Sunday, July 30, 2006

607, represent!

For the past couple of days I have been in Upstate New York (land of my birth, incidentally), where I have engaged in massive garage-sale attendance, ice cream-eating and local barn sale scouring. When not buying up 25 (yes, I counted) vintage patterns for a nickel each (oh, just wait until I make myself a 1940s swimming suit, ye naysayers!), I've been trespassing into abandoned train depots, taking pictures of long-closed grain silos, and examining dead bats while my sister screamed about contracting rabies. (For the record, I didn't touch the bat. I poked it with a stick to assure deadness, then slid it on a piece of paper for closer investigation. The little fellow was much smaller than I would have imagined, and very least when dead. I am scared of bats generally, and cowered in my seat when one started swooping around the movie theater in one of my last visits up here.)

There were no bats in or around the abandoned train depot, which is somewhat surprising when one considers that it's been closed for years. Trains still run through here--usually blowing their horns at 2:30 am--they just don't stop for passengers.

After taking these sedate outside snaps, I convinced my normally fearless twelve-year old nephew to crawl through the broken door of the depot with me. Inside we found a bunch of insulation, an old phone, and a bunch of cans of paint, which I used as a makeshift tripod.

Apparently the insulation scared him, as he then insisted we were going to be murdered, and made me leave.

The next stop was an empty silo. It's also been closed for years, and I'm not sure if there is a plan for the increasingly-decrepit building.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I couldn't find a hole to crawl through here there were a surprising number of people around, so I had to let the inside remain uninvestigated. Drat!

A few blocks down from the grain silo is this also-closed firehouse. Investigating was out of the question, as it appeared to be on private property, with a bunch of people eyeing me suspiciously from their front porch. Based on the broken windows and the pigeons flying in and out of the belltower, however, I'd guess this place hasn't been used to fight fires in quite some time.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Dejected by the lack of bats and access to hidden mysteries, I consoled myself by heading back to the trainyards, where I found a picturesque loading area of some type:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And, awesome of all awesomeness, a quick jaunt up the tracks on foot yielded this ominous-looking scene:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

See? I guess this is what happens to trespassers!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Long bus trip, rainy day

It started out like this:

And ended up like this:

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Ich habe eine Nähmaschine gekauft!

I have no illusions about how the Runway judges would vote on my first garment, but I offer it up for scrutiny anyhow, because:

1) It's the first thing I've sewed since I was a high school girl in HomeEc class, and it's a huge improvement over the black and white Esprit-inspired shirt I made back then.

2) I was totally the remedial student in my sewing class, and I now know how poor Malan felt last week when he got booted off the show.

3) I think it's too long, but my sewing teacher swore that if I hemmed it any shorter it would look "funny."

So, here's the front:

If you look really closely perhaps you can see the little embellishments I made in an attempt to save the skirt from dowdiness. I still think it's too long though.

I added a few more to the back:

The best I can say for this little number is that at least the hems are straight...and I can now say that I know how to make a French seam!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Polska: sexually potent, powerful and well-policed

As many of my friends and compatriots know, I went to Poland earlier this summer. The circumstances under which I made this trip were odd, and the trip itself was even odder. First, there was the depression-inducing discovery upon arrival that my beloved Olympus OM-1 had been busted in transit. I only realized this after running out into the Polish sunshine, brimming with photo-enthusiasm after a long transatlantic flight, clicked the shutter, and...nuttin'. The shutter was stuck open! (Coincidentally, that was one of the last times I saw the sun the entire time I was in Poland, which I'm sure was a sad portent of things to come.)

So, I was stuck in Poland with no camera. Horrifying to be sure, but it was made worse by the fact that I couldn't document some of the ridiculous things that were happening around me...not the least of which was the fact that my group (and I must be vague here, since my blogging identity is carefully hidden) was hosted by a policing organization, and hence was exposed to all kinds of mock dog attacks, real gun shooting, massive meat-eating (which, as I was informed by one of my hosts, makes Polish men "the most sexually powerful in the world." I did not test his assertion), and various other jawdropping hijinks.

Just yesterday, however, I was informed by one of my fellow travelers that photos of said events had been posted online for "sharing purposes." After careful scrutiny of this photodocumentation, I decided to take the "sharing" literally...hence I share some of these photos with you here.

First, however, we must come to an understanding about these photos. I did not take them. (And I realize that starting off my new semi-photoblog with photos that are not mine is an inauspicious beginning, but hey, I work with the hand fate deals me, okay?) Many, many of these photos are not "good," so cast a critical eye elsewhere for today. Finally, they do not include any people who can be readily identified...not by me, at least. I do have some ethics, even if I am a photothief.

Let's get started, shall we?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Ah, a nice little snap. It makes me feel a swell of sympathetic nationalism, even though I'm a half-German, and my people totally screwed Poland.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

That's more like it! Lest you think police just drive around in boats flying the Polish flag, let us be clear: they also train police dogs to attack people. Dangerous criminals, of course.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

They also apprehend dangerous criminals, like this distractingly hot mock criminal here.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Then they wrestle them to the ground in a display of RAW SEXUAL POWER!!!

The trip wasn't all nationalism, policing and brutalizing one another, however. While I tried my best to raise a critical voice to this madness, I mostly sat looking sadly out a bus window as beautiful scenery flashed past, or comforted myself by reading as much oppositional Polish literature as I was able to find before leaving the States. (Thank you Kazimierz Brandys, RIP.)

I perked up when we hit Gdansk. Having read Jan Kubik's book on Solidarity and the fall of state socialism several years back, I expected Big Things of the city. I thought for sure that Lech Walesa would pop out from behind a building to lead a massive strike, or we'd see some intellectuals running around or...something. Instead we saw a bunch of Italian and German tourists, a couple getting married and an astronomical clock.

Don't get me wrong--Gdansk is beautiful, and it has a long history of opposition, perseverance and good art. Unfortunately, we were not privy to those things. But we did see some pretty stuff like this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Since I didn't take this picture, I don't remember exactly what it is. A nice building, taken while the photographer was falling over, maybe?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Both shots of the waterfront.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This site was kind of curious. Although Gdansk was massively firebombed during the war, it is unusual to find areas that have not been rebuilt. This location, according to one of our hosts, is a "contested area," with multiple people fighting over who owns it. I think that probably means that Jewish people owned it prior to being, um, "removed," but I should probably investigate that more before making assumptions.

Anyway, I wish I had seen more of Gdansk...but instead I just read Pawel Huelle's short stories about the area, and tried to get the perplexing Polish text message that had delivered itself to my phone translated.

Very close to Gdansk is Sopot, legendary Baltic Sea hotspot and birthplace of Klaus Fucking Kinski, another co-ethnic, who has a local bar named after him. After visiting a police station (where we watched two gentlemen being arrested for the murder of their brother's girlfriend, sigh), we were led out to this pier, on a totally apocalyptic-looking day.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Not much to be said about that--it was cold and it rained on us the whole time.

The endless rain did create some very scenic moments while we were on the road. The sky was often ready to explode, and hence shot out some incredible colors and clouds. Representative samples here:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

After more gun-shooting, meat-eating and sexual posturing, we headed into Warsaw, where I was finally given some "free time," and promptly marched across a bridge in a lame attempt to visit a photo gallery and to buy some vodka. The gallery was closed, but the vodka was purchased...and I saw some of this stuff too:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So, that was my visit to Poland. Here is what I learned from it:

1) Traveling with cops is never a good idea, even if your airfare, meals and housing are paid for.

2) Fried cheese cutlets do not make for balanced vegetarian meals.

3) Vodka saves all, especially when things get desperate.

I prefer not to remember all the guns, the meat and the inappropriate sexual bantering I encountered in Poland, as I don't think they are representative of what the entire country or its people are like. (Well, okay, maybe the meat...) Instead, I prefer to remember this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

and this:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And guess what? I actually took that last pic myself!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hilfe, ich habe geblogged!

Creating a blog is hard. Being a lazy type and long-resistant to self-revelation, I've thus far resisted other forms of Internet-based timewastery (Friendster, MySpace and internet dating among them), but could not resist the lure of pasting my questionably pithy remarks and assuredly substandard photos on the Internet, where they will surely be misused by EvilDoers waiting to mock me. Oh well.

My appearance here was really sparked by two things: 1) I got a chintzy digital camera and quickly became frustrated with trying to post pictures on Flickr, and 2) I was inspired by the sheer volume of food porn, class warfare and foto-based meanderings offered by my pals, that I thought, "Hey! I make food! I hate rich people! And I take lots of pictures!" Will that make a good blog? Probably not...but we Americans are never dissuaded by mediocrity, so there you go.

Anyway, making up a description was hard (I became momentarily worried that perhaps "windbagging" had some second, dirtier, know, like "teabagging" or "dutch ovening"), integrating pidgin German was hard (dative cases always hurt a dummkopf like me), and figuring out how to upload pictures was a pain in the ass too. But I think I gots it now, really.

With that, I leave with this deeply painful series of shots of my co-ethnic, Angela Merkel, being molested by George Bush. Just a hint: Germans and half-Germans don't like being rubbed, hugged, air-smooched or otherwise embraced, unless it is going to result in some type of erotic payoff. Gott in Himmel, George, hau ab!