Category Archives: Wonderful Wandering

Good Morning, Grey Morning

This morning I decided to go for a little journey. I wanted to get a great view of The City so I went to Sinatra Park in Hoboken. The sky was grey and the wind a bit nippy, but I set out in my favorite coat from Uniqlo with my camera looking rather festive.

I started off at Elysian Park on Eleventh and Hudson, and wandered through there until I found my way down to Sinatra Park. There were lots of loving dog owners out with their four-footed friends. I was jamming to some Kylie and Ke$ha this morning so I didn’t hear any of their barks and yips. Kylie is divine, never forget that.

There was a War Memorial in Elysian Park that caught my eye, and I was upset that one of the Sphinxes that crowned one end of the ark the monument sat upon had been defaced. Who does that?! Last I checked, Sphinxes asked Oedipal tourists questions and defaced them, not the other way around. Oh well.

I saw buds on a tree waiting for their elemental cue to burst forth with life for Spring, and I remembered just how fast 2012 was passing by. Springtime is almost here!

On my journey from park to park, I imagined the views of The City from the apartments on Hudson and along Sinatra Park. Though the newer buildings do not have any old-world charm to speak of, their stunning views of Midtown Manhattan are second to none.

There were some geese wandering around the park, but they were my only companions this morning as I snapped away in the breeze. They paid me little mind and continued on their way. The way they waddle about always makes me smile, and reminds me of the geese on the riverbank of my childhood home chasing after little baby geese.

Once I reached the apex of the park, I marveled at the Empire State Building for a while, and captured its splendor as best as I could in the grey weather. It looks great regardless of a lack of sunshine.

I looked southward to One World Trade Center and imagined the army of workers assembling what will be the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere once it is complete next year. Rising 1776 feet above the rubble, it will be a testament to our ability to bring our dreams to life.

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Fun With Frigid Photos

Currently, it is 22 degrees in New York. Brrrrrrr! I don’t even want to get into how chilly it is factoring in the wind. I will refrain from complaining too much though, because at this time last year, we were covered in snaux. My feelings on the white stuff are as follows: it looks nice when it is fresh, and is fun up until you actually have to trudge through it. In short, I was pleased we did not have a white Christmas this year.

All in all, we have had a pretty mild winter so far (knocks on wood). I have been able to wander about more than I normally would given the temperature, so I have been grateful for the extra rays the sun has been throwing our way (whether or not I made the sun shine lately).

Today I was set on taking photos for Gizmodo’s weekly shooting challenge. I am always amazed at the entries and winners each week, but have never participated myself. Something stirred in me today, so I set off for my old garden, and the High Line, to take some fabulous winter photos that used the compositional rule of thirds for the challenge.

My first stop at the community garden on 48th between 9th and 10th was relatively brief, but I did see a few interesting things and captured a couple good shots. I missed the explosion of color from the tulip tree and the constant buzzing of bees the garden is full of during the summer months. Some kids followed in after me and tossed a football back and forth, and I didn’t want to get in the middle of their game, so I headed back to the train at 50th street.

From 50th, I took a downtown C train. It was a tiny stroke of luck that I noticed my crush on the train and he said wassup. I tried to compose myself, after remembering that I bumped into him at brunch last week randomly too.  I managed a smile and a nod and stayed cool and exited at the next stop. Since when am I shy? I turned my headphones up a little and continued on.

At 23rd and 10th, I made my way up the tinted elevator and onto the High Line. I had not been there in some months so it was a solemn winter homecoming. I remember taking photos of Anthony there last year and drawing a huge crowd. Summer bliss.

Once atop my perch on the High Line, I noticed that there were stunning, crimson berries growing on small bushes on the east side of the walkway. I took a few shots of them and then noticed I had made a tiny friend.

I am no birdwatcher, but this bird was quite interesting in that it was so handsomely patterned even in the winter. Perhaps some kind of finch? I remembered how the goldfinches played along the river bank of my old home in Tukwila, and then I got excited about seeing my family later this month.

I ended up giving this little bird quite the photo shoot, and it provided me with the perfect shot to use for the Gizmodo competition. No cropping was necessary, because the bird remained still throughout shooting, like it waited for me to compose the perfect shot. Kismet. A decisive moment from Cartier-Bresson himself.

I continued along the High Line, looking up into fantastic condos and co-ops as I wandered the wooden path. I couldn’t feel anything but crystalline pain in the tips of my fingers, so I quickened my pace and stole a few more shots from the winter cityscape, and the window displays of DVF and Alexander McQueen as I made my way back home.

Once home, I realized that while I set out to accomplish my  goal of capturing a single, perfect moment trapped in the thirds of my camera frame, I saw that nearly almost all of my photos adhere to this most golden rule without even trying. As with phi, the golden ratio, there is something pleasing about the rule of thirds and how it draws your attention to a subject and simultaneously gives it enough space to breathe life into the image.

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***UPDATE***

Though my entry in the shooting contest did not win this week, it was still featured in the gallery on Gizmodo today! I was supremely happy to see my little bird perched there amongst some amazing shots. Go ahead and check it out here.

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Windows into Winter Wonder

It has been a good long while since I shared with you, but there is never a better time to share than the holidays. This year my family asked me to send them photos of New York at Christmas time, particularly of the window displays that the department stores are known for here.

Bergdorf’s lavish windows put all other displays on 5th Avenue to shame, year after year. Animals are a common theme in their windows all year round, and their holiday displays really let the entire menagerie out.

Lovely ladies adorned in shimmering outfits posed up and down the windows on the block, bedecked in jewels and surrounded by animal companions of many a species.

The air was crisp and cool on Christmas eve, and though there were more people around me than I enjoyed, the mood was so light, I hardly noticed the crowd with my holiday playlist on—thanks to Spotify.

I walked over to Rockefeller Center to take photos of The Tree just in time before a crowd of people exited the ice rink. The Tree seemed a bit taller this year, than the one from last year, and as usual it smiled proudly above the statue of Prometheus. Lee Lawrie’s art deco sculptures are to Rockefeller what the sphinxes are to Egypt.

Especially Atlas, who holds up the heavenly spheres, and who faces St. Patrick’s Cathedral directly across 5th Avenue. Something makes this particular statue seem as if Atlas could walk off with the world on his shoulders at any moment.

I ventured across to St. Patrick’s just in time for a late service, and found myself in quite the crowd underneath the vaulted ceilings. As expected, the music sounded more funerary than celebratory, and clashed with the bright mood people came in with.

From there, I headed down to Herald Square to see how Macy’s windows compared to Bergdorf’s. I had passed them once about a week ago, and caught a glimpse of them, but the tourists made me think twice about stopping. On this occasion though, I stayed a while and was really taken by the intricate puppets that twirled, danced, and glowed in the lights.

There wasn’t anything especially commercial about most of the displays, which was reassuring, and there seemed to be a high level of craftsmanship that went into everything from cogs, baubles, and puppets galore.

Having shot the stuffed animals at the American Museum of Natural History before made taking pictures of the window displays simple. No flashes. Longer exposures. Steady hands. Patience.

No Christmas in New York is complete without a photo of the Empire State Building.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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Relish the Rapture

If I were a certain type of person, I would have felt really silly Sunday morning. I’m just saying. I know that there are all kinds of heathens and things wrong with the world, but when creation itself is as gorgeous as it is, why shatter it in the apocalypse? We will probably do that ourselves eventually, so there is no divine intervention necessary.

In any case, Elizabeth in all her fabulousness, had the foresight several months ago to book a reservation at Calle Ocho for the day of the rapture. I want to believe that she did this on purpose, or that her golden locks told her to do so. Her, Lee-Sean, and I all had tortilla espanola for brunch and several goblets full of sweet, sweet sangria. If you have never been to Calle Ocho, there are two things to know: book months in advance for brunch, and save room for all the sangria you are about to sip!

After brunch, Elizabeth showed us to her new pad, which is just blocks away from Calle Ocho and one block from The Park. Prime real estate we are talking here. From there, we frolicked to the Great Lawn, and then on to Turtle Pond. We ascended Belvedere Castle just in time for the rapture at 6pm, only to find that the sky was getting dark and the temperature dropped a little. Damn.

While at The Park, we took in the wildlife, and marveled at just how lucky we are to be where we are, when we are, together. Sometimes reflection like that is necessary for true appreciation of life.

Ideally, we could all appreciate life from the Beresford alongside Central Park West, but the view from Turtle Pond is just fine with me. Soak in the sun and relish the rapture.

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A Day in the Sun + A Walk in the Park

Today was just too beautiful to stay inside. After all, my place was spotless, I was off, and I was aching to soak up some sunlight. You can’t help but be electrified by the first few days of true Spring weather after having endured the dreadful Northeast Winter for months on end.

I met up with Jaybird at 42nd street, and we went to Dallas BBQ for lunch—and managed to NOT have drinks. Our El Salvadorean waitress warned me that drinking on a Monday would lead to heavy drinking throughout the week. We will just say my glass of sweet tea had to stay full to avoid ordering my beloved frozen Texas size long island ice tea. My quarter chicken was fantastic.

From BBQ’s, we walked up eighth avenue and visited Alex for a few. He was overjoyed to be having a date later in the evening with someone interesting. We grabbed some more iced tea and walked up to Columbus Circle. There is always someone to look at there, generally in the form of a skaterboy.

We entered the park at the southwest corner, and wandered throughout the park for a couple hours—stopping to take in the sunlight every so often. The light was just golden, thats the only way to put it.

There were lots of couples on the water in boats, and even more just walking around together. Someday I will have a significant other ask me for a walk in Central Park on the first golden day of the year. However, Jay and I decided though that even though we are all about equality, two men in a boat on the water just looks hilarious. Oh well, there are still carousels. Speaking of couples on the water, we saw a guy rowing his girl through the water romantically—while she texted, tweeted, and wasted the entire experience. Bleh!

The grand angel statue in the central promenade had no water surrounding her in the fountain, which was weird at first. I’m used to seeing waterlilies at her feet in the cool pond. I thought about it for a second and realized I needed to be right beneath her for the perfect shot. Jumping in the fountain was fun, even though it was dry. I know, I’m a dork.

The highlight of the walk through The Park had to be the bubble guy. Bubble guy had a bucket full of bubble soap and two strings on two sticks for making massive bubbles. Like two five year olds, Jay and I ogled over the shimmering globes in the air that floated effortlessly past little children.

There were some dads there with their sons watching the short lifecycle of the bubbles—birth— shiny, floating life—and POP! It was kind of a moment for life to watch these parents with their kids in the sun with the bubbles going past.

Naturally, Jay was a pro at making bubbles of his own, and the bubble guy said that he must have done that before. Jay said that he had in a previous life. We enjoyed the slippery, shimmering bubbles for a long time and walked towards the southeast corner.

Only in New York can you ice skate on the 4th of April. Hilarious. We walked to the Apple store on 5th avenue to play with iPads and such, and pretty much got life from one of their employees. Should have taken a photo.

This guy that was sitting outside was pretty interesting though. I love to see guys in New York switch their style up for the coming weather in new ways. Epaulettes make me all kinds of happy, and the pairing of this fancy military coat with piercings and chain definitely give this guy cool points in my book.

In the end, the coolest guy I saw all day was this brand new statue of Andy Warhol, gleaming in the night by Union Square. I wonder who the new giants are that have filled his role as a visionary since then? Filmmakers like James Cameron, Lady Gaga, David LaChappelle?

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Holy Happies Batman! A Snow Day at the Cloisters

Inspiration

There is a little church on 51st between 9th and 10th ave that I walk past all the time, and there is this statue of the blessed mother in the courtyard that captivates me if only for a moment each time I see it. Last week though, she was covered in white snow, and looked positively divine. This photo I took of her inspired me to go on a little field trip the following day to the Cloisters.

What are the Cloisters you ask? Well, the Cloisters are the sum of many things, but at its heart, the Cloisters are the spectacular resting place of many a religious artifact from the Old World. The Cloisters are an extension of the Metropolitan Museum, and are located within Fort Tryon park just off of 190th street at the tip of Manhattan.

When you dismount the A train at 190th, you are greeted by a big sign indicating you are at the mouth of the park, and that you must walk through the park to get to the Cloisters. On any other day, this is probably a leisurely little journey, but because of the snow, it was a semi-treacherous adventure.

There was anywhere between one and two feet of snow covering the ground in some places, and all stairs and walkways were hidden beneath the white stuff. Add to this that the wind was blowing and changing course rapidly, and you have yourself a good time in a winter wonderland. Though I was by myself, I felt safe, and loved testing out my new boots in the snowy weather.

I could see the main tower of the Cloisters off in the distance, so I set off in that general direction, but got off track a couple times. When I made it there, I was greeted by a few guards, and as a reward for completing my journey through the snow, there was only a small handful of other guests roaming the building.

Clearly someone high up makes oranges grow in January in NYC.

As I mentioned before, the Cloisters are the sum of many things. Several archways are taken from ruins and churches that have long been gone. The artifacts within are from times we really can’t personally fathom. Everything was made by hand, everything had a meaning, everything had a specific place to be observed.

Wandering the grounds of the Cloisters was not so much a religious experience for me as it was a meditative experience. There were clearly defined chapels and places where one could worship, but I preferred to simply sit and marvel at the grandeur of how the Old World expressed itself through religious iconography. Most of the place seemed to be waiting in silence for something, and because the light poured in through intricately stained glass windows, there was a peaceful glow to nearly every corner.

Stepping from room to room yielded varying experiences. Some had a somber tone to them, reflecting the Lamentation, the Passion, or the life of Jesus, while others were purely jubilant and full of light.

One room in particular was fascinating. It contained immense wall sized tapestries telling the story of a unicorn and its capture. I had seen photos of these tapestries in books when I was very young, but I had no idea of the huge scale they were created in. Normally when you see a Monet or a Dali, the effect is quite the opposite. I couldn’t believe I was just inches away from the Unicorn! There was even a narwhal horn in the room for good measure—it was taller than me!

Another room caught me completely off guard when I stepped through the portal. Hung from its vaulted ceiling was a sculpture of Jesus that was as bizarre as it was large. He was depicted as being eerily calm despite His predicament, long and lanky, and styled kind of like a cartoon character. He looked quite alive, and if He would have moved, I probably would have ran out of the place. Something was just odd about this particular figure of Him, and though I was drawn to take photos, I was definitely creeped out.

There were cool sarcophagi in another room that I really liked. I liked the idea of them being out in a well lit room with chairs beside them, as if you are supposed to tell them things. Not that I am preoccupied with my own passing, but I would like a similar type of treatment. Somewhere between the mausoleums of New Orleans and these sarcophagi is a happy medium that I would like to plan for myself so my descendants can come visit in a welcome place. Somehow I’d need to cram a tree inside as well. Hmmmm.

At any rate, I had a great time passing through the corridors of the Cloisters and highly recommend making the trip. Even if you are not a religious person, like me, you can have a great time exploring and imagining the histories of the wonderful things you’ll find inside. If you are religious, you will enjoy the splendor and glory of your faith as it was in the past.

My walk back to the train seemed much less arduous after being in a building full of light all day, and the whole trip was well worth the trouble.

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Sunshine, San Gennaro, and Sukkah City

Naturally, I had to soak up more of the sunshine than was probably healthy this past weekend, especially after seeing my good friend, Juan, Sunday morning. He and I hung out for a while at his place in the Lower East Side, and I thought it was funny that he essentially has a copy of my shower playlist on repeat at all times. Great minds think alike.

After I left his place, I managed to walk down Rivington without shoving pistachio cupcakes in my face from Sugar Sweet Sunshine. Instead, I caught the start of San Gennaro—Little Italy’s 11 day long festival dedicated to the patron saint of Naples, Italy. Yay!

There was all manner of smells and sights out along Mulberry. The sunshine blessed the event, and I walked the entire length to scope out the sensory experience. I got myself a little trinket and nibbled on a few samples and headed back up Broadway to Union Square.

Upon arrival at Union Square, I was in for a surprise—Sukkah City. Sukkah City was a series of medium scale installations meant to raise money for homeless people infected with HIV/AIDS. The cause was great, and the structures were astounding. I really loved the fractured bubble most of all. I went back later that evening and saw them dismantling some of them, which made me a little sad.

People in the park napped, giggled, and played in the sunlight as usual—and I loved every minute of it.

I saw this guy with this awesome (and likely excruciatingly painful) tattoo on the way home.

I had to check out the birds and the bees in the garden again before the Fall set in. Some hardcore flowers gave it their all that evening as the sun was setting.

I will miss this summer.

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