By Ethan Rogers
Editor in Chief

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Print staff members Jackson Arterberry, Ethan M. Rogers and Erik Paul wander the streets of New York with cameras. Photo by Gabriel Elmosleh.

After the 1971 release of the movie “Goldfinger,” actor Sean Connery vowed that he would “never again” play the role of James Bond. In 1983 Connery starred in the Bond classic, “Never Say Never Again.” I had an opportunity there to learn from the wisdom of others; I swore I’d never go to New York. Guess who just went to New York.

In my defense, it’s been at least 30 years since I made that oath. I’ve had some time for those lessons I missed early on to rumble around in the back of my head until I needed them.

When I was offered the opportunity to attend the 2024 College Media Association journalism conference, with conference fees and hotel room included, how could I say no, even if it was in New York. With roundtrip airfares in the $350 range, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity — promises to myself be damned.

People had told me for years that I would love New York. I didn’t listen. Such a thing simply wasn’t possible. But I was wrong. I loved New York. Well, I loved Manhattan. Brooklyn, not so much. But we’ll get back to that. Until then, let’s focus on Manhattan.

I loved New York for the people, who were laid back and more SoCal than some folks in Huntington Beach, one of the world’s great surf spots where beach culture permeates the entire county. Laid back like Denver, I mean they don’t call it the mile high city just because of the elevation. Maybe it was the constant smell of marijuana on the streets but the people in New York were just chill as can be.

The weed smoking in public (Amsterdam in its heyday didn’t smell as sticky) was surprising and may have added to the chillness of the city. Even the cops were chill.

It felt like every other corner had a two-officer foot patrol, never seemed to be more than five minutes between patrol cars driving by in one direction or another and supervisors all over the place.

That many cops might make a person a little nervous, even if they aren’t doing anything wrong. The thing is, once you get used to them being around you almost stop to notice.

Of the six of us heading from Oregon to New York for the conference. Erik Paul, the Print’s Audio/ Video editor, and I flew in together a day early. This wasn’t a planned adventure; it was a ticketing mistake, on our part — but we rolled with it.

The weather in New York, which I imagined to be perpetually horrid, was in the mid-70’s with a light breeze that picked up as we got closer to the water. You couldn’t help but love the weather.

After checking into our hotel we headed down 34th Street to the Hudson River. We created a map in our heads, with high points marked out – our hotel, B&H, the waterfront, The Intrepid, Hell’s Kitchen. And, most importantly, Los Tacos Hermanos on 8th Street.

Okay, the tacos were pretty much all me and I had at least two a day the whole time we were in New York. Totally worth it.

In my travels, around the world and around the country, I’ve found Mexican food to be the least well represented, it’s just hard to find good Mexican food off the West Coast, but, when I do, it’s always a special treat for a SoCal raised gringo like me. Tacos are life.

Gabriel Elmosleh, one of our staff writers, showed up later that evening.

Just before 11 a.m. on a sunny Manhattan morning we headed down West 46th Street through Hell’s Kitchen, which was far less dangerous than I’d been told, until we reached the Intrepid, a decommissioned aircraft carrier turned museum. From there we meandered left and headed over to Pier 79 where three of us took a ferry ($4) down to Battery Park.

We all had our cameras and the clicking of shutters was frequent.

I like to consider myself a proficient shooter. I don’t make art but plod my way through. New York upped my game. It is almost impossible to take a bad photo in that city. The lines, the shadow, the depth all laid out before you, moments begging to be captured.

At Battery Park we photographed people walking along the riverfront. We spent time in the Irish Hunger Memorial, walked to the site of the Twin Towers and got photos of the Westfield World Trade Center Oculus, a monument to New York’s resilience in the face of adversity.

We walked to China Town off of Mott, stopped in to Wo Hop Next Door (conveniently located next door to Wo Hop) for some dumplings, both fried and steamed – a perfect choice for on the go. We wandered our way over to Little Italy and got a gelato. Then more walking down to the Brooklyn Bridge where we jumped a subway back to Times Square to make our way back to our hotel.

We picked up a fourth member, Assistant A/V Editor Jackson Arterberry, and went back to Chinatown and Little Italy for some night photography.

A man sang opera at a corner café bar, sitting at a table outside, the sign above the street announcing “Little Italy” in white lights shaped in cursive script. Few cars were on the street but the several Italian cafes and restaurants in the area were doing a brisk business with the beautiful people in fancy clothes. Tourists wandered by and doormen flirted with the pretty girls and smiled and joked. But the old man, singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot, one of the most recognizable tenor arias in opera, was an unexpected treat, the thing that one might assume had been lost as neighborhoods ebb and flow over time. Despite the lively corner, there are far fewer Italians here than in days past.

Chinatown was less Chinatown than, say, San Francisco or Singapore but still much larger than the remnants we have in Portland and up and down much of the West Coast. I expected more Chinese; both people and the sound of the language on the air. But like other ethnic neighborhoods in New York, Chinatown is not what it used to be. We stopped in at Wo Hop, (not Wo Hop Next Door, which was closed but has the same owner and the same food) for more fried dumplings which were just too good not to.

Thursday and Friday were conference days which meant presentations all day. It is why we were there and we had been told in no uncertain terms by our advisor that we had to attend no less than 90% of the lectures. Dutifully, we did.

For those of us not heading into our last term at school, the lectures were great. For those of us nearly done with our program, most of the lectures were a bit below our level. There were some gems, however, and those were worth the trip alone.

At night we wandered the city. We got pizza at BarDough in Hell’s Kitchen. We wandered Times Square at night, lit up brighter than a summer’s day. One of the nights down there a group of girls asked Erik to take their photo (he had the nicest camera and looked very professional). Jackson decided the Gap store in the Square was the most appealing Gap he’d ever seen. Obviously he doesn’t get out much. Gabe made a momentary effort to observe Ramadan but gave up after a few hours. He did spit some Arabic to food vendors though, trying to get a deal.

Jackson, for his part, turned out to be a pretty good negotiator. He talked a vendor down to $35 for a Rolex watch. Okay, it wasn’t a real Rolex but the guy had started in the ballpark of $150 and Jackson talked him down to what couldn’t have been more than a $15 profit. And then he walked away and did the same thing somewhere else. Some guys just like to haggle but don’t really want the deal.

Riding the subway, taking photos, hanging out with like-minded people. I discovered I like taking pictures a lot more than I thought I did. New York made it easy.

Saturday. Back down to three; Gabe, Erik and myself. Before leaving, we went to Brooklyn.

Brooklyn was not at all like Manhattan. I don’t think I saw a cop the whole time we were in Brooklyn (except the Jewish cop but I’m not sure he was a cop – more on that later.) We did have someone threaten to shoot us which was heartwarming. The guy didn’t like cameras. He didn’t shoot us.

We were on a mission in Brooklyn. Well, Gabe was on a mission. He wanted some Jewish deli. Had he mentioned that I might have told him Jewish delis aren’t open on Saturdays. I didn’t find out until we got to Williamsburg.

Williamsburg was a tough place to take pictures. The Hasidic community doesn’t like being photographed so we had to keep things low key. We managed to get a few shots of the buildings, a school bus and even what may have been a cop —it was hard to tell since he wasn’t exactly wearing a standard issue NYPD uniform.

Bags on our backs and cameras around our necks we rode the subway to the airport, hoping for that last amazing shot of New York before climbing above ten thousand feet and heading for home.

Ethan M. Rogers

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