Monday, February 28, 2011

Aside from not enjoying winter weather, being presentable and lugging camera gear all at the same time, the real reason for skipping out on Fashion Week was that I had two days in Pittsburgh with Bon Jovi. Yep, prep yourself for this blog to be overrun with Bon Jovi again!

Oh, stop. You won't be rolling your eyes in 20 years.

Jon Bon Jovi/Consol Energy Center/Pittsburgh, PA/2.11.11

For the first time in my production career, my parents came to a show! I was so stoked to have them there!

No, they're not in the photo, but they are cozily tucked in a suite which MS was kind enough to arrange. Allow me to share a highlight or two when I went to visit them in said suite:

Linda: Did you go shoot down there? Go shoot down there. In front. In the circle. Can you go down there? I want to see you down there.

Jharv: You know, I really respect that man's (Jon's) business model. First his business model, then his talent as a performer... and lastly... his music.

Why did I post this photo you may ask? I'll let my dad answer that, as I was very proud of his observation during Jon's final song, "Livin' on a Prayer".

Jharv: I said to your mother, "Look at your daughter. Every camera in the arena is on Jon except Al's. She's facing the other way!"

Believe it or not, the band isn't always the better shot.

Bon Jovi crowd/Consol Energy Center/Pittsburgh, PA/2.11.11

Bon Jovi/Consol Energy Center/Pittsburgh, PA/2.11.11

Yes, yes that is indeed a Terrible Towel in Jon's hand in the top photo. As you can imagine, the arena erupted when he started to wave that towel.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Well, here we are at Fashion Week again. This is really the only thing I shot for Fashion Week this time around, as running from venue to venue in the cold February air is not exactly my favorite thing to do. I'm sure most of you are aware of my distaste for the combination of cold weather, heels and camera gear. I love two of those things, but not together.

I also love that this guy was sketching at a presentation. Very cool.

Photo: Steven Alan's Fall 2011 presentation at Pier 59 in New York on February 10th, 2011.

Pieces from Steven Alan's Fall 2011 collection.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

You thought I was kidding about that whole "...then I went to a boxing match." thing.


I've been wanting to photograph boxers for a while now, and my dear friend Matt McCullough, fortunately for me, has his hands in a million different sporting events, including the boxing matches at B.B. King's in Times Square.

I believe our text message exchange went something like this:

Me: I'd really like to come! Can I shoot a bit?
Matt: Of course - that's why I thought you'd like it. That and people legally beating each other up.

At the Super Bowl this year, he had one of his Sports Illustrated buddies send him a shot of Hines Ward's TD to give to me, which is now proudly displayed amongst my set-lists and credentials.

Good kid, that Matt McCullough.

Anyway, we've been trying to arrange this for a while now, but about two weeks ago, finally found a boxing match that didn't conflict with either of our absurd schedules. And it was good, good fun. I think I will shoot a lot differently next time, as there is a lot I still need to learn, but it was a solid first attempt for sure. If nothing else, it was a night with company I rarely get to keep.

Thanks again, Mr. McCullough!

Boxing match/B.B. King's/New York, NY/2.9.11

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm writing this post for two reasons:

1. If Prince is in town and you don't know if you should go... GO.
2. If you are invited to Prince's after-party and you don't know if you should go... GO.

"And here's why..."

1. Holy legendary pop/funk sensation! The sequins! The sequins! Your butt will be up and dancing the entire time even if "Little Red Corvette" is the only song you know... but come on, people, you know you know more than that.

2. Prince PLAYS his after-parties. Literally the greatest after-party I've ever been to. Sorry JBJ, but it's tough to beat a tiny venue with about 150 people and the Purple Yoda from Minnesota jamming out all night. Such a nice way to get back into the groove of things after two weeks in the 'Burgh... thannks KC!

To make a spectacular night even better, my favorite Romanian was in from Vienna to shoot Fashion Week! Eddy had never been to New York or Madison Square Garden, so off we went to his first show (Prince, no less) at MSG. And I loovvve doing that. The grand tour! To TP! To the production office! To the dressing room hallway! To catering! And of course, to the show!

Haha and then wouldn't you know it? The lucky devil came to the after-party with me too. That's one hell of an intro to this city, I'll tell you that much...

Photo: Prince after-party invite - 2.7.11

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Possibly one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Seriously. I mean holy moly! Those kids in that arena raised $9.56 million over the last year for the Penn State Hershey Four Diamonds Fund to aid in the fight against pediatric cancer. That's almost $2 million more than the 2010 total.

A whhholllleee lottta Penn State pride going in that room, for sure.

Photo: The entire Bryce Jordan center showing their diamonds (thumbs together and pointer fingers together) in support of kids fighting pediatric cancer at Penn State's THON 2011 during the last four hours in State College, PA on February 20th, 2011.

Sidenote: Since I graduated, THON moved to the Bryce Jordan Center which holds over 16,000 people at capacity, doubling that of the former venue's capacity. I mean look at this photo. I'm in stadiums and arenas all the frickin' time and I can honestly tell you that I have never seen anything like it in my entire life.

To those (all four) of you still following this blog since February 21, 2006, I very sincerely thank you for sticking around to be a part of my little adventures over the past five years.

Because this started as an assignment in Steve Manuel's COMM 269, I find it fitting and shockingly comforting that the 5-year-mark photo is a Penn State THON photo, the same subject as the first photo posted on this blog back in 2006.

It's funny because I've wanted to end this blog multiple times over the past 60 months, but never had the heart to kill it, as it's brought me together with so many wonderful people who share the same vast range of kooky interests or who just like to read about a perspective on the world. Without Steve and this blog, I wouldn't be living with Rachel Goldfarb, as she was a casual friend of a friend during my college years until we started IMing about my posts while I was in Asia. Or have found one of my best friends (and my introduction to large productions), Jen Bilec, who grew up two blocks away from me, but didn't really know one another until we started talking about this blog. Or went to Paris to toss around innovative production ideas with my brilliant Australian friend and contemporary, Brad Hayward. Or kept up four-hour phone conversations every few months with a kid I knew from Kevin Hagopian's film theory class, John McClellan, who prior to his moving to New York in 2009, I had spent all of five hours with outside of class. Or intrigued the VP of Event Production at Madison Square Garden, Tim Parsaca, enough to want to keep talking to me when I first moved to New York. These people are now amongst some of my closest friends and confidants, distance or no distance. Ending this blog would be one of the dumbest things I could do.

The humorous part about this is that I really only kept posting and writing this blog so my parents had an easy way to explain to neighbors at the annual neighborhood Christmas party what the heck I was doing when I took my first job out of college in Southeast Asia in 2007.

When I came back in 2008, I thought I would end it, but cool things just kept happening. I kept seeing things I wanted to show people, experiencing things I wanted to share, meeting people I wanted the rest of the world, even the microscopic sliver of those reading this blog, to know.

These past five years were absolutely unplanned, but this has reaffirmed my notion that planning is absolutely not for me. These five years have been gorgeous. Of course, there are always some bumps and bruises along the way, including the saddest November of my life and a 2 a.m. piece of cheesecake in Times Square ten months later that was so tear-soaked, not even I would eat it. Rest assured, Linda was there with me as I sobbed into my confection and mumbled about photography, insanely high rent/bills/loans and seemingly no direction. She reminded me that freelancing in the arts in the epicenter of the western world is no cheesecake walk and that I would be more than fine, that I was already more than fine. I reminded her that she did, in fact, like Roxy's cheesecake.

Even throughout the bad times, you've gotta make things good. Sometimes it's hard to remember that a ton of amazing things were happening as you were weeping in that diner. I look back on my photos from that terrible November and the months surrounding the cheesecake incident and say, "Wow, look at all the cool things that were happening. Look at the people. Look at the places. Look what I learned."

I believe that everything always gets better. Sometimes it gets a bit worse before it gets better, but it always, always gets better. Every day is the best day ever. Every week is the best week ever. Every month is the best month ever. Every year is the best year ever.

If you think about it, years are just comprised of the smaller details that are the months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds of your life. Important decisions are made in all lengths of time, as anyone who has ever stood at a chalkboard menu with me knows, but when you look at the big decisions, remember the small ones too. I know, for a fact, that that turkey and avocado sandwich on wheat is what got me here today.

Thank you to everyone who has inspired me, and who continues to inspire me, to keep this silly little blog alive and well.

Photo: Cover band Go Go Gadjet performs at THON 2011/Bryce Jordan Center/State College, PA/2.20.11

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And now I'm back! From outer space! No, no... just from New York, but it is my second time back to my alma mater since I graduated in 2007. I'm back to photograph the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, which benefits pediatric cancer.

While I scroll through some of these files, let me tell you a little story.

As most of you know, I have been a major advocate of the $1 fares offered by Megabus, but after my last "redeye" bus almost caught fire in Jersey... I decided to give Megabus a break for a while... and drive.

Well, wouldn't you know. The car option fell through and back to the bus I went - but this time, I decided to try a new bus option. New company. New pick-up location.

I show up to the corner. No bus. I walk into a Chinatown pharmacy and re-emerge with my favorite Japanese shampoo to kill some time. Walk out. Still no bus. Ahhh, finnaaally I see a bus! I walk up and the woman points past me, and says, "You go to State College? You take van."

I look behind me and sure enough there's a van! Ready and waiting to be my chariot of luxury to good ol' State College. And jam-packed with Asians! So myself, 50 lbs. of camera gear, seven Asians and our lovely Mercedes 16-pass van set out on a magical journey.

And I'm here! Wooooo hooooo!

The above photo was taken just prior to the pep-rally at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday during the THON line dance in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Now the water’s taller than me
And the land is a marker line
All I am is a body adrift in water, salt and sky

So swim until you can’t see land
Swim until you can’t see land
Swim until you can’t see land
Are you a man or are you a bag of sand?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Aside from the NCAA tournament and an occasional Pitt game, I'm not the biggest basketball fan. This little game on the Knicks court, however, made me happier to be watching basketball than usual.

Madison Square Garden staff vs. Turner Construction Company/Madison Square Garden/New York, NY/2.8.11

Just FYI, Turner is the construction company renovating the Garden.

The boys playing basketball on the Knicks court. Not a bad day at the office.

The dashing Mr. Michael Sciortino, a building operations manager for MSG, makes his first appearance on this little website of mine.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Idina Menzel receives a 3,000-person standing ovation at a sold-out Avery Fisher Hall following her performance with the New York Philharmonic on February 5th, 2011 in Lincoln Center.

Idina Menzel performing "Defying Gravity" on Saturday, February 5th, 2011.

Photographed from stage right in Avery Fisher Hall.

Idina Menzel and conductor Marvin Hamlisch provide the audience with entertaining dialogue during the performance with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center on February 5th, 2011.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This is twice now. Twice. That I got teary on a job. Cait can name the other instance in a heartbeat and I'm sure I'll share with you all someday... or if you care to look back through this blog, I'm sure I noted it somewhere.

Walking into this gig, I knew I was doomed. Who am I kidding, when I took the job, I knew I was doomed. Powerhouse vocalist. Internationally renowned orchestra. Gorgeous venue designed for pristine sound. And?

One of my favorite Broadway songs of all time - "Defying Gravity"

Ms. Menzel, if you didn't know, played the original Elphaba in the musical Wicked. Again, for those not in the know, Elphaba is the Wicked Witch of the West's name according to author Gregory Maguire's take on Oz. For all you L. Frank Baum fans out there, we can commiserate about the literary monstrosity that was the novel Wicked later, but for now, let's focus on more positive things.

To be honest, I didn't even love the show. I liked it a lot, but I was pretty opposed to seeing it, following my reaction to the book. It was actually my mom who said that I should give it a chance. And I did. And I'm glad I did for pretty much one reason: "Defying Gravity"

As you follow the show, you really do get attached to Elphie and this is her character's turning point, the moment she says, "enough with you people, I'm doing this my way." It is a gorgeous scene, beautifully lit. And yes, I absolutely had tears down my face in the Gershwin Theatre.

Fast-forward to Saturday, February 5th, 2011 in the stage-right wing of Avery Fisher Hall. The only other photographer in the venue is the Philharmonic's house photographer with his crazy 600mm lens and he is nowhere to be seen. There are about four stagehands and the stage manager behind me and I see the pianist change his sheet music.

Shoot. Why couldn't I be in the back of the house for this? Somewhere I could freely weep as Idina belted out this song and the entire orchestra backed her?

So again, as I did the last time this happened, I kept the camera tight to my face as I mouthed the words and waited for the single tears that were going to quietly roll down my cheeks, one at a time.

Then... I went to a boxing match. Photos to follow in the next few days.

Idina Menzel with the New York Philharmonic/Avery Fisher Hall/Lincoln Center/New York, NY/2.5.11

And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free...

Idina Menzel with the New York Philharmonic/Avery Fisher Hall/Lincoln Center/New York, NY/2.5.11

To those who'd ground me
Take a message back from me...

Idina Menzel with the New York Philharmonic/Avery Fisher Hall/Lincoln Center/New York, NY/2.5.11

Tell them how I am defying gravity
I'm flying high, defying gravity.

"Defying Gravity" from the Broadway musical, Wicked

Idina Menzel with the New York Philharmonic/Avery Fisher Hall/Lincoln Center/New York, NY/2.5.11

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Manager Burt Goldstein calls Ms. Idina Menzel at her dressing room door to escort her to the stage where she will perform with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall to a sold-out audience.

A somewhat boring shot aesthetically, but this moment backstage is awesome because even though Idina isn't physically in the shot, she is absolutely present. One of my favorite non-show shots for sure.

Ms. Menzel's performance gown hanging amongst the photos in the green room at Avery Fisher Hall.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Patrons enter Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center to attend Idina Menzel's performance with the New York Philharmonic on February 5th, 2011.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Ah yes, today is the day. Wave that towel, wear that jersey and say a few good words that may or may not include "yoi!" or "double yoi!" for Myron Cope.

We're from da tahn wit da great football team, we cheer da Pittsburgh Steelers!

Heeerrrre we go!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Social Animal

A pretty solid social observation by The New Yorker's David Brooks

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Every so often, I receive an email constructed as a letter. Something that took someone time - minutes, if not hours, occasionally days and sometimes, though rarely, years of thought. These aren't just "hey haven't seen you in a while" emails, but they are of a more unique "I know you will love reading this as much as I loved writing this" breed of email. It's almost as if the letter went masquerading as its more modern counterpart. Sometimes these electronic notes are so beautifully crafted that it seems to, in a wonderful way, defeat email's purpose of speed, ease and efficiency.

Don't get me wrong, emails can certainly be heartfelt too, but the artistry of writing letters, physically feeling your favorite pen slide across a carefully selected texture of paper and the sincerity that tiny bit of effort reflects is far and away my favorite form of communication, save being face-to-face. However, when you are simply answering your niece's question about Italian cars, sometimes your passion for the subject turns your initially simple response into a fine piece of writing...

that later ends up on your niece's friend's blog because it was a charming, unintentional example of the letter dressed in email's clothing.

Please enjoy the email to me from Jen Bilec in bold, followed by the subject at hand in italics: an email from Uncle Ray.

I wanted to forward this piece of writing to you because it's stellar. And it's from my uncle. I had asked him about Italian cars, specifically the Alfa Romeo Giulia Supers that were made in the 60's and 70's.

This was his response:


Since you seem to be about to be overcome by the red mist, I will share my thoughts on Italian cars with you. I became interested in Italian cars while in the Navy. I came home from a Med cruise intent on buying a Datsun 240 Z. The dealer had none but was willing to sell me the next arrival at over sticker. Joan and I drove home. On the way home we pass a Fiat dealer. I know Fiats from my med cruise. The car is a white 124 coupe. Bucket seats, five speed, twin overheard cams, four wheel disc brakes, wood rimmed steering wheel and a juicy tomato on the rear window shelf. We were smitten. The car was a blast to drive. Tight and responsive. It was not trouble free, however. It chewed up mufflers at the rate of 2 a year. The rubber gas filler hose wore out regularly. In cold weather the emergency brake would freeze. The vent windows broke off their hinges. Oil and filter changes were easy and tune ups, cheap. We bought the car in July 1970 and brought it home to PA in June 1976. Salted PA roads chewed it to pieces. The Italians used cheap Russian steel in their cars which had a higher iron content than anyone else’s steel. The cars floor boards rusted in about an hour. In order not to fall through them while driving we sold the car. Aunt Joan cried as they towed it away. I found a 1972 124 Spyder (convertible, 2 seater) in 1976. I bought it and had a ball driving it. A broken rear shock mount and some sub par radiator hoses were the down side. It too rusted so we sold it to a boyfriend of Aunt Gingers who promptly crashed it a week after he bought it. Just as well. Look in Hemmings motor news and you will not see many Fiats from the seventies. They all turned to iron oxide dust and blew away. Cars from different countries have different personalities. German cars are coolly efficient. English cars make you have that stiff upper lip brought on by leaky roofs, and leaky engines. Japanese cars are for boy racers, lots of decals and pizzazz. But Italian cars have soul, joie de vie (did I spell that right?) They make wonderful sounds. A lot of them are sculptur. They are never boring. That said, Alfas are in that breed. Don’t buy one thinking it is reliable transportation. That’s what Toyotas are for. An Alfa will always put a smile on your face, as long as it is running. Also, before buying any vintage car fill your bookshelves before you fill the garage. After you’ve read up on the make and model go to a couple car shows. The owners will love to talk to you. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions, ie. Rust! These cars are toys not transportation. On another note, look for the 2011 Fiat 500 to be on sale at your local Chrysler dealer this summer. Maybe it’ll come with a warranty.


Uncle Ray

On a separate note, Jen Bilec is an amazing human and fabulous friend for sending me this email. She just thought I'd appreciate it. And that. Is cool.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

As a Pittsburgh girl who cannot keep her body warm to save her life, even I can't believe all of this media nonsense about snowstorms this year. Last year? Yes, last year was bad in the 'burgh, but simply mediocre in New York. Shovels, New York, shovels.

Please don't make me break out my "I survived the blizzard of '93" shirt. I will note, however, that aforementioned survival was by the skin of my seven-year-old teeth, as I fell into a snow hole, butt first, and had to wait for the neighbors and their German Shepherd to come rescue me. True story. A bit of a dramatization, but not by much.

Thanks to Ms. Kelly McStay for the illustration of the day, though I do wish that the older girl addressed the younger, albeit foolish, girl with a tad more courtesy. The only way I'd be truly satisfied with this cartoon is if the third and final speech bubble from the younger girl said:

"Then put on pants and some suitable footwear... Bitch"

Happy February, Everyone!