Iceland, too

Top three images are of an ice cave we (my friend Rolf, making an appearance as a scale figure, is in the photos) explored. Technically it's the underside of the Solheimajokull glacier. The glacier appeared "sooty" (it looked alarmingly like New York City snow) because of the dirt and lava gravel it scoured as it advanced and retreated on the valley floor. The interior was shiny and at first completely opalescent grey but gradually opened into a small faceted cavern of milky pale and intense crystalline blue, lit from outside daylight. Fissures in the glacier's surface let in slices of sunlight and the melting ice created little rivulets (see last image of previous post). The thought that this massive structure of "water" was on top of me was sobering but made me feel giddy at the same time.

Images 4 and 5 are on a hike toward a lunar-like glacier whose name I can't recall. The photos look like black-and-white but they are not, as you can tell from the vaguely absinthe-colored water at right.

late addition---> The panorama of the long stretch of lava fields we drove through doesn't really belong with this group of photos. I realize how obsessive I can be: I was attempting to make thematic groupings but thats gone out the window because I'd never finish. Though the color certainly fits in. The "aloneness" was exhilarating.

The last image -- a Fragonard sky!--is at Jokullsarlon where a glacier is "calving" (I love that description) miniature icebergs that drift
off serenely, to meet their demise in the ocean nearby. An abreviated life cycle.


iceland, finally

images: 1-4 & 6: Reykjavik. I was charmed by the corrugated metal houses!; 5: rocks on Vik beach with me reflected in each one; 7 & 9: Jokulsarlon glacial lake; 8: Skogafoss (I think!); 10: greenery ; 11: Vik beach; 12: ice cave, Solheimajokull glacier

[The first of a few posts I'll have on the trip to Iceland.]

This country has the most astonishing landscape I've ever seen. The overpowering sublimity of the best spots of the American South West is perhaps similar, but in Iceland the human intervention in the landscape is so small and reserved that the experience is vastly different. The place has a vaguely mystical, other-worldly aura. My senses were changed somehow, at least while I was there.

The colors of everyday life hummed in what appeared to be quite a narrow scale–at first. But once you're attuned to Iceland's particular range, the depth and intensity are stunning: rich matte black, lunar greys, mossy green-greys, slate grey-blues, silvery sage green, icy blue-white, crisp bright sky blues, eerily luminous aqua, lush intense greens... The streetscape is dotted with houses painted in a few saturated colors, including one lipstick-dense magenta red that I never thought I'd see on a building (unfortunately I don't have a photo of that).

The light is different. It's suffused through low clouds, or mist for much of the time– then the sun breaks through and under the suddenly cloudless skies the greens and blues crackle. I can't begin to imagine what stars would look like over that landscape. (to be continued)

since you asked:
My favorite bar/cafe, the Prikid, on the main shopping street Laugevegar (sp?)


Fun City

When I think of New York City, from about 1965 until, say, 1980, it is always mid-summer. Of course there were surely brisk autumns and snow and probably some beautiful springs but in my mind heat shimmers from the pavement, the news hisses from a tinny transistor somewhere nearby and the hydrants are always open. “New York is a Summer Festival” as the slogan used to say.

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city (Lovin' Spoonful, 1966)

Before anyone thought to
heart New York, it was, officially, "Fun City." Blackouts, strikes, graffiti, potholes (does anyone think about “potholes” anymore?) — but no irony. Fun City was the New York of John Lindsay. Young, handsome, WASPy, Lindsay was the Kennedy of City Hall from 1966 til 1973.

Most images here are from Tenth Street, by Bill Binzen, a wonderful random find of mine. The book is a small 6 x 7" photographic record of the life of a street from river to river. I don't know much about
Binzen but I like his style. Published in 1968, Tenth Street illustrates the early stages of that New York. Here's an almost-foreign Tompkins Square Park, in Binzen's words:

[people] relax on grass, on benches, on dirt. They bring their dogs, all sizes and shapes, cats, rabbits, snakes, lizards. Kids romp, fight, tease, swing, spray each other from the drinking fountains, toss dirt in the air. The dirt settles on chess players who never know the difference. Dr. Spock spoke there, the Grateful Dead played there. People talk with their hands...Tight bottoms, no bras. Big bottoms, iron bras. Music: drums, flutes, bongos, sticks knocking on beer cans, sticks on benches, sticks on coke (sic) bottles, bang, bang, bang Kids pile on seesaws, slides jungle gyms, each other. There are friendly drunks, nasty drunks, drunk drunks. Pigeons, squirrels, beards, Hippies, Yippies, beads, incense, grass, yogi. The Good Humor man going around and around. Benches, benches. Old People sitting, standing. MENS, WOMENS. Firecrackers. Handouts. Bikes. Chalk drawings... And under the chess tables at the end of a long day, matches, papers, butts, broken bottles, Vietnam leaflets, junk galore, all to be swept up...
Binzen mentions the "hot summer night" sound of boys clanking on garbage cans with sticks as they make their way down the street. There are no metal garbage cans anymore. There are no boys with sticks anymore either-- that I've seen.
The image at top is called "Avenue A." I find the juxtaposition of eras particularly interesting: the pompadoured West Side Story-ish teen in his windbreaker is a pre-Assassination (whichever) holdout. He's living in a Frankie Avalon, Beatles at Shea Stadium New York. The Easy Rider chopper hippies are (anticipate really) pure Manson Family and Altamont.
Looking at images of the late 60s-- crowd scenes in the subways for instance-- one can almost see the the social tectonic plates shifting. Men in hats, guys in ponchos, older ladies with white gloves, women in bell bottoms...

The third image, "Tompkins Park," is an Arbus-ian study in tension.

The fifth image down, "Third Avenue," notice the William F. Buckley for (Fuhrer!) Mayor posters. That was news to me.

The last image, "Between First and Avenue A" just kills me-- the crazy kids these days!

Also shown are a couple images (second, fourth) by Klaus Lehnartz from New York, a German publication from 1969, more coffee table souvenir than photo essay.
And now I'm off to Iceland for a week.


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