‘Human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City’

gif of new york on camera

Every thing in the world, every event, is like a dewdrop on a multidimentional spider’s web, and every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops. But you see, the hermit finds this out through his solitide, and so also human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City. It’s rather easier, as a matter of fact, to find solitude in New York City than it is in Des Moines, Iowa.

Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety

A trip through New York City, 1911

In 1911, Swedish film company Svenska Biografteatern recorded its trip to New York.

Fortunately, the footage survived and most recently was speed-corrected and reproduced with added street sounds of car horns, horses, and police whistles to give us a sense of the environment back then.

Some observations:

  • Notice all the people wearing hats
  • The streets look a bit empty compared to today’s zoo
  • Cable powered trolleys
  • The kids go nuts when the camera is on them. Nothing’s changed!

What’s your favorite scene?

 

New York: Where dreams are made up

wells-baum-421064-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Wells Baum

There’s the dream. And then there’s the reality.

The dream is that you can survive the concrete jungles of New York. The reality is that you’re another part of the rat pack, rushing from Brooklyn and New Jersey to midtown.

The rat race never ends.

Even those who start as far away as New Haven begin a jam into different species. Everyone is a stranger.

The quiet car contains opposites. It goads the loudest minds.

Stepping off into Grand Central Terminal is the great equalizer. You have no choice but to join the frenzy.

Strolling faster than anyone else, you’d think you’re getting ahead. But only for a spare moment. Someone else has clipped your wings.  Who do you think you are, anyway?

Spare some change, sink at the moment. Time alludes you. The day is one big drop, a flash drive of memories.

Into the City and back out again, only to do it all over tomorrow.

Banksy returns to New York

banksy new york city, where to find banksy art new york, banksy i love new york

Banksy is back in New York, the first time since his month-long residency back in 2013.

The iconic street artist kicked off his visit with a mural dedicated to the imprisonment of Turkish artist and journalist Zehra Dogan, who’s watercolor painting protests the continued destruction of Kurdish territory by the Turkish military.

banksy new york city. where to find banksy art new york banksy i love new york

The black hash marks represent each of the days since Dogan has been in jail. Turkish authorities incarcerated her last March.

“I really feel for her. I’ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence,” Banksy told the New York Times.

# Nusaybin

A post shared by zehra doğan (@jinhazehradogan) on

Fresh off The Walled Off Hotel project in Bethlehem where he also teamed up with producer Danny Boyl to put together a film called ‘The Alternativity’, it appears that Banksy is making the Big Apple his canvass again.

“New York calls to graffiti writers like a dirty old lighthouse. We all want to prove ourselves here. I chose it for the high foot traffic and the amount of hiding places. Maybe I should be somewhere more relevant, like Beijing or Moscow, but the pizza isn’t as good.” 

A post shared by Banksy (@banksy) on

Be sure to follow Banksy to keep up with the rat race in New York.

Mural images via the Houston Bowery Wall

Weathered or not in New York

The weathered we address: What kind of weathered is it?

It contains multitudes.

Graffitied

Exhausted

2016-01-19 08.21.42-1

Chipped

2015-09-11 13.38.05-1

Bruised

Split Tourist

Photo May 29, 2 11 24 PM.jpg

Weather-ed

2016-01-25 09.00.47-2

Exposed

Repaved

Rushed

….Retrofitted and restored

Processed with VSCOcam with m4 preset

Weathered rock or stone, broken glass, ruptured pavement, blinding headaches, winters wear down New York but its city dwellers weather in, on, and through in flexible shifts.

All photos by Wells Baum

 

Here today, gone tomorrow

All gifs/videos by Wells Baum

Standing in Grand Central Station reminds us of the temporariness of life, that what’s here now can be gone in a flash.

We should be dubious of ephemerality, especially in the internet world where things get consumed and promptly forgotten. Good feelings are equally fleeting; they ascend and descend like a sine wave.

Instead, the overall wager should be on long-term serotonin rather than one-off surges of dopamine.

Here now, gone in an instant

Better to find our feet in the urban wilderness rather than orbit around a flock of sheep. In the hierarchy of happiness, stillness plays the long game by persisting through noisy places.

Welcome to Los Angeles

All photos by Wells Baum

As someone who’s lived and worked in both New York and Los Angeles — this article sounds strangely familiar.

“Once, I walked nine miles through the streets of Los Angeles, tiptoed through the hobo village under a 101 overpass, got briefly trapped on a crosswalk-less median, and then stood on line behind waiting cars to enter the Warner Bros. lot. Because I’m not a Hollywood wuss. I’m from New York. I don’t drive. I don’t know how to drive. I don’t know how to do something that teen-agers can do, and I’m proud of it. That’s how much of a New Yorker I am.”

In LA, we wait to tell each other stories in order to impress while New Yorkers tell you how it is right then and there. There is no real outside in LA; there is only real inside a cold New York. Both cities thrive in their own eclectic touch, ridden with signals, smoke and mirrors.

Read No, I’m from New York

Chaos and order in NYC

Photo by Wells Baum

Below is an excerpt from my book Train of Thought which you can read online for free. If you want to support my work, please snag a copy on Amazon.

Paul tried to make every one of eighty-plus daily phone pickups count. The more he shot, the more photos he had to play with. The only challenge in photographing New York was the bombardment of sensory stimulation; stories oozed with opportunity in every open corner and alleyway, yet nothing, not even Broadway, felt staged. The city thrived off chaos, and it worked like a pre-programmed video game. Those who ignored the beauty of its complexity were the most aloof rats in the cage. The City struck all the right neurological notes, but you had to learn how to see to catch the profound silence in between the disorder. 

From Train of Thought: Reflections on the Coast Starlight

Why parking sucks 

no parking
GIF via abch

Parking signs are intentionally confusing, especially in the cities. Take a close look at the rules and exceptions on the parking signs, and you’ll see things like:

  • Zone 2 permit holders only
  • Express pick-up: 15 minutes only
  • Monday-Friday: 2:30PM – 4PM & 6:30PM – 10PM
    Etc.

First, you have to squint and read the sign and check for the exceptions; then you have to interpret the day and the time. Sometimes signs on top of signs: one for the 3-hour parking, one for 2-hour parking, and one for all day parking. Sometimes signs are fifty feet down the block, and you miss it. Holy shit. So you ultimately take your chances and risk getting towed.

In New York, parking is a tax. On top of that, the signs are ubiquitous and ambiguous, so people fear to park at all. Residents and visitors walk and take public transportation instead.

Cities don’t want people driving. Thankfully, self-driving cars are on the way to eliminate the self-doubt. Once cars start talking to other cars and pay machines, the madness will go away. But for now, parking sucks. And on top of that, some cities don’t want you there in the first place.

[mc4wp_form id=”5991970666″]

Fran Lebowitz on Facebook, TV, and Trump 

Author and acclaimed New Yorker Fran Lebowitz can’t sleep, can’t write, can’t stand watching television, nor does she like social media, yet she’s still on top of them all or at least, well-informed in her sardonic complaints about them. Below are some highlights from her interview with W Magazine

On sleeping and watching television

Zero. I never sleep, I probably haven’t slept since you were born — I don’t know how old you are, but you’re not so old that I could have slept since you were born. So, years ago, I decided reading in bed is too stimulating. Watch TV. It’s boring. You’ll fall asleep.

On listening to music

Questlove did an album of it that he gave to me, and I’ve listened to that. I will say this: It’s not that I don’t like music, I just never think to listen to it. I am an endless seeker of silence.

On a potential Trump presidency

Everyone I know is very worried about it. I am very worried, but not about that, and no one would accuse me of being a cockeyed optimist. And I know there are a lot of morons in this country, I just don’t think there are enough.

On Facebook

I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a Facebook page — it really sounds an awful lot like the junior high school you never get out of. It sounds awful to me. And of course there are at any given time millions of people in junior high school, so it’s bad enough they have to be in junior high school before this even existed.