queens bridge - oh boy, it happens again. was leaning on the back of the fence separating the 'historical walk' from the one road running around the island, taking this picture over & over trying to get an acceptable exposure, when i hear a voice directly over my shoulder, asking me 'what are you doing, exactly?'

'wellll, taking pictures, walking around'

'taking pictures of what?'

'umm, this bridge. the island. the water. whatever looks neat, i guess'

that's when i turn around to see my interrogator is sitting down at the drivers wheel of a roosevelt island police car. whoa boy, here we go, again.

'is that a professional camera?'

'ah, guess it could be, i mean compared to point-and-shoots. but, no, not really, and i'm pretty far from a professional'

'well, i'm going to have to take your information, you understand. your name, address, all that stuff.'

at that point i looked at him. really looked at him. an older black guy, but something about him gave me a bit of hope. this is going to sound a bit silly, but he had a very gentle, kind look in his eyes, and although he was by definition a small-town cop, he wasn't showing any of that hardass swagger that those guys usually do. still, he had a badge, and lights, and was looking at me as a potential terrorist...

'oh, that's just great. then i get to be put on 'the list''

(had just been reading about how homeland security has 400,000ish (about 10%) of us on a 'watch list', and sometimes ya just don't know til you try to board a plane. am in no hurry to get on it(the list), or at least get extra checkmarks by my name. but reading about it is one thing, and talking about it another, and i even surprised myself, free-associating it out. more surprising was that he knew exactly what i was talking about)

'no, you don't go on the list just yet. we keep your information , and if there's ever a problem, THEN you go on the list and you can expect a call from the fbi'

[i'm guessing that's the unofficial list]

[so THAT'S how it works. good to know. millions of tourists taking millions of pics of nyc bridges, and if there's ever a problem, they'll call on me....]

there followed a funny little uncomfortable silence in which we just looked at each other. then he broke it, asking me if i was a student, you know, why are you out taking pictures. answered no, actually i manage a bookstore. incredibly, his eyes lit up.

'a bookstore. really? which one?'

"barnes & noble"

'wow! where at?'

'86th and lex'

'no kidding. wow. so.....are you going to make a book with your pictures?'

'um, yeah. yeah. that's it. i'm going to make a book. hopefull, if things work out. someday'

'so what do you take pictures of?'

'oh, everything new york. buildings, bridges, weird stuff, you know anything that looks interesting....'

'and you're gonna make a book?'

'well, yeah. hopefully, someday'

he really seemed to like the book idea. don't know if it was the book itself, or if it constituted a good enough reason to let me go. he looked out his windshield at different places, drummed his fingers on the wheel, and started to say a couple things, stopping mid-sentence each time. finally, he managed to spit out

'ok. it's ok. you just go on. ok. ahh, have a good day. you can go...alright'

and zipped off in his car.
it's really getting darn scary carrying a camera around nowadays. being aware of 'terrorism' is one thing, but jeez.... this unending war just creeps closer and closer in our lives everyday.

to mr. policeman, whereever you are - i don't mind that you stopped and talked to me, you were just doing the job that apparently we want you to, and communication is a good thing. and thank you! for having the cojones to use your common sense and not pplug my name into some huge database somewhere (i can probably do that myself just fine, typing this).

sincerely, me

9 comments so far...

Euzkerika Orozco April 11, 2008, 02:25 PM
wwoooaaaa... things are getting worse and worse while the days pass ha??

You had luck this time... but that's scary!! I believe something like this happened in London too not very long ago....hhmmmm sad! at least you could keep your camera and don't go in that black list.

..and ehem..ehem... cojones & common sense?? ...I think I've heard that before.. hehehehehhe

Euzkerika Orozco April 11, 2008, 02:27 PM
Beautiful picture, by the way :)
llllllllll April 11, 2008, 03:58 PM
dhania April 11, 2008, 04:48 PM
thanks for sharing. glad it worked out in the end. makes me sad...
insky April 12, 2008, 12:43 AM
thanks, euzie! makes me a bit sad too, dhania. wasn't sure at the time if it had ruined my day somewhat, or if i should be elated that the ole magic worked and i was let off the hook again. looking back thru the pics, the next twenty or so i took were utter crap, but i was looking forward too much to seeing the abandoned hospital (will upload the rest tonite) to let it keep me down. so, just sad that the 'mission creep' seems to be oozing merrily along its way
bere April 12, 2008, 02:44 AM
oh insky
good you are safe and the pix made it here too!
for our delight heh heh
(oh love the lightened tower trying to steal
like taking a peek to the camera
and don’t disappear from the dark big scratch-able belly of the bridge!)
and yes yes! scary story!!
guess for you not to miss
that power plant on 14th e street
with your friends the friendly guards…
vigilance, under surveillance
a silent repression at its best…
every war has its enemy-icons
going back to the comunisss
are you one too? heh heh
on the 50’s it was them!
or the hippies
before the witches
nowadays the fashion for the pensive
creative kind is to be a terrorist, apparently
and that list…
mmm, i am sure i was already there
but if not, maybe we all are going down
for commenting here ;)
damn survelliance!
when are these gringos going to learn?
not today
insky April 12, 2008, 05:01 AM
i am not a comuniss!! really
( maybe a witch, tho)
thx for the words, b
think i was born for the fifties
barely understood the eighties, and the times
now fully beyond my
328 helps, occasionally

still, cain't hardly believe what's become of this hardy breed

donna April 21, 2008, 02:36 AM
So sorry this has happened for the umpteenth time, insky.

We are caught up in such a tangled web of dementia these days. Born of post-9/11 hysteria.

If you haven't, I urge you
Watch Good Night and Good Luck. A brilliant film.
Intended as a statement about journalism--and it is. And yet, it's so much more.

Wholly relevant for today--simply substitute 'communist' with 'terrorist'.

The parallels are striking and unsettling--after all this time, what. have. we. learned.

Ethan May 10, 2008, 12:47 PM
Never mind, mandela's on it.
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