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

Archive for January 7, 2014

Photo of the night: “THE MIDNIGHT SUN” Freezing nightmares care of ‘The Twilight Zone’

Twilight Zone "The Midnight Sun" painting

Twilight Zone “The Midnight Sun” painting

Photo of the night: DREAMS OF A “MIDNIGHT SUN”, Twilight Zone episode

Original air date: November 17, 1961. Starring Lois Nettleton and Betty Garde.

As the United States is experiencing an unusual ‘Artic Vortex’, the Twilight Zone TV series has thought of this already – sweet warm dreams?

The Earth has begun moving away from its usual orbit and is gradually rotating towards the sun. A prolific artist, Norma, and her landlady, Mrs. Bronson, are the last people in their apartment building. Everyone else has either moved north where it is cooler or perished from the extremely high temperatures. Norma and Mrs. Bronson try to keep each other company as they see life as they know it erode. They watch in terror as their water supply is turned on for merely an hour a day and their electricity is considerably reduced. Food and water are scarce. As mentioned by a radio reporter, all citizens are to remain indoors and be prepared for a looter rampage. The radio reporter also states that you can “fry eggs on your sidewalk and heat up soup in the oceans”.

As the temperature grows hotter the two women increasingly perspire. Mrs. Bronson’s mind cannot manage the psychological pressures any longer and she beseeches Norma to paint a picture other than hot topics such as a burning city, screaming deliriously, “Don’t paint the sun anymore!”. Footsteps are heard from outside the apartment door. Norma asks her landlady if she locked the doors of the apartment complex. Mrs. Bronson is uncertain if she did. They hear a knock on the door, and Mrs. Bronson starts to answer it as Norma screams for her to not open the door under any circumstances. Norma threatens the mysterious man with a gun and after a few seconds he says he will leave. Unfortunately, despite Norma’s warning to the contrary, Mrs. Bronson opens the door and the stranger forces his way into the apartment and drinks their supply of water. After several moments, he begs for their forgiveness and claims that he is an honest man and would never hurt them, and that he was driven to looting due to the heat. He goes on to describe the recent death of his wife due to complications of childbirth, as well of the death of their newborn child.

Feeling that her latest painting might cheer her friend, Norma displays a beautiful oil of a waterfall cascading over a lush pond, implied to be that of Taughannock Falls near Ithaca, New York (specifically inUlysses). Mrs. Bronson, unable to cope with the unbearable conditions of the raging sun, deliriously claims that she can feel the coolness and delightfully splashes in the imaginary water before she collapses to the floor and dies. The thermometer surges past 120 °F (49 °C), and eventually shatters. As her oil paintings melt, Norma screams and also collapses.

Lois Nettleton's nightmare -  burning/freezing to death...

Lois Nettleton’s nightmare – burning/freezing to death…

The scene cuts to the apartment at night with snow outside the window. The same thermometer reads −10 °F (−23 °C). Norma is bedridden with a high fever and is accompanied by Mrs. Bronson and a doctor. She was only dreaming that the Earth was moving closer to the sun. In reality, the Earth is moving away from the sun and will eventually freeze. Norma tells Mrs. Bronson about her nightmare, adding, “Isn’t it wonderful to have darkness, and coolness?” Mrs. Bronson replies with a sense of dread in her voice, “Yes, my dear, it’s… wonderful.”


Photo of the day: THE ‘BITTER’ COLD

February 11, 2011 homeless man left to freeze to death under mayor Bloomberg's watch

February 11, 2011 homeless man left to freeze to death under mayor Bloomberg’s watch

Photo of the day: THE ‘BITTER’ COLD – This is a re-post of a story I wrote on February 11, 2011 and again on November 30, 2012. Today when it was 3°F (-16°C) this morning with windchills at -15°F (-26°C!), let’s hope this story does not repeat itself yet again. Previous mayor Bloomberg said we have no homeless problem in NYC, meanwhile emperor Bloomberg failed to acknowledge homelessness increased by 65% under his heartless watch! Let’s hope with our new mayor Bill DeBlasio, there will be a more humane approach to the fragile lives of this city, he is already proving to be more humane during this frigid ‘artic vortex’ and creating easier access/entry to all who seek shelter, god bless.
Nov. 30, 2012: “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.”