Dance of the Gypsies

August 1, 2007

In addition to the Sand Sculpting Contest, last week’s celebration at Coney Island featured a performance by a group billed as (I believe) the World Wide Gypsies.

Clad in bright, flowing silks, adorned with countless jewels, bangles and spangles, three women swayed and whirled on the sunlit Boardwalk.

When the moustachioed violinist launched into Ochi Chyornye (also written as Ochi Tchornya or Ochi Chernye), the lead dancer sang along.

Ochi chyornye, ochi zhguchie
Ochi strastnye i prekrasnye
Kak lyublyu ya vas, kak boyus’ ya vas
Znat’ uvidel vas ya ne v dobryj chas

Dark eyes, burning eyes
Frightful and beautiful eyes
I love you so, I fear you so
For sure I’ve seen you at a sinister hour

Passers-by were captivated by the romantic melody, the flamboyant costumes and the laughing, dancing gypsys.

Swirling their skirts
Swirling their skirts

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Playing Ochi Chyornye

The gypsy sings of love & suffering
The gypsy sings of love & suffering

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Captivating a passerby

Dancing with the Boardwalk boys
Dancing with the Boardwalk boys

A few belly dance moves
Doing a few belly dance moves

A lively mazurka
Dancing to a lively mazurka

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Twirling gypsy dancer

Bay News: Fairy tales still thrive in Coney Island
NY1: Sand Sculptors Complete
Astella Development Corporation
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
Wikipedia: Ochi Chyornye


A plea to readers

August 1, 2007

PictureNY.org

I’ve never written a post like this before, but the issue is too important to ignore. If you are a New Yorker, ever plan to visit New York or just care about freedom of speech and expression, this is a plea for your help. 

A controversial new city proposal would require formal permits for a wide range of casual photography and would affect visitors and residents alike.

“Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.

“The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment.”
— New York Times, June 29, 2007

It seems absurd, doesn’t it, that a city like this would crack down on people taking photos in public places, but the threat of that happening is very real — and implemention of the rules imminent — unless we make our voices heard.

Following a request from the NYCLU, New York City has agreed to reopen the period for members of the public to submit comments about this proposal. The City will accept comments until Friday August 3.

Comments should be sent as soon as possible to the following person:
    Julianne Cho
    Assistant Commissioner
    Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
    1697 Broadway
    New York, N.Y. 10019
   
jcho@film.nyc.gov

An ad hoc coalition of working artists, filmmakers, and photographers have joined together to fight the proposed rules. Calling themselves Picture New York, they have launched a blog and an online petition which will be closed on Friday, August 3.

If you believe, as I do, that we should remain free to take photos and shoot videos on the streets of New York City, please let officials know before it is too late. They will stop accepting comments in only two days.

If you live outside the city, or even outside the U.S., you might hesitate to contact the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.

You may think that it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to get involved in what seems like a local fight, but the city needs to hear from as many people as possible, no matter where they live. Please help us keep New York accessible and open to all photographers.

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Addendum:
Award-winning newscaster and commentator Keith Olbermann has named Julianne Cho Worst Person in the World for July 31, 2007.

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Addendum:
“Responding to an outcry that included a passionate Internet campaign and a satiric rap video, city officials yesterday backed off proposed new rules that could have forced tourists taking snapshots in Times Square and filmmakers capturing that only-in-New-York street scene to obtain permits and $1 million in liability insurance.

“In announcing the move, officials at the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said they would redraft the rules, intended to apply to commercial film and photography productions, to address complaints that they could be too broadly applied. They will then release the revised rules for public comment.

“It appears that the mayor’s office on film has come to their senses,” said Eileen Clancy, a member of a group formed to protest the rules. “Clearly, they did not anticipate the way in which the rules were likely to affect so many different groups of people.””

For the rest of this New York Times article, click here.

PictureNY.org

Picture New York blog
Picture New York petition
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
Text of Proposed rule (Amendment to Title 43) [pdf]
NY Times: Artists Organize to Fight Camera Permit Proposal
NY Times: City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography
Sewell Chan: A Shout Out to the M.O.F.T.B.
Olde English: Free NYC Rap video
Keith Olbermann
NY Times: After Protests, City Agrees to Rewrite Proposed Rules


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