Monday, February 26, 2007


Although the holidays are over, creative and eye-catching window art displays remain part of the street scenes in Manhattan’s 5th Avenue shopping district. One of them is a simple yet colorful window art captured in the above photo which I took at SAKS FIFTH AVENUE a couple of days ago. Saks Fifth Avenue is a prestigious department store located along 5th Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets, just across the street from Rockefeller Center. Founded by Horace Saks and Bernard Gimbel, the flagship store opened in 1924. Since then, the store has been providing New Yorkers and tourists with the finest quality clothing and program of services. The store is also known for its elegant, themed and animated window displays during the holiday season.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


From February 12 through 24, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences sponsors a free exhibition called “MEET THE OSCARS” at Times Square Studios on Broadway between 43rd and 44th Streets in Manhattan. Last night I viewed the exhibition which showcases 50 newly minted golden statuettes (to be presented to winners at a future Academy Awards night), 2 statuettes that belonged to CLARK GABLE (for the movie “It Happened One Night”, 1934) and BETTE DAVIS (for “Jezebel”, 1938), and one statuette for the visiting public to hold and be photographed with. Each OSCAR weighs 8½ pounds and stands 13½ inches tall. Handmade yearly by R.S. Owens & Company in Chicago, the statuettes are made of britannium plated in copper, nickel, silver and finally, 24-karat gold. Britannium, a pewter-type alloy with a silvery appearance and smooth surface, is composed of tin (93%), antimony (5%) and copper (2%). Designed by Cedric Gibbons and sculpted by George Stanley, the Oscar statuette depicts a knight holding a sword and standing on a reel of film which has five spokes representing the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers). The nickname Oscar probably originated from a remark by an Academy librarian and eventual executive director who said the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar. Sans the red carpet, visitors and tourists who came to this exhibit had fun posing for photographs with a real Oscar statuette in their hands. And they didn’t have to deliver a thank you speech and get interrupted by the orchestra. As for me, it's a delight just to see and make pictures of the real Oscars.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I made this photograph of 67th Street by night from the northeast corner at Columbus Avenue on Manhattan's Upper Westside. Lined with illuminated trees, this street is between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West. On the right side of the street is the ABC television network and on the left are affluent residential buildings and one of New York's most famous restaurant, Café Des Artistes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


This is the Romanesque LANGON CHAPEL as seen through my Nikon lens when I visited the CLOISTERS a while back. The interior stonework of the chapel originated from a 12th century church in southwestern France. Behind the chapel is the west terrace overlooking the Hudson River. A replica of a medieval monastery, the Cloisters are located on top of cliffs of Fort Tyron Park in the Washington Heights section of northern Manhattan. This New York City landmark houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s vast collection of artwork and architecture from medieval Europe (dating from about A.D. 800; 12th through 15th century). The collection includes priceless tapestries of the Unicorn Hunt, magnificent stained-glass windows, Gothic and Romanesque art, and architectural installations. During warmer months, the gardens are also worth visiting.

Many Christians around the world observe ASH WEDNESDAY today, the beginning of the Lenten season, to express penitence.


Every Sunday, the I.S. 44 schoolyard at Columbus Avenue at 77th Street on the Upper Westside of Manhattan is transformed into a green fleamarket. The outdoor and indoor market offers a wide range of merchandise including antiques and collectibles, jewelry, apparel, ethnic handicrafts and clothing, new and antique home furnishings, blankets, socks, movie, television and theatre memorabilia, CDs, books, children's clothing and more at great prices. There is also a farmers market where fresh, organic produce, apple cider, plants, freshly cut flowers, pretzels and baked goods are available. A reflection of New York City itself, the flea market is quite eclectic and vendors come from all over the city with various goods. The indoor market offers used and out-of-print books, designer jewelry and accessories, eyeglasses, greeting cards, Japanese traditional costumes, silverware, rare coins, watches, and much more. Admission is free and it opens at 10:00 AM. I often spend a lazy Sunday afternoon at this market browsing at the merchandise or taking photos of such items as the framed mirrors and artwork pictured above.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Today is President’s Day, a national holiday honoring all the presidents of the USA. Originally, the federal holiday commemorated only George Washington’s birthday on February 22. Abraham Lincoln, another revered president, was born on February 12, which also became a legal holiday, but only in some states. To consolidate the yearly calendar of holidays, the third Monday in February each year was declared President’s Day to honor all the men who have served as president. This day has been officially observed as a federal holiday since 1971.

Earlier this afternoon, I bundled up and headed to midtown Manhattan to make photographs of the stars and stripes of the US flag at Rockefeller Plaza. I took advantage of the clear, blue sky and the windy condition, and captured the flags flying and swirling under natural lighting. At the street level, just above the skating rink, the plaza has about 200 flagpoles that fly the American flags during US federal holidays like President's Day.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Top two photos show two beautiful Chinese women at the Flower Market;

bottom photos are scenes at the Mott Street festivities.

The two-week celebration of the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year and the Spring Festival commenced on February 16 with the Fourth Annual Flower Market in the heart of Chinatown. Flowers are believed to bring luck and prosperity in the New Year. The tradidtional Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival were the main festivities on February 18. That evening, I braved the cold weather and visited Mott Street, one of the original three streets that formed the core of Chinatown in the mid to late 1800’s. I joined a big crowd in watching a local lion dance troupe marching up and down the street and bowing to each store, market and restaurant, believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck for the year of the Pig. Since the Pig is the last animal in the 12-year cycle, 2007 is anticipated to be a year of "closure and completion." People born in the year of the pig are thought to be intellectually curious, honest, tolerant, loyal, and often make true friends for life.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


No, it's not my own brand of condoms. It's the new New York City condom.

From the NYC condom website:
New York City is the first city to brand its very own condom
(is this something to be proud of?) – and it’s NYC to the core.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration aims at reducing the rates of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, and part of the strategy is the distribution of free condoms. Officials say more people will use them if they have jazzy packaging.

From the New York Times:
On Valentine’s Day last year, the health department announced that it was developing the first New York City-branded condom. That effort culminated in yesterday’s mass distribution of the condoms, timed to Valentine’s Day, which also happened to be Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s 65th birthday. The new condoms do not bear the official seal of the city, an image of a big apple or an outline of the city’s skyline. The black plastic wrapper simply says “NYC condom” on the front, with each letter in a circle, like the letters used by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to denote subway lines. (The authority gave the city permission to use the letters, which are the intellectual property of the subway system.) Distributed by Ansell Healthcare Products of Dothan, Ala., the condoms handed out yesterday were made in Malaysia and expire in September 2011. The condoms were handed out at numerous subway stations, including Columbus Circle and Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and Church Avenue on the Q line in Brooklyn. The condoms will be available at more than 100 night spots and retail outlets and are also available in bulk orders to clinics and community groups.

Photo above shows the new NYC product inside the "condom pocket" of a specially designed Kenneth Cole T-shirt, which I bought from the Grand Central store. Kenneth Cole helped unveil the NYC condoms on Valentine's day. The designer from New York has been promoting AIDS and HIV awareness for many years. The NYC condom. Wear it. It's the new black.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

BRIDGEMARKET at night (lookin' groovy)

A supermarket in my neighborhood where I usually buy my groceries, the FOOD EMPORIUM BRIDGEMARKET re-opened three months ago with a new look. This market is uniquely located underneath the Queensboro Bridge, also called the 59th Street Bridge, popularized by the Simon and Garfunkel hit “59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” The bridge goes over the East River and Roosevelt Island, connecting Manhattan to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens. The Bridgemarket boasts high, cathedral-like tiled arch ceilings, designed and built by Spanish architect and builder, Rafael Guastavino. Guastavino used specially fired tiles manufactured in Italy. The walls of the store are made of glass enclosing the exterior supports of the bridge. All the utilities and services had to be brought onto the floor level from underneath, so that all the fixtures had to be specially custom made for the store. Adjacent to the bridgemarket is CONRAN, a high-end home-furnishings store.

Monday, February 12, 2007


LOVE sculpture in poly-chromed red and blue aluminum at the southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and 55th Street. Designed by ROBERT INDIANA (born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana), this sculpture became a symbol of peace in a time when the US was at war in Vietnam. The piece was first conceived when Indiana saw a banner that read "GOD is LOVE." He created a painting that says "LOVE is GOD" for an exhibition at a church. For the Museum of Modern Art, Indiana then created three small paintings of the word "LOVE" in red, blue and green for a Christmas card in 1965. Since then Indiana's LOVE design emerged as a cultural icon and has been widely used throughout the art world and the mass media, with or without the artist's consent. For Indiana, LOVE means having to say he's sorry for failing to register a copyright for this particular work.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


February is traditionally the least busy time for tourism in the city, so I visited the newly reopened Observation Deck called TOP OF THE ROCK atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the heart of midtown Manhattan (50th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues). The Rockefeller Center is home to NBC studios, shops and restaurants, an outdoor ice-skating rink, and the Radio City Music Hall. Upon entry through 50th street side of the plaza, a dazzling crystal waterfall chandelier caught my attention at the lobby. The chandelier is made up of thousands of cascading crystals, and is about 35 feet in height. An exhibit at the mezzanine depicts the history of the Rockefeller Center. A high speed elevator takes visitors to the summit of the Rockefeller Plaza, 70 stories above NYC, 850 feet above sea level. The Observation Deck was first opened by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. 70 years ago, but closed for sometime. A massive crystal wall with custom glass and crystal panels adorns the first level of the observation deck. Panels of fully transparent, non-reflective safety glass allow unobstructed, open-air panoramic views of the entire city. Landmarks of the city could be clearly seen including Central Park, the northern half of Manhattan, Citigroup Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Chrysler Building, Times Square, the Hudson River, the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge, and even the Statue of Liberty. It was a thrilling experience to have a spectacular view of the city and appreciate the architecture, history, invention and development that has never stopped. More information at

Friday, February 9, 2007


Collage of published images from the exhibition

A telephone booth ad that I saw on my way to work this morning reminded me about an exhibition that I've always wanted to see – BODIES THE EXHIBITION. So after work, I took the 6 subway train to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall then walked to the newly refurbished exhibition center in the South Street Seaport which houses this fascinating and awe-inspiring display. This exhibition showcases real human bodies that have been skinned, dissected and preserved by treatment under vacuum with silicone or polymer that enters each tissue following acetone dehydration. The result is a captivating opportunity for visitors to see their own bodies and internal organs, and appreciate how they function. The exhibit starts with the skeletal system, followed in succession by the muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary and reproductive systems, and fetal development. Projected on the dark walls of the museum are artist’s illustrations of various cell types. Some of the more than twenty bodies are posed to perform activities like playing sports, or conducting an orchestra with reference to body systems involved in those tasks. The display of the blood vessels of the entire body and individual organs presented as “corrosion casts” is truly marvelous. These casts were prepared by exsanguination followed by infusing a colored polymer or resin into the vasculature penetrating even the tiniest vessels or capillaries. Treatment with a strong basic solution corroded the tissues away leaving the hardened polymer intact. Along the way, the exhibit also featured abnormal tissues including a stroked brain, fatty liver, gallbladder stones, various kinds of tumors and a cigarette smoker’s tarred lungs along with a strong quit-smoking advice splashed on the wall. This exhibit may not be for everyone, but it definitely has educational relevance for the young and old. There were allegations that the specimens procured through a Chinese medical college were unclaimed or unidentified remains of Chinese individuals. Therefore, neither the deceased nor their families consented to the use of the cadavers. Nevertheless, the exhibition is both enlightening and fascinating, and a reminder that we have the responsibility to take good care of our bodies. More information at

Sunday, February 4, 2007


After breakfast this morning (more like brunch), I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue to see the special exhibition of artwork from LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY's extraordinary country estate. Louis is the son of Charles Tiffany, founder of the famous New York jewelry and silver company. The exhibition features Louis Tiffany's personal collections of his own work—beautiful stained-glass windows, paintings, glass and ceramic vases, as well as the artist's collection of Asian and Native American works of art. His love and reverence for nature are very evident in his work such as the awesome pieces on flowers and the four seasons. Although Tiffany used all kinds of artistic and decorative media, he is best known for his work with stained glass, particularly opalescent glass. One of my favorites is the stained glass panel of magnolias. Also on exhibit are the gorgeous carved teakwood door from India and the amazing Tiffany-designed Steinway piano. It was such a joy to see the breathtaking works of art in this special exhibition at the Met which runs through May 20, 2007. The Met is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street (General Information: 212-535-7710) and its website is at