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

Archive for January, 2013

Photo of the day: PEEK-A-BOO


Show a little more,
Show a little less,
Let me do a few tricks,
Some old and then some new tricks,
I’m very versatile.
Add a little smoke…
And if you’re real good,
I’ll make you feel good,
I want your spirit to climb,
Welcome to Burlesque!
Everything you dream of,
But never can possess.
So let me entertain you,
We’ll have a real good time,
Yes sir!
Outside it is winter. But in here it’s so hot.
Every night we have to battle with the girls
to keep them from taking off all their clothings.
So don’t go away. Who knows?
Tonight we may lose the battle!
Nothing’s what it seems . . .
Welcome to Burlesque!
Can you determine how many cabarets these lyrics are from?

Photo of the day: RARE RED REFLECTIONS


RARE RED REFLECTIONS: In the icy cold winter sunsets you sometimes get a rare colorful surprise. I was heading up 42nd Street and noticed a rather unusual sight – the Chrysler Building had color, red color! At first I though it must be a new seasonal lighting, but then I noticed they were just streaks of red, the dramatic effect of a winter’s sunset causing rare red reflections. . .



CELEBRATING THE THREE KINGS: While the ornaments may have vanished from store windows on December 26th, Christians will finish their celebration of Christmas on Sunday, January 6th with the feast of the Epiphany, the twelfth and final day of the Christmas. Many people confuse when the Twelve days of Christmas actually take place. A Lot of people think it’s the 12 days leading up to Christmas, and that it’s counting down to Christmas. As soon as the day is over, the 12 days of Christmas start, but a lot of people take down their decorations the day after.

The Twelve Days of Christmas grows out of European tradition that links the feasts of The Nativity and The Epiphany. In many traditions early on, there was not a whole lot of emphasis on Christmas as a holiday; more of the focus was on Easter and the resurrection.

During the season of Advent, the approximately month-long period prior to Christmas, Christians are encouraged to focus on readying themselves for Jesus’ birth,  these preparations are not made with presents, but with Scripture readings and charitable work so that the hearts and minds of Christians will be in the spirit to celebrate the birth of Christ.

There are seasons of feasting and seasons of preparation. But in our culture, we want feasting all the time, all lights and decorations. The commercial world is going on and on about the singing of the Christmas carols, which is a little premature…unless you know what you’re celebrating and that’s what Advent does.

Mom and I do not put up all of our decorations until December 22nd. Those decorations then remain in place until after the Twelve Days of Christmas have ended.

The real religious significance is that on the twelfth day it is believed to be the day three wise men journeyed to Jesus’ birthplace and paid their respects to him by offering presents. An Epiphany Festival means “manifestation of the light.” And so, mom and I will light the candles on our tree one last time tonight.

See my post of December 26th about our traditional German candle lit tree!

“We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.”

Photo of the day: WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS . . .


. . . Stays in Vegas!
(Reflection caught in policeman’s motorcycle rear view mirror in Times Square.)

Photo of the day: DON’T WISH FOR IT, WORK FOR IT


DON’T WISH FOR IT, WORK FOR IT: I was rushing through Times Square when subliminally my mind caught this chair out of the corner of my eye. It belongs to one of the street vendors. I love the positive reinforcement, even when they are sitting down! It’s a great way to start the new year 🙂

Photo of the day: BAOTU – THE FACE OF HARD WORK


BAOTU – THE FACE OF HARD WORK: Her name is Baotu, , in Chinese it means ‘New Spring’. She works at The New Empire Szechuan Garden Chinese restaurant at 43-42 46th Street, my street, in Sunnyside, Queens. She works long, long hours in the back, over the hot griddles and frying oils, always smiling, always saying hello, ever cheerful. You will see Baotu working Christmas eve, Easter Sunday, New Years eve, never visibly complaining, always rushing about, always greeting you with that smile on her face.
In the July 2006  mass blackout due to the extreme July heat wave, she was filling orders in the scorching heat that reached over 110F degrees in their restaurant. I will never, never forget it, Baotu was a whirl of activity as she juggled the orders, sweat pouring from her face. In the blackout there were no stores open, no places to buy food, but there she was with her co-workers, with no fans, working harder than anyone would in that heat. Several dogs died on my block of heat exhaustion, many people had to be hospitalized as the heat reached 100+ degrees for three days straight and the blackout lasted ten days in our neighborhood of Sunnyside. People slept on their fire escapes, mom slept sitting upright at an open window. We did what we could, but everyday as we passed the little Chinese restaurant, there they were, working so, so hard from morning to night.
This New Years Eve I decided to celebrate at home with mom, the sane thing to do. Past midnight I had to walk Noel our dog, as I passed by the Empire Szechuan Garden…there at 12:45 am, was Baotu, greeting me with a “happy new year” as I passed by and then she quickly returned to her griddle. This dear sweet woman always reminds me not to complain too much, I just think of Baotu, the humble smiling face of hard work.

Photo of the day: THE PARTY’S OVER

“The Party’s Over, it’s time to call it a day.
They’ve burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away.
It’s time to wind up the masquerade.
Just make your mind up the piper must be paid.
The Party’s Over.The candles flicker and dim.
You danced and dreamed through the night,
it seemed to be right just being with him.
Now you must wake up, all dreams must end.
Take off your make up, The Party’s Over.
It’s all over, my friend.”
Words by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and Music by Jule Styne -introduced by Judy Holliday in her last film “Bells Are Ringing” (1956), also starring -Dean Martin and Jean Stapleton
-charted by Doris Day at # 63 in 1957

Photo of the day: HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Fremder, L’Etranger, Stranger!
Glücklich zu sehen, Je suis enchanté,
Happy to see you,
Bleibe, reste, stay.
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!
Im 2013, Au 2013, To 2013!
Meine Damen und Herren-
Mes dames et Messieurs-
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Comment ça va? Do you feel good?
Ich bin euer Conférencier! I am your host! Und sage.
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!
Leave your troubles outside.
So life is disappointing, forget it!
In New York life is beautiful.
Just get yourself a saw, a bow,
and a sparkly top hat and voilà,
you have a New Year’s party!