Sunday, July 26, 2015
As I had mentioned in a previous post, I was in Toronto this past weekend. Over the past few decades (eek...I can actually say it's been decades) I have been to this vibrant and inspiring city hundreds of times. And over recent years I have been hearing about Graffiti Alley but have not been there, so on this weekend I dragged my sisters with me (that's a rare selfie with my sisters below). The alley--which should more correctly be called "alleys" as there are many off-shoots--runs parallel to Queen Street West (here's a map). And upon entering the alley all I can say is that it is a veritable explosion of colour [sic] and talent. Some entire buildings were covered and it became overwhelming at times...a sort of Sistine Chapel of street art. I have many many photos of our walk down the alley but narrowed it down to a little over a dozen to post here. Anyhow, if you are planning a trip to Toronto I highly recommend a walk down this free and outdoor gallery of street art.
If you've been to this blog more than once then you know that I sporadically post about the homeless. For my entire life I have had a weakness for them...how they got there or what led them to their current situation. No little kid thinks to themselves they want to grow up to be homeless and no mother hopes their little baby to grow up and live on the street. But I'm jumping ahead as I often do (or actually jumping behind). Anyhow, I was in the beautiful and vibrant city of Toronto this past weekend with my three sisters, and like any big metropolis there are a large number of people living on the street. Often I will stop to talk and on this weekend I did with only two of the people I saw. David is one of them. I walked passed him on Queen Street West and he caught my eye because he was sitting between his two friendly dogs, but mostly because of his sign (one can be homeless and still have a sense of humor, and despite his predicament I could see right away that he was a rather jovial guy). After dropping a couple dollars in hi pail I asked if I could take his photo, to which he readily agreed. After introductions, I asked if his sign was true...if that's really why he was begging for money. He laughed a little and told me that while he does smoke weed he was really trying to get money to eat, but he's found that--even though it pisses some people off--a sign like that makes people see him. After shaking hands and petting his dogs I wished him luck and walked on my way on a beautiful if not balmy summer evening. Peace David, I hope you got some food (and weed).
Friday, July 24, 2015
I have a long story (regarding the bottom photo) which I'll make shorter, and I originally posted this--or at least a portion of it--on Facebook, so if you've read this already I apologize for the redundancy. This is a fire alarm call box on the corner of Allen and Elmwood in Buffalo (it's also visible in the top photo on the right-hand corner). Relics from a bygone time, I suppose...here's images of others and they are even available on ebay as collectables). At one time there were many of these around the city, I remember them from my youth. Now there are only a half-dozen (I know this because I saw a city-worker inspecting it one day and he told me so...and yes, this still works). Anyhow, I was talking with a couple youngish co-workers the other day regarding an incident that happened on this corner and they used this as a point of reference but were unsure of what to call it...they didn't know what it was ("It's not really a fire hydrant but it has something to do the the fire department," one said). I mentioned to them that it was a fire alarm...that in the event of an emergency one would break the glass and pull the lever and help would arrive. And then after a somewhat long and uncomfortable silence and perplexed looks I also mentioned that there were not always cell phones available.
Anyhow, that story aside, I was out taking photos in my neighborhood a couple evenings ago as it was such a nice summer night. And after taking the above photo I began to walk down the street when I was stopped by the couple in the above photo; they asked me for spare change. After giving them what was in my pocket I asked if I could take their photo. "You're not with the mafia or police, are you," the woman questioned? I'm still not sure what she meant by this, but after assuring her I was not with either organization they both readily agreed. The woman rummaged in her bag for some lipstick and then quickly fixed her hair before throwing her arm around her friend. They wanted to know why I was taking pictures. I told them I just enjoy it and that I enjoy meeting people. After introducing myself and shaking hands all around, I learned the woman's name was Rosemarie but goes by Rhianna. Her friend simply told me, "They call me D.O.D." At any rate, we chatted for a few minutes and they actually thanked me for taking their photo. This sort of surprised me but I thanked them in return for allowing it. By stopping to talk to people, I find, that the invisible barrier is broken...instead of two street people and a guy with money in his pocket, it became just three people. Simple as that. But why am I sharing this? Honestly, I am not sure, but I felt I needed to.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Photos taken at Buffalo Harbor 7.12.15
Let Your God Love YouBe silent.
Before your God.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Let your God
Saturday, July 18, 2015
So this is Tony. And that's his really groovy bike. I was riding home today on a particularly hot and humid evening after a bustling day at work when I noticed him in front of me. He was riding somewhat slow and with headphones on, so I pulled up next to him and had to yell to get his attention. I asked if I could take his photo and he said yes. I started to pull over but he pointed to a sunny spot at the next corner. Tony is proud of his bike, as he should be. He built it from the ground up. I asked him if he minded if I took a few photos and he obliged, but with the caveat "don't forget the hog" (which is visible on his fender in the top photo, and in a closeup in the bottom photo). That is one cool bike, I told him. Thank you was all he said. And then we rode our separate ways.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Two boxes of groceries, four tacos, a gym bag, and a bottle of red wine.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
It was delivered yesterday. Took about three hours and a half-bottle of wine to assemble. It's a Yuba Boda Boda, and I'm pretty excited about it. I'll be out putting some mileage on it this evening. Review pending...
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
A box of groceries, a bag of books, a bag of dog food, and two tacos.
Monday, July 6, 2015
Alan Wilson Watts
6 January 1915 - 16 November 1973
6 January 1915 - 16 November 1973
“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
“Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”
“Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
“This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.”
“You are an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself.”
“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function of what the whole ocean is doing.”
“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
“Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up... now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”
“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
“When we attempt to exercise power or control over someone else, we cannot avoid giving that person the very same power or control over us.”
More Five Quotes.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.
So these are a couple photos I took yesterday on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. I happened to be in NYC when the marriage equality act was passed and had heard that there was a gathering down there so I went and took a look. The “gathering” turned out to be thousands. It was in front of the historic Stonewall Inn. And it was really moving. People were crying, people were smiling, people were congratulating one another. There were local and state media speaking. And in the air there was hope.
I mentioned this earlier on Facebook, but I have to tell this brief story again. When I first got there I—being a somewhat smallish man—couldn't see because of the crowds. I held my camera in the air above my head but still couldn't get a good shot. I saw a guy standing on a wrought iron fence nearby, so I hopped up as well. I was just about to snap a photo when I hear, “Hey...you can't be up there. Ya gotta get down.” Turning, I saw it was two NYPD. Somewhat intimidated I jumped down and apologized. I told them I was trying to get a good photo. “Well, did you get the photo,” one of them asked? Nope, not yet, I told him. He then told me that I could get up there to take the photo but then I had to get down. I snapped a couple photos. And when I got down I thanked them and they both shook my hand. I found it very moving and it only added to the positive feeling of this historic event.
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."
If you've been to this blog before then you know that I have a soft spot for the homeless. My view is that it can happen to any of us. I really believe this. I don't think that a homeless person ever aspired to or thought they would be in the predicament they may find themselves. But they are. As for myself, if I were unable to earn a paycheck it would only be a couple weeks before I would be in financial trouble.
Anyhow, this is Harry. I saw him on 14th Street just off Union Square. I'm in NYC for the weekend and was on my way out for dinner and then a few beers before walking around and taking photos. And as I passed him on my way to a favorite Thai restaurant I saw him eating his dinner on the street.
After dropping a couple bucks in his hat and introducing myself I asked if I could take his photo. Surprisingly he said “sure.” Not all the people I ask agree to have their photo taken, later this day two other guys declined. Anyhow, I told him that I like to hear people's stories, and that I do this to bring an awareness to the homeless or semi-homeless.
Harry told me e was from Kansas City, then had to leave (he declined to tell me why). He first landed in New Orleans, where he squatted with a few other people in an abandoned building. New Orleans attracts a lot of homeless these days, he told me, because ever since Katrina there are a lot of empty buildings. I told him how I lived in NOLA quite a few years ago for a short period (mid-1980's) and that I was actually very near being without a place to call home at the time, and that it was the first and only time I was truly hungry (and somewhat scared).
He then headed up here, to NY where he is sleeping outside a building on the lower east side. We talked briefly about his safety and he was concerned, but where he sleeps now is pretty safe, he said. He also said that he was just going through a rough patch right now, but he'll be ok. After a bit more talk we shook hands and parted. I went to a Thai restaurant while Harry ate his dinner on the street. And as I ate the food didn't taste as good as it usually does. Not that the restaurant was at fault...I stop here whenever I'm in NYC, and it was as good as usual. It's just that I couldn't stop thinking about Harry. I hope he is warm tonight, because as I type these words it is raining outside
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
This is Bob (Bob Dendy to be exact...sorta like dandy only with an "e," he told me). Just when I thought I've met every eccentric person in Allentown along comes Bob...wearing striped shorts, wide tie, suspenders, colorful sneakers, and socks pulled up tight. I was out doing one of my favorite pastimes (though I haven't in a while)...going out for a few beers and taking photos of my eclectic neighborhood. Anyhow, I had a beer and was waiting for the light to change as my favorite time to take photos is l'heure bleue, that magical time when the sun has set (or not yet risen entirely) but there is still light in the sky which gives it a lovely blue hue (hence it's designation). And there I was, a pint of beer in my belly and feeling somewhat stunned from lack of sleep, setting up my tripod, when I hear, "Hello...hi...what are you doing?" It was Bob. He was carrying a milk-crate full of stuff and told me he was an educator. When I asked who he educated he told me anyone who would listen. So I listened; I love to hear peoples stories. It turns out Bob is from Toronto; apparently grew up there and here. When I asked if I could take his photo he darted in front of the camera, "Well if you want to. Just tell me what to do." And when I asked him if he would hold his crate of stuff he grabbed it and said, "Oh, now you want to make it real." We talked for about 20 minutes, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It turns out there are a lot of coincidences in our lives. When we parted and shook hands I could tell by the callouses on his hands that he has lived a life of hard work. He never did tell me what he taught, but I learned a few things from him. I learned (or at least remembered), that everyone has a story, and this is what I find fascinating. I declined his offer to stop by his place for a beer (turns out I know the person that owns the house he lives in), but nonetheless, people like Bob are what keep life interesting, at least for me.
A case of wine, a book bag, a gym bag, two books, a jean jacket, and a few groceries.