Monday, October 31, 2011

URB 2011: the race experience

you know that scene from raiders of the lost ark--indy disappears from the ship and free-styles it over to the german submarine, the crew gives a big rally cry when they spot him, and he, soaked and stumbling a bit, does that little salute before running off to kick some more ass?

well, that's sort of what it felt like as i was finishing the last leg of the urbanathlon. i'd run about 3 miles, “stutter-stepped” a muddy tire field, climbed the steps to the promenade of arthur ashe stadium and then navigated a much longer maze of steps through citi field, crawled under a few jeeps, jumped over a couple of taxis, scaled a bus...i was cold and wet from the rain and the puddles, and a little off balance because of the crazy scene happening all around me, but still pushing toward the final obstacle, the impossible one, the rope-climb over the wall. then i heard a cheer from my other team mates (anitaaaa!) and i had just enough of my mind left to look over and wave a little and laugh--but that's it because, well, there was that wall in front of me that i need to get over. (and: no ass-kicking, as i need a boost to get up there). but i did make it over, in one piece and our team finished the urb.

post-race recovery: beer and a sausage biscuit

what a relief.

i'd been nervous the whole week--hands-sweaty, can't-sleep nervous--worried i wouldn't be strong enough on race day to finish, and that the wintry weather would be unbearable.

it was actually almost unbearable to wait in the cold without a coat. but it was also, in a funny way, a situation ripe for bonding with strangers. i didn't know anyone else who was there to start leg 3, and i didn't have friends (like some smarties, with umbrellas) hanging out there with me to make the hour pass more pleasantly, but there was a loony camaraderie as we readied ourselves to hit the course in weather that was at once "fucked up-- and awesome."

i got to start my part of the race--and finally warm-up--just before the cold became too much.

there were the other unexpected pleasures of the race: my quiet, solo jog to the starting point, from the mets-willets point subway station, down the long boardwalk toward the tennis center and around it to the south gate. the leaves had turned, but the row of trees still formed a pretty canopy in the rain. i could see the "new" court 17--a couple of months ago i was there, maxing out my tan, while making photos of one of my favorite subjects: alexandr dolgopolov. i discovered that in the off-season they rip out the seats at that court (not sure why. it seems like a lot of effort).

the unisphere glistened only from the rain drops.

i ran through an empty ashe stadium -- it was almost as empty as the last morning i was there, as francesca schiavone started her 4th round match against anastasia pavlyuchenkova.

i ran down and out again and past the deserted media center around the back toward citi field. i'm not sure if that path stays open (i don't know why it would).

i wish i'd had a camera for the view of queens and the city from the upper decks in citi field. after finally descending the stairs, we jogged right onto the field--to a maria carey tune, if you can believe it. i won't soon forget that.

we stayed off the pristine grass, and took the path from right field to first to home. i'm pretty sure i'll never do that again.

the "blue moon" girls, get their medals...

i had anticipated that it would be fun to run these venues, but didn't imagine how it would feel to experience them that way-- empty, but still alive with my own memories and imagination. the race was worth it just for that.

but it was even more worth it to be there with my friends, the ones who ran it as my teammates, and the hard core ones who took it on themselves, and others who work behind the scenes to put that whole urbanathlon together. i loved being in the VIP tent, with the free beer and the bagels and the biscuits-- but i would have been anywhere my friends were. maybe its a silly thing to infuse a crazy event like that with so much sentiment -- most people run the race with a goal to test their strength and endurance. i thought it would be a good (HARD) test for me in that way, too. but the race turned out to be secondary. the experience of it was supreme.

i think i'm ready for more in 2012.

photos from before sun-up and after the snowfall, if you are so inclined.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

weather girls

no one expected "rain and snow" in the forecast for the urbanathlon
t & i had to gear up:

@ city sports, 48th street, nyc
 (the sad truth: i'm going to look way sillier than this on saturday.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

see a fine picture: "comfort"

that life could be capable of small beauties...
--colum mccann, "let the great world spin"
(is that line --on p20--gonna be the only one i remember from the whole book?)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

richard serra: junction / cycle

junction (2011)
13’ 11/2”x 75’ 1/2" x 49’ 15/16” (4 x 22.9 x 15.2 m), weatherproof steel

cycle (2010)
14’ 1” x 57’ 6' 1/2” x 55’ 8” (4.3 x 17.5 x 17 m), weatherproof steel


taken october 18, 2011 @ the gagosian gallery
© anita aguilar

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

twa: up, up, and away

on sunday afternoon, i made the long trek to jfk airport to see the eero saarinen designed TWA terminal. it was open to the public for a few hours as part of the open house ny program, and it was essentially the last time we could see it, in its "flight center capacity."

i'd seen it before --as a life-long tri-state area resident, JFK was one of the airports of my childhood, though i couldn't remember exactly when or why i'd been there (i had to confer with my mom and her uncanny memory). i only remembered white and windows and neat seats. (i got that part right.)

it was a wonder to sit in and circle the space again, especially in the clean daylight. you really have a sense of soaring, of being uplifted.

i'd dreamed about what it would be like to have special access to the terminal, to try to achieve what other photographers have. but i actually liked being with the crowds on sunday. you could see how the design could function as a social space, how and where people could gather and wander and observe each other. there was a giddiness to the afternoon-- everyone so much in awe of the space, so happy for the opportunity to be there.

with the people there, you could better envision how it might work as a commercial space for this century. (maybe not so effectively, except as a hub for a private airline?) the space is wide, but shallow. i kept thinking, where could they put all the people?

and yet....

and yet...

i still wish it could stay...


a former airline employee...

loved the lady in red (note the headline)...


more photos, if you're so inclined.

all photos taken october 16, 2011
© anita aguilar

Saturday, October 15, 2011


practicing with the 24mm-70mm, super high ISO

all photos taken october 13, 2011 @ the vu
© anita aguilar

Friday, October 14, 2011

reunion: la bonbonniere

back in the '90s, when i was living in the west village (and "casually employed" or in grad school), la bonbonniere was where i spent my mornings.
on weekdays, i'd sit for bowl of oatmeal (skim milk and brown sugar). 2 cups of coffee.
on weekends: the special challah french toast or blueberry pancakes. side of bacon. (maybe an extra cup of coffee, too.)

i'd have with me a notebook and 3 or 4 newspapers, including the ny tabs, and i'd catch up on all the sporting news. sometimes i'd just take in the view--inside, my fellow "regulars," outside, the traffic along the avenue. whether i was stuck, deep in a lonely streak, or feeling carefree, i always left there with a lift.

i since i moved away years ago, i've only been back a couple of times. it's changed a lot, to look at it.

but the feeling is the same. i never left...
oct 13, 2010

photos © anita aguilar

Thursday, October 6, 2011

bumming around: brownie making in LIC

last night i took a trip out to LIC, to take some photos of my friend/sweetsaltything allison, and her friends, who have started a new venture: bummer brownies...

they rented a great entrepreneur's kitchen space off northern boulevard, near 37th avenue. i loved the raw, industrial look of the kitchen, and its oversized mixers and dishwashers, the walk-in ovens and freezers. and i loved the energy of working late-night (to some good/bad radio, courtesy of wplj). add the sweet smell of baking chocolate (and bonus taste testing, and take home goodies), and it seemed not like "work" at all.

(though the team churned out hundreds of treats in only a few hours.)

shh! sneaking in a taste...

they are strict about enforcing all the proper commercial kitchen rules -- they made me wear a super -sexy hairnet and i didn't even participate in the baking (though i couldn't resist, and pitched in toward the end).

bummer brownie baskets will be available, november 16...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

inspiration: catching it...

oh, i would like this job.

chasing the shot, catching the moment, the way corey simpkin does here.

all photos by corey simpkin via the ny daily news.
originally published october 5, 2011, on

see the fun, full gallery by the ny daily news staff...