Friends

That Time I Shot and Posted a Video to Instagram and It Became a Beat

Last week, a few of my friends and I went on a tour of four breweries in the Hudson Valley. At Plan Bee Farm Brewery in Poughkeepsie, they had a cornhole set up and a basketball court on the side of their building.

A cornhole board rests against a barn wall underneath a basketball court.

It was a cold day—somewhere in the low 30s—and the cornhole board was put away, resting against the barn. Also, because it was the coldest day in memory, we were all bundled up in winter coats: our unacclimated bodies weren’t yet used to 30° F.

One of us grabbed a basketball and took a few shots. I shot a few photos, and also a couple of videos. My friend Jackie, wearing a winter coat and boots, took a jump shot and made a basket. I had starting shooting just before she took the shot, and I stopped it after she walked away triumphantly. The video lasts all of two seconds.

I posted the short video to Instagram as a post. Over the last few months, I have really taken to posting Stories, but something told me this would be a good video post.

Watch the Instagram video with the sound on. It should loop, and if you listen to it a few times, you should start to notice a beat. I hadn’t noticed the beat until my friend Walter posted a video of my video playing with the sound on and looping. All the while, his girlfriend starts singing to the beat.

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Saw Juan’s video. One take.

A post shared by WALTER PLUFF (@walterpluff) on

The song is one made popular by Sam Cooke, “Bring it On Home to Me.”


It was one of the coolest things I have ever unwittingly and unknowingly participated. A lot of things had to go right:

  1. Jackie’s shot had to hit all of the things it did: first, it hit the basket and the rim. It also had to hit the out-of-place cornhole board and the concrete below. Also, our friend Ian had to affirmingly comment offscreen “there it is!”
  2. The start and end points of the video had to be in the right spot. Remember that I shot and posted the video without any editing. Also, I’ll confess that I forget that recording and posting videos to Instagram include sound. In my mind, I was shooting silent—or MOS, if I can use a term from film studies.
  3. Instagram had to loop the video and maintain a low and consistent latency to keep the start the loop again without missing a beat—so to speak.
  4. Walter had to have his Instagram app with the sound on. And he had to be in the room with his girlfriend within listening range to notice the beat.
  5. Walter’s girlfriend had to have a song come to mind and begin singing it.
  6. The two must have had two iPhones nearby: one to play my looped video, and one to record her performance.

For someone who studies creative works all the time, but can’t make anything to save his life, I am thrilled to have been a part of this. But all I did was having the right friends do the right things at the right time.

The Jobs Americans Do

Take some of the abundant leisure time that our post-industrial society has afforded you to read a series of nine portraits of working-class men and women in America, published last week in the New York Times Magazine. The article challenges the image of working-class jobs, which today are no longer in manufacturing as they were throughout most of the industrialized twentieth century.

The decline of the old working class has meant both an economic triumph for the nation and a personal tribulation for many of the workers. Technological progress has made American farms and factories more productive than ever, creating great wealth and cutting the cost of food and most other products. But the work no longer requires large numbers of workers.

But it’s not as if there are not any jobs. As we’ve known for decades, the working-class jobs of today are in services: health-care, education, hospitality, transportation, and customer service. Not only have the jobs changed, but they faces so have the faces of the American worker. “The emerging face of the American working class is,” as Binyamin Appelbaum succinctly summarized in the introduction to the article, “a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor.”

A different author writes each of the stories. On a personal note, I was thrilled to see that a college chum and fellow KCSB alumnus, Eric Steuer, penned one of the stories, about a customer service representative at Zappos in Las Vegas named Sandi Dolan.

Opening: Matt Dunn at Hill Street Country Club

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An old friend, Matt Dunn, will be showing some new paintings, drawings, and sculptures at a show called “Anti-Analogy” at the Hill Street Country Club, in Oceanside, California.

I won’t be able to the opening since I won’t be in California for the foreseeable future, but if you’re in the area, please stop by and say “hi” to Matt for me, and tell him I sent you.

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My Friends Run Marathons

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As much ado I make about riding a bicycle, I am in awe of runners. I can’t run the 240 feet of a softball home run, which is why I swing for a line drive, so I admire my friends who run the New York City Marathon.

Living on the route in Long Island City, I get to celebrate and watch as nearly fifty thousand runners come through our neighborhood. After the marathon was cancelled last year due to Sandy, it was great to have the marathon return to our streets this year and to watch friends run today. Congratulations!

Cara

Cara!

Cara posted a photo of her running clothes on Facebook so I found her in the crowd rather easily. She also looked for me and found me quickly. Thanks for the wave!

Michele

Michele was running her first marathon today. She finished with a respectable time, and I’m really proud to have seen her.

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Mario

Mario!

Sarah’s former roommate Mario ran today. I saw him and recognized him, thinking he looked familiar. This was one of my favorite shots I took of today’s marathon.

Steve

We Missed Steve

Steve was the only one who requested that we have something for him as we passed us. But he looked right passed us and didn’t see us. We yelled his name, but he continued towards the 3:45 pace he was running. We didn’t get to give him his orange slices. He ultimately finished at 4:46. He probably could have used those orange slices.

FMIG was once Steve’s nickname. I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you what it means.

Moving Day Rules

Why do I agree to do this?

The consensus is clear. Helping a friend move from one apartment to another is one of the most generous things you can do. It always seems like one of the most unpleasant experiences in the world, even if most intracity moves only take a few hours. But since everyone recognizes the sheer unpleasantness of the moving-day experience, we’ve developed a few rules and truths about the process to make it more palatable.

  1. The person who is moving must carry the heaviest items. These items include the mattress, which is not only heavy but incredibly awkward, the air-conditioning window unit, and table, and any large shelving units. This also include any flat-screen television set because if anyone is going to drop something like that, it should be the set’s owner.
  2. Your volunteer movers get a free lunch and maybe a few beers. I once took this to an extreme. I had a mid-morning move, and at the “old” apartment, I bought a bunch of bagels, smear, coffee, and juice for my four friends who helped me move that morning. I bought way too much and ended up with a surplus of food that, you guessed it, I had to move to the new place.
  3. There’s usually an MVP for the move. Almost without exception, there’s someone who determinedly takes charge, moving a ton of boxes, or even grabbing the biggest and heaviest items. This has probably never been me.
  4. Don’t ask me to move you more than once a year. Moving? Yes, I will help you but only once a year. Otherwise, you can expect me to be “busy.” However, I just broke this personal rule, helping a friend move in mid-February and again this past weekend.
  5. Ask all of your able-bodied friends. Nothing has been more frustrating than to arrive at the move, and find that you’re the only friend your buddy asked for help. This happened years ago, well before I moved to New York, and that move took about eight hours. Aside from my own moves, I had never been more exhausted than I was after this move. A couple of other bodies would have made it so much easier.

Of course, these rules really only apply for moves you volunteer to help. A few times, I have helped move friends who have paid me. Ordinarily, it feels unseemly accepting cash, but there are a few factors for making it acceptable.

One reason is because a friend can’t participate in the move. One reason we all volunteer, other than to be of service to a friend, is reciprocity. I help move with the expectation that my friend will be there when I need to move. However, if a friend can’t lift things, because of a bad back or other ailments, then they wouldn’t be able to help with my move. In those limited cases, they have offered to pay me. One friend paid me to help them move for a different reason: neither she nor her boyfriend had a driver license. They needed me to rent and drive a truck for them. Although they didn’t expect me to do so, I helped load and unload.

Over the years, the frequency of helping friends move has been declining. As we get older, we hire movers.

Lauren Elder Performs at Joe’s Pub

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Lauren Elder performed at Joe’s Pub on one of my favorite days of the calendar: the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Although Lauren was in the Public Theater’s and Broadway revival show of Hair, this was her biggest show to date. Here are some of the photos from this November 21, 2012 concert.

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My favorite shot of the night is of an eyeline gaze between Lauren and her mother. Lauren’s mother had came all the way from California to see the show, and her glowing expression of pride was really moving. Because Joe’s Pub does not allow flash photography, I had to make do with two subjects in very different light, but I think the moment comes through.