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Entries in New York (25)


Littourati News: Help Victims of Hurricane Sandy

As we do our virtual tour through New York, New Jersey and Delaware with William Least Heat-Moon's Blue Highways, I want to urge you to remember the people in those states who are being victimized by Hurricane Sandy even as I write this post.  This "superstorm" is causing, in the words of some, incalcuable damage up and down the Northeastern coast.

If you wish to help those in need, please consider making a donation.  The Red Cross is taking donations.  This is from their website:

"Donations help the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to someone’s local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013."

You can also help by donating blood to the Red Cross for relief services.

Thank you for reading Littourati, and for helping those in need!

Michael Hess


Blue Highways: Staten Island, New York

Unfolding the Map

I've never been to Staten Island except for a quick stop at the ferry slip after a ride across the water from Manhattan.  In this post, I make a quick stop to reflect while William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) gets lost a little in the Staten Island neighborhoods.   I devote this post to a friend who lived for a time in Staten Island, had a tragedy there, and who has overcome that and other obstacles on her way to happiness and achievement.  If life is a journey, hers is now traversing some good roads.  To see where Staten Island is located, ferry yourself to the map.

Book Quote

"The lanes descended and shot me across Staten Island; just before it was too late, I pulled out of the oppression of traffic and drove down Richmond Avenue to find the bridge across the Arthur Kill into Perth Amboy, the city (if you follow your nose) that gets to you before you get to it.  I don't know how I lost my way on a thoroughfare as big as Richmond, but I did.  I could smell Perth Amboy, but I coudn't find it.  Instead, I found Great Kills, Eltingville, Huguenot Park, Princess Bay, and Tottenville."

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 7


One of the most well-known symbols of Staten Island, and of New York, the Staten Island Ferry. Photo by Norbert Nagel and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host site.

Staten Island, New York

I have a friend who once lived on Staten Island.

She's a petite, just-about-to-turn-30-if-she-already-hasn't, somewhat quirky, redhead who has a ready laugh and an endearing mixture of little girl and adult thrown together.

She and I weren't always very close.  We met each other when I was in graduate school, studying for my PhD in New Orleans, and she was assigned to share an office with me.  To say that our relationship was strained was putting it mildly.  I was in my late 30s at the time, she was in her early 20s, and it was like we were from two different worlds.  While we had moments of very good sharing and a realization that we were probably more alike than not, we also had moments of anger, frustration and misunderstanding that occasionally made for a tense office situation.  She was working out her early 20s anger, finding her way and her voice and I, well, I was working out my late 30s anger and trying to find my way and my voice.

I think that it was after she left that we both realized that we really, truly liked and respected each other.  She stayed long enough to get her Masters, inquired into and was recruited by a federal agency, and went to work for the national government helping to protect our country and our leaders from security threats.  I couldn't believe that this little waif of a woman would do this type of work, but my impression was that she loved the job.  Perhaps the agency she worked for was not the greatest - after all, it's hard for any woman to make it in what has traditionally been a redoubt for men.  But she made it through her boot camp and was given important assignments.  When she eventually left they worked very hard to persuade her to stay.

She was stationed for a while in the New York City area, and lived in Staten Island.  She found a boyfriend, a quiet state police cop.  She liked where she lived, which if I remember was a little apartment owned by a retired cop who looked after her like a father might his daughter or grandaughter.  Life seemed to be going well.  She and her boyfriend came out and visited us on their way through New Mexico to visit her parents in Colorado.

The boyfriend became a fiance, but there were signs of trouble.  He was moody, and had been dealing with depression through medication for years.  By then she had left her job.  I hadn't heard from her in a while and then one day she called me up.  She was going to be passing through New Mexico to Colorado again and wanted to visit me.  I asked about her fiance.  She was unusually quiet, told me that he had committed suicide, and that she would tell me more when she saw me.

When she arrived, she looked terrible - flat, and like all the life had drained out of her.  She told me that she had an argument with her fiance.  Before she knew it, he had shot himself in the head with a revolver right in front of her.  She spent some time in an institution where they gave her medications.  She had racked up a horrible set of bills because of her hospitalization and care that she could never hope to pay off.  We talked, I listened.  I couldn't do much consoling, because she was never one who wanted to be consoled.  But I couldn't get out of my head the image of pain and shock, anger and betrayal that I sensed behind the eyes of this young woman who once drove me crazy in the office and who carried a gun and put herself potentially in harm's way because of her job but who now seemed so human and so fragile.  She really seemed like the little waif I sometimes saw her as,  but this time very lost, very lonely, and very afraid.

She moved away from Staten Island.  She went back to New Orleans to finish her PhD.  I'm not sure if that is what she wanted or if it was because she didn't know what else to do.  But finish it she did, despite the usual academic obstacles that are thrown in the way of graduate students.  Once she received her PhD, she got a job at a small southern Alabama university.

She has become one of the most popular teachers on her campus, bringing a new life to her department and inserting some feminism into criminal justice studies on campus.  She threw herself into a stuffy academic program and brought her talents and best features to bear.  She found herself, somehow and somewhere, in the depths of her tragedy.  She pulled on her vast resources of inner strength to grasp at the opportunities presented her.  I don't know if she has any post-traumatic stress disorder from what she went through, but I do know that she has succeeded in spite of them.

I have been proud of her and her accomplishments, and I care for her very much.  Recently, she got married.  Though I wasn't able to attend her wedding, she and her new husband visited us recently.  It was great to see her happy after all these years, and wonderful to hear about her accomplishments.

If life is a continuous series of journeys, and if one can map lives, I can imagine what her life map would look like.  There would be roads and pathways through forests of indecision, dangerous passages through mountains of hardship, drops into the darkest and deepest valleys of relationship and loss.  There would be forks in the road where choices must be made and dead ends where the choices didn't work out.  But, there would also be, especially lately, flat roads along the ocean shore of happiness or the endless plains of contentment.  On these roads, she can look toward where the sun sets and know that wherever her life leads from now on, she has the capability and the wherewithal to meet any challenge ahead of her.

So, using a nickname that is a remainder from our contentious office days, I'll give her a shout-out: "You've done so well, shithead!  It makes me happy that you are happy, it makes me proud that you've come so far despite the hardship and tragedy, and I will be in your corner for as long as you need me."  She'll blow off my kudos, but inside, she'll appreciate it.

Musical Interlude

The band that I most associate with the woman I wrote of above is a band that she really enjoyed, Garbage.  This song, Push It, has lyrics that I think probably best embody my friend.  It helps that she and Shirley Manson have a slight resemblance in build, hair color, and style.


If you want to know more about Staten Island

SILive (Staten Island Advance) (newspaper)
Staten Island Borough President
Staten Island Ferry
Staten Island History
Staten Island Museum
Visit Staten Island
Wikipedia: Staten Island
Wikipedia: Staten Island Ferry

Next up: Lakewood, New Jersey


Blue Highways: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York

Unfolding the Map

We pass over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on our way into Staten Island and eventually out of New York City.  Why do bridges figure so prominently in our architecture, and why do we celebrate them so much?  I have a few ideas.  To see where the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge spans the waters of New York, cross over to the map.

Book Quote

"....Then a windingly protracted ascent up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (the Silver Gate of the East coast) with its world's longest center span, and below the bay where the Great Eastern, the Monitor, the Bonhomme Richard, and the Half Moon sailed.

"The low sun turned the Upper Bay orange.  Freighters rode at anchor or headed to the Atlantic, and to the north, in the distance, a little glint of coppery green that was the Statue of Liberty.  I slowed to gawk and got a horn; the driver passed in a gaseous cloud and held aloft a middle digit opinion."

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 7

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Photo by Carl and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host page.

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York

More than any other city that I've visited, New York is connected as a city, an entity and a wider community through its bridges.

Recently, on a trip to Brooklyn with my wife for a friend's wedding, I was reminded of just how special the bridges in New York City actually are.  My wife had never strolled across the Brooklyn Bridge, and so we took part of a day to walk across.  For anyone traveling to New York, I would suggest you make that walk.  It is on an elevated wooden walkway above the traffic, and the views are phenomenal.  Just on a superficial level, if you want an amazing view of the skyline of Manhattan, the bridge is worth that walk across.  But there are multiple levels.  At each tower there are plaques that briefly tell the story of how the bridge was built, and the context of history in which it was built.

At the time the bridge was conceived, New York City was really just Manhattan.  Brooklyn was its own city and political entity and in many ways a rival of New York City.  A walk along the upper walkway takes one past a plaque that shows a woman representing the City of New York clasping hands with a woman representing the City of Brooklyn, with the bridge underneath, and the motto Finis Coronat Opus.  The Latin translates literally into "the end crowns the work," but could mean "the end justifies the means" or "the end of a crowning achievement."  Regardless, the Brooklyn Bridge paved the way for Brooklyn and New York to join together to create a greater New York.  At this time, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island also joined.

Much of New York is on islands.  Manhattan is its own island, separated from New Jersey on the west by the Hudson, and on the east from Brooklyn and Queens by the East River.  To the south of Manhattan lies Staten Island, which is also separated from New Jersey on the west by the Arthur Kill and on the east from Brooklyn by The Narrows.  There are 10 bridges connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn over the East River.  There are fifteen bridges over the Harlem River, connecting Manhattan to the Bronx.  There is one bridge over the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge connecting Manhattan to New Jersey and four bridges connecting Staten Island to New Jersey.  Staten Island is connected to Brooklyn by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  Of all the bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge was the first completed, in 1883, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the last major bridge to be completed, in 1964, spanning 81 years of a process where New York City connected itself together into the unified metropolis we now know.  And all of this doesn't even count the tunnels that were dug under the rivers for traffic, train and subway service.  Nor does it count the ferry services that existed before the Brooklyn Bridge, and which still operate as alternative ways to travel in the New York City area.

In fact, I'd argue that without the bridges, New York City wouldn't have become the major city that it is today.  New York City is what it is because of the variety of its boroughs and neighborhoods within them.  On my last trip there, I had the opportunity to spend a morning and early afternoon in the neighborhoods and more laid-back central areas of Brooklyn, getting the flavor of the place through its fine museum, its botanical gardens and its restaurants.  Then, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, noisy, busy and constantly moving.  We got above the hubbub on the High Line and enjoyed a less crowded, more peaceful walk through Chelsea, and then took a taxi up to  to meet a friend in a high-rise and fancy apartment for drinks on 5th Avenue overlooking Central Park.  We ended back up in Brooklyn by subway later that evening.

Staten Island, closer to New Jersey than the rest of New York City, has almost been a reluctant participant as a member of the consolidated New York City area, and indeed voted to secede from New York City in the 1990s.  However, the vote was non-binding and the issues of Staten Island were resolved.  Yet, even if the vote had carried some weight, I believe it would be hard for Staten Island to sever itself completely from New York City because of its connection through the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the Staten Island Ferry.  It might be able to sever politically, but not necessarily culturally.

A bridge is a lifeline, an artery.  We have sayings that reflect how important bridges are.  We try to "build bridges" to span gulfs and bring us together with others on common ground.  We try not to "burn bridges" with friends, colleagues and those we care about.  In war, bridges are among the first primary targets, targeted to cut off routes and supplies to the enemy.  When consolidating newly conquered territories, the conquerors often build bridges to enable the consolidation to take place.

I remember the movie Escape From New York, in which Manhattan is a large penal colony and all the bridges have been mined to keep convicts on the island.  In I Am Legend, the Will Smith movie, as the contagion of the deadly virus spreads through Manhattan the military destroys the bridges in a futile attempt to keep the contagion on the island.  The main theme in both of these films is that without the bridges, the New York City as we know it ceases to exist as an entity.

With so many bridges that that connect New York City to itself - to its boroughs and neighborhoods and all that is great about the place - it is easy to appreciate the role of a bridge, no matter how small or how large, how young or how old, how complex or simple the design.  They allow us to access places not easily reached, and bring together disparate parts into unity.

Musical Interlude

I had hoped to find a song about bridges that matches this post.  But I couldn't.  A lot of songs have to do with building bridges or burning bridges.  Some have to do with jumping off bridges.  They really didn't feel right to me.  The song I kept coming back to was a simple song by Steve Young that The Eagles covered, Seven Bridges Road.  It may have nothing to do with the post, but I like it.

If you want to know more about the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

MTA: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge: A Brief History
Wikipedia: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Next up: Staten Island, New York


Blue Highways: Brooklyn, New York

Unfolding the Map

Sometimes, when dates and stars align, one just doesn't question and one simply goes with it.  If you read the quote below, you'll understand why I chose my topic for this post, and why I waited an extra day or so to post it to Littourati.  On this day of remembrance, let us set aside differences for a little while and reflect on how events like those which occurred on September 11, 2001 affect so much in our world.  The image at right is the flag of Brooklyn, found at Wikimedia Commons.  The point I picked in Brooklyn, where I imagine, maybe, that William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) saw those now toppled "stumps in the yellow velvet sky" can be found at the map.

Book Quote

"....Things raced past like the jumpy images of a nickelodeon: abandoned and stripped cars on the shoulders, two hitchhiking females that nobody could stop to pick up, a billboard EAT SAUSAGE AND BE HAPPY, low-flying jumbos into Kennedy International, the racetrack at Ozone Park, bulldozed piles of dirt to fill the marsh at Jamaica Bay, long and straight Flatbush Avenue, Sheepshead Bay, Coney Island, the World Trade Center like stumps in the yellow velvet sky."

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 7

The former Twin Towers from Brooklyn. Photo by Sander Lamme and hosted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host site.

Brooklyn, New York

You might wonder why LHM refers to the World Trade Center as being like "stumps in the yellow velvet sky."  I remember once, while driving in Brooklyn back when the towers still stood, that in certain areas you could only see the tops of the towers in the distance, and that they did look like stumps, at least compared to how tall you knew they really were.  Now, a new tower like a young sapling or, some might say, a slender headstone, rises above the urban gravesite where those towers once stood.

Every generation has its "Where were you when...?" moment.  These are the moments that happen, usually tragic or devastating in nature, that have the potential to change lives and cause far-reaching effects that create and even transcend history.

For my parents' generation, December 7th, 1941, the day that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, was one of those moments in history that changed everything.  That day determined how many young men would spend the next four years of their lives, and it also sent many of those young men to their deaths.  We will never know what contributions to society those men might have made had they not been compelled to go to war to defend their country, but that day and their actions following that day certainly helped reorder a world and even remake it.

For many, that day came on November 22nd, 1963.  People around the United States, and even around the world, stood aghast, and even wept, as the incredible and almost unbelievable news reverberated around the world - the president of the United States had been gunned down in Dallas.  We will never know what John F. Kennedy would have done in his fourth year of his presidency, nor if he would have won a second term.  But his death ushered in Lyndon Johnson's presidency, which created a new era of civil rights and government responsibility, and an escalation of a war that sent many young men to their deaths and scarred many others.

I thought that my "Where were you when...?" moment was going to be November 10, 1989.  I remember listening almost without comprehension as East Germany opened its checkpoints and thousands of East Berliners and West Berliners danced together on top of the Berlin Wall.  This symbol of the Cold War, which had stood for almost 50 years during a conflict that I thought would never end in my lifetime, crumbled overnight.  For a moment, in the new era that followed, many hoped that the threat of a nuclear war that lingered over everything and everyone had, if not dissipated, then at least taken a step back in favor of democracy and world cooperation.

However, the positive forces unleashed that day also set other forces in motion that reached an apex in the events of September 11, 2001.  That date will stand as this generation's "Where were you when...?" moment.  As a political scientist, I see the train of events that link November 10, 1989 and September 11, 2001, so for me it is almost as if my generational marker spanned the nearly 12 years in between.  Nations that had been under the thumb of communist governments suddenly began to move toward democracy, which allowed simmering conflicts to rise to the surface, which fostered the rise of transnational groups bent on overthrowing the world order.  Of these groups, one with a fundamentally radical pan-Islamic philosophy began planning what would be the most symbolically and literally destructive moment in United States history.

That moment, when the United States was spearheading a global market and trade regime that it planned to lead, and which was symbolized in the Twin Towers, once again altered history.  At the time, I was working on my PhD and teaching classes at the University of New Orleans.  I remember hearing on the radio that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and thinking that it was a small plane.  I then heard that another hit, and turned on the television to scenes of destruction caused by "low-flying jumbos" that are seared into the memory of, possibly, a majority of the earth's current inhabitants in one way or another.  I remember having to calm a student who called me.  She was afraid that, in the new and dangerous world that suddenly revealed itself to be lurking within America's post-Cold War confidence (and perhaps arrogance), she would become another victim of terrorists while driving to school.

I often wonder how my life changed after that horrific day.  That was a day in which thousands of men and women calmly went to work or boarded an airplane, not realizing it would be their last commute, their last trip, their last moments on earth.  American self-assurance was shattered, our confidence in its ability to protect ourselves was compromised, and worst of all, our hopefulness in the future was lost.  While, as in any disaster, the best of our natures came forward and heroes and martyrs were and still are justifiably celebrated, the events of September 11th also brought forth the worst of our natures as well, including fear, racism and a tendency toward the reactionary.  In the wake of the disaster, the sorrow and support of the whole world was evident in the thousands of gatherings and demonstrations, the most poignant example of which were the signs in many other countries proclaiming "We are all Americans."

I felt that we wasted the the opportunity, born out of tragedy, that was given to us.  In individuals such as myself, as well as the larger population, a re-evaluation of what was important occurred.  Some moved toward a focus on protection and security.  Others focused on the actions of our country and how our foreign policies over the years and decades could have culminated in the disaster.  Some held the United States blameless, and others held the US and its policies and practices around the world wholly to blame.  The US became preemptive, and started two wars from which it is only beginning to disentangle itself.  Even in death Osama bin Laden is still a political issue.

For me, I realized that the charade of a peaceful world was gone in the complexity of the forces surging within it.  But, I also realized that the forces and motivations of people were also too complex to be generalized.  I couldn't hold one person, movement or country responsible.  I began to see, for example, that Islam was very complex and that it was too easy to brand it as a religion of terrorists and fanatics.  Instead, I wondered how we had simultaneously ignored that aspect of Islam while taking for granted the more moderate forces that were quite willing to work with us and had even warned us.

But most of all, the loss of those Twin Towers reminded me that nothing - absolutely nothing - is certain.  We get up in the morning and expect our day to go as usual.  We head to work, we spend eight hours there, we head home.  We do our evening activities and go to bed and expect much the same to happen the next day.  Until an event that impacts our lives, like that on September 11th, 2001 or any other date where the continuing human drama surprises us with an act of tragedy, reminds us just how fragile and unpredictable our lives can be.

Musical Interlude

I was going to leave this space for a moment of silence.  However, one of the most moving pieces of music I have ever heard is Terence Blanchard's Funeral Dirge, written for his post-Katrina album A Tale of God's Will.  I left New Orleans a year before Katrina, and didn't experience that life- and history-altering event but I think that Blanchard's dirge captures so much about the loss, pain, hope and emotion brought about by tragedy.

If you want to know more about Brooklyn

There is so much to Brooklyn, I'm sorry I can't write more about it.  But, visit Brooklyn!  It's a wonderful place.

Brooklyn Blogs
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Brooklyn College
Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online (newspaper)
Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Online
Eat It: The Brooklyn Food Blog
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn
Wikipedia: Brooklyn
Wikipedia: List of Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Next up:  Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, New York


Blue Highways: Riverhead, New York

Unfolding the Map

The turn of a phrase can mean so much, or so little.  But when it means something, it can often fire the imagination and give life to what would ordinarily be description.  I reflect on the literary description, and compare and contrast it to photography, as William Least Heat-Moon (LHM) passes through Riverhead.  At right is the New York State flower, the rose.  Photo is by Atoma and found at Wikimedia Commons.  To find Riverhead, point your finger upstream on the map.

Book Quote

"...I went down a pleasant little road numbered 25, down the north fluke, through neat vegetable truck farms with their typical story-and-a-half houses, past estuaries and swans, to Riverhead.  I followed a pickup with four bloodied sharks laid out in the bed; it looked like a tin of evil sardines packed in ketchup."

Blue Highways: Part 9, Chapter 7

Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead, New York. Photo by americasroof and posted at Wikimedia Commons. Click on photo to go to host page.

Riverhead, New York

I love it when writers pull out an image that really stirs imagination.

I have no idea what evil sardines are, but thanks to LHM, I now have a mental image of what I think they might look like.  And for some reason, I find the image humorous.

It is for these types of images that I read, and continue I will reading for these types of flourishes for the rest of my life.  LHM could have just described the pickup truck, with the four bloodied sharks on the bed and left it like that.  Instead, he added the picturesque description to accentuate its grotesque attributes, or maybe to put us inside his head a little as he processed what he was seeing.  Whatever the reason, his description is much more colorful and evocative of the imagination than the simpler description.

Sometimes that's all we need.  For me, I can digest the evil sardines in ketchup, smile about it, and move on as we continue the journey.  However, sometimes the descriptions leave you wanting more.  I wrote a complaint of this nature when I was blogging Kerouac's On the Road.  Sal Paradise, somewhere in Iowa, gets picked up by a man who is driving, in Kerouac's description, "a toolshack on wheels."  The mental image of this truck made we want to know more about the man driving it.  What does he do?  Is he a handyman who drives the truck to make repairs, or does he use the tools for his own purposes?  What kind of person is he?  Unfortunately, Kerouac does not give us any answers on this.  In the next paragraph Sal gets out and starts looking for his next ride.  I felt myself a little cheated, though I began to realize that Kerouac's intention was to not linger at overlong descriptions of things.  Still, I wanted more about the toolshack on wheels, partly because I knew people who drove similar contraptions in the town where I grew up.

I love photography, or actually I love looking at photography but I don't consider myself a particularly artistic photographer.  An image, when it captures the essence of something, can often have a similar effect in people as a good metaphor or simile, or a longer description.  But I remember, after having read John Berger or Susan Sontag or perhaps both, that photography may remove one from the experience of truly seeing the world around them.  The image may be a faithful, more or less, representation of a person, event or object at that certain instant in time, but it is the writer and the description that truly describes object, or person, or event and fleshes out meaning, symbol, or other intangibles that may not have been caught by the photograph.  The life story of the person is available, should the author choose to explore it, and may only be hinted at by the lines on the person's face or the trappings of their life around them or the expression that they wear in the photograph.  Sontag argues that the photographer is removed from the scene and cannot intervene, but the author, if he or she so chooses, can simply describe, like a photo, or take a more active role.  In LHM's case, he goes one farther, not only reporting what he sees but interpreting it for us.  Sometimes, the intervention can include the author inserting him or herself into the story.

This is not meant as a criticism or a condemnation of photography.  Sometimes, I want to see simply what the camera sees, and sometimes, especially with posed pictures or still life, the photographer does insert his or her own viewpoint into the frame.  That is why professional photographers are artists, though I do sometimes wonder if they ever allow themselves to put the camera down and really participate in the events around them or if they choose to always look at the world through the barrier of their lenses.

I thought about this topic recently on a hike through the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico.  I found myself stopping to take photos at certain points, and realized that I was so focused on getting the perfect shot of this or that, I was missing the world around me.  I started taking a photo and then lingering in the place to experience.  The photo of my wife walking through seven foot high vegetation in the late sunlight became even more real to me when I viewed it later.  The sunlight, on a more horizontal slant in the late afternoon, turned the plant flowers and leaves translucent, and gave the path a quality of a passage from some less vibrant reality to something more colorful, bright and transcendent just beyond.  The paw print I photographed, in the mud next to a river, went from a mere curiosity to a large, possibly feline monster watching from the bluffs above and waiting for its chance.  The stand of pines became a formation not unlike a line of soldiers or perhaps a sloppily arranged high school band during the last mile of a long parade.  Now, when I see the photos, they have much more meaning for me, and the extra dimensionality of my imagination turns them from faithful two-dimensional representations of the world into something even more alive and vibrant than my camera could ever capture, even were I the most accomplished and artistic photographer in the world.

But on the whole, give me an evocative piece of writing.  Give me a description that really sears itself into my imagination.  Whereas the picture does some interpretation for me, writing makes me work.  It makes me come up with the image in my head, and then interpret it.  If it makes sense to me, I am moved in some way.  If it doesn't, then it is either beyond my understanding or the author has some more work to do to capture me and gain inner attention.

Photographs fade or, now, their pixels get lost in the ether.  My imagination stays with me throughout my life, and even without the photographs, I will recall not only the image, but the smells, the sounds, the sensations and how I felt at that point in time and place.

Musical Interlude

I could only find a song, by a band I don't know, born in a time period of music (the 90s) that I usually stay away from, that relates to this post.  There are a lot of songs about photography, but the lyrics in this song, Fades Like a Photograph by Filter, have the most relevance.

If you want to know more about Riverhead

Riverhead Chamber of Commerce
Riverhead Local
Riverhead News Review (newspaper)
Town of Riverhead
Wikipedia: Riverhead

Next up: Islip, Babylon, Amityville, Merrick and Oceanside, New York