Tag Archives: New York City

“…Only Human.”

“Another terrorist act occurred tonight. More innocent lives were stolen from us. More religious differences were brought up. More political injustices were mentioned. More grieving was done. More questions were asked.”

“I find it interesting that during times like these, I myself am asked questions; by my peers, family members, acquaintances and ‘followers’. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I am extremely outspoken after such events. Perhaps it’s because I happen to have a way with saying exactly what’s on my mind, and for whatever reason some people happen to listen. For whatever reason, the questions do come. One of these questions I find myself answering is one that always (in one form or another) has been asked on more than one occasion. ‘Why do you seem to mourn certain cities/victims and not others?’ I shall try to answer it now, in the best way that I can…”

“I am only human. As such, I live day by day as a human…it is the only way that I know how to live. As a human I have only one heart and one mind to offer, and along the course of my life I ‘give’ my heart and mind to other humans. I have met new people every day of my life, everywhere that I have gone. Acquaintances, friends, colleagues, lovers. People in passing, people in restaurants, people at work, people on airplanes, people through other people. Every person I come into contact with in every city in every country that I visit on this earth becomes a part of my life in one way or another. Often times these encounters affect me, and in turn the people and places I meet and see are, in a way, affected by me. In essence, I leave a piece of me everywhere I go, and I take a piece of everywhere with me to my next destination.”

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(Patan Durbar Square, Kathmandu / In 2011 when I was there & 2015 after the earthquake)

“So when Twin Towers that I had been in in NYC are hit by airplanes flown by terrorists…I feel it. When suicide bombers detonate themselves in a subway system I traveled in in London…I feel it. When gunmen go on a killing spree on streets that I’ve walked on in Paris…I feel it. When an earthquake destroys temples in which I’ve sat in Kathmandu…I feel it. When a bomb explodes at a marathon in a part of town I’ve taken photos in in Boston…I feel it. When a madman drives a truck into a crowd of nearly 100 people on the same promenade in Nice my parents and I spent my father’s birthday on…I feel it. I’m human, so when lives are lost and destruction occurs in cities that I’ve visited and made memories in, it hurts me.”

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(Nice, France / In 2010 when I was there with my parents, and after last night’s terrorist attack)

“But…being only human, I cannot meet EVERYONE on earth. I cannot be in multiple places at multiple times and share the experiences and cultures that every city in every country has to offer. I do not feel as strong a connection to people/places I’ve never seen as I do those I know and have made a place for in my life. Does it pain me to see other cities of the earth destroyed? Yes. Am I hurt when innocent lives are lost in countries that are not my own? Of course. But I may not write about it and I may not share my feelings on it. This is simply because I have nothing to write and nothing to share…not because I DON’T CARE.”

– F

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Filed under Hear Me Roar, This Thing Called Life, Why I Do What I Do

“The Greatest Of All Time…”

“In 2004, while living in NYC, my friend Gerald Bunsen called me up one weekend and asked if I was available to work security for a photoshoot (I had moved to NYC to pursue acting, but because of my size and character I often found secondary work as a bouncer and private guard). He wasn’t available to make it and needed someone he could depend on to replace him. ‘Of course,’ I said, ‘for who?’…’Muhammad Ali‘, he replied.”
“The photoshoot was for an adidas ad campaign. The team I was on had one job: to escort Mr. Ali from his hotel room down to the street where he would shoot in a car with a few children, then back up to his hotel room. During a meeting that was held before all of this happened, we were given details on how things would progress. Mr. Ali never spoke aloud to us, there was a gentleman with him (whose name I didn’t catch) who spoke with him directly, listened to his replies as they were whispered to him and then relayed the information to us. The photographer asked how long he’d have to shoot, Mr. Right-Hand-Man told him he’d probably have 5 minutes at the MOST to squeeze off a few shots. The photographer wanted more, Mr. Right-Hand-Man said that’d be impossible. When we walked outside I immediately saw why.”
“The second (and I mean literally the SECOND) we opened the front door and set foot on the sidewalk, Mr. Ali was recognized and surrounded. People smiled, laughed, cried, reached out to him, touched him, chanted his name, held out things to be autographed, held their children out to him to be kissed. The security team and I spent the next few minutes (Mr. Right-Hand-Man was right, we had less than 5) holding people back, keeping people calm and witnessing the madness. Although I had met a lot of celebrities while living in NYC, I had never met one as traffic-stopping as him. His presence alone captured the awe and attention of those around him. His smile was addicting…his silence was deafening.”
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(photographer: Unknown)

“When we arrived back at the hotel room, everyone shook hands and began their goodbye’s. Mr. Ali was seated at a giant desk, signing autographs and photos for some of the assistants, staff and security team. As I was still a fairly timid newcomer to the whole ‘NYC scene’ and my job was done, I thought it best to simply leave. As I made for the door, my eyes caught Mr. Right-Hand-Man’s eyes. ‘Would you like an autograph before you go?’, he asked. I was never one to ask for autographs, I always felt that having someone’s name on a piece of paper or memorabilia could never fully describe the experience of meeting that person. And although I had a cell phone on me, technology had not yet caught up to where we are today, with our selfie skills and multi-megapixel phone cameras…so taking a photo would’ve required entirely too much time to set up. I couldn’t just let this moment slip by however, it was Muhammad Ali. ‘No thank you,’ I answered, ‘but is it possible for me to just meet him?'”
“Thirty seconds later I was sitting in a chair next to the Greatest Of All Time, introducing myself, shaking his hand and smiling like a 10 yr old. I never once heard his voice, I didn’t need to. Sometimes you don’t need to hear someone tell you about the years they’ve lived, the accomplishments they’ve achieved, the struggles they’ve overcome and the world they’ve changed…sometimes you can just tell.”
“Rest in peace Mr. Ali.”
– F
PS. This is a photo from that weekend…I found it online after some pretty heavy Google searching.

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Filed under A-List / B-List / No-List, New York City

“Hip Hop…Hooray.”

(Note: Webster defines Hip Hop as ‘rap music; also : the culture associated with rap music’.)

“When I first arrived to the U.S., Hip Hop quickly became my favorite genre of music. I had grown up in Germany and Italy and was therefore naive to most of it, American music was hard to come by overseas. I had also just entered my teenage years and could relate to most of the lyrics in most of the songs. Although I hadn’t grown up in the lifestyle that was often rapped about (drugs, violence, drug-use and life in an urban city), I could associate with the culture of it…fun, freedom, non-conformity and the expression of oneself through music and other forms of art. For many years recently, however, I’ve felt as if Hip Hop has changed into something that I no longer understand. It seems to be flooded with money, exorbitant living, disrespect to opposite sexes and races, and a bevy of one-time, one-hit, one-good-song artists. Not only has the music scene changed completely, but the culture associated with that music has also become unrecognizable.”

“I used to wonder why my parents (and the generation they belong to) still listened to music from fifty years ago when so much more has been released since then…I understand now. To continue enjoying the culture that I found so dear to me, I find myself holding onto the music, clothing styles and social scenes that I was a fan of years and years ago. As a New Yorker, that was easy to do…I simply had to look up the music or crowd I wanted to mingle with and then go to that location. Now that I live in Italy…it’s not so simple. Most of the city (and the country, for that matter) doesn’t listen to Hip Hop. It’s true that there is a very large selection of American music around, in locales as well as on the radio, but for the most part it’s music that I don’t listen to. In the rare instances that I do find a place where they’re playing the music that I enjoy, the culture of that music is missing. The crowd remains completely, well, Italian. The Italy of today is exactly like the Italy I grew up in 30 years ago; Hip Hop-less. Or so I thought…”

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(photo: Samuele Storari)

“Two weeks ago I stumbled upon an event here in town. It was billed as ‘the newest Hip Hop night to hit Verona’ and cleverly titled ‘Hipology’. I was asked to be the night’s photographer, and I was looking forward to it because I was told ahead of time that my favorite local DJ (my good friend Carletto) would be there. So even though I could trust the music would be solid, I wasn’t truly aware of what the scene would be until I got there. Some of the nights out I had experienced during my first year here in Verona were filled with my kind of music, but as I mentioned before, the environments had been different. I wasn’t entirely prepared for what was in store for me, but I can safely say that I wasn’t disappointed in the least!”

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“It was as if walking through the doors of the establishment was the same as jumping in a DeLorean and going back to 1995. Not only was the music exactly what I knew it would be, but he ambiance fit the bill as well. The attire was a recipe of 90’s dress code and NYC/LA outfits, with a pinch of the stuff ‘kids wear today’ thrown on top. Hairstyles, accessories and shoes were picked to match…with the occasional gold tooth and nighttime sunglass-wearer thrown into the mix.”

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“Everything about the place screamed Hip Hop! The dance floor was packed, and counting the number of dance battles took two hands instead of one. Three separate DJ’s spun a never-ending supply of ‘that’s my jam!’ songs, interrupted only by a mid-party pause featuring a handpicked selection of some of the local b-boys and fly girls. The line outside was long, the bouncers were big and the VIP tables were perfectly typical: at first too empty, then before you could say ‘I’m on the list’, too few.”

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“Finding Hipology not only proved that there is in fact a Hip Hop scene in Verona, but it gave me a taste of an Italy I had never seen. Black, white and mixed people were everywhere…there were no groupings of different creeds, colors or races. And even though Italian and English were the main languages spoken, many others had come out to play…giving it that NYC, melting pot feeling. I was happy to see a room full of multiracial friends, as well as multiracial couples, enjoying the night carefree…it made my job as a photographer not only easier, but more enjoyable personally. I’m certain it’s a bias, preferring to shoot environments filled with mixed race individuals, but I can’t help it…I am one myself.”

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“Like the party flier said, the entire event mirrored the Hip Hop culture that I had adopted and made my own while in New York for fifteen years. No one was afraid to flaunt their own style, and those that were afraid flaunted it anyway…even as far as the race of friends you hung with or the person they called their own. Their people were their people, and their music was their music…period.”

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“The only thing that mattered was Hip Hop.”

– F

* All photos by me, except the first *

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Filed under La Bella Italia, New York City, Nightlife

“The Photo-Bombing Bubble…”

I was walking in Central Park one day, when near the Bethesda Fountain I spotted a flash mob beginning a performance in front of a man and a woman. After they were done dancing he got down on a knee and proposed. When she said yes he hugged her, it was touching. I put my camera to my eye to take a picture…and that’s when a giant bubble appeared out of nowhere and floated right into my shot. A street performer on the terrace below me was creating person-sized bubbles from a bucket full of soapy water.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Of all the pictures from all the cameras in all the cities in the world, that bubble had to float into mine…at that exact moment in time.

– F

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Filed under Blog Quickies, New York City, The Story Behind The Shot

“Perhaps One Day Things Will Be Different…REALLY Different.”

“Some people say racism in this country is a thing of the past. They say that ‘all men are created equal’ and that the signing of bills and the passing of laws 50 years ago has kept it that way.”

“Others say that racism is alive and well. They say that blacks are still looked down upon by whites and that things will never change. They say the recent events in NYC (let alone the rest of the country) speak for themselves; those events being (but not limited to) a white officer killing a black man by choke hold during what appeared to be a non-threatening situation, and two officers being assassinated by another black man as revenge for the first incident.”

“I try to hide my eyes from stories such as these. I try to pretend that it’s simply a ‘cops vs the bad guys’ scenario and keep to myself. I try to remember what it was like growing up as a mixed-race kid, being accepted by everyone I knew because although I was a different skin color, I was still a pleasant human being. The only problem is that doesn’t work because I wasn’t raised in the United States of America...”

“Things are different here.”

“They are obviously not how they were in years past, but they are still nowhere near as good as they could be. I still hear stories of black on white / white on black crime, initiated simply because someone was black or white. I still feel uneasy feelings during certain instances in my life…instances caused simply by me being ‘not white’.”

“I still find newly-carved swastikas every now and then, such as this one that popped up overnight on the same bench I sit on every day waiting for my 6 train ride home.”


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“Perhaps one day things will be different…REALLY different. Perhaps one day black and white, 
Jew and Gentile, male and female will all be considered equal…TRULY equal.”

“And perhaps I’ll still be alive to see it…”

– F

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Filed under Hear Me Roar, New York City, Really America?, This...I Just Don't Get

“People. Are. Everywhere.”

There are so many different people in New York City.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Different races, from different backgrounds. Different ages, following different religions. Different financial and social standings.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

 

I never really understood the term “people watching” until I moved here a little over a decade ago. It’s not that I wasn’t used to seeing a variety of different people…I was born in Asia, raised in Europe and went to college in Midwest America, so I’ve met my share of people.

What’s so astonishing about New York City in particular is the amount of people you see.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Hundreds upon thousands upon millions of people passing by you in the street at any given moment, going somewhere you’re not and coming from somewhere you weren’t. There’s always someone to look at and always someone looking at you.

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

 

People. Are. Everywhere.

– F

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Filed under Blog Quickies, New York City

“Love…So Many People Use Your Name In Vain.”

I’m always wary when I hear the word ‘love’ thrown around these days. People love their new car. They love tv shows. They love their pets. I don’t think it’s wrong to say those things, I simply believe that there are varying degrees with which we can like something or someone.

Those feelings can be split into all kinds of emotions: enjoyment, appreciation, affection, respect, etc, all of which can sometimes be substituted with the word love due to time constraints or incorrect use of the English language. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just easier to do. ‘Love ya girl!’, ‘I love this song’ being perfect examples. 

 

(photo: Fidel Amos)

(photo: Fidel Amos)

Even with all the in-vain ‘love’ usage, I thoroughly enjoy when I happen upon true love randomly. It doesn’t need boisterous words. It doesn’t need to be scripted, planned or pondered.

It simply IS.

– F

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Filed under Blog Quickies, Love Life, New York City, Relationships