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Reading the dictionary. Everyone wants to do this one day, don’t they? Like the Bible, or James Joyce’s Ulysseus, isn’t this task something we all will get around to accomplishing eventually in our lives? It’s been my role in this project to find words that resonate, surprise, and provoke the imagination. From the seemingly obscure and irrelevant to the profound and surprisingly forgotten, I have chosen words that send the imagination spinning. Umbel is probably our most botanical word, one that at first did not jump out at me, as it seemed so plant-specific, removed from any other realm of daily existence. But, simply put, I adored the sound of the word. Umbel. Umbel. Umbel. It just plain feels good on the tongue to say. Newly educated, I began to see umbrella-shaped flora all over town! Upon a bit deeper level of research, I discovered this is also the root word for umbrella? and so a lovely visual poem came to mind. I found a thriving carrot (yes, an umbel) plant one sunny day in the vegetable section of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and then patiently awaited a rainstorm in downtown Brooklyn. The sky and the earth below determined the direction and timing of my production.
What a strange and deeply inspiring summer I am having. I have been living in New York City for just about ten years, and I think it is finally becoming the kind of muse that sends my creative spirit flying. Tonight I drove to Flushing to shoot xenogenesis. Little did I know that a drive to this marvelous Asian community would lead to one of the most unusual epicurean experiences I have ever had — eating authentic Szechuan food. This region of China includes the highly pungent taste of Mala. Eating this invisible, peppery powder in our appetizers was like diving into a pool of ocean water with an electrical socket plugged into the taste buds of your tongue. What a charge!
So back to filmmaking, though in many ways such taste-defined sensations are very tied into the witnessing and thinking that comes with collecting images for our words. It’s all new and all extremely sensory. Tonight I shot in the Sago Bubble Tea Cafe because it seemed like a great place to study the radical shift in life style between generations in the Asian community in this city. Here I was able to see tables of young people gathering to drink a particularly new dessert drink, to eat French fries, to participate in a sense of community that is, to my eye, so different from that of their parents.
Selenography: The study of the surface and physical features of the Moon. Historically, the principal concern of selenographists was the mapping and naming of the lunar maria, craters, mountain ranges, and other various features. This task was largely finished when high resolution images of the near and far sides of the Moon were obtained by orbiting spacecraft during the early space era. Nevertheless, some regions of the Moon remain poorly imaged (especially near the poles) and the exact locations of many features are uncertain by several kilometers. Today, selenograhy is considered to be a subdiscipline of selenology, which itself is most often referred to as just “lunar science.” The word selenography is derived from the Greek lunar deity Selene-ography (to write).
- “Selenography.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 15 Jul 2007, 23:08 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 3 Aug 2007 <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Selenography&oldid=144882577>.
Construction began on Fort Totten in 1862 after the land was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1857 from the Willets family. The fort sits on Willets Point, near Bayside in Queens County, New York. The original purpose was to protect the East River approach to New York Harbor, along with Fort Schuyler, which faces it from Throgs Neck on the opposite side of the river entrance. The fort was named in 1898 after Joseph Gilbert Totten.
In 1954, the fort became a Project Nike air defense site. Although no missiles were located at Fort Totten, it was the regional headquarters for the New York area; administrative offices and personnel housing was located at the fort. Fort Totten was also the headquarters for the 66th Anti-Aircraft Missile Battalion, Battery D, whose missiles where located at nearby Fort Slocum on Hart Island. This use of Fort Totten was discontinued in 1974.
Much of the fort has become a public park and is open to the people of NYC for tours by the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. During the winter months, a large variety of migratory waterfowl can be observed in the surrounding Long Island Sound and Little Neck Bay. Most of the buildings are now run-down and not used. Fort Totten is also a sports complex, as it holds baseball fields and three soccer fields used for youth soccer.
A Walk Back in Time
Date: Saturday, Aug 04, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Come tour the catacombs of Fort Totten, built during the War of 1812 to protect New York’s Harbor
Location: Fort Totten Ranger Station, Fort Totten Park
- “Fort Totten, New York.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 17 Mar 2007, 19:33 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 Jul 2007.
Fort Schuyler is a preserved 19th century fortification in the New York City borough of The Bronx, that houses a museum, and the Marine Transportation Department and Administrative offices of the State University of New York Maritime College. It is considered one of the finest examples of French-style fortifications. The fort was named in honor of Major General Philip Schuyler of the Continental Army. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fort Schuyler was one of many forts built along the east coast of the United States in the aftermath of the War of 1812 when it became brutally apparent that the US coast was poorly defended against foreign invasion. Fort Schuyler was dedicated in 1856 after only 75% completion, and was strategically positioned to protect New York City from naval attack through Long Island Sound; guarding the eastern entrance to New York Harbor. It is located at Throgs Neck in the southwest portion of the Bronx at a point where the East River meets Long Island Sound. Fort Totten faces it on the other side of the river. Their naval batteries created a bottle-neck of defenses against ships attempting to approach New York City. Fort Schuyler, at its peak, boasted 440 guns. Later, it would be fitted with various other pieces throughout the ever-modernization of coastal defense artillery, once including 10″ and 12″ naval guns on disappearing carriages installed on the roof and on the peninsula around the fort. Coastal artillery emplacements at the fort lasted until 1935.
- “Fort Schuyler, Bronx.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 4 Jul 2007, 21:18 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 Jul 2007.
- Image courtesy of The State University of New York Maritime College, Stephen B. Luce Library. http://www.sunymaritime.edu.
From the first moment that I heard about the imminent closing of Brooklyn’s Coney Island, I knew that this dinosaur of amusement parks would have to become a part of our artistic exploration of New York City. With my husband, filmmaker Mark Street, I take my two daughters for an evening of old-fashioned spinning, twisting and topsy-turvy merry-making Coney Island style. With the notion of capturing a foudroyant sensation with my camera, I point my lens at the explosive visual activity happening around me. I think about the desire we all have to share in this other-worldly, anti-gravity sense of being absolutely out of control.
At the confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers, in New York Harbor, sits Governors Island. A mystery to most New Yorkers, the Island served as the longest continuously active military post in the United States, from 1794 until 1997.
- Governor’s Island by Christina Wilkinson. http://www.forgotten-ny.com.
- w:Governors Island U.S. General Services Administration map; indicates U.S. Coast Guard usage, 1995.
Today I visited Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, NY. This sprawling public park was once the site of the 1939 and 1964-65 World’s Fair.
View full album of photos here: http://picasaweb.google.com/abecedariumnyc/Vaticinate
See the map of this post from Flushing Meadows.
Here is an example of Jerry-build in Long Island City. I have watched the progression of this building from the platform of Queensboro Plaza station when waiting for the 7 train.
I’ve lived in South Park Slope for five years now. Over the time I’ve been here, the neighborhood has changed drastically. When I arrived, there were only dollar stores, local laundry spots, and little salvadorian and mexican restaurants. The markets held tons of specialty goods for the many latino families who lived in the area.
But now – everything is changing. Two coffee shops, a bagel place, a wine bar and an organic health food store have moved in within the past year – and now that Bloomberg has helped his developer friends to rezone this area of Brooklyn, what used to be a low-rise little town, has become the final frontier for 6 story and higher apartment buildings.
The structures go up in record time with shoddy materials. Most contractors pay undocumented workers 10 bucks an hour for hard labor – some of the men go without hard hats.
One of my friends bought an apartment in one of the newly constructed buildings. Within a year, she ripped out her cheaply made bathroom, and had the whole thing redone (to her standards.)
Besides pushing rent rates up, the haphazard construction of 20 unit buildings clogs up the area with more traffic. It also pushes out lower-income families who have called this area home for over 20 years. I look forward to the day when there are no more lots left, and the noise of drills and hammers moves further down 4th avenue which I know it inevitably will…
More info on this topic here: