Monday, May 31, 2010

What I Saw at the MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art was un-be-freakin-lievable! To simply say that it blew my mind would be a monumental understatement. On the other hand, to say that it potentially changed my life would be a bit of an overstatement but it certainly is the most memorable trip to a museum I have ever taken. I'm a big fan of museums but the only art museum that I have gone to prior that is worth mentioning is the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Not the Louvre in Paris or the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands. You could say that I'm a bit of a museum n00b, but what can you expect when your home museum is the Glenbow1.

We started at the top floor of the MoMA and decided to work our way down. The special exhibition featured the performance art of Marina Abramović. Now, a little fish such as myself has never experienced performance art on this scale and to be honest, it scared the crap out of me!2 The performances were both twisted and perverse, seeming as a narcissistic attempt to gain attention; but the performances were also intriguing and captivating, often narrating humanity better then any university professor could. The performances were deeply moving, invoking a mixture of emotions that I never knew art could.

In a short 4 hours, I was only able to see 3 floors of the MoMA. It was surreal to admire famous pieces that I have only previously seen in posters and jpgs. Needless to say, we need to go back! What I found to be most interesting, however, is to take a piece of art out of it's frame by considering it in its surroundings; admiring those who admire the piece. It's funny how some people react around a famous piece of art. Some take photos of it, others with it while most just stare in awe. So, here are some spy shots3 in the contemporary art floors of who I saw at the museum.

1. No disrespect to the Glenbow, it's actually a cool museum. In a heritage class I took in the fall I got to tour the museum archives which is an entire floor that stretches two city blocks. I've never seen so many locally recorded mid- 70's folk/country records in my life.
2. There were at least 8 completely nude 'actors' in the exhibit, performing Abramović's art. In one, the audience is asked to step between a completely nude couple as they stand inches from each other(NSFW). When I came up, I was so nervous that I think I stepped on the dudes toe. I faced the girl.
3. It was extremely difficult to take these photos without seeming like a complete creep. I figure a better method for this collection would be to install a small camera or webcam just above the piece so you can capture a photo or stream a video online of the person's face as they view a piece of art. I wonder if there are museums willing to participate. Hmmm..

Roy Lichtenstein - Drowning Girl

Andy Warhol - Gold Marilyn Monroe

Andy Warhol - 32 Campbell's Soup Cans

Jasper Johns - Flag

Jackson Pollock - One: Number 31

Marina Abramović - The Artist is Present

Chloe Pagalilauan - I <3 H.K.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Engagement in New York City

As most of you may or may not know (I use this phrase way too much), my friends got engaged during our trip to New York City. Trevor dropped down to one knee atop the Empire State Building, which, according to Chloe, was where Chuck Bass from the deplorable television series Gossip Girl was going to propose to Blair Waldorf before he was shot and left to die in the streets; but I digress. The day had already been a major adventure for Trevor and the boys, but we arrived unscathed so that Trevor could execute the "Will You?" knee drop on Lorena to perfection and not end up left for dead on the streets of Manhattan.

To celebrate the momentous occasion, this blog post is dedicated strictly to you two and the moments leading up to the big event! I hope you guys love it. Again, congratulations; I'm really proud of you guys.

This photo was taken in Bryant Park, just blocks from Charlie Palmer's restaurant, Aureole. You don't want to know the stress that some of us went through to get dinner plans nailed down. Lorena originally expressed her interest in this joint so we had to make it happen. Little did Lorena know that it was a pre-engagement party! It was an excellent meal and a great way to kick off the evening. This is the before photo.

I know that Chloe took this picture because her hand always blocks the flash when she is focusing the lens. But it actually turned into a great photo, because it feels like it separates Trevor from that moment in time; a sort of contemplation piece focusing on what the guy is feeling and thinking before he proposes to his lady. This was taken moments before we started to head to the Empire State Building. No Pressure, Tre.

This photo is not good. It's blurry and the lighting is bad. BUT, it is the last photo taken of the couple before they became engaged! This was on the elevator on the way up to the observation deck.

Dude was sweating on top of the Empire State Building. Not only was he going to propose to Lorena, but he is also afraid of heights and there were some gale force winds! Pretty good form on the knee drop, but I think you're leaning too far forward on the left knee. It should be a perfect right angle. Just Playin'.

She said no.

But then reconsidered and said yes.

I'm messin'. Of course she said yes right away! She was so surprised and had no idea what was going to go down that evening. It was really cute actually. This is definitely my favorite photo from the bunch.

Whoa, take it easy you two! This is definitely the most bonerific photo from the bunch.

And this is the after photo.



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Take It to the Banks

When we headed down to Brooklyn and decided to walk the bridge, there was one stop that I absolutely needed to make before we made the trip to Midtown Manhattan. At the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, on the Manhattan side, there is a small park that has been appropriated by a certain subculture in the 1980's. Aptly named the Brooklyn Banks, skateboarders took over the decrepit area and created an improvised skate park. The steep, red brick banks made for one of the more unconventional skate spots. Over the years, as skateboarding progressed, so did the park. Soon the two sets of stairs and railings were appropriated and permanent obstacles were installed, such as manual pads, quarter pipes and flat bars.

The Brooklyn Banks remains one of the most recognized skate spots in the entire world (so famous, in fact, Tech Deck made a toy version of the spot priced at a whopping $75.00) and is featured in hundreds of skate videos. I can still recall seeing the legendary spot shred by some of the greatest skaters of all time, but unfortunately the banks' future is compromised. Supposedly, the banks were to be fenced off in January 2010, but it still remains open and skate-able. Bridge construction calls for the banks to be closed until 2014, which is extremely unfortunate for locals as the banks remains one of the only spots in NYC where skaters can ride un-hindered by police. I wish I had a board on me to ride the banks, as this may have been my one and only chance, but it was still amazing to see the spot that I grew up admiring in all those videos. Too bad I was there so early; it was almost like a ghost town.

Here's a video documenting, the legend, Mike Vallely's final trip to the banks, as he shares a bit of history about the spot. Some might know Mike V. from the Tony Hawk video games or his small role in the movie The Hangover. He was the dude that was in the van when they were grabbing tuxes on the highway.

Check out these videos of the banks in action:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hello Brooklyn!

It's about 2:30 am in New York City and the inhabitants of room 502 are coming into the Hampton Inn Soho on Watts Street. The occupants (Win, Kar, Chloe and myself) weren't feeling tired but rather saucy. Go figure, considering we were in the city that never sleeps. We have a 1 liter bottle of Grey Goose Vodka and four willing participants, so we head down to the lobby, grabbed a table in the atrium and got some glasses and juice from the 24 hour juice bar. We all came down with the same unifying purpose, we're going to get drunk.

Some of you may be familiar with the "Winifrey Valencia Liquor Free Pour". The "free pour" is neither a metric or standard system of measurement. Instead, the "free pour" is a measurement system that relies on taste. Therefore, the "free pour" is the amount of liquor to mix to the degree that it is bearable to drink without actually vomiting, gagging permitted. Generally, the "free pour" consists of 4/5 booze and 1/5 mix. In this case however, we were drinking Grey Goose, so the ratio of booze to liquor was more like 5/5 vodka and a splash of mix. Thankfully, I drink like a fish and due in part to my Polish comrade, Lukian, I love vodka. However, the "free pour" and "love of vodka" quotient made for a deadly combo; more to be described later.

It's now 5:00 am. Two and a half hours and one 1 liter bottle of Grey Goose later (the girls could only bare about two "free pour" cocktails each), the group made their way back up to room 502. The sweet old man behind the desk asked if we wanted a wake up call. We replied graciously, asking for a wake up call at 5:30 am, as we planned to get up early to explore Brooklyn. The sweet old man took a quick glance at his watch, shot us a rather odd look back and shrugged his shoulders. "5:30 am it is, sleep well folks" he said. We piled into the elevator, remarking on how sweet that old man is. He was a really sweet old man.

Arriving at the 5th floor, Win came up with a great idea that we should play a prank on the other groups room. We ran up the stairs to their floor, the 7th, and came to the room 702. We placed the polished bottle of Goose at the foot of their door and Win proceeded to knock like a possessed Donkey Kong. Off we ran, down the stairs, giggling like a bunch of seven year old Japanese school girls. We got into our room, jumped into bed with our better halves and dreamed marvelous dreams consisting of what I can only guess were go-karts and crossbows.

In what seemed like a blink of the eye, the phone started ringing, alarming the occupants of 502 that it was time to awake and drink in the beautiful spring morning that New York had to offer. I'm a rather thankful person and felt there was no better time to pray for my blessings then this moment. So off I went to my alter, in the washroom, to pray to the porcelain God's for the wonderful evening that I had with my roommates. Ahhhh, may I have another cup of New York please?! Room 502 eventually got ready and surprisingly I wasn't feeling all that hungover if you overlook my lack of appetite and extreme sensitivity to sunlight. Here we come Brooklyn!

Side note: The room which we thought was the other groups was in fact not theirs at all. We played that cruel prank on a room occupied by a bunch of middle aged women. They were not impressed with our drinking prowess and brought the bottle down to the front desk to complain about some hooligans who came to their room at 5:00 am, pounded on their door and left an empty 1 liter bottle of Grey Goose at their feet. "Who would do such a thing" is what P.J. overheard them saying to the customer service representative. I would think a group of individuals who were really enthusiastic about being in NYC would do such a thing, so good day to you! Now enough story time, on with the photos!

I saw these kids just outside of the High Street subway station in Brooklyn. They were so damn cute that I had to catch a creepy no look hip shot of them passing by. I love the little blonde girl, how her little pony tail is bouncing with her step and her cute little outfit. The little brown haired boy doesn't seem to give a damn which I think is rather commendable!

These photos were taken in the neighbourhood of Brooklyn known as the DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass. Kind of an odd name no? But New York City is notorious for these kind of names because you would never forget it. It was once a manufacturing and warehouse district that has been redeveloped into a trendy art district complete with cool cafes, bookstores, furniture and design stores and restaurants. Being at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge makes it a fantastic place to shoot and provides great views of the East River and the Manhattan skyline.

I'm not a huge fan of selective color photography, which seems to be so popular now a days. But when I took this photo of the old tobacco warehouse, I thought it would be tasteful and worth my first attempt. What do you think? Can you imagine having a wedding reception in there under the lights of the Bridge, across the river from Manhattan? Wow!

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn by spanning the East River. At 5,989 feet (1825 m), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge. Information provided by Wikipedia.

I love shooting photos of bridges not only because they are architecturally nice to look at, offer great vantage points and provide converging lines, but because of what they represent. Bridges are built to connect people, places and things. They are entirely necessary for life to function and it's great that they are designed to be nice to look at too!

That's one hell of a skyline.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

America's Past-time

As soon as Chloe and I stepped off of our plane, we had to get to Manhattan as fast as possible because we had tickets to see a Yankee game. To help give you some perspective, we landed at 5. The game started at 7. We landed in Newark, New Jersey Airport. It was Monday afternoon rush hour. What the hell were we thinking?

We were thinking "Damn, the Yankees are the biggest team in baseball! Almost everyone in the world who knows what baseball is, know's who the Yankees are. Ever hear of Babe Ruth? Lou Gehrig? Joe Dimaggio? Reggie Jackson? Derek Jeter? They are the current World Series Champions who play in a brand new multi-million dollar stadium!" Of course we are going to see a Yankee game while in New York, so stop judging us, dicknose!

Suprisingly, we got our bags quite quickly to the dismay of the fuming (not to be confused with flaming) Aussie next to me who has been waiting nearly 45 minutes for his wares. We caught a cab within 15 minutes which gave us just over 30 minutes to get to the hotel Soho. The cab ride was fairly fast considering the circumstances but it cost us over $80! We got to the hotel with some time to spare, but we still needed to take the subway uptown to the Bronx.

Arriving at the arena was surreal. I know I throw that word around a lot when I mention New York, but it is the word of choice that I use to describe the state of awe I was often in. It's a beauttiful, open-air designed, state of the art stadium that manages to take design cues from the old stadium that once stood across the street. It is seriously massive and a little intimidating at first. Once you settle in, you'll notice that it is extremely functional and there isn't single bad seat in the house.

We got to our seats, taking the ELEVATOR! Of course, we had to stop into another New York Institution and grab a Nathan's Famous hotdog and Miller Lite in a World Series Champions Collector Cup. We sat in the 200 section and our seats were great for only $50 a piece. Within minutes of sitting down, the Yankees hit a huge home run! I'm not usually one to get excited about baseball. I never watch it unless it's a tight playoff game. I mean, what's exciting about a bunch of guys standing around bases? But when you're there and the home team hits a home run, you'd have to be dead not to get hyped about it! I'll admit, the game still had it's slow moments and I'd often catch myself people watching or just staring in awe at the spectacle before me. It doesn't get much bigger then the Yanks!

Celebrity Sighting! Can you tell who this hardcore New York Yankee fan is?

The game was awesome. The Yankees won, beating the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 and we all really enjoyed the one of a kind experience. Only in New York, right Tre?