Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Soho, so what?

(artist unknown, picture taken from display window)

Soho is a nice place to wander. I work in the area, and am usually eager to get away from my job for my lunch hour, so I walk around to the coffee shops, in search of a restaurant I can afford to eat in.

The people are of a few types.

The tourists are easy enough to recognize, they mostly have cameras, wearing white socks with shorts, traveling in familial groups, both nuclear and partial-extended, and seem to be looking for the next gallery or art store, unable to tell the difference, though admittedly in Soho there is very little. If you encounter these groups, either approaching or attempting to overtake, it is best to step into the street. They move like an amorphous blob and are always doing so at about half the speed you are, or less. Sometimes you can shoot the narrows and make it right through the middle of the group as they are oftentimes undecided on where to go next and the mother and father will conveniently wish to move in opposite directions.

Then there are the young model hopefuls. They are usually very young women, perhaps 18 or 19, always dressed as if they have much bigger plans ahead of them, always by themselves, much time spent on their makeup, unable to walk gracefully in the heels they are wearing, without any direction and even less money. They usually seem to be looking past everyone on the street, off into the distance, as if the photo-shoot was already occurring. These girls are not ugly, but they are also neither very pretty, but most of them have a unique look about them that they've been advised is what it really takes to get noticed as a model, and that is precisely what they hope to do. They are usually found on Prince and Spring streets, heading east then uncertainly west, they are rarely seen on Broadway.

There are other types, of course. Perhaps in a later post....

There are some great window displays in Soho, with refreshing things to look at, and buy. It is sometimes difficult to believe that this neighborhood was the center of the 80's art market, though the inflationary part is easy to understand, the collapse. As Robert Hughes once remarked, "Soho is the only place in the world that an art dealer will still use the word avant-garde without smirking." I couldn't find the exact quote, but it is something like that. Is that called paraphrasing, or just poor research?

Walking into an "art store" in Soho is quite an experience, they go to great lengths to preserve the idea that what they are doing is vital, when it is really just an overblown poster store, not that different from what you'd find in any mall across the country, though much more expensive, as they deal in "originals." I find it difficult to believe that any serious art collectors spend much of their time in Soho, though I'm sure there are a few remnant dealers left over from the 80's still wowing their clientele with stories of excess and pomp. Though I would assume that these dealers no longer have storefronts, if they ever did at all.

But it is a nice place to wander. The people are often good looking and well-dressed, there are plenty of good coffee shops, and tiny restaurants, bakeries, lots of interesting book stores to browse into, and no shortage of break-out starlets and soon-to-be glamorous models. It is too bad about me having to work, I might have done so well as a talent scout, photographer, coffee distributor, art maven, street artist, or else.

(Soho window display)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


"The eye sees a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination awake." - Leonardo Da Vinci

Monday, July 26, 2010


I went for a walk this morning, hoping to take some pictures. I meandered around The East Village not taking any at all, just wandering. At Astor Place I stopped at a coffee cart. There was only one person in line in front of me, it was a young pale-skinned woman with too much dark hair on her face. She seemed to know the guy in the coffee-cart. She was talking to him in a familiar way, though nervously. She was young, in her early twenties, hadn't quite learned how to dress yet. It was difficult to tell whether or not he was talking to her or into his bluetooth headset, to persons unseen. She was relaying that she was leaving the city. I could see that she was hoping to get a response from him, she probably purchased coffee here every morning, or at least on the mornings that she worked. She said that he wouldn't see her any more. He asked her where she was moving, disinterestedly. She replied, Boston. When the transaction was done he looked past her towards me, so I gave my order. She began to walk away and he said, good luck. She smiled, thanks. I turned and watched her walk towards the subway stairs, and then descend the stairs with her large iced-coffee and recognizable facial hair. I turned back and I realized that he was talking on the phone, probably had been the whole time, in hushed tones, and fragmented sentences.

Friday, July 23, 2010

3. Networking and business

A friend of mine decided that she didn't want to see a particular guy any more. I believe it was after their first date, though they had known each other socially. Things just didn't have that special "spark" that makes a person want to pursue the situation. She gently told him so, and this is his response, in it's entirety and unedited (though copied from the forwarded email).

The names have been removed to protect those incapable of protecting themselves….

> Hey You!
> So that's what I have to say about your (stupid) decision to kinda stop
> meeting me:
> At least in my case, I think you jumped to concolsions too fast.I
> totally agree about me going out more than you these days. I'm not sure
> how much we discussed about it but it is something temporary and it is
> an outcome of three reasons combined together:
> 1. I lost my job three months ago.
> 2. I broke up with my girl friend half a year ago.
> 3. Networking and business
> I simply have so much extra time, so while during the day I might be
> chilling then at night I go out to restuarants, bars and clubs. But if
> you were more patient and tried to get to know me you would find out
> that I really like balance in my life and while I like to go out I also
> like to chill, stay in at my apt and watch TV, a good movie, read
> something etc. It is funny that you brought it up because my
> ex-girlfriend (I'm still in touch with her for differentreasons but no,
> we are not fuck buddies) just told me very recently that she thought we
> didn't go out enough...
> Now that I go out I am very sociable and get to meet many new people of
> diverse backgorund - business men, musicians, singers, modles (even
> hotter than you), artists, tv and movies producers etc. I am working on
> few new business ventures and networking would be very beneficial for
> most of them.
> I think I rest my case...any questions or you simply wannatell me when
> you are available to meet?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Student Loan Consultancy

I have my life figured out. I'm going to start a consultancy to give advice to people who haven't paid their student loans. It is an easy gig, there is really very little to say... the laws are changing but you must pay, so start paying. I wonder how much I could charge for such a thing. I wonder if you need some sort of license for this. I'm hoping not. I will be the sage of students loans, dispensing advice to all those willing to pay. My message will be uniform in nature, so as to appeal to their young minds....

I have contacted the holders of my student loans and they advised me of a little known portion of the agreement that allows for astonishing collection costs. They directed my attention to the back-side of the promissory note, towards the middle, in fine detail. Now, of course, this portion of the agreement is there specifically for delinquents, of which my reputation is well established in this regard.

So now I must deal exclusively with the collection agency, but they are reasonably easy to keep at bay with regular monthly payments. They truly are "paper tigers"...

I will keep my overhead low and pass on the savings to my clients. Of what use would an office be with such an easy profession? I could simply perform my duties from a cell phone from any given location. They would call me, hoping for some obscure legal way out of the mess they've landed themselves in and I would remind them that they DID agree to these terms, and they were supposed to have gotten an education through this arrangement, now pay up, and, "Stay out of Malibu, deadbeat!"

What fun. I will charge by the second...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Dog Days

This city is a dark, hard, lonely place to live sometimes. It can be depressing in the winter, exhausting and anxiety-inducing in the summer. It is maddeningly hot. There is nowhere to escape the heat and the noise. Even late at night you will awake to the sharp sounds of the city somehow permeating your sleep, chasing you hotly into the hidden corners of your dream.

I look back to pictures I took in the winter, cursing the cold, wanting to re-experience that difficulty rather than my current one. Something, anything. I have been thinking about leaving the city, though I don't know where I will go. Europe, perhaps.

I love the dark, ghostly apparition in the above image, taken late at night, at a walking pace. That same person now is somewhere in this city, sweating, cursing the heat, and noise. Who knows.

And the picture below. It also a dark, ghostly image... an ominous, gothic loneliness to it. The unending sadness takes shape.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"time having stopped"...

"Then there was the smell of heather crushed and the roughness of the bent stalks under her head and the sun bright on her closed eyes and all his life he would remember the curve of her throat with her head pushed back into the heather roots and her lips that moved smally and by themselves and the fluttering of the lashes on the eyes tight closed against the sun and against everything, and for her everything was red, orange, gold-red from the sun on the closed eyes, and it all was that color, all of it, the filling, the possessing, the having, all of that color, all in a blindness of that color. For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, dark, never any end to nowhere, hung on all time always to unknowing nowhere, this time and again for always to nowhere, now not to be borne once again always and to nowhere, now beyond all bearing up, up, up and into nowhere, suddenly, scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them."

- Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In Memoriam John Coltrane

Listen to the coal
rolling, rolling through the cold
steady rain, wheel on
wheel, listen to the
turning of the wheels this night
black as coal dust, steel
on steel, listen to
these cars carry coal, listen
to the coal train roll

-Michael Stillman

Friday, July 16, 2010

The best way....

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." - Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, July 15, 2010

it all got too complicated for me

"yes, i got very drunk last night and beat a kid up. it was quite fun. after all of the talk about fighting, i finally beat up some dumb white kid who thought he was black. i "disrespected" him. oh yes, i did. and then i went on to show him more disrespect by punching him in the face a few times, pushing him to the ground and was well on my way to choking him to death when it all got too complicated for me. i suppose he thought there was no chance of a man my age doing such a thing to him, but he was quite wrong. it felt great. i was a hero. he was an asshole and he took his little posse of losers out of the bar in some haste, breaking glass on the way, to reassert his concepts on the world."

- email from a troubled friend

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I have been recording vinyl records all day. What might be considered "classics" by some. Early-ish electronic dance music, mostly 1988-93 ; house and techno, and breakbeats, just as those distinctions were really becoming apparent in that hidden world.

I have sometimes struggled with the idea of nostalgia. A friend once harshly suggested that nostalgia is a bad thing, possibly even a very dangerous thing, for me. Perhaps the nostalgia of others must seem so.

That place that can neither be returned to nor visited by strangers.

Recording these old records today was fun. Cold beer helps the process, though at some point it also begins to interfere, as it does with most things. I have thought back to many places, and people, and odd, sometimes unbelievable situations. My nostalgia has not felt so dangerous today, though I have longed for another time...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adult-onset pornography

My photography teacher has decided to make a little fun of me. It is okay for now, he is a crazy old man that takes dirty pictures of mostly poor, ethnic people. He has finally given in to these minor eccentricities of his. It's probably syphilis, but nobody's sure, he is untestable.

I have learned to just ignore these outbursts of his, much like I learned to do years ago with the unexpected salivating. I have been told that it's important not to make him feel that his behavior is alarming in any way, just to let him go back to his ceaselessly cruel, immigrant pornography.

As long as he doesn't get caught with any nude minors, it is a mostly victimless crime... you see, he has been involuntarily celibate for years.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Juxtapositions, etc.

I found these pictures in iPhoto. They were from a day this last winter when I walked around New York trying to figure out how to use my camera, what to shoot, the why-how of photography. I know it is amateurish to try to capture the "juxtaposition" of buildings in the city, but it is what I see now in the pictures.

That's all, just a couple of pictures....

The cost of living

Do the police actually use psychics in their investigations? This seems impossible, but somehow an appropriate waste of resources.

I watch people go into this "psychic" storefront quite often. It amazes me that they do. It is not cheap, you know. For the same price you could walk into Kentucky Fried Chicken and walk out with a nearly Kevorkian-style death-dose of fast food. It's as if they're walking in and handing the person $20 of pure profit. I'm sure that some pay more, but $20 is the advertised in-house psych-price. If it were a tip, and a generous one, that would be 20% of $100, so it would stand to reason that the "information" the psychic gives them must be worth about $100 to them. I'm sure it is an understood crassness of the business to imply that the psychic's abilities should ever be used for capital gain, so the fee must be more of a tip than for services directly rendered, which makes it even more possible to hike the value of the experience up some.

I'm willing to bet that wealthier customers have a stronger aura to them as well. Wealth must be infinitely interesting to the psychic community.

I'd like to start a "psychics for hunger" campaign in which they all band together and give free readings to people who normally couldn't afford to have souls.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

being beautiful is easy

being beautiful is easy.

appearing beautiful is almost impossible.

Monday, July 5, 2010

"This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back."

This is a picture of a New York City taxi cab just at the moment when it breaks the sound barrier. It was shot on St. Marks Place between 1st and 2nd ave. You can see that the taxi is moving from transonic to supersonic speed by the barely perceptible halo of condensed water that has formed at the rear of the taxi, due to the drop in air pressure.

In 1996 mayor Rudolph Giuliani sought to create a ban on all supersonic taxi rides anywhere in the 5 boroughs, though he was narrowly defeated. Many of us still enjoy time travel in New York City and have the concerted efforts of The Rotary Club to thank for it...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

But not a great sadness. Because I felt alive.

It has only been a little over a month since we returned from Paris and already I've found some things that I am longing for, to experience again, lost qualities. I won't go on about the essences of Paris, much has been said, and undoubtedly better, than I could do here. Though it is the essence of the place that resonates in my memories. The richness of experience.

We were, of course, on vacation, our honeymoon. So, much of our experience is imbued with that specialness, but even beyond that there is also some thing that did not get captured by the camera, some aspect of life there that I am only reminded of by looking at the pictures, it is not there for me to relay.

Carol: And then something happened, something that is hard to describe.
[looks around at people around her in the park]
Carol: Sitting there in a foreign country, far from my job and all the people I knew, a feeling came over me. As if I recalled something, something that I had never known and for which I had been waiting.
Carol: But I didn't know what it was. Maybe it was something I had forgotten. Or something I had missed my whole life. I can only tell you that at the same time I felt joy and sadness.
Carol: But not a great sadness. Because I felt alive. Yes. Alive.

from, "Paris, je t'aime"


Day 2, wifeless.

The country celebrates its independence today, July 4th. It is a day that makes me miss living in Orlando, a little bit. The setting off of bottle rockets and firecrackers, the youthful, stupid excitement of miniature, celebratory artillery. But much of what there is, or was, in Orlando can be had right here in Manhattan, if that's what you want. There is plenty of inanity to go around on a day like this.

My wife is in Chicago, presumably celebrating independence there. Tonight she will call and tell me all about the fireworks, and the barbecued food, and the things that were said to her, and the the things that she said to others, or herself.

We are not often apart. Perhaps she will not call.

"Absences are a good influence in love and keep it bright and delicate."
- Robert Louis Stevenson


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sweet Home Chicago

My wife leaves for Chicago today, it is the 85th birthday of her grandfather. I wasn't able to request the time off from work, so she will go alone. I have used up all of the time that I can request off for the upcoming year, somehow. The two week trip to France that my wife and I took is apparently all that was required to exhaust my reservoirs of vacation time.

I took these pictures in the winter. I love the almost phosphorescent glow to them. The suggestion of motion and perhaps even time. She probably prefers the one below to the one above, I do as well.

I spend my days looking at camera reviews, wanting an even better camera than the one I have. Many people tell me to just decide between Nikon and Canon and then spend all of my money on lenses, as they can be used with many different cameras, though not easily between the different brands. I lean towards Nikon D700 but the Canon 5D Mark II is a pretty strong counter-argument. I don't have any of the needed money to make any of this happen, so it is all just an internet shopping daydream that I entertain. I will probably settle on the Nikon D90 and then begin the long-road, accumulation of lenses. I suppose I should learn how to use the Panasonic DMC-LX3 I have before even considering any others. But that attitude won't get us out of this recession, now will it?

Recession. Yes, that is what this feels like, a recession - the act of ceding back, a small concavity, a withdrawal. Recess.

I will just continue to take as many pictures as I can and see what they reveal to me. Because I ride my bike almost exclusively in the city now it is more difficult to take pictures the way I was when walking everywhere in the winter, though that excuse is a thin one. I have been told that boldness is important when getting the pictures you want. To just take the picture and then take more and more.

Funny word, that: take.