Recently in Happy Category

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untitled (dogwood moon) 2017

under a January dogwood moon, from inside the garden of our building

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I love my pot.

The large, antique handmade tin-lined copper pot came from a French seller over a year ago, and it quickly became one of my favorite cooking tools.

The lid came on Saturday.

I've been looking for a proper copper cover, a 'universal-style' flat lid, ever since it arrived, and yesterday 'the ship came in' again, so to speak. It took a long time to find one of its size, but when I finally did, it was a perfect match, a perfect fit as a cover, and it looked like it could have been fashioned by the same maker, a long time ago. It's also in perfect shape, top, bottom, and wrought iron handle.

In addition, as a universal lid, meaning it's flat and doesn't have to correspond with the exact diameter of the vessel, I can use it on at least five different pots and pans that I already have, made of various materials. It hangs on an old square-cut nail on the kitchen wall, so it will always be immediately accessible.

The 27cm (10.5 inch) high-sided tin-lined copper pot in the picture weighs 8 pounds, the lid 2 pounds. Heavy is good in the pots and pans world.

Along with the heavy canvas bags of groceries I regularly lug home from the Union Square Greenmarket, this pot and others I use, including some that have been with me for many decades, whether steel, copper, cast iron, or enameled cast iron (all materials outweighing the vintage clear Pyrex pots), constitute my upper body exercise routine.

While these copper treasures don't come cheaply, the price new of anything similar to what I have acquired 'used' is totally off the chart, and the product is likely to be inferior, even aside from considerations of aesthetics and, well, soul.

I've always been very lucky in the used kitchen utensil market, as I have been in the used anything market.

My ultimate excuse for an indulgence in this area (I mean, nobody needs copper pots) is the happiness cooking brings to both of us, and others, when we can share, and the thought of how much we save by not depending on commercial kitchens.

Still, there are good arguments for these things.


NOTE: I don't polish my copper pans; I use them (although I used to occasionally polish the new copper tubs in my 1760 Providence house; I also used them)

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on the fence


Today is the eleventh anniversary of this blog. During the past year posting has remained a little sluggish, especially when compared to peak times, say, before the modern miracle, and seductive distraction, of Twitter, but I have no intention of letting the site lapse altogether.

In the meantime, this is a brief description of its history, in the same words I used a year ago:


The blog began when, finding myself totally frustrated with the idiocy and brutishness of my country's response to the events of September 11 and feeling almost totally isolated in my disgust, I started sending a series of emails to people I knew well, sharing my thoughts and my anger. A few months later I started jameswagner.com, intending it to be a more structured - and more widely broadcast - form for the kinds of unelicited rants with which I had been testing the patience of my friends. It was also intended to include ruminations on subjects in which I thought others might share my interest.

Almost from the start there were entries on politics, the arts, queerdom, history, New York and the world, and within a year they began to be accompanied by images and photographs. Many of the latter have been my own.


April 27 also marks the anniversary of the day I met Barry, my perfect partner in everything (and Wunderkind webmaster); it was exactly twenty two-years ago tonight.


[for an image of number of years this blog has been operating, I chose the last two digits of an address shown on a fence I saw in Midtown today]

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adding them up


Today marks the end of a full decade for this blog.

As I have been more than a little slow in posting over the past year (probably from having discovered more of the outside world - and of course Twitter), I felt I didn't deserve a real number on this anniversary; instead of a 10 I've gone for three numbers which add up to 10.

I can't predict what, or how much, will show up in the blog over the next year, but It's not going away. In the meantime this is a brief description of its history, in pretty much the same words I used a year ago:


The blog began when, finding myself totally frustrated with the idiocy and brutishness of my country's response to the events of September 11 and feeling almost totally isolated in my disgust, I started sending a series of emails to people I knew well, sharing my thoughts and my anger. A few months later I started jameswagner.com, intending it to be a more structured - and more widely broadcast - form for the kinds of unelicited rants with which I had been testing the patience of my friends. It was also intended to include ruminations on subjects in which I thought others might share my interest.

Almost from the start there were entries on politics, the arts, queerdom, history, New York and the world, and within a year they began to be accompanied by images and photographs. Many of the latter have been my own.


April 27 is another anniversary for me, much more precious and infinitely more important than the launch of this modest little blog: I met Barry, my perfect partner in everything (and Wunderkind webmaster) exactly twenty one-years ago today.


[the image is that of the modernist numbers above one of the entrances of the building two doors down from us, a very sturdy structure which incidentally houses the National Office of the American Communist Party USA]

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this clock has been stuck on nine for some time; I'm moving on to ten


Today marks the ninth anniversary of this blog. It began when, finding myself totally frustrated with the idiocy and brutishness of my country's response to the events of September 11 and feeling almost totally isolated in my disgust, I started sending a series of emails to people I knew well, sharing my thoughts and my anger. A few months later I started jameswagner.com, intending it to be a more structured and more widely broadcast form for the kinds of unelicited rants which were testing the patience of my friends. It was also intended to include ruminations on subjects in which I thought others might share my interest.

Almost from the start there were entries on politics, the arts, queerdom, history, New York and the world, and within a year they began to be accompanied by images and photographs. Many of the latter have been my own.


April 27 marks another anniversary for me, one infinitely more important than the launch of this modest little blog: I met Barry, my perfect partner in everything, and Wunderkind webmaster, exactly twenty years ago today.


[the image is that of a beautiful clock mounted high on the outside of the handsome bank located across the street from our apartment, the modernist West 23rd St. building constructed for The Broadway Savings Bank in 1948; the architect was Harold R. Sleeper]

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It's now the twelfth day, and even if some of us are thousands of miles away from the magnificent heroes in Egypt, I think we're all pretty stressed out. Maybe it's time for a tribute to the Egyptian soul and sense of humor - with a bit of soul and humor from, you guessed it, the Germans!

The image above is from a Der Spiegel page of 14 totally enchanting (is that too irreverent? I don't think so) images from the demonstrations in Cairo, headlined "Mit Suppentöpfen ins Getümmel" [With soup pots into the fray]. I love the German language!

The article is about the need of the protesters in Tahrir Square for homemade helmets as protection from the violent attacks of paid Mubarack supporters, and their improvised solutions. The pictures don't even require translated captions.

I have absolutely no doubts that these wonderful people are going to be able to successfully defend their revolution.


NOTE: Except when they are my own, I always credit the source of the images I use on this blog, and I include the name of the photographer when I can find it. Especially in consideration of the horrible circumstances under which all photographers are operating at this time in Egypt, I am very disturbed that there was no name attached to these images. I can only hope that the explanation has to do with the personal protection of their author.


[image from Der Spiegel (Agence France-Presse)]


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Barry and I were at Grand Ferry Park Saturday afternoon, but, bicycle-less and resolved to remain fully-clothed, we were were able to offer nothing more than admiration and documentation for New York's contribution to the World Naked Bike Ride. We watched an upbeat crowd of enthusiasts assemble and ride off in a deliciously and infectiously brash rally which took them over the Williamsburg Bridge and into Manhattan as far north as the UN before returning across the river later to party.

Enthusiasts in cities all over the planet have been taking this annual event very seriously for years. They seem to get it, even if New York doesn't. With an ebullience and a commitment which should be heartening to anyone who questions our culture of oil and cars, and who supports a sustainable transport alternative, people elsewhere have taken to the streets in impressive numbers - and in unashamed expression. Until yesterday however, in spite of (or because of?) the Naked Bike Ride's Dionysian attractions and its celebration of freedom, New York's participation had for years been chimerical, and finally pretty underwhelming.

I doubt anyone's been counting cheeks, but it looks to me like the city "showed" better this year (even if we're not yet up to the standard set by a certain awesome English seaside resort town).


Note: To be fair, the images I'm publishing at the top and bottom of this post are a somewhat misleading representation of what the bicyclists looked like once they hit the road. Many of the costumes seen here were later removed, beginning even as the group was assembling at the top of Grand Ferry Park. To wit:


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In the still and video images I've seen on line, most spectators around the city seem to have enjoyed their exposure to the group's rolling march, but some may be asking what's the connection between environmentalism, bicycles, and nakedness. Why is this action naked? I may be prejudiced, but I'd say that not only do bikes have a huge potential for raising the quality of the environmental, one which we could start realizing almost immediately, but bikes also (when used civilly) seem to be able to charm almost anyone.

So bikes may be excellent poster children for saving the planet, but why naked bicyclists?

Two years ago Mark Barwell, a very fit-looking English environmental activist, took part in the Brighton & Hove Naked Bike Ride, and the BBC interviewed him prior to the run, photographing him in road costume ("completely starkers", as the reporter offered in the accompanying audio link). Barwell discussed the serious objectives of the demonstration and went on to address what everyone always zeros in on: "The idea is to be as loud as possible, really", he said, and then he offered the best explanation ever for its anomalous motif: [my transcript below]

Cyclists on the road are really the most vulnerable road users. Cycle lanes tend to appear and disappear all over the place, and drivers as a rule are quite sensitive to cyclists on the road, but there are quite a lot of issues where we're very much vulnerable, and that's where the naked thing comes in. It's to highlight the vulnerability, and also, as a follow through, to celebrate body freedom, and the fact that a naked body really isn't that bad a deal.

It must have had something to do with the rendezvous' Williamsburg location: I don't think I've ever before seen so much pale nerd skin, its beauties enhanced here by a lot of body paint broadcasting genuine conviction.


The image at the top is of the group about to leave the park; those which appear below were all collected in the hour before.


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For much more, go to the New York Post video site for Jeff Lieberman's excellent video coverage of the ride's swath through Manhattan.


[I tried my best to get this post up sooner, but I was having serious server problems all day Sunday]


ADDENDA: I've uploaded additional images on Flickr, and Gothamist has more photos and video (look for Oliver "waving" to the cars on the bridge); go for the slide show on John Zwinck's feed and that of dogseat

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but it won't be just about the uniform


I love bikes; I love bicyclists; I love naked. Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, in a rare, very special concurrence of the stars, like-minded enthusiasts will be privileged to witness or be part of an awesome event promising all three distractions - if they make their way over to Williamsburg some time around 5 o'clock.

World Naked Bike Ride will be celebrated by New York-area enthusiasts starting with a rally beginning at that hour in Grand Ferry Park. Time's Up! has the details here.

The annual world-wide event is described by our local activists as "A fun and liberating protest towards reducing the dangers posed to our world and our bodies by auto and oil dependence!", and they advise:

Clothing is optional, please come as bare as you dare. Creative costuming is also highly encouraged. Body painting and bike decoration will start at 5pm, with the ride departing no sooner than 6:30pm, no later than 7:00pm. Be sure to bring lights, bells, a sense of humor and a positive attitude!

There will be plenty of laughs to accompany a message born in disgust and anger, and one which is growing increasingly louder, but the continuing, and still unfolding, news about the horrors of the Gulf oil spill ensures that both the humor and the protest will be more visible and powerful this year.

The media can no longer afford to ignore the issues which will bring masses of colorful and determined bicyclists into streets all around the world tomorrow.


The picture at the top is from last year's (world-wide) event, specifically, "Naked Bike Ride London 2009". The Brits seem totally into it.


[image from itslefty via Flickr]

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Harry Wieder, above at lower right, at a press conference calling for wheelchair access seven days a week to the James A. Farley Post Office. [Times caption]


Today's New York Times will include this lovely, absolutely lovely piece about Harry Wieder (which the paper unfortunately burdened with a totally lame headline*) by Susan Dominus: "Remembering the Little Man Who Was a Big Voice for Causes".

He sometimes attended seven or eight meetings in a day, even if he snored his way through one or two of them. His friends joked that he must have a clone — “but why would anyone clone someone that strange?” Mr. Wasserman [Marvin Wasserman, a longtime ally and occasional victim] said.


*
I dunno, but I think I actually prefer, "Gay dwarf activist killed by New York taxi", the headline I saw two days ago on an Australian site.


[Michael A. Harris image from the Times site]

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Today is the eighth anniversary of this blog.

I said it last year, and I'm delighted and incredibly privileged to say it again: This is also the anniversary of what turned out to be the most important event in my life, the night Barry and I met (now nineteen years ago).

Last year I also wrote, looking at the world outside our circle of close friends, that I was "more upbeat about the world" than I had been the year before, the eighth year of our second Bush, adding, "but only a bit". That hasn't changed, a bit.

And happy birthday, Paddy Johnson!


[the image is of a portion of the street number on the glass above one of the Art Deco entrances of the former Port Authority Commerce Building (1932), 111 Eighth Avenue the wall seen several feet behind the glass is covered with gold leaf]

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