Daily photographs by HANS VON RITTERN, with humorous, artistic and social commentary on life in the big city.

Archive for September, 2012

Photo of the day: SATURDAY IS BATH NIGHT – WHY?

NOEL - my sheepdog/terrier mix

NOEL – my sheepdog/terrier mix

couldn’t we have just gone to the park instead?’. 

Our dog ‘Noel’ was found Christmas day in a shelter slated to be euthanized at 6 months old. She became our ‘Clifford the big red dog’. She went from a tiny ball of fluff, to a 60lb ball of fluff. Mom calls her ‘the throw rug with legs’.  She is 13 years old now . . . but she thinks she is only one years old. 🙂


From the gallery: CHOOSING MEAT

CHOOSING MEAT: Some people are adept at hunting in the forest, some people are adept at fishing in the sea, some people are adept at trolling for Perdue chickens in the aisles of the local supermarket.

Story of the day: A 9/11 HERO

This is the story of how an African King, a Greenwich Village hero, a former World Trade Center worker, a ceramics enthusiast and people who care came together.

Dusty Berke is a 9/11 hero. No she didn’t rush into the burning buildings to save people, nor did she ever work at the site, but she is an impassioned community activist.

Dusty Berke

Dusty Berke

Tiles For America was started shortly after the attack. It is an empty lot owned by the MTA (M.ass T.ransit A.authority) with a simple chain link fence around it. It is right across the street from what used to be 150 year old St. Vincent’s Hospital. (I say ‘used to be’, because greedy politicians such as Mayor Bloomberg and councilwoman Christine Quinn saw to it that after the hospital went bankrupt in 2010 – it was quickly turned into a giant condominium complex, leaving all of Greenwich Village and lower west side Manhattan without a hospital.) St. Vincent’s handled the cholera epidemic of 1849, took in the only survivors of The Titanic. It was at the center of the AIDS epidemic and took in the first survivors of the World Trade Center 9/11 attack and in 2009 cared for the passengers of ‘the miracle on the Hudson‘ – the landing of Airways flight 1549 by Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III. The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay got her middle name from the hospital.

St. Vincent's

St. Vincent’s

Just hours after the attack, loved ones rushed to the hospital clutching quickly made flyers looking for their loved ones. The hope was, their loved ones would yet be found under the rubble, perhaps were passed out inside the hospital or were wandering around the city in a daze. They gathered outside the hospital and across the street at the empty lot waiting and waiting….and waiting. Volunteers came from the community with clothing, blankets, food and offers to donate blood for 2,998 victims that were never to arrive at the hospital. The anxious hours that passed turned into days which turned into weeks. The gathering place for survivors was along side this empty lot.

Tiles For America

Tiles For America

Local resident Lorrie Veasy who was the owner of a paint your own pottery shop called ’Our Name Is Mud’ came to the hospital with her husband to donate blood the day of the attack. Wanting to do more and to reach out and comfort those who waited and to comfort a community, she created 500 ceramic angel and flag tiles and attached them to the fence. Customers came to the shop to make tiles of their own. ‘Texas loves you!‘, ‘We will never forget’, ‘God bless the USA’, ‘In loving memory of…‘. Videos of the tiles made it onto the internet and soon school children and people of all ages from around the world started to send their own hand painted tiles to the store to be put onto the fence. Germany, Spain, England, Israel. From Maine to Alaska tiles arrived and created a place of hope and comfort. For eleven years the tiles became a tourist destination. A place of pride in the community. A place to remember and never forget.

The tiles

The tiles

‘Our Name Is Mud’ sadly went out of business, but right around the corner, lives Dusty Berke, a long time Greenwich Village resident who was and is determined to preserve the tiles memorial. ‘The Tiles For America Preservation Society’ was founded by her. In 2011, the ten year anniversary of 9/11, hurricane Irene threatened to devastate lower Manhattan and possibly the tiles. Dusty quickly gathered a group of scrappy volunteers who within hours took down all the tiles and brought them to safety. When all was clear they were lovingly re-hung on the fence.

Hurricane preparation

Hurricane preparation

In the meantime . . . in 2010, the MTA was planning to construct an air shaft on the lot and that plan came to reality early this year. The tiles? They were to be ‘put in storage’ in Albany. The community’s faith in that idea was nonexistent, especially to Dusty Berke. Along with local residents Paul McClure, Andretti Mullens and friends, a call went out on the street and the internet.

As a local tour guide, I pass by this lot every week and could not believe my eyes, nor contain my anger when I saw posted signs pleading to help save New York’s first 9/11 memorial. You see, in 1983 I got a job at The World Trade Center as a space planner at the design firm Dancker & Sellew. We worked in the clouds on the 102nd floor. At the time I lived in Brooklyn Heights and would walk across the Brooklyn Bridge every morning towards the two shimmering towers. The view from the top was breathtaking. In stormy weather the building swayed to and fro. We would hang magic markers from the ceiling and watch them make the same pattern on the paper on our desks over and over again. It was surreal. Wonderfully surreal and I was so, so proud to work there. To my luck, our lease was up several years later and the company relocated elsewhere downtown. The thought of these tiles also coming down was incomprehensible to me. On a rainy August 14th I joined Dusty and her friends and we gathered on the sidewalk and determinedly asked anyone who passed by to sign a petition to save the tiles.  The mood was optimistic. But eventually the word was out the demolition crews were coming and September 11, 2012 was to be the last day of the tiles thanks to the callousness of our politicians. As a born and raised New Yorker and as a photographer, I made it a mission to photograph all of the tiles. A memorial concert was held on September 11th. The next morning we waited and waited and waited. When were the bulldozers due?

The petition drive

The petition drive

Dusty and Andretti were busy buying packing materials to rescue the tiles. The fence may belong to the city, but the tiles – belong to the citizens of the world. Every day I contacted Dusty, ‘call me when you’re taking down the tiles!’. Wednesday September 12th passed, I took some more pictures. Thursday September 13th I showed up, no one was there. Word was the demolition was to take place Monday, September 17th.  On September 14th, I assist mom in taking our dog to the vet. I received a phone call.

It was ‘Ladi’, His Royal Highness James Burehmo, to be exact . . . King James Oladipo Aroko-Ola Burehmo the Oba of Idera in Nigeria. A true African king. He leaves his village as king, and comes to New York every summer as a Gray Line tour bus driver to earn money for his people. When I worked for Gray Line as a tour guide, Ladi and I became fast buddies and dear friends. Ladi, a gentle giant, always has a smile on his face. His voice instantly elicits joy and confidence. We have stayed in touch ever since. ‘Hans, I just passed by the tiles and they are boxing them up!’. My mother saw the look on my face, and she simply said ‘go’.

King Ladi

King Ladi

HrH James Burehmo

HrH James Burehmo

As I arrived, the last of the tiles were being taken down. Word had come a short time earlier that councilwoman Christine Quinn’s office had said they were taking ownership of the tiles, possibly threatening arrests. There was no time for Dusty or Andretti to do a phone or email blast. They rushed to the site, with many sets of pliers and boxes and hurriedly took down as many as they possibly could and asked any passerby to help. As the last of the tiles were coming down I arrived. Eleven years later and the fence was almost bare, the visual history temporarily erased for now. I looked up at the shell of what was St. Vincent’s Hospital and teared up as I saw the tiles being wrapped up. I photographed the moment as quickly as I could, upset I couldn’t be there right away, but time was of the essence. Passers by stopped in their tracks as what had become a routine sight, was now gone.

Packing the tiles

Packing the tiles

Andretti takes down the last tile

Andretti takes down the last tile

The tiles will live on, in respect to the 2,998 victims, the survivors, the community and those loving hearts and hands that painted the heartfelt messages on little square pieces of ceramic. The goal is to open a museum in an empty storefront across the street. It will be nice if the city and or construction workers will give us the rusty fence they are going to trash anyway. We hope to line the wall of the museum with that rusty chain link fence and hang the tiles once more. A memorial of survival, of determination and of love. As the sun set the last heart-shaped tile was packed up, the boxes closed in hopes of opening one day soon at the planning of the museum. The tiles are safe now, we are determined.

This is how an African King, a Greenwich Village hero, a former World Trade Center worker, a ceramics enthusiast and people who care came together, to save a piece of American history.



THE STUDIOUS COMMUTER: Manhattan commuters on the L train shuttle in Times Square will find it very tempting to curl up on the couch with a good book. This incredible ‘interior design’ is part of an advertising campaign by the web site ask.com. The titles of the books ‘on the wall’ are actually the most asked questions asked at the web site. ‘Why is the sky blue?’, ‘What do my dreams mean?’, ‘What are good remedies for headaches?’, ‘How wide is the earth?’, ‘Do fish breathe?’. . .



a. Given to diligent study: a quiet, studious child.
b. Conducive to study.
2. Marked by steady attention and effort; assiduous: made a studious attempt to fix the television set.
3. Giving or evincing careful regard; heedful: “The major . . . was very studious of his appearance” (H.E. Bates).
4. Deliberate; contrived.


GRAMMAR IS EVERYTHING: I saw this sign posted on a fence in a nearby neighborhood and had to ‘borrow’ it, it is just too priceless – it now hangs in my kitchen. I think they meant ‘Curb Your Dog.’ 🙂
(I love how ‘dog’ is an afterthought.)


THE ORIGINAL CONTAINER STORE: Forget about your local Container Store! This is it! Cheapy Auto parts/chop shop has cleverly created a building from stacked shipping containers. About ten of them – five on top, five on the bottom. Need a little ventilation – open a door!
In their junk yard they have got it all – Acura alternators, Audi axles, Bentley bumpers, Cadillac clinometers, Dodge doors, Fiat fenders, Ford fans, Honda hubs, Hummer headlights, Mazda mountings, Peugeot pumps, Rolls Royce racks, Saturn spoilers, Suzuki speedometers,  Toyota tires and Volkswagen visors…if you don’t mind a little dust.
Cheapy Auto Parts – 12761 Willets Point, Flushing, NY 11368.

From the gallery: NEW YORKERS ROCK

NEW YORKERS ROCK: One of the tiles at ‘Tiles for America’ says it all!

Photo of the day: JUST ONE MORE DAY . . .

ONE MORE DAY…: That is all we ask for after 9/11 today. For another peaceful day, loved ones nearby, the routine of life to go on. This is what this tile at ‘Tiles For America’ asks for. It, and hundreds of tiles more, were created in Sept. 2001 by the school children in the Greenwich Village neighborhood and by people from around the world, then hung on the public fence opposite St. Vincent’s Hospital, the hospital that was the first to take in the 9/11 victims. Outside the hospital, by the fence is where hundreds and hundreds of people waited for word of their loved one’s hopeful arrival at the over 100 year old hospital. The tiles were meant to console the survivors.
It has an ironic double meaning today, because this first memorial created anywhere in the USA, is slated to be demolished this Thursday by our greedy mayor Bloomberg and nasty councilwoman Christine Quinn. Therefore citizen volunteers from across the city will come tomorrow to take the tiles down and help preserve them until we find a place to display them again. Just one more day . . .

From the gallery: REMEMBERING


Photo of the day: NEVER FORGET

NEVER FORGET: Every Sept. 11, St Paul’s Church is covered with remembrances of 9/11. St. Paul’s church is quite old, it was built in 1766, it was George Washington’s church – his pew is still inside. It is also right across the street from the former World Trade Center Towers. On the day of the attack, the air pressure of the buildings collapsing and the flying debris damages all the buildings in a three block circumference. Windows were blown out, wall smashed in, roofs destroyed.  The church was buried under two feet of ash and debris.
But this little church, old as it is, right across the street from the WTC didn’t have one crack in the glass nor one crack in the stone. So, whether you’re religious or not – there’s something to it, this little church remained untouched, all the other buildings were damaged. The red cross workers dug their way to the church and set up headquarters for the rescue workers in side the church for their food and sleep, this was their home for many months. There is even a children’s book written about it by author and mother A.B. Curtis, based on a poem she wrote for her children called “The Little Chapel That Stood”.

From the gallery: LOUIS

LOUIS: Tears for Louis. World Trade Center Memorial waterfalls.

Photo of the day: TILES FOR AMERICA


After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, ceramic studios around the world joined together to offer a creative outlet to the people of our nation. Thousands of tiles, reflecting patriotism, heroes, courage, unity, poetry, and other positive themes arrived in NYC. The “artists” are represented worldwide and have been families, children, schools, churches, scouts, and senior groups. Each tile reflects the artists’ thoughts of sadness and hope in the face of this American tragedy and once again, shows that the American people will pull together in times of national disaster. New York’s first memorial is located on a chain link fence at the corner of 7th Avenue and 11th Street.

Now the city want to tear it down. On 9/12/12, all of this will disappear, to make way for an MTA air vent for the Subway. To honor this amazing corner of our world, A.rtists W.ho C.are, is seeking volunteers, now, during, after, this event:

Beloved musician and New Yawker CYNDI LAUPER will be our guest!

Artists Who Care, 19 Christopher Street, Suite 7, NYC 10014 Paul McClure, Artistic Director

From the gallery: WORLD TRADE CENTER 1973

WORLD TRADE CENTER 1973: It is October 1973. The World Trade Center was the new sensation of New York City having just been completed in April of that year. New Yorkers were astounded at how majestic they were, at how new an idea it was – twin towers.
People were buzzing where you could go to get an unusual view of these new icons. My best friend Tony Indelicato and I decided to go to  New Jersey and view them from there. I don’t recall where we were, but when we reached this desolate spot, we loved the contrast.
(Those are my skin tight seude Sasson jeans, my in vogue authentic bomber jacket and big hair – good times.)



CINDERELLA’S OTHER SHOES: I was passing Spitalfield’s boutique in Soho, during Fashion’s Night Out. There on the bright orange barricades in front of the store, was a single peacock blue suede shoe. Nowhere was the other shoe in sight.
I began to wonder: how did this lone show loose it’s partner? If you buy a fancy pair of heels – they come in a box. Many ladies cherish and keep that box. How could it fall out of the shopping bag? If a lady lost her shoe, at that heel’s height – wouldn’t you notice you’re missing a shoe? Your limp would be the clue!  Is there another Cinderella out there? Did Cinderella wear the blue gown for tonight instead of the white? What was the great hurry she was in?
So I planted myself behind the barricade and began the photograph the shoe. A few people noticed. Sadly, it was left alone, yearning for it’s chic mate. Cindy – your shoe is calling!

From the gallery: BROADWAY SHIMMER

BROADWAY SHIMMER: The rain makes Times Square iridescent. Peacock-like colors illuminate from beneath your feet. Broadway’s neon beckons, follow the shimmering road . . .

Photo of the day: TOUCH UP

TOUCH UP: Sometimes a girl just needs anything with a reflection to help with that essential touch up. In this case it’s the jewelry cases at Bergdorf Goodman.


REFLECTION OF BERGDORF: Designer AKRIS, has designed the quintessential 111th year anniversary dress for Bergdorf Goodman and ‘Fashion’s Night Out’. It is has the appearance of a reflection of Bergdorf printed on to the dress. When admirers first stop by the window to marvel at the sleek design it isn’t at first noticed the matching cashmere coat has a mirror image of the store faintly lined inside.
The lines are 1950’s Audrey Hepburn classic! Flowing yet constructed, sheer elegance in the simplicity of the design, reflecting Bergdorf’s reputation of sophisticated chic.


FASHIONABLE IS FOREVER:  New York’s ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ grows bigger every year. It’s a cross between trick-or-treating of Halloween and a public fashion show. The city is a trendy madhouse with people texting each other as to which store has the best ‘treats’. As the event grows every year, there are the regulars. You find yourself looking for the painted topless woman, the guy with the 9 inch platforms, the Elton look-alike, the many cross dressers, the trendy hip teens….and these two.
I spotted them last year outside Bergdorf Goodman (one of the best shows in town) and this year I came across them inside the store. “May I photograph you?” “Yes sure!! So many photograph us and we never know where they wind up” – well here they are making there annual trek and paying homage to Bergdorf’s.
Always fiercely dressed and coifed, once again I am reminded of Edie Beale of Grey Gardens. They slowly make their way through the store, always stopping to buy ‘one little thing.’ Mom wheels herself through on her own, usually racing ahead of her daughter, ogling at all the amazing displays. As they catch up to each other I had to capture the moment, proving some things are forever. .

From the gallery: A TOUCH OF TIFFANY

A TOUCH OF TIFFANY: This black Venus graced the main entrance of Tiffany for Fashion’s Night Out 2011.
Her features sublime and the elegance of a gazelle. Decked out in Tiffany from head to toe. A glance of warm elegance graces the camera lens. Venus ascends.

Photo of the day: MODEL SEARCH

MODEL SEARCH: While this model in Soho searches to make sure she has all her last minute accessories, the great model search in Manhattan is done for the moment. All the models for tonight’s ‘Fashion’s Night Out’ have been booked. Walking around New York City the last few days is like walking through a music video  set. Everywhere you see picture perfect models who have arrived here for the big event tonight that turns Manhattan into a madhouse fashion festival!

From the gallery: WARHOL’S CAMPELL SOUP 1962 – 2012


Photo of the day: WARHOL COMES TO TARGÉ

WARHOL COMES TO TARGÉ: Now you can buy soup in style! In a move to boost sales, Cambpell’s soup is selling Andy Warhol style soup cans for just .75 cents. There are four color combinations and just 1 million cans have been produced. As soon as I heard they were being released on Sunday, Sept. 2nd, the 50th anniversary of Warhol’s Campell’s soup can 1962 painting, I naturally rushed to my nearest Targé to stock up.
I stood by and watched the phenomena of Warhol in Targé as the people walked by. I was curious, who in Archie Bunker’s Queens would buy?? I waited. Most walked by, looked curiously and didn’t get it. Who did? The Japanese. In my unscientific observation of only one hour’s observation, it was Japanese, young hipsters and gays that very intently checked each can on the shelf until they felt satisfied they had secured the ‘best’ cans. Naturally, I did the same 🙂
So…for those of you looking to invest in your future, the investment costs you just less than a dollar!
(Of course – you have to hope, that at least half a million of those cans, or hopefully more, will be bought by unknowing Americans, who will just take a can opener to the can, gulp down that veltvety red soup and throw out the can. So, start dumpster diving for the labels or just spend the .75 cents.)


THE UMBRELLAS OF BRYANT PARK: Even the rain cannot dampen the beauty of Bryant Park. The paths scattered with forest green folding chairs and matching tables, create the feeling of a French allee with the lovers waiting to return when the rain has stopped. Grab your umbrella, take a stroll through the puddles, let your mind wander as you let the colors paint your thoughts.

Scored a photo in the New York Post today!


New York Post


Naked gal gets deal on a suit: 15G for Times Sq. bust


Last Updated: 7:44 AM, September 4, 2012
N.Y. Post: William C Lopez

Han Von Rittern

NOW BUY SOME CLOTHES! Zoe West, busted for stripping down during a body-painting exhibition in Times Square last year has won a settlement in her false-arrest lawsuit.

A nude model busted for dropping her drawers during a body-painting exhibition in Times Square has scored a $15,000 payout from red-faced city officials.

Zoe West, 22, plans to settle her false-arrest lawsuit today after getting a signed offer last week, says her lawyer, Ron Kuby.

“The beauty of New York City is a naked girl can win a nice suit,” Kuby quipped.

The civil-rights lawyer said cops never should have arrested West because “public nudity is legal in New York City as long as it’s done for purposes of a performance, exhibition or show.”

“Given the police idiocy, one wonders where the boobs really are,” he said.

“In order to determine that she was fully nude, you had to get much closer to her than most people get on a first date,” he noted.

West was arrested following an Aug. 30, 2011, “full-body” painting exhibition at the Crossroads of World.

After having nearly every inch of her 5-foot-2 frame covered in color, West doffed her G-string for the final strokes. But just as artist Andy Golub was finishing, cops arrived and a “visibly unnerved” Sgt. Anthony Fusaro told West he had to “bring her in,” her Manhattan federal court suit says.

She was hauled off to a police van wearing nothing but a pair of metal handcuffs.

At the Midtown South precinct house, several cops “gawked at her” for 15 minutes before she was allowed to dress and was patted down by a female cop, the suit says.

She was released without charges two hours later.

West said she had no regrets, because the cops “weren’t abusive or anything like that” and the exposure has “put me on the map in a positive way.”

“I went out on a limb to do something that I thought was a good project, and it was pretty successful and pretty exciting,” she said.

Since then, she has landed a role in an “interactive” murder-mystery play in upstate Woodstock along with other modeling projects — although “nothing quite as ostentatious” as the Times Square gig. She’s now preparing to move to Manhattan from upstate Kingston.

West said she didn’t have any plans for the settlement money but would likely “put it away” for the future.

Golub, who has made a career out of painting bodies and objects including cars, food trucks and handbags, called West’s settlement a “fair” deal.

“I definitely felt bad that she was arrested, and I feel it’s good that she stood up for her rights,” he said.

The city Law Department declined to comment.