Word and Image

Posts tagged “People

Second Chances

IMG_0335More street photography – I got a second chance. Well okay. This time I wasn’t under pressure. If I got a shot or not, there was already one in my archive. So now the goal is to get a better one. Smile, get eye contact, and shoot.

Someone I know, knows all about second chances. This really isn’t. You have already seen two shots on a recent post. This time with nothing to lose, I relaxed, smiled at the kid, made eye contact,  and got him to engage with my camera. Instead of a distracted look, I got a smile. Like many of my street photography subjects, this kid will grow up. But for this instance I have preserved his youth forever.

Midnight at Balad

IMG_0411The last time I made the mistake of coming at 7PM. The action I spoke about starts after the last prayer. So this is the crowd milling about at midnight. This is a one-way thoroughfare. Are you kidding? Nope, it’s one way. I got caught about half way along and had to walk to the end twice. Pain! No one sleeps during Ramadan. They stay up until 4AM, then try to sleep all day to minimize the time of fasting and hunger. I’m saying that families and young kids are all up and active at this hour. If the routine change has affected me so, it must be hell on little kids. Once a year for 30 days…..

Typical for Ramadan

IMG_0328My guide told me that this is typical food served at Ramadan. It is liver she said. Diced liver and mixed vegetables are added to a hot grill. The savory smell beckons. It seems this is the specialty of the house and at every table multiple orders were being eagerly shared. No one seemed to mind me taking images, so I did.

Seating For Seniors

IMG_0305This spot is designated seating for the elders of the village or neighborhood who would gather, sit, smoke, and discuss the news of the day. I asked and the pictures are of prominent members possibly deceased but who are still remembered. I asked and this man graciously let me take a few images. Jules would be proud that I asked.


IMG_0281Street photography – you shoot an image hoping to preserve spontaneity. It is an unguarded moment. I guess I’m better than I realize. I shot this. It is on my memory card. No one else used this camera other than me. The problem is that I don’t remember taking the image. It is in the middle of my Balad night series during Ramadan. So I am as surprised by the shot as anyone else. Does it still count if I don’t remember pressing the shutter release?

Balad Nights

IMG_0211During Ramadan the Balad is covered in lighting. I was too early to see the entertainment. But the lights are welcoming. I am simply amazed that the camera figured out this complex scene and calculated the proper exposure and white balance. I got to compose and shoot. No complaints from me. It helps if you have a fast lens. I took this single shot and it was fine by me. Now for the entertainment….

Face in the Window

IMG_0232This is sure to be a classic image for me. I was walking the old city Balad. The evening heat was still simmering. I was half melted. There in the window was a kid looking out at the passing crowds. As I snapped another woman commented it was a great shot. She did not copy me. And a moment later the kid was gone. I shoot multiples especially in poor light. Something is always wrong with focus or lighting. I have my favorite. It’s good to have a choice.IMG_0230

Joyous Gillies

0562 20 Jumping gillieWell that’s what Lisa and I called them. We traveled without a plan. And in Brussels we chanced upon a fair or festival. These guys were dressed in head wear that reminded me of craniotomy dressings. It was quite an elaborate affair and in my inexperience I wandered around getting some random shots. I would do it all differently knowing what I know now. But that was then. And these guys make me smile every time I run across the image.

Random Children

0562 05 BrusselsWe were in Brussels. I take pictures of silly things like mailboxes. The first shot was devoid of people. Then to my surprise a kid came and posed. In those days I just took a single shot. Today it would have been a series of clicks. But this was it, the one and only. Cute. Spontaneous. Memorable.

Name Withheld

2039 08 DonSome days it’s like MASH, the TV program. Things get a little silly. As you may surmise, this was my beloved PA. He watched my back. And the nurses had a love hate relation with him. Mostly love, I think. He had his tonsils out. At least I think this was that occasion. It’s not important as you can readily see. In the holding area just before going to the OR he loudly proclaimed that he was here for his “sex change” operation. Imagine the other patients and then the look he must have gotten when they saw him in the recovery room. He could dish a joke a well as anyone. So payback as they say is a bitch. I didn’t have a hand in the decorations. If the slide is not clear, he’s wearing lip stick, nail polish, crude art work , autographs, and a surgical bra. At that time family was not permitted in the recovery room but our nurses made a pointed exception for his wife. She took one look, threw her hands up, and ran. Though these photos have not widely circulated, they did make an appearance at his 50th birthday party. This I will add is a guy in touch with his feminine side. He once wore a big fake butt and a thong for a going away party. 2039 09 Don


1MM Thin

IMG_6437Wetsuits come in different thicknesses. 1mm is for tropical water. Why wear one? It keeps things in the water off your skin. I didn’t wear one for about two years. Then last summer I dove about ten days in a row. I did between three and four dives a day. After that I had a lot of skin irritation. It’s called a ‘rash.’ Whatever. It itches and was making me uncomfortable. I gave in and started wearing the wetsuit Eric gave me. It was a 3mm suit. It’s probably a bit too warm. And when I dove the 60 degree California waters even a 7mm suit was not enough to keep me warm. But there’s another consideration. A 1mm wetsuit is pretty thin. You make the call. I’d say it was hard to decide whether to mention transparency as an issue or to keep quiet. Under the circumstances the same thing happened when I chanced upon some worn bike shorts in some past blog post. I got no editorial stake here. I just remember it’s not possible to answer the question, “Honey, do I look fat in this dress?”



IMG_5075I shoot other people when they get married. No problem. It’s considered okay. You are in public and considered a fair target. Harsh? My kids get embarrassed when I whip out my camera and shoot. IMG_5069I’m not in the wedding or anything like that. I just like the formality and the fact that this is a special day for someone. We were walking along the new Brooklyn promenade below the Brooklyn Bridge. And the view of the Manhattan skyline is “free!!!” Great backdrop! IMG_5087

IMG_5090You just have to be prepared to share. No one (tourist) stood next the bride. But there were plenty of folks getting the most out of the Manhattan backdrop.IMG_5102



While I visited Connecticut, there was another couple doing the same in the park. No leaves yet, but you get the point. And I had my camera.IMG_4786

Nick and Nannette

103-0350_IMG_2Today it’s about the story of some other dear friends. I’d say ‘old friends’ but you might take it the wrong way. It was a celebration at their place and I didn’t get a single focused shot. Light was great but the digital camera failed me. And I didn’t look at the screen. The good news is… no wrinkles, anywhere. Fuzzy is okay, I can make-up the details myself. Sometimes it’s possible you don’t want to remember all the details. We’ve been friends since the kids were in preschool. That’s a lot of years ago. 103-0349_IMG_2


Tyler Group

115-1520_IMGWe’ve been friends since forever or at least more than twenty five years. I can’t believe it. It’s as unlikely a friendship as one could imagine. We are similar but very politically disparate. Then there was a divorce and some grand-kids and some marriages. Right now I’m waiting to see what my kids do. They were always the youngest of the bunch. There were other couples who drifted in and out of the mix but this core has hung on. We still meet but it’s harder with all of our lives changing with the times. But it’s nice to find this picture in the archives. It was taken on 6th Avenue in the 40’s (street). I don’t know whom we corralled to take the picture. It could have been one of the kids or a passerby. No ‘selfie’ here. It’s the Tyler group because we met one summer vacation at the Tyler Place. Maybe some of the grand-kids will get to go and we can go back as the ‘old folks.’ Hey, when this was taken we were still playing doubles tennis.

Lost And Found

127-2754_IMGI think the joke about dementia goes, “You make new friends everyday.” I apologize to those who are afflicted and who might be offended by a politically incorrect joke. The nature of much humor is that it’s not to some. But here I am browsing my Canon G3 images and look what turned up. In fact the images were lost for a while because I neglected to get them onto my backup, backup drives. I am redundantly backed up. Luckily! I actually lost track and almost couldn’t find the backup. Ah well, I did find them didn’t I? Here’s a shot taken by Lisa at Carolyn’s Bat Mitzvah. It’s not technically perfectly composed. But boy does it bring back memories I’d long forgotten. Obviously I have seen this picture? Well at least I think I have. I’ll have to check with J but a lot of folks called her “Jules” when she was young and in school, which may be less confusing than calling her “J.” I doubt her students will look her up on the ‘net with that search term.127-2759_IMGAnd this picture’s for Harry and Debbie, old friends, who famously avoided using camera where I was obsessed with documenting things I can’t remember now.

Not Too Many Years Ago

100-0005_IMGI began the transition to digital photography in 2003. I was given a Canon G3 by Lisa. She shopped and took the advice of the salesman. It was a good call. I continued to use slide film for another year. 103-0308_IMGDuring that time the kids and I built a slide storage unit to last for the next twenty years. We built 26 brand new drawers. It would be less than half full as I suddenly switched to digital with the Nikon D70 in June 2004. It was an abrupt end to using film. It was eventful using the G3. Though by count I shot only several thousand images, there was a lot of action that occurred during that time. 106-0674_IMG_2I shot images at two weddings, Amy and Katelyn. No no, I was not the primary photographer, but as friend of the family, I got to experiment with digital and slides all at the same time. I had yet to learn that taking a thousand digital images at an event was all for the cost of a memory card. Though I’d love to do weddings, I realize that I’m better at my day job. I did, as a favor to Susan (Amy’s mom), shoot Scott’s second wedding. Come to think of it, I shot his first wedding also. 126-2666_IMGThere was a school play. You can shoot in virtual darkness handheld. It sure beats slides which are held to a single low ISO. You learn to push the technical edge of your equipment. 119-1955_IMGAnd I first realized that digital images could be adapted to Powerpoint for teaching. Anyone remember Kodak carousel slides at the national meeting?123-2379_IMGLisa and Jules took it to Italy on vacation. I think that this would be Venice. Pardon the fat arm, but selfies do suffer from wide angle distortion. Though it sits on a shelf passed up by later cameras that came into my life, I did get a lot of important shots with the G3. Lisa was indeed prescient in her gift to me. And most annoyingly, she would not hesitate to smugly tell me, “I told you so.” And this would not be the first time she was right.


IMG_4342His remarks reflect much of the conservative nature of the AANS membership. Robert Gates’ long and distinguished career spans eight presidents. He was recently US Defense Secretary. It was an interesting talk from a man no longer in government who could speak his mind without fear of losing his job. So he spoke rather candidly about his own opinions and could highlight his own ideas so often subverted by political appointment. In fact he’d have been fired over many of his remarks which were so different from the administrations under which he served.

As for Hunt and Wilson, I know and have met William Hunt and Charlie Wilson. I trained with Bill’s son David. At the time I trained Wilson’s program in San Francisco and Ransahoff’s at NYU competed as the premier training programs in the US. And when we presented our data indicating early CNS manifestation of HIV was toxoplasmosis, the west coast experience was for lymphoma and PML. Our early work remains widely cited.

I recall just before the 2nd term election of ‘W’ Bush I sat in the audience at the CNS waiting for Mikhail Gorbachev to speak. The room was packed. A member from the national leadership stood before the microphone and I thought he would introduce Gorbachev. Instead he said short and sweet, “Bush supports malpractice reform. Kerry and Edwards do not.” He sat down and the room remained dead silent and I was amazed that the CNS had endorsed Bush. That November I did in fact vote for Bush. He would win anyway, with or without my vote. I voted on that narrow bit of platform knowing that it would never be passed in Congress. What?! My only problem is if I am discovered by Lisa.

A Bunch Of Old Guys

IMG_4315I’ve reached the point where I am now a senior neurosurgeon …like it or not. No “Peter Pan” for us. This grab shot at the recent AANS meeting is four of us who were fellow residents together at NYU. One is semi-retired. I get to dive about every weekend and feel semi-retired. We’re all a few pounds heavier and got some grey hair. Kids are grown; curiously none became neurosurgeons. Overall the years have not been too bad. One of our residency fellows (not pictured here) passed away a couple years ago of a malignancy. The meeting also featured a jab at our NYU Chairman, who took a dim view of spine surgery in his time (1994).IMG_4316 Of course history has proven that spine surgery is a vital component to the income of neurosurgeons nowadays. Go ahead and laugh but they really did think we didn’t know how to screw in a screw?IMG_4318 And then there is always a bit of history. Graham Teasdale was an invited speaker. His claim to fame is the Glascow Coma Score published forty years ago. Anyone in trauma, emergency medicine, neurology, or in neurosurgery will be familiar with this score because it is used to describe level of consciousness that could be translated from hospital to hospital. It’s quite a thrill to be listening to a man who has changed/affected our very thinking for so many years.IMG_4321 I have indeed been fortunate to have seen and heard so many men who I would consider to be heroes in neurosurgery. What I have learned is that things change, things stay the same, and that one needs to keep an open mind to know which is which.

Opening Ceremony

IMG_4224I admit that I have been living under a rock. The recent AANS meeting took place in San Francisco and on April 6 the opening ceremony featured Bob Geldof speaking. I don’t know him though he has a claim to fame. He rambled on in a rather inspiring way for about thirty minutes about how his life’s turns brought him to this point in time. He is planning to go into space next. As I looked him up on the internet today, the news was about his daughter’s funeral. She, too, was famous. He gave the eulogy. The news was reported that her body was found at home the very morning after the evening he spoke at our meeting. Sobering and sad news. My condolences. peaches

A Good Idea

_DSC6989Public restrooms are a problem in big cities. The answer is not always obvious. Many restaurants post signs: “Restrooms for patrons only.” Starbucks employees have complained about cleaning the restrooms. In San Francisco there was a public restroom. I happened to hang around long enough to find out that this turned out to be a good idea gone bad. It didn’t seem amiss when I noticed a woman pounding on the door. In an instance I noted she was probably homeless. The door swung open and inside I could see several people one of whom had a shopping cart. I realized that this room was probably in use as a homeless shelter. I idly wondered what a single woman … lest you wonder why I was idling, it turned out there was a fountain and I was resting my weary feet._DSC6973 Across the street was a street graphic which provided a convenient backdrop for my camera._DSC6990

_DSC6997 I watched as people came up and pressed the buttons to use the restroom. The door never opened. City workers were around and about but never entered nor attempted to clean the facility. A crazy homeless man appeared and persistently banged on the door. Finally the door swung open again to admit him. The single woman emerged and the homeless crazy entered. I confirmed that there were at least three other occupants in the shadows inside. Life goes on. My advice: McD or Burger King is an easy one. Any large hotel will never be able to distinguish if you are a guest or an itinerant passerby. Either way there is some assurance that you will be successful and not harassed._DSC6992

Sitting In A Drawer

IMG_5298As long as I’ve been writing about old stuff… there are some old watches. I haven’t worn a watch since my Eddie Bauer days. Wind up, self winding, battery, quartz, digital, and all flavors in between. Nowadays I use my cellphone which is automatically hooked into the network and always accurate no matter where I travel. IMG_5297

Then there was that Haverhill watch they advertised in the NY Times Sunday magazine. I’ve loved them all. Currently it’s a <$20 Timex. Twenty dollars was my price and WalMart the store. But in between there are some stories….

IMG_5296There was the year that David wanted an expensive knockoff – Rolex. (Once upon a time he asked for a supermarket shopping cart, wish not fulfilled.) J and I dutifully went down to Chinatown where you can procure such items. Unfortunately ignorant in the world of illegal counterfeit merchandise, we did not see anything displayed by the myriad of vendors along Canal Street. You have to ask, be assessed not to be police, and then they go under the counter and pull out a bag of watches all jumbled together from which you may pick. To be sure they are indeed counterfeit. But just like anything else, they are right twice a day. So wandering aimless up and down the cold streets of Chinatown, J and I saw in a musty dusty display case, an expensive looking watch. I don’t know from Breitling but it had that ‘bling’ factor. And the price?… less than $20, my price, indeed! I recently rescued it from the discard pile (for sentimental reasons).

IMG_5299Years later, David’s college roommate armed with my advice and experience with contraband went and bought a Rolex. He paid full asking price right off the bat. Fool! You’re supposed to bargain. But at $40 he thought it was worth it.IMG_5292

This brings me around to valuable watches that have come into my possession. The first was in my internship year. We cared for a gunshot victim. He’d been gunned down with a shotgun blast in the paramedian area of the lumbar spine. It turns out that the blast missed everything important. But it did blow a hole about 3 inches wide that communicated with his intestines. My recollection is of touching the surgical sheets on the backside while operating through his belly. When he recovered the surgical team discovered he ran drugs. And shortly thereafter he had to escape hospital care. I was tasked by my chief resident to continue his care and in gratitude received a gold watch. It was clearly used. More puzzling was my name in gold on the band. I don’t think and am pretty sure he did not have the name placed there for my benefit.IMG_5291

The next incident came when I cared for a man with a middle cerebral artery aneurysm. I became aware he was someone of importance when one of our plastic surgeons (lazy as hell kind of guy) was seen visiting and ‘kissing’ his ring. Really! I thought they only did that in the movies. Later on after his recovery, he called and asked to see me in the office on Friday, non office hours day. “Okay, but whatever he’s bringing me, make sure it’s not ticking,” I joked with my secretary. She was pale when he arrived with two packages, one of which was ‘ticking.’ The first was in a plain brown wrapper, which contained an oil painting of a clown. This was of utmost, almost paint by numbers, quality.IMG_5290 The second was presented as he reached in the breast pocket of his coat and I almost dove for the floor expecting him to pull his gun. This turned out to be a gold Rolex watch. Okay, it’s solid gold, because they weld the band to the watch, get it? And then he asked me for a ‘favor.’ I kid you not. Later on he would visit and I would see that oil painting up on the wall of the waiting room. My secretary never forgot.

I never wore, not once, either of those watches. But there is one that I wore exactly once.IMG_5289 It was presented in appreciation for saving a woman’s life. She, too, had had an anterior communicating artery aneurysm. Her husband had never paid for the operation until long after her recovery. He invited us to dinner. We suggested a modest steak house. He countered with inviting us to the best steak house he could find in NYC. A year later he returned to NY with his wife and gave me a Rolex. He offered me a neurosurgical position in his home country. Later on I came to find out that he was assistant to a man who would eventually become a serious presidential candidate in his country. It’s a funny interconnected world that I have been fortunate to be working in.

IMG_5295The last is a watch given to me by my brother John. We’d always be racking our brains for presents. You pretty much have everything so the only thing left is a boat or a plane and that’s a joke. So he gave me a Seiko one Christmas. It’s a great watch. But by now cell phones had become my timepiece. My Timex is only to keep track when I travel. There was a terry cloth robe they got me that saw use almost every single day. You just never know when you have given or received the perfect gift. It’s been a lot of years but those annual white gym socks Eric gave me have been quite useful. The watches? – locked away.


Blood and Gore in the Movies

_DSC3005 copy aThe color of blood is red, but it can hardly be likened to ketchup. While I actively suspend my belief in realism while watching, it has occurred to me that there are some viewers who actually believe what they see in the movies to be true-life depiction. When you next watch a movie consider the following thoughts on medical injuries. Blood is bright red because of oxygenation. As it dries it becomes a dull red. Old blood is almost brown. Moviemakers would do well to cut themselves and see the transformation of blood through its stages. Knowing the timing, I am constantly laughing at how unrealistic blood looks in many movies. Red yes, realistic no._DSC3513 copy

Have you ever had a bruise? Number one on my list of complaints is the lack of swelling depicted. That awful bruise is depicted in a purple kind of blotch on the actor’s face. But there’s no swelling. We wouldn’t want to deform the actor’s good looks would we? And later the bruise becomes green and yellow. Oh well the movie is only two hours, so there’s never enough time to evolve in the healing process. But hey, watch a boxing match and see how horrible it looks to have taken a beating that is severe enough to swell your eye shut.

Instant knockout drug?! Here’s a good thought to hold. What in the world is in that dart or what is that knockout drug? Or what is it that they place over the victim’s mouth and nose that knocks the person unconscious in about an instant? After many years of watching and then asking my anesthesia colleagues…? I realize that I became aware of the technique while I was watching the original Mission Impossible TV series when I was young. Well, to be honest, there is nothing … repeat nothing!… no drug, nada!…that works instantly. I am aware of few anesthetic drugs that work pretty fast when administered intravenously. Nothing that comes in a dart is accurate enough or in enough quantity to do what the movies suggest. Yes, there are poisons from exotic arrow tips, which will kill you, but even that takes more time than we could take to watch in a movie._DSC2833 copy

Blood dripping or gushing from the nose and mouth is pretty gruesome and common to see in movie injuries. Unless you were traumatized in the face and mouth, the poor victim usually doesn’t have blood vomiting from their mouth or dripping from their nose. A gunshot to the chest may cause you to cough blood. But when I think of all the trauma patients I have seen in the ER, the sight of blood is limited mainly to head injured patients. Yes most gunshots don’t leave you gushing with blood.

Entry exit wounds from gunshots and knives tend to be less bloody as well. A gunshot to the head of which I at least have some experience, has an entry wound that is usually not too much to see on the outside. It’s inside the skull where the damage is done. But there’s nothing gory to see if everything is happening on the inside. I will readily admit to having no particular knowledge of wartime injuries in the field.

Shot or cut, you pick, it hurts. If you’ve ever slammed a door on your hand or finger, then you know the pain is enough to stop you – at least for a moment. I watched Arnold Schwarznegger take a nail through his hand and all he did was lift his hand up and out, then continued on his merry way. Have you noticed the good guys never die after one shot? And certainly it takes more than one bullet to slow them down. The bad guys all fall down on one shot and sometimes even if the bullet is only in their vicinity. Luckily I have never been shot, but I would figure that there is pain involved. No matter if it is a “clean wound that passed right through,” it’s got to hurt. That at least has to make you stop and pay notice._DSC3145 copy

With all the attention to sports concussion in the news these days, I am fascinated with the blows to the head that actors can trade without being incapacitated. I mean if you “have your bell rung” wouldn’t your reflexes be just a bit slower. And for heaven’s sake wouldn’t a solid kick to the head be enough to make you pause.

At the other end of business a good swift kick to the testicles, yeah “balls,” is going to make the average male double over and not get up instantly with fists blazing.

Where did anyone get the idea that you can actually aim a gun well? How is it that the cops fire so many shots and only hit the criminal with about 10% of their shots? This is a fact where several celebrated NYC police shooting cases illustrated the lack of handgun accuracy. Multiple shots from multiple police handguns and only a few bullets actually struck the criminal. When I was an intern in general surgery I took care of a man was shot while sitting on his stoop in the South Bronx. The two gunmen with four guns shot him from close range. He was alive and kicking. Unfortunately because of the angle his worst complaint was that he had several scrotal wounds. No brain damage there and certainly no blood dripping from the mouth, nose, or ears. I grant you that one bullet can kill, but then again I have no military experience.

We live in a video reset culture. You die, the game restarts, and you play again. You get to die until your skill is good enough to pass you through to the next level… where you die again until you learn. I will readily admit that I avoided medical TV shows like ER – George Clooney – because the medical inaccuracies were too painful to watch. Nothing is more realistic than the real life and times in front line neurosurgery. The truth might be too scary to watch.

Event Anxiety

_DSC5329The Shinnecock Indians hold an annual Powwow on Labor Day weekend out in Southampton Long Island. I’ve been going when I can. It’s very colorful with native American costumes and pageantry. Anxiety? You go there hoping to see everything and to not miss anything. The key is to isolate the subject and to avoid modern life. So someone wearing tinted lenses does not make it. Most shots are close ups to focus on the face or costume excluding distracting elements. Contestant numbers are the most annoying things that spoil shots. This event is a recurring one and I have attended more than once. There are even a few participants I recognize from previous years. Imagine that?!

_DSC5361No matter, you go and never know whether you’ll get a good shot. Truthfully you cannot miss in this target rich environment. Just stay tightly focused on your subject.

Brazilian Festival

_DSC6464With all the ethnic groups represented in New York City, there is probably a festival or parade just about every weekend. There is a cluster of Brazilian shops and restaurants over in the 40’s just west of 5th Avenue. The crowd is enthusiastic. Green and yellow are the colors. And everyone is having a good time.

_DSC6529Whatever the group, everyone is Brazilian for a day on this day. And next week ….


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