Jack Boucher, Historic American Buildings Survey Photographer

I found these extraordinarily beautiful photographs of some of the remaining 19th century buildings on Roosevelt Island and I wondered who took them. Turns out it was a man named Jack Boucher, who died in 2012. Once again I feel like I just missed meeting a great person. I could have met him, he was alive for my entire life. If only I’d discovered these photographs earlier. (There are close to 20,000 of them on the Library of Congress website.)

From his obituary: “My whole philosophy is, I regard the building I’m doing as the most important one in my life,” he once told the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., “even if it’s a single-seat log outhouse.”

It’s always amazing to me how you could take a bunch of photographers and send them to the exact same site, and even have them shoot from the same angle, and all the pictures might be perfectly fine, even gorgeous, but one person will somehow manage to come back with something transcendent. That’s Jack Boucher.

This is his picture of The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, which he took in 1970. The Chapel was built in 1888 for the inmates of the Almshouse and it makes a brief, and what I hope is poignant appearance in my book about Blackwell’s Island (now called Roosevelt Island)

Chapel of the Good Shepherd, Roosevelt Island, 1970

Yesterday Was No Fun for Me

I was just about to leave to take my customary holiday walk down 5th Avenue to take pictures of all the decorations when I stubbed my toe on a chair. It hurt like hell, but I expected the pain to subside in a minute. When it started getting worse and worse and worse I took a closer look. It was bad. Almost scary to look at.

I googled “dislocated toe,” called ahead to the sorta ER that is now across the street from the former St. Vincent’s hospital to see if they took my insurance, and then headed over, crying the whole way. It was just my little toe, but this tiny tiny tiny injury hurt just this short of being more than I could bear. It was insane how much it hurt. I couldn’t stop crying.

Then they had to do that thing you see in the movies and on tv, where they yank the bone back into place. It didn’t work the first time so they had to try again. I knew what was coming, and they had to find a very strong young man to hold me down for the second try.

It will hurt less and less as time goes on, I was told, and would take over a month to heal. I was also told it was safe to walk on it, it would just hurt to do so. Maybe in a couple of days, when it hurts a little less, I’ll try again to get some pictures.

When you have three cats there’s always an ongoing battle for space on your lap. I’ve captured Bleecker deciding Bodhi has had quite enough time on my lap and it’s his turn now.

Matt Taibbi Update

I updated my original post, but I wanted to make sure this revelation wasn’t missed. A few days ago I posted in response to a what seemed like a very damning Washington Post article about Matt Taibbi. But I just read an article in Paste Magazine which provides another side to the story.

It looks like I can go right on admiring him. The Washington Post has some explaining to do. God, I can’t fact check every story I read, and apparently I wrongly trust papers like the Washington Post to do that for me.

A while back I used to regularly post pictures of clothes I saw in store windows that I can’t afford. I called the series A Dress I Can’t Possess. Here is one I saw recently.

The Beginning of the end of high heels?

I loved this article in the Times about high heels. I stopped wearing heels decades ago, after falling in them repeatedly and tearing the ligaments in my foot.

I also hated not being able to run if needed, which the article brings up. I always felt hobbled, and not ready for action. There’s a bound-foot aspect to them, and the women who wear them look imprisoned, like they are in a state of bondage. And I can tell you, when I finally said enough is enough to them, it was enormously freeing.

But change is slow, so even if this signals the beginning of the end for them, it will take a long time, and I’m sure they won’t go away completely.

Bodhi, my little rat-faced (or bat-faced) kitten, on my lap. Bodhi and Bali are right this minute in the bedroom behind closed doors. I wanted to give Bleecker a break, and some time with me all to himself. The kittens monopolize me and my lap otherwise.