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Three photos from a moving train…

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Beautiful NY State. It really is. I took these photos last week while on a train from NYC to Buffalo. I love the fall colors before the snow came. The bottom photo I think is particularly interesting in that that camera focused in a the stream and everything else is a sort of blur because of the motions. Anyhow, I just came across them and thought I would share.  

Urban Simplicity.

Greenwich Village at Night with a Few Words…

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I was in NYC this past weekend, and no matter what city I find myself I am always drawn to it’s funkier neighborhoods. I love their color, flavor, visuals, and eccentricities. If I’m in Toronto, for example, I usually gravitate to Queen Street West or the Kensington market. The half-dozen times I’ve been to Paris I’ve stayed on the Left Bank. When I spent a very brief time in New Orleans in the late 1980’s I had an apartment in the heart of the French Quarter. And the neighborhood in which I currently reside–Allentown–has these same qualities but on a much smaller scale. So it should come to no surprise that when I visit NYC I usually end up in the Village, I always have. Technically not all of these photos are from Greenwich village, a couple are from Union Square, which of course is the next street over. The above photo is one of my favorites. It’s a group of Hare Krishna followers who are in Union Square every time I go there, they have been for as long as I can remember. I often listen to them sing and watch them dance for a minute or two. And this time I took their photo. After I did I dropped a couple dollars in their collection bowl. And as I turned to leave a young woman thanked me and offered a candle for me to place on a small altar with a hundred others (to the left of the photo). There was a small cushion to kneel if you’d like, and say a prayer. I did. It was lovely really. To kneel briefly in the midst of the hustle and bustle of this incredible city and say a silent prayer. When I closed my eyes it was as if I shut everything out and I went in, if even for just a few seconds. As I stood and turned to leave again, she thanked me again and asked if I were hungry. I declined, but it was truly lovely. Anyhow, while there this weekend I took a few photos and thought I’d share. Click any for a slightly larger view.

Urban Simplicity.

A Doorway Separated by Eighty Years (interesting but a bit eerie)…

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I have been interested in photography (or some other art-form) my entire life. And about 25 years ago I discovered a small but thick book of glossy photos at a local library by George Brassaï. It was published in 1933 and titled Paris de Nuit (Paris at night). I was mesmerized by it. M. Brassai, a Hungarian by birth, spent most of his adult life in Paris and was friends with many artists and writers of the time, most notably Henry Miller. Well apparently M. Brassai lugged his camera with him when he and Henry Miller went out for their all-night jaunts. But as usual, I’m getting slightly off topic.
Last summer my son and I went to Paris on holiday. I have always loved this city and had been there 4 times prior but not in more than 15 years. During that 15 year lapse cameras went from film to digital (for an amateur such as myself this is a good thing). The beauty of digital is that you can take hundreds of photos just to get a couple you want to save. I took more than 1000 photos in the week I was in Paris but only really saved a few dozen (click here, here, and here to see some of them). 
While in Paris we visited a few Museums, and one of them was the Centre Pompidou where I came across an instillation of photos by George Brassai which I lingered over.
Paris, of course, is one of those cities (for me) where I often feel as if I am walking in a dream. Not only because of its incredible history but also because of its beauty. One of my favorite areas of the city is Montmartre, and where I took a great deal of photos. 
Anyhow, recently on my lunch hour at work I Googled images for Brassai and one of the photos that came up was the one pictured above. It’s from his Paris de Nuit book. Again, I was messmerized…but this time I couldn’t get the image out of my head. I had seen that shot before. Then it dawned on me. I had seen that image in real life. So I went back and looked through my Paris photos from last summer and found it, but it was more close up and taken in the daytime. I cropped the above photo to somewhat match mine. I mean no disrespect to M. Brassai (by altering his original) nor do I think that my image is even in the same league as his, it’s just to illustrate my story. And there they are, side-by-side, an image of the same doorway separated by 80 (or 81) years.
Anyhow, I remember the day perfectly. My son and I were tired and hungry. We had walked a lot that day and it had rained a lot. It had just stopped raining and as we marched through Montmartre I caught a glimpse of this doorway and it stopped me in my tracks. It looked timeless. So I took out my camera and snapped a quick shot. And as I did, unbeknownst to me at the time, I stood–quite literally–in the very same spot that George Brassai stood some 80 years earlier. And this, I think, is pretty interesting…

10 Random Things I saw While Walking in NYC this Past Weekend

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I was in New York this past weekend. And whenever I’m in a large city–especially NYC–I love to walk. I had a camera with my (surprise, right?) and snapped a few photos. Actually I snapped nearly two hundred photos, and here are ten of them in no particular order (but I will give brief explanations to some of them).

Starting with the top photo you may be wondering if it weren’t snowing (nope), and what are the people clutching. Well, unbeknownst to me this past Saturday was National Pillow Fight Day and this is a photo a really large pillow fight just as it was ending in Washington Square Park (to see more pics and videos–at Huffington Post–click here). 

The first photo below is a shot on MacDougal Street. It’s the front of the basement comedy club, The Comedy Cellar, which is in the opening credits to the show Louis, starring Louis CK (to see the seen in the opening credits, click here).

This next photo is, of course, the Empire State Building, as seen from a block away on Broadway.

This next shot is of one of my favorite buildings in NYC, the Flatiron building. I walk past it each morning and evening on my way to classes I’ve been attending. Interestingly, I recently came across this video of the scene at the foot of the building in 1903. I was standing in the very spot (as a took a few other photos) that the videographer was likely standing when they shot the video…gave me goosebumps.

This next shot is of the Gem Spa in the East Village. Most likely know that this was a hangout for hepcats for generations…from the beats, to the hippies, and rockers. In 1973 the New York Dolls posed in front of this store for the photo on the back of their album. For interesting info on this store and it’s roll in urban hipster culture, follow this link.

Below is a photo of a group of Hare Krishnas blissed out singing and chanting in Union Square Park. The first time I came upon the Hare Krishas chanting in this park was 1985 while stumbling drunk around NY with some college friends. We talked with them (and even drunkenly chanted with them a bit). They were very nice and didn’t try to convert us; they even fed us free vegan food. I thought of this as I tapped my foot and watched them for a few minutes. Their chant is mesmerizing and in fact difficult to shake…it’s quite beautiful actually; simply singing to and calling out to God (Krishna). To hear a beautiful rendition of this mantra sung by George Harrison, click here.

Below is an image of a Joe Strummer memorial in the East Village. I’ve visited this numerous times and have watched this video at least twenty times. The video shows the mural being painted while Joe Strummer sings Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. I really hope you watch the video…very moving.

Below is a photo of a chicken-headed man playing chess in the park at dusk. Umm…how could I not take a picture of this guy? After I took the shot he looked up at me and stared without saying anything…I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be freaked out. I did laugh, but then after the awkward silence, I left.

 Below is a photo of a building in the East Village. Do you recognize it? It’s the building that  is featured on the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album. This building (or at least the front steps of it) was also featured in the Rolling Stone’s video for their song Waiting on a Friend.

And the picture below…well that’s just a lovely and warm sunset over Lower Manhattan.

Urban Simplicity.

Five Photos of the Hudson River (taken from a moving train)

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These photos dispel a few things. One is that New York State is entirely occupied by New York City. I know that people don’t actually believe this (well ok, some may), but often when you mention you are from another part of the state (Buffalo, for example) to someone who is not from the northeast, NYC comes to mind. NY State, is in fact an incredibly beautiful state. This of course is just a minor sampling. I took these on a train ride home this morning as we sped up the Hudson Valley. The other thing these photos dispel is that you cannot take good photos with an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera (and from a moving train). While it does push the limits of such a camera, it can be done. I was only in NYC overnight and wanted to pack light so I brought only a camera that would fit in my breast pocket. At any rate, you’ve probably gathered by now that the train is my favorite way to travel long distance. But locally, it is a bike, of course 🙂

Urban Simplicity.

Six Photos of NYC

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I was in NYC over the weekend and snapped a few photos along the way. I was busy for most of the weekend but took photos as I walked to-and-fro. What’s interesting (I think) is that in my continued efforts to travel light (or at least travel lighter) I brought only one camera with me and it was this small pocket sized point-and-shoot. So yes, it was difficult to hold my hand steady for some of the dusk or evening shots on such cold nights. But still it is possible to capture the feel of a place while looking through an inexpensive lens…

Urban Simplicity.

Photos from Moving Windows…

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I was in NYC yesterday for just 24 hrs. Took a plane in and a train out. Hence these photos. I took a 5:45am flight (geeze that is early for someone who is not particularly a morning person) and that’s an image above from the plane window. Awesome isn’t it. The sun coming up over the Atlantic Ocean as we approach NYC. I felt so inspired by this…a brand new day, a full day of opportunity. Is it just me or can you see the curvature of the earth? And the bottom three photos were taken from the train window as we sped through the Hudson Valley, which was in full autumn color. (Click any photo for a slightly larger view.)

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