Thursday, November 26, 2009

thank you (george)

i've spent the last couple of hours sitting in our family room (the basement) with my dad, half-watching a college basketball game (sun devils vs. blue devils) and half-looking for a good thanksgiving poem to post. I had with me on the couch the thickest poetry book I could find –a good old norton anthology--but not even part of one, from yeats to baraka, seemed right.

admittedly, the ambiance i chose for this exercise wasn't really poetry-friendly (dick vitale's "alliterative commentaries,” even though i've heard them all before, are still pretty distracting).

i could have gone to my room, re-started the search in relative silence and with several other books to peruse. but i wanted more to just sit in a room with my dad, to be around in case something came up that we felt like chatting about. or he thought of a good joke. i decided to save the poetry for another time.

after both my parents called it a night, i got my second wind and started singing a favorite george harrison tune (remember, the family is asleep, so i can do this out loud) and it occurred to me that this song fits the giving/grateful theme as good as any poem. or maybe it’s late and i’m crazy. anyway, it’s where my heart is. hope you like it.

i’ve been on a george jag for the last couple of weeks so here’s one more. it's really quite good live.

happy thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

the O2: a well-lighted place

rafael nadal in his first match of the WTF in london. photographed by julian finney/getty images. via yahoo sports.

this is a fairly common shot, but with uncommon shadowing that sculpts every fold in his shirt, and creates mood and mystery in nadal's profile.
nov 23, 2009. photo by julian finney/getty images. via yahoo sports.

the year-end championships for the atp are underway, or as "mfw" so smartly announced: WTF is happening.

my favorite player is struggling as we speak in his first match against robin soderling, and my enjoyment level ebbs and flows with his fortunes.

but the tournament is being played under bright white and blue lights at the O2 arena in london. everyone in the stands is bathed in blue shadows. and photographers are given instant mood lighting for photographing the on-court action--side shadows sculpt angles, and if a player tilts his face toward the lights, to hit a serve or an overhead, he's got a glow that's near to heavenly. dreamy conditions for photographers, i'm sure! there's rich contrast in almost every photo i've seen so far.

the yahoo sports tennis page hosts one of the best galleries--photos do not go up as fast as on the getty site, but these are un-watermarked, and they were up today within a half hour of the start time. pretty efficient, and great.

enjoy them...and the matches on tennis channel this week, espn this weekend.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

saturday, at saturdays

saturdays, on crosby street. photo © anita aguilar

more © anita aguilar

i spent saturday afternoon down in my former neighborhood, walking around in the sunshine (with a scarf, but sans coat!), brunching on spring street and checking out the very handsome goods at the
pop up flea. (oh, give me money and a man to shop for and i know where to go and do some damage.)

but my favorite part of the day, not surprisingly, revolved around the discovery of a new coffee place.

saturdays, on crosby street, is a small coffee bar attached to a small surf shop, and it appears to cater exclusively to men and the women who love to see them in only the finest surf gear. among their offerings: hullabaloo boards, alex knost wetsuits and lightning bolt shorts, select dry-land goods (i especially like their ties) and surfing-related miscellany (wax, books, dvds, best made axes - not sure what the axes are for? but i like them). some of the brands are a mystery to me (a non-surfer) but my friend (a surfer in his soul) was agog. he took a careful, admiring eye to and for pretty much every single piece in there.

i fancied the lattes, made artfully and strong by josh, one of the owners.

as we sat with our lattes on the wooden bench in the front of the store, across from a row of surfboards and i talked about my week, it was impossible not to notice my friend's eyes widen and gleam--he was mesmerized by the surfing movie that was being projected on the wall behind me. i knew that he was dreaming about the next time he could hop on a train to long island to see if the surfing would be as perfect as josh had described it minutes before, that he was longing not to be in that very cool shop, drinking perfectly nice coffee with a perfectly nice girl, but out on the ocean, alone and at peace on his board.

and i laughed to myself because i found it impossible to blame him.

saturdays is every day at 31 crosby st (between grand and broome streets), nyc.
m-f: 8am-8pm
sat: 10am-5pm
sun: 11am-6pm

Friday, November 20, 2009

oh my. sweet... ("can we? shall we?" by rob ryan)

this photo is a reproduction of can we? shall we? by rob ryan, which is on view now at the MAD museum, nyc.
here's a link to the original.

this sounds good to me.

can we?
shall we?
call in
sick one
day and
travel to the sea
and hold hands all
day, can we?
shall we?
eat our sand-
wiches on the
get drunk
on fresh air and
come home tired and never tell anyone.....ever.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

greatness: andy warhol's polaroids of athletes...

i love this picture of dorothy hamill, though i remain haunted by that haircut.

faded, but still great.

one of my idols. and my first racquet.



on view at danziger projects, until december 12.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

hear a little song: (i did, last night)

sasha dobson, performing at a jammed rockwood music hall.

i could only steal a few shots. it wasn't easy to work the zoom in such a small and tight venue--i kept jamming my friend with the lens.

her voice is beautiful. and i know that she's a pro--i have heard her perform a number of times, but she admitted to nervousness last night. and perhaps this was approached a little too casually? there didn't seem to be a set list, which made for some awkward and unusually long between-song moments.

it was a short set, maybe 6 songs. the perfect dose for a late tuesday night.
she sang 2 numbers with her gal, ms. norah jones. lovely.
this photo, by n. pavach.

if you'd like to listen this morning, here's a link to her myspace page.

Monday, November 16, 2009

point and shoot: park ave, post-pacquiao...

rainy park ave. nov 14, 2009.

branches, off the avenue. november 14, 2009.

piym: in need of a fresh take?

photographing this fresh green bean casserole was a little challenging. obviously, i was to make it look pretty and delicious...but it's a melange of cooked vegetables. it's very brown. even at the time, i was thinking, i'm not doing this justice. i covered it from various angles, but how many different ways can you photograph a cooked casserole in the casserole dish?

after the shoot was over, i thought of different ways we could have approached it--which seems to happen after every shoot. but there is formula at PIYM, sort of dictated by time and space and the script. maybe in the new year, we'll try something different? i suppose it's fine, my little disappointments with the photos, because it's a reminder of things that i need to work on.


what's great about piym shoots, is 90% of the time, jess makes real food--food that's ready to eat as soon as it's shot. i wouldn't advise this at most food shoots when the beauty of the shot supersedes all notions of clean food prep. even if the food is fresh and fully cooked through and free of the additives that make it more photogenic (glycerine, glue, soap suds...), it's been seriously manhandled, violated even.

but when jess says that what she's prepared for the shoot is good for the eating (and if there is some left), i'll have at least a bite or two. i went a little bananas with this fresh green bean casserole, though. it's just so everything i'd want with my turkey. in fact, i'd make the turkey the vehicle for this creamy, onion-y affair.

i don't have a very long history with green bean casserole (it's relatively new to our family's thanksgiving table--we only started having turkey in the last 15 years or so, and only in the last five have one or two "traditional" sides, involving the beans or sweet potatoes or cranberries, made their unremarkable way into the buffet) so i never really understood its enduring appeal, other than the novelty of the store-bought fried onions? this fresh stuff, to me, was a revelation.

if you don't have a recipe that you're married to, try jess'. it's pretty simple. just don't skimp on the real heavy cream, and maybe approach the little bit of extra prep time, trimming and halving the beans, slicing the mushrooms and onions, as meditative act rather than a mandated
chore. when it's served, people will talk.

and then they will eat. and then they will talk more and eat more. until pretty soon they will be harassing you for the recipe, while battling for the last bites.

and if you are inclined to share, send them here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

monsters of folk (MONSTER sets)

performing "to save me." can you see the guy jumping in the air? that's conor oberst, rocking it out.

i loved them all so sharply dressed...

i had my tamron 18-270 zoom...from our seats (orchestra, row s).
still tough to get shots at that distance, with so much rocking out happening.
m.ward was easier to catch than the rest.

mr. m again.

jim james/yim yames

effective, dramatic lighting choreography, too.

last week, when my friend bill, offered me his extra ticket to see monsters of folk at the united palace in washington heights, i jumped at the chance (after i googled to find out who they are, that is. technically, i jumped after i saw "m. ward"). on the actual night, i felt a pang of laziness. washington heights seemed so...far...away, and i was in sort of a lonely, lousy mood. i wanted to stay home and wallow.

my friend and his extra ticket saved me from that scenario. luckily.

there were two words that came to mind in the moments and days after the show. respect and rock.

they seemed to care about putting on a great production. i loved that they all wore sharp suits. i loved the lighting--choreographed to be evocative, not ostentatious. these two things to me were fine enhancements.

the show was billed as a 2.5 hour musical event, set to start at 8. imagine my delight when they started playing shortly after 8pm, and stayed on for 2.5 hours. it was, from that perspective, as advertised.

from a musical standpoint, it was far more. they rocked. full-on, full-out rocked. they seemed to have real fun being up there, playing together. is it possible that each had more fun playing the other's music? that's how it seemed to me. their on-stage chemistry was electric. and somehow also sweet.

it was a musical event worthy of such a grand venue, though i would venture to see them anywhere.


i took photos, which i honestly didn't think was verboten (i thought just no audio/video) and nearly got kicked out. it's the closest i've been to being a scofflaw, ever! so i feel a little guilty... but i'm going to share the love, hopefully no one minds.

here's a link to a small slideshow.
and here's a link to a super set, for superfans.

Monday, November 9, 2009

monsters of folk (MONSTER)

m. ward (with the monsters of folk) at the united palace. november 6, 2009.

i recently lamented how little live music i've seen or heard this year. but if monsters of folk turns out to be the only show i catch all year, then it will have been enough.

i have a ton of photos to go through and will post more in the coming days, but if you want to catch their live broadcast tonight, check it out on wxpn...details here...

piym: apple month

probably not unlike a lot of kids, my first taste of an apple pie or any sort of cooked apple concoction was a mcdonald's apple pie. i remember thinking the packaging was quite special, but the pie itself, revolting. cooked fruit was just...weird. i was thereafter never tempted by any hostess fruit pie. and i didn't hanker for the little paper cups of apple sauce that were served up in our school cafeteria.

but my palate has since evolved--i love any kind of cooked fruit, stewed in a compote (even prunes, for goodness' sake) or poached in wine, and especially when nestled in a tart, pie or pastry. any kind of tart, pie or pastry. (ok, i still might not be able to swing the mcd's or hostess...)

i made an apple pie once, many moons ago--i tend to stick to the pecan and pumpkin, in the fall and winter months. i like how easy they are to make. but jess' apple pastry recipe, using ready-made crust, is appealing and seemingly simple to prep.

check out the latest piym episode, celebrating "apple month," and her recipe for apple pastry cups with caramel sauce here...

brothers redhead, in greenpoint?

at the risk of being accused of hipster/rock band profiling...i think these are the pace brothers, from blonde redhead? they could just be any old i-talian brothers, but i took their photo just in case. so cute, the moto guzzi.

all photos © anita aguilar

Friday, November 6, 2009

the mind reels...morphoses/ the wheeldon company and the critics

i am not a dance critic. this is now indisputable after spending the week reading the reviews of morphoses/the wheeldon company's recent performances at city center. the three performances presented for the november 1 sunday matinee (the finale for the season) included 2 wheeldon ballets (continuum, and the world premiere of rhapsody fantaisie) and a re-working of a piece choreographed by the team lightfoot/leon, titled softly as i leave you.

continuum, the opening number, turned out to be precisely the kind of modern ballet that i can appreciate, but don't enjoy. mr. wheeldon, in addressing the audience before the performance, said that his goal was to make the music visual. the score, by the hungarian gyorgy ligeti, is a real micropolyphonic spree. it's mathematical, with melancholy chords, in messy clusters. the dancing played all of that up, with precise, acute angles layered into combinations. i suppose you could call it brilliant. but it was also relentless, exhausting and emotionless. i was relieved when it was over. it was not lost on me, though, that i was seeing dancers performing at their peak. the choreography required no less.

the final number, rhapsody fantaisie, was much more to my taste: sweeping, passionate music (rachmaninoff suites for 2 pianos) and dance perfectly matched. intricate, but seemingly effortless. i stood and cheered.

wendy whelan and andrew crawford in wheeldon's rhapsody fantaisie. photo by dave morgan.

wendy whelan and andrew crawford in wheeldon's rhapsody fantaisie. photo by dave morgan.

drew jacoby and reginald pronk in wheeldon's rhapsody fantaisie. photo by dave morgan.

(the only mystery: red harem pants for the men. modern ballet costuming

but it was lightfoot/leon's softly as i leave you, performed by the ultra dynamic partnership of drew jacoby and rubinald pronk that captivated me, almost completely. and this is where get stumped.

i will grant that the opening sequence of the number, with ms. jacoby thrashing and fighting her way out of a wooden box is a little...overwrought.

rubinald pronk and drew jacoby, in softly as i leave you. photo by bill cooper.

but from the moment they engage on stage, out of the box, to bach's soaring (albeit very familiar) air on the g string i was blinking back tears. in fact, i blinked them back on 6 separate occasions. i was awed by rubinald and pronk--her forcefulness, his fluidity and flexibility. their lines and extensions are beyond perfect, their unison and chemistry is undeniable when alone on stage, or dancing in a corps. it is among the most marvelous live performances i've ever seen--hence, the tears.

and yet, the critics (at least in new york and london) HATE it. i don't know that i've read a collection of more negative dance reviews (though it's entirely possible i haven't read enough). but the terms mawkish, unrewarding, unalluring, worst in show are only a small sampling... one ny critic who saw it performed earlier this fall at the fall for dance festival called it "a
repulsive piece featuring most of the worst clich├ęs of European postwar choreography."

huh? and, wow.

i just don't see it. and from reading the blogs and facebook comments, neither do the rest of the hoi polloi.

there is no video of that piece yet--but when one is, i will present it here. you can judge for yourself.

for now, have a look at their other work--a live performance of "one" and a clip from a rehearsal with erstwhile SYTYCD? judge/choreographer, mia michaels (she's continuing to endow us with inimitable style on a more intimate, and no less important scale. cheers to that). critics (and you) may take issue with the choreography, but i doubt anyone can argue that their partnership is a riveting, vital one. but then again, i'm merely a fan...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

see a fine (set) of pictures: ny times photo replay

tsonga, in valencia. photo by kai foersterling/european pressphoto agency via

james blake, in basel. photo by georgios kefalas/european pressphoto agency

with baseball season officially over, we can now divide our leisurely attentions toward other pursuits--movies (i still haven't seen where the wild things are...and would like to see an education... up is coming out on dvd/blu-ray next week, i'm told that's a must-see?) (monsters of folk, anyone? i'd not heard of them, but a friend has an extra ticket to their show at the united palace on friday), tv (the mentalist--as if baseball could really divert my attention from simon baker...and....hello james franco, actor/painter/writer, and now guest-star on television's number one daytime drama, general hospital) and...other sports. like tennis. only a few more weeks left before the long season ends, so i'd do well to start paying them some mind.

some of the men are playing in valencia and basel (nadal, not in either tournament). both of the men that i've featured in the photos above are no longer "active" --tsonga pulled out of his match in valencia, with a wrist injury, and blake lost at the swiss indoors...but i like the photos, from the new york times "photo replay."

i seem to read a lot less when i'm reading a newspaper online, which is terrible--i have to re-start home delivery soon--but i really like the multimedia content, especially the slideshows. the new york times has impressed me with their sets. they'll cover the big "american" sports like baseball and football (which sometimes merit their own reportage-style gallery). but the almost-daily "photo replay" mixes in some "other" sports or "global" competitions (formula 1, european soccer, tennis, gymnastics, winter sports) and they'll take advantage of their photo resources (beyond the ap and getty) to avoid some of the duplication on other sites. just know that you have to check them out regularly--they only keep the most 8 or 9 recent slideshows up before they go in to the archive. and their archive is not fun or easy to navigate.

i also love the ny/region galleries...will post some of those another day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

piym: national sandwich day...

did you know that today is national sandwich day?

i actually did, but only because mike, jess and i shot this episode a couple of weeks ago (with a new show open, new photos--a knife-wielding, but not at all menacing, jess). for this holiday, she is offering a recipe for a mediterranean lamb burger, with a yogurt-mint sauce. i wish i could tell you exactly how good it is. i can't, but only because the team ravaged it on the set before i could get to it. rumor is it's very good.

i do LOVE lamb burgers (a bar near-ish to my apartment, the perfect pint, has a nice one. i basically can't bring myself to order anything else when i'm there). jess' version has cinnamon and cloves, which intrigues me. once i figure out where i can find ground lamb in my neighborhood, i'll be making these at home.

check out this and other PIYM episodes and recipes on the phoebeworks site...let me know what you think.