Saturday, July 25, 2009

Photos de Moi: Nighttime Cannot Eat New York

She has the Sharpest Tongue in Late Night -- and the sharpest teeth as well. Up close to this huge Eighth Avenue billboard, I could just make out Chelsea Handler's slightly parted lips and the faintest glimpse of teeth... Note also, the fast-moving blur on the crosswalk, just below the big 'G' of Gray's, a one-legged woman in a miniskirt. I kid you not.
These colorful cleaners on a cart reminded me of characters in a Punch and Judy show... Home Depot window, West 23rd Street. Note: I also discovered that Chelsea Handler (see above), host of the irreverant (that's mild) late nite show, Chelsea Lately is the only female host of a late night television show anywhere in America, and she is the second only female host, after Joan Rivers, whose hairdresser I 'know' tangentially. That's borderline amazing!
At Papaya Dog on 42nd Street at Ninth Avenue, not much to say or see...
Taxis await the green by the ... the... ummm... I can never remember what or who it is occupies that big tall building. Is it... some sort of corporation? A media outlet maybe? Web site?
Elsewhere in the darkened city, David Beckham on a screen morphs slowly and nakedly into himself...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is life imitating the movies?

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back," says Morpheus in The Matrix (1999). "You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
If there’s a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?” says President-Doctor Obama, July 22, 2009.

Here Is the News, With Some Additional Research

NY Times: F.B.I. agents are sweeping across northern New Jersey Thursday, making arrests in what is described as a major corruption probe...

Or maybe they all suddenly decided to go out and get some fresh air...

"Guys, let's hike across the Garden State! Last one through Delaware is a rotten egg!"

Old Jokes Home:

Q: What do you call a bullet proof Irishman?
A: Rick O’Shea.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ok, We're Here... What Do We Do Now?

"Aldrin paid Armstrong back by taking no photographs of him on the Moon."

Houston, Monday, July 21, 1969 --Men have landed and walked on the moon.

The first line of the New York Times lead story (above) sent a shiver down my spine.

But... now that the anniversary of the moon landing is past, let me turn your attention from the familiar, heroic narrative to the baleful, vicious back story. The following is taken from a 2005 review of a book about the men who soared to the moon, and who remained all too human in the end.

Despite the vast attention paid to the astronauts’ psychological profiles and their ability to work in teams, the Apollo 11 crew verged on the dysfunctional. Armstrong and Aldrin [fought] a fierce behind-the-scenes battle ... to be first to set foot on the Moon.

Early plans were for Aldrin, as module pilot, to step out first, but one version ... has it that Armstrong, as mission commander, lobbied more vigorously than Aldrin, and Nasa backed him up because he would be ‘better equipped to handle the clamor when he got back’ and, more mundanely, because his seat in the lunar module was closer to the door.

Aldrin paid Armstrong back by taking no photographs of him on the Moon: the only manually taken lunar image of the First Man on the Moon is in one of many pictures Armstrong snapped of Aldrin, showing himself reflected in the visor of Aldrin’s spacesuit...
Divorce, alcoholism, spousal and child abuse, depression, drug abuse: all have figured in the lives of the 12 men who went to the moon, according to the reviewer, who also notes that NASA did not pay the astronauts any higher salary than its regular test pilots. He also concludes that none of the men were remotely equipped to deal with their lives after having made their various voyages to the Moon. Most were only in their late 30s and everything afterwards seemed a little lackluster.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Photos de Moi: Crazy Golden on a Rainy Day

NEW YORK, 21st July, 2009 -- Frightful weather today, pouring rain, humidity... Here are some bright, golden shots to remind that it is still summer, honest. (Ironically, these were taken in an elevator, but on a recent hot day...)

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Green Thought in a Green Shade

Since death is with us in recent postings here in Dungannistan, let us continue in the cuddly company of the Grim Reaper. I recently took a trip to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where hundreds of thousands of great and not so good New Yorkers are still lying.

A guard at the gate gave me a map and I wandered off into a golden mist as undiluted sunshine streamed down through the gorgeous green leaves of the trees. Think of the words of Andrew Marvell, the 17th century English poet who wrote in his poem, The Garden:
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find ;
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas ;
Annihilating all that's made
To a green thought in a green shade.
That was how I annihilated my afternoon. But I did notice the strange mess seen in the above photograph from the New York Times. It seems there is a graveyard worker whose delicate job it is to squeeze more bodies into the cemetery, in areas where older bodies have long since decayed and where there is no immediate living family claim to the plots. Hence, the inevitable digging, above.

While at Green-Wood, I saw another strange sight, which I photographed, below. What was this woman doing, aside from enjoying the sunshine? It seemed she was lying there as if trying out a plot for herself. Was she concerned with the comfort? How she'd look as they lowered her in?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt Is Dead...

"It wasn’t until he was 66 that Frank McCourt published Angela’s Ashes,
a book that has sold over 4 million copies and has been published worldwide."

...Long live the McCourts.

I do not have nearly as many ambivalent feelings towards Frank and brothers as many of my former colleagues seemed to have.

I only once set eyes on Frank, who has died aged 78. I saw him at an event at New York University's Ireland House, and I met his equally well-known brother Malachy once during a snow storm on West End Avenue. Malachy was more than civil to me, a total stranger, who shouted "Hello Malachy!" as I trudged past him.

Perhaps the ambivalent feelings I heard were to do with how the McCourts as a tight-knit family handled the late-in-coming success of Frank's Pulitzer Prize winning memoir, Angela's Ashes: after selling many copies, it became a well-attended movie, and the other brothers piggy-backed their own memoirs and cod-Oirish blather off Frank, so I am sure they all "did well," as the ever-begrudging Irish will say with no smile.

[In fact it's very Irish to be kicking them all, and Frank is hardly cold yet].

So, about their handling of success: the McCourts really did have horrible childhoods, horrible Irish Catholic childhoods as Frank's famous opening sentence went, and I think that when some success finally came their way, they have exercised their right to have the best of revenges on everyone, by living well.

There was always some suggestion that what Frank said about his mother in Angela's Ashes was disputed by people here in New York who said she had been an exemplary person and showed none of the totally dissolute drunken awfulness which he and Malachy alluded to.

But for me the genius of Angela's Ashes is that Frank and brothers (most, if not all four of them) were born in Brooklyn, not Ireland. As they endured the horribleness of Limerick in the 1930s (these words make me shudder, and I'm only 36) they had their American citizenship as an ultimate trump card... so when the day came, Frank could give the bog a final "fuck-you!" and head back across the Atlantic... to home. Angela's Ashes could only ever have a happy ending.

That unusual, humorous, constellation of events -- born in America but return-emigrated in failure to Ireland -- is as clear proof as one needs of the luck of the Irish.

Photos de Moi: The City At Night

One recent evening, I found myself in what seemed to be a deserted city... New York's main thoroughfares, empty, rain-soaked, bleak. Only this solitary man (above) did I spy, looking for his vehicle in vain, at a shuttered QUIK PARK.

"Good luck setting your car free," I thought under my breath, and trudged on.

Suddenly, out of the darkness: a car, all lights a-blazing, and straight towards me it came... A Nightmare on 34th Street? A Jabberwocky at very least!

Luckily, I seized this weapon, also deserted, and shoo-ed the crazy car away. Was it driven by the man from QUIK PARK? None shall ever know.

Even the dogs of the city had gone, leaving only their strange shadows.

And only when I had striven mightily and made it to Sixth Avenue, did I see the signs of humanity once more: but perhaps even these men are just a Crazy Fantasy...

Hope Springs Eternal

Overheard on West 14th Street last night... a middle-aged couple are strolling west, arm-in-arm, clearly in a relationship. The man is speaking as I pass by.

He says to his lady friend:

"Well, you've been through two failed marriages too, so you know where I'm coming from."