Post from the old blog, America 2013 – Part #1 (#2 below)
Now it might sound silly, but there is a big distinction between being in New York City and being out of it. Whether it’s Upstate or out-of-state, you know when you’re not in NYC – it’s in the air, the gate of the pedestrians, the time between your plate being taken away and the check appearing. Going Upstate, or simply being outside the city is escaping from the necessarily clichéd commuting of 9-5 (or 8-6 NYC time). I’ve learned of three options to get out so far; you can head east or north, out to Long Island or Upstate (which is more or less anywhere in NY state that’s north of NYC) respectively – by car or by train. The other option, in my limited experience, is to take a short-haul flight to everywhere else.
There are various things one encounters which are part-and-parcel of a cultural, or more specifically a visual representation of America and travelling in it. The resulting product I’ve seen so far is visually overwhelming, containing quaint, if not backwards rural towns sprinkled with eccentrics and savages, punctuated by trucks stops and railway stations and industry, all the while a quite besetting natural beauty sits in contrast as a backdrop. This place, as a country, is superb and fucking mental.
If you’ve ever perused Bob Shamis’ New York In Color, or if you’ve ever been lucky enough to experience the ‘visual poetry of [NYC’s] streets and skyline’ then you could be somewhat underwhelmed by a few of the following images. Nevertheless, there’s something striking about images that come out of NYC – those images held a lot of the reason that I came here in the first place – and to see all those visual traits and the distinct reflected light that comes from the city’s architecture, it’s overwhelming at times. And for what it’s worth, it isn’t easy to make a photograph which gives you the feeling and experience one takes from actually feeling and experiencing a moment – that’s why it’s a photograph, right?**
Writhing amongst the architecture, which rebounds light down to street level and seemingly gains in intensity, is the menagerie of the city’s inhabitants, and to my mind, people are strange. They add the life to the city and are to blame for all it’s faults and harshness, as well as the gems and oddities. And that mix – no doubt along with a cornucopia of things I might not ever understand – make up the whole.
** For more on that kind of talk see this book
With the architectural lauding that Manhattan gets, Brooklyn doesn’t even make it in to the shadow of the City once you look past the Brooklyn Bridge (architecturally speaking) – its got little to fight back with on those terms. However, Brooklyn is proud of not being the City, of being the little guy, proud of its heritage no matter how recently that heritage was conceptualized, and it brings itself on a level with, and in some cases excels Manhattan with its quirkiness, its panache and underdog mentality.