New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bubbles

There are few things that are as benign and such an expression of unmitigated joy as bubbles. Joy - now there's a word used so carefully and sparingly. We find it book titles, such as The Joy of Cooking, but spoken of alone as an emotional state, it is rarely used.
Perhaps unadulterated joy, like play, is often seen as the domain of children, whose innocence carries no responsibility of deservedness or permission. For most adults, happiness as the result of play must be earned and judging from the actions of most New Yorkers, apparently few have earned enough to spend it playing.
When you watch the SoHo bubble man in action on the corner of Spring Street and Broadway, you can see the range of feelings about play by the reactions of passersby. Most will ply their way through the congestion around the vendor, seeing the whole thing as an inconvenience, an irritation or waste of time. Others, will stop to capture a little moment of joy as respite from stresses of the day. There are those who will stop in wonderment. And I am sure there are some that are thinking, is this activity suitable for a grown man? As often is the case, they have made the mistake of judging a book by its cover.
Dondi McKellar is a man, in fact, he is a disabled veteran, having served six years in the United States Navy. He hails from North Carolina, has been a New Yorker since 1985 and selling Bubble Guns on the streets of SoHo for the last four years. A short conversation with Dondi quickly established that beneath his smile lived a warm human being. He was quite happy to share details of his life, show me his vendor permit and encouraged my photography.
Personally, I think I will heed with the words of Willy Wonka - a little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men. :)

NOTE: An interesting study on how happiness can be contagious was done by Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, a physician and social scientist at Harvard Medical School. See the article here in the New York Times.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent shot and nice story!

Brian Dubé said...

Anon - thanks. It's always nice to take a moment, stop and pay some real attention to the world around you. There's a rich soup of people on the streets of New York City and it's fascinating to get to know some of them.

Hannah said...

I love people like he is. A smile and a few bubbles can never hurt anyone and actually, I think it makes you think about a lot of things in your life. Yes, even bubbles.

Leslie said...

This just makes me grin from ear to ear. I gotta get me one of those fun Bubble makers...maybe I'll just walk down the streets of NY spreading bubble joy!

Corey Smith said...

I remember seeing him three years ago in Chinatown and a cop was like, "sir, please stop with the freakin' bubbles, they're getting in our line of sight!" he kept going.

Stephen Baird said...

love your photos. really like the steel bull too. hope it starts charging soon.
nikonsniper

MaggieGem said...

Great article! We could all use a bit of JOY in lives... thanks for bringing some to me. Love the photo.

NYC banker said...

I have the pleasure of seeing Dondi everyday, working in the building where he sets up shop and I have to admit seeing him brightens up my day. I've gotten to know him over the past year and he is a real Joy.

Anonymous said...

The Soho Bubbleman is Awesome!! I was in NYC last summer and purchased several bubble guns from him. What a great personality, especially in these economcally hard times. Keep spreading bubble joy with that beautiful smile. NYC NEEDS YOU!!!