NEW YORK RAMBLES (page 37)
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A late night walk in Midtown
New York may be the city that never sleeps, but an erie quit sometimes arises even when there are people about. Those of us who are night hawks arenít immune from the tides of the sun and moon that guide the patterns of others; we just prefer the darkened mysteries that lie within shadows.
A ramble through Kissena Hollow
I doubt there is any nearby street, hill or hollow that has not felt my footsteps over the years. Even so, there are places, sometimes just paces from daily routines that I haven’t visited for decades. A number of these places are backdrops to dreams; where stories take place in a mirror world. It is strange to visit old haunts this way; so vivid yet quietly disturbing, like being in the company of my long dead family. Today I take myself to the dream.
A walk from Central Park to Times Square
Falling snow simplifies the landscape. It can simplify our lives if we let it.
A walk across Flushing
On some winter days, when the wind blows right through me, it is the cold of the season that becomes my advisory. Dressing up to meet feels little different from putting on a suit of armor in preparation to do battle. I forget this confrontation as soon as the wind dies down. In stillness a peace settles over the land and I am calmed. Only the numbness of my face reminds me that it is not a summer idyll.
A loop between Flushing and Murray Hill
These days people can’t seem to accept the reality of snow. They treat forecasts of it with horror then pretend its not here when it arrives. Habits must be maintained at all costs, and most try to go about their day as if nothing has changed. When this proves impossible, complaints arise that life is not normal and protests reach high pitch. Blame must be apportioned. Delusions reign supreme. Perhaps if one illusion is allowed to break there is fear that they will all begin to crumble. I give thanks for kids that can still see the world with open eyes and love the snow for what it is.
A loop between Flushing and Auburndale
After every snowfall, especially if they are large, I think of the line, “Good fences make good neighbors.” If quoting Robert Frost seems inappropriate to the occasion it is only because we rarely take the time anymore to consider the meaning of anything in depth. We are too impatient to hear all the facts before espousing our conclusions. Soundbites are all we can seem to stand, and even they grow shorter and ever more meaningless by the day. We have already shaped the world in our minds and our eyes no longer see. To keep a fence in good shape requires perpetual work, the type that often brings neighbors together in common cause. I never come to see my neighbors as much as when we are all out shoveling snow together.
A ramble between Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst
The overcast was so heavy that nightfall seemed to be approaching all day. When the early hours of evening truly arrived there was a remarkable difference. One by one homes and gardens garnished with all sorts of seasonal decorations began to light up in the growing darkness. Santa Clauses and snowmen with cheerful and frightful faces shine out from porches, balconies and lawns where they are surrounded by an array of colorfully illuminated angels, elves, cartoon characters and penguins. All this can seem so trivial in a world full of troubles, but it is a defiant act. It says that life must be celebrated in the here and now through the darkness of winter and the gloom of our own making.
A loop between Midtown and the Lower East Side
The day does not seem to move forward; it is dark and damp with the sun nowhere in sight. Noon takes on the appearance of those nuanced minutes between sunset and nightfall. It seems to reflect my setting, stuck somewhere between a recognizable past and a haphazard future. New construction abounds, but it takes on its own state of being rather than giving a sense that there is a real goal in mind. New York has truly become a journey, not a destination.
A walk in Flushing
The day was way too warm to stay inside, though the light was anything but inviting. It is Christmas Eve and Iím out in my shirt sleeves wandering the streets. Everyone’s roses are still out, the cherry trees are blooming, and the buds on the magnolias are getting ready to pop. Despite this early show of color it becomes more of a disconcerting curiosity than an enhancement of the day. My spirit lacks the jubilance of spring.
A ramble through Kissena Hollow
December is becoming more of a month of fog than snow. This is not a complaint, for while I love the snow, I love the fog more. Therein resides an infinite world where the confines of memory are shut out. There is no gloom or fear in it but the chance to walk into a mystery.
A walk in Midtown by night
Night, a time when we are deprived of the sun’s life giving radiance, is a universal symbol of death. Yet in our attempts to represent it in picture and word we breath life into the darkness. Death may be nothingness but the trappings we surround it with are for the living. It is the same with photography; it’s all about light even when trying to capture the darkness of night.
A walk across Central Park
I don’t know what comes over me when I enter Central Park; suddenly my inclination to shoot gritty scenes dissipates as I become absorbed with more romantic compositions. There is magic to this place that clouds my mind, distracting me from my normal mindset. Even kids put down their digital devices to find happiness in a simple pile of crisp autumn leaves. This place is a true Idyll.
A Thanksgivings Day walk from Midtown to Morningside Heights
A new method of relieving traffic congestion in midtown Manhattan was unveiled today; it seems to involve running large gas filled commuter trains down the avenues just above the cars and trucks. I think it may work.
A late night walk in Midtown
No mater the hour, some areas of the city never seem to quiet down. Between customers and venders, it is hard to know whose keeping who awake.
A walk in Midtown
With the demise of so many billboards, advertisers have been forced to become more creative turning their attention to tall brick facades. I don’t know what they will do when all is glass and steel.
A walk from Soho to Midtown
As the light dimmed, the rancor down the avenue let everyone know the dead were shaking out their bones. It seems odd that we tend to shy away from facing all the death around us while we go out of our way to celebrate Halloween. I suppose the preference for illusion over reality has always defined us as a species
A walk from Midtown to the Battery and back up to Soho
The light rain may have subdued the day but not its color. While the trees on the streets are still mostly green a maple here and there will shout out with hues so bright it is a challenge for the day-glow paint of street art to match. Itís these little vignettes on dampened streets that make my day.
A walk across Midtown
To most, New York City would seem like the epitome of a giant metropolis, whose size is already unfathomable. To developers it it seen as little more than a blank slate.
A walk across Midtown
Yes, yet another shot of the Empire State Building, from 34th street no less. Some views are just impossible to resist.
A walk from Midtown to the West Village
Even though the trees in Manhattan do change color in the fall, the first sign of the end of summer are the elongating shadows that maneuver the streets. While the light effects can be beautiful, it always brings a bit of melancholy with it. It is a reminder of the months of promise that always seem to end with dreams unfulfilled.
A Midtown ramble
As I passed through Union Square I noticed that the rats were trying to organize the birds. While the pigeons were showing some interest, the grackles would have none of it. If these creatures at my feet were not made of felt, we might all be done for.
A walk in Spanish Harlem
The difference between poor and wealthier neighborhoods is that those who have money to spare demand that it be kept neat and clean as they stay indoors, while those of lesser means actually make use of the streets. Street murals, community gardens, and barbecues in the park many not be signs of affluence but they are signs of life lived.
A walk across Williamsburg
I’ve always thought that some modern buildings only work in the city because of the way they contrast against older structures. This successful formula works far less if at all when it comes to landscape design. Williamsburg now suffers from an odd mix of old time city grit and hipster gentrification. Attempts to clean it up and create yet another sterile environment seem terribly out of place. When the land is treated as real estate instead of a neighborhood, we lose the soul of the place. These changes will not grow old gracefully.
A walk from Sunnyside to Union Square via the Williamsburg Bridge
New York may be known for its skyscrapers, and anonymous highrises proliferate everywhere, but sometimes it just seems to be made up of endless blocks of small homes, stoops, and railings. This is old New York, not the mean streets of films and news sound bites but the shady innocuous avenues that best typify a summer day in the city.
A walk from Sheepshead Bay to Prospect Park
I went out searching for character and came back with balance.
A walk across Midtown
While I know these places exist and have seen them many times, it is still shocking to come across the large cavernous spaces carved out of the city solely for the flow of vehicular traffic. They seem like an alien aberration, some hidden place whose secret is unexpectedly exposed. Perhaps it is the city’s well established street plan that’s at fault; it encourages the perception that the whole world is nothing but a grid.
A walk across the Lower East Side by night
New York is a much brighter at night now than when I was young, which gives the false impression that everyplace is well lit. While there are certain major intersections so bright with advertising that there is little changeover between day and night, these are the exception. Normally this contrast goes unnoticed for it is never so dark to prevent me from finding my way; but when walking with camera in hand, finding enough light to shoot at night is like discovering treasure.
A walk from Union Square to Times Square via Chelsea
Glass and steel towers are no stranger to New York but for the most part their mediocre designs represents the failure of modern architecture. More innovative structures are beginning to appear but while some work brilliantly others will never fit in. They are more monuments to ego than to the city. Today was a day when I saw something new and said, Wow! That is always a good sign.
A walk from Central Park to Times Square via the Westside
When I think of specific neighborhoods, they are differentiated by images of attached homes, large houses on landscaped grounds, factories, apartment buildings or projects. This characterization begins to loose ground once I start walking anywhere if its in a long straight line. Without the artificial boundaries created by names to burden my thoughts, I find all the elements that make up this city repeated over and over again; sometimes in just a few blocks, sometime within a single block. I know that zoning attempts to keep all segregated, but it is more an illusion than reality. It feels more like I’m living in a stew.
A loop between Soho and the East River on Independence Day
It was a last minute decision; the weather was so appealing that I rushed out hoping it was not too late to find a good spot to shoot the fireworks. I’m not one to camp out for hours in the hot sun just to secure a view but the alternative has usually meant being subject to overbearing crowd control measures that prevent me from shooting anything worthwhile. The odds were stacked against success but sometimes life just has to be lived.
Copyright 2015 Alan Petrulis All Rights Reserved