Thursday, August 06, 2009

catching up

I apologize for the recent absence of any personal posts. It's not for lack of things to share. I just didn't really have the time to do so. Of course, the problem with postponing is that when the time comes to post something, there's just way too much to say. So, I'm going to try to balance detail with brevity. We'll see how it goes.

My 50 state coin collection is complete! A dear friend of EFG graciously mailed me the illusive Hawaii about three weeks ago.

You might recall that I was looking forward to meeting Bascove, a remarkable artist who is best known for her surreal renditions of New York City's bridges, at the Arsenal on July 21st. Titled Celebrating the Bridges of New York City, she and Laura Rosen, a photographer and special archive administrator at the MTA Bridges and Tunnels, each gave lectures. Bascove spoke about her captivating sketches and paintings of the bridges in Central Park, which were being exhibited in the very room where this event was taking place. Ms. Rosen talked about some of her photographic work, which before this evening I had never seen. So, I was delighted to learn about another bridge lover. But the bulk of her speech was historical and I jotted down a number of interesting facts that I didn't know before. For example:

  • All four East River bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensborough, and Williamsburg) were designed for rail usage and consequently, had rail and later, trolleys

  • I-278 of the Interstate Highway system connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn made construction of the Verranzano Bridge possible

  • Macombs Dam Bridge was painted blue originally, but its color was changed to a peach-like color after its last renovation

At the end of the event, a warm and inviting friend of Bascove graciously introduced me to her. Not knowing if she had read my NYT essay, I handed her a copy telling her that I thought she might find it of interest. It so happened, she said, that she had read it and in fact, had saved it. It's on her table at home, she told me. After a pause, pointing to the copy I said: "Yes, that's me. I wrote that." Immediately, she lite up with enthusiasm as did I.

That Tuesday evening was so delightful. It was a blast. Not only did I get the chance to learn more about these bridges and the city's past, but I was offered the rare opportunity to meet two successful artists, who are drawn to the same subjects that I am.

At the Arsenal, I also met for the first time two correspondents at the NYCDOT: the gentleman, who has helped me to secure photography permits over these past two years, and his colleague, who helps produce the department's NYC Bridges and Tunnels Annual Report. We had never met before this day. This too was an unexpected treat.

Two photos of mine are in the recently released 2008 NYC Bridges and Tunnels Annual Report. My shot of the Washington Bridge is on page 17 of Part I of the report and on page 43 of Part II of the report is a shot I took of the plaque identifying the Madison Avenue Bridge.

My good friend, Barb, and I went to Philadelphia's Franklin Institute two weekends ago to see Galileo: The Medici and the Age of Astronomy. While in Philly, we also stopped briefly by the Rodin Museum, which she has visited many times but it was my first. I recall seeing Rodin's work at the Met when I used to frequent its hall religiously, but frankly, his work didn't make a lasting impression like other sculptors. However, my experience was very different this time around. I saw his creations with new eyes. Passionate and evocative. I was impressed and moved.

Last week, I saw my cardiologist for a checkup. Based upon his examination, he said, everything looks great and my last exams were all normal. There is no evidence of any problems, but since it has been at least two years since I last had an echocardiogram, I'm scheduled to receive one in about two weeks just to be sure.

This past week, I patronized the NJ Transit system more in three consecutive days than I have at any time previously. One of my closest friends, someone whom I've know since kindergarten got married last Sunday in northern NJ. I was asked to be a part of bridal party as a groomsman - my very first time. So, Thursday I was there to try on the tux to make sure it fit perfectly. On Friday, the bridal party had the rehearsal followed by the celebratory pre-wedding dinner with family. And then, Saturday was the big day. So, I was pooped by the end but had a really wonderful time. He is my first close friend, whose wedding I've witnessed. And since I've known him for my whole life, it obviously was a special, heartfelt day to be a part of.

He's an enthusiastic admirer of the Dos Equis commercials, which I too find hilarious but wasn't aware until he told me that there are a number of others on YouTube. For example, in one commercial he offers his wisdom on such diverse issues as the two-party system, mix nuts, careers, and narcolepsy.

"He can speak French in Russian." Flawless. Just classic.

Then, on Sunday my cousin was in town on vacation with a few friends, so my family and I met her for dinner.

Today I had a follow-up with my GP. Again, all looks well. He drew some blood. He said to call back next week for results, but again, Sloan did the same thing when I was there about two weeks ago to see Dr. CM. My counts turned out to be very good, so I'm not concerned about today's blood test.

My GP and I talked briefly about the upcoming influenza season and the news concerning vaccinations, in particular the new H1N1 vaccine. Last week, the NYT ran a very informative article about the proposed plan to distribute the vaccine this fall: Swine Flu Plan Would Put Some Ahead for Vaccine.

Right now, I'm reading David McCullough's 1776, a riveting portrayal of that tumultuous year. I've been trying to read as many "leisure" books before I spend the last weeks of summer focusing on teaching-related texts and material of which there are several.

Finally, for the first time in many months I was back on Randall's (Ward's) Island looking to see what I could photograph this morning.

View Larger Map

I woke up at a few minutes after 4 and was there at about 5:45 before the dawn sky broke. (Dawn is perhaps the most magical time of the day. With its kaleidoscopic mix of arresting hues, it heralds a new beginning. Renewed hope. No matter how crappy I feel or ashamed I am about what I said or did the day before, this fleeting dawn signals the opportunity to try again.) I walked to the part of the island that I had always visited: its northwesternmost corner between the Triborough Lift and Willis Avenue Bridges. Based upon my previous trips, it has proven to be an excellent area from which to photograph these spans as well as birds that traverse the adjacent marsh in the early morning. But this morning's sky was consumed by a thick gray overcast. After waiting around for awhile hoping that the clouds would begin to part, I figured I should start walking southwards in the hope that the sky might clear up a bit at some point along the way. I followed a gravel path along the island's western side and was fascinated by what I found: lovely, well-manicured flower beds, a marsh restoration project, non-restricted access to the Harlem River, and unique vistas of the Manhattan skyline and Ward's Island Bridge.

What happened to me this morning is so common. I'll go to a place with the intent of photographing a specific subject, but instead will find something else of equal or greater interest. The clouds didn't part during my time on Randall's Island and as a consequence, my shots are dark but at the very least, my extended excursion down the island sparked a number of creative ideas for future shoots.

At the southernmost end of Randall's Island, I took in the grand view of where the East and Harlem Rivers meet before walking west across the Ward's Island Bridge (the sole pedestrian span on the Harlem River) for the very first time and reentered Manhattan once again.

The forecast looks more favorable for tomorrow. If I can wake up at 4, I plan to be back on Randall's Island once again.

I think I've mentioned (to a fair degree) everything that I wanted to, but there very likely is something I missed. Anyway, that's it for the moment.


Comment Anonymous Anonymous said...

So good to hear that you are ennjoying life and feeling well. You are one very cool dude Duane.

2:55 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

You're way too generous, but thank you.

I always appreciate your comments.

9:20 AM  

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