Monday, November 30, 2009


#334, Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn

Sunday, November 29, 2009


#333, Chelsea, NYC

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009


#331, Chelsea, NYC

Thursday, November 26, 2009


#330, Upper East Side, NYC

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


#329, Upper East Side, NYC

There was a far more elegant choice for today's 329, but I like numbers that feel forged in Vulcan's... uh, iron forging place. The fact that a disgruntled lady out on a smoke break accosted me as if I were crazy for photographing an otherwise forgettable, utilitarian building number gives this one that extra je ne sais quoi.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


#328, Chelsea, NYC

Yes, that is glitter decorating today's number. And yes, that jaunty, glitter-speckled arrow points to an über-chic hair salon. Chelsea, I use this word sparingly. But frankly, you and your glittery ways have made this 328 fabulous.

Monday, November 23, 2009


#327, Upper East Side, NYC

Here's some old school stencils to kick off the week. It's going to be something of a quiet week here what with the manic novel-editing, band-practicing, old time fiddle festing, and Thanksgiving holiday preparing going on offline. Just think of it as early-onset tryptophan. If I could douse this week's numbers with gravy or garnish them with a dash of cranberry relish, I would. But honestly? I don't think it'd make them any more edible. This ain't Julie & Julia.

I'm sure December will bring all sorts of eleventh-hour digressions, stories, observations, and general palaver back to Ampersand land. But enjoy those numbers in the meantime. Pictures -- unlike words, they're so darn reliable.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


#326, West Village, NYC

Saturday, November 21, 2009


#325, Upper East Side, NYC

I can't tell if there's something weirdly funereal about this one, or if I've just been writing about funerals and funeral homes too much this week.

Friday, November 20, 2009


#324, Upper East Side, NYC

Thursday, November 19, 2009


#324, Chinatown, NYC

People are concerned about the high truancy rates among New York City's schoolchildren -- and rightly so. School is important, and young people have no place running wild on the streets of New York, taking up valuable sidewalk space, creating havoc, and polluting the air with foul-smelling smoke. That's what shish kabob carts are for.

Higher-ups would do well to consider better ways to lure kids back to school than by painting freaky murals such as this on their industrial brown façades. Seriously -- if you were a self-respecting kid, would you want to go anywhere near this spaced-out, maniacal sun? You can take your fluffy post-apocalyptic blue clouds, Chinatown. I'm going next door to play World of Warcraft.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


#322, Pittsburgh, PA

Now maybe I'm a bit biased (after all, I snagged this number on my way to a gig at Howler's Coyote Cafe) but every time I look at this door, I can't help but hear Lucinda Williams' "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" playing in the background.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


#321, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Countdowns of any sort tend to put me on the edge––3-2-1, etc.––but I am always a sucker for a sharp-looking 3.

Monday, November 16, 2009


#320, West Village, NYC

There's something comforting about such straightforward decay on a Monday. Deterioration, wayward spackle, creeping mold, and chipping paint: seen at the right angle, even these contain beauty. Also kind of enjoying the fact that I'm researching types of concrete decay (chloride attack, atmospheric pollution, alkali silica reaction, efflorescence) while waiting for my French manicure to dry.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


#319, Chelsea, NYC

Tragedy I can handle, but when Comedy starts talking to me, I'm outta here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


#318, Upper East Side, NYC

It would appear that Urban Decay Week is over. Enjoy your Upper Crust Saturday before I launch you straight into Really Trippy Sunday. Seriously. This 319 I've got on tap is already giving me nightmares.

Friday, November 13, 2009


#317, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Thursday, November 12, 2009


#316, East Village, NYC

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


#315, Albuquerque, NM

Here's another gritty Albuquerque still life to continue Urban Decay Week. Because everybody loves a real, honest-to-goodness ROCK BAR and nothing says decay quite like a skull.

I'll be making my fiction-reading debut tonight at a black box theatre in the East Village, so I'll indeed be summoning all the bad-assitude this skull brings with it. I'm reading an excerpt from that nearly-done novel I keep cagily alluding to, and if all goes well, this will be the first of many.

When I'm not behind the lens or hiding in a café amidst a muddle of manuscript pages, I'm often doing something extroverted on a stage. I've sung Brecht wearing mime makeup and hobbled around as one of Beckett's crotchety old men. I've pretended, via the medium of modern dance, to suffer heroin withdrawal. Heck, I've even played accordion at a party hosted by Salman Rushdie on board the Queen Mary 2.* (Hmm... I notice in this run-down of the event, I'm described as "finishing up a novel." Yup, the same one I'm "finishing" up now. Apparently, I've been "finishing" it since March of 2008. Do not listen to anything I say about deadlines.) But read my own fiction? Like, out loud? In front of, you know, people? What are you, crazy?

Funny the way the nerves kick in when it's your own work you're reading. I may have to bring an accordion along simply for a security blanket. But there will be friends in attendance (including this delightfully talented friend, who will also be reading from her work-in-progress), and there will be wine consumed, and you don't need much more than that to have a class act evening. Bring it on.

* Salman Rushdie, alas, was not in attendance. But dude throws a mean soirée.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


#314, Liberty Lane, Dublin

It's official: it's Urban Decay Week here at &7. I'm tired of cleanliness, and I don't care how close to godliness it is. I like my cities blooming into fruitful dereliction, thanks very much. So brace yourselves for the best/worst as I bring you a whole week of all the spray paint, dry rot, peeling stickers, and cracked plaster your heart desires. Starting here with Liberty Lane.

There are streets, there are roads, and then there are lanes. Lanes, alleys, short cuts, and back roads: I love them. They afford a look at the city you don't see from the bus window. Too narrow for cars, too rocky for bikes, too manky for tourists and too pointless for locals. But walk down one and you're accessing the secret arteries that link together a city's better known sights and sites. You can get lost in a lane and enjoy it; get lost on the wrong road and you can end up halfway across the country. I grew up on a lane, moved to a circle, and now live on a place. So whenever I stumble across anything called a lane, I feel, in some way, that I'm returning to my roots.

Liberty Lane in Dublin, painted tip to toe in graffiti, is a lot of eye candy to take in all at once. Narrow, meandering, and about as useful to a commuter as an appendix is to a body, this lane and its closed-in walls make an appealing canvas for street artists. The bleak walls over time have been remade by the bright and cheery, can't-we-all-hug-and-get-along murals of graffiti artist Maser (Haven't you heard? He loves you!). Though not strictly Maser-related, a car park full of murals in Dublin so seduced me a few months back that I broke from my numbers-only rule and posted a whole slew of 'em here. Mea culpa. It was so, so worth it.

Lurking opposite a bright pink and yellow Maser mural, this 314 feels accidental, dark, forgotten, overlooked. Naturally, I flock to the underdog. There's certainly some plan behind it, you can tell that from the stencil, but the rest feels usurped by the urban blight that, given enough time, will eat up any wall. The black "NO BOMB PLEASE" sticker -- usually more at home on garbage cans/rubbish bins -- is a nice touch.

On a final note, I do believe I've used up one of my once or twice a month OMG moments upon discovering a treasure trove of accidental numerals over at Daily Dublin Photo Blog. A great site all around. Go visit. And happy Urban Decay Week. See all you derelict people tomorrow.

Monday, November 9, 2009


#313, Albuquerque, NM

On the road to Albuquerque from God-knows-where, Arizona, passing Meteorite City, the Petrified Forest, and a "Pet the ostrich" roadside attraction. Rolling through New Mexico on the old Route 66 where all the rest stops sound like country/western songs: Crazy Creek, Dead River, the R.V. and Horse Motel. Red rocks and the painted desert remind you of that song by the Handsome Family but the van is cranking out the Pretenders: "Standin' in the middle of my life with my pants behind me." Realize you're mishearing lyrics again and look out the window at the hand-painted sign. CACTUS STUFF / CLEAN RESTROOMS: EXIT 72.

The van pulls into Albuquerque and it's about a hundred degrees. A quick dinner at the Blackbird Cafe and then load-in at Burt's Tiki Lounge where band stickers and tattoo parlor ads plaster the doors and windows. There's no air conditioning inside, but that swirly fan in the ceiling, you're told, will cool you right down. Shoot some pool and drink the free beer while you wait for showtime. Everyone always wants to know what's up with the stage set and the painted white picket fences. Just smile and say, "Welcome to Balthrop, Alabama."

You've been on tour for three weeks and can't keep track of where you're sleeping anymore. A roadside motel, the floorboards of friends. But the next morning it's back in the van, listening to the Red House Painters, going over the show from the night before, that fantastic infernal romp. Cruising back onto Highway 40, stare in disbelief at the billboard on the entrance ramp that reads: "Hollywood Hotties: our slots put out." Pascal, behind the wheel: "Stay classy, Albuquerque."

Sunday, November 8, 2009


#312, Venice, Italy

Saturday, November 7, 2009


#311, Upper East Side, NYC

Friday, November 6, 2009


#310, Billings, Montana

One of the pleasures of photography is how easy it is to turn squares into trapezoids. You also get to capture freaks of nature out in the wild like this 310 with the # sign that comes at the end of the number, not before. This was snapped the morning after a show in Billings, and after that guy in the baseball hat at the bar kept ordering rounds of weird watermelon-flavored shots for the band, I wouldn't be surprised if my fellow band mates were seeing trapezoids the next morning, too.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


#309, East Village, NYC

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


#308, Bowery, NYC

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


#307, Tribeca, NYC

Monday, November 2, 2009


#306, Upper East Side, NYC

Imagine seeing this looming over your head every time you walked inside your apartment. I don't know if there's an appropriate size for house numbers, but once they start getting bigger than my head, I get nervous. Despite my lingering fixation with numbers on this blog, in school I was a complete mathophobe (I'm sure there's a more elegant latin root for this phobia, but looking at long lists of phobias tends to convince me I have them all), and oversized numbers like this 306 are exactly the sorts of things that might have chased me in nightmares as I struggled to free myself from the pinching grip of a radical sign. Now, of course, I think they're fantastic and photogenic, ornaments scattered about cities just so I can find, admire, and collect them. Just don't ask me to balance equations and we should be fine.

Also, if you missed the weekend edition because you were out gallivanting with Dracula and stuffing yourself with sugary Tootsie Pops, be sure to check out #305 and put in those bids.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It's November, and to kick things off right, here's another round of Match the Number to the City. Most of you are familiar with the game, but here's the rules for those who might be new. Look at the numbers below and see if you can guess where they came from. This one's an all-American round, inspired by this summer's month on the road with Balthrop, Alabama. Your possible options, in alphabetical order, are: Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Tucson. Educated guesses are welcome; random stabs in the dark are roundly encouraged. I'll post the answers in the comments mid-week. Good luck!