Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

A New York Streetscape via iPhone

I’ve blogged about artist Jorge Colombo in the past. He’s got a wonderful eye for the dynamism that is New York and uses his iPhone to sketch fast, evocative images of the city.

In this new video entitled “Traffic Light,” check out Colombo’s process as he sketches a typical streetscape at night. Small things–like the choice of painting in purple and blue hues first–intrigue the non-visual artist in me.

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Filed under: art, technology, , , , , , , ,

A Photograph, a Poem, an Essay to New York

I. A Photograph

If you had to choose four images to capture New York, what would they be? Photojournalist Hiroyuki Ito presents variations on this theme in his new exhibition, “Transfer of Guilt.” The idea for his series of four images, each arranged without context in a grid, came from a surprising place:

The idea of making grids came from visiting a video booth in Times Square, where the viewer watches four porn movies simultaneously on a split screen…Looking at four sad human dramas unfolding in front of my eyes was at least intellectually stimulating. Upon closer inspection, the random movies started to create rhythm of their own both visually and emotionally, as if John Cage was at work behind the screen.

II. A Poem

Actually, only a section of a poem. Part Six of Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry“:

I too lived—Brooklyn, of ample hills, was mine; 60
I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the waters around it;
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,
In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night, or as I lay in my bed, they came upon me.
I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution; 65
I too had receiv’d identity by my Body;
That I was, I knew was of my body—and what I should be, I knew I should be of my body.

III. An Essay

Finally, from a wholly engrossing, unsentimental, thoughtful collection of essays I read this weekend by Eula Biss, entitled Notes from No Man’s Land, an essay about leaving New York:

I often woke before dawn and could not fall back to sleep. I lay there listening to car alarms cycle through all their different sounds while my heart raced for no reason. It is hard for me to separate my experience of living in New York from the sensation of reaching the limits of my own independence. I was excruciatingly lonely, and everything was unfamiliar and diffficult. But, in a way, I was living my dream.

Biss’ refusal to admire the New York in everyone else’s imagination is in contrast to Joan Didion’s essay of the same title, “Goodbye to All That.” Biss cringes from the sentimental Manhattan of the “I Heart NY” crowd. Instead, she writes about the small moments of defeat, like her run-in (literally) with a pedestrian on a street corner in Chinatown. Or the negotiation of so many young people who come to the city (myself included), trying to negotiate independence and solitude.

Filed under: new york, , , , , , , ,

Stonewall for Beginners

There’s a Tagalog proverb that goes, “Kung hindi mo alam kung saan ka nanggaling, hindi mo alam kung saan ka makakarating.”

Translation?

“If you do not know where you come from, you do not know where you’re going.”

The first time I heard this, I thought, “What a ridiculous saying.” But the more I considered it, the more I realized the wisdom. Know your roots, the saying seems to imply. Remember that knowledge is power.

I learned of the incredible, spontaneous–viscerally and physically defiant–Stonewall riots nearly two decades ago, after I first came out. The coming out process is, of course, for many of us such an arduous, painful process that the history of all those who came before us is clouded by self-interest. How can a collective movement matter much when you’re struggling to your individual identity?

Once the door is opened, however, it’s important to recognize the past. That’s the best part of the Filipino proverb: How can you move forward, if you never look back?

The Stonewall Riots–and its defiant men and women–initiated a revolution. Pre-1969, homosexuality was illegal; the American Psychiatry Association categorized homosexuality as a mental disorder. The list of social injustices burdening lesbians and gay men were endless.

I’m excited to support the new documentary “Stonewall Uprising.” It contains black-and-white historical footage and interviews with the now-senior citizens who defied police, social scientists, and the political establishment; as one participant says, “It was the Rosa Parks moment.”

Filed under: gay rights, history, , , , , , ,

Naked in New York

The post-April Fool’s Day pranks continue. My friend Scott passed along this outrageous prank by Improv Everywhere in the NYC subway. Pants-off, panties-off, everything out in public. The shocked faces by fellow subway riders are classic.

My favorite part: the electronica by Tyler Walker. Just as fabulous as the actual prank.

Filed under: humor, new york, , , , , , , ,

Why was that cab ride so damn expensive?

Ever feel like that was a really, really expensive cab ride you just took?

The NYT reports on a troubling trend in cab rides in New York City. On average, passengers were charged an extra $4 to $5 for trips around the city. I, for one, remember when you could get across town for five bucks flat. So the report from the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission justified my concerns.

This was not a grand scheme affecting the entire system, however (the Times‘ headline chooses “gouged,” which has a more pejorative connotation than a factual one). The overcharges were tallied on about 2 million (out of 360 million) trips in the period studied. Taken as a whole, the charges affected less than 1% of all cab rides. Still, the 8.3 million overcharged to New Yorkers and visitors is nothing to scoff at.

Filed under: transportation, , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
August 2019
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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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