Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I Am Not A Paper Cup

In New York City the paper cup is a hallmark of a particular case of urbanism: the dwellers & commuters are constantly drinking while on the go. Each block generates almost as many paper cups per day as the numbers of the people living on it (according to my crude reasoning). But then paper cups go a long way. The trash can is just the first journey along many for this paper cup to sustainably reincarnate itself in another form.

The metro-governance of the City of New York is busy untying big development knots like those going on at Ground Zero or at the yards of Hell's Kitchen. And it's busy selling porcelain cups that look exactly like their paper counterparts but that are more friendly to the waste management system. "I Am Not A Paper Cup" is officially brought to you by the Official Store of the City of New York. I say buy it and spare some more trees from your Caffeine rush.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Katz Effect

5th Avenue. Spring. 365. Wednesdays with Katz. A write-up on Amman.

JO Magazine. October 2008. Published by Al-Farida.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Bay Ridge View of Manhattan

Courtesy of Andrew Henderson

Monday, September 8, 2008

Even Google Can't Resist NY

So the other day I was saving an event on Google Calender. It was first thing on my schedule for the morning. Look what I got:

Mon, September 8, 9am – 10am What: e.g., Breakfast at Tiffany's

(With a paper cup and a Danish wouldn't I want too?)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A New York Moment

They claim that there is always a moment when you move into the city and realize that you have become a true New Yorker.

Mine was during one afternoon when I had grabbed a cab with a fresh newcomer to the city. Our trip started from Grand Central, heading towards Union Square (yep we grabbed a cab although a 4 or 5 train would have took us in less time, not to mention money), but I was out ruled for a treat. So, we entered and I asked the driver to take us to our destination. He asked "Shall I go through Broadway", and I answered "Yes". A few blocks and many conversations later, the driver mumbles something that sounds English but makes no sense. I looked out the window and there we were on 14th street, but Union Square was nowhere to be seen. I asked him where we were but he couldn't tell, then I shrieked: "Please don't tell me we are near the blue line." He was clueless but I went on in a high-toned frustrated voice "The A, C, E lines, there isn't a subway station at the upcoming corner on the right, is there?" Then I saw it, we were in Chelsea! "How can you do that, we are on the wrong side of the island, Union Square is on the East, we're on the West, why didn't you stay on Broadway?" I went on, then I turned to the newcomer, who was witnessing a rant hopeless to help, and explained that the square is on the intersection of Broadway and 14th, and that it's outraging how a cab driver wouldn't know it. We turned back and headed East, with the meter off, and back on when we hit Broadway, the only sign of proper interaction from the driver. I leaned back thinking that my moment had come.

*If you can't see the interest in such a topic, then most probably you haven't lived NY at all.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Discrimination by Planning Law

Consulting the Zoning Glossary of the City of New York (which to remind you consists of the five boroughs of Kings “aka: Brooklyn”, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, and The Bronx) only one borough was tied to a definition: Manhattan, not in its entirety too. Read and go figure;

"Manhattan Core*
The Manhattan Core extends from the southern tip of Manhattan at Battery Park to West 110th Street on the West Side and East 96th Street on the East Side. It is the area covered by Manhattan Community Districts 1 through 8."

Laid-back Boston, Hectic New York

The Boston Turnstile

The New York Turnstile

The tale of the differences of these two cities in a nutshell can be told through the turnstiles at subway stations. Urban life is conveyed in the detail. Yes, turnstiles: just look at them and you will tell the difference. Boston’s are made of two pieces of glass that open automatically once you scan your card (Yes New Yorkers GLASS). I found this as such a horrifying idea since New York turnstiles are meant to handle the large volumes of people successively passing through them at the fastest speed and most aggressive way a commuter could get too. Not to mention other subjects that hit these turnstiles such as small luggage bags, laundry trolleys, guitars, and kids crawling in the clearance between the lowest bar and the (dirty) floor. 10 minutes: that’s what I’d give one of the Boston turnstiles to survive at 42nd Street-Bryant Park station during rush hour.
(Images snatched from Google Images)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The New Yorker Strikes

In a true judgmental, stereotypical, uninformed mentality, and un-NY fashion, New Yorker published a satirical cartoon on its front cover of the Obama couple running the White House in a radical militant islamist (the small caps "i" is intended) manner. While they were at it, why didn't they veil Michelle, put a few Quranic verses on the wall in recognizable Arabic calligraphy, and put a gun beside a Clinton cigar on the desk? Screwed as it is, it wasn't visually Arab-related. Actually, the ethnic and religious dilemma of linking Islam to Arabs is dropped here. At least they got something right.

Ironical enough, this cartoon is titled "The Politics of Fear". Well at least let's give them credit; there is one thing about this piece that triggers laughter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Melting Pots

The heightened identity issues in NY in my everyday examination of it through academia and walking down those sidewalks forces me to rethink my own identity in the city I grew up for the largest share of my life, Amman. They make me think how Amman, this young city, is emerging....and blending identities; Bedouins, Palestinians, Jordanian non-Ammanites, Iraqis, Circassians, Armenians, Egyptians, and Syrians. Moreover, micro minority groups also exist; Greeks, Romanians, and Russians. A lot is inscribed on and perceived of these identities, many types being stereotypical such as the construction worker, the prostitute, and the good house cook (you can play the game of matching whom to which, it's not fun so I am not playing it). The way in which these identities were formed, most of whom fled from war, makes this city a place of immigrants with a history and many stories to tell. The presence of these identities is political, whether we choose to deny it or not. The setting of this city correlates to NY more than they claim Dubai does. Let's think deep, not posh. Think social networks rather than gleaming skyscrapers.

(In response to Amman and me)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

America's 4th Most Miserable City

New York. Also worst for commute and income taxes.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Saturday, February 2, 2008

From Behind Your Camera Lens, Do I Know Who You Are?

Every time I see a fabulous picture that one of my friends would have taken, I think of this question (bear in mind when reading this that they are not professional photographers, nor is the discussion about the pros). Building on a personal belief that a photograph is a two-way production between the photographer and the object/place/subject/person/feeling etc. being captured, it makes me wonder how much does this 2D depiction tell me about that person? What roads does it take me through in their intimate mental area that I never would have traveled down unless in very rare relationships?

Sometimes, I have to admit it may be tricky and the grounds of the depiction are murky because of its dual nature mentioned above. Add to that the technological aspect of how sophisticated the camera is and then the nature becomes tripartite. For instance, a wonderful photo may turn out to be a matter of using the right camera in a rich setting at an appropriate time of the day/night. A bummer, huh?

Once that is put aside, and you think of the crude eye and mind that were taking the picture, a lot of amazing aspects about a person emerge. After all, what they focus on tells you about their interests, how they focus on it tells you the way they think about their interests. A fabulous photo at the end is one which tells you that much about them in a way you can interestingly and deeply identify with. And maybe, just maybe, a result of such a realization is to move together along a widened understanding of each other, traveling down your newly discovered "mutual" intimate areas.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Nest

Beijing being the host of the Olympics this year has pulled an architectural stunt to take our breaths away. Well at least it worked on me (and on some movie makers). The stunt is none other than Herzog and De Meuron's National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics (more commonly known as "the nest" since it looks like one). Having visited the site, I couldn't help but notice how some humble construction practices where working in line with the progressive; like in the straw filled blankets, and the messy corrugated sheets that circle the building at close proximity to its outer facade. Nonetheless to say, the landscape pattern on the floor wasn't as presented in the renderings, wherein it continued the pattern of skewed lines on its surfaces. Wonder what went wrong there.

Visually yours,