Friday, February 27, 2015

The City Lost and Found

The photo exhibit, The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago and Los Angeles 1960-1980 opened at The Princeton University Art Museum on Feb 21, 2015.

As I wandered through, I couldn't help but find myself in New York and Chicago. As a child of the '80s I caught the tail end of a lot of these changes, and more change since.

I grew up in the shadow of New York City. My earliest childhood memories of visits were filled with danger and decay. It all seems unbelievable now that most of Manhattan has become the picture of luxury, reconstruction and gentrification.

Were my childhood memories were warped and exaggerated by a child's intimidation at something new? Maybe. But seeing some of the photos of NYC at the end of the '70s showed bits of what I remember of the city.

I gasped when I took in Peter Hujar's "Westside Parking Lot."


Look at all the empty spaces! And the garbage, the overgrown weeds in pavement cracks! Some of those cars may have been abandoned there altogether.

I couldn't help but think: If this lot still exists, I doubt there's one open spot today.

Bruce Davidson's shot of a subway car in 1980 made me gasp again:



The City does not only bring us jarring images of  a different New York--it captures social unrest (including riveting images of Civil Rights protests in 1960s Harlem). It also showcases pieces from visual and performance artists, questioning if urban renewal diminished the rich history of the city and its people.

Four photos by Danny Lyon were featured, from his book The Destruction of Lower Manhattan.

I never would have recognized Danny Lyon's New York.


When I turned 18, I chose the Midwest. I spent six and a half years in Milwaukee or Madison, WI, where Chicago was just two hours away. Nearly all my friends from university came from Chicago (more likely its suburbs).

The first three times I went to Chicago, I was only taken to Millennium Park. What a clean, pristine view of the city I had then.

Only after really diving into the Midwest did I discover that Chicago is a quilt of ethnic neighborhoods, each with its own history and flavor.

I especially enjoyed five photos from Chicago's ethnic neighborhoods by Jonas Dovydenas.



I recognized an image of the Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Cathedral right away--and I hear that Ukrainian Village is a very hip neighborhood these days.

The 1960s and 1970s were tumultuous for this city as well.

In 1968 alone, two historical political uprisings broke out--one on the eve of Dr. King's assassination, and one in protest of the Democratic National Convention, hosted in downtown Chicago that year.

Here is what Barton Silverman captured at the DNC:


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Friday the 13th, the 2nd.

I'm not really sure why Uber cabs were so expensive all weekend (it was the 9-degree weather I suppose) and everyone kept asking us if we had dinner reservations.

People really love Friday the 13th Weekend I guess!



We got a special treat: a home-made brunch from a friend in West Philadelphia/Walnut Hill.


Each dish was amazing and flavorful. YUM.



For years I've been reading about the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia, and I was excited to explore it for myself that night.

We felt right at home in Frankford Hall--we love craft beer and board games. Someone had scribbled rules and challenges all over a Jenga set, which kept us amused for a while.





Today, Friday the 13th part 3, we really only made one stop.

Bean Exchange Coffee House was a great find. I could have haunted it, reading, all day...

(Remind me to go back to the Bella Vista neighborhood. During warmer weather.)




Killa-delphia, PA



Philadelphia is less than two hours away from where I live, yet I've hardly spent any time there.

This weekend I got more of a taste of that city. And it is a dirty, gritty, punky, delicious city.




This was my fourth AirBnB trip, and a positive experience once again.

Our host was beyond accommodating, and seemed to truly enjoy meeting folks from all over the world:



Check out this whole wall of a map and suggestions:







That night (a Friday the 13th) we started off at Prohibition Taproom for dinner and beerz (both excellent). It was walking distance from where we stayed--which was in the Poplar/Spring Green neck of the woods.


Then to the Fairmont neighborhood, for a show at North Star Bar.





Hunted down a friend from New Brunswick and reconnected:



It was great to come in from the cold and warm up to Something like a Monument:



Then had a great time jumping around during the Molly Rhythm set:




And passing around their inflatable dinosaur toys in the pit and from the balcony. No lie.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Comfort/Discomfort

Winter Camp 2015

At this point in my life, I know the things I enjoy and where/when I am comfortable.

For instance, at a Makerspace night, using jewelry-making tools with friends:



Or at a panadería, getting coffee and sweet bread before an evening program at work:




Or during a night out to dinner with friends and a little bit of wine.



Or, a lot of wine.


A weekend winter-camping with a group of teens for work is a bit out of my comfort zone.

Only a bit, because they're great kids who bring along a service project:




OK, and make me an early Valentine. It says, "Laura + Eggplant = LOVE." INDEED.


First full day at camp: an excursion after breakfast turns into a two-and-a-half-hour hike:














This is the conclusion of hike #1.

I wasn't going to go back out for more, but. Let's cut to the chase: Here is hike #2:









Winter Camp was cold, but there was something more uncomfortable waiting for me at home: This week I had three wisdom teeth removed.

I'm trying to make it easier on myself by getting delicious soft foods. Oof. We'll see!