The Bronx: 4 Minutes on the #2 Train

As often as not when I’ve sat down to put together a blog post I’ve had no idea of what to say. Sure, I knew which snaps I’ve wanted to  show you, but what words to accompany them, that never came clear until I read them after having seen them on the screen. What I’m talking about here is trust: me trusting some level of myself that lies deeper than and obviously supersedes any conscious, intellectual aspect of my self (Is this sounding obscure or–dare I say it–pretentious?) to take  control of my fingers-on-the-keyboard while my mind occupied itself elsewhere. Similarly five of the six snaps coming up are also the result of my mind taking a vacation so my fingers, the ones holding the camera, could do their beloved and unfettered thing without succumbing to fallacious direction from that part of my brain that claims to know it all.

That being said, let me say this: On July 24th just past my beloved Bobbie and I, at her suggestion, traveled to City lsland in The Bronx to celebrate her 76th birthday at the Original Crab Shack. The trip, the lunch and the trip home had Inshallah written all over it. (a note here, Inshallah means God’s will. Not that that doesn’t apply equally to everything, but in this particular case it left  Bobbie and me feeling particularly blessed. For the Christians out there, think grace. From the guy who gave Bobbie his seat on the train north to the #BX SBS 12 waiting for us at Pelham Parkway to that  #BX SBS 12 bus driver who stopped his bus to direct us to the BX 29 which was also waiting for us because of the cooperation of slowly boarding passengers and a remarkably timed stop light to the delightful waitress a the Shack to the two buses and a train scheduled to minimize or obviate our waiting time on the trip home–and of course the food could not have been better. For both of us the entire adventure continually echoed of divine gift.

*   *   *

OK, so now that  you’ve put up with the words, here come the snaps. All were made within 4 minutes–except for the stained glass window at the Pelham Parkway stop on the way up–on the train back to 72nd Street. True, some additional time was spent post-processing them in the increasingly wonderful world of Picasa and Snapseed where they were made more to resemble what I saw then what the camera recorded. Ever increasingly the camera is my quick sketch device. Post processing is my canvas and-paint.

As always I’m eager to hear your comments. Just click “comments” or “make a comment” or “leave a comment” at the end of the posting, then follow whatever the fine folks at WordPress have set up for your words to be seen.

Be well.

 

Goldberg

 

Bronx Pelham Parkway

 

Bronx Crotona Park East

 

Bronx Crotona Park East

 

Bronx Crotona Park East

 

Bronx Crotona Park East

 

Bronx: Westchester Av & Southern Blvd

 

Published in: on July 26, 2018 at 5:23 pm  Comments (12)  

Home again, home again…



IT'S A BIG, WIDE, WONDERFUL WORLD

It's a big, wide, wonderful world you live in
When you're in love, you're a master
Of all you survey
You're a gay Santa Claus

There's a brave, new, star-spangled sky above you
When you're in love you're a hero
A Nero, Apollo
The Wizard of Oz

You've a kingdom, power and glory
The old, old, oldest of stories
Is new, true
You've built your Rome in just one day

Life is mystic
A mid-summer's night you live in
A Turkish delight, you're in heaven
It's swell when you're really in love
It's swell when you're really in love
                        --John Rox

And, as it turns out, that particular world and what I truly love
 is abbreviated NYC.

                                      Capezio window at night, NYC

 

                                      Lower East Side, NYC

 

              International Center of Photography, NYC

 

                    Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NYC

 

Sitting across from me on the #2 train between Brooklyn and Manhattan, NYC

 

Born in Tashkent, raised in Moscow, lives in Queens, NYC

 

         Bronx Mennonites singing in the subway, NYC

 

                                                         Central Park, NYC

 

Some men’s room on East 4th Street, NYC

 

                                                   State of grace in NYC!

 

Published in: on June 25, 2018 at 6:56 pm  Comments (5)  

Stans Folks

Throughout my time in The Stans most of the folks I photographed posed for me. Often they initiated our contact asking me to taste what they were selling or just asking where I hailed from. Being from the universally recognizable New York City was a guaranteed conversation starter, just note the hat of the man in the first photo. More than once it happened that one of them would snatch the camera from me to then take the snap! The first few times this happened I, being well versed in the behaviors of urban Western Culture, instantly prepared to chase after the thief. Wrong! There was no thief, no crime in progress, no need for 911 or its Central Asian equivalent. Few folks love New York City more than I do, still this was simply not Times Square.

Culture counts!

For all my goodhearted, spiritually-based belief that we all be alike, us humans of the world, us children of the same God, these folks were different. This was the great lesson of my journey: just get used to that. These folks descended from nomadic peoples. Their attitudes toward everything from clothing to food to receiving travelers seemed predicated on that history of moving around and traveling light–not at all the same premises at the root of cultures based on staying in one place and accumulating everything from wealth to property to recipes to the products of art and industry. They welcome strangers as they would wish to be welcomed. (Yes, they can also be fearsome warriors and hard nosed business folks. Let that discussion be for another time.) No one we met hesitated to share. At bazaars and festivals, at a Sufi gathering people would invite us to dance with them or to eat the food they’d prepared. We were guests in their home and perfectly safe in all respects. Perhaps the extreme of this came when I bought a rug in Bukhara which was to be delivered, not taken. I paid cash, filled out the export paperwork and left. I did not request nor was I offered a receipt. The rug arrived at my apartment a week ahead of schedule.

I offer these joyful portraits to you, perhaps as encouragement to travel, certainly to brighten your day.

Enjoy!

Samarqand Uzbekistan

 

Sufi retreat, Mary Turkmenistan

 

Ashgabat Turkmenistan bazaar

 

On the road: Bishkek to Lake Issyk-Kul Kyrgyzstan

 

Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent Uzbekistan

 

Bread baker, Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent Uzbekistan

 

Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent Uzbekistan

 

Khiva Uzbekistan

 

Khiva Uzbekistan

 

Khiva Uzbekistan

 

Sufi retreat, Mary Turkmenistan

 

Suzani (hand embroidery) Sitoral Mokhi-Khosa Uzbekistan, Museum of Applied Arts

 

Kujand, Tajikistan

 

Istravshan Tajikistan

 

Published in: on May 29, 2018 at 1:31 pm  Comments (14)  

5 Stans in 18 Snaps!

Any mention of Central Asia and the five Stans must begin with its central place in the history of the Silk Road–now more likely to be called the Silk Routes–the series of trade routes bringing goods from China to the west during the Han Dynasty  between 130 BCE and 1453 CE. Central Asia was the pivot point of the various routes going west to Europe and south to Arab and ultimately African markets. Being so strategic to this intercontinental commerce in goods and, ultimately, ideas, Central Asia was also an area ripe for infighting among its nomadic residents and conquest from the outside. Consider for instance  the Arab armies spreading Islam in the 7th and 8th centuries and the mighty Genghis Khan’s invasion in the 13th century. As recently as the 20th century the area fell to the dominance of the Soviet Union, existing as Soviet Socialist Republics for 70 years.

As Google pictures it the Silk Roads looked like this:

https://asiasociety.org/sites/default/files/styles/1200w/public/8/800px-Silk_Route_extant.JPG?itok=H-pUKsAF

The 5 Stans: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic (a.k.a. Kyrgyzstan) are located in the area above Persia east of the Caspian Sea at the point where the northern and southern routes (in red) coming from China converge. They are a place of deserts, steppes and mountains, a place much more hospitable to nomads than to farmers.

My three week visit to the Stans offered evidence of all this history and more, far more than I am either able or willing to report on.  As proof of that, the photos below are not at all intended to represent any more than just my current favorites as snaps.

 

First a few generalizations:

  • The people of these countries are unfailingly friendly. As often as not they’d ask to be photographed with us. Once, while listening to our guide give us the rundown on a particular mosque, a traditionally dressed teenager wearing an ankle-length dress and multi-colored head scarf snuck up next to me to take a selfie with me!
  • Foodies, vegetarians and any others seeing food as anything more than fuel will struggle here. These are all nomadic cultures with precious little arable land. Consequently there is no great priority given to cuisine. The basic dish, plov, is simple and nutritious seasoned rice topped with a stir-fry which, in all likelihood, will be overcooked if it is vegetarian and tough if it is meat. Ice cream, however, is always good and cheap and omnipresent.
  • Any tour will serve up mosques, marketplaces, non-art museums–Islam frowns on representational art–and ruins throughout. All are worth seeing, but the repetition leads ultimately to mind-mix. Still there are stand-outs. For me the ceiling of the Mosque of 40 Pillars, Moschea Bolo-Khauz in Bukhara Uzbekistan is my ultimate star. As with the Shahriston Pass mentioned next, any photo of this ceiling will be worth the framing.
  • If you do go, make sure to motor the Shahriston Pass thru the Pamier Mountains separating Khujand and Dushanbe in Tajikistan. Any photo taken of the snow-capped mountains will surely delight you as will the experience of simply stepping outside your vehicle to breathe deeply.
  • Vodka everywhere is not only cheaper than water but always better. The local vodkas are dependably superior to the ones we routinely spend vastly more on, and each country has a vodka all its own.
  • For me–of course, for me–who else is writing this?–Khiva Uzbekistan with it’s walled-in old city was the absolute highlight of the trip. There is a feeling of timelessness walking the dirt and fieldstone streets through adobe buildings and tiled mosques past traditionally dressed folks of all ages who smile in welcome.

Here are the snaps:

Unfinished minaret, Khiva Uzbekistan

 

Hillside near Medeu Skating Rink, Almaty, Kazakhstan

 

Reflections, National Museum of Antiquities, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

 

Samarqand Uzbekistan

 

Samarqand Uzbekistan blurred ladies

 

Mosque of 40 Pillars, Moschea Bolo-Khauz, Bukhara Uzbekistan

 

Three women, Bukhara Uzbekistan

 

Sufi retreat, Turkmenistan

 

Khiva City Wall Gate, Uzbekistan

 

Micki–with whom I’d travel anywhere–Khiva City Wall Uzbekistan

 

Khiva Uzbekistan

 

Khiva Uzbekistan at night

 

Ashgabat Turkmenistan (thru two bus windows!)

 

Shahriston Pass, Tajikistan

 

Lake Issyk-Kul Kyrgyzstan

 

pomegranates, Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent Uzbekistan

 

Outskirts of Tashkent Uzbekistan

 

Khiva Uzbekistan

 

 

 

Published in: on May 9, 2018 at 9:15 pm  Comments (9)  

This is a test…

…although far less dramatic, life-shattering and cosmically comical than some of the others over the past few days.  Now that my computer has crashed if I am to post this Blog I must do it either on the phone or using my wife’s computer which is cleverly hidden in the random storage space called her desk. This is my first phone attempt.  So far I’m all thumbs.  Using voice recognition things come out like this— if only!  More likely to come out like this — hey that’s not bad either!  Maybe there’s a reason leave invoice recognition.

 Now let’s try putting out a picture or two. The first—if I get it right— what is the wonderful image I saw while walking to the liquor store after the crash and the multi-hour failure of various Microsoft techs to right my world to restore my supply of medicinal tequila.  The second was made while Facetiming with my wonderful source of ultimate strength who is currently in Connecticut tending to her beloved and daughter.


Here’s the second, a mixture of the—I can say the word now—depression that came with the crash and the renewed joy of our contact. Hooray for technology!

Ok, here’s a third, a “Right here, right now-ie” to celebrate what seems to be a moment of successful adaptation to circumstances. Ultimately reality works!

One concern—I avoid the word “problem”—is that I’m unable to send out a “new post” email because that list went with the computer. I will post notice on Facebook and would very much appreciate you forwarding this link (goldberg.wordpress.com) far and wide.

Thanks.

Update! As I have been about so many things lately, I was wrong about losing the notifications list. My email account lives in the ether and not in the computer. I will be able to access it and send out the word. Another hooray!

Published in: on March 10, 2018 at 10:35 am  Comments (11)  

Hmm…

This particular moment started when a new acquaintance emailed her interest in hearing about my travels. My response:

I’m much more articulate with a camera than with words if only because that response comes from a deeper place.

The words just came out of my fingers onto the keyboard (I have a desktop) and appeared on the screen. I added links to this blog and to one of my books on Blurb and hit send. The idea that I do better with pictures than words, however, remained. Words for me often get complicated and twisted by the brain that formulates them and the purpose–there’s always a purpose–that motivates them. In my case that usually means seeking either  the validation of being agreed with or a victory possible thru clever argument. (If you need documentation for this, look at the shit I post on Facebook.) My snaps though are no more than,

“Hey! Look at this!”

spontaneous rather than deliberate and not meant to illustrate an idea, attitude or belief.  Thanks to my first photography instructor, Harold Feinstein (https://goldberg.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/harold-and-me-but-really-harold/) I now have a history of frequently making snaps without necessarily looking thru the camera. The post-processing (what we used to call “darkroom work”) I do is to close the gap between what I saw and what the camera recorded. Harold ultimately taught self-trust, not trust in my conscious ability but rather in something –I say this fully willing to be misunderstood–spiritual. Thanks Harold! That being said,

Hey! Look at these!

 

RSG w/ Shadow

 

Rubinstein Atrium

 

                                                          Amsterdam Houses delivery

 

Snow on the Guggenheim

 

W 76 in the rain

 

W 76 in the rain

 

W 14 in the rain

 

Waverly Place

 

 

 

 

Published in: on February 25, 2018 at 4:21 pm  Comments (11)  

Here They Are! The Top Ten (+1) Since Christmas

The past month has been a true gift for me vis-a-vis my snaps. Rather than burn you out with words about them, here they are.

 

Metro North

 

Imax theater

 

Highline

 

W 22nd Street, Chelsea, NYC

 

South Ferry NYC tour bus operator

 

Construction site W 70’s: on the way to the Women’s March

 

W 22nd Street, Chelsea, NYC

 

Michelangelo exhibit at the Met

 

Michelangelo Exhibit at the Met

 

76th & Amsterdam, outside my window

 

                                                           From the Highline, NYC

OK, so what do you think–or feel? Click below on Leave a Comment  or maybe Comment to let me know.

Published in: on January 30, 2018 at 5:20 pm  Comments (26)  

Let it snow…

Nine haigas to start the new year. Enjoy, share, comment…your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on January 2, 2018 at 2:07 pm  Comments (18)  
Tags: , ,

Someone said “Bless you” and I didn’t even sneeze

No doubt my best stuff comes out when I don’t have either the time or the inclination to think first. Like when I asked Bobbie to move in with me or two years later when I asked her to marry me. Today it happened twice.

First was on West 17th Street as it filled with students exiting Winston Prep, a school you wouldn’t know was a school until you saw a hundred or so kids pouring out the door all at one time. I waited till most of them had left the block then started walking east from the Rubin Museum of (Himalayan) Art toward what proved to be a dramatically overpriced second hand shop run by Housing Works. At just about in front of the school now, I see two schoolgirls photographing a schoolboy. They are lively and encouraging. His face wears that cross between scowl and indifference that represents manhood to those not yet having achieved it. Suddenly I hear myself talking–to them!

“Hey! What’s going on here?” All three–recent arrivals from Ivory Coast as it turns out–look at me more with shock than anything else. I keep talking, astounded not only that I’ve jumped uninvited into their world but also at what was coming–also uninvited–out of my mouth.

“He doesn’t look like that,” I continue. At that the boy’s face relaxes. An easy naturalness replaces his pose.

“See?” It’s not like I’m pointing my finger at him, but that’s probably in my voice. “He looks like THAT,” I say, half laughing. I pull out my phone/camera. ‘”May I?” Everyone is giggling now, nodding. I snap this.

All approve. On the spot I email it to the girl with the phone. They walk west. I continue east.

  *   *   *

The second time actually came later that same the day. What happened in between isn’t really relevant here. This time I was in the subway on the #1 train going north from West 18th Street. The train had begun to fill with rush hour folks, hardly a seat to be found. I spotted a bit of bench between two work-boots guys, each half asleep, in that relaxed position certain people (I’ll not label them, but you know who I mean) call man-spreading. I walk up to them still grinning the great grin brought on by the street-snap event from maybe an hour earlier.

“Hey, guys!” I point to the spot. “Mind if I join?” Both smile and bring knees together. I say thanks and sit. They smile and return to semi-sleep. Three stops along the train stops at Penn Station. A bunch of folks gets off and a seat opens across the isle. I take it. The two guys open their eyes long enough to smile again then return to their original positions.

*   *   *

This is my city. This is my life. Yes there are some exceptional occurrences, but this day-to-day stuff, this is the reality.   I can only be grateful.

Published in: on December 4, 2017 at 9:40 pm  Comments (11)  

Harold & and me–but really Harold

 

Back in 1965 or maybe ’66 or even 1967 I studied photography with Harold Feinstein. Six or maybe eight classes spread over as many weeks in autumn. I was living in the Lower East Side as it was transitioning into the East Village or Alphabet City. I lived in buildings slated for demolition, worked at jobs similarly doomed and found relationships appropriate to my residential and vocational standards. Until photography came along (another story) and Harold opened me to an immersion life that went far deeper and beyond whatever he might have taught, the only solid rock in my world was intoxication.

Harold died just a few years back, leaving behind a wealth of photographs, students and wisdom. Judith Thompson continues his blog still, and that is why I’m writing this. When this came I was overwhelmed. Reading it was hearing Harold speak it, feeling the love he projected in my every encounter with him, in everything I’ve ever heard anyone else recall of him. Here I re-re-post it for you.

  *   *   *

 

Journey into the Unknown: Musings on the gift of life

Breezy Curtains, Vermont, 1975
Breezy Curtains, Vermont, 1975

Recently Harold had a short stay in the hospital. Afterwards he was reflecting on the things that have mattered the most in his life and I taped a short conversation between the two of us about his thoughts on life and photography.

Judith: As a photographer for 67 years now, and a teacher to hundreds of students over five decades, what would you most want to share with other photographers, artists – or anyone – about the meaning and importance of photography in your life.

Dancers' Arms, 1978
Dancers’ Arms, 1978

Harold: I would say our work is a form of prayer – a manifestation of the gift we’ve been given. That famous quotation “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” is true! It’s important for us to give recognition to what it is we behold. Not in judgment, but simply in acceptance — so that it can live a life of its own. What emerges will always be a surprise taking many forms that we may not even have thought about.

Our primary gift is in giving recognition to what is. Sadly, this is what rarely occurs in education. What is called education is often an attempt to replace “what is” with what “should be.” Yet, the journey into the unknown is so rich that it challenges all preconceptions of what “should be.”

Judith: And when you talk about the journey into the unknown, you’re talking about… ?

Harold: I’m talking about saying “yes” to the gift – whatever our gift is. Because each of us has a gift – a form of expression of the uniqueness of who we are – and the job of the educator is to encourage that gift in our students. To live life truly and authentically is to allow that full expression to come through. Why else are we here?

Horse’s back, 1974, Vermont © Harold Feinstein Photography Trush

The most important word in the creative process is “yes” – even before we know where it will lead us. “No” is dead in the water. So I say, come wander in your wonder. And that’s the journey into the unknown. All you really know about it is that it’s the truest aspect of what you are – and yet is has nothing to do with you at all! It’s letting in the light.

Judith: What do you mean by that?

Harold: I mean, because it’s a gift, it’s a sacred thing. Walking into the unknown of your own creativity is mysterious. It’s where you find yourself as an individual, but also touch on what is universal. Remember, you are not alone when you walk in to the temple.You have brought God with you.

Queen Anne's Lace back, 1999
Queen Anne’s Lace back, 1999

Judith: And the temple is…?

Harold: The temple is that place that is sacred to you. For me, my photography is a sacred act because I recognize it as my gift. And I’m hugely humbled by it, because I don’t own it. I can only be gracious to it. That’s all I can do… and, what’s another word for gift?

Judith: A present.

Harold: Yes. It’s obviously a present, but it’s also the present. To be present. So the gift is in being present now and now and now. To see what’s in front of us in any given moment. That’s why I’m always saying: “Will you look at that?” Because there’s just so much that’s absolutely extraordinary every moment in the ordinary. It’s called being present to the gift of life.

Judith: So how do you guide your students in this path, which is not just a path about seeing and about photography, but seemingly a path about living life no matter what we choose to do?

Harold: I say to my photography students: Whatever brought you into this room, and whatever brought me here, I consider sacred. That’s what I’m here for.

Whatever you do, whether it ends up with photography, or poetry, or any other area, is going to rest very deeply on your ability to see the strength and beauty of what you have. That is the dividing line between those who soar and those who don’t.

Triumph Hybrid Tulip, 2001

I’ve seen students who in the beginning are like shooting stars. You know, right away. It’s so obvious. You know, it’s so clear where they are. And others that will bump into every inanimate object there is. But, luckily I see people over a longer period of time and I get to see many of them at the point where they get their wings and they fly.

And the key element is that moment when they begin to give recognition to their gift – to say, “I am a photographer”. That belief suddenly fuels how far they’ll go with what they have. Talent — I’ve seen much of. Immense amounts of it.

But the most important technique is self-recognition. That and a prayer. And they’re not contradictory, because self-recognition is giving; is being gracious about the gifts that God has given us.

It’s not aout ego. It’s not blowing one’s horn. We only blow our horn and it’s only an egotistical act when we’re afraid of and feel insecure about what we have or who we are. But in terms of beliefs of oneself, to give recognition – to say “I’m beautiful. I’ve done something really nice here, really wonderful here.”

This is being gracious to the gift. Because we don’t own it, you know. We don’t own any of it. We don’t even own these bodies. We’ve rented these for a life span. That’s all. Dust to dust.

Judith: Amen. It’s hard to say anymore than that…

Blanket Toss Beach Play, 1955
Blanket Toss Beach Play, 1955

 

 

Here’s the link to the article on Harold’s blog.

https://www.haroldfeinstein.com/journey-into-the-unknown-musings-on-a-life-of-gratitude/

This is my gift to you for whatever it is you might celebrate. Read it again! Explore the words and photographs at your leisure and for your enrichment.

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 27, 2017 at 2:26 pm  Comments (11)  

About my snaps…

Recently I was told that my photographs are becoming increasingly abstract. Whoa! “Hmm,” I said for as long as I could hold that note, not knowing whether to follow up with “Thanks” or “What does that mean?” or even the ever so evasive “O, really” followed by an awkwardly expressed request for elucidation. Did abstract as used here mean unreal or without feeling or hard to identify with? Was it code for artistic or stupid, something better or, G-d forbid, worse?

*   *   *

My  photos show whatever it was enticed me to make them in the first place, whatever it was that just grabbed me. Each begins with what the camera recorded. That is only the beginning. As crucial to the finished product as the initial exposure is the  considerable effort spent post-processing. The goal: to bring the machine-made visual representation into line with the emotional event inciting the trigger being pressed.

Still, for all the cropping and color enhancement and contrast adjusting and intensification of highlights and shadows and warmth, a face remains a face, a window filled with reflections is still that, the intersecting planes of urban architecture are never other than buildings and every selfie still looks like me.

An interjection here that may be of some use: Yesterday I saw a feature film from 2005 or 06 called Fur: an imagined biography of Diane Arbus. Everyone from Arbus’ conventional family to the mysterious, fur-covered man who would lead her into the dark world she pursued until her suicide was abstracted, drawn in emotionally- charged caricature as were the environments in which the action took place. Everything was ultimately more than real.

*   *   *

Here are some new snaps. I’d very much like to know your responses to them.

BSG

 

72 & RSD

 

International Center of Photography

 

Store Window +, Broadway & 83rd Street, NYC

 

Rockaway Beach

 

School Flea Market W. 76 thru a window

 

ACA Gallery

 

Penn Station

 

LIRR Sleeper

 

Christie’s Revolving Door

 

Behind the Beacon Theater

 

From 3rd Av & W 57th

 

ACA Gallery: Grace Hartigan show

 

RSG B’way & 76

Published in: on October 3, 2017 at 8:31 pm  Comments (13)  

You can’t break the rules until you know you’ve been following them

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Age of Empires exhibit

 

What if nothing—nothing—depended on you? What if everything and everyone your life currently contains would not only survive but in all probability do quite well were you no longer involved with anything? Say you moved to Cleveland or becoming a hermit or even hmm…

Once again the obvious had occurred to me, something that seems to be more and more a wonderful byproduct of living long enough. In this case I’d actually realized that that is exactly what will happen when I die, and that works! And the only ‘proof’ of that is that there is no longer any desire, any craving to be in any way indispensable re any aspect of human or planetary existence. Just let everything and everybody be in charge of its own life. I might be nice or annoying or useful to have me around, but when push comes to shove, life without me will continue unabated.

A lovely consequence of this insight is that there’s no bucket-list. Were my life on earth end today there would be no one whom I’ve loved whom I’ve not told that or didn’t need to. There are no bike rides I’d still long to do or photos to take. No blog entries unposted or water aerobics classes unattended. No countries there’d be that I must visit—not that I’ve been to all, of course. Even the trip I’ve scheduled for next spring to the “5 Stans” should it not happen would not leave me with regret nor the folks in those countries saddened at my non-appearance. It will all be all right.

What a phenomenal “load off” to know this! And it’s not the only bit of blessed information to have worked its way into my consciousness recently. It follows the equally great release I was granted last spring when Simon Child, leader of a Silent Illumination retreat I’d attended upstate told us that:

  1. We have all internalized or accepted consciously sets of “rules” by which we live our lives.
  2. These rules are abstractions and thus not reality.
  3. Trying to abide by them often puts us in conflict with reality and thus creates suffering.
  4. You don’t want that!

All this came together last night. I was sitting in meditation with a small group of folks vastly more advanced in the practice than I. Apparently one of my rules for this situation was “You must sit perfectly!” I’m pretty sure I got this rule from Shunryu Suzuki, a teacher close to my heart. Actually he said, “To take this posture is itself to have the right state of mind. There is no need to obtain some special state of mind.” No biggie. I can sit as still and in as good posture as the next guy. Nobody knows what chaos is running through my head at any particular moment–which, it would seem, is a perfectly permissible state of mind–so that’s covered. Just sit still…until along came the backache!

And what a backache! All mental chaos disappeared, swallowed up into the outrageous agony lower right just above the waist and below the rib cage. My mind—my soul, my Buddha Nature, my Essence—probably my amygdala, pleaded with me to move, to twist, to rub the spot, to stand up from my kneeling bench, run outside and scream.

But no—nnnoooo—0! That would be breaking my “perfect meditator” rule. And it wasn’t about looking bad in front of these folks. Hell no! These good, loving souls weren’t about to turn on me for revealing some humanity. This was about me looking bad to me. And just in case I was slipping, Rule Voice kicked it up with the list of reinforcers:

  1. You’ll disturb the others if you move.
  2. They’ll think less of you.
  3. Rubbing the pain might not help.
  4. You’ll feel bad that you moved. You’ll be a failure again!

Rule Voice knew that I was weakening, that somewhere in my intelligence the voice of Simon Child was again being heard. And that voice now echoed brilliantly. RV reinforcers fell like chickens in front of a hungry man with a Kalashnikov AK-47.

  1. We’re meditating in Manhattan. We’re hearing traffic, street conversations, crying babies, halve of phone conversations, and that’s not disturbing anybody. Besides, meditation isn’t about escaping reality. It’s ultimately about refining (I almost said perfecting) our awareness of that reality as inseparable from us.
  2. No they won’t.
  3. Not rubbing the pain in the belief that it will not work is predicting the future—again a departure from reality.
  4. Feeling badly that l’d moved could not possibly feel as bad as the back does right now.

Rule Voice was not about to give up: “Those are rationalizations!”

My Voice responded silently—if not, “Yeah, yeah.”

I reached around with my left hand and began to massage, to knead, to rub, pull and push the painful area. Sure enough, just doing that, just overcoming the misery being imposed by Rule Voice created a smile deep in the deepest aspects of me.

And yes, there was another benefit: The pain left enough to allow another half hour of meditation on the bench.

Published in: on July 22, 2017 at 3:09 pm  Comments (9)  

Silent? Illumination

At the end of a nine day Silent Illumination meditation retreat l attended recently the instructor, Simon Child alerted us that many people think of meditation retreats as semi-luxurious vacations from the stress of the world. “Don’t be surprised,” he warned us, “when folks ask you ‘did you have a good time?’ or ‘How was the Jacuzzi?’ He also asked we write a report on our experience. I hope the below is an appropriate response to both the warning and the request.

 

Silent Illumination Retreat Report

 

After the storm

Sunlight streams

Over the spillway

 

For the first four days of this late spring nine day retreat in the Catskills the only times I’d take off my jacket would be to step into the shower or slide into my sleeping bag. By the middle of the fifth day, however, temperature was no longer an issue, that consideration having been obliterated by the merciless throbbing in both my left and right calf muscles. I meditate astride a seiza, the Japanese kneeling bench much more comfortable for me than a traditional cushion—at least until now. Behind me I could see, first with anger then jealousy, a few other retreatants sitting in chairs.

Fine for them,” the self-righteous voice in my head spoke thru the pain.  “I would never begrudge anyone that which they needed.” But I knew—deep down, truly knew—not for me. In my book chairing was the revelation of a weakness in no way mine. I could not be a wimp and still expect a successful retreat.

I was sweating. Simon had instructed us that Silent Illumination begins with locating the mind within the body, but not like this. This wasn’t observation and investigation. This was hell. This was suffering and suffering well beyond any conceivable strategy to end it. I sat tortured in my seventy-five year old body, steeped in self-pity and on the verge of tears while Suffering screamed brilliantly loud and clear that I was in the wrong place and, yes, at the wrong time and that my only sensible option was escape.

“Get up! Take the seiza, fold the towel, slink out the Chan Hall door, return to the dorm, pack and hitchhike to the nearest train station. Do it now!”

Pain and panic flooded my mind as I leaned forward to make my exit. It was then that Awareness—blessed Awareness–spoke:

Danger! Danger!

Great Doubt! Great Doubt!  Great Doubt!

Danger! Danger!

Aha! Moment of insight: My suffering was not being created by my legs but by my mind in the guise of male ego. This filter of judgements and commandments interposed between the world and my awareness of it was keeping me from responding appropriately to the situation at hand. Simon had mentioned the rulebooks we write or adopt and then force ourselves to live by, and here mine was—titled in bright gold script on its shiny red jacket:

Do’s and Don’ts of Real Men!

I rose, folded the seiza and, rather than slink out the door, I placed myself on a chair!  A brief smile and I returned gratefully to Silent Illumination practice.

*   *   *

For the remainder of the retreat my body continued as the entry point for more investigations. Each would be accompanied by sensations I would have previously identified as pains. None came with drama.  Never again did it occur to me that I might be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Right here-right now was just fine.

 

Published in: on June 17, 2017 at 11:30 am  Comments (10)  

The day before spring

 …Heaven brings life into being and Heaven takes life away;

there is nothing to fear about death.

                                                   — Saigo Nanshu

 

The previous night Yoshiro had slept fitfully.  On waking he remembered only one dream, and it quickly vanished.  In it he was himself but at no more than himself at three or four years.  He sat in a classroom of the antique style.  Desks and chairs were bolted to the bare wood floor in precise rows.  All was grotesquely outsized.  His feet were suspended several meters above the floor.  The teacher, gigantic and dressed in a dull, conservative tradition, wore her hair piled up in a huge topknot that doubled her height.  Her obi, a solid and disturbingly shining green wrapped tightly about her waist looked in his dream like a flattened eel.  She lumbered toward him in a state of throbbing agitation, waving a ruler in the air, an actual eel with tongue extended and blood-red saliva spraying from its mouth.  Clearly she was screaming at him, but no sound came from her moving lips.

Terrified Child Yoshiro struggled to get down from the high seat.  High above the floor his legs flailed helplessly in the air.  The sandals his mother had so painstakingly woven for him—how did he know this?—flew from his feet.  Alas, the narrow space between the fixed positions of desk and chair permitted no room for him to descend.  Try as he might he could not slide sideways, held in place by an unseen force he could not name.  He remembered the strong aroma of rotting cabbages.  Yoshiro cried out for mercy as she approached, but, like her mouth, his too made no sound.  As she arrived at his desk Sleeping Yoshiro’s bladder called him awake.

Several times this night he arose to urinate.

 

Most of their bedroom was filled by a Western-style bed, which as Yoshiro noted first with disbelief and then resignation, at this moment stood invisible under several vacuum-flattened clear plastic bags of her summer clothing themselves under mounds of carefully folded winter garments.   The door to the emptied closet stood ajar.  Barely inside the doorway he smiled with his mouth only.  He recalled the room as it had been before their now decades old cohabitation, a time when it held only his desk, its chair and a small altar for the statue of Buddha he’d brought back from a trip to Kyoto.  He’d refer to it as his Heian Period, the great classical period in Japanese history.  Friends—acquaintances really and more Western in orientation than Yoshiro—called it his time of waiting to afford furniture.

He sighed.

“If you—when you—need help,” he offered, turning toward the door and his writing desk—now in the common room—“just call.”  Yoshiro was one of those few in Tokyo experimenting with a freelance existence rather than opt for the security of “company man” status.  He wrote advertising text.  Between assignments—and frequently his situation was such—he was one of those filling time by writing haiku or photographing flowers.

“Maybe after dinner,” Ko mumbled from her desk.  Lost in playing American solitaire on the computer—a growing preoccupation she justified as a way to rest her tired back—the enthusiasm of her reply matched exactly that of his offer to be of assistance.

“As long as we have the bed for sleeping,” he called out with an uneasy lightness.

“We have the futon,” she answered perfunctorily referring to the couch in the common room.  “It pulls out nicely to sleep two.”  Before her sentence ended Yoshiro had veered from both his path and his offer.  He passed through the apartment door, closing it with deliberate quietness, bypassed the elevator as had become his custom of late and started down the stairs to the street seven flights below.

This day was Setsubun, the day before spring.  The weather was appropriately uncertain.  Four flights from the street he stopped abruptly, reversed and climbed back up the stairs.  As quietly as he had just exited, he re-entered the apartment, snatched his maroon Uniqlo jacket from the shelf near the door and once more exited.  Soon enough he was stepping through the ground floor fire door onto the street.  Ueno Onshi Park but two blocks away filled his mind.  Cherry blossom viewing was still weeks distant.  This early in the season and late in the day—shadows had already begun to lengthen—it would surely offer all the quiet he needed to digest his rising feelings.

 

Akemi means bright beauty.  Her parents, fresh from the countryside at the time of her birth, named her thusly in the belief that it would guide her destiny.  As things turned out they were correct.  From her first moments free from mother’s confining womb through the very instant she entered Ueno Onshi Park her days had been a succession of seeming successes guided, if not compelled, by her physical appearance.

In any period of Japanese history Akemi would have been found unsettlingly beautiful.  She stood just taller than an average Japanese male and thus sought after as a trophy by men of power.  Her desirability was further enhanced by a pale—but not at all unhealthy—complexion offset by full and radiantly shining black hair which, regardless of fashion, she wore midway down her shoulder blades.  This, much like her large, round, exquisitely dark eyes, removed her from fleeting fashion trends and placed her in that timeless aesthetic beyond any era.  Appropriately her weight—without an excess of exercise or concern for diet on her part—more than suited both her height and her culture.

Her easy smile always appeared unprovoked by the immediate but rather in response to something deeply internal.  Men seeing Akemi’s face were quick to label her expression serene while hoping that energies more dynamic were concealed beneath.

How often though is happiness spoiled by the belief that it is undeserved?  Unexpectedly sensitive Akemi had not been raised in nor discovered on her own a religion or even a philosophy offering a judgmental supreme being or some systematic structure for personal evaluation.  Nevertheless she had come to believe that somewhere beyond consciousness and, perhaps reality, there was indeed a being all-powerful.  Sadly, she was quite sure that being was intent on and poised to snatch away at any moment all the accumulated beneficence that had flowed virtually uninterrupted into her life.  Its reason?  Simple, direct response to her having done nothing whatsoever to have earned it.  So it was, with no supernatural intercessor to intercede for her wellbeing, she assuaged her feelings of inadequacy through traditional daily offerings to her ancestors—a flower or a fruit, surely nothing conspicuous—in hopes that they might somehow ameliorate that fate she saw as imminent.

To facilitate this ritual and hedge her bets, she’d bring her daily gift for the spirit world to Ueno Park and its statue of Saigo Takamori.  Takamori, called Japan’s last true samurai, stood honored at the southern entrance to the park, ennobled while walking his dog.   Under the name Saigo Nanshu he had not only written poetry but also a philosophical manual, Instruction of Dying, advice on the only eventuality Akemi saw at this juncture as holding the potential to relieve her of her ever present, if well concealed, anxiety.

On this Setsubun when she finished her entreaty to Nanshu-san and bowed, Akemi opened her eyes only to discover herself standing shoulder-to-shoulder with sad Yoshiro.  A slight chill riding on the breeze of impending evening, Yoshiro now wore the maroon jacket.  He, regardless of the preoccupations which led him to the park, stood like so many others drawn to his particular location by her radiance.  (Later he would deny this.  His denial, however, would read hollow to some and contemptible to others.)  Akemi quickly covered her mouth, giggled just audibly and stepped back.  Yoshiro wanted so to smile, but found he could not.  Flushed, he batted his eyes hoping to regain contact with the reality he’d temporarily abandoned.  He coughed.  There then passed a moment that might have seemed to an outsider like an eye blink, but to the two of them represented eternity.  He cleared his dry throat.

“The statue is well lit by the late afternoon sun.” He spoke with the authority one might expect of a television newscaster.  She let the moment for her response pass.  He continued.  “It is well that Takamori-san is located as he is.”  He hated himself for the drivel coming from his mouth and despised even more the pomposity with which he delivered it.  If he had spoken to beloved Ko as he was now speaking to this stranger, she would have laughed outright and, like a mother to her child trying too hard, kissed him on the nose.  Akemi, long accustomed to men making fools of themselves in her presence by their extended effort not to appear foolish, continued with her mouth covered still smiling with her eyes.  She giggled once more.  Yoshiro perceived a great deep hole equaled in its depth only by his own compulsion to fill it.

“You know, he was a samurai and a poet.”

Akemi lowered her hand.  Her smile lost, she stared at the ground between her feet.

“Weren’t they all poets, the great warriors,” she asked the air above her breasts.  Yoshiro had no answer.  He, too, focused on the ground.  The sun touched the tops of the still bare tree branches black against the orange-yellow sky.  The uu-gah of a police car klaxon in the far distance made its way to their ears and just as quickly disappeared into the dull roar of rush hour.  A gaggle of passing uniformed schoolchildren noted them and smiled among themselves.  When stillness returned Akemi spoke just above a whisper.

“Have you ever considered suicide?”

Yoshiro looked up abruptly.  “No!”  Had he answered too quickly?  “Of course not…that is…” He paused.  He returned his gaze to the spot of bare earth where so many had stood to view the last great samurai.  “Yes.”

Akemi shivered.  Without thought Yoshiro removed his jacket and leaned toward her, extending the garment ahead of him as a torero might hold a cape.  She turned away at the final moment brushing against the jacket.  His phone fell from its pocket and clattered to the ground.

“No!” She stepped back.  “You must put it back on.  You’ll be cold.”  His face flushed again.  He stooped to pick up the phone.

“But you, you’re—.”  She took two crab-like side steps toward the Southern gate and the street.  He stood up.

“I must be going,” Akemi whispered to herself then repeated it to Yoshiro.  She turned and walked now at full stride toward the street.  Yoshiro silent, rigid, stared after her.

The last rays of the setting sun left his face.   Ueno Onshi Park stood gray about him, a perfect foreground for the street lights and those in the windows of the various buildings beyond.  Yoshiro did not notice.  He stared at the phone held tightly in his hand.  Ko, despite her agonized back and her various chores would be waiting dinner.  There was a market on the way home.  Something might be needed.  A bottle of wine would be nice.  He flipped open the old fashioned clamshell.  Ko’s number was the first he’d entered into it all those years ago.  Still and as always, he dialed from memory one digit at a time: 03-7653-7821.

 

The end

Published in: on June 6, 2017 at 10:24 am  Comments (10)  

Sometimes it’s just about color

More snaps from Spain and Portugal. Aside from some details in Seville’s Real Alczazar and morning sunlight kissing Lisbon there’s nothing famous in this selection.They really are just about the–not always bright–colors.

Malaga

 

Lisbon

 

Madrid Airport

 

Barcelona tour bus

 

Palma Mallorca Harbor

 

Cartagena

 

Cartagena

 

Cartagena

 

Cartagena

 

Malaga’s Jewish Quarter

 

Gibralter

 

Gibralter: World War II Tunnels

 

Seville: Real Alcazar

 

Seville: Real Alcazar

 

Cordoba

 

Loule Portugal

 

Loule to cork factory, Portugal

 

Loule to cork factory, Portugal

 

Francisco Carrusca Cork Factory, Portugal

 

Published in: on May 22, 2017 at 10:57 pm  Comments (17)  

Not really Spain & Portugal (& Gibraltar)

Bobbie and I recently spent 15 days–when you add in travel time–cruising the Iberian coastline from Barcelona south to Gibraltar then north ultimately to Lisbon. The trip was delightful. We were well cared for at every moment by Grand Circle Cruise Line’s program director and crew who genuinely seemed to enjoy their tasks and our presence. At each of a dozen stops we saw magnificent churches, picturesque old towns (with the occasional no-longer-Jewish Jewish Quarter,) Medieval and Roman and–perhaps most remarkably–Phoenician ruins. Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi church still being built in Barcelona, remains the high point of this trip for me. The only way I could make a poor photograph in this place was by accidentally shooting my feet or the back of some other tourist’s head as she passed between me and my intended target–and yes, I did both.

Along with documenting the trip to re-trigger our memories in whatever distant future might remain to us, I also found more than enough time and subject matter to do some of my more personal visuals. Here–and in no way intended to represent our trip–are a few of my current favorites.

Enjoy!

Leaving the Clio

 

Gaudi’s Casa Batllo at night, Barcelona

 

Sagrada Familia

 

Valencia

 

Reservatauro Rondo

 

Malaga’s Jewish Quarter

 

Malaga’s Jewish Quarter

 

Ray

 

Gibralter: Macaque monkey

 

Seville: Jewish Quarter

 

Seville: Plaza de Espana

 

Seville: Holy Week Parade float carrier

 

The road to Cordoba

 

Cordoba: Jewish quarter

 

Cordoba: Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba

 

Cordoba: Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba

 

Loule Portugal

 

Loule Portugal

 

Francisco Carrusca Cork Factory, Portugal

 

Alfama, Lisbon

 

Published in: on May 4, 2017 at 11:37 am  Comments (21)  

Leave a comment!

Back in July I posted my first batch of haiga. Since I had only just learned of them myself, I figured no one else in the world knew what they were and so included a definition. It went like this:

Haiga is a combination of visual image and poetry, each to enrich the other and, ultimately, to lead the reader/viewer beyond what is presented toward what their own life experience suggests.

The posting garnered sixteen comments–all of them favorable. That made me feel good enough that I posted another batch. Imagine my surprise when this second group resulted in just one (!) comment. Granted it was favorable, but, you know, just one?! After all, there were thirteen of the little guys, thirteen!

Whatever, I was having so much fun  that I wasn’t about to stop just because nobody except for cousin Sharyn seemed to give a damn. To make a story that isn’t particularly long shorter, I’ve since tucked my ego in its own little sleeping bag and spent a remarkable amount of the last few months creating more haiga. I’ve even begun fantasizing publishing a book of the little rascals. But, of course, that’s about me.

Here’s where you come in. Below are a few of the newer haiga.

  • Do you like them?
  • Do you not?
  • Do they lead you off into thinking about moments in your own life?
  • Do you simply not give a damn?

Tell me. I’m strong enough to hear your truth. Please use the “Leave a comment” option at the end of this to make your feelings known.

Trust me, this is definitely not (NOT!) about will you buy the book!

Here they are:

 

 

 

Published in: on March 12, 2017 at 9:36 pm  Comments (23)  

A very short story and some snaps

I don’t know…whatever

“Damn it Dick, the whole world’s goin’ to hell in a handbasket, and all you want to do is take photos of things we’ve all already seen—I mean sidewalks and sunlight and shit–and drink cheap tequila on the rocks in bars that claim to be either Black or Irish.”

‘Dick,’ Goldberg thought. Seventy-five fucking years old and he still couldn’t be sure if he was being called by a nickname name or a body part. “So show me a Jewish bar in New York–a real one. I don’t mean one that’s just owned by a Jew. Latanzzi’s is owned by a Jew. Maison Fou Fou is owned by a Jew.”

“You mean ‘Frou Frou.’”

“Whatever. Just show me one where there’s Klezmer music on the box—not Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme or the Non-Nazi Clams.“

“And batter fried lox-wings with cream cheese dip?”

“Yeah, cream cheese fuckin’ dip twelve for a dozen!” Dick and Ron stared at each other, silent for the moment, then raised their glasses.

Death to the Kaiser!

And there it was, the toast of great and total healing, the eraser obliterating whatever grief each—however smiling—might have caused the other in the preceding fifteen minutes of lunacy projected as fact.

*     *     *

And now for some photos of things we’ve all seen.

Verdi Square

Verdi Square

 

Rain & leaves 5

Rain & leaves

 

Madison Av & low 80's

Madison Av & low 80’s

 

Bow Bridge Central Park

Bow Bridge Central Park

 

Central Park snow

Central Park snow

 

Magic Hour

Magic Hour

 

Midtown from Reservoir

Midtown from Reservoir

 

The Ramble

The Ramble

 

Chambers Street

Chambers Street

 

Published in: on January 31, 2017 at 5:41 pm  Comments (16)  

South India & Sri Lanka Snaps: the book

Here yet again is the link to a book of  my 196 favorites of the 1500+ taken on the trip.

http://www.blurb.com/b/7540115-south-india-sri-lanka

Blurb is an online publisher that does wonderful work. Being a book of snaps, however, it is prohibitively expensive. Using this link you can see the entire tome all for free!

Negombo airport

Negombo airport

Enjoy!

 

Goldberg

Published in: on December 13, 2016 at 3:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

Again to the north of central Chennai, this time in the Kasimedu Fishing Harbour of Royapuram. It is early morning and already hundreds of boats have brought in their catch from the Bay of Bengal for the fish auction held each morning. The shapes and colors, the crowds and smells and energy of this place engulf the senses without pausing for considerations of like or dislike, pleasant or unpleasant: pure excitement! Still even the busiest fishmongers, cleaners and helpers seem to have both time and inclination to welcome the foreign visitors.

Kasimedu Fishing Village, Mamallapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

Even looking

thru your camera

it is me you see.

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

You!

Hey!

Look everywhere!

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

Kasimedu Fishing Harbour, Royapuram

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 21, 2016 at 5:34 pm  Comments (20)  

South India and Sri Lanka, First Glance

Chennai

Tamil Nadu, the South Indian state on the Bay of Bengal, includes Chennai, Mamallapuram, Chengalpattu and Kanchipuram. Here marked the start of my 18 day visit to South India and Sri Lanka with Stalin,

Stalin V

a magnificent guide, and six truly experienced travelers. Our trip, so abundant in its events and aromas, its sights and tastes and textures, goes well beyond my ability to document or encapsulate it. One blogpost will certainly not do.

I’m not going to begin with the beauty shots or even the exotica. I’ll start with just a few images and a very few words taken from Chennai’s George Town, an area of dense and intense wholesale, retail and distribution activities. More than the sounds or the smells or the jostling I experienced here, the attitudes–yes! attitudes–I encountered here foretold all my subsequent interactions with folks I’d met or just rub up against in the rush of life in this remarkable tropical world. Everywhere–even in Kerala, the Upper West Side of South India–people were simultaneously humble in their lives and proud of what they did, determined to get things done but willing to pause when pausing was the only–or most desirable–option.

Yes, I’d return in a minute.

Georgetown, Chennai

100 kilos

balanced above his grin–

“I work in George Town!”

 

Georgetown, Chennai

 

Georgetown, Chennai

Age–

and I hope it is not you–

is not me.

 

Georgetown, Chennai

 

 

Georgetown, Chennai

The English drive on the left

Americans drive on the right

We drive wherever we can.

 

Georgetown, Chennai

 

 

Georgetown, Chennai

 

 

Georgetown, Chennai

 

 

Georgetown, Chennai

 

 

Georgetown, Chennai

You travel so far

to watch me work—

I am honored.

 

Published in: on November 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm  Comments (25)  

Everything–almost–is beautiful!

In 1970 Ray Stevens wrote a theme song for his TV show. The song: “Everything is Beautiful.” Stevens was better known for comedy songs like “The Streak,” “Ahab, The Arab,” and “Harry The Hairy Ape,” but that didn’t deter America from treasuring this particular ditty. Nor did it keep us few chosen souls from accepting it as truth. In testimony to that truth I submit the following snaps.

First, nothing more than a dark hallway .

175 W 76

 

Next part of the front of a building that used to be something else.

Madison Av in the high 70's

 

An old Japanese jug…

Japanese collection, MMA

 

The wet street outside a gallery with not much of interest inside.

W 22 in the rain

 

Another gallery with art so uninteresting as to make me admire the ceiling:

Gallery skylight

 

And another gallery where the high point was the stairwell:

Hansen-Worth Gallery

 

And a gallery where even the floor beat what was on the walls.

Gallery floor

and another tree growing in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

 

‘Catch my drift?

OSGEMEOS, Silence of the Music

OSGEMEOS, Silence of the Music

 

Published in: on October 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm  Comments (5)  

Second Haiga

Two months ago I tried something new, haiga.  I introduced the form like this:

Haiga is a Japanese concept for simple pictures combined with poetry, usually meaning haiku…It can be watercolor paintings, photographs or collages with a poem of any genre that is integrated into the composition. Sometimes the poem is handwritten or it can be computer generated, depending on the artist’s taste.

Haiga is a combination of visual image and poetry, each to enrich the other and, ultimately, to lead the reader/viewer beyond what is presented toward what their own life experience suggests.

Here is the second batch. The first is from a former life of mine, then a series using photos taken in Thailand back in 2004 and finally one snap from Vietnam made in 2013.

Enjoy! (And please leave a comment.)

 

 

1-100_2637

 

Poling on the Ping River

Poling on the Ping River

2-image0-055

 

3-image0-150

 

Floating Market of Damern Saduak, Rajburi Province

Floating Market of Damern Saduak, Rajburi Province

 

Sukhothai: Wat Mahathat

Sukhothai: Wat Mahathat

 

along River Kwai

along River Kwai

 

Inside the Long Son bell, Nha Trang

Inside the Long Son bell, Nha Trang

Published in: on September 18, 2016 at 11:55 am  Comments (1)  

A confession

While I certainly thank all of you who’ve praised my photography, the truth is, it’s not about me. I just happen to spend more and more of my time–with my camera, of course–in the right place. Sunday offers a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

Bobbie’s daughter Lynn from Harwinton, Connecticut spent this weekend with us. She brought along her grandson from Las Vegas, Michael.  Here they are at the American Museum of Natural History the day after the event I’m about to report and, of course, illustrate.

Lynn & Michael Turner

We’d gone to the Statue at Mike’s request. His status as Lynn’s grandchild and my great grand child as well as this being a rare visit from his home on an Air Force base in the Nevada desert gave all his requests great weight. So, you see, all this is just another way of saying, it was all because of Mike.

On our way back from Liberty and Ellis Islands, in the transition from the Battery Park dock to the #1 train, Mike spotted a most unusual building, one I’d never noticed before although, as it turns out, it had been at that location for a year:

“Let’s see what it is,” he said in an eight year old voice  which utterly belies his noteworthy sharpness and intelligence.

“OK,” say I in a voice dragged almost to a mumble by the heat and humidity and hour spent walking around Miss Liberty. We went.

The Seaglass Carousel!

I went speechless while Mike kept up both ends of our conversation. On automatic, I put my camera against the glass wall/window and randomly clicked the shutter–never looking at the camera screen to see what it was showing. Here are the results:

1-IMG_6559

2-IMG_6560

3-IMG_6561

4-IMG_6562

5-IMG_6563

6-IMG_6564

As much as I’d like to take credit for these snaps, it’s clearly not about “credit.” I’m blessed to live in a world that–without consulting me–constantly provides me with visual beauty and excitement. I can live with that.

Here’s a link to their video:

http://www.thebattery.org/seaglass/

Published in: on August 15, 2016 at 3:18 pm  Comments (6)  

First Haiga

First a definition, drawn from AHApoetry.com:

Haiga is a Japanese concept for simple pictures combined with poetry, usually meaning haiku…It can be watercolor paintings, photographs or collages with a poem of any genre that is integrated into the composition. Sometimes the poem is handwritten or it can be computer generated, depending on the artist’s taste.

Haiga is a combination of visual image and poetry, each to enrich the other and, ultimately, to lead the reader/viewer beyond what is presented toward what their own life experience suggests.

Here are my first first:

 

Fez, Morocco

 

W 181, NYC

 

W. 72nd near B'way

 

Central Park

 

First snow fantasy

 

Enfield sunlight

 

Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

 

 

Freeman Street #2 station

 

Chrysler Building, NYC

 

03-Niantic 2015

 

]]At Nianatic Crescent Beach

 

Ghost of the Klein

 

Manhattan Av

Manhattan Av

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 23, 2016 at 1:53 pm  Comments (19)  

I don’t know

Whenever there is something I want to convince you I don’t care about I have a variety of possible responses. I might say, “I don’t care,” but probably not. “I don’t care” is just too simple, too direct, and too non-passionate to convey any sincerity at this point in our history when “phenomenal” means second rate. “I don’t give a darn” or a “damn,” too, is too weak nowadays, so I’m more likely to go with a “rat’s ass” or a “shit” or a “fuck” or even a “flying fuck,”  knowing that the louder, the more vulgar I got, the more I believe you’d understand just how important it is to me that you believe I don’t care about whatever it is that occupies this particular moment in our conversation.

What I saying here—and, frankly, I’m not too sure this is something I want to be known for—is that regardless of how important or unimportant our topic is to me, it is still more more important that I convince you that, quite frankly, Miss (or Mr. or Ms.) Scarlett, I don’t give a _______! (You may fill in the blank here, but “rat’s ass” is definitely my favorite.)

Right now I’m thinking of Omar Mateen who seemed—according to the NY Times—to be deeply committed to convincing himself and the rest of the world that he was not gay. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I don’t give (all the way to) a flying fuck about Omar Mateen’s motivations or self-perception. Of course should I say it in just that way, you’ll have more than sufficient reason to doubt the veracity of my claim to indifference. You might—I might think—think, “If he doesn’t care about this, why is he making such a big deal out of telling me he doesn’t care about it?” Then you just might use that logic to feel yourself more perceptive of my true inner being than—dare I say it?—I myself.

Such a claim to superiority could certainly lead to no good, and we both know that!

In the wake of Mateen’s killing of 49 people and wounding of more than 50 others there have been postings on Facebook and other social media of the ease with which Americans currently are able to obtain AR-15’s.

  • One woman claimed it took her all of 7 minutes to do so at a Pennsylvania Walmart. Now Walmart has announced it will suspend all AR-15 sales, so you know it’s stock will be sold off to far less conscious retailers to then be sold to an eager American public.
  • A man (I think he was in Georgia) lollygagged at the cash register–perhaps reading the Enquirer, so it took him 15 minutes to become so armed.

Now some of you have seen the video of me quite competent with a variety of pistols pouring lead into a target in northwestern Connecticut. How big a stretch is it to imagine that same me, not an Enquirer reader, AR-15 in hand, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that I did, indeed, not care about whatever we might have been discussing? And yes, that includes such delicate issues as the Yankees pitching rotation, the use of small, hidden motors on Tour de France bicycles or the Tony award for best costume design in a musical revival.

And for those of you who might be wondering, “Why doesn’t he just shut the hell up and show us some pictures,” here they are.

Thank you very much.

 

Sideshow Goshko at KGB Bar

Sideshow Goshko at KGB Bar. Sideshow Goshko is a delightful once-a-month storytelling event.

 

Benny & Topher at 9

Benny & Topher, my grandsons, at 9

 

St. Patrick's Cathedral, NY

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NY

 

subway

A subway moment with no one visibly using earbuds.

 

Central Park

Central Park

 

David & Felipe's

David & Felipe’s apartment

 

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

 

[Jack &] Sonyo

[Jack &] Sonyo

Published in: on June 16, 2016 at 6:41 pm  Comments (8)  

Just Lucky I Guess

Perhaps totally unintended, the greatest benefit of owning a smartphone for me is the camera app. True it’s great when coming home to find out what to pick up at the supermarket or to know who might be waiting for the traffic light to change in San Francisco or that the cutest cat in the world has just befriended a reindeer in a high school classmate’s backyard. As for being able to watch videos of whatever rock star from the ‘60’s  has just died and read the rants of those supporting those still seeking presidential nomination, sure, they’re important too. But it is the camera that most enriches my life. It is the camera that puts me in touch with my non-virtual world with whole new levels of intimacy and appreciation. The camera’s ready availability attunes me more than ever to the ever-changing beauty and excitement and drama and comedy that I pass through while my mind does all it can to distract me from those things.

Whoops! I just made this a Buddhist or maybe a mindfulness thing, didn’t I?

  • Be in the present when my mind wants to spend the afternoon in the past or the future.
  • Observe!
  • Participate!
  • Leave analysis for less enlightened or more reality-avoidant.

And there’s another—I’ll say it—spiritual aspect to this: the phone-cam as link to humility:

  • Look at all this that I’ve had nothing major to do with either creating or maintaining!
  • Understand it all as the gift of a universe possessed of grace and in constant motion!
  • Learn over and over again that beauty and excitement come spontaneously and live well outside the realm of value judgements!

My Mom loved to say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” My little phone-cam with its constant urging to see and its ability to instantly communicate to the world what I see whispers “Behold!”

The Oculus

The Oculus

 

02-IMG_4932

Morning sunlight

 

#2 train

#2 train

 

Crossing guard

Crossing guard

 

Norman Shoenfeld

Norman

 

W 76 & Columbus

W 76 & Columbus

 

Teddy Rosenberg

A Friend

 

Freeman Street #2 station

Freeman Street #2 station

 

09-IMG_5005

The Met Breuer

 

Subway Smith Street

Subway Smith Street

 

Doing dishes

Doing dishes

 

Subway: D train 167th

Subway: D train 167th

 

Central Park

Central Park

Published in: on April 17, 2016 at 12:07 pm  Comments (15)  

A Trip Across the Waters

My slide away from words more and more into photography continues.

Dave Lutz

Good Buddy David–who has a greater knowledge and a deeper appreciation of our city than anyone else I know–took me on a walk through the epitome of new construction and traffic noise, Long Island City. Our mission: to see how much of David’s Human Enrichment (aka, quality of life) suggestions for the area had been rejected by the Ultimate Powers. What we found delighted my shutterbug aspect if not his dreams.

*     *    *     *     *

 

02-IMG_4397

 

Long Island City

 

Long Island City

 

Long Island City

 

Long Island City

 

 

Long Island City

 

Long Island City

Graffiti Realismo or something else?

 

Sculpture Center, LIC

Resting inside the Sculpture Center, LIC

To be sure the visit concluded with an hour or so spent in one of the many foin Irish bars in LIC: coffee for David and for me Bushmills Black Bush. A good time was had by both.

Published in: on February 8, 2016 at 3:38 pm  Comments (12)  

What about the shoes?

It all started on Craigslist with this, the ad I’d placed once I finally admitted to myself that I’d no longer be riding fast or far:

1-IMG_1655

 

It continued with this exchange of texts, first from Moses Helster:

December 6

Hi there! I am very interested in buying your bike and willing to pay your asking price. I’m currently working at sea as an oceanographer for NatGeo. Due to this I will not be able to come pick up myself. I can purchase a cashier check and mail it to you to cover the final asking price and I can arrange for a reliable shipper to come and pick it up once the check has been cleared by your bank. Let me know who to make the check to and where to send it.

Regards Moses Helster

*****

To which I responded on December 7

Mr. Helster we have  deal! Make out the cashiers check to Richard Goldberg (at my address). When the check clears the bike can be picked up at my address. Additionally I have an almost unused 8-8 1/2 shoes for the bike. They’re free. If you want them they’re yours.

*****

On December 7 he wrote:

I am glad you agreed to sell to me and also the final price is alright by me so i will go head and mail you the payment..I will send you the usps tracking #after mailing it   Regards Moses Helster

*****

To which I re-inquired: And the shoes?

*****

Two days later, on December 9, I received this:

Good morning Richard, Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I want you to know i sent you the check as agreed. It was shipped via USPS with tracking number XXXXXXXXXXXX. After  reconciliation of my account, I discovered that somehow my assistant must have overpaid you. The payment meant for my daughter’s school fee’s was sent to you! Please help me fix this error! I’m so sorry for the confusion this has caused. Regards Moses Helster

Please when payment is received in the mail, I would like you to deduct your money as agreed, and send the remaining to my daughter’s school., The shipping company will be responsible for the pickup. Regards Moses Helster

*****

On the same day, December 9, I answered:

Mr. Helster–I will not cash the check but rather return it to you. Please have your assistant make out the proper checks. we will do our business when I receive a check for the correct amount.

*****

On December 10 I received this:

Good morning. The payment I sent to you will deliver today..I want you to be on the look out and get back to me once you are in possession of it..

And then, later on the same day, this from him:

Hello

Richard, Information reaching me from usps l have it that the payment had been delivered..All you need to do is to have the Check cashed at your bank and get back to me once you have the cash with you so that I can update my daughter’s school..I look forward to hearing from you.

Do you have the cash now?

I need your response

*****

Not hearing back from me, on December 12 I received his final text.

what’s going on Richard,…you have been quite since you received my check…i need you to keep me updated

********************************************************************************************

OK, so on December 6th I received a text from someone who wanted the bike at my price without first looking at it or having someone he trusted look at it. Hmm…  Nonetheless, being eager for the sale, I agreed to his terms and sent him the address at which his trusted shipping company could pick up the bike. So delighted was I that I offered him the shoes as well.

On the 7th he confirmed the agreement but ignored the shoes. Hmm number two.

On the 9th he testified that, indeed, the check was in the mail, then acknowledged that his “assistant” had made an easily corrected error, that I was to receive a check for vastly more than the meager $400 to which I was entitled. He also noted the simple action I might take to correct this and reconfirmed that the bike would be picked up.  [Now we are well past the hmm stage.]

This was quite enough to overcome my eagerness for a sale, hence my reply saying I’d wait for the proper check before going any further. [My evaluation and approach were both confirmed in a visit to the 20th Precinct of the NYPD and by my wife’s unfailing common sense.] This not fitting into his plan, he ignored my text and, on December 10th, texted only about the check’s imminent arrival. By this time the USPS envelope had been delivered and I refused delivery and sent it back to the return address in Ohio.

The following day, the 11th, he again texted regarding the check and again mentioned his daughter’s school. His concluding “Do you have the cash now? I need your response” was clearly geared to get the money fast.

The next day, the 12th, the eagerness and pressure continued, this time with a hint of feigned desperation. Nothing has followed. It’s now been eight days. I still have the bike and the shoes.

Anybody want to buy a light, fast, wonderfully geared bike?

 

Published in: on December 20, 2015 at 4:32 pm  Comments (11)  

Back from Down Under

Weta Cave, Wellington

Weta Cave, Wellington

 

If you’re careful how you say things, you won’t have to retract (or is it recant?) them later.  For example, let’s just say you’re married to someone who for years has been saying

“I want to go to Australia. This is my dream trip, the one I’ve always wanted. And, if possible, New Zealand too. After all, if we’re going to go all the way to Australia…”

Meanwhile, you’ve spent all those same years not saying but certainly thinking,

“If I’m going to travel, I truly don’t want to find myself in just one more bland version of exiled English people who are perfectly content to spend their lives eating white bread and watching televised rugby and football by their own idiotic rules.”

O no! You’re much too clever to say something like that, probably because you’ve been married long enough to know how frequently you’ve had to eat such words without the benefit of her having first cooked them.  No, what you do say is,

If I’m going to travel, I want experience a culture as radically different from my own as possible.  It’d be cool to see some different scenery, I suppose, but what I really want is to feel like (I’m never afraid of platitudes or old sci-fi book titles) a stranger in a strange land.”

So for all those same years you encourage her to find someone else to make that long trip with, someone who’d appreciate it the way she would. Meanwhile she goes along with you to China and India and Vietnam and Thailand and Bhutan, all those spots of sufficient cultural difference to be worthy of your attention and travel dollar. True, you do relent re Ireland where you find live music to drink to and sing along with every night, so you actually come home praising the place to others. But Ireland’s just a skip across the Pond.  It’s hardly the 21 hours 13 minutes (according to Travel Math) from New York (and that’s just the airport, not my home and TSA-enforced 3 hour early arrival at the airport time) to Melbourne and the clearance and baggage carousel at that end.

OK, so I know all this. I know what I want and don’t want. I know what will make my senior years on the planet joyful and what will simply fill them up. So why then, sitting across a table late one afternoon,  one grilled cheese sandwich in front of me and one BLT in front of her (both with extra crispy bacon) did this voice, having utterly bypassed my brain, come out of my mouth saying,

“I’m going to Australia (New Zealand implied) with you!”

This, by the way, was the self-same voice that asked her to move in with me in 1996, but that’s another story altogether.

Anyhow, I have no genuine answer to this question. Of course in subsequent conversations regarding my decision to embark on this travel I’d rationalize with things like,

“Well, she’s gone with me on my dream trips” or

“Well, I really want to be supportive…”  This latter with frequent interjections of “You know” and “I mean” and “what the hell.”

The truth be told, anyone who knows me knows I’m really not all that giving when there’s the slightest chance that being so involves less than the dictates of my own selfish will. Perhaps that’s why, in more intimate, tequila-lubricated moments, I’m tempted to identify that unclaimed voice with some deeper awareness that is able to speak when my ego is at the movies. Think of that as a variation on The Devil made me buy this dress. Whatever.

Magpie goose, Cleland Wildlife Park, South Australia

Magpie goose, Cleland Wildlife Park, South Australia

The trip was phenomenal! 16 of us, under the profound and loving guidance of Roxanne Garner, a Kiwi living in Oz (I can say that now that I’ve been there), spent time in a mammoth desert, a rainforest, in snow-capped mountains, among seals and penguins, crocodiles and kangaroos, among dingoes and Tasmanian Devils and wallabies and glaciers and floating above the Great Barrier Reef. We met with Aboriginal and Maori people to learn of their history, their successes and their current difficulties. We visited the Weta Cave in Wellington where much of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, King Kong, The Chronicles of Narnia, Avatar, District 9, The Adventures of Tintin, Elysium and The Hobbit Trilogy were designed and manufactured. In Roxy’s words, a month of learning and discovery.

Below are a few more choice snaps from the venture.  Even more are available at

https://picasaweb.google.com/richsgold/ANZShowreel04?authkey=Gv1sRgCLK1pI7s2tfamgE

Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki

Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki

 

Bearded Miner, Reefton

Bearded Gold Miner, Reefton

 

Cape Tribulation Croc/wilderness cruise

Cape Tribulation Crocodile

 

Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

 

Bobbie & Riwiri Te Kowhai hongi, Ohinemutu Maori Village

Bobbie & Riwiri Te Kowhai  in a traditional Maori greeting (hongi). Ohinemutu Maori Village

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on November 5, 2015 at 4:47 pm  Comments (10)