I can’t believe I even have to preface this, but these photos are not an endorsement of the nasty Christopher Columbus, of the Spain’s Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, sponsors of Columbus and the monsters behind the Spanish Inquisition and other bloody crimes in the name of Christianity, or the American government and their mistreatment of Native Americans, and certainly not any sarcastic comment about the many accomplishments of Italian-Americans in our country. I was passing through midtown Manhattan. There was a parade. It was pouring. And I like to shoot photos of people with umbrellas. Fair enough?
This is my Facebook update Saturday night after I came home from the Coney Island Mermaid Parade:
Everyone is sexy and beautiful if they want to be. And even if they don’t want to be, they can’t help others from seeing it. Been thinking about that all night. Even I’m kinda sexy.
Maybe I wanted to make it clear that I appreciated the “body positive” vibe of the event. People strolled up and down the boardwalk in various stages of undress, and they didn’t do it for my “male gaze.” The creative folk did it for themselves. They love the opportunity to wear outrageous costumes and paint their bodies in oceanic colors.
I’m a tame voyeur. I never gawk at sunbathers at the beach. I have never visited a strip club. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the pleasure I received from admiring the stew of bodies on view on Saturday in Brooklyn — the big bosomed and the flat-chested, the tight abs and the big guts, the fleshy asses and the large male packages balled into tight-fitting speedos. It was sexy and fun. If I had more chutzpah, I would have taken off my own clothes and painted my ass green.
Is it so wrong that I enjoyed being a blatant voyeur for a few hours? The Mermaid Parade, much like I imagine Mardi Gras or Carnival, allows for a safe and playful expression display of the body. I felt comfortable talking to parade participants and asking permission for photos. When it rained, a whole bunch of us took shelter under the awning of Nathan’s, and soon I was dancing in the downpour with half-naked women. What could be better than that?
It’s easy to connect photography with voyeurism. We like looking at people.
Saturday was the 11th Annual Dance Parade downtown. It was a lot of fun. Thank you Lori, Grace, Laura, and Tom for letting me join up with you!
The parade’s mission: “To promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form by showcasing all forms of dance, educating the general public about the opportunities to experience dance, and celebrating diversity of dance in New York City by sponsoring a yearly city-wide dance parade and dance festival.”
So far, in 2017, I’ve been losing things
I lost the close relationship of a woman.
I lost the comfort of looking up to a President who beamed with decency and intelligence, as a new administration takes shape, in the likeness of a serpent.
Three days ago, I lost my umbrella, leaving it on a bus.
Two days ago, I lost my hat, leaving it on a train.
Yesterday, I lost my identity, or at least my wallet, pickpocketed in the Times Square subway station. In my wallet were my credit cards, my library card, my insurance card, and my driver’s license.
Today, I took a break to see a matinée of the award-winning film, Moonlight.
Later, I discovered that I lost my second hat of the week, this time leaving it in the movie theater. When I called the theater’s lost and found office, they said it was gone. Was I losing my mind?
“There is nothing wrong with me,” I told myself. “I am distracted. Between the personal and the political, I feel lost. I’m not ready for the new year yet, and my mind is rebelling against its existence.
I grabbed a strong cup of coffee, then went to the New York Public Library to get a replacement library card. I glanced around at all the books on the shelves. Thousands of books stood silently, lined up like Napoleon’s soldiers waiting for action. From Knitting for Dummies to A Guide to Authoritarian Governments to the Kama Sutra. So much to learn, so much to do, so much to fight against, so much to love and protect.
The librarian handed me my new library card. My name was written on it. It was my first new proof of my identity in 2017 since my wallet was stolen.
I was now ready for the new year. I had no choice. With only my library card and twenty bucks in my pocket, I stepped outside into the winter cold to buy a new hat and umbrella.
At the end of sixth grade, we all received an autograph album so we can sign our goodbyes to our classmates before we headed off to the great dark and dangerous unknown — junior high. I found my “autograph album” yesterday in my closet, and it was fun reading again, especially the page where I listed my favorites.
I can only imagine my sixth grade mind’s thoughts as I scribbled in my answers.
My Favorite Author: Agatha Christie
“I don’t read children’s books like the other kids. I read adult books like my mom. I read Agatha Christie. She is an adult writer. I am an adult reader.”
My Favorite Book: Murder on the Orient Express
“My favorite book is “Murder on the Orient Express.” Of course it is. I love trains. I have a train set, and when I am on the subway, I imagine myself on some really fancy train, like the Orient Express. The Orient Express is as fancy as they come. You can sleep on the train and they serve you steak and lobster, like at that fancy restaurant in Long Island where the waitresses dress as pilgrims. The Orient Express goes from Egypt to Europe, and all types of fancy people go on it, Dukes and Duchesses, and millionaires. Hercule Poirot is also on the train. He is a famous detective. He is way smarter than even Columbo. This is his hardest case ever! But he watches, and listens, and puts two plus two together, and he figures it all out. You will never guess whodunit. If you’ve ever played Clue, this is a book you HAVE to read.
The novel is also educational. It teaches us an important life lesson that I will remember forever. If you think logically, using your little grey cells in your brain like a detective, you will be able to figure out anything. Nothing is too complicated for the human brain to understand if you think hard enough. Life is like math, 2+2=4. I will always remember that. Think hard enough and you can figure out the answer, so everything will always be perfect.”
My Favorite College: Harvard
I have never seen Harvard in real life because I have never been to Boston. I have only seen Harvard in that movie that my mom likes where the college students fall in love. But I know that I must attend Harvard for college. It is the best. Even though I am only in sixth grade now, I must prepare myself to get into Harvard now, no matter if I have no fun until then. Because once you get into Harvard, you have everything. The rest of your life is pure happiness. You sit on the lawn and read books with smart guys in glasses and play Frisbee with pretty girls with long hair. If you go to Harvard, your parents are so proud that they tell all their friends, “My son is in Harvard.” Over and over again. And when I come back from Harvard to Queens and go back to my sixth grade class, Sharon will want to be my partner in the dance festival. “Oh, Neil, you are back from Harvard!” she will say. “I would love it if you will be my partner for the dance festival this year. I wish I knew you were going to Harvard in sixth grade, I would have become your partner and we would be married by now. But now we can get married because you went to Harvard.”
My Favorite Profession: Lawyer or Author
I would like to be a lawyer and fight for civil rights and against those who try to ban books and say there is no evolution. I’m always in social studies coming up with a question where the teacher goes, “Good question, Neil.” I can do that in court. I will be logical as a lawyer, like Hercule Poirot as a detective. I will say, “You say blacks and whites should not go to the same schools, but WHY do you believe that? Do you have any proof why it is bad? Aren’t all children just children? Do you know the words of Martin Luther King? Don’t we all bleed and laugh and cry and learn? Why shouldn’t we go to the same schools?” And everyone will stand and cheer.
Maybe I’d rather be an author instead of a lawyer. My uncle is a lawyer and is divorced, and my dad says he drinks too much. I’m not sure I would want to go to court everyday or wear a suit. I don’t want to get divorced or drink too much. An author may be better because he sits at home all day and writes stories, like Agatha Christie, and everyone just loves you all the time. And as an author, you can make A LOT OF MONEY!! Girls will want to be with me because I will have so much money.
My favorite motto: Do Onto Others as You Want Others To Do To You
This is my favorite saying. A famous rabbi once said that the entire Torah can be summarized by this saying. You don’t like being beaten up or mugged, so you shouldn’t do it to someone else. If someone is sick, bring them the homework. That is exactly what you want, right? If everyone follows this plan, then everyone is nice and happy. Of course, just to be logical, I might not want to beat you up because I follow my motto, but you might still beat me up, because you don’t follow the motto. Then, I’m not sure what to do. That screws up everything. But I think eventually, as society advances, we all will be good to each other. It is the way of history, like landing on the moon — progress!
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub’s concourse will ultimately connect visitors to 11 different subway lines; the PATH rail system; the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum; World Trade Center Towers 1, 2, 3, and 4; and Brookfield Place (formerly known as the World Financial Center), which houses the Winter Garden. It represents the most integrated network of underground pedestrian connections in New York City.
The “Oculus” serves as the centerpiece of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, incorporating 78,000 square feet of multi level state-of-the-art retail and dining. The concourses emanating from the Oculus link the entirety of the site above and below grade. With an additional 290,000 square feet of exciting, multi-level retail and dining space, the World Trade Center site is the focal point of Lower Manhattan. (Port Authority of New York and New Jersey site)