Wednesday, August 31, 2011

term of the day: basal growth

When a plant grows with all it's stems/leaves/flowers from one central point it's said to have a basal growth habit. The design is simple and evolved and very smart, the plant getting all the sun it needs while the roots are running deep below following the vital and limited water source. It stays low to the ground and compact, able to withstand wind and weather and the occasional predator. If they sustain some damage, so be it, they regenerate and grow tougher. You find that many weeds that have adapted to survive in such rough conditions over the eons are often basal growers and form basal rosette's, the perfect example probably being your common dandelion. Even your local unnamed weeds can teach you something very interesting about survival if you open up your thinking a little bit. I love that about adaptation and natural selection, real lessons in tenacity.

morning commute before the sun comes up

on the headphones Yo La Tengo with "Last Days of Disco"

Saw you at a party
You asked me to dance
Said the music was great for dancing
I don't really dance much
But this time I did
I was glad I did this time
And the song said let's be happy
I was happy
It never made me happy before
And the song says don't be lonely
It makes me lonely
I hear it and I'm lonely
More and more
Where I belong
Where I belong..."

The song is from the album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, Matador Records, February 2000, a must if you fancy this brilliant Hoboken trio who in my mind easily get classified as one of my favorite bands ever. Holy pretty stuff, Batman!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I covet thee

This guy appeared on a neighboring block a few months ago and is clearly here to stay. What a great looking truck, a Ford F-100 from the early 70's I'm guessing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

blurry beautiful body language

post a festive evening with Miss Shannon, loopy laughing by the warm street lights on our way home

the fly and the honeysuckle

Growing up we had honeysuckle growing all over my little town, in overgrown yards and wild along the roadside. The sweet fragrance so distinguishable and inviting to the summer senses, a part of growing up in the country was when an older relative or friend would teach you how to dissect the yellow and white flowers to extract a single drop of "honey" to sweeten your tongue for the rest of the walk down to the ocean. Today I know honeysuckle to be an introduced woody vine from Asia that is often considered quite a weed, and especially troublesome down south where it has nearly invasive status. But I have to admit regardless of my horticultural training coming across this plant during my early morning walks still makes me smile and slow down and breath deep to get all that delicious fragrance. This morning the fly and I were obviously on the same page, totally unmoved as I snapped a few quick pics.
Lonicera japonica
- commonly called Japanese honeysuckle
- member of the woodbine family, Caprifoliaceae
- hardy in USDA Zones 4-11
- originally from Japan, Korea, and China
- a twining vine with opposite dark green foliage and tubular flowers from early summer into fall
- adaptable to most soil conditions but known to be aggressive and weedy in habit
- produces berries in fall loved by birds
- member of the genus Lonicera which includes over 180 different species of vines, groundcovers, and shrubs

Sunday, August 28, 2011

After Irene, mostly comical shots

Hurricane Irene rumbled her way into the tri-state area through the night and surprisingly we slept right through. We really thought we would have been woken by wind and crashing sounds outside but we would wake the next morning to see that little had changed on our block. Before bed I took a couple of shots of the block from our front stoop, ready to take the after shots the next morning showing all the downed limbs and chaos that ensued. But we were very lucky and sustained little to no damage. Even the dead wood that I was figuring would definitely fall was still there atop the trees the next morning, stubborn and rigid. All Cosmo had to do was go over to his garden patch across the street and restomp the roots of his six foot sunflowers back in the ground and they were back up and at 'em like nothing had happened. We decided to heed the over sensationalized media coverage and stay in until the afternoon when the winds finally calmed. We heard via facebook of friends and family losing power out east on Long Island and up in Connecticut. Vermont was probably just getting the wrath they were dealt as we were sipping our coffee and checking in with the world. My parents out in East Hampton would be without power and water for a week, some Connecticuters that long and then some. My high school dormhead and mentor Grim would post pictures of where he now lives in Vermont, complete with destruction like I have never seen up there before. The youtube footage of flooding down in Long Beach and other favorite coastal spots had us rapt.

Eventually we would take a walk through the hood to take care of a cat sitting gig that felis femina had and I brought my camera along. Quickly we realized that Astoria did not escape totally unscathed, though the scenes were mostly comical.
You got to love how well New Yorkers pay attention and observe safety precautions. The greatest city in the world, they never said anything about common sense.
Of course we had to have a celebratory post-Irene pint with the gang down at Dillinger's, our wonderfully reliable local haunt. The menu was limited because they had not gotten a few deliveries, but the taps were flowing just fine.
We stopped at the grocery store to grab a couple things we needed. Or rather, we stopped at the grocery store to find that the hysteria had them totally picked clean.
No hamburger buns for you!
Finally Sunday afternoon we got the first glimpses of blue sky in days and it was glorious. Is that a black cloud over the city or is it just me?
Before the Empire State Building put it's evening lights on....
Thanks Irene for another fabulous sunset here in Queens.

Irene: the Sunday video

Sunday evening after Irene,
still windy, skyline,
Acer rubrum (red maple)

Video of the Month: Tow Highlights from Tahiti

Hurricane Irene rumbled through the night and we woke to not nearly as much chaos as there could have been. Cousins in CT are without power, friends at home on LI have talked about trees down and losing power too. Here in Queens it's still blowing but seems tame. Some have already begun cleaning up their yards. We're playing it safe and staying in until later when we too will undoubtedly take a walk and explore the neighborhood. But for now we have gotten sucked into cyberville and I've been catching up on the Billabong Pro surf competition happening in Tahiti, from the 20th to the 31st of August. The Billabong Pro Tahiti is held at a break called Teahupoo, without question one of the strongest and most mind blowing waves on the planet. It's not the biggest wave in the world, not by any means, but the way the island is contoured and how the huge swells can come in and jack up to form these insane "20 foot slabs" that throw down so much water on such a shallow reef is simply diabolical! You can go to surfline and look up their feature on the mechanics of Teahupoo, very interesting. These are some highlights of the crazy, genius men and women who brave tow-in surfing this spot. I just say "oh my God" over and over again, and curse a lot in pure amazement, and I think you might too. In-sane. Enjoy.

Video of the Month (runner up)

Jon Stewart, funny as ever. I have to admit, I don't get these mathonomics either. Thanks to Grim for sharing, keeping all of us LC alums thinking economically.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

...and it begins...

We decided to crack the bottle of bubbly from the one and only Sara Hardin when the rain really began. For us it was just before 8:pm, the outer bands of Irene beginning to brush us here in Queens. Took pics of the block and the 'hood. Anxious to see what it looks like after the fact.

'til then, Happy Hurricane Everyone!
arborboy and felis femina

Come on Irene

With Irene making her way up the east coast the media once again has the masses freaking out. A category 1 storm we are in for some nasty rain and wind and flooding, no doubt, but enough that people have to wipe out the grocery store of damn near everything and plywood the holy hell out of their homes and businesses? Perhaps a bit of overkill. But just the same better safe than sorry, and I do agree with that. The small containers from out front are lining the stairs up to our apartment. The green Colocasia looks nice in the amber light and the herbs make the front foyer smell fabulous.

The big pots out front are tied and knotted together with heavy duty climbing rope to appease our adorable and nervous little ol' landlady. Doubt I'll be climbing any trees this weekend. The saws are cleaned and staged in the closet in case of emergency. We are keeping the vibe mellow in the face of such hysteria. Cleaning and filling water bottles for the fridge the reggae set is on shuffle and Errol Walker wails through the rain. "If you buy a house he wonders how. If you buy a car he must know why..." This is John Public!

Stay Safe,
xo arborboy

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anyone know grasshoppers?

The other day I was working by a patch of Stachys byzantina, the low-growing semi-evergreen perennial we call lambs' ears. (Native to Iran, lambs' ears like full sun and can handle some exposure, fine in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-8) Then I noticed that there was a little critter atop the amazingly soft silver foliage so I had to go in for a closer look.
Though I have had some great entomological education over the years I have to admit I don't know my grasshoppers at all! But either way, what a great looking creature.
Do you know different species of grasshoppers? And if so, want to take a guess as to what this one is? I'd love to know more about this guy.

To steal a terrible tagline from my youth, Inquiring Minds want to know!!

the fennel and the "fat cats"

In 2006 I worked up at Garden in the Woods, the native plant botanical garden and headquarters of the New England Wild Flower Society. While up there I met Erin Backus, entomologist and horticultural therapist from upstate New York, and we became quick friends. We had a fabulous time interning with the Horticulture Department adding our abilities and able hands to the garden. While I worked on various woody plant renovation and restoration projects Erin was busy fostering the populations of native moths and butterflies. With great signage and information accompanying her netted displays of different caterpillars feeding and metamorphosizing throughout the garden you quickly fell in love with these "fat cats" as she liked to call them. It was such fabulous work because it is very important for people who want to have beautiful butterfly gardens to know that you have to have both the flowers that the mature butterflies love, but also the plants that the larvae caterpillars need to feed on in order to grow and develop. Sometimes they are woody trees or shrubs, or sometimes much more tender perennials. Most larvae, especially moths and butterflies in the order Lepidoptera, are very specific as to what "host plant" or plants they feed on.
Enter the fennel and the fat cats I found today in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park.

Fennel we love for it's use as a vegetable and herb, with both culinary and medicinal uses. Botanically fennel is known as Foeniculum vulgare, a member of the family Apiaceae. Originally from the Mediterranean region of Europe fennel has now naturalized throughout North America. Hardy in Zones 5-10 Foeniculum has strong hollow stems and fine, wispy foliage upon which form these fun umbels (an inflorescence of flowers that makes a flat-top) of yellow flowers in summer. (I shot these in midday sun so you can't see the fine, soft foliage so well, sorry.)

Florence fennel is grown for it's big bulbous base, but there are also other, narrower varieties of fennel known as 'bronze' fennel, and this is the latter. It doesn't produce that fat base, at least not so far as I have seen, but it does produce the same aromatic stems and foliage that smell of anise. The plant provides a wonderfully soft backdrop and shot of yellow to the other more bold, showy annual plants that Curator Diane Schaub loves to play with in her yearly displays.
And in this case we learn that fennel is a great host plant if you want to have the eastern black swallowtail butterfly in your garden.
This is the late instar caterpillar, the larvae of a stunning native butterfly called the eastern black swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes. The day I captured these guys in the garden I saw some tiger swallowtails but no black swallowtails so I am still searching for a photo for you for reference. For now here is the wikipedia link.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Carver, the Manhattan Land Trust, and Farming Concrete

The other evening I got to visit one of my favorite spots in Harlem, a community garden named Carver. Carver is a wonderfully quiet and unassuming little oasis tucked just a block away from the main metropolitan vein of 125th Street. From the blocks of retail monsters, street vendors, and masses running from one gritty location to another you can turn and find a simple chicken wire fence and look in to see raised planter beds and in the back a covered gazebo.

Carver is one of the 14 community gardens in Manhattan maintained by the Manhattan Land Trust. The Manhattan Land Trust is a nonprofit organization established by gardeners to support and sustain community gardening throughout Manhattan. Our collective mission is to preserve, improve, and promote community managed open spaces for the benefit of all. As a member on their Board of Directors we have been working hard over the last number of years to transfer the ownership of these gardens to the gardeners themselves, and in such a way that these locals can ensure for themselves and their future generations the preservation of these vital green spaces in New York City. Victorious, as the gardens deeds were formally transferred from the city to the MLT in June of this year, it's been a great year for the MLT and our gardeners.

This evening there was an operations meeting. I arrived before the other board members and garden representatives from around the borough to find the gate unlocked and a man busy working in the gazebo. I walked up and reintroduced myself to a staple of the garden, a quick-witted and kind man named Jimmy. Jimmy was doing a little canning of his favorite veggie concoction which included a little bit of everything harvested from his plot here in the garden. Luckily he hadn't yet added the vinegar so he let me have a taste. Laced with a hot pepper or two he warned me it had some heat to it, and ooh wee, was he right! But so good, just the right mix to get you through the cold winter months to come.

Before the meeting got started I poked around a bit and checked out what people were growing. Here are a few shots from Carver.

The cantaloupe was still small and green but the different squash were taking shape and ripening up beautifully.
Look at that perfect butternut squash hiding under that big, wonderfully textured leaf, and the zucchini below, nearly the size of Erica's arm!

This evening was sensational for a couple reasons. Of course it was very inspiring, as my trips to the MLT gardens always are. Determined to maintain community and health and well-being in the face of this urban jungle and all it's seemingly backwards development I love, admire, and value these gardeners and their gardens more and more with each passing season.

The second reason for my elation this particular evening was due to the fact that Erica Packard, dear friend and Executive Director of MLT, was introducing us all to another genius nonprofit called Farming Concrete. Ray Figueroa joined our little circle and explained his organization, which works with community gardens all over the city to properly document the amount of food produced in these different open spaces. As he so eloquently put it, "...because we're not just planting food, we're planting social responsibility". With an extremely smart and systematic approach Farming Concrete helps New York City gardeners by giving them the scales and forms to easily document all that is grown in their gardens, from greens in spring to veggies in summer, to fruit and nuts in the fall. Banning together and producing this Crop Census city-wide we can show to the folks in City Hall and up in Albany exactly how much good we are growing in these unassuming little lots. As Ray reminded us this evening a healthy diet is the best preventative medicine in the world. Thanks to Farming Concrete and their plan we can show with precision the numbers, the solid proof of the work being done and the successes within different communities, some of which are quite needy of course. Not to mention by showing the pounds per square foot produced, or pounds per square acre, we can then show the potential of other gardens and open spaces and why it is essential that we continue to find ways to return to the earth instead of cover it over with blacktop. Last year calculating the quantity grown in New York City and it's estimated value Farming Concrete showed that a million dollars of food was grown by local communities for local communities throughout the five boroughs. Isn't that amazing?!? I might even imagine it was even more than that, but to have a million dollars of food clearly documented that is quite a feat.

Wouldn't it be so fabulous to have that number continue to increase year after year as urban gardeners continue to ban together and organize for a greater good? Oh, you know it!

props to Surfrider, and especially their graphics department!

This is the cover of the June/July issue of Making Waves, the newsletter of one of my most favorite orgs, the Surfrider Foundation. I hope that they don't mind that I posted this, but I had to because I keep revisiting it and thinking to myself, "Wow, what a powerful and striking image, everyone should see this". Endless props to Surfrider and their Rise Above Plastics campaign, not to mention the genius folks on their graphics team that came up with this concept and image. Amazing! Frigging Amazing!

...and remember. Every piece of plastic you have ever used, it still exists today, in some form or another. Every time you go to the store and accept that bag or opt to buy the extra packaging because it's "just easier that way", that plastic will never break down. It will always be a burden to the natural world and ecosystems that we all take so terribly for granted. Do what the good men and women at Surfrider ask you to do and rise above plastics. Go to to become a member and help fight the good fight.

You know who's sounding killer today?

Jimi Hendrix!

I mean, when does he not, but today especially. The rain and clouds were around and here to stay. By noon people were posting the rainfall inches around town, 5.61 inches, 6.49 inches, and so on. The excuse to not leave the house and have the extra cup of coffee before projectizing was all I needed. And then "Little Wing" came on the stereo. Oh yeah, this is going to be a good day to create, and otherwise do a whole bunch of nothing.

"Little Wing" is off the Jimi Hendrix album Axis: Bold as Love, the second studio album for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in December of 1967.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bottle Digging and Bourbolade!

Growing up on Indian Wells in Amagansett my parents had a great big piece of property. Well, maybe it was only an acre and a half, but to a little tyke the rolling yard seemed like such a vast expanse. Slowly over the years they would transform the yard of overgrown brambles into sweeping lawn with magnificent specimen trees. But one area would never be cleaned. It was down in the back of the property, between our back yard and Joel and Bette Jane's place next door. This was well before people felt the need to fence and delineate their private spaces in what was then still a small fishing and farming community. Under the grove of junk cherries as my dad would call them was all sorts of buried garbage beneath the weeds and vines and wildflowers. This was from back in the days when people would just bury their trash in a portion of the back yard, and honestly by the time I was poking around in the early '80's most it had broken down and decomposed back into the earth. But there were some things that obviously hadn't broken down, like the bottles. So, this began a funny little family tradition that we called "bottle digging". On a day with little else to do we might go into the back with some old garden trowels and see if we could find some old relics. Of course mostly we would just find chards or pieces of things, but occasionally we would be lucky enough to uncover an entire bottle. Throughout the seasons and over the years we would find a number of them, all shapes and sizes, ranging from dull green to opaque white to rich cobalt blue. They would be cleaned in the big sink in the kitchen and put on display around the old 1808 house we called home. Writing this all these years later I have to laugh at myself. Clearly my life as an anthropologist, artist, and horticulturist originated there. Looking back I am so thankful that my parents allowed us boys to be free and curious and creative, even if it meant wielding rusty trowels in a bramble thicket of who knows what. Today I can't help but be so glad that we grew up before this overly cautious, modern day hysteria of a million signs and fences telling you what you can't or shouldn't do, and this nonsense idea that kids today have to grow up in a world coated by antibacterial everything. But hey, for my generation that was what it was like to be a kid growing up in the country.

My wife Krissy was also fortunate enough to grow up in a beautiful piece of country, and this idea of returning to the country has been pulling at our heart strings heavily the last number of months. So when we were invited by our friends Erika and Keith to their place up in the Hudson Valley we hopped right on the opportunity to see the land through their eyes and hear their pitch as to why we should consider moving north.

After we sat and caught up for a while the four of us decided to go take a short hike in the woods before the rain would drive us back inside the picturesque little cabin. We grabbed some beers and disappeared into the forest of oaks and ash and mountain laurels. As we neared a magnificent rock outcropping covered in rich green mosses Erika got excited and told us about a recent discovery she wanted to share with us. She took the lead and we forged past the unmarked property line into the realm of the unknown. Some months earlier she and our friend George had been taking a similar walk and after getting slightly lost stumbled upon the craziest collection of old abandoned things. We found it, and instantly all of our inherently rural eyes lit up, wondering what it was we had found. Before us was the greatest bottle digging spot I'd ever seen!

Erika admitted that the first time she found them they were all carefully buried upside down in the soft woodland soil, in such a way that water and debris hadn't filled them and made them so grungy. This find was clearly more intentional than the old bottle digging site on Indian Wells but instantly we were all transformed to curious, inquisitive kids again. We had to dig in and pull apart as Erika had before some of these beautiful old pieces of the past. In no time we got wondering about how these bottles got here and who came before. The shack nearby was dilapidated and surrounded by rusty old pieces of machinery and we gave ourselves a good fright thinking about the freaky old man that might emerge at any second and chase us away. Hopefully he wouldn't have a shotgun, or a basement with four sets of iron shackles affixed to the walls!

Our visit would be short, our beers now gone, so at our hosts devilish urging we grabbed a few trophies and together ran back to the safety of the other side of the woods.

Back at the cabin the rain began to pitter-patter on the skylight above the dining table and we settled in for an evening of silly conversation and laughter. Spunky the dog ran his little heart out and was now cozy at our feet, and Louie and Fitzy the two cats couldn't believe their luck with four people to get their pets from so they were front and center, all purrs. The beers were long gone but Erika had an idea. She wanted to introduce us to yet another fine Hudson Valley discovery.

A few weekends before we were east visiting my family and after a morning at the beach my virtual sister-in-law Frosty introduced Krissy to her favorite latest creation, the Beermosa! Well, this weekend up north in Pawling we would meet and quickly learn to love the first cousin of the Beermosa, Erika's prized creation known as Bourbolade!

That's right people, watch out! Mix your favorite bourbon with you favorite lemonade and simple as that you have it! Bourbolade!

You can see here that in this instance master mixologist Erika opted for Red Stag, Jim Beam's black cherry infused bourbon, and let me tell you, it was a mighty tasty move. Overall the weekend was such a treat. We were reminded that happiness and comfort for us means enjoying the simple things. Life is an adventure and constant discovery, and the best things in life don't necessarily have to come in a sterile container or plastic wrap. It's about friendship and love and focus, working hard and staying on task but also taking the time off to laugh and be silly and act like a kid again, because maybe from there we remind ourselves of what it is to live life to the fullest.

Thanks to Erika Hanson and Keith Moore for such a wonderful weekend. We will definitely be back to visit you guys again soon! xoxoA&K

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

bonfire babble, taking the soul stance

We escaped the urban jungle that's been trying to eat us up recently and ran east to the ocean. We swam a number of times, in the bay and the ocean, took a lot of walks, found phosphorescence by the moonlight on the edge of the sea, laid under the stars, and enjoyed great bonfires.

The night before Rory made us this fire out at Bighouse we were at Jay and Jen's house. Where they are up in Springs people have these long rectangular lots and tend to clear the backyards completely of the tall oak and eastern red cedars that naturally populate the area. They install sod lawns and introduced ornamental trees and shrubs from the local garden centers. But Jay and Jen didn't do that. Instead they cleared just enough, or maybe nothing at all, and make a perfect little fire pit, a simple half-circle depression of packed dirt rimmed with large smooth stones right in the center of this small cathedral of towering Quercus and Juniperus virginiana. We sat and stared at the fire in their collection of comfy seats and talked as people do and have done for thousands of years. The conservation ebbed and flowed and at one point we got on the topic of photography, in this, the digital age. Sounding like old people we talked about the fact that the tactile nature of photographs is dying. Let's face it, no one prints their photographs and puts them into albums anymore. If God forbid something happened to our computers all the images of our kids growing up would be lost. And he was painfully right. Even if we talk about it, the reality is that we have less and less of these prints to hold and pass around and lose to find later or store in a safe place for future generations to behold. Only a few months ago did Krissy and I finally print a number of shots from our wedding to hang on the walls and set aside for framing, almost a year later. We of course would go on to talk about the great tangible photo albums we grew up with. That was the era of dropping your film off at Reed's Photo Shop and having to wait days to get them back. Picking them up you'd be hard pressed to get far from the front door before tearing into the package to see what you got and share them with the friends or family that joined you for the trip into town. What came out? Would they all be blurry or did you get some good shots in there? Gosh, I don't even remember what I shot, I can't wait!

It was a gamble, but you went for it.

So since then I guess I've been thinking about that, the tactile nature of things and what it means. Photographs were a finite thing. You couldn't just go and shoot a million shots knowing you could throw away at least half of them without consequence. You were lucky enough if you even got to borrow your dad's camera, let alone have your own. You took the time to compose the shot and make sure it was an image worth capturing on film. You took the shot because it was something. It captured a place or a person that special way. It gave the onlooker special insight even though they may be years or miles away. Certainly this all still holds true for photographs today, but somehow I guess in my romantic mind I like to think they had more value back then. They did. It wasn't about "instant" and "endless", these ideas that so remove us from this finite world today. Back then a photograph wouldn't exist unless the photographer was so justly moved by the image before them that they realized they had to capture it, and did. It had worth beyond money.

Then I got the latest Swell catalog, a surf clothing and accessories company based out in California, a good source to know if you're into that sort of thing. Anyway, the cover image I had never seen before and instantly I was stopped in my tracks. Tom Blake was a pioneer surfer and surf photographer and the image is one of his called "Soul Stance" from 1931.
Tom Blake photo © 2011, Surfing Heritage Foundation
It depicts a young surfer riding a beautiful wooden board on a mellow wave in Waikiki, his skin tanned as dark as his trunks, arms outstretched in focused balance, a pure white sailors cap tilted on top of his head. Though I have seen plenty of surf photography there was something about this image that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. And even though I know there is nothing in the catalog that I need I can't bring myself to put it in the recycle bin. Certainly Swell and the Surfing Heritage Foundation are both very smart because now I am going to buy the print of this classic image, but it goes beyond that.

I believe in the value of process and experiential learning, as I've talked about before. Yes, the focus is the final product, but sometimes the steps that got you there mean even more, and it's worth remembering that and valuing that. At work I have been getting frustrated because a new challenge and goal is building more slowly than I thought it would and quite frankly I am becoming very impatient. I'm feeling like my time is being wasted, or at least could be used in such a more valued way, and it's proving difficult. Everyone else says to relax and take it easy and it only makes me more on edge and antsy for change. I've thought about all the possible actions I could take and reactions that would accompany, most of which I realize are born out of impatience and haste and wouldn't get me anywhere better than where I am right now. So I'm stuck here, going through the motions and looking at this stranger for the answers. Where have you been that you are so tan? What got you here, to this break? Where are you going? How are you getting there? What's at the end?

I think it's about trusting yourself and proceeding, but being sure to proceed with purpose. Have that purpose be genuine and for a greater good, for you and the world around you. Stay focused. In that moment on that wave breathe, breathe again, and take a fresh look. Let the wave guide you. Because you never know, maybe the final destination was where you were going to go the whole time, you just didn't see it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Early Sunday Morning", a la Astoria

I've mentioned before my love of Edward Hopper's paintings. His brilliant insight into classic scenes of Americana transport you instantly to another place and time. I suppose it's too why I love walking this city and coming across these old signs. Strolling to the grocery store the other evening I passed the "Sparkle Plenty" Laundromat amidst the hubbub of the evening rush. Delivery drivers were dropping the last of their loads in a fury while motors idled, the machismo men of my neighborhood in their fancy import cars nearly running down little old ladies with their pushcarts full of veggies from the local market, everyone rushing like hell but ultimately for no real reason. We're all still going to get where we need to go. The work day will end and we'll all be free, just like any other day. I made sure to stop and appreciate this wonderfully campy sign and it's nod to a simpler place and time, before the advent of the internet and the cell phone, before we all got stuck on this idea that everything has to be so damn instant. A woman rushing by looked at me taking this photograph and scowled with perplexity, clearly not understanding what I was doing or why I was taking the time. She could have taken the time too, though, the three layers of plastic surrounding her meats and cheeses preventing them from spoiling, even in this heat. Some years from now these signs are going to be gone, these links to that older, more sane sense of community and neighborhood. I stood and enjoyed the pause, clicked a couple snaps, and continued on my stroll, seeing if I could walk a little slower than before to make sure I didn't miss anything else.

Monday, August 1, 2011


This afternoon on my way home from work I saw this, the first of the subway ads for the Quiksilver Pro New York happening in Long Beach for the start of September. I've known about this for a while, and like any surfer would be a bit protective of our little surf spot in the face of such masses, but overall I have to admit I'm really excited for such a show to come only a short jaunt away. Seeing it in big print I was stoked. I saw this poster up at my 6-Train stop at 103rd Street in the south end of Spanish Harlem and smiled to myself wondering who around here would end up trekking out to the ocean to see some of the top names in pro surfing. But then I got humble and realized, hey, in this town, you never know!

See you in the sand.