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.

The truck is parked on Court Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

The writing, and the creature shown, are mysterious.

The cherry looks delicious.

I want to live in an lemon-shaped house.

Another view of the fruity cityscape.

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!

The stage in front of Borough Hall

Tasha of Vybz Express

Soloist from Vybz Express

The banner acknowledges Borough President Marty Markowitz

Ginetta’s Vendetta on the street

Ginetta and her trumpet

Keeping the beat in the shade

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.

Left front corner


Right side

Gas tank cover


Religious symbols and phrases

Rear door

Driver’s side window

Broken tail light

Rear window


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.

The garage and doorway on 10th St.

No parking … anytime

Chow baby enj (?)

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.

View from the street

Front of the building

Another section of the front

Painter at work

Painter working on painted sidewalk

Painter working

Tools of the trade

Portrait mural

Finished fairy mural

Completed skull mural with calligraphy

Another side of the building

Mural with calligraphy

Paint over metal doors

Painted metal shutters

Sign at loading dock

Trash bin filled with fabric scraps

Models, photographers and artists enjoy the barbeque

Painters with Meres One

The view from inside

Spraying to prepare a clean “canvas”

The fire escape

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.



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

Shannon skates around traffic

He is joined by another skateboarder

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 “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

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

I ♥ Anderson Cooper

August 15, 2007

The graffiti about the popular newscaster was written on a construction wall near the entrance to the 66th Street-Lincoln Center subway station.

I felt a bit guilty asking the elderly man who was leaning against it to move so that I could take a photo, but he readily obliged. As he slowly moved past me, the fellow grinned, leaned over conspiratorially and whispered, “If what I’ve heard about him is true, that might have been written by a man.”

“If what I’ve heard about him is true,” I responded, “it might have been written by his mother.”

Entrance to 66th Street-Lincoln Center station

I ♥ Anderson Cooper

CNN: Anderson Cooper
Anderson Cooper 360°
Anderson Cooper 360° Blog
Wikipedia: Gloria Vanderbilt
Gloria Vanderbilt

The Dance-In Drive-In Movie

April 28, 2007

Drive-in theaters are the product of a time and place (America in the early 20th century) where land and gasoline were plentiful and cheap. Uniting two national passions cars and movies thousands of drive-in theaters operated across the country during the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, they are rapidly disappearing from the landscape and in New York City (which has the lowest rate of private automobile ownership and highest real estate prices in the U.S.) there are none at all.

But this week, the Tribeca Film Festival recreated the drive-in experience in Lower Manhattan. Today a large screen, loudspeakers and rows of chairs were erected in the cove behind the World Financial Center for an event called the “Tribeca Drive-In.”

Early arrivals received free popcorn, candy, drinks and seat cushions and settled in for a special screening of Planet B-Boy. The film is a new documentary about Battle Of The Year, a world-wide break-dance competition held annually in Germany.

The evening’s program began when Fab 5 Freddy, the former host of Yo! MTV Raps (who is now known as the grandfather of the New York hip-hop scene), welcomed the crowd. He explained that “B-Boy” stands for, variously, “Break-Boy,” “Beat-Boy” or “Bronx-Boy,” and is the preferred term for those who practice this form of dancing.

He went on to introduce Ken Swift, one of the original members of the fabled Rock Steady Crew, who demonstrated “classic” break-dancing moves and gave lessons to audience members. Other live performers included the Persuaders, the Beatbox Orchestra, Knucklehead Zoo, Toni Blackman and the Drifters (a team of B-Boys from Korea).

By the time the sky was dark enough for the main attraction, the crowd that had gathered at the “Drive-In” was overflowing and enraptured. Even when it began to rain, the crowd stayed in place to watch the film and, afterwards, to give director Benson Lee a standing ovation.

Fab 5 Freddy
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Ken Swift
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Knucklehead Zoo
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Originally uploaded by annulla.

The Persuaders
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Beat Box Orchestra
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Planet B-Boy
MySpace: Planet B-Boy
Battle of the Year
Tribeca Drive In
Fab 5 Freddy
Rock Steady Crew
Ken Swift’s Breaklife
Knucklehead Zoo
Toni Blackman
The Persuaders
Google video: Drifters (Korea) v. Pokeman (France)
Wikipedia: Drive In
Wikipedia: Yo! MTV Raps
World Financial Center

Push for Help

April 6, 2007

Armed only with a heavy, black marker, someone turned this customer assistance intercom box in the Times Square subway station into a helpful, smiling face.

Push for help
Originally uploaded by annulla.

Yes, Spelling Counts

January 5, 2007

It isn’t just something your teachers said; in Brooklyn, even vandals know that correct spelling and punctuation are important.

These notes appeared inside the Flushing Avenue IND subway station on a poster for Cedric the Entertainer’s new movie, Code Name: The Cleaner.

Thoe’s are real Posted by Picasa

“Those” – You can’t spell Posted by Picasa

Code Name: The Cleaner
NYC Subway: IND Crosstown, Flushing Avenue
Station Reporter: G Train

The Independent and Small Press Book Fair

December 3, 2006

This weekend the Small Press Center, a non-profit educational organization for independent publishers, sponsored its 19th annual Independent and Small Press Book Fair.

A program of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen of the City of New York, the Small Press Center serves those “driven primarily by a desire to publish what interests them, what they believe in” regardless of whether or not large publishing houses consider it commercially feasible.

The Small Press Center is housed in a landmark Victorian structure at 20 West 44th Street in Manhattan. Built in 1893, it was designed by architects Hugh Lamb and Charles Alonzo Rich to house the Berkley School (at the time, a private school for boys). The General Society moved here in 1899 and designated its central space, a three-story, skylight-topped expanse, as the main reading room for their members’ library.

The library was the site of the Book Fair, with most of the 100 or so publishers in attendance exhibiting their wares in the main reading room or on the surrounding balconies. In addition to the books, the Book Fair included readings, talks and panel discussions with authors, editors, illustrators and publishers.

Author Emily Jenkins Posted by Picasa

Illustrator Tomek Bogacki Posted by Picasa

Poet/TV personality Ira Joe Fisher Posted by Picasa

Literary anti-hero Amiri Baraka Posted by Picasa

Author Colin Channer Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Savager Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Erni Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Smith Posted by Picasa

Graffiti artist Lady Pink Posted by Picasa

Small Press Center
Book Fair Schedule of Events
Emily Jenkins
Tomek Bogacki
Colin Channer
Amiri Baraka
Smith and Lady Pink
General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen
The General Society Library
Lamb and Rich Architecture

No Sleep Till Brooklyn

October 14, 2006

The powerHouse Arena, an enormous new party space on Brooklyn’s Main Street, is owned and operated by avant-garde art publisher powerHouse Books. This weekend the Arena hosted its first event, No Sleep ’til Brooklyn: A Hip Hop Retrospective — a celebration of 30 years of hip hop culture.

Named for the Beastie Boys’ 1986 hit and held in conjuction with VH1’s 2006 Hip Hop Honors, No Sleep ’til Brooklyn is a look at hip hop from its underground beginnings in the South Bronx to its ubiquitous presence today. Works by featured artists include photos, paintings, drawings, films, video, books, sneakers and, of course, music.

Visitors filled the space to look at the works on display, sample the products from Brooklyn Brewery, hear music by DJ Synapse and hear from some of the pioneers of the art gallery graffiti scene: Lee Quinones, Diego Cortez and Patti Astor.

Graffiti-style list of credits Posted by Picasa

Life size images cover the front windows Posted by Picasa

Photos taped to the pillars  Posted by Picasa

Looking up at photos Posted by Picasa

Visitors leaving their marks on the wall  Posted by Picasa

Viewing framed works in the corner  Posted by Picasa

Eliza from Pinkeye Posted by Picasa

Sitting on the steps  Posted by Picasa

Diego Cortez, Lee Quinones & Patti Astor Posted by Picasa

Jane Dixon & Patti Astor Posted by Picasa

  • powerHouse Books
  • powerHouse Arena
  • No Sleep ’til Brooklyn: A Hip Hop Retrospective
  • No Sleep ’til Brooklyn Launch
  • @149st: Patti Astor
  • @149st: Fun Gallery
  • Diego Cortez
  • Lost Object: Diego Cortez
  • @149st: Lee Quinones
  • Pink Eye Personalizations
  • DJ Synapse
  • Licensed to Ill
  • Wild Style
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • VH1 Hip Hop Honors

  • Please Don’t Stand on the Art

    October 7, 2006

    Stencilled street art found on a sidewalk and standpipe near the corner of Flushing and Grand Avenues, directly across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    Purple and orange scream Posted by Picasa

    Red and yellow stare Posted by Picasa

    Juke five  Posted by Picasa

    Gray and blue shapes Posted by Picasa

    A Fence Full of Flowers

    August 27, 2006

    Strolling through Dumbo one Sunday, I came across a wooden construction barrier painted with white flowers and took a few pictures. About a month later the New York Times published an article telling the story of this fence, the construction workers laboring behind it and Pasqualina Azzarello, the artist who made transformed bare boards into a garden down under the Manhattan bridge overpass.

    At the corner of York and Jay Streets  Posted by Picasa

    What does humility require? Posted by Picasa

    Storage box Posted by Picasa

    Thank you Posted by Picasa

    Acera cerrada use el otro lado Posted by Picasa

    Th-an-ky-ou Posted by Picasa

  • New York Times
  • Pasqualina Azzarello’s Little Red Studio
  • New York Professional Outreach Program: Pasqualina Azzarello

  • Art: The Weapon of Intelligence

    August 11, 2006

    Don’t dare call the paintings on this Brooklyn truck graffiti; they are, in every meaning of the word, art.

    Art: The weapon of intelligence! Posted by Picasa

    He stay gettin bizy Posted by Picasa

    Way up in ya Posted by Picasa

    Maman Posted by Picasa

    The black leprakhan Posted by Picasa

    He has a good Russian wife Posted by Picasa

    Vel Crew * Ganoz Posted by Picasa

    72 Brighton Ct – Bklyn, NY 11235 Posted by Picasa

    Mysteries of Manhattan: A New York City Alphabet

    July 20, 2006

    In downtown Manhattan, someone carefully painted an alphabet on the wooden fence surrounding a construction site at the corner of Warren and Church Streets. There is no visible indication of why, when or by whom this alphabet was created.

    Apple � Boy Posted by Picasa

    Cat � Dog Posted by Picasa

    Egg � Fun Posted by Picasa

    Good � Hello Posted by Picasa

    Ink � Jam Posted by Picasa

    Krishna � Like Posted by Picasa

    Mom � No Posted by Picasa

    Ontology � Pencil  Posted by Picasa

    Quark � Robot  Posted by Picasa

    Silly � Tungsten Posted by Picasa

    Ulterior Motive � Vague Posted by Picasa

    Wet � X-Ray Posted by Picasa

    Yes � Zen Posted by Picasa

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