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Street Art…a few things I saw while riding my bike today.

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I feel truly blessed in that all of this free street art is within a few blocks radius of my front door.

Urban Simplicity.

A few things I saw while walking home from work on a really cold night…

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Urban Simplicity

First Friday…

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Okay, so this is another Buffalo specific post and a bit of shameless self-promotion (sorry). But if you happen to find yourself in Western New York during the month of December and like galleries you may be interested in visiting the College Street Art Gallery and Co-op. It’s a teeny little space at the corner of Allen Street and College (244 Allen Street). The gallery is part of the Allentown First Friday Gallery Walk. Anyhow, the above photo is one of four of mine which will be hanging there through the month of December. The opening is Friday December 6th.Hope to see you there.

Urban Simplicity.

More Pro-Buffalo

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Some readers from my general geographic area read this blog, but with the beauty of the internet people around the globe do as well. Anyhow, if you want to get a two minute glimpse into where I live take a peek at this short video.

Urban Simplicity.

Past and Present….or a bit of photographic time-travel

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This is the continuation of a brief series I have sporadically posted where I print out an old photo and go to its location, hold up the original and try to match it to current day and snap a few photos. I have always enjoyed history, and personally I think this is pretty cook.

The buildings are as follows: Above and first below, the Brisbane Building 1896; the Old County Hall 1905; our current City Hall being built in 1930; the Hotel Lafayette 1900 (and you can see from the original that there have been additions added on); and Lafayette Square 1900;

For more in this series, click here and here.

Urban Simplicity.

This is beautiful…

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This happened the other day right here in the City of Good Neighbors. I find it interesting that there is so much bad news reported in mainstream media every single day yet good things like this barely make the cut. Anyhow, I hope you watch this, it really is beautiful; a man reacting to his intuition, to the still small voice within. And it saved a person’s life.

Urban Simplicity.

Something I saw while riding a bike today…

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H.H. Richardson Complex, or more commonly known as the old section of the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, right? It’s actually not as creepy looking in real life…more impressive than creepy (ok, at night it still is pretty creepy). After years of vacancy and neglect it’s finally being refurbished again (possibly as a hotel). The newly renovated grounds are lovely. Anyhow, as I rode past it tonight the lighting was just right so I had to take a few photos. Click either for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Past and Present…the view from my handlebars 83 years later

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These photos are a continuation of a series that I post now and again. I’ll find an old photo from somewhere in the city, print it out, and then try to recreate the picture. Sometimes this is easy, and other times it can be difficult because of the angle of the original shot. Yet other times it is difficult because buildings are missing or there are others in their place. Anyhow, both of these photos are taken in my direct neighborhood. The set directly below is on a stretch of Allen Street near Elmwood Avenue that I pass every single day, and the bottom set is also on Allen Street but at the very beginning where it meets Main Street. The original photos are said to have been taken in 1930; the others I took today. To see more in this series click here, here, or here.

Urban Simplicity.

Allentown on a Thursday evening…

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Though it’s not officially autumn yet it certainly feels like it today. It felt good. It was also the first day since last spring that I wore a light jacket. Many of you know–either by being a local or from reading this blog previously–that the Allentown that I mention in the the title of this post does not refer to the city of Allentown, Pennsylvania but rather to the neighborhood by the same name in the city in which I live, Buffalo, NY. Allentown, is small without doubt, something like 10 city blocks, but it’s culture is international. It is a village within a city, really. And it is both commercial and residential. The main thoroughfares–Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue, which intersect–are mostly (but not entirely) commercial, while most of the streets leading off of or intertwine to are mostly residential. It is a nice mix and I feel blessed to call this my home. I went out to purchase a bottle of wine this evening (which I am currently enjoying), and I brought along a camera and tripod (big surprise). And in the two city blocks walk to the liquor store (which is pictured here), I passed the following sights. A young woman playing a piano (when I asked her why she was playing her piano outside she stated simply that she liked to make beautiful music…and it was), multiple bars and restaurants (some of which are known for hosting international musicians, and some that…umm, well, let’s just say have reputations of their own, click here and here). I also passed a poetry reading and a mural dedicated to the late Spain Rodriguez (among other street art). As I took photos a few people came up to talk to me (this happens often), and one of the people was a guy about my age or maybe a little older who seemed a bit tipsy. He was an artist, he said, and had work hanging in galleries in Buffalo, New York City, and Rome. But still, he added, he liked to call this neighborhood home. I don’t know if he was telling the truth or stretching it. But what I do know is that all of this is within a 3 minute walk from my front door. And this is what I thought about on my brief walk home while the first chilly air of the season brushed across my face.

Urban Simplicity.

Perspective…

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per·spec·tive
n.
a. A view or vista.

b. A mental view or outlook

This blog, in a way, has always been a sort of emotional medicine for me in the public arena. In what I write but also in the photos I post. Like many, I suppose, I have been a worrier since I was a child. Not so much lately but still I do. I know it’s silly, but I still succumb to it. The usual things, but mostly time and money. But when I consciously think about it (and the key word here is think) I know that I have everything I need. Both things–time and money–I really believe, are illusions. While I do not have much at all monetarily, I am wealthy in so many other ways. And when I think about it (again the key word is think) I realize that I am blessed in so many ways. But some days it is so difficult to remember this (I know you are nodding your head in agreement as you read this). The key, I also believe, is thought. The power of thought is so incredible. I personally have experienced this over the years. Two people can look at the same circumstance in completely different ways; to one it may be an obstacle and the other an opportunity. If, for example, I consciously think positive thoughts, most often there is a positive outcome by changing my own reality. This said, I utilize both my camera(s) and bike(s) to help with this. Riding a bike is so simple and carefree…it makes me feel good to have the wind on my face (even in adverse weather) and to use my own body as energy for propulsion. And when I look through a camera it makes me really look at things, and when I do I remember how beautiful everyday scenes are, scenes and things that I may otherwise pass by without giving much thought. These things help me remember that my problems are not real problems at all; it puts things into view; into perspective. 
I took these photos while running errands tonight on my bike; all of them were taken in Delaware Park here in Buffalo. The above photos are of the same view of Hoyt Lake taken 60 minute apart (7:45pm and 8:45pm), and the below two photos were taken in the rose garden just before sunset. Click any for a larger view.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Urban Simplicity.

On a balmy evening…

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I’m not sure what area of the world you are reading this but in Western New York it has been hot and humid this past week. In a word…balmy. I actually have the weekend off of work but have been doing some rehab on my house and spent the better part of the day yesterday and today squatting on rafters next to an uninsulated roof. It was, to say the least, very sauna-like temperatures (only a lot dirtier). Anyhow, this evening it cooled a bit and I felt I needed to get out and get some air. So I went for a short walk around my neighborhood, snapped a few photos, and then stopped for a couple beers in an air conditioned bar. I used a long shutter speed for these photos and it enhanced the red-orange hue of the night-time lighting, which I thought captured the balminess well. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

Playing with Light

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One of the many things I like about digital photography is that unlike film photography you can shoot as many photos you want and choose only a few that you really like. This was the case this evening. I shot about 25 photos of Hoyt Lake and Marcy Casino at Delaware Park and these two are my favorites. What I like about these two are the color contrasts. This was achieved by not only long exposure but also the light around me. The blue in the sky was the result of the time that I was there– l’heure bleue, which is one of my favorite times of the dayand the red foreground is from a series of lampposts, which are just out of view but shone on the water directly in front of me.

 Urban Simplicity.

Just One…

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Just one photo. That is all. I rode to the waterfront this evening. It was cool, windy, and sort of blustery. Almost autumnal. I really enjoyed it. I ordered a beer and snapped a few photos while I watched the evening clouds roll in. This photo is my favorite. Buffalo Harbor. Click it for a larger view. And thank you, by the way, for your continued support in visiting and commenting. Peace.

Urban Simplicity.

Wise Words…

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That’s Howard pictured above (or is it Harold…sorry I am not that great with remembering names). He is one of a number of silent peaceful protesters that I see standing at the intersection of Elmwood and Bidwell each and every Saturday…rain or shine, snow or cold. They’ve been doing this for years. The women not pictured, who are standing to his left, are part of the Women in Black movement. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ridden past them. So today as I did so I decided to stop and say hi and thank you. I really believe that peaceful measures are our only hope if we, as a species, choose to survive (yes, it is our choice). We really need to give peace a chance. Anyhow, this post is to them…the peaceniks on the corner who are stand up for what the believe…

Urban Simplicity.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my! (and a few other things)

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It was such a beautiful day today I was out on my bike most of the day. And one of the places I made a rather brief stop was the Buffalo Zoo, which is in fact the third oldest zoo in the country. I hadn’t been there since my son was young–so at least 10 years–and I was really glad I went. I likely would not have gone but I was offered a free day pass (thanks Heather!) so I thought I’d go and take a few photos. My favorite is the one above. As I approached the lion’s den (or whatever it is called) I took out my camera and began replacing it’s standard lens with the zoom lens (no I was not as close to that lion as it may appear). Anyhow, the place was packed; there were people everywhere. But as I exchanged lenses the lion, which was sleeping at the time, sat up and looked directly at me, sort of striking a pose. I’m not so sure about the look she’s giving me…I wonder if she thought I looked tasty.

Urban Simplicity.

Chicken-less Fingers…

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Okay. So these are really good. These are a play on chicken fingers which of course are a knock off of chicken wings. In my continued effort to eat less meat I made these today as an alternative to the chicken fingers I cooked for staff lunch at work. And rather than tossing them in butter and hot sauce and then dipping them in creamy blue cheese dressing (as traditional Buffalo style wings are) I included the hot sauce and Gorgonzola cheese in the actual mix. The finished product was, if I do say so myself, quite addicting. To read a story with recipes regarding the history and my personal history with chicken wings (originally n Buffalo Spree Magazine), click here. And btw, in Buffalo they are simply called wings.

Buffalo Style Chickpea Fritters

(a.k.a. Chicken-less Fingers)


Makes 24 small patties or fritters


2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 eggs

½ cup Frank’s hot pepper sauce

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon turmeric

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped

1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola (3-4 ounces)

1 cup bread crumbs (plus extra for coating)


Oil for cooking


Combine all of the ingredients except the cheese and breadcrumbs in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and add the cheese and breadcrumbs; mix until thoroughly combined. Divide the mix into about twenty four small balls, and shape them into patties or tubes. One-by-one, dip them in a bowl of water very briefly then coat them in breadcrumbs, shaking of any excess crumbs. Heat about ½ inch canola or olive oil in a skillet, and fry the fritters—in batches if necessary—on both sides until golden brown, crispy, and cooked throughout. Drain on absorbent paper. 

A couple things I saw while riding home this evening…

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Two things three photos. Kleinhans Music Hall, and First Presbyterian Church. Both are located at Symphony Circle on the edge of Allentown, Buffalo, NY.

Urban Simplicity.

The magic of light…

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I find this type of thing really amazing. The same photo (or at least a really similar photo) taken about twenty minutes apart. I was standing on a lift bridge looking at the canal that runs parallel to the Niagara River (I may be wrong, but I believe this is the very beginnings of the Erie Canal). Anyhow, I snapped the above photo then went down by the river and chatted with a another photographer and a couple fisherman. And on my way back over the bridge I was taken by how the light had changed in just a few minutes so I stopped, stood in nearly the same spot, and snapped another photo.

 Urban Simplicity

Angels in the midst, and three things I saw while riding my bike this evening…

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To be closer to God, be closer to people. 
~Kahlil Gibran

This evening’s weather was almost autumnal…cool, windy, and large rolling clouds. And for whatever reason, I found myself somewhat stressed today (yes, even on my day off that crazy mind of mine never stops reeling). Stress, for me, often morphs into depression or at least a case of melancholia, which is how I felt earlier. So as a remedy I thought I’d ride down to the waterfront and take a few photos, both of which–photography and physical exercise–are often good remedies for this. Once there, I purchased a beer and set up my tripod at water’s edge; the day’s light was just beginning to fade. It was not crowded as it often is, likely because of the weather. And I’m not sure what it is about a guy with a camera, and specifically a guy with a camera on a tripod, that makes people talk to him, but it happens all the time to me. Anyhow my point is during the hour or hour-and-a-half that I spent down there sipping beer and taking photos numerous people came up and talked with me, a few at length. And it felt good, that’s the only way to explain it. Maybe it was the awesomeness of the weather conditions in front of us, maybe not, but I felt a deep connection to each soul to which I interacted…complete strangers discussing commonplace things. Anyhow, it was this connection I believe that really changed my mood…shifted it. We are all in fact–I also believe–angels in the midst of this thing we call life. And now is the time that we happen to be on this planet. We should make the best of the time we have…


Urban Simplicity.

Fishing for night swimmers…and a few photos of the international border in my backyard

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If you’ve been to this blog before you know that I am typing from Buffalo, NY. And sometimes I forget that there is an international border and another country in my backyard (the awesome country of Canada). A mere eight minute bike ride from my house brings me to Broderick Park, which leads to Bird Island Pier (a slim walkway–a break wall–that separates the very beginnings of the Erie Canal with the Niagara River at the mouth of Lake Erie (click here to see how the pier’s thin line juts out into the lake, and here to see a photo of it). I hadn’t been down there in a while, and when I arrived I questioned why it had been so long. Anyhow, I had it in my head to take a few photos of the Peace Bridge at dusk so I pedaled down. And as I pedaled and coasted down the pier (which was largely deserted because it being evening) I was struck by it’s beauty. But then, to my dismay, as I approached the undercarriage of the bridge I could see that there was a chain-link fence blocking further passage because of repairs (the entire length of the pier is at least a mile into the water). You can see the distance in the photos…the top photo I was at the far end of the pier (the restricted section), whereas the below photos I was just beneath the bridge. Anyhow, as I was standing there slightly saddened because I couldn’t (or at least thought I couldn’t) travel any further down the pier I saw someone approaching on a bicycle, and I could see they had fishing gear attached to their bike. It was a Burmese man about my age (Buffalo has a rather substantial Burmese population). We chatted a bit; he saw my camera gear and I  noticed his fishing gear. I told him how I wanted to go to the end of the pier to take photos. No problem, he said, that’s where I fish for night swimmers; some fish only come out at night, he added. He then showed me (and helped me) to hold my bike at a horizontal angle to fit between the railings of the pier, and “walk it” along the stones (which was a rather steep embankment) for about 50 feet, and then repeat the procedure to re-enter the pier. We walked along the canal side, which I’m sure was a steep drop off in the water, and at one point as we were walking he turns to me and says, don’t drop your bike, you won’t get it back. After we reestablished ourselves on the “forbidden side” of the pier he pedaled off while I set up my tripod; I never saw him again.  It was so tranquil. On my way back I saw two cranes and many dozen geese (who nearly refused to get out of my path). I have to say I was a bit worried about lifting my somewhat heavy cargo bike through the railing by myself but I managed (I had the Cargo-T, not the Yuba). I shot a couple dozen photos as I watched the sun set on the river while I wondered why I didn’t come here more often. Click any photo for a larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

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