Sunday, August 1, 2010

June 17 I "Heart" NY

This trip isn't a vacation. I'm working every day. It's like I live and work in NYC. I'm enjoying that aspect of this week. I walked through the neighborhood this morning. I loved Court Street. It has about 5 blocks of  the old Italian neighborhood shops and restaurants. I got a haircut and breakfast on Court St. No, not at the same place.
This is my home for the week.
The neighborhood has some incredible front yard landscaping. I walked by the Saint Mary Star of the Sea Church. Where an old lady told me that Al Capone got married there. I looked it up and yes he did.
An outdoor fruit stand in an Italian neighborhood...I'm shocked. When I turned onto Court Street, it was like I time traveled back 50 years. All mom & pop storefronts with apartments over them. No chain stores, no corporate stores. I loved it.
My pumpkin pancake breakfast at Le Petit Café. OK, not every business was Italian. But this place was amazing. I ate outside in the back yard. Below is how they decorated the outdoor seating.
The food was great...the atmosphere made each bite taste even better.
The F line had mid day construction so I walked over to Fourth Avenue to catch the D train. The old fashion Carroll Street bridge over the Gowanus Canal has cables that pull it to the side so boats can pass by it.
I am forever amused by graffiti with a message. The Minuteman decal only adds to my bemusement.
A beautiful day. Feeling refreshed. Looking forward to taking some pictures of the place I love.
Luna Park was just opening the gates when I walked by on Surf Ave.
I ran into Andy and we decided to walk down the beach looking for shots. I ran into my lifeguard friend from Sunday night at Ruby's. I watched Andy stalk the beach looking for photographic prey. Here's a few of my shots.
We found this group of locals on Bowery Street making a video to help save Coney Island.
Andy & I walked down Surf Ave toward Brighton Beach. We stopped at the Seaside Handball Courts. That is where I found another possible storyline. My father played handball as a kid growing up in Brooklyn. He was pretty good at I'm him. I've been fascinated by this sport that I've only seen played in NYC. I spent a couple of hours at the courts shooting pictures and shooting the shit with the regulars.
This game was hard played but friendly. They kept asking me if they were going to be in the newspaper.
He kept insisting I talk to his agent who was sitting on the bench near me.
This gentleman explained the rules to me. Trash talking, money games, who was good, who was all talk. He used to play but is retired. Though he is thinking of coming back. I heard this from a few of the spectators. I learned very quickly that these courts were not for beginners. Serious handball is played here.
This game drew a big crowd and was definitely the A game while I was there. Being a sports fan, I loved watching the players and the crowd. It was hot and the courts were blasted by the sun all day. Because the courts are below the boardwalk there is no cool ocean breeze down here. The intense interaction between teammates, opponents and the regulars in the crowd made me feel like I was watching professionals. I would learn over the next two days that I was watching professionals.
I couldn't eat another hot dog so I took my chances with the clams. The first six went down so easy I ordered another dozen with horseradish and Tabasco sauce. TASTY.
Sure I just ate 18 clams...but I'm this close...I might as well ride.
This is what CI is all about water...and characters on the boardwalk.
 I had to get to Ruby's Bar where the group was meeting for an evaluation of our work so far. First Andy & Kevin looked over our edits and offered advice. It might seem strange that these meetings occurred in the back of a bar, trust me, this was the perfect place. Then Andy's friend, Karen Mullarkey, showed up. I now know that Karen is a famous photo editor who has worked for Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, New York magazine and Newsweek. At the time I just knew she was a photo editor and I loved her entrance into Ruby's. Upon walking into Ruby's and seeing Andy she says "Christ, I haven't been in here for over 20 years and it hasn't changed a fucking bit." I told Gyula, the photographer from Budapest, that she must be a New Yorker. He asked what I meant. So I explained that New Yorkers tell it like it is, no sugar coating it. If Karen thinks your pictures suck, that is what she'll tell you. She was great with me. I had a famous photo editor offer me advice on my pictures. She thought a few were very good, especially a couple of Marie, the artist. And I was rightly scolded for a few. She did send me off with encouraging words about how to correct my mistakes. As a New Yorker myself, I had to admit she was right.
Alison, Gyula & Kevin at Ruby's.
The famous and extremely endangered Ruby's Bar on the boardwalk. The walls are lined with photos of Coney Island from famous and not so famous photographers. This place has been in business since 1934. The boardwalk would not be the same without it.
Thanks to Marie, I got a ticket to opening night of the circus at Coney Island. I took pictures. Marie sketched.

We also got into the VIP party after the show. Finally some good food. Of course on my way to the subway, I grabbed some dessert at Williams Candy Shop. The coconut covered marshmallows were seductively calling my name. How could I resist?
 I decided to pass on  Nathan's and I grabbed a slice at the pizzeria on the corner back in Brooklyn.
 It seems every night ends with Nathan's. That's because it is across the street from the Stillwell subway station.

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