NEW YORK RAMBLES (page 21)
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A ramble around Kissena Hollow
It had started in the calm still of the night, falling so finely and softly it looked more like fog than the beginning of a storm. By the time I headed out the snow had turned to rain without letup but it didn’t hamper my work. It took some time for the rain to damage the appearance of the snow, which actually surprised me.
A walk from Snug Harbor to St. George
It is one of the most damp days I ever spent on the waterfront but the air is warm. There is something about the combination of moisture and dark skies in winter that always reminds me of the coming of spring. The harbor is a beautiful misty grey and is inseparable from the sky. There is a lot of traffic out there, I’ve never seen so many tugs at one time before. They appear to be floating mid air as they drift by. The pale silhouette of the City’s skyline is the only thing that anchors the horizon. That too would disappear.
A ramble about the Dead Pool
I calculated the tide correctly but not the warmth of the day. The proceeding few nights were very cold but it was already warming steadily by morning and the ice began crumbling under my feet. Despite the danger I pushed myself to the outer limits of the mud flat. Fields of quicksand stopped the further progress of every route I attempted. After falling in I decided I had pressed my luck too far.
A 6 mile walk from Rossville to Richmond Valley
Despite two nights of twelve degree temperatures the water in the Reach was open and the mud on the flats much softer than I would have liked. The thick ice cakes left behind on the shore by the receding tide was the only reminder of how cold it had been. Strewn for over a mile in the flats were the remains of countless boats and barges. Those further from shore seemed as if they were at anchor but I knew they were firmly stuck in the silt that built up about them since the day they were abandoned. Their weathered shapes read more like some wind carved natural feature of the landscape than anything the hand of man had produced. As this shore continues to be developed I wonder if this graveyard once hidden by trees will be tolerated by the new residents.
A ramble about the Dead Pool
The sun was in my face all day as I headed for the Arthur Kill and as soon as I lifted my camera for my first shot the sun ducked behind some clouds and disappeared for the remainder of the day. While I normally have no problem shooting without sunlight, the late hour of the day limited my shots. With the tide at maximum ebb I took a chance of working out in the flats where I immediately stepped into quicksand. Geese startled by my sudden plunge erupted in a great cloud over my head. After I fought my way out I stayed on dryer ground though badly muddied.
A short ramble in Kissena Hollow
The heavy dripping of the melting ice made the storms passing in the night go unnoticed. The sun was out at daybreak but the sound of rain continued as the trees shed their burden in droplets and crystal.
A ramble about Kissena Hollow
It is amazing how a place so familiar can be so completely transformed into a new world in a matter of hours.
A ramble about Kissena Hollow
It struck me strange that this wooded path, one I had walked down regularly for so many years was still able to yield new photographs. Had it changed or had I? Perhaps it is not a matter of change but of insight. When you peer into a bottomless depth there is lo limit to what you may find. I love the ability to see everything afresh with a new day.
A 7 mile walk from Midtown to Harlem
I had expected Central Park to be empty but the warm temperatures attracted many to outdoor pursuits. Even so parts were so tranquil I thought I may never leave.
A Midtown walk
The Police in this City are getting crowd control down to a science. My late arrival for the Thanksgiving Day Parade guarantied a minimal amount of photographs as I was blocked from entering one street to the next. After the parade with most revelers dispersed, Broadway looked largely deserted except for the crews sweeping up confetti and crushed soda cups. Others were quickly remounting the light poles and street signs that had been removed to minimize the risk of puncture wounds to the delicate skins of balloons. There is always something to photograph if you know how to see.
A ramble about Kissena Hollow
November is ending and instead of bare trees, color is just approaching peak. It seems like I have photographed some of these trees a hundred time but when painted an autumn palate I find myself unable to resist. Autumn is no time for dieting, I must gorge myself on yellows, reds, and rust.
A walk from Soho to Union Square
I concentrated my shooting around the staging area where all the bands were rehearsing before marching off in the Halloween Parade. The air was full of competing sounds, each group blending into one very loud orchestra without any sign of a conductor.
A loop between St George and Tompkinsville
The walk was short with most of my time spent out on a launch in the Upper Bay. The Reinauer Tug, Nicole Leigh had been graciously loaned out to me as a model with posing instructions radioed over. It was a lot like playing with a toy boat on a pond, only on a scale previously unimaginable.
A walk in Little Italy
I arrived at the San Gennaro festival just as the sun set. Though I was shooting at a faster speed than usual, movement, especially my own continued to pose a problem. I was so afraid of missing a good shot in motion that I did not always pay enough attention to what I was doing. Whether it be dumb luck or through intuition I still managed to capture some of the atmosphere.
A Downtown ramble
The City is still going through great lengths to deny the public any view of Ground Zero. I don’t know what they will do if construction ever rises above the height of their fence.
A walk from the Battery to Soho
Nothing is ever still. Even those times when the streets empty of cars and faces, and the leaves do not stir on the trees, everything remains in motion. Perception is a matter of scale.
A walk from Soho to the Lower East Side
At times graffiti appears to be as integral a part of the cityscape as anything else.
A walk form Union Square to Times Square
Everything at Times Square is oriented toward the people who wander through this place. Billboards scream while neon signs compete loudly with on another, even the buildings now all vie for attention. Consume, consume, consume. The people here are visitors not residents. This environment will not sustain life for long.
A ramble about Williamsburg
With the waterfront now under development I found my access to the shore cut off. I new it was inevitable and was actually expecting as much but I was still upset to come face to face with it. There have been so many changes in the neighborhood lately I never know what to expect. The next battle will be over control of the streets.
An 8 mile loop between Times Square and the Upper West Side
I followed the tugs that were gathering in the river up to the old West Side Railroad Yard, which was the starting point for the annual tug race. Before I could get out to the end of the pier they were off and running, and then I was off and running back downtown.
A short walk from Mariners Harbor to New Brighton
Upon arriving at Mariners Harbor I was shocked to see the tide as low as it was. The bones of an old wreck finally made itself known to me as it rose out from the grey muck. I moved out from the shore by carefully climbing over a field of debris until there was no place further to go.
A ramble about Chelsea
I arrived in Chelsea hoping to photograph a specific tug that was usually tied up at a specific pier. While I was not very surprised to find the boat was not there, I was shocked to see the entire pier had been removed. Near to the waterfront stood a meat packing plant whose painted walls seemed more suitable to a preschool. It looked as if it had been closed for some time but the stench of blood was strong.
A ramble about Coney Island
With developers waiting in the wings to tear down what little remains of Coney Island’s amusements I thought I would come here and fill my coffers while I can. Some of my old haunts were already gone and plenty shut down. Those left were begging for customers. Lacking the cold emptiness of winter the absence of crowds seemed out of place. There was a sense in the air that something was wrong but it remained unspoken. Even though Coney Island has only been a shadow of its former glory for some time it is still sad to see it in this state. It is sadder still to realize that many do not even see this as a loss.
A ramble in Central Park
Central Park’s Conservancy Pond is one of the more artificial features to be found here. Its model boats attract scores of kids in summer while others circle eating their ice cream cones or slowly ride their bikes around while musicians play. Yet I find this place most calming.
A walk from Cypress Hills to East New York
I have stopped waring my watch while walking in the city. Out in the woods I am constantly checking the time; I need to know where I am at any given moment so I can pace my walk and be sure that I don’t find myself climbing down a dangerous mountainside in the dark. But in the city where everyone else lives on a tight schedule, time has no relevance for me. Here if I am thirsty there is always a deli on hand, and when I walk to exhaustion I simply find the nearest subway.
A walk from Union Square to Times Square
While crossing Times Square I ran into the Naked Cowgirl. This is probably one of the few places in this Country that a topless performer can wander about crowded streets and barely attract more than a moment’s attention.
A walk uptown from Union Square
Not only was the day dismally grey but the humidity slowed my pace considerably. As I crossed 42nd Street swirls of rising steam caught my attention but not enough to inspire any shots. A half hour after calling it an early day the street where I pondered the vapors erupted in a massive steam explosion. I may be lucky to be alive but I’m sorry to have missed the drama.
A ramble About Coney Island
Coney Island is a constant reminder of flesh. It is exposed here in varying degrees and even those that keep themselves covered, they are noticed by what they refuse to bare. But this is no land of conceit. Those who walk the boardwalk or beach have not been sliming down for months, nor are they strutting to display the latest work of their plastic surgeons. Everyone is welcome here without a judging eye.
A walk from St. George to Snug Harbor
Whenever I talk to someone about all the commercial traffic in the harbor they say it is about the same as its always been but I cannot ever remember seeing this many tugs and container ships. They put on a continuous show.
A walk from the Upper East Side to Times Square
I remember there was once a serious proposal to get rid of all the billboards and unseemly neon from Times Square. Today the place looks like a corporate amusement park.
Copyright 2009 Alan Petrulis All Rights Reserved