This year was my fourth No Pants Subway Ride, my third at Central Park and my fifth or sixth year shooting for Improv Everywhere. I’ve a LOT of photographs of people doing strange things in various states of dress and undress in my catalog. I say it every time, but I am supremely lucky to work with Charlie Todd and everyone else at Improv Everywhere. It’s way more than just a chance to take great photos, it’s about seeing friends!
You see a lot of different people come out to these events. Many non-participants see those who come out as a certain kind of young person, the kind of young person that lives in certain neighborhoods of NYC, perhaps with odd or distinctive facial hair:
To be fair, there ARE folks like that. But, we also see these folks:
Or families doffing trousers together:
There is a sense of community in being silly together. That is perhaps, Charlie’s greatest gift, in seeing how having fun, being a little odd, the willingness to be different draws us together. Even the onlooker becomes part of the experience. Few on the trains are not “in” on the joke now, including the police and the subway officials. I overheard a Train Operator yesterday dryly noting on the radio: “This car is packed, it’s underwear day”.
In the end, the worst thing that happens on No Pants Sunday is some goose bumps and some long looks. When you thread past the creepy old men snapping shots of butts, the smirks of the anti-fun crowd and get down to what it’s really about, it’s family. One big, pant-less, shivering family.
Improv Everywhere’s 14th annual No Pants Subway Ride dropped trousers on the trains today. I shot the meet up in Central Park and took the “C” Train downtown. Here are a few choice selections from the ride:
Tomorrow, 3:00 PM in New York City. Take the train, take off your pants, that’s it.
Charlie Hebdo is no Onion, there are lines The Onion doesn’t cross. The satirical newspaper is provocative, crude and occasionally offensive. Charlie’s long history of publishing things making certain Muslims very angry resulted in previous threats and attacks. Today, terrorists stormed the magazine and killed twelve people. Why? Cartoons.
Yes, twelve humans being are dead because religious terrorists saw some satirical cartoons depicting their Prophet in an unflattering light. It goes without saying, the terrorists were Muslim. You know, I am not a great fan of religion in generals, but at least the days when Christians and Jews killed you for blasphemy are (largely) behind them.
There are legitimate reasons for Muslims are angry in this world. Acts of political terror, while no less reprehensible, are at least UNDERSTANDABLE. If an foreign power occupied my nation and I was powerless to fight traditionally I might turn to terror as well. But this act isn’t about repression, or politics, it’s about pure petulance. It is extraordinarily stupid people acting on indescribably idiot beliefs. If your faith is so weak, so frail, you need to murder because someone made fun of it, you are pathetic human being.
It is wrong to mock another’s faith, it’s their choice and right to believe in any or no faith. It is petty and childish to publish inflammatory images whose only purpose is to anger someone based on their faith. You should be ashamed, you should NOT be murdered. (And in my youth, I was as guilty of this as the publishers of Charlie Hebdo.)
Those of us fortunate to live in a nation where freedom to be offensive is enshrined in our culture have two choices. We can bow down to the sheer imbecility of this simple fucking morons and throw our freedom away in fear. OR, we can stand up and refuse to live under the shadow of other men’s fears and weak faith. That is why it’s important here, in the United States, that we stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and the people of Paris. If not, our time will come.
Je Suis Charlie.
I’m not a particularly hirsute man, aside from head and face I am quite smooth. Still, I’ve sported a beard since December of 1997 with only a few facially glabrous interludes. Prior to 1997 I sported a mustache, because it was the only hair allowed, but the day I left the military I started my beard.
Of course, my Goatee is hardly radical, indeed it’s a little girly man beard by today’s standards. (Though still freely associated with evil!) Apparently, the very model of a modern major facial hair is the full on Lumber Jack. Indeed, an annoying phrase sprang up in recent vernacular: Lumbersexual. A “lumbersexual” is a man whose dress and facial hair is better suited from leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia rather than the streets of New York City from whence they sprang. (Yes, they DO have their best girlie by their side, no word on singing.)
Lest you think this is just the Hipster class ironically flouting conventional grooming standards, the Face Fur is all the rage. On the streets of my fair City, animated hedges of human hair adorn all social classes. While most popular among the young men, the chin chia crops up with middle-aged fellows too! They are, and this an actual statement heard made in the media, reflections of masculinity! Men, as I’ve personally witnessed, compliment one another on their beards in the same manner as women on clothing or make-up. The phrase “Nice beard, bro” is uttered in absolute sincerity.
Some feel men are a bit of a done deal. Some say we are at the end of men. There are those who feel this macho new style is push back against the feminization of Americaa. Men, they say, are insecure and seeking reassurance of their inherent manhood.
Or, you know, it could just be a beard.
Styles come and go, and rest assured, this is just a style. In my four point five decades on this planet I’ve witnessed three major generational facial fads. When I was but a lad, the look was the Reynolds:
and everyone wore the bushy ‘stache as the defining statement of masculinity for their generation. (The Baby Boomers) For my money, however, Selleck was The ‘Stache.
Of course, my generation affected the goatee as our signature facial adornment. The Slackers with their half-hearted, half-faced beard were emblematic of our generations refusal to commit to anything. We elevated scruff in a way Don Johnson could only dream of back in the 80’s. My own goat is very much a 90’s Face-Doo, one I wear with same apathetic disaffection I might have in the 90’s were I not forced by military regulations to do otherwise.
So, why are we talking about the Beard as though it were the latest invention of the latest generation? Because this what we do, the collective memory of our society runs ten, perhaps fifteen years. Beards aren’t back, they are The Next Big Thing until the Next, Next Big Thing comes along. In short, we’re idiots.
If men want to adorn their mugs with facial hair an American Civil War General might find appealing, it’s just the latest iteration of faddish fashion blathering across the media sphere. It’s not a political statement, any more than Cobain’s scruff or Burt’s lip caterpillar. The flannel and work boots? Yeah, we did that too, fashion is a flat circle, we’ve always been in flannel, we will always be in flannel. The only part anyone needs concern themselves with is why, all of a sudden, I am fashionable. I am really uncomfortable with people thinking I give a damn about how I dress.
Well, at least I can be a girly, just like my dear Papa!
It’s that magical time of year when New Yorkers, and mass transit riders around the world step on trains, buses, trolleys, ferries and horse-drawn carriages and doff their dungarees in the name of silly! This year marks the 14th time Improv Everywhere has encouraged folks to show their unmentionables to the public in the No Pant’s Subway Ride.
If you’ve never done or seen a No Pants Ride, the concept it simple: get on wearing pants, somewhere along the way take them off and pretend there is nothing strange about doing so. After fourteen years, there really isn’t anything strange going on, people know. Well, most people. If you aren’t in New York City, have no fear, the ride is global. Here are list of participating No Pants Cities, if you don’t live in one of those cities just do it on your own! (Terms and conditions may apply, check local laws before disrobing on mass transit, Improv Everywhere and FreeVerse Photography not responsible for any repercussions of riding pantless on any public conveyance.)
So, wash your undies, refill your Metrocards and head down on Sunday, January 11th to your local station or stop. We’re serious about the clean skivvies!
New York City Meeting Locations 3:00 PM arrive early for more fun!
Astoria: Meet at Hoyt Playground – Google Map
Brooklyn: Meet by the Old Stone House – Google Map
Downtown Manhattan: Meet at Foley Square – Google Map
Lower East Side: Meet at Sarah Roosevelt Park on Houston – Google Map
Queens: Meet at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park – Google Map
Uptown Manhattan: Meet at the Great Hill in Central Park – Google Map
Williamsburg / Bushwick: Meet at Maria Hernandez Park – Google Map
The Hare Krishna parade was my pleasant surprise of 2014, I will be back in 2015!
The Bon Festival was another new find this year:
And the Pakistan Day Parade
I shot two wedding this year:
Of course we round out the year with Improv Everywhere’s Black Tie Beach and MP3 Experiment again:
And got Medieval again for Fort Tryon Park:
And the we got angry on the streets:
Thanks to everyone who liked, looked or hired me in 2014, thanks everyone who put up with off topic posts and my rants, even more to those who AGREED with them. See you all back in 2015, meanwhile, stop by the Donut Pub!
St Marks Place a major vessel in the East Village circulatory system, carrying the people to the bars and back to their apartment/dorm. It is always busy, always loud and always full of people young enough to be my children. Naturally, I avoid St Marks whenever possible.
My neighborhood changed more this year than all the previous years combined. It is gentrifying so quickly you see the banks and upscale bars opening before your very eyes. Before long, all the things making it unique will blur into another high end caucasian colored wall of sameness.
The Pillow Fight theme in Washington Square Park was superheroes vs supervillains. It’s like American turned into a nine year old kid with all the costumed crimefighters in our pop culture.
Speaking of costumed heroes, Blackwolf is getting a little greyer every year. Not just his beard, which is always grey, just hime.
When I think Easter, I think about the cowboy and the pirate present for the resurrection. They are integral to the story of the passion!
Holi is my favorite event of the year, I KNOW I am coming away with beautiful photos. Then I will spend until November cleaning colored powder off my gear.
One small part of an American Tribal Bellydancer of the Dance Parade.