(Eulogy written in response to finding out about the loss of Triangle Optical's sign via Bowery Boogie)
It is with a heavy heart I bid farewell one of my old friends. This friend of mine got me interested in photography all the way back in 2003. This friend and I, we lived on oppsite coasts. This friend of mine, he and I never spoke a word. If he could, we never would have had to say anything, anyway. I say goodbye to the old Triangle Optical sign on Delancey Street in New York's Lower East Side. Over the years, we watch stores come and go, but most slip in and out with little more than an "oh." Sometimes our old favorite haunts disappear and we grieve over them as if they were old friends.
I had never set foot in Triangle Optical. I gleaned its name only after I returned to California, finding it out on a map of Delancey Street. Yet those big black glasses entranced me. The first photo I took of it came out of a surreal moment. I happened to look to my right after crossing the street. No people stood in my way, instead clustering at a far end of the sidewalk. The Williamsburg Bridge loomed up in the background. Most striking of all was the giant "OPTICAL" sign. Within the span of a few seconds, I had taken the picture. My actions were almost mechanical. The setting clicked somewhere in my brain, unlocked something that had lain dormant. My arm moved up to take the shot, and then I moved on.
That entrancing sign called to me like the eyes of Dr T.J. Eckleburg. The years passed, and I always came back to the sign. My yearly pilgrimage always involved a trip to Economy Candy afterwards to pick up a tin of anise-and-coffee pastiles. The little candies would rattle around the tin as I took the subway back to Manhattan. The taste of coffee and black liquorice would be so divine as I strutted through lower Manhattan on my way to the Mysterious Bookshop.
Those glasses followed me around. I made a t-shirt with the picture. I framed a glossy 11x14 print. I made a contact print in photography my freshman year. Yes, I loved those glasses. They held sway over me the same way Fitzgerald’s prose did. Simple elegance, straight to the point but not lacking emotion. Those glasses were just as direct, advertising the wares in the most straightforward way possible.
The looming spectacles last looked up and down Delancey Street in early September 2009. I had to find out about the death through the internet, further reminding me how long it's been since I'd paid them a visit. On a whim, I decided to search for Triangle Optical, just to see if anything had changed. One of the first few results punched the air out of my stomach as if I’d read a dear friend’s obituary online long after the fact. The photos of the naked storefront reminded me of watching the slow demise of the old El Cerrito Plaza as one by one, my old haunts disappeared. The remnants of the "OPTICAL" sign lie twisted inside the empty building that once housed Triangle Optical, far from the proper memorial they deserve. The yellow metal is bent and sheared, and as if it was some sophomoric joke, “ASS” is spelled out with the remnants of “GLASSES.”
How can I say goodbye to the place that inspired me to get into photography? Perhaps this is a lesson for me to get moving and capture the signs of the world before they all disappear.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Well, so much for keeping this thing updated. But really, I do have good reason. This summer was a summer of introspection. It was my second summer without a job. I'd lost my clerical worker job I'd held from 2004-2007, but this summer, I really wanted to make something of it. Last summer, I spent my time around the house, watching Spongebob and Miami Vice, lamenting over my loss of income (however small). The summer of 2009 brought about great change. Graduation day, I walked down the aisle in a secondhand vintage Gianni Versace Couture dress (a mere $21.64 at Thrift Town, courtesy of the half-off color tag sales), knowing I was destined for something great. No more Marin County, no more commuting across the Richmond Bridge, no more 6:30 AM wakeups and 6:45 AM car-engine revvings.
I started my summer by cleaning out my closet. From the mountain of clothes that no longer fit or were my style, I gained a massive amount of trade credit. In my eternal quest to clean, I tried to find the surface of my desk again. This venture was far less successful than any other cleaning project I took on.
I spent time with friends, heading to Santa Cruz and San Francisco. I let loose for the first time in a while, joining in with the almost-near-virgin Long Island Iced tea as we played Little Big Planet and Super Mario Kart. One Saturday evening, the same group of friends asked me if I wanted to meet up in Japan Town for dinner. All of a sudden, I decided that my Target adventure earlier today really didn't tire me out that much. I hopped in my car, praying for light traffic. To my total shock and surprise, I was there long before anyone else. I don't think I've ever made it to San Francisco in that little time. That night, we drank mudslides and played Captain Novolin, quite possibly the only game to ever feature the ugliest diabetic superhero.
I came to a few personal revelations. I felt as if I'd been going through the motions of my relationship for quite some time, but I wanted to sweep it under the rug and pretend it would get better. A few days after we'd initially met, one of my friends asked me "So, why are you still dating that guy?"
I realized I didn't have any answer other than "Because I don't know what else to do." I ended a 3-year relationship with the sobering realization that I should have come clean about it earlier.
I said goodbye to a dear friend of mine last week. This friend got me into photography all the way back in 2003. This friend and I never spoke a word. This friend of mine, he was nailed to a storefront on Delancey Street for many years, his black spectacles calling all to Triangle Optical.