A little late on this but I posted a few photos I took in NYC this year over at my Tumblr, Eye Heart New York.
This year seemed like my most sheltered, uncreative year yet…even so, according to Flickr’s count, 3/4 of the 3,000+ photos I’ve uploaded in total took place in 2011. I guess when so much just happens next to me (basically, OccupyWallStreet camping out a few blocks away) it’s hard not to snap a few pics. I almost broke the million views mark (for the two years that I’ve been on Flickr) and one of my photos finally made it on someone’s dining room wall, so not too bad a year no matter what it felt.
Here’s a few of the photos; visit Eye Heart New York for the rest:
See the rest at Eye Heart New York
Last Wednesday, in my haste to get it over with before I forgot about it after a weekend at NICAR, I threw up a hand-compiled chart of New York museums and other cultural attractions, focused primarily on when they were open and free. This was in response to a NY reddit user who asked just the right question to hit my “hey-maybe-*I*-can-do-something” buttons:
Does something like this exist? A chart? It seems like every museum has a day or two that it isn’t open and then one day that it’s open late (ideal for me) but they’re all different. Today, for example, I thought “I’d like to go to a museum but it’s going to be 5 soon and I have no idea if any are open late.” If somebody has an idea how this could be most logically put together, I wouldn’t mind doing it. I just can’t even imagine what form this would take other than some dry list or spreadsheet.
Well, I’m not much of a designer but I like making stuff that uses simple color bars and graphics to represent data, ever since my boss made me attend a Edward Tufte lecture. I also am a big fan of the special nights that museums have; a friend took me to the MOMA on one of the Target Free Fridays and I became a member afterward; I can’t count the times I’ve been since or the number of friends I’ve brought in, at the $5 member discount rate. Considering my tendency to sit around at home, I may have never gone without that first free night.
I got interview requests from writers at the Village Voice and the WSJ the day the map went up, so hopefully this chart gets out to the people who need one more reminder to check out all that’s great in this city.
The site’s a pretty lame technical feat; I looked at list of museums from Wikipedia and Yelp and then hit up each website to fill out a spreadsheet, which I converted to a webpage that’s way too big of a file for being mostly simple HTML. I guess I could’ve run a scraper on each site, but I wanted to acquaint myself with each place so I could get inspired to check out some new places. The info-gathering was by far the most painful and time-consuming aspect of this (my humble explanation for why it would take 7 days to make a sloppy HTML page with a Google map on top). It reminded me of the many restaurants that make you click through bouncy Flash graphics just to find their business hours. In defense of the museums though, their site-design M.O. is probably to wow people enough with images so that they won’t mind digging through to find the pertinent visitor and admission info. Still, it’s kind of annoying for those of us who just want to get down to some art-seeing business.
Now that I’ve got the basic info down, along with a lot of the museums’ social media links, the next step will be to…well, make this a real site from a framework rather than a Ruby script that reads from a Google spreadsheet. Then, to make a newsfeed of exhibits and events and put everything in a standard hcard format. I’ll probably tackify the site up with photos I’ve taken, too. As someone who needs Google to find what direction I’m walking in, I’m always kind of reluctant to do what the Great Indexers, including Wikipedia contributors, have already done. But then again, those broad informational frameworks don’t always show you enough specific details up front (such as the existence of free hours) to encourage you to go beyond the first search results. And since working on the Dollars for Docs project, I’ve learned there’s always a way to make already-easily available information much more useful.
Check out IHeartNYMuseums.com here.
Usually it’s pretty easy to get to your train at Grand Central, unless someone decides to hold a fashion event in the main terminal. I was lucky enough to have been in the front when this fashion event’s organizers started making room for the 150+ dancers, I put a bunch of photos in this Flickr set.
The New York Times wrote about how difficult it was to put together a show in a landmark like Grand Central post-9/11:
“The city was very specific about not mentioning flash mob,” Mr. Coppers said. Still, a flash mob is what it looked like at 7:25 to the unsuspecting travelers scanning the announcement board for their track numbers and reading about ice conditions on the Hudson shutting down the Haverstraw-Ossining Ferry.
They suddenly found themselves infiltrated by a large and highly coordinated group of what appeared to be chic aliens, appearing out of nowhere to take over the terminal. There were 363 of them, 163 wearing goggles and vividly colored ski clothes and another 200 hired to pass as ordinary travelers.
At a signal from Etienne Russo, the Belgian mastermind of the Moncler Grenoble event (and the man who once had a Swedish iceberg cut into pieces and shipped to the Grand Palais in Paris for a Chanel show), the extras began clearing the concourse for what was surely the most ambitious and spectacular event of Fashion Week and the only one impossible to transplant to any other place.
“For months I thought it was not doable, but I was obsessed,” Mr. Russo had said. Six hours before the show began, he was pacing around a rehearsal studio in a warehouse set by the East River in the outer reaches of Brooklyn, as the choreographer Luam put her dancers — some trained but many not — through their paces.
“We wanted to do something in Times Square, but because of what happened, that’s impossible,” Mr. Russo added, referring to the attempted car bombing. “But as soon as we came to Grand Central, I said it has to be here.”
Umbrellas forward in Chinatown New York Blizzard, January 26, 2011, originally uploaded by Dan Nguyen @ New York City.
Another great snowstorm for New York, this one was definitely more substantial than the last one. I went out to Chinatown, NoHo, and Nolita to see the flakes come down and was lucky I didn’t lose a finger to frostbite. You can see all my Winter 2010-2011 photos in my Flickr set.
2010 wasn’t a very productive year for me in terms of photography. I can think of two factors: this investigative project taking up most of my time the latter part of the year, and getting a Canon S90 (well, two of them, since I lost one). Not that the S90 isn’t great; a few snapshots from it are on this list. But it made photography a lot more casual for me, rather than something I worked at.
So as a result, there’s not a lot of variety here and everything seems somewhat distant and impersonal. I don’t know if these are my top sentimental or technical favorites, but they’re the ones that stood out after a quick look-through of my Flickr this morning.
Subway, car, and foot…the snow drifts conquered it all. I’ve seen snow fall into a subway platform before, but not huge drifts (this photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s the only one I have that actually caught the train in focus).
The R train arrives at a snowed in 8th Street Station – New York Blizzard Snowstorm Blargfest, originally uploaded by Dan Nguyen NY.
I love that mass-transit-dependent New Yorkers won’t hesitate to help push a car out of the snow. It’s so strange to walk through the otherwise traffic-clogged streets that pushing a car through Astor Place is actually a treat.
I wish I had booties, like my friend’s dog:
If I lived equidistant between Coney Island and Central Park, I don’t know if I could decide between the two where to put the towel. I was so impressed with how well kept Coney was that I told to my friend that it had been overly maligned by my friends, but I guess it helps to come after a massive renovation of the area.
A++ would recommend again
I know that nothing in a city as big as New York should shock me, even during a period of record-low violent crime.
But the rape and murder of Yu Yao (also spelled Yau, in some reports), a 23-year-old woman who came over from China just two months ago, was enough to snap me from my normal Monday night routine.
Maybe it was the that-could-be-me element: It was only 9 p.m. on Sunday, May 16 when Yu was attacked, while walking back from the grocery on a relatively busy street in Flushing.
Maybe it’s the pure brutality of the killing: Her attacker smashed her face with a pipe, then drug her into an alley to beat and rape her. (some reports say that a surveillance tape shows several passersby apparently ignoring the attack) Yao was in a coma for a week before life-support was pulled on May 22.
Maybe it’s the hard-working immigrant angle. She reportedly moved here just 2 months ago on a student visa to live with a distant uncle, worked in a nail salon, and hoped to become a lawyer. After the attack, authorities frantically tried to find her parents half the world away to tell them what happened. And, presumably, to know whether or not they wanted to keep Yu on life support. As a 23-year-old Chinese citizen, she may have been their only child.
I know Yu’s is just one death out of the hundreds of murders in New York annually. But the news editor in me suggests that this would’ve gotten more coverage if it was a young American woman who had been raped and left brain-dead on a Sunday summer night. Not out of bias, necessarily, but the cultural gulf and language barrier probably makes this story too difficult to cover in a 24-hour-news cycle.
I came to New York on easy circumstances, with a good job and good friends waiting. So I admire anyone who can take the risk of moving to this busy, beautiful but uncaring city, especially from a foreign country. It’s common to fail and leave here because of the expense or the noise or the cold. But to die like that, so cruelly in an alley?
Carlos Salazar Cruz, the 28-year-old alleged murderer, was also an immigrant. He moved here two years ago from Mexico and worked at a fish market, according to the Daily News. His sister, contacted by the Daily News, said of Cruz: “”He never acted violently….We just don’t know why he would do this. We can’t explain it.”
As someone who covered crime for a short time, I always wondered if I’d become completely desensitized to crime reports. And in New York, enough happens that even a crime like is just a blurb in the papers for a week (also in the local news today, a murder conviction in a triple-slaying at a Newark schoolyard involving guns, machetes, and rape. It was a nationwide story in 2007, but I don’t remember it) . I don’t know whether to feel better that yes, I can still be shocked. Or to be depressed that there is just no upper-limit to horror and tragedy, even when the victim is a complete stranger.
Update (5/28): China’s state English-language paper has a piece on the community activism following Yu’s death. It touches on the long-held perception that Asians won’t fight back:
A week after the rape, several Chinese residents in Flushing teamed up to patrol the neighborhood each weekday night. The team has since expanded to almost 40 members, one-fifth of whom are women, said Zhu Lichuang, president of the New York Chinese Associations Alliance. Zhu started the watch and is one of its volunteers.
“They (the criminals) choose this place because they think Chinese are usually obedient, like carrying cash and prefer to keep silent about incidents,” he said. “So we need to take some actions to show these people that they are wrong.”
Earlier this week, Yu Guihua, Yao’s mother, arrived at Newark airport from Heilongjiang province to the grim news of her daughter’s death. Yao’s father, who is in poor health back in China, has not still been informed.
“My child, you’re so well-behaved, why did you have such a fate,” Yu cried out. “My daughter was very pretty, why did he beat her like that?”
The New York State Assembly’s Grace Meng said several pedestrians witnessed the attack but walked away.
Having lived in Flushing for 23 years, Zhu said the rape case is the “most astonishing” crime he’s heard about in this neighborhood. “It’s not a premeditated crime, which however adds to its seriousness,” he said. “It exposes the problems we have had here for a long time – We Chinese are not unified enough, nor do we care enough about each other.”
Update (6/1): Carlos Salazar Cruz made his first appearance in Queens Supreme Court on June 1, and pandemonium broke loose. Guihua Yu, Yao’s mother, tried to attack Cruz in court, according to the Daily News. Cruz also said in a jailhouse interview with the NYDN that he was too drunk to remember the incident:
“I want to kill that man!,” Guihua Yu wailed repeatedly in her native Mandarin. “I want my daughter back!”
Guihua, 55, tried to pull away by grabbing at a courthouse bench as state court officers moved in.
Later, she was wheeled out of the courthouse on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
During the brief morning hearing in Queens Supreme Court, prosecutors upgraded charges against Carlos Salazar Cruz to second-degree murder for the May 16 attack on Yu Yao, 23.
In a jailhouse interview with the Daily News, Cruz claimed he’d been drinking for two days and can’t remember the attack.
“I never wanted to hurt her,” he said. “I never even met her.”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2010/06/01/2010-06-01_mother_of_yu_yao_chinese_immigrant_killed_in_pipe_attack_charges_accused_killer_.html#ixzz0pi3QUoCL
Update: 4/28/2011 Nearly a year later, Yu Yao’s killer received his punishment. Carlos Salazar Cruz, now 29, received the maximum sentence of 22-years-to-life in prison for agreeing to plead guilty to second-degree murder. Even though Yu Yao’s murder was one of the too-many terrible crimes in this past year, her story has received significant attention, then, and today. Much of the coverage has focused on the dramatic confrontation between Cruz and Yu Yao’s mother, who had to be granted a special visa in order to both receive her daughter’s body last year and then now, to attend the sentencing of Cruz. The pure senselessness of the murder has not abated with the resolution, however. Cruz, both at the time of his arrest and during his sentencing, professed an inability to understand his actions that night and blamed it on drug use and alcohol.
Yao was our sun, our hope, our dreams, our future and our strength,” Guihua Yu told Carlos Salazar Cruz, who sat at the defense table with his head bowed.
“You beast!” she shouted during the nearly 45-minute tongue-lashing.
“I just wanted to be able to hold her and see her. What I saw was a corpse, a dead body,” she mourned.
“You have destroyed our lives,” Yu wailed. “Come back my daughter! My only child. I have lost my child. My child, my child.”
Cruz, another immigrant pursuing the American Dream, blamed his troubles on the alcohol and crack cocaine that buoyed him during his forced separation from his wife and child in Mexico.
“I ask for forgiveness,” Cruz said through a Spanish language translator. “God our Lord knows that I am completely repentant for my sins.”