An older man played an old instrument on Canal Street. He took a break to check his phone. He was hoping to garner “Likes” on Social Media.
Tastes change in music. Tastes change in technology, too.
Imagine this: The World Wide Web breaks down or is deliberately destroyed, like a fisherman’s net torn apart by a Great White Shark. All is lost – cellphone records, electronic correspondence, financial information, art, the written word…
A thousand years from now, archeologists will puzzle over this gap in the record of human history, this apex of Modern Man that left no record of its existence.
-Canal Street (May 11th 2017)
Columbus Circle was all hustle-bustle during the evening rush, tourists gawking and hustlers hustling, pigeons, digital souvenir prints framed and ready to go, curbside. Grand monuments carved out of stone. Pedicab drivers negotiated fares. A man in a hooded flannel shirt swept the walkway like Sisyphus.
But none of it happened. It was all the daydream of a man smoking a cigarette.
-Columbus Circle, New York City (May 12th 2017)
Parks seem to attract chess players when the weather permits. And hustlers. And pigeons.
-Union Square, New York City (May 12th 2017)
The bicycle messengers meet at Union Square most Tuesdays at noon to talk shop. Sometimes they don’t meet there, or then.
There were years when I was young and lived on two wheels. Maybe I’ll do that again some day, swinging birches down like Robert Frost dreamed of doing again one day, too.
-Union Square East (January 11th 2017)
He had a key around his neck. It was a very special key. It was important that he didn’t lose it.
The A Train was crowded at 59th Street. The conductor informed us that there was another A Train directly behind the one we were riding on. The woman with the red shopping bag waiting on the platform took the conductor’s implied advice and let our train leave the station.
His uptown nap was restless. His bicycle’s chain was orange-rusty. The key attached to the green chord around his neck was very important.
-Uptown A Train (May 27th 2017)
In the early buds of Springtime lie shadows and vanilla ice cream cones on Sunday afternoons.
-Washington Heights (May 21st 2017)
Renovations were underway at Penn Station. The big board was covered with a blue tarp. The room smelled like popcorn. A man peeled a banana for his breakfast. A tall, elegant woman turned heads as she parted the crowd. Construction workers headed for their shifts in steel-toed boots. (Almost everybody was walking in rhythm to their own individual tunes.) A dapper businessman with a shaved head was followed by two women wearing headscarves. I took a sip from a medium-sized French vanilla coffee as my train was posted.
- Penn Station (January 26th, 2017)
Good Friday in Upper Manhattan – Washington Heights – just before Eastertime, ham and mashed potatoes. A parade performed in Spanish, by way of the Dominican Republic. The young adolescent Christ stand-in is wearing a bad black Halloween wig. His two condemned criminal companion actors carry only crossbars of wood, heads held low, cheap sackcloth shirts over blue jeans and Addidas sneakers. Acting Roman soldiers slap cheap multi-tongued whips in the air and periodically bark out orders to the condemned young men. A city councilman walks conspicuously ahead of the Christ-figure. In the middle of the procession is a car with concert speakers strapped to the roof, blaring out some solemn, Sergio Leone dirge.
-Washington Heights (April 14th 2017)
It appeared as though a pigeon had shit all over the lower left pant leg of the young Mormon missionary. Par for the course, I suppose. He and his partner walked confidently along St. Nicholas Avenue, hands in pockets, smiling, not really a care in the world.
Luis was as old as Charles Bukowski. He was on break from the 7-Eleven next door.
A couple of Dominican gals considered paperwork on the sidewalk. Out in the street a Fed Ex Ground truck waited for the light to change.
-The View from Taco Bell, Washington Heights (May 9th 2017)
In much the same way that many cultures have their own version of ravioli (pierogies, kase knoephla, Chinese dumplings, etc), most cultures over the course of centuries have devised effective exercises to pass the time.
-Dominoes Players on a Median, 163rd Street & Broadway (May 10th 2017)
A firmly middle-aged man tried to hide his gray behind shallow art school observations. She was a legendary model-in-the-making, hiding underneath a faun-colored coat on a sunny February day. Everybody was hiding. Woody Allen, if he had it his way, would have been rollerskating.
-Guggenheim Museum (February 18th, 2017)
A man leaned against the security desk. A large, red, paper shopping bag rested on the floor at his feet. The school’s logo was designed by George Tscherny. It was printed in red on one face of the security desk. Marshall Arisman, Kim Ablondi, Thomas Libetti – the names! It was a beautiful evening.
I walked along 23rd Street, back to the subway entrance at 8th Avenue, alone.
-Opening reception, Riccardo Vecchio’s WAR x ARTIFICE, School of Visual Arts (February 6th, 2017)
The patient young man walked through the galleries, patiently waiting for the work on the walls to come to him, and the woman he hoped to be with to come to him, too.
-The New Museum, Raymond Pettibon Exhibition (April 5th 2017)
It was cold. Cold cold cold. Beautiful people in a big white room, scarves and stocking caps and hands in pockets.
Two old friends met at the gallery and had an argument. The one who’d arrived by bicycle in such cold weather walked away, scratching his head. Everybody was dressed mostly in black.
-David Zwirner Gallery (January 14th, 2017)
In his early 20’s he came to New York City because he wanted to be an actor. He’d made the decision. He was committed to it. He took classes. He attended auditions.
All these years later he still loves acting, occasional cabinet-sized theater productions put on by friends-of-friends that don’t “have a budget” to pay the actors, hoping to be seen by the right people. Exposure.
The bagpipe gig at NYU was just a side-gig, to help pay a little bit of one month’s rent, and it was seasonal, anyway, each year on graduation day.
-Washington Square Park (May 11th 2017)
"Well, I hadn't thought about it in terms of Social Problems. I always think about it more in terms of Human Beings."
"The effort to educate the uneducable is hopeless. Schools for adults soon become kindergartens for adults. The pupils are quite unable to take in the education proper to their years. The gogues thus have to provide them with amusement in kindergartens. The hope is that they will somehow learn to think as an accidental by-product of playing, but that hope is vain."
Sketch for portrait of Hunter S. Thompson (originally commissioned by the Los Angeles Times)
"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live."