Beginning in New York

Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book — and does.

Groucho Marx

In booking a trip for Europe, I was trying to balance everything between dates with the Dodgers. At the beginning of the 2016 season I had seen the Dodgers would be playing the Yankees in New York, come September. That sounded like a lot of fun and I instantly thought about going. Shortly after I began watching flight prices on Google Flights. In the process, I also began looking at flight prices in various countries for the Fall. Feeling torn on what to do, the idea popped in my head that I could go to see the Dodgers in New York, and then go to Europe from NY. Heck yeah! Trying to spare you the details of logistics, I also wanted to be back in time to go to Vin Scully's last home game with the Dodgers. That gave me a two week window to work with in Europe.

Red Eyes

Wanting to save a little money, I found back to back red-eye flights to and out of New York, leaving me a day to spend in the city.

I love New York. I love that a person doesn't need a car there. Roaming around with a camera in hand is a candy-land for me. Not really having any plans other than the Dodgers in the evening, I started off looking for the Brooklyn Bridge. Most of what you'll see in these photos are "along the way."

After walking around a bit, I was hungry and began to look for my staple travel-breakfast joint, Dunkin Donuts. A block or so away, I came across a cool looking Fire Station with a tiger on it's door. It looked cool and I thought I would photograph it after getting some coffee and donuts. (I shouldn't be eating donuts, but I figured I would be walking it off today. Why do I lie to myself?)

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Having satisfactorily eaten a donut, I started walking back towards the firehouse. Just as I got back, the tiger door started opening and firemen came to hang outside. I thought it would be fun to go talk with them and photograph the fire house, but I thought they would consider me some kind of "dumb mook" and tell me to get lost. I crossed the street and walked past, hoping they'd see me and say something. They didn't see me and said nothing and I kept walking. Just next door I found a Jewish synagogue and remembered God's voice, "what you're afraid to do, go do."

With a nervous feeling, I turned around and went and introduced myself. Immediately they invited me in and let me photograph around the first floor.

Seeing all of the 9/11 memorial items made me pause for a moment (I was there on Sept 12). They had a little shrine with photographs of firemen who had died on 9/11. I skipped photographing that as I thought somehow I wasn't allowed to or something.

I got to talk with them for quite a bit. They all had military backgrounds and had been with the fire house for a few years. It was fun to see them horse around. Lord, please keep them safe!

Hipsters, what are we going to do about Hipsters?

Leaving the Fire House, I decided to go hang out in Brooklyn (one of the firemen suggested an area as a cool place to photograph people). As I got there, I found it to feel a little hipster. Instantly I didn't feel cool, but I kept looking around.

I say hipsters as though it's a dirty word and perhaps I've taught myself to talk that way. Back home I know them as people who make simple things be kind of expensive and you feel cool participating in whatever it is they do. I get the creeps watching Portlandia, enough to know I never want to go there. Is Brooklyn like this? I followed the trail of bikes to find out.

Brother Francis

From Brooklyn I made my way to Penn Station in hopes to find B&H Photo. I wanted to have a certain camera lens (Rokinon 14mm, camera nerds will know) with me for some places in Europe and I had trouble getting one back home. B&H is the mecca of camera stores and I knew they would have it, and they did. I love that store. As much as I love it, I didn't want to waste time there and quickly did my business. I wanted to find a Francis of Assisi Church that was supposed to be near Times Square.

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Finding the church, I was caught by a Jesus statue in front of the entrance. It's always off-putting to see Jesus as a beggar. I never thinking of bums as being Jesus, but He reminds that "to the least you did unto, you did it unto Me."

Just missing the Mass, I made my way in to the church to relax a bit and pray. I love reading about St. Francis of Assisi and his writings. I love the way he lived. At times though I feel I look to him more often than I look to Jesus. Somehow whenever I see Francis, I feel a crossroads in life. Am I going to go my own way or follow Jesus? And which way is following Jesus?

The Price of Human Life

Next I went to see the 9/11 memorial at the World Trade Center. I had been once before, but it was just a big hole in the ground. Now it was all built up. Wandering around the memorial, I didn't have much to say. Looking at the names on the plaques, I was reminded again of the cost of 9/11. I saw the new One World Tower and didn't know what to think of it. Thinking of 9/11, I was reminded of the people who lept from windows to escape the fires and collapse of the original towers. At the end of that day, in my mind, it wasn't towers that we lost, but people.

When I saw the new tower, I felt at odds. In some ways, that tower symbolizes to me that somehow we didn't lose ourselves, but could just be rebuilt. Seeing it next to the memorial, perhaps it was just me, but I felt perhaps the tower shouldn't be there. I know the best revenge is living well, and that we sent the message that our American way of life will not be interrupted by terrorists...but! But seeing the names, the faces on pictures, finger prints next to letters, those people can't be rebuilt taller and shinier. But again, I'm reminded to look to the resurrection. Somehow, someday, there will be the resurrection and Jesus will be standing with those lost, shining more glorious the One World Trade center. And, I pray that beyond the American way of life, we continue to grow in loving our fellow neighbors and to seek peace with those who would not seek peace. Help us Lord!

 

Let's Go Dodgers!

Making my way to the Bronx and Yankee Stadium, I first stopped in Harlem. I like to go and see every Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd I can find, and I saw one in Harlem. Plus I wanted to try a famous chicken restaurant for dinner.

Taking the subway, I came to a part of Harlem where the streets had no street signs. What I thought would be a quick stop turned into a long hunt to find a Martin Luther King Blvd sign. 7 or 8 blocks later, I found one. But along the way I found some cool brownstone buildings.

Eventually I also found the chicken place boarded up. It had closed to be moved somewhere else. Alas, I would have to eat at the stadium. I feared that in hearing Yankee Stadium has good food, but at a premium.

Stepping off the train and out of the tunnel, seeing Yankee Stadium was a marvel. I know it's not the original, but it still held a place of history for me. Anyone who knows baseball knows about the Yankees. You may hate them, and that's fine. But, seeing banners with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and other legends, I felt someplace special.

Finding dinner, my fears were realized. Good food and high prices. But, I figured I was on vacation and so why not. Shortly after the game started and I was happy to see a large (400 people large) group of Dodger fans cheering towards the outfield. I was not alone. Nearer to me were the Yankee boo-birds shouting back toward the Dodger fans. The boo-birds soon quieted as the Dodgers killed the Yankees 9-2!

And then it was back to the airport for me. Next stop, Paris!