Bringing It All Back Home

Here are a bunch of half-assed pictures I took during two weeks of writing my brains out with Alice and traveling around New York and New Jersey. My photographic approach was to (1) aim the camera at a friend/landmark/tree, (2) ignore the little screen on the back of my outmoded point-and-shoot, and (3) hope for the best. As you'll see, this non-technique sometimes resulted in the serendipitous capturing of stuff. Otherwise, it resulted a badly framed photo of someone I love with their eyes half-closed. Or else I was so engrossed in reconnecting with a dear friend (Pamela, John) that I didn't remember to take any photos at all, which fucking sucks, but what can you do.

Example number one: A lucky triple capture of Alice and myself, in the mirror, and Sarah B. shielding her eyes from yet another of my over-eager expressions.

Here is the view my knees had from a noodle place on Mott Street. I have this thing when I travel where I can't eat very much? It's a combination of nerves and an irrational fear of experiencing a food-borne illness in a city thousands of miles from a familiar bucket to barf in. My dining companions are normally spared any explanation as to why I've only eaten a quarter of my meal, because I don't want anyone to think it would be helpful to start pointing out the location of the nearest hospital (why get me going?). When pressed, however, I finally admitted the whole thing to Philip; he then proceeded to help himself to whatever was left on my plate and didn't tease me nearly as much as I deserved.

After "lunch," Alice and I were walking down Mott when we were accosted by this guy . . .

. . . and his partner in crime, a nice girl named Faron, who wanted to see what I had in my bag and film the whole thing for You can watch the edited interview, including Alice in the background clearly wishing I would shut the hell up, here. Unfortunately, the big revelation upon seeing myself on video is that I really, really, really, really, really need to buy a better bra (thanks, breastfeeding!).

We then went up to Grand Central to pick up Alice's son, Henry, who'd spent his spring break week at his grandmother's house in Connecticut so that we'd be free to write like the brilliant geniuses we have convinced ourselves that we are. As a welcome home treat, Alice took him on his first-ever trip to FAO Schwarz.

"It's just like Big!" I wanted to shout at the dancing children, but I kept my mouth shut. My sentimental attachment to the work of Penny Marshall is nobody's business but my own.

You know this guy has worked in dollhouse furnishings for like thirty-seven years. You need a little set of Queen Anne chairs upholstered to match mommy's living room drapes? Maurice will make it happen. (I imagine his name is Maurice, but it could easily be Hans, or Lefty.)

Henry wanted to go straight to the Lego section, which is guarded by a seven-foot Chewbacca accessorized with a fucking crossbow. This, according to most kindergarteners of my acquaintance, is not a "girl toy."

Every Lego store I've ever been in has these giant Lego contructions of popular movie figures. The point of Batman here, I assume, is to inspire children to beg the nearest adult to buy them 18,000 black and grey Lego blocks.

This was a Sports Center-like set-up in the corner, overlooking Madison Avenue. I chose to post the version of this picture where the kid is not digging into his butt crack, I don't know why.

Then Alice took Henry back to New Jersey to enjoy a me-free weekend, while I stayed in the city and met Laid-off Dad for breakfast the next morning. "Let's take a walk!" he suggested after watching me ignore three-quarters of an omelet and a cup of Lipton tea. I took a few truly shitty pictures of MacDougal Street; the only thing that saves this shot is our happy expressions and the fact that his t-shirt is almost in focus.

I then scampered uptown and dragged the aforementioned Philip out of his apartment and made him take me to Coney Island.

You could hear the anguished screams for miles.

Since I'd only eaten about four ounces of (miraculously non-poisonous!) food in the previous week, I was starting to feel a little faint. Fortunately, we were only steps away from The Source.

Philip, gentleman that he is, propped me up with his head as we waited (and waited, and waited) to order.

Not pictured: the most easily-distracted counter girl in existence. I think sometimes the forces of the universe conspire to bring everyone who needs to be punished for something into the slowest line at the grocery store/movies/airport, just to give us a chance to think about our sins.

Later, walking down Fifth Avenue, or perhaps we had entered one of the nine circles of Hell? I know what I'm supposed to say, as a Californian: "Same thing."

E-coli on wheels.

Back in New Jersey, Charlie is reluctant to let me steal his soul with my picture-making device. Also, much like Mel Gibson, Charlie is smaller in real life!

Henry took this one of me and Alice on our last day, they took me to dinner at an adorable little place called Raymond's. (ATTENTION, WEIRDOS: this restaurant is not near Alice's house.) If memory serves, I actually ate two-thirds of my delicious dinner, although the next morning, as I rode through the Queens Midtown Tunnel imagining a scenario wherein vans packed with explosives were parked at each entrance and were waiting for the exact moment I was trapped in the deadly center of the tunnel to explode, I did feel my Raymond's dinner put itself briefly into reverse.

Once again, art's demands exceeded my camera's capability to keep a human face in focus. My turtlenck, however, is pin-sharp. Photo by Henry, who, at four-and-a-half, has the shutter-pressing gusto of a young Garry Winogrand.