Monday, May 31, 2010

Sweet Pea Saved!

You may recall that last week Ulla and I were trying to coax a small stray dog into coming home with us. Actually we were trying to coax her into going home with Ulla. We didn't have much success although we came close.

Ulla went looking and encountered Sweet Pea everyday after that.

Sweet Pea would always follow Ulla home but never come inside. Ulla couldn't put a leash on her, but the dog consistently followed Ulla to the apartment house. She would not come into the building. Sweet pea would pause, turn around, and trot back, through the streets of Jersey City, to the dump under the highway where she chose to live.

Thursday it stormed. Ulla did not see Sweet Pea when she went to the dump under the highway.

Ulla continued to leave food for Sweet Pea.

I went out to JC on Friday and went with Ulla to the dump under the highway looking for any sign of the dog.

We found the empty containers that Ulla had filled with food and left out for Sweet Pea. Even though Ulla had not seen her for one day and a half, we had definite signs that the pup was still in the area.

I went home. I wasn't sure we'd ever see the dog again. I didn't say anything to Ulla about my doubts. I really didn't know anymore than she did.

Then, later that night, Ulla called me.

She said 'Guess what!'.

I said 'You got her!'.

I guessed right.

Ulla went back Friday and encountered Sweet Pea at the dump under the highway in Jersey City.

As usual Sweet Pea walked Ulla all the way to her apartment house. This time Sweet Pea came into the building and followed Ulla into the apartment.

A new chapter in Sweet Pea's life is starting.

Think of that.

Here are some pictures of Ulla and the little dog we've been calling 'Sweet Pea'. This is Ulla and Sweet Pea canoodling.


Sweet Pea is an affection sponge. She loves to be petted and is always jonesing for a belly rub.

She seems to be sort of house trained. There have been no 'accidents' reported, as far as I know.

I gave her a belly rub yesterday.

We really know nothing about her... Where she's from.... What happened to her..., etc. She can't tell us.

I guess Sweet Pea is a Jersey dog, but that's ok.

Nobody is perfect.

She's now seeing parts of the city she's never seen before. Sweet Pea is easy to walk and is very well behaved.

She hasn't barked once when I've been around. She doesn't mind me.

It looks like Sweet Pea will be a winner after all. It might not have turned out that way.

But we don't have to think about that anymore.

Best wishes to you, Sweet Pea.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dog Hunt

My friend Ulla, who I call 'Patty', encountered a stray dog while walking her own dog. I went out there on Sunday for a visit and we decided to see if this little dog would show up. She did. That day she was called 'Harriet' by Ulla, but since then her name was changed to 'Sweet Pea'.

She's probably very young, less than 1 year I would guess. Sweet Pea is very friendly and indescribably smart.

Here's Sweet Pea.

Ulla's dog is named 'Jack'. Here's a picture of Ulla and Jack out for a walk that day in Jersey City, NJ.

Ulla has been leaving food and water for Sweet Pea in an effort to help her out. Thank God the weather is warm. Sweet Pea will even eat from Ulla's hand. That dog knows what's what.

She's a wonderful dog and loves to play with Jack. Here they are having nothing but fun.

This is a picture of Sweet Pea adopting a 'play posture'. When a dog sticks it butt up like that it's an indication that she wants to play.

Ulla and I tried to think of a way to get a leash on Sweet Pea. I had the idea that if we sat down and acted nonchalant, Sweet Pea would settle down. If we then offered food, maybe we could get a leash on her.

The secret of life is acting nonchalant.

This idea partially worked. Sweet Pea hung out with us and everything was very sedate.

As I said, she's very smart and when I tried to put a collar on her she darted away out of reach.

These pictures were taken by Ulla.

This would be a picture that I took of Sweet Pea. Ulla is in the background taking a picture from another angle.

Sweet Pea is very attached to us up to a point. She followed us all the way back to Ulla's apartment, but we could not coax her to come inside. She did edge into the building, but ran out before I could close the door.

Ultimately, this isn't about me.

Maybe if Ulla doesn't feed Sweet Pea so much, she might get hungry enough to come into the building and let Ulla provide her with a home.

Hi, Sweet Pea

I'll update this post as news develops.

'There are 8 million stories in the Naked City and this has been one of them' - Mark Hellinger

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fritz Lang: Metropolis and elsewhere

We ventured down to the Film Forum on West Houston to see the restored version of the 1926 German silent science fiction epic 'Metropolis'. The film was notoriously cut soon after its release. The plot of the film didn't make much sense to begin with and removing 30 minutes didn't help. Fans of the film always marveled at the films scale, the beauty of it's design, and camera innovations.
Fritz Lang would have told you that he was the greatest film maker in Europe in the 20s. 'Metropolis' was the most expensive movie ever made at the time.

Due to to rise of the Nazis, Lang was compelled to leave Germany. There is a bizarre tale around his departure that involves propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. You can read the wiki site for detail, but the story can't be verified.

Lang emigrates to France in 1932. He is later contracted by MGM and moves to Hollywood where he settles permanently in 1936. He makes 21 films over the next 21 years!

In America, he establishes himself as a highly proficient genre director and a progenitor of Film Noir. In Europe, he directed epic projects, but in America his budgets were more modest but he always maintained his core vision and his entire oeuvre is infused with paranoia, mystery and obsession.

Alfred Hitchcock dubbed himself the 'Master of Suspense'. The BFI named Lang the 'Master of Darkness'. Most cool.

To quote the wiki on Metropolis:

'Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and makes use of this context to explore a political theme of the day: the social crisis between workers and owners in capitalism. The film was produced in the Babelsberg Studios by Universum Film A.G. (UFA). The most expensive silent film ever made, it cost approximately 5 million Reichsmark.'

Featured in the film is a Robot referred to as the Maschinenmensch. Pictured here with her inventor, the evil scientist Rotwang, it is disguised to look like a real woman and is sent among the enslaved workers of Metropolis to incite riots and violence.

The robot is sleekly designed and futuristic nearly 85 years later. All science fiction fans recognize this iconic image.

'M' is Fritz Lang's first sound movie. Made in Germany in 1931 it starred Peter Lorre in his first film role as the 'Kinder Mörderer', the Child Murderer, a serial killer who preys on children. By extension I guess that meant he was a pedophile.

The film is filled with expressionistic imagery and nail biting suspense. Not only is Peter pursued by the police but by criminal elements as well. The underworld feels the heat from the police crackdown on all criminal activity due to Lorre, and decide to find him themselves.

This idea of the underground criminal society shows up in later Lang films and is echoed the spy films of the 60's. James Bond's super criminal nemesis 'Specter' is inspired by this.

Once in Hollywood, Lang worked chiefly in genre films notably Film Noir. While The City Sleeps, 1956, is one example of Lang's output. The visual style is a little flatter due to budget but the film is still preoccupied with crime, and in this case, the effect of a serial killer on a city and the staff of a newspaper trying to guess his identity.

The cast includes Dana Andrews, Thomas Mitchell, George Sanders, Vincent Price, and Ida Lupino! Time Out called this Lang's most underrated film.

Many Hollywood stars had the opportunity to work with Lang. Not all of them liked the experience. Henry Fonda recalled hating Lang for making Gene Tierney cry on the set of 'Return of Frank James'.

Other stars worked with Lang on more than one occasion. Edward G. Robinson, Glenn Ford, Gloria Graham, Dan Duryea, and Dana Andrews are but a few.

This is a picture of Lang with Joan Bennett.

Bennett and husband Walter Wanger formed a production company with Lang and she appeared in 4 of his films. Remember Joan from the tv show 'Dark Shadows'?

Lang, the Hollywood studio professional, made Westerns, too! What does a German emigre know about the American West? When Lang came to America, he was fascinated by American Culture. Friends and colleagues remember how his speech was always peppered with the latest American slang.

Rancho Notorious is a 1952 western starring Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, and Mel Ferrer. In it Marlene ran a criminal hideaway called Chuck-A-Luck and Arthur and Mel vie for her attention.

A Lang western could feature beautiful vistas. Contrasting Lang with a director like John Ford, a Lang film might also take place in little, shadowy, claustrophobic cabins and play up the hoof beats and gunfire more than celebrating pioneer virtues.

If you'd like to learn more about Fritz Lang, then check his wiki page. You might also try to find a copy of 'Fritz Lang in America' by Peter Bogdanovich which is the transcript of several interviews with Lang.

We had a great time on Sunday at the Film Forum.

Jim, right in the picture, went to the movie with me and I guess we look a little bleary after sitting through the 2.5 hour opus.

Bobby, center, did not attend the showing. He just looks like that normally.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

NYC Blackout 8/2003 #2

The last NYC blackout occurred on 8/14/2003. I was consulting midtown and I got a few shots of what was happening around the city.
People were confused but generally the mood was one of calm. It was hot. Street vendors sold bottles of Poland Spring. Only pizza shops were serving food. Their bari ovens used gas and not electricity.

The above shot is 42nd street looking east from the Grand Central overpass. Traffic was at a standstill so it was easy to get up there. People were on the streets wondering how to get out to the boroughs or NJ.

Here is Times Sq looking south at 43rd street. Notice that the news screen is dark as are the other signs. I should have gone back when it was dark to see what it was like and get a picture.

I spent the night in Union Square since it was a so hot and the AC was out. I found a clean card board box to use as a mattress. Many people had the same idea.
Musicians were playing music and banging tom toms all night long and there were dancers performing in 'glow in the dark' costumes. It was a party.

Why no pictures of the performers? Oh, never mind.

'There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them'

If you were here for the black out, and even if you weren't, I'd be interested to see your comments.

More later...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Coney Island 9/2003 #1

In 2003, during the month of September, the planet Mars was visible in the eastern sky. It appeared as a little red dot to the naked eye.

Physicists from Columbia University decided to set up telescopes on the beach at Coney Island to observe Mars when it was closest to Earth. They invited the public to come to the beach and peek at Mars.

How cool is that?

Above is a striking picture of the sun setting over Astroland. Astorland is gone now but it is being replaced this summer.

Getting back to the story; I sprang into action and grabbed my camera so that I could photograph the people checking out Mars. I thought it would also be a great opportunity to get some interesting shots of Coney Island as the sun went down. The astronomers were not going to set up till 9:00 pm.

These are the people from Columbia University. They were pretty friendly and I decided to shoot them without the flash. Very impressionistic.

Lots more pictures from this batch, featuring many fascinating people, coming up in later posts.

'There are 8 million stories in the Naked City, and this has been one of them.'