I have a rather large wooden Cross with a sliding top made of thin slices of a Mother-of-Pearl type material, upon which is the cast metal body of Christ and the INRI banner. The top slides off the body of the Cross... and snaps in to one end to stand upright. There are holders for candles and Rosary.
It belonged to my maternal-Grandmother... and my Grandfather had one which sort of matched it... though a little larger... and a little more "masculine". I was told by my Aunt that they had been a wedding gift to my Grandparents... though I do not know from whom. Still, that would make them somewhere around 75 years old.
I do not know why... but tonight while I was searching for an image, something told me to dig through the bottom drawer of my dresser where this and other relics are kept... and pull it out into the light.
So... with a smile and a fond memory or two, I did just that.
Today I accompanied my friend Kristin as she interviewed local artist Erin Walrath for The Mercurial. For two hours we talked with Erin in her amazing studio space... while Kristin jotted down notes and I snapped photos.
This is a set of small wooden drawers that Erin uses to store odds-and-ends, including wonderful tiny antique nails which she found in Rome, which she uses in her mixed-media constructions. Something about the look, feel, and pattern of the drawers caught my eye - and I had to snap a few photos of them for myself.
A wonderful interview... a wonderful experience... a wonderful day.
On May 15, 2011 I will be participating in the 26th annual "AIDS Walk New York" - a 10K (6.2-mile) walk through NY's Central Park and the streets of Manhattan - which raises money for the GMHC (Gay Men's Health Crisis)... the world's first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care and advocacy.
Since 1986, AIDS Walk New York has raised more than $105 million for HIV programs and services in the tri-state area, and has grown into the largest AIDS fundraising event in the world.
My goal is to raise AT LEAST $1,500.00 this year... and I WILL succeed!
But I can't do it without YOUR help! So I am asking for your support and sponsorship, which you can do through my personal donation page on the AIDS Walk New York web site.
Please, Please, PLEASE help me to reach my goal! You can contribute by visiting:
I love Pebbles cereal. It has been my favorite since... well... since as far back as I can remember.
Every once-in-a-while (very often) I like to have a bowl of Pebbles cereal as a late-night snack.
Not just "any" bowl, though. I have a special cereal bowl that no one else is allowed to use... and extra-deep bowl with a picture of Tinker Bell on the side. (What can I say... I love Tinker Bell! She's so damn sexy!)
So, one night I fill up my Tinker Bell cereal bowl with Pebbles cereal... splash on some (about a quart of) nice and cold Organic Fat-Free Milk... and get ready to sit my butt down in front of the TV and watch some mindless programming for a while.
As I pass by Holly - who is sitting at the kitchen table working on her computer - she says: "WOW! Your cereal smells REALLY fruity tonight!"
I look at her... say "Hey! Enough with the gay jokes!" and continue on.
Woke up to bad coffee. Very bad coffee. That means I've got to head in to work, even though it's my day off - to pick up some good coffee, to prevent this from happening again!
Went to the library... but couldn't find anything interesting. Decided to wander around the courtyard while Holly and the kids checked out their books. It's beautiful out here! Quiet... oddly warm... everything covered in snow... the holiday lights still up and twinkling. I could sit out here for hours... if there was actually someplace to sit, that is!
Books checked out... time to go. Head over to Molten Java. The place is packed, and there's no place to sit - which is pretty frustrating, because most of the people here aren't even buying drinks - they're just hanging out and taking up tables. So we grab a few drinks to go and head back out as quickly as we came.
A million thoughts are pouring through my mind on the drive home. Dreams... Plans... Hopes... Fears...
Snowy day. Schools closed in anticipation of the snow. Holly and I still had to work though.
Left work early as the snow started coming down hard. Called Holly and told her to get her butt home because the roads were getting bad. Shoveled the driveway while the kids played in the white wonderland of a yard.
Except for the sound of the snow falling...
... and the distant snowplows...
... and the scrape of my shovel...
... and the laughter of my kids...
... and the chirp-chirp-chirp of the birds. Lots and lots of birds - mainly chickadees - filling the bushes and trees, seemingly "playing" in the snow -
- except for this little guy, who apparently was trying to rest.
So I grab my camera and capture the moment - before some more of his buddies came along and disturbed him into action.
First day back to work after several days of sick. Trying to get things organized again. Little-by-little.
Came home after a day which felt much longer than it was... and passed out on the couch while listening to TOOL on my iPod (mind-drumming to the album "Lateralus").
Needed to get out of the house after being cooped up for four days. Went to Borders to sip some coffee while flipping through a book of Atget photographs. While upstairs in the music section I had an Epiphany (it IS January 6th after all) - and found my daughter gazing through the racks of posters.
Still feeling sick, but definitely better. Spent most of today resting and recovering.
Wrote a music review article for my blog of my picks for the "Top Ten Albums of 2010", which you can find HERE.
Quiet. Calm. Relaxing day.
Running out of "oomph"... decide to poke through my Cabinet of Curiosities, looking for a photo. Collections of bones... skulls... teeth... religious artifacts... divinatory tools... and other "goodies".
My eye gets caught on this small skull from a rather young raccoon. I found this while walking through the woods near Lake Mohegan (NY) with my friend Chip back in 1993. The skull was still "fresh" when I found it... and I had to boil it and bleach it to get it to the clean state that it's in now.
I pick up the skull... place it on a bit of black fabric... take some shots while remembering the past. Then I put the skull back in the Cabinet... and take one more shot - which turned out to be "the one".
Could 2010 go down as the greatest year in music? To put it simply… "no". It was, however, a fantastic year for music… perhaps the best we’ve seen for some time.
I tend to buy a lot of music… often without knowing a thing about the band before the purchase. According to my iTunes history I purchased 77 albums between January 01, 2010 (Lady GaGa) and December 30, 2010 (Florence + The Machine). That’s just downloads. It doesn’t include the actual CDs purchased then added to my iPod… or the CDs/copies given by/borrowed from friends. (Damn! I think I have a bit of a problem!)
Music is my life. Well… not really… but it IS extremely important to me… and I feel just as “naked” without my iPod as I do without my camera… which is just as “naked” as I feel without, well… clothes.
So how did 2010 fare musically? While not the greatest year in music history… it definitely gave us some amazing music. New faces… New Styles… Veterans re-inventing themselves…
The following are my picks for the “Top Ten Albums of 2010”… but I won’t play favorites. I’m not going to designate one album as No. 10 and work my way down to the album I feel is No. 1. All of these albums are fantastic for their own reasons… and some just can’t be compared to others due to the incredible differences in style. I’ll simply list them in the order in which they were released… and leave it up to the listener to decide.
“No Más” by Javelin – Released April 6th
Some say that the mark of a great song is that upon hearing it for the first time, you’re sure that you’ve heard it before. “No Más” has that feeling throughout… and I’m sure that I’ve been listening to these songs since the 1980s, at least. These are songs and beats that get stuck in your head for days. Highlights include: “Oh! Centra” and “We Ah Wi”.
“Congratulations” by MGMT – Released April 13th
I admit it… I was one of those MGMT fans who listened to this album for the first time and said “WTF!?!”. After the amazingness of 2008’s “Oracular Spectacular”, expectations were high.... and upon first listen “Congratulations” didn’t seem to deliver. Then I listened again. Then again. Then again… and again… and again. In the end I personally feel that “Congratulations” just might be the better album. Almost. I mean… take the songs “Electric Feel” and “Kids” off of “Oracular Spectacular”, and “Congratulations” will definitely blow it away! Highlights include: “Someone’s Missing” and “Brian Eno”
“Trans-Continental Hustle” by Gogol Bordello – Released April 27th
During the roughly 12 years of their existence thus far, Gypsy Punk band Gogol Bordello has grown and evolved to become more than just a band… but an “experience”. Their fifth album, “Trans-Continental Hustle” is pure evidence of this. It’s a very different album for Gogol… a bit more “mainstream” (well… as “mainstream” as Gypsy Punk can get, anyway). It’s their major-label debut… and was produced by Rick Rubin. Is that a good thing? Well… you be the judge. The album isn’t as “raw” as Gogol’s first few albums… and feels less “New York” and more “Brazil” (perhaps based on the fact that frontman Eugene Hütz now lives there) – but it is a strong album that gets you moving like nothing else. Highlights include: “Pala Tute” and “Immigraniada”
“Treats” by Sleigh Bells – Released May 11th
Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells came on the scene strong in 2010 with their first release “Treats”. This is a lot of sound from only two people, even more so when you consider the fact that only one (Derek Miller) is playing any form of an instrument! Classified as “Noise Pop” and “Dance Punk”, this album isn’t for everyone. It’s extremely raw… and unlike anything else out there. Perhaps that’s what makes it so phenomenal? It’s fresh… new… and exciting. Highlights include: “Tell ‘Em” and “Riot Rhythm”
“This Is Happening” by LCD Soundsystem – Released May 17th
James Murphy has stated that LCD Soundsystem’s third studio album – “This Is Happening” – will also be their final studio album. I can only hope that this is not true! Since the release of their single “Losing My Edge” in 2002, LCD Soundsystem has been the ultimate in underground dance music. These songs aren’t just a bunch of mindless beats paired with silly, meaningless lyrics (which a lot of dance music tends to be). These songs are intricate… with lyrics that portray a poetic “realness” not found in much music these days. Listen to the songs. I mean REALLY listen to them. This could go down as being the best album of the decade! Highlights include: “Dance Yrself Clean” and “Home”
“Night Work” by Scissor Sisters – Released June 28th
If the Robert Mapplethorpe photo of dancer Peter Reed’s ass on the cover of Scissor Sisters third album – “Night Work” – isn’t enough to get you hot… the songs definitely will! This album is sexy and erotic. Sure, it’s filled with innuendo… but isn’t all good dance music? Well… shouldn’t it be? Highlights include: “Fire With Fire” and “Skin Tight”
“The Suburbs” by Arcade Fire – Released August 2nd
Arcade Fire’s third album “The Suburbs” comes a full three years after the fantastic “Neon Bible”. Which is the better album? It’s hard to say. “The Suburbs”, however, seems to be the most ‘personal’ Arcade Fire album thus far. Some of it seems a bit too “Neil Young” for me (I freakin’ HATE Neil Young!) – but overall this is a fantastic album. Highlights include: “Ready To Start” and “We Used To Wait”
“The Final Frontier” by Iron Maiden – Released August 17th
OK, OK, I know… you think I’ve added this album to the list simply based on the fact that Iron Maiden happens to be my single-favorite band of all-time. Well… you’re wrong! I’ll be the first to admit that Maiden has produced some less than stellar recordings in their 30 year history (the two albums they did with Blaze Bayley as lead singer, for example, are absolutely horrible!). Still, there’s no denying the fact that Iron Maiden – while not the biggest heavy metal band in the U.S. (that would be Metallica) are, by far, the biggest and most successful heavy metal band in the world. Hands down. But I digress…
“The Final Frontier” is Maiden’s 15th studio album… and at over 76-minutes, their longest to date. It marks a completely new direction for the band… considerably more “progressive” than previous releases. This album is intricate and hypnotic. Who would think that a band that has been around for three decades and has made more than a dozen albums could still come up with something so “fresh” – that completely reinvents what the heavy-metal genre is capable of? Well… I for one was not surprised! Highlights include: “Isle of Avalon” and “Starblind”.
“Halcyon Digest” by Deerhunter – Released September 28th
This is the fourth studio album by the Atlanta-based indie group Deerhunter. The band describes themselves as “ambient-punk”. OK. I see the “ambient”… not so much the “punk”… but OK. But that’s besides the point: This is a great album. Dreamy… Fuzzy… Catchy… Classic. Highlights include: “Earthquake” and “Helicopter”
“Sidewalks” by Matt & Kim – Released November 2nd
To me, about the only thing better than listening to a Matt & Kim album is being at a Matt & Kim concert. High energy… Happy-ness… Life (and the added bonus of seeing the way-too-cute Kim Schifino in person!). “Sidewalks” is the third studio album by this Brooklyn duo, and is definitely their most refined and organized album to date. This album is just fun as hell. Highlights include: “Cameras” and “Silver Tiles”.
“Loneliest Generation” by Harper Blynn – Released May 11th
The debut album by Brooklyn quintet Harper Blynn (and how could people say that the Brooklyn music scene is dead!?!). This album is a sweet little folk-pop effort with catchy tunes, great harmonies and some great lyrics. I can’t wait to see where Harper Blynn goes from here! Highlights include: “25 Years”… “All Pretenders”… and “It May Be Late”.
SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN MADE:
“Le Noise” by Neil Young – Released September 28th
I was standing in a hippie-esque store in Mystic, CT when the owner put this album on. The store was packed. People started complaining. I mumbled something about how they really shouldn’t let this guy record anymore albums. The owner – reacting to all of the grumblings from the customers – quickly changed the album.
A week later I was at Borders in Danbury when again, this album was put on. People complained. My wife and I asked the barista who chooses the music that gets played, to which she replied “The manager… and there have already been a ton of complaints about this one!”. The album was quickly changed.
I don’t try to hide the fact that I can’t stand Neil Young. His voice irritates the crap out of me… but I can appreciate what he has done. Still, this album is bad. Very bad. 37-minutes and 59-seconds of bad. Still, it reached No. 2 on the charts… in Canada, where Neil Young is from. Then again, Canada gave us Celine Dion. Yep. That explains it!
MOST OVERRATED ALBUM OF 2010:
“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” by Kanye West – Released November 22nd
Is it a horrible album? No. I mean, it’s not “Le Noise”. Still… for all of the hype centered around this album’s release, couldn’t it have been better? Shouldn’t it have been better? At least it didn’t have Neil Young on it… but it did have just about everybody else – and that wasn’t enough to save it! Try harder Kanye. Try harder!
I've been awake for hours. I'm starving and thirsty... but I can't get out of bed. Every time I try I get dizzy and black out.
So I lay there... for hours... waiting for Holly to get home.
Eventually I manage to crawl out to the bathroom... then to the kitchen... then to the couch - but that's it.
Exhausted. Can't talk. Can't move. Can hardly breathe.
I absolutely HATE being sick.
Holly gets home and makes me soup... pours me OJ... gives me medicine... helps me move.
After never missing a day of my 365 Project in 2010, I don't want to "lose" on the third day of 2011. Reach over to the table... grab my camera... turn it on... turn it around to point it at myself... press the shutter... and decide that whatever it captured would be today's image.
Walking down 11th Ave. looking for food. End up at the Market Diner (11th Ave. between 43rd and 44th St.)
Expensive. Two eggs with bacon: $9.50. A fried egg sandwich without cheese or bacon: $6.75. Decide to skip food and just order a chocolate egg creme. After all... this is NYC, how could you go wrong with a Chocolate Egg Creme? Well... apparently you can. It sucked.
Everyone else in our group is talking and eating... and I notice the wall behind our booth making a wave pattern of light. Grab my camera... focus... snap... capture.
Leave the diner... try to grab a cab, but none will take us because we are five. Walk to Times Square to catch the 1-Train. Subway to 23rd Street... I'm starving. Head straight to Chelsea Papaya (23rd St. and 7th Ave). Two dogs and fresh Papaya Juice for $4.25. That's more like it! There's a homeless man sleeping standing up in the corner... his head keeps bobbing down and hitting the pump top of the mustard dispenser, squirting a little out each time. Chow down on my dogs... and make our way back to the Chelsea.
Decide it's too early to head "home"... after all, it's only somewhere around 3AM. Head to Jake's Saloon (23rd Street between 7th & 8th) for a pint. Turns out the bartender lives in Stamford, next to Cove Beach. Talk with him for a while about Stamford and Connecticut.
The rest of our group decides to head back to the hotel... but Holly and I linger a while. Finish our drinks... then wander around the city. Misty rain... quiet... warm. Stop at a store to buy some Dipsy Doodles and bottled water. Head back to the Chelsea.
Get into our room... which is hot. Open the window... and I sit on the window sill for a while... looking out over the rooftops at the New York night. We're high up... 60 or 70 feet... with nothing preventing me from falling out. No screen... no bars... no nothing. Strange thoughts of possibilities fill my mind. I sit there for an eternity before heading to bed.
No sleep. Noise. Around 4:30 or 5:00AM there was a big fight in a room upstairs. Lots and lots of screaming. Someone beating the crap out of someone else. Women crying. Men yelling. Things being smashed. Someone pulled out a gun. No shots fired... just lots of yelling to "Put the gun away!". Metal crashing down the main stair-case. I just want to sleep... but it isn't happening. The bed is too damn hard!
Sunlight gets us out of bed. Check-out at 11AM. Sharing Dipsy Doodles in the lobby before catching a subway down to The Village. Brunch at Life Café (10th St. and Ave. B) for several hours. Pints of Champagne (yes... I said "pints")... and our wonderful waitress Annie, who lovingly called us all Buttholes and ended up with a $40 tip.
Sophie's Bar (5th St. Between A & B) for an hour or so. Pints of Guinness. Conversation. Pickle Back Shots (the most awesome shots in the world!)
Trash & Vaudeville where Ashley bought her first pair of Dr. Marten's (an awesome pair of matte white highs). Ray's Pizza (St. Mark's and 3rd Ave) for some Ziti Pizza before heading over to the market next to Zacky's on Broadway. New hat... some laughter.
Catch the subway back to the Chelsea to pick up our bags... then two cabs to Grand Central (my cab started to pull away as I was putting my suitcase in the back).
An hour to kill at GCT before the train leaves. Pretzels... Crossword Books... NY Times...
Long journey home. Fuzzy throat feeling and stuffy nose.
Staying at the Chelsea Hotel, again. Check-in... then head over to the Garage Flea on 25th street. Buy a 1950s 35mm Argus C3 "Brick" Rangefinder camera in great condition. Vendor had it marked $22. I was going to offer $20 but before I could get the words out he said "I'd do $18". Sold.
Lunch at a great little deli before heading back to the Chelsea for a bit. Subway down to 14th Street... then head over to Alphabet City. Many (many) drinks at Sidewalk Café on Avenue A.
Catch a cab across from Tompkins Square. As I go to get in the cab a group of kids throw a snowball at the back of my head and scream "FAGGOT". I turn and start to go after them, but Holly makes me stop and get in the car.
Taxi up to Terminal 5 - where I get my crotch groped at the door as part of the pat-down.
No band playing when we get in. We've missed the very first band... but arrive in time to see Man Man. Layout at Terminal 5 absolutely sucks. Crowded... next to impossible to see. We head upstairs hoping for a better view - but no. You can't see... and are forced to watch the show on a blurry flat-screen hanging from the ceiling. Man Man plays an OK set. Gogol Bordello comes on... but we can't see a damn thing. There's no way I paid $40 to watch one of my favorite bands on a crappy TV!
Head downstairs and work my way through the crowd until I'm fairly close to the stage, but just outside of pit-range.
Gogol Bordello. Gypsy Punk.
1. Tribal Connection 2. Not a Crime 3. Wonderlust King 4. My Companjera 5. Last One Goes the Hope 6. Trans-Continental Hustle 7. Immigraniada 8. Break the Spell 9. Raise the Knowledge 10. When Universes Collide
11. American Wedding 12. Untitled 13. Pala Tute 14. Start Wearing Purple 15. Break the Spell (Reprise)
16. Sun Is On My Side 17. (Ghost) Riders in the Sky 18. Mishto! 19. Sacred Darling
Awesome concert. Awesome New Year's Day.
Leave Terminal 5... it's already Sunday morning. Long journey back to the Chelsea... but first a break for some food.