Monday, December 6, 2010


Do you know anything about a guy going around playing the harmonica? He's someone you'd remember. Instead of talking, he plays. And when he better play, he talks...
 --Cheyenne, Once Upon a Time in the West

One of the single most moving experiences I've ever had in a cemetery, slowly ambling up to the grave of Charles Bronson, all alone in the middle of nowhere, while listening to the hauntingly sparse Harmonica Theme from Once Upon a Time in the West while a light snowfall accentuated the silence of world all around. It left me with goosebumps.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Great White Whale: The Grave of Herman Melville

If I wasn't Herman Melville, I was at least, by God, his ouija board, and he was moving my planchette. Or his literary force, compressed all these months, was spouting out of my fingertips as if I had turned on all faucets. I mumbled and muttered and mourned and yelled through the morning, all through noontime, and leaning into my usual nap time. But there was no tiredness, only the fierce and steady and joyful and triumphant banging away at my machine with the pages littering the floor and Ahab crying destruction over the right shoulder and old Herman bawling destruction over the left.     
                                                                       -- Ray Bradbury

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jim Jones, The Woodstock Cult and the Death of America with the Big Z

Every generation reaches a peak, and for the unlucky bunch of knuckle-draggers at the dawn of the twenty-first century, the “Rally to Restore Sanity” is probably as close to the summit as any of us will ever get. We will never walk hand in hand on the mountaintop with the snow leopards, and once this shindig is all said and done, there will be nothing left to do but sit back and drink the Kool-Aid. Or, more specifically, the grape-aid, but in times like these, we’ll have to make do with whatever artificial fruit drink best holds the muscle relaxers and cyanide. Beggars can’t be choosers, and once this dance is done, the pinnacle of our generation will have passed and the storm clouds will begin to gather over our country like the shifting darkness of a mid-Western storm that presages an F-5 tornado.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


 "Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death..."
-- Ayn Rand

The day before I checked out Emily Dickinson, I headed to the perfect town to investigate cemeteries -- Valhalla -- to skulk around Mount Kisco Cemetery. I went for Sergi Rachmaninoff, but I decided to stick around for Ayn Rand. I will post the Rachmaninoff photos later, but I'm really happy with the Rand photos, so I'm throwing them up first. I think the first photo is one of the best I've ever taken. Enjoy...

Monday, October 18, 2010


A venture to the grave of Emily Dickinson with friends Jessica Ankeny and Melissa Faliveno. Poor planning on my part meant that we arrived at a house that was closed. Yet somehow it seemed oddly fitting, that we were denied entry into Emily's world, as if she were still alive and too withdrawn to greet some long-traveled guests.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Derby in the Burbs

Race Between Jammers, Providence/Steel City

Even without being in school anymore, it seems as if September is still the time of learning for me. Last week I was lucky enough to visit the Met for the first time as part of Caitlin Thomson's project, A Month at the Met. Yesterday I met up with another great SLC writer, Melissa Faliveno, to check out some roller derby. Suburbia Roller Derby of Westchester was hosting the East Regional Tournament, bringing together 12 teams from Montreal to Carolina, with the top three heading to Chicago for Nationals.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Photo courtesy: (all others by S. Pause)
First she was just a figure moving toward me in the distance, among a great many others doing the same thing. A second later she was a girl. Then she became a pretty girl, exquisitely dressed. Next a responsive girl, whose eyes said “Are you lonely?,” whose shade of a smile said, “Then speak.” And by that time we had reached and were almost passing one another…
      -- Cornell Woolrich, Manhattan Love Song


First trip to the Met, Part II

This is the second set of photos that I took on Sunday. Later tonight I'll have an essay that I wrote about a very special painting. Be sure to check back! And don't forget to check out Caitlin's blog:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

First trip to the Met, Part I

My friend and fellow SLC writer Caitlin Thomson is doing a project called "A Month at the Met." She is visiting and writing at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art every day in September. Today she was kind enough to let me join her. I'd never been before, and I couldn't think of a better guide. I'm writing a piece for her blog, which I'll also post here (probably tomorrow), but for now I wanted to start showing off the photos I took. I will also post a second blog with more photos tomorrow. Security confiscated my tripod, but I still managed to get some decent shots of works inside. Be sure to check out Caitlin's blog: 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Coolidge Boys, Plymouth Notch, Vermont

We do not know what might have happened to him under other circumstances, but if I had not been President he would not have raised a blister on his toe, which resulted in blood poisoning, playing lawn tennis in the South Grounds.
In his suffering he was asking me to make him well. I could not. When he went the power of the Presidency went with him.
The ways of Providence are often beyond understanding. It seemed to me that the world had need of the work that it was probable he could do.
I do not know why such a price was exacted for occupying the White House. 
-- The Autobiography of Calvin Coolidge

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Green-Wood Cemetery: September 11, 2010

Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery, Section 34. There are at least 21 victims there. The first photo was one of the most difficult I have ever taken. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Travels with Chet

I've been to the grave of Chester Arthur a handful of times, and I always try to find a new way to photograph it. This is my latest attempt. Once I realized that Arthur isn't actually buried in the black marble sarcophagus, I had no problem climbing on it to get these shots...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hitchcock Day 7 - Spellbound (1945)

Spellbound - 1945
Gregory Peck, Ingmar Bergman

Hitchcock Day 6 - Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Shadow of a Doubt - 1943
Joseph Cotton, Teresa Wright 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Hitchcock Day 5 - Saboteur (1942)

Saboteur – 1942
Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lane

First off, Priscilla Lane. Wow.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hitchcock Day 4 - Suspicion (1941)

Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hitchcock Day 3 - Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)
Robert Montgomery, Carole Lombard

The words “Alfred Hitchcock” and “screwball comedy” should never be used in the same sentence. Montgomery and Lombard play a free-spirited husand and wife, Lombard asks if Montgomery could do it all over again, would he still marry her. Montgomery says no, he liked his bachelor life, only to find out that same day that their marriage certificate was no good. Hijinx ensue, drawing the couple far apart and then back together at the end.

It’s memorable as being the penultimate Carole Lombard film. Lombard died on TWA Flight 3 in January 1942.

If you want a screwball comedy from the 40’s, try His Girl Friday, much better dialogue and Cary Grant. If you want a better husband/wife film, see the 1934 adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man:
“Is he working on a case?”
“Yes, he is.”
“What case?”
“A case of scotch. Pitch in and help him.”

Makes me that much more excited to get on to the next film of 1941, Suspicion.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hitchcock Day 2 - Foreign Correspondent (1940)

June 2
Joel McCrea, Lorraine Day

It’s one of the only Hitchcock films not to have an actor recognizable today (few people remember McCrea as the Virginian or Day in Dr. Kildare). Strangers on a Train only had Farley Granger, but that one also had a script by Raymond Chandler based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. Partly because of this, Foreign Correspondent is one of Hitchcock’s lesser known films (this coming from the guy who has now seen only four of them). It was nominated for Best Picture in 1940 but lost to Hitchcock’s other film, Rebecca. Joel McCrae plays an American reporter sent to Europe in late 1939 to act as a foreign correspondent during peace talks, only to get caught up in the assignation of a diplomat.

McCrea has a role similar to Joan Fontaine in Rebecca, beginning as reporter with no correspondence experience and little care for the coming war in Europe. When his editor asks, “How would you like to cover the biggest story in the world today?,” McCrea responds, “Give me and expense account and I'll cover anything.” But as his nonchalance changes as he stands next to an assassinated Dutch diplomat and quickly begins a hunt for the killer and his conspirators, he gets swept up in the politics of pre-war Europe.

The most interesting thing about the film is its history. Released in August, 1940, a final scene was filmed on July 5, 1940, which depicted the German bombing of London. The actual bombing began five days later on July 10. It would go on to become a powerful message for pro-war America. Joseph Goebbels called it, “A masterpiece of propaganda, a first-class production which no doubt will make a certain impression upon the broad masses of the people in enemy countries.”

Why did he think that? Well, that final bombing scene includes a beautiful bit of American propaganda, with Joel McCrea giving a radio interview in London as the bombing commences. He refuses to go off the air as the bombing begins, every flees and the lights go out, the light cast only on him and his microphone. He is reminded by Lorraine Day, “They’re listening in America,” and from there he deviates from his script to ad-lib a patriotic cry in the darkness of the bombing for America to take note:

“I can't read the rest of the speech I had, because the lights have gone out, so I'll just have to talk off the cuff. All that noise you hear isn't static - it's death, coming to London. Yes, they're coming here now. You can hear the bombs falling on the streets and the homes. Don't tune me out, hang on a while - this is a big story, and you're part of it. It's too late to do anything here now except stand in the dark and let them come... as if the lights were all out everywhere, except in America. Keep those lights burning, cover them with steel, ring them with guns, build a canopy of battleships and bombing planes around them. Hello, America, hang on to your lights: they're the only lights left in the world!”

Oh, and about halfway through his speech an orchestral version of the Star Spangled Banner begins to fade in, and as “The End” appears with a stone eagle in the background.

Overall this film is okay, but I was unimpressed by the suspense or the love interest. There are a few scenes alone that have the typical Hitchcock flare, including the chase following the assassination, which began in a rainstorm, the pursuit shown overhead as umbrellas shift like cornstalks in a field tracing the chase. (see below). The plane crash at the conclusion is also wonderfully shot, and while it was an enjoyable movie, I can understand why it is one of the lesser known of Hitchcock’s films, despite its historic value.  

Tomorrow's film: 1941's Mr. and Mrs. Smith 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


The whole reason behind this project was the realization this semester that I had only ever seen one Hitchcock film in all my life (Pscyho – 1960). Since then I’ve seen one more, the Cornell Woolrich -inspired Rear Window (1954). That left 28 films of the master of suspense that I had yet to see. Since there were 30 days in June, I figured it the perfect time to watch all 30 of his films. I am going to try and watch them in chronologic order, but may have to substitute one or two if need be. I am also going to try to keep the blog up to date, but at some point I expect to fall behind, so be aware.  If anyone is intrigued enough to want to watch any of them, I can burn a copy for you. Or if anyone wants to join me, I don’t have to watch all 30 alone.

That said, here we go…


REBECCA – 1940 
Lawrence Olivier, Joan Fontaine

This is the first of Hitchcock’s American-made films and the first of two released in 1940. It stars British actor Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine (the sister of Olivia De Havilland) as a husband and wife who struggle to make their new marriage work despite the lingering influence of Olivier’s deceased wife, Rebecca.

Expecting a Hitchcock film, my first reaction is that the film drags for the first half. Joan Fontaine keeps the film moving as she comes up against leery housekeepers who refuse to accept her as the new Mrs. de Winter. Fontaine, who was not the first choice for the film (Olivier wanted his girlfriend Vivien Leigh, producer Selznick wanted Carole Lombard), excels in the role, going from the innocent wife blinded by love to the outcast in a house dominated by a dead woman to the supportive wife faced with her husband’s terrible past. Fontaine was  nominated for Best Actress for her role, which she didn’t win, but a year later she would become the first and only actress in a Hitchcock film to win the award for her role in Suspicion (which I will get to later in the week). The film is also notable for the fact that it was the only Hitchcock film to win Best Picture, which, since it is only the third of his that I have seen, I can’t say it is his best, but for a first effort it is surprisingly good, and has gotten me suitably excited for the rest of the month.

While Fontaine keeps the film moving, when the turn comes in the dead center of the film, Olivier takes over. Normally an expository scene can run dry, even when the likes of Humphrey Bogart explains the crime at the end of the film. But as Olivier describes the back story of Rebecca’s demise, he takes command, hands jittery as he paces about the cabin explaining to his new wife what happed to his old wife. The two play off each other perfectly, Fontaine’s metamorphosis from pleasant lover to frightened wife complete as Olivier completes his story.

He describes her transformation perfectly:

“I can't forget what it's done to you. I've been thinking of nothing else since it happened. It's gone forever, that funny, young, lost look I loved won't ever come back. I killed that when I told you about Rebecca. It's gone. In a few hours, you've grown so much older.”

My favorite noir film is Laura (1944), not only because I am madly in love with Gene Tierney, but because it accomplishes one of the most difficult things in cinema: it builds up a character who is already dead. With Laura Otto Preminger achieves this through exposition on the part of investigating detectives and through flashbacks. Hitchcock fleshes out Rebecca through the overbearing reactions of the housekeepers to a Rebecca’s replacement, especially Mrs. Danvers, whose infatuation with Rebecca progressively drives her into a deeper psychosis. “You wouldn't think she'd been gone so long, would you,” she tells the new Mrs. de Winter.  “Sometimes, when I walk along the corridor, I fancy I hear her just behind me. That quick light step, I couldn't mistake it anywhere. It's not only in this room, it's in all the rooms in the house. I can almost hear it now.” The book The Black Dahlia accomplished this superbly as well, but the film failed to live up to the novel, so that film is a mediocre example of it. 

One small note that I loved was that Joan Fontaine has no name, she is simply referred to as Mrs. de Winter, as opposed to the old Mrs. de Winter, who is Rebecca, the title character. It is simple trick and subtly degrades the character a little further. 

Mrs. Danvers looms over the new Mrs. de Winter and 
tries to make her commit  suicide

The only thing that I disagreed with, as it the case with many films of the time, is that the ending was changed to suit the film code. Without giving away the ending, the way the book ended sounded much better.

Overall I still think it drags in the beginning, but the second half rolls as the details are unveiled and the impeccable Olivier is forced to balance the terrors of his past with his uncontrollable temper and Fontaine’s doe-eyed angel was deserving of an Oscar nod.

Tomorrow’s film, 1940’s Foreign Correspondent

(P.S. Here is a photo of the magnificent Gene Tierney...) 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Albany River Rats Alum/ Stanley Cup Finals Starting Goaltender

So here are a pair of hockey photos from the 2007-08 Albany River Rats. I post them because they feature Michael Leighton, who is currently goaltending for the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals. I hate the Flyers just about as much as I hate the Yankess, so I can't root for him, so I figured I'd post these instead.The first is just a shot of him turning aside a shot with his blocker. The second is him preparing to defend against a penalty shot by Graham Mink. It was two seasons ago, but I'm fairly certain he stopped Mink's shot. I was fortunate enough to meet Leighton and have him sign 8 x 10 prints of each. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Old Dominion: Day 4

It's a week later, but I finally got around to sorting through the final day's photos. Stuck in the freezing rain for three hours, the cemetery changed the time of the ceremony, so I got there just as the Army was packing up the tent and folding chairs. Made for a long, long drive home.

And of course, as an afterthought, James Monroe...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Old Dominion: Day 3

Day three was a trip back West to Montpelier,  the home of James Madison, the Father of the Constitution. All the driving and long hours made me go a little demented, so when Madison interrupted my reading of the Federalist Papers to show me what he and Dolly were reading in the backyard, I just had to take a peek...

The cold Virginia rain returned today, making photos of the house difficult, but I did my best. Much of the interior is bare, as they are still restoring the inside, but it was interesting nonetheless. The previous owners, the Du Pont family, gutted the inside, turning it into an art deco nightmare that the Madison Foundation is still working on reversing. They only finished with the outside restoration a year and half ago. 

As for Madison's grave, on the outskirts of the property, it was quite a sight, situated in small, bricked in family cemetery surrounded by penned in wild horses. Madison's grave is the tallest obelisk on the right; his wife Dolly's is the white marble one behind it. I have plenty of traditional photos of the grave, but that's no fun...

I spent an hour and a half waiting for the wild horses to stray into frame, and this is the best i could do...

Tomorrow it's on to downtown Richmond for the graves of James Monroe and John Tyler, then, if there is absolutely no traffic, a quaint seven hour drive to Yonkers. But seeing as how on Friday I ran into three hours of traffic between Richmond and Washington, I should be home sometime around midnight.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Old Dominion: Day 2, Part 2

As if spending the day with the spiritual father of the United States of America wasn't good enough, his dear friend James Monroe lived just down the road, so I had to check out his plantation, Ash Law-Highland. The white portion of the house is original to Monroe, while the yellow portion was added by a subsequent owner.


While Monroe isn't buried on his plantation, they did have a nice marble sculpture in the garden. Since there is no photography allowed inside and none of the plantation had grown in for the season, there wasn't much else to photograph. His grave will be on Monday...

Old Dominion: Day 2, Part 1

For a year and a half, I had owned a copy of the Declaration of Independence, purchased from an airport during a trip to Richard Nixon's grave, yet I had never actually read it. Thinking it might be one of those "perfect moments" that I am always seeking, I thought it would be fitting to read it at the grave of its author,Thomas Jefferson. Unfortunately, like the tomb of George Washington the day before, I wasn't able to get close to Jefferson's grave; the cast iron bars of the family cemetery prevented it. I still read it on the brick steps leading up to the grave, but it wasn't hardly a perfect moment. It was difficult too with a constant stream of tourists saying stupid  things like, "Why are there so many coins on the grave?" and "It's because he was in debt and people think it's funny." I explained to the two people who make a point to dig through change purses specifically for nickels that,  "Actually, Thomas Jefferson wouldn't like that at all. He never wanted his face on any coin... he thought it was something best reserved for Caesar."

Luckily for me however, I did have my perfect moment, just at a different spot on the grounds of Monticello.

This small brick enclosure, with 1,000 feet of garden behind it, looks over the vineyards on the terrace step below it and out at Jefferson's Tuffton plantation, barely visible from the treeline of the distant Rivana Valley, whose waters flow into the James River and all the way to Chesapeake Bay. The view?

Unfortunately the window to the left's beautiful view has been obscured by a recently built gift shop, but I'm sure the caramel popcorn and jam they have for sale  is worth destroying the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the tail end of which can be seen sloping off on the left.

The house itself, Monticello, isn't bad either. Not having the freezing rain that Mt. Vernon had made for some better photos too.