Look, It’s The Misha Fruits Truck!

July 12, 2012

It’s just an old delivery truck that is used to transport fruit to the shops of New York City. But when the Misha Fruits driver is at work, people notice.

That’s because most of the vehicle is covered with an elaborate display of graffiti-style artwork.

The front of the truck is emblazoned with the name of the company, partially hidden by enormous oranges and grapes the size of a man’s head. The right side shows a green monster (perhaps it is a bit of mold) and a colorful, stylized word which is, to me, indecipherable.

The truck’s rear is painted with an humongous, glistening cherry and the word “fruit.” And the left side is shows a panorama of the sun setting behind a bustling city where the houses are shaped like pieces of fruit.

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The truck is parked on Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

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The writing, and the creature shown, are mysterious.

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The cherry looks delicious.

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I want to live in an lemon-shaped house.

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Another view of the fruity cityscape.

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Two For the Price of None

July 21, 2010

One of the joys of living in Brooklyn is the overwhelming abundance of free entertainment. Especially during the summer, you’d have to lock yourself inside to completely avoid being exposed to the thousands of concerts, performances, festivals and extravaganzas — even spontaneous bursts of singing and drumming — that are available without charge around the borough.

It is impossible for even the most dedicated music lover to attend every show that takes place during a Brooklyn summer, but sometimes luck and circumstance allow those in the borough of Kings to something akin to a mini-music festival.

Today at lunchtime, a hip-hop flavored reggae band, Vybz Evolution, was performing on a stage erected in front of Borough Hall. The blazing sunlight seemed to fuel their high energy act as they sang, danced and engaged the enthusiastic audience.

Only a block away, in the cool, deep shadows cast by nearby buildings, Ginetta’s Vendetta brought the sound of funk-influenced jazz to a tiny plaza at the corner of Adams and Willoughby Streets. Listeners were spellbound as the band’s leader, Ginetta Minichiello, sensuously swayed in the street while playing her silver plated pocket trumpet.

Two great noontime concerts, only steps from each other, and both for the same great price: free!

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The stage in front of Borough Hall

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Tasha of Vybz Express

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Soloist from Vybz Express

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The banner acknowledges Borough President Marty Markowitz

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Ginetta’s Vendetta on the street

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Ginetta and her trumpet

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Keeping the beat in the shade

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Meta Ginetta (note poster in the background)

MySpace: Vybz Evolution Band
YouTube: Vybz Evolution Band
DC Caribbean Carnival
***
Ginetta’s Vendetta
MySpace: Ginetta’s Vendetta
Jazzitalia: Ginetta’s Vendetta
Jazziz: Ginetta’s Vendetta
DC Bebop: Ginetta Minichiello


Mysteries of Manhattan: The Painted Car

November 28, 2009

It was parked at the corner of Second Avenue and 27th Street. A big old Ford LTD Crown Victoria with taped up windows, dented fenders, smashed tail lights and rusted chrome. But really, on this vehicle, who would notice a few flaws?

Thickly covered with images, objects and phrases garnered from sports, politics, pop culture and fantasy, this is a car with a message. Or, perhaps, several messages. But what is it trying to tell us? Who created it? And why did he or she decide to paint a car rather than a wall or a canvas?

I have no idea. Guess I’ll just have to categorize it as another of Manhattan’s many mysteries.

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Left front corner

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Hood

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Right side

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Gas tank cover

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Tire

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Religious symbols and phrases

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Rear door

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Driver’s side window

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Broken tail light

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Rear window

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Trunk

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Rooftop collage


No Parking … Anytime

January 5, 2009

I was walking past Brooklyn’s 10th Street when the signs on this garage and doorway commanded my attention. Believe me, I wouldn’t dream of parking there. In fact, I don’t even want to ring the bell or knock hard … anytime.

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The garage and doorway on 10th St.

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No parking … anytime

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Chow baby enj (?)

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All deliveries today ….. ring bell and knock. Knock hard.


Memorial Day Surprise

May 26, 2008

The plan was to attend a massive Memorial Day parade in Queens, but the directions I’d received were incomplete and left me stranded in a sketchy neighborhood where there was no sign of a celebration. The store fronts on the street were closed, few people were out, and those I found knew nothing about a parade. Feeling discouraged, it seemed the best recourse would be to return to Brooklyn and head for the beach.

Back onto the train, Brooklyn-bound, I noticed a brightly painted building in the far distance. I’d spotted it before, of course, while traveling through Queens (it was impossible to miss), and had always intended to explore it, but I’d never had the time. On this day, however, time was unlimited. I got off and just followed the colorful splashes of paint until I arrived at the place known as 5 Pointz.

Located in an industrial complex that houses artists’ studios and several garment factories, the building serves as a gallery of aerosol art. With the enthusiastic approval of the building’s owner, graffiti artist Meres One is the curator and absolute ruler, deciding who may paint here, where, and how long their work will remain before it is painted over by another.

Graffiti aficionados from around the world regard 5 Pointz as a mecca, arriving with “black books” of sketches, bags of paint, ladders, and cameras to immortalize the work they hope to produce here. Everything that happens on these walls (and floors, fire escapes, and roofs) is up to Meres, who grants permission to photograph or add to the display.

It was a clear, sunny day, a national holiday, and dozens of graffiti writers were arrayed around the building, spraying the walls with intricate, colorful, sometimes beautiful designs. I circled the enormous building, wishing that I had a better camera with me (I had an unreliable old cheap-y that I’d found in a thrift store for $5.00), admiring the skill and probably annoying the painters with my questions, until I arrived at the main entrance/loading dock.

There, amidst the paint and dumpsters of discarded fabric, a group had gathered for a great American tradition: a Memorial Day barbeque. They greeted me as though I was an expected guest, presented me with food and drink, and urged me to return. And, when I get a new camera, I certainly will.

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View from the street

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Front of the building

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Another section of the front

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Painter at work

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Painter working on painted sidewalk

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Painter working

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Tools of the trade

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Portrait mural

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Finished fairy mural

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Completed skull mural with calligraphy

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Another side of the building

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Mural with calligraphy

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Paint over metal doors

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Painted metal shutters

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Sign at loading dock

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Trash bin filled with fabric scraps

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Models, photographers and artists enjoy the barbeque

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Painters with Meres One

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The view from inside

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Spraying to prepare a clean “canvas”

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The fire escape

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Painted lamppost

5 Pointz Official Web site
MySpace: Meres One
NY Times: Museum With (Only) Walls


Big Green Faces

May 22, 2008

More from the archives.

I took these photos on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, a bastion of hipsterdom. The big green faces are painted on a couple of old wooden doors on Ludlow Street. I have no idea who painted them, or when, or why.

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Lower East Side
Wikipedia: Ludlow Street


Bill Shannon’s Window

September 20, 2007

This summer’s massive River to River Festival is in its final days. The last dance program of the season, Window, is being presented on Lower Broadway all this week at lunchtime.

Created by Bill Shannon, Windows is presented to two audiences simultaneously: pedestrians on the street and viewers observing through the windows of a nearby skyscraper.

The Step Fienz, a crew of breakdancers, accompany Shannon (also known as “the Crutchmaster”), as he performs on a skateboard and crutches, weaving in and out of traffic, flipping and spinning, startling drivers and engaging passers-by with his grace, athleticism and humor.

Those who entered the lofty viewing space  (located in an ordinary business office) were able to see live video closeups of the action below and listen to recorded music mixed with Shannon’s comments and street noise. The same music is played outside, but only on the dancers’ earpieces. 

Passers-by can’t hear the music, see the audience gathered at the office windows (unless they look up and squint), or view the cameras positioned above. As a result, most of the people on the street don’t realize they are witnessing (and participating in) a carefully-planned performance. The spontaneous interactions between the unsuspecting pedestrians and the dancers are, in and of themselves, vital parts of the show.

The crutch and skateboard, while important elements of the dance, are not simply used for dramatic effect. Shannon’s dance technique—known as the Shannon Technique—is one he invented out of necessity. Born with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (a rare hip deformity), the dancer and choreographer has spent most of his life on crutches.

He has traveled and performed around the world, won numerous awards for his work and choreographed Cirque de Soleil’s production, Varekai. A documentary about Shannon, entitled Crutch, is scheduled to premiere at film festivals this fall.

An audience gathers at the window
An audience gathers at the window

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Shannon skates around traffic

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He is joined by another skateboarder

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He lies on the sidewalk

Maneuvering with his crutches
Maneuvering with his crutches

Pedestrians walk by
Pedestrians walk by

A good samaritan stops to help
A good samaritan stops to assist

She
She “helps” him stand

Then wants to discuss religion
Then wants to discuss religion

More dancers join in
More dancers join in

The Step Fienz in action
The Step Fienz in action

Darting through the crowd
Darting through the crowd

Another attempted conversation
Another attempted conversation

Shannon aloft
Shannon aloft

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The finale

The company takes a bow
The company takes a bow

Bill Shannon
MySpace: Crutch
Village Voice: ‘Crutchmaster’ Takes Dance to the Next Level
Cirque du Soleil: Bill Shannon
Time Signature Productions: The Step Fienz
DJ Excess
MySpace: DJ Excess
River to River Festival
LMCC Sitelines: Window
The New Yorker: Window


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