pandemic hobbies

by sam on 07/2/2020

we are living in interesting if…isolating…times. I’m relatively lucky in that I have a job that I can do from home (and that there’s still a job to do!) and that I don’t have to worry about how to suddenly home school several kids on top of trying to keep just myself alive. Right now my biggest issue day-to-day is that my cat is clearly annoyed with the fact that I am home ALL THE TIME. That and finding things to do while stuck at home during non-work hours that don’t involve getting sucked into hours of twitter nonsense or, well, eating. I like to sew, and I do needlepoint, but anything that complicated was overwhelming my pandemic-fried brain, so early on, when masks were in short supply, I decided to take some old scarves and some pillowcases and make my own face masks. It worked pretty well except that in the longer run, the scarf fabric was a bit too fragile to hold together after a multitude of washings and they started to fray. I still have a bunch, but they’re not gonna last for the long-haul that we’re now looking at. Plus, I was still bored. So I went searching online for fabric, and I discovered that I could get fun squares of cotton fabric for quilting that were the exact right size that I needed, and I made some more. I started out using the instructions in this youtube video, but after a while I started finding ways to make them a bit less raw-edged and fitted. Anyway, I thought it might be useful to post how I make them in case anyone else is bored out of their minds and wants to give it a try (or use that youtube video – it’s really useful for starting out!)

click on the thumbnails to find specific explanations.

scenes from a pause

by sam on 06/9/2020

yesterday, NYC officially ended our lockdown pause and entered phase 1 of reopening. Over the almost 90 days that I’ve been home since mid-march, I’ve collected photos that I never posted on instagram or elsewhere, and thought I would just round them up here, now that we’re very slowly emerging from our shells.

sunday in the park with…no one.

by sam on 04/5/2020

I’ve been trying to take walks early in the morning, before too many people are up and about, mostly on days where I have some other reason to leave my apartment (and it could be anything – if I had packages delivered the day before, a morning walk means my doorman puts them all together for me and I pick them up on my way back in the building after they’ve sat overnight. Today it was just that it was sunday and I needed some fresh air. So I grabbed my sneakers and my gloves (even though I planned on touching nothing) and my improvised face covering, and walked over to the park, where the flowers and trees don’t know there’s a pandemic and insist on blooming like it’s spring or something.

These are all just iPhone shots. Pictures were a bit of an afterthought until I saw the tulips.

quarantine art, week three…warhol edition

by sam on 04/4/2020

(I realize I’m going to run out of these soon and I’m going to have to start just posting my backlog of random other stuff I’ve never gotten around to posting, but in the meantime, MORE ART!)

This week, I’m going a little further back in time. In the winter of 2018, the Whitney mounted a massive Warhol show that perfectly coincided with my time off from work for the holidays, so I spend a nice friday afternoon wandering among the crowds and the art (remember when we used to just wander among crowds?).

transitions (judd at moma)

by sam on 03/28/2020

this week’s ‘art in the time before COVID-19’ is from a trip to the Museum of Modern Art immediately before we all started shutting down. The beginning of March, which was the beginning of public nervousness and social distancing, also coincided with some major art shows around the city and the opening of this fairly major show at the MoMA. My stepmom and I decided to venture out to this (rather than, say, theater, where I couldn’t at least run across the room from a coughing person), and we were some of the very few people to do so – A show like this would normally attract sold-out crowds and lines, but instead it was like a private viewing.

This was the last time I left my apartment for anything other than work (which became work-from-home a few days later) or essentials.

From the MoMA’s description of Judd’s work:

By the mid-1960s, Judd commenced his lifelong practice of using industrial materials, such as aluminum, steel, and Plexiglas, and delegating production of his work to local metal shops. With the help of these specialized fabricators, he developed a signature vocabulary of hollow, rectilinear volumes, often arranged in series. In the following years, “boxes,” “stacks,” and “progressions” continued as Judd’s principal framework to introduce different combinations of color and surface. Judd surveys the complete evolution of the artist’s career, culminating in the last decade of his life, when Judd intensified his work with color and continued to lay new ground for what ensuing generations would come to define as sculpture.

life before (vida americana)

by sam on 03/21/2020

One week in to our new lives of living in social isolation, working-from-home, quarantining ourselves to protect the world from an ever more rapidly spreading pandemic, and trying to find slightly more productive things to do than just sitting on my couch and watching streaming TV all day (not having kids to wrangle right now is definitely making my individual situation much easier), I thought it was a good time to go through the massive backlog of photos I keep meaning to post and never get around to.

I thought I would start with some art from now shuttered museums around NY. First up…I went to the Vida Americana show at the Whitney in February. I don’t normally take a ton of photos of other peoples’ art, for a variety of reasons, up to and including that I can’t do the original art justice, but since no one can see the art except for online anymore, I thought i’d share the few pics I did take.

I was particularly taken with these two flower themed photos of women (the first is “Calla Lilly Vendor” by Alfredo Ramos Martinez and the second is “Flower Vendor” by Miguel Covarrubias):


next, the juxtaposition of these two images, the near painting named “Zapatistas” by Alfredo Ramos Martinez in front of an actual portrait of Zapata by Diego Rivera, was only possibly intentional given their placement on different walls.

Lastly, this is a recreation, given that the original was destroyed by Rockefeller and the actual recreation by Rivera is a mural in Mexico that cannot be moved, but it is, at minimum, a nice fuck you to see Rivera’s Rockefeller Center mural recreated in the city where Rockefeller had it smashed to pieces (the official title is “Man, Controller of the Universe”).

one more time for good measure

by sam on 01/18/2020

I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to the NYC women’s march this year. Between the dueling group infighting last year, the focus on elections rather than just general “protest” this year, and the fact that it was going to be bitterly cold in New York today, I was wavering. But then I read about how the National Archives (the goddamn national archives) had “edited” (aka censored) official photos from the original women’s march to blur out criticism of the orange menace, and I just…well, there’s always something new to get me out the door. (yes, there’s a typo. no, twitter STILL doesn’t have an edit button)

So anyway, here’s photos from this year’s march. it was bitterly cold, and it started snowing A LOT right in the middle, so that made it even more fun. but the National Archives can’t get their grubby, co-opted edit button on these.

the view

by sam on 09/30/2019

Last weekend was a bit of a wedding explosion in my family. Two weddings, in two different cities, including MY BROTHER! and his wonderful now-wife. Pics from all of those things are mainly family only, but for post-wedding lunch on Monday, we went to a super fancy restaurant on the 60th floor of a building downtown, and, well…

The view!


summer vacation 2019 | south africa and zimbabwe

by sam on 08/30/2019

In March, when I started investigating places to go on vacation, I had a few ideas in mind. As always, Africa gets put on the list, but unlike most years, it actually stayed on the list this time rather than succumbing to my normal dread of flying for that many hours. Then, when I went to look for actual trips, my favorite trip provider (National Geographic Journeys by Gadventures) happened to have TWO slots left for the their trip on the dates that worked for me, so I jumped on it without much more thinking.

This trip might go to the top of the list of the best ones I’ve taken (between this and the Galapagos and Machu Picchu, it’s a tough decision). But anyway…

I spent about 30 hours flying (with layovers) to Cape Town, South Africa, where I spent a few days, taking the cable car (thankfully reopened a week early!) to the top of Table Mountain and going to the Cape of Good Hope. We visited the Penguins (a major tourist attraction at this point) and got a private tour of the botanical gardens, which are some of the best in the world.

Then we flew to Johannesburg where we spent not much time, just a quick stop in Soweto for lunch and to visit Nelson Mandela’s house. It’s very small (only three rooms), and crowded with tours, so not much opportunity for good pictures, but certainly a worthwhile experience to understand the great man’s life.

Johannesburg was just a way station on our way to Kruger, which involved an all-day drive on the Panorama Route, which took us past some very scenic vistas before we got to our tented lodge, and then we did an all day drive in Kruger, where we got stalked by an entire pride of very boss lady lions before they killed several impalas right in front of us.

From Kruger, we moved to Karongwe, which is a private game reserve, where we did several more days of game drives and saw just an absolutely ridiculous number of things, and I might have gotten carried away with the Cheetahs. After Karongwe, we headed back to JoBerg to fly to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls, which was very nice and relaxing and involved a very luxe river cruise on our last night.

I took over 7,000 photos, and somehow managed to edit that monster pile to the following 85. As always, wait for the page to finish loading and then click on the thumbnails to view the actual pictures. Enjoy!

mister softee

by sam on 07/4/2019

A while back, The NY Times wrote about how mister softee vendors were in a turf war with some upstart competitors who were using gangland tactics to push them out of various neighborhoods. The juxtaposition of childhood treats with straight-up street gang tactics was…something.

It has definitely become harder to find a genuine mister softee truck in parts of the city, but you can still find them on the upper west side.

(By the way, mister softee is the best, because they’re the only trucks that ever have the good sugar cones instead of the regular cones that taste like styrofoam.)

NYT article on the ice cream truck wars