New Look at a Classic: “I HEART NY”

New to me are these regional spins on the iconic I HEART NY logo.  I saw them for the first time just recently, alongside even more takes in which the red image between the I and NY represented other aspects of the Empire State.

Though they obviously don’t use the words BUFFALO




to my mind these two renditions can’t help but explicitly represent those cities, and as such, they had me dreaming of an “explicitly” Albany version that would feature the profile of the Capital City’s most iconic building, The Egg.


Apologies to the New York State Tourism Bureau if this was already present somewhere on the very billboard where I saw the official buffalo and horse images above. And if it wasn’t: get cracking on production of the “I Egg NY” merch! FOOTNOTE to THE EGG: I can’t put a number on how many times I saw this building in my life before the day I stood before it on assignment to direct a short film about a football player from Albany. That day, for the first time ever to me, The Egg looked like a football:  virtually the top of the Lombardi Trophy itself, tipped slightly and blown up a lot.

In all that I-Hearting I came across this fabulous story of the original logo, the remarkable designer who created it, and the interesting life that both man and art have led.  Definitely worth a read and/or listen, via the podcast 99% Invisible.



Due to the boundaries of conventional photography, it’s necessary to see the Grand Canyon in person if you want to have any real sense of it.  Even then, the limitations of the human eyeball and depth perception make it challenging to compute what exactly it is that’s before you.  The scale. The structure.  The origin story.  They combine to form something like nothing else, and so by definition, laying eyes on it is a moment for which you cannot be prepared.  Even as you’re looking at the Canyon, it’s hard to know where to direct your eyes first, next, or last.  The result can be a sort of dizzying rush of astonishment and adrenaline.

As man made things go, the $1 Million Staircase — located in the New York State Capitol Building in Albany, NY — sent my head into similar spaces.  Capturing a photograph that could successfully illustrate both the massiveness and nuance of the Stairs seemed impossible.  In an effort to instead take a series of mental snapshots, every neck contortion and eye swivel I could muster felt insufficient.  There was simply too much to the space, also referred to in Capitol parlance as The Great Western Staircase, to feel like I’d seen or digested it all.  To try and add it up as I walked it was to be transported into a real-life composite of MC Escher artwork, someplace at once concrete and impossible.

The Staircase is a singular sight with a remarkable story ; for someone interested in art, architecture, or history, it’s an absolute must-see.  And believe it or not, the tour is free ; not a bad deal for a look at something priceless that may just leave you speechless.

For a sneak peek and more on how the $1 Million Staircase came to be, read my Steller Story on it by clicking the photo below.

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To see The $1 Million Staircase inside the historic New York State Capitol Building via @StellerStories, click on the image above.


PROLOGUE – Following is a behind-the-scenes account of my recent short film on a fellow Son of Albany, Charles Leigh.  He made history as the first player known to sign an NFL contract directly out of high school, before becoming part of the Miami Dolphins Dynasty of the 1970s.  This summer I had the privilege of telling his story for NFL Films Presents.

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LOGUE – Below is the second part of the written story originally published on the NFL Films blog, “They Call it Pro Football.”  To see the piece there, where it includes a slideshow of production photos and a link to a Charles Leigh highlight video consisting of footage discovered during the making of the film, click here.

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EPILOGUE – During our July, 2015 shoot in my hometown, I brought my Dad to work.  Actually, I needed him to drive me to locations, so it’s probably more accurate to say that he brought me to work.  Either way, it all felt somewhat prophetic come fall when I learned the Leigh feature, previewed in the Albany Times-Union, would premiere as part of an episode titled “Fathers and Sons”.



Remember Jake and Elwood literally driving through their local shopping mall, delighted that it now housed a Pier One?  Or Wyatt and Gary finally achieving a moment of teenage cool, only to have it destroyed by a red Icee raining down on their heads?  And who can forget the epic opening title sequence to Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High?   Yes boys and girls, there once was a time when the big screen simply reflected what the world firmly believed:  that if something was happening, it was happening at your local mall.

A generation ago, these one-stop Shangri-las of food courts, multiplexes, anchor stores, and fake plants were still sprouting up all across America, promising to be a new kind of lifestyle altering cultural-commerical crossroads, equal parts vast Persian marketplace and great Parisian salon.  And if you think that’s hyperbole, gettaloadathis:

The feature attraction in that video opened exactly thirty years ago.  I can attest that today it’s still alive and kicking, unlike some of the spots in this photo collection of abandoned shopping malls recently published on — images that provide a great sense of what a One Day Sale would look like if it was held at the End of Days.  Clearly not every utopian indoor shopping concept blossomed into a world famous attraction like the Mall of America, where legions still flock to ride one of the planet’s few roller coasters covered by skylights rather than sky.

For the rest of the malls in America, the up and down ride through our hearts continues.  And while you can continue to expect long lines at the nearby mall when Kris Kringle or Peter Cottontail are in the house, history has shown that developing an over-dependence on the Christmas and Easter crowds can transform a spirited community house into a temple of fund raisers.  Even those magnets once fit for the silver screen eventually lose their drawing power.  And when they do, sometimes all that’s left is plenty of good parking.

A giant Legoman dwarfs visitors to the Mall of America in October, 2013.  (Photo: PaC)

A giant Legoman dwarfs visitors to the Mall of America in October, 2013. (Photo: PaC)