The name of the place here is actually Sunny Isles. The Ice Parlor is called Gelato 44. I am somewhere between South Miami Beach and the next bookstore, which is in the Aventura Mall a few miles north from here. The weather is perfect again today. I saw a pack of dolphins hunt for about an hour in the bay.
It is very odd not to have internet access on my PowerBook. I hope to get more done though. Expect some longer stories when I finally come back on the 9th, or 10th? Have a wonderful day. The temperature here is about 76 degrees today. Sunny. Sunny Isles. Hmm.
November 2002 Archives
The name of the place here is actually Sunny Isles. The Ice Parlor is called Gelato 44. I am somewhere between South Miami Beach and the next bookstore, which is in the Aventura Mall a few miles north from here. The weather is perfect again today. I saw a pack of dolphins hunt for about an hour in the bay.
What I also learned on my first visit to Miami in 1993 was the term “Bad Neighborhood.” I did not know that one should leave the office through a certain door. I was not familiar with the concept of taking a car to get anywhere. I did not even know that all cars in Miami had air conditioning. I walked out of the office through the wrong door. THe place was located in a not very glamorous looking part of Miami. It was March of the year when some German tourists would die, because they took the wrong turn in their rental cars on the wrong bridge heading for Miami Beach. I do not even think I had a car. I just decided to walk. I did not tell anyone that I was about to step into the heat and through the bad back door, I just did. The first thing I found, just yards from the office, was this safe. It was a heavy one and it had a key and a number combination on the door. Somebody must have worked really hard to get the thing all the way where it now was. And they still did not have the right tools to actually open this thing. It looked a bit like a fresh kill which the lion left behind for just a moment. Somebody had tried to force the door of the safe open, but they only managed to bend a layer of steel out of shape. The actual object seemed still very closed. I was a cameraless observer at that time. And it was just the beginning of my walk.
There were no sidewalks where I decided to walk. There was grass and large black birds on the electrical posts which littered the landscape. Everything seemed to be in the open here, but at the same time not very inviting for a pedestrian like me. I walked for quite a while and just wondered if there were any people in the dwellings left and right off the street. They might have looked like houses to the fast driving car, but to the pedestrian these ware barely standing shacks. There was no money here to paint the door, the walls, to replace the broken windows. It was quiet and hot and empty. I knew that there was plenty of time left to open that safe behind the office. It probably was not somebody form here who brought it here. It was probably somebody who thought that this was the kind of neighborhood that would not have the energy to worry about a slowly opening metal box.
Somebody in the office later told me that I had walked through a really bad neighborhood. My impression was that the neighborhood was just not rich and overly stimulated as Ocean Drive. People seemed to be very poor, but there seemed to be a feeling of dignity in the air. I do not believe in “bad neighborhoods.”
The weather is quite perfect here in North Miami. The only public internet access point seems to be this ice parlor here in a Mall on Collins Avenue. There is a line behind me, people waiting for their turn on this happy little compaq PC. Not enough time to blog, just enough time to say hello and be thankful for all this.
Somebody is getting large amounts of ice cream. I will now step out into the sun again.
My very first visit to Miami Beach was part of my very first visit to the United States. I fell in love with Miami then fell out of love, then fell in love with it again. Right now, we are probably undercover lovers, and the Miami I meet these days is a completely different one than the one that burned the skin off my face in 1993. This was the year when I learned the word “TAN”. All capitalized, because what I managed to get in March of that year was a big time tan thing and a huge experience of the United States and a strange sweet version of it, called South Miami Beach. The owner of the record label I worked for decided that it would be nice if I came to the United States and took a good look at the operations and the market, for which I was designing. The distribution company for the label was located in Miami and so I was flown there and put into this beautiful little hotel called The Betsy Ross Hotel on Ocean Drive.
I was 23 and the whole experience was just such a complete blast, so out of this world, so unbelievable, so WOW, I will need to elaborate some other time how deep the experience really hit me. Here I was, a really young independent “Art Director”, flown to Miami, booked into an Ocean Front room at one of the finer little boutique hotels on Ocean Drive. It was a bit of an almost too much experience. I remember sitting for hours on the beach at night and just looking at the s of the glowing art deco district of Miami Beach. This was not reality I was dealing with here. This was some overly sugar coated Krispy Kreme experience. I remember my face hurting from this huge smile I had on my face. And then there was this new pain from too much March sun. It was such an amazing time. So unbelievable. My ego was a huge red balloon floating over the little hotels and the ruins of the places yet to be renovated.
The name “Miami” sounded like the description of a fruit much sweeter than all the other fruit. And boy, what a fruit it was.
It seems always a bit of a cold shock to this blog when I leave town and just stop posting. I never really left this blog for more than a week at a time. And every time when I leave it, it just somehow almost dies. It is a bit like a plant which needs food daily. (Hmm, maybe more than a plant then. Or no? Plants do need food daily.)
There will be a car downstairs in about three hours from now. The bags are packed, there will be not much sleep. I will be out of town for about ten days. I will be in a place where there will be no phone and no internet and no television, and it will feel like the future none the less, because I am going to Florida. It will all not happen in North Miami Beach. Which is just north of South Chelsea, except without the bookstores. Now I am getting very complicated. Please forgive.
I also wanted to write ahead of time last time before I left for Florida. If you would like to read these posts, here they are. It was a bit of a fiasco. But now, about 1000 entries later. There might be a more intelligent way of keeping the flame lit, here.
A secret super agent will update the blog while I am out. So to the casual reader, this blog will just continue. There will be little finds, some Miami flavor perhaps, who knows. Those of you who actually know that I am not there, will have a good laugh, I hope, because it will be me posting from the past and into the future and not posting at all, yet really writing about things which might or might not happen. A mind boggling adventure when it works. Let’s try it together. Let the experiment begin.
It was so cold on Broadway tonight that I had to pull the hood of my jacket almost entirely over my eyes just to see anything through the wind. There were more shoppers out there than ususal, but they were not making the street any warmer.
The Hallelujah man was there on time. It was around seven when I fist heard him behind me. “JEESSUUUS, JEEESSSUUUS, HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH...” I hear him almost every evening, but seeing him in person is a completely different story. He is a thinly black man, maybe in his 70’s. His eyes are covered with a s layer of their own personal mist. His voice is so strong still and he keeps inventing new intonations and songs out of “JEEEsus, and HALLElujah or JEEESUS, halleLUJAH, GLoooooRY, GOOD NEEEWS, jEEEsus.”
He walks down Broadway every single evening and shouts his “songs.” Every evening. He is really a part of the Upper Westside. People here know the Hallelujah man. I never realized that he gives out little pamphlets while he walks. I took one from him. A tiny four pager with the picture of a lit candle on the cover. I really wanted to know how far he walks every night. I knew he walks down Broadway.
Witold: “Excuse me Sir, I hear you every night coming down Broadway and I was wondering where you start and how far downtown you get every evening?”
The Hallelujah man:“EEVereywhere”, he pointed towards the sky.
The Hallelujah man: “God is everywhere. EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE, EVERYwhere, EVERYwhere.”
He just began walking again. Not looking at me anymore. He had a larger audience than me. “GOD, GOD, GOD, EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE, GOD, GOD, GOD...”
I will try to ask him on a warmer day.
He was a very large man. His palms were of incredible proportions. His shoulders enormous. His skin looked as if he spilled a bag of marbles underneath it. There were round bubbles everywhere. I have the sad feeling they might have been tumors. He had a huge black bag with him. On top of this large bag was a slim laptop which he clumsily held with his left hand. He looked up as I entered the train car. His attention was distracted from his task for just a tiny moment. Once the train left the station, he began to seek out keys on the keyboard and to pick at them as if he almost intended to crush them. The laptop made animal sounds. The large finger would hit a key and there would be a loud animal sound. Most of the animals he was squishing seemed to be frogs. After a while the frog sounds became less and less and there was more and more of this strangely canned laughter, a bit like the giggles on sitcoms. This laughter had an odd twist to it. I had the impression as if it were for a little puppet theater in which the audience was made to breathe helium. The man looked out the train window as we entered the next station. He adjusted his eyes and moved his neck in a way that exposed more of the bubbles under his skin. His entire body must have been covered in them. I noticed many more now. On his neck, his hands, and very many on his face.
He opened the large black bag, bulled out the original packaging for his RadioShack Accelerator Vision. It was amazing in how many ways he tried to jam the device into its original packaging. He seemed to have real trouble understanding the concept of dimensions. His eyes looked puzzled as he tried to close the box again and again. There would be a side of the laptop sticking out, or just a portion of the internal packaging. He eventually forced the box into a new shape. It was just in time for him to stuff it into the bag and get out of the train. He walked in the strangest way. The other passengers did not block his way as usual. He seemed untouchable.
His seat was occupied by a young couple just seconds later. The girl was staring at me with an odd curiosity, while her boyfriend was shooting down little color blocks on his silver cellphone. I tried not to look back, but there, the boy won a level and the girl kissed him with exaggerated passion. Her eyes still oddly attached to me, for a moment too long.
Not sure what made me wake up at 3:30 in the morning. My eyes were still burning and barely able to see when i walked to the window to look at Broadway. One of the cars going downtown was slower than the others. It was a large Cadillac from the 70’s. The mold colored paint was peeling off everywhere, exposing raw metal in some places. This car probably never saw a garage from the inside. I imagined it being worn out on the inside too. Imagined many decorations, worn out velvet seats, the smell of tabacco still there from 1976.
There was something on the roof of the car. Some strange looking metal objects or something. I do not need glasses yet, but minutes after waking up the intelligence of vision is just not there yet. The car was moving slowly, i had time to fit the shape into something I could expect on the roof of an old car.
It was a walking stick, a cane. A simple old fashioned wooden model with one end bent to be the handle. The driver must have forgotten it there on the roof.
I was somehow not surprised why the car was driving so slowly on the most quiet traffic hour on Broadway.
I wonder what music was on in that car last night.
It is good to see that not only does Apple accept parodies to their new Switch - Ads, they also make some themselves. My favorite switch ads right now are the original ones from Apple Japan. Watch them! Even if you do not understand Japanese. (Oh, and the composer of the music in the spots is John Murphy and the track is called “Spit”). (Spit?)
For a second there he could have sworn to be the opposite of a vampire. He was afraid of the dark, he liked garlic, he did not mind crosses, he was definitely a mortal. There was the bite. His bite was more something of a nibble. He would try to get the neck, but sometimes end up biting the shoulder, or an ear, or just hair. No blood would flow. Well, maybe it did, but in other ways. Blood would just shoot through the body but remain in the veins. No visible injuries. Just scars. Inside. On the heart. Invisible at first. Then hurtful.
He had a very clear mirror image, but it never seemed to be his own.
Ahem, who knew that this site and many other sites (yours?) are being watched and ranked by Alexa? I certainly did not know that. I just found out about it. I do not know why there is no picture of this site on Alexa, but I know why there is not a single review about this site. I just have not written one. I could pretend to be somebody else and write a favorable review, but I would never do something like this. So if you feel inspired by anything on this site, well, why not tell others. (Please?) Thank you so much in advance. Would you please mind following this: Link? (Any opinion is welcome. And yes, I will like you more for a positive review, just kidding.)
The lilies opened within a day of being put on the little nesting table by the window. Their stigmata moist, reaching for their new concrete sky. The stamen had to be cropped, as they are the messy part, and so the petals fall to the floor one by one...
The flowers are undressing. More and more, every hour. Soon they will be the memory that will let me find new ones, which i will put on the nesting table by the window.
I think i like it more to place little seeds in moist soil and see how life grows and expands, than to see beautiful fragrant flowers die with such incredible grace.
Turbulence.org presents recent work by one of my favorite new media artists. David Crawford’s new Stop Motion Studies - Series 2 (SMS) let us zoom in on microscopic time sequences recorded by the artist in London England between October 12 and October 15, 2002. Crawford seems to do to pictures to pictures what Phillip Glass would do to sound. As the 20 sequences taken in points of human travel through physical and information space expand our perception of time, we can look at subtleties in human expression that would have otherwise only been visible to our still surviving subconscious instincts. Crawford manages to translate non verbal communication into very aware poetic strings of information without the use of words. The camera in the sequences is a quiet observer, part of the hardware of the environment. The “observed” become the software of the short video sequences. All actors are strangers, reacting to being photographed by a stranger. Their reactions repeated over and over by the intelligently edited micro-sequences slowly turn them into familiar acquaintances as we become more and more familiar with their individual body language. The distance between the observer and the observed is slowly reduced through the intensity of observation. By focusing on subtle non verbal expression Crawford reminds us the 90% of human communication which has been “optimized away” by the very media he uses for his work.
Another very intelligent piece by David Crawford.
See also:July 10, 2002
The accident this morning looked very sad. I felt helpless and was very frustrated that there was no such thing as an ambulance for Pets. Animals suffer when injured and every second without help is as horrible for them as it can be for every one of us. (Be honest, we are a bit like animals, only we take showers.) I did not know that there actually was such a thing as Ambuvet.com The Pet Ambulance can be called, toll free, under 1-800-AMBU-VET (1-800-262-8838). Those who do not use a phone can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org . Ambuvet is a 24 hour ambulance service specifically designed for pets, owned and operated by vet techs. Thank you so much for the info Em!ly.
I have a new favorite switch parody video, or actually an entire site. Take a look at this very well crafted: John's Switch to Canada. How great is that guy, ey?
There was this sound of screeching brakes again, on 96th and Broadway. And also this tiny almost silent sound, like the tipping on the shoulder. When I looked out the window just seconds later, all I saw was a brownish white dog, lying on her side, the green leash attached. She was motionless. There was no car. There were New Yorkers running towards the animal, pointing towards the direction of downtown traffic. A large black SUV stopped right in front of the dog and a red flashing went on in the middle of the windshield. A more obvious Police car was there another 20 seconds or so later. The Police stopped traffic. They built a little protective area around the dog with day glow orange cones. Now everybody stood around the dog as a larger and larger area of dark blood began to appear around the head of the animal. The dog made several very weak attempts to get up. The attempts were so weak that they almost looked like the last little movements before a long day’s sleep. Now the owner finally found her injured pet. I am too far away to make out faces of people on the corner but I could hear the screams, the cries of worry. It all looked very hopeless for quite a while. The police man from the large black SUV seemed to be sucking on his thumb. Some of the New Yorkers were still pointing in now very different directions. If a person were injured, they would have already been whisked off to one of the hospitals here. I do not think there are ambulances for pets yet. The policeman in uniform, who was on his cell phone almost since his arrival, pulled a bright yellow blanked out of his car. Several bystanders helped to spread it out next to the dog. It is very windy today so it took a little while until the body of the animal could be pulled onto the plastic blanket. There seemed to be blood everywhere now. The humans wrapped the dog as well as they could and placed it with great care onto the back seat of the police car. The scene was cleared and the car sped off with flashing s and the syren on towards .
There is a growing bloody area in the middle of the street. The tires of cars are turned into rubber stamps and spread the dark red in all directions. Blood just looks wet when it is on the asphalt, but the stripes of a crosswalk are now red-white-red.
I naïvely imagine that the dog will be fine enough to soon warn her friends at the dog-walk in Riverside Park, not to cross Broadway alone, not too quickly, not without the owner. I think i like this thought.
When girls wanted to prepare their ears for earrings in Poland of my childhood, they needed a hot needle and two pieces of cork. (I feel very ancient now writing this.) I guess the heat of the needle was a way to sterilization. One of the cork pieces was for the helper piercing the hole, the other would be placed strategically to prevent further injuries. I was told that the process was far from painless. So sometimes some alcoholic anesthesia was very welcome. Still many girls would get infections. It was a big deal, not easy, a test.
In Germany here in the United States and of course in Poland today, other methods are used to pierce ears and tongues and what not. Are these new openings in the skin trophies of special experiences? Is it a bonding experience to meet somebody who has put metal into some more or less intimate parts of their body? Is it a happy experience to see that the experiment did not fail?
I am writing in this strange way because I saw my first tooth piercing. There were two giggling girls on the subway sitting across of two giggling girls who were much younger. One of the older girls had the tooth piercing. I have seen many things before. Much can be done to teeth.
I had a tiny music video company once and we agreed to shooting the video for a very new upcoming artist. The producer wanted to pump a lot of money into the project, the artist was very obviously a faker, just put there to move his lips and look pretty. (He actually dropped his pants a few months later to show off his body for a magazine called Playgirl.) The artist was all about looks, his real job was bouncer at a club, his body was quite exciting, his only problem were his teeth. They did not look quite right on this sunny boy. The producer gave the young man a lot of money for a special procedure to adjust his teeth. Where there is money and a person who things that they are going from bouncer to sex symbol, there is plenty of room for mistakes. The “artist”, whom I would only like to call “Z“, expanded on the idea of procedure and had a platinum Z incorporated into his front tooth. A platinum Z. Sounds cool, looks horrible. The mouth does not come with spots, so a polished Z had nothing to reflect but the upper lip. The upper lip is not illuminated, at least not from the inside, so what the man ended up with was a non removable black Z that looked like a piece of lettuce stuck to his tooth for good. And because the Z used a lot of platinum, it was big and looked like an L or a < most of the time. It was pretty sad. I can only write this here, because the final product never made it to the market. “Z” was supposed to compete with Milli Vanilli and when their cover blew the producer tried every trick in the book to not continue with the project. I will maybe explain some other day.
Back to the tooth piercing. The girl on the subway today had a ring with a little bead in one of her front teeth. It looked... unusual. It was not incredibly pretty or interesting. Have tooth piercings been around for a while now? Have I missed another trend? What are the wildest piercings you know of? Do you have piercings on your body? (I have none.)
Oh and the girl was an au pair. She has spent a year in New York and was now passing on the baton to her friend. They were both from Germany. They told me. And I forgot to ask about the tooth piercing. I guess I am getting old now.
There is an interview with Ellen Feiss at the Brown Daily Herald this morning. Ellen Feiss?, yes, Ellen Feiss. Apparently Ellen and Hamilton Morris are friends. He is the son of the director. The story about the paper was true and she was under the influence of Antihistamines. It is, like, a cute interview.
(about 250 people found this site looking for Ellen Feiss this month.)
There are evenings when it seems incredibly difficult to look back at the day and to embrace it as a whole living thing. There are just tiny glimpses of impressions, tiny memories which would probably make no sense if written down. There are some moments that would just need a longer description, a context, moments that can not stand by themselves.
“Can I have a and sweet, with two sugars?” “ and sweet is four sugars.”, “Okay, let me try that.” “Here ya go 50 cents. I will have to give you dimes, I am out of quarters.”
Two women in their early 20’s were sitting on the edge of a Plant island on 46th street, in the middle of the block. One of the women must have gotten something in her eye. The other woman was assisting. The picture of them sitting there was rather beautiful. I just rushed by, but I saw this man, maybe also in his 20’s looking at them in a concealed way. He was just an observer. I saw his face for a split second and it was enough to see that there was not a trace of hostility in him at this time. He was just there watching them help each other. I saw the scene composed one way at first and then as a completely new composition, as a reflection in the window of an abandoned theatre.
Crowds were gathering at Rockefeller Center to see the tree. It is being decorated these days. The tree is covered from view by a large banner. NYC2012. Everything is the Olympics.
I just need sleep now.
Bill Biggart was a photographer killed by the falling northern tower of the World Trade Center on September 11th 2001. He took his last picture at 10:28:24AM . This one as well as the other photographs he took just before his death can now be seen in a very intimate little exhibition at the International Center of Photography (1133 6th Avenue at 43rd Street.) One wall of the little room is devoted to Bill Biggart’s work before September 11th. His work shows that he was not afraid of the closeness of charged situations. He brought his lens into the eye of conflict, his portraits of human drama were taken at a very close distance.
The Photographs on the remaining walls are organized by the time stamps burned into the digital exposures of his Canon.
The actual camera, or what remains of it (he had two with him, one with slide film, one digital), as well as a notebook, a bag, a cellphone, his press passes and a pair of glasses are displayed in a vitrine in the center of the room. The gray dust which is said to be concrete is still sticking to them. The pages in the completely corroded spiral notebook are now dry, but must have been drenched with water. The glasses were not cleaned and have little brownish-greenish marks on them.
The little gallery does not feel like a shrine. The images are oddly calm, their arrangement narrative. The objects seem to be reminders that life continues, not that it ends.
If you can not visit the exhibition at the ICP, you might want to visit Bill Biggart's Final Exposures, an article (by Dirck Halstead) and online Gallery at TheDigitalJournalist.org. The images in this post were borrowed from TheDigitalJournalist.org.
It is really no secret that one of my favorite sites out there is lifeuncommon.org. Dawn Mikulich has been doing web work for seven years now and her creations tend to gravitate towards several layers of perfection. Visit the site and you will immediately know what I mean. Her site is a bit of a photo blog, but what an incredibly elegant one.
Dawn lives in Chicago and many of her photographs are taken in the Windy City. She might love Chicago as much as I love New York, so I understand. Well, her love just went a step further now, as she unveiled a new sister site to lifeuncommon.org, called chicagouncommon.com . The new site has a .com domain, because it is built to sell the pictures Dawn took. There are currently about 275 photographs on sale. The price range is designed to attract customers. $40 will buy the largest, an 11"x14" print. Dawn will manufacture the prints with her own Epson Stylus Photo 2200. So the prints are made to last for about 75 years or so. Chicagouncommon.com is a work in progress, but it already has really excellent features and corners and tips. Yes, the photography is of the high quality that we are now accustomed to seeing from Dawn, but the site is not just built to sell pictures. The links on the site lead to sites that help to take care of photographs, help with color compositions in the house, help to find the right frame. There are book links to publications which will help the visitor of the site take better pictures. What we have here is a very handsome site that shows us a very private way of looking at Chicago, we have a commerce component and we have a hub to photo-advice. I am looking forward to the updates of the site. Dawn promised weekly additions. Really looking forward to that. All the best to Dawn Mikulich with her new uncommon project.
It is getting late. It is getting late earlier than usual. It is getting late so quickly now, there is barely time to give the day a name. Well, maybe I do not give days names. I am not really good with giving names, except for maybe Elisabeth, Paul and William, but that certainly does not count.
Today was one of the sunnier Paul ones. It was a day that was just calling for a quick run with a happy dog, like the one we used to have. (Well, I think she also had us.) She would run and run for miles. I would try to follow her as well as I possibly could. Then we would just run to the nearby cornfield and she would check all the rows for possible intruders, while I would grab some corn and eat it right there, right then. Or maybe we would both look for items in the soil. It was like dog-walk archeology. I would find tiny broken toys and small medicine bottles not very deep under the crusty surface between the corn plants. The corn field was a really great place for these little artifacts. I was wondering at first where they could have come from, of course. So many man made items in the all over a field with 7 foot plants does seem a bit like a story for an adventure movie for young boys. My last conclusion was that the field was just a dumping ground for the remains of the original city. Hanau, the place where we lived in Germany, was almost completely destroyed in the last few days of World War II, so the tiny remains of burned out households had to go somewhere. The corn field was put there later. The corn field was not there to stay. The place is now a garden colony, my parents have a little wild garden there. I am sure the dog would have loved it.
Today would have been a perfect day to run with her. She could run and run and run. Never get tired. She was an Irish Setter. I carry her dog tag with me on my key chain still. The one from Poland. The one she got in the year when we fled. The one that was supposed to mark the year we had left her behind. She knew we almost did. She was so incredibly unhappy about it. So we took her. We took her into the “free” world, where there is not only food, but even food that is specifically made for dogs. She would still love to eat everything she was not supposed to eat. She would find chocolade even if it was hidden and sealed somewhere in the refrigerator. We once brought round chewing gum from Hungary. I hang them on the wall, too high for her to reach. I still do not know how she managed to get them off the wall. She did not have enough time to eat them all. She invented a special option for such time pressing situations. She bit into every single one of the 32 sweet sugary balls. Only once, precisely into the center of each and every one of them. Just to mark them. Just to make them hers. She was so very skilled in getting the things that were really bad for her. She died of stomach cancer.
Why am I writing this? What does this have to do with a wonderful yet incredibly short day?
I think I will need to start over. Let me put together a more positive post. (See you in a few minutes.)
Tom Flemming, the filmmaker, consultant, creative director and writer, working and living in London and Los Angeles and also the founder of tomaken will be interviewed LIVE on resonance104.4fm, the London radio art station. The transmission of the live feed will begin at 18:30GMD, which is going to be 1:30PM EST (for those who are on the east coast).
This is very exciting news, of course. I just found out about it 30 Seconds ago. I did not even know about this amazing radio station. Give it a listen. The station broadcasts over airwaves in London and via MP3 or real audio streams over the net. Worldwide.
Update: Wait a second, wait a second. Not sure the time is correct. Somehow the voices that keep coming out of my speakers have nothing to do with Tom or Tomaken or... Hmm, I somehow have the feeling that what is online is not the live broadcast Londoners are listening to. Hmm. Let me know if you hear Tom come on. Wooow... it is 2PM and the announcer just said that it is 7 o’clock. So now I really do not understand. Do you?
Update2: The show with Tom (among others) is on NOW. : )
More about it later. Of course.
According to Todd von Tremble, there is a new funny magazine out in New York. It is called “Jest” and if we believe his recent description (and we usually should,) it is quite funny. I have not seen the actual magazine yet, but it is supposed to be out and it is supposed to be “free.” Let the “hunt” begin.
If you happen to “find” “Jest”, let me “know.” (Boy I “just” “love” putting “four” letter words in quotation marks. OK, maybe I do not. It actually looks pretty silly. What strange things coffee makes us do. Back to “work.”)
Another spectacular sunrise is is turning colors upside down. The sky just turned from a deep violet into a prussian blue and the windows of the buildings on West End Avenue are glowing with a day-glow orange. Some are still asleep, their glass is brown or black, but it will only be a few short minutes until they also will reflect the fire. Soon the little -bulbs that glow out of some kitchens will be turned off so they can watch the rise of the star that they were made of. Right now their hot Wolfram threads still fantasize in their own airless universes.
Shades of pink and orange are now appearing as if they were painted across the sky. The area over the city seems like a slowly developing photograph of an abstract painting.
Sunrises are quite overwhelming every single time. According to the weather service, the one today is supposed to happen at 7:46 AM. I have the feeling somebody did not adjust their clock to the winter hours (and it was not the sun.) Or are we really one hour away from the official sunrise? Is the burst of yet to come?
“The only thing that works in an office environment is To Do Lists.” Kate’s papeterie was stuffed with tourists, overdressed ladies with large jewelry and maybe students, though I can not say for sure. There were also some of these mysterious men in tight sweaters their hands loose on their forearms, as if for decoration.
There was a special paper-packing table for all of those who would like to have their paper wrapped in some other pretty paper. A tiny shivering greyhound puppy was wearing a full body Burberry outfit and did not like to pose for the furry lady who really wanted to take a picture. The dog just loved me for some strange reason, just as if we had been best friends for years. The puppy jumped on my knee, licked my hand as if I had made it out of salt and wiggled with the tail so vigorously that sheets of fine paper almost flew off the shelves.
I had to excuse myself with “Talicia” and quickly walk away. The dog was told to sit.
I returned to the list makers. There was a whole group of them. Three women in very loose sweaters were browsing through shelves stocked with notebooks. Next to them was a man maybe half a head taller than me. He was giving away all his wisdom with a clear and patronizing voice. “Lists work, but only if you stick to them. If you just write them down and then forget about them they do not. It is very important to live by them. You have to write these things down and just return to them again and again and again. Just writing them down will not help unless you come back to them every time…” He was wearing a long gray flannel coat, which concealed all the movements of his probably very stringy body. His arms were used to emphasize the importance of his advice. His face was almost purple and the skin was peeling of his cheeks and nose. His eyes were tiny yet glued with strong color out of his overly saturated face. He might have been 25 but the combination of the elements that were put together to represent this man somehow set him into the range of 60-70. He must have been through a lot of stress.
The women just ignored him. They soon decided to buy a series of spiral notebooks in which the edges of the pages were preprinted in primary colors. I did not see them use any lists.
The moleskin sketchbook I wanted to buy was there, for 3 Dollars more than at Ivy’s books on 93rd. I stepped out through the crowd onto a crowded Broadway, the same one I look at every morning and night, just about 100 blocks further south.
There is a new release from our friends at iconfactory. It is a very nice little graphic display, an oracle that shows what the System (osX) is up to this particular second. The little round toy looks cute, tells the time, shows CPU activity, network activity, disk space activity and so much more. I am just waiting for it to call me Dave. (It makes a sound every hour on the hour, so it could say... “Dave”...) All of the functionality fits into one slot in the dock and/or a floating desktop “eye”. It is possible to adjust all the colors, which I happily did. I feel much better now. Much better. Yes, the central area of my little iPulse is red, of course. iPulse is shareware and it is a mere $9.95. Befriend it here.
It rained all day and all night in New York. It was a storm strong enough to wash down the leaves from trees on the other side of the Hudson. What used to be patches of autumn colors is now a wintery brown black. The city outside the window is drenched. It looks like a wet, dark, concrete sponge. The sky is gray and still moving at a fast pace. Pigeons ride on the air-streams at mind boggling speeds. There is water everywhere and the tires of cars on wet asphalt sound like waves hitting cliffs in the distance. Cabs zip around like nervous yellow fruit. The air conditioner on the roof of Chase across Broadway is busy making clouds. A Pharmacy window decorated with a statue of Santa glowed all through the night. As did the McDonald’s neon sign which without fail eats the neon fries, drinks the neon shake and devours the neon burger in three bites. Not only does New York never sleep. It never stops.
There goes a day filled with almost solid slowness. The blinks of eyelids now just burning exercise.
Evaporating thoughts ran away from me all day and now even this image blurred into a milky paste.
I am dissolving into a state of not.
All energy left should now be used to produce a happy smile.
Maybe it is time to grab a blanket, curl into a tight fist and get ready for the early morning punch.
It is usually bad style to talk about Blog statistics and whatever has been changed with the code on this page, because really, who really wants to know? There are from time to time exciting little mile pebbles (not quite stones) which make this whole blogging thing even more fun. So why would I not share? I missed the moment, but the amount of comments has now surpassed the amount of published entries on this blog. Who would have thought this would ever happen. My writing in most cases deals with such tiny little things and thoughts. I am amazed that there are comments at all. I really like comments of course (I love them). If you are reading this entry, feel free to leave a little comment, would you like to? Say it like it is. It is ok. I can handle a lot. And what I can’t handle will be deleted and if you are really bad, I will ban your IP. Really, for now the comments have been really fantastic. No banned IPs and if a comment is ever removed from the blog then only because it is just so good, or so personal that I can not quite handle to have it up on the site. I lock it into my heart. (I also had to edit some comments because of potty mouth syndrome.)
Some of the readers might have noticed that this site lacks an “about me” section. It is just not easy to write one, at least not for me. So I do not even want to try. It will take a little while until I will be able to add one here. Before I do that there will also need to be a (*huge*) thank you section for all the people who made this here possible. (This will be a laaaaarge list.)
If you really want to find out more about me, you can see pictures of me on the mirror project. Some dear friends told me that this person there looks nothing like me. I also started adding myself to 14K4 .mac buddy central, so if you would like to find out more, give it a try. I just started though, so it is not the finished me up there.
The best way to find out more, if you want to, is to send me an email. I should be able to answer all the “secret” questions as well, but only if you tell me about yours, of course.
And yes, please add more comments. I really love them. And at least make up a name when you leave them. If you do not I get an email from myself saying all these nice and not so nice things.
Expect a similar post to this one, once we pass the 1000th published post mark (and the 1000th commenter will get a little present. How does that sound?)
My called me late yesterday and several times today, to tell me something important about his health. I was asleep every time he called. The time difference between Germany and New York does this to us. I had to call him back this morning. He had been quite sick for the last two weeks or so, my mother was sick as well. They both had some very vicious cold or something much worse. My mother has all the special remedies that can cure just about anything, but it was just too much this time, and so my had to go to the real doctor. My mother is still convinced that milk with hot butter could have fixed it all, but I think that this beverage was just invented to keep us from ever wanting to pretend to be sick. (It is disgusting, gag reflex inducing stuff, believe me.)
My got his antibiotica and is now much better. The reason he had called though was his second, checkup doctor visit. My , who was born in 1945 is apparently in superb shape. His blood pressure is at 120/80, which is supposedly more typical in 20 year olds than guys his age. It seems like everything else is about as good as the blood pressure and I knock on wood, I hope it stays this way for a really long time.
The actual diagnosis was more about our family. The doctor, whom I also liked to visit in Hanau, told my that the secret to my ’s heath is in a big part the way we look at things. The entire family, which is my parents and I in this case, I guess. Dr. Blaszczak observed that my parents and I just constantly try to focus on the positive and try to look beyond whatever hardship is thrown our way. Thus the happy healthy outcome. (I should now probably knock on wood really hard.) Things have never been very easy for us, but we somehow manage to just put our focus onto the tiny path that might lead us back to a happier place, and we somehow want to improve things in mild ways. My was very excited hearing all this and I think Dr. Blaszczak is a great doctor for saying all these positive things to my dad. There is hopefully a grain of truth in his diagnosis.
My then just went on to telling me about a tiny episode that happened when he was having his blood taken for the tests.
My dad: “So as they were taking my blood, I was obviously lying on my back and had a really good view of the entire ceiling in the practice. And right there in the middle of the ceiling was this piece of metal, just attached to the ceiling with this crooked screw. Somebody must have obviously tried to build something in the room and then they changed their mind. So all that was left was this angled piece of metal and the crooked screw. I waited for the nurse to leave the room for a minute, I moved the bench into the middle of the room, climbed on top of it and unscrewed this metal piece from the ceiling. Good thing I always have my leatherman with me, so it was not so difficult. When the nurse came back into the room I just got up from the bench and handed her the metal and the screw and told her that I found this on their ceiling.” With my , the simplest moments hold the key to true adventure. I wish him health and all the very best. (I sometimes wish he had a blog.)
If you have osX on your mac, you will be able to subscribe to this page (http://www.witoldriedel.com/MT/) from your desktop. It is a pretty exciting little piece of software which you should take a look at. It is called NetNewsWire and you can find out more about it by clicking the little badge here:
We were on the corner of Mercer and Prince in SoHo. It took me maybe 20 minutes to just set up the equipment and get ready to shoot. I picked the darkest corner under cast iron stairs and made my tripod short and wide to avoid vibrations to the camera. I could barely see the focusing screen and it took minutes to get the focus as what I thought was right. Half of my picture was the reflection of the s of the sign of Fanelli café in the stone sidewalk. There were cars, the traffic . There were pedestrians. Most of them did not even see me. I was keeping a very low profile and getting ready to expose the first frame. I knew there would be a major problem with the situation. The sign of the cafe was very bright, but there were barely any other sources in the frame. Well, the cars, there were the cars. I measured the of the buildings and measured the s of the sign. These pictures would probably not come out at all. But I was already there. Not even trying to shoot would be just very sad. I adjusted the settings for a one minute exposure, waited for the , and locked the shutter via cable release. I now looked with three wide open eyes onto the corner and the people and every ray of . A minute feels very different when it is a minute of full awareness. I did not really to look at my watch to know when the minute was over.
Now another 30 seconds for Polaroid development. I developed it in my jacket, to protect it from the cold. This was chemical photography. No LCD to warn me that I had not put the polaroid back all the way into the camera and that there would be a black bar on the bottom of the photograph.
The picture was an arrangement of streaks, blurry fields, fire escapes and some fragments of cast iron architecture. The exposure was right. I had measured the correctly. The focus plane was in the wrong place. Another try. It took me another 20 minutes to make the next exposure. Another 40 seconds to realize that I had tried to shoot an idea too complex, too quickly.
I will probably return to the spot. Just at a different time, with a different tripod, a focusing glass and more determination.
I was not alone on the corner all this time. A few feet from me was a press photographer, waiting for his shot of the night. He seemed a bit frustrated as well. He told me that he was waiting for a particular person to come out of Mercer Hotel. He had been there for two and a half hours when I asked him. He was giving it another hour or so. His camera was an all new digital model with a 400mm lens. He said he knew that the was really bad on this particular corner and that the camera would really fail once he had to shoot. It was so strange that we both knew that our pictures would fail, even though our missions were completely different. Our equipment was completely different too. Mine an almost 60 year old analogue model, his the newest digital model. We both shot at an extremely slow pace. We were maybe in the right place, just not at the right time.
I am looking at the two polaroids in front of me and even though I will never show them here, it was important for me to be on the corner of Mercer and Prince in SoHo last night.
The weather is cool and beautiful today in New York City and had I slept more than the pathetic 3 hours of last night, I might be able to describe it better and with more appropriate words.
For now, believe me, it is stunning. If my stomach will finally quiet down, I will go out there and take a better look at what wonders are going on today.
You do look like a jungle through the leaves of my window garden, dear Naked City. The s of cabs could be fireflies. The high pitched breaks of the subway under Broadway could maybe be a song of a red bird. The river could be filled with curious crocodiles and there could be animals living in the tiny cages piled all the way into the sky. You could be a jungle of sorts, dear New York City. I know you like to pretend to be one. As much as you pretend to be a desert sometimes to some. As much as you are a home. And you are a the carrier of love as well. You carry love from generation to generation. Lovers never really sleep. I guess this is your secret. A jungle, a desert, a home. A lover a loved one. Dressed up and naked, restful and fully awake, how could one not love a place like New York?
Ladies and Gentlemen, I bought another piece of software. I paid for a specially groomed browser. This seems so unbelievable. How could it happen? Watson just really reminded me so much of this little communicator software device which our team back at organic and our friends at meso in frankfurt were developing for Fox and Coca-Cola a few years ago.
I know, it seems that Watson is just a non Apple version of Sherlock 3...
Yes, it is, in some ways. But there are just so many other little ways and paths which make it special and friendly and exactly what I was looking for.There are the Polish recipes. There are four versions of Bigos there. How could I resist. And Chruscik, are you kidding me? I have not had these for at least 9 years now. Oh, and the dictionary is not just a dictionary here. It is a little bookshelf with several books and even Emily Post’s guide to human behavior. Translations? Watson actually can translate from and into Polish. What a friend.
Weather? How about doppler radar animations of the region. I could continue here for a few more pages.
I have this s feeling that today’s visit to the Apple store in SoHo made me a bit too nerdy for my own good. I will now need to lean back, look out of my window and just slowly write down what I see, (other than the animated McDonald’s neon sign.)
Thank you for sending me the link Tom. How could you send me this link and not think about the consequences, Tom!
The great thing about apple stores is their networking. Not the visible one, the one that is just there, in the air, in the WiFiwaves. This post is a live feed from a Final Cut Pro seminar in the Apple store in Soho, New York City. And I am only connected to my server via the airport network in the store. I like that.
(I will not comment on this “workshop.”)
Okay, because of some of the comments to this truly minmal post, I will now write a little more about the workshop.
Do you know the guys who get obsessed with the way how they shift the gears in their stick shift cars, to get the optimal power out of the engine? The sound of the machine under the hood is great, the car is shiny and freshly polished. The guy is making donuts on the high school parking lot and obsessing about it at the age of 29. Others, who do not ever talk about the way they like to hold the steering wheel, actually drive from coast to coast. The workshop at the Apple store focused a bit too much on the ways to hold the steering wheel and too little about actually getting somewhere. The problem with such presentations is of course that the audience becomes engaged in the insanity. “You mean you can move still pictures around and make a ‘documentary’ out of high resolution photoshop files?” “Yes, even the really high resolution 400Dpi ones.”
There happen to be real questions sometimes, but not always the matching answers. Q: “Can you tell us what these icons on the right hand side are for? They look pretty big which makes me think they might be important?” A:“Final Cut Pro is one of these softwares (!) that you can never fully learn. It is like photoshop. You can read books about it and learn about it, and even then there are features you will never have explored. I will answer more specific questions after the session. I do not want to confuse some of the people here who do not know Final Cut Pro that well.” Que?
The climax of the session was a little “Action movie” cut together by the instructor “on that version 1.0 of Final Cut, which was like, totally buggy.” The movie was about a Karate fighting female jogger who manages to knock out a kick boxing attacker, who’s intentions are clear. (He wants to kick box.) The comment that followed was a true classic. “The great thing about making your own movie is that you get to put your name all over the place and see it on the big screen. This is what it is all about.” (I should be quiet with my comments, there are about 1250 instances of my name on this site of mine.)
There are three large blue-black crown victoria limousines parked across Broadway. They look incredibly unmarked and very inconspicuous. If I were paranoid, I would probably check my emails now and try to remember what I might have said on the phone in recent days. Maybe a comment somebody made about squirrels on this blog, maybe some combination of words just made me look like some conspirateur. Was the post about the led pigeons too much? Should I not be using organization names like “Department of Homeland Security?” Or have there been minutes, hours or even days I do not remember? Have I woken up dressed and bruised? Were there moments when I maybe blacked out and might have been on some hypnotized mission across town, climbing the roofs of the upper east side? My muscles are oddly sore at times. I do wear black socks. Some people seem to recognize me in the street, even though I could swear to have never seen them before. If I were paranoid, I would probably really worry about these three undercover cars right now. But I am not paranoid enough to believe that I am more important to them than this 24 hour Dunkin’ Donuts, which seems to be a favorite place for New York’s finest. The last question remains. Why three at once? Are there special deals at Dunkin’ Donuts?, do the men and women in these unmarked cars talk to each other? Maybe what looks like a Dunkin’ Donuts is in fact a surveillance post. Wait, I promised not to be paranoid. Is anybody reading this here? I wonder.
One of my favorite bloggers, Griff, the creator of ultramicroscopic just came by this evening. I somehow completely forgot that he lives in Dallas. (How could I?, he must have thought I am really weird when I asked him where he is from. Embarrassing.) He was in the city, came by, so why not. We ended up only having a coffee, here by Symphonyspace. A happy visit. A short conversation. I will be reading his blog much more carefully now.
It was quite amazing to meet him in person. This guy is not only cool on his blog. He is quite amazingly cool in person. (And he is taller than me, just so you know.) Thank you for coming by, Griff. : )
There were empty seats on the express train. A man by the door kept looking at me as if I had an explanation for what was happening, or not happening here. Another elderly man kept his eyes wide open and focused his entire attention at a thinly woman, dressed in an old purple leather jacket. She was probably my age. She looked as if she were a good sixty. Her body was eaten away, probably by something she put straight into her bloodstream. I think it must have been heroin, because she would lean forward, almost falling over, even though she was sitting and then catch herself just in time. Her eyes closed, her mind somewhere far away. She would return to join us on the train from time to time, but rarely, just rarely, for tiny brief moments. A cane leaning on the seat next to her probably meant that her bones had gone brittle as well. She looked so weak, so tired. There was an open bag between her feet, in it a tiny, now empty basket, the dirt inside of the basket looked as if it came from change. There were some slices of dry bread in a sealed plastic bag deeper in the bag. She probably traveled by train a lot. On her lap was a notebook. It had pockets on the insides of the covers. In the front pockets were several hand painted birthday cards. She pulled one of the cards and her eyes lit up a tiny bit. She smiled and almost smelled the paper, as her body leaned forward again. She drifted away. I saw her hand now, it seemed punctured in places, but it could just be my perception. The hand, somehow independently put the card away. The woman opened random pages of her book. They all seemed to be empty at first, though some of them were marked by plastic bookmarks. There were many bookmarks in her book. One of the pages contained a quite well executed pencil drawing. A boy with blond hair and with white empty pupils was smiling out of the book at her. There were braces in his smile. The woman leaned forward even further now, she turned into a purple leathery ball. I thought she might be crying, but again, this could have been my bad interpretation. Her hand touched the drawing.
It was time for me to leave the train. The one I entered was packed with people who knew even less about the woman, the birthday, the boy.
Sometimes I just wish I spoke Japanese, so I could find out more about events like MOMO ANI meets Brockmann. Good thing that there is such a thing as J-List. A very helpful site, though even the PG section of the site seems to show plenty of plastic skin. Hmm. At least they have Jiji from Kiki’s delivery service and Neko, the cat bus from Totoro as soft pencil cases. Maybe as a present for the holidays?
One could really think there were birds somewhere in the distance. The song seemed a bit monotonous and simple, but I could imagine a tiny little bird, maybe in a scarf making them. The sound seemed to come from the tree right next to the path though and with the leaves of this particular tree almost gone, chances were good to see the little guy. The “little guy” was bigger than I thought. And what sounded like a lovely song now looked like an angry spoken curse, when matched to the furry body. It was a squirrel holding on firmly to one of the branches, squeezing the bird like sound every few seconds or so. There are so many sounds that go unnoticed, our hearing can be so selective. Once I tried listening to this guy on the branch, about 5 feet from me, I heard replies, from other squirrels, the same sound. Over and over again. There was a second, a third one, a fourth a fifth. All making the same sound in a monotone succession. One after the other. They might have been marking the territory? It is a trap of our minds to give human interpretations to animal behaviour. It is just so tempting to say that there is a crisis in the trees, that there is a war of the nut collectors going on above our heads. The reason for their shrieking might have been something completely different. It could have been the bonding of a group? (I had my doubts.)
Not far from the first group, a completely different sound. This one sounded even more like a bird. It was high pitched, had a variety in it that really made it sound like a slow motion Philip Glass piece. And again, squirrels. A group of them, tuning in on this completely different song. What seemed like a warning signal just a few minutes before now really seemed like the choir for a group. I do not know too much about squirrels, but they seem to be individualists, and fighters and some of the the smartest kids around.
There are some clearly defined populations. The ones in upper Manhattan, seemed to be shy and wild. There are some pretty interesting looking ones not far from here in Riverside Park. (Some call them Sqrats, as there is an urban legend of some of the New York squirrels having parents from two different species, this being New York, the melting pot, and all.)
The squirrels in seem pretty cultivated. They are at harmony with others and the human kind.
The most forward squirrels seem to live in Union Square. Across the street from ToysRUs seems to be a little Squirrel university. These buddies will do anything to grab just any food from humans in their park. It could have something to do with the park being tiny and the squirrel population being high. And this is also student area and lovers area on the benches, so there is high traffic of feeding humans all the time. Who knows, the squirrels in Union square might have similar calls to those in Fort Washington, by the cloisters. It is just that we humans make our silly calls so much louder than theirs. “Hey, look a squirrel.” as an out of towner would say. “Don’t touch that thing.” as some New Yorkers say. Maybe the bird call was just a warning that there was a human. Or maybe it was a hello. I’m getting out of hand.
Bruce Henderson, an amazing songwriter and singer and writer (you should definitely get a copy of Wheels Roll, it is a very nice record), sent me this photograph of a squirrel lest week. He took the picture downtown and I think the picture says it all. Look at this little guy. What a true New Yorker. I think we should be glad that squirrels are not 6 feet tall.
P.S. My service provider somehow broke my directory structure, which makes it difficult for me to upload images to this blog easily at this time. This is why the picture of the squirrel is actually hosted by Chris DiClerico. A funny thing this internet.
Wow. Who would have thought. Yesterday, Stuka of Newstoday® posted a link to the small drawings 1999 and small aero drawings sections of witoldriedel.com.
This made about 500 people click and look at the little drawings. Which is great. I really like Newstoday. They seem to have some really good contributors providing nice contributions in a quite well designed environment. Happy.
There was no such thing as “All you can eat” in Poland or Germany. At least I do not remember it being there. My mother would always prepare food for a 5 head family. Me being the thinly single child, I would usually collapse under the amount of what was there for me on the plate. So this was more of an “all you must eat” situation.
A friend from high school, who was the master of a deal told me about the all you can eat idea on one of my first visits to the States. “You basically eat as much as you can and pay a flat fee.” I imagined moving to America and having a meal once a month. A kosher Sushi place on 72nd street offered an all you can eat sushi platter and I was ready to try the adventure, as I have been in situations where I had to finish a meal for four, and did. But in this case the offer was more of a trick, it seemed, as the customer could order as much as they wanted but were not allowed to share and had to pay a penalty for pieces of fish left behind. That did not sound right.
So the first real “all you can eat” place that I encountered was this Korean buffet restaurant somewhere deep on Queens Boulevard, tucked away between an abandoned lot and a McDonald’s playground. It was a huge place with an indoor fountain, tons of fake flowers, and a piano player. There was a buffet area and there were just massive amounts of people piling their plates with whatever food was there. Over and over and over again. The food variety was focust on an east Asian seafood mixture which seemed to be quite popular with people from that region.
The evening experience yesterday was even more “exciting.” I have the flashy folded menu here before me and bags under my eyes to prove that I survived. The place is called Harvest Buffet and sits on 14 Northern Boulevard in Great Neck in Long Island. The restaurant looked very much like a small diner inside and out. There were the booths, with tables with rounded corners, squishy green pleather on the seats making squeaky sounds as one would move just in the sest way. There were those cheap restaurant chairs that one can buy in restaurant supply stores and which are extremely popular in some low end restaurants, screwed together very obviously out of pieces of black metal tube. There were dividers between seating areas, just to help comprehend the space and to guide traffic from and to the sacred center of the place. The buffet.
All you can drink soda was included there were about twelve sorts of beer which were not. I went for the cheapest of the deals which ment a $18.95 on this slow motion explosion Saturday night. And we’re off to the race. I should not be writing about all this here. There are people starving in this country even and there I was looking at mountains of over 150 different things hot and cold, ready to eat in any amount I could possibly want, a maddening array of Chinese, Japanese (style), Korean, Italian and American food, plus a desert wall with a multi flavor soft-ice machine, and pots with beverages, hot cold from pecan coffee to bubble tea.
I got some kim-chi in a tiniest of containers and went back to the table to think about my shock. It was too much, nothing was left to the imagination, it was all there, out for grabs, and lots of it. Yes, I went back often and yes I had a lot of food and mainly sea food. I did not have the oysters, but sesame flavored jelly fish was good, and so were the various sorts of scallops and crab-cakes and other little things nicely prepared and not quite as bad as one would think. I would try to make country specific plates, like Vietnamese, all Japanese style or Chinese. I would build little pictures out of the elements, there were potato fritters that looked like smiling faces which made this exercise really possible. One of my little guys on the plate had a spicy Korean mini-calamare hat, arms out of cold sesame noodles and a sweater out of seaweed salad. I took an extra little guy home with me for exciting photo-shoots. Will need to take him out of my now probably quite greasy jacket pocket. (He is ok, I will now have to wash my hands though, excuse me please.) I soon fell behind. I could not eat as much as I thought I could. I switched from eating to looking at what everybody else was doing and it was not difficult because the place was packed like the 1 train in the evening. Some of the restaurant patrons quite clearly were pros some seemed to be there for their very first time. One older gentleman had his plate packed into such compact puzzle that it was like a tower of food in his hand. He used large crab-chips as floors to support the structure. He must have been very strong because this thing looked really heavy. Some other people just went for what was expensive. They were there to get their money worth no matter what. Piles and piles of huge Snow Crab legs were taken away from the food shrine and consumed at a near by table. Tiny couples from east Asia would build quite adventurous little combinations on their plates and talk about them as if they could run away. Then there were people who just went for the deserts. Praline cake after praline cake was followed by some cup cakes with some sweets. I would not have wanted to spend the rest of the evening with any of these crazy sugar bombs.
At a table not far from me there was a party of really heavy people eating incredible amounts of healthy food. The intentions were good for sure and I am sure that they were only drinking diet soda, but boy how could they not see that something in their strategy was horribly flawed. There was a girl there who was maybe 16, but she already looked like a botero sculpture, as did her mom and the uncles and aunts of hers consuming piles of food. It might have been a medical condition, something in the family that they had, I just felt sorry that they had to fuel their bodies with such amounts of food and soda.
I ended up having some vanilla ice cream. I always wanted to operate one of these machines. It was good fun. I barely ate what was on my little plate. The coffee in the end helped me a bit to regain some of the consciousness in my hands and feet but overall my body was just ready to retire.
There was no time to rest. A line of angry, hungry families was forming all the way from the now piled parking lot. People were ready for their deal. Not sure it was one. Less is sometimes more.
It will take a little while until I would even consider returning to Harvest Buffet. My stomach feels heavy, there are big bags under my eyes and I can not get rid of this thirst which tells me that I must have consumed a large amounts of salt last night. I will try to rest a bit today and take it easy, drink a lot of water, maybe sleep some more. And maybe just have a dinner today. There is only so much food a man can eat.
It was behind the Hempstead House, on the grassy terrasse overlooking trees and the Long Island sound. Canadian geese (Branta Canadensis) come down to the east coast to spend their winters, mostly in New Jersey. They usually travel in large groups and bring bird fertilizer and s destruction of the grassy vegetation. There was only one of them sitting in the grass. It was a bit of a fairy tale picture. A bit of a fairy tale picture for my naïve eyes at least. The goose reflecting on her life. Slowing down to smell the roses. Was she just thinking ahead? Was she left behind by her friends? “You fly ahead, I like the architecture of this place.” An older photographer and his much younger companion walked by to take some pictures of details of the building. The woman walked up to the goose, as if to talk. The goose did not move at all. She walked even closer, 10 feet, 6 feet, 5. The goose just looked at her, yet did not even move. The head was very interested, but the body rested as if it had been tied down to the grass. The woman tried to get even closer, for some insane reason of interspecies bonding maybe, and the bird spread the wings to fly away. It tried to fly, but the heavy body merely rose off the ground. It was a really sad picture. Birds like this one are meant to fly. They look so majestic when in the air, in formation, crossing incredible distances. This one really struggled to move a sad 6 feet across the grass. There was obviously a problem.
I remember once finding a young mute swan (Cygnus Olor) trapped in fishing wire not far from my parents’ house, on the Main river in Germany. The bird was angry that I had discovered it hidden in the vegetation by the shore. It would not let me near it. The veterinarian later called me that the bird had to be put down, it had been suffering for days, it seemed. Nobody either found it before me or bothered to call anybody for help.
I am not sure how the story of the goose ended today. I really thought that the woman called somebody on her cellphone. It must have been a friend? Or did she leave a message for herself? The museum Staff did not know of the bird when we reported it...
The photographer tried to get his special shot with his new camera. The bird was even more scared, it flew a bit farther away. I thought that maybe its feet were broken, or somehow paralyzed. I watched the animal for a little while and think now that it was really just exhausted and overheated? She was breathing heavily with her beak open. The whole situation did not look too great. I could not even stay to make sure the veterinarian arrived.
I hope all worked out in some good way. Not a good story. But maybe that’s how it goes.
There was a large group of geese later at the Nassau County Museum a few miles from Sandy Point. They looked just like the single one in the grass, but they had strong feet and were constantly chatting and making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time.
How do geese and ladybugs get along?
There was a ladybug invasion on the beach of sandy hook today. Could it be some freak remains from the military research that took place there in the 50’s? Does it have something to do with the spirits of the Guggenheims, the Goulds?... Or was it just the sudden change of weather which brought out these little guys by the thousands. They were everywhere. And at any point in time at least three of them on me. Sometimes five and more. Tiny little red wings clinging to me and walking all over me. I felt popular. I also seemed to be the only person on the beach having this particular problem. I felt special until I discovered a concrete pillar much more popular than me. They were all over. All of them tiny, some with two dots, some with seven, some with none at all. They would just crawl, some would fly. And if anybody fell on their backs, they would just spread their wings and be on their feet in no time. They call them God’s cows in Russian, and in some parts of Poland, as they are the ones who eat leaf lice off innocent plants. But there did not seem to be any food in sight for them this time. I really have no idea what was going on. I managed to do some good ricochet on the surface of the Long Island sound. Managed to reflect a good flat stone of the surface about 10, maybe 12 times. (Most of the trials ended at two.) Also managed to get some sparks out of some flintstones found on the beach. I really hope that no ladybugs were injured in either case. But who knows. There were thousands of them everywhere.
There is no sound here. It is completely quiet. I had no idea the keyboard makes this sound when I type. I completely forgot what it sounds like to hear one’s own breath. Wait, my stomach just said hello. It is before breakfast. I am in Long Island today. Let’s see what adventures await in Port Washington. The place where Pan Am started their trans Atlantic service. There is a very curious look on my face right now. And I am a tiny bit hungry. (Why am I writing this?)
Birds are taking a wild, splashy bath in a water filled cavity on the roof of the building across Broadway. It is a fancy tin bird bath, with lion heads on the rim looking down onto the street, with mobile phone antennas, with sky tents, with the sun heating up the water, with full sky access. Two Starlings are taking the wild bath. A pigeon is drinking. Another one is just sitting, getting warm from the sun. Several sparrows are hopping all over the roof. The place seems popular. The white markings in this portion of the roof are a clear sign for that. There was an unidentified singing bird on the same roof this morning, trying to out-sing the syrens and the horns of the morning traffic.
Last time I had seen a bird flying at the speed of the wind was in Montauk. It was 1993 and we had just booked a room in a place called Atlantic Motel. It was a rainy, cold and very windy night. Our room on the ground floor faced the now covered pool. The pool area was illuminated by a single spot. It was in this spot that we saw the seagull. It was flying at exactly the speed of the wind. For the outside observer it seemed to be suspended in mid air, yet moving the wings as if flying at full speed. It was a very beautiful moment. It lasted for quite a while. I do not really know why the bird did that. It flew there in place for minutes, before turning its head and disappearing into the night.
Yesterday was a more common encounter maybe, but equally stunning. It was over Fort Washington, the park on the way to the cloisters above 190th street here in Manhattan. It is a place that still has some of the magic that must have made the island before it was cut into blocks an unbelievably beautiful piece of nature. The cliffs are huge and exposed there, they still sweat water through tiny cracks, days after a rain. The Hudson River and New Jersey on the other side somehow frame the experience of trees and rocks and secret paths. It was above an overpass that crosses a rock canyon where the hawk was suspended. She balanced her speed so incredibly well that she appeared completely motionless. She turned invisible to those who only detect movements. She was a soft shadow painted into the sky. Her wings sly transparent in places, almost sky color at their tips. shining through them. There were such subtle variations in color. All clearly visible now. She did not even move her head, no feather was without control. She must have been praying on something near the water, maybe 7 floors below us because she seemed to be so incredibly close. I think she must have been there for at least 5 minutes. The conclusion of the moment came very slowly. It was the other hawk that effortlessly glid into the picture. He moved in also barely moving, sideways, from behind the trees. He was also gliding on the west wind. He did not stop though, not as she did, he stayed in constant, subtle movement. They were familiar to each other. They looked so very similar yet the differences between them were also clearly visible to the observer. They soon both moved together towards the cliffs to the north. Towards the George Washington Bridge, again packed with two levels of 12 lane traffic.
The lady in the fur coat really wanted to know how much it is to enter the cloisters. The man behind the counter was very happy to explain of course. He tilded his head and his smile and his eyes lit up: “Well, it is $12 for Adults, $7 for students and children under 12 go in for free.” “Children under 12 for free?”, she looked around if everybody was there. She was there with two more “adults”, three kids and this one boy who felt extremely uncomfortable being very tall. The man behind the counter continued: “Hmm, the prices are actually suggested. So if you would like to give more”, he smiled, “I am sure the museum would not mind.” He turned to the tall boy. “How old are you?”, “Fourteen.” He really did not want to be there.
The lady paid $45. She was very happy to get all the brochures and maps. She distributed the little (M) tags among the children and the entire group moved pointing towards their first historical attraction.
My turn was right after them. I gave the man a dollar. And then the strangest thing happened. He seemed to have a problem with the cash register. He almost closed the drawer, then typed something onto the keypad, the $45 disappeared from the display. He then quickly typed in 0.01 seven times and closed the drawer. He took my dollar and entered it into the system correctly. I maybe have not quite paid the full suggested $12, but this guy just made an extra 44.93. Cash.
Somebody left an inflated baby swimming pool right in the middle of Broadway this morning. It has a yellow rim, a blue floor and the sides are decorated with pictures of many little balloons. There is no water in the thing, but it is nicely inflated and waiting for the next rain shower. I wonder how long it will last. The TV on 95th stayed there for about a week or so. The Vacuum cleaner across the hair salon in the 50th street downtown 1/9 subway station was there for maybe two weeks.
The city is a great source of some wonderful stuff. My new 17" (Viewsonic) Monitor just waited for me next to the trash shoot one morning. One of my once favorite orange wool sweaters came with some tissue paper, as it was freshly dry cleaned and just put on the steps in front of my building. The best reading lamp, a very nice chrome model waited for me on the upper East Side once.
My non English speaking parents once found nice planks of wood and my built a whole kitchen counter for me while I was at work. It was a beautiful piece that turned half of my living room into a gourmet laboratory for my mom. I had to take it apart as soon as I returned from bringing my parents to the airport. The wood was good and there was writing on the underside of one of the shelfs. Somebody thought they could make a point by writing in chalk: "Don’t take. These are my doors.”
There might be writing on the underside of that baby-pool for all I know.
The cover of clouds over manhattan just tore open and the belly of the largest of the clouds turned a dark orange, almost brown. The city dwarfed under these majestic giants has begun to open its glass eyes. The reflections of the sky in the windows are a whitish yellow now. The sun is coming back, the sun is coming back. Across the river in New Jersey a skyscraper just turned pink. Hundreds of pigeons are getting into position. A seagull just rushed between the buildings next to riverside park. I think we have another morning.
Somebody rearranged the workout machines in the gym on the 9th floor of the Columbia House across Broadway. What looked like three people running away from me to reach their salvation somewhere beyond the horizon of the car commercials running on suspended television screens in front of them now looks even more bizarre. Three men of very different weight are running towards and away from each other. One of them is still trying to run uptown. The one next to him would love to run across town, or so it seems, while the third somehow wants to join them. He never will. CNN is still on the telly. Going nowhere.
These guys are working really incredibly hard on this personal mission of theirs. Are they running away from something or towards something?
So it is New York you like, not me? If it is so, then you will certainly be happy to read some samples of Eight Million Stories in a New York..., by Heather Holland Wheaton. You can find six of the mini observations on The Morning News site. You can afford to buy the book from Amazon, of course. After all it is just $5. The cost of a regular coffee at Starbucks.
Oh, and do you want to know my opinion about the stories? They work so well, because they are so bare. They are not really about any particular people. People are just defined by names. Jerry, could be the Jerry you know, but it could also be the Jerry I know. What makes these stories so New York is that Heather really tries to be extremely specific when it comes to the little items that are so typical to New York. Jerry collects string, but it is not just string he collects, it is Amy’s bread and Odd Job string... and so on. So the stories might seem to be about people, but they are very much about the city. A book filled with New York gems. Well done.
I was leaving the apartment to go and get some groceries. The door two apartments down the hall open and the little neighbour boy stuck out his head and looked at me. He is maybe five now, his mother just had a baby sister. He loves Monsters Inc. and often quotes lines from the movie while wiggling the large blue furry guy in the elevator. “Hello, How are you?, how are your parents?” He was looking at me as if he had heard the noise of the door and wanted to make sure there was a familiar face. “Mom went to the doctor, and we are waiting for her now.”
I told him to close the door and not to open it for strangers.
When I was a little boy I would spend days alone in the apartment. My dad was there, but I only remember him asleep, as he worked the nightshift just to spend the days with me (It does not work.) So as my dad was trying to recharge his batteries I would spend days working on my experiments. We lived on the 8th floor and I would experiment with gravity a lot. Water when thrown out of the window in one jelly piece, does not arrive on the ground as such, it turns to rain. It breaks in two, then four then thousands of drops that take a while to hit the ground, just enough time to hide and close the window. For some reason my rain kept hitting the windows on the lower floors, so I had to move my experiments from the street side to the side, which faced the playground. (People did not worry as much getting water on their balconies, I guess.)
I noticed that if I attached the right amount of toothpaste to a plastic brick and threw it against the neighbour’s window in the right angle, not only would the piece stick quite well to the glass, it would also look as if somebody from a much higher floor in the building had thrown it.
Pushing clay through the curtains made nice textures which were very useful in model making.
The best wheels for a car in a collage are “hidden” in the knee area fabric of the pants. They can be cut out carefully without taking off the pants.
Burning plastic cups over an open gas stove flame in the kitchen makes special smelly black snow that can later be smeared into various fantastic shapes.
Nail polish remover burns with an invisible flame. It burns best in the bathtub and when poured over magazines.
Ball point pen makes a really smooth line on a linoleum floor.
There were other experiments which I will discuss in a separate post.
The lady in the grocery store gave me an extra bag for the eggs. “You know how you men are.” (She really said that.) “Oh, yes, we are like that already as boys.” I thought. I did not think I would be able to explain the context in the 3 seconds I had to reply to her comment.
I will try to see what I can make with all the food I just bought. The experiment continues.
The 96th street bus is officially the slowest bus in New York City. The cross town bus, which runs, as the name says, mainly on 96th street, averages to a speed comparable to that of an out of town pedestrian. It is still worth taking the it, of course because it’s relatively zippy when it is time to cross the in darkness, rain or hurry and to get to the Metropolitan Museum from here, or just in general to where the old money lives, across the park. Otherwise, fuggedaboudid, 96th street in general might be one of the slowest moving streets in the city. The bus is just one of the large people carrying bugs that parade on it all day and all night long. There is a traffic jam on 96th and Broadway every weekday morning. It is not really a heart attack kind of jam, just some organizing and shuffling of metal in various sizes and colors, all is slow motion and all with honking around. There is no penalty bringing “grid” painted onto the asphalt here, so cars just try to wiggle their way through and to the other side and then get stuck and then the others going downtown try the same. So these are the bugs. And there are so many of them here because there is an entrance to the Highway just three blocks away and Broadway is ideal for Trucks and busses because of its eight lanes and the rare option in the city to go both ways. What makes this little pileup more fun to watch each morning are the other performers in the dance. The hundreds, maybe thousands of pedestrians each one with their own intelligence, so they say, trying to fit into the entrance of the 96th street Subway station, which happens to be just steps away from all the standing honking cars. It sometimes seems as if the cars were pebbles and the people were sand, both driven by some force, some invisible water, the tides? Today though they all seem like bugs that carry goods on beaten paths and then the tiny ants (New Yorkers dress in black), each one of them trying to get to their little underground kingdom, through this one green loophole called the subway entrance.
There is a tiny zoo in the South east corner of with such attractions like the depressive Ice bear. There is a special exhibition of a whole ant colony behind thick glass as well. Looks like the designers of the zoo really wanted to hold up kind of a mirror to New Yorkers. I still have to find out what they meant with the huge bird cage in the center of the zoo, but I think this one os not quite as tough of a riddle as it seems. Oh, look the traffic jam cleared. Oh no, it did not... here comes the bus.
There was a fire in the subway on 79th street, I think. There is no way to find out. It is not News worthy. I took the M5 bus downtown, trying to avoid pedestrian traffic. It worked until the bus hit the route of the train on 72nd street. Masses of strap hangers were there, ready to switch for the bus. Some of the potential passengers were stunningly unintelligent or incredibly rude. Somebody actually asked the bus driver if he could take a different avenue down, just to match the route of the train. A lady got on the bus and began questioning the driver. “How far downtown do you go?” “This is a Limited M5, I am taking fifth avenue to Houston street.” “Yeah, OK, but where do you make the...” she turned her entire body in a walz like movement.. “the turn”. “This bus will go down 5th Avenue“... “That is not the question...”... She wanted to know something she did not quite know how to express. The bus was packed. On the corner of 59th street and 5th Avenue, right in front of the Plaza Hotel, people in the back turned from restless to screamy. “The back dooor. OPEN THE BACK DOOR!” A man screamed louder and louder. “THE DOOR!” The bus driver was a definition of calm. “The next stop on this bus is 57th street and 5th Avenue. Our current position is not a bus stop.” We had just stopped on a red . The man in the large BMW next to us was desperately looking for a sandwich. He finally found it somewhere under the seat. His tracking system was telling him exactly where to turn. There were neon signs in the windows of Tiffany’s. SHINE. I smiled. I really love New York. Just hope nobody got hurt in the fire on 79th street. If there was one at all.
One article in the times made me smile this morning. One of Those Days When Things Go Right. I wish there were more reporting that focuses on the brighter side of life.
The affordable Art Fair (AAF) was brought to life by Will Ramsay, a former officer of the British army and student of art history. The fair, which ended at pier 95 in Manhattan (which is located on 50th street, not around the corner from me), was the third of the series. The first to be housed in New York. Future plans are for an AAF in Paris as well. Looks like this business with art under $5000 (£2,500 or $3,900 in London) is good business. And it was actually fun as well. We are going to visit Art Basel in Miami this winter and the AAF is probably the opposite of what will be on display in Basel/Miami. Affordable art means mostly young art. Young art that sells means often art that looks like more expensive art but does not come with the brand name of an artistic marketing heavyweight. There were hundreds of little Gerhard Richter looking paintings in the booths. Landscapes over landscapes, mostly sly blurry, some even going so far as pulling a squeegee over the surface of the freshly painted Brooklyn Bridge. Two Richter looks in one, for the price of a brushstroke.
I was expecting many more editions. One of the good thing about creating an edition is that the price for the individual piece can be kept at an affordable level for the buyer, while the actual manufacturing cost and the quality of the material can still be superb. Many of the items looked a bit like unique pieces that had been created simply some time ago and now needed a new home to stay.
It is horrible how whatever I wrote so far makes the show sound really bad. It was a really great event, filled with inspiration, approachable gallery staff (wow, now that’s something special) and some really neat little pieces that obviously sold.
There were some favorites in the show, of course. mixed greens was definitely one of them. Dirk Westphal’s funny photographs of goldfish were a nice happy place, but most of the other work was also great. Boltax Gallery does not seem to have a website, their work by Alan Cresto was very interesting. Large Aluminum mounted photographs of plants. When you look up his name on google, you will notice that he usually shoots Christy Turlington. The Sears-Peyton Gallery had plenty of little interesting pieces. Artists like Kaouru Mansour, Mary Beth Thielhelm and Isabel Bigelow caught the eye. Metaphor Contemporary Art, the gallery of Madelon Galland, was there. Also with work by Julian Jackson, and the wonderful sculptures of “important” people by Nina Levy among others.
The staff was a bit less friendly than most and more on a salesman trip it seemed. A tiny turnoff.
A good event. A busy event. I will need to make sure to have some $5000 in my pocket next time I go.
Before breakfast there were many cases of budweiser on the sidewalk, just like that, outside of the closed bar. After breakfast there was the Police special forces truck there, parked against traffic on broadway and 100th street. Police was keeping the masses of pedestrians out of trouble. They were these sly overweight women in tightly fitting black uniforms, staring in a very boring way, their bodies in a classing pose, resting on one leg, one leg scratching the dust of broadway. There were two ambulances too. The s spinning, no sound.
Then there were the special forces police people. They had heavy armor on, shields with tiny slits to look through. Very heavy looking helmets. All in a anthrazit color. POLICE on the back of their bullet proof jackets. They were ready to storm into the bar. I was ready for bullets to fly, or maybe for some gas to just kill us all in seconds. The sun was shining in my face, I could not take any pictures. There was somebody filming the whole action. These people were pros. They could have used dynamite to explode the door. They used electric metal saws to cut right through the gates in the windows. Four heavily armed policemen then crawled through the open window into the bar. “It is a hostage situation”, one of the bystanders said. And we both knew it was not true. “A mass suicide.” no way. The troops soon emerged out of the window. Shields down, their serious faces showed relief. The women in black uniforms stepped aside and the bravest of the pedestrians rushed forward to touch the shields and the helmets. The boys were ready to pack their stuff. The owner of the bar put box after box inside of the bar, through the open window. The crowd just walked on, as if nothing had happened. “What it is all over?, and I just called New York One.” The ladies on the corner knew exactly what had happened. The owner of the bar came to open the joint for the evening. The place was not only locked, it was dead bolted from the inside. This looked like a suicide, or maybe hostage situation, a terrorist attack? Police was there to help, they really expected the worst. They broke into the bar and there was nobody inside. And New York Life goes on. It was as if nothing happened. Well, nothing really happened indeed. I am quite glad that “nothing” happened.
It is tempting to want to find out what others think about me, of course. (It should not be, but it is.) The descriptions are mixed, some are almost true, some not at all. Google, google on the wall, who is Witold Riedel for them all?
Oh, and btw: “witoldriedel.com is as simple as possible”... I am working on that.
And then there is the description straight from Gdansk, from Poland. Eeksy-Peeksy again manages to write poetry about his observations around the house and the local cemetery.
I had mentioned in the last post that that I did not know of Cemeteries here in Manhattan. (You can find out more about the cemeteries of New York in Permanent New Yorkers: A Biographical Guide to Cemeteries in New York.) There are many cemeteries in Manhattan of course and the entire island can probably be seen as a somehow “sacred ground” as well. I had also just remembered the innocently looking picture of dust. It is a photograph of the windowsill of the woolworth building overlooking city hall park. The dust on the windowsill is from the September 11th events. This is the dust that powdered the entire city. This is the dust that carries particles of all those never found, never identified in the events. I just now remembered the moment again when I entered a subway car yesterday that must have not been used for several months. There was this smell in it. It was the smell that somehow had crept into everything a year ago. It was this smell of burned metal and rock and something else. We smell things because particles carrying the information enter our body. The subway car was still sharing its memory.
The park of City Hall in New York City, the little green triangle in the “dust” photograph, used to be a “Cemetery for Blacks”. I am not sure if there is any mention of it anywhere around there. There are some plaques in the grass around city hall, but some of them turned out to be memorials, not really graves anymore.
It might not have been very obvious in my last post, but my understanding of how our “ancestors” are part of everything around us is very inclusive. The expression “ashes to ashes”, “dust to dust” includes the presence of little particles of the dead and the living in everything around us. The planet has been taking back generations after generations for thousands of years. And if we expand the idea of ancestry to all living things then suddenly all organic matter becomes somehow one large system that lives by transforming the generations before. There is no such thing as “new life”. All of the life surrounding us is somehow recycled from the matter that has been on this planet for quite a while. And the spirals of life and matter will continue, even long after what we see as human is gone. Burning candles, or incents or feeding a flame to remember ancestors is an illustration of this idea that has been incorporated into so many religions. It is somehow comforting to know that we will never really leave the universe. We will always be part of it.
There was no Halloween in Poland. We did neither trick nor treat. The day that was a serious celebration though was today, All Saints. I know that all of my family who are still in Poland spent the evening at my grandparents’ graves. There were new flowers, there were many candles and there was this incredible warmth and fragrance in the air, each family brought flowers and candles to the graves of their loved ones. Those who’s relatives were too far away, or who’s graves had been replaced by newer ones flocked to the one quite large altar in the middle of the cemetery to their candles. November 1, Wszystkich Swietych was as if the stars had come down to join the celebrations of the ancestors. It was also as if the families were truly reunited. The ones who had found rest in the graves were there, their presence quiet but real.
On the edge of the cemetery were the graves of the Roma and Sinty families. They also celebrated with their ancestors. They would pour vodka over the graves and then have some drinks themselves. A real post mortal celebration for those long gone.
There are no cemeteries in Manhattan, or at least not ones where candles would be lit tonight, so the closest thing for me to celebrating this family holiday away from home today was to go to the next church. The church on Amsterdam and 96th street happens to be a Roman Catholic church. It is actually a church that belongs to the Franciscan Monastery on that block. I went after sundown, just to see if anybody was ing any candles. And yes, there were people there, quite a number of people actually, standing by tables and tables with lit candles. My relatives are in Poland and theirs were probably somewhere in Middle or South America, but the feeling was somehow the same. It all felt right, following the same tradition. I wanted to five candles. One for each person to who’s grave I would have liked to traveled tonight. I was ready to the candles, it only seemed as if all candles were in use by other families already. No new ones in sight. It took me maybe 2 minutes to get some very similar looking candles at the deli on Amsterdam and 95th. I got some matches too. I placed my candles next to the other ones and it felt a little bit like Poland on November 1st. It felt a little bit like the getting together with the entire family. The family here was a sly different one, I had the feeling that I was not the only one in this church who was not able to travel to the graves of loved ones. Nobody spoke. Some people cried.
As I was leaving the church into the rainy November evening, there were more people streaming in to attend the mass. I noticed a sign that warned that it was prohibited to place any candles that had not been bought in the authorized store inside of the church. I was not really worried. It is not about the candles really. It is more about the ability to somehow realize mortality and how it unites us all into a global family. I know this sounds so sugar coated and not truthful. Each one of us carries within a little flame of something good. Just as each one of us was born, each one of us will die, but we will never really leave.
Somebody found this site by clicking on random website dot com. Who would have thought that this site is in their database. Well, it aparently is. I feel like a bit of an insider again. The insider of a random group? Hmm. Oh well.
I, on the other hand, like googlefights. Use any keyword and let’s Googlefight. (Thank you for the link Tom!)
Post your results here. Please? I want to see them, I want to see them.
Can you imagine that I took no pictures tonight? It was much darker than I had expected somehow and it was also time to have this dinner at this place on 14th street, Kloe, this new Place, with Erica Miller as the chief chef officer. The food was good (I had the Tuna, but the Salmon looked even better.) and Wine was of the Napa valley kind, the kind I did not think I would have to drink again, but not half bad, as they say. Kloe pretends to have been around since 1864, but it is actually a pretty new joint. There are dimmers in the bathrooms and a chair, just in case you would like a friend to watch you, or you would like to watch your imaginary friend. All good.
There were plenty of costumes everywhere, of course. (Outside, Kloe was pretty much costume-less) This is New York City we are talking about. One drag queen on the subway was such perversely dominant horror dominatrix that she came with her own removed head that she would kick between the stations and throw against the walls of the station once the train stopped. There was no audience for this spectacle really, so the madness eventually stopped. There was a car filled with monsters and a group of monsters outside in the street screaming at each other in a scary competition. There were princesses and monkeys, there were headless monsters and flamboyant sultans (with dense fake golden eyelashes). There was the entire spectrum of what humans can turn themselves into when they are allowed to dress up. And so there were no cabs, of course. And so I am home now and not at a bar. The subway does not care what holiday it is. It just moves people from one place to the next no matter what they look like, no matter how much they have drunk, or even in case of this one almost toothless gentleman how much they were able to retain what they drunk. So I am home again. The bag on the outside door still has the pumpkin and the candy attached to it. I think I will just seek out a random cemetery tomorrow and some candles. Or maybe go into the next best church and do the same. I really do not do Halloween, I am more of an All Saints Day guy. But that’s maybe because I am Polish. (Somewhere deep inside.)