September 30, 2015

Venice, Italy. October, 1980

You only need the slightest glimpse around a corner to know that you're in Venice. I remember that on my first trip there, I walked around in awe. I'd never been anywhere like it. And never have been since.

September 28, 2015

Hollywood. October, 1981

On my first trip to the West Coast, I was taken around town by my resident friend Artie (now a much-sought-after stage manager on Broadway.) He kindly indulged my every photo op, including this undistinguished one. Even just the word "Hollywood" was intoxicating to me, a star-struck thing from New Jersey. (You can imagine my euphoria when my celebrity sightings on this trip included both James Stewart and Elizabeth Taylor. Separately. Hard to top.)

September 27, 2015

Galway, Ireland. May, 1992

One-stop shopping here at this thatched-roofed grocery store. I'll have some machine cut rashers and a few best table potatoes, please. And a loaf of fancy bread, delivered. Hold the Guinness.

September 26, 2015

Cambridge, MA. April, 1980

What was I thinking? Actually I know exactly what I was thinking. I was trying to emulate photographer Helmut Newton whose seamy story-suggestive photos dotted the fashion magazines I paged through regularly. A Japanese kimono, a disheveled "corpse," a mix of patterns and textures, a bit of skin. All for an assignment in a photography class I was taking. We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it, as they say. (Click here to see another shot from this series.)

September 25, 2015

Newark, NJ. June, 1973

The Farmers Market in Down Neck, Newark, New Jersey. When we were in college and for sometime thereafter, we'd go to this late night/early morning market in an otherwise seemingly deserted part of town where produce vendors would set up their tables. It was my introduction to the outdoor markets that have fascinated me ever since. Among its other distinctions, it was where I saw my first Crenshaw melon.

September 24, 2015

Watertown, MA. September, 2015

Is it true that you can tell a lot about a person based on what he has on his bulletin board? Or in this case, on the side of his refrigerator? The "NUTS" sign featured in last week's blog, a postcard of Maya Angelou, the receipt for a tagine meal in Morocco, the "eyes" by Picasso on the back of a ticket to Malaga's Picasso Museum, a menu for a Halal pizza joint that I have never patronized, an exhausted gift card to my favorite produce store, a "paid" sticker from the same store, a box of matches from a Havana hotel, some phone numbers of friends, a note from our town's handsome tree warden, appointment reminders for my dentist and my chiropractor, an expired Groupon for a nearby Turkish restaurant, some "eyeglasses" refrigerator magnets, an Elliott Erwitt photo of a man with a lampshade on his head ("Indiana, 1955") sent to me as a birthday card. So.

September 23, 2015

Ancona, Italy. October, 1980

On my first trip to Italy, my late friend Dali was the best guide possible. She'd lived there for years and knew me well enough to know what I'd like to see: Rome, Florence, Venice, Padova, Siena and, here, the Adriatic seaside town of Ancona. I remember finding sponges on the beach. And I remember wondering why, on this hot day, no one was in the water or even at the beach. Dali explained that after September 1, Italians don't go to the beach. Period. True?

September 22, 2015

Rome. October, 1980

This is the monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, smack dab on the most dangerous intersection in Rome. (There used to be a policeman directing cars from a small platform in the center, but no longer. Probably because no one paid any attention to him at all.) The monument, almost universally hated by Romans, is officially known as the Altare della Patria. But among the citizens, it's disdainfully referred to as "The Typewriter" or "The Dentures."

September 21, 2015

San Gimignano. October, 1980

It may be fancy-pants San Gimignano in the heart of Tuscany, but it's still Italy, as evidenced by the laundry hanging just outside the city's fortressed walls. In fact, these may be those very fancy pants, but I doubt it.

September 20, 2015

Siena. October, 1980

Look way up in the upper left and you'll see why I took a picture of this bar/souvenir shop on Siena's main piazza.

September 19, 2015

Rome. October, 1980

The pines of Rome. No really.

September 18, 2015

Rome. October, 1980

My late friend Dali, my trusted source on all matters Roman, told me that this was Sophia Loren's apartment in the center of the city, so I had to take a picture. I wonder if it really is.

September 17, 2015

Siena. October, 1980

The magnificent piazza in the center of Siena. This is where the annual horse race, the Palio, among Siena's traditional guilds is held. And this became the model, all brick, for Boston's City Hall Plaza. The Sienese did it first. And better.

September 16, 2015

Rome. October, 1980

This shrine, in the church of San Silvestro in the center of Rome, is one I've visited regularly during my stays in the Eternal City during the 1980s. I've attended many meetings upstairs in this church. And it's just next to a bus stop I'd frequent as it was close to my hotel. I'm sure the statue grouping has an official and very solemn name. I called it, because of its commercial neighbors, the Madonna of the Sweater Stores.

September 15, 2015

Watertown, MA. September, 2015

Oh, how nice in this day of __________ (fill in as desired) allergies, to have a clear label for what foods on the buffet table might be unsafe. Case in point: this lovely sign on a bowl of Patti's cookies at our recent party, illustration and text by her beau, JoeY Noodles. It made me (and others) smile.

September 14, 2015

Siena, Italy. October, 1980

If you can't decide which saint to paint, paint 'em all! .

September 13, 2015

Watertown, MA. September, 2015

Snapped before this week's heat wave and the end of summer made these black-eyed susans head south. Each year the seeds spread and these plants crop up in bunches in the most unlikely parts of the yard. I'm not complaining, especially as they flourish happily for such a long time over the summer months.

September 12, 2015

San Francisco. October, 1981

A companion piece to yesterday's iffy listing. Can this be a window display in San Francisco's Chinatown? Or one of the many gold and jewelry shops on Florence's Ponte Vecchio?. The text "Fear Not" at the very top center leads me to believe it might be the former.

September 11, 2015

San Francisco. October, 1981

It took me the longest time to decide whether this was a photo I took in the Japanese tea garden in Golden Gate Park (as Google images would have us believe), or a photo that Jay took on one of his many trips to Japan. I'm still not sure. (My memory pre-1982 can be a little spotty.)

September 10, 2015

Gloucester, MA. September, 2015

Oh, the miraculous pleasures of backlighting. Whenever I worked at Bose and had to attend a meeting, I would always sit with the window behind me. Backlighting not only softens, it also adds a lovely halo to those who might not normally deserve one. Not that my friend Donna (center) doesn't deserve one. Sometimes. (What a pleasure it was to welcome my Watertown neighbors -- Emilia, Donna, Cat and Allan -- to our annual Gloucester party this year.)

September 9, 2015

Gloucester, MA. September, 2015

L-R: Contemplative. Mischievous. Sultry.

September 8, 2015

Naples, Italy. October, 1984

I used to see this guy every time I visited the Naples fish market. Sometimes unloading trucks full of whole swordfish, sometimes (as here) offering the cut-up steaks. And, as always, I would be a tourist without a kitchen in which to prepare this freshest of fish. Che peccato.

September 7, 2015

Rome. October, 1984

I love the name of this train station, near the pyramid in outer Rome. And I love the billboard, too. "There's a new woman. You."

September 6, 2015

New York, NY. June, 2015

Sometimes I see a small drama unfold and wonder what the dialogue might be. On this day, tired from my walking all over lower Manhattan, I stopped on a shady bench to kill time before a meeting. These two guys were seated for a late (4pm) lunch at the cafe across the street. They were engaged in a conversation that seemed to border on the operatic. Until the waitress appeared...and they calmed down and remained silent. But they picked right up again as soon as she left. What, I wondered, were they arguing about? Should I have gone over and asked? Or walked close by, stopping to "look at my watch" so I could hear? Probably better to imagine.

September 5, 2015

Watertown, MA. August, 2015

This vehicle with all its statements is a regular fixture in the parking lot behind my town library. I don't know where to begin. But I am curious if someone tried to rip and remove the anti-immigration bumper sticker. Wish they had been more successful. And I also hope that I get a visual of the owner sometime.

September 4, 2015

WGBH Studios, Boston. January, 1983

I have written three letters to stars in my life. The first to Barbra Streisand when she was appearing nightly in Funny Girl on Broadway (because that's what young men like me did back in the early 1960s.) Then one to Anthony Perkins when he was appearing nightly in The Star-Spangled Girl on Broadway (again, what young men like me did back then.) And then my last to Eric Roberts, sending him his image (from a PBS film of Miss Lonelyhearts), digitized in an early online experiment called Teletext that we were trying out with local schools some 30 years ago. I never heard back from any of them. (To be fair, I've moved a lot since then, so their replies may not have reached me.)

September 3, 2015

Milan. October, 1986

"Keep off the grass" sounds so much better in Italian, don't you think? Actually, I think most things sound better in Italian.

September 2, 2015

Watertown, MA. August, 2015

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And when a gardening friend gives you ten pounds of zucchini, make zucchini parmesan. Especially if you're eating low-carb and can do without the breadcrumbs or flour. Slice the huge zucchini lengthwise, roast in the oven, then layer with sauce and lots of cheese. So good. Thank you, James.

September 1, 2015

Rome. October, 1986

Packing to come home after a few months in Italy. It's interesting to me to look at this now, now when I bring (and bring home) a minimum of things. But back then, well look. An espresso pot, some torrone, a few notebooks, some rosary beads, my copy of Let's Go Italy. There's even a bottle of dandruff shampoo in there. And then the bags, always the bags. Especially the ones with Italian words on them. (Once I brought home an entire potato pizza.) We're about to head back to Italy again soon. May moderation prevail.