Since our arrival in Seattle, we’ve found a number of neighborhoods we’ve grown quite fond of. Pioneer Square with it’s reminders of New York’s once edgy Lower East Side was our first love. While the International Center, Capitol Hill and pockets of Queen Anne have all spirited our first months here. That said, there has been somethng special about Georgetown that keeps us coming up with reasons to visit from one week to the next. Having moved to Columbia City just over a week ago has brought us even closer to the somewhat quiet pocket of Seattle that often reminds me of the out of the way area known as Red Hook Brooklyn back in New York. It wasn’t until my wife mentioned how much she loved the area and her desire oi buy there, that I realized just how similar the areas seemed.
For it was during what seemed like an endless search to buy a condo that fit our style and needs that we found an off the beaten path area in Brooklyn known as Red Hook. In just a few visits, it felt as if the area would become our desired location for us. The problem, however, was that after we attended to underwhelming open houses. We didn’t anything else appear on the market. Short story long, we gave up on the area and rarely ever returned afterward.
Fortunately, Georgetown has all the charm of the aforementioned East Coast destination with a closer proximity and easy accessibility to where we currently call home. Who knows if we’ll find a place in Georgetown or if we’ll even stay in Seattle permanently. (With all the talk of what we miss back East. It’s hard to decide, yet.) Regardless, we’re having a great time getting to know the area.
We were all set to head out for a day in Toms River with my Dad when our plans were suddenly changed due to some post shoulder surgery crankiness my Pop was experiencing. Not having a solid backup plan. We decided to make the most of our early morning and head to Brooklyn in search for the perfect slice. With lessons from my last trip over the bridge learned. I headed out in better spirit and a lot less tension. The day itself is somewhat of a blur. A long walk through a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods. Followed by a panic free walk over the bridge back into Manhattan for some delicious congee on the Bowery and a lot more walking. Overall, a long rewarding day that left us exhausted and fulfilled. You really can’t ask for more.
After a week recovering from a food poisoning incident in Seaside Heights the weekend prior. We headed to Gravesend with a new found sense of balance and a hearty appetite. Throughout our train ride to Brooklyn I found myself growing more and more irritated due largely to some of the behavior of some of the riders seated around us. The family of five who seemed to be fine with their boys writhing around in his seat while smearing his cheetos all over the seats, windows and polls while using the available seating space as his personal germ spa. Or the completely lost couple unsuccessfully tried to find their destination via speaker phone. Each stop a confusedly loud exchange of “!!!%&^&*!!!”. Add to it the nose pickers, fast food consumers and steady flow of panhandlers and I was about to come undone. To top things off, the regular lecturing on tolerance and why I should neither speak up nor be even slightly effected by “Ignorant People.” I was quickly becoming my own worst enemy. Sitting there in my own boiling hot kettle of poisonous thoughts. Luckily, for everyone involved we finally reached our intended stop, With some much needed fresh air and our pizza related Nirvana in sight, My anger began to dissipate. After multiple slices at L&B Spumoni Gardens we headed back to Manhattan where we enjoyed the rest of the day in the West Village and Chelsea before eventually heading home. While my day was, by no means, perfect. I came away with some important lessons that I hope weren’t wasted on an old, sometimes unappreciative curmudgeon. One can only hope. Enjoy every slice. JD
It’s been close to a week since my Mom’s first visit to our new home here in Jersey City. During her week here, I made it a priority to capture some intimate images of her stay. Being that we’ve lived so far from one another for over twenty years now. I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like to. While her stay had it’s share of ups and downs. It reminded me of how much I love, respect and appreciate how much she’s shaped the person I am today. By far my favorite moments of her visit was seeing her interaction and the positive foot print she left on everyone she met. Her smile, positive outlook and ability to make complete strangers feel like family are inspiring. Looking back at her visit, I realized that the thing I enjoyed the most was hearing her speak in Spanish s0 often with anyone and everyone she new spoke the language. For me personally, it’s always been one of the many traits that made her so beautiful. Till this day, I still remember the first words she taught me as a baby “Dame Un Beso.” (Give me a kiss.) All these years later, I still tell people about my first words and about what an amazing woman my Mother has always been. Despite all our differences and endless similarities. We still love one another to the fullest. Thanks Mom.
My wife and I spend many of our weekends in Brooklyn. Whether it be exploring different neighborhoods, food or culture. Brooklyn seems to have it all. During our ill fated search for a condo we’d canvas the different areas going from one open house after another. Knowing my likes, dislikes and moods. She noted that Brooklyn was my “Switch”. No matter the circumstance, I always seem to enjoy my time there. On this particular day we did a lot of walking, stopped for mediterranean food, antique shopping and a Greek bakery. By the time we got to the river, the sun had just begun to soften. We walked a long distance in the high wind before grabbing a ferry back to the east side of the ferry. I shot these around 4:30 /5:00. My wife suggesting the set up for the first shot. The idea for the second was all mine. I got these printed at Duggal the next day. If we ever move. I’m going to find a place to hang them. Until then…
We had just exited the train at Brooklyn’s Jay Street Station when we were quickly overcome by the ear piercing sound of sirens. Quickly, I reached for my camera as I scrambled to get out of the path of the coming engines. Whereas in the past my eyes would be drawn to the intricacies of the fire truck itself. I somehow found myself drawn to the firefighters, the uniforms, oxygen tanks and their proximity to the flag. I took a few moments to set up and frame the scene before finally taking the shot. So instead of having a series of hastily captured images. I had one that I was really happy with. That and nobody got hurt. Pretty Cool.
I was standing among the endless array of graffiti art that envelopes the Queens block known as Five Pointz. Moving somewhat awkwardly from spot to spot taking pictures while juggling my camera bag and the cache of Hip Hop records I had scored that day in Greenpoint Brooklyn. I had recently read that a wrecking ball will soon meet the legendary graffiti mecca and the corner bar where many scenes from the brilliant, yet short lived show “The Black Donnely’s” were filmed. The unique space will soon be home to a soulless, unaffordable high rise condo building. Knowing full well of the ticking clock I figured it would be a good idea to stop over before transferring to the Manhattan bound E Train.
As the train cars rattled above me I noticed a couple slowly approaching hand in hand. Acknowledgement and some small talk followed and I recall sharing how bummed I was about the soon to come demolition. That’s when I realized that this lovely couple were not from these parts. “I’m losing my tourdar.” I thought. I can usually smell a tourist from a mile away. The male counterpart began asking me about graffiti and hip hop. (I know what your thinking. Typical racial and age profiling on their part) Any self respecting 30+ white guy can tell the story of how and where the now now celebrated art form started. He asked where the best places to view graffiti were and where he could explore the roots of Hip Hop. “It all started here.” He asked in an inquisitive manner. I thought for a second before referring to KRS-1’s “The Bridge is Over”. Suddenly and very quickly the moment froze. He looked at me puzzled and then “We’re in the Bronx now, right?” There was a sudden pause. Seconds that felt like hours, days, weeks. I took a deep breath, one usually reserved for the sex talk a father gives his thirteen year old daughter. A look reserved for the first time your son comes home drunk out of his mind with piss stains on his jeans. With a certain quickness I regained my composure and began pointing in the direction of Manhattan, The Bronx and Los Angeles. He asked if the Bronx was safe and if they could walk to Chinatown from where we were standing. I assured him that taking the nearby E to Canal street would be a faster route than walking and gave him a few other ways to get uptown from Canal. As for his question about the Bronx. I just told him to just use basic common sense. Hopefully my directions did them justice.
This week I took it upon myself to start a new photo project. Take the bands and musicians that inspire me and invite them over for a session and do my best to take the band photo out of the box. Take the band out of it’s normal comfort zone (the stage, the studio) and do something more creative than lining them up against a wall as if they were about to face a firing squad. To start my project on the best note possible, I got in touch with Brooklyn’s experimental noise rockers Cinema Cinema.
I first met Ev (Guitar/Vocals) and Paul (Drums) during a local music festival in 2011. To be cuttingly honest, their performance that night scared the freaking Bajeezus out of me. It was intense. I mean, like a roller coaster ride through the seventh layer of hell intense. Since then Ev and Paul have been featured on my music blog numerous times in record and show reviews, an interview and even as contributors. Needless to say, we’ve become good friends. The guys arrived on time and though it was a short set. I never felt as if we were rushing through the shots. I had specific ideas not only were they were they on board. They helped me steer the ship. We drank dirty water, listened to Fugazi and got some memorable images that will serve as the groundwork for what I hope will be an ongoing series. I really can’t say enough about Ev or Paul. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
I was photographing a woman near Prospect Park in Brooklyn earlier today when we came across this beautiful fountain. I had wanted to get a few shots of her next to it but there was a steady stream of wedding parties occupying the space. At one point my jedi skills took over and I got the young men from one of the groups to set up behind my model. It was hilarious. Me wrangling this group of kids who, in all honesty wanted nothing to do with it. With a little coaxing they filed in behind her as I quickly placed them in their spots. They glowingly asked “Is she a real model?” “Is this going to be in a magazine?” to which I replied “Yes, of course.” It was just a cool little moment that made us both laugh. You can often get people to do just about anything within reason with just a little effort.
This past Friday night my eyes and ears were treated to what can only be described as Epic. On Friday, May 22nd Tacoma Washington’s own Seaweed blessed Brooklyn’s Bell House with a reunion show for the ages. I got to the Bell House a few minutes early and had a chance to stake the place out. I’d heard mixed reviews about the large bar and performance area from varied sources. Most of which described their love/hate relationship with the spot. Anyone visiting can’t help but notice how though very large in size they manage to keep a cozy, friendly vibe throughout. Everyone I met on the staff from the ticket collector to the bartenders were very friendly and had absolutely no hipster vibe to them. As I made the rounds and ran into a number of friends and familiar faces I couldn’t help but feel I was in for a memorable night.
(Damn) This Desert Air opened the night and though I don’t like to use the word twice in one week, Their sound was ‘EPIC’. Though the members come from such well known acts as Instruction, Nora and Fire Still Burns to name a few. DTDA’s sound is somewhat larger and deeper. My ears were hearing influences such as Quicksand and early Thursday. I couldn’t help but think the room was the perfect size for what they were performing. Needless to say it was good on the ears.
Next up was Chicago’s All Eyes West. A band I’ve been hearing more and more buzz about lately. There are many ways to describe a bands performance and style but the if I were asked to describe them I’d say “Think of a twister that rolls into town and levels every mother fucking thing in site” Then add musical instruments. I’ll say this for the record: Jeff Dean is a god damned assassin. I brought a wide angle lens to shoot the show and Christ, I couldn’t keep up with the guy. If you see him, ask him what the deal is with that crazy leg kick. My one and only regret on the night was that I missed these guys when they played the Court Tavern in New Brunswick about a week before. Insanely good. They’ve got a record due out in June. If it’s anything like their set I might have to buy two copies.
Soon enough the floors of the Bell House became packed as Seaweed took the stage. We were about to be treated to a reunion for the ages. In all honesty there was not a sad face in the entire crowd. Complete strangers became best friends while packed in front of the stage like sardines. There were people like Tracy Keats Wilson who drove all the way up from Richmond. People I talked to who remember when and where they bought their first Seaweed 7 inch or recalled that amazing set the played at CBGB’s in 1993. (Yes, I was there too)
The band quickly launched into Antilyrical and from that point never let up. I don’t think there was a soul in the area code that didn’t feel something. Aarons energy and exuberance were unstoppable. That coupled with a song list that captured the bands finest moments and a crowd that sang along to every song, chorus and lyric and you had a night that people will be talking about for years. Even the encore was killer. Though they didn’t bring out everyone’s favorite Seaweed cover (Fleetwood Mac’s) “Go Your Own Way.” They didn’t miss delivering any of their own classics. Their foot print will remain a lasting one but this show will only serve to have casted a longer shadow. JD