I’m basically still laughing about this instagram post. I snapped it a couple of weeks ago when I was coming out of the train at City Hall. It could have been a decent shot because the ceiling is actually very cool, as was the quality of light that evening. However, I was very frazzled and running a bit late from having to take a different train than normal due to a track fire. As a result, I didn’t even stop walking to snap this photo (which basically guarantees a crappy photo). But I mean, I still HAD to take the photo! Look how shaky it is; not sharp at all! Well, I guess if someone is shaking around the screen while you look at it, it probably looks okay. I hastily put it up on my account while I was walking. Then, TBH, I kind of forgot that I even posted it until the next day when it had somehow overnight earned roughly triple the amount of “likes” as any of my images normally do on instagram. I don’t have a popular account. My photos usually garner like 50 ‘likes’ max. My friend left a nice comment, which I am guessing was a sympathy comment. Something like “I have seen that ceiling in real life. Despite your photo, I still think it is a really good ceiling.” I’m chalking all of this up to magical new FB (who as we all know purchased/ruined instagram) algorithm which apparently knows better than the actual user what content he/she likes the most. I mean, I know that there aren’t any AMAZING images on insta account. But seriously? Shaking ceiling? Anyway, thanks FB/insta, for getting possibly one of the worst photos I have ever published in front of the max number of people that your algorithm knew would like it! Thanks random internet ppls for making this terrible image one of the most ‘liked’ images on my account!
Friday evening brought a brief squall to lower Manhattan just in time for the evening commute. Luckily, I was already home since my office was closed early for the long weekend. I decided to break out the 200mm and take some snaps of commuters with their umbrellas. Here are a few of my faves.
With each passing year, it becomes more difficult to be “off the grid.” It seems like there are new cell towers going up in every last remote region of the industrialized world. Last weekend I found myself in an area so remote that there was no cell service, and the nearest land line was a 4 hour hike away. It was refreshing. We spent 5 days in a Utah mountain range called the Uintas. My family vacationed there during the summer when I was young. Nestled between the dense lodge-pole pine trees on the edge of Moon Lake, there is a rustic ‘resort’ comprised of log cabins and a lodge dating back to the 1920s. Last weekend my family had a reunion in those same cabins. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to take B on an overnight backpacking trek for the first time in her life (something that I have enjoyed doing since I was a youngster). B and I arrived in Salt Lake a couple of days before the reunion started, met up with our good friend Sam Adams who came in from Portland (OR, not ME), and headed into the woods. We left the car at Moon Lake (which is where the road ends), and proceeded to hike to a remote glacier-melt called Brown Duck Lake. Even though the hike was only about 7 miles, there is roughly 2000 feet of elevation gain (starting from over 8000 feet). All three of us are in relatively good shape, and it still took us a little over 4 hours to complete. Our ginger pace may have also been partially attributable to the fact that I was carrying about 30 lbs in camera gear (which I broke out and used often along the way) in addition to the tent, sleeping bag, etc.. My shoulders are still a bit sore from the endeavor.
We arrived at Brown Duck Lake about an hour before sunset, in time to set up camp, build a fire and catch some fish for dinner. The lake is loaded with native trout. We caught a few different varieties, keeping only a brown trout and a cutthroat for dinner. After swapping Sasquatch stories and shooting about 300 frames of the night sky (mostly film and on Sam’s camera), we hung our packs in trees in an effort not to attract any bears, then hit the sack. We broke camp early the next AM and made it back down to Moon Lake just as some of my family was beginning to arrive. We spent the rest of our time in the mountains catching up with family, laughing, eating, fishing, hiking, playing horseshoes, and sitting around the fire. Sometimes it is really nice to be completely disconnected from the real world, especially when surrounded by amazing company.
Being photographed is tough. Some people are so good at it. They look so natural and comfortable, effortlessly cool, etc.. I look basically the opposite of all of those things in just about every photo ever taken of me. I have always felt more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. The above image is a perfect example of why. I am super awkward in photos, and have accordingly disliked being photographed for most of my life. In recent years I have thankfully come to embrace the awkwardness, and I have my little sister partially to thank for this. If there is one person who ranks on my levels of unnaturaltude when the camera is pointed in their direction, it is her. I should also mention that she is a woman who struggles with autism. Perhaps I too have some sort of social disability which causes me to lose my sense of “normalcy” when I find myself staring into the business end of a lens.
At any rate, I have her to thank for my decision to embrace my shortcomings as a subject in photos. A few years ago, I noticed that she had adopted sort of a signature pose for photos. She would hold up two fingers, peace-frogs-style and pop her hip out to the side. By doing so, she spun her discomfort of being photographed into her own brand of sassy protest (“okay go ahead and take my photo, but you are going to get this pose”). Amazed at how well this seemed to work, I took a page from her book and started throwing deuces in photos every chance I had. When possible, I will even incorporate double deuces. As ironic as it may sound, I have hated photos of me much less since adopting her approach. While the photos are ostensibly “worse” and certainly more contrived than before the advent of the deuce pose (not to be confused with the other deuce pose), at least I can laugh at them now, as opposed to just cringing. So while I will most likely never be able to look cool, natural or at ease in photos, I can thank my sis for helping me embrace a signature awkward pose.
What was forecast to be a very soggy weekend, ended up being sunny and delightful. We ended up in Beach Haven again last weekend because we needed to pick up the dog (who splits her time between Manhattan and the beach). The weather was nice enough that I actually go in the water. It was still a little brisk, but definitely doable.
Saturday was the third iteration of Beach Haven’s ‘Hop Sauce Festival.’ It is a festival that features regional craft beer, along with small batch purveyors of hot sauces. Food was available from a bunch of the local spots and the live music was also homegrown. We had a great time and left with scorched tongues from sampling all of the different sauces.
The weather here has been a bit bananas. It rained for about 10 days straight and didn’t break 60 degrees. Then Sunday happened. The forecast all week was heavy rain for Sunday. Instead we got sunshine and breeze. I normally don’t care for the breeze. But America’s Cup happened this weekend. I generally try to avoid gatherings of 30k or more humans in public spaces. But when sailboat racing happens in my neighborhood, it is kind of hard not to step out and take a gander. Also, B used to race sailboats. So I had a front row seat at one of the world’s premier sailboat racing events and expert commentary from a sexy woman. It was actually pretty awesome. Here are some snaps–
Welp, B is in China. I’m going a little nuts w/o her here. Have tried very hard to keep myself busy. Weekend is not even over yet. Put together this little gem tho. I slapped a gopro onto the underside of Trixie’s handlebars for a Saturday ride across the Brooklyn Bridge. Apologies for my fat face starting into the lens in the beginning. It gets “good” if you can make it past the elevator. If you have 5 spare mins, enjoy.
I had a very event filled weekend, spent with close friends and family. During the course of it all, we paid a visit to the new One World Observatory at the top of 1 WTC. The experience did not disappoint. I generally avoid tourist traps, because I don’t have the patience to wait in lines. But for a few extra $$ you can skip the line and go straight to the top. So, we went that route. I want to go back again when I am not on such a tight schedule, so that I can spend more time up there. It was a pretty clear day with great visibility. I would highly recommend the experience.
Part of me feels like “urban exploring” and graff has become a little bit passe, especially since the advent of instagram giving kodak courage to the masses when it comes to these activities. Then there is another part of me that still has favorites in this realm, especially when it comes to graff. Without getting delving back into the question of “what is art?”, I will disclose that my bias lies with those artists whose work pre-dates the onset of social media madness.
As a law abiding citizen and responsible adult, I can’t really condone vandalism or property damage. I also have my opinions about thrill seeking at the expense of personal safety and the safety of others. Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, I have to admit that I have been a longtime fanboy of the woman/man graff duo Utah and Ether. They descended from Chicago’s MUL crew and went on to become globetrotting scofflaws. You can find an interview from 2013 over here for more background.
In addition to appreciating the aesthetic appeal of their work, I find the “romantic couple” dimension of their story quite fascinating. They were both arrested in 2008 after a painting spree spanning multiple continents and 10+ countries. Needless to say, the arrests didn’t slow them down much. They have recently released the first two installations of a series of videos titled “Probation Vacation: Lost in Asia” produced by The Grifters. Episode 2, shot in India is embedded below. You can catch the first one (Turkey) over here.
Image: screen grab from above video