99 posts tagged nyc
blue skied n clear #nyc
windy but beautiful day in #nyc #selfie #gpoy
And look! Beach day trip out to the Rockaways/Fort Tilden.
I’ve also been a bad tumblr-r because some MORE EXCITING AND BIGGER THINGS ARE COMING, YOU WILL SEE SOON, HURRAY!
For whatever reason I’ve been sort of not super jazzed up on fashion lately? Maybe it’s winter blues (no snow but I still have to wear tights and 47 layers every day!? what is this!?) or maybe it’s that I’ve been busy with 18 other projects — but the good ole “fashion blogging universe” has just sort of been not keeping my attention super well this past month or so.
But! Let’s not be depressing! So instead of talking about my irritation at this (lies, I’ll just talk about it parenthetically! check it out! a bunch of old white dudes and a few token black guys and a lady or two! how interesting! and by interesting I mean “god how depressing is everything ever” but ANYHOW) let’s feel enthusiastic about lady photographers and how much I love New York, right?! As if I don’t post about these things enough! But these people seem obvious to me but maybe you have not encountered them before, so. Berenice Abbott!
Berenice Abbott’s “Changing New York” — her exhaustive collection of photos of New York in the 1930’s, the archives of which now live over at the NYPL — is awesome for all of the reasons we always love photos of New York in ages past, right? It’s part “Oh snap! That’s the Starrett Lehigh building! Once I totally bombed an interview at a studio there!” and part fascination at the things we don’t recognize; something both familiar and bittersweet about the things that are both the same despite the things that are different, like the persistent stark contrast of poverty and wealth, of new and old, that seems in so many ways to define this city.
There’s also the fact that while Abbott was known primarily for her photographs of New York (and a bunch of boring science stuff, like photographing balls in motion yaawwwwnnnn) those of us in on the joke can deduce pretty quickly what “lived with Djuna Barnes in the Village for a while” probably means. (Unsurprisingly, some of her photos are in that Hide/Seek show at the Brooklyn Museum that I still haven’t gone to because I suck but I’m going Thursday I swear!) Abbott’s portraits — of herself, of Barnes, Janet Flanner, Gertrude Stein, Edna St Vincent Millay, Betty Parsons, and more — can be read also as a not-so-subtle but still-unspoken record of queer identities in her era in New York and Paris. Cool!
A Cathartic Meditation On Things Currently Wrong With My Apartment, Which Is The Nicest One I Have Ever Lived In And Which I Still Genuinely Consider To Be “A Really Great Situation”
OR, Notes On Sense Of Place To Characterize “Post-Collegiate Recession Life In Brooklyn With A Low-Paying Job In Some Glamorous Industry” In Future Thinly Veiled Autobiographical Short Stories Which I Will Never Do Anything With
I. Things we are optimistically working to independently resolve due to unresponsiveness of landlord and superintendent, OR, ongoing self-improvement projects
- Moldering wall due to Leak #1: living room pipe and window, and the aftermath of the notorious Irene-induced pustulent wall-blister situation
- Caulking cracks in bathroom and floorboard; expanding foam around pipes and major holes. See also: roach situation which we are certain comes from neighbors
- Leaky kitchen sink; now fixed thanks to the various merits of Having A Handy Girlfriend
- Trivial and easily resolved inconveniences including but not limited to: lack of storage, poor lighting, uneven paint jobs, etc.
III. Things I am unable to fix, but on which the landlord and superintendent remain unresponsive, OR, ongoing struggles for attention
- Bedroom ceiling blister (roughly human-head sized) and concomitant rust stains due to Leak #2: unidentified source, presumably radiator related (occurs only when heat is on)
- Lack of hot water after midnight
- Lack of functional hot water tap in bathroom sink, cause unknown
- Major Electrical Problem #1, current duration 15 days, potentially due to a Hairdryer Sisyphus Ghost who is damned to use a very high voltage hair dryer for all eternity without their hair ever drying, somehow on my apartment’s circuit, resulting in permanent brownout with constant flickering and related problems, including occasional difficulties with using stove or oven due to electric ignition; inability to use microwave, hotpot, flat iron, or other devices requiring a steady current at all; interruption in wireless internet broadcasting; fridge at room temperature due to lack of sufficient electricity for constant cooling and the consequential Rotting Of All Our Food And Condiments. But! At least I am not doomed to flip my head upside down and have it remain permanently damp for all eternity like the Hairdryer Sisyphus Ghost who has caused this whole thing, and for whom I have nothing but great pity.
- Major Electrical Problem #2, duration usually five minutes to five hours, mostly self-resolving due to seasonal nature: building-wide blackouts due to circuit overloads mostly on days over 95 degrees. Superintendent’s solution: “Don’t use the air conditioning,” despite the fact that we do not have air conditioning.
III. Things my landlord has fixed in the past and estimated delay in action from first to second or third hysterical phone calls and eventual resolution, OR, things to restore my faith in either humanity and “the system”
- Replaced broken stove (1 week)
- Fixed entire wall of bathroom tile which collapsed mid-shower (5 days)
IV. Things I consider real perks about my living situation, OR, things I have been told are not actually considered perks elsewhere and are either “things to take for granted” or “things which are not normal” but which I cling to, desperately, as major perks
- Almost 400 square feet for less than $1200 a month
- Location less than two blocks from train!
- Lack of bell or intercom, but location on third floor means running downstairs to let people in is not unnecessarily difficult
- At least 12 restaurants which deliver to my location
- Numerous bodegas nearby, including an option of “the ones that sell Newman-O’s and organic peanut butter” and “the ones that sell Oreos and Kraft Mac N Cheese” within a three block radius
- Landlord and superintendent with at least conversational command of the language I speak
- Thugs who hang out on stoop are relatively benign; sell only marijuana, do not attempt to peddle residents their wares, do not hit on me or make lewd comments, even when I am wearing Possibly Inappropriately Small Running Shorts
- Windows which face courtyard/alley permit decent light but protect from weather and street noise
- Neighbors have repeatedly ripped alarm and lock off door to roof, permitting roof access with Actually Amazingly Nice View of Manhattan
- No mice, probably partially due to really cute building kitties!
Part one of this ongoing meltdown can be found here.
How wonderful are these photos of Brooklyn in the summer of 1974, from photographer Danny Lyon? For the unacquainted, as always: Lyon, along somewhat more widely acclaimed contemporaries Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Frank, and Larry Clark, was among the photojournalists known for their focus on imperfect reality and on the photographers’ involvement with their subjects’ lives, rather than striving for well-composed, technically perfect images from a physical and emotional distance.
Lyon’s deliberate choice to embrace imperfections — most of these photos are ill-exposed, crooked, blurred, or interrupted by a too-close body or object — belies his empathetic intent: the heat and energy and constant buzz of the city comes through here in ways that “better” photographs don’t permit. The images here call to mind Helen Levitt, Walker Evans, and a grittier, less “fashionable” version of Bruce Davidson’s Brooklyn Gang. Also: restraining myself from gushing again about the warmth and grain and depth of fields of old film photography but that horse has been dead for ages so I’m only going to passive aggressively mention it in passing (o see what i did thar?)
Plenty more of these after the jump, but also worth noting are Lyon’s images of Chicago motorcycle gangs in The Bikeriders, which put LIFE magazine’s documentation of motorcycle gangs sorely to shame.
More things we know by now: I am, it seems, a completely incurable nostalgist for all things New York and something of a weird local history fetishist,. (Wait! We need to point out some greatest hits of my obsession! The jail on Ludlow for suffragettes! Lady pirates of the Hudson! The dangers of petticoats in snow! My undying love for Bruce Davidson’s Brooklyn Gang!) Naturally, the sketches, prints, and etchings of Australian-born artist Martin Lewis (apparently a friend of Edward Hopper, whom I’m always weirdly drawn to for similarly NYC-biased-reasons) cater pretty directly to that weakness.
Lewis’ drawings and etchings appeal to me so much, I think, because despite being from the 1920’s and 30’s, they still look so familiar to me — the stylishly dressed midtown crowds pushing against the wind, the angles of the street corners, the open fire hydrants on hot summer days — streetcars and cloche hats aside, this still looks pretty much like every day to me. But mostly I think it’s something about the quality of light and shadow he captures — on streets still busy at night, during a thunderstorm, at dusk on a fire escape — which I don’t really have much to say about other than that is is exactly how it looks here and this is how I think of this city, as mostly grey with extremes of light and shadow. Am I too grossly romantic? Either way, the images are pretty awesome.
• “Yeah, the last place I was subletting was a railroad and we didn’t have a sink in the bathroom and the entire kitchen ceiling collapsed this one time because the alcoholic upstairs fell asleep in his bathtub and flooded the apartment and it took the landlord over a week to fix it and there were bedbugs in the building, but we never got them in our apartment and we only had to pay $800 a month each!” Not that I know anything about that personally, you know. Now I pay less than $600 a month and I don’t have any closets and when all the tiles fell off my bathroom wall, my super fixed it within five days!
• Mariachi bands on public transportation. Accordion players on public transportation, possibly covering Lady Gaga songs. Ukelele players on public transportation. That guy who dresses like a peacock on Seventh Ave in midtown; the guy with the cat on his head who wanders around Flatiron a lot.
• People defecating or pleasuring themselves (or both? we have yet to hear of it, though we’re sure it has happened) in public
• That thing where you get a coffee at a bodega, and they put it in a paper bag, with napkins of top of it?
• That thing where you get a soda at a bodega, and they put it in a paper bag, with a straw?
• Six dollar well drinks; fourteen dollar cocktails; the concept of “bottle service”
• Workplace condoned or encouraged alcoholism; workplace condoned or encouraged drug use
• Daily encounters with rats the size of small dogs. We’ve started thinking of them as pets, really.
• That thing you do where if you pretend like you didn’t see the cockroach, it clearly doesn’t exist.
• That thing you do where if you pretend like you didn’t see the homeless person, nonprofit street fundraising canvasser, guy who is following you shouting about your ass, celebrity, or person you slept with three years ago that you just passed on the street, they clearly don’t exist.
• 104 degree summers with suffocating humidity for which you have one flimsy window fan (well, if you’re lucky enough to have a window) to keep you from literally melting overnight and you’re like, oh, whatever, the subway platform this morning was way worse.
• Two seasons: cold, and hot and smelly.
• SLOWWALKERS, or, alternately, the irrepressible rage directed at them
• “Hey! I saw your posting for a sublet in the East Village on Craigslist for $1200 a month. Just want to make sure — that window in the room actually faces, like, outside, right? Not a hallway or air shaft?”
• Having a friend who got paid like $100 a day just to take some rich lady’s son to and from school on the subway; having a friend who babysat some child on the Upper East Side who at the age of three wanted to play “chef and sous-chef” and not just “let’s make pie out of this mud”; large groups of children chained together via leash wearing matching shirts on the subway; children doing un-children-like-things in general
• The availability of cheap and greasy takeout food at all hours of the night, all days of the week
• “You want to get dinner in Chelsea? Sorry, I haven’t been north of 14th Street in like nine months.”
• Coffee shops that close at 6 PM and don’t have Wi-Fi
• “Why would I have a driver’s license?”
• NYU, in general; the Meatpacking District; the Lower East Side
• Your intern casually mentioning his or her yacht/trust fund/inheritance; your intern’s online shopping habit which involves receiving boxes on a weekly basis, the contents of which are worth approximately your monthly pay
• Storing hair dryers/flat irons with the kitchen supplies since there’s never any outlet in the bathroom; people who keep their shoes in the oven; people who keep books in the fridge
compiled via g-chat in collaboration with The Rejectionist ; your input also welcome
more: because my friends all have wicked style, and because obviously x-pro’ing the hell out of every last grainy, uber-wide-angle image needs to make a comeback along with all of the hair clips, manic panic, creepers, scrunchies, and temp tats
Okay, kids. We need to interrupt our usual programming because of the fact that I absolutely need to rave at great length about the incredible experience that was Sleep No More, okay?
There probably isn’t much to be said about it that hasn’t already been said — NYMag and NYTimes sum it up pretty well — but I basically still can’t stop talking about it after disappearing into a strange outer Chelsea warehouse for three hours last night. For those who have missed the press hype, it’s a loosely interpreted “immersive” experience of Macbeth, updated to 1930’s noir and peppered with Hitchcok characters. Meaning: you enter, are given a white mask, are told that you may touch anything but never speak, and left to wander over 100 rooms in a massive, six-story space, while actors (often grabbing at the audience screaming, often having dramatic breakdowns, often climbing up the walls and furniture with inhuman agility, and often naked) move throughout the building acting out scenes from a more-or-less Macbeth, with most of the dialogue replaced with compelling, convulsive dance.
The attention to detail in every last room is unbelievable: every drawer is filled with something (hair samples, cut paper, a silk stocking, dirt, dried flowers, love letters) and every room is impeccably lit, filled with strange sounds and even smells. The sheer labyrinthine volume of space (100,000 square feet, I believe) to be explored on all scales — from the enormous ballroom filled with pine trees to the last details of every paper in a detective’s file cabinet — adds to the strangely dreamlike, filmic, utterly bizarre impression you leave with: some details and events in perfect crisp detail, others a blur of flickering lightbulbs, velvet curtains, and a distant scream heard from down a hallway.
For those who care about “plot,” (psh, what outdated notions!) obviously, it’s impossible to get the whole story — but who doesn’t know Macbeth by heart by now? Besides, we all know that if there’s one thing I totally get off on it’s DECONSTRUCTED UBER-POSTMODERN NARRATIVES and then you consider that it ALSO INCORPORATES ALL FIVE SENSES AND LITERALLY PHYSICALLY WALKING THROUGH THE NARRATIVE AND ALSO COMMUNITY EXPERIENCE AND HAVING TO PIECE TOGETHER THE STORY AFTER THE FACT AND ALSO CREEPY COSTUMES AND MASKS ALSO WITCHES AND DISGUSTINGLY CHIC FILM NOIR SETS HOLY CRAP SERIOUSLY, I mean, really. But beyond that? The whole thing was eerie, suspenseful, beautiful, and strangely sexy — completely haunting and, forgive all this hyperbole, probably unforgettable. I seriously want to spend another $80 to go back again. Totally worth it and if you’re in the area you should probably get a ticket like right the fuck now since it’s only playing until July 9th and available dates are getting limited.
image: V Magazine
The space was beautiful and nightmarish, especially in the way your journey physically creates the narrative — as in dreams, a twisting corridor lined with children’s bedrooms (naturally!) suddenly becomes an outside graveyard, dimly lit, noticeably cooler and more humid, and thick with the smell of wet ground. Behind a brick wall in the graveyard you find a candlelit room, surrounded on three sides by French doors (sometimes open, but an hour later, locked) which is bare save for a blood-filled bathtub on a pedestal, a handful of torn papers (love letters, upon closer inspection), and a woman’s slip lying in a puddle on the floor. A flight of stairs leads to a psych ward of a hospital, where a nurse with her cap askew sits meticulously cutting perfect squares from a textbook with a razor blade; in the next room, the walls of a padded room are pierced with hundreds of black feathers, and in the next, fluttering laundry and a strong wind, and then suddenly and without warning you find yourself in a labyrinth of wrought-iron gates and white birch trees. After fifteen minutes of wandering you finally discover another flight of stairs, which leads to a candy shop (caramel-scented, with jars of real sweets you can eat) which in turn faces a witches’ lair filled with dried herbs, skulls, and old, yellowed books of spells, which in turn leads to a cabaret where (I’m not joking about this) a naked man wearing a bull mask and horns dances on a table as two half-naked witches writhe out of their evening gowns under the strobe lights to pounding dance music, convulsing and smearing themselves with blood that they drink from crystal-cut shot glasses, alternately crying and laughing maniacally.
Then there’s the actors — Lady Macbeth, whom I first found naked in a bathtub crying, encountered me later, her hair still wet but now clad in a backless sequin evening gown, fell to the floor clutching at my skirt, screaming that I was a ghost, before slamming herself into the wall and collapsing into the arms of another audience member, in tears and mumbling about the perfumes of Arabia. Down the hall, a bellhop dragged another young boy in a tuxedo into a phonebooth to kiss while a woman in a red evening gown and velvet gloves flirted wordlessly with an audience member before throwing him into a closet, which was probably another hallway. Ten minutes later, Macduff and his very pregnant lady fought and made up through dance moments before their murder, climbing bookshelves to kiss each other joyfully ten feet above my head. And then there was a black mass, and the hanging, and the man dying in a strange tent strewn with roses, and the woman in the tweed skirt who wrote on a piece of paper “plant this seed and it will tell you who is friend and who is foe” before running from the room — who they all were, I have no idea.
It’s an oddly visceral experience and an out-of-body one at the same time — as if one of the most well known plays by the most well known playwright of the English language became some kind of choose-your-own-adventure/Myst (REMEMBER THAT YOU GUYS) hybrid, while looking as if Eyes Wide Shut was set in the hotel from The Shining, with Hitchcock as the director instead. Mostly though, it seems like a dream: everything, as in dreams, seems to lack structure, shape, meaning, or a sense of time and place — both events and rooms seem to blur together and lead into each other in strange ways that leave you, as when waking, trying to piece together details that seem just out of reach.
Plenty of photos after the jump — although aside from the shot of my mask above, they’re all jacked from other places, as photography was prohibited — but I definitely don’t regret abandoning my only links to the outside world (camera, phone, bag) before entering the maze. (ScoutingNY also did a great April Fool’s post claiming that the space was actually an abandoned hotel, for a better idea of the intricacy of some of the sets.)
Y’all, we need to take a second to talk about how obsessed I am with Langoliers, okay? We all know how much I like things that mix rough with delicate, the decadent and glamorous with the macabre — so it’s no surprise that the decayed texture and organic fragility of their knit and tangled chains and metal-cast-crochet pieces appeals to me bigtime.
(I guess I’m legally also supposed to disclose that my company works with them, but that also lets me tell you something else awesome: of all the press releases, onesheets, and marketing copy I’ve had to write, these guys were the first time ever that a band/artist/designer sent me their notes for a biography and instead of trying to make the uninspired sound fresh and grammatically correct, I actually had to dumb it down so that the general public would be able to deal.) We’re talking TS Eliot, western esotericism, numerology, and weird Anglo-Saxon mythology as inspiration for the collection, as well as complex systems of mathematical patterns that they weave into every piece. As if it didn’t look cool enough already.
REST AFTER THE JUMP
Sorry kids, is this too many photography posts in a week? But seriously, you guys — that photo of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe on their balcony that everyone ever loves has been done to death and we still love it, but check out these images of the two of them, shot by Judith Linn (who teaches at my alma mater, and who I definitely had no idea was hanging around Manhattan with Patti Smith before she became, you know, some other art professor at my college.) A book of the images just came out, and the show opens at Feature on the LES tomorrow evening.
More after the jump.
While when it comes to NYC street photography I tend to rave mostly about Bruce Davidson (I’ve blogged about Brooklyn Gang probably like sixteen times by now for real) and while the slick, stylish urban glitz of his work creates a romantic vision of this city which I can’t get enough of, Helen Levitt is among my favourites as well.
Along with Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Levitt’s widely considered part of a triumvirate of great street photographers of the early twentieth century. Her work though somehow seems more empathetic than either of theirs — almost always candid, frequently of the elderly or children, unpretentious and somehow restrained. Levitt was an unobtrusive photographer — even when Walker Evans snapped photos of subway riders from a camera hidden in his overcoat, he framed and edited them to look like formal portraits. In contrast, Levitt was one of those photographers who chooses the awkward images: the imperfect shots, mid-gesture, that look more like film stills than paintings, frames from a hidden surveillance camera rather than calculated representations.
As compared to Evans’ more polished, clean portraiture and Cartier-Bresson’s decidedly Parisian glamour, Levitt’s work is gritty, uncomfortable, and occasionally downright weird — somehow the most honest portrayal of New York of the three. Her photographs of city streets, which range from the 1920’s to the 1990’s, somehow still always seem familiar despite the distance in years, as if she’s captured something quintessentially New York that persists even today.
More after the jump, as usual.
Bevel. Kind of obsessed with these ear cuffs and wishing the strange face-armor was, you know, work/life-appropriate. I love the creepy, organic, almost exoskeleton-like feel to everything: it looks like the decayed bones of some small animal or like the cracked and sea-worn remnants of crabs and shells you find on the beach. [[via Jesse//CreateBuildDestroy]]
More after the jump.