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

Archive for December, 2013

Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN AND MARIE FLAGEUL

Donny Moss & Hans, Jonathan Meres Cohen, Marie Flageul

Donny Moss & Hans, Jonathan Meres Cohen, Marie Flageul

Photo of the day: PERSON(S) OF THE YEAR – DONNY MOSS AND THE TEAM OF JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN  AND MARIE FLAGEUL

– I have not ever had such a hard decision to come up with just one person to say they had most affected my life and the lives of the people around them. In such a tumultuous political year it has to be three people, Meres and Marie acting as one force. And by NO means choosing three people does it diminish in any way how important these three powerful people are.

DONNY MOSS:

I feel can be held responsible for almost single handedly destroying the political career of mega powerful New York councilwoman and bully Christine Quinn. She is a bully that represented every horrible thing that Mayor/dictator Bloomberg had done to destroy New York City in his 12 years in office. It is Quinn that alone saw to it that the laws were ‘changed’ so that Bloomberg could run for a third term in 2009 against the will of the people. With that, the slaughter of the middle class and it’s neighborhoods continued. This took New York City from 3 classes of citizens: lower, a strong middle and always upper class to a tapestry of investment bankers, real-estate developers, and Russian oligarchs. Then Donny’s release of a 2009 YouTube video exposing her two-faced betrayal of her own (she’s a lesbian) gay community and her horrific anti-animal rights stances exposed her to New York City. The most important and powerful was his documentary “Christine Quinn – Behind the Smile.” Most people thought Donny was nuts, an animals rights fanatic. Well that changed quickly as his persistent voice released more and more videos and more and more people began to listen.

When Gray Line was forcing the live tour guides (me) out of our jobs in favor of pre-recorded tours, because of a Quinn fake anti-noise bill, Donny sought me out to let me know of his fight against Quinn. I dismissed him as a fanatic, after all, Quinn couldn’t possibly be THAT horrible . . . she was worse. I listened to Donny and I jumped on board with Donny’s fight, the tour guides joined and my big mouth got many people to join Donny. Wonderful, wonderful loving animal rights activist groups and anyone that hated Bloomberg and wanted to save NYC joined us. We protested at everyone of her public appearances and taunted her mercilessly. Our numbers grew, as did our budget. We handed out flyers during rush hour at subway stations, bus and ferry terminals. My mother was one of his staunchest supporters, never leaving her house without Donny’s literature to hand out in the neighborhood. People began to listen and the animal rights people, the minorities, the middle class and passionate celebrities formed an army. ABQ = Anyone But Quinn! People like Cynthia Nixon, Susan Sarandon and the entertainment community brought their fame, money and passion to the public’s eye. These people already hated Quinn, but I insist that is Donny’s persistent, passionate, intelligent voice from the beginning opened everyone’s eyes. Quinn’s poll numbers began to plummet from leader of the mayoral race to 3rd or 4th place, week after week.

On November 5, 2013, Bill de Blasio won the mayoral election by a landslide, receiving over 73% of the vote and will become the first Democratic mayor of the city in nearly 20 years. Thank you Donny Moss for giving me my city back!

M+M, JONATHAN MERES (ONE) COHEN and MARIE CECILE FLAGEUL:

A forceful team, together they ARE 5 Pointz/ “the institute of higher burning“, the curators of the leading world’s graffiti and street mural art museum and mecca that was destroyed by the cruel vindictive whitewashing of the building in the middle of the night on November 19 of this year by Gerry Wolkoff. Words almost fail me to describe the incredible joy and privilege I have of being their friends. My heart is so deeply full of the pleasure they have brought to the entire world through their tireless efforts to have made 5 Pointz bigger and better year after year. I had come for years as an enthralled neighbor to support the saving of 5 Pointz. Then it then dawned on me that as a tour guide, this was the ultimate New York experience to bring my guests there as a surprise last stop. Over the years I had gained Meres’ and Marie’s trust by never betraying them or their art, by never pretending to be anyone else but someone who  passionately loved this mesmerizing art.  I thrived on the surprised looks on my tourist guest’s faces as they approached the loading dock and where overwhelmed by the fantastic colors and phantasmagorical art work. I felt like a million dollars sharing this with them.

Marie fiercely defended the illegal filming on the site, but saw to it that has been included in countless films, music videos and blogs. Meres saw to it that fellow writers and artists respected the sight and oversaw all the murals that would dazzle your imagination, resulting in world wide recognition as the premier street art museum. 200,000-square-feet (19,000 m2) of dazzling imagination from all over the world. Meres’ signature light bulbs are now recognized all over the world. Did you know that if look up any travel guide, 5 Pointz is listed as the #1 thing to see in Queens? – you can thank the brilliance of Meres and Marie for that. Meres’ 5 Pointz tours via SideTours was their #1 attraction and would sell out rapidly when new dates were announced. You felt so very special taking his tour, plain and simple = it was just so fucking cool!  New York City owes them a big commission check for all the tourist money they brought to New York, Queens and especially Long Island City.

But one of the most powerful gifts they have given to so many and I have been lucky enough to receive, is their bringing together one of the most diverse group of people from across the city and the globe who otherwise never would have met and shared such passion, joy and fun. Art unites, art opens your eyes and hearts, art can even save lives. Meres and Marie united the world through the brilliance of Meres’ artful vision and Marie’s passion. To say “thank you et merci” almost doesn’t seem enough . . .


Photo of the day: HANS’ PERSON OF THE YEAR – WHO WILL IT BE?

PERSON OF THE YEAR

Photo of the day: HANS’ PERSON OF THE YEAR – WHO WILL IT BE? In 2010 I chose my Glasgow guest Bethany Martin for turning me on to Facebook – and look to where it has led!, 834 friends later!
In 2011 I chose my then new friend Paul Ker who had been a total… stranger, friended me on Facebook because he liked my photos and volunteered his time to help me choose my new camera and equipment which resulted in the photos you see.
For 2012 I broke with tradition from choosing a Facebook ‘friend’ and chose my mom, for supporting me through some rough times in early 2012. I am doubly blessed! I have a loving ‘family of friends’ here on my blog and on Facebook. Some of you I have never even met and I feel so close to and owe so many of you a nice long phone call. But you are “there”, showing me love and support when I need it, for that I thank you all greatly. Thank you und vielen Dank! But when we are lucky enough to always have a loving mother to turn to, we are the most lucky person in the world. Isn’t true…we always turn to mom. So for all the comfort and support and the security of knowing no matter how awful it got and gets, she would be and is there . . . mom was the 2012 Person of the Year.
This year again I will choose a person that had the most affect or influence on my life in 2013. I’ve met so many wonderful people and have had so many amazing incredible experiences, but I will choose one. Which one of the absolutely terrific people in my life will it be? STAY TUNED 🙂 !

Photo of the day: SCHALLER & WEBER’S GERMAN DELICATESSEN in YORKVILLE FOR CHRISTMAS & NEW YEARS

SCHALLER UND WEBER 2013

Photo of the day: SCHALLER & WEBER’S GERMAN DELICATESSEN in YORKVILLE FOR CHRISTMAS & NEW YEARS – At the turn of the century from 1890 – 1910 one third on New York City spoke German, today hardly anyone does and instead you hear Spanish, Russian and Chinese. I was born in 1955 and as a child we would go to the German section of the city named Yorkville. Yorkville’s center street was East 86th Street and it’s surrounding streets. In this area you could still here strains of “wunderbar” and ooom-pah-pah ♫♪ all around you. You could buy everything from back home: Mecki books, Salamander shoes, Zarah Leander and Heino records, Teewurst, Loden coats, Tyrolian hats, beer steins, wooden nut crackers, Lübeck Marzipan, German magazines and newspapers and all the wiener schnitzel and beer you wanted.
That was then, today there are only 2 establishments left that I know of. The Heidelberg Restaurant (1648 Second Avenue) where today the little dark haired Guatemalan waiters wearing (much too big) lederhosen tell you the day’s specials in a heavy Spanish accent. But…there is one staple that has remained – Schaller and Weber, opened in 1937 at 1654 Second Avenue/86th Street, a German delicatessen where the white haired old German butchers with German accents still politely slice the fresh deli meats daily.
When I was a little boy, this place was heaven to me and still is. You can just lock me up behind the deli counter and leave me in there for a week. Ahhh! The smoked hams, the dozens of salamis, the stuffed peppers, stuffed veal, weiß wurst, Westphalian ham and my obsession – rouladen! Rouladen are very thin slices of beef, rolled up with spices, bacon and onion inside, pan fried with a rich dark gravy, add boiled potatoes and you’re set. Then there are also the wonderful chocolates and marzipans, sauces, white asparagus, smoked fish, hearty breads, Bahlsen cookies, Maggi and Knorr spices and a fine assortment of cheeses.
For Christmas and New Year in 2013, Schaller and Weber is that one place I can still retreat to and relive my childhood, inhale deeply and feel at home. I’m ready to order all the meats, cold cuts and cookies for New Years Eve and Day. The store, (thank god) has hardly changed.  I go inside and it is Christmas/Weihnachten 1962 and I’m standing in line with my numbered ticket to be called as I am fixating on all the goodies I hope my mother will buy for the Christmas holidays, always topped off with the treat of a Lübecker marzipan bar. Some kids dreamed of being locked up in toys stores and candy shops – I dreamed of being locked up in Schaller and Weber! Fröhliche Weihnachten! Frohes neues Jahr!
Schaller und Weber goodies

Schaller und Weber goodies

Here is a partial list of their goodies and a link to their web site: http://www.schallerweber.com/find-buy/original-store/
Spaetzle (German Noodle)
Imported Brands Maggi, Panni, Bechtle, Riehle (Manager’s Favorite)
Pickles & Sauerkraut Gundelsheim, Hengstenberg, Pickled Herring
Mustard & Ketcup Lowensene, Handlmaier & Thomy, Feisner & Hela (Ketchup)
Honey (Honig) Bihophar & Langnese (Assorted Flavors)
Soup & Gravy Mixes Knorr, Maggi Potato Dumplings & Pancake Mixes
Jams /Jellies Darbo (Austrian), Vavel (Polish), Landsberg (Germany)
Breads Landsberg, Mestemacher
German Cheeses Limberger, Harzer Kase, Tilsit
Coffees Jacobs, Tchibo, Dallmayer
Syrups Darbo (Austrian), Marco Polo (Hungarian), Adro, (Many more & assorted flavors) Assorted Cosmetics 4711, The oldest brand in Germany, Fa, Nivia, Kamille
Sweets & Treats Haribo: Gummy Bears (Large Variety), Swedish Fish: Abba (Assorted Flavors),
Bahlsen Cookies: Kipderl, Waffelette, Butter Leibniz, Kopper’s Chocolates,
Marzipan: Lübeck, Maker, Mozart Kugeln: Reber

Photo of the day: EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD

EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD

Photo of the day: EASE ON DOWN THE ROAD ~ At first glance, you don’t realize what is happening here. Looks cute doesn’t it? Not to the ‘tin man’. He stands motionless on his crate waiting for someone to put money in his tin can so he will move robotically. (No “oil can” requests, just money.) He’s in a prime location by the main subway entrance to Macy’s at Christmas time. He’s doing ok money wise – – – then all of a sudden comes an entire hoard of school children out of the subway gathering around him, oohing and aahhing and just killing his business. At first he tried to motion with his hands, as he is here, to ‘move along/ease on down the road’ – they didn’t get that and were even more fascinated with him. More oohing and aahhing. He tried again to wave his hand to ‘move along’. Nothing. He finally got off his crate and hid in a corner burying his face in his arms refusing to turn around. The kids finally eased on down the road . . . I ♥ NY.
Come on and ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on and ease on down, ease on down the road
Don’t you carry nothing that might be a load
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road

Pick your left foot up
When your right foot’s down
Come on legs keep movin’
Don’t you lose no ground
You just keep on keepin’
On the road that you choose
Don’t you give up walkin’
‘Cause you gave up shoes, no
Ease on down, ease on down the road
Come on, ease on down, ease on down the road!
(“The Wiz” 1978)

The best crew ever from 5 POINTZ !

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CREW

Here’s the crew behind the BEST birthday gift EVER!! Being tagged at 5 Pointz! I love u guyz ! — with Jonathan Meres Cohen, Marie Cecile Flageul, Anthony SpinChenzo and Will Iam Wavey.


Photo of the day: A PRIVATE CONVERSATION WITH SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, 135 W. 31st Street,  New York, NY 10001. 212-736-8500

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, 135 W. 31st Street, New York, NY 10001. 212-736-8500

Photo of the day: A PRIVATE CONVERSATION WITH SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI – I was passing by  the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street when I came across this man who found solace in the early morning court yard of the church. He kept looking up at the cross of the church and was having a casual conversation with Saint Francis. It’s good to know people in high places  🙂 .
The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi
built 1892 feeding the poor ever since, renovated 1961
135 W. 31st Street
New York, NY 10001
212-736-8500

Photo of the day: SANTA AND A TWIST on ‘THE NIGHT BEFORE/after CHRISTMAS’

"Twas the day after Christmas..."

“Twas the day after Christmas…”

Photo of the day: WHAT DOES SANTA DO AFTER CHRISTMAS CELEBRATE ! !  – Here is my ‘poetic’ twist on Clement Moore’s classic poem as I encounter drunk Santa after Christmas in front of Macy*s . . .
. . . And then, in a twinkling, I heard something uncouth
The prancing and pawing of Santa whose had too much vermouth.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down 34th Street St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fake fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with cigarette ashes and street soot;
A giant stuffed fish he had flung on over his back,
And he looked like a street peddler just opening his pig pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! His eyes, how blurry!
His cheeks and nose were like roses, he surely was in no hurry.
His drawl from his mouth was Southern – a bit slow,
And the beard on his chin with gray as the street snow;
The stump of a ____ pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a crazed face and a little round pot belly
That shook when he ranted, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was happy and drunk, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and his twisted head,
Soon gave me to know he was out of his head;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
To fill his own stockings from tourists that looked like a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up ‘snow’ did rose;
Then he sprang into his dance, and the crowd did whistle,
And their cameras clicked until the arrival of a policeman’s dismissal
But I heard him exclaim, ere he stumbled out of sight—
Happy returns to all, if you kept your receipt – you done right!
(with my apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

MY OLD FASHIONED GERMAN CANDLE LIT CHRISTMAS TREE 2013

Von Rittern traditional German candle lit Christmas tree

Von Rittern traditional German candle lit Christmas tree

MY OLD FASHIONED GERMAN CHRISTMAS TREE 2013: Yes – those are real candles. We celebrate with no flashing lights or loud music, our ‘church’ is the tree. The tree is decorated with ornaments dating back several generations, about ninety years. Modern ones are included of course, that way the tree is a living story of the family’s history. The favorite ornaments are hung so that they will catch the candlelight and the whole tree tells a story of the family’s history. Mementos from trips abroad, favorite childhood ornaments, all that tell our likes, hobbies and loves.  Tin foil wrapped  chocolates and marzipan fill the tree as well. We usually get the biggest tree that will fit in the apartment (we once had a 14 foot tall tree) but now that mom is downsizing, we get a smaller tree and it is placed on a turn of the century old wooden steamer trunk that was used when my great aunt came to visit us in the New York and it is used as a table base to place the tree upon.
Depending on the size of the tree, anywhere from two to four dozen candles are placed in strategic spots in the tree. Each candle illuminates the special ornaments nearby. The candleholders are metal clip-ons in the shape of a pine cone. You can still buy the candles and holders at Schaller and Weber’s, a surviving German delicatessen just off 86th Street on Second Avenue in what was once an entire German neighborhood.
December 24 Christmas eve, we have our traditional Christmas goose dinner with  roasted apples (this year we had duck), home made dumplings, white asparagus, red cabbage, string beans with topping and lots of gravy.
Christmas dinner

Christmas dinner

After dinner, the elder of the family lights the candles in the room and on the Christmas tree and puts the ‘Christmas record’ on the phonograph. The record is of German church bells and church choirs singing. When all is ready, a golden bell is rung and the rest of the family comes into the glow of the room. We stand quietly side by side, arm in am or holding hands and quietly listen to the beautiful music we have listened to for decades before. That is ‘church’ to us. As the first side of the record ends, we play the other side, sit down and just quietly gaze into the serene candlelight, watching the ornaments glisten. No electric lights are on in the room, just the glow of candlelight, just as it is in Germany, France, and all of Scandinavia. Let your imagination go back to the late 1800′s enjoying a room just simply lit by candlelight.
The second side of the record ends with a jolly children’s song “Der Weihnachtsman ist da!/Santa Claus is here!”, signifying it is time to open presents by the amber glow. We grab some of the marzipan, gingerbread and chocolates that are on the dining table for all to enjoy as we open our treasures. At midnight a bottle of champagne is opened to ring in Christmas day and we all have a helping of mom’s strong rum pot preserves! 
Rum pot preserves with vanilla ice cream

Rum pot preserves with vanilla ice cream

At one time it was my whole family enjoying this tradition, now it is just my mother and me left to carry on, and one day it will just be me, but I will always do it, perhaps with a heavy heart. But this is Christmas, a German Christmas, my heritage. My great grandmother’s, grandparent’s, mother’s and my heritage. Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Photo of the day: BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS

BELIEVE 2013

Photo of the day: BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS – Believe in flying reindeer, believe in wishes coming true, believe that a sleigh can fly, believe that there is a wondrous place at the North Pole (not a factory in China), believe that Santa can deliver toys to all the boys and girls in one magical night, believe that he knows if you’ve been good or bad, believe that all things are possible, believe in love, believe in miracles and above all, believe in yourself.
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE !
Foto des Tages: GLAUBEN SIE AN DIE MAGIE VON WEIHNACHTEN – Glauben an fliegende Renntiere, glauben an sich erfüllende Wünsche, glauben, dass ein Schlitten fliegen kann, glauben, dass es einen erstaunlichen Platz am Nordpol (nicht eine Fabrik in China) gibt, glauben, dass der Weihnachtsman Spielsachen an alle Jungen und Mädchen in einer magischer Nacht liefern kann, glauben, dass er weiß ob Sie artig oder bös gewesen sind, glauben Sie, dass alle Dinge möglich sind, glauben an der Liebe, an Wunder und vor allem glauben, an sich selbst glauben. FRÖHLICHES WEIHNACHTEN ALLE!

Photo of the day: THERE ARE ANGELS IN NEW YORK

THERE ARE ANGELS IN NEW YORK

Photo of the day: THERE ARE ANGELS IN NEW YORK – You just have to know where to look for them, they are everywhere. Keep your heart and mind open and they will appear.
Can you figure out how I created this illusion with my camera?
(I was actually photographing a flying angel in Macy’s store Xmas window but the building across the street photographed stronger therefore making the angel appear – angelic. )