Civic Pride: City Hall

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As an urbanist, I’m a little embarassed to admit that I’ve only been in New York’s City Hall twice in my life. The architecture is beautiful.I think parts of the building, including the rotunda, are open to the public, although the intimidating police checkpoints at both entrance gates seem to suggest otherwise. To enter, you’ll have to put your bags through the x-ray and walk through a metal detector, but you don’t have to explain why you’re visiting. The rotunda alone is more than worth this minor hassle. Make sure also to get your photo taken on the steps while shouting something and shaking your fist, for the full City Hall experience.Related post:Meet Me at the Corner of Dirt & McGirt(City Hall, Manhattan)

These Random Access Memories Can't Wait

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I recently finished a really good book about memory improvement, but I’ve been too lazy to actually perform any of the brain exercises recommended by the author. So while I now know more about the brain than I did before, my memory hasn’t increased a bit (to say nothing of a byte).One thing I do recall (ha, ha) from the book is that the brain is all about association. Each piece of information in our heads is useful only in as much as it refers to another piece of information. The key to improving memory and brainpower, apparently, is increasing the number of these connections within your neural network. The meta-story here, of course, is that hypertext and the web, including blogs like this one, also derive their power and usefulness from the linking of information. For me, much of the fun of doing this blog — and hopefully for you reading it — is in making connections between the photos and the text. I rarely plan any of my shots; I just shoot whatever seems interesting at the moment. Sometimes the accompanying text (even if only a caption) comes to me right away, sometimes weeks later. (I also like hearing what connections others make to the photos and words [subtitle/hint, hint: please leave comments].)So what’s all this got to do with a snapshot of a shadow of a tree? This photo sat on my hard drive for about a week after I shot it. For whatever reason, I was having a difficult time even thinking of a title for it, even though I liked the picture. Suddenly this morning, I looked at the picture again and it reminded me of John, a kid I went to elementary school with. John had freckles and was a stutterer. He was a bit excitable but generally well-liked. He wasn’t the smartest kid in our grade, but he did have good morals — he yelled at me once after I meanly ridiculed a classmate of ours, which he was 100% correct in doing.But the memory I most associate with John is one that he had nothing to do with. Sometime in the third or fourth grade we had a poetry display in the hallways. Our teacher had made simple posters with poems that I’d assumed were from students, because under each poem was the name of a classmate. This one was John’s:I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.I remember being really impressed that John knew how to write poetry — and good poetry at that. It wasn’t until about twenty years later that I discovered that not only was John not the author, but that there was also more to the poem than our teacher had shared. I hadn’t thought about this story in years, but all of a sudden so many memories about this old classmate, who by the way was someone I wasn’t even particularly close to, came flooding in. It made me think about what other memories I had in my head and how, in my own lazy roundabout way, I might actually be doing my own form of brain exercise by blogging.And now two more free associations: Happy belated Arbor Day. And enjoy some Talking Heads if you have iTunes.(South St & Vietnam Veterans Plaza, Manhattan)

Sakura Matsuri: 36 Views

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In honor of both Hiroshige and Naomi Iizuka, I shot these pictures yesterday at Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival. It was packed, and I was disappointed not to see many women wearing kimonos this year, but the weather was beautiful and so were the cherry trees.[As always, clicking on the image above will display it at the original size. If anyone decides to use this as desktop wallpaper, let me know how it looks…](Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Av, Brooklyn)