and it was not long before the larger world of New York City became aware of pricing that was, well, just astonishing.
Of course like anything deeply discounted, the phrase Chinatown bus, connotes different things to different people. To the cost conscious on a very tight budget, it is a blessing. To the well heeled it is perhaps a good example of how not to travel and you get what you pay for.
Bus travel is the lowest common denominator of the commercial travel options. From the perspective of utility, buses will transport you from here to there at the lowest prices. In 1997, Fung Wah, operating as a local dollar van service, took bus pricing to new lows. The pioneering effort was started by Pei Lin Liang. Liang saw the need for competitive pricing to Boston where many students were located.
There are now a number of companies in this cut throat business located on Forsyth Street (photo at right). There are various destinations available, typically cities with Chinatowns such as Philadelphia, Washington, DC or Boston. Employees hustle anyone who walks the street there, as if price alone will be an incentive to travel. Admittedly, at times I have been tempted to get on board just to take advantage of the extraordinary deals. A one way ticket to Boston costs a mere $15, with buses leaving hourly.
Reviews are mixed with some reports of overworked drivers, poor service, inadequate number of stops (in vans) and above average number of accidents. At these prices, however, most travelers will tolerate a lot. The only expectation is to get to their destination and get there uninjured ...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Sir Shadow

I am not going to render an opinion here on Sir Shadow's art, but I will report that it is certainly a phenomenon. After gleaning his website, I see that he is on the road to becoming a one man industry. As I have written here before, it is always so surprising how one can be unaware of people, places or things in this city which are virtual institutions, in many cases having had major news coverage such as articles in the New York Times. A good example of this is Joe Ades, the Gentleman Peeler, a character who has based himself in Union Square and about whom I have previously posted - see here.
Sir Shadow, 59 years old, was born Thomas Allen Paxton and grew up in Jamaica Queens, New York. Paxton, a high school drop out, has never gone to art school. He resides in the last flophouse on the Bowery, with recent plans for conversion.
New York City has the population density, diversity and tolerance to embrace and nurture any self promoter who has good schtick and chutzpah. Self-confidence in tandem with a creative mind will permit virtually any endeavor to become a potential success - there are always patrons to be had, even with the most bizarre products or services. This city is a cauldron, always brewing soups with unconventional unique ingredients.
I was amazed at Sir Shadow's fluidity. He is a master of the flow (part of his tag line) and improvisational poetry, describing his work as The One Line Art & Flowetry of Sir Shadow. He creates highly stylized line drawings in one continuous movement, never lifting the pen. A drawing in his signature silver ink is completed in a minute or two. For $20, he will make a personalized piece for a customer, while reciting a poem particular to that individual. See more photos here.
Although I imagine art snobs may turn their noses at such a commercial endeavor, this man has created his own business and taken himself from homelessness. He has a website, blog, online shop, a book, a fan club, youtube videos and a myspace site. A master of self promotion, Sir Shadow is now offering $1 million dollars to anyone who helps him earn $2 million ...

Monday, 25 August 2008

Banana Too

I've always had a love affair with the tropics and its icons. I share it with many denizens of temperate climates who at times look for transport to a more benign climate - armchair travelers looking for a quick sojourn to the tropics, former citizens reminiscing or those who fantasize a vacation or perhaps a residence in an idyllic world of perpetual summer. On a cold night during a long winter, the sight and sounds of palm fronds rustling in a balmy wind warms my spirit.
I feel like I have a radar operating subconsciously, scanning for all things tropical, whether real, such as plants or fruits, images in books or perhaps a magazine cover reporting on the latest roundup of best rated island destinations.
So I was quite shocked to see this enormous banana plant thriving in Tompkins Square Park as I entered the western entrance to attend the Charlie Parker concert. I was certainly not completely alone in my interest in photographing this anomaly - whether others recognized it as such, I do not know. I asked one woman with a point and shoot camera whether she knew anything about banana trees, hoping to get some information regarding the ability of a tropical species to survive a temperate climate. She knew nothing of such matters and did appear to share my penchant for the tropics.
So, I have spent the morning reading about banana plants. However, I can not report with any assuredness specifically what species of plant this is nor any history as to its planting.
I did learn however, that there are non-fruiting ornamental varieties which can withstand winters - Musa Basjoo, Saja, and Ice Cream. The Basjoo can even withstand sub-zero temperatures. Any plant aficionados who want to jump in on this?

Note: The banana plant is actually not a tree but a herbaceous perennial. It is a giant herb of the genus Musa.

Friday, 22 August 2008

The Bottom of Things

Now you know there has to be a story behind an "ordinary" drinking glass that you find in so many NYC restaurants. I see this heavy duty glass with the five-sided base everywhere. I was a math and science person, so the pentagonal base always appealed to me. And I have spent years looking at them while waiting for a meal and admiring the style and heft while drinking from it. Rather attractive for something so common and utilitarian. Like the Chinese soup spoon. So I could stand it no longer - I need to know - who makes them and where? Is there anything special about them?
The problem is that no one really cares about a heavy duty commercial drinking glass, so to find information one has to really dig. Dig deep. An online search really isn't going to be easy. You are going to have to look at hundreds of images of beverage glasses for the restaurant industry and hope to get lucky or find your treasure through pure tenacity.
But find it I did after downloading and skimming a 124 page catalog. I believe our subject is made by Libbey Glass and is one of their Inverness Duratuff Tumblers. They make this style glass in a number of sizes. They also make a number of paneled (faceted) tumbler styles which are very recognizable. I feel so much better now after finally locating my quarry.
I never see these glasses break. From the Libbey literature you find: "DuraTuff treatment is a special thermal after-process for "pressed” tumblers and stemware that produces durable glassware with prolonged service life for the foodservice industry."
However, there is plenty more to know - the company (established in 1888), the history, the inventor, a timeline and why the base is five-sided. The pentagonal bottom is not even addressed in the Libbey catalog. Most things are forgotten except by a few. If I was doing a major story, I would call Libbey and find those few. In fact I would GO to their factory in Ohio, do some interviews and really get to the BOTTOM of that five-sided glass ...

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Back to Boyhood

There are a few things that to me, that really epitomize the countryside on a summer evening. And two of them are fireflies and cicadas. And, yes, you can find these in the parks of New York City. This one was photographed on the arm of a friend in Washington Square Park. Many nights this month we were witness to a wonderful light show. I attempted unsuccessfully to capture one glowing. I was reassured however, that capturing this was not an easy feat by my photographer friend Bill Shatto who is an expert at insect photography. You can see his work here on his flickr site.
There are many fascinating facts about fireflies such as the light efficiency of bio luminescence - 90% of the energy used is actually converted to light (as contrasted with an incandescent bulb which is only 10% efficient). The production of light is primarily a tool for mating - males exhibit courting behavior in the form of flashing patterns while flying. Females generally do not fly but respond with flashes. You can read more about them here.
I like the gentle flashing of fireflies - it is so emblematic of a warm summer's eve. I immediately enter into a comfort zone, transported back to my boyhood in New England ...

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


There are discounts, sales, deals and competitive pricing. Then there is RIDICULOUS pricing. And if u want to see the ridiculous, go to Chinatown. The Chinese sell and consume a lot of produce, much of it sold on the streets from carts and open air shops. On my last visit, I was absolutely stunned with the pricing on their goods. Can you really sell produce with differences of 200-500% from other vendors? I purchased bing cherries at $1.00 per pound! Mangoes and papayas were being sold in cases of 9 for $9. Nineteen kiwis for $2? I felt like I was buying stolen merchandise. The quality is typically excellent - the turnover is high and everything is quite fresh. Things don't linger at the bottom of a pile for days.
Perhaps the issue is not so much that Chinatown discounts so heavily, but that everyone else marks up so much. I have lived in Manhattan many years and have become accustomed to high prices - I typically never compare with pricing outside the city. See note below.
In defense of the merchants, rents in Manhattan are extraordinary and food sellers do not get any particular special treatment. One green grocer I patronize saw their rent go from $38,000 per month to $45,000 several years ago. And their electric bills are $18,000 per month. Unfortunately, the costs need to be passed onto the customer. Outdoor markets and food carts have minimal overhead.
I once recall being at a New Years Eve party, thrown by an friend who lives in a loft in Chinatown. At one point we ran out of orange juice and I was asked to go on a search mission. It was late and I was not shopping for bargains. I made my purchase in the first Chinese deli I came across. I was stunned by the pricing which was about 50% less than what I saw elsewhere in Manhattan for the same exact item and brand. When I returned and expressed my amazement, my friend only commented in a matter of fact way: "when it comes to price, you can't beat Chinatown." ...

Note: I just called my mother who lives over one hundred miles from the city in a rural area. She confirmed current pricing at the local supermarket of cherries at $4.99/lb and kiwis at 2 for $1. She was flabbergasted at the pricing I gave her. Chinatown rules.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Sheep Meadow

In looking over my archives I was shocked to find that I have never done a posting on Sheep Meadow. Why shocked? Because, for me and many New Yorkers, this patch of grass is one if the most special and important places in New York City. Why did I wait so long? To get a photo that does justice to the feeling of this pastoral place. And as time passed, I just assumed that ti was a fait accompli.
As I have written before, parks are so important in New York City. These are the only outdoor spaces we have. In many cases they have become much more than just what one thinks of as a park. They have evolved into centers for a myriad of activities - tennis, running, walking, biking, chess, birdwatching, model boating, kite flying, frisbee, horseback riding, baseball, theaters, ice skating, roller skating, swimming, boating, music performances, street performing and of course, people watching. A world of recreation and entertainment.
And let's not forget relaxing. Perhaps a picnic. Or just reading. Many a weekend I have found myself in Sheep Meadow with a magazine, book or a copy of the Sunday New York Times - a veritable ritual in the city.
Sheep Meadow is located in Central Park, which is literally (and for me figuratively) at the geographic center of Manhattan - both east-west and north-south. Fold a map of Manhattan and you will see what I mean. The 30 acre meadow itself is located in the lower portion of the park. Until the 1930s, sheep did actually graze there. They were moved to Prospect Park by Robert Moses.
The meadow is convenient to various trains and buses making it an egalitarian place, accessible by all. The space gets heavy traffic, yet it has been consistently well maintained. Remarkable for this city ...

Monday, 18 August 2008

Secrets of Ozone

Would you like to have a sobering experience? A change perhaps from the sights and stimulus of Manhattan? See a place that's not an attraction or a "secret" because there is nothing particularly attractive about it or a reason to keep it a secret? A reality check?
I suggest you pick a hot summer August Sunday, when most New Yorkers with the means have made a mass exodus from the city. Take a long ride on the A train to a working class neighborhood whose very name is in itself baffling, Ozone Park, and ironically, does not even have a major park.
When I got off the train at Rockaway Blvd in Queens, I found graffiti to be the art du jour and unkempt weeds to be the alternative to topiary. And apparently the aspirations of many men was to win the exacta at the neighborhood OTB (NYC's chain of racetrack betting parlors). See my set of photos from the adventure here.
This was a place where carrying a pro camera raises eyebrows - people are understandably suspect to see someone taking photos of nondescript houses or unassuming commercial buildings. Coincidentally, as I was having this exact thought, I was queried by a merchant sitting outside his shop in a lawn chair as to why I was taking a photo of a gas station. It took quite a bit of of persuasive conversation to convince him of the sense of my mission and activity. That the reason I was doing it was because there was no good reason to do it and specifically because the whole situation was so remarkably unprepossessing.
I hope not to offend any Ozone Park residents as I am sure there are good things to be found there and admittedly the areas around train stations and major thoroughfares (where I was) are typically not very attractive.
Perhaps I see the world too much as an architect might - a place defined by its structures and things, rather than by its people, relationships and community. In New York, as everywhere else, people and communities are what make the world go round. Perhaps that's the secret ...

Actually, Ozone Park does have a few claims to fame. It is the former home of the infamous John Gotti and his associates in the Gambino crime family. The Mafia boss died in prison in 2002.

Friday, 15 August 2008

A Turn in the Road

This photoblog has been in existence for nearly 2 1/2 years. In this time it has evolved organically and I believe a unique style has been established with a respectable number of visitors.The daily writing of these postings and the photography behind it have been substantial tasks. And maintaining quality is no small thing either. I have focused exclusively on content and no serious efforts have been made at increasing traffic or monetizing this site.
It is time for a change.
I will be redesigning this website, improving its function and usefulness as a resource. I am looking for someone who would like to assist me in taking this site to the next step - increasing traffic and generating income. What better place to recruit an individual than from readers.?
I considered making this posting more obvious it its mission. But I want a serious individual. If you have gotten this far, then I know you are the type of person who reads and looks below the surface.
I am looking for someone who can put some time in on a daily basis. I have ideas and leads but I also am looking for someone proactive who will also research and implement ideas of their own. At this time, the position is not open ended - we will agree to a specific time commitment and evaluate the results in order to decide if it is fruitful to continue the relationship.
I am not necessarily looking for a professional marketer or someone with a business background - what I am budgeting for this project would preclude that. However, I am looking for someone who is ambitious and has some passion for this website. If you are that person, PLEASE EMAIL ME HERE. Include any background information, experience, ideas or proposals you might have. I'm looking for a passenger in that turn in the road ...

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Boy Band

I have not seen such a group of screaming, shrieking teenagers since the Beatles. This was the crowd waiting to see the Jonas Brothers at the Apple store - see additional photo here. I'm sure there have been many groups that have induced such a fervor, but I have not witnessed it personally. 
The Apple store in SoHo has not only become a mecca for their products, they have also been involved in all manner of promotions and presentations. Most of these are product tie-ins of course, but the store has been extremely generous in usage of their facilities. They provide Internet access on their stable of desktops and laptops with no time restrictions. And they have a great theater on the mezzanine with raked, upholstered seating. With air conditioning and bathrooms, u can see why this has not only become an Apple success ... but a second home for many.
With media becoming Apple's central focus, popular tie-ins are easy - what doesn't have an audio or video component? Virtually anything can be tied into an Apple computer presentation using anyone of their numerous software or hardware products.
I do not keep up with popular music, but apparently the Jonas Brothers are huge with the teenage audience and were making an appearance at the shop. The streets were bulging with fans. There were a substantial number of police on hand. I was told that teenies can get wild and out of control with this group.
The Jonas Brothers have tremendous media buzz and a promotion machine behind them. I did briefly examine their website and a YouTube video. I can't say that their music was in the league of rock greats. What we have here is a boy band with a big cute factor :)

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Lightning and opportunity both strike quickly in New York, a land of opportunity. And there is no opportunity like a sudden unexpected downpour. Umbrella salespeople appear instantly from nowhere and setup quickly, because a rainstorm is an unknown opportunity.
They appear with umbrellas that most consider disposable and justifiable for the day's journey. A captive audience has few options. For those who did not prepare, you pay a few dollars or get soaked. The more unexpected the rain, the better the business. In the streets of New York, sympathy is not part of the vendor's trade.
Now I understand that in business you need to keep your costs down, but isn't it bad marketing for an umbrella salesman to peddle umbrellas while using such a badly damaged one? After all, this is the primary complaint and impression of umbrellas sold on the street - that they are virtually useless and break immediately. After a rainstorm, many mangled ones can be seen discarded on the streets.
A fellow onlooker and I thought the scene was hysterical. But the unfortunate and unprepared bought umbrellas anyway, because in a land of opportunity, at opportune moments, the opportunists win ...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Hallmarks & Earmarks

Welcome to Fu Kee Chinese Restaurant at 128 Lafayette Street. When it comes to Japanese or Chinese food, nearly everyone appears to be an authority in this city. We forever hear the popular refrain - "I know a great place for Chinese" or perhaps "I know where to get the best sushi." So, given that many of you have heard these types of assertions ad nauseam, I will make no grandiose claims about this place, only that it was recommended by a Chinese woman who knows Chinese food, has eaten in many other Chinatown restaurants and this is her favorite. She assured me that this place had all the earmarks of an authentic noodle house - the large tacky, framed, illuminated nature photo, outdated photos of obscure celebrities - and of course good food. 
Like most of Chinatown and its denizens, this place is quite utilitarian. No doting on patrons, snobbery or false pretenses here. Sodas are served à la can and if it is busy, you may find yourself sharing a large table with strangers.
They understand the hallmarks of a good business, stripped of any frills. A good meal for a very competitive price - you can't beat Chinatown for pricing or value. So here's to hallmarks and earmarks ...

Monday, 11 August 2008

The Pieman

Looming large in the photo but rather innocuous live in the setting, is a character who is famous and infamous, depending on who is telling the tale, hearing the story or one's political alliances.
This is the Pieman, aka Aron Kay, a Brooklyn resident. Pieing, the act of throwing a pie in some one's face, was originally a common gag in slapstick comedy. Kay considers the Three Stooges the true fathers of pie throwing. Pieing, as a political statement, originated in the USA with the Yippie movement in 1970. If you are not familiar with the Yippies, see my posting here. Kay has thrown pies at conservative author William F. Buckley, NY Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, former New York City mayor Abe Beame, the Nixon Watergate operatives G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, William Shatner, Andy Warhol and Jerry Brown Jr., the former governor of California. His last target (in 1992) was Randall Terry, former leader of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.
Belgian artist Noel Godin began throwing cream pies in 1968. Perhaps a more poetic interpretation of his actions, Godin refers to himself as an enterteur. He considers his actions non-violent and uses a tarte classique, filled with whipped cream (and perhaps chocolate). At least the receivers get a free gourmet dessert. Among the luminaries who have been his victims are Bill Gates, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Jean-Luc Godard and Nicolas Sarkozy.
Although I am not an advocate of violence or pieing, there are many individuals who are extremely incendiary and have built careers setting fires and fanning the flames. One who comes to mind is Ann Coulter who has been pied. Watching an individual like this in interviews and debates with her sneering and snide remarks, gives one an understanding of how someone can be incensed enough to throw a pie. Others who are extremely arrogant (William F. Buckley Jr, e.g.) or hold and articulate extreme right wing views, such as anti-gay-rights activist Anita Bryant, also ruffle the feathers of pie throwers.
Bon Appetit?

Friday, 8 August 2008

Couleur du Jour

Now if you really dig, you will, of course, find a lot of information about yellow. But, at the risk of offending yellow lovers and yellow aficionados, if you really look at the literature, I would not say it is a color in the league of red, of which I have written - see here.
Yellow has a number of negative connotations. We have yellow journalism. It is the color of cowardice, jealousy and associated with aging (paper yellowed with age) - anyone looking to market teeth yellower? On the positive side, yellow shines particularly in nature - yellow glow of sunlight, sunflowers, bananas and canary melons. In music we have Donovan's Mellow Yellow and Yellow Submarine by the Beatles.
In clothing, I think yellow is difficult to carry. Historically, it has been considered tacky and gaudy. Personally, I am not a big fan of yellow clothing. From reading current fashion articles, however, yellow is the couleur du jour in 2008. 
The photo of the woman in the yellow dress has been in my collection since 2005 (prior to the start of this blog) - collecting photos of people dressed in yellow is a slow, incremental process. The yellow dress was so unusual and striking, I photographed it just for that reason, not knowing if I would ever have any real use for it. A television program was being filmed. More recently I photographed the women with the yellow skirt in the late afternoon yellow light. This diptych is my entire yellow photo archives.
But in the end, in the card game of life, yellow trumps all others easily as the color of the sun, giver of light and life, and the color of summer - in more ways than one, the couleur du jour ...

Note about yellow: Yellow is one of the three primary process colors (subtractive) in printing (CMYK - cyan, magenta, yellow plus black) but is a secondary color in the world of light (additive) and monitors - RGB (red, green, blue).

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Oyster Bed

Can you build a business around cardboard constructed objects? In New York, yes you can. This place was a surprise because I go by it frequently. The shop itself is tiny and only because of the outdoor display did it catch my eye.
They manufacture many products using an accordion-like, honeycomb structure. You just want to touch these things and of course many do. They have a line called LiquidCardboard which transforms from one shape to another. They move and articulate, much like a slinky.
There are also a number of wonderful fantasy constructions for children - a lemonade stand, playhouse, fort, dollhouse, tepee and a rocket ship, which is a personal favorite. As a child I dreamed of being on a rocket and as a high school student belonged to a rocketry club. I think boys and rockets are almost synonymous.
The honeycomb cardboard they use is recycled and the adhesives are natural too. They have an online store (website here) in addition to their retail location in SoHo at 410A West Broadway. These are the types of places that make this city a unique place to peruse. Look twice because you may miss it. New York is like an oyster bed, you just have to look for those pearls ...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Debutante Ball

I could not resist this color fest in the East Village in front of Porto Rico - an importer and seller of coffee. The painted trash can near this woman's tattooed arms begged for a photo to be taken.
Personally I would not want to commit my skin to tattoos. But I do often admire them as artistic adornment. In principle they are really not so different from the myriad of other ways men and women have adorned themselves for millenia: hair treatments, nails, makeup, jewelry, piercings, scarification etc. However, unlike many of our more common beautification methods, tattoos are permanent (relatively), so they make a serious statement of intent and confidence.
I think the full arm tattoos of today's subject may limit some of her social options - or she will be buying a large selection of long sleeve shirts. For example, she is probably no longer a good candidate for the debutante ball at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Perhaps this is a sacrifice she is willing to make.
If you wonder whether there was any issue taking this photo, there was not. I motioned silently to her indicating my desire to take a photograph and she nodded in the affirmative. So I had carte blanche to take a number of photos in a stress free manner. Her cordial behavior and gracious approval was as befitting as someone being groomed for exposure in the next debutante ball :)

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

False Assumptions

It's been awhile since I have seen a flag burning - this one appeared to be a spontaneous act which occurred at the 2008 Police Riot concert, featured yesterday on this website.
I grew up in a time of protest, revolutionary sentiments and live in an extremely liberal environment. But I have always felt very uneasy at a flag burning. I always thought it was illegal. And it seems like an ultimate act of desecration - like smearing images of the Virgin Mary with excrement or spitting in someone's face.
Flag burning is still not a criminal offense in the USA, however it is in some other countries. It has withstood two Supreme Court decisions (defended by William Kunstler, NYC Greenwich Village resident) as an act of protected speech under the First Amendment. Several flag burning amendments have been proposed which were very narrowly defeated in Congress, one by only a single vote.
But like women being topless in public, which is legal in New York State, there are many popularly held beliefs which are based on misunderstandings about the legalities of various actions, like flag burning. Many false assumptions are made ...

Monday, 4 August 2008

Leftöver Crack

Don't you just love these names - Leftöver Crack, Witch Hunt, Team Spider, Disassociate, Death Mold and Hungry Marching Band. This was the group lineup for yesterday's Police Riot Concert in Tompkins Square Park. I give them points for creative group names. This was my second year - see last year's posting here with information about the event and photos.
The concert finished with Leftover Crack where the unbridled energy of youth reached its apex. There was of course the requisite moshing and a flag burning. Given the nature of the concert however, the attendees were quite well behaved for a punk rock concert. Apparently there is decorum and protocol defined within the subculture - I witnessed a really young kid who was extraordinarily drunk being shunned and seriously reprimanded by everyone around. Sad - where do u get support from peers as a drug user if you are rejected at a punk rock concert?
The extravagant dress and plumage is my personal favorite aspect of these concerts - it makes for great photo opportunities and everyone seems to be very open to being photographed. No surprise - anyone adorned or styled with such outrageous hair, clothing, body art and piercings is hardly shunning attention ...

Friday, 1 August 2008


The original concept of a city daily photo blog was started by Eric Tenin of Paris Daily Photo. The idea was to give readers a slice of daily life in a city. I have gone beyond that initial idea in this website. However, I still often keep that theme that in mind when I create new postings.
If you saw my posting - Interruption, you know that I have been engaging in a renovation project in my home. Because of this, the blog has suffered some here and there in the last week. Perhaps it is bad form to make apologies for anything a person produces for the public, but I have commited to a daily publishing schedule and it is extremely difficult to work in this environment. I do feel I want to make visitors here aware that this process is extremely disruptive as anyone who has lived IN a constuction site will attest.
Right now I am typing this on a laptop in bed, the only place left that is reasonably clean. Everything is in disarray, all my belongings have been in boxes for weeks, dust is everywhere. Workers will arrive at any moment.
Rather than make a half hearted effort and a mediocre posting, I am sharing with you a REAL slice of NYC life in the spirit of Eric's original concept.
I hope to get back on track next week with more focus. Thanks. Brian Dubé.