BLESS ME FURTHER
Bless me further for I have sinned. It’s been almost 3 months since my last blog posting.
Somewhere between celebrating my birthday, celebrating the birth of my second grand child and opening my new studio and gallery, the blog went to a back burner.
Certainly I can write about what its like to age within the vicinity of 60 yrs old, or how it feels to watch your baby make a baby, or how impossible serendipity rewarded me with a little shop located two blocks from the Gulf of Mexico; but all that seems almost cliché’. (not)
I won’t even go into the sheer glee of actually sitting in my new studio gallery while typing this, with a Chocolate Rugelach on my left, a bottle of Fiji water on my right, and how I’m head bopping to the tunes of Oscar Peterson, Gene Harris and Bill Evans on the Bose.
Yeah… I’m getting old. Yeah… it was truly a miracle to be present for another new human to be created. Yeah… all the best things in life conspired to gift me with a little shop to play in. But all that aside, walking mile after mile on the streets of Manhattan is what I care to share.
It’s such a nothing to put one foot in front of another, see life, and freeze it. I walk, I look, I think about my old aching body, I think about my babies and my grand babies, and how I need to collect the time views of Manhattan to cover my walls in the new studio.
A moment ago, my little shots were a secret. Pictures stored on portable drives or hanging in my home that no one ever saw. A moment later I’m perched behind a huge glass storefront where one can gain access through the door that jingles with an antique tinkle every time someone enters.
I sit and tap letter keys, wishing someday I could tickle ivories and play piano like the greats. I look up and look around and remember every picture captured, every moment of time frozen, as I take one step closer to Ansel Adams or Salvatore Dali…in my mind.
While strutting around Greenwich Village, I pass The Bitter End , New York’s Oldest Rock Club, and snap away at the hopeful musicians, singers and entertainers waiting in line for their shot at fame. As I pass them all, my attention gets pulled in by a fine artist sketching something across the street.
Whether it’s performing or fine… we are all artists.
A moment later, I’m walking into the Apple Store in Soho in order to see all levels of creativity at once.
Somewhere near Parson’s, The New School, a woman with torn jeans and purple hair strolls, and convincingly behaves as if she resents the attention she gets because of her appearance.
Back around and down W. Broadway, further into Soho, a man attempts to paint an entire building with a very tiny brush.
Later that day, I turned a corner and walked into a demonstration. The folks from India were protesting the Caste System. I stood there and shot away wondering about this idea, it’s source and how a change like this would affect and release an entire culture.
Can you imagine social separation and being labeled and limited by your family occupation, or by the name of your ancestors, or a geographic region? I suppose people have lived and died over the years based on the strength of their beliefs.
Perhaps it’s time to see things a little differently.
Speaking of culture and religion, on the other side of town, closer to Lafayette St. and 10th, there’s a really old church.
Then back down Houston Street into Noho, a cooking class is taking place. Did I ever tell you about the time I took a chocolate candy making class in Belgium, taught by a woman speaking only French? I was the only English-speaking American, surrounded by the rest of the class, a bus load of Korean women.
All of us acknowledged that there was no language barrier as we all understood the word Mmmm…
About a decade ago, when I lived in New York City, I swore every time I walked out my front door, it felt like I had jumped on a ride called Manhattan. Sometimes I felt like I could just stand still and the events would pass right next to me on the left and the right.
Every block had different stores, every street held different adventures, celebrities hiding in ebbing crowds of people, jack hammers banging, cab horns honking, and the offensive smells of the homeless on one side of the street… and on the other side of the street… the haunting fragrance of fresh bread, basil and oregano.
Most people living there do have jobs, and more than likely their jobs drive them to drink.
I think it was over by 7th Ave. near Washington Square Park… some kids were playing handball. How is it possible that games like Stick Ball, Handball, Street Hockey, Skelley, pitching pennies, mumblety peg, flipping cards, and a million other games of the street have disappeared from existence.
For some who grew up on these streets, playing handball behind a chain link fence is just a fuzzy memory.
And for some, they just refuse to forget and leave this city for it is their home. Their body betrays them, their mind abandons them, and the shops they used to buy food at for their family, get covered with graffiti tagged armor.
And just as the gangs use art to make up their territory, women continue to use make-up on their faces, to seduce any and all unsuspecting onlookers. I mean when you think about it, humans have been tagging their territory and painting their faces for one reason or another, since the beginning of time.
And also since the beginning of time, folks (Jews) have craved Knishes, Sour Pickles, Rubens, Pastrami on Rye, Hot Dogs, Mustard and Sauerkraut, Dr. Browns Black Cherry Soda and loud abusive wait staff.
At the center of the universe, the greatest city in the world will grow and get bigger and taller. As long as the demand for these Deli-cious memories exist… Katz’s will have a home at the foot of it all. Have I ever told you the story about when I was little, and how there was a deli in my neighborhood that had a contest to guess the weight of a giant Salami hanging in his store front window?
People came from miles around to guess the weight of the Salami and the prize of course was that they would win this 4 foot tube of processed pleasure. One Saturday I rode my bicycle over to the shopping center for lunch, and opted for a hot dog at the deli, over a slice of pizza.
As I sat there stuffing my face with the hot juicy dog stuffed in a soft steamy bun, I watched the people come in to the deli, and write their weight guesses on little pieces of paper with their name on it… fold it, and drop the pieces of paper in a jar.
I devoured my dog, when a heavily jeweled woman walked in fresh out of the beauty parlor. I watched and listened and she verbally guessed 18 lbs, and Ben, the guy who owned the deli said, “Oh man…that’s close… but not quite.” So I took the opportunity of being in the right place at the right time and applied a little incorrect math, and wrote my guess on the little scrap of paper and dropped it in the jar.
I figured if that lady was close, at 18 lbs, I’d guess a half pound over. And since there are 12 inches in a foot and 12 oz. to a pound (not)… I’d guess 18 lbs. 6 oz. ! A few weeks later, Ben called my house and I was the only one home and he told me I won the Salami!
Soon, my mom came home from work, and I told her, and of course she didn’t believe me, and I somehow convinced her to drive to the deli, so we could pick up my greasy trophy. Together we went in to the deli, talked a little with Ben, and somehow managed to get the beef bat into the car.
My mom was usually pissed at something, but this time she seemed extra pissed, and I asked her if she was okay. She turned to me and smacked me across the face and said, “What the fuck am I supposed to do with all this Salami?! Sometimes Barry I just don’t understand you one bit!”
Did I ever tell you about the time I was almost homeless? I lived across the street from this College that was always having fancy academic events, and I would occasionally sneak in to them and stuff my pockets with fruit and cheese cubes and run back to my little basement apartment under the stairs in this tenement.
Times were tough then, but a lot has changed. So when I walk the streets and see the homeless, I feel a special compassion for the incidents that must have led up to their situation. I often give them food and money, especially if they let me take their picture.
Some day I think I might have an exhibit in my new studio, and fill the walls with the best shots of the homeless and do a fund-raiser for them… wouldn’t that be cool.