Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bob Arihood, a modern American Master

When I studied photography, back at Prat Institute, in 1974... Phil Perkis took away our camera batteries. He wanted us to use to the camera as a tool over which we, not the battery was in control. After years trying to tell the stories of my America in law, I decided to go back to telling the stories of the world with a camera.
I had worked in Belfast in the seventies, I freelanced regularly in New York for Fairchild, the Voice, the Post and the Daily News. I was comfortable in the fact that if the meter said one thing, I knew where to find my appreciation of the neutral gray ... almost everything was black and white. Well, it was a different world when I got back to things in the 21st Century.
I've been very open with my learning disability. I have a great problem with sequencing. Modern cameras are all about sequencing. I need a hands on showing of how the machine works. there was this fellow who, like Phil who took away my camera battery, showed me what many of the wee nobbies meant on a modern digital camera where all about. His name is Bob Arihood, and most people, if asked who the photographer in the "east village" is, would say Big Bob ... that guy with a camera.
In my neighborhood is found an ever present eye, man with a camera. His photoblog is in my links, "neither more or less." I urge everyone to have a look. Like most artists, he is a bit gruff, and at times one would like to give him a good shake, but one would have to find a HUGE fellow to do that. One would see less in the world, if one did not take time to go have a gander at his blog.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Quaker Thanksgiving

Anyone who knows who took this photo, please comment so I might add a credit

Ever since the first Otway fell off the boat into the new world, we celebrate Thanksgiving by remembering the story of the first thanksgiving. They youngest child, generally the only one sober enough to speak, tells this story, before joining the adults in a gin and tonic.... Story of the First Thanksgiving.

It was the night before Christmas, and the Pilgrims where feeling a bit peckish, after the long swim from England, the Mayflower having hit an iceberg and sank. Captain Smith ordered the woman and children into the life boats first, as he knew that there were not enough boats for all, an old tradition in the British maritime, only to find they had forgotten the life boats all together. Although they were still in the Themes Estuary and a scant 10 minute swim to Wapping, they decided that as long as they were already wet, they'd go for it and struck out for New York. On the way they talked it over and decided that as long as they were going through all the trouble they might as well swim to Massachusetts so that their grand kids would all be rich New Englanders in stead of poor New Yorkers, and who wanted to live in a city where the Mayor was a bad tempered Dutch guy with a wooden leg who called the place New Amsterdam anyway, so I am getting off the point, it was time for dinner.
So there were Indians there also, John Smith and his wife Pocahontas, because she was tired of her dad chasing her husband John around with an axe every time he made the same old joke "Hey, did the White guys pay the rent yet?".
Christopher Columbus got the place of honor at the head of the table. He was very old at this point, and probably dead, but was such a figure of respect that no one told him, but rather made sure the head of the table was down wind from everyone and they didn't ask Chris to carve the turkey or they'd all starve. The Turkeys were much larger then, as it was a long time ago and they were still evolving from their Dinosaur ancestors, so one or two fed all of New England, and there was still some left to make clothes out of. So, now you know why we pardon a Turkey at the white house every year, then chop its head off and eat it. Happy Thanks Giving to all and to all a good night, after a little Alka-Seltzer
Cheers Lorcan

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Raptors Need YOUR help - RIGHT NOW!!!

Red Tailed Hawk and Mouse
New York, Tompkins Square Park: 11\14\07 For the second year, a juvenile Red Tailed Hawk has visited Tompkins Square Park, in search of rodents and the occasional pigeon. It may well be that this young visitor is just what the neighborhood is seeking, as ideas are being floated to give pigeons birth control, fine people who feed them, and place poison in the park for rodents.
In answer to a question about the effect on the hawk, of poisoning the rodents in Tompkins Square park, "It can't be good for him," says Gregory Gough Avian Ecologist, Migratory Bird Center of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. "You might try letting the hawk do the job himself, he can eat quite a lot of rodents." He suggests the Board of Health curtail the poison program in Tompkins Park from November until mid December when we will find out if this young hawk decides to become a permanent resident of the East Village. He explains that the older birds find permanent territory, and the younger ones are migratory as they seek a place to settle.

After speaking with Gregory Gough, I discovered that difethialone was the poison used in Tompkins Square Park. Difethialone. According to "Toxicology" by G. D. Osweiler, published by Williams and Wilkins, Media, Pennsylvania.(1996)it is a second generation anticoagulant poison. It interferes with vitamin K, a clotting factor. It kills the targeted organism by effecting massive internal hemorrhaging. What defines the second generation of these poisons, is the ability to kill after a single ingestion of the poison.
In the first week of November, packets of Difethialone were placed in the burrows of the rodents in the park. A week later a young hawk was seen feeding on mice about 10 feet from the sign warning of the poisoning. In a toxicology report on the death of a young female Red Tailed Hawk, Ward B. Stone, a wildlife pathologist with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, writes "We have found the anticoagulant rodenticides to be important secondary poison of raptors."
Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides have been banned in other places due to their deadly effect on raptors. The San Francisco Commission for the Environment banned these poisons after the death of a Red Shouldered Hawk in Golden Gate Park. The harm this class of poison can cause is impressive. Mountain lions and endangered San Joaquin Kit Foxes have died as a result of ingesting prey which fed on second generation anticoagulant poisons.
Michael Fry, of the American Bird Conservancy feels that there is no safe season for use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides. Most hawks migrate to South America during the winter, but some do stay in warmer climates. He suggests a return to the less toxic first generation rodenticides: Chdrophacinome, Diphacinone and Warfarin. Fry explains that a rodent who eats either the first or second generation anticoagulants will take from four to seven days to die. During that time the animal might be eaten by a predator, such as a raptor. In the case of a second generation anticoagulant, where a single ingestion can cause death the rodent may have eaten the poison several times over those days, building up a super lethal dose. In the same period of time, ingesting doses of the first generation anticoagulants, the animal would have a less dangerous dose in its body at the time of ingestion by a predator.
"The EPA has put forward a mitigation plan, to take all the second generation anticoagulants off the consumer market, allowing only first generation anticoagulants to be sold over the counter. Only licensed pest control experts will be allowed to use the second generation poisons in tamper resistant baiting stations. We want the use of these second generation anticoagulants to be restricted to indoor use alone," says Michael Fry.

Red Tailed Hawk and Mouse Meal

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A tale of two vets

Mike.... a neighbor
Mike Amico
Mike Amico spends a lot of time sitting in front of the building in which he lives, on Saint Marks place feeding pidgins, complementing pretty women, missing his beautiful wife, and telling younger folks what things were like when...
Mike deserves some time to relax and enjoy life. On June 6, 1944, the first day of the Normandy Invasion, a tough kid from a tougher neighborhood ran through the surf into a confusion of unimaginable noise, fear and death. Mike's eyes gaze off somewhere else when he remembers that day. He does not say much, other than, "that was some day..." and he remembers how many of the others died. They were young men with whom he trained, with whom he became friends, on whom he depended and who depended on him. He does not talk much about the worst of the war. He was there, saw it, lived it, but prefers to remember his friends and family, his young wife, who is always young and pretty in his memories.
Mike grew up in the neighborhood in which he still lives, it was called the Lower East Side then. Italian kids like Mike often joined gangs, had heroes who were "good fellows" or were "made men." He talks about mob hits on first avenue, long ago, ethnic battles and fights over turf. As a young man, he also saw his ancestral home, Italy. He walked across Italy with his unit, driving the armies of fascism out. He remembers the girls, the wine, the beautiful land, and he remembers the terrible fighting and loss. Mike, however, is not one of those vets who dwells on the worst of war, he remembers trying to grab hold of a little life in the face of all that death. He greets passing tourists in their own language, Germans, Italians, French, to him the divisions of war are in the past. He laughs and says to them that he learned their language when he was there ... during the war.
Mike often thinks of his brother in law, who he remembers was like his own brother to him. It worried him when his sister's husband was posted to Mike's battalion. "I felt like I should look out for him..." Mike remembers. He also remembers hearing the explosion that killed him. "I felt terrible, but the strange thing is I couldn't cry."
Mike came home and his wife had four children. One son, Michael died as a baby. His two daughters, Maria and Jackie married well. His surviving son Louie incurred his anger when he volunteered to go to Vietnam straight from high school. He wanted his son to go to college, and he tried to dissuade him by telling him about the terrible things he saw when he went to war. But, it was too late. His son went to Vietnam, and returned, suffering the effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant used to clear jungles, which was found to produce a host of serious health issues years after exposure. Mike is no longer angry, only worried for his son.
Mike is now retired from his job, driving a truck for a restaurant supply company. In his early 80s, that war, that time which seems so long ago, so unique in its brutality and evil, still lives in Mike's eyes as he feeds his pidgins on his Saint Marks Place stoop.
James McCowan lives in the neighborhood as well. He was born and grew up in New York City. He lives in the East Village and takes his dog to the Tompkins Square Park dog run. I met him there on Veteran's Day, near to that 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month. He has no fond memories of Vietnam where he fought when he, like Mike Amico, was a young man. He has no stories to share, other than with other vets. He has nothing to say to anyone was has was not there, or has not been to war. He remembers how no one knew what to say, what to do, when he returned.
He is happy that folks seem to be treating the new returning vets better, but he adds, "I feel for the kids today, their sacrifice, and I honor it."
His silence speaks as much as Mike's memories. His is a silent generation of former warriors.

James McCowan

The Risk to Make Art

Well, two dear friends made me REALLY ... oh, not even angry ... just couldn't deal with them the other day (hello if your out there reading this... ). They got me through a very difficult time, which I needed in order to be where I am today, wherever that is?
Well, where am I? I've worked since I was a kid in a family business, while working at things I hoped would be meaningful, from law to music and photography - boat building, oh a few other things. Some work is simply work ... work in the family business. Some work is calling - art. Law can be art, when it is a calling to transcendent meanings - work in civil rights. Photography ... there is work, sitting behind a counter making passport photos - transcendent photography - making much less money to make photos which mean more than the little bit of news you are paid a small amount for reporting.
To make art you have to jump off the roof, stand in the middle of a highway, (for you kids out there who take things literally, no you don't ... this is metaphor). I had lunch with a dear, dear friend yesterday. This friend once inadvertently tossed a hand grenade into my life, for which I am in her debt. It hurt us both rather deeply, but it turned me around to return to photography, an art which once got burned out of my life. It gave me the courage to jump off the roof each time I raise a camera, and try to tell the real story there in the face of people often not happy to see a camera.
In the awful shock of the explosion and pain in the aftermath my greatest fear was that the friendship and love would be blown away. I don't think it was, the intensity was burned up, that was the blast powder in the grenade, but the love and friendship remains. That friend sometimes feels alone at the bottom of a well... Friend, I hope thee knows thee is not, I am one of those who will always go looking for a ladder for thee.
I've said here before, that there is no greater sin in the eyes of others than failure. Yet, to art is a make or break process. If the only sane path is to work at the riskless drone, then we will live in a world without art. There is the usual chicken and egg question, did art happen because the artist was the kicked to the curb outsider, the one who got handed the hand grenade, or was the artist kicked to the curb and handed a grenade because artists must be an outsider ... who knows? Why care?
This has been a month of being kicked in the teeth. One of these days soon, I will explain. At times like this, I need to vent, but I also need friends not to tell me walk away from my art, which though it does not pay well, takes work, as well as blood and pain. So I am not angry at the two of you, I just can't sit around being scolded ... just now. You can do so after the gallery opens... =)
My other friend ... thanks for lunch ... and thanks for the hand grenade, I owe thee a ladder.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Opening postoned - Squater in Gallery


More on this later