Magic Hour

As I walk out of the coffee shop on Lexington Avenue, I look southward down the avenue and notice that the sky has turned a lovely apricot hue.  It is the magic hour in New York City, and at this time of the year, when days are at their shortest, the magic hour coincides almost perfectly with rush hour.  Along the avenue I hear sounds of bus brakes squeaking, exhaust being let off, horns honking, the subway rumbling beneath my feet; a cacophony of sounds which overwhelm my senses.  I need a calmer environment today, so I veer of the avenue and onto a quieter street, headed in the direction of central park.  The volume decreases a bit as I walk across 70th street, and dims more so as I approach Park Avenue.  Here, traffic is humming along the avenue, but no buses or extreme noises are heard.  I continue to walk further west, across Park Avenue and towards Madison.  Here, I hear a woman chatting with her friend saying something about Tom Ford as they walk past a shop.  I see a cab pull up to the curb just ahead of me and as I walk, I watch a little girl open up her door and exit, followed by her mother.  A clunk of the car door is heard as she slams the door closed, and as I continue on I hear her yelling something to her mother in the distance.  Someone walking a Basset Hound passes by and I hear the click-click of its claws against the concrete.  As I continue on I see a cluster of workers huddled outside a building and hear a man speaking Spanish on his cell phone.  I am almost to the park now. As I cross 5th Avenue, I can hear the wind blowing around my exposed ears.  It’s cold out, and getting colder by the minute as the sun continues to sink closer towards the horizon.  At last, I cross the sidewalk and enter the pathway into the park.  With each step, the heavy drone of street noise dissipates and is replaced by the sounds of dry leaves crackling underfoot.  A runner jogs past and I hear his elevated breathing as he swooshes past me.  A woman pushes her baby in a stroller down the pathway and I notice the sound of the plastic wheels rolling by.  Then:  I hear much less.  A quiet settles in around me.  I can hear birds chirping. Not one variety, but a few, singing their last songs of the day to each other.  I aproach the promenade which is almost empty.  The breeze rushes along my ears and through the trees.  My heart rate slows, and I take a deep breath.  I continue to walk along the promenade and I briefly hear the quiet rhythmic drone of a helicopter passing overhead. I pass by a lively group of young British tourists, and as they flock by I make out their distinguishing accents immediately.  As the sky darkens, I approach the pond where the boats are sailed on warmer days. I notice the ducks there at the edge of the pond and stand to watch them for a moment.  Suddenly, they see me and, startled, all rush up at once to fly back into the water.  The flapping of wings and soft quacks are heard as they splash into the water one by one.  It’s almost dark now, so I make my way out of the park.  As I approach 5th avenue, the sounds of traffic again emerge, first softly, and growing in intensity with each step. By the time I get to the sidewalk, a city bus squeals by. My nerves embody the grating sound.  I’m back to the noisy reality of the city, but I enjoyed the break…

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Mis en Scene – Bottle Rocket – Wes Anderson, director

 The scene opens with a shot from outside of the rear of the getaway car parked in an empty parking lot outside a bookstore in the dark, with the quiet sounds of crickets chirping and the heavier sound of an elevated heartbeat, building tension for what is about to take place. We see that the bookstore is being closed as the lights are still on. We then get a tight shot of the interior of the car, lights off, from the windshield with all three central characters inside, talking about the plan and getting psyched up. A watch beeps, and a close up of the watch is shown, notifying them that it’s time to move. As Dignan and Anthony exit the car into the dark parking lot, they are shown in a medium two-shot facing the camera on foot, walking with intensity towards the door of the closed bookstore, whose lights are still on. Dramatic drum beats are playing to elevate the drama of scene. As Dignan hides behind a pillar, Anthony, casually, though wearing a dark turtleneck and a knit hat, and tape on his nose, (“What are you puttin that tape on your nose for?” “Exactly.”) walks up to the glass door and knocks and flags for the employee inside’s attention.  The employee, whose back is turned faces towards Anthony and points to the sign on the door that says that they are closed. Anthony presses, saying that he left his sweater inside and inquires about a lost and found. At this point, Anthony is let in and Dignan is shown signaling to Bob in the car by using their secret “Ca-Caw” signal. Bob is shown inside the car whistling his signature bird sound in response. As Anthony is let in, Dignan shows up and tries to muscle his way in as well, saying he left some money in there.  At this point the robbery is in action, with Dignan grabbing the employee and demanding to know where the money is. The two of them walk through the dimly lit bookstorenamong the aisles of books, with the employee, who is obviously taking his time, back to the office. The camera follows from just ahead of the group of three in a medium shot, then directly behind them in another medium shot. The camera follows them as if there is another person following them on foot. As Dignan pushes the employee and the manager into the room we assume is the office at the back of the store, we pull away to a medium close up of Luke pacing the aisles of the book store, slowing down to pull out a book entitled “Job Opportunities in Government, 1995,” which is shown in a close up as if we’re seeing it the way Luke does. The scene then cuts to the action happening in the halogen lit office, with Dignan shown in a close up to show his excitement and concentration, then pulling back to get a view of the scene in the small office.  The camera moves dynamically with Dignan, who is in control of the scene just as he had planned. He asks the employee where the money is while pointing his gun towards his face. Cut to the employee who is standing back, leaning slightly against the opposite wall. The employee does not seem particularly scared. We then cut back to Dignan demanding to know where the money is as the manager, who is sitting at his desk, opens an empty drawer, of which there is a close up shot. The drawer below is opened in a close up, and the tray of money from the cash register is revealed. Cut to Dignan, looking elated, like a child, saying “there’s money!” So far everything is going according to his plan…

Design I Like

In anticipation of writing this assignment,  my first short written musing on the subject of design, I wandered around my apartment picking up various books, DVDs and magazines of interest, finally settling on the unconventional cookbook entitled “Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin.” I couldn’t resist buying this tome last year as a Christmas present for my live-in boyfriend, as that meant that it essentially doubled as a gift for me as well.

The cover itself, in attention-grabbing yellow is enticing even at first glance. It features an interactive pull tab like that from a children’s book, reading “DO NOT PULL,” which of course means that the reader is going to do just that. When tugged open, the text of the title disappears, revealing an image of a classic, no-frills diner breakfast of a runny sunny-side-up egg (which drips ever so seductively off the edge of the plate), a couple of slices of toast accompanied by two small pre-packaged pats of butter, and a pile of bacon strips atop a small salad.

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I think that it’s important to know that while this is indeed a cookbook featuring a handful of the thousands of recipes created by the legendary, eccentric, often stubborn, and sometimes profound Kenny Shopsin, it is also a quite personal window into the life and philosophies of the man, both on the subject of food and on life in general, sometimes at the same time, and I think that the design of the book reflects that well.

The pages include many colorful photos which display the personal history of the restaurant- photos of his late wife Eve who ran Shopsin’s with him and their three children who grew up running around the place, all of whom have worked there at one time or another, at various phases in their life. In addition to these are, of course, those of the food, either in its completed state or at various stages in the process of being cooked or assembled.

All in all, I find the layout to be appealing, approachable, personal and playful- at times having an almost hand-made quality- and these are all aspects that I believe were intentional. It seems to reflect the philosophies of an unconventional man, one who has shunned any and all press during his entire career as a restaurant owner amid major competition in one of the food capitals of the world. The fact that this book was even able to be printed means that he had to have a large contribution in the final layout of the book, as well as what was printed on its pages, which, I believe, is one of the reasons why I like it so much.

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City of Dreams

I made an imaginary postage stamp for an imaginary place called the City Of Dreams. This image is of the “floating city,” made from trash and construction scraps that the artist Swoon built and sailed to the Venice Biennale in 2009. Hope you like it!

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a creative statement of sorts

I have a very strong visual sensibility. I know what I like, and what I don’t, though sometimes it’s very hard to put into words exactly why a piece of art makes me feel a certain way. It’s a voice that I’m always searching for, and something that likely takes time to develop. I don’t know all of the critical jargon one is “supposed” to use when examining a piece or a film but I feel that sometimes there are pieces that just speak to you. I feel as if I can always tell when the artist has poured his or her heart and soul into a piece.

Artistically speaking, my main focus thus far has mostly been on photography. I’ve been shooting with my reliable 35mm Canon Rebel (film) for years now and have now taken two darkroom classes at hunter. I enjoy the process immensely and am feeling more confident than ever with developing and printing in the black and white format. Being in a formal class environment has been quite inspiring, especially in terms of figuring out what it is that I want to portray through my work. While I will continue exploring photography, I have recently been getting excited about beginning to branch out into the medium of filmmaking as well. I recently got a new cell phone with a hi definition camera and have begun taking short videos quite frequently with the intention of learning to edit and perhaps come up with something moving, or at least interesting, set to music. I have a few ideas in mind, so I’m looking forward to learning the editing skills that I’ll need to make it a reality.

The filmmakers that I admire most posses a unique and strong artistic vision and seem not to compromise on this for the sake of doing well at the box office. I like to have the feeling that the director is a giant geek and has almost hyper specific control over the film. Off the top of my head, a few of my favorites are Wes Andersen, Alfred Hitchcock, P.T. Anderson, Sofia Coppola, Terry Gilliam, Baz Luhrman, Tim Burton, Charlie Kauffman, Terrence Malick, the Coen brothers, and Quentin Tarantino.

As a creative person, what excites me most is all of the beauty that we are surrounded with on a day to day basis. All those little things that can be very easy to overlook. This morning I found myself filming the bubbles in the filter as my coffee brewed and found them to be quite beautiful. I like the idea now of just looking closer at everything and seeing what we might find. A raspberry stain, bubbles in a glass of champagne, the way light reflects on certain surfaces, the shadows of leaves on the concrete… and perhaps mixing them with images of ecstatic joy or pain, sensuality or something that evokes a feeling of nostalgia to try to evoke a specific feeling that can be hard to put in to words.