Living in a small town gave me an affinity for any and every sign of urbanity as a child. I didn’t care what it was so long as it signaled that many people from many different places were living within one area and generating ideas together, or at least in the midst of one another. Having been born in Baltimore and raised in the country in Ohio, my family took frequent trips back to the East Coast while I was growing up. I always knew we were in the city when I saw graffiti. And sometimes I was lucky and spotted more than just graffiti – bona fide street art. Street art has appealed to me in this nostalgic way ever since. And because we don’t necessarily expect it to be good, it takes us especially by surprise when it is.
I was driving around the West Coast aimlessly in February of 2011. It was chillier than I hoped it would be, but I bundled up. I’d been thinking about California’s Highway 1 longingly ever since I drove down it in 2007 and I’d been hoping to replay the visuals I’d stored with such care in my quick-draw, long-term memory. I didn’t get far along Highway 1 before I was asked to turn back – the roads were flooding from the pooling of the incessant rain. When I was driving around the coastal roads of Oregon and California in 2007, I was driving south toward the launching city for my summer tour and sleeping in my van. In retrospect, I think I was trying to recreate that experience in 2011.
(Photos By: Ben Britz)
It’s the weekend of one of New York City’s Holi Festival of Colors and spring is just beginning to appear in the cloudless and bright blue sky. This particular event is being held outdoors in an elusive location in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The address was only released a few days ago and it seems attractively random. The nearest subway train is a mile from the fenced parking lot that will set the stage for the night. I know little of what to expect because although Holi is traditionally a Hindu celebration held for the sake of spring and oneness, this isn’t an exclusively Hindu event and I suspect a lot of people will probably be on drugs and with that in mind, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a religious event like this one before. Even if only tangentially religious.
Model: Eliza Lynn Spear
Photographer: Ben Britz
Edited By: Elizabeth Seward
Model: Alessa Pomerantz
Photographer: Ben Britz
Edited By: Elizabeth Seward
So proud of my friend Christine for having lent her voice so beautifully to this song.
“Looking the way I look, the way this man looks, is rare in this area of the world, he said. It’s exotic.”
The Yucatan peninsula lies on limestone bedrock. Water erodes passageways through limestone in a sporadic sort of way in this area. Andrew Kinkella, a Maya archaeologist, describes what happens as a “Swiss-cheese effect underground.” Some of these eroded passageways have ceilings that eventually collapse after enough of the limestone beneath has been etched away. From land-view, they’re sinkholes. If the hole reaches below the water table, a cenote is created.
The sun was beginning its afternoon descent just ahead of me where the horizon meets the long stretch of road. Since I’d decided to take the free roads from Cancun to Merida instead of the more time efficient toll highway, I still had a few hours to go before I’d get to my hotel in Merida at the pace I was going. And still, I wanted to stop at a cenote somewhere along the way. I’d read about three cenotes in the town of Valladolid, which I would be passing through soon. Although I’d intended to go to the most famous of the three, Dzitnup, the signs for Suytun caught my eye as I passed them and I turned the car around a half-mile or so down the road to explore.
“Dog!” I exclaimed to my husband, who was driving our small rental car along a toll-free road that meanders slowly through the towns of the Yucatan, slowly meandering much like the many stray dogs along these roads. Sometimes the dogs would sleepily walk into the road and stop, find a warm spot and lay down in the sun. These dogs don’t know about time; their previous moments determine their next and that is all. I rescued one of my two dogs a year ago from a street in Laredo. He casually trotted in front of a car that screeched to a halt to avoid hitting him while I closed my eyes and hoped for the best. When I peeked out to see that he’d made it back onto the sidewalk, I got out of the car and beckoned him over. He didn’t have tags, a chip, “wanted” signs or any ads online. And so I took him home with me and he’s been a part of my family ever since.
The last thing I wanted to do during my recent trip to the Yucatan was hit a dog, so I watched the roads vigilantly as my husband drove. We didn’t hit any dogs while we drove around the peninsula, but we came close. Since there are so many stray dogs in the Yucatan, they don’t get spayed or neutered and the stray dog population keeps growing. There isn’t any sort of government-operated SPCA or Humane Society in the Yucatan. Private organizations try to combat the situation and a Planned Pethood in the Yucatan aims to aggressively implement spay/neuter programs throughout the region, but the problem is still widely apparent. For anyone who has traveled to areas of the world wherein programs like these aren’t financed fixtures, stray dogs are usually just an unfortunate truth of travel.