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Happy Birthday Ellie!!!!

What? Terrible Two?
How can they say that about You?
Why, you’re just sowing your
Wild toddler oats.
You’re a sticky fingered explorer
Among Mommy’s closets and coats
You “borrowed” Daddy’s iPhone
re-engineered it with a few slams and jerks,
Not your fault that it no longer works.
You discovered the word NO!
Not a thing wrong with with that!
Accept it drives your mother crazy
And causes your father to throw in his hat.
All in all this will be a pretty good year
My Ellie Dear!
And the Enthralling Threes are just as good.
Or so I hear.

Happy Birthday Ellie,
Love You,
Great Aunt Cate




He completes the Family circle with Joy
He is a Hero in the eyes of his little Boy
He is his little Girl’s Knight in shining armor
He is the One who holds it all together
Who is this Man who can climb higher & farther?
Why he can only be ……. A Father.

Happy Father’s Day to all of You Super Men!



When the World Came to Flushing…..Twice

Saturday, Queens celebrated both the 75th (1939-1940)  & the 50th (1964-1965) anniversaries of the New York World’s Fair which took place in Flushing Meadows Park. Actually, that park was created specifically for the 1939 World’s Fair and then was host to the 1964 fair. Last year, I paid a nostalgic visit to the park as I had not been there since my family and I went to the 1964-65 World’s Fair (you can read the blog post by clicking here). Anyway, I thought I would head back to the park and be a part of this anniversary celebration.

It was a perfect day, blue skies, low humidity and a cool breeze; couldn’t’ve asked for better.  Excited children and their parents were in abundance enjoying a day in the park with live music, international foods, games, bounce houses and slides, exhibits and tours. All for free!

I started my photographic day by taking a few shots from the boardwalk as I exited the #7 Train at Mets/Willets Point then spent a few minutes taking some abstract shots from an elevated open promenade before heading into the heart of the Park. I followed the music and came upon the Unisphere stage where I just caught the last song from the Supreme Reflections doing incredible renditions of the songs of the legendary Diana Ross and the Supremes! I hung around for a while longer to listen to the Latin sounds of the Karikatura fusion band before heading over to visit the two infamous World’s Fair landmarks; the Unisphere and the rusting remains of the New York State Pavilion. Note: the city is now in the process of giving this much loved piece of park history a long over due face lift. Huzza! Hurrah!

The first thing I noticed about the Unisphere was that the water jets surrounding it were dry. Last summer, they where shooting streams of water which burst into white mist creating a frothy nest for the ‘sphere to sit in.  At first I was disappointed but, I realized I could now walk right up to this giant of a globe and get some nice abstract shots.

I continued my meader through the crowds grabbing a few people shots and then was happily surprised by an exhibit of  cars from the 1930’s and 1960’s including the bright vermilion Monkees car (Hey, Hey we’re the Monkees….!)  But, the star car of this show was James Bond’s sexy sleek 1963 Aston Martin!  The muscle cars were flexing their macho and attracted a cute curly haired model with a giggling gap toothed smile and a regiment of freckles running across her nose.

My camera captured kids skate boarding, riding bikes and scooters.  There were teams of men playing volley ball and even a game of Cricket was taking place.  My wanderings took me across a pedestrian bridge above the Van Wyck Expressway towards the park’s huge man made lake. A bit of peace and tranquility from the music and happy mayhem by the ‘sphere.

Happy Diamond and Gold Anniversary to the World’s Fairs!

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New York City…. As the Birds See it.

The One World Trade Observatory opened to the public this weekend and I took myself and my camera for a first visit.

I had arrived too early to get on line which gave me half an hour to take a few shots of the Freedom Tower and surrounding buildings. There is still an amazing amount of construction going on around this area including the much hated Calatrasaurus, a huge white fan like piece of architecture that, will be part of the new World Trade Center Transportation hub. I kind of liked it, it looks like a huge gull about to take flight. I walked over to St. Paul’s Chapel cemetery which is noted for withstanding a major fire in 1776, was where George Washington prayed after his inauguration, and it survived the attacks of September 11th, 2001.

Standing on line, waiting to enter the building for the tour, I took photos of the tower from the ground up as it ascended through the clouds towards the sun. To say I took “a lot” of shots, of this newest addition to the Manhattan skyline, is an understatement. It took me back to the time when I first photographed the late Twin Towers back in 1990; I felt an equal mix of nostalgia, sadness and excitement.

Once inside and through the checkpoints, it is a short stroll through a cavern like walkway, the walls lined with metamorphic rock or Schist which is what the Manhattan skyline is built upon. Then we passed through a dark corridor, with visual presentations of the people who helped to build the new tower and lastly a huge moving wall of iconic New York City images, before being led to the elevator banks.

One of the high points (no pun intended) of getting to the top of the tower is the high speed Sky Pod elevator ride to the 102nd floor.  When the doors close a visual time-lapsed journey is projected onto the surrounding elevator walls, taking you through Manhattan’s history from the 1500’s to the present day as you rocket to the top in just 48 seconds! I loved it! I could have ridden that elevator 6 times in a row and would still have been thrilled.

Once on the observation deck, I stepped in front of a window and saw this city through the eyes of a bird soaring up above the urban chaos, scanning the cityscape of the outer boroughs and Jersey City. I then lowered my eyes downward to a dizzying view of the roof tops of some of the tallest buildings in Manhattan. I felt like a “Peeping-Tom” peering through my lens down into the life of this city. It looked like a table top landscape with tiny toy cars and buses and dark ribbons of road, puddles of water, and delicate bridges of sticks and thread. For a brief moment it makes one feel big and powerful, like a giant.

Note: Shooting through these tall wide windows was tricky as they were very reflective and slightly dirty. I spent quite a bit of time in post processing removing color cast, dirty streaks and cloning or cropping out reflections. 

After making a circumnavigation of the observatory I stepped back to observe my fellow tourist’s reactions to the views I’d just captured. These turned out to be my favorite images especially, the two young couples sitting in adjacent windows exhibiting a modern-day contrast in communication: Face to Face or Face to Phone, your choice.

When I had come back down to terra firma I paid a visit to the 911 Memorial, took a few minutes to read the many names of the people whose lives were taken during the attack. I noticed people reaching out and laying their hands on the names as if in a quiet moment of respect.

The last images of the day were taken as I switched trains at 42nd street and stopped to listen to a music ensemble as it rocked the station off its tracks.

Enjoy the views!

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Into the Belly of the Beast

The beast was the USS San Antonio on display at Pier 92 giving free educational tours to the public during NYC’s Fleet Week.

These are not your typical Memorial Day red, white and blue, flag waving, marching band and balloons images; these images were taken from a unique perspective wandering inside the body of a mammoth naval warship.

I took the N to 49th Street and walked up towards the Hudson River, taking a few shots along the way.  When I arrived at the corner of 49th and 12th I was detoured up to 54th and then crossing over to the pier side came up against a dense crowd of adults and children all waiting to take the tour. I thought I would find an open space along the pier to take a few photos before going aboard but, everything was blocked off and I had no other choice but to get back on “the line” and follow the crowd. I did manage to catch a quick shot of a goose standing watch like a life guard as children ran and played in the sun.

Back on “the line” I showed my photo ID at the entrance and walked through a zigzag of aluminum barriers and out into a side show of military muscle power; i.e., gigantic tanks and trucks, a scary but, impressive looking piece of artillery known as a Howitzer. It was scary to me but, the kids just love it and crawled all over it like ants on a piece of candy. In fact the whole of the tour was “hands on” for the kids.  And the proud young military personnel couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming happily posing for photos, answering questions and giving demonstrations on safety and rescue operations.

At the end of the this educational walk we passed through a security check point similar to an airport before entering into the ship. I knew right away that photography was going to be a challenge not only because of the many visitors, who seemed to be everywhere at once but, because most of the tour was inside the ship which was very dark. At one point though we were herded out onto the flight deck to marvel at an MV-22 Osprey, posing like a movie star for the hundreds of photos being taken of it. After that it was back on “the line” which now snaked around to the other side of the ship, and back down inside the iron bowels of the boat.

This part of the tour took us through some very narrow walkways and “the line” slowed down to a crawl. It was hot, dark and very, very close and claustrophobia was beginning to kick in. To keep myself from going insane I cranked up the ISO and started taking photos of the space enveloping me. As I twisted around I started to see in the abstract and began composing images of the many wires, cables, pipes, nuts, bolts, fire equipment, ventilation shafts, exit doors, etc. You name it, I took a photo of it. We passed through the sleeping quarters (talk about claustrophobic) and the hospital. We came out into the day light, for a short period of time, on our way to the dark but blessedly wide open well deck where, on display were amphibious assault vehicles and all of their oceanic accouterments.

Finished with the tour and outside in the bright sunshine, I filled my lungs with fresh air and then walked down towards 46th Street to pay my Memorial Day respects to the venerable Intrepid sitting in state at pier 86 on the Hudson River. I finished my photographic day taking a few architectural shots as I walked up 42nd Street toward the subway and home.

To all of our proud and daring Soldiers, Sailors and Pilots past and present, we Thank You on this day and all days,  for putting your lives on the line so we can live our lives in freedom.  HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!

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The Glitter, The Glitz, and The Grub

The first of the NYC street fairs commenced this weekend with the 9th Avenue Food Festival in Hell’s Kitchen, from 42nd to 57th streets.

Exiting the subway at 42nd Street and Broadway a.k.a, Times Square, is an all out assault on the senses. The eyes are blinded by vivid flashing digital advertisements wrapped around soaring sky scrapers in all directions. The brain is jarred as it confronts enormous lumbering buses, crammed with gaping pointing tourist, swinging into view from out of nowhere. The ears are bombarded with loud honking horns, whining sirens, bellowing hawkers, and pounding driving music. The body is squeezed through clumps of agog pedestrians drifting up and down Broadway mesmerized by these sights and sounds, or rushing to make the curtain of a must see musical in one of the many infamous theaters lining the streets just off of this “broad way.” Through this highly charged atmosphere I walked across town towards the fair taking photos of all that I saw.

Ninth Avenue had its own brand of sensory overload this day, with the cloying aroma of frying oil and great billows of smoke and steam rising from the many tented food stands and stoves that lined either side of the street. It was alive with good cheer and people strolling along tempted by Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Greek and Italian dishes with many more delectable sweet goodies, all on offer for just a few dollars, washed down with beer, wine, soda or tart lemonade. If the food did not lure you then there were T-shirts, sandals, woven baskets, wooden toys, trinkets, geegaws, sparkling jewels, summer straw hats, and African drums, to spend your fun money on. Stilt walkers, tall and lean strutted up the avenue while black and red winged angels mingled with the masses.

There was music, singing and dancing too! A piano man rocked and rolled to a crowd of smiling lips and swiveling hips. On the other end of the street a platform was raised where upon young multi-ethnic dancers snapped, hopped and twisted to the beat. Then came blue and green diaphanous ballerinas leaping through the air. Captivating Thai dancers with sharp golden talons and coins in their hair waited their turn to perform for the expectant crowd. In stark contrast, just a block away, aboriginal sounds emanated from a one man band with a didgeridoo.

I took my leave of the eclectic cuisine and frenzied fan fare, turning onto 57th street and walking back east passing 8th and 7th Avenues, Broadway, and 6th Avenue up to 5th Avenue, where I would catch the subway home. But, before heading back to Queens, I stopped for a few shots of the throngs in front of the Apple store then to photograph a young street performer, in front of the Plaza Hotel, doing hand springs and flips to a cheering crowd. Lastly, my eye was caught by an art display consisting of giant colored spools of rope in Central Park, captured against a skyscraper background.

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She has a Large and Generous Heart
She is a Proud and Beautiful Matriarch
She is a Teacher, a Doctor and a Best Friend
She Protects, Promotes; Working without end
She is a Mediator, a Monitor and a Mentor,
Who is She, this Woman like no other?
Why surely………She is a Mother!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Wonder Women


Ohhh, In the Merry Merry Month of Maaaaay……

Ah spring, it makes you want to burst into song especially when there are sunny skies and a sublime seventy degrees. Now that I’m feeling myself once again (still have an annoying cough but, who cares its spring!) I made a bee line for the good ole Bronx Botanical Gardens to revel in the freshly blooming flowers and plants.

I had spent so much time at the gardens during the winter months that it fairly took my breath away when I entered through the garden gates flanked by massive pink and white cherry trees and beheld everything in bloom. I felt like Dorothy walking into the land of Oz. The grass and all of the trees were as green as emeralds, drifts of tiny white, purple and blue flowers  floated over a landscape that was once cold and barren just a few months back.

I walked the Perennial, and Seasonal Gardens as they were packed with bright red, deep purple, sunburst orange, light yellow, and pure white tulips. The sun was high in the sky sending down beams of light illuminating the inside of the each tulip like a votive candle. Some of the tulips had a dot of butter yellow at the very bottom of their cups. As I made my way through the flowers I surprised a white Narcissus kissing a magenta tulip causing its neighbors  to blush and glow. My favorite tulip was a bright yellow with a thin dark red piping on the edge of its delicate petals. The Rock Garden was my last stop for the day with its cascading water fall surrounded by hardy scrub bushes, trees and long leafy water plants. Beautiful blue and yellow early crocus, netted iris and dozens of other seasonal plants added their color and style to this rocky landscape.

Enjoy this dee-lightful time of year!


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Astoria’s in Bloom….Finally!

Three weeks ago I was hit with what I thought was a spring cold, it went away and I went on with life as usual and then the dastardly cold or should I say flu came back with a vengeance and laid me low for a week. I’ve managed to bounce back somewhat and all that remains of this vicious virus is a stuffed nose and a hideous rattling cough that makes me dizzy.

But, if you actually thought I was going to stay in on a warm sunny spring day, like we had yesterday, you were wrong. Despite my despicable circumstances, I sallied forth with tissues, cough drops and camera in hand to explore the wonders of Spring unfolding outside my door.

This is what I beheld before me as I walked along the streets, avenues and boulevards of Astoria; A bounty of budding branches, cheerful Cherry Blossoms, colorful Coleus, dazzling Daffodils, a daring Dandelion, forthcoming Forsythia, halcyon Hyacinths, marvelous Magnolias, romantic Ranunculus and a tempting Tulip. All in vibrant hues of pink, yellow, white and green against skies of blue. I sneezed and coughed and snapped for four hours, enjoying every minute absorbing the suns rays like a flowering thing. Oh, the joys of early spring.

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Looking Out From the Jersey Side

Mother Nature had still not allowed her flowers and trees to bloom just yet, as there was still a bit of a nip in the air so, I set my mind and lens on some urban photography, with a bit of the grunge thrown in. On Saturday afternoon I took the N train to 34th Street, transferred to the PATH travelling deep under the Hudson River getting off at the Newport station in Jersey City where, I made my way to the Hudson River Walkway.

I’ve walked the Hudson River many times from the NYC side with a view of Jersey City and thought it was time I looked to other way, so to speak. This is a nice long walk which passes through Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, Weehawken, West New York, Guttenberg, North Bergen, Edgewater, and Fort Lee. I did not complete the whole walk but, what I did walk took me through Newport heading north to Weehawken and Hoboken then I double backed heading south passing through Newport again before heading back to the PATH and home.

The first thing you see when you step foot on the walkway from this section of the promenade, is the skyline of lower Manhattan with the Freedom Tower nestled in the middle of its sister skyscrapers, enjoying its new place in NYC history. I then turned left heading north where I spotted a huge red crane in the distance and some decrepit remains of old docks as well as the brown clock tower of the Lackawanna Rail Road Station; something I’ve only photographed while sailing on passing ferries.

The Manhattan skyline views from here are of the Chelsea waterfront upwards to 34th street and the Empire State Building and on the Jersey side the huge concrete ventilation shafts.They were wonderful to photograph sitting squarely on the edge of the river surrounded by bits of broken docks, old timbers and working barges.

I will say that my favorite subject to shoot that day was not the sky line of either Manhattan or Jersey City but, the hundreds of water eroded pylons, buried up to their necks in river water stretching in regimental rows before me; a rib cage of the old piers. The wind and water chiseled away at these pieces of wood creating masterpieces of abstract sculptures in green, brown and grey. The best was yet to come though, when I entered Hoboken and spied an abandoned building covered in sheets of decaying corrugated metal. Rust! Oh, rapture! I created my own abstract art, capturing the deep red and orange in the folds and bends of the metal layers.

For twenty minutes or so I was lost in a world of color and texture before moving on to the newly renovated Hoboken Terminal and the historic Lackawanna Rail Road Station. Once inside the terminal your eyes are pulled upward and dazzled by a gorgeous Tiffany stained glass ceiling (just mind-blowing), enhanced by huge chandeliers with moon like orbs dangling down towards the floor and beautiful metal work in the stairs and railing encircling the waiting room. The outside of the building was designed in the Beaux-Arts style and is covered in a striking blue-green aged patina that contrasted perfectly with the sky and the deep brown of its clock tower.

The walkway is not straight; it curves along the river, cuts around small marinas, winds around commercial and residential buildings and provides a waterfront tranquility to the towns that sit within its reach. I enjoyed my eclectic walk on the Jersey Side and hope you do too.


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