Name In Lights
At the core of my photo essays are my experiences and reflections on the world and my hope to grow. I hope these musings will be of use to others as well. Whether the stories are about social justice or fun, there is always something to be learned.
Sometimes these stories are planned and sometimes they’re spontaneous- this story is the latter. What makes this photo essay unusual is that I’m taking a risk because the context is very polarizing. It's not about taking a stand, either critical or supportive, but rather it’s about what I learned from an experience- a visit to Trump Tower. Please suspend judgment and read this with an open mind.
I was walking up fifth avenue in Manhattan towards Central Park on an unseasonably warm day in late January 2018. As I crossed West 56th Street, there was Trump Tower, the 58 story monument to a man who would become the 45th President of the United States.
I’ve been in Trump Tower before, but it’s been a few years. Earlier visits were to see the opulence of this place. But in 2018 it took on a very different meaning.
Trump Tower is different today because of enhanced security. Two commando styled guards brandishing automatic weapons were positioned just outside the door, and there were lots of barricades. Entering was easy- just a quick scan of my camera bag and camera and I was inside. On this Sunday morning there were very few tourists.
I decided to suspend all judgment, well almost all, and simply take in the experience.
The ubiquitous orange marble and famous escalator dominate the lobby level of Trump Tower.
I had to experience the view that launched a presidential campaign.
As I toured all the public levels of Trump Tower, it suddenly hit me- the name Trump is everywhere. Just about anything that can be named is named Trump.
As I sipped Trump coffee in the Tump Cafe, I thought about how to view what seemed to be an outrageous spectacle of self importance. Some people would see this in a very critical way, and some would see it as positive depending on one’s point of view about President Trump. While I could so easily be critical, I avoided that urge and rather looked deeper into what I was witnessing.
I took pictures of every Trump sign I could find in the building and of Trump locations in the Central Park area after leaving Trump Tower. Then I tried to make sense out of it.
The entrance to Trump Tower is a bold statement about who owns this building.
Within Trump Tower, the name is everywhere.
Starbucks gets billing, but at the bottom of course. And Ivanka.
Unfortunately I never found Trump’s Ice Cream Parlor- flavors must be "very rich"!
Trump podium- ready for a speech.
The Trump/Pence Campaign Merchandise Store.
Plenty of MAGA items.
The Trump Tower Gift Shop.
Gifts for any occasion.
Beyond Trump Tower: Central Park South- Trump International Realty.
Central Park- Trump Wollman Rink. (Wow, you can't even watch for free! Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center don't charge to watch skaters.)
Columbus Circle- Trump International Hotel And Tower.
It would be so easy to just focus on the narcissistic character of Donald Trump. That’s not a new conversation. But it dawned on me that at some level most people have a need, or at least get some satisfaction, to see their name published in some way- having one’s “Name In Lights”. There’s a buzz from being singled out whether it’s a publication or being selected for something. In my professional career I’ve seen my name in print dozens of times and I will admit to enjoying it. It’s nice to feel important even if it’s just for a moment: “I’m special” and everyone claps with approval.
This fits Maslow's hierarchy of needs. After securing the needs for survival, safety and belonging, the next level of need is for esteem: “Esteem needs are ego needs or status needs about getting recognition, status, importance, and respect from others. All humans have a need to feel respected; this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect. Esteem presents the typical human desire to be accepted and valued by others. People often engage in a profession or hobby to gain recognition.” (Wikipedia)
Of course this can be taken to an extreme. But set aside for just a moment the excesses seen in Trump Tower and the negative implications. Just imagine having your name on a building for all the world to see- wouldn't that be something?
How cool is that! Now let’s go inside to the Story Teller’s Cafe for a cup of my Photo Essay Roast- on the house!
This won’t happen in my lifetime of course, but I do sometimes have grand dreams of success, like: "Internationally Acclaimed Story Teller!" I think it's OK as long as these dreams are for personal motivation without imposing on or hurting anyone in the process- success is born in our dreams! And that's what I learned from my visit to Trump Tower.
Published January 26, 2018