Journal Entries

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Kiddie1 - Off Season

December 2016

It’s intriguing to see a space transform itself. A children’s swimming area at a county park in suburban NJ evokes much different emotions in winter than in summer; from summer frolicking to winter foreboding in just six months. A late afternoon stroll through Darlington County Park, Mahwah, NJ.

Infectious Disease Ward – Ellis Island NY

November 2016

Lots of news these days about immigration, so here’s a post from my tour of Ellis Island. At the turn of the 20th century, the biggest risk immigrants brought into the country was disease. Today the argument against immigration raises other concerns about the people fleeing persecution and seeking a better life here. This past election brought immigration back to the forefront of politics. It seems that throughout the history of the United States, each ethnic group that emigrated to America wanted to pull up the gangplank behind them, denying others the same opportunity. The same arguments hold steady from those days nearly a century ago; crime, jobs, cost to taxpayers, religious differences, foreign cultures, language, etc.. The new administration felt compelled to slam the door shut all at once for certain groups of people deemed a national security threat (and unfortunately for those innocently caught on the wrong side of the door). Some applaud this action, others denounce it, but one thing everybody seems to agree on is that we are living in a very different world, and what is quickly becoming a very different country. This is a scene from the infectious disease ward at Ellis Island and the eerie remains from those earlier days.

The Watch Repairman's Bench

July 2016

Yes there are still watch repairman making a living today, and this one keeps very busy as evidenced by the workload on his workbench. I’ve read where a messy desk is the sign of a creative mind; well I guess my watch repairman friend is exceedingly creative. He also happens to be a really nice guy and a great watch repairman. It’s always a pleasure to stop in with one of my old timepieces to get a tune-up. There’s something about a mechanical watch that transcends the mere keeping of time. It could be argued that a $20 quartz watch is as accurate today as the most expensive Swiss watch, but there will always be something magical about the mechanical watch with all of its gears, springs, levers, and pure human ingenuity that a quartz or digital timepiece can never compare with. John Harrison spent a lifetime perfecting the mechanical timepiece to eventually solve the problem of determining longitude at sea by creating the first reliable marine chronometer in the mid-18th century. A feat the British Parliament paid a reward equivalent to about $5 million in today’s value. It’s amazing to think how far technology has come since then. But it's good to see the old traditions still living on.

Cornish Trail Ruins, Cold Spring NY

December 2015

The remains of the former estate of Edward and Selina Cornish who occupied the estate from 1917 to 1939, when tragically they both died within two weeks of each other. It was a magnificent structure nestled in the woods just off the east bank of the Hudson River in what is now part of the Hudson Highlands State Park. After the couple died a nephew oversaw the property until a fire destroyed much of the estate in 1959. The property is now protected from any further development as part of the Hudson Highlands State Park and nature is slowly reclaiming the land. I like visiting at night where the imagination wanders more freely.  

NYC Handball

November 2015

Handball, NYC – American Handball that is, played on a single wall and not to be confused with that silly European version they play in the Olympics. This is the real thing traditionally played on the mean streets of New York in neighborhoods your mother warned you to stay out of. Although most of these neighborhoods have lost their gritty edge over the years as NY has softened up and has become more gentrified, but you can still find the game being played today in NYC playgrounds absent the graffiti and drug dealers of times past. Leon Levinstein recorded what is perhaps the most famous shot of this game back around 1970 (and can be seen here Leon-Handball). There is a thin line between paying homage to the work of the past and merely stealing someone else’s work. I guess with this shot I could be accused of either. I wonder what Leon would think?

Bendix Diner

November 2015

Bendix Diner, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ – One of the last restaurants where you can watch the chef smoke a cigarette over the grill while he prepares your food, and it then gets served by a blind waiter. If greasy spoons are your thing, this NJ landmark is for you. A favorite for late night truckers like the one parked here. Just another slice of Americana at its best, or worst?

NYC Subway - A True Melting Pot

October 2015

America is known as the Melting Pot, and that’s the exact phrase that popped in my head while standing across from this subway platform. Then I got to wonder where that phrase came from. A few clicks on the internet gave me the answer. It turns out that a British author of Jewish descent by the name of Israel Zangwell wrote a play called the “Metling Pot” and it had its premier in New York in 1909. According to Wikipedia, the hero proclaims "America is God's Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and reforming... Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians - into the Crucible with you all! God is making the American."' Well there you have it, the origins of the term Melting Pot. Looking at this scene it is obvious that the metaphor still holds true today; the nationalities may have changed from back in Mr Zangwell’s day in 1909, but NYC is still the ultimate melting pot. I wonder if the trains back then ran quicker or slower than today? The guy sitting with the book looks like he expects a long wait for the next train. I guess some things never change.

Artist Studio - Catskills New York

August 2015

Suagerties, New York – Each year the town of Saugerties hosts an artist studio tour to promote local artists. Many artists open their homes and studios to allow the public to meet the artists and see them in their working environments. This particular home had me a little spooked with its eclectic collection of odd objects, including these dolls. These dolls just gave me the creeps, and the portrait hanging on the wall behind them is just as creepy. It reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode I watched as a kid; I was waiting for Rod Serling to pop out at any moment.

Town Tinker

August 2015

Town Tinker, Phoenicia, New York - Whitewater tubing on the Esopus Creek in the NY Catskills. Just a thin slice of rural Americana.

Levon Helm Studios - Woodstock NY

April 2015

Levon Helm 1940-2012; In tribute and memory. From his home and studio in Woodstock NY.

Montrose, Houston TX

December 2014

Local patron in the original Barnaby's Cafe in the Montrose section of Houston, Texas.

Houston - Museum of Art

December 2014

Light tunnel connecting two buildings at Houston's Museum of Art. Work titled "The Light Inside" Artist: James Turrell.

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