Monday, January 21, 2008

5 months out

Today, day +153, marks five months since my transplant on August 21st. So far, so good. As instructed, I reduced my Sirolimus dosage from .35mL to .3mL this morning.

I finished Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End a couple of days ago. Now, I'm reading Ray Bradbury's classic, Fahrenheit 451.

I had hoped to go out this morning to explore some of the unfamiliar parts of Highbridge Park in Manhattan whereupon I may be able to find some good vantage points from where to photograph the Harlem River and the neighboring bridges. For weeks, I've looked at photographs from Highbridge Park taken by other local photographers on Flickr, but I just couldn't figure out where exactly in this large park they had snapped some of their impressive shots. After IMing a few of my Flickr buddies and doing a bit of research using Google Earth, I think I know now where these interesting vantage points are located. So, that's where I was planning to check out this morning but with the temperature feeling like 7-10 degrees, my mom (smartly) persuaded me to stay in.

With regards to this project of mine, I have yet to blog about my incident with the NYPD on Wednesday afternoon. I set up my tripod just above the intersection of Sedgwick Avenue and Depot Place to photograph the High Bridge under the late afternoon sunlight and dusk sky.

(This unedited photo of the High Bridge from the location described above was taken back in November.)

Having read that the late afternoon light warms brick structures, I was curious to photograph the High Bridge using a warming filter under that late afternoon golden light. I was there for about 30 minutes (during which time I didn't take many shots) before an unmarked police car pulled up. The front passenger window rolled down and the officer asked what I was doing. In response, I told him that I was photographing the bridge. He, then, asked if I was a photographer to which I replied that I was an amateur photographer. Then, the officer asked if I had I.D. to which I responded "no" thinking that he was asking for I.D. verifying that I'm a photographer. In retrospect, I realize that he was asking for a driver's license. Nevertheless, he came out of his unmarked car and began to tell me that I can't take any photographs of the city's bridges. In response, I told him that according to the Asst. Press Secretary of the NYC Department of Transportation with whom I've been corresponding, Harlem River bridge photography wasn't illegal and that a permit wasn't needed. The officer stated that this person to whom I was referring didn't mean anything to the police.

He went on to say that in a post-9/11 world what I was doing was a very bad idea. He said people (terrorists) could photograph this and other bridges and then, study them later in an effort to destroying them.

I asked him if I could go into my bag to which he consented. I, then, pulled out a small envelope of a few bridge photographs that I had taken during these past three months as evidence that what I was doing was part of a project about the Harlem River and its bridges. He went on to say that it was clear that I wasn't doing anything wrong or suspicious. Otherwise, I'd be in handcuffs. The officer touting himself as a "good guy" said that others (I assume other officers) may have acted differently. He told me to consider this incident as a warning and soon after, pulled away in his car.

I, then, stayed around for a few more minutes thinking about how my shoot was soured before catching a cab home.

Since Wednesday, I've been calling around trying to find answers to this problem. According to the NYCLU which I called the following morning, what I did was completely legal and within my rights as a citizen. The police, I was told, have the right to stop and question but do not have the right to harass, arrest, or seize equipment if there is no probable cause of wrong doing. The NYCLU representative was glad I had called to report the incident, because within the photographer community such incidents are not uncommon. Presently, the NYCLU is working on a case regarding this very issue and plans to bring it before the city. If another incident happens again, I was told to call them.

In addition to calling the NYCLU for clarification, I called the 44th Precinct (which has jurisdiction in the area where I was photographing) to which I was referred to their Community Affairs division. I left a message on the division answering machine. Now I'm just waiting for a response.

I also applied for a NYC's Parks Department permit. That's pending.

And finally, after browsing for more information I found Dave Frieder, who for the past 15 years has been photographing the city's bridges (though his passion is for the larger, suspension bridges). His work is really impressive. Figuring that he'd know a lot about this topic, I e-mailed him and for about two days, we sent messages back and forth. What I experienced, he said, is not uncommon following 9/11. He did recommend I apply for a still photography permit from the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting (MOFTB).

Related to this issue of the NYPD, I found these two articles detailing the mayor's plan to garner DNA samples from arrested people quite interesting:

License, Registration, and DNA, Please

Genetic Bank Raises Issues of Practicality and Privacy

BTW, I didn't know until today that my video posts from Sunday about Bobby Fischer had messed up my blog's appearance. I just replaced the second video with another one. My blog should look like it normally does now.


Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

congrats on 5 months!!! you are amazing.
almost half a year.
wow so proud of you for staying strong.

2:35 PM  
Comment Blogger Heather Z said...

second the congrats on the 5 month milestone. your blog is great and i am following you as much as the kido's let me get online.

here is to 5 more months.

heather z.

9:27 PM  

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