I’m not much of a gambler, but I’ll try my luck at the slots when it’s convenient. More and more casinos are popping up everywhere so it’s more and more convenient. I better watch myself. I don’t mind losing money to Native Americans, though. I’ve got a tiny amount of Choctaw heritage on my mother’s side and am proud of every bit. I admire the casino operators’ enterprise. It means jobs for tribe members and other opportunities. I’ve been to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, which is lavishly decorated in Native American motifs. It occupies a mall-like structure at the base of a 34-story glass skyscraper in the middle of the woods and is stunning in every way. I’ve also been to the tiny-by-comparison casino the Kickapoos operate in the suburbs of Oklahoma City. It’s in an air-inflated dome with decor that’s just a step up from a fast-food restaurant. The night I visited the big TVs in the restaurant area were showing the Oklahoma Thunder pounding their way toward a national championship. The beer bottles were clinking and the burgers were tasty. And I even won a jackpot on one of the low-bets slots that predominate in the little casino. I thought a photographer with artistic pretensions winning 24 bucks on a slot machine with a Rembrandt design and a made-in-Australia plate affixed to its side was worth being memorialized with a photo. I also took some a shot of a nearby line of slots decorated with the “Sopranos” logo and violent imagery; had to bring that home to Jersey, capiche? ┬áThat was before a nice woman casino worker tipped me that it’s against some law to photograph anything inside a casino. Later, I worried I might have busted someone’s copyright by photographing the machine’s vivid graphics. I learned in a search that Rembrandt’s Riches is one of the most popular slot machine games in the world. They’re apparently everywhere. You can even play, for free, on your PC. I printed my souvenir photo on metal and it was part of the “Lucky” show in the spring of 2013 at the Trolley Car Bar & Grill in the Riverview Arts District here in Jersey City.

600 Rembrandt for SMYF site

Champagne for Three

Something traditional but different in a winter holiday image — that was what I was after here. Good cheer and hospitality, but no holly or Santa or snowmen. No red, no green. How about black and white? How about a picture that wouldn’t seem out of date on Dec. 26? Something decorative that would have some appeal until at least early February, when Valentine’s Day gets us thinking of glittering red hearts? So I put together and shot this still life in my studio, uploaded it to a faraway printer to have holiday cards made, and showed it later in the winter, printed on metal, in the “Shine” show at the Trolley Car Bar & Grill, one of the landmarks in Jersey City’s new Riverview Arts District.

600 Champagne for Three for SMYF site

Jersey City thrives on diversity

Jersey City has a large and growing Egyptian community, established over the past several decades. About half are Muslim, the balance are Coptic Christians. A festival is held every year, usually on the plaza at the Journal Square Transportation Center. This dancer was whirling slowly to music, his costume constructed with wire or some other support to maintain the flare. I find interest in the many clothing styles visible in this photo, the expressions on the onlookers’ faces. I didn’t want to be considered a gawker, so I didn’t linger. But I got the shot. “The World Comes to Jersey City to Live Together” was featured in the “City of Life” show in April 2013 at The Distillery Gallery & Art Space in Jersey City Heights.

600 Egypt Fest for SMYF site

Showed his face in my backyard

They’re kind of funny looking, but a praying mantis will eat just about any bug in your garden. So I was glad when this one dropped in and posed on a rose.

600 Mantis for SMYF site

November Sunset

I’ve always loved the Statue of Liberty. It was not yet in New York Harbor when my father’s family immigrated from England, arriving in Marblehead, Mass., in 1801 in time for the birth of ┬áhis great-great-grandfather, but the statue welcomed my father when he and several thousand other troops sailed home from England on the Queen Elizabeth after World War II. I have lived within easy sight of it for more than 40 years now, and a glimpse still gives me a thrill. My father saw it up close from Liberty State Park when he visited Jersey City in the 1980s. I still have the tiny replica he bought as a souvenir. When the statue’s centennial was celebrated in grand style on July 4, 1986, we were watching the fireworks on a television in a motel in southeastern South Dakota. We and the rest of his surviving family were visiting his tiny hometown and birthplace, which was having its own centennial celebration.

This photo was taken in November 2013. The western sky was exceptionally clear that early evening and the light seemed to go on and on. As I moved around Battery Park, at the tip end of Manhattan, the last of the day’s tourists were coming off the ferries that had taken them out to Liberty Island. Areas in the park were still fenced off and restoration was ongoing more than a year after Superstorm Sandy damaged so much. Some of the enormous office buildings nearby were still being powered by noisy generators parked in the streets. The long sunset allowed me to shoot the statue from several vantage points, and of the 14 frames that I’ve saved from the shoot I like this one best. It was taken as I left the park, stopping every 20 feet or so to turn back and take another shot. I had it printed on canvas, 36 inches wide, and in March it was featured in BROAD VIEWS: Landscape Photography in 2014 at 58 Gallery in Jersey City. “November Sunset” will be presented to the New York Civil Liberties Union later this year for permanent display in its offices, where our liberties are claimed, defended and fought for every day our nation’s courts are in session.

600 Statue for SMYF site

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