I made the trip down to Coney Island on Sunday for the final day of Astroland existence.
Posts Tagged ‘New York’
While in New York City this week I decided to stop by the American Museum of Natural History. In the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Hall of Human Origins I encountered this disturbing installation showing a simpler time when we were vulture-fearing, antelope-guarding bipeds… like actors caught in the changing room on the set of Planet of the Apes.
but what interested me more than the dioramas were the interplays between visitors to the museum and the displays.
I felt like a little kid- seeing dinosaurs, meteorites, clothing and objects from faraway cultures… excited and intrigued.
I had spent a week in NYC before leaving for a three-week stay in Boston. Beantown brought with it the chance to catch up with some friends and provided what was tantamount to hospice care for someone like me, dying in the “real world.” It also provided some quiet days, allowing me to write, create… and wonder- what would Nair do to a grown man? In an effort to find an answer (former foreign correspondent) Aviv bravely disrobed and valiantly volunteered himself for the grand experiment. A rhesus monkey called Scatback flew a sub-orbital flight on December 20, 1961 but was lost at sea after landing. Much like Scatback, Aviv was a hairy pioneer of territories uncharted; but while Scatback is still lost somewhere out at sea, Aviv has found himself in his own private sea of hairless glory and minor chemical burns.
The rest of the Boston trip went swimmingly, but was cut a bit short as I returned to New York City last night for an interview.
While waiting for a train out of NYC I was sitting on the floor of the overcrowded station next to a woman on a cell phone. “Amen, Hallelujah!,” she repeated over and over again. nothing else. I couldn’t help but wonder who was on the other end of the line.
A view through the window of the train.
Arising from an earlier post and open letter to David Horvitz, a small project came together. David and I agreed to meet on Wednesday, March 26th; the meeting, however, was slightly less than conventional. David is living in New York city and I am 250 miles away in Rochester, NY. So, in lieu of a physical meeting, we agreed to sit down for a cup of coffee from 10:30 until 11:00 am (EST), writing down any thoughts and sending each other our respective side of the “conversation” and a photograph made during the meeting.
My note reads:
Triple Bean / Medium / Two Sugars
If I close one eye, I can take $9 off the price of a Rochester Athletic Club membership as listed on a billboard across the street.
Thought about the spring thaw and the return to above-freezing temperatures –
The way numbed senses return when the sun comes out and the snow begins to melt and smells, kept in check since late November, finally release themselves into the air.
The idea of two locations touching at the same time.
I was never able to get past the problem of confounding past and present tenses. When I write, my pen produces a gelatinous mixture of happened and happening- anachronistic nows and living ghosts of thens filling my pages.
Robert Frank once told Ute Eskildsen, “Photographs immediately make everything old.” Shifting what is, instantly, to what was.
And in the November 2002 issue, du magazine ran, along with “Robert Frank, Part Two” an excerpt from Dara Horn’s novel, In The Image:
The photographs of my parents’ wedding were destroyed, by accident, by their photographer. The wedding album they have consists only of the photographs that survived this unexplained accident, and most of those are terrible photographs, pictures of people with their eyes closed, or mouths hanging open, or shrouded in shadow. But one of these warped images has always stayed in my mind. In the picture, my newly-married parents are seated on a dais, surrounded on either side by my four grandparents.
It would be an unremarkable family photograph if not for the photographer’s blunder. Apparently this picture, though rescued from oblivion, suffered from some sort of poor exposure which caused certain details of the photograph to wash out of focus and disappear entirely. In this case, no one in the photograph has any eyes. But instead of discarding the print, the photographer decided to improve upon it by drawing in everyone’s eyes a black felt-tipped pen. The result is both unnerving and hilarious: my parents and grandparents, in a portrait taken on one of the most serious and glorious days of their lives, stare out into the future with the bulging eyes of cartoon characters.
It is commonly thought that images are our way of stopping time. But this is not precisely true. Images are the demonstration of our failure to stop time. Yet we take pictures desperately. There are not only costs of living, but also costs of loving, and the price of loving anyone, to be paid sooner or later, is an inevitable fall into a bottomless pit of grief. Our best defense against this fact has been to ignore it – to replace the world we see vanishing with one that we create and preserve, one in which the people we love still sit side by side at a wedding party, staring into the future, even if it requires us to give them new eyes.
In the Hebrew bible we are told that man is made in the image of God; we are created in the image, in the likeness, of something eternal. I used to wonder how it could be that God, when creating man, had failed to replicate his own eternity. It is only in recent years that I have begun to see the tiny mark of eternity inscribed into that image. The eternity latent within us is not in our immortality – for as the Hebrew liturgy reminds us, we are nothing but the cloud that vanishes – but in our yearning for immortality: in our failure to accept that we cannot stop time even as we photograph tombstones, in our drive to preserve what we know we will lose, in our stubborn refusal to stop loving, even though we know the enormous price we will pay. The eternity within us lies in our willingness, as Robert Frank put it, to make the present moment old: that is, to use our own eyes to see the world, and when what we see seems too fleeting, to create our own captured images of it – to draw new eyes for ourselves within which we can see the world as we wanted it to be, as we wish it to be, as what all that is good within us knows that it should be: not merely preserved, but renewed, as in days of old.
I left Rochester on Thursday night, bound for Philly- end destination: NYC for events coinciding with PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo. I drove through the night; giving duet performances with the FM waves of Stevie Wonder to an audience of one… (myself). I arrived in New York by train on Friday morning, in time to catch the subway to SoHo for a quick meeting with Inked magazine, then back uptown for a quick stop at the expo and off to the nights events:
The RIT Alumni Party
* laughs and drinks flowed freely as you can plainly tell by the look above on Bill Dubois’ face
Splashlight Studio’s PDN Open House Party
Digital Railroad’s Party
(which can only be described as a dionysian orgy of glowsticks and vodka)
I spent the night in Brooklyn with my friend Faith and a wide-eyed little cat named Butters. Saturday brought me back into Manhattan and gave me the chance to see Rick for the first time in a while. Brandishing the Yashica Samurai half-frame camera, he looked like he had been thawed from a cryonics experiment circa 1991.
We ran around the city for a short while and played a game of catch-up and stopping at the Hells Kitchen Flea Market before grabbing a bite to eat. Saturday’s events ended with the ‘Panache Party’ at Death By Audio in Williamsburg where some friends (Kenny, Cara, Tina, Faith, and Myself) met up to see AIDSWolf, Yip Yip, and company carry out their musical experimentation throughout the night.
On Sunday, in the most exciting way, I ran into Chuck Close catching a little sun and fresh air outside of his studio. I said hello, he asked me if I was a photographer- I told him No… Just a presumptuous student- then asked if he would mind taking a look at my work prints. He questioned my printing of the Interstitial Transition series, but said he really liked my portraiture… a pretty shining compliment from a modern master of the painted portrait.