August 25, 2008

Theory on "People Watching" in NYC

I'd say the standard people-watching-for-fun scenario involves a breezy sidewalk-facing seat in a small cafe on a busy street. Life happens all around you yet you are invisible, a flaneur sipping coffee with wide eyes, listening to snippets of cell phone conversations, watching the latest fashion do's and don'ts, wondering what country everyone is from.

So what's my theory?

People watching in Manhattan is impossible unless you are surrounded by tourists.

The critical component of people watching that is missing in the city is the veil of invisibility; being able to watch without being watched. Every New Yorker loves people watching, and we do it all the time because there are just so many freaking people everywhere. And its become such a natural part of city life that we can't turn it off! We can't stop staring at people.

So while I'm at a restaurant watching people pass by, they are also watching me as they pass by! I can't count the number of times I've made accidental eye contact with people on the street while I thought I was in a state of quasi-invisibility. It's one thing to admire someone's shoes while you're slurping pasta, but it's another thing entirely to have a girl with cute shoes watch you eat. It sucks.

I do it too...When I walk up 2nd Ave in my neighborhood, I always look at the people sitting outside, eating their dinner. Are they on a date? Does the food look good? Why would you bring your dog to a restaurant? All these questions go through my mind as I unabashedly check everyone out.

I do feel guilty when they look back at me, because I've invaded their space. The only reason outdoor dining exists in this city (this world?) is to watch people walk by, and it sucks to have those people watching you.

It's like going to the theater to watch a regular play, only to be surprised by uncomfortable audience participation.

Thank God for places like The Met and Union Square: Meccas of people watching as we know and love it!

Tourists are so busy being wrapped up with the sensory explosion that is EVERYTHING about the city--cars, buildings, art, garbage, lights, smells, the fast pace--that their eyes are anywhere but looking directly into yours. Anonymity at last.

Enjoy this photo from a recent people watching extravaganza at the Met's rooftop bar/exhibition space:

My friend Margaret and I hid from the oppressive sun and heat by sitting on the ground, leaning up against the railing. We were in the shadows and had the perfect vantage point for watching everyone else milling about, posing for pictures, looking at the view, etc. Needless to say, the evil (and pear martini) in me decided to take some paparazzi-esque photos of some of the better specimens.

I also looked at the art. But the people were much more thought-provoking.

August 24, 2008

The Latest in Cemetery Fashion

Today was Rob's grandma Celia's unveiling at a cemetery on Long Island. It was a very somber family gathering and a very moving short ceremony. I only saw one other family at the cemetery and it's because of them that the day had a glimmer of humor.

The family--the parents, grandparents, and toddlers--were all wearing matching t-shirts.

Get this:

The front of the shirts said "Cemetery Tour" in a bright orange/yellow star burst, and the back of the shirts said:

4 Cars
3 Cemeteries
2 Boroughs
1 Potty Break

Love the concept of the dead ancestor pilgrimage. Don't understand the t-shirts!

August 19, 2008

Tasti D-Lite is D-Funny

What's wrong with this picture? (Taken at the UES location on 86th Street)

August 4, 2008

Close your eyes and imagine...

I'm not the sharpest tool in the technology toolbox. I'm the opposite of an early adopter.

As I struggled to take a cell phone pic of a fashion victim on the subway today, it dawned on me that no one would ever see the photo except for me. Never have I ever engaged in any sort of "mobile upload". Its fine that I sometimes do things just for me, but then I get a fleeting philosophical wonderment that if no one knows about something except me, did it really happen?
My cell phone photos = a tree falling in the forest with no one there to hear it. Until now.

My solution is not to start mobile-ly uploading photos. Maybe next year. For now I will give you all an exercise in visualization with some of my favorite random camera pics from the last year, starting from today and working back in time. Read and imagine:

  • Man on subway who would pass for normal if he didn't wear his pants pulled up so high they were barely below the fold of his man boob, making the cuff of his pants sit well above shoe-level. And he was drinking directly from a 2 liter Pepsi bottle with no sign of its cap.
  • Picture from the most recent college student convention (or dork festival) I attended showing as many costumed specimens as possible parading around the exhibit floor. Imagine lots of Mardi Gras-themed regalia--gold sequins, masks, jester hats, leis, etc.
  • A picture of an ad for that I saw while browsing the magazine racks at Barnes and Noble. I didn't feel like buying the magazine, but wanted to remember to buy tickets to one of their upcoming variety shows. Can't resist a sexy show.
  • Blurred image that didn't come out at all, but it was valiant attempt at a paparazzi-style photo of 6 teenage girls geared up for a Friday night on the Lower East Side all wearing the EXACT SAME OUTFIT. Black ankle-length leggings plus jewel-toned tunics/blousons.
  • Drunk boy on the subway laying across a few seats, falling in and out of sleep holding a mini-bouquet of yellow roses, sniffing them the entire time.
  • Drunk man on subway at rush hour drinking directly from a Jack Daniels bottle and spewing crazy talk about how men should never pay a woman's rent, and how he didn't hate the wearing the Red Sox hat.
  • Assorted photos from my night at a gala in the Waldorf=Astoria for a minority/finance/MBA association, including a dance troupe performance to a Latin/Caribbean big band, involving such costumes as a matador, a navy boy, and an interpretation of the Sex and the City characters.
  • Photo of an activist truck advertisement with a picture of the Pope and Dali Lama, and the message "Guess who's eating veal?" I haven't checked out, the truck's sponsor, but I'm guessing those two are eating veal...

And last but certainly tops....

  • A picture from a recent couture exhibit at the Met (titled blog.mode: addressing fashion): an ornate necklace, who's main decorative feature is 5 vials filled with SEMEN linked together. Tough to visualize, eh...check it out here:
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