Random Places I Have Been in 2015

When I originally conceived this annual feature, the idea was to link pictures of the places I visited with ideas for stories, favorite movies or strange/funny anecdotes.  Well, have I got one for you folks this year.

While spending some time at Big Bass Lake in the Poconos Mountains, jaunts through Gouldsboro to grab provisions were inevitable.  It was on one fateful evening when we first got a glimpse of this saucy mannequin gracing the roof of a house like a pin-up model atop a Corvette’s hood.

Mannequins 6

We laughed, but then noticed that mannequin was not alone, and a whole family of mannequins were strewn about the yard in various poses, like they were a family.

Mannequins 8

We laughed nervously now, and then on the way back I tried to convince the others to stop so we could grab some pictures.  Suddenly, to our horror, a man (who looked like he walked off the set of True Detective Season One) was coming out of the side of the house (likely for the nightly inspection of his Mannequin Family) just as we were passing…prompting us to keep on passing (praying he didn’t see how slow we passed, with our shocked gawking), only to  pass a few moments later an abandoned double-wide trailer in the high weeds out of which came stumbling three tottering, torn-up, turned-out characters who looked like they wanted to hitchhike if only they could find the road five feet in front of them.  I imagined the trailer as part of the same Mannequin Cult Compound where meth-heads and drunks were lured by the Yellow King of Carcosa to be murdered and turned into mannequins to join the family.  The next morning I forced my significant other to pass by the site again, and this time we noticed another shop that had a creepy mannequin in the window (clearly the other boundary of what I was now referring to as The Poconos Mountain Mannequin Murder Cult Compound).

This time we got some pictures (like the ones above) – and narrowly escaped by the skin of our teeth (alas, no shots of the double-wide trailer were taken for fear of our lives).  And one day, a screenplay will be written.

Oh, and there were also more mundane, relaxing, less horror-movie-like trips to Saratoga Springs, NY (which included a stop at the lovely Yaddo Artist’s Retreat); Washington DC; and as always Cape May and Wildwood.

With a big trip to France next month (and an excursion to Chicago already in the past), it’s been a wonderful, weird and wild traveling year, with the best hopefully yet to come.

Enjoy the photos (presented in chronological order of trip):

Continue reading

Advertisements

Random Places I Have Been in 2014

Yes, I know we’re already half way through 2015, and I’ve got enough photos from random places I have been this year to create the annual post…but that will have to wait.  This is a catch up post where I will share some photography of random places I was in 2014.  I don’t know how this post slipped my mind last year, but here it is now, better late than never

2014 was marked by part-time Canadian living in Mississauga in the first half of the year and then big trips to Dublin, Ireland in the spring; San Francisco in the fall; and finally Boston (where we rang in the New Year).  But in between all that, there was plenty of day-tripping in the greater tri-state area from where these shots were captured.  Most notable, perhaps from a WTF perspective, were the infamous person in a pickle costume in Lancaster, PA (insert your own story here) and the insane doll-parts strewn Gloria Vanderbilt Dream Box art installation at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

Photographs by David H. Schleicher

Random Places I Have Been in 2013

There’s no rhyme or reason here, folks, just a collection of photos from random places I have been in 2013.  I’ve been all over the map (with Europe still to come later this month!) from the Caribbean to Canada and with plenty of local tri-state faves here on the Eastern Seaboard in between.

Bet you were expecting a story here or something, huh?  Well, some shots from the Cape May Lewes Ferry did inspire a short story about an elderly lady turned drug dealer.  And another creepy abandoned industrial building in Toronto is sure to inspire a story about dead bodies most certainly hidden there at some point in my near future.

But I’ll say nothing more and allow you to choose your own adventure with these shots.

Photographs and Story Ideas by David H. Schleicher

Of Canals, Lambertville and Nomad Pizza

There’s really no better way to spend a day off from work midweek than taking a long drive.  It’s especially nice on a beautiful pre-Fall day, and if it’s the first day your car has been out of the shop after an overnight stay for repairs, it’s even better.  I’ve long extolled the wonders of Bucks County, Pennsylvania with all of its wineries and covered bridges, but the towns running parallel to Bucks along the Delaware River on the New Jersey side offer their own rustic charms and often get overlooked.  Quaint historic towns running along the Delaware Raritan Canal in Hunterdon County and stretching across gorgeous wooded back roads into Mercer County (home of Princeton University) are more an extension of the small-town meets gentrified rural setting of Bucks County than they are a connecting strip to the New York-influenced North Jersey and Philly-influenced South Jersey megalopilises.

Last week I ventured up that way, stopping off at Washington’s Crossing State Park on the Jersey side before spending a few hours strolling through Lambertville. Continue reading

Dead by Daylight

It’s summertime!  And what comes to mind more than…yup, uh-huh…graveyards!

It might be the summer doldrums for refined film buffs — and if you consider yourself party to such self-inflicted snobbery, then pray your city has been one of the selected cities for Winter’s Bone’s limited release – it’s killer good and the perfect antithesis to summer movie hell.  Meanwhile every girl and woman you know is lining up for tonight’s midnight showing and about to go crazy over the latest in the Twilight Saga…dun dun dun…Eclipse!  Can you hear Bonnie Tyler now?  Turn around…

So, in the most tenuous of ties to the Total Eclipse of the Box Office, I have decided to post a hodge-podge collection of my daylight graveyard photography.  Some of these photos have been posted before in travel logs and some have never before seen the light of day.  The cemeteries visited span the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York. 

Ga’head, ladies, use your imagination and picture your favorite vampire or werewolf hunk amidst the trees and the stones.  Or better yet…don’t.  Continue reading

Weekending in Wildwood and Cape May

With the family renting a house for the week on Wildwood Crest, I spent the weekend at the Jersey Shore.  The Wildwood/Cape May area can be reached in about two hours from the South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia for day-tripping or weekend escapes — though on any given day during the height of summer, traffic can be backed-up on both the expressway and back roads, so be patient.  While modern resort-style over-development threw-up all over the signature Doo-Wop hotels in Wildwood proper, the Crest is home to blocks upon blocks of rental houses that offer some quiet and removal from the hustle and bustle of the world famous Wildwood Boardwalk.  Meanwhile, neighboring Cape May continues to offer a more refined but no less in-your-face quasi-European Victorian Era feel for travelers.  Both “cities” (and their sprawling outliers) pride themselves on delivering different kinds of time warps while boasting some of the oldest inns and lighthouses and largest beaches along the coast of New Jersey.  But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of room for all the stereotypical Jersey Shore mainstays…the boardwalks, the rides, the tacky souvenir shops, the New Yorkers, the screaming children, salt-water taffy, fudge and the wonderful smell from the marshes that can only be produced in the Garden State.  Continue reading

A Visit to Grounds for Sculpture

With the return of Spring comes the return of my Day-Tripping Series.  This week I made use of my new GPS system–oh, how I love it when she tells me in her British accent to “Get on the motorway”–and headed north to Hamilton, NJ to Grounds for Sculpture which is a mere forty-five minute drive from the immediate South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia.

The website for this beautifully landscaped outdoor park of sculpted and artistic wonders claims there is an entrance fee, but I walked onto the grounds freely, and I imagine so did all the children and their parents and teachers traipsing about.  The park has a gentrified zoo-like feel to it with people milling about and kids shouting, but luckily the grounds are vast enough that you can still capture a few good shots without having somebody walk into frame. Apart from the sculptures on display, there are also plenty of quiet hidden paths to meander about away from the fray of the main walkways. 

Here are some photos I captured on my walkabout Grounds for Sculpture: Continue reading

With a Head Full of Snow…

When the wind blows and the rain feels cold
With a head full of snow
With a head full of snow
In the window there’s a face you know
Don’t the nights pass slow
Don’t the nights pass slow

Even though The Rolling Stone’s “Moonlight Mile” is about a different kind of snow, the lyrics seem apt to describe the over-hyped winter storm that ushered in March of 2009.  Last night we all went to bed with heads full of snow and dreams of school closings and work stoppages and unplowed streets.

As the greater Philadelphia area continues to go through one of the coldest winters in memory, the entire Eastern Seaboard decided to tell Global Warming to “Get off our lawn!” as six to twelve inches of the white stuff was dumped from Atlanta to Boston Sunday night into Monday afternoon. Most snow connoisseurs will agree, this was some high quality blow, perfect for snowman and fort building and some of the best stuff we’ve experienced in years.

While driving into work, the flow of traffic prevented the madman-wannabe-photographer in me from capturing some of the more picturesque images. But part of the beauty of an open field blanketed in white or of snowdrifts collecting against farmhouses is that the perfection of the moment quickly fades, and even with a picture, you can’t take it with you. Only with the naked eye is the beauty true. Below are some of the fleeting images I did capture with my camera. Continue reading

A Review of Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler”

Evan Rachel Wood and Mickey Rourke walk along the lonely Jersey Shore on a cold winter's day in THE WRESTLER.

Evan Rachel Wood and Mickey Rourke walk along the lonely Jersey Shore on a cold winter's day in THE WRESTLER.

 Down and Out in New Jersey, 9 January 2009
7/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

A fading wrestling star (Mickey Rourke, perfectly cast) suffers a heart attack and must battle with being down and out in Sh*thole, New Jersey in Darren Aronofsky’s gritty character piece, The Wrestler.  Message to Hollywood: there actually are nice places in Jersey…really…I’m not joking…trust me…but that’s another story.

Aronofsky utilizes a self-consciously shaky camera and grainy cinematography to emphasize his depiction of a life literally on the ropes. For much of the film we are walking with the camera behind Rourke seeing everything from his point of view–another stylistic choice that may wear on some viewer’s nerves while seem like a stroke of genius to others.

Admittedly I’ve never understood the appeal of pro wrestling, but I imagined it could be a decent vehicle for a character drama. Aronofsky delivers a mixed bag in this respect. Despite the expertly edited piece detailing the humorously brutal and tragic bout that leads to the aforementioned heart attack and the match that closes the film, the remainder of the wrestling bits are unnecessary and really add nothing to the story. The scenes in a shady gentleman’s club (featuring a fabulously adept Marisa Tomei playing the over-the-hill but still hot stripper friend with a heart of gold) and the clips detailing Rourke’s character’s everyday struggles (including some great bits where he works a deli counter) are slightly more appealing and deliver some genuine moments. However, the scenes where he attempts to reconcile with his estranged daughter (an over-acting Evan Rachel Wood) seem staged and under-developed, which undermines the documentary style feel of the rest of the film. I won’t deny I felt something for these characters, but haven’t we seen this all before?

As finely tailored as Mickey Rourke is to his part, his is essentially a one-note character where we see him in varying stages of failure that lead him to believe the only place he can find acceptance is in the phony but dangerous world inside the ring. As good as Rourke and Tomei are, the script plays their story safe and succumbs to clichés. That being said, The Wrestler is still more engaging than your average Hollywood character study, and it’s worth viewing for the occasionally authentic moment and the fine performances from Rourke and Tomei. But as Bruce Springsteen’s theme song played over a black screen before the credits rolled, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for Rourke and his character–and maybe that was the point. They try their hardest, but the film in which they appear isn’t worth the hype.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database.

Places in the Heart

The tumultuous events of The Thief Maker span four decades and speckle the landscape of the East Coast from New York to South Carolina.  The novel takes place in “my own backyard”–inspired by locations near where I have lived, visited and studied over the years.

THE REAL:

The House on 22nd and Green Streets in Philadelphia where Felice Morrison, and later Marie Gail and her son-Rex Thomas Gail-live, is an actual location in the Art Museum district of the city.  I was completely transfixed the first time my friend and I came across the building while walking down 22nd Street towards the museum and knew immediately that it had to be in the book.  Upon my next visit to the area, I was smart enough to have someone take a photo seen below:

Continue reading