neon

by sam on 06/11/2018

As anyone who spends any time looking through my photos can figure out, I’m a sucker for signs, particularly of the old/neon variety. Here are some I’ve shot in my wanderings around town.

The clover delicatessen

The Waverly restaurant

Bigelow drugs – this sign is such a landmark that I got worried for a second when I saw the scaffolding. But when I got closer I saw they had carefully worked to build around the sign while they did whatever facade/renovation work needs doing.

berkshires (and history)

by sam on 05/28/2018

In march, I went up to the Berkshires for a few days for passover, and in addition to cooking (and eating!), I took a walk around town. ¬†I’ve probably posted pictures of some of these local houses before, but they’re just so…photogenic…that it’s hard to resist.

I took a walk up to the Ashley house, which is probably our town’s most historically significant place. Obviously the town and the falls are named after Colonel Ashley, but more importantly, this house was where the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts was born. ¬†Despite Colonel Ashley, not because of him.

Slate’s podcast on The History of American Slavery (premium subscribers only) did an entire episode on Elizabeth Freeman, and wikipedia gives a good breakdown of her life and case. But the short version is that while Elizabeth Freeman (then known as Mum Bett) was a slave in Ashley’s house, she heard all of these ‘revolutionary’ men discussing the declaration of independence and the constitution, and in particular the concept that “all men are created equal”. And so she went to a lawyer in Great Barrington and sued for her own freedom. And won.

There were a few subsequent cases that ultimately abolished slavery in totality in Massachusetts, but they all cite back to Brom & Bett vs. Ashley as the foundational basis for their decisions.

And after the case, Ashley tried to get Freeman to come back and work for wages, and she basically told him to go pound sand – she spend the rest of her life working in “town” for the family of the lawyer who helped free her. The Ashley house is now largely a historical site that explains the history of Elizabeth Freeman.

I just…no

by sam on 05/27/2018

Sometimes you wander around the local Sunday flea market and find some really great jewelry or a fantastic vintage cigarette case.

And sometimes the local serial killer clown decides to rent a booth in order to sell off some of his clutter.

juxtaposition

by sam on 05/24/2018

Milk silos on a dairy farm in western massachusetts, vs. water towers on a rooftop in new york city.


launderama

by sam on 05/22/2018

Catching up, again, with a backlog of photos. They accumulate in my camera and on my computer and then I get bursts of inspiration to start sorting through everything in order to post.

Part of the NYC that is disappearing, excellent sign for an old school laundromat that isn’t buried in a basement.

marching for our (kids’) lives

by sam on 03/24/2018

Today was the March for Our Lives, organized in the aftermath of the Parkland school shooting, but expanded to encompass so much more than that. For too long, the entire “debate” around gun control, or even the most basic attempts at minimal regulation that couldn’t even be described by any reasonable person as “control”, have been driven by the gun manufacturers’ lobby, otherwise known as the NRA. Having seen attempts to get anything done in the aftermath of myriad shootings get caught up in their rhetoric in the past, I honestly don’t know how this ends, but I’ve never felt this hopeful before. After Sandy Hook, I just felt despair – I remember writing posts on social media practically begging for something to change, and just…knowing that nothing would. But people don’t sit at home and write posts on social media anymore. Well, they do, but those posts are to organize and take to the streets. The biggest march today was in Washington, but as of last count, there were 817!! sister marches around the world.

The New York City march started (as they all do these days) at my front door. So I headed out this morning in my most comfortable shoes and my puffy vest that leaves my arms free to take pictures, and I took a bunch. I wasn’t close enough to the speaker stand to see anything, but I was really impressed that most of the speakers were young people. The two recognizably “adult” people were the librarian from Sandy Hook elementary school who survived the shooting there, and the mother of a shooting victim from NYC. There was also a significant emphasis on black lives matter and the fact that, despite the obvious attention the shootings and schools like sandy hook and parkland receive, black kids are ten times as likely to be victims of gun violence than white kids. That should not be forgotten. It’s also not just about school safety. It’s about life safety.

On another note, from the moment I entered the march, and throughout, there were teams of people trying to register folks to vote, checking to make sure people were registered to vote, reminding people to vote, etc. That is the most important thing right now. Nothing happens if we don’t vote in November.

Anyway, here are the pictures.

random new york city

by sam on 01/28/2018

throughout the year, I took pictures of New York City that never made it into the blog or onto my instagram feed, so I thought I would round up a few of my remaining favorites and just get them online.

#womensmarch2018

by sam on 01/21/2018

It’s been a year. An entire year since the inauguration. And a year since we created the largest protest in the history of our country. There have been more protests since then, and activism, and donating money, and time, and explaining to my dentist that I’m grinding my teeth like never before, and living every day like there’s another shoe (or worse) about to drop.

But it’s been a year. So we marched again.

Last year it was enormous, but organizationally complicated. This year it was simple. They started this year in my neighborhood. The entrance (until it got so crowded that the police had to keep moving it northward) was literally my street. So after I finished up my morning routine (including, yes, the aforementioned dentist), I fortified myself with some lunch, got my camera, and just walked out my front door right into the middle of things.

random berkshires

by sam on 10/29/2017

I normally don’t get up to the berkshires during peak foliage season, but a few weeks ago, my brother flew in from Jordan to visit for a few days, somewhat spur of the moment – so I obviously popped up to see him. Of course, in the two days Jeff was here, my dad managed to end up needing an appendectomy, so that put something of a damper on the whole “enjoying” part of the visit (he’s recovered now!), but before everything turned to chaos, I did manage to take some pictures of trees and stuff.




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summer vacation…Peru

by sam on 09/9/2017

This spring, when I started thinking about what I wanted to do for my summer vacation, I swore up and down that I was going to go somewhere relaxing and just drink wine for two weeks. Which is clearly how I ended up on another “adventure” vacation that involved not only literal planes, trains, and automobiles…and boats, but somehow walking up every giant flight of stone steps built by the Incas in the entire Cusco valley. As someone who (internally) grimaces when I visit friends in NYC who live in walkups? This was clearly an excellent idea. But it was absolutely amazing. This is the second trip I’ve taken with the National Geographic Journeys-G Adventures partnership, and it was another solid win. I think I’ve talked at least three other people in my office into taking trips in the two weeks since I’ve been back.

The trip started in Lima (where I arrived a few days early to actually spend some time in Lima), then we flew to Tambopata in the Peruvian Amazon, and then we flew to Cusco, where I hung out with some folks from some other tours while most of my actual tour went off to hike the Inka trail or the Lares Trek. I know my limitations, both in terms of hiking and ability to be a pleasant human being without a bed, shower or bathroom, and opted to not spend three days hiking along a trail that included sites named things like “Dead Woman’s Pass”.

We all reconnected at the place where everyone in Peru eventually arrives – Machu Picchu. At a certain point, with the amount of time people spend talking about it, you start to think it’s overrated and can’t really be that amazing.

It’s that amazing. Not just the construction – the natural beauty of the site by itself is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced. We all had to get on line for the bus to get there at about 4-something in the morning, and it was raining while we stood in this two-hour long line. But the rain stopped by the time we were at the site, and turned into steam coming off the mountains that made us feel like we were actually standing in the clouds. I’m not sure my pictures do it justice, but I sure took a lot of them.

Oh, and as for the wine I planned to drink? The wine in Peru was good, but I ended up not drinking very much of it thanks to the fact that once I got to Cusco the altitude made one glass pretty much my limit. I really need to plan that part better next time!

As always, click on the thumbnails to get bigger pictures and descriptions. These go in the order of the trip.

…and finally, for good measure, to get the full scope of the entire place, I stitched a panorama of the full view of Machu Picchu together (the grey is because I didn’t want to crop it down to make things “even”)…