Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cobra on the Loose in New York

Cobra on a Carpet, Marrakesh (September 23, 2002)

For the last couple of days news headlines have alerted New Yorkers that a venomous cobra is missing from the Bronx Zoo. Thinking back through my files of images, I remember taking this photo of a deadly cobra with his two serpent friends in the background while on a family vacation in zoom lens, nothing. There's not much space between me and that snake who was poised and ready to have me for lunch. For some reason, I leaned in to get a good shot. I really don't know what I was thinking!

All of Manhattan has been abuzz (dare I say, a-twitter even) with the news of the missing (or escaped?) reptile. Some clever person has given the "snake on the town" a voice with a hilarious twitter account that chronicles his travels and activities as a tourist in is very own city. Amassing over 150,000 followers in just a few days, here are some of my favorite entries to date:

Enjoying a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery. This is going straight to my hips. Oh, wait. I don't have hips. Yesss!

Getting on the ferry to Ellis Island. Let's hope this goes better than that time on the plane.

Taking the Sex and the City Tour!!! I'm totally a SSSamantha.

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Temple of Dendur really kicks some asp.

Getting my morning coffee at the Mudtruck. Don't even talk to me until I've had my morning coffee.
Seriously, don't. I'm venomous.

Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious!

Dear NYC, Apples and snakes have gone together since the beginning.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Origami Cranes Around Brooklyn

As I was leaving for work last week, I saw this beautiful strand of origami cranes floating in a tree. I pass McGolrick Park in Greenpoint daily, but this bright morning was different. The sun was streaming through the colorful strands, and a gentle breeze gave them movement. Luckily, I had my camera in my coat pocket (as I sometimes do) and took advantage of this special moment. I thought for sure that by day's end, the Parks Department or the elements would have ruined this impromptu work of art but they remain. I glanced downward and saw a cluster of votive candles was left directly under it. I assumed it was some local group's response to the tragedy in Japan. After doing a little sleuthing on the internet, I was somewhat right and found that there's more to the story....

The project was created by local musician and songstress, Niabi. It started as a way to keep idle hands busy and combat the endless winter. An ancient Japanese legend states that the person who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish by the mystical creature. Following the legend, the simple act of folding paper has evolved into something more for the artist in light of Japan's crisis:

"I want to give my wish away to someone who needs it more than I do.
 In short, it is my prayer for peace."

In the same week, I was walking through another section of Greenpoint and found this tiny red crane above.  I also found a stash of origami paper in my own art studio. The crane's symblic imagery even appears as a motif on the paper. I don't know how to make anything from it, but I admire its patterns and colors - and all of the little paper animals that seem to be cropping up around my section of Brooklyn lately too.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Museum Buttons - Collecting

Every time I come back from a museum visit, I dutifully put my little metallic badge in a jar that I have for such items. I don't even remember how this peculiar little collection started. It was probably when I first noticed that there was a different color every time I went. It soon became a small obsession like hunting for the prize at the bottom of the cereal box - collect all five! 
Most of the buttons are from multiple visits to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art each emblazoned with a giant "M" diagrammed like Leonardo's Vitruvian Man. They are from the days when I was a student practically living in one perfectly-ventilated environment or another. Others are from the New Museum, the Whitney, the MFA in Boston, DIA in upstate New York, the Morgan Library, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (identified and distinguished by the gryphon on a colorful background). As I see them all spread out, I realize, that's a lot of looking at art!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Monday

Zoe, Montauk (August 21, 2010)
Jane's Bliss, Montauk (August 21, 2010)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Retro Glam

I love the clothes from the 1970s and immediately stopped in my tracks when I spotted this little bohemian beauty by Fendi in the windows at Saks. I love the billowy sleeves and carefree attitude. I guess I'll have to enjoy it from afar, as this little treasure runs just above the $2K mark (not including the belt, or those fabulous sunglasses).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday - Carnevale in Venice

In places like New Orleans, today is known as "Fat Tuesday" or "Shrove Tuesday" - that crazy period of over-indulgence and partying before Lent and fasting begins in preparation for Easter. Coming from the Italian words for "meat" (carne) and "go away" (vale) is carnevale, or carnival - a farewell to meat. After studying in Venice and visiting friends (previously always in the summer), I wanted to see what carnival would be like. Years ago, I braved the nasty weather that goes hand-in-hand with Venice's marine environment for February. From my notes and recollections:

I arrive at Marco Polo airport at 10:30 a.m. then took the boat to the Castello area of Venice. I am headed to a palace that formerly housed one in a long line of Doges. A section of it with its ancient courtyard is now a friend's apartment as his family's weekend pied-à-terre. We walk for a little while with my suitcases through the winding streets.
Later, we pass through Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo, and it's become very foggy. It is Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday) and revelers are already walking around in masks and costumes, posing and becoming one with the city's ancient landmarks. This time, Serenissima is everything I always imagined it would be. Eerie. Sinister. Even though it's late afternoon, it's already fairly dark. On certain streets, it is numbingly quiet- except for the clicking of the heels of a courtesan in colonial costume rushing off to one of the balls. This air of mystery is what inspired works like the psycho-thriller, Don't Look Now (starring a very young Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie), Eyes Wide Shut, and Death in Venice. It is a place that oozes of history, intrigue, glorious imagery, and a longing for beauty just like Thomas Mann's novel.

We went briefly to the Casino for a jazz concert and reception. Strangely, I notice the Latin words, "non nobis" (not for us) emblazoned atop its entrance. After the concert, my friend and I walked towards home. Once again, I am taken with the silence of the city at such an early hour. There is no one around, and now all you can hear is your own hurried footsteps as you quickly stride through the fog and darkness. This place is bursting with secrets. We walk by the Church of the Miracoli, a virtual jewel straddling two canals. It is still unrelentlessly cold and damp. The baroque style costume balls held at some of the palazzi must be in full swing by now. The next day, I am grateful that there is a little bit of sun poking through the thick layer of clouds but it doesn't offer any warmth. We go for a walk to the Accademia Bridge area, and then to the busy Campo Margherita.

The water is very turbulent, and getting around is fairly difficult. The water is flooding the square acqua alta and the boards are out as tourists and residents alike teeter above the inky depths. I went to a mass for Ash Wednesday at St. Mark’s. Unbelievably, the water is ankle deep even inside the ancient church. The main area near the altar must be a little bit higher above sea level. The space is amazing, and it was emotional to be inside to see it in the manner it was intended and without a consistent flow of flashing cameras. I think of all the history here and feel a sense of place. Without so many people bustling through, the space seems oddly small. We go up to receive our ashes. They are sprinkled on the top of my head rather than displayed as a large blob X formation on the forehead as is done back home.
Afterwards, we walk the streets again towards a bacaro (a place for snacks) located near the train station, the Osteria Carbonera. It is an awfully raw night with the high water and driving wind mixed with snow. There are not many people out tonight. The restaurant has long wooden community tables that I love so much. There is a candle in a bottle on every table. Very rustic. The lighting is really low and moody, but the atmosphere is friendly and authentic. We came here to eat the last time I was in Venice just three years prior. Tonight, we are offered homemade wine and various spreads for our mini toasts. We take the vaporetto from Guglie and the turbulence in the water is striking near the Ospedale. My hosts hang out with me while I try to force everything I have into three bags.
The next day, the snow is actually accumulating and the water is quite violent again. I have to leave today. It's too bad I won’t get to see my favorite city with a layer of white. As I stare into the blank, lifeless eyes of the carnevale masks, I realize that I'm drawn to Venice again and again for unknown reasons. And, even though I didn't pay top dollar (some upwards of 450 Euro) to go to a costume party, or get dressed up myself, it was one of the best parties I've ever attended- thrown by the city as a whole.

Pictured above (and below left), is one of the more prominent figures of Carnevale known as the Bauta, usually portrayed as a white mask with a strange, projected upper lip and no chin, worn with a black cloak and a tri-corner hat.
The Bauta (left) and the beaked Plague Doctor (right). Other masks include the Moretta (a black circular velvety mask with netting worn by ladies), the Volta or Larva type, the Columbina, or the Pulcinella (a clown with a protruding nose), the harlequin, pantalone, among many other commedia dell'arte characters. Participation in Venice's festivities and the wearing of a costume during this time guaranteed total anonymity. The lack of identity leveled class systems and also fostered all sorts of roguish behavior from romantic encounters to criminal activity.
The party swirls around the feathered Fantasma at Florian's.

Confetti in Milan- the whole country is celebrating!
The inner sanctum of St. Mark's and some directions on the side of a wall in Sestiere Castello.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Window Love - Rochas at Barneys

I was struck dumb upon seeing this stunning silk gown by Rochas as part of Barneys "Backstage" campaign.
If I can quote Rachel Zoe just once for this beautiful display, "I die!"