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

Archive for November, 2012

Photo of the day: A ‘BITTER’ COLD – Police ignore frozen homeless man

FOZEN 2-11-11
Photo of the day: THE ‘BITTER’ COLD – On today’s front page of many papers is a picture of police officer, Larry DePrimo in the bitter cold,  buying a homeless man a pair of shoes. The photo was taken on cell phone by a passing Arizona tourist and has gone viral world wide. While it is  a beautiful and touching story – I have a contrasting one I posted over a year ago here on Facebook.
On Tuesday February 11, 2011 that night it was 22 degrees freezing with wind chills below zero, this man seemed frozen over his cart. He did not have gloves and his hands had turned brown from frostbite. He did not move. No one helped him. Notice his left hand, his fingers are straight together, it is an unnatural way for your hand to be if you are ‘sleeping’. His hand was frozen. I stepped near the grate, the so called ‘warm air’ was at best minimal. I have been told to freeze to death is somewhat merciful, you numb and fall asleep. Whether he survived the night I don’t know. I am conflicted to hope he survived or if the merciful wish was for him to ‘fall asleep.’ It took me a long time to  flag a police car, they said he is on top of a grate and therefor “warm and fine”. I called 911 & 311 repeatedly, because supposedly the NYC law is that if it goes below freezing it is manadatory for the homeless to be brought to a shelter –  but  no one came. The traffic cop on the corner said there is nothing he could do. I went home with tears in my eyes and could not sleep that night.
It truly is a ‘bitter’ cold.


THE PERSIAN ROOM AT THE PLAZA HOTEL, 1974: Where were you 38 years ago on November 29, Friday night, 1974? I was 18 years old and took my friend Amy Hernandez to see a drag revue at the Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room, one of the most magical places within the Plaza. For more than forty years, from 1934 to 1975, the Persian Room was the place to be in New York City. An unparalleled array of performers graced its stage—everyone from the incomparable Hildegarde Shirley Bassey, Ethel Merman, The Mills Brothers, Kay Thompson (mother to Eloise), Eartha Kitt, Bob Hope, Liberace, Diahann Carroll, Julie Wilson, Andy Williams, Josephine Baker, my dear Celeste Holm and Marlene Dietrich’s last New York appearance.
It was done in high Persian style in deep iridescent tones of blues, greens and purples – nowadays we would view the decor as high camp/kitsch, but it was divine! The entrance looked like a golden gate to a palace. Today it is where the main lobby of the hotel is on the left side as you enter the Plaza Hotel, with sadly not a hint of it’s decadent past.
Amy Hernandez’s mother owned an east side townhouse bar and restaurant called ‘The Beef & Bourbon’ and the bourbon, her mom’s (and Amy’s) favorite drink of choice, flowed freely. Amy had an uppity twin sister named Carol who never liked anything I had to say and would just say “Oh Hans…”.
‘Manhattan Follies’ was the talk of the nightclub world and I just had to go! Impersonated that night were the then staples: Dietrich, Garland, Ross, Channing, Marilyn and Mae and that new sensation Bette Midler. The headliner was up and coming drag star Craig Russell who would go on to make the hit 1977 film called “Outrageous!”
The room still had a ‘cigar & cigarette girl’, a shapely woman with a tray strapped under her bosom selling smokes for high prices (Lena Horne started out as one). A Weegee-like man went from table to table with a huge old fashioned flash camera an offered souvenir photographs.
Some of the photo’s fun details:  I am wearing a black and white polyester Marilyn Monroe print dress shirt with an awfully huge white poly tie. The suit is black velvet bell bottomed and huge platform shoes (that you can’t see here) that had silver stars on them. The program pictured here on the right, is next to me by my seat. Amy’s polyester print blouse was black and white to match me. Note my index finger is extended on my lap because I am trying to show off a silver ring in the shape of a man’s head wearing a turban which I felt was appropriate for the evening’s occasion. Amy and I didn’t know we were partaking in history because sadly the ‘Manhattan Follies’ was the last and final show to play at The Persian Room.
The 1970’s was a glorious era. My era. A decadent era of nightclubbing, dancing, glitz and glamour. Studio 54, Xenon, 12 West, Ice Palace and the Paradise Garage. Huge shoes, hair sprayed hair, big eye glasses, bell bottoms and that wonderful disco music.
Where where you November 29, Friday night 1974?…

Photo of the day: THE MEETING OF THE ‘M’ CLUB

MEETING OF THE ‘M’ CLUB: The great painter Edouard Manet said: “There is only one true thing – instantly paint what you see. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it. When you haven’t, you begin again. All the rest is humbug.”
I as a photographer say: “Life is art = Art is life. If you have life in your eyes, you see the art.”

On one of the last warm days last week I came across this endearing scene. It is under the elevated ‘7’ train that heads towards Shea Stadium.

The meeting of ‘The M Club’. Mini Matisse, mini Mondrian, mini Manet and mini Monet.
A local day school teacher brings his little “M’s” to various spots here in Sunnyside Queens to inspire them to paint what they see and feel.
Matisse is in her blue period. Mondrian is being very colorful. Manet is feeling very precise and Monet is just going wild with his expressionism. Who knows what paths lie ahead for these four adorable children, one may be a lawyer, one our next president, one may be a psychiatrist and one may have their paintings hanging in the Museum of Modern Art!
Paint on dear children, paint on . . .

Photo of the day: THE LURE OF CYBER MONDAY

THE LURE OF CYBER MONDAY: I fell asleep watching TV Sunday night and as awoke in the middle of the night, I found an eerie glow coming from my computer in my office as if it was luring me with all the tempting cyber discounts being offered today. “They’re here . . . !”

Best new thing: CAMERA GLOVES !

CAMERA GLOVES !: My dear friend Nana Kuatto’s godmother Elina in Finland has made me ‘camera gloves’!
Mittens always keep your hands the warmest and nothing is warmer than 100% wool. Well,  Elina Kiviniemi has combined the two ideas and created “Camera Gloves”!
It’s freezing cold outside and you’re taking pictures. Having to take off your gloves will leave your finger frozen in minutes. No need to worry. The right hand camera glove leaves the thumb and index finger free for you to securely hold you camera while your free warm index finger snaps the picture. Leave it to the Fin’s to come up with this idea! Elina Kiviniemi has also made wool socks for President Clinton and his family and she has received a personal handwritten thank you note from Bill himself!
My picture taking this winter will be warmer thanks to Nana and Elina’s thoughtfulness and my warm “CAMERA GLOVES from FINLAND”!

If they’re good enough for the Clintons – they’re good enough for me!


“Didn’t the parade used to come through Times Square? I’m confused, I’ve got to find the parade –
before the parade passes by
before it goes on, and I’m the only Smurf left
before the parade passes by.
I’ve gotta get in step while there’s still time left
I’m ready to move out in front
Life without life has no reason or rhyme left
With the rest of them
With the best of them
I wanna hold my head up high
I need to get a goal again I need to get a drive again
I wanna feel my heart coming alive again
Before the parade passes by…
Before the parade passes by
I’ve gotta go and taste Saturday’s high life !

Today’s theme song: CHER’s “Shoppin’ ”

Lyric from CHER’s  1979 album “Prisoner”


I’m shoppin’, gonna buy my blues away

Shoppin’, I’m walking up  to the counter and say

I want this sweater, I sure feel better

Shoppin’, gonna take my troubles to town

Shoppin’, you don’t need money down

Charge it, wrap it, send it shoppin’
Ever since my mother took me to a big department  store

My heartbeat escalated all the  way to the second floor

I couldn’t hide my passion for the latest fashion craze

My  mama told me that’s just another phase I’m going through

Whatcha got that’s new?
Shoppin’,  gonna buy my blues away

Shoppin’, I  got bad news today

Instead of  eating ’cause my man’s cheating

Shoppin’, I’m gonna take my troubles to town

Shoppin’, while everyone else is smokin’, token’,  coken’

Well, I’ll be shoppin’, hit  it, boys
Excuse me Miss, see  that, the dress over there?

How  many colors does it come in?

Yes,  all right, no, I’d like every one

No, I’m not going to try it, I know it’ll fit
Ooh, you know what?

Let’s go up, oh, they’re having a sale

My God, I love salesNo,  I don’t have a last name
It’s  just Cher, just plain Cher

Ooh, I  like the shoes

Do you think you could wrap this thing

It’s all pink and  wrinkly it’s…

What a darling little  bag
Shoppin’, I’m gonna buy  itShoppin’,

I never try it on for  size

Shoppin, will I like it

Shoppin’, does the color match my  eyes?
Folks say I’m daring for  what I’m wearing

I’m always scaring  the people’s staring

So I’m  declaring, I’m tired of swearing

I’m just shoppin’
Shoppin’,  I’m gonna but my blues away

Shoppin’, I got bad news todayShoppin’, I’m gonna take my troubles to town

Shoppin’, don’t need money down
Shoppin’, gonna buy my blues away

Shoppin’, walking up to the counter and say

I want that sweater, I sure feel betterShoppin’, charge it, wrap it, send  it
Shoppin’, instead of  eating ’cause my man’s cheating

I’ve  been shoppin

‘While other people  may be smokin’, token’, coken’

I’ll  be shoppin’


In New York City – shopping is a sport !

BLOOMINGDALE’S Friday’s hours:

7:00AM – 10:00PM
Saturday, November 24
9:00AM – 10:00PM
Sunday, November 25
10:00AM – 9:00PM
Monday, November 26
9:00AM – 10:00PM
Tuesday, November 27
9:00AM – 10:00PM
Wednesday, November 28
9:00AM – 10:00PM

Friday, November 23: 12:00AM – 10:00PM
Saturday, November 24: 7:00AM – 11:00PM
Sunday, November 25: 10:00AM – 10:00PM
Monday, November 26: 9:00AM – 9:30PM
Tuesday, November 27: 9:00AM – 9:30PM
Wednesday, November 28: 9:00AM – 11:00PM

SAKS FIFTH AVENUEMon-Sat 10 am – 8 pmSun 12 pm – 7 pm

Mon – Sat: 10am – 9pm
Sunday 11am – 8pm
Holiday hours begin November 26: Monday to Friday open 10am until 9pm. Saturday until 8. Sunday 11am until 7pm