A hearty serving of the photography of Edmund Seewald with written descriptives.
The camera, be it an SLR or incorporated into your phone, is a powerful tool that has always had the ability to shape society in a way that few things do. When combined with the written word, the result is intensified.
I invite you to take a short journey with me while I travel through the lens to reveal the world around us, warts and all, and see beyond the obvious.
If you like what you see, please let me know. Your feedback is important. Thank you in advance and enjoy the journey.
AN GAEL: AN IRISH EXPERIENCE
30 November 2016
I don't know who said it, when it was said or even if it was stated in this manner. To the fishermen of Carrick-a-Rede, this 60 foot rope bridge was critical in order to check on their salmon pots. It was once only a single hand rope that the fishermen crossed without any fear, carrying their catch and fishing gear and only needing one hand to guide them. Perhaps it was such a bridge that gave rise to the phrase. I am certain of one thing: such a thought went through many of their minds going in either direction.
"I'll get to that bridge when I get to it."
SUNSET AT GIANTS CAUSEWAY
30 November 2016
The sun is setting, its' yellow beam reflected on the sea. This land is rugged but men once dwelt on this shore where the water meets the land, beating constantly on the rocky coast. They sought protection by building a castle along the waters edge. While their defenses were utilized inland, they did not see the enemy who was much stronger and older eroding the security they believed they had achieved. That enemy finally struck one day when an entire wing of the castle fell into the sea as part of the cliff collapsed.
The structure stands empty now, a husk of what it used to be, ever since the tragedy. Those who used to live there are only memories, but the timeless sun that shown upon it in ages past, still casts its' golden glow across the water as the sea continues to erode the foundations of the shore.
Village of Malahide
3 December 2016
Since 1185, when Richard Talbot was granted the estate by King Henry 2nd, I have called it home. For 791 years have I observed the inner workings of the family, even when 14 members sat down to breakfast in the Great Hall and were dead by evening. Airships were moored on the grounds during World War 1, ever on the alert for Hun U-boat activity on the Irish Sea. Though the Talbot family has ceased to call the castle home and tourists roam my halls, I ever remain for I am the memory of times, both good and bad, of that noble name. I am the spirit of history and can never be exorcised.
GRAAINSEACH CHUFFE - AN TEAMPALL LOISCTHE
27 November 2016
Mighty armies once trod the earth here. These towers of stone stood sentinel to all that happened around them, ever vigilent, connected by an impressive barrier. Friends were invited in while foes were repeled.
The barrier is gone and has been for many generations. The armies have become dust. The towers stand abandoned, eyes closed, seeing nothing. Where once friend and foe encountered each other, only sheep graze on the muddy grass.
I was there before any of these things were. I will be here long after the towers have fallen and are no longer remembered. I am time.
The Steppes Bar
Green Street, Callan
27 December 2016
It is evening in the quiet Irish town of Callan. The streets are silent except for the occasional passing car. I can hear the echo of my shoes as they hit the pavement. Up ahead is my destination, my second home. The interior light pours out the open door. A lone figure can be seen inside. Is she arriving or going home? Might we be sharing a table getting acquainted over a pint or shall I be talking to the lads about how the Kilkenny Cats are doing? I won't know until I cross the threshold. I am filled with anticipation.
Bayside St. Patrick's Day Parade
March 30, 2019
Though history is uncertain, the bagpipes might have been around as far back as 1000 BCE in one form or another in Greek and Roman culture. The first record of bagpiping in Ireland has been dated to 35 BCE. Bagpipers were a significant part of ancient Irish society and is mentioned in the old Brehon Laws. Writings after Brian Boru's victory over the Vikings in 1014 CE spoke of pipes and pipers.
The bagpipes have long been recognized as having the ability to rouse and encourage a fighting force. Thus, at various times in history, it was deemed an offense to have, play or entertain bagpipers. They have been used with battle-tunes, marches, gatherings, salutes and laments.
No matter what form they take or in which culture they are found, bagpipes are a powerful tool that can raise a community to new heights or destroy it. The piper is the man behind that tool.
Pearl River St. Patrick's Day Parade
Pearl River, NY
19 March 2017
From time immemorial, the Irish spirit has survived. Those who desired to usurp ownership of the Emerald Isle have always failed to conquer it. Instead, they were absorbed into the culture while loaning a bit of their own. Only the English, with their heavy-handed methods, were truly a threat. For centuries the people were denied their rights under foreign rule. Ever did they rise up to be a thorn in the foot under a government that forbade them the basic human rights: to fish off the coast, practice their religion, speak their own language and properly feed and house their families. Theirs was a mission of genocide. Only by removing a decent size of the population, voluntarily or not, to lands that would nurture them and allow them to do what was denied them at home, were those who remained given a great impetus to rise up and take back what was theirs with the aid of the exiles. The St. Patrick's Day Parade, wherever it is held, is one of the outward signs that the Irish traditions will always resurface, no matter the threat.
DUMBRODY FAMINE SHIP
New Ross, Co. Wexford
26 November 2016
Of all the famine ships to leave Ireland, the Dumbrody has one of the better reputations. A three-masted barque built in 1845 in Quebec for a merchant family from New Ross, Co. Wexford, it was operated primarily as a cargo ship carrying timber and guano to Ireland. From 1845 to 1851, between from the months of April to September, it would be fitted with bunks on the outward journey to North America. It was sold in 1869 and ran aground in 1874 in the St. Lawrence River. Salvaged, repaired and sold again it was lost off the Labrador coast. The replica seen today has ben open to visitors since 2001.
THE SHIP'S BELL
New Ross, Co. Wexford
26 November 2016
The ship's bell is the heart and soul of any ship, a prized possession. It has been used to tell time, safety in foggy conditions, rung as "boat gongs" for officers and dignitaries coming aboard or leaving the ship, ringing in the new year and honoring a sailor who has died. Traditionally, the ship's name is on the bell. When a ship is renamed, it is also a tradition to retain the original bell.
The bell of the original Dumbrody graces the deck of the rebuilt ship, moored at the quayside in New Ross since 2001, and visitors are invited to ring it before descending into the hold.
STEERAGE ABOARD THE DUMBRODY
New Ross Co. Wexford
26 November 2016
The Dumbrody, early in its history, served as a "coffin ship". For several months in the year, it would carry passengers desperate to escape the genocide that was the English reaction when several potato crops failed in the late 1840's in Ireland. The voyage to North America took a heavy toll on those who made the voyage. Some ships had as many as 50 percent of the steerage passengers die before making port.
The Dumbrody was different. Despite allocating an area of 6 square feet for up to 4 passengers and their children, the death toll was exceptionally low. She took on 311 passengers, double the usual number on one voyage. There were only 6 fatalities.
September 20, 2019
When you open your front door and take that tentative first step into the world, you never know where the path will lead. How many times have we watched those movies where the character opens the forbidden door only to step inside and find the unexpected? This is the reality of the road trip.
This Friday past, I received a telephone call asking if I wanted to go away on an adventure without planification with others I have previously traveled with. This was about four in the afternoon. Having done this before, I knew the next few days would be interesting. Naturally I did not turn down the opportunity.
In the past, we have encountered single-lane dirt roads that scraped the bottom of the car each time it fell into the ruts that previous vehicles have made deeper while climbing at a very steep angle next to a sheer drop-off in the middle of the night with only our headlamps. Then there was the time the GPS sent us on a dirt road with the corn high enough on each side to rival the top of the car, the periodic barn on the right with cows so close they could lick your face. This was in the dark of night. In your typical horror movie, the serial killer would make his appearance at this time. What new experience might we encounter?
Over the next several days, we paid multiple visits to wineries throughout New York State and Pennsylvania, visited places of scenic beauty, cruised the 1000 Islands, toured a castle and the island on which it rests, straddled the US-Canadian border (on both sides) while sailing the St. Lawrence River and challenged the slot machines in the Poconos. We also ate and drank more than is our custom. Of the time traveling to and from these varying activities, much time was actually spent on the road, about 1500 miles. It was a wonderful journey that everyone should experience.
To get in the car with only the vaguest of plans is a wonderful thing. You are not confined to a structured itinerary. You are free to pull over to the side of the road anytime to see something that you would otherwise miss. It is also a bonding opportunity for family and friends.
North Atlantic Ocean
August 17, 2019
From time immemorial, man has been curious about the world around him. Theories have been postulated and most have been proven or disproven.
I, the Undisputed Master of the Seas, undertook a perilous journey to prove the shape of the earth. It was the 15th day of August when the Fionnachtain set sail to prove weather the earth was flat or round.
Of the first part of the journey, I will only say that the waters we sailed were mostly calm and without incident. Rougher seas met us after we were about three weeks out of port and did not diminish. In fact, as time went on, they only worsened.
Just as we were convinced our journey was a failure, we quite literally found it - the edge of the earth! As the sun was setting in the background, the ship skirted the edge as the water fell to - wherever. Eventually, we had abandon further exploration when it became too hazardous to remain.
Our mission was a success. Despite what science and the majority might say, we had the proof that the earth was flat. I expect to be degraded. I know they will call me a lunatic. They did the same to Michelangelo I, however, know better because I was there.
CURTIS' BARBEQUE PIT
1 July 2017
Operating out of two old buses off the side of Putney Landing Road in Putney, VT, Curtis Tuff has been serving up his version of roadside Southern barbeque for almost 40 years. His customers will often go out of their way to enjoy his fare in an outdoor atmosphere and eat off paper plates sitting at picnic tables. Sometimes, a guitarist will entertain you as you dine. The overall opinion of those who have eaten there is that they would drop by again.
THE PUBLICK HOUSE
3 September 2018
I opened my doors in 1771 as a gathering place for the citizens of Sturbridge and weary travelers along the Boston Post Road. Of names, I have had several over the years. Politics and religion have been widely discussed and debated within my walls, the ladies listening behind closed doors. Tankards of ale and spirits of all kinds passed the lips of innumerable guests in my Tap Room. The likes of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Lafayette have been welcomed here.
Look out the window. See the beauty of the past. As I have served generations, through good and bad times, so shall I continue to do so for generations to come, For I, as my name says, am a Publick House.
WEST POINT MILITARY ACADEMY
West Point, NY
Between Constitution Island and Garrison Landing lies a section of the Hudson River that General George Washington considered to be the most strategic position in America during the Revolutionary War. Designed by Thaddeus Kosciuszko in 1778 and constructed by Continental soldiers, the defences included a 150 ton iron chain across the river to control river traffic.
The most infamous incident that occured at West Point has to be the act of treason committed by Benedict Arnold. Arnold felt that he was unjustly passed over for promotion time and time again while others less deserving rose in the ranks. The truth was that Washington did not want any single colony to have an excessive number of senior officers in the Continental Army. The plot was exposed at the eleventh hour and Arnold is remembered today as a traitor to his country instead of an American hero.
President Thomas Jefferson, at the urging of soldiers and legislators to eliminate a reliance on foreign countries in its military, signed legislation establishing the United States Military Academy on March 16, 1802. The institution would be devoted to the arts and sciences of warfare and those attending would be representative of a democratic society.
The decades following saw upgraded academic standards, institutionalized military discipline, an emphasis to follow a code of honor and made civil engineering the foundation of the curriculum. These skills were put to the test in the wars to follow.
The Civil War saw the likes of Grant, Lee, Sherman and Jackson leading armies on both sides of the conflict. Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley, Arnold, Patton, Stilwell and Wainwright led troops against the Axis powers during World War 2. In fact, every conflict the United States has been involved in since the institution was established, a West Point graduate has been present putting the skills learned as a cadet into practice.
Today's graduates undergo an education beyond a strict civil engineering focus. Physical fitness and intramural athletics are an important element. The Honor System, long an unofficial tradition, has been formalized with the creation of the Cadet Honor Committee. Science and technology are given a high priority. The need to understand other cultures is stressed. In addition to increasing the number of cadets in 1964 and the enrollment of women in 1976, cadets are are now permitted to major in any one of more than a dozen fields from the sciences to the humanities.
The education that cadets receive at West Point prepares them for leadership positions in the army as well as the civilian sector. Without qualified professionals such as them, this country would not be the bastion of democracy or the world leader it is today.
THE THOUSAND ISLANDS: ALEXANDRIA BAY AND THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
THE THOUSAND ISLANDS
September 22, 2019
Despite its name, the Thousand islands consists of 1,864 islands. There is a legend of the conflict between the local Indian tribes. The Manitou told the natives if they ceased their conflict, he would give them a paradise. Failing to do so, the Manitou put paradise into a bag and threw it into the horizon. The bag tore and a thousand pieces fell into the St. Lawrence River. Hence, the Thousand Islands came into existence.
I would be remiss if I did not touch upon the supposed origen of a product we have all seen in the supermarket: Thousand Island Dressing. The recipe reportedly came from this region. It is said that the actress May Irwin requested the recipe from her host after enjoying it at dinner. She in turn supposedly gave it to another summer resident of the Thousand Islands, George Boldt. George was the proprietor of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at the time and requested that the dressing be put on the menu in 1894. How true this or any other story as to where the original recipe came from is pure conjecture. It is not important. Just enjoy your salad.
The Thousand Islands-Alexandria Bay
September 22, 2019
Heart Island lies in the Town of Alexandria within the St. Lawrence River in New York State along the United States - Canadian border. It is one of the most prominent of the Thousand Islands and is the home to Boldt Castle.
Heart Island-The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
George C. Bolte began construction of the castle in 1900 as a tribute to his wife Louise. It was to be their summer house. Sadly, she passed away just before the completion of the project. George ordered all work to be halted immediately. The property was vacant for over 70 years.
The current owner, the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority (TIBA), is currently restoring the property according to the original plans. It will still take many years to complete the project due to vandalism and the elements having taken hold over the decades. When finished, it will be an excellent example of the homes built by the rich featuring the grandeur of the Gilded Age.
THE POWER HOUSE
Heart Island-The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
Located on the eastern end of Heart Island lies the Power House, built to be beautiful as well as functional. It is designed like a Medieval Tower sitting on an underwater shoal in the St. Lawrence River connected to Heart Island by an arched stone bridge. It housed two generators that would supply electricity to the island but was severely damaged by a fire in 1939. The building has been restored as originally intended except for much of the original equipment.
THE ALSTER TOWER
Heart Island-The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
Often referred to as the Playhouse, the Alster Tower was intended for the guests George C. Bolte anticipated would visit his island. There were spaces allotted to dancing, a billiard room, library, bedrooms, cafe, and a kitchen. The interior is currently off limits to the public while it is being renovated.
THE BOLDT CASTLE YACHT HOUSE
Across from Heart Island/Boldt Castle
The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
On Wellesley Island sits the Boldt Castle Yacht House. It is located adjacent to Heart Island. This is where the Boldt family housed their yachts and houseboat. It also featured a shop to build racing boats and quartered crew staff.
Today, it is a museum that houses several boats from the original Boldt fleet and an 1892 steam yacht called the Kestrel. The Kestrel is representative of the period and vessels owned and operated by George Boldt.
JUST ROOM ENOUGH ISLAND
The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
Just Room Enough Island, also known as Hub Island, lies in Alexandria Bay in United States waters. About 3,300 square feet, it is known as the smallest inhabited island. Today, it is owned by the Sizeland family and boasts a house, a tree, shrubs and a small beach.
TOM THUMB ISLAND
The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
There is an old song that goes something like: I left my wife in the Thousand Isles and she is going to spend a week on each of them. If this feat were an actuality, she would not have a good time on this lonely outcropping. It is, reportedly, the smallest island in the Thousand Island chain, if not the world. The sign on Tom Thumb Island is not its’ designation. It is the speed limit for the boats.
The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
According to Wikipedia, Zavikon Island refers to to either the larger or the pair of islands in the Thousand Islands archipelago on the St. Lawrence River between New York and Ontario, two kilometres southeast of Rockport, Ontario and about 660 feet north of the international boundary. The smaller island is sometimes called Little Zavikon Island.
Sad to say, the popular belief that the footbridge between the two islands being the shortest international bridge in the world is not true. It lies in Canadian waters. However, let’s not dispute the tour guides. It is far more fun to think this “fact” is true. At least it gives one something to talk about.
SUNKEN ROCK LIGHTHOUSE
Bush Island, The Thousand Islands
September 22, 2019
Marking the entrance to the narrow passage where the shipping channel runs between Wellesley Island and the mainland lies Bush Island. The lighthouse that occupies the island was constructed in 1847. The lighthouse has also been modernized with the changing times and can boast that it has been powered by solar energy since 1988 with an intensity exceeding 1,500 candlepower.
PADDLING DOWN THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
Though there are many sights to be seen as one follows the watery trail traversed by the explorers of ages past, the St. Lawrence River has lost none of its' natural beauty. Let's look at a few examples of how man and nature co-exist.
NEW YORK CITY
New York City
April 14, 2019
I recently had relations visit New York City from across the pond. While here, they went to all the places that make the city great. It is a funny thing that those who live in relatively close proximity to all these places, rarely visit them. In fact, we barely give them a second glance. I would wager that the same is true in any community anywhere in the world.
Herald Square, just across from Macy's, is one such place. As a city park managed by the 34th Street Partnership, one is invited to relax for a few minutes or hours among the flowers that grow there while life in the city continues mere yards away.
The centerpiece is the bronze figures of Minerva and the Bell Ringers that once graced the New York Herald Building. The memorial is dedicated to James Cordon Bennett, the papers founder, and his son of the same name who expanded his fathers vision to make the New York Herald one of the great newspapers of its day.
If you are ever in New York City and find yourself near Herald Square, take a few moments to reflect while reading, enjoying the day with friends or just giving those feet of yours a brief respite that is the city, here is a treasure that is truly only an arms length away.
New York City Subway
New York City
May 11, 2019
Those who ride the NYC subway are aware of a varied quantity and quality of life. This encompasses those asking for a handout, the subway car acrobats and the crowded cars where one can easily feel empathy for the sardines as they are packed in those tiny cans. All this in a moving conveyance.
The platform one stands on while waiting for the aforementioned experiences has all that and more. The kiosks also hawk their wares to entice all tastes at inflated prices. After all, you are a prisoner for the duration in that place where the sun does not shine.
But into this modern version of Dante's Inferno, a melody divine can make its entrance. It can take the form of classical music. Perhaps country or even jazz. Whatever the venue, for a time it takes your mind off the rigors of arriving at your destination. The musician (or musicians) are usually very talented and put on a good show. The entertainment is worth the price of admission. Perhaps even a tip.
Central Park, New York City
September 15, 2019
The troubadour tradition began in the late 11th century. They were not wandering entertainers as many might believe. Most would remain in one place under the patronage of a member of the nobility becoming a valued part of the court. They might move to another patron for any number of reasons. The troubadour would compose and perform their own original works. In contrast, the joglar (or minstrel) would perform the troubadours' songs and provide other entertainments.
The songs that the troubadour sang dealt mainly with chivalry and courtly love. Many were humorous or vulgar satires. They might take the form of a Pastorela (a tale of the love request of a knight to a shepherdess), the Serena (The song of a lover waiting impatiently for the evening to consummate his love), an Estampida (a dance-like song), a Canso de Crozda (a song about the Crusades) and many others. All of the genres could be combined to create interesting hybrids. In fact, competing schools of troubadours often "borrowed" from each other.
A great patron of his age, Duke William IX of Aquitaine is also credited as being the earliest troubadour whose works still survive. He composed songs about his experiences in the Crusade of 1101. The last decades of the 12th century saw an explosion in troubadour activity. Initially, troubadours came from the ranks of the princely class and poor knights. Many had a clerical education as this equipped them with an understanding of musical and poetic forms as well as voice training. The lower classes were eventually permitted to practice the art.
The art of the troubadour declined about 1348, around the time of the Black Death, but the legacy lives on. Just turn on the radio and see what I mean.
Central Park, New York City
September 15, 2019
Welcome to the home of Count von Count. He welcomes you and bids you to enter and of your own free will. No. Not really. The exterior of the structure may have served as the home of the Sesame Street vampire, but the building has never served as a residence.
Belvedere Castle (aka Belvedere Tower) was erected in 1869 as an overlook onto a receiving reservoir that was a portion of the Croton Aqueduct system. The rock on which the castle stands is the former site of a fire control tower.
In 1919, the United States Weather Bureau began to take weather data at the castle. For decades, this information was heard on radio and television to keep the inhabitants of New York City informed of the upcoming weather. When most of these functions (several are still recovering data off to the side of the structure) were moved to Rockefeller Center, the site was neglected and began to fall into disrepair due to the elements and vandalism.Through the efforts of the Central Park Conservancy beginning in the 1980's, Belvedere Castle has undergone several restorations. It is currently a visitor's center featuring great views of the city.
So, where is the receiving reservoir today? It lies where the Great Lawn and the Turtle Pond are having been filled in with the rubble from the construction of the IND Eighth Avenue Line.
THE MODERN COLOSEUM
Downtown Manhattan, NYC
April 28, 2019
A mere 2,000 years ago or so, a great empire raised a structure in the center of its most magnificent city. Its purpose was to host the most extravagant entertainment to appease the citizens. That city was Rome and the ediface in question was the Flavian Amphitheater. Today we now know it as The Coloseum. Eighty entrance gates connected the street to the activities within, 76 for the public and four for Grand Entrances. At least 50,000 spectators could be entertained at any given time while watching animal hunts, gladiatorial contests, dramas and sea battles. This number could also be as high as 80,000.
The modern coloseum offers more congenial fare - usually. The entertainment might come in the form of a day of shopping in the many stores that surround the arena where the spectators mill about or that lone piano player whose melodies waft through the echoing passageways. Perhaps other forms of entertainment might also present themselves. Multiple entrances can be used for easy access to and from the street, dozens of train connections and surface transportation.
All in all, the modern gladiator is also the spectator in the arena of the shopping mall. We come to see as well as be seen. We come to win the prize by overcoming our competition with cash or plastic instead of the sword. Better come well-armed for blood shall be spilled. Caesar, beware Black Friday.
Jamaica Avenue/Lefferts Blvd.
Richmond Hill, NY
July 23, 2019
Anywhere you look in New York City, there are signs of renewal. Be it 90 stories in the air, at ground level or beneath your feet, it is going on 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It is in constant flux.
Even before Henry Hudson sailed down the river that bears his name, the natives that lived in the area had an impact on where they were abiding. Taking only what they needed and using it wisely, these natural resources could quickly be replenished.
The European invasion on the North American continent changed all that. No longer could nature bounce back as it once did. Settlements sprang up everywhere and it was now up to the people to maintain their way of life. Older structures were torn down to be replaced by newer ones. When it became unfeasible to continue building outwards, the buildings began to soar into the sky. Substructures were required to replace what nature gave for the asking. This included transportation as the surface roads could not handle the traffic.
All that man builds will eventually fail, even if it takes 100 years. Water pipes burst. Electrical lines short out. Natural gas pipes break. Subways require constant maintenance. Buildings will collapse if neglected. Weather by nature or human effort, the process of renewal goes on.
MADE IN NEW YORK
Ozone Park, NY
July 12, 2019
When it comes to filming, New York City is one of the premier locations. By the time filming actually takes place, an immense amount of planning has already gone into it. Let's look at a typical day on location.
The production crew has moved in and has set up the first scene. The cast is ready to go and the first take is shot. This can be repeated many times for additional takes of the same scene until the director feels he has the material he needs. Prior to each take, the scene has to be reset. Eventually, the company moves on to the scene and the process is repeated.
While the crew is doing their job, the cast keeps busy socializing with each other, preparing for the next scene, relaxing or even taking a nap. Food and refreshments are always available. This is usually about 90 percent of the work day, and it can be a very long day lasting into the night. The other 10 percent is when they shine before the camera.
Next time you are watching that movie or TV show, take the time to read the credits as they scroll down the screen. These are the anonymous faces who work behind the scenes. These are the people who allow the magic to come to life.
New York City 2018
Once upon a time a business flourished here. It was a local hardware store that sold paint and other supplies to the local community. This was over 100 years ago. A reminder of that incarnation can still be seen above the entrance.
A pet shop eventually replaced it. For decades the locals patronized the business, bringing love and affection into their homes in the form of fish and other small animals. When the proprietor decided it was time to retire, it once again became vacant.
The store stands empty now. Only the ghosts of times gone by inhabit it awaiting the next stage of its evolution.
GHOSTS IN OUR MIDST
April 1, 2019
When we hear the mention of ghosts, the paranormal probably comes to mind. There are ghosts of another nature. They surround us every day though we often fail to see them.
A wise man once told me that if you want to see the past, all you have to do is look up. I knew he was correct in this observation after I did so and the ghosts came into view. High above on an upper story of the building, a sign that says "Alexandria's" stands out proclaiming it is open for business. But alas, it is only a remnant from a bygone day when it was still fashionable to sell furs in this neighborhood. The sign is falling apart today just as the area has changed and the need for such a business was no longer needed. It is but a ghost of its former glory that refuses to die. Those of us who can see these artifacts can treasure the new as the old fades away becoming the ghosts that only those who look up can see.
8 October 2018
Here I sit, abandoned by those who used to call me friend. In 1913, I opened my tracks to the riders of Queens, bearing them from station to station. Many were the communities who saw me as a useful conduit conducting them in and out of the Rockaways. Proud was I, filling a need. The riders thronged through my stations and I flourished.
Then the bad times came and I was replaced by more modern facilities. My ridership began to shun me. Echos of times gone by rang in my waiting rooms. Eventually, my service was deemed unnecessary. The shiny rails that was once my pride began to rust. Vegetation took root and eventually blocked my once clear path. I feel rejected. I am abandoned. I am obsolete.
Bayside, New York
July 27, 2019
Throughout history, any country that has lasted any decent amount of time has done so because of its' military might. Let's take a short walk through history using a wide brush.
Spartan males began their military training about age 10 and were treated to the most horrendous conditioning. This would eventually serve them well, as long as they lived long enough, when they would join the elite. Once they did, their future had only two outcomes: victory on the field of battle or death inflicted by the enemy. Anything else was dishonorable.
In the Roman Empire, under the Republic, it was the duty of landowners to serve the state in the military in times of war. This was eventually replaced by a standing army. When Julius Caesar replaced the Republic with Dictatorship, legions of troops personally loyal to him. Octavian, commonly known as Augustus, was the last man standing after the Civil War resulting from the murder of J.C. in the Senate. When the legions were fighting barbarians on the borders of Gaul or elsewhere, if the enemy overcame the Romans, another army would be sent until victory was achieved. One learned quickly that to fight a Roman Legion was to ultimately lose.
Other great empires also rose and fell: Persia, France, Spain and England to just name a few. The troops that were raised to defend them did so for the greater glory of what their flag represented.
I shall lastly mention the United States of America. From 13 independent British colonies only interested in what would benefit them as individuals, they came together through fire and steel to overcome one of the strongest armies in the world at the time to create a unique nation, one without a king and the traditional royalty. Many trials lay ahead and the military played a huge part in protecting an ideal that would inspire the entire world. The troops have served honorably and without reservation for over 250 years. Many have paid the ultimate price for what they believed in.
From ancient times to the modern era, it has been the duty of the military to defend the country or empire it represents. These are usually the best of the best. Let us honor and respect their decision to serve by honoring them.
Rockaway Peninsula, New York
September 8, 2019
High atop Battery Harris East, one is able to get a 360 degree view of the entire area. Immediately surrounding it is what remains of Fort Tilden, formerly a part of the harbor defenses of Southern New York.
Fort Tilden was built in 1917 as a coastal artillery installation after the United States first entered WW1 and was originally known as Camp Rockaway Beach. It served proudly during that conflict and the time leading up to and including WW2. During the Cold War, the large guns protecting the coast were replaced with Nike-Ajax missiles in 1955 and Nike-Hercules missiles in 1958.
The fort served as an Army Reserve Post from the late 1960's to the late 1970's. Numerous military units and weapons could be found on the site during this time. It was turned over to the National Park Service when it was decommissioned.
I surveyed the site the other day from the viewing platform atop Battery Harris East. (It is a great view if you can find it.) The tops of the temples in the jungles of South America came to mind.The ruins of the abandoned buildings are being taken back by nature and time. Graffiti can be found where once the army stood ready to repel any invader. Nesting birds now man those posts.
Those areas that have been maintained are a home to a variety of community activities. For those with a green thumb, there is a community garden. Across from it is a chapel, theater and other buildings that serve the public. Sports fields litter the landscape. The beach is just a short stroll away and civilization beyond the fence.
What was once an integral part of our nations security has found a new purpose. The ruins of its' past are decaying and should only be entered at your own risk. But it is still a vital site. Just ask those playing baseball or soccer. View the actors plying their trade on the stage. Ask the Piping Plover with their camouflaged eggs and chicks as they struggle to increase their number. It has become a place to enjoy oneself with the proviso that others can do the same.
2 September 2018
Along the coast of Maine, the Atlantic Ocean pounds endlessly against the rocky shore. Atop on of the larger rocks lay a small man-made structure: a series of small stones, one placed upon another precariously. How was it that the elements hadn't disturbed it? I wonder, is it still there today? Like life, it is a balancing act.
Letchworth State Park
5 May 2017
I am an enigma. Without me, life would not exist. I can also take it in a heartbeat.
I can be totally still, a ripple not to be seen on my surface. Yet, one can drown in my fluidity
or disease ridden insects find a home if I am stagnant. Mighty dams have tried to hold me back,
providing power, irrigation and recreation for the masses. However, time is on my side and they will fail.
As a raging torrent, I am a barrier between shorelines. That same torrent can also be an efficient road for
those who desire to go where I dictate.
The mighty salmon find me a mother and executioner. When they are young, I nurture them until the call
of the ocean becomes too strong. Should they survive the ordeal that awaits them, they shall expend their
last ounce of energy fighting my current to arrive at the place of their birth to begin the process anew.
One may fill a glass with my essence but I am not controlled by the hand that wields it. I control them for
without me they would die. Herein lies my strength. An enigma to all.
Throughout history immemorial, mankind has believed in a higher power than himself that has some say in his destiny. It usually stems from attempting to explain that which we have no explanation for. Our primitive ancestors embraced the elementals, whose presence could be seen and felt all around them. Myths were developed as religion became institutionalized. Family units were banding together to form communities.
Genocide over which god or gods the community worshiped is not a modern invention. It is a certainty that such differences existed amongst our earliest ancestors. More often than not, religions annex precepts from existing faiths and claim them as their own. This is exemplified time and time again. Even science, logical as it is, fulfills all the requirements to be considered a religion by some.
To sum up, faith is a fundamental element of our lives. Nobody escapes its' grasp. It takes many forms, from the conventional to the fringe beliefs. Of all the world's major religions, which one is the only true faith? Perhaps none? Is the earth flat or has science perverted the truth of our existence? Are we actually living in a matrix overseen by reptilian beings and controlled from their hollow moon base as postulated by David Icke? Perhaps that kindly pastor in the little white Meeting House has the answer. We may never know.
To paraphrase Douglas Adams, if we ever find the answer to life, the universe and everything, the universe will suddenly become something else even more inexplicable.
Now what was the question?
29 Samhain 2016
To most people, this is only a hallway. To others, it represents a lifeline. On the left are a number of chairs. On the right, a series of pictures and doors.
As human beings, we have to make decisions all the time. In the pictures, we see snapshots of what is or was. Should we take a seat and ponder the future, postponing the decision that will be our next move? The path ahead is clear but what alternate futures lie behind the doors? Do we dare enter the unknown and, perhaps, find another similar hallway leading elsewhere?
There are more opportunities further down the hall but a decision has to be made at this juncture before anything further can be done. Now ... choose.
Mohegan Sun Poconos
May 24, 2019
At some point in our life, we take the time to reflect on the decisions we have made and the resulting consequences. There is no set time or place when this occurs, the frequency or at what age. Though the start of the journey is often beyond our sight, it appears to be 20/20. It is, however, colored by other experiences that have bled into the reality.
It is good to look back. It is good to see where we were. It is also important to turn around and look ahead to the future. A future that includes opportunities to reflect on the past.
North New Hyde Park
Nassau County, NY
January 30, 2020
I am sure that everyone can recall someone in their life who began a conversation with "I remember when ...". He or she was probably someone older than you who spoke about a place that has ceased to exist, currently serves a different function or stands as a monument to the past. It can also be an event that happened at such a location.
I remember when I was growing up, there was a Dairy Barn within easy walking distance from the house. People were no longer interested in home delivery of their dairy products. Dieter Cosman decided to reinvent his wholesale milk business with the concept of a "drive-thru" convenience store. To drive up to the glass door in your car and pick up everything from milk to ice cream and everything in-between was a great innovation. The company had locations throughout Long Island.
So what happened for them to downsize to the five stores that exist today? Perhaps they simply did not keep up with the times. The rise of the Super Supermarket chain might have had more appeal.
I remember when we would drive under the red-roofed shed and place our order. Us kids would periodically also get that last minute treat. It was a simpler time when the nuclear family was at the center of ones life.
Wait! Was I on a ramble? Perhaps I was. However, I remember when ...
The Bell House
February 8, 2020
According to Mel Brooks, early man was not devoid of entertainment. Bashing each other with rocks to create beautiful noises or becoming dinosaur fodder would act as a temporary distraction to the hard life they faced. Or so he tells us.
The ancient Greeks would attend plays by the likes of Socrates and Plato that communicated philosophical truths. Their relationship with the Gods and the individuals societal obligations would be presented in an entertaining manner.
The war-like Romans used extreme conflict to pacify the masses. Wild animal hunts, gladatorial contests, executions and sea battles could be seen in any number of theaters. The chariot races in the Circus were, by far, the most popular of the entertainments. To see your favorite team win as it ran the required number of laps to victory would have been exhilerating as well as profitable (if you were a gambling man). The one thing they all had in common was the bloodshed. The audience ate it up.
Lest we forget, the so-called "Dark Ages" featured jesters, mummers, minstrels, troubadours (I speak about them in the New York City section), acrobats, jugglers and conjurors as the entertainers of the day. Those of means might play chess or checkers, play cards, indulge in throwing dice or racing horses or even take in a game of blind man's bluff. Knights, when not engaged in their trade, could keep their skills honed in archery contests, bowling,hammer throwing, wrestling, battle skills and fitness as well as the occasional game of dice. The peasant class (most of the people) found solace in dancing, wrestling, betting on cock fighting and bear baiting and playing an early version of football.
In this day and age, we can go to the movies or watch television. One can read a book or play video games. Why not try a comedy club, go to the circus, the theater or listen to a concert. Fear not though, bloodsports are still around for those so inclined.
I only mention a very brief list of ways people have entertained themselves. Everyone has the need to release the stress that builds up during the day. The entertainments of the past fulfilled the needs of its population. The same is true today.
Just food for thought. Can entertainment contribute to our dysphoria? Perhaps that will be something to write about in the future.
Carbine Bridge House
Callan, Co. Kilkenny
November 26, 2016
It is the start of the day. I can see nothing of what might befall me. The mist that lies just beyond my doorstep prevents me from doing so. However, soon my path shall be clearly laid out before my feet as the morning sun burns the cataracts from my eyes. I shall then proceed confidently forward.
The early morning is gone. The day has begun. I shall rejoice in my renewed clarity.
May 26, 2019
The space between night and day is a very special time. For a brief moment, life and death come together by mutual agreement. The world of the seen is on the way to becoming the world of the unseen. It seems like the energy of the world is dispensing its essence, leaving just enough to recreate it once again.
For now, we celebrate the time given us as the streetlamps humbly attempt to bring whatever light they can to our lives. Let us go hand in hand and face the darkness with only the stars above to lead us. Enjoy the twilight now in the knowledge that the dark will reign for only a short time until the return of the day.
Ozone Park, NY
July 19, 2019
Once upon a time, there lived an insect out in the wild. In its' short time among the vegetation, he had seen others of his kind devoured by birds and others. Either by luck or instinct, he had survived while others more deserving had failed to do so.
One day a creature of considerable size came by and surprised the poor insect. Surely he would be seen! Ceasing to move from where he was with nary a muscle movement, fear filled his very being. All he wanted to do was to fade into the background.
Then a miracle occurred.The creature left with no sign of seeing him. He had passed the test and would live to see another day. The lesson of this tale? It isn't easy being green.
Lake Placid, NY
February 22, 2017
At last! Civilization! My journey is near the end.
Days have I traveled with my trusty dogs over the frozen tundra. This was no mere feat. The communities that comprise my rounds are quite isolated. The elements never cease to assault my team and I and we must remain constantly on the alert. However, the journey will soon be over. For now, though, civilization awaits and we have endured.
Ozone Park, NY
26 September 2018
My fate was determined long before I was a bud. So were the others around me. Our Parent was nurtured by the cool rain and warm sun. We were incubated in that bud that was our youth. However, we were also individuals. When it came time to bloom, I was different. In my soul, I knew I was as good as any of the others but was unable to show it. My soul yearns to escape to show itself for what it is. I am as good as the others. To them though, I am imperfect.
Minnewaska State Park
11 September 2016
Through the air I soar, the wind beneath my wings carrying me across the sky. From my lofty height, I can see from one horizon to the next. Beneath me, lush green lands and blue waters.
Not too long ago, two of my kin lost their lives and those they were tasked to protect. The enemy of mankind used them in an attempt to demoralize those who love freedom. Despite their aim, the whole land rose up against them, united in a common cause.
Freedom is not just a word to be bandied about. It is a lofty ideal that soars above petty bickering: the wind under its' wings carrying it ever higher until the furthest horizen can be seen. I shall remain aloft, ever vigilant, for an idea can never be killed.
Cypres Hills Cemetery
4 April 2018
The family has come together again. This time it is to say farewell to one of their own, myself. My corporeal self may have passed on, but I am still amongst them. Shortly, my final ride will begin and they shall go their separate ways.
I, however, will be going to a different family reunion. Those who have gone before me await my arrival in that vault that houses the bones of my ancestors. There shall I reside amongst them, free to interact with their spirits. Unlike earlier, this family reunion will last ... forever.
THE SPARROWS OF TERMINAL ONE
John F. Kennedy International Airport
June 17, 2019
JFK is known for the many forms of wildlife within its borders. Take the time to listen to some of it in the wee hours of the morning at Howard Beach Station. When we think of life within a terminal, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the throng of passengers either arriving or embarking on their respective journeys.
In Terminal One, another kind of life exists. Its schedule is unaffected by the flight board. I refer to the family of sparrows that has made the terminal its home. In the morning, before the sun shines on the checkpoint, they can be hear - only to be seen occasionally. As the day progresses, these denizens of the food court can be spied swooping upon that scrap of food inadvertently left behind and carrying off its prize to a safe place upon an I-Beam or a branch amongst the trees. Follow them as they soar above the ticket counters to alight in the heights overlooking their kingdom.
It's quiet now. They are asleep. Soon the sun will once again shine on the checkpoint and the sparrows of Terminal One will, once again, take flight
West Point, NY
Ever since mankind began to ponder about the world around him, flight was certainly a mystery that befuddled him. Every time he tried to flap his arms while jumping off that cliff the result was always the same, a really bad decision. It was beyond his understanding as to why certain creatures could hover and soar into the sky while he could not.
For millennia, others would continue attempting to conquer the sky will equal terminal results. Leonardo da Vinci, a genius ahead of his time, studied the anatomy of everything that flew. The results were still the same, except that he had someone else do the test flights for him. An advancement of sorts.
One day a young man was listening to a politician giving an oration that said absolutely nothing at all. "What a load of hot air," he thought as the man exposed more of his inflated ego.The germ of an idea was born and in a few years the hot air balloon was developed. It was a miracle for its time. Flying overhead like the avians was wonderful until the rope that tethered it to the ground lost its grip and the occupants found themselves at the mercy of the wind. One small lift for a man. One giant lift for birdkind.
The advent of the airplane in its initial stages was an exponential jump in the concept of manned flight. Though limited in its actual height and distance traveled, motorized flight proved that mankind was on his way to achieve that which his distant ancestors were unable to do.
Today, in just a few short decades, man has far exceeded his wildest dreams. Not only can he transport hundreds of people thousands of miles in a relatively short period of time, he can also send fighter jets that exceed the sound barrier to kill many more and destroy their cities in the process. Astronauts have been sent to the moon and satellites launched into deep space to better understand our world and beyond.
From his earliest days, man has dreampt and struggled to make his dreams a reality. Upon completion of this, it is almost universally mandatory that they be improved upon to reach even greater heights.
And to think, it all came about because of one man and a bird.
I HAD A DREAM
I wrote this story over a decade ago after getting soaked to my soul on my way to work. It was initially published on a previous platform. I have considered writing a sequel to it. Let me know if you would be interested . With enough positive responses, I will do so.
You could see the cat fights overhead and hear the cries of wounded felines as they crashed upon the ground. The war had come to the Homeland. It was also raining as if there was no tomorrow. A puppy hit me on the head and everything went dark.
When I came to, Noah was beside me. Noah was the local "character." He could get you anything, legal or otherwise. He also tended to embide in smoking and drinking those same substances. As was his wont, he was babbling on about something or another. This day, God told him to to build an Ark, gather together two of everything he could find and wait for the inevitable. Whatever he was on, I wanted some.
Through his mostly incoherent ramblings, I began to understand something of what he was saying. It appeared that God was going to destroy all those who were evil by drowning them. I order to repopulate the earth, Noah was to gather only the best of the best and place them on the Ark. When the waters rose high enough, he and his zoo would float away in safety. Everyone else be damned. With his outlook on life, who knew what deranged picture the new population would look like. I already knew he was a few brain cells short of an amoeba and opted not to join him in his "New World Order."
Several weeks later, I went to see Noah about my shipment of curare. It was the only thing that even started to slow the kid down when they were at the flat. You could have floored me with the scene when I arrived. His front yard was entirely taken up with a huge aircraft carrier. It was just like Noah to go the extra yard. This time, though, he did it quite literally as the length of the ship also extended into his neighbors front yards. They were none too happy about it. Squadrons of seagulls would periodically take flight and patrol the perimeter, dive-bombing those who would dare to impede the construction of the ship.
Security was tight, but after receiving my clearance and being escorted by a hairy ape called Harry (I understand he was a pretty good singer), I found myself in the presence of Noah once again. During our conversation, he elaborated on his "mission from God" and muttered something about The Penguin. The Ark was nearly completed and properly provisioned. After several hours of his usual loonacy, I departed with my merchandise.
The rains began shortly afterwards. Normal commerce came to a halt as the waters rose. Only the pubs remained open for business. So there I was, standing at the bar in the Jolly Rogerer finishing my latest Guinness and a 20 Pound note in my hand. A fresh pint was on the way as a fish swam by my leg in the foot deep water. At this point you might think the scene a bit bizarre, however, we had become used to the rising water level as the alcohol kept us warm and beyond caring why it was doing so. The sundial on the wall had not worked for ages and the publican was not sure when closing time was so the place simply stayed open. As we had our fill, we would call it a day. What day we called it depended on our sobriety and if the in-laws were visiting.
Finally the dreaded day arrived when the publican announced those fateful words: "The pub has no beer." The quota had not arrived and the kegs were empty. Even the dregs from the barrels would have seemed like heaven but they were also exhausted. Thus it was we had to exit the premises. I can still remember those parting words: "You may not be able to get home but you can't stay here." There was truth in those words.
By this time, the water level exceeded the tops of four-story structures. So it was that I decided to move to a better neighborhood where the sharks were not on a feeding frenzy and the pubs were well stocked with the energyzing waters of life. Tying together several passing unicorns as they floated by, I built myself a raft and raided the local market for the necessary staples needed for survival, supplies of intoxicants and bar snacks. Thus my journy began.
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