NYC

Seeing Stars

thierry choen's darkened cities

I never saw stars until I was 20 years old. As a kid in Queens, I sometimes glimpsed the occasional one or two, but never a sky filled with them. It wasn’t until I was camping in the Australian Outback, during a college semester abroad, when I saw a night sky completely lit up with countless stars. The sight both wowed and shocked me—until that night, it had never dawned on me that I’d never anything like it before.

That’s why I’m loving Thierry Cohen’sВ “Darkened Cities.”В The French photographerВ juxtaposes photos of, well, darkened cities, with the night skies of less populated areas along the same latitude. So this is NYC with stars from the Nevada desert. If we didn’t have so many bright lights, that’s what we might see, every evening. (NYTimes.com has a gorgeous gallery featuring several other cities from the project, including Paris, Rio and Hong Kong.)

And speaking of stars, check out this brilliantВ StoryCorps video—it’s sad, sweet, funny and inspiring!

Have a wonderful weekend!

(Image by Thierry Cohen via Socks Studio)

Berlin or NYC?

As an NYC native, I’m loathe to say anything negative about another neighborhood. But I have to admit that I’ve always found Roosevelt Island to be an odd place.

For those who’ve never been there, it’s a skinny little island between Manhattan and Queens, accessible by subway, bridge or, most notably, tram. Roosevelt Island is technically part of Manhattan (New York County, that is), but, in my opinion, doesn’t feel like it—maybe because you can see the actual island of Manhattan from most points on the island. AndВ the buildings are shorter and generic-looking. And there’s no hustle and bustle of people. Roosevelt Island doesn’t feel like Queens, either.

To be completely honest, the place weirds me out, a little. Each time I visited, I was very aware that I was extremely close to Manhattan and Queens—two places very familiar to me—but felt worlds away, as if I were marooned on a strange, in-between land.В I can’t even think of a place I can liken it to.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks Roosevelt Island has a foreign vibe.В Residents, themselves, have compared its Main Street to East Berlin. And last week, CBS’ Person of InterestВ actually transformed it into Berlin, for a shoot, with surprisingly few props.

Roosevelt Islander has these amusing photos:

berlin bus

berlin/roosevelt island

berlin kiosk

berlin motorgate

berlin motorgate2

My favorite quote from the post?

Pop Culture BrainВ adds:

I used to live on Roosevelt Island so I just wanted to chime in here and say 1) it’s sad how easily they were able to make it look like East Berlin but 2) it’s even more sad that it looks better as East Berlin.

What do you think of the transformation?

(All photos via Roosevelt Islander)

One Day of NYC’s MTA Traffic, Animated

This video made my day.

Sumus Technology, a Canadian software company, used MTA data to animate 24 hours of public transportation in NYC. The visual is totally cool; I love how you can see the city awaken as the various lines—which include the subway, buses, LIRR, Metro-North and NY Waterway in their corresponding colors—light up until you can basically see a map of their routes. (I was even able to pick out the LIRR line that runs out to Bayside, where I grew up!)

But really, the music makes the video! The old-school, honky-tonk rendition of “New York, New York,” alone, is enough to make me smile.

(And if you love this, check out “Flight Patterns,” another awesome animation of—you guessed it—airplane traffic over the U.S.)

(found via the Atlantic)

Dancers Among Us

Yesterday, I stumbled across a post on Joycreation that made my day. It featured Dancers Among Us, a photography project and book by NYC photog Jordan Matter. He shoots dancers in street clothes in various locations around the country—but in every shot, they’re captured in the middle of a move, a jolting contrast to everything/everyone around them. Many dancers are soaring mid-air in Russian pas de chats, attitudes and jetes; you can’t help but feel a little exuberance and joy while looking at them!

I got sucked into looking at all the photos on the Dancers Among Us site, but was particularly impressed with the range of locations for the NYC shots. Some of my favorites:

luke mccollum, dancers among us

ft. tryon park, adrienne hayes

broadway

stone street

central park

lincoln center

(All photos via Dancers Among Us; found via Joycreation)

Shadow Monsters

shadow monsters

I hadn’t been to MOMAВ in years, but on Saturday, I spent an afternoon making up for lost time. While exploring the museum from top to bottom, I came across lots of cool or iconic works—including an original version of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. But one that I found especially awesome was an interactive installation in the second floor atrium.

The concept behind Philip Worthington’s “Shadow Monsters” is delightfully simple: Bring shadow puppets to life. Museum-goers stand in front of a light box that projects their shadows onto two walls. While they move around, crazy hair-dos appear on their heads, hands become roaring dinosaurs and birds chirp and land on outstretched arms. You can’t help but grin when you see your shadow take on a life of its own!

shadow monsters

shadow monsters

The photos definitely don’t do it justice, but if you happen to be at the museum in the next few weeks, check it out. The installation runs through December 31.

(Top image via MOMA)

Meeting Jay-Z on the Subway

Are you famous?

A few weeks ago, Jay-Z rode the R train from Canal Street to his final show at the Barclays Center. I, of course, wasn’t lucky enough to be in the car, then. (In nearly 30 years of living in NYC, my celeb run-ins have been very few and far between.) But Ellen Grossman, a 67-year-old artist, was—and Jay-Z happened to sit right next to her. Their brief conversation was captured in Jay-Z’s 24-minute online doc, “Where I’m From.” I couldn’t help but smile when I watched the clip! (Skip to 19:20.)

(Top image via NY Mag)

A Gorgeous NYC Calendar (That Benefits Sandy Relief)

A NEW YORK CALENDAR TO RAISE FUNDS FOR SANDY RELIEF

It’s no secret how much I love my hometown. So I was thrilled when I came across this gorgeous 2013 calendar of NYC images, by Jenna Park, a Brooklyn-based designer. The photos are just breathtaking. I love their dreamy feel and how they represent a variety of local places.

In a very nice gesture, 30% of proceeds of calendars purchased this month will go to NYC organizations that are aiding Hurricane Sandy victims. Now that’s definitely a reason to feel good about buying one now—especially since parts of the city are still struggling with the aftermath.

And while I’m on the topic of Sandy: Tragically, a friend of our family was one of the hurricane’s victims. Jeffrey Chanin was a retired NYPD sergeant who was killed when a tree fell through his house the night of the storm. He leaves behind a wife and four children. If you’re interested in making a donation to the family, it can be sent to The Chanin Family Fund, P.O. Box 739, PearlВ River, NY 10965.

(Image via Sweet Find Day, found via A Cup of Jo)