This was unsettling:
At the turn of the century, I worked as a research editor for Readers Digest, which had offices at 260 Madison Ave. in Midtown. Last week, when Steve and I had an appointment there, it was the first time I’d been in the building since 2002. Readers Digest had long since departed, too.
Steve showed his ID at the security desk in the remodeled, unrecognizable lobby–new management, new owners. The officer took Steve’s photo and printed out a visitor label with the picture. I showed my ID. The officer didn’t take my picture, but quickly handed me a label.
Here is my visitor’s badge with the photo taken in 2000:
Big brother has been watching for a long time.
If you needed to make a getaway by water, and all you had was cardboard and tape and a paddle, could you make it? Maybe. Every July on Governors Island (a few minutes by ferry from Manhattan), 20 teams have two hours to build a vessel, and then they race with two-person crews. Some of the boats disintegrate, many of them flip over. A few make it.
I love this event. This year it was even better for me. My friend Lauren Collins helped build this pizza slice shaped vessel with the scrappy Red Hook kayak club, so I had a personal reason to cheer for this team.
The competition looked tough–some coastal engineering firms had teams, environmental groups, kayaking clubs and the formidable Coast Guard (the two woman in the first picture were their crew).
When the Red Hook pizza slice began their heat with four boats, I’d say their odds weren’t good. But then, every other cardboard kayak instantly flipped over.
Even the Coast Guard boat flipped.
All Red Hook had to do was get around the buoy and come back, which they did to big cheers.
In the finals, all team crews were men except the Red Hook team with Sherry and her 10-year-old daughter Maggie.
The Red Hook team got the biggest cheers and came in fourth (not last!). Sherry nearly got knocked in the head by the paddle of one of the eventual winners (last picture), who didn’t need to be so aggressive to win the trophy made of cardboard and tape.
Still, Sherry thought racing was thrilling from beginning to end. A woman came up to her and said, ‘I just want to say you’re the most awesome Mom.”
The Red Hook team took home the prize for “Most Ambitious.”
Their boat held up, unlike many, including the one below:
So…Could you escape by cardboard and tape boat? Build it like a pizza slice, and then maybe.
On a recent trip to Orvieto, Rome, Venice, and Bologna, I noticed that lions work hard holding up buildings, showing scrolls, and spitting water in fountains. Most of these creatures look unhappy, resentful, embarrassed, sad, anxious, or resigned to duty that they never dreamed would be theirs for eternity. Here are some photos of the kings of the jungle in their reduced circumstances. I added captions that expressed what they might be thinking. If they weren’t made of stone.
For other Italian photos, some lovely, some bizarre, please see my album on flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHskBveufg
Two-story air-filled white rabbits are decorating Capitalism Central—an area near the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Oh the metaphors you could draw from that, but instead, here are some photos of the seven giant bunnies. The art installation is called Intrude, by Amanda Parer. It is at the Brookfield Center—formerly The World Financial Center—on the Hudson River for just a week.
Click on an image to enlarge it, and you can scroll through them all and see the captions.
Perry, 57, had been living on the streets of Portland, Oregon, for 26 or 27 years, he told me when my cousin Antonia introduced me in October 2015. A few years ago, he appropriated a big empty lot owned by a small apartment complex in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood. There he tends plants, builds sculptures out of found objects, and takes care of a cat. Click on a photo to enlarge it and to scroll through the photos and read more about Perry.
On cold winter days in New York, I’ve been looking at thousands of photos I took in Mexico last year. While the lovely warm colors of the landscapes and sky and flowers and buildings infuse me with warmth, the photos of women working in small businesses are most compelling. Their faces, their aprons, their hands tell their stories.
I took these pictures for Pro Mujer, a non-governmental organization that provides small loans and health care to women in Latin America. I published a few of the pictures here last year, but I want to share more images of these hard-working, lovely women. They live on on the outskirts of Mexico City and around the states of Hidalgo, Pachuca, Puebla, and Oaxaca.
Click on an image to enlarge it and see the caption and to scroll through all the images.
For the photos of Pro Mujer women I published here last year, here’s the link:
A great moment in a great chilly brilliant day in New York:
I stopped in front of the Punjab Deli on Houston St. on the Lower East Side to lean on an iron rail basking for a few minutes in the sunshine. A tiny ancient person, bent over a bubbe cart, passed and said, “It’s nice in the sun.” I said it sure was. She stopped, turned her head up toward me, and out of the side of her mouth, like she was telling me a secret, she said, “I’m going to the corner for cookies.”
About five minutes later, I headed the same way, and she had just made it to the corner, that’s how slowly she was going. I was surprised that she went into the fancy Union Market. I went in behind her, but the narrow lanes were crowded, so I hesitated as the old woman trundled on. Then came the highlight of the day: She shouted at the good-looking tall people in the way, “Get the fuck outta the aisle.”
I went on to Tompkins Square Park in the East Village where the most magnificent elm is shedding its leaves.