Posts Tagged ‘Long Island’
October 4, 2012 | by Cody Upton
Perhaps you’ve seen it: that building out on Route 24, in Flanders, Long Island, that looks like a duck. Thirty feet long and twenty feet tall, it weighs a little over eight tons. It is called the Big Duck, and its white cement body sits in a permanent squat. At the center of its breast is a door that opens into a one-room museum and gift shop. There, three or four days a week, throughout most of the year, Barbara Bixby sits alertly behind the counter. Babs, as she prefers to be called, is a trim sixty-six-year-old with long auburn hair and bangs that fall over her eyes. Her accent is difficult to place. Not Long Island. Not New England. She draws out her words like an old film actress and speaks with great enthusiasm. She is infectiously friendly.
On a Saturday last winter, I trekked out to Flanders to spend an afternoon in the Duck with Babs. I traveled by train and by taxi, and when I arrived just past one P.M., Babs was entertaining a large, dark haired man and his young daughter. The shop smelled of potpourri. The Little Rascals played in black and white on a television set built into the wall. Babs wore a rose-colored sweater (a little threadbare at one elbow), a floral scarf, and a ring on nearly every finger. After the man and girl had gone, she turned to me and said, “What a sweet little lady!”
Babs is one of two duck sitters, and though she insists there is no hierarchy, she is more or less the head duck lady. Read More »
August 22, 2011 | by Joan Schenkar
For the last fifteen or sixteen years I’ve been making portraits of people (in rich, resonant, analog sound) with an old cassette recorder: spoken-word portraits.
In my library in Paris are hundreds of magnetic tapes stacked in their fragile, transparent cases. Each tape carries the specific testimony of a single person who has lent time, presence, and a few vibrantly unreliable anecdotes to my experiments in biography.
Like Ortega y Gasset’s definition of culture—culture is what remains after you’d forgotten everything you’ve ever read—these tapes are an archive of minds and memories reduced to their absolute essences. Every one of them is worth a thousand photographs to me.
Which is why I’m kicking myself that I never recorded the voice of my wonderful friend, the late, great Theodora Roosevelt Keogh. Read More »
April 14, 2011 | by John Swansburg
This is the second installment of Swansburg’s culture diary. Click here to read part 1.
I slip out of the office around noon and walk over to SoHo to check out an exhibition of photographs taken on the Paris Metro by Chris Marker. I am an enthusiastic straphanger—I’m known in the Slate offices as a staunch defender of the MTA—so I was looking forward to seeing Marker’s project, but the photos fail to move me. Marker has captured the drudgery of commuting and the diversity of Paris’s commuters, but the photos are almost uniformly glum; they fail to register the vitality a packed subway car can have. (I’ll never forget the time I saw a guy with Four Quartets and a critical text perched on his lap on a crowded C train. Come on, Marker, where’s the wonder?) A few of the shots juxtapose faces Marker has photographed on the subway with faces from masterpieces of painting. Some of the likenesses are impressive, but it feels like a silly trick; I don’t need to be shown that this woman looks kind of like Mona Lisa to care about her. The Marker exhibition leaves me wanting to see what Bill Cunningham would do with the assignment of spending a week riding New York’s rails.
I have dinner at the bustling John Dory Oyster Bar—yes, more oysters, I swear this week is not typical—with my friends from Port Washington, Long Island1. Among other things, I’ve learned that citizens of Port Washington harbor ill will toward the neighboring hamlet of Plandome, which, despite its tiny size (population 1,272) and proximity to both the Port Washington and Manhasset stations, for some reason has its own Long Island Rail Road stop, unnecessarily adding two to three minutes to the Port Washingtonian’s commute each morning and evening. Weary passengers have been said to exhibit countenances akin to Munch’s The Scream upon pulling into the Plandome station.
- My college roommate grew up there, and I’ve since become close with several of his childhood friends and have been granted (by them) de jure citizenship in the town.