The time is now!


This photo shows  peeling paint in the back staircase of a perfectly respectable middle class building. Is it a metaphor for the ugly, murderous racism that underlies the American dream we so want to be real? Does it expose as does the video of an American police officer keeping his knee on the neck of an American Black Man until that man was dead exposes what we’ve been denying since the end of slavery? If so, then let it be an inspiration to all to find a way to join in the struggle to bring freedom and justice to all.

Published in: on June 1, 2020 at 8:10 pm  Comments (1)  

The Second Batch of Haigas

Four years ago I posted my first collection of haiga, introducing it with this definition from

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 lead the readers/viewers beyond what is presented toward what their own life experience suggests. The goal here, overwhelmingly, is to make  those readers/viewers co-creators in a fusion of photo, poem and mind in what is ultimately theirs alone. Knowing that you have a responsibility to complete the creations I’ve begun, I offer my newest haiga.

The images were made while I was quarantined with family in an area of Ulster County New York called Lost Quarry.

Living on a dirt road surrounded by trees, only one other house visible and then only when trees were winter/early spring bare.

Concerns generated by this extraordinary time and place combined with whatever else of my own 78 years might show itself for my part in our co-creation. The rest is up to you.










Published in: on May 20, 2020 at 2:08 pm  Comments (13)  

Canal Street: Night

During the day Canal Street just might be the most populous and energetic street in Manhattan, rivaling or even surpassing Times Square with it’s rush of locals, souvenir sellers, hustlers and knock-off hunting teens and tourists  from all over this world.

Intertwined odors of old and fresh fast food
   of dumplings and garlic
Old women chat
   pick through fresh fish and produce
     common in China
Men from Canton and Taiwan
   from Sierra Leone and Pakistan and Peru
   from Brooklyn and The Bronx
   spread their goods on folding tables or simply
     on blankets on the sidewalk
Younger women–not young
   wave laminated pictures of handbags
   and watches (“Gucci! Gucci! Rolex! Gucci!
   and perfumes (“Dior, new Dior! White shoulders!
They speak in urgent hushed tones
   point to unmarked doors
   make you feel special.
At night it’s different: dark, quiet, all but abandoned
   like rain threatens or has just passed
           Canal Street is yours
           Last Tuesday it was mine.


Here are some souvenirs from that Tuesday night.

Canal Street at Lafayette


Canal Street


Canal Street at Baxter thru a bakery window


Canal Street


Canal Street stairway to Heaven

Canal Street

Canal Street


Canal Street


Liusal fashion pop-up Canal Street


Canal Street

Published in: on February 13, 2020 at 3:46 pm  Comments (14)  

Some Spanish Harlem with Dave

So I say to my good buddy Dave (who most people call David), I say, “Dave, howzabout you and me, we go to El Museo del Barrio?” Dave, he’s the one on the left, Dave says, “I wanna walk around Spanish Harlem.” I say, “OK.” He says, “OK.”

Long story shortened, I show up early and wait across the street from El Museo in the Conservatory Garden, Central Park. While I wait, I snap this:


Dave shows. We check out the museum then hit the streets: Lexington thru First Avenues, 104th thru 118th Streets. Here’s what I snapped:


In a schoolyard around Park Avenue and 105th

Lex around 109

Lex and 104th not so much the way it looks much as the way it was meant to be seen.

Madison Avenue around 105th

Park Avenue and 106th

Park and 106th under the Metro North tracks

2nd Avenue and 102 where black & white still rates


 So here’s my question to you: What are the hot streets in your part of the world? I’m always open to suggestions for where to take my camera for a walk. Use the “Comments” option below to give me some direction.

Published in: on February 5, 2020 at 7:27 pm  Comments (16)  

Ten times thru glass

Back in  the city, looking thru glass. I don’t think that means anything…really.


St. Agnes Library


Admiring armor


Manhattan sunset from GWB


Coco-Mat Store, B’way & 78th


The Algonquin


East River & Koch Bridge


Columbus Avenue low 80’s


Brooklyn train


The Met


Hartford CT


Published in: on January 6, 2020 at 11:42 pm  Comments (10)  

An All-too-short Week in the Ozarks

The story of my recent trip to the Ozarks begins in 1950. The Korean war had brought a wealth of rural French Canadians both from the Maritimes and Maine down to my home town, Hartford Connecticut, to find work at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft supplying engines to our war effort. Along with them came their music. In what seemed to an eight year old boy no time at all, Hartford had country music! Call it old-timey or hillbilly or even bluegrass, there it was not only on the radio but on the shelves of Park Street’s Belmont Record Shop located appropriately enough in that section of Hartford known–and still known–affectionately as Frog Hollow. Maybe it was the storytelling, maybe it was the energy, maybe it was the voice-oriented range that my voice felt it could handle. One way or another, me, the eight year old in question, I was hooked immediately.

–Skip ahead sixty-nine years–

Drawn by the promise of live mountain music in actual mountains and with the guidance of Road Scholar, a touring company dedicated to taking us older folks out of our comfort zones to discover more of the world before leaving it, I spent about six days in and around the Ozark Folk Center State Park in north central Mountain View Arkansas. To cut to the chase: It was fantastic! We stayed in thoroughly modern cabins (floors, electricity, indoor plumbing, cable TV) in a forest setting which incorporated a traditional craft village of blacksmiths, potters,  leather crafters, doll makers, stained glass artists and jewelers. We walked through forests, rafted a peaceful, cliff-enclosed river, ate what the folks eat and, at seemingly every turn, heard music: bluegrass music, old timey music, folk music. A world of acoustic strings where everyone was participant. The folks we met were unfailingly welcoming and happy to be in conversation with us from off (the mountain.) I was eager to learn more about their world, and they showed it, lived it more than explaining it. As for me, an undoubtedly liberal Buddhist Jew from New York City, I’d never felt more comfortable among strangers than I did in this  all-white world of fundamentalist Protestants.

Here are some snaps from the trip. Not an attempt to document the experience, but rather a collection of revelations.


White River Arkansas coming out of the morning fog


White River Arkansas


White River near Chessman Ferry Arkansas


Museum at Calico Rock Arkansas


Calico Rock Museum, Arkansas


Abandoned Old Town, Calico Rock Arkansas


Blacksmith, Craft Village at Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Potter, Craft Village at Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Pre-historic rock at the Craft Village, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Broom making, Craft Village at Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Made in Mountain View Arkansas


Mary Parker Group, Ozark Folk Center, Mountain View Arkansas


Ozark Highlands Radio Square Dancers live performance, Mountain View Arkansas


Blanchard Springs Caverns, Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, Arkansas



Published each Wednesday in Mountain View  Arkansas

Homer of Pet Partners, Little Rock Airport. Homer, with his handler to be sure, patrolled the departures areas of the airport to ease anxieties and entertain children waiting to board.

Published in: on October 30, 2019 at 6:28 pm  Comments (4)  

Things are looking down!

“Waddaya take pictures of,” she asks me.

“I dunno. Whatever.”

I used to hate that word, “whatever.” It seemed like a cop-out. (Do people still say cop-out? If you’re under a certain age is it a mystery? If you’re over another age is it an increasingly faded memory? Maybe from the time cop was a deprecating noun rather than an edgy  verb.)

Back to whatever: the older I get, the more it applies, but in a wonderfully perverse way. Let’s face it, I live in the most phenomenal city on the planet. I live two blocks from each of two fantastic parks. It’s a mile and a half walk to (big drum roll here) Times Square! When everything is extraordinary, it all becomes oddly equal. The perverse part is that this even applies to the parts that don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of ever being equal to anything. That’s why what I’m gonna show you now is about looking D O W N. The street, the sidewalk, whoever might be sitting in front of me when I’m standing on the train and not wishing I had a seat–which, BTW, doesn’t happen very often. Everywhere I look at this point in my life there’s something to see worth seeing.

And I know I can’t be alone in this.

What about you? What do you see? Keep in mind I’m not talking about the shit that makes you feel angry or sad or superior. Anybody can carry on about that crap. I want to know what delights you, what makes you smile when you hadn’t planned on smiling.

Here’s what works for me:


#2 train: getting off, staying on


Subway: something to stand back from


175 W. 76: just what it says


NYC, imagine, they told my grandparents, the streets are paved with gold.


Cafe Figaro: all that’s left of a great venue


E. 4th Street: at rush hour sometimes the shadows move faster than the traffic


Subway: meditation without music


Fuller Building lobby


My block! I live here!


Russian Tea Room






And finally, looking down on he who looks down.
















Published in: on September 18, 2019 at 3:39 pm  Comments (2)  

Found Around


Found Around is my newest collection of photographs. It’s one more testimony to my love of New York City and the technology which enables me to convert what the camera records to what it is l see when walking our streets. Ultimately it’s a celebration of being here. Please visit the Blurb website where it may be seen in it’s entirety.

Here’s the link:

Of course I’d appreciate  your sharing this with those who might find it interesting.



Published in: on August 3, 2019 at 10:59 am  Comments (3)  

Each One Different!

When I was a kid it was a point of national pride that we were each one different yet all Americans. Sure, we didn’t practice that belief the way it’s now understood, but it was constantly preached and  reaffirmed as correct, as the ultimately right stuff.  In the course of my lifetime this purportedly universal and fundamental belief has been the cause of a constant intra-us struggle to either make or keep equality from becoming not just the law but also the reality of this land. Thus the moment was just that powerful, watching fireworks from the stands of the The Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees, surrounded by the great variety of folks who make up lower middle class New York City. Ooh-ing and aah-ing in unconscious unison, we were for that moment one despite our differences.















As the last explosion echoed off into New York Harbor and the harmony of the moment passed in favor of the home-bound rush, my mind settled on other moments, those before and those to come in our period of conflict renewed.  In 1863 Abraham Lincoln spoke:


“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent,

a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that

all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war,

testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated,

can long endure…

…It is for us the living…to be dedicated here to the unfinished work

which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us

to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—

that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause

for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve

that these dead shall not have died in vain—

that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom,

and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”



Whatever your cause this coming Independence Day, let it be in harmony with your values and not your fears.

Published in: on June 30, 2019 at 12:46 pm  Comments (8)  

Spring Rain

At night, happiness;

In the daytime, quietness–

Spring rain.



Amsterdam & 79th


Amsterdam & 76th


Columbus & 73rd


Metropolitan Museum in the rain


Metropolitan Museum in the rain


Central Park: near the Great Lawn in the rain


Central Park: the Shakespeare Garden in the rain


Central Park: Oak Bridge in the rain


Central Park: Bow Bridge in the rain


Sky above Midtown from the Sheepmeadow


Spring rain:

Everything just grows

More beautiful.


Published in: on May 18, 2019 at 10:11 pm  Comments (4)  

By Popular Demand: 2018 Favorites book in a new format

Here it is!                                        

New Size!                            

New Soft Cover!

                      New low(er) Price!

                                    Same Paper!

                                                     Same Photos!



And here’s where to see it in its entirety and (ta da!)

actually buy a copy:



                                                                           Of course he larger sized hard cover version is still available.






Published in: on March 28, 2019 at 12:57 pm  Comments (2)  

What’s this stuff about anyway?

Each of these images began with what the camera saw and ended up with what I’d seen.

Lady Gaga at the Grammys

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Far West 13th Street, Meatpacking District, NYC

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Afternoon at The Cottage

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6th Av & W 44th

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Terrence Cardinal Cooke Health Center across Harlem Meer

*     *     *     *     *     *



79th & Broadway rain

*     *     *     *     *     *


79th & Broadway rain

*     *     *     *     *     *



79th & Broadway rain

*     *     *     *     *     *



526 W. 26th Street

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*     *     *     *     *     *



W. 26th Street

*     *     *     *     *     *




Published in: on March 25, 2019 at 9:54 pm  Comments (8)  

Seven Snaps!

Themes of light, of color, of cacophony, of harmony. Always love of my city. Be well.


                                         42nd and 8th


Weill Cornell Medical


Columbus and 76th after a rain


 Mark DiSuvero statue at 10th and 25th


14th Street after a rain


Times Square


                                                   Times Square



Published in: on February 5, 2019 at 8:22 pm  Comments (8)  

Caught Playing!

Yes, I have been blessed to have traveled a good bit. Yes, I’ve photographed some wonderful people and sights and even moments in Asia, North Africa and Western Europe. Yet, for all that I’ve seen, the folks met, the monuments both natural and human built, the art and architecture and all those inducements to say “Wow!”, New York City remains my #1. New York City is my ultimate provocateur, the stimulus more than any other to my appreciation and delight and participation in living. Below is the most recent testimony to this love affair with Gotham. With the exception of Grandson Benny photographed in Connecticut this Christmas morning all the other snaps are of just the plain old stuff available for viewing in everyday Manhattan. The first three were made within minutes and feet of each other. In each case I’ve used post-processing apps to bring to the image that which drew me to make the photo in the first place. The delicacy and strength of an urban tree in the Lower East Side, the collage of reality and reflection found in a pizzeria window, the mind-created drama behind a wine bottle repurposed for water. Shapes, colors, relationships, movement within stillness: for me–somehow–all expressions of love.


2nd Av. & Houston Street


2nd Av. & Houston: street art artists


Mystery pipes at 2nd Av. F subway stop transposed by a screenshot




Freddie & Peppers pizzeria with reflections


Amsterdam Avenue construction site


Scaffolding behind the Beacon Theater


#3 train


Brookfield Place after a rain


Alien space ships from New Jersey invade West Harlem


W. 72nd between Broadway & West End Avenue


Metropolitan Museum of Art


Thai restaurant water bottle



Published in: on December 27, 2018 at 6:43 pm  Comments (15)  

Cousin Ben and a Dozen New City Snaps

Like no other human being I’ve ever met, Cousin Ben Beaton combines the solid with the impish. After years of living in Taipei he now lives in Tel Aviv. Language learning presents no problem to Ben, nor does mastering the intricacies of a culture–all with a twinkle in the eye revealing the everpresent sense of humor that makes him so dear to me. Recently we met at my favorite lunch joint here in NYC. Regardless of how he might have looked to the rest of the world, here’s the Ben I saw:

Ben Beaton…and, yes, his mother loves this snap!

Now for some recent photos made with the iPhone 6, its post-production app, Snapseed and, finally, Picasa on the laptop.

Church of the Latter Day Saints NYC–rain


Croatian Church 41st off 9th Av NYC


Hudson Yards


Amsterdam Avenue Brunch


Ghost of Christmas Future–building a Christmas tree stand


Central Park South thru the rain-covered bus window


St. Patrick’s in the rain thru the same bus window


Central Park


Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree yet again thru the same rain-covered bus window


Museum of Jewish Heritage reflections


NYC imagine…


Battery Park City


And a joyous Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali and, of course, New Year 2019!


Istravshan Tajikistan






Published in: on December 7, 2018 at 12:02 pm  Comments (14)  

Playing with my new toys!

Originally I was gonna hit ya with some Autumn leafery, solid and pretty pictures sure to get me some compliments. Even my old ego gets off on occasional reinforcement. Then I decided, no, too easy. Maybe some portraits, but that idea went on hold until I got permissions to use the recognizable faces of the friends I’d planned to show.

So, what to show? What was left? What was left–and probably what I wanted to post originally but was concerned with the reception they might get is an assortment of photos heavily reworked in post production. What I’ve posted on Welcome! thus far–201 blogposts counting this one–have far more often than not featured snaps treated with some post production work. Until very recently I’d relied on Picasa, a now-discontinued Google product that did all that I could ask. Well, as I got deeper into photography I learned to ask for more. Through the evil graces of my good buddy out west, Jason he is aptly named, I started using the Snapseed app, then added PS Express and Photoshop Fix. These tools free me to employ the original photo much as an oil painter might use a watercolor sketch, that is as the basis for a final rendition which best reveals what drew him (me) to the real-life content beyond what the camera records. It’s not that the camera lies, rather that it only gets some of the truth.


Secaucus NJ train station


The Ansonia NYC


Outside the Walter Reade Theater


Outside the Walter Reade Theater


Skulls above Astor Place


Outside Fairway


175 W. 76


Hudson River from W. 70’s


RSG’s bedroom window


Published in: on November 9, 2018 at 10:48 pm  Comments (17)  

Again, there’s something happening here…

First, my wish to you for a healthy & happy new year.



It matters not whether you actually celebrate the lunar new year. Just know that you’re being wished a wonderful one. If it’s a wish you don’t want, you can always re-gift it. (I learned that from Seinfeld reruns.)

Next up the new snaps.

The last blog entry, done back in July, featured a collection of essentially hyper-real snaps taken all on the same trip to The  Bronx. This time the ostensible reality recorded by the camera in Manhattan, Paris, Arles and aboard the river boat Buri on the river Rhone has been either subtly or significantly re-realized. Here they are:

















Published in: on September 25, 2018 at 3:25 pm  Comments (11)  

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.




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 (15)  

Home again, home again…


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 (6)  

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.


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:

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 ( far and wide.


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)  


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 ( 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




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.

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.



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)