Platypus Tooth

May 5, 2005

Our baby sprouted his first tooth today. Jenn refers to it as his platypus tooth. This freaks me out. (baby platypuses have a single tooth that they use to escape their eggs.)

a tree grows in Brooklyn no more

May 5, 2005

The city has been cutting trees around Brooklyn Heights at a scary pace. Three 50-100 year old trees have vanished just on the route I use to get to the subway. I asked a city worker why they were doing this (assuming the answer would be disease). His reply, "I don't know. They tell me to cut them, I cut them. Maybe the roots were hurting the sidewalk, but it could be anything."

It's gotta be disease, nobody would cut down a tree just because the sidewalk was a little uneven... would they?

I vary my route now to avoid the corner. Makes me sad.
. . . . .

My dad and stepmother are back in town. As Frederik of said the other day, "the goal in life is not to be a parent, but a to be a grandparent."

Greenberg Editions

May 4, 2005

I picked up some big prints for a client today from Gabe Greenberg. Gabe runs the 20x24 Polaroid studio as well as a high end digital print service. I can't say enough good things about the entire experience of working with Gabe as a printer. His attention to detail and knowledge of digital process is top notch. I was very happy with the results.

You can see a small online version of the print shown right here.

Maria Del Mar

April 30, 2005

I found this picture today of my grandparents, my dad and his sister on vacation in Tampico. Nobody looks like they are having much fun, but I remember my grandmother talking about this trip with great fondness despite having to endure many meals with the smell of fish. My grandmother, a product of the desert and inland ranchers, was a great hater of fish.

Does anyone else find it sad that these types of photo places with painted backgrops are dissapearing? Like drive in movies and a good malted they are tokens of another age.

Here is another one of these images, one of my favorites, a famous one featuring Lorca and Buñel. Lorca appear to be rather serious. Perhaps Buñel bullied him into posing.

There is a poet I like named Kenneth Koch. He has a long series of short poems called Aesthetics. They are all just a few lines... for example:

Aesthetics of Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Walk her to the place
Where she can get a taxi
And say good-bye
If she is wearing
An overcoat
Place one hand
On her shoulder-or if she is not
Shake hands, embrace

Aesthetics of Harshness to a Horse

You should never be harsh
To a horse. A horse is always doing
Its best. Otherwise it is a bad horse
And harshness has no effect.

anyway one is titled the Aestetcs of Lorca and I rather like it:
Aesthetics of Lorca

Federico Garcia Lorca stands alone
Luna, typewriter, plantain tree, and dust
The moon is not just watching him, it is watching over him.

Rock Paper Sissors and sand.

April 29, 2005

Why does Raul love the Japanese? This is why. Read it quick as the link will expire in a few days.

I direct you to this NASA photo of one of the Mars rovers stuck (for good it seems) in a sand dune. It was on it's way to Terra Nuevo, but it looks like this is the end of the road... and from the looks of the dunes, I imagine it will be swallowed up sooner than later.


April 27, 2005

Today, April 27th, would have been my brother Christopher's 35th birthday.

As he's been gone for a little over 15 years this fact, the idea of him as a 35 year old adult is hard for me to wrap my head around... He is always 19 in my mind or even younger.

He comes to me often in dreams and we talk about the issues of the day (actually talk is a mild way of putting it, we often debate as he was something of a contrarian). Christopher was passionate about politics and science and any number of other subjects from photography to ethology. We were often at odds, but only because we were so similar to one another. Sometimes in the dreams he just sits and watches silently from afar as Jenn and I play with our young son. I always call out for him to join us, but he always gives me a sad smile and walks away out beyond the far distance.


April 24, 2005

My wife and baby are in Philadelphia this weekend and the silence in the house is loud. I spent much of my life alone and it never bothered me. I had no problem eating alone at restaurants (always a chance to catch up on reading!) or being in a quiet house... but today I felt their absence with every bone in my body.

All this said, I was able to catch up on some sleep and crank up the stereo which is something I haven't done in a long long time so it wasn't all doom and gloom (New York Dolls, Television, Ramones, Germs, Peaches, Los Crudos, Velvet Underground, Camper Van Beethoven etc if you care).

The rain and cool have returned. There was exactly one lightning flash followed by a single thunderclap. Thunder is another thing I missed in LA. There it is so rare that on the rare occasion when it happens all the dogs in Silverlake would bark for a good 20 minutes.

. . .

I ran across an excellent blog about phtotography today. It's called Coincidences: Discussions on the art and craft of photography and other digressions. The title pretty much sums it up. Sadly it hasn't been updated in a while, but there's plenty to read in the archives.

. . .

Mexican Pictures

April 21, 2005

Feel like seeing some great photography? Head up to The Museo del Barrio for "Mexico: The Revolution and Beyond, Photographs by Casasola 1900-1940" It's at Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, (212) 831-7272, through July 31.

These photographs are especially interesting to me because my grandmother's father was one of those guys in hats. He was a major in Pancho Villa's army and was famous (infamous?) for his sword work.


April 21, 2005

Jenn and the baby are asleep. I hear them both on the monitor-the reassuring repeat of dual breaths over staticy air. Today it was hot for the first time. People were out in shorts. I broke a sweat.

The windows are open and the sounds Brooklyn are wafting in. The room is dark save for the computer light. Music arrives on the breeze, Hayden I think. More music somewhere further away. Radio in an unknown language. A couple talking. TV sounds & blue flickering light on the brick wall in the back yard. Rain keeps threatening but right now there is only silent mist. Best of all: the breeze is full the first smell of a summer night. It's not actually a full summer smell yet, but it is so mixed up in 100 memories that it overwhelms. In an instant I am in Texas stargazing, wandering around a Beijing hutong finally anonymous in the dark, getting into trouble at Princeton, out in Amagansett on the beach... I missed this smell in LA. LA is a desert and even on hot summer days it is usually cool at night. There is the over sweet smell of palms and green and dew but it doesn't smell like summer, it smells like LA, and it's a year round thing. So I will enjoy the dark for a few moments. Take a quick picture of the flowering tree lit from below and say goodnight.


April 16, 2005

I spent Saturday at Coney Island with fellow photobloggers Keith, Go, Fredrick and Joe. It was interesting to see how differently everyone shot... Excellent time all around except that I have returned sunburned within an inch of my life. My face glows radioactive.

I've never gone out with other people to shoot. It was a bit weird and I think a bit intimidating for people caught in our sites. Think about it, one minute you're enjoying some sun with your fellow retirees and the next minute you're surrounded by a group of guys with long lenses. Only Go was nice enough to ask people if they would agree to be photographed. Go just got married last week so send him some congrats.

One thing about Coney Island I can't get out of my head. There was a carnival barker and all day long he shouted "Shoot the freak. Shoot the freak. Shoot the freak in the freakin' head. Shoot the freak, shoot the freak.. Shoot the freak in the freakin' head." It's been running nonstop in my brain. This is less than ideal.

tax day

April 16, 2005

Inevitably I ended up at the post office today trying to get my taxes off. Every year try as I might I always end up in long lines on the 15th. But today was a bit different.

I was at the Atlantic Avenue station (The one across from the "Islamic Fashions" shop offering books on fun headscarf ideas). The crowd was your normal Brooklyn multi-ethnic stew. Women and their girls in full chadors, West Indians in bright colors, and your basic yuppies. Only two glum slightly mustachioed Chinese ladies were attending to us. Progress was painfully slow. Inexplicably on The Sound of Music was playing on the television, sound cranked up. Everyone was fairly quiet resigned to the wait... Nobody paid attention to the television even when the first musical number started, and but I noticed the little girl in the chador was transfixed.

Doe a deer, a female deer, ray a drop of falling sun.... By the second verse the little girl in the chador started singing from under her robes. The post office went quiet. And it was as if someone filled the room with oxygen. Everyone, suddenly awake, looked at the girl and up at the TV. Before you knew it two other people joined in, a Jamacian man, and another young girl. Even the glum clerk squeaked out a slight grin.

New Google

April 16, 2005

I'm always been a fan of the little variations google does on it's logo. It's one of those little things that personalizes the company and makes it fun to visit every day.

Today's logo is particularly good:


April 14, 2005

I know virtually nothing about the Irish side of my family. My mother didn't talk about them much. When she was alive I didn't know enough to ask the right questions. The rich and complex history of the Mexican side of my family has been a life long project... unraveling their mysteries, tracking family traits physical and emotional through the generations, archiving pictures and letters... In all of this I never really considered the Irish and Americans who are half of my story. Today I found a small tin-type in one of my mom's photoalbums. I have seen it at least once before when I was a child and remember asking about it. I believe they are my great grandparents or great great grandparents... I'm not sure on whose part, nor do I know their names. Their faces are unfamiliar and try as I might I don't see reflections of my mother or myself or my brothers in the faces, but the image has started me wondering...

And so another project begins...

Costco Reaction

April 14, 2005

There are certain places - crowded malls, busy Kinkos, Walmarts, suburbia, that inspire in me intense feelings of panic. My wife named the syndrome "Raul's Costco Reaction". Upon entering a Costco I feel ill, suffocated and slightly crazy and have the strong urge to run away. Jenn on the other hand LOVES Costco. She deems shopping there 'thrilling' and can spend hours comparing/weighing/and figuring out how to get the best deal on a pound of butter. Normally this would not be a problem (I would simply stay home), but now with our #1, I'm forced into service. If you ever want to see a miserable Raul, picture me pushing a heavy shopping cart filled with giant tubs of random food, baby strapped to my chest, wife slowly going through her long list. That was me today. If I end up in hell, I'm pretty sure it will look like Costco. That or the old Kinko's on Lexington and 77th run by Samoans where the lines were always out the door, the heat always cranked to unbearable, and the toner cartridges always empty. After a few minutes in there I would find myself muttering, "Death of the soul, man. Death of the soul." Sigh.

. . .
p.s. To the nice lady reader of this blog who said hello while we were at Costco today. I hope I didn't seem abrupt or startled. See above for an explanation of the green tinge in my face.


April 12, 2005

I was scanning a children's book I picked up in Mongolia for some of the illustrations, when I began to notice that the images taken together give a portrait of a somewhat harsh life:

. . . .


Notes on the Bashgali Language by Colonel J. Davidson of the Indian Staff Corps, Calcutta 1901, a collection of 1,744 common Bashgali sentences with English translations. The sentences give a disturbing impression of life in Chitral at that time. I originally came across these in Eric Newby's excellent travel adventure A Short Walk in The Hindu Kush.. Chitral is in current day Pakistan/Afganistan.

Some of the sentences in Notes on the Bashgali Language

-If you have had diarrhoea many days you will surely die.

-Don't drink water; a snake will grow in your bowel.

-I saw a corpse in the field this morning.

-Thy father fell into the river.

-I have nine fingers, you have ten.

-The dwarf has come to ask for food.

-I had an intention to kill you.

-A gust of wind came and took off all my clothes.

-An eagle came down from the sky and took off my cock.

-You are a very jabbering man.

-Why do you kick my horse? I will kick you.

-Why do you push me? I will kill your son.

-I will sleep now. If you try to kill me I will curse your children's children.

-How long have you been a leper?

The book ends with a short section of dialogs. They also are slightly unsettling. An example:

-I have seen your yellow dog by the river.

-My dog is spotted and is scared of water.

-That spotted dog maimed my child.

-Your child is stupid and should not have provoked it.

In Rhyme

April 10, 2005

Our kid likes it when you sing, so we sing. Songs are made up on the fly... things like:

He's a chubby chubby chubby bear
He doesn't have a single single hair.
He's a chubby chubby bear,
He doesn't have a hair,
He's a chubby chubby chubby chubby bear.

(it goes on but I will spare you)

Anyway once you start doing this EVERYTHING becomes a little ditty in your head.

It's time to write my blog.
My mind is in a fog.
I should be asleep.
Why am I a freak?
Time to, time to, time to write my blog.

Quite maddening really.

John Hinde

April 9, 2005

If you feel you feel the need for some concentrated visual eye candy, head over to Dumbo and check out a show of John Hinde's work at Wessel + O'Connor Fine Art at 111 Front Street. Hinde was apparently a postcard photographer for English Holiday resort camps. His deep focus minutely detailed images are gorgeous and weird and worth seeing blown up. The phrase that came to mind while viewing was "Hieronymus Bosch, but jolly and English, and at camp." A book of his work is available on Amazon, it's called Our True Intent Is All For Your Delight (a large sign at one of the resorts).

A review of Hinde's work can be found here. Many Hinde links can be found on I like John Hinde.

running errands

April 9, 2005

Has anyone noticed the odd little mosaic of the bat hat at the 23rd St. N & R? Does anyone know the story?

The station is decorated with blowing hats, an homage to a time when the Flatiron Building (which is just outside) was the one of the tallest buildings in town. Back then the building's triangular shape and exposure to 2 broad Avenues caused great gusts of wind to blow away hats (and blow ladies skirts up over their heads). The windiness gave rise to the term "23-skidoo" which described the hotfooting women covering their skirts and men chasing their hats. As the other buildings grew in size, the winds vanishished, but the term 23-skidoo stuck around until the 60's. But again, I digrees, so what's the deal with the bat hat?

I'm not sure what was going on here:

Tall skinny buildings like this, like frighten me a bit:

Always nice to see the Statue of Liberty on the way home:

. . .
Our baby is 4 months old today. He took his shots smiling. Literally. I felt proud. Tough little bastard.

Mexican Lullaby

April 8, 2005

My grandfather always sang this one to me:

Mira la luna
Comiendo su tuna;
Echando las cáscaras
En la laguna.

Aquel caracol
que va por el sol
en cada ramita
llevaba una flor
que viva la gala
que viva el amor
que viva la concha
de aquel caracol.

. . .

and while we're on the subject of the moon.... Luz de luna

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