I noticed the aquariums in the window and had a few minutes to kill, so I stopped to shoot some photos. This fish came right up to the corner of the tank where I was shooting. I couldn’t tell if he was looking at me or was attracted by something else, but I have to say I started to feel a bit guilty snapping away with my camera while he was stuck in a small tank with three other big fish.(Hee Win Lai Restaurant, 28 Pell St, Manhattan)
I’ve always prided myself on having a pretty good eye for spotting new things that are pretending to be old — Bennigan’s is an easy one, Balthazar is way harder, the East Staircase at Grand Central is impossible — but these days my Fake Filter is starting to register false positives. Blame it on the Culture of Deception. I shot this collage because I really liked the way the letters of the old sign were still “visible” even though most of them had fallen off. As I was walking away, however, I began to wonder how such an old and esoteric (read: non yuppie-serving) business could survive in the white-hot real estate frenzy of Tribeca. Then I began to think that perhaps what I’d seen was not an actual old rubber supply company storefront, but part of a movie or TV set. (Isn’t there a now Law & Order series that’s entirely about malfeasance in the plumbing industry?)Thanks to Google, I discovered that this so-real-it’s-almost-fake store was, in fact, a genuinely old business that had relocated to Long Island some time ago. (No doubt this move was a result of the white-hot real estate frenzy of Tribeca, but I repeat myself.)Though I’ve never set foot in a rubber supply store in my life, it saddens me to know that United Rubber undoubtedly be replaced with something a lot less interesting, a lot more fancy, a lot less real. My hope is that the new tenant will be a Design Within Reach store, so I can pick up some of those cool new old Eames rockers.(United Rubber Supply, 54 Warren St, Manhattan)
(from Looking Up by Nancy Burson, April 13-29 at 60 Wall Street Atrium)
The right way to do something you feel self-conscious about — like being the only adult unaccompanied by a child on the Times Square Toys “R” Us ferris wheel — is to just do it and enjoy it and ignore the puzzled and fearful stares of the other riders. The wrong way to do it is to act like a child yourself, yelling and screaming while on the ride, crying uncontrollably when it’s over, and soiling your pants in the Lego section. Really, just trust me on this one.(Toys “R” Us Times Square, Manhattan)
Someone once said that New York is just like anywhere else, only more intense. It makes a lot of sense to me — with so many people in so relatively small an area, everyday life here has an intensity that’s sometimes thrillingly joyous, sometimes excruciatingly painful. Living here means seeing the best and worst things that humans are capable of, sometimes in the very same moments. You see happiness, hope, hatred, affection, disappointment, despair. This is the human condition: in your face, 24/7. To protect yourself from being swallowed up by it all (and by your fellow inhabitants), you put on an attitude of indifference, an air of toughness. But there’s always the risk that you’ll go from looking indifferent to being indifferent.I was riding the 4 train to Brooklyn on my lunch hour. I was in a good mood, heading to Sahadi’s to buy some falafel and hummus for a party later that night. I sat down and noticed this identically-dressed mother and daughter. They were silent and the woman looked heartbroken. I wanted to know why and to offer some reassurance, but you don’t do that with a stranger on the subway. It bothered me to be helpless. All I could think to do was quietly take a photo of the moment.(4 train to Brooklyn)
Admittedly, it’s been years since I last wore a Santa Claus outfit and
rang a bell, but I’m glad to see that the Salvation Army is still
leaving interesting garbage out on the sidewalks of 14 St for
photoblogging wags like myself.
matter. (Salvation Army Greater NY Division Headquarters, 120 West 14 St,
I’m a fan of the vaguely-retro street signs the Downtown Alliance installed several years ago all over Downtown as part of a plan to improve wayfinding. The white type on black is classy and clean, the photos provide a visual link to familiar landmarks, and the address numbers are a big help. It’d be nice to see these signs in other parts of the city.I found this collection of signs at a garage on Washington St that the Alliance uses for their shuttle buses.(Battery Parking Garage, Manhattan)
If you’re wandering around Manhattan on your own, Chinatown offers a ton of great places where you can sit quietly, enjoy some tasty & cheap food, and get in some great people watching. At this branch of the Fay-Da chain, you can have a coconut bun, a hot tea, and perfect view of Mott Street for just $1.20.
My perfect lunch: a slice of the Bayou Beast (BBQ shrimp, crawfish,
andouille [whatever that is], jalapeno, mozzarella), a slice of the Mel
Cooley (sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pesto, ricotta cheese, roasted
peppers) and a Teany peach berry green tea at Two Boots. Yum.
Sir Norman Foster‘s Hearst Tower is going to be one heck of a cool place when it’s done. Built on top of a 1928 art deco building by Joseph Urban, the tower features an unconventional diagonal grid framework and is the first “green” office building in New York City.It’s too bad most of us will never get a chance to see the inside when it’s completed next year. Any Hearst employees wanna invite me up for a visit when you move in?(57 St & 8 Av, Manhattan)
(Add water as necessary)
Getting dumped is no fun. Getting dumped via a call on your cell when you’re waiting for friends at Union Square is even worse. Fortunately, that was a long time ago and it hasn’t happened again since. Just to be safe, though, I turn off the ringer whenever I’m in this part of the park.(Union Square Park)
Things I’m Gonna Try Not to Say Today1. [name] in the house!2. I wanna take it to the next level.3. Sure, I’ll sponsor you.4. There’s no capital Z in “Asian.”5. Well, I got honorable mention once.6. OK, super-size it.7. Hella.8. Sorry, I thought these were free samples.9. I had this dream last night that I was stabbing you.10. Spare any change?(Fulton St & Cliff St, Manhattan)
Before this corner became home to this branch of the swanky Equinox health club a few years ago, it was a movie theater called the Art Greenwich. I remember seeing a film there several years back with someone. I think it may have been a date, but I don’t remember her name. I don’t remember the movie. What I do remember is that near the end of it, the projector jammed and the film burned and melted. I recognized what was happening because I’d seen it depicted in movies before. But I’d never actually seen it happening in front of me. Film on film on film.The mostly full house sat in silence for several seconds, wondering if this was somehow part of the show. When it was clear that it wasn’t, chatter arose while we waited for someone to come tell us what was going to happen. Nobody did. Some started to leave, including myself and whomever I was with. The lobby was deserted except for exiting patrons – not an employee in sight. My friend and I laughed about it, then went somewhere for dinner. I’d think about this story perhaps a few times a year, whenever I happened to pass by the theater. Eventually the Art Greenwich closed, the building came down, and another one went up. The first time I passed by the now-open Equinox was in 2002. Hanging in the windows were giant black-and-white photographs of celebrities. The one that caught my eye was an incredibly hot portrait of Chiaki Kuriyama, who plays Go-Go Yubari in Kill Bill Vol. 1. I was in rush to go somewhere and starting to feel like a bit of a pervert for leering at the photo, so I reluctantly pulled myself away. I came back a few weeks later just to look at the photo again, but it was gone. Bummer.Now when I pass this corner I’m reminded of the photo and the longing to see it again, and only rarely of the burned-out movie and the date whose name I can’t remember. The new building had replaced the old one on this corner, and now it was beginning to replace it in my memories.Note: before anyone else brings it up, I just wanna say that the photo of Chiaki was not of her in a schoolgirl outfit, OK? Gosh!(Greenwich Av & 12 St, Manhattan)——–