(not my) presidents’ day

by sam on 02/20/2017

On a technical level, I recognize that trump won the election based on the rules as they are written. The fact that he and his cronies/backers/the russians may have gamed the system to influence voters (at best) or possibly outright rigged the system (at worst), is something that we need a better remedy for than relying on the integrity of members of his own party who view him, despite their whispered, off-the-record misgivings about his sanity, as a convenient patsy to sign their starve-the-poor legislation (at least for the time being).

So, yet again, this is what we do. It’s presidents’ day, so people took to the streets again to protest. In NYC, the main rally was very conveniently in my own neighborhood, and so I just wandered down central park west – since this was a little more planned than the immigrant ban protests, the signs and costumes were a bit wittier and funnier, and the whole thing was a bit better organized (and controlled by the police). I didn’t stay all day – once the main stage started playing some truly awful free jazz (yes, I know, insert every liberal stereotype here), I decided that was a subliminal method of crowd control and I willingly complied. The photos are pretty self-explanatory. as aways, click on the thumbnails after the page finishes loading to see the full image.

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chrysler

by sam on 02/12/2017

I accidentally took this photo with my camera’s white balance on the wrong settings, but I think it ended up having a nice effect.

View of the Chrysler building from 42nd street.

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the new world

by sam on 02/4/2017

We hear it said all the time. America is a nation of immigrants. To a greater or lesser extent, for those of us whose families came here over the past half a millennia, this is true. This is not true, of course, for the native americans who were already here and might have a bone to pick with the notion that we were immigrants and not invaders. This is also not true for the millions of african americans whose ancestors were kidnapped and brought here in chains.

But make no mistake. the overwhelming mass of people controlling the government, manning our borders, making decisions about “who we are” as a people? have roots that are not on this continent.

We are a nation of immigrants, refugees, slaves, and their descendants. We have, by and large, always struggled with what this means. There have been some ugly times in our past, even in the 20th century – from restrictive immigration laws to Japanese internment. But those are things that we studied and looked at from our late 20th/early 21st century viewpoint as how we failed as a society.

We’re failing again. Last weekend, the trump regime signed an order, late on a Friday (after anyone who could provide administrative guidance had gone home for the weekend) barring already-vetted legal visa-holding travelers to the US. It threw airports into chaos. Refugees who had spent years being vetted (and yes, despite claims to the contrary, we spend years vetting refugees), landed in the US and were immediately sent back to the danger they were fleeing. Green card holders who have lived here for decades, who have homes and families here, were being barred from entry for the crime of taking a vacation or going to a conference on the wrong day.

This is ugly, and un-American. and so we did what we do now. People turned up at airports around the country in force, and in public spaces to protest this. Because some of us remember history. And some of us simply know that this is not who we are. Courts are now stepping in and every single one is slamming this obviously racist, over broad, unconstitutional order.

These are photos from last Sunday’s protest in Battery Park and march to Foley Square.

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depth

by sam on 01/27/2017

From my photo class. Learning about how depth can be shown in ways other than the traditional ‘leading perspective lines off into the the distance’. Here you’ve got objects close up, in the middle distance, and in the far background, giving the impression of three dimensions even though a photograph is, as always, flat.

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drugstore

by sam on 01/26/2017

Most of NYC has been overtaken by the Walgreens/Duane read-ification of every open storefront, but there are still a few, lonely independent drugstores (with fantastic neon signs) that continue to survive, at least until their leases expire. My own independent shop shut down a few years back and simply notified us that all of our accounts were being transferred to the closest Duane Reade. Monopolies are fun!

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3 years, 364 days to go…

by sam on 01/22/2017

It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I am a bit of an introvert. I get pretty severe anxiety at the thought of being in giant crowds, and even when I go out with friends, it’s pretty rare that I don’t have some sort of exit plan. I’ve been known to have “shut down” moments, where I just…hit a wall and need to leave immediately – it has nothing to do with the company I’m with but with my own capacity.

This post/link I read a few months back explains the feeling really well (and also why I woke up this morning with what felt like a massive hangover, despite having less than one beer after everything yesterday).

All that is to explain why there was no way I was going to Washington. But I did force myself, even against my natural inclinations, to get out to the march for women’s rights in NY. Because it was just too important.

So, yes, the introverts showed up. Attempts to meet up with most of my friends (except one) failed, but it was a blast, and more importantly, it was deeply powerful to feel so much less alone.

I said the following on Facebook yesterday, but it bears repeating here: …the real reason I’m going to sleep better than I have in months tonight is just the incredible feeling I had today being among SO MANY people who turned out to support each other at this time, not just in our coastal enclaves, but on all seven continents, and all over this country, in blue states and deep red states like West Virginia.

THIS is what democracy looks like.

All this is a precursor to my photos from yesterday. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge. (The pics are pretty self explanatory, so I didn’t individually caption most of them in the interests of not taking three years to get through writing this post)

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four more years…

by sam on 01/20/2017

I posted a version of this photo four years ago, on the occasion of Obama’s second inauguration. Four years later, my opinion hasn’t changed, except that I would be even more enthusiastic about him if we could have him for another four years, particularly in light of the cold hard narcissistic, sociopathic reality with which we have been presented. 

Obama has simply been the best president of my lifetime. And even if they manage to destroy all the things he worked so hard for, I think he will be remembered as one of the best presidents ever. Not just for the tangible things he did in the face of unprecedented opposition and outright racism from his first day in office, but for the calm grace with which he did them.  He was not perfect – I could also list out things that I did not agree with – but he was, and is, one of the best of us, and I will truly miss him – both as a person and as a leader. 

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call box

by sam on 01/18/2017

I’m taking a short, three week street photography class just for kicks, and also because it’s a good way to force myself out of the house during this dark, depressing, apocalyptic January.

So of course, the first class was during a bit of a snowstorm, which drove us into the nearest subway station for shelter.

Side view of one of the many mysterious locked call boxes on the platform for fire department and police use. Put in place before anyone could do something like make a cellphone call from several stories below ground (a feat that can be accomplished in every station in NYC as of…nine days ago).

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macchiato

by sam on 01/16/2017

Over the holidays, I found a new hole-in-the-wall coffee spot in my neighborhood. It has only five seats, because it’s so small. But they make really good coffee. It’s also quite photogenic, which is obviously just as important.

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stage entrance

by sam on 01/5/2017

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

Practice!

But after that, you still need to find this door.

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