Sunday, October 1, 2017

Gettysburg...

I consider myself fortunate in that I've done a lot of traveling.

In my life I've walked in 19 countries on five continents and have visited 41 of the 50 United States, many more than once. I long ago reached the conclusion that, while the world has much in the way of history and fabulous sights to offer, so does the good ol' U.S. of A. And, for me, there's no better way to see those homegrown sights is by car.

During a recent trip to New York, my return to Florida was delayed by Hurricane Irma, so I ended up spending a week in Frederick, Maryland with some generous friends who opened their home to me while I waited to find out the fate of Florida.

The town of Frederick isn't far from Washington, DC, so you might think that would be my "go to" destination for a photo outing (and, in fact, I did some brief shooting there). But Frederick is actually closer to what is arguably the single most revered parcels of land anywhere in the country: Gettysburg National Military Park.



Between July 1 and July 3, 1863, some 45,515 Union and Confederate soldiers were either killed, wounded or went missing. There were 120 Generals at Gettysburg, including a then 23 year old Brigadier General named George A. Custer. Nine of those Generals died there. Many believe that a Confederate victory at Gettysburg would've resulted in a Confederate victory in the Civil War. And, of course, Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, all 272 words of it, was delivered just inside the gates of the Soldier's National Cemetery, which was actually dedicated by Lincoln with those 272 words on Thursday, November 19, 1863.



This monument, one of the tallest in the entire park, marks the site of where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address

As I drove to Gettysburg, I remember thinking that the rainy weather was perfect for what I wanted to photograph. The last time I was here was, if memory serves, 1975. I was on a Boy Scout camping trip and we made a trek to the battlefield. I don't really remember too much about that visit and, as that was before I got into photography, I didn't have a camera to record any photographs.

I had one this time, though.

As I mentioned, the weather was perfect. For me, Gettysburg isn't a happy, sunny, smiley place. It's a solemn place which, for me, is best conveyed in photos with cloudy, gloomy skies. It's a place where you go to pay respects to those who, on both sides, gallantly fought for what they believed in. It's a stunning thing to realize that, wherever you are in Gettysburg, the odds are good that you're standing where someone died or, at the very least, spilled blood.

With all of the recent controversies surrounding Confederate monuments, I felt it was important to visit a place where those monuments stand prominently with those commemorating the Union Army and its heroes. Monuments are being taken down all around the country these days. According to every single person I spoke with who works there, it will never happen at Gettysburg National Battlefield Park. For me, it has nothing to do with any political agenda or stance. I would just hate to see these removed. History, it's been said, is written by the victors. Well, the victors have seen fit to have these monuments among their own.
The monuments within the park are as varied as they are plentiful. In total, there are 1,328 monuments, markers and memorials at Gettysburg National Military Park. I can't begin to imagine how long it would take to photograph every single one, but I'd like to think I was able to photograph a fair representation.

The Pennsylvania Monument. It's the largest in the entire park...

Inside the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Monument...

One of the 410 cannons which remain at Gettysburg...
 
The monument to Brigadier General John Gibbon, Commander of the 2nd Division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac. The monument was dedicated on July 3, 1988, the 125th anniversary of the battle.

The first "Confederate" monument I found, to Brigadier General Lewis Addison Armistead, who began his military career as an officer in the United States Army only to become a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was wounded during Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863 and died in a field hospital two days later...

Monument to Major General George Meade, Commander of the Army of the Potomac...

The Soldier's National Monument, where Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address...

One of the 1,320 individual monuments at Gettysburg...

When I was  here as a kid, there was no visitor center. There's one there now, though, and it's pretty awesome. The Visitor Center is just over 139,000 square feet and houses the 22,00 square foot  Gettysburg Museum of the Civil War which, too, is impressive. There's no charge to visit the park, but there is a nominal charge to visit the museum.

The following images are from the museum:












The best way to see the Battlefield is by car. There's an "Auto Tour" route which is  a 24 mile route, which takes about four hours (depending on how long you spend at each stop) and takes you through all three days of the battle.


The monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lee actually graduated from West Point and rose to the rank of Colonel during his 32 year career in the United States Army before resigning and being appointed a General in the Confederate Army, in which he served only four years...

Another of the 420 cannons which dot the battlefield at Gettysburg...

The monument to Confederate General James Longstreet. This monument is unusual in that it's placed at ground level. The monuments for other Generals, Confederate and Union, are placed on large pedestals...

The monument to Brigadier General Gouverneur Kemble Warren at Little Round Top...

There are places I think every American should see. I've always believed that every American should visit Washington, DC. I think every American should visit the 9/11 Memorial and museum in New York City. Likewise, I believe that every American should visit Gettysburg. While it's easy to be saddened by the profound loss of life over those three days, there's also an immense sense of awe to know that you're standing on hallowed ground. 

Even more profound to me are the words Lincoln used to dedicate the Soldier's National Cemetery when he spoke of the battlefield at Gettysburg and the men, on both sides, who fought there: 

"We can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."



Friday, September 8, 2017

Maryland, Again... And Good Friends, Again...

Perusing my blog, it dawned on me that my last entry was made while I was driving south from New York back in May, stopping off in Maryland. So, it only seemed appropriate that my next entry should be made while I was driving south from New York, stopping off in Maryland.

Originally, this trip was supposed to be five days long. I was going to fly into Long Island, shoot a gig, spend five days there and fly home. Then I decided to drive because I could bring more photo gear with me. It would also be good because I'd be able to spend a little longer on the road. My next shoot wasn't scheduled until September 8th. So, just like last time, I would be stopping in Maryland to visit with my good friends Mark and Deb. They have wonderful guest accommodations (which I have dubbed the "Elvis Suite") which I love taking advantage of whenever I'm in the area. My plan was to spend two nights in Maryland then high-tail it home. 

Well, best laid plans and all that.

Coinciding with my arrival (more or less) in Maryland was Hurricane Irma's arrival in Florida. As I expected, both of my shoots were postponed. Given that, I didn't see too many reasons to continue on to Florida, considering that life down there would be take a rather dramatic turn for the worse in the coming days. Mark and Deb's generosity made the Elvis Suite available for as long as I needed it, so I made the necessary phone calls and made plans to stay through the weekend.

It made me reflect on how fortunate I am. It's kind of a running joke, really. My Mom always brings up how I never have to stay in hotels when I travel because I know so many people and how I'd never go anywhere if I didn't know all these people. Well, Lucille's probably right. I'm not breaking any news when I say I like to travel. But traveling for the sake of travel can get boring if you're not careful. One of the primary reasons I like to travel, and certainly the most enjoyable, is because I like visiting old friends I don't get to see too often.

Friends like Mark and Deb...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Maryland...

My final stop on this trip would end up being Frederick, Maryland. I'd be spending a couple of days with my buddy Mark and his family.

The drive from Long Island started out pretty good. There wasn't a great deal of traffic on the Long Island Expressway until I was close to the city. Now, I have to believe there was an easier way, but my Garmin GPS, for whatever reason, decided I needed to go through the Midtown Tunnel which, unfortunately, meant that I got to drive through the city to get to it.


Driving into the greatest city in the world...

Now, it could've been a quicker drive, but two things played a major role in slowing my progress into New Jersey and points south. First, there's ever-present construction. GPS will take you to make a left, the road will be closed and you'll have to take a detour. Unfortunately, many of the construction detours are poorly marked and GPS doesn't take detours into account.

What a fun time.

The other thing that impacted the drive through the city was the fact that President Trump was attending an event on board the Intrepid, so cops were everywhere. Somehow, I managed to get to the tunnel and move along my way:



The rest of the drive was great. Mark recommended a different route, once I'd gotten into New Jersey, than the one I'd originally planned and, to be honest, it was a lot nicer.

This leg of the trip was pretty much all relaxation, although I did meet some folks that I shoot for out of Hunt Valley, Maryland. We talked some business, threw back a few beers and just enjoyed hanging out.

Sunday would have me back on the road to Florida, and I was certainly ready. I love traveling, but I also love getting home, too...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Long Island...

I always love getting back to Long Island.

Along with the fact that there's no better pizza on the planet, or better bagels, the fact remains that I have a few very dear friends on the Island that I just can't see enough.

The drive from Rochester wasn't bad. I stopped for some gas, got some coffee and hit the road. Now, for a moment, let's talk about that coffee. In another life, I traveled extensively throughout Canada. Hell, I'm pretty confident I've seen more of Canada than most Canadians. One of the best things about Canada, being a coffee drinker, was Tim Horton's. "Timmy's" is like the Dunkin' Donuts of Canada. Well, after I got gas I looked for a place to get a cup of coffee (I wasn't diggin' the gas station coffee). You can, I'm sure, imagine my amazement when I discovered that Tim Horton's has come south of the border. 'Tis a good day that starts out right, and then day couldn't have started out any better.

The best coffee ever...

The weather was less than perfect. It had rained overnight, so the roads were wet and slick. It was still drizzling a bit, but at least it wasn't the torrential rain which we'd apparently had overnight (I'm not a huge fan of driving in hard rain).

I pointed the car south and pressed the gas.

The drive was pretty uneventful until I started getting close to New York City. People in places like Atlanta and Los Angeles like to bitch about their traffic but, when all is said and done, there's nothing like a good New York traffic jam. The bad part, though, is that a traffic jam in New York can stretch from the Bronx to Hauppauge, 50 miles to the east on Long Island.

The Long Island Expressway. Enjoy your stay...


One thing I always like to do when I'm on the Island is drive past the old homestead. Oddly, the house seems smaller now. At one time (long after Mom sold it) it had fallen into a state of disrepair which was sad to see. Whoever owns it now, though, has done a real nice job of making repairs and cleaning the place up. Most interesting to me, though, is that there were two huge pine trees in the front yard. Today, there's but one.

438 Townline Road in Hauppauge...

The best part of this house, for me, was the front porch. We were famous for having friends over on a rainy weekend afternoon, guitars and beers in hand, jamming on the front porch. No huge, legendary parties. Just good times with good friends.

I found my way to my friend Eileen's house. I have three truly dear friends in this world who I would literally do anything for, and Eileen's one of them. She graciously opens her home and puts up with me every time I visit Long Island. She's a pretty damn good cook, too, so  there's that. Her grilled salmon is pretty legendary and is, by a very wide margin, the best I've ever had.

Yes, please...

Eileen and me...

My stay on Long Island was as relaxing as I'd hoped it would be. Rochester was a whirlwind; something going on every day (not that I'm complaining). I was able to relax, see some old friends and I even got to do a couple of tattoo shoots with an old high school friend and her daughter and make the obligatory stop at the Palace Diner. Eileen made dinner for her and I and our friend Patty, as well.

Eileen, Patty and me...


As is so often the case, my visit to Long Island was over way too soon. I expected that, though. It doesn't matter if I stay two days or two weeks, when I'm on the Island I always find myself wishing I'd had another day or two.

My trip wasn't over yet, however, so goodbyes were said and I found myself back on the road, headed south.

Again...
















Thursday, May 11, 2017

Rochester Music Hall Of Fame

Of course, the major event happening in Rochester this weekend was the 2017 Rochester Music Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony. Now, to be completely honest, I thought it might be a bit hokey, but it's actually a pretty big deal. Held in Kodak Hall in the Eastman Theater (at the Eastman School of Music), the hall was sold out and Rochester's musical luminaries were in attendance.

The inductees were the late Lew Soloff (Blood, Sweat & Tears), Gary Lewis (Gary Lewis & The Playboys), local bluesman Joe Beard, composer Sam Adler, the late owner of legendary Rochester venue The Penny Arcade Greg Sullivan, and the late Rochester DJ Unkle Roger McCall. 

I was fortunate to be able to avail myself of the dressing room for Gary Lewis & The Playboys (my buddy Mike is his guitarist), so I wasn't really going to have to worry about where to stash my stuff during the show.

The ceremony, and specifically the musical performances, was absolutely fantastic, and I feel honored and humbled that I was asked to shoot it.

Legendary Blood, Sweat & Tears vocalist David Clayton Thomas...

Gary Lewis

Lou Gramm congratulates Gary Lewis...

A musical tribute to Unkle Roger McCall...

Lana Sullivan, widow of Penny Arcade owner Greg Sullivan...

Musical Director Jimmy Richmond...


Local bluesman Joe Beard...

Lou Gramm of Foreigner inducting Gary Lewis into the Hall of Fame...

Guitarist Don Mancuso...

I've known Mike since we were five. It's a rush to see him on such a stage and I couldn't be more proud of him...

Paul Shaffer (Saturday Night Live, Late Night with David Letterman) on the Hammond B3...

Paul Shaffer performs a version of Little Wing on the Steinway grand piano in tribute to Blood, Sweat & Tears trumpet player Lew Soloff. The song was requested by Soloff's two daughters...

A musical tribute to Penny Arcade owner Greg Sullivan. Phil Naro, Mike Gladstone, Don Mancuso and Rob Smith...

Composer Sam Adler accepting his induction...
 
This was the first time I've ever photographed an event like this. It was a combination of concert, awards show and Broadway production. The people who put this thing together accepted a monumental task requiring Herculean efforts by all, and they pulled it off flawlessly...

Junkyard Fieldtrip...

Following the Hall of Fame rehearsals, we had to get back to Mike's house to get ready for the CD release for his band's new album, taking place at Record Archive in Rochester. Junkyard Fieldtrip is Mike Gladstone (guitar, vocals), Rob Smith (guitar, vocals), Don Torpy (bass guitar) and Emmett Ientilucci (drums, percussion, vocals).

Mike had sent me a pre-mastered version of the CD which made its way into regular rotation in my car stereo. Once I got to Mike's house, though, he sat me down in his studio and had me listen to the entire mastered disc, and I was pretty blown away. I knew it would be a hit at the release party. Mike was expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 people. If I were to guess, there may have been half again as many people once the band started playing.

The band Woody Dodge, which includes my buddy Jon Gary on bass (Mike Gladstone's an alumni, as well) opened the show and, although the room was already crowded, people continued to stream in during their set.


Woody Dodge
 



Not long after Woody Dodge wrapped their set, "JYFT" was on stage and ready to go.



The record store, Record Archive, has its own performance venue and bar...


Emmett Ientilucci

Don Torpy




Featured sideman Michael Edwards...
Rob Smith

 



 

Mike Gladstone
The event was an unqualified success, and that was great to see. Countless people stayed after the show to talk to the band or to have them sign a CD (of which many were sold that night). If you're at all interested, you can get the CD on Amazon. Pretty sure you can get it at Reverb Nation, as well.




Gettysburg...

I consider myself fortunate in that I've done a lot of traveling. In my life I've walked in 19 countries on five continents and...