Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Self Created Photo Tour in New York City - Works by Bresson, Stieglitz, Steichen and Paul Strand to name a few

I was uninterested in doing any photography work, so instead, I decided to visit a few photo exhibits throughout New York City. My first stop was at the Early Photojournalism exhibit at the L. Parker Stephenson Gallery, followed by Anton Corbjin Portraits at the Stellan Holm Gallery, and ended the day looking at Stieglitz, Steichen and Strand photographs at The Met.

I don't want to ruin anyone's aspirations of visiting any of these places, but to the unknown gallery visitor, expect a small collection of photographs (20 or less) at the galleries aforementioned. The total time for these galleries were approximately two hours, with the most time spent at The Met. Here are a few highlights from my self-proclaimed photo tour:

L. Parker Stephenson - Early Photojournalism 1855-1945 on display until Dec. 10, 2010
  • Robert Capa photographed a French collaborator being paraded through town, with a shaved head and a child in her arms
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson photographed Children playing in Ruins in Seville ($75,000) -- its a typical photograph of kids playing... but I found the photograph to be interesting because of the "layering" of people (i counted 8) which creates a visual depth of field that takes your eyes from the forefront of the photograph to the back
  • and, one piece was my absolute favorite! It was a photograph by Sebastiao Salgado who photographed a group of workers along a hillside that so-closely resembled an art farm (i wish i could find a picture of it online, but I can't)... But it may have been related to the Serra Perada Gold Mine series which I found some photographs on Flickr... The photograph was selling for $5,500.
Anton Corbjin - Inwards and Outwards is displayed at the Stellan Holm Gallery - on display until December 15, 2010
  • 10 photographs were exhibited here and all were being sold for $21,000. The one that was probably the most interesting to me, if any, was one of Lucian Freud. There are other photographs there of Alexander McQueen, Bruce Springsteen and Kate Moss.
  • Anton is a Dutch photographer, film and music director who through photography established himself with portraits of artists such as David Bowie, Miles Davis, Bono, Clint Eastwood, and Tom Waits.; and is known for directing music videos for the likes of Depeche Mode, U2, and Nirvana to name a few.
  • A brief Q&A with Anton Corbjin was written in The New York Times blog section, you can view by clicking here
The Metropolitan Museum of Art -- Stieglitz, Steichen, Strand on display till April 10, 2011

The exhibit opened today (Nov. 10) and exhibits a collection of approximately 115 photographs by Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Paul Strand.

Alfred Stieglitz

Alfred Stieglitz's collection included a large number of photographs of a painter, Georgia O'Keefe (who he later married), and a few selected works from the publication "Camera Work". The photos I found to be the most interesting of Georgia O'Keefe was titled "Torso" and "Hand". The Torso image reminded me of a Roman sculpture, while the Hand image made me think of a elegance (now, do we all unbutton our jackets like so?)... After coming home and reading more about Stieglitz, I read this on The Met's website pertaining to the images of his wife, Georgia O'Keefe:

"His refusal to encapsulate her personality into a single image was consistent with several modernist ideas: the idea of the fragmented sense of self, brought about by the rapid pace of modern life; the idea that a personality, like the outside world, is constantly changing, and may be interrupted but not halted by the intervention of the camera; and, finally, the realization that truth in the modern world is relative and that photographs are as much an expression of the photographer's feelings for the subject as they are a reflection of the subject depicted"

images from The Met online library

Edward Steichen
  • J. Pierpont Morgan Portrait, January 1903 -- this is one of the most famous photographs that Steichen took during his career. Steichen was asked to photograph J.P. Morgan by the German painter Fedor Encke whose request was to minimize the sitting time required by the busy subject, Morgan. Within two-three minutes, he took two photos and the image you see below is the second photo that Steichen took for himself... I remember seeing this image a LONG time ago, and after hearing the story behind it -- it just made me chuckle. If you did not know, JP Morgan was a financier, owned the railroads and also known as a "Robber Barron" during his time. In an article at the Smithsonian, he was called a "Cutthroat Capitalist" ... and if you see the photo below -- do you see an "illusion of a dagger?" -- Its not really a dagger, rather the arm of the chair that JP Morgan had his hands around. For more of the story, you can read the article at the Smithsonian, by clicking here.

(L) Description of J.P. Morgan Photo, (R) J.P. Morgan
photo taken with the iphone

  • Autochromes - Autochrome is a one-of-a-kind color transparency composed of minute grains of potato starch dyed red, blue and green. Due to the sensitivity of the autochromes, only fascimiles were available for viewing, the originals will be available for viewing from Jan. 25 to Jan. 30, 2011. These autochromes were created by Steichen (but owned by the Stieglitz collection).

(L) Autochromes description, (R) Autochrome of Stieglitz
photo taken with the iphone

(L) Autochromes description of Mrs. Selma Schubert, (R) Autochrome of Stieglitz's Younger Sister
photo taken with the iphone

Paul Strand

Many of Paul Strand's photographs were of people, buildings and the streets. Sad to say, but after walking away from this exhibit, I remember very little of his photographic works. So to be fair, I revisited The Met website and have included a photo that Paul Strand was known for.

image from The Met online library

If you're unable to visit The Met, click the link here to view the collection online (not as nice as physically seeing it in person, but gives you an idea).

On a side note, as you leave the exhibit (if your facing the museum gift store), turn right -- walk down the ramp, and on your left you will see a daguerreotype print that is in very good condition. It was produced by Robert Vance.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ken's Asian Taste Restaurant - Lobster with Noodles - WOW!

Photo taken w/ the iPhone 3Gs

Ken's Asian Taste Restaurant
is an unsuspecting joint that has certainly made my tastebuds tingle, my stomach growl and my mouth crave for more Lobster with noodles ...

I don't even know the name of this dish, and not sure how YOU can order it, other than say Lobster with rice noodles to the waiter, or you can do what we did, which was show them a photo of it! Yes, we, or I should say, my good friend/mentor, who moonlights as a foodie for his second profession -- Ken -- showed the manager/waiter a picture of the dish and he instantly knew what it was (ha ha, thanks Ken!). I love it! Sometimes when I'm traveling, I have to play a game of charades for them to understand (yes imagine me gesturing and jumping up and down), but lucky for my friends, I saved them from the embarassment as Ken had a picture of it on his iPhone.

So what is this dish? 2 Lobsters with rice noodles (you can order it with vermicelli noodles as well). The dish is marvelously flavored with a lot of garlic, five spice, green onions and who knows what else ... but all I have to say is that this was a delightful dish (and the highlight of my day). Other than the fabulous flavors spewing from this dish, another highlight was the soupy-ness, or the broth that accompanied the noodles. If the noodles were dry, this dish would have been less appealing, but because there was a broth base that made the noodles sort of -- slurpy and wet -- it worked! As for the lobsters, "they are fresh", as one eater proclaimed as he pointed out the pinkish juice that emerged from a claw that he picked up. But, that wasn't our only good fortune, one of the lobsters was pregnant and we had lobster roe on our plate as well... My dad used to say, you are lucky if there are "roe" in your dish -- we usually had it in crab -- but nonetheless, I felt lucky for having been introduced to this dish! SO thank you ken!

And now, I am sharing this dish with you (sharing is caring)! If you find yourself in Chinatown with a few friends, I would highly recommend visiting Ken's Asian Taste Restaurant for an order of Lobster with Noodles for $29.95! Its a fun and plentiful dish to order with friends and you won't be disappointed.

As for the other items at this restaurant -- I can only vouch for the items I ate, which also include:
  • Clams with black bean sauce - ok, not fabulous (forgot which type of clams we ordered, but the razor clams were not available until nightime)

  • Dim Sum Entrees included: Chicken Feet (tasty and flavorful); Turnip Cake (a bit cold, but had good chunks of chinese sausage - definitely ask for the Oyster Sauce to accompany this dish); Shrimp Dumpling (aka Ha Gao -- think it was steamed for too long since the texture of the skin was spongy); Shrimp and Pork Dumpling (aka Siu Mai -- had good clumps of shrimp, flavoring decent; and again, think it may have been steamed for too long).
One last thing I would like to note is the space... They have two floors, though, I would prefer to sit on the top floor as there are more people and food options (i.e. waiters showcasing dim sum options) there. In my opinion, the ambiance is less important in Asian restaurants, so long as the food is good; however, I will note that restaurant had a sense of "cleanliness" to it. In addition, this restaurant was packed for lunch with a lot of locals on a weekday -- so that's always a good sign to me.

Before I sign off -- I know this is repetitive, but I would highly recommend the Lobster with Noodles dish to everyone. Download a copy of my picture and show it to the manager and he'll know what to do next. If you have more than three people, the dish is enough, however, I would suggest ordering a few other dishes just to get a good sampling of the food at the restaurant.

Happy eating in Chinatown!

Ken's Asian Taste Restaurant
40 Bowery
(between Bayard St & Canal St)
New York, NY 10013
Neighborhood: Chinatown
(212) 608-0806

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hsin Wong Restaurant in Chinatown - a good lesson learned

I overheard a friend talking about good roast duck at Hsin Wong Restaurant in Chinatown, so instead of going to my usual Great NY Noodletown for my Roast Pork with Roast Duck over rice, I headed over to Hsin Wong to try theirs.

The restaurant is unpretentious and filled with Asian people (a good sign that its a good local restaurant)... I stepped up to the counter, ordered my to-go food, and waited a few minutes while the butcher chopped up my meat. The butcher accidentally thought I asked for roasted pig (sui YOK) vs roasted duck (sui OP) -- and I had to ask them nicely to change it -- after a few "um, not so friendly comments by the butcher" -- because it was naturally "my fault?" for him not hearing me correctly -- i received my dish... I believe he gave me the "butt of the duck" -- "ah, just wonderful" i thought to myself. let's just say, i think i have to make a revisit to to try the duck ...

so why am i posting this review then? well, moral of the story is, don't mess around with the butcher, or you're going to get the butt-end of the deal. :D What can I say, eating with me is always an adventure!

Before I let you go... here are a few other comments about the dishes:

-- $5.50 for two choices of roast meats over rice (or $4.50 for one choice of roast meats) with a pleasant surprise of a good healthy soup (which, i loved!)
-- also tried the wonton soup (no noodles) - 8 for $4.00... tasty, and there was a good portion of shrimp - you can order this with less soup (aka smaller container) -- easier access to the wontons!
-- on my next trip to Hsin Wong's -- i think you have to sit down and have their Peking Duck... and make sure to annunciate or speak in English while ordering your dishes - for fear that something will get lost in translation... well, until next time!

Hsin Wong Restaurant
72 Bayard St (between Mott and Bowery)
Mon-Fri 9:30 am - 9 pm
Sat-Sun 9:30 am - 10 pm

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Story of Katy Perry's Project - Fireworks

Katy Perry is working on a project for her new song - Fireworks! - and is looking for 250 individuals who have a spark -- "that are buzzing and fizzing and has the potential to become fireworks... the whole project will be an emotional experience ... "

Katy says -- in life, people are challenged to get to where they want to be; to reach their goals; hopefully they can hear this song and find out that those challenges aren't really difficult to get past.

I can attest even in my own journey ... it has been difficult ... and finding this message or song, today of all days gives me inspiration to continue to work towards my own goal of becoming a successful photographer ...

In Katy's own story of getting to where she is, "there has been a lot of trials and tribulations ... and this project will be amazing to hear people get through things in life and reach their goals!"


This is your chance to tell Katy Perry about the firework in your life. Is it you? Your Mom? Your teacher? A friend? Record a video about your firework. Tell Katy who it is and how they light up your life or someone else's. Share your story and get a chance for you and your family (up to 4 people) to come to her show in London and hang out with Katy Perry. Katy looks forward to seeing all your amazing stories.

1. Make a 1-3 minute video about a "Firework" in your life.
2. Upload your video to YouTube.
3. Enter the contest at
4. Share your video for the opportunity to win!

Here is her music video for the song...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crisp: The New Falafel in New York City

Photos above were taken with the iPhone 3Gs.

One bite of this falafel sandwich and you'll know why this place is called "CRISP"... Similar to Tony the Tiger's "They're G-G-G-reat" saying, Crisp should have their own motto of "ccrrrunncccchhh, ccruuunnccchhhh" because that will be the sound you hear after that first scrumptious bite. Crisp's falafels are all made with organic ingredients and are freshly baked, everyday!

Their menu offers a variety of options to add to your falafels - have it with peanut sauce (the African way), or with cilantro pesto/avocado/salsa (the Mexican way), chili sauce/eggplants (the Asian way), or just the plain old regular way -- with hummus/salad (the Crisp way). Either way you have it, you'll get that crunchy bite every time! As an added bonus, your order will be packaged in what the company calls "the handbag". At first, my friend and I thought it was such a waste of a cardboard box (but that is only because we didn't realize the potential of the bag)... If you rip along the perforated line, you'll notice the sandwich will be held in place -- a perfect way to hold your sandwich upright while you "pause" from your sandwich. :D Such an ingenious idea -- I wish I thought of it!

If you don't like falafel sandwiches, you can either order a salad or make your own hummus platter.

Ok, now, back to my review... I'm a harsh critic -- i thought the sandwich was good, but lacked flavor ... I went the traditional route by ordering "the Crisp" because I wanted a reminder of the foods I ate in the Middle East; however, it came up short in my opinion. The hummus would have flavored the sandwich had it been spread evenly within the pita, but of course, the hummus was only at the bottom of the pita -- leaving my last remaining bites to be tastier than my first. Aside from this semi-negative comment, while eating this you'll feel as if you're eating something healthy, afterall - there are a lot of vegetables in this thing. Ah, vegetables -- p.s. this is a VEGETARIAN restaurant!

Sandwiches: $5.75 - $8.75;
Salads - $7.25 - $10.25;
Make your own Hummus Platter - $7.75

Now, the question is -- is Crisp better than Mamoun's? That's a difficult decision.

Crisp Pros:
- healthy (falafels are baked)
- ingredients are organic (ok, organic is a very loose term by FDA standards)
- cool packaging
- falafels are crunchier and sandwiches may be slightly bigger than Mamoun's

Crisp Cons:
- only vegetarian food options
- menu is pricier than Mamoun's

But, at the end of the day, I have to say, I still enjoy Mamoun's over Crisp. Its a difficult decision, but for someone who likes the option of having meat, I'd prefer Mamoun's. On a mano-a-mano (aka Falafel sandwich comparison)... i might only slightly prefer mamoun's over crisp (though it is oilier) ... I think I may have to pay Mamoun's a revisit to retest this decision (or Rainbow which i just added below) ... :P

If you'd like to try either of these places, here is a listing of their locations:

Crisp: 110 West 40th St. Bet 6th and Broadway / 684 3rd Avenue Corner of 43rd

Mamoun's: 119 MacDougal St / 22 St. Marks Place / 85 Howe St (New Haven, CT)

At any rate, happy eating!

*** UPDATE *** I was just reminded of another falafel place in the city by a reader -- its called Rainbow, its a HOLE in the wall (u can walk by it and would miss it, except for the long lines that form outside of it during lunch time)... its on 17th Street between Broadway & Fifth ******

Did you know?:

Per wikipedia, Falafel is a ball or patty made from ground chickpeas and/or fava beans. Falafel is usually served in a pita, which acts as a pocket, or wrapped in a flat bread known as lafa. The falafel balls are topped with salads, pickled vegetables and hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. Falafel balls may also be eaten alone as a snack or served as part of a mezze.

Generally accepted to have first been made in Egypt, where the dish is widely known as طعميةta'amiya) in the Cairo dialect, falafel has become a dish eaten throughout the Middle East. The Copts of Egypt claim to have first made the dish as a replacement for meat during Lent. The hearty fritters are now found around the world as a replacement for meat and as a form of street food.

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