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

Archive for July, 2013

Photo of the day: MONDAY !

MONDAY !

MONDAY !

Photo of the day: THANK GOD IT’S SUNDAY !

Cher at Gay Pride Dance New York City 2013

Cher at Gay Pride Dance New York City 2013

Photo of the day: THANK GOD IT’S SUNDAY !

Photo of the day: ABC’s the VIEW

View of Manhattan from Liberty Island, July 4, 2013

View of Manhattan from Liberty Island, July 4, 2013

Photo of the day: ABC’s the VIEWA.stonishing B.ig C.ity View
Come to New York, it’s bigger than life!
Bigger than a 3D movie!
Bigger than your imagination!

Photo of the day: CARRYING THE TORCH OF FREEDOM

DSC_3505XX©
Photo of the day: CARRYING THE TORCH OF FREEDOM – ( or . . . GETTING INSIDE A LADY’S HEAD ISN’T THAT EASY!) Having had the privilege to attend the opening of the Statue of Liberty’s crown on the 4th of July was a thrilling and very moving experience. The crowds were huge. The line in Battery Park to buy non reserved tickets was two hours in the heat. My reserved ticket line wait was only about 45 minutes. I bought the ticket May 7th on line the second they announced the reopening. Security everywhere is very tight. The screening tent is still at Battery Park and not at Ellis Island as at one point suggested, since Ellis Island is more destroyed than we thought. I was told by many of the park rangers (I kept asking again and again) when Ellis would open – the unanimous answer was “up to two years.” The damage was so severe to the understructure and main lobby and also the pier/harbor.
The Fourth of July ticket !

The Fourth of July ticket !

Anticipation!

Anticipation!

The boat ride to Liberty Island was just ‘different’ than usual. There was an electricity in the air of ‘being the first’. It was truly moving to see every color of skin, to hear so many different languages, all ages, all religions coming together to marvel at Auguste Bartholdi’s statue from France. The excitement on board was like little children about to see the Christmas tree. Everyone had huge smiles. We were there! The original landing pier is no longer in use – half of it was wiped away in hurricane Sandy. An old smaller pier at the tip of the island is now being used.
Security is over the top if you want to go into the crown. “No back packs!”. Fine I thought, so I bought myself a small fanny pack and carried my camera. I was stopped by security and asked what was inside the fanny pack. “My keys, phone, wallet, some pills, etc.” “No keys or change allowed,” I was told to my stunned surprise. You are forced the rent a $2.00 locker and have to leave yourself only with: wallet, phone, pills (if needed, but no liquids allowed) and a camera – that’s it! This caused quite an angry commotion by many of the tourists and I was quite annoyed myself, not even a fanny pack! Later I came to understand why  = because the space in the crown is so very small.
Red, white and blue bunting greeted us.

Red, white and blue bunting greeted us.

Inside Lady Liberty's robes

Inside Lady Liberty’s robes

Ok, into the restored pedestal. The park rangers greeted you with beaming smiles “Welcome Back!” they all cheered. Inside the ground floor of the pedestal is the original glass torch, beautifully restored. I decided to marvel at that later, the crown was waiting! The climb begins. Fair warning: if you have a heart condition, are overweight, claustrophobic, afraid of heights . . . this is not for you. Regular stairs at first in the pedestal, but then as you enter the statue herself, it still is that extremely narrow staircase wrapped around to what amounts to basically a large vertical pole. (Woody Allen once quipped: “The last time I was inside a woman was when I went to the Statue of Liberty”).
The narrow climb

The narrow climb

Close quaters !

Close quaters !

The last time I myself visited Lady Liberty was when I was in 3rd grade in 1964 with my classmate Dagmar Kiefert (we are still friends). To be climbing these stairs again 49 years later was an emotional climb. And then…you feel a breeze, you hear park ranger’s voices, you start to see light and then all of a sudden, it is as if you are living a movie-like dream – you are there! A view of  New York’s harbor! It was surreal. My first reaction was ‘This is IT?!’ The space is so very much smaller than I had remembered as a tiny tot. Everything is bigger when you are in third grade. I was somewhat stunned. What to do first? Get someone to take my picture? Take pictures? Take it all in?? As welcomed as I felt, I felt rushed, who knows who is coming up the stairs next, and how many? Most of the ‘windows’ are now sealed with plexiglas, but some are opened on the right lower side. Three medium sized windows which I didn’t even realize were opened (I was that excited) and 3 porthole-type windows only about 12″ in diameter. I was advised to strap the camera around my wrist, stick your arm out the porthole window and you can photograph her torch. Incredible! I was too excited and emotional to concentrate on the quality of the photos, luckily I am going back on July 10th and will concentrate more on the photos, rather than the experience.
49 years later - I  made it again !

49 years later – I made it again !

In the clouds, a birds eye view.

In the clouds, a birds eye view.

Inside Lady Liberty's face!

Inside Lady Liberty’s face!

As you climb a few steps down, there comes the most haunting thing of all, you are inside her face! Sadly the structural beams hinder a decent photo, but it is almost more thrilling than the crown – so Alfred Hitchcock like. At certain points in the climb you can touch her skin and realize how thin it only is, 3/32 of an inch (about 2.5mm) thick, the same as two American pennies placed together. It is amazing that she has weathered all the storms in the harbor. Next stop is the pedestal on the way down and the view of Liberty Island and the city is breathtaking. *Don’t forget to look up at her!* Sadly you can see that many of the trees on Liberty Island are dying or dead from having been immersed in the salt water for so long after the hurricane. All the landscaping has been replaced with new sods of grass and the areas are roped off. The restaurant is opened again and I ate lunch by the waterside, listening to a little jazz trio playing, while literally watching the world go by, every nationality you can image. It was the ultimate American Independence Fourth of July Day I could have possibly spent and will treasure it for the rest of my life. I took hundred of photos and have so little time to edit and post them all, but here are a few for you to enjoy. HERE’S TO LIBERTY !
(More to come…)
In the arms of Liberty.

In the arms of Liberty.

A TRULY HAPPY 4th OF JULY !

A TRULY HAPPY 4th OF JULY !


Photo of the day: HAPPY 4TH OF JULY FROM LADY LIBERTY!

LIBERTY'S TWILIGHT
Photo of the day: HAPPY 4TH OF JULY !  – Today I have the great honor of being one of the first and only few today to be allowed into The Statue of Liberty’s Crown! ! ! I am so excited to experience this today! The last time I was in  the crown I was in 3rd or 4th grade! I feel like a child on Christmas day !
HAPPY FOURTH Y’ALL !

Photo of the day: SOME PEOPLE MARCH TO A DIFFERENT DRUMMER

MARCHING TO A DIFFERENT BEAT

Photo of the day: SOME PEOPLE MARCH TO THE BEAT OF A DIFFERENT DRUMMER
SOME PEOPLE MARCH TO GET MARRIED
 BRIDE GAY
SOME PARTY MONSTERS MARCH
 PARTY MONSTER
SOME PEOPLE WITH FRECKLES MARCH
 FRECKLES
SOME BRAZILIAN KISS QUEENS MARCH
 KISS RING
SOME FLAG WAVERS MARCH
 FLAG WAVER
AND SOME FASHIONABLY FIERCE PEOPLE MARCH!
FASHONABLY FIERCE
  …WHATEVER THE BEAT OF YOUR DRUM IS – MARCH !

Link

Photo of the day: WHY I MARCHED WITH PRIDE AGAINST NYC COUNCILWOMAN CHRISTINE QUINN

HANS MARCHING IN PRIDE AGAINST QUINN

Photo of the day: WHY I MARCHED WITH PRIDE AGAINST NYC COUNCILWOMAN CHRISTINE QUINN

I lost my Gray Line tour guide job of seven years because of her bullying through a ‘headset bill‘ in New York City.  It all started two years ago when two older residents on Greenwich Avenue complained  about guides on open mic and insist we be rerouted. We tried all diff routes, but Greenwich is largest, best flow and connection to the rest of the routes and bus stops.
These complainers had the sirens of St. Vincent’s Hospital, a school yard with screaming grade school kids and the bars showing European soccer matches to boisterous patrons till 4am – if u do not like the noise – move to a better location, you knew what u where getting into when u moved in. So a headset law was suggested.

No one seemed to hear ’noise’ but them. Guards were placed at the corner to see if we were off mic. A noise “study” was supposed to have been done and magically was never needed.

NYC councilwoman Gail Brewer tried to help us and insisted a proviso be put in the bill the headsets be connected to a live guide. ALL tour guides rallied, spoke on TV and radio and press to “Keep New York Live”. Greg Mocker/WPIX11 befriended me and joined our cause. Rumor was that Twin America, the monopoly that owns blue City Sights and red Gray Line double decker buses was trying to get the ’live guide’ proviso thrown out. No tour guides = no high licensed salaries, no health insurance. BINGO! The proviso was erased in the middle of the night by Quinn, because Quinn is in the pocket of Twin America and they padded her coffers for her mayoral run. She simply claimed the proviso was ‘not needed’.

We held one big last ditch effort rally on the steps of city hall at noon time. 12:30….no press, no one. I called TV transit reporter Greg Mocker “Where are you?!!” ‘It’s canceled, isn’t it?’ Quinn had called the press and told them it was canceled. The bill passed with live tour guides eliminated. Councilwoman Brewer cowered under Quinn and was a bit of a wimp, she needed funding for her district. Next came the slaughter of the guides. We had a sign up book, you would sign the days you wanted to work for the next few weeks. Allllll of a sudden, any guide who was seen at NBC, ABC, WPIX11, CBS News, etc was not ‘allowed’ to sign up with no reason given. I was one of their top tour guides. I never had one complaint. I was requested world wide, did all their celebrity tours (Liza Minnelli, Heidi Klum, Cyndi Lauper, etc.) yet I was no longer allowed to sign the book. A fellow tour guide overheard my boss Eva Lee tell the dispatcher “these people are effectively no longer here.” With pressure mounting by the guides, Gray Line said we could re-apply for our jobs, but not at $17.75 an hour with insurance, but with $12.75 and hour, no insurance. We applied. “If a position arises we will contact you” we were told with the iciest of cold faces. Meanwhile through the tour guide grape vine we heard they were begging and pleading other less experienced guides to please come in.

Senior guides were offered insulting low buyouts. Gray Line wanted no one left with a memory of what it used to be like. Guides who had worked there 18 years!!, spoke 5 languages!, were now gone. They wanted no one to question the ‘new authority.’ No rebels, just quiet frightened to death zombie guides. Then they realized no one was watching the tourists on top, so they hired illiterate ‘watchers’ to sit on top and make sure guests didn’t stand up. Pay was about $7-11 per hour. The recorded tour tapes didn’t and don’t work well (at first they didn’t at all!) so now they are hiring guides who are given the answers to the Tour Guides License test, so any idiot can pass the test. Watch them, the buses pass by and the guide is saying nothing, or babbling utter incoherent nonsense. And so here we are. New York tourists are greeted by these “ambassadors to the city” – it’s a joke. The headset law was bullied thru by Quinn, the required noise study was NEVER done and hundreds of guides my age (57 and older) don’t find it easy at all to find work in this city at our age or at other companies. It is almost impossible. You have to be minimally bilingual (I am/German) or be the darling of one of the smaller companies. Smaller companies don’t have the work, salaries and clients. So many guides went bankrupt, moved, sold their things, took several other low paying jobs = slaughtered by that greedy dictator!

There are many other reasons I will cut my hand off before I vote for Christine Quinn. Zoning variances have become the norm in New York and we are becoming a city of soul-less glass boxes since she is in the deep pockets of the real estate Rudin family. Councilmembers are afraid of her. Vote against her – your funding is cut. She over turned term limits in the middle of the night as well so that elitist  mayor Bloomberg could buy a third term. NYC had voted TWICE for a two term limit. How is this a free country?

She is “gay for pay” – on gay pride day she runs to the front of the parade, but has not voted for one pro gay health, housing or community bill – NOT ONE. Her ultimate sinful act was to tear down St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village as well as the ‘Tiles For America’ memorial across the street. Built in 1849, St. Vincent’s took in the only survivors of the Titanic, was at the epicenter the AIDS crisis, and 9/11. The Rudin real estate family wanted condos there. Quinn saw to it, and while at it, tore down the adjoining church as well.  She is the most dangerous thing that has happened and could happened to New York City. We rebuilt after 9/11 and hurricane Sandy – we cannot tear down the glass boxes that are rising at an alarming rate where the mom and pops used to be. We have lost more long time establishments under the Bloomberg/Quinn administration than in the entire history of New York City. Affordable housing tenants are squeezed out, the middle class is ceasing to exist.  VOTE this election,

VOTE FOR “ANYBODY BUT QUINN!”

WATCH THIS! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXoANkQh93I

http://votequinnout.com/


Photo of the day: CHER ROCKS GAY PRIDE DAY CONCERT

CHER GAY PRIDE 2013

Photo of the day: CHER’S GAY PRIDE DAY CONCERT 2013 – With the looming World Trade Center to the left, the Manhattan skyline all around us,  Pier 26  on the Hudson River vibrated with energy as 7,500 of Cher’s screaming and adoring fans waited to see ‘the queen of the night’.
Deborah Cox opened for her, Whoopi Goldberg introduced her, and then came CHER . . .followed by a half hour of fireworks! Happy Gay Pride!
More stories and photos to follow . . .