My Only-In-New-York Wedding Experience
September 21, 2011 7:34 PM - Open Thread - denton
Two long-time friends of ours decided, after sixteen years of co-habitation, to get married. They were looking to keep this very low-profile, so they wished to have a civil ceremony at the City Clerk’s office. They asked me if I could be their witness, and, as long as I was at it, if I could bring my camera to record the event. They are quite an interesting couple. He’s an artist in his sixties, who supported himself as a plumber for many years. She’s Asian, much younger, working on a PhD. They live in a loft in Chelsea. He purchased it, as did so many others, in the 1970s when artists moved into these abandoned factory buildings and over the decades turned them into residences of great desire. I won’t tell you what he paid.

Since I’m an old school New Yorker, I didn’t need to find out where the City Clerk’s office is. I already knew where you get married; the Municipal Building. Because I am not a professional photographer, merely an advanced amateur, I wanted to ‘scope out’ the place in advance and look for photographic opportunities, so I wouldn’t be fumbling on the wedding day. Therefore one morning early last week, after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, I got on line to enter the Municipal Building. After going through the metal detectors, I was asked where I was headed. I replied that I wanted to go to the place where people get married.

I was laughed out of there and sent to where the new City Clerk’s office is, 141 Worth Street. Such a know-it-all I am. (Ironically, my friend the groom did the same thing, except he went to City Hall. Don’t you get married in City Hall? Umm, no.).

Did I mention old school New Yorkers? Yes, upon entering 141 Worth Street, I got a serious sense of deja-vu, and not in a good way. This building was the Department of Motor Vehicles for many years. Long before DMV Express, or any of the newer offices where an attempt is made to serve you relatively politely and efficiently, we, (old school New Yorkers) knew this place as a place to be avoided as much as possible. Here, on Worth Street, you would stand on line for hours, to get a driver’s license, or to register a car, only to be told you were on the wrong line, or were missing information, or used the wrong color ink. Fix it and get back on another line. And wait a few more hours. All the old booths, writing tables, etc. are still there.

In spite of the anti-government sentiment today, my have things changed. The DMV is a much better institution, and the City Clerk’s office is happy and pleased that you have availed yourselves of their services.

As I wandered around the building early Tuesday, I was amazed. The City has really gone out of its way to make things positive and user-friendly. I was most impressed by the photo booth they have installed. There’s a large room with state of the art continuous lighting. There’s a mural of City Hall as a backdrop. It’s set up so anyone with any kind of camera can get beautiful, evenly lit photos without using flash.

There’s a sort of antechamber that opens into the pair of small chapels. There’s a circular sofa there, and the lighting is also designed to be very bright and conducive to photography.

Of course, on Tuesday morning when I was there, it was rather sedate. My friends decided to do their wedding Friday afternoon at 3PM. It was quite a different scene when I arrived around 2PM. It was rather chaotic. I guess everyone takes off early on Friday to get married, and then they go on a honeymoon of sorts, even if they have been living together for a decade. I sat back to observe the happy madness.

Not many twenty-somethings... I would imagine they would want to do the whole walk-down-the-aisle church wedding, with starry eyes. One exception though. I observed two very young women in full white wedding dress, veils, trains, and as pregnant as can be. I later told Mrs. D when she arrived that maybe the City should open a small maternity suite in case something happens at the wedding.

Mostly, older people, probably on their second or third marriage, happy and hopeful that this will be the one that really works. All races, ethnicities, economic status, some there quietly alone as couples (like my friends), some with large happy boisterous extended families.

I’m always antsy when shooting any kind of event like this as, unlike studio shots, you only get one chance to get it right. So, I get there early, and I walk around checking everything out to make sure I have everything covered. Even after this I’m too wired to sit down and wait, I have to stand, walk around, see what’s happening.

As I was standing off to the side, two thirty-something African American women approached me. One was gorgeous by any standard, in a long white low-cut dress and a veil on her head. The other was in a slightly stranger outfit, blue pants, blue vest, blue tie, and black shirt. Each was pulling a wheeled suitcase. The latter explained to me that they had just flown up from Atlanta to get married, they didn’t know anyone in New York, and they were wondering if I could be their witness?

Why me? Hah! I guess some people can see a liberal a mile away. Anyway, I figured it was time to show New York at its best, a mecca of tolerance and peace and love. So of course I agreed, after explaining that I had a prior engagement and we would have to work out the timing (my friends were still not here). We went to the first station, where I showed my drivers license, and they got on the list for the next step to blissful matrimony. Meanwhile I suggested they might want to let me photograph them since I already had my equipment with me.

Mrs. D showed up and I introduced my new friends. Then my old friends showed up and we went through the same process. I told my old friends about my new friends. Then it was all about the numbers. You do all your paperwork, you get a number. When your number is called, you move into the anteroom by the chapels, and when your turn comes the person performing the ceremony calls you and takes you into the chapel along with your witness, and whatever dozens of friends you have brought (or not).

In the anteroom I was watching (and photographing) my blue-tied friend solicitously adjust the dress and veil of her finance. You could see how close they were. We went into the wedding chapel and the Clerk presiding was just great. No sign of any disapproval or negativity. Of course I was mostly focusing in on getting photos but I couldn’t help but hear him say ‘I now pronounce you... MARRIED.’ He humbly bowed and shook both of their hands. Really a great time.

Shortly thereafter my old friends exchanged their vows... I think the clerk did a slight double-take after seeing me witness and photograph first, two Black women, and then, an older white guy with a younger Asian woman, but I imagine he’s about seen everything that you can see.

My new friends left, footsore but happy, to catch a cab to a dive hotel in Brooklyn. They had hoped to walk across the Bridge, but they were sore and tired. My old friends, after their ceremony, I took them outside to the plaza at 375 Pearl Street, for some natural light shots. Then, neither footsore or in need of a walk across the Bridge, they went to dinner, which we politely declined, and they are now hopefully happily married.

Only in New York!



Wednesday Open Thread
September 21, 2011 6:34 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott


Recommendations for Mechanical Watch Repairs?
September 20, 2011 5:08 PM - About LifeinBklyn - Bob Marvin
I'm re-posting this here, at Arcady's request:

Not house related, but I'm hoping that some people I who like old houses also (like me) like old wrist watches. I have a late '40s Swiss chronograph that needs repairs. The last place I used for this watch was the Clock Repair People on 7th Avenue in PS, now long gone, Any recomendations, preferably, but not necessarily, in Brooklyn. The watch is fairly good quality but not a high end brand. Nevertheless, I realize that chronograph repairs can be costly.


Tuesday Open Thread
September 20, 2011 6:21 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott


Monday Open Thread
September 19, 2011 6:34 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott


Weekend OT
September 17, 2011 7:56 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott


Friday Open Thread
September 16, 2011 6:40 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott


Thursday Open Thread
September 15, 2011 6:35 AM - Open Thread - admin


This is Our Neighborhood, This is Our Brooklyn
September 14, 2011 10:02 PM - Open Thread - InsertSnappyNameHere
Tonight I went to the Take Back Our Streets Rally to mark the community’s outrage against the rash of attempted rapes in Greenwood Heights and Park Slope. We met at 8pm outside the Prospect Avenue ‘R’ Station. Hundreds of men, women, teenagers and children gathered wielding flashlights, glow sticks and signs. It was, in a word, amazing. I have never before felt such a strong community presence and unity over an issue. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 12 years, but I didn’t know these people. Still, these were not strangers. These were my neighbors. And we all got together to let each other and the City at large know that we will not be too afraid to help each other. We will not be too afraid to call 911 if we see something or someone suspicious. We will not tolerate this type of violence in our neighborhood.

Feeling powerful as an individual and as a part of a large crowd, I marched down the middle of the street with all my neighbors and shouted the slogans at the top of my lungs. I was sweating profusely, even panting at times, but I didn’t care. I was a strong voice among many strong voices, and it felt damn good.

“NO MORE SILENCE, NO MORE VIOLENCE!”

That was one of the many phrases we shouted. Several times while chanting this, I choked up, fighting off tears that threatened to overcome me. I was taken over by emotion of the unity and power of the crowd. I felt strong. I felt safe. As a former victim of sexual assault, the “NO MORE SILENCE” part of the chant really resonated with me. I stayed silent for many years about what happened to me, but I eventually found my voice. I can only pray that others find their voice as well - that they aren’t too afraid or ashamed to speak out and say ”NO MORE SILENCE, NO MORE VIOLENCE.”

Tonight, my neighbors and I said that we would not tolerate a culture of violence and fear. This is our neighborhood. This is our Brooklyn. We won't let this drive us out of here. Instead, Mr. Rapist(s), it is you who needs to get the fuck out.


Wednesday Open Thread
September 14, 2011 6:24 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott


Tuesday Open Thread
September 13, 2011 6:36 AM - Open Thread - BoerumHillScott


Third Annual Buster Bailey Jazz Day at Greene Acres Community Garden
September 12, 2011 8:42 PM - Open Thread - rf
Jazz in the Garden
Saturday, September 21 at 2 p.m.
Live Music!
Learn more about local jazz history, our cultural heritage!
Community BBQ!

The Greene Acres Community Garden is at the corner of Greene and Franklin Avenues. All are welcome!

G train to Classon Ave., C or Franklin Ave. Shuttle to Franklin Ave., or take the B52, B48, or B25 or 26 buses.