Monday May 28. 2001
the bridges of the boroughs
The Brooklyn Bridge is the most beautiful bridge in the world. I took lots of pictures of it today, but I have none to show you yet, because I haven't had a chance to print any of them. The only one I got a chance to print was the one above, which I think is a support of some important highway in lower Manhattan. Such is the disadvantage of regular film, none of this instant gratification stuff.
But I did do a contact sheet (an exposure of the negatives that gives you little proofs of the photos), so I can show you some of those.
I started out my photo excursion in Long Island City. I am impressed, again and again, at how quiet and laid back it is compared to the insanity seething on the other side of the East River. Numerous abandoned warehouses, convienence stores run by Iraqis (one stores actually has a portrait of Saddam Hussein displayed, Jesus-like, behind the counter, out of eyeshot of the most of the customers), small greasy cafes and the tall Citibank tower, sticking out like a sore thumb in the landscape of squat brick buildings. I really love Long Island City, and I'll probably be making it my home someday.
I wandered down to one of the piers and took a few pictures. I wanted to try to get a shot of the 59th street bridge, but I was really too far away from it for it to be a decent photograph. And then I realized that it's a really butt ugly bridge. Too bad, because I love driving over it and stealing furtive glances at the gorgeous view of the East River. It looks pretty on the inside. There are buttresses over the roadway that remind me of ribs. But from the outside, it looks like a giant spider stretching itself between the boroughs.
I went to Grand Central and wandered around midtown for a bit. I took many pictures of Grand Central, and later, as I was looking at the negatives, I realized how stupid it was. Grand Central Station has been photographed to death. I don't think there's anything original I could do with it no matter how hard I tried. It is a beautiful piece of architecture, both inside and outside. The main atrium of the station is one of my favorite places in the world. I love walking across that white marble floor, past the tourists with camcorders and the commuters staring at the schedule boards.
I took the subway downtown, and ran into the strangest of problems: I couldn't figure out how to get onto the Brooklyn Bridge. I could see the people walking and biking happily on it above me. I wandered about, under the bridge, around the bridge and I still couldn't figure it out. It was like some sort of Bermuda triangle.
So that prevented me from getting some really close-up kickass pictures of that famous "M". I got down to the waterfront and had to content myself to take pictures from down there. Which was okay, because it was a beautiful day and I had good shots of the both the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge (which is also a butt ugly bridge, and under construction at the moment).
The other problem I encountered was that I didn't really know where I was. I don't know lower Manhattan well at all. So, I just began walking north and figured I'd eventually see something that I knew. I got to the Williamsburg Bridge and Delancey Street. I decided to walk down it, just because it's where John used to live. It was quite a colorful little neighborhood with a large Hispanic majority. There were people selling homemade snow cones on every corner and a guy selling Puerto Rican flags for Memorial Day (I know, I don't get it either).
I met John in the late afternoon and we went out for sushi in Astoria. I drove. The streets of Queens just scare the shit out of me. They are narrow, they make all sorts of weird turns and the drivers are sick fucks. John told me that Queens Boulevard (where the Sushi place was) was infamous for hundreds of people being killed on it. Ooooh, yay.
After we unknowingly rented a bum copy of Citizen Kane from Blockbuster, we finally watched The Piano. The video was mine, and had been hanging around John's apartment for at least six months, but we just never got around to it until now. I hadn't watched it in a while, and I'd forgotten what a haunting movie it is. It was interesting to see it now that I have a somewhat more informed opinion about movies in general. It is a gorgeously filmed movie, the acting and the story are compelling, but the plot moves SO slow. It's a very subtlely told story, communicated more in gestures and body language than actual dialogue. I found it really fascinating. And the ending always gets me, so beautifully and artfully crafted.
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One Year Ago:
"I distinctly remember being beaten to a bloody pulp during a pickup game of tee ball when I was 10 or 11."