Jon Crispin's Notebook

Travels

Posted in Architecture, Art, Bridges, Buildings, Cities, Family, Jon Crispin, Rivers, Travel, Uncategorized, Water by joncrispin on 19/03/2014

It has been a while since I’ve posted.  I think it was a combination of having the Kickstarter campaign wrap up and feeling a bit of “Kharma Congestion” as my friend Alex would call it.

Last week Cris and I drove to Toronto.  She was presenting at the annual CIES Conference and I was tagging along for fun.

We went out to an amazing South Indian restaurant called Udupi Palace and it was the best.  Cristine’s favorite food in the world is a paper masala dosa, and Udupi has the best ones she has ever found outside of India.  After we ate, we were waiting for a streetcar to take us back downtown and I saw this window display.  Love the hands.

I was very excited to get back to Toronto to be able to see the Thompson Collection of Cornelius Krieghoff paintings at The Art Gallery of Ontario.  Here is a previous post about my relation to him.  The museum has a ton of his work.  I was really jazzed to see so many in one place.

This is a detail from one of his paintings that is a sort of self-portrait of his family (in the sleigh).

I especially liked reading the bottom paragraph here.  It helps to explain where I might get my own disregard for authority.

After Toronto, we drove to Pittsburgh for another of Cris’ conferences.  On the way we had to stop at Niagara Falls.  I hadn’t been on the Canadian side for years, and it was a beautiful day.  (Unlike many, I also really like the American side.)

In Toronto we scored some of these great Roots mittens.  And I bought this hat in the Soviet Union in 1982, a very long time ago.

Next stop was Eddie’s Footlong Hot Dogs on the Lake Road just outside of Meadville.  I grew up eating these and was thrilled to see that they had opened for the season just a few days earlier.  I rarely post pictures of food, but oh man are these good.  Too cold to eat at the picnic tables, but two with the works hit the spot.

We got to Pittsburgh in time for a nice walk along the River.  It is a fantastic city that somehow remains largely intact.  The downtown is full of beautiful buildings that are mostly in good shape, and it seems, just waiting for a revival of sorts.  It is hard to imagine why young artists aren’t flocking here and making it home.  It is such a cheap place to live, with amazing loft spaces right in town, and tons of culture.  And the rivers!

So many beautiful steel bridges.  This one leads to PNC Park, just across the river from downtown.

Here’s a view looking back across the water.

Our hotel was very near to Penn Station and on Sunday morning I took a walk over to check it out.  As a kid I had traveled through it on the train, and the upper floors are now converted to “luxury” apartments.  This is a section of the dome which used to be the main entryway from the street.

It was sad to see the “modern” waiting room like this.

With only two trains a day, and nothing running North/South there isn’t much activity.  And the times aren’t particularly convenient.

Thanks for checking in.  I’ll try to get on a more regular schedule of posting.  Tomorrow Peggy Ross is coming over and we are meeting with my friends at Small Batch Books to start work on the Suitcases book reward.  I’ll keep updating progress on the project, and plan to be back shooting next week.

Tilghman Again

Posted in Architecture, Bridges, Buildings, Travel by joncrispin on 19/02/2014

I drove to Tilghman today for several days of shooting for the Waterman’s Museum.  The sun was setting just as I crossed the Knapps Narrows Bridge and I stopped to take a few shots.  I love this little bridge tender’s building.  It is purportedly the busiest drawbridge in the US.  / Looking forward to hanging with the Tilgman folks and working with Peter Carroll; it is always fun and they are so welcoming to us.  And I am REALLY looking forward to Saturday’s Oyster and Ham dinner at the church.

National Museum of Natural History / DC

Posted in Animals, Architecture, Art, Buildings, History, Nature, People, Science by joncrispin on 24/01/2014

Peter and I had a great visit to the Museum of Natural History this afternoon.  I wanted to show him the Hope Diamond and some of the other gems.

The big diamond was ok, but we were drawn more to the emeralds and rubies.  This necklace was pretty cool.

These two pieces of chalcedony (quartz) were so cool; especially the green one.  Amazing that this stuff appears in nature only to be found, polished, and put on display.

Cool elephant in the main foyer.

Not being much in the way of scientists, we didn’t understand a lot of what was going on in the genome exhibit.

When we told Cris we were going to the Natural History Museum, she said  “Ooooh, dioramas!”

The guy here looks like he is hailing a cab in New York City.  I have actually seen guys who look pretty much like him doing just that.  When I was taking this photograph, a dad beside me was photographing his two kids and one of them said, “Daddy, I want to be a caveman.”

We kept coming back to the elephant.

We had an early dinner reservation at Mon Ami Gabi to celebrate Peter’s birthday.  It was great.  The escalator at the Bethesda station is enormous.

Back home tomorrow.

Elmira Prison / South Church

Posted in Architecture, Asylums, Buildings, Cities, Government, History, Newspapers, Willard Asylum by joncrispin on 18/11/2013

Craig Williams sent me a link to an article that ran in the Trumansburg, NY weekly paper, and I wanted to pass it along.  It is a very well thought out editorial on the potential closing of two Southern Tier psych centers (Willard is also mentioned).  Here is the link.  I thought of the above photo when the writer spoke about how the alternative to folks getting help in psych centers is to house them in prisons.  The above photo is from a project I did in the 1980s photographing early 20th Century New York State prisons.  This particular shot was taken in the Elmira Correctional Facility which would undoubtedly end up hosting some of the very people who would not be able to get treatment in the psych centers that are meant to close.  I accept that it is all very complicated, but some logical planning on the State’s part should be encouraged.

On a somewhat connected note, yesterday I photographed a very moving interfaith service at the South Church in Springfield called “Creating a Peace-Full City”.  There has been an awful spate of gun-related violence in Springfield this year, and many have come together to see if something positive could be done about it.  I had never been in this church before and it is stunning.

DC From the Past (Update)

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Cities, Friends, Government, People by joncrispin on 15/10/2013

After I posted the shots of the capitol building yesterday, I found myself thinking about previous visits to the same location.  I took the above picture sometime in 1985 (when this Studebaker Lark was already over 20 years old).  It was this photo that popped into my mind as I was taking yesterday’s shot.

I took the above photograph on 19th January, 1985 the night before Reagan’s second inauguration.  Stacy Dabney (and I am not sure of the exact spelling) was living under these very same steps.  My friend Brad Edmondson and I were walking around the building the night before the ceremony and we were surprised to see this gentleman living there.  He was happy to talk to us about his situation.  He was a veteran and felt he was getting screwed by the VA.  The Capitol Police didn’t bother him much, but Stacy was pretty sure they would kick him out by the next day.  They did.  I remember thinking at the time that this was a HUGE story that no one was covering.  A homeless guy living under the capitol building.

Brad and I were back in DC that April working on a story about congressman Matt McHugh (D-NY 1975-1993).  We went back to the capitol steps and sure enough Stacy was still in residence.  We caught him late at night just as he was turning in.  It still seems amazing that not only was he living there, but the police never really hassled him.  This shot was taken on 24 April, 1985 and it was the last time I saw him.   Do any of you out there remember meeting him or reading about him?  I did a search for his name and nothing came up.  (UPDATE.  Thanks to reader DotRot for letting me know his real name.; Stacy Abner.  Here is a link to an article that explains the situation.  Still an amazing story.)

I really like this photo of Brad, taken that same evening just after we left Stacy.

DC in August

Cris and I took the train from New Haven to DC on Monday.  She has a couple of days of consulting and I get to hang out with Peter.

This tiny restaurant is near to the Van Ness metro station and has been closed since Peter moved to the neighborhood.  I really like the retro feel of the facade, and with the building permit in the window you know it will change soon.

I have always enjoyed shooting in underground stations.  I like the movement of the trains during long exposures.

 I will often stop after exiting the giant escalator at Dupont Circle to look down on cars that are passing below.

Peter was working the Nationals game last night so Cris and I showed up at around 6:00 to get tickets.  The Nats are struggling this year and with playoff hopes low, they are selling seats for $5.00!  $5.00; unbelievable.  We got a couple of great seats in section 402 and saw a really good game with a win over the Marlins.  My current favorite pitcher, Ross Ohlendorf, was on the mound and his old school wind-up is unique.  You can get a look at it here. / Every time Wilson Ramos came up to bat, some guy behind me started chanting  Hu go Cha vez,  Hu go Cha vez.  (There is a Venezuelan connection; only in DC can you hear something like this at a ball game.)

It was beautiful night, and between innings it was nice to look around at some of the architectural features of the park.  Cris noticed these lights just above us and pointed them out to me.

We are off to the Lincoln Memorial in a bit to see if we can see the President speak in honor of the 50th anniversary of the MLK “I have a dream” speech.  Could be interesting.

Washington Nationals

Posted in Advertising, Architecture, Baseball, Buildings, Community, Family, Landscape, Sport by joncrispin on 21/07/2013

Cristine and I are visiting Peter in DC for the weekend.  Pete is working as a “fan ambassador” for the Nationals.  His job is to welcome people into the park and help them with any questions that they might have.  So if you go to a game, chances are good that he will be around the center field entrance just inside the main gate.  Look him up!  He is a great guy and would love to chat.  / The Nats are having a rough season this year and last night was emblematic of how things are going for them.  A difficult loss in 10 innings.  Everyone was moving very slowly on a hot summer’s night and the game lasted over 4 hours. It was a sell out and the only tickets Cris and I could get were standing room.  But at $15.00 a real deal.  Peter got us comp tickets for Monday’s game vs the Pirates and we are looking forward to having actual seats.

Pier 70, San Francisco

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, Architecture, Buildings, Cities, History, Ships by joncrispin on 25/05/2013

Due to a remarkable set of circumstances I was invited to stay at the home of Toby and Jerry Levine while I was in San Francisco.  My friend Meredith from the Pelham Cultural Council is a great friend of theirs and encouraged me to get in touch before my trip.  They were super hosts and are both very involved in San Francisco neighborhood preservation and development.  Toby serves on several boards and seems to be familiar with every important neighborhood issue both past and present.  At one point early in my stay she asked me if I was interested in large industrial sites.  Indicating that I was, she made arrangements for me to have a tour of a few buildings at Pier 70 that are slated for development.

I only had about an hour and just my little cameras with me, but Everardo, who interns with the development company gave us a grand tour of buildings 112/113 and 104.

I get so jazzed about shooting in these environments.

There is something about this time in the life of a building that intrigues me.

Since I was not able to photograph during its productive era, I can only imagine what was happening in these rooms when they were in use.

But there is usually enough evidence left behind to give an inkling to what it might have been like to work here.

And the light is always so natural and soft.

This building is huge.  It was part of a ship building and dry dock  facility which at one time was part of Bethlehem Steel.  I believe that it was originally the Union Iron Works.

Which at one time must have employed a ton of people.

I especially like old locker rooms and bathrooms.

Nice sign over the urinals.

It is not difficult to imagine people using these sinks after a long day’s work.

I like this little office in the middle of everything.

This is a view of the second floor of 113.

How about the red fingernails painted on this stylized hand which points the way to the rest room?

This color green shows up regularly in buildings like this one.  The light fixtures give a bit of a clue to when this office space was last renovated.  I’d say mid 1960′s.

These last few shots are from building 104 which seems to have been mostly used for administrative offices.

This is the top floor of 104.  You can just see the skylights which at some time were painted black.

The staircases are fantastic.

More lockers here, and it seems odd to me that they were in what was essentially an office building.

There was a small hospital in one wing of 104, and with all the machinery that is saw, I can imagine it was a busy place at times.

Thanks so much to the Orton Development people for granting me access to these amazing buildings.  And of course to Toby and Jerry.  Here are a few links to learn more about the site, its history, and future.  Click here and here.

AT&T Park, Giants v Nationals

Posted in Architecture, Baseball, Beer, Buildings, Community, Jon Crispin, Landscape, Sport, Travel, Water by joncrispin on 23/05/2013

Yesterday I went to see the Nationals play the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco.  It was an interesting game.  Very few hits and not much scoring.  The Nationals won in 10, 2 to 1.  As you can see it was a beautiful day, perfect for baseball.  I was at the mercy of the guy selling the tickets, and just asked for a very cheap seat.  Ended up in section 302, which by my estimation is the nicest place to sit in the whole park.  The only problem was that for the first time in all my years of going to baseball games, it was difficult to concentrate on the action with this amazing view of the bay always pulling me away from the game.  Even if you HATE baseball, it is totally worth $24.00 to sit up here for an afternoon drinking a few beers and being part of a crowd of very friendly people. /  After the game I blasted over to the offices of Collector’s Weekly and met with Hunter Oatman-Stanford who wrote this article about the suitcases that really opened a lot of doors for me.  We were joined by two other editors and had a great chat about this and that.  I was totally blown away when they told me that the story had generated roughly 600,000 views on their site.  I really owe a lot to Hunter for his great interview and interest in the project. /  Made it out to the airport in time to catch the redeye back to Boston.  Got home at about 9.30 this morning and was happy to see the Pearl, who after a bit of a scare this weekend seems to be back on her feet.

Artists (and dogs) at the Exploratorium

Posted in Animals, Architecture, Art, Buildings, Cities, Dogs by joncrispin on 21/05/2013

I have never given much thought to whether or not I am an artist.  And the whole idea of whether or not photography is an art is a whole ball of wax that I try to avoid.  So when Pam Winfrey (whose idea it was to have the Exploratorium host the “Normal” exhibit) invited me to be part of an artist’s night, I said yes without giving it much thought.  So it was a bit weird for me to be introduced to people as one of the artists whose work was on display.  I’ll accept it for the time being but I doubt it will go to my head.  The event was pretty cool.  Since I was basically alone, I wandered around looking lost for a while before I ran into my refound friend Katie Hahren and her daughter Annie.  That loosened things up a bit.  Eventually Karen Miller and I ended up signing catalogues and chatting with guests. / One thing about San Francisco that I really like is that dogs seem to be accepted in most public places.  When I was at the Exploratorium in February I met a 4 month old black lab who was on his way to work for only the second day.  I can not imagine bringing the Pearl to an office job even now when she is 12 and mostly calm.

This is the new Exploratorium on the Embarcadero at Pier 15.  It is amazing. Go check it out if you ever get the chance.

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