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  • Category Archives fashion
  • Burning Man NYC

    Burning Man may appear to have little to do with New York City. And for most residents, that is true. However, Burning Man has become something that transcends the time and space of the event itself. There are many regional local events worldwide that are similar to Burning Man, some officially affiliated with the Burning Man organization. Not promoted publicly, there are frequent meetings and performances of burners even in the boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan. I have attended a number of them. From BurningMan.org:

    The impact of the Burning Man experience has been so profound that a culture has formed around it. This culture pushes the limits of Burning Man and has led to people banding together nation-wide, and putting on their own events, in attempt to rekindle that magic feeling that only being part of this community can provide.

    Burning Man, begun in 1986, is a week-long event held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.  It runs from the last Monday in August to Labor Day. A temporary city, Black Rock City, is created for the event, replete with streets and avenues formed in a semicircular arc. A wooden effigy, The Man, is located at the city’s center, where it is burned on Saturday night. The word city is not used metaphorically – over 50,000 people attend.

    Through my customer base, I know many individuals who have participated in Burning Man over the years. This year, however, is the first time someone working in my company is attending. Natalie was hired one year ago to assist us in product development, retail sales, and social networking in the areas of hooping, flow arts, and fire burning. Apart from online sales, customers come to our retail space daily in SoHo. Those on the juggling side are typically handled by Kyle Petersen, professional juggler and unicyclist, and those in the movement arts are handled by Natalie.

    All the things that I have heard and seen confirm that the bar for creativity is set high at Burning Man and that the event is nothing less than extraordinary.  This could be seen in the thinking, efforts, and advanced preparation by Natalie in my office weeks in advance. She left this morning for the opening of the event on Monday.

    There are villages and theme camps at the event which are substantial creative endeavors. A documentary filmmaker once told me that he has never seen such a display of creative efforts anywhere. Other personal accounts and photography confirm the superlatives.

    For those interested in attending in the future, please know that conditions are harsh. Conditions on the desert playa (a prehistoric lake) are extreme – dust storms, high winds, rain, and temperatures which have exceeded 100 degrees during the day and lows near freezing at night. This explains the perplexing, disparate range of Natalie’s gear – goggles, face masks, water bottles, and a fur coat. There are limited facilities, nothing is sold, and desert camping is the norm. This is a survivalist’s arena, although there are increasing numbers who attend in RVs with the comforts of home.

    Burning Man can be described as an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance. The organization’s Ten Principles are a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception: Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-Reliance, Radical Self-Expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation and Immediacy.

    We all look forward to Natalie’s return and a firsthand account of the event. Until then, the spirit of Burning Man lives here and there in the hidden corners and reaches of New York City :)

    Photo Note: That’s Bex Burton in the lower left, admiring Natalie’s fur coat. Bex was the subject of a previous story, “The Women.”

  • Easter Parade 2013

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

    See my complete photo gallery here for the 2013 annual Easter Parade.

    See my other Easter stories and photo galleries:

    Easter Parade 2006
    Easter Parade 2007
    Easter Parade 2008
    Easter Parade 2009
    Easter Parade 2012

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

  • Fashion’s Night Out

    If you’re the type of person who likes a party and trusts the advice of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and Kendall Jenner, campaigners for the event, Fashion’s Night Out might be to your liking. Over 700 stores throughout New York City participate in this annual, international event. Here, in SoHo, the streets were overflowing and abuzz with fashionistas.

    Participating stores are open late – it’s an opportunity to shop of course, and there are also musical performances, free drinks, special deals, and fashion designers and celebrities like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Kate Spade, and Cyndi Lauper. From Manhattan to Milan, Atlanta to Australia, the after hours shopping extravaganza celebrated its fourth year. With stores in over 500 cities nationwide, FNO was bigger and better than ever before. Their mission statement:

    Fashion’s Night Out is an unprecedented global initiative created in 2009 to celebrate fashion, restore consumer confidence, boost the industry’s economy during the recession, and put the fun back in shopping! In the United States, the program is a collaboration between American Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, NYC & Company, and the City of New York.

    New York City, along with Paris, Milan, and London, is one of the world’s principal fashion capitals. New York is headquarters to more than 900 fashion companies and hosts one of four major Fashion Weeks. It is home to many Creative Experts and top fashion design schools, such as Pratt Institute, Parsons School of Design, and FIT. Fashion is a major part of the city’s economy – fashion manufacturing is 31% of all manufacturing jobs in New York City. The garment district is one of the few remaining manufacturing industries left in New York. The city’s fashion retail market is the country’s largest, generating over $15 billion in sales annually.

    Personally, I do not partake in the event, but for those that do, it’s the biggest party in town. Fashion’s Night Out…

  • White By Design 5

    White On The Road
    Why so many stories about white, you may ask. Well, apart from any historical, symbolic, or spectral aspects of the white, choosing this color for articles of clothing or anything subjected to the elements, particularly in New York City, makes a big statement. Here are some snippets from my previous White By Design stories:

    There are many things to love about the color WHITE. For some, use of the color in their homes and wardrobe borders obsession, like that of the good friend of mine whom I wrote about in White By Design.
    In New York City, choosing white takes on a spirit of defiance. Analogous to She’s Too Tough To Care, wearing white is like saying I don’t care that white makes no sense in New York City. We have rats, graffiti, pollution, dirt, and grime, but I will wear white anyway.
    Wearing white also sends a message that a person is willing and able to go the extra mile in maintaining such a color choice in the city.

    Used badly, white can be a horrific choice – everything is mercilessly revealed with white. It is also deliberately and conspicuously impractical, making a statement about luxury and the ability and willingness for maintenance. The decision to use white in an unforgiving city like New York makes a particularly strong statement.

    Yes, go the extra mile. And what extra mile is longer than that of a homeless person who chooses white for her wardrobe? The woman in today’s photo, who is a recent habitué of Washington Square Park, is garbed day and night in a wardrobe entirely in white – pants, socks, sandals, shirt, jacket, gloves, ski hat, and the final piece de resistance that drew my eye to her originally – white rimmed glasses. I have seen her rummaging through her travel suitcase for her hat or gloves. The contents? Articles of clothing which are 100% white and, like what she wears, all appears to be scrupulously clean.

    I did speak to her one evening, but approached her cautiously. As a friend pointed out – look at her body language. Conversation was a bit awkward. She was quite reticent and very guarded, understandable for someone living on the streets of New York City. I discussed my blog and my previous series of stories, White By Design. I showed her a number of photos on my iPad. Seeing hard evidence that I genuinely had an interest in those who love white, she let her guard down a bit. She told me that she has been in NYC only about a week, living in the park. She has been an itinerant traveler, but I got no details as to where she was from, where she had traveled, or when and where she would be going next.

    I complemented her on choosing white and the willingness to do the work it must involve to maintain her wardrobe so meticulously. She did not elaborate on her choice of color but responded that she does like cleanliness and does her laundry about every three days. And that’s the drill for someone who not only embraces the spirit of White By Design, but also keeps things White On the Road :)

    More on white: White by Design 4, Off-White by Design, The Perfect Gift, White by Design 3, White by Desire, White by Design 2

  • The Big Mouth Does

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

    Philip Garbarino promoting his book, The Devil Repents.

    Many people do not like New Yorkers for a number of reasons. In all fairness, for a number of good reasons. New York is a city that is brash with people who are aggressive and competitive. It’s a sieve for success, filtering out those who can’t make it here or, like Dwanna, those who just don’t want to make it here. It is the ideal home for the self-centered, the narcissist who wants the largest possible audience to fan his or her flames. It is perfect for attention mongers and drama queens. And for those who prevail, it is a place where someone can make it big.

    I am always astounded at how the real estate market here manages to be buoyed up regardless of the economy. The average 2-bedroom apartment in Manhattan sells for $2 million. A New York Times article reports that in Brooklyn, there is a shortage of single family brownstones with bidding wars driving up prices beyond the listing price. With pricing like this, obviously this is a city where many have achieved material success. It is also a home to the megalomaniacal or where it may at times be difficult to distinguish between the enormous success and the megalomaniac. It is a place where one truly must abandon preconceived notions or be faced with people like Mark Birnbaum, who, despite appearances and notions to the contrary, is who says he is and has done what he said he has.

    Recently while in Washington Square Park, my attention was drawn to a man with a huge crucifix, dressed as the devil. Such a thing will provoke interest and garner attention. There was no shortage of onlookers or those seeking photo ops with Satan. I learned that this was Philip Garbarino, promoting his first book of a trilogy, The Devil Repents. The book is selling directly from Philip’s website. Chapter One can be found for free there as well. An ebook is available from Amazon. I spoke to Philip briefly and videotaped the conversation. Garbarino was eager to mention his acting credit in the film The Bronx Tale, directorial debut of Robert De Niro.

    I have no idea as to the quality of the writing or what Philip’s aspirations are. Although perhaps not a necessary condition to success, in a city where everyone and everything is screaming to be heard and seen, self-promotion is a more likely road to success than a quiet unassuming demeanor or the meek, with Donald Trump as perhaps the best example. I do like real estate magnate Barbara Corcoran’s pithy and poignant remark:

    In New York City, the meek don’t inherit the earth. The big mouth does.

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

  • Mermaid Parade 2012, Part 2

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

    Pièce de Résistance (see Part 1 here)

    The costuming efforts of marchers in the annual Mermaid Parade run the gamut, from the simple but effective to the outlandish where no detail is left to chance. This year, as always, there were all the requisite sea creatures, maritime themed costumes, and, of course, plenty of mermaids. But in all the years I have attended, I have never seen the attention to detail as that in the costuming of Darrell Thorne and his partner.

    I strolled the boardwalk after the parade’s completion – a better time and opportunity to mingle and see closeup the various paraders and their costumes. I became aware of a huge throng. As I approached and worked my way into the crowd, I found what was essentially a feeding frenzy of photographers, elbowing and jockeying for position. I found the subjects of everyone’s fancy and awe – two individuals posing with the deliberate movements of experienced showmen and models, enjoying every bit of the attention, as they rightfully deserved for their extraordinary efforts.

    I spoke to one of the pair, who gave me his card which stated: Darrell Thorne –  Costume Makeup Performance. I subsequently learned that this was not Darrell’s first parade, nor was he a novice at his craft. As his card implied, this was the work of a professional, and in New York City, one expects the bar to be raised quite high in the world of fashion, costuming, and makeup.* For the 2012 Mermaid Parade, I had reached the summit with this Pièce de Résistance

    *I communicated with Darrell by email, and, typical of the many challenges to preconceived ideas one may have about New Yorkers, here is what I learned, in his own words:

    I was born the youngest of five boys in Branson, Missouri in 1976. When I was eight months old my father decided it was time to follow his dream of living off the land. He and my mother packed up their five children (the oldest being five years old) and moved to a tiny village called Red Devil, 300 miles north of Anchorage, in the Alaskan “bush”.

    The first five years of my life were spent living like the Swiss Family Robinson, but set in the pristine wilderness of Alaska, without running water, electricity, telephones, or many people to speak of, for that matter. One of my earliest memories is my father being away (on a hunting trip, I believe) and my mother at the window of our log cabin with a shotgun, all of us kids huddled around her as a black bear prowled in our front yard. The rest of my childhood was spent in tiny country towns in Missouri and Arkansas.

    I’m highly uneducated with no degrees beyond my high school diploma.  I studied dance seriously for several years and attended the Art Institute of Chicago for 1 (until I realized I didn’t actually have any money to do that).

    I’ve been in NY for 10 years – living in Bushwick for the past 3 (which I love).  After high school I spent time in Colorado, three years in Chicago, three in LA, and then to NY.

    I currently work as a hospital administrator by day at Beth Israel.  My hope and desire is to transition to a more creative career within the next few years.

    I have four older brothers and no sisters.  My parents are fundamental christians – my mother a retired school teacher and my father a jack of all trades.  My brothers are spread far and wide – one in LA, one in Denver, one in Portland and one in Helsinki.

    Growing up incredibly repressed in an extreme fundamental christian environment had a tremendous impact.  We never had a television, weren’t allowed to listed to pop music, and were largely isolated (psychologically) from our peers growing up. My parents belong to a small Calvinist religion called Independent Missionary Baptists, an extremely fundamentalist group who believe in Predestination and a 100% literal interpretation of the bible. Growing up there was no question that God was a stern and judgmental figure who would not hesitate to strike down and condemn to hell any and everyone who did not follow his commandments.

    WOW, Darrell, thanks for your candid revelations. Another lesson that in New York City, regardless of one’s instincts or insightfulness, it is best to Abandon All Preconceived Notions, Ye Who Enter Here.

    Previous Mermaid Parade posts: Mermaid Parade 2006 P1, Mermaid Parade 2006 P2, Mermaid Parade 2007 Part 1, Mermaid Parade 2007 Part 2, Mermaid Parade 2009, Mermaid Parade 2010, Mermaid Parade 2011 Part 1, Mermaid Parade 2011 Part 2

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

  • Walter Mitty

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

    In New Yorkers Gone Wild, I wrote of my high school English teacher, an extremely iconoclastic, outspoken, and controversial figure. He was, in many ways, our version of Dead Poets Society’s John Keating. He made a number of observations and recommended readings, all of which I took to heart, some more poignant and relevant in my life than others. Upon reading the Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber, he pointed out the value of becoming familiar with the character, telling us that we would encounter references to Walter Mitty later in life.

    This turned out to be one of the things of lesser value in my life – I never recall anyone referencing Walter Mitty. I have, however, met many New Yorkers who do have a secret life, an alternate persona, or a cover that does not reflect the book’s contents. These individuals were the inspiration for a series of stories I have written entitled Abandon All Preconceived Notions Ye Who Enter here.

    I have attended the annual HOWL! festival for a number of years. You can read more about it in my 2007 posting on the festival. Invariably I find something of interest, whether a band playing live music, a performance, a work of art, or an interesting character.

    It was at this year’s festival that I encountered a Mittyesque character exhibiting his work at the festival’s Art Around the Park. Exhibiting is the appropriate word to describe Rolando Vega, an attendee of the festival since its inception. Rolando’s getup was certainly flamboyant, reminiscent of André Johnson, aka André J., a man I wrote about in Out There and Fashion Forward.
    Rolando, however, is not in the fashion business, nor does he live an “artsy” lifestyle. He holds a high-level position in the corporate world and is a family man with two children. Rolando told me that he has worked since he was 14 and is a native New Yorker, having grown up in the projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. Here, in today’s photos, you can see him as his alter ego, Chickinman, aka Walter Mitty :)

    Abandon All Preconceived Notions stories: Mark Birnbaum (Part 1 and Part 2), Gaby Lampkey (Part 1 and Part 2), Jenn Kabacinski (Part 1 and Part 2), Driss Aqil

    Posted on by Brian Dubé

  • Speaking in Tongues

    People have different styles – I have always been a fan of openness and transparency. Privacy is not something which I embrace. In my writings, I have laid bare many stories involving my family members, my upbringing, my place of birth, my occupation, contact information, etc. So, it should come as no surprise that I am not a big fan of people who deliberately shroud themselves in mystery or speak of their work in concepts, vagaries, and generalities. The less specific, the more one can make assertions and personal claims which are difficult to challenge. This is the world of the self-proclaimed Creative Expert, of which I have previously written.

    On Saturday, I met a couple promoting their wedding. When I asked their names, they identified themselves as Social Acceptance and Self Love. They heartily encouraged photos as they distributed postcard-sized invitations which said:

    A New Era Has Begun…The Project J.U. Founder and Director cordially invite you to a wedding celebration for Social Acceptance and Self Love.

    The location was listed as Bamboo 52 at 344 West 52nd Street, a sushi bar and lounge. I have no idea how many people this will accommodate or why our bride and groom would aggressively promote their wedding celebration to everyone on the streets of New York City.

    I have no idea if Project J.U. exists in mind, cyberspace only, or whether there are real people and initiatives involved. According to the website:

    Project J.U. is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help individuals recognize the great potential they possess because of their uniqueness and personal values. Project J.U. is dedicated to all people with no regards to gender, weight, physical attributes, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. Project J.U. has a goal of providing empowerment, education and life skills to the community with a special dedication to at-risk students and adults. Project J.U. host an array of activities including workshops, forums, and special events. These events will utilize social networks and print media while advocating the organizational motif, “Just Unique.”

    With a little digging, I learned that the groom is Julius Jones and that he has a BA in English and Mass Communications from North Carolina Central University and is currently working on an MBA at the Keller Graduate School of Business. He lists his skill sets as: motivational speaking, public speaking, product advocacy and branding, customer service, and corporate communication.

    If you are going to market, brand, spin, or promote, there’s no better place to sell yourself and/or your ideas than New York City, particularly when Speaking in Tongues :)

    Related Posts: One-Trick Pony, King of Accordion, Swaggertist in Blue, Shows Me Here, Sir Shadow, Joe Ades – Gentleman Peeler

  • White By Design 4

    There are many things to love about the color WHITE. For some, use of the color in their homes and wardrobe borders obsession, like that of the good friend of mine whom I wrote about in White By Design. That story has raised my antenna, ever on the lookout for extreme displays of white. It has inspired a series of White By Design stories, this being the 4th.

    In New York City, choosing white takes on a spirit of defiance. Analogous to She’s Too Tough To Care, wearing white is like saying I don’t care that white makes no sense in New York City. We have rats, graffiti, pollution, dirt, and grime, but I will wear white anyway.

    I have a pair of white bucks, which I wrote about in One Size Too Small. I have always gotten a very strong reaction when wearing them in the city. Apart from being a style whose time is long gone and unfamiliar to many, white suede is perhaps the ultimate act of defiance in the selection of shoe color and material to be worn in New York. Wearing white also sends a message that a person is willing and able to go the extra mile in maintaining such a color choice in the city.  In White By Design, I said:

    Used badly, white can be a horrific choice – everything is mercilessly revealed with white. It is also deliberately and conspicuously impractical, making a statement about luxury and the ability and willingness for maintenance. The decision to use white in an unforgiving city like New York makes a particularly strong statement.

    Black has been fashionable for eons, particularly in New York, where it is the color of choice for the downtown hipster. It is not uncommon to see individuals who dress entirely in black, head to toe. Black is cool, and when in doubt, black is safe. Given that thinking, what is safer than to dress entirely in black?

    However, I do not recall seeing the polar opposite until yesterday. While waiting to cross the intersection at Spring Street and Broadway, a woman’s wardrobe screamed out at me, so much so that reaching for my camera was not even a conscious decision but rather a reflex action. She was dressed (perhaps overdressed with a down jacket) in white from head to toe, topped with gray/white hair.

    It was reminiscent of an LP I have kept for its startling cover image – Edgar Winter (an Albino) with white hair and beard, wearing a white suit and fur on a beach with white clouds in the background, akin to the polar bear in his natural snowy environment. Edgar, my friend, and the woman on Spring Street all share that passion for a color that nature often gives us. Or, when in New York City, and man-made elements conspire against nature to offer such pristine beauty, then it must and will be White By Design

    My musings on the color white: White By Design 2, White by Desire, White by Design 3, The Perfect Gift, Off-White by Design

  • I’ll Take the Beret

    I was in Gizzi’s when a friend whispered to me that a short distance away was a classic throwback image: a woman wearing a bright red beret, sitting in a cafe. A bit pressured to catch her on camera, I learned only minutes later that she was one of the musical performers, affording me the opportunity for a more composed shot, appropriately with a framed photo of James Dean behind her.

    One of the iconic elements of the Beat generation’s dress was the beret. New York City was deeply entwined with the Beats, for a time the home of the man who invented the phrase itself: Jack Kerouac. The origins of the the Beats can be traced to Columbia University with the meeting of Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Hal Chase, and others.

    The beret is derived from the Greek pilos and is most associated with France, where it was first mass-produced in the 19th century. It has been popular with the nobility of Europe, the military, and artists, non-conformists, poets, hipsters, beatniks, bohemians, military activists (the Black Panthers and Che Guevara), and even New York City’s vigilante group, the Guardian Angels.

    I did buy a beret once, but it never seem to sit right, feeling rather awkward and needing to be perched askew to be worn properly. At various points in my life, I have indulged in the wearing of one hat or another. Typically these forays were tied into some new kick for very short periods of time, as I was always concerned about any coolness or identity being too wrapped up in the wearing of a particular hat. It’s a lot of image to live up to, and my biggest fear was taking my hat off and revealing the real, unadorned me.

    I always wondered what it would be like to wake up to someone who sports an outrageous, spiked Mohawk. Much like the Wicked Witch of the West, I imagine the coolness factor is severely damped by the harsh effects of water and shampoo. Berets were before my time, but as an obligatory uniform element of the rebel, between the convenience of the beret of the Beats over long hair of the sixties, I guess I’ll take the beret :)

    Note: The performer was Rosie Yadid of the duo Ghengisonogram. View their Youtube channel here.

    Related Posts: Birds of a Feather Tied Together, Hair, The Women, Yippies, Twelve Tribes Arrive

  • One-Trick Pony

    Not everyone is blessed with the depth and breadth of the Renaissance man. Often, a person may only have a singular talent, skill, idea, or gimmick which is clever but, like the one-tricky pony of early America, is not enough to build a world around. A circus needs more than one act.
    However, in New York City, with careful husbandry and aggressive marketing, one can cultivate even the most singular ideas and make a splash. In some cases, entire careers can be built around one trick, like the Naked Cowboy. Others, who are less ambitious, more interested in casual fun, or just want to enjoy the occasional limelight and ego boost can enjoy a degree of notoriety. Characters often frequent regular events or become neighborhood institutions - the proverbial big fish in the small pond. People like Spike or André, for example, are household names in the Village.

    Recently, after my annual pilgrimage to Fifth Avenue to visit the holiday window displays, I caroused Rockefeller Center, with its skating rink and the Christmas tree. Before leaving, I encountered the Candy Man, completely outfitted in a wardrobe decorated in Nerds candies, including sunglasses. He, like many others I have spoken to (such as Mark Birnbaum), cite the pleasure and happiness they bring others as one of the primary reasons they make public appearances.

    In a Christmas season with commercialism and gift-giving gone wild, what better gift to give others than a moment of joy, even if that of the One-Trick Pony :)

    Related Posts: King of Accordion, Swaggertist in Blue

  • Simple, But Effective

    I imagine you had to be there to appreciate the humor. The same man who swore that there was no reason not to move to Santa Barbara (see Not Going Anywhere here) was known for his pithy aphorisms. Some years ago, he offered one of my favorites.

    When fanfare, drama, and over-the-top displays are all around, how do you distinguish yourself? If you have traveled to Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, during the Christmas holiday season, you know what I am talking about (see stories here and here; see photo galleries here and here). With fierce pride, ego, and in the one-upmanship style often found among New York City residents, the Christmas displays in Dyker Heights have reached outrageous proportions. You’re certainly not going to stand out or even be noticed unless you take a radically different approach. And not everyone has the financial means or the motivation to stage a Disneyesque extravaganza on their front lawn.

    One holiday season, I was on one of my first visits touring the neighborhood with friends. One of our group was that very same man who made the threat regarding moving to Santa Barbara. As we cruised the area, we would periodically see a nice, elegant, but very modest display.

    As we passed these types of very simple displays, often perhaps just a string of lights in a single color hung elegantly in a tree, our friend would roll down his window in order to show respect, observe seriously as one might admire a fine work of art, and then state very approvingly with the utmost gravitas, “Simple, but effective.” This became the night’s refrain as, from time to time, any one of us spotting an appropriate candidate would call out, “Simple, but effective.” We loved it, and in the context of the evening as we became numbed by the extravagant displays, the phrase became hilarious and a mantra we would use for years to come whenever simple elegance reigned.

    On Monday night at the Village Halloween Parade, I began to weary of the costumes and overwhelming experience of it all – the crowds, traffic, police, media, competing photographers, and noise. I even began to tire of the brilliant creativity and wonderful pageantry. A fellow photographer actually came over to me, said that I looked too serious, and suggested that I enjoy it. After all, it was a parade. Lest I be seen as a burnt out curmudgeon, I will tell you that all of my friends, most of whom are long-time residents of the Village, have not gone to the parade in many eons – it’s just too much work if you have done it already. In my case, only my ability to get a press pass and enter the parade gives me incentive to go.

    I was not particularly focused – the sheer volume of paraders makes it impossible to see even a small number of the best costumes. Invariably, I am disappointed to see the most interesting participants following the parade night when looking at other photos.

    However, in all the mayhem, I spotted one woman who shone through it all with her simple costume. Perhaps you might want to say that this woman’s makeup strains the definition of “simple”. In a vacuum, you may be right, but at the annual Village Halloween Parade, it could easily be considered simple. So, my hat off to her for such a stunning costume amid the night’s festivities, achieved in a manner that we may say is Simple, But Effective :)

    Photo Note: This photo was to be included as the featured photo on yesterday’s parade posting, yet ironically, it was overlooked, buried on my computer desktop. When I was busy this morning closing all the parade photos, there it was, having been lost in the fanfare and flurry. This story immediately came to mind as I reflected on how one must be attentive or beauty can be missed, particularly when it is simple, but effective.

  • Halloween Parade 2011

    My fifth year at the annual Village Halloween Parade. A spectacular event. See my previous postings for photos and information about the parade: Halloween Parade 2010, Halloween Parade 2009, Halloween Parade 2008 Part 1 and Part 2, Village Halloween Parade 2007 #1 and #2, Village Parade 2007 Preview, Village Halloween Parade 2006 , Halloween Parade 2006 Preview

  • King of Accordion

    Barry does not ask for much. He only wants to be known as the King of Accordion. But the media attention he has received spins him the way it wants, so to the media, he is the King of whatever works best to suit their needs, including the front man to a recent Occupy Wall Street march. A little spin or artistic license often makes a story more enjoyable to read – I have been guilty of that myself. My writing has evolved from the fact-reporting style of the news journalist to one that is highly personal, weaving in connections from my life experience that are triggered by the place, person, or thing which I write about.

    Nonetheless, I do like to feel that I have neither misunderstood nor miscommunicated the feelings and thoughts of an individual subject. It is for this reason that on personal profiles, I often email a biographical inquiry and use excerpts so that you can read the subject’s own words, not my translation. I have also frequently recorded long meetings/interviews. I make these available as well.

    Barry Hamadyk, currently a Brooklyn resident, hails from New Jersey. Barry has played accordion since he was 5, and it is this love that he endeavors to communicate by attracting people with his regal garb. He can be found in the parks of New York City and is a habitue of Washington Square Park, sitting on a bench for passersby while recordings of accordion music play continuously. His preferred repertoire are waltzes and rhumbas. At one time he played organ for roller skating rinks.

    Barry found that as his wardrobe became more outlandish (along with his Nordic look), the more attention he got. Once a crown was added, response went through the royal roof. This organic transformation has evolved over the last 5 years. Although, at a surface level, one may see Barry as someone akin to our friend Mark Birnbaum (with a shared passion for music), the motivations for the flamboyant dress are actually quite different, as are the men and their backgrounds.

    Being referred to as the King of New York rather than the King of Accordion is not Barry’s only dismay with a news article recently written. It also was reported that “he gets a lot of money, too, without much effort.” However, Barry neither really solicits money nor collects it.

    I spoke with Barry for quite some time and found him extremely forthcoming and congenial. If you meet Barry in the parks of New York, say Hi and remember, he is the King of Accordion :)

    Related Posts: The Conductor

  • Garish Glory

    There’s no reason to apologize if the offense is within the eye of the beholder.

    There’s just something about Spandex World that everyone in my office loves. It’s a playground for the eye and hand. All that stretch. All that selection. For a riot of color, it’s hard to beat an emporium of brightly covered fabrics like Spandex World.

    The place screams We Sell Spandex in every color imaginable. Tie dye, neon fluorescents, wild patterns, textures, effects. It’s all here at 228 West 38th Street, in the heart of the garment district – the last surviving industry in New York City, smack in the middle of midtown Manhattan. Miraculous, really, to see the streets relatively unchanged in decades.

    There is a time and place for hard-to-find specialized products, and New York City delivers in niche product lines. If you want a lot or even just a little spandex in your life, you’re best off to go to that ultimate place – a business that has built a SHRINE to spandex*. A place that, like So Good, is unabashed, unapologetic, and proud to roll out the goods, regardless of whether those goods are outrageous, over-the-top, garish, or just so bright that they hurt the eyes.

    Spandex World is the kind of business that New Yorkers love to patronize and offer up proudly and smugly as the ultimate trump card in the game of street cred. Where else will you find a shop like this, with two full floors at street level of nothing but Spandex fabrics?

    This is not about feng shui, natural fibers, new age, or the soft pastel world of the French impressionist. This is SPANDEX WORLD in all its garish glory :)

    *Spandex or elastane is a polyurethane-polyurea copolymer co-invented in 1959 by chemists Joseph Shivers and C. L. Sandquist at DuPont’s Benger Laboratory in Waynesboro, Virginia. The invention was the culmination of 10 years of research by Shivers. It is branded as Lycra in the USA. The word spandex is an anagram for expands.

    Related Posts: Fashion Trash, Shrine to Paper, Soho Treasures

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