Bond Street & 64th Street, Southwest Corner

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Done done ... ?"

I am not one of those people who, having just left the apartment, feels compelled to go back and make sure that the stove is turned off or that the windows are indeed shut or that the door is really, truly, locked for sure.

Nevertheless, after the prior post, "Done ..." (see below), I had a more than nagging feeling that I wasn't done, that there was a significant bunch of corners that I'd left out.

As indeed there was: a couple up on Tenth Avenue at 186th Street, a whole bunch on the south side of Trump City/Place (some of which were actually new, brand spanking new corners, not there when I did the main round of photographing in 2006), and some odds and ends on Eleventh Avenue, Sutton Place, and Beekman Place.

So now those are done and up on the website also (see "Further miscellaneous corners" on New York in Plain Sight.

Twenty-five years and several lives ago I was managing software projects for a boss who, whenever somebody said, "it's done," would immediately respond by asking, "but is it done done?" — I'm not going to claim, this time, that New York in Plain Sight is "done done" but how much more can there be?

Well, no doubt I'll find out.

Incidentally, the current count is 11,487, which means, more realistically, that it's fair to say that there are about 11,500 street corners on the island of Manhattan, plus or minus some small number (probably less than ten or a dozen either way, depending on how and what you're counting).

Not that it matters, but exact numbers are more fun than round numbers, even if their exactitude is misleading.

By the way, before I forget, I discovered while doing this last shoot that there are two Bond Streets in Manhattan: the one downtown which is, in effect, 2nd street between Bowery and Broadway, and another one in Trump City/Place, which runs (for now) from 62nd Street west of Eleventh Avenue up to 64th Street.

So what's next?

Well, definitely not Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island. Possibly the off-island corners of the Borough of Manhattan (Marble Hill, Roosevelt Island, etc.). But possibly not, either.

The main thing is to go back and have a fresh look at all the files, looking for all the nits — mislabelled corners, images that could be cropped better or that need straightening, corners that really should be reshot, and, yes, missing corners — and combing them out.

And integrating the "errors & omissions" into the main galleries. And possibly reorganizing the main galleries so that they are all organized by streets, this time possible by east-west street as well as north-south, e.g., a gallery for 38th Street itself as well as for all the avenues that cross it, though this would result in hundreds of additional galleries (which may be too many to be useful).

I asked my friend Brandon Bowersox at OJC to prepare a quote on what it would cost to take the project the rest of the way to where I'd like it to be — his description is better than mine: check it out here. (I wouldn't necessarily do everything he suggests, but it's a fair description of what could be done, nonetheless.)

Unfortunately, it's more work than I can afford out of my own pocket, so another effort to pick up again is to try to get some funding into the project to support getting this work done.

Sometime I'd like to begin printing at least one complete set of the photographs. But probably not right away.

I'm very much undecided about whether to resume work on "Tenth Avenue Then and Now" — just don't quite know what to do with it. If something occurs to me, I suppose I'll start up on it again.

What else? Oh yes, probably the most important thing: get away from it for a while, give it a rest for a few months, if not more.

And having said that, I think I'm going to write up, at long last, a memoir of the project — I've been putting this off out of a sense of "so what, who cares" for too long. I'll begin posting this on the blog fairly soon.

Meanwhile, it's nice day, I think I'll go into Manhattan and photograph — anything but street corners!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Done" ….

After a several month hiatus — illness, the hottest New York summer ever, time out to make a little money doing something else — I got back to work on the New York in Plain Sight clean-up a couple of weeks ago — shooting corners I'd missed the first time around (and sometimes even the second), reshooting a few that just weren't good enough, reshooting some that I'm sure I'd already shot but for one reason or another can't find the files now, and redoing some complicated intersections just for the sake of validating the IDs and insuring that I had really got them all, and so on.

There weren't that many left to do, but it seemed like an enormous job — somehow the project has seemed to grow in size, or at least in the effort required to finish it, as I've gotten closer and closer to the end, so that even 100 photos seemed more daunting yesterday than 1,000 did at the outset four years and seven months ago.

(But not more daunting than 11,485, which is, I think, as good a count as I'm going to get for how many street corners there are on the island of Manhattan, at least according to my definition of a street corner — see some of the earlier posts on this blog for discussion.)

Anyway, yesterday afternoon, 3:59 PM, Tuesday, October 5, 2010, I shot what I believe to be the last of them.

Of course, if this project has taught me anything, it is that there are always a few more corners lurking somewhere that I haven't caught: an obscure alleyway, a stretch of "Marginal Street" (the default name for any roadway following along the shoreline), even a few that I've somehow still missed, despite endless list making, checking, and rechecking.

But it simply can't be many, at this point. A dozen? Not even (though this may be wishful thinking on my part).

So yesterday evening I began the processing and cataloging, still in progress this morning. I hope to finish up and get them all posted on the website — there are 179 of them, though a number of them do repeat corners already posted long ago — by the end of the day today or, if exhaustion sets in (I'm expecting it to show up anytime now), by sometime tomorrow.


I suppose that this should be a cause for celebration on a grand scale, but what I actually feel is some combination of simple relief (finishing up the shooting has been hanging over my head for nearly four years now), let down (what do I do now that I don't have that hanging over my head?), and a vague sense of dread at realizing how much remains to be done, even with the photography finished, in order to bring the project to the eventual form that I sketched out for it nearly five years ago, before I even started shooting.

But let's not be too Eyoric about it: it is satisfying, despite all the problems, delays, frustrations, etc., to have gotten this far, however long it took.

... sh'hechianu, v'kimanu, v'higianu, laz'man hazeh.