Growing up in Jackson Heights, Queens. The nearest swimming pool was in what seemed like a far off world. Without the money, or knowledge of the transit system. We were often left to our own devices and local fire hydrants when cooling off in the hot Summer sun. The joy of jumping in and out of the hydrants canon. Applying a hollowed out plastic bottle to better direct the waters flow. Or better yet, giving the passing cars a thorough soaking. Hoping that one unprepared driver would drive past with his guard and windows down. The childlike excitement of soaking the interior and occupants of an automobile felt as if it would last forever.
Friday Session: Jazz Guitarist Tony Crisos
I don’t claim to know a lot about Jazz as a whole. My first job while living in Manhattan was at a Jazz Label/ Floating Jazz Festival company. I also worked for a cigar smoking Jazz lover who ran a record store in the Village. I got the ins and out on Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, the many faces of Coltrane, Buddy Rich and a few others including my personal favorite Chet Baker. But overall I am a novice when it comes to the genre . Enter my friend Tony Crisos. Both student of life and teacher/performer of Jazz Guitar. To hear him talk about “true jazz” you would think it was one of the seven wonders of the world. Tony came to Hoboken today to hang out, catch up and take some pictures. After a stop at the corner Tai restaurant for some good food and conversation about his recent trip to Greece. We got down to business. My usual M.O. when having someone over is to find some good music. This time around I was treated to a live set of Tony’s best offerings. I had some issues early on in the session including getting used to using my new strip box and realizing a little late I had not reset my ISO to 100 after my last concert. (It turned out I shot the first few shots at ISO 1600) The biggest challenge turned out to be keeping Tony seated the first couple of minutes. The man is so full of energy and ideas. I could hardly get off a shot before he was jumping up and wanting to move to the next thing. However, once he started playing that guitar it was sheer concentration. It reminded me a lot of my Father when he played piano. He just went into his own world. There was no getting through. Tony is a great guy and talented beyond his years. He joked that our friendship was the only good thing that came out of our time with the company Freeze Frame. Sounds right to me.
Astoria still Rules!!!
Today I packed up my camera and head to Astoria, Queens to meet up with my old friend Tony Crisos. I met Tony a few years ago when we worked as photographers for a company called Freeze Frame. (More on Freeze Frame in my next blog.) Tony was always an absolute pleasure to work with and be around. He might have only been a few inches taller than me but his personality made him seem like a giant. Tony’s thick Greek accent made him tough to understand but that only seem to make us all listen a little closer I can recall the countless times I would bust out my “Tony the Greek” impersonation. Something I am still working on. At one point we had all departed from Freeze Frame but had formed a strong bond and always talked about getting together for work or just to hang out. After a few months of playing phone tag and planning we finally got together today.
Tony was nice enough to pick me up from the train station. A few seconds after jumping into the car Tony joyfully commented that it was just as if no time had passed and we were just picking up where we left off. He was right. The couple of years that had passed felt more like a matter of days. The only difference was the thick beard and mustache made him look like he had recently joined the witness protection agency. We stopped for breakfast at the Grand Cafe on 30th avenue before embarking on a tour of the neighborhood. Tony is an accomplished Jazz guitarist but if he ever decides to give up on music he has a bright future as a tour guide.
Astoria holds a lot of memories for me and will always hold a special place in my heart. As a kid growing up just a bit north in Jackson Heights we would often venture into Astoria
towards our final destination Astoria Pool. It was always a long trip. We never had any money (Maybe just enough for a soda and a slice on the way home.) so we couldn’t afford to train it. Walking and perhaps stealing a ride on the back of the bus was our only option. I remember we’d often opt for hopping the pools fence rather than pay the thirty five cent admission fee. For a kid between the age of seven to ten it was an adventure.our final destination Astoria Pool. It was always a long trip. We never had any money (Maybe just enough for a soda and a slice on the way home.) so we couldn’t afford to train it. Walking and perhaps stealing a ride on the back of the bus was our only option. I remember we’d often opt for hopping the pools fence rather than pay the thirty five cent admission fee. For a kid between the age of seven to ten it was an adventure.
After lunch at the Grand cafe he gave me a tour of the neighborhood. Everything from the side streets, little nooks and corners. To Socrates Sculpture Park and of course Astoria Park. I had a great time and enjoyed Tony’s easy going nature. There’s something very special about Astoria and the people who live there. You can’t help but want to be a part of it.