30th Nov2011

New York in an Almost Year

by Dorothy

Random quick bits about thoughts and The City from Q1-3:

I guess there is a certain vibe, a certain stigma about New York City. It’s a city on overdrive and it will and can fry your senses if you’re not careful. Mentally, physically, literally, metaphorically.

The city is a curious mix of architecture marvels with history and people. From the eco friendly Hearst Tower, the dimly lit chanderliered entrance of the Royal Palace Hotel, eclectic little shops in Soho and the Lower East Side to the rather sterile concrete buildings of Wall street. The Brooklyn Flea houses a collection of quirky little trinkets and items, and itself is housed in a stately building that was converted from a bank; a stark dichotomy.

Graffiti here is spontaneous and in the oddest of places, narrow subway underground tunnels the top of buildings, each a defiant testament to the people who claimed the space as their own. Not in a tightly controlled environment where a canvas is laid out in front of a curious audience. Like at the Night-festival in Singapore, anyone? Cough. I think that defeats the purpose of it. Don’t think the organizers understood the essence behind graffiti. The only people who should see graffiti being created should be the artists and their friends. Watching it appear in front of you, in a space dictated with crowds of curious spectators watching, with no element of risk, danger or mystery as expected just takes away the soul and experience of it.

I could do a photo series entitled subway trash of still lives – even the trash here somehow manages to look like a still-frame out of a movie.

Ben Stiller walked past us one weekend morning, apparently.

The size of rats vary with the parts of the city – the big black mean ones reside in Manhattan; small furry ones are found on the outskirts. The friendly mouse looking ones live in the Jersey PATH trains. 🙂

If you are anticipating a long subway commute, you probably want to switch your iPhone off while underground if you don’t want to find your batttery at 60 % even before the day has started. Why there has been no serious motion to actually get reception that works well underground or even in various buildings is beyond me. It is kind of like the weekend commute, when basically, the best thing is to expect nothing out of the subway reliability.

Sirens are your lullabies. You grow accustomed to it. The police and fire engines are just, everywhere.

Phones are socially taboo (at least it seems so at most eating spots) or maybe it’s a function of the crazy bad reception. People are engaged with each other here, and with time being such a precious commodity, one notices that cellphones are hardly the focus and the ones whom you meet grant you their attention, for choosing to spend the time.

Colours do not exist in the NYC fashion palette in winter. Everyone wears black black and more black even though the racks have a staple of black, white, red and the occasional electric blue. Who dictated that fashion has to mirror the season? Even within the line at JFK, I was standing out in a bright and (too) happy red.

Unaccustomed to the landscape so distinctly mirroring the seasons, visual cues start to hint to me the arrival of spring. Lighter coats, rain boots, slight colours, (short) skirts. People complain about the heat but hardly ever about the skirts. Do they not see the necessity of the former for the latter to materialize? Thank goodness for the cheeriness of Summer.

The city is edgy, fast paced, if that is your type of fun. Small enclaves of communities exist and in time, I intend to explore these when I’ve gotten my wings fixed. Sometimes the cashier mistakes me for Korean and rattles musically about the items I’m ringing up until I give a polite “I don’t understand you” in English. At other times Korean guys remark really loudly “a Chinese” as I’m trying to get up the steps to dinner in Ktown. I am unsure of the correct response to this so I do nothing save roll my eyes. Ethnicity seems to be a topic of conversation with random people taking bets as to whether you are Korean or Chinese in the most random of places.

Definitely pay more attention to your Chinese lessons if you are still in school, especially if you want to order take out from Ctown. Actually, make that if you want to order food in general. D:

Outside of the tourist belt, there are hardly any children, teenagers or too many old folk. Everyone seems to float around the college age to the young working professionals. And then there are the others, who seem to have decided that being perpetually in Peter Pan mode is their thing. Over 45 and still living like recklessly 25 is just a little creepy. Just sayin’.

There is also the distinction between “the tourists” and “New Yorkers”. Tourists are roadblocks, the grown up children who still find delight in every cranny of the New York environment. New Yorkers are past that – police road blocks and a barrage of media vans and satellite for Osama’s capture or “that IMF guy” being held in an undisclosed location in lower Manhattan? Just part of everyday life, now will you please, not hog the sidewalk so I can get to my cup of coffee/work/you get the idea? Your local news is global here. Something is always happening; somewhere.

I love how people actually care about stuff here.
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Photobucket Chivary is alive and well in the city because here is nothing more odd in their senses for a girl to be carrying a shelf on the streets.  People have also been awfully kind to help me move my furniture that I got from them, so maybe I have just been lucky so far. You can get quite a lot out of a conversation in the 30 minutes while moving your desk. So awfully DIY, but just one of those things you do before you succumb to the instant gratification that is Amazon. On an aside, if one ever contemplated never ever having to leave your house, Amazon could fulfill all your hermit aspirations.

Door holding is nice and I hardly get any slammed in my face if I am within close proximity. Anyone who has tried to get into a lift in SG with plently of space, only to have the door closed on you because everyone was too apathetic to press the Open Button will understand this. It’s the little things that count.

What’s better than holding the subway door seconds just before it closes, is having two young teenage guys hold it open for you, upon seeing your approach and not even missing a beat in their conversation rhythm. Equally heartening is having a random stranger call out to you when you are at the far end of a corridor which only leads to an elevator, just so they can wait for you to enter.

Well, obviously there are rude people as well, but perhaps the word is not so much of rude than brash.
Weather is a huge factor here because it dictates your life. It’s the first time weather reports are actually accurate or important. The coats change with the seasons, and rain coming horizontally at you renders normal umbrellas useless. Let’s not even talk about the winds.

Things will go on even if it rains. At the Rooftop films, the organizers quipped that “We’re tough , we’re New Yorkers”, and the show went on. Seats were kept and folded after the show by each member of the audience, ” just so a lot of us can get out there faster”.

PhotobucketThe weather is unapologetically capricious and erratic – winter seemed never ending with the fresh white snow quickly morphing into black piles of slush. There was a brief dalliance with spring and upturned umbrellas. People marginally freaked out over the earthquake aftershocks. Hurricane Irene brought the City to a standstill whilst everyone went stir crazy being confined indoors. Coming from a country with NO natural disasters, you realize you have no clue what to actually do, but you get by. It snowed in Autumn and this surprised the trees in Central Park and many of them broke under the weight.

 

 

It seems counter intuitive to find contentment in a restless city, but that’s what New York can offer you, amongst a whole lot of other things. Transience is the only staple. The city has a routine of constant change, and possibilities in anything you believe in, if, of course, you search it out. Or maybe it might find you instead.

 

The City will speak to you, if you listen to it. The same City, but somehow in a different language for everyone.

 

^ And more photos, only because they remind…

20th Aug2010

Hello from New York!

by Dorothy

It’s been a couple of days in New York. Great ideas, great conversations being circulated so I’ll probably put all of the thoughts down when I’m back in Singapore.

Given that the heatwave of Summer is probably over, the weather has been incredibly agreeable with me, save for the sauna that is the Subway. I am loving the Summer outfits and feel of the city; quite a stark contrast to the all black or mostly bundled up crowd and rainy, wet streets from the past few visits in Winter and Spring.

Times Square continues to be a full blown assault on the senses. There is really no other way to try and describe this sensory overload – sights, smells, the weekend rush, the PRE-weekend rush, or should I say, perpetual rush…and the very suspect smoke steaming from the underground.

 

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There is the juxtaposition of big branded billboards, and odd billboard like the below…which someone definitely needs to explain to me.

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DO I GET RESULTS? DO I HAVE A BILLBOARD IN TIMES SQUARE?

 

There’s people everywhere right up till late night, dining al fresco, even the solitary old man on the corner table with a chess set all laid out, waiting for an opponent to sit down to game with him. Times Square is swarming with tourists like ants and there are a couple of new interactive billboards from AE and F21.

 

Social Media

….is more prevalent in New York than it is in Singapore, even compared to a mere 2 years ago, there are perceptible differences.

Very cool – AE plants your mug shot on their space when you make a purchase, and F21 simulates a leggy model taking a picture of the street below, which is, in fact an actual real-time shot of the current crowd. This then animates into a Polaroid snapshot, real-time used in a great way there. There are also the love tweets on F21 related content.

 

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I missed my 24/7 internet so, and only periodically had access to things like Foursquare specials from American Eagle at Jersey Gardens. (Public Wifi, FTW!)

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New York is inspiring, even in the strangest of places. It can be overwhelming at first, downright antagonistic in the winter, but every time that I’ve been back it just gets better and better. For some strange reasons.

 

I still believe that where you are defines who you are to some extent, but it has been a while since I’ve let a place change me. I hear constant calls, still.

But the funny thing is this is also the first time I am here; there; but also home.

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05th Sep2009

Behind the Great Firewall of China…

by Dorothy

I’ve spent the last week or so being intermittently barred from all of my usual haunts online, but it has been interesting so far.

The plane ride to China was within a bearable threshold, unlike the grueling 24 hour journeys to the USA.  I am entertained by the H1N1 cartoon they’ve created, the animated characters looking like a Chinese New Year food product advertisement rather than a warning about the disease that has affected people worldwide.

I survive the taxi journey from the airport during which the driver weaves in and out of trucks the size of Optimus Prime. Privately, I suspect he fancies himself as auditioning for 2 Fast 2 Furious, because he drives like (well, a taxi driver…) he is behind the wheel of a Forumula 1 Vehicle.

IMAG0067The next morning, I am having breakfast in the hotel, and something is having my foot for breakfast. I later spot the culprit – a lone Hangzhou mosquito hovering around and having eaten it’s fill, finds its business elsewhere. My foot bears the only trace of its presence. The breakfast area plays Christmas saxophone songs and I think of snow. End of the week, I realize that that same CD basically plays everyday, at any of the eating haunts, and repeatedly from morning to night.

Despite the revolving doors at the entrance which usually hint to me of freezing cold weather, it has been pretty much “like Singapore” and not “hotter than Singapore” as I had been forewarned. Maybe I have some sort of luck with the weather right now, because it has apparently been raining in Singapore since I left. Perhaps then, my perception of this place is somewhat different from the rest, because talking to the locals gets me the information that this is an uncharacteristically cool bout of Summer weather we are experiencing.

The office here is seriously swanky, with a pantry area that looks like a cafe, LCD screens mounted on the ceiling and kick ass conferencing equipment. I love the happy colours, and the chinese logo is a nice touch on the introductory wall that greets everyone who steps in.

Till then, Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Youtube, Blogger are amongst the sites that I’ve been unable to access in certain places….

unfamiliar

Facebook reassures me that they “take my privacy seriously” with their investigation that I really am who I am, since I’ve not  logged in from this location before. I wonder if this happens only in China, because I didn’t get the same screen in the USA.

More on the great firewall of China (and Iran for that matter) here and some other interesting insights on the other parts of China.

Because, I can imagine from the sheer size of this country, there are many Chinas within the whole, and what I’m seeing is barely scratching the surface of what it is like in all the other cities and provinces.

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02nd May2009

A Disconnected Blogger : Sydney : #1 “Some Things Can’t Be Shared On A Blog”

by Dorothy

A Pictorial Overview…

So, things have been a little silent in this space for a while, because I just had an awesome trip to Sydney. And the first thing that accosts me while we head out from the Sydney Airport is billboards, billboards and more billboards. Never really noticed, but when coming home, we don’t really see many billboards in the airport, and that really is rather refreshing on the eyes. I successfully tune most of them out, but one that I really liked was this particular one from Heineken. Excuse the grainy photo – we were moving and high shutter speeds can only do so much.

some things can't be shared on a blog by you.

I know the title of this post sounds rather like an oxymoron – disconnected blogger, but it was a good breather to just disconnect from the Interwebs for a couple of days (although it was also largely through a certain inability to find/stay within the wireless hotspots) and just experience the world. But truly, some things are just difficult to share over a blog (yet another little contradiction as I try to do just that), but I could try to stop marveling over how beautiful Bondi Beach was…



(the two gendered pairs made for an interesting shot)

the eclectic crafts at Paddington that I totally fell in love with,

how quaint the town surrounding Blue Mountains was, how we scared ourselves silly on a railway touted to be at a 52 degrees incline but really, felt like 90…



…or the plush seagulls that stalked and crept up on us while Fish and chips were savoured by the harbour while we ran our toes through the velvet sands of Bondi. It is not funny when you watch them do a 360 degree formation circle around you and start closing in, and I constantly thought of Hitchcock’s The Birds.








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And a little drawing for my illustration site in the sands of Bondi. I think I redrew it 4 times, thanks to wave interference, each going higher than the next. So truly, this is a time based illustration.

Hello Bondi

I will end of this first post with the mandatory travel jumping shot. I think I’m getting better at them, but don’t ask me what my feet are doing. I usually let the music and moment take over. T’was only a first try, good enough but I now wish I tried more variations.

So here I am, defying gravity somewhat. Photo courtesy of S!

More thoughts; less pictures in the next post!

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02nd Feb2009

World Wide Rave: Singapore!

by Dorothy

World Wide Rave: Esplanade Singapore

Here is my interpretation and addition to the World Wide Rave for David Meerman Scott‘s book!

It is like a Where the hell is Matt?, just involving a whole lot more different people (and less potentially embarrassing for those with two left feet). Very sticky idea, very cool.

Welcome to Singapore, folks worldwide!

From the left, the Singapore Flyer, the red mass that is the River Hong Bao 2009, the construction is the imminent Integrated Resort (Marina Bay) , the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore, and all ravers are standing on the pavement of the Esplanade.

Wee bit of a cloudy day, but the hazy background probably brings out the vibrancy of the poster better, so it’s all good! By sheer coincidence almost everyone holding the poster is wearing colours that match the poster. The idea was to get a whole different bunch of folks from different cultural backgrounds and have them in a single shot..we are a multicultural city, after all!

Thanks to ZW for helping out with the photos! A shout out also to our prof, Micheal Netzley, who heads the Digital Media Across Asia class at the Singapore Management University and finding this cool project for us to work on.

P.S. This is the LAST time in a long time I will attempt to manually stitch a panorama together. I went there without a clue as to how it would happen, armed only with an idea. Okay, actually I had many ideas, but this was the one that won out! 🙂

…Rave on!

Other places where conversations on this are happening:

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