The Animals Who Captivated a Legendary Downtown Photographer
Before the photographer Peter Hujar became a famously irascible, and famously loved, fixture of bohemian New York, he was, for a time, a farm boy. Born to an alcoholic mother in Trenton, New Jersey, he was put in the care of his grandparents, who raised him, in the semi-rural Ewing Township, until he was eleven. It was on his grandparents’ farm that he developed a deep love for animals, who were among his first, and most enduring, photographic subjects.
Hujar’s pictures of animals are a lesser-known element of his richly varied oeuvre, which is just now getting its full due, partly thanks to a travelling retrospective organized by the curator Joel Smith, of the Morgan Library. (Peter Schjeldahl reviewed the show in this week’s magazine.) Stacked up against his deeply felt, often sexually charged portraits of bohemian East Village habitués—exuberant drag queens, brooding writers, rough-edged artists, pose-striking dancers, and anonymous hustlers—his subjects in the animal kingdom seem, even at their most well-groomed, somewhat glamour-deficient. But the best of these pictures have an undeniable power.
“He’s the best photographer of animals I’ve ever met,” Hujar’s friend Nan Goldin, the legendary photographic chronicler of dissolute downtown life, said during a discussion of Hujar’s work held at San Francisco’s Fraenkel Gallery, in 2014. He photographs “a particular dog,” she added, “not just the species.” Indeed, it is a sense that Hujar understood the individuality of each of his subjects—animal as well as human—that separates him from his closest contemporaries, Diane Arbus and Robert Mapplethorpe, with whom he was compared during his lifetime (much to his irritation). Both of those other photographers shared Hujar’s fascination with figures on the margins of society. But, while Arbus used her subjects as stand-ins for her own devouring sense of alienation, and Mapplethorpe attempted to vault his subjects into platonic realms of the beautiful, Hujar used his camera to connect, elevating his subjects by allowing them to be truly seen.
But what does it mean to be truly seen when you’re, say, a goose waddling its way through a muddy field? Or a rabbit cowering underneath a car tire? Or a scruffy dog lying tentatively on a patch of hard, pebbled earth? When looking at pictures of animals, it is easy to lapse into anthropomorphism, just as it is tempting to reduce them to single human traits (the silly goose, the frightened rabbit, the dogged dog). But Hujar manages to navigate us around these obstacles, and steer us toward the ultimate mystery of animal presence, that of being confronted with a consciousness that, as far as we can ascertain, is fundamentally different in character from our own, but that nevertheless evinces our empathy and our curiosity. “The animal has secrets which, unlike the secrets of caves, mountains, seas, are specifically addressed to man,” the art critic John Berger wrote in his illuminating essay “Why Look at Animals?” These are secrets that their stewards will never fully disgorge. But when I look at my favorite of Hujar’s animal photographs, the tonally lush image of the aforementioned rabbit, with its ears pricked at attention and its dark eyes open wide, I sense his presence behind the camera, trying to catch a glimpse of something beyond his knowing, if only for the fleeting moment of the camera shutter’s click.
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February 3, 2018 at 09:37PM
Lake Tahoe Resorts Turn to Solar Energy in Self-Preservation Move
Skiiers will see changes to Lake Tahoe resorts as they commit to producing as much renewable energy as the total energy they consume. Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press
— Sean O’Neill
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February 3, 2018 at 09:31PM
Culture Calendar: 5 Events Worth Traveling for in February
Sapporo Snow Festival (February 1 – 12)
In 1950, a group of Japanese high school students built six snow sculptures during the winter in a local park. Since then the annual Sapporo Snow Festival has grown into one of the country’s biggest winter events, featuring more than 200 ice and snow sculptures spread over three sites (including the original park). Around 2 million people come to view the impressive constructions, which can reach the size of small buildings; some of the larger ones this year include a half-scale replica of Sweden’s Stockholm Cathedral and a 135-foot wide, 55-foot tall reproduction of Japan’s Yakushi-ji Temple. Other attractions include skating rinks, snow tubing, a mini-golf course made of snow and an ice bar.
Henri Michaux: The Other Side (February 2 – May 13)
Artist and poet Henri Michaux is best known for the strange and sometimes frightening work he produced under the influence of psychedelic drugs. Yet he experimented with hallucinogens for just ten years, a relatively minor portion of his prolific six-decade career that drew admiration from the likes of Francis Bacon and Allen Ginsberg. For “Henri Michaux: The Other Side,” Spain’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has gathered more than 200 career-spanning artworks — many of which have never been shown before. Some are influenced by his travels to distant destinations like Japan and Ecuador, others reflect another kind of trip altogether.
Rio Carnival (February 9 – 17)
Carnival — a period of revelry in the final days before Lent — is celebrated in Catholic countries around the world. But none can compare in size and spectacle to Brazil’s Rio Carnival, which draws more than a million visitors to the city. When people aren’t partying at one of the many costume balls or street parties, they’re focused on the central event of carnival: the parades at the Sambadrome stadium. For several days, samba schools representing various neighborhoods and favelas compete to put on the most eye-popping, over-the-top pageants. Tourists can even take part, although wallflowers need not apply — the performers’ outfits are often as revealing as they are spectacular.
Mardi Gras (February 13)
Louisiana was purchased by the United States in 1803, but citizens of the former French colony retained the tradition of carnival and gave it their own spin. In New Orleans, the masked balls and parades begin in early January, build up to a fever pitch and culminate during Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday. In the week leading up to the holiday there are daily parades featuring marching bands, elaborate costumes and even Hollywood celebrities; people line the streets to drink, dance and catch beads and trinkets thrown from the floats. Don’t plan to get much sleep: it’s the biggest celebration of the year in a city famous for its love of a good time.
Chinese New Year (February 16 – March 2)
Pretty much all of China goes on vacation during the two-week Spring Festival that begins with Chinese New Year. It’s a time when extended families reunite to eat (and eat and eat) and exchange red envelopes stuffed with cash, collectively creating the world’s largest annual movement of people. If you’re willing to brave the peak travel season, you’ll be rewarded with a smorgasbord of cultural festivities around the country. Some of the most popular events include the Ditan Temple Fair in Beijing, Hong Kong’s fireworks display over Victoria Harbor, and Nuanquan Town’s unusual tradition of throwing molten metal against a wall to create a dazzling shower of sparks.
Featured image of fireworks over Victoria Harbor during Lunar New Year celebrations in Hong Kong. (Photo by DALE DE LA REY/AFP/Getty Images)
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February 3, 2018 at 09:13PM
Gear Review: Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Starter Set
Are you a roller or a stuffer? The art of packing for a trip really is an art. Some people abide by the rolling trick, tightly winding shirts and jeans into little hot dogs and carefully sandwiching them in their bags. Others wing it by stuffing in whatever they can — a far less methodical though still effective approach. Then there are still others who swear by sectioning off their clothes into cubes. Workout clothes in one cube. Sweaters in another. Shoes over there.
I’ve been a roller for a few years — it’s easy to pack for a weeklong trip in a carryon this way — but cubes have always eluded me. Until now. I recently took the new Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Tech Starter Set, launched in July, on a trip from New York to Los Angeles. Here’s how it went.
The set has three parts: one small bag, one medium bag and one medium structured cube. They’re made of a semi-transparent water- and stain-repellant ripstop nylon with “two-way self-repairing zippers with climbing rope pulls.” They definitely don’t feel dainty. The structured cube has a stiff folding board inside to keep your crisply folded shirts, well, crisp.
The dimensions for the small pack are 6.75 x 9.75 x 3.25 inches; the medium is 10 x 13.5 x 3.25 inches and the structured medium is 10 x 13.5 x 1.25 inches. They’re all light as a feather —seriously. The small weighs in at 1.3 ounce; medium is 1.8 ounce and the structured medium 8.2 ounces.
Simple, sleek and utilitarian, they’re not going to win any style points at New York Fashion Week, but to hold your balled up underwear and socks? The gender-neutral bags totally work and are totally functional. I do wish they were slightly more transparent. I kept unzipping each bag to see what was inside; not a problem if you completely unpack when you arrive at your destination, but if you’re moving around to new cities, it might be time-consuming or annoying to rummage for what you need.
The Road Test
Fair warning: You might derive an odd sense of satisfaction when you open up your suitcase and see all your possessions so neatly arranged. I did. Instead of stuff bursting the second I unzipped my bag, I felt like I tamed travel — or at least the annoying packing part. My suitcase felt way more organized, so I felt more organized. Plus, parceling out my clothes (running gear in one, shirts and sweaters in another, and underwear/socks in the third) made me see how much space I was wasting by adding “just one more” item. These cubes made me realize I should try to pack even lighter.
Eagle Creek provides a lifetime warranty on all products, including repair or replacement if the product fails. (They boast that their return rate is less than 1%.) They also pride themselves on being an environmentally conscious company concerned about reducing their ecological footprint. The nylon shell is a bluesign-approved fabric, which means natural resources were used responsibly to improve water and air emissions. The Starter Set is $54 (less than $18 per cube), but is on sale now for $43.
If you’re a stuffer, you might become a roller. If you’re a roller, you might become a cuber. I never quite understood the appeal of divvying your clothes into cubes, but they really do save space — and some of the time you spend rooting around for that lost sock. They’re strangely calming and make you feel in control of your trip. Even if your itinerary isn’t the most organized thing in the world, your gear can be.
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February 3, 2018 at 08:12PM
Saudi Arabia Announces Plans to Become a Global Arts Hub
Plans are underway to build an art institute in Saudi Arabia. Pictured is some of the Riyadh skyline. Bloomberg
— Sarah Enelow
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February 3, 2018 at 08:06PM
UK Probes Airlines Over Advance-Seat Selection Fees
Andrew Haines, chief executive officer of the CAA. Bloomberg
— Dennis Schaal
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February 3, 2018 at 07:24PM
Are Delivery Apps Killing Restaurants?
When Michelle Gauthier opened Mulberry & Vine, in 2013, so-called
fine-casual restaurant chains like Sweetgreen and Dig Inn had not yet
blanketed New York City in grain bowls and kale-Caesar salads. Gauthier,
who lives in Tribeca, wished that there were somewhere other than the
salad bar at Whole Foods Market to go to for a quick, healthy meal. She
opened Mulberry & Vine’s first location in her neighborhood, followed by
two additional branches farther uptown. On a recent day in January, the
Tribeca outpost was crowded with young women, and a few men, drinking
coconut-infused waters and eating bowls of organic romaine lettuce
topped with items like turmeric-lemon cauliflower, charred avocado, and
roasted salmon. Brown-paper bags sat in rows next to the cash register,
awaiting couriers for delivery. Mulberry & Vine meals are ubiquitous
inside the corridors of Goldman Sachs, located a few blocks away; its
entrées have appeared on lists of popular orders from Uber Eats, the
food-delivery wing of the ride-hailing giant. When the restaurant first
opened, it didn’t offer delivery at all. Now delivery orders account for
around thirty per cent of its sales.
To an outside observer, Mulberry & Vine looks like a
twenty-first-century restaurant success story. In recent years, online
platforms like Uber Eats, Seamless, and GrubHub (which merged with
Seamless, in 2013) have turned delivery from a small segment of the
restaurant industry, dominated by pizza, to a booming new source of
sales for food establishments of all stripes. When the average consumer
logs in to the Caviar app to order a Mulberry & Vine salad for the
office or a grain bowl on the way home from work, she might reasonably
assume that her order is benefitting the restaurant’s bottom line. But
Gauthier, like many other restaurant owners I’ve spoken to in recent
months, paints a more complicated picture. “We know for a fact that as
delivery increases, our profitability decreases,” she said. For each
order that Mulberry & Vine sends out, between twenty and forty per cent
of the revenue goes to third-party platforms and couriers. (Gauthier
initially had her own couriers on staff, but, as delivery volumes grew,
coördinating them became unmanageable.) Calculating an order’s exact
profitability is tricky, Gauthier said, but she estimated that in the
past three years Mulberry & Vine’s over-all profit margin has shrunk by
a third, and that the only obvious contributing factor is the shift
toward delivery. “I think it’s a far bigger problem than a lot of
operators realize,” she told me. “I think we are losing money on
delivery orders, or, best-case scenario, breaking even.”
In 2016, delivery transactions made up about seven per cent of total
U.S. restaurant sales. In a research report published last June,
analysts at Morgan Stanley predicted that that number could eventually
reach forty per cent of all restaurant sales, and an even higher
percentage in urban areas and among casual restaurants, where delivery
is concentrated. Though the cost of doing business through third-party
ordering services is steep, companies like GrubHub maintain that the
revenue they bring restaurants is “incremental”—the cherry on top, so to
speak, of whatever sales the place would have done on its own. They also
argue that delivery orders are a form of marketing, exposing potential
new customers who might convert to lucrative in-restaurant patrons. The
problem is that as consumers use services like Uber Eats and Seamless
for a greater share of their meals, delivery orders are beginning to
replace some restaurants’ core business instead of complementing it. (In
the Morgan Stanley survey, forty-three per cent of meal-delivery patrons
said that the meal replaced one they would have eaten at a restaurant.)
And, as delivery orders replace profitable takeout or sit-down sales
with unprofitable ones—ostensibly giving restaurants business but
effectively taking it away—the “incremental” argument no longer holds.
“It’s total bullshit, and you can quote me on that,” Justin Rosenberg,
the C.E.O. of the Philadelphia-based fast-casual chain Honeygrow, told
me. “I’ve spoken to C.F.O.s of bigger fast-casuals, and they’ve said the
For a sense of why a thirty-per-cent delivery-service charge is so
problematic, consider that in the restaurant world, notorious for its
slim profit margins, an industry-standard budget apportions thirty per
cent of revenue for the cost of ingredients, thirty per cent for the
cost of labor, and the remainder for “everything else”—rent, utilities,
insurance, supplies, credit-card fees, and profit. One way of solving
this equation might be to retool the basic restaurant business model to
better suit the demands of delivery. That’s what the chef David Chang,
of Momofuku, and the venture investor Hooman Radfar attempted to do with
Ando, a fast-casual restaurant that they founded, in 2016, as a
delivery-only experience. The plan sounded simple: a production kitchen
on Fourteenth Street would make sandwiches, salads, and such, and Ando
would sell them exclusively as delivery orders through a proprietary
app; all the costs of running a dine-in restaurant—front-of-house staff,
décor, pricey real estate in a desirable location—would be eliminated.
After a little more than a year, though, Ando scaled back this initial
vision, giving the kitchen a conventional retail façade so that patrons
could also order takeout. Around that time, I spoke to the restaurant’s
C.E.O., Andy Taylor. He said that no matter how much he was able to save
by forgoing a traditional dining room, the cost of delivering food was
too high, in part because he anticipates courier costs increasing as a
result of rising minimum wages and a historically tight labor market. “I
don’t think a pure delivery model can be profitable,” Taylor said. Last
month, Ando ceased operation, and a note on its Web site announced that
its team and technology had been acquired by Uber Eats.
Large chains or venture-backed endeavors like Chang’s Ando can afford to
undertake such experiments. At Sweetgreen, for instance, forty per cent
of orders are now placed for pickup through a proprietary app, and the
company is about to pilot a delivery service. It is small businesses,
which lack the leverage to negotiate third-party fees, or the resources
to adapt their facilities, that are made most vulnerable by delivery’s
growth. A representative for Curry-Ya, a Japanese restaurant in Harlem
that has become one of my favorite spots for delivery, told me that
“sometimes it seems like we’re making food to make Seamless profitable.”
At the same time, she said, “it’s really becoming a bulk part of our
business, so it’s not something we can cut.” Another New York restaurant
owner told me that a colleague described delivery as “like crack
cocaine,” an income stream that his business had become dependent upon
but that might ultimately be running them into the ground. Many of the
restaurant owners I spoke to knew that their percentage of deliveries
was rising along with their costs, but they were unsure of how that was
affecting their profitability. “We kind of think that it all balances
out, but, honestly, we don’t know,” Tom Birchard, the owner of the
popular Ukrainian restaurant Veselka, which has been serving late-night
borscht and pierogi to East Villagers for more than sixty years, told
me. “We don’t have the capacity to really analyze the economics of it
carefully. We’re in the dark.”
It’s worth noting that, even while charging restaurants steep rates,
most delivery platforms are not yet profitable, either. Their hope is
that order volumes will one day become high enough—and couriers will
deliver enough orders per hour—to push them into the black. To that end,
some of them are moving to reshape the restaurant industry from within.
Uber hasn’t revealed its plans for Ando’s team and technology, but
another of the company’s
nudging restaurants to embed “virtual restaurants” inside their
kitchens—picture a burger joint housing, at Uber Eats’s behest, a cookie
company that exists only as a menu on the delivery provider’s site.
DoorDash, an Uber Eats competitor, has started to
leasing remote kitchen space to restaurants so that they can expand
their delivery radii. If such practices catch on, it’s easy to imagine a
segment of the restaurant economy that looks a lot like, well, Uber,
with an army of individual restaurants designed to serve the needs of
middle-man platforms but struggling to make a living themselves.
Michelle Gauthier, of Mulberry & Vine, told me that such a system would,
for one thing, preserve little of what drew her to the restaurant
industry in the first place. “Having a delivery-only business that’s
soulless and lifeless and just about production?” she said. “Personally,
I have no interest in that.”
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February 3, 2018 at 06:48PM
Airbnb’s Management Shakeup and 6 Other Hospitality Trends This Week
Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco. The company’s CFO is leaving with big implications for management. Steve Jurvetson / Flickr
— Sarah Enelow
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February 3, 2018 at 06:34PM
Video Emerges of Drone Flying Dangerously Close to Frontier Flight
A video was posted to YouTube on Thursday exhibiting an exceptionally dangerous move by a drone pilot. The version uploaded to YouTube shows a drone quickly climbing in altitude mere seconds before a Frontier aircraft flies under it:
The YouTube video was posted by a concerned drone pilot after seeing the video originally uploaded to a Facebook group for drone enthusiasts. The original video was posted by an account named James Jayo Older, described on the corresponding Facebook profile as an “Entrepreneur / Drone Racer / Professional Fun Haver” living in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Aviation enthusiasts have determined that this recording was taken in Las Vegas, in the approach to Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport (LAS). It seems the video was shot from over Whitney Mesa Nature Preserve, which is approximately 3.5 miles from the threshold of LAS runways 25L and 25R.
The drone’s actions violate numerous restrictions on unmanned flight. First, the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule (Part 107) restricts unmanned planes from flying more than 400 feet above the ground or roof of a tall structure. The video shows that the drone is clearly much higher than 400 feet. Also, drone operations aren’t allowed within the restricted airspace around an airport.
It also seems clear that the drone pilot was also in violation of the rule that requires unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to “remain close enough to the remote pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls of the small UAS [unmanned aerial system] for those people to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device.”
A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration told GeekWire that “the FAA is aware of the incident and is investigating.”
In a statement on its Facebook page, “Drone U” — a drone pilot training company — blasts the actions of the pilot and calls for legal action to be taken against him:
“Drone U and it’s [sic] members work tirelessly in making our skies safe for all users of the National Airspace System. This pilot’s actions not only endangered the flying public, but has the potential to discredit an entire sUAS industry.
“It is the opinion of Drone U and it’s [sic] members that the pilot receive swift and just punishment for this example of irresponsible and reckless flight. There is no excuse for this type of criminal behavior.”
H/T: ATW Online
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February 3, 2018 at 06:06PM
February 2018 Disneyland Crowd Calendar
Our February 2018 Disneyland preview offers a free crowd calendar for choosing the best days to visit. The good news is that February will see low crowd levels for much of the month. The bad news is that there is currently a sea of construction walls at Disney California Adventure and Disneyland. The first point […]
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February 3, 2018 at 05:51PM