December 25, 2011

HOLIDAY CHEER: stay warm, be well and don't forget the coffee.

One of my favorite places to visit during the holidays is Café Sabarsky in the Neue Galerie. The Museum is one of my favorites as well—on now, Lauder's private collection—but the café, especially, evokes old world Europe and is ever festive.

The coffee is good, the setting elegant, and the apple strudel with whipped cream, bliss. Wishing you all happy holidays, whatever you celebrate (or don't). Stay warm, be well and don't forget the coffee.

Café Sabarsky at the Neue Galerie, 12/2011.

Café Sabarsky, Apple Strudel (mit schlag), 12/2011. 

And a little something from the Frick Museum's terrific exhibition, Picasso's Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition—another favorite museum, beautifully decked out for the holidays. The show is on until January 8th if want to catch it—it's worth it.

Picasso, Guitar and Coffee Cup, 1913, collage.

October 17, 2011


I'm running behind a weekend or two, but then I had said these entries were going to be few(er) and far (ther) between. Nevertheless I did get down to the LES two Sundays ago—the 9th—to see Creative Time's exhibition Living as Form. There's a link to the website below and you can read about it—the reviews are more telling, and, while I am no critic, I barely understood the premise, let alone, the art on view. But, as though expected, I managed to photograph an installation of cups. 

It was another of those picture perfect Indian Summer days and I always enjoy walking around this neighborhood—it's a lively, very young scene, with lots of neat things to take in, like galleries (with some very good art) stylish shops, and good restaurants—coffee shops of course—all situated amid the remnants of 'old world' New York. This is after all the area where a great many Irish, Polish, German and Jewish immigrants settled (including my grandparents and their five sons, my dad the youngest of them) from the mid 1800s on.

Konditori, Allen Street, LES, 2011

Mildred's Lane at Creative Time's Living as Form, LES, 2011
 (Mildred's Lane is a work-live-research environment that fosters rigorous engagement with every aspect of life.)

October 7, 2011


This past Sunday I took off on a little adventure with Ollie (the dog) to Inwood Hill Park, at 218th Street and the Henry Hudson Parkway—the northernmost tip of Manhattan. Sorry to say I'd never been, but, a posting at The NYTimes City Room blog, about the park, got me interested.

From its website at: Inwood Hill Park is a living piece of old New York. Evidence of its prehistoric roots exists as dramatic caves, valleys, and ridges left as the result of shifting glaciers.  Evidence of its uninhabited state afterward remains as its forest and salt marsh (the last natural one in Manhattan), and evidence of its use by Native Americans in the 17th century continues to be discovered. 

The Park is pretty amazing. Here's a pic I took along a trail—there are many—looking down a steep incline at the Spuyten Duyvil bridge—the inlet connects the Hudson with the East River.

Inwood Hill Park, Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, 2011.
So what has this got to do with Sunday coffee? Well after walking this magical trail we took a serendipitous wrong-turn and wound up quite a ways from where we began—I'd guess 3 miles in all—at Dyckman Street, the other end of the Park. Heading toward the subway what do I spot but a sign, of a cup, but not just any cup, a golden cup—I felt like I'd come upon the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. The cup, below, is a sign on the window of a sweet little men's clothing shop owned by Jason, a sweet guy. (Forgive the cloying use of 'sweet.') The sun was shining, the weather was mild, the day eventful and I found my most recent blog entry.

Gold Cup, Nostylgia, Inwood, 2011.

Gold Cup, Nostylgia, interior, Inwood, 2011.

September 21, 2011


We'll, shut them books. And throw 'em away. Say goodbye to dull school days. (Just) look alive and change your ways. It's summerti-i-ime.
Summertime, summertime Sum-sum-summertime Summertime, summertime Sum-sum-summertime Summerti-i-ime. It's summertime!
     —Summertime Summertime, The Jamies. Pop Chart #26 Aug 18, 1958

The summer was fun, even if I barely left the City, but it's nearly done with—fall weather has already set in, and I am back to City College, teaching. With that comes less time for getting out and shooting—my Blog postings are gradually decreasing, and my cache of shots has diminished. BUT, I've got a new camera, a Nikon d7000—a lovely gift for my birthday in August (don't ask, I won't tell)—so taking pictures whenever I get the chance is a given. Here are a few shots, taken recently with the new camera, as summer ends.

One of my earliest shots was taken in Payard Patisserie on upper Lexington Ave, probably in the '90s, and shot on film—see my first post, July 19, 2011. Oddly enough there are shopping bags prominent in both—it's fitting then I think, to end, similarly, where I began.

Payard Bakery, on Houston Street, Soho, 2011

'wichcraft Coffee, Bryant Park, 2011

City Gril Café, Soho, 2011

Union Square, Pedestrian Mall, 2011

the bean, coming spring 2012, East Village, 2011

September 8, 2011

SIGNS: hand painted

A selection of hand painted signs taken on trips here and there. I remember stopping the car on the road in Vermont to shoot the little red sign, and walking in the rain in San Francisco when this bright green sign appeared in the fog. In Montreal I sat outdoors at a bakery/café—it was Olive et Gourmando or Chez L'Epicerie, I don't remember which—and peered down at the painted window box. In Oaxaca this January, walking the Alcala, I spotted one of the only coffee cup signs I'd seen there. The same for Costa Rica—this was shot at a beach town where we'd stopped for lunch. And of course, in New York City I've passed many hand painted signs, many times—some captured, some not. I sometimes compare this preoccupation of mine with mushroom hunting, which I've tried only once, but loved—you need to stay tuned-in to the elusive object of intent, when suddenly it appears.

Café Kandixa, Oaxaca, 2011. 

Ciao for Now, LES, NYC, 2011.

Café, 600 colones, Costa Rica, 2007.

Window Box, Patisserie, Montreal.

Village Coffee House, Northeast Kingdom, Vermont.

Coffee, Coffee, Coffee, San Francisco, 2008.

August 28, 2011

SIGNS: windows, and a few of my favorites

SO, 9th Street Espresso, East Village, 2010

Window Service, The Penny Farthing, Third Ave, 2011

Koreatown, Queens, 2010

Café Henri, West Village, 2010

La Esquina, Soho, 2008

Tartine, Hayes Valley, San Francisco, 2008

We Serve Coffee, Hayes Valley, San Francisco, 2008

La Boulange, Hayes Valley, San Francisco, 2008

Maybe a little 'Hallmark,' nevertheless, one of those moments of instant perfection.

August 25, 2011


MoMA, Café 2 blackboard, 2010

SPEAKING OF CAPTURING 'THE MOMENT' (see: Cafés: coffee cups... August 1st entry) Bonnard to me is 'the' master at picturing a mood in the simplest of settings. He and Vuillard are often termed Intimists—in Bonnard's words, the term refers to artists who share "a taste for everyday spectacles, the faculty for drawing emotion from the most modest acts of life."

Pierre Bonnard, Le Café, 1915

Edouard Vuillard, Seated Woman: cup of coffee, 1893

Matisse may not fit the Intimist description, but his ability to concentrate sensuality, pleasure and emotion
in the familiar—in objects, and place—is surely as poignant.

Henri Matisse, Lorette`a la tasse de café, 1916-1917

 “I believe that nothing can be more abstract, more unreal, than what we actually see. ...Matter exists, of course, but has no intrinsic meaning of its own, such as the meaning we attach to it.  Only we can know that a cup is a cup, that a tree is a tree. ...I have never intended to give the objects in my still life arrangements any particular meanings.” —Giorgio Morandi

Giorgio Morandi, Natura Morta, 1960

                                  One of mine
Cup, graphite on newsprint, n/d

August 15, 2011

SIGNS: JOE and others

A cup of Joe' refers to the GIs' [as in GI Joe] favorite drink. During World War II the US armed forces were supplied with as much coffee as they wanted. The term was in popular use in the States in the 1930s and 40s. 

Joe, West Village, 2010

Jittery Joe's, Midtown East, 2011

My Friend Joe, Sebastapol, CA, 2008

 Jittery Joe's (OHM), street sign, 2011

Bluedog Café, Chelsea, 2008

Landmark Coffee Shop, Soho, 2010

Landmark has a new awning—this one had certainly seen better days. Granted, it's an odd thing to notice, but I'd walked by the place for years—Landmark is one of those New York fixtures—and just a week or so ago I walked by again, and there it was, a bright new awning. That small change underscored for me, again, the transient nature of our neighborhoods, with their attendant shops, and signs, and the changing social strata that make those neighborhoods home. 

August 7, 2011

TO GO: hot or iced

“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.”
     – Joe Fox (Tom Hanks), You’ve Got Mail, 1998 
Iced, Gimme! Coffee, Nolita, 2010

Union Square Market, 2010

"America Runs on Dunkin'," 23rd Street, 2011

Starbucks, Grand Central Station, 2011

Subway, NYC, 2011

Trash, NYC, 2010

August 1, 2011

CAFES: coffee cups, computers and cell phones

"There are ten or so cafés behind the little tables, most of them pleasant both inside and out... but the ones preferred by Anne and Mary and by Boss Dog, who was something of an instinctive snob... were his own Glacier at one end of the Cours, owned by the dog and his stylishly dressed mistress, and the Deux Garcons at the other end. ..." "The girls and their mother soon got into the agreeable Aixois habit of stopping at either the one or the other for lemonade hot chocolate vanilla ice cream dry vermouth brandy even coffee even plain soda water."  —MFK Fisher, The Boss Dog: a story of Provence, 1991
Olivia, café around the corner, 47th St off 1st Ave., 2004.

I've been taking pictures at cafés since my earliest trips to Europe—Paris in particular—before there were any of the sort in New York City. I can remember being awed by the culture of those cafés, by the 'civility,' the charming coffee and tea service, and by the ambience—where you could linger over a cup of coffee, for hours if you liked, caught up in the buzz, or steeped in an aura of invisibility—alone with your book, postcards home or simply your own thoughts. My aim was, and is still, to record 'the moment,' with my camera.

Café Lipp, Paris, the early 80s.

L'Avazza, Le Gamin Soho, 90s.

9th Street Café, East Village, 2010.


NO PETS, East Village, 2010.

CityGirl Café, Soho, 2010.

V Bar, Washington Sq., 2010.
Bluebird Café, East Village, 2011.