Friday, December 30, 2011


Inwood Hill Park, at the northern most tip of Manhattan, contains the last remaining primordial forest on the urban island.  The park was opened in 1926 and the natural forest was mostly left untouched by landscapers.  Because of this, as you walk around the park, deep into its vine-covered trails, you almost feel as if you are in upstate New York, far from the city.  It is high in elevation and you must navigate many hills to get there.  The forest sits upon its glacier-scoured rocks, bound by the Hudson river to the West and Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the North.

I rode my bike there last summer, with my digital camera and 35mm Canon in tow.  It was a perfect day and I was mesmerized by how disconnected I felt from the city almost the moment I set foot in the park.  The hilly paths are so steep you lose your breath in some places.  One can get lost in the trails and I remember how amazing the Hudson river looked from lofty perches of the park.  Along the paths are many different types of trees, and some of them twist into grotesque shapes like something out of Grimm's fairy tales.  A truly magical place I wish to see again.

Eventually the elevation dips steeply downward as you reach the northernmost tip of the island.  Below lies Spuyten Duyvil (dutch for Devil's Spout), the channel connecting the Harlem to the Hudson river, and above towers the Henry Hudson Bridge.  This is a beautiful bridge with a single fixed arch, an imposing structure breaking up the otherwise peaceful surroundings of the park.

Near the end of the park I reached the lowlands, that had been partially flooded by tropical storm Irene and saw the famous painted "C" for Columbia University.  This was painted in 1952 by the university's crew team, of which my dad was a member in the '60's.  I lay on a bench in the sun with some friends I had just met up with and together we started our long journey home, biking down the east side of Manhattan.  It was a good day. 

Some Things

I'm home sick so I've been lying around, reading, resting, not doing much of anything. I consider myself a very active and productive person, so it's hard to just sit around all day. I haven't felt this sick in a while though so I'm gonna do my best to just stay put 'till I'm good and ready.

In the meantime I realize I haven't posted in a while, so I've decided to photograph some of my favorite things and tell the little story behind each of them.

Elvis is back, indeed. I picked this up on my trip to Memphis while touring Graceland. I've been a huge Elvis fan ever since I formed a tribute band with my friend Petros in college. Together, we studied every song, every move, his life story, and found our respect for the man grow with each revelation. This is the first album he released after his stint in the army and I believe it to be his best. First of all, the sound is amazing. It's one of the first stereo pop albums ever made and you feel like you're right there with the band in the studio. This release compiles all the outtakes and you get to hear how the songs develop and improve with each run through by these amazing musicians. I was surprised to see that the album was recorded in just 2 all-nighter sessions (going from 8:00 at night until 7:00 in the morning!).
This transistor radio was bought at the Brooklyn Flea in the One Hanson building. My friend and I decided to buy each other gifts under $5 while there and this was her present to me. In the days of mp3 players and iTunes, it's nice to have a good ol' fashioned portable radio. I bring it to summer bbq's and picnics and people love it.

There's something about a coaster. A little representation of art on a square that you place your glass on. It also says something about the pride people have for their furniture.....don't put your glass directly on my mahogany coffee table! I personally don't have a problem with my guests placing their drinks on any of my tables, but I still love coasters and their compact, understated charm. I bought this one at the highly esteemed Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
I bought this print in Cuba. The woman who sold it to me said it was a likeness of Fidel Castro, which I'm not entirely convinced of. Regardless of who it is I think it's a beautiful portrait. I love the longing eyes and expressive hands. I bought it as a gift for my grandma, which she kept for a while, but wanted me to have it following her move up north. I now keep it on my bookshelf.
This cast-iron bird bath was found in an antique store I went to with my dad while visiting my parents in Vermont. We were driving around his Chevy Camero on a warm summer day when we chanced upon this little house filled to its rafters with old instruments and furniture. The piece has a very Lewis Carroll feel to it. It's currently mounted on my wall, seemingly growing out of it.

I love it when I see family photos placed in the mirror frame. I don't have any of my own but I do have one of this mystery woman. I found her in an old junk store in my neighborhood hidden amongst piles of old, disregarded photographs and postcards. I was intrigued by her mischievous little smile; she's cute as can be! The handwritten note on the back simply states, "May 1941." A WWII nurse perhaps. I'm sure many a wounded soldier fell madly in love with her.
"Such wonderful socks were not to be found when I was young!" says good ol' Wayne Knit. Thanks to new textile technology Wayne will probably never have to darn his socks again. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? I found this masterpiece in an antique store in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The big crack you see formed under my ownership I'm afraid.

She loves you, yeah yeah yeah! I love these vintage Beatles pins that an ex girlfriend bought for me several years ago. The Beatles are an obsession for me; I know every song and every bit of trivia you can throw at me. But this type of memorabilia captures an innocence of youth long since gone, teenage girls being able to wear their favorite moptop on their lapel.
I collect refrigerator magnets. Anytime I travel to a new country or city I look for a magnet to commemorate my visit. They're kitschy and cool and nicely dress up the plain white surface of the cold, bulky home appliance.

I found this brass bell at the same junk store I found the WWII nurse. I like the idea of marking a special occasion with a ring of the bell. And so I do from time to time. Something along the lines of, "dinners ready!", ring-ring-ring! The ring of a bell perks the ears of angels, they say. Hopefully it brings along a bit of luck too, for me and you.