Camera Phone Zen, by Elayne Riggs
After the past two weeks, I think I’m seriously burned out on political chatter for now. And as it’s sort of a “between” time here at the Riggs Residence, with Robin’s DC work all out in shops and his IDW assignment not debuting for two months, I haven’t gotten terribly worked up over comics lately. (It doesn’t help that I have three months’ worth of DC comp boxes yet to read.) I adore September, particularly weather-wise, but I also think we’re in kind of a weird few weeks of stasis, with the baseball playoffs and the new TV season and lots of other things just over the horizon but not quite here yet.
So, what to discuss this week? By the end of last weekend I was still clueless, then Montezuma had a bit of revenge so I’m not feeling as creative as I’d hoped when meeting the Dreaded Deadline Doom. Fortunately, being married to an artist, I’ve learned that when you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance or baffle ‘em with bull, you can always point to the pretty pictures!
My friend and Aquaman maven extraordinaire Laura Gjovaag has started a series on her blog called Camera Phone Zen, her take on Jon Stewart’s "moments of zen" from The Daily Show. Up until now I haven’t been big on taking pictures using my phone — heck, as readers may recall I can’t even text, I’m one of those weird 20th century people who uses her telephone for, you know, phone calls. But small as it is, my digital camera still takes up enough room in my hip pack (yes, New Yorker and proud of it, my commuting uniform pretty much consists of work clothes, sneakers and hip pack) that I don’t feel like schlepping it around every day. And once I get the hang of how to actually snap the photo at the right moment, I’ll probably get a lot better with the camphone.
New York in September is an ideal time to take impulsive, impromptu photos, particularly the area where I work ‘round about the ritzy 57th Street/5th Avenue intersection. You’re just a few blocks’ walk from Central Park, the Great Glass Wonkavator,DC Comics of course, Laila Rowe (so sue me, I’m addicted), Radio City Music Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, even Paul McCartney’s apartment if you can figure out which one it is (and seriously, let me know if you do, it’ll give me something to drool at during my lunch hour).
The weather’s mostly terrific, the tourists are out in droves, the fresh-faced kids are either back in school or entering the work force (such as it is) and lend the area lots of energy, which it needs as the older workers all seem to busy themselves by reading their papers whilst walking, thus blocking most pedestrian traffic behind them. Come on, folks. Really? Reading while walking? (Again, I blame texting. Nowadays I blame texting for about 80% of what’s wrong with our culture. The other 20% is, of course, the fault of high-fructose corn syrup.) Plus, when you wander with an eye towards framing interesting photos, you sometimes come across some pleasant surprises, like the giant metal frog that graces the top of this column, which I spotted on Monday in a pedestrian corridor between 56th and 57th Streets gracing the side of an Indian restaurant. I’m sure the public art has nothing to do with the cuisine within.
You know, for someone who doesn’t have a lot to talk about this week, I seem to be doing an awful lot of talking. On with the photos and accompanying snarky remarks!
This is the famous LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana. As one writer notes, people do indeed flock to it to have their pictures taken in front of it. I pass it every day at least twice, and just about every single time I pat the “V” and “E” for good luck. It’s kind of like my version of kissing the Blarney Stone. Hey, all you need is LOVE! By the way, if you don’t want your picture taken in front of it, the best time of day to snap a clear photo of the sculpture is usually around 8:30 AM, when few people mill about. But I couldn’t resist the joy of these kids on a crowded afternoon.
Are you ready for some football? Well, tons of NFL Kickoff Concert sponsors don’t care if you are or not, they get to close down Columbus Circle for a day and a half! Ya wohl!
I took these two shots from my homeward-bound bus on Wednesday, because everything was rerouted on Thursday so I had to deal with the long and winding (and packed) subway instead. Oh well, I’d still prefer that 9/4 activity to the one on 9/7 in Times Square. Guess we all worship in our own ways…
On Friday, Robin and I went to see an exhibition by Joe Rubinstein and other artists at the High School of Art and Design, and on our walk back to the bus we passed the Roosevelt Island tramway. I love me some cable-car trams! A great reminder that there’s so much beauty in what most people would consider the every-day…
Speaking of the bus, this has got to be my favorite billboard on the way home. It’s off the Triborough Bridge going towards the Bronx. In case you can’t read it (yeah yeah, low-res, I know), the letters on the top read “Welcome to the Bronx” and underneath, on the actual billboard which has probably been empty and dormant for decades, is the word “Available” with a phone number. If I were independently wealthy I’d buy ad space there just to put up some kind of wacky message that perfectly completed “Welcome to the Bronx.” Then again, “Available” does seem to fit.
Many cities are discouraging or even outright banning the taking of photographs for, they say, “security reasons” (although it’s likelier that police-state cities are more concerned with losing control of their narratives and spins to citizen photographers). Somehow I don’t think that’s going to work, particularly in New York. There are just too many tourists. Not to mention, camera phones. Where there ought to be just, you know, phone phones.
Elayne Riggs has been blogging at Pen-Elayne on the Web pretty much daily for 6+ years now, having celebrated her sixth “blogiversary” this past Sunday. She highly recommends everyone take a look at page 287 of this month’s Previews and pre-order lots of copies of Sir Apropos of Nothing #1 by the deadline of this Saturday, September 13! (Previews of the first few pages can be seen on IDW editor Chris Ryall’s blog.) She is, of course, highly biased.