The same weekend: three bake sales and one art craft sale. There were two bake sales in two churches. One church was selling specialty knives in addition to baked goods. We got knives. Why? Don’t know. The second church sold books and baked goods. We got books. Six grandchildren all read. We don’t need books. But who can resist a book sale. The art was Delaware by hand and displayed the wares of craftsman from the area. We looked and admired. As expected, the price of handmade craft was expensive. In between we hit a yard sale. That was priceless. There was junk. Someone sold a Kitchen Aid mixer (not junk). Her neighbor dutifully handed over cash and the sale was done before our eyes. We bought a vintage baby buggy from the very same neighbor. Ok! I got another project to fix up. The last stop was the AARP scholarship show – craft, baked goods, and a farmer’s market with corn straight from Georgia. It was a packed day.
Open mouth, insert foot. As a physician/surgeon I saw a lot of patients and their families. As a surgeon, who doesn’t need to know, never ask if a family member is pregnant though she may look very much so. Don’t ask when they are due. Do not congratulate them. Odds are, you are correct. And then, once in a while you are mistaken. “I’m not pregnant.” Yup, ooops!
It’s like it never happened. This belly dancing class was giving a demonstration in Maine. Yup, Maine. Do I remember? Yes, I remember the demonstration but not the particulars to any of the participants. Congratulations! The kid must be near ten by now.
Old photos. I came across this. It’s about 2002, Lincoln Center. Barbara Cook – quite the diva. She’s starring. I didn’t know her at the time. About a decade later I discovered the American songbook. She’s a big part of it. Who knew? Lots of folks. I was late to the party. There was a craft fair that day I took this slide. Now that’s a full circle for me. Look! Sheep! A sheep shearing demo. Considering what I know about weaving, it’s odd to see that this image is in my files and I only just ran across it. How significant insignificant things seem on second look. History’s a funny thing.
Glassblowing. Scientific glass blowing. I didn’t know that this was an occupation. Two. Two in a row. Yup. Two in one day. Only yards apart and neither seemed to notice each other. Scientific? Well, that’s an Erlenmeyer flask getting an attachment. Why? Industrial manufacturing technique should be way more efficient. But this custom guy does repairs and specialty work. It’s a living. Notice: I was told to wear violet glasses. They work! The yellow color is removed. It helps to see the glass better while he’s working on it. To me it’s just a neat trick since I’m photographing. How? Just put the violet glass over my camera lens. Ha! I’ve done this before. Jules taught me the trick. We held a pair of binoculars up to the camera lens. Would you believe that?
Read the book; it’s hilarious. My kids loved it. It rained recently. It seemed like it had been raining for days. We had been on an extended road trip. Don’t ask. (I’m not telling anyway.) I am sorry to say but not ashamed to admit that I shoot as I drive. Point and shoot. Really. I don’t do much more than point and press the shutter. I do have some experience at this. So I get what I want (mostly). You can’t stop too often. ….gotta get there.
While spinning wheels are on my mind I’d like to tell you another story. Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Worldwide and from across the USA people come. The traffic line was more than a mile long. And no one cut in. My my, what a polite crowd. Big? You bet! And just to see sheep, really? Yup. I was pretty impressed. The hillside was covered with cars. They’ve done this before. And the fairgrounds were packed.
Gambling? There was an auction. People were selling. Part of the sale went to support the next fair. You name it, there were things of value and junk. Outright junk. You sort and figure is all out. A single spinning wheel, a very special one, never before on the auction block went for more than $2000. And junk was sold for $5. You had to bid. It was friendly as long as you weren’t bidding against a nut case. You also need to have an idea of price. Oh yeah! Like I know spinning wheels and the cost of looms. Good stuff. As is. Who knows. Old things and brand new in the box. So I watched. Saw that $2000 wheel go to a woman whose husband approved. My my, that’s a lot. And then I put in a bid on a flax spining wheel. I got a nod. The auctioneer was not looking my way. I had to make noise. You sort of grunt ascent and wave your hand. Don’t look like you are scratching your head. And then it comes down to two or three women who stay in and drive up the price until the determination in my eye or the price exceeds their desire. Got it. As in, I bought it. No, silly, I didn’t take a picture. I don’t shoot everything.
The last time I did an auction was back when my kids were 8 or 10 years old. Their school auctioned off a large white stuffed bear. How large? Bigger than my two kids combined. They were impressed. Me too! I got it for about $20. The very next year at the same auction I got another but smaller bear for another $20. After that never again. I’m not a gambler by nature. I think that I would be tempted and lose the family farm if I were in Las Vegas. The worst I ever did was lose $5 in Atlantic City. (We had to pay for parking to enter the casino.)
I was in Puerto Rico at a spine meeting and the hotel had a casino. An orthopedic friend of mine handed his girlfriend $20 and told her to have fun. She went to the roulette table and damn if she didn’t parlay that money into $5000. Wow. She bet corners and lines and …. She hit the number a few times. Double wow! So years later during a family vacation at the Tyler Place in Vermont, lo and behold – Casino Night! $5 got you a Styrofoam cup of chips. Using my knowledge of roulette, I lost that cup of chips in less than 30 seconds. I walked away much the wiser. Nope. I don’t gamble.
Plop! Yes bring a rug and plop down in any open space. No one seems shy about bringing along a rug and just claiming a spot in the middle of everything. I can’t say that it appears comfortable. Selfies in the background!? It’s midnight and joint is hoppin’! I’d ordinarily think a nice soft patch of grass would do. But there ‘s no grass in sight. Folks will set up in the most unlikely and most uncomfortable looking locations. And despite the hour, no one appears ready for bed.
My guide told me that there were typical drinks that were served at Ramadan. These things create the familiar memory of a holiday as eggnog would remind me of Christmas. The dark purple drink is served everywhere. The origin or berry is unclear to me. The taste is distinctive. The other drink is newer and is seen together. But it is the purple stuff….has an odd distinctive flavor. It is sweet without citrus tartness. Initially I did not like it but it becomes an acquired taste. It was new for me but is typically served where ever I go. Most vendors served it up from plain plastic containers. Here at least the display had some style and was worth sharing the image. Otherwise for the rest of the year I don’t see this drink.
The 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…..
My 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.
This is a pocket food. It starts as a small ball of dough that like pizza is stretched to paper thinness. And then a filling is added. The package is folder and thrown on an oiled hot grill. Make it golden brown. It looked good. The picture says it far better than a description.
During 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….
There are spiky urchins aplenty on the reef. Less common are the pencil urchins, obviously named because their spikes are the diameter of pencils. I almost passed this collector urchin except that my flashlight picked up the brilliant color. Later the book showed and named it for me. Yes, they pick up debris and cover themselves, hence the name, collector. As I said I thought it was plant not animal the first time I looked.
I’m starting a series of iconic images in my life and will continue for a few weeks in my posts. This blonde headed kid is one of my first street photography images. It was taken back in the ‘70’s. I’m kind of shy, really! So it’s not my first inclination to put my camera into someone’s face and shoot. We were at a street fair and this kid just presented himself, isolated in the crowd, just him and me. He’s got to be in his forties now. I wonder what he’s doing. This was one of the earliest street images for me. The other great source of images was New York City’s street fairs, which were just beginning in the ‘70’s. Nowadays there’s a street fair every weekend and most times in multiple locations. Back then, it was a local merchants fair. But, London was among my earliest experiences.
At the annual 9th Avenue Festival, ostensibly it is about food. Over the years the fair has morphed from local merchants and food to professional food fair vendors and purveyors as varied as women’s underwear to sheets and pillowcases. Of course local merchants remain a part of the mix. I just didn’t know that there were so many gyro stands all run by the same parent company. This man and woman would have been more likely to be in Europe. It’s not a great shot. I grabbed the shot as is because I was too shy to ask them to pose.
Ok, I have some gender issues here. They were dressed as mermaids and perhaps that’s where we leave the subject. I am reminded of the circus side show. It’s about the spectacle right. I still ask myself if I would ever dare go out looking like that. And remember mom always said, “Never go out without clean underwear on.” Well, somebody’s mother said it, right?
We were visiting Cusco, Peru. Purely by luck we happened upon a religious festival. I was in the thick of it. We were all wandering around separately and planned to meet in the early afternoon. So here I was on my own and face to face with a masked man. I have wondered but do not know the details of the costumes and the masks. There were many different groups dressed and marching. It wasn’t a parade. The groups converged upon the main square from different directions. It is quite an event. And, best of all, I had just wandered into it all. Unlike New York, I did not have to arrive hours early, jockey for position, or get chased from the route by police. How nice!
Close-ups can stop the eye. So here’s a take on a common item. I’ve been to many ‘street fairs.’ I’m not a shopper, so it usually means that I’m accompanying someone else. My way to pass the time is taking photographs. That way we don’t know who’s slower, my companion or me. Anyway, after the requisite wide shots, I concentrate on some close ups. Everyone’s seen yarn. It’s about color and pattern.
Sometimes you don’t have the traditional monkey handy and available. Maybe the monkey had the day off. Wally and Smartie, are street performers, from the London street fair scene many years ago. Who was who? You don’t see folks much like that in New York. But then we have our own characters.
What do you say? – ‘A One Man Band!’ There is a lot to criticize about this photo and then there is the simple snapshot of it all. It was another photo from the London street scene. Johnny was there to earn a living and I sure hope he was successful. More than 30 years ago, I wish him well.
This is another outtake of photos from London street fairs. I had my favorite among my very early posts. (9/14/11) Here the color of the old slide has given a certain patina that my daughter recognizes on sight. Kids riding on Dad’s shoulders are easy targets. They are relatively immobile and they have an excellent uncluttered background.
In my early years with much less technical expertise, I shot a series of early street shots when I visited London. It should probably be in photocriticism.com my other blog. Notice the two monkeys, one parrot, and the smiling face. Of course you did, didn’t you? Maybe it’s not a great shot. But it did catch my eye and made me set it aside when editing recently.
Here’s a historically interesting photo from an era similar to the times as in the previous post. It is a street fair from the ‘80’s with a rock band performing. The background is interesting in the political posters for Mario Cuomo, the father to present New York governor, Andrew. Who knew how history would repeat? Everything old is new again.
I attended Stuyvesant High School a long, long time ago. During that time I was on the swimming team. It wasn’t too hard to join the team. Most kids in New York City don’t swim well. Well at least it seemed that they didn’t much in those days. My daughter’s high school team and her league had excellent swimmers.
I also did the low hurdles because no one else did. I even won the Manhattan Borough Championship meet and was mentioned in the NY Times Sports section. Who knew? I was pretty full of myself until I showed up for the City Championship Meet at Randall’s Island. There was a high school in Brooklyn called Girls and Boys High. They were African American. The hurdlers from that team were nine feet tall (I exaggerate) and could step over the hurdles like a speed bump. I came in last to them.
But, I digress. NY City High Schools by and large did not have swimming pools and Stuyvesant was no exception. Hence there were very few swimmers among the 704 students enrolled per class. In order to workout we would swim either at Evangeline Residence or at the 23rd St Bathhouse. Evangeline was a Salvation Army residence for women on about 12th Street in Greenwich Village. It had two lanes in small basement pool, was overheated, and very humid. No women, we were an all male school at the time.
The 23rd Street Bathhouse is still around from the early 1900’s. It was indeed a bathhouse for poor folks to take the occasional bath. The pool also had two lanes. There was a gargoyle at one end spewing out ‘cold’ water so that swimming in one direction was against the current. And this pool area was not heated much. City budget, I guess. In the winter you could see frost on your breath and the few blocks to walk to the subway invariably froze my wet hair.
The point of this picture for me and teammates in the years that preceded and followed, was this figure. It sat in the window of a shoe repair shop. Even at that time this was an old display. Yet in all of our collective psyches,’ this became a symbol of our trudge in the cold to workout and then leave to freeze our hair. It was an iconic waypoint in the life of our swim team.