Author Archive

Portrait of a Photographer

December 12th, 2010 by An Phung

In a brightly lit room on the third floor at Coney Island Hospital, the photographer Anthony Bonair sat in a chair by the window and ate his lunch out of a beige colored tray filled with savory meat and vegetables.

The nurse who served it to him took a small sample of blood from his index finger to check his sugar levels. Bonair talked right through the whole process and didn’t seem phased by being poked or prodded. Maybe it’s because this is his ninth hospital visit since his kidneys failed in January 2008. He undergoes dialysis treatment three times a week. To further compound his problems, Mr. Bonair is nursing two wounds: one from a bicycle accident a year ago and one from a recent spill in his home. And just two weeks ago, he had surgery for a biopsy of his liver.

This portrait of Bonair is a stark contrast to his active past as a photographer. But his range of life experiences, from health to sickness and from accountant to photographer, is no different from the range of subjects he captures on film.

Even with an unfortunate bill of health, Mr. Bonair isn’t giving up.

“This has been the roughest that I’ve been. But there is a lot that I would like to do,” said Bonair.

This determination to persevere is not unusual for the 65-year-old photographer. He approaches almost every challenge and project with the same fervor and passion. Even in his current state, he manages the marketing for his exhibit currently on display at The Skylight Gallery in The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza. He spends his days in physical therapy, dialysis treatment and on the phone talking to art collectors who he hopes will buy his work. He is both a sick patient and a shrewd businessman.

The current exhibit at The Skylight Gallery, entitled “Carnival Masqueraders,” is a reminder of his boyhood in Trinidad where his father created costumes and participated in Carnival parades. The collection of 20 images depicts Caribbean carnival culture and costumes in Brooklyn. Bonair worked with Dulcie Ingleton to curate the photos.

He recalls memories of how the colorful and ornate costumes were destroyed when the carnival event was over. He saw the same thing happen when he watched the carnival parades in Brooklyn as an adult.

The 16 x 20 photographs line the walls of The Skylight Gallery in Bedford Stuyvensant. Colorful and flamboyant costumes with feathers, beads, glitter, seashells, metallic accents and chromatic paint reflect a culture of life, brightness and celebration that Bonair wants others to remember about Trinidad. Two mannequins don costumes that give a three-dimensional sense of what the costumes looked like.

“The impetus for this exhibit was to preserve, photographically, what this carnival culture was all about, “ said Ingleton.

Anthony Bonair reflected on some memorable “firsts” in his life.

The first time he took photographs:
The Pest

His first photographic subject:
Ignited by Dance

His mentorship with the award-winning Roy DeCarava:
Roy DeCarava

World AIDS Day

December 5th, 2010 by An Phung

The dismal weather outside was no match for the energy inside Rivington House, one of the Village Care locations in New York City that provides health care to those living with HIV and AIDS. Live-in patients clapped, sang, prayed and gave thanks to those at Rivington House who give them the resources and therapy they need to live with their illness. The mood at the December 1st World AIDS Day commemorative event was not one of despair or tragedy, but rather one of hope and gratitude.

“The longevity of life has increased because of the new medications they’re coming up with,” said 45-year-old Gregory Davis, a patient who has been living at Rivington House for two months. “I am hopeful one day that they will find the research.”

December 1st is World AIDS Day, which marks the beginning of AIDS Awareness Month. Village Care, a non-profit organization that provides HIV and AIDS education and health care, observed the day with a balloon release, music and personal testimonies from patients at Rivington House who are living with HIV/AIDS.

According to the Center for Disease Control, advanced medicine and technology is changing the face of AIDS, which helps people live longer and healthier lives. The patients at Rivington House are a reflection of this change.

B.A.M. Boo!

November 28th, 2010 by An Phung

Fort Greene’s tiniest ghouls and ghosts showed up for the ninth annual B.A.M. Boo! event that took place on October 31, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music located on Lafayette Avenue. It was a spectacle of colorful superhero costumes, princess dresses, scary face paint, fake teeth and empty bags waiting to be stocked with sugary swag.

Kids and parents gathered in this afternoon, family-friendly event to play carnival games, listen to ghosts stories, paint their faces and indulge in candy before they embarked on a long night of trick-or-treating.

B.A.M. Boo! 2010 from An Phung on Vimeo.

Crime Blotting

November 22nd, 2010 by An Phung

It was a tough week for women in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, as they were the victims of four different muggings in the 88th Precinct’s ongoing battle against subway robberies. There were seven teenagers arrested for robberies and teen-on-teen violence. A number of the robberies, burglaries, purse theft and auto break-ins were concentrated in a crime-heavy area with a border that includes Willoughby Avenue to the north, Vanderbilt Avenue to the east, Green Avenue to the south and Flatbush Avenue to the west. Several incidents resulted in violence and one left a woman hospitalized for her injuries.

Click on the icons below to see a detailed description of the time, location, crime and charges for incidents that resulted in arrests.

View The Local Crime Blotter in a larger map

Street Eats

November 14th, 2010 by An Phung

There is never a lack of food to eat in New York City. Whether you’re a graduate student on a budget or gourmet food lover with your sights set on the bright stars of Michelin rated restaurants, you will find what you need to whet your appetite. In the bustling streets of Times Square, where tourists, workers and students need something tasty and fast, the wealth of street food is your answer for the New Yorker on the go.

Music: Smooth Theme by Teru

The Pest of (CU)NY

November 7th, 2010 by An Phung

Well, maybe it’s not the “pest” of CUNY, but it is certainly a hot topic that is weighing on the minds of first semester students at the Graduate School of Journalism. I’m talking about the impending November 19 deadline for declaring your subject concentration. Some came to CUNY knowing exactly what they wanted to study. The rest are flip-flopping between the following four very enticing options:

International Reporting
Urban Reporting
Arts & Culture

As if these choices weren’t hard enough to resist, CUNY now offers an exciting Health & Science concentration to further fuel (or confuse) the naturally curious minds of budding journalists.

In an effort to understand the subject concentration make-up of my school, I created a survey asking first and third semester students where their interests lie. While this should not serve as the impetus for your own personal decision (hopefully your choice is driven by your own journalistic passions and goals), it’s helpful to see how your own journalistic interests and pursuits are aligned with the rest of the student body.

58 students responded to the survey with 45% of those students belonging to the 2011 graduating class and the rest in the 2010 class. The majority, or 36%, of those surveyed picked International Reporting as their subject concentration, with Urban Reporting trailing behind at 24%. What came as a surprise were the amount of students who were said their preferred medium of storytelling is print. At 33%, that is almost tied with interactive. This challenged my notion that print is a dying medium.

What this surveyed communicated to me was the diversity and breadth of interest that exists at this school. Malcolm Gladwell says that diversity and variety creates happiness. It is evident in the vibrant community at CUNY that the academic options we’re presented with is churning out a group of pretty diverse (and hopefully happy) journalists.

Memento from Mom

October 18th, 2010 by An Phung

Election Traction

October 17th, 2010 by An Phung

The upcoming midterm elections have been one of the most divisive, dramatic and violent in recent history. With Democrats at risk of losing their majority hold in Congress and a country divided about important issues like tax cuts, health care law repeal and federal spending, it is no wonder that the reaction from some shoe-leather reporting yielded responses as varied as New York City is diverse. The question was “how are you participating in the midterm elections?” and below are some of the answers.

Susan, 55 years old – A vote for the environment

Emmanuel, 52 years old – A champion for Democrats

Anthony, 40 years old – No real leaders

John, 28 years old – The indifferent citizen

Carlos, 33 years old – The Libertarian

Jay, 33 years old – The majority vote

Anonymous – A vote for change

Rainy Day Fun

October 3rd, 2010 by An Phung

Just when New Yorkers were getting use to a summer accompanied by record-breaking high temperatures, steamy subway platforms and clear sunny skies, autumn arrives and it’s time to adjust to a whole new season again. It’s been an unusually warm and rainy fall season, leaving New Yorkers with no choice but to brave the moisture a little earlier than usual. They say you can’t predict the weather, but there are ways to ensure that you don’t let this pesky, volatile climate ruin your good time in New York City.

1. A Rainy Day Wardrobe – Some rain boots,  an umbrella and a raincoat are imperative in a city where walking is the main mode of transportation. The last thing you want are soggy pant hems when you get to the office. If you end up collecting a bevy of $5 street vendor umbrellas by the end of the rainy season, there is an eco-friendly way to dispose of the excess.

2. A Day At The Museum – Museums are kid-friendly and date-friendly places to spend a rainy day. No matter which exhibit in the fall line-up you visit, there will be an array of colors, sculptures and historical lessons to fill up time for restless kids and awkward first dates.

3. Roast Your Chestnuts –  As the outdoor bar season comes to an end, check out the list of indoor bars with fireplaces that will keep New Yorkers dry and warm. These watering holes will come in handy as the fall season turns into the blistering cold winter season.

4. Apply Your Apps – There are plenty of free weather apps for Blackberrys, Android phones and iPhones available to help New Yorkers stay one step ahead of the storm. Gizmodo has rated the best weather apps for your smartphones. Checking the weather before leaving home, work or school will ensure that you’re properly dressed and heading somewhere warm and dry.

5. Stay Home – A stormy season as dangerous and inconvenient as this one means that it might be safer to stay home and avoid the subways and falling trees all together. Dodging lethal tree branches is not a fun or safe addition to your daily commute.

The Other Underground Pest

September 26th, 2010 by An Phung

They move with rapid speed beneath the city as vessels of germs and odor. They’re unsightly, massive and oftentimes the cause of our anxiety and tardiness. No, it’s not New York City’s infamous subway rats. It’s the New York City Subway system. And these days, rat infestations are probably near the bottom of a long list of problems plaguing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The M.T.A. is weathering its fair share P.R. issues, including budget cuts that resulted in the demise of the V and W lines. Things went from bad to worse when the M.T.A. laid off agents and proposed fare increases that are currently under review in a series of public hearings over the next two months. And just when things couldn’t get any worse, maintenance and construction work caused the disruption of 18 subway lines this weekend. This left an aftermath of delays, slow speeds and express trains forced to impersonate local trains.

So how should the city’s straphangers combat this latest inconvenience?

People at the 96th Street station on Broadway, a stop for all three trains on the red line, were seen boarding the fleet of buses that were out in droves today. These shuttle buses provided commuters with service to uptown and The Bronx. Some boarded their slow moving train, and in a gesture of defiance and silent protest for the M.T.A’s poor service, got off before the doors even closed. The platforms were crowded, construction was loud and travelers were agitated.

“I wish I knew when this would end,” said an M.T.A. worker, when asked when he thought the weekend schedule will resume again.

The worker, with bullhorn in hand, heralded the shuttle bus option and provided answers and directions to frustrated riders. His employment with the M.T.A. prevented him from sharing his name or giving riders alternate solutions. But the New York City police officer next to him was less shy. When asked what she suggests for alternatives to the subway she said, “Take the bus or stay home.”

The M.T.A. employee urges travelers to check their website frequently for updates on service changes. Careful planning and leaving extra early will also help prevent tardiness. Commuters should also take heed and check for services changes communicated on colorful posters tacked around their stations. Weekend construction and maintenance will continue well into next year, with interruption to service that will be less chaotic than what was seen today.

Perhaps the rumored bike-share program will be the real answer to the subway problems. After all, it is easier to outrun those pesky rats (and rates) on wheel than on foot.

Today's M.T.A. service status at 4:38 PM