Monday, May 31, 2010

Coupla good friends head home to the Bronx after a long night of clubbing in lower Manhattan

Sooner or later, anyone who has been out really late in NYC with their friends (I'm talking reeeally late) has decided to bypass the usual taxicab trip home and ventured underground to take the train or subway. There are some pretty interesting things going on and you never know what you might see especially when the guests at the nearby Bronx Zoo sneak out to hit the big city. (Based on signifiant personal experience and enhanced by mine and my young daughter's vivid imagination, This is our story and we're sticking to it.

Coupla giraffe buddies trying to keep a straight face

I had no idea how totally and completely immature giraffes could be. All I wanted was a simple group portrait. Nothing fancy. Just stand together and smile. And try not to drool. (2nd from right was a drooler) Or make obscene babboon and camel jokes. Or pee on each other's hooves. Or swat each other with their tails...

Dwayne (after and before)

Making new friends can be intimidating at times. Dwayne was in Union Square with a bunch of his friends the other night while I was roaming around. I wasn't even holding my camera up when I got the look on the left. Fortunately, I am fairly quick on my feet and said "Hold it. That's perfect." At which point he immediately broke into the grin seen on the right. At which point I lowered my camera and said "what'd you go and smile for. You ruined it." His friends started giving him all sorts of shit to which he said "No, gimme another chance, man." which resulted in the shot on the left. He was putty in my hands after that. BTW: do not try this unless you are in a very crowded area with lots of daylight and a clearly planned escape route. Being incredibly charming helps, too.

Il mio nuovo amico

Diane and I took the kids to Little Italy in the lower east side of Manhattan for dinner. My daughter, Lindsey was dancing with me in the street when we caught the eye of this charming gentleman (Mario) who was as delighted with our antics as we were with him. My son, Drew (not to be undone) offered up his sister for sale and when he wouldn't bite (my look clearly told him I wasn't amused) asked him to at least teach him how to yell at her in Italian. The rest is 15 minutes of pure hysterics. (it's amazing how quickly kids can learn a new language if the subject matter is interesting) Ciao for now.

Pea Hen Perched Perfectly

North American Bald Eagle

Pea Hen Portrait

Andean Condor


Waiting for Mbeki

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thinking crazy thoughts...

about a shower. 
about a bed.
about a real meal.
about a warm, dry place in a storm.
about a real conversation with people who care. about so many, many things  
but most of all, 
about why.

This is Boris. A story of bad days, good days and magnificent days.

Boris is a rarely-medicated, paranoid schizophrenic who spends his days in Madison Square Park. On one of his bad days, he is easily the scariest homeless person I have ever seen, complete with his facial tics (from too many psychotrophic drugs) and endless tirades against so many unseen demons. He is someone I walk very quietly by. I will often leave a sandwich a few park benches away and then make some noise to get his attention and point out the food and then walk quickly away. I seldom photograph him as I like to get a person's permission first and he is rarely coherent (at least when I am around) I am also scared of his potential reaction. I don't usually fear people, but Boris was frightening and erratic. The picture on the left is Boris on an "okay" day. The other day, I was walking by him with my knapsack when he abruptly cleared his throat and pointed at me. I turned to him slowly and he beckoned me over with a shaky finger. I can't tell you how I was feeling at that moment. He then spoke to me for the very first time: "You're here a lot. Always taking pictures. Do you have your camera? "Yes" "I need a picture. Could you take a picture of me? It's for my grandaughter. I want her to know I'm mostly alright." So we took pictures. Many, many pictures. And talked. About why I take pictures all the time. About him. The shelter where he stays. How people steal his medicine thinking it'll get them stoned. But mostly about his grandaughter, Emily who he hasn't seen in 6 years. I walked away with tears in my eyes. Feeling honored and graced. I went back the next day hoping Boris would be there (and fearful that even if he was, that he would be back in his usual "bad place." But he wasn't.) I brought him a few of my picks printed out but had the entire set on my laptop. I sat with him and my laptop and let him choose the pictures he liked and wanted to send to his granddaughter. He laughed; hoarsely and painfully, as if it had been a very long time between laughs. He said his hands shook too much and could I help him with a letter. I then told him I would print everything out and take him to a post office but he said no. That he didn't know where he'd be. We ended up e-mailing it to his niece who has custody of his granddaughter. Her address was neatly printed on a scrap of paper in an ancient book stuffed with countless scraps of paper, clippings and old letters.
I went to shake his hand when Boris opened his arms wide. What was I too do? Of course I hugged him as the morning crowds walked through the park wondering what was going on. And then I hugged him again (my tears came by him and to me) I told him as I tell you all, that this was a magnificent and incredibly special thing he let me do. And that I would remember this experience forever.

Hands too tired to beg.

It's time to do more than spare some change.
It's time to make some change.
Better still...
Demand some change.

Moments after a thunderstorm


This is my new friend Russell. I rarely see him awake and he is all kinds of skittish around people. (I have seen him actually switch park benches if someone sits too close and reverse direction if he's walking one way and too many people are approaching.)
He had just woken up when I was walking through Madison Square Park on my way to work this morning and he was clearly not happy.
Come to find out he was hungry. Very hungry.
So I took care of that and we just sat together for awhile. Didn't say much of anything. It was enough that he didn't try to escape. I got up to leave after about 15 minutes and waved goodbye to him. Told him I'd bring him something to eat later. Got a nod. That was more than enough for me.

I am really proud of this 


Rebekka or Bekka as her new friends call her arrived here in NYC from Namibia 4 months ago. She was watching her children play in the nearby park and I was captivated by her presence.  
So being the friendly guy I am, I walked over and asked if I could take some pictures of her. We got to talking and she asked to see some of my other photos. Fortunately I always travel with my laptop. Her father is a journalist in Africa working for Reuters traveling from country to country with a photographer buddy so that helped drive our conversation and her comfort level. She quickly started comparing the folks walking by to animals from back home. She was wickedly funny while being almost angelically beautiful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another day, another love poem left in the desk drawer

This is Nick. He is a copyrighter. He is also a frustrated screenwriter, novelist, songwriter and Casanova.

Another day, another intimidation tactic

This is Noel. He is actually quite charming in an off-the-wall sorta way. He really likes having his picture taken. (No, I mean REALLY)..."Yo man, yo man, check this...") He also likes bumpin' fists and making up crazy too-long-to-remember handshakes that make me feel silly engaging in (but need to lest I insult him)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Condor on the prowl

Condor doing his best Peter Lorre impersonation

Seeking Hitchcock

Vulture seeking spiritual guidance (and carrion)

Another day, another tough break

Another day in New York City. (Union Square Park to be precise.)
Another day to explore.
To wander and meet people.
To hear stories.
To connect.
To be inspired.
To be saddened. 

Another day, another suspicion

Another day, another glass half empty

Another day, another theory (relatively speaking)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Liberace reincarnated

A tulip overcoming it's fear of the dark


A book cover for my friend David's upcoming book.
Yes it's a fantasy/horror epic

Related and relating

Primate prayers

Lucy and I connecting

Thank you, Lord for the opposable thumb, bananas, and Greenpeace. Also for Magilla Gorilla and Tarzan reruns on cable. Please say hi to Koko for me...

Langur refusing to smile