swashbuckling in the garden state

Crowded waters during Hans’ annual pirate canoe race this past weekend. We were rolling about 14 people deep, with 7 canoes. In the foreground, that’s Bella with the patriotic Fourth of July hat, and John standing in the water.

One core element is the obtaining and stealing of “booty” along the way, which can result in flipped canoes. Generally these items are silver or gold, though there have been exceptions.

I hadn’t been on this particular creek/river before; I believe it’s the Mullica River in the Pine Barrens, NJ.

At this moment, the globe mounted to the front of PJ & John’s canoe exploded.

We saw a few animals over the course of two days, including three snakes, this praying mantis, frogs, and turtles. We heard an owl but couldn’t spot it, and were bombarded by biting flies while in the canoes (which may be preferable to mosquitoes, though they don’t seem to mind repellant with DEET in it).

This year we incorporated camping, so we were all carrying a little more gear than normal, and there was more incentive to keep ones’ canoe from flipping — whether from attempted sabotage or ramming into underwater logs. (The aforementioned globe is still intact here, allegedly for waterway navigation).

Several areas contained a great number of carnivorous plants, such as this pitcher plant. I hadn’t seen such a concentration of different carnivorous plants in one place in the wild before.

Back at the Hesselein house in Allentown, NJ, the boys had amassed a few hundred dollars worth of fireworks from across the border in Pennsylvania. It made for a great Fourth of July display of mortars and rockets — from the wimpier “Texas Pop Rockets” to the more impressive “Restricted Airspace” and leading up to the massive “Dragon’s Fury” series of explosions, with beefed-up Roman candles in between.

The sun setting after we got back home to Brooklyn, looking over the Prospect Expressway. Thanks to Mr. Appalachia & Alison for the ride.


Seattle Brad happened to be in town some of last week, and he, Jenn, and I ran into Big Joseph and Greenpoint Brad, all en route to Nowhere Bar in the East Village, where we bumped into Ari and some other friends. $2 beers.

Heard during the past week in NYC:

“Recently I’ve been photocopying twenty-dollar bills and leaving them on the sidewalk, and just watching people. I’ve probably done it 5-8 times a day for the past 4 days or so.”

– high school kid in a rotisserie chicken restaurant on DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn.

“As soon as my lawsuit pays out, I’m going to move to San Francisco. My friend says you can buy a great place for fifty, [or] sixty thousand dollars out there.”

George, who lives around the corner from Jenn and I, and is generally on his stoop about 80% of the time we walk or ride by.

a veritable grab bag of opportunity

Each year, Hans hosts a pirate canoe race, through barely-navigable creeks in Allentown, New Jersey. You may recall last year’s: “Indecent Exposure on the High Seas.

Sarah makes her way towards the highway. This year’s adventure differed from last year in amount of canoes (perhaps doubled) and the depth of the water (much shallower this time), but certainly still a blast.

Lucille, a fashion designer visiting from Paris, shows off a bumblebee, while Jenn and Laura look on.

The one rule of the day was to not allow Giardia-filled creek water into your beer.

Alison (far left) and others.

2 Matts, Franck, Leslie, and Laura.


PJ takes it pretty seriously, reflecting for a moment.

indecent exposure on the high seas

Allentown, New Jersey. From left: Hans, Jim (in town from San Francisco), and Mr. Appalachia.

From left: Mike, Johanna, and Ben (of the Werewolves).

Holly and Cory.  About 16 of us made the journey out for Hans’ annual beer and smoke-fueled pirate canoe race.  With only 5 canoes, we had 3-4 people in each.  Between people jumping from canoe to canoe, tons of spiders hanging from trees, fallen trees, capsizing repeatedly into giardia-filled parasitic water, poison ivy lining the shores, and many moments of canoes ramming each other, it was a great adventure.

Calmer waters back at the home base in Allentown.


The birthday boy himself, Hans.  On a side note, his Death Bone tattoo is one my favorites ever because of the ridiculous premise and surrounding story.  There was an old drawing in the concrete sidewalk of the university I attended a few years back, down south.  It had been there for years, from my recollection, having seen the drawing back when I was attending a basketball camp at the same campus, while in middle school.  I think the first time I heard about Hans when someone telling me a while ago that “this kid Hans got that Death Bone thing tattooed on his arm.”  And it was done not knowing what it was or stood for.  Fast forward a few years later, and Hans is working with neighborhood kids in his yard with this bicycle collective he started, and some older dude is shocked to see the mark, explaining that it was a bike gang he used to be in.  Almost too good to be true.  Hans currently resides in Brooklyn, a few blocks from me.

illadelph and barnyard raiding

Wild animals in the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

North of Market Street, on the east side of Philadelphia.

Inside the Philadelphia art museum.  One of the security guards kept pointing out all of the hidden nudity among several pieces in the museum (not the vases here, but elsewhere), and somehow it didn’t come off as extra creepy.  One was almost an homage to River’s Edge (1986).

Window display in a boutique.

Jenn and I stayed at a bed and breakfast down in Philadelphia for her birthday this past weekend.  Despite it being “dumb cold,” we still had a good time.  Some interesting architecture, some good food (a few great markets that put the Essex Street Market to shame), some history, some blue collar dive bars, a large fixed gear community, and certainly schizophrenic & homeless representation.

This was at the end of an amazing strip called Boathouse Row in Fairmount Park.  The road felt like quintessential Ivy League life, moreso than actual Ivy League campuses.  Lots of crew boats stored for the winter.

The previous weekend, I participated in a 48-hr design intervention project with a landscape architect (Hans, on the left) and two architects (Mr. Moses in the middle, Tommy on the right), which began with taking a train down to Allentown, New Jersey to raid some abandoned barns (about three of them) in the middle of the night for wood and metal to salvage as building materials.  I’ve posted more information on the project here (plus there’s a full process photo gallery): canal nest colony. In the end, the project seemed to be a great success, and certainly a learning experience.  It generated a little press, which is always cool as well.

It was a little difficult to capture the scale of these super large structures in complete darkness, though my flash seems to have been working fine.  This was just the loft area in a massive barn.  There were bird droppings everywhere, but we were able to salvage a lot of oak planks (and a little pine) from this area.

Hans and Moses test the buoyancy of oversized tractor tires in a pond in the middle of a thicket at about 3AM.  The tires failed the test.

More abandoned structures in the countryside.  It rained on and off during the night, and remained super foggy in the fields.