Bringing It All Back Home

On April 29, 2007 by Eden M. Kennedy

Here are a bunch of half-assed pictures I took during two weeks of writing my brains out with Alice and traveling around New York and New Jersey. My photographic approach was to (1) aim the camera at a friend/landmark/tree, (2) ignore the little screen on the back of my outmoded point-and-shoot, and (3) hope for the best. As you’ll see, this non-technique sometimes resulted in the serendipitous capturing of stuff. Otherwise, it resulted a badly framed photo of someone I love with their eyes half-closed. Or else I was so engrossed in reconnecting with a dear friend (Pamela, John) that I didn’t remember to take any photos at all, which fucking sucks, but what can you do.

Example number one: A lucky triple capture of Alice and myself, in the mirror, and Sarah B. shielding her eyes from yet another of my over-eager expressions.

Here is the view my knees had from a noodle place on Mott Street. I have this thing when I travel where I can’t eat very much? It’s a combination of nerves and an irrational fear of experiencing a food-borne illness in a city thousands of miles from a familiar bucket to barf in. My dining companions are normally spared any explanation as to why I’ve only eaten a quarter of my meal, because I don’t want anyone to think it would be helpful to start pointing out the location of the nearest hospital (why get me going?). When pressed, however, I finally admitted the whole thing to Philip; he then proceeded to help himself to whatever was left on my plate and didn’t tease me nearly as much as I deserved.

After “lunch,” Alice and I were walking down Mott when we were accosted by this guy . . .

. . . and his partner in crime, a nice girl named Faron, who wanted to see what I had in my bag and film the whole thing for You can watch the edited interview, including Alice in the background clearly wishing I would shut the hell up, here. Unfortunately, the big revelation upon seeing myself on video is that I really, really, really, really, really need to buy a better bra (thanks, breastfeeding!).

We then went up to Grand Central to pick up Alice’s son, Henry, who’d spent his spring break week at his grandmother’s house in Connecticut so that we’d be free to write like the brilliant geniuses we have convinced ourselves that we are. As a welcome home treat, Alice took him on his first-ever trip to FAO Schwarz.

“It’s just like Big!” I wanted to shout at the dancing children, but I kept my mouth shut. My sentimental attachment to the work of Penny Marshall is nobody’s business but my own.

You know this guy has worked in dollhouse furnishings for like thirty-seven years. You need a little set of Queen Anne chairs upholstered to match mommy’s living room drapes? Maurice will make it happen. (I imagine his name is Maurice, but it could easily be Hans, or Lefty.)

Henry wanted to go straight to the Lego section, which is guarded by a seven-foot Chewbacca accessorized with a fucking crossbow. This, according to most kindergarteners of my acquaintance, is not a “girl toy.”

Every Lego store I’ve ever been in has these giant Lego contructions of popular movie figures. The point of Batman here, I assume, is to inspire children to beg the nearest adult to buy them 18,000 black and grey Lego blocks.

This was a Sports Center-like set-up in the corner, overlooking Madison Avenue. I chose to post the version of this picture where the kid is not digging into his butt crack, I don’t know why.

Then Alice took Henry back to New Jersey to enjoy a me-free weekend, while I stayed in the city and met Laid-off Dad for breakfast the next morning. “Let’s take a walk!” he suggested after watching me ignore three-quarters of an omelet and a cup of Lipton tea. I took a few truly shitty pictures of MacDougal Street; the only thing that saves this shot is our happy expressions and the fact that his t-shirt is almost in focus.

I then scampered uptown and dragged the aforementioned Philip out of his apartment and made him take me to Coney Island.

You could hear the anguished screams for miles.

Since I’d only eaten about four ounces of (miraculously non-poisonous!) food in the previous week, I was starting to feel a little faint. Fortunately, we were only steps away from The Source.

Philip, gentleman that he is, propped me up with his head as we waited (and waited, and waited) to order.

Not pictured: the most easily-distracted counter girl in existence. I think sometimes the forces of the universe conspire to bring everyone who needs to be punished for something into the slowest line at the grocery store/movies/airport, just to give us a chance to think about our sins.

Later, walking down Fifth Avenue, or perhaps we had entered one of the nine circles of Hell? I know what I’m supposed to say, as a Californian: “Same thing.”

E-coli on wheels.

Back in New Jersey, Charlie is reluctant to let me steal his soul with my picture-making device. Also, much like Mel Gibson, Charlie is smaller in real life!

Henry took this one of me and Alice on our last day, they took me to dinner at an adorable little place called Raymond’s. (ATTENTION, WEIRDOS: this restaurant is not near Alice’s house.) If memory serves, I actually ate two-thirds of my delicious dinner, although the next morning, as I rode through the Queens Midtown Tunnel imagining a scenario wherein vans packed with explosives were parked at each entrance and were waiting for the exact moment I was trapped in the deadly center of the tunnel to explode, I did feel my Raymond’s dinner put itself briefly into reverse.

Once again, art’s demands exceeded my camera’s capability to keep a human face in focus. My turtlenck, however, is pin-sharp. Photo by Henry, who, at four-and-a-half, has the shutter-pressing gusto of a young Garry Winogrand.



31 Responses to “Bringing It All Back Home”

  • Don’t feel bad. Even before I read your commentary, I exclaimed “It’s just like Big!”

  • I have had similar dinner-upchucking moments while going through the tunnels until my personal mechanical-engineer/husband explained to me that there are these ENORMOUS fans in the tunnels that change the air in there every, like, five seconds or something. If there’s an explosion, most of the fire and smoke would get immmediately sucked out and passengers would evacuate into a parallel evacuation tunnel and walk to safety. That’s how most tunnels are designed.

    Seriously. All of this was explained to me as I came very close to fully hyperventilating in the Lincoln a few years back for the same scenario you just described.

  • Oh, Krissa! That’s awfully good news.

  • I love the photos. Your photography skillz are somewhat like mine. Off-beat and quirky. That’s how I prefer to think of it.

    The video is hilarious. Alice cracked me up, with her “OMG, I can’t waiiiiit to get out of here” expression. She verged on bershon at times.

  • Oh my, but I’m a violent gum-chewer.

  • That’s why I love you and Burt Reynolds, baby.

  • My favorite photo is the one of you & Philip, tete-a-tete. Sweet.

    I also like the one that shows your knee’s-eye view.

  • Happy to see you’re back! Welcome home! My favorite pics: The knee’s eye view and the mirror one. Hope everything went well and that you’re making up for your ‘vacation diet’ now.

  • I go on a trip and my ability to swallow vanishes thanks to some kind of idiotic subconscious nervousness. I hate it, but am somewhat soothed to have discovered someone else who fails to eat while away from home too. Maybe we could get T-shirts made?

  • Looks like a fun trip! The Lego’s are awesome! We saw some statues like that in Disney World and posed with them (in several um possibly compromising positions!). Great pic’s!!!

  • I love hearing blogger’s voices in real life. Is that weird?

    Your photos are fantastic! What a nice long trip to NYC. I’m headed to Guadalajara on Wednesday for a week. I am definitely going to use the knee-view photo technique while I’m there!

  • I had a lovely, you-ful morning. Snubbed eggs and all.

  • Ahem…that should have been “bloggers’ voices”…

  • Poor, poor Alice during the interview. :)

  • Great pics!

    Oddly enough, when I lived in New York and found myself accosted by people on the street, they were rarely (okay, never) from So strange!

    Must have been walking down the wrong streets.

  • Well, what else would Chewbacca be carrying?

  • I run disaster scenarios through my head. I used to cycle to work through central London and imagine being in collisions: exactly how I would fly through the air, which bit of me would hit what, and how much it would hurt. I told a colleague after she told me about walking to the Canary Wharf office once a month and always imagining, in meticulous detail, the whole development being hit by planes in a 9-11 style while she was there. We had a lovely “Oh! I’m weird too!” moment of mutual bonding and recognition.

    (I have three planes to catch in July: London to Boston, Boston to Chicago and Chicago to London. One of them will surely blow up.)

    Welcome (safely!) home.

  • And the bag interview is splendid. I feel you were humouring the interviewer. Shoes to go in the bag? What?

    Alice epitomises the spirit of Bershon behind you.

  • Thanks for linking to the interview! You sound exactly like I thought you would. And I have to ask, did you and Alice purposely coordinate your outfits? Heh. Alice looks completely bershon in that footage.

  • I saw you on Fashionista before I saw this post and my mind began melting out of my ear. What are the chances? Two of my favorite bloggers meet in the most random of circumstances. God bless the internets. What kind of shoes did you buy?

  • For the record, I was merely uncomfortable. All I could think was, “Why did the cameraman tell me to stay where I was? What do I do now? Can I move out of the way? Should I do something funny so when this shows up on the Internet I’ll at least be amusing? No, I’ll just chew the shit out of this here gum.”

  • This made my day. You were such a good sport!

  • I need to go to F.A.O. Schwartz, because it IS just like Big, and I don’t care how lame that makes me. Your bag is cute!

  • wow, we feel like we were there!

  • Alice? Did the cameraman really tell you to stay there?

    Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

    We often see film crews getting footage of everyday London life on the streets. We tuck our top lips in to expose our teeth, hunch our shoulders and pretend to be contemporary dancers in ‘Cats’, springing about and wiping our ears with the backs of our hands. I can’t really explain why. It annoys the camera crew though, so it’s good.

  • I like that fashionista thing. Your bag is really organized. If I had pulled anything out of mine, a zillion paper receipts would follow.

  • Raymond’s is very good, but too bad you went for dinner and not brunch. Brunch is where it’s at!

  • when i went to fao in vegas, i did the “ooo, big!” squeal when i saw the keyboard.

    and dammit, you got to go to nathan’s! ack, jealous!!

  • How funny is it that two of the world’s most popular bloggers get stopped on the street and put on a commercial blog? I just think that’s funny.

    Nice bag, by the way, though, so I guess that makes sense. Plus of course you look like good people to talk to. (Love Alice’s “so not the city thing to do to talk to these people, but we’ll indulge the Californian” look in the background. : )

  • I totally thought Alice was standing there thinking, “Why didn’t they want to see inside MY bag?”

    You both looked great. I’m dying to read the book. Get back to work! Quit this blog foolishness and publish something!

  • I have read your blog carefully and like it a lot! We have the same opnion! Could you check my blog at: to check my blog title: helenwang`s blog”? May be we can talk further and be friends.