Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ten Mile Walk (no kidding)

It's 4:23 AM and I feel like I am on a hunting or fishing trip. Due to the train schedule and need to take a shower, I think that I missed the sunrise at Coney Island, but there should still be enough interesting things to photograph. My wireless buddy isn't turned on so I can't verify the sunrise time, but I think that it is shortly after 5:00 AM.

Time to prepare and wander.

Wander indeed. I logged upwards of 10 miles on foot today, while wearing sandals, plus being in the hot sun and not eating as much I could (or should) have, I'm beat. It's not even 7:30 PM and I'm ready to sleep. Again, I'd rather not write, but I'm distracted by 60 Minutes on the television so I'll wait for a while.

After trying to watch TV and playing a game on my cellphone, nothing changes my opinion that television is retarded.

I'm still tired and sore and I'm not in the greatest of moods. It would be good to teleport home for an hour or so to relax in my easy chair with my cats nestled at my ankles. But I'm here and things are still ok.

This morning at sunrise, the heaps of smelly garbage struck me immediately at Coney Island. People scattered grimy refuse everywhere along the streets at the Mermaid Parade yesterday and I thought of making some photos, but I pressed on to the water. Later, an angry young man yells at me, 'Take photos of the garbage!' and he continued on a profanity laced tirade about how awful Coney Island is.

When I approach the water I saw fishermen and beachcombers with their metal detectors. I walked up and down the beach snapping photos of the fishermen and I occasionally asked if they caught anything today. An Asian man explained that they are fishing for striped bass that are apparently running on their northward migration. But not today.

Fisherman Casting Off Coney Island 1

The Russian contingent was strong and many Russians were out exercising at daybreak. I was too shy to try my few Russian phrases. On my return, I talked to Captain Bob the tour guide and we had a pleasant exchange. Eventually, I boarded the train to Manhattan where I was going to look for B&H Photo by taking a guess as to where I thought it was.

Russian Exercises at Coney Island 1

The train to Manhattan stopped at 4th Street due to construction and from the day before, I knew that the Gay Pride parade would be congregating there. Rather than immerse myself in that awkward scene again, I back tracked to Houston street in the lower east side. When I emerged, I went into a Whole Foods store and was shocked at the produce pricing. Sheesh. Nearly $2.99 pound for Fuji apples. But a customer service clerk gave me the address to B&H Photo - 420 9th Avenue. I knew how to get there - or so I thought.

Because I feel stingy, I budgeted three subway rides today and I walked from the East Side to the West Side to get to B&H. My thinking is that the store was at 4th Street W and 9th Avenue. Easy. Until I approached the address and a friendly traffic patrol lady asked me how I was doing. Since she broke the ice, I asked her for the address and another woman explained that B&H Photo is at 34th Street and 9th Avenue. Yowsa! That is more than 30 blocks away.

They pointed me to the subway, but I said that I was hungry so I would eat first (B&H wasn't open yet anyway). I asked for a diner reference, and the lady scoffed at me when I said that I was a tourist, wanted a local diner, but went into McDonald's where I purchased a breakfast meal of sausage, eggs, muffin, and hash browns. I drank water that I brought from the apartment.

Then I began my trek.

I did my best to skirt the Gay Pride parade and I walked. And walked. Finally, I approached Madison Square Garden and by the address, I knew that I was close to B&H Photo. As I approached the store, I ran my checklist again and again. Must buy items are a camera strap (that doesn't advertise my expensive camera with the Nikon D200 label) and a blower brush to clean my lens and camera body. Nice to buy items would be more memory and an extra battery.

The crossing guards earlier gave me a clue that B&H would be busy.

I walk in and a security guard kindly points me to bag check for my shoulder bag and backpack. I walk past a few people handing out catalogs which I do not need, but a clerk hand me a guide for buying a digital camera and directs me to the camera straps. He later says that men with green vests answer technical questions. Here's where the fun starts.

The green vest guy who catches my attention is an Orthodox Jew complete with the temple curls. I only write that because I see them around and about the city, but I keep thinking of Amish, but they're clearly not. The technical clerk calls up my D200 order and asks me what I am looking for: camera strap, air blower/brush, the same memory that I bought with the kit, and an extra battery.

He types away in the database, calls up my order, my name, and walks away wordlessly for a moment. Confused, I stay put because I sense a flow or something. He walks back with two blower brushes (I choose the smaller one and thank him for the advice on not touching the CCD with the brush) and we wait. For two minutes or less. And the remaining products are handed to him from pickers that emerge from the crowd.

The clerk says simply, 'The line is long so I did this. The memory is slightly different than the one that you bought because it has a free software offer.' (Paint Shop Pro X that I plan to download.)

I pull out my credit card, 'Do I pay here?' 'No, you pay up there.' I didn't exactly see where, but I noticed one of the pickers took my four selections and carried them briskly to a green bin. I look at the Cashier sign and move towards another line. I get a glimpse of the cashiers all in a row in bankteller-like cubbies, but before I look intently, I see staff pouring free glasses of soda. So I grab a cola, put the cola back and take a clear drink instead.

A man directs me into the credit card line and before I know it, I'm standing with credit card in front of a very Jewish lady who asks, 'How are you today?' I reply, 'Very well, thank you. And you?' She smile wryly, 'No, how will you pay today?' I offer my credit card and voila, I sign for the purchase.

She smiles to end it and I move to the pick up area where I hand my receipt and someone hands me my products in a B&H bag. Boom. Done. Then I walk to the claim check, get my bags, blink instead of tip (debating whether I should have would be for naught in this lightning pace). I stuff my products, receipt, rebate slip from the cashier (they even covered this!) and I walk outside to lean against the building to catch my breath.

'Wow.' I say softly under my breath. 'That was fun. Now what?'

I decide to go to Central Park, but I keep myself to the three subway ride limit so I walk first to Madison Square Garden and then to 7th Avenue to keep with skirting the Gay Pride parade. And I trek north the remaining 30+ blocks from 4th Street to Central Park.

The pedestrian traffic around 42nd Street and Broadway annoyed me. There were American tourists of every accent moving randomly and I yearned for the cultural richness of Brooklyn. I saw street vendors selling framed photos and the prices were inexpensive. But the same display marked each block so I think one person oversees all the framed tourist photos on the streets.

And I walk. I buy those great candy covered peanuts for a buck. Finally, I enter Central Park and find a tree to rest against so that I can unwrap my purchases. I call my sister to talk for a while, eat an apple and finish my water. My legs lost their dull throb so I wander Central Park.

A Cello Thunders at Central park

I've been to Central Park enough to recognize general areas so I watched the softball games for a while and I see a beach volleyball game so I go there and start snapping photos. An Asian man, Bing Chen, asks me if I would send some of the photos to him so I concentrate on taking photos of him while he plays. Later when I show him he asks if I am a professional. I stammered something and then I say, 'No, but I need to make something.' He surprises me, 'Name your price and send me an e-mail.'

Volleyball in Central Park 2

My interest perks up so I walk about the park for a while, but I return to size up Bing and his volleyball playing friends, taking numerous photos. It seems like it's a wealthy crowd, pure New York City, of young men and their hot volleyball playing girlfriends. So I decide to send Bing thumbnails of my best photos and propose a deal of $10/copy of each high-res photo. And I'm open to taking more photos if he would like after I briefly explained my situation.

This wound down my day so I was a bit frustrated as I left Central park when I found that I walked to 72nd street! (Like I needed to walk more!) So I returned to 60-ish street and borded the N train followed by the D train that took me to 9th Avenue in Brooklyn.

I talked to Vinnie near the church and I was thankful for the brief dialog. I watched a kid graffiti a lamp pole base in broad daylight and I followed him and his partner up 41st Street. Thugs here all seem like juvenile delinquents to me and maybe the older, hardened ones are all in jail or something. I made eye contact with the two kids and I regretted that because I really want to be invisible and not attract any attention. Yet something inside of me wanted to confront the kids and teach them a lesson.

Even when I sat near the window listening to the neighborhood bravado tonight, I realize that this is much bigger than I. Live in peace.

I made rice for dinner and I decided that the garbage bag is not full enough for me to put out today. So I'll do that on Wednesday night. I felt a little less cranky after dinner, but I guess that I am a bit numb.

Tomorrow I sleep in and rest. I want to start scraping the old paint off the porch which requires getting tools together which are mostly at the church, I think. So I'll defer my photography effort until Tuesday and maybe Bing or Sammy will contact me with more photography work.

My thinking for Bing is some money for my time ($50 or $100, for example) and then per photo price. And as a bonus, he signs the rights over to me. I also suspect that some type of job offer may result from knowing Bing, but that's an over-tired musing.

I should shower before I sleep, but I think that I'll just sign off and lay down.

Another full day Brooklyn bound.

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