Cardboard Kayaking

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.

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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.

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Even the Coast Guard boat flipped.

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All Red Hook had to do was get around the buoy and come back, which they did to big cheers.

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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:

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So…Could you escape by cardboard and tape boat? Build it like a pizza slice, and then maybe.

 

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The Disgruntled Lions of Italy

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

High in the air among the gargoyles, the lion looks like he's stepping off into space, and he's not happy about it.
Oh crap, it must be four stories to the ground. That’s a long way, even for a cat with wings. (Basilica, Orvieto)
This building is heavy.
Get me down from here so I can eat some more Christians. (Rome)
Piazza del Popolo Fountain, Rome
It’s my job to spit water all day. Sigh. (Piazza del Popolo, Rome)
Natural History Museum, Venice
I’m a hunting trophy from the 19th century. Bite me. (Museum of Natural History, Venice)
Salute Basilica, Venice
Yeah I got a black eye. You should see the other guy. (Salute Basilica, Venice)
Salute Basilica, Venice
Oy oi oi, I’m not even Catholic. (Salute Basilica, Venice)
Venice
If these wings worked, I could fly away. (Venice)
Bologna
It was worse before they put up the pigeon spikes. (Bologna)
Bologna
This is not the worst job in Bologna. Really.
Rome
If I could get down from here, I’d show you who’s king of the forest.
Rome
You wonder why I look demented? I have to spout water all day. (Rome)
Rome
My brother over there is demented. I just need a cigar. (Rome)
Rome
I just think of it as puking on you. (Rome)
Rome
Where’s my incisor? (Rome)
Rome
Ack. (Rome)
Rome
No, I’m fine. Really. Yep. Really. Happy lion. More meds, please. (Rome)
Big Puffy Bunnies

Big Puffy Bunnies

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.
Easter Parade, 5th Avenue

Easter Parade, 5th Avenue

Here are some of the fantastic people (and one rabbit) who caught my eye. Click on an image to enlarge it, and you can scroll through them all.

The Homeless Gardener

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.

People Every Time–Women at Work in Mexico

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:

Mujeres at Work, more photos

 

Nice little old lady isn’t

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.

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Lush Desert

Lush Desert

Last week, after three months in Mexico, we were ready to go home, but home wasn’t ready for us, still icy and blustery. So we came to Tucson, Arizona, where we are loving the desert. Every big saguaro cactus has a big personality. Cholla needles glow. Tiny wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Streams run through the dry landscapes. Here are some pictures, primarily from the marvelous Saguaro National Park, Catalina State Park, and Sabino Canyon, part of a national forest. Thank big government for preserving these beautiful places. Click on a picture to enlarge it and you can scroll through the photos using the arrows.

Cholula, not the hot sauce, and Puebla

In Last Vegas, pathetic retirees Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline and Robert DeNiro run off to gamble and flirt. Why are terrible movies so good on the ADO buses in Mexico? It’s not the dubbing into Spanish–terrible Mexican movies are great on the ADO, too. We took the four-plus hours and two-plus movies bus from Oaxaca to Puebla before the New Year to meet our East Tennessee friends Ann and Bill. A few days later we moved to Cholula nearby, site of a giant, mostly unexcavated pyramid with a church on top.

Kite flying atop the Cholula Pyramid.
On New Year’s Day, dozens of people flew kites on the side of the Cholula pyramid. On top is the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios.
Princess balloon on church ceing.
Looking up at the ornate ceiling in one of the beautiful churches in Puebla, I noticed a pink princess balloon had floated up and nestled against a princess of the church. 
Ann, Steve and Bill, in Puebla doing what they do a lot. Ann taking pictures, Steve waiting, Bill exploring.  They're at a museum/restaurant/jazz club near the zócalo. Is it the only jazz club with a tomb and skeleton? Well, outside of New Orleans?
Ann, Steve and Bill, in Puebla doing what they do a lot–Ann taking pictures, Steve waiting, Bill exploring.
They’re at a museum/restaurant/jazz club near the zócalo. Is it the only jazz club with a tomb and skeleton? Well, outside of New Orleans?
In a Puebla church, a statue with a distinguished face, a lace veil, beautiful light.
In a Puebla church, a statue with a distinguished face, a lace veil, beautiful light, mournful, matched what happened next–Ann had the flu, Steve caught it, then I caught it. So did 4.4 % of the population of Puebla. Steve called it PueblEbola.We are better now, thanks. 
Ann Bill
Bill never got sick. 
Popocatopetl at sunset
Sunset over Popocatopetl, the active volcano near Cholula. There’s a little puff of sunset plume emerging from it in this picture.