Happy New Year,

published at 5:12pm on 12/31/13, with No Comments

Actually, 2013 was a pretty good year. I made a lot of animated GIFs, I got a new job, I became somewhat bicoastal, and I started getting regular haircuts.

Next year, I’ll write more as well.

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It’s Complicated,

published at 12:12pm on 12/14/12, with 1 Comment

I tend to overcomplicate things.

(In fact, that previous sentence originally read “I often wonder if I’m prone to overcomplicate things,” which is an overly complicated sentence.)

I woke up early this morning. I had to be out the door by to attend an event, I’ve been trying to shift my schedule earlier, and I find that I’m a much happier person in the morning than at night. So I woke up early.

The sun was just starting to peek out from behind the horizon and the morning red was streaming through the smoke from a nearby chimney. Naturally, I grabbed my camera, stepped out into the cold, and took some photos. It is so quiet in this city in the morning and I wanted to capture that moment – the red smoke, the silent streets.

And what did I do with that moment? I made this.

I took that moment of quiet that I wanted to capture and turned it into this jerky, kitchy bastardization of the photograph that I actually wanted to make.

I like my animated GIFs – I really do. But sometimes I need to just chill my shit out a little bit.

So here’s the picture I actually should have posted this morning.

Sorry about that.

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I <3 Times Square,

published at 10:11am on 11/26/12, with No Comments

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Let’s talk about Times Square for a moment.

Let’s talk about the lights and the tourists. Let’s talk about the standing and the gawking and the looking up and the pointing and the noise and the traffic. Let’s talk about the billboards and the terrible food and the chain stores. Let’s talk about the fact that most sane New Yorkers would say that this is the worst of the city. It’s the part of the city that they would go hours out of their way to avoid.

And let’s talk about the fact that I love Times Square.

No, really, I do.

Forgetting everything else there is to know about Times Square, what I love about it is that it is in my backyard. To many, this strip of Broadway is why they come to New York City to visit. It is the epitome of the big city, the anti-town-they-came-from, the anti-every-place-else-in-the-world. It really does never, ever sleep. And once you step foot in there, you know that you’ve made it to the Big Apple.

What I love about Times Square is that I never actually have to be there. Unlike those just passing through, for whom that one visit to Times Square may be the only change they have to stand smack dab in the middle of the greatest city in the world (the East Coast equivalent of, say, standing with one foot on either side of the prime meridian), for me, it is just another neighborhood in this city that I love so dearly.

Sometimes I stop. Sometimes, as I ride my bike through that mess, I stop just north of 42nd Street and I look uptown at all of the people, at all of the lights. The tourists come through Times Square because they need to be there, because they want to know that they’ve been to New York and they’ve seen Times Square. They come because to them, this is New York City. I love that they’re happy, and I love that at any time I can turn right around, leave it all behind, and head back into the real New York.

My New York.

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Relearning How To Play,

published at 2:09pm on 09/24/12, with No Comments

I had the most wonderful art-filled day on Saturday.

I started with an exhibit imagining the proposed Lower East Side Lowline, followed by a trip to Greenpoint to drive some of the boats in the Newtown Creek Armada, then joining up with my friends Kelli and Daniel to visit Tatzu Nishi’s Discovering Columbus installation in Columbus Circle and ending the day at the Marlborough Chelsea to explore Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe’s Stray Light Grey.

The answer to the first question is “by bike” (the question being, “how did you get from the Lower East Side to Greenpoint to Midtown to Chelsea in one afternoon?”).

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The second thing that was so great about my day of art was how everything I did encouraged me to play, in one way or another. From driving a toy boat around a polluted creek to sitting in a living room next to a giant statue, these things all took my normal perspectives on the world and tweaked them just a little bit. And nothing did that more than the Stray Light Grey exhibit. Kelli and Daniel, who had seen the exhibit before, shoved me into the gallery ahead of them. “Go ahead,” they said, “look around. You lead the way.” In the back corner of the room, a broom closet, with its door open, and inside, another room, and beyond that, a hole in the wall, broken through the sheetrock. And from there we walked through room after room, exploring this space in a space, this constructed world inside the gallery. Beyond whatever grander vision the artists were conveying, at its very basic level, it was permission to wander around a space that we felt like we weren’t actually supposed to be in.

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It’s rare that we get to do things like that much any more, as adults. As we get older, we’re supposed to know better, whatever that means. Even at Newtown Creek, in order to pilot the toy boats I had to sign a waiver stating that I would not touch the water, for touching the water in a Superfund site can lead to death.

On the way out of the gallery, we passed a group in formalwear, heading to a party upstairs. “Check out this exhibit,” we told them. “Go into the back room. It doesn’t look like you’re allowed in there, but you are.” Excitedly, they walked into the outer gallery. It was the youngest of the group, just a teenager, who first ran into the broom closet, gesturing for the others to follow her. Tentatively, they stepped through the door, one at a time.

I hope they had fun.

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The (Un)remarkable Big Green Balloon,

published at 12:09pm on 09/21/12, with 2 Comments

I’ve been spending a lot of time in Washington Square Park lately.

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It’s a really nice park, recently renovated and not ruined the way we had all feared it was going to be. There is a nice fountain in the middle, there are benches around the fountain, and there are a good number of people always sitting, eating, reading, singing and dancing in that center area around the fountain. And yesterday, there was a balloon. Sitting on the edge of the fountain, I watched as the giant green balloon dipped up and down, brushing past trees and the arch leading to Fifth Avenue, grazing past the flagpole and just gently slipping past the lamp posts. The balloon was attached to a string, and the string was attached to a young man who was deftly maneuvering the balloon around the park. Suspended under the balloon was a cradle, and in the cradle, what looked like a digital camera.

A mapping project.

Speaking to the two students who were responsible for the balloon, I learned that it was a project for a class at Parsons, in conjunction with Intel and IBM. I’m curious to see the footage that they gathered, and to see the results of the project and how it relates to Grassroots Mapping (which I know about through my involvement with the Awesome Foundation, which recently funded a related project).

But the most remarkable thing about the balloon, was just how unremarkable the rest of the visitors to the park found it. Though they did gather a small crowd who took an active interest in the path of the balloon, gasping as it dove down toward the fountain and cheering as it cleared the trees, the rest of the New York paid it no mind at all, stepping over or under the string as it blocked their paths, and simply ignoring the two kids running around the park chasing the big, green balloon.

Nothing is remarkable in New York City, which is, in itself, remarkable.

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Filed under: Observations, with 2 Comments