Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A weekend in Northeast Baltimore, Perry Hall, Maryland

I went to Baltimore for the weekend, staying with family near Perry Hall. As soon as I got there, I looked for the culture of suburbia, imagining what it is like to live there. After arriving at Baltimore Penn Station, we went to eat at the Kitchen of India on Joppa Road, which is lined with car dealerships. The sky was amazing, but everything below it on Joppa Road was kind of unpleasant.

The next few photos are of Chardel Road, near Belair Rd., where I was staying. Next day, clouds were gone and skies were that almost perfect shade of suburban blue. It's a car culture and I'm more used to urban methodologies - walking and taking the subway or the bus to get around. It enables me to not only go where I need to go when I need to go there without relying on a car, but also to see who is in the neighborhood and what the social reality is - including language, dress, ethnicity, ages, and activities - engagement is what I'm talking about. City living allows for engagement with people on a level that's both personal and impersonal.

I took a walk in Perry Hall and saw two people: one was a woman on a balcony, who came out of her house to see what her small white yappy dog was barking at (me, of course) and she pulled the dog back into the house as though it needed protection from me. The second person was someone in the condo village parking lot, a man who followed me into the condo building and watched me take the last two photos. It was as though he were doing some kind of neighborhood watch and needed to witness my activities. I was a stranger and I was doing something suspicious - taking pictures of the hallway. 

I would not enjoy living here. I don't mean to be an urban snob, but suburban culture is not so good. Except for the birds - there were lots of birds there. They were probably coming back to the marsh that their species had been mating in for centuries. Only now, it's a suburban development and no longer a marsh on the Chesapeake.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Yesterday, playing the game of life.

This is how the day went: I first noticed a gentleman on the G-train wearing this black jumpsuit. i thought it looked great. Then, at 86th and 4th Ave in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, I waited for the S93 bus to take me across the Verrazano Bridge to the college of Staten Island, where I teach. Then, after teaching I decided to take the Staten Island Ferry home rather than take the bus. 

While waiting for the Ferry on the SI side, I watched the security guys (who do they work for? the Port Authority? the NYPD? Homeland Security?) pick people out of the crowd to have their bags 'searched' by the bomb-sniffing dog. Everyone complied. Some said "thanks" after being searched. I felt highly ambivalent, not wanting to see random searches without warrants be totally okay with people, but also not wanting the ferry to be bombed and have me bobbing in freezing water hoping to be saved. Is it a tossup? 

On the ferry, my iPhone made a mistake and took a great picture that I could never have planned - a bifurcated scene, the top half of which is blurred and bleeding into the in-focus bottom half. I love this shot! Then off to Killarney Rose in the Financial District for a pow-wow with a friend. 

On my way home, there's a man doing classical Indian dancing in the Atlantic Terminal subway station. His girlfriend is on the side waiting patiently and texting most of the time. I exited the station behind a man pulling two large suitcases, and young boy. They seemed distressed. He was trying to figure out how to exit with the two bags and was relieved to find the elevator. And finally, my favorite bus, the B38, as it rolls down Lafayette Avenue towards Throop, and my home. That was my day. Pretty good, overall.