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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Trees Do Grow in Brooklyn

I first encountered New York in elementary school. At some point, probably through the school librarian, I heard about the book 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'.

I knew the book had something to do with a city, where trees were scarce enough to warrant a book title. I also knew the book was about someone growing up with a tree as a symbol of hope. But that's about it. I was busy enough reading other books, like the Narnia series, to read about some place called Brooklyn.

Now I live in Brooklyn, and the tree-lined streets make the book title seem out of place. The maples and oaks outside my bedroom window are turning red, signalling autumn. To me, they are less symbols of hope than nostalgia - time is passing, it's nearly fall, and winter will be soon be here. Time is speeding by much too quickly, and all I can do is reach out and appreciate tiny moments.

Photo by myself, in Park Slope, Brooklyn.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Random Shots

I've been trying to take photos in the field, which is really challenging.

It's a little like fishing, where you have to wait for whatever comes along. Red deLeon, who spoke at the NYC Photobloggers talk last night, expressed the same thought. He showed his early work, which were 'random' shots taken while he walked around New York. Feeling that his pictures depended too much on chance, he turned to fashion photography and the controlled environment of the studio.

Matt Weber, on the other hand, is a vigilante photographer. Last night he shook his fist, saying that he didn't like portraits, because he 'didn't want to take what people simply gave him'. So Weber's photos are candid, stark, black and white. He admitted that what drives his confrontational style was anger. The city was changing, and he was pissed.

I've only carried my camera around with me a short time, and I've learned a few things. The relationship between photographer and subject is something like a power struggle. Neither one wants to go quietly.

It all starts the second the camera comes out of the bag. Everyone tenses up a little. People begin to fidget. They give you darting, suspicious looks. It doesn't matter how non-chalant you are or how benign you look.

I was on the subway the other day and I was struck by how one female passenger was sitting with her pretty, patterned shoes. Nearby, a fellow in dress shoes held onto the pole.

I was capitvated by their shoes. Their shoes spoke to me, but their shoes (and their owners) didn't want to be photographed. Her foot kept bobbing up and down. He twitched. The subway shuddered. I must have taken six or seven shots, and every one was blurry. It was frustrating. After a while, I put the camera down.

After I did, the subway car relaxed. Life went back to normal.

Upper photo, taken on the subway platform in Brooklyn.
Lower, blurry photo taken on the R train.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Tonight, I managed to go to the NYC Photobloggers talk at the Apple Store, tonight. It was beyond inspirational.

The auditorium area was packed with a rapt crowd. Each of these photographers - Eliot Shepard, Red deLeon, Jay Parkinson, and Matt Weber had such different stories, personalities and challenges.

Most took digital photos in color, one took photos using black and white film. Some took posed portraits, others preferred gritty, spontaneous street shots. All questioned themselves, challenged themselves and loved photography.

Seeing their images, not just on a little computer screen, but blown up big on the wall, made me look at my pictures in a different (and much more critical) way. It's hard not to fall into despair.

Matt Weber's images, especially, were phenomenal. He's managed to capture fleeting, seemingly perfect moments, throughout his life in New York. Pacing back and forth, flipping quickly through his Powerpoint presentation, Matt attributed much of his work to sheer 'luck'. If only everyone could be so lucky!

Check out their photos. Each of these artists will inspire you to look at your surroundings in a different way.

Photo by myself of the current Storefront installation, celebrating its 25th anniversary.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On the Train

Pets are the lazy man's equivalent of kids in New York, especially when you can tote them along or board them or pay someone to walk them.

They say that it's tough to raise big dogs in an apartment, but I wonder whether it's the smaller dogs that run around the most.

This is why I prefer cats - they don't run around at all.

Photo by myself, on the Number 1 train.


Monday, September 24, 2007


Photo by myself, on Eighth Avenue and 14th Street.

A man was wrapped up in a castaway rug on the sidewalk.


I posted recently about a homeless person on the subway. Unfortunately, you see a lot of homeless men and women around, and it's hard to comprehend that these are human beings.

One of my first years in New York, I encountered a homeless man who had died on the subway. The downtown express train was pulled up at 72nd Street and Broadway, its lights on and doors closed. The platform was crowded with people.

In the middle of one of the cars, a man was sitting down. He was dressed in sweatsuit material and his chin was touching his chest. Apparently, he'd passed away but his body remained upright.

A subway worker said that the man had been dead for several hours, and rigor mortis was setting in. The passengers next to the body noticed there was something wrong, and alerted the crew. The train was stopped. I remember hearing someone say (with actual excitement),'I've never seen a dead guy before.'

I guess that's one way of putting it - 'a dead guy', a man who happened to live on the street, and died alone on a train.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

How the Other Half Lives

Last week at a big meeting with a big developer, the conversation wandered.

It had been a long day. The zip from the afternoon's coffee was long gone. We were pouring over plans for condominiums planned to sell for 10 to 12 million, each.

While looking over the kitchen in one of the units, the developer turned to me and said, 'In one of my first apartments in New York, I didn't have any kitchen counter space. There were eight inches to the side of the stove, and I had to make my own countertop.

'So I went to Ikea and bought a cabinet for a hundred bucks. I tore it apart to fit into the space. It took me all weekend and it looked like crap...but I had my eight inches of countertop, enough space for a small plate.'

Everyone in New York is armed with such war stories. For some reason, the stories often resurface at parties, with strangers drawing on napkins, comparing their first apartments.

At my previous apartment on the Upper West Side, my 'kitchen' was essentially two small niches facing each other. The sink took up one niche, and in the opposite niche was the stove. During my mother's first visit, she announced I had bad feng shui, because my fire source was being constantly extinguished by my water source.

One friend's bathroom was so small, he couldn't sit on the toilet, without keeping the door open. And just about everyone's seen apartments with the claw-foot tub in the kitchen. (Eek!)

I'm sure Mr. Developer lives in a nice apartment nowadays. But like everyone else, he had to start somewhere.

Photo by myself, on Park Avenue and 96th Street.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eats and Drinks

City folk are very particular about a handful of things, like their bagels, their coffee and their pizza.

The debate over who makes the best pizza in New York is endless. For thin-crust lovers, there's Lombardi's, Arturo's, John's and (the multiple) Ray's.

I am a longtime Lombardi's lover. Their sauce is simple and delicious, sprinkled with fresh, chopped basil. The slightly crunchy, slightly chewy crust essentially defines New York style pizza. Mark and I have a weakness for their flavorful proscuitto topping. Yum.

Fortunately, every neighborhood seems to its own great pizza place, so you don't have to travel far. Don Giovanni in Hell's Kitchen makes a mouth-watering white clam pizza. There's Patsy's, on University Place, (though I'd rather choose among their tasty pasta selection, served family style). Even Greenpoint has it's own place. Mark and I get the Grandma style pizza from Casanova - a 9-square pie covered with juicy tomatoes, garlic and cheese. Oh my.

Finally, there's Two Boots, which is a different animal altogether. The cornmeal crust, the spicy sauce and the fancy toppings - broccoli, artichoke, shitake mushroom and pinapple, make their pies decidedly un-traditional. Originally, I pitted Lombardi's against Two Boots, until Mark said there'd be no contest; Lombardi's would win, hands down.

See, New Yorkers and their food. Opinionated!

For another debate on NYC pizza, click here.

Photo by myself, at Porto Rico Importing in the East Village. This is the place for you, if you just need to get your beans without suffering the lines of Fairway or Whole Foods. They have a great selection, ground to your preference.


Friday, September 21, 2007

And Now For Some Words From Our Sponsor...

I just wanted to share some web clips that Mark worked on a while ago that were recently released (the ones he worked feature the puppets. Just click on each 'Movie Moment').

He was director of photography, (which means, he tells me, he took all the photographs) for six amusing clips he did for The Movie Channel.

Everything in these clips comes from still, digital images. At times, the background of the still image is replaced with another image that is manipulated, so that it looks like there's movement going on. While comprised of only Mark's photos, these vignettes manage to be interesting and dynamic.

Anyway, the clips are fun to watch...just make sure you have the latest version of Flash, else they won't work. Click here to enjoy!

Photo by myself of the Williamsburg bridge from the edge of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.



Yet another Soho image!

Balthazar is ever photogenic. I'll have to sneak a picture from the insides one of these days, (you can see it on their website). It is bustling and beautiful at night, and the food and service are great (that's if you can get a table).

There are eight different menus. I recommend the mussels and steak frites at the restaurant, and just about everything at the boulangerie next door - the madelines are fresh and buttery, the round chocolate biscotti encrusted with sugar are devine, the shortbread cookies are yum (and I don't usually like sweets!).

In the morning at the bakery, there's a line out the door. People sit out on the benches with their dogs, eating breakfast and reading the paper.

One of the great things about NY is that there are the busy avenues going north-south, like Broadway, which are chock full of big stores and traffic and banners. And then there are the smaller, one-way streets, where there are boutiques, boulangeries with benches outside and charming brownstones.

Big and small manage to coexist. It's the best of both worlds.

Photo by myself on Spring Street in Soho.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Buon Gusto

I'm one of the lucky few who work in Soho. It's not a neighborhood known for doing business, and I wonder whether the cost for office space is higher there than anyplace else.

Since I'm so crazy busy, most of my photos will probably be taken in the immediate area. No complaints - there's never a shortage of boutiques, fashionable people, or beautiful buildngs to represent.

Today, for instance, I had a quick moment during lunch to zip around. I hastened down Mulberry Street, where it seems like the San Gennaro festival is on an endless tape loop. (I never know when the festival runs, but it seems to always be just about the happen, happening, or wrapping up). Today was a perfect festival day and the streets were packed with people.

There are the usual stands selling funnel cakes, calzones, pizza and cannoli. There were games where you throw things, shoot things, or hit things on the head. Then there were the hawkers, drumming up business for their prix fixe meals. People sat outside under makeshift canopies.

I'm not usually interested in being in the midst of a crowd, but walking thru the streets today, with traffic stopped, was a welcomed change.

Little Italy is getting littler by the year, but for this brief period, it's puffing itself up BIG.

Get it while it's hot.

Photos by myself around Mulberry and Hester.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blah, Blah, Blah

Above Central Park South
Yeah, yeah, New York is 'the city that doesn't sleep'. With me recently, it's been personal. I've been going through some work-driven insomnia that wakes me at three or four am.

I roll over and of course, Mark is fast asleep. I have to get up gingerly and navigate around him. First I visit the bathroom, then I check out the time.

By then, my brain gears are churning about what I haven't done, what I had to do. I have the hardest time getting back to sleep. Sometimes I get up to take a hot bath, sometimes I take an Advil, sometimes I read a book. The next day I am zonked and grouchy, and the next evening, it happens again.

A bunch of us at the office are in the same boat. We shake our heads at each other and say how crazy it is, how we need to do laundry, how we forgot to make credit card payments, how we're on the verge of getting sick. Among the few who sit in the same area, we have a contest - whoever whines first, loses.

A friend of mine asked recently, 'Do you work to live, or live to work?'

Hm. Every cliche has some truth to it, and this one makes me think.

Photo by myself, from the 19th floor above Central Park South. You can see clear down 59th Street.


Monday, September 17, 2007

It's a Small World After All

I read about the latest at the Cooper Hewitt on The Girl in the Green Dress. Traci points out that Design for the Other 90%, a timely show on social responsible products, ends September 23. Time to make the trek to the Upper East Side. I love the Cooper Hewitt; they have interesting, well-designed shows that aren't overwhelmingly huge.

Speaking of good design, The New Yorker announced last week that we'll be seeing Smart cars soon in New York.

I remember how excited people were when these cars made their debut. For the past eight years, they've been in Europe. Called 'Twofors', because they only seat two people, they are three feet shorter than Mini Coopers, (as a frequent Mini passenger, I find this incredible). A Smart car parked perpendicular to the curb is shorter than a Lincoln Navigator is wide.

All I can say is, what took so long?

Hopefully, we'll be seeing a change in the definition of what 'good' design is. A well-designed object should function well, look cool, challenge the status quo and consider the bigger picture.

Photo by myself from the edge of Greenpoint, looking out at the East River and Manhattan.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Eight Things, Eight Blogs

I've been tagged with a meme by my most loyal reader, Tammy of Mom Knows Everything to disclose eight random things about myself.

Here's what I could think of:
1. I once helped a crew install street signs in lower New York. We ended the day at 6 am!
2. I can't do a cartwheel to save my life.
3. I prefer salty fatty foods to sweet. Give me a potato chip and I'm happy.
4. I chew a LOT gum to relieve stress.
5. People love my laugh. I get compliments all the time.
6. I sneeze much more than the average human.
7. I don't know how to ski.
8. I can eat the same thing everyday (which is both a blessing and a curse).

Here's a list of 8 bloggers and their blogs that I'm tagging, in no particular order:

1. Nubia at City Encounters
2. Chewy at Chew Food
3. Theresa at Sleeping Kitten Dancing Dog
4. I.M. Bitter at I.M. Bitter
5. Columbia at A Home in the City
6. Paul Berger at Englishman in New York
7. Fish Without Bicycle at Fishwithoutbicycle
8. Sarah de Mul at Living in Dutchland

Photo by myself of one of the few cobblestone streets in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.


Friday, September 14, 2007

The Underclass

Yesterday, the worst smelling guy I've ever experienced boarded the subway.

I've lived in New York for a while, and when I say 'the worst smelling guy' I don't mean the typical homeless guy. I mean an eye-watering level of smell, a smell that makes you turn your back and hold your breath, a smell that makes you wonder how people closer to the offender could stand it.

It was rush hour, and by the time people realized something was up, it was too late. We suffered in tortured silence until the next stop, avoiding eye contact. And then there was a mass exodus.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

You Can't Take it With You

Soho is known for its design and clothing boutiques. I consider it the land of beautiful, expensive objects. Aero is by far my favorite store.

With everything from light fixtures to bath towels to antique credenzas to look at, I visit once in a while to salivate. I want just about everything. If only I had the megabucks.

There is a sumptous window display, a wooden gridded wall filled with precious things and a display of sconces and picture lights. Throughout the store, beautiful objects are spread about in the most elegant way.

Thomas O'Brien, Aero's designer, has a line of decorative objects and bedding with Target. His Vintage Modern line is thankfully geared toward the rest of us.

I don't usually post more than one photo, but Aero has to be the exception.

Photos by myself at Aero in Soho, New York.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Drawing the Line

Juniors, in Brooklyn
Photo by myself, of Junior's on Flatbush Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

When people mention Junior's, it's usually about the cheesecake. I've never eaten there, but Mark has, and he says the cheesecake is the only good thing on the menu.


Certain places are known for certain things. Junior's is remarkable because it's been known for years, despite being outside Manhattan.

There's also Sylvia's in the Harlem (Soul Food), Peter Luger's in Williamsburg (steak and their trademark steak sauce) and Dominic's in the Bronx (Italian). Then there are whole neighborhoods that are known for their fare, such as Flushing, Queens (Korean and Chinese), and Astoria (Greek).

It used to be that people rarely got out of Manhattan for anything. Host a party in Brooklyn and you'd only get Brooklynites. People would talk about Brooklyn or Long Island City as if they were faraway lands. I know what it's like; I was the Manhattanite for a long time.

It's different now, or maybe it's been changing and I only just noticed, or maybe it's because I moved to the other side of the line. So many people now live outside 'the City', that it's questionable where the boundary lies. A lot has to do with affordability - few people can afford to live in Manhattan, without parental subsidies or roommates.

A lot has to do with the status of the outer boroughs now, which are much less homogeneously 'ethnic'. There are nice neighborhoods, great restaurants and stores, no crowds, affordable apartments (although prices keep rising), and all the comforts of Manhattan (neighborhood bars, 24 hour delis, gourmet markets, etc).

Perhaps I'll eat my words someday, when Brooklyn becomes so distilled that it has no character at all. Til then, I will enjoy myself.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years Ago

It's hard to believe that six years ago, the craziest thing happened.

People are always curious: Were you in the city that day? What happened? What was it like?

Both Mark and I remember that it was a really beautiful morning. It was bright and cloudless, one of those rare New York fall days.

I was working on Fifth Avenue near the Flatiron building. Coworkers started running up and down the stairs, yelling out the news. I was in complete shock and, crazy enough, kept working. I was hoping that everything would just go away. Anyway, we were several blocks away from the Empire State Building and as things progressed, I started to worry that that landmark was next.

Outside, it was deathly quiet except for the radios of the parked cars, blaring the news. No one was driving, and people trudged uptown in silence. I walked 20 blocks north with a friend and then went to another friend's place in Hell's Kitchen. We sat in front of the tv for the rest of the day in a daze, watching the continuous news shows. The next day, we went to the Red Cross to give blood and it was mobbed. We lingered there for a while, not knowing what to do.

I didn't know Mark at the time. He'd been working downtown and had to walk all the way home, over a bridge, to Queens.

Everything after that is a sad blur - the 'Missing' posters at Union Square, the candles, the bits of hope and the unravelling of news.

Several weeks after the tragedy, I was still full of naivete. I asked my boss,'So you don't think things will change, will they?' ('Things', meaning 'life as we knew it').

Of course, she told me that nothing would be the same.

Photo by myself of Long Island City and the buildings along the East River, beyond, including the Chrysler Building and United Nations. Many people left New York after 9/11, but right now, there's a construction boom with no end in sight.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Sound the Alarm!

Photo by myself of the fire station in Chinatown, around Lafayette and Canal Street.

The New Yorker Festival is coming!!

Over the last few years, my favorite magazine has hosted a remarkable event called the the New Yorker Festival. Over the span of a weekend, well-known authors, artists and thinkers hold conversations and interviews.

I've seen Steve Martin, Chuck Close, David Byrne, the late Richard Avedon, Malcolm Gladwell, and the creators of South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone), among others. It is a fantastic treat, and you have to pick and choose what you can see.

The schedule is out in today's magazine, and tickets go on sale September 15. Better get that speed dial! I tried getting tickets to a talk last year and it was sold out within a couple minutes.

A quick look at the schedule shows Annie Proulx, Zadie Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri, Paul Theroux, Salman Rushdie, Norman Mailer, Martin Amis, Steve Martin, Neil LaBute, David Byrne....how does one choose?!

Above, a photo of a lovely old firehouse on Lafayette, sandwiched between two banal glass buildings. Now a community house, you can just imagine how the old firetrucks roared out the red doors.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

One Dollar, One Dollar

Chinatown lanterns
I've been inspired by daily photo blogs, such as Joe's NYC, and Paris Daily Photo, which document New York and Paris everyday. I'm not sure how they manage to do it, but both these sites are beautiful. I highly recommend for the variety of images and the neighborhoods represented.

Today I wandered briefly into Chinatown. 'Canal Street' is synonymous with Chinatown, but the neighborhood is actually pretty huge. It extends South of Canal a few blocks, and many blocks to the east, toward the Manhattan bridge.

Most New Yorkers avoid the area because it's crowded and grimy. When I think of Chinatown, I imagine miles and miles of people shuffling along very slowly, and at the head of the line, someone deciding between a bad t-shirt and another bad t-shirt.

There are tons of stalls filled with (mostly cheap) stuff, including purses, perfumes, jewelry and watches. You can get a fake Kate Spade at one stall and a fake Rolex next door.

(Tip: For some rather good Spade knock-offs, there's a little hole in the wall on Mott Street, close to Bowery, on the west side of the street. Mostly the signature black handbags, but a few colorful ones, too).

For 104 other daily photo sites in various cities around the world, click here.

Photo by myself. For others, click here.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sweet Memories

When we arrived at Centraal Station in Amsterdam, we picked up our luggage and trooped through the streets to our lovely hotel, the Pulitzer. Even though it was a short walk, I had a hard time not oogling and taking pictures every second.

We found the hotel easily, marked by its red banners, a rambling, gracious building pieced together from smaller townhouses. There was a spacious lobby with dark wood panelling, a fireplace going (yes, in late August) and a long reception desk to one side. To get to our room on the third floor, we used one of the three elevators, which could only hold two people at a time.

Our room was beautiful (see above). It overlooked the canal, had wooden shutters and old wood beams, and the greatest bathroom ever. As an architect I can go on and on over the most ridiculous things, like bathrooms. This one had charming old tile and was basically a quarter of a circle, so the door was curved. I took a bunch of photos but none of them could capture the small, precious space.

One of the best things from the trip was a package of stroopwafels from the hotel. Mark had eaten these a while ago by chance and didn't know what they were called. Every trip to Fairway, we'd scour the candy and cookie aisle. The hotel sent up several packages of stroopwafels later and we bought a couple packages before we left.

Stroopwafels are delicious and deceptively simple. Two crispy-ish, butter-laden waffle layers sandwich a thin layer of caramel. It's the texture that makes the cookie so yummy. I'm not usually a sweets person but I could not get enough of these, which are the perfect companion to coffee.

We found them online when we got home, and saw it mentioned alongside Trader Joe's. So...we're going to brave the crowds at the Union Square store today, in pursuit of this decadent cookie.

Mark found a site that sells a few varieties that sell them online. These were the ones we found in the bakery, and these were the ones we got at the hotel.

Sarah at Living in Dutchland lists stroopwafels as one of the top ten things in her life as a British woman in Amsterdam. Check out her blog for a daily account of such a beautiful city. I wish I'd read her blog before I went; I would've toured her recommended sites and had an ice cream bar!

Photo by myself of our comfy bed at the Pulitzer Hotel.


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Parlez-vous Francais?

After coming home, it's hard not compare New York to Europe. Mark and I have made a pact - we will win Lotto, purchase Costa Rica, then a townhouse in Amsterdam and a pied-a-terre in Paris. That's the plan.

It boggles my mind that people are born French. They don't have to learn the language. They can live in Paris. They dress fashionably without having to work at it.

I was telling a contractor today about my recent trip. Martin is working on a house in Montreal. His heavy French-Canadian accent sounds like a caricature. Every conversation with Martin takes twice as long, and I have to cover my mouth sometimes to stifle my good-natured laughter.

'Inches' actually means 'hinges'. Every other word has an additional 'lo' attached on the end. Then one day, we struggled while talking about a swimming pool. 'Les herbs!' he said, emphatically. 'Les herbs! They get into the tile.'

'Huh? Les herbs?' I racked my brains on that one. 'Oh, you mean algae?'

And so as a tribute to Martin and to Paris, I am posting the following video clip.

Photo by myself, from the hall at Versailles. I'm still processing images, but for some others, click here.


Monday, September 3, 2007

The Secret, Part Deux

Well, we got in last night and I'm suffering from some major jetlag. It's hard to keep the eyes open.

On one of our last nights in Paris, Mark and I had dinner at a Korean restaurant for bulgogi, mandu and seafood casserole. We were counting our Euros by then, and it was a delicious treat.

It'd been a long day, and I was feeling grungy and hot from walking around in the sun. I pictured myself as a dishevelled, overripe tomato shuffling down an endless city street. Not a flattering image.

Sitting to one side of me was a well-dressed woman visiting from the States. She looked sophisticated with her hair in a loose bun. On my other side was a glamorous Parisian with the longest eyelashes ever. While we ate, all the little voices in my head compared me to them, muttering 'Tomato, Tomato'.

The voices continued while Mark and I walked after dinner in the 'Latin Quarter'. We pushed our way through crowds of hungry tourists looking for cheap eats and hawkers trying to drum up business for their restaurants. Some restaurants listed their 'plats' on chalkboards outside, three-course meals for around 15 Euro (about 20 bucks). Others had funky interiors or storefronts, open kitchens and crepe-makers on display.

The voices were still at it when I, the overripe tomato, stepped into a huge pile of doggy doo. I gave a little yelp and Mark burst out laughing. Oy vey!!

Anyhow, that night brought me back to thinking about'The Secret'. I'd seen the movie a few weeks ago, which talks about how the world reflects how you view the world, and not the other way around.

If I'd somehow forced myself out of feeling like a tomato, would I have avoided the doggy doo? Probably not. But I wouldn't have felt the same way afterwards, as if the universe were confirming the insides of my head. I would've laughed it off and enjoyed the rest of our night.

It's upsetting that such destructive thoughts crept in, even when in such a beautiful city. At least now I can reflect and learn a little.

Photo by Kitty from the Cligancourt markets. More images to come.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Realm of Possibilities

This trip has reawakened an idea I've had for a while but I'd forgotten about.

Paris is beautiful. Each building is adorned with tiny Juliet balconies and lead-coated copper roofs dotted with skylights and turrets. Colorful carved doorways are surrounded with decorative reliefs, columns or archways. And then there are lanterns, paving stones, porcelain street numbers, wooden shutters and flowerboxes.

Simply walking down the street is an aesthetic experience. After these days of being outside my routine, I came to remember that just about anything can be an aesthetic experience. The simple act of pouring a coffee, or setting the table, or walking to work can be aesthetic, depending on how you do it, or how you look at it. Everything has the potential to be mundane or special.

It takes energy and initiative to view things differently, especially when you're overwhelmed or depleted. On the other hand, experiencing beauty is envigorating.

I've decided to carry my camera around with me when I get back home. Walking around parts of New York can be as beautiful as walking around Paris. It just depends on whether you're looking.

Photo by myself, taken today at the Cligancourt flea markets. More images to come.