I’ve skipped the Village Halloween Parade the last couple of years, mostly from boredom with seeing the same thing over and over. This year, which a friend in town we shot the parade together. I challenged myself to concentrate on crowd shots AND use a manual flash to shoot. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. You can view all the images from this year’s spooktacular on my Flickr page.
Happy Halloween Ladies!
Today is March 4th, Game Master’s Day. (Though I prefer Dungeon Master’s Day.) On this the anniversary of Gary Gygax‘s passing we pause to honor all those who create and maintain the world where we play. It may seem like a silly thing to all of you who don’t “game”, or who believe this is the case. I assure you, the legacy of Gary and the game he and Dave Arneson breathed life into encompasses so many aspect of popular culture and technology listing them all would require 756,000 entries on Google. There are larger search results, but most of them are about sex.
Game Master’s Day isn’t so much a celebration of Gary’s life, we do this on July 27th, his birthday. Today is for all of us who sit behind the screens, building, adjudicating and guiding our players through the world’s we spin from our imaginations. More than a referee or umpire, more than an arbiter, Game Masters build a world, give life to the myriad inhabitants, and occasionally mercilessly destroy everything in contained within those worlds. After all, what is point of creation if you can’t wantonly destroy?
So, today I celebrate every one of you who spends their hours giving their imagination form, littering their maps with foes, and stocking lairs with endless piles of loot for my characters to pillage. I salute all of my Game Masters from the very first in Wood Shop Class 1981 to my monthly Dungeon Crawl Classics game, where my Halfling’s half-life is usually measured in minutes. It’s your world, I only play there…and do my very best to break it from time to time.
As a Game Master myself, I also thank my players who arrive full of wonder and joy, and the ruthlessly rain down death and destruction on everything I spent so much time crafting. I couldn’t do it without you. When I kill your characters, I just want you to know I do it out of love: just the way Gary intended.
The ides of February are upon us like the dolor of an opium addiction, or the strange twinge that forebodes a sudden visit from the Bad Back Fairy. All around the signs of mandatory romance dot the landscape like infinite piles of frozen dog feces, that other February hallmark. If you are not already frantic in your efforts to prove your love through synthetic and superficial consumerism, you will be…you will be.
There are two kinds of people in the world who actually like Valentine’s Day. One are those couples who met New Year’s Eve and are attempting to convert an unfortunate drunken hook-up into a meaningful relationship. The other is a florist. Both are desperate to take an arbitrary midwinter date and capitalize on it through the next ten months.
The rest of us regard February 14th with the same enthusiasm of a pile of cold cat vomit our foot discovers during a light night bathroom run. You know, intellectually, an action is required. The question is how long said doing might be delayed. (At least with the vomit, there are no social expectations to top previous foot scraping and muttered curses with greater display of nocturnal disgust.)
Love, they say, is a singular experience, transcendent, transformative and required to validate your pathetic existence on this benighted mudball. That validation, we are further told, is measured not by how Love makes you feel, rather on the amount you are willing to spend on Love. Face facts, not even your Mother is impressed by your shitty homemade ashtray. (It’s nice dear, but we don’t smoke…) If you Love someone, you need to demonstrate it clearly by spending an exponentially larger amount on socially acceptable holidays, such as Valentine’s Day.
Women catch a lot of shit over Valentine’s Day, but you can’t lay all these excesses at THEIR feet. Frankly, if men occasionally did something romantic on random days the pressure to make up for 363 days of neglect might not be such a soul crushing experience. (Hey, fuck-o, maybe pick up your socks without being told…you might get laid.) Men decided throwing money at the problem infinitely easier than doing something crazy like, oh, being a decent significant other. Then, on the ONE DAMN DAY a year, with a requirement to act like they actually love the person they share their lives with, they write snarky blog posts about what a pain in the ass Valentine’s Day became.
If one is single, the Ides of February is more of everything every Ex ever said during a break-up fight. (“You are going to die alone, you selfish asshole!”–I AM going to die alone…I AM a selfish asshole…) The barrage of hyper-romantic imagery, the forced romanticism from every couple around you and the phone call from your mother where grandchildren accidentally come up, just little nudges over the cliffs of your sanity. Nothing makes you feel better than the reminder of what is missing from your life. Singles are also fairly easy to spot by the spitting on your roses while the flower vendor is wrapping the bouquet. (Smell THAT, bitches!)
So, this weekend while you are frantically trying to make reservations at any dining establishment with an incrementally better reputation than Arby’s on the mall food court, take a moment to ask yourself: Why am I really doing this? Is this what my significant other wants, or is it what I think they want? Is this pro forma affection or do I actually care? You learn a lot about your relationship from those questions.
As for me, I will be at a bar on Saturday night sipping on whiskey and waiting for all the bad Valentine’s Day dates to arrive. I will find the most beautiful woman, sitting alone and crying and walk up to her and say “Hey, it will be OK, you’re a good person and deserve better”. I will then pay her bar tab, say goodnight, good luck and leave without making a sleazy move. It totally freaks people!
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!
Greetings friends and family, we gather together on this day of Festivus to celebrate the meaningless of our petty grievances and the many ways we’ve disappointed one another over the past year.
Sadly, this tradition becomes antiquated in the era of modern connectivity we call the Internet Age. We spend our days in petty outrages and pointless diatribes, sniping over politics, pop culture and sports. Where once we gathered around the Festivus Pole, it’s distraction free aluminum simplicity a stark reminder of all Christmas is not. Now, we comment on a Facebook status or froth incoherently at whatever generated meme image conflicting with our carefully cultivated point of view. Where once we wrestled one another into submission to prove our superiority, instead we stew behind a computer monitor. The biggest problem I have with you people is ALL THE PROBLEMS I HAVE WITH YOU PEOPLE AND HOW OFTEN YOU GET TO HEAR ABOUT THEM!
I am going back to the roots of Festivus, the shared dissatisfaction with the people we love together, over a family dinner where we all pretend we voluntarily attended. I pledge here and now to keep the spirit of Festivus alive all year round, by keeping the things you do that annoy the shit out of me bottled up and only spewing my venom once a year, around the pole. As Frank Costanza intended.
Happy Festivus to all, and to all year of repressed anger until next year, when I will wrestle you all into submission!
We open 2014 on New Years Day, the annual New Years Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge. This guy’s hat and camouflage pants simply made my day. Here’s to you, Mr Beer Hat, for starting 2014 off right!
Sure, it was hovering right at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, its perfect Bikini weather. I think her flail completes the ensemble.
Polar Bear always remember keeping one’s head warm is the key to avoiding hypothermia. The plethora of hats on this frozen beach teaches us important lessons in Winter safety.
Moving from one group of people failing to dress appropriately for the weather to another, the No Pants Subway Ride invited straphangers to let a little more hang out:
Improv Everywhere will host 2015’s No Pant Subway Ride January 11th in cities around the world. If you’ve never rode mass transit in your skivvies this is when you should. I will be there again, riding along, wisely wearing trousers.
Shifting gears,the end of January saw the book launch of Augury Books 2014 release of Beast by Frances Justine Post and The Family Cannon by Halina Duraj at Berl’s Poetry in Brooklyn. Both authors were present and read selections from their books:
Halina’s book has a special place in my heart as The Family Cannon’s cover is my photograph.
We round out with the Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing Queens the which is rapidly catching up and will soon outgrow the Manhattan Parade. I prefer Flushing, even with the commute, where I can get close to the marchers and bring home some really strong photos.
March through May will be up soon, check back for more of 2014!
Last year, I penned a primer for folks outside of the United States on traditional American Thanksgiving traditions. (Recycle your photos friends, it’s good for the Earth) Each year, writers sit down to write guides on winning arguments with your family, avoiding arguments with your family, or just how to ruin Thanksgiving in a few easy steps. While the authors of these little gems are usually from the Left side of the political aisle, a few Right side rebuttals. (In the interest of fairness, the ratio is WAY skewed to the Left on this.) The gist of these articles is usually: “It’s Thanksgiving, or Why We Don’t See Our Family the 364 Days of the Year.”
This is not a new phenomena, time carved the cultural trope of traveling hundreds of mile at great inconvenience to spend time with people you really don’t like into the American psyche like a badly hewn slab of breast meat. It’s not a by-product of the Internet age, I recall my parents grousing over the schlepp to my extended family long before Facebook made screaming at your family over inconsequential issues as easy as clicking a button. The arguments were the same, politics, sports, who was a drunk, who was cheating on their spouse and how no one took care of their damn kids. Here we are gathering to celebrate family and give thanks with people we would never allow into our homes any other day of the year! Or worse, you are forced to spend time with someone you loathe because they or you married into the family
I really wonder if this a uniquely American idea, or if people from Seoul travel down south to Gwangju for Chueseok and argue over Songpyeon with Uncle Kim, who fought in the war, about normalizing relations with the North? It’s absurd, really, how we force ourselves to socialize with people we barely know all because two hundred years ago our ancestors did so out of the relief they brought in enough food to eat through the Winter. Why do we do it? Hell, I can’t even blame Hallmark for this holiday, we do it because…because…I am really not sure why.
I’m not advocating not seeing your family for Thanksgiving, I’m saying maybe scale back the big holiday dinners to the people you actually want to spend time with. Instead of every branch on the family tree, including those everyone wants to prune, invite people you actually LIKE. We don’t need to fill the house with every single person related by blood and law to enjoy a family event! We don’t need to go through the annual ritual of grimly drinking enough wine to tolerate our relatives, we can happily drink enough wine with our friends and family to mock those people behind their back! I am advocating a peace treaty in the Turkey Day Wars! Next Thanksgiving, everyone stay home and enjoy your actual family not the one you endure by technicality!
Today, I am going to sit down to an amazing dinner with people I am not related to, most of whom I don’t even know. We will eat, drink, watch Mitchell and no one will need to argument about politics or sports, or any of the other things families spend Thanksgiving carefully avoiding yet never manage to pull off. The difference is we all WANT to be there, no one is family by fiat. You can do this with your ACTUAL FAMILY! Imagine, good food, good friends, good conversation and you never need worry about offending Uncle Bob, or having Uncle Bob piss in the coat closet because he was so drunk he thought it was the bathroom.
Uncle Bob, by the way, is why the coats are always on the bed on Thanksgiving.