Cuba: Salsa Sundays…

This blog is dedicated to the wonderful Cuban music found throughout the island. I plan on posting Cuba: Salsa Sundays over the next few weeks. BTW…Salsa is only a small part of Cuban music (yes, I could have used ‘Mambo Mondays’ etc.) but I thought listening/watching  this on a Sunday morning could only make for a better weekend day!

The video was taken at The Brisas Resort Hotel in Trinidad, Cuba. After a long day of walking and shooting in the town itself, it was always great to come back to our hotel and be entertained by groups like this each night.

I am unashamedly  borrowing from my friend Bob Towery’s  “Wordless Wednesdays”  page on his blog site: “Dream Tomorrow, Live Today, Cherish yesterday” [bobtowery.typepad.com]. Thanks Bob!

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Cuba: Ballet Nacional de Cuba…

The Corps rehearses for the evening performance...

Ballet Nacional de Cuba (National Ballet of Cuba – duh!)

On our second day in Havana we had the opportunity to shoot a dress rehearsal of the National Ballet as they prepared for the evening’s performance. Not sure of which  it was but it has Scottish origins.

Front row seats to shoot the rehearsal...Oh Joe, they ain't dancin' on the ceiling!

The Cuban National Ballet   is a classical ballet company based at the The Great Theatre of Havana, Cuba. Founded by the Cuban  Alicia Alonso in 1948, it has become recognized as one of the world’s leading ballet companies. The official school of the company is the Cuban National Ballet School which I believe is who we were watching rehearse.

The principal venue is the Garcia Lorca Auditorium, which seats 1,500, provides a stage for the Cuban National Ballet Company, as well as for other dance and musical performances.

The Garcia Lorca Auditorium...

The lobby...

The company was founded by Alicia Alonso, her husband Fernando and Fernando’s brother Alberto on October 28, 1948 as Alicia Alonso Ballet Company. Two years later, a school was established to create a strong artistic vision and promote the talents of young Cuban dancers. Alicia Alonso set a tradition of Romantic and Classical excellence while encouraging the development of new choreography.

Although the school was thriving artistically, it struggled financially. When Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959, he had a commitment to level the social structure and to make the arts available to everyone. “The old government was out and the new hope was coming for the arts and the ballet in Cuba,” recalled Margarita de Saá, former BNC ballerina. The coming of the Revolution marked the beginning of a new stage for the Cuban ballet, Castro gave $200,000 to Alonso, a supporter of the revolution. With state funding, suddenly the ballet became important to the country and its identity.

Here’s a brief look at some of the images from the rehearsal. It was extremely dark in the theatre and we relied on stage lighting for most of the shots. The brides white dress was almost impossible to get correctly. Oh well, it was a great experience anyways.

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CUBA: The People …

Lady with red furniture...

The People of Cuba…

One of the most impressive things for me on this trip was how friendly the Cuban people are. Most wanted their photo taken. In fact, many got so excited they couldn’t stop posing and looking into my LCD screen. It was great!

Here are a few images taken on my first day in Havana. This is only the beginning but I’ve been asked by several people to start posting my Cuba blog so here it is…

Lady with a sandwich...

Green Umbrella...

Street Artist...

Street beggar...

CUBA: An Introduction…

Well we’re back from 10 great days in Cuba. It was probably one of, if not the best place I’ve visited, not only for its visual imagery but for its people, music and excitement 24/7.  While I’ll be processing the blog images for future postings I thought that this little video would give an excellent introduction of what life is like in Old Havana.

The voice you heard in the beginning of the video is that of my friend Joe who along with Chris and Scott were on this stroll in a quest for a local brewpub and Cuban music. While rum is the drink of choice in Cuba, the beers at this brewpub were excellent and well worth the walk.

Stay tuned for more blogs, images and videos from this interesting, exciting island.

The Borscht Belt Revisited III: December 2011…

Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park, NY

The Journey Continues…

When we finally left the Palms CC we continued on our journey to find the Tamarack Lodge and see if there was anything left there to shoot. Well, we were very lucky, as the hotel while in total disrepair, was still safe enough to enter and shoot.

The Main Entrance, Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park...

As you look at the image above of the Main Entrance to Tamarack, you can see two prominent buildings. The one on the left with the large glass windows houses the swimming pool

Swimming Pool, Tamarack Lodge...it's a lot bigger than it looks...

The building on the right houses the Casino. The casino is the entertainment center of the hotels and bungalows. It is where they have the evening entertainment, dances, bingo, etc… (Think Dirty Dancing).  In 2001, the Western Mohegan Tribe and Nation obtained the title for the Tamarack Hotel complex. There were signs indicating a Native American Museum was going to be located here but since 2001 little work has been done…

Teepee in the casino...

We went around to the back entrance of the hotel. We found these chairs ready to be discarded…

Chairs...Tamarack Lodge...

Chairs...Tamarack Lodge...

There are several buildings on the Tamarack property that housed guest rooms. Here’s  how they look today…

Room 204...Tamarack Lodge...

Guest Room...Tamarack Lodge...

Ghostly Image...Tamarack Lodge...

The Blue Bungalows…aka Tamarack Bungalows…

Just outside the Tamarack property we found the “Blue” Bungalow Colony. It was through this property that we were able to gain access to the Lodge. The bungalows were in pretty bad shape but from the newspapers and other things left behind it was clear that people had been “squatting”  here recently. Of course not all of inhabitants were able to get away…

The visitor who forgot to leave...

The cabins were all painted blue to go along with the colors of the lodge… My guess is that if you lived in one of these bungalows you were allowed access to the Tamarack facilities since there was no pool, lake, casino, etc…

Blue Bungalows 1...Tamarack Lodge...

Bench...Blue Bungalows 2...Tamarack Lodge...

Blue Bungalows 3...Tamarack Lodge...

I thank you for your positive comments and hope that these blogs have stirred some fond memories of better days in the Borscht Belt. This is the last blog from our trip. We look forward to returning soon, as there are so many places left to discover and shoot.

The Borscht Belt Revisited II: December, 2011…

"The Hacienda"...Palms CC

Our Journey Continues…

So, we left the Bungalow Colony outside of the Pines Hotel and headed towards The Tamarack Lodge, which was one of the great hotels during the era we are talking about. But, as photographers, there are many other images available to us, so here’s a look at some of them.

After shooting the bungalows we crossed over a portion of Pleasure Lake which is located in South Fallsburg

Pleasure Lake rapids...

and continued on our photographic/memory journey.

Zeiger’s, El Dorado or The Palms CC…

The Swimming Pool @ The Palms CC...

After shooting the rapids, and almost falling in, we headed towards the Tamarack. But, there is soooo much to shoot here that our journey took several detours. We came upon the Palms CC which was also known as The El Dorado and Zeiger’s Hotel. We were unfamiliar with this hotel. We saw that  part of it is being used as a synagogue by an Hasidic Bungalow Colony located next door.

Once the Dining Hall/Casino...this building now serves as a Synagogue...

The swimming pool, long abandoned, is a great place to shoot if you can stand the smell of mildew and decay…

Swimming Pool, Palms CC...

No Lifeguard on Duty...

Swimming Pool, Palms CC...

Swimming Pool, Palms CC...

The main desk/reception area is looking for new customers…no takers here!

Main Reception area...

Mail room, Palms CC...

The main hall of the hotel has a wonderful fireplace and the remains of days past…

Kermit stayed at the Palms...

Did Mike Tyson train here? He did train in the Catskills, didn't he?

The rooms at the Palms may need a bit of tidying…

The Hacienda, Palms CC...

Will someone please call housekeeping?

Peeping into one of the rooms...

The Hallway in The Hacienda building...Is this considered a fire hazard?

Our journey continues in the next blog…I hope that you are enjoying these as much as I am in shooting, writing and posting. Your comments are always  appreciated…

The Borscht Belt Revisited 1: December 2011…

Bungalows, South Fallsburg, NY...Dec. 2011

Memories Unrealized…

Eileen and I, along with two wonderful photography friends, recently took a trip to the “Jewish Catskills” to see what remained of our memories of years past. For those of you who did not grow up in Brooklyn (and environs) in the ’50’s let me try and explain. Back in the ’50’s there was no such thing as air conditioning, so, when summer came and school was out, much of the city emptied as our families headed upstate to what we know as The Borscht Belt, the “Jewish Catskills”.

My family would go every summer to Meisel’s Bungalow Colony in the Ellenville, NY area. My mother, sister and I would stay the whole summer while my dad would make the weekend commute with all the other fathers. Eileen, on the other hand, would come up for a couple of weeks each year and stay in a bungalow colony in South Fallsburg, NY.

The Trip Up to the Catskills…

Back in the day, when we would travel from Brooklyn to the Catskills, there was no NY Thruway to travel on, so we would take good old Route 17. One stop that everyone, and I mean everyone, made was at the Red Apple Rest. Now, long in disrepair, the Red Apple Rest was our family and many other’s  pit stop. I’m sure that those of  you who made this trip have fond memories of stopping there.

On an earlier trip I took some images of what remains of  The Red Apple Rest.

Red Apple Rest...2011!

South Fallsburg…

Our destination was the South Fallsburg area as Eileen has not been there in over 40 years (a long trip from Israel) and she wanted to see what remained and if she could locate the bungalow colony her family went to. Well, things have certainly changed in 40+ years, and I think Eileen was a bit surprised that the area has changed so much. In the town proper, the only place that remained that she was familiar with was the Rivoli movie theatre.

The Rivoli...December 2011...

One of the big hotels in South Fallsburg, long gone now, was The Pines. We headed out to find it, but we were greatly disappointed as the hotel has been pretty much totally destroyed and we thought might be too dangerous to go inside to do some shooting. We did find an old, non-running bungalow colony just outside the hotel so we stopped there for a few shots. I say ‘non-running‘ because many of the bungalow colonies have been taken over by Orthodox Jews, mostly Hasidic, and while closed now for the winter, are very viable during the summer months.

Bungalow Colony 1, South Fallsburg, NY - December 2011...

Bungalow Colony 2, South Fallsburg, NY - December 2011...

Bungalow Colony 3, South Fallsburg, NY - December 2011...

The Kitchen, Bungalow Colony , South Fallsburg, NY - December 2011...

Our trip continues in the next blog. Bet you can’t wait!  🙂