Jul 24, 2006

I'm back in this little town...

Chinatown in NYC.

Yep. I said "little town". Baltimore is much, much smaller to me now that I've spent another weekend in NYC.

Saturday morning at 11am my buss reached Chinatown. I stepped out into the ambient hum of foreign languages. As I pulled my bike from under the bus and cinched my bag tight to my back, a sea of people flowed around me. I felt like an exposed rock jutting up out of the middle of a river. Fish, fruit & vegetable stands lined the sidewalks while yellow cabs, busses and bicycles hustled past me on the streets. Pigeons swooped and glided above me and melted ice water trickled under my feet. I stepped into a vacant spot in the street and straddled my track bike. Looking down, as I clipped a foot into a pedal, I heard horns honking, car engines revving and worn brakes squealing. Finding a break in the flow, I pushed a pedal down and lurched forward, I didn't know which direction I was going, nor did I care. I only sought a place more placid to gather myself and set my bearings. 
There was comfort in pedaling. That cyclic motion and rhythm was like a warm blanket of familiarity in an otherwise foreign scene. I made my way to the East river and sat down with my map. I had to be in the Bronx by 5pm to meet friends for dinner; that gave me 6 hours to shoot, ride, eat, exist and disappear in the sea. I smiled when the first rain drops splattered against my map. "This is gonna' be good." I thought. 
Mouse at bottom of escalator - one of my favorite photos from the weekend.
From Manhattan, I pedaled through heavy rain, north into Harlem. I didn't care; I had a spare set of clothes in my bag and the rain was warm. I stopped frequently in alleys, under bridges, on sidewalks and at loading docks. Swinging my old messenger bag around in front of me, reaching in under the flap and pulling my Pentax film camera out had become second nature to me by this point.
On my way up Malcom X Boulevard, around 150th St, I was haggled by some fellas' in Harlem when I ducked behind a dumpster to pee. "Hey! Yo, yo, yo!" they shouted and laughed from across the street while I relieved myself. To me, it's not out of scene to whiz on the street when you gotta go. For a split second I was embarrassed but only grinned to myself. I'd have called someone out too; maybe even louder! You just can't pass an opportunity like that.
The rest of my trip was full of funny little experiences. I leaned my bike against a statue in Central Park where a woman sat down and fed pigeons crumbled bread. A swarm of birds engulfed my bike while I sipped coffee and photographed the scene. 
I met all sorts of people. I used what limited Spanish I had when buying a can of juice at a bodega in Spanish Harlem. I ate my weight in thin, oily NY pizza and even bowled a few games in the Bronx with my friends on Saturday night. 
I took about 15 or 20 pictures with my point & shoot digital camera this weekend. I took about 30 clips of video that I plan on splicing into a short documentary. I shot 5 rolls of B&W film. I'm dying to get to the dark room tonight because I know that I got at least 3 amazing shots.... I'll post a few when the prints are dry.

I'm ready to move to NY.


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