When I think about my return to Jackson Heights after graduating from High School, I can’t help but recall how much the New York Hardcore scene became the center of my world. During my year and a half in Wayne, New Jersey, I produced a fanzine called “Boredom” It featured a lot of bad creative writing and a few music reviews. When I moved back to my old neighborhood and became more involved with music, I started a new fanzine called “Unite” Each issue would feature five interviews. One being a newly formed, yet up and coming band.
That first issue would include an interview with Fit of Anger. In the months leading up to the interview, I had gotten to know the group pretty well. During the time leading up to their first demo, we’d often meet up and hang out at a place called Monkey Hill Studios. In what was a relatively short time, I got to experience the band perform live while getting to know the singer Nick and the guitarist Chris (pictured here) pretty well. Fit of Anger would appear on the New Breed tape compilation and members, particularly Nick and Chris would go on to perform in as well as form other notable acts in the New York’s 90’s hardcore scene.
Perhaps due to the wide array of lenses, the weight of my camera or the size of the bag I carry them around with. I have been getting into the habit of leaving it all at home. Leaving me dependent on my iPhone or jotting down the addresses in the hope that one day, I’ll make my triumphant return with my camera loaded, charged and ready to go. Did I fail to mention the look I get from my wife whenever she finds me packing up my gear when we’re preparing to go out? Or her “We’re just going out for breakfast. Why are you bringing your your camera?” The best answer to that question should always be the classic “It’s better to have it and not need it. Than to need it and not have it.” and to quote the great Forrest Gump. “That’s all I have to say about that.”
With my wife feeling under the weather and my hopes to stay somewhat close to home this weekend. I cooked breakfast with what was left in the refrigerator and made sure she stay buried under the covers and slept late. And while we did get out on both days. We made it a point to stay somewhat local while running errands, and making stops for the important things like ice cream and coffee. Most importantly, or maybe most relative to this blog. I made sure to charge my new camera battery and bring my camera with me. The pictures posted here were taken at Judkins Park and in the alleyway adjacent to Blanchard St. between 2nd and 3rd avenue. As time passes, I’ve come to notice that the pictures I take serve as somewhat of a road map to where i’ve been, who I was with and even what I was feeling at the time. Kind of cool, no?
In my last post “Sometimes it’s better to go it alone.” Here. I mentioned going it alone when operating as a street photographer. While that thread may ring true in many cases. It can’t go without saying that she is both my greatest inspiration and a damn good lookout and second set of eyes. Often watching my back when I’m shooting in more risky areas. While also serving as a second set of eyes when it comes to security related entities.
Where as today was scheduled to be a very laid back day with a short trip to Ikea for an area rug. We spent much of our day exploring much of Newark, Elizabeth and Harrison. While not dangerous by any means. Select areas might have been a bit private and or restricted. So to my wife, a hearty thanks for being my lookout when it came to shooting and our late lunch in East Newark. I really enjoyed sharing a seat at the counter and getting to know some of the regulars.
I was on the way to the Film Forum in the west village when I came across this simple, yet powerful statement someone had spray painted on the wall. While I’ve made it a habit to carry my camera with me at all times. However, with my sole purpose of heading in to the city for a flick with some friends. It seemed less than necessary. With my iPhone 6 being my only option. I snapped this and quickly continued my walk to the theatre. While I’m not one to usually support public vandalism. The message itself felt important, vital and timely. My message here, if any, is to document your surroundings, your travels and your experiences. They’ll change over time. That snapshot might come in handy one day.
I was standing among the endless array of graffiti art that envelopes the Queens block known as Five Pointz. Moving somewhat awkwardly from spot to spot taking pictures while juggling my camera bag and the cache of Hip Hop records I had scored that day in Greenpoint Brooklyn. I had recently read that a wrecking ball will soon meet the legendary graffiti mecca and the corner bar where many scenes from the brilliant, yet short lived show “The Black Donnely’s” were filmed. The unique space will soon be home to a soulless, unaffordable high rise condo building. Knowing full well of the ticking clock I figured it would be a good idea to stop over before transferring to the Manhattan bound E Train.
As the train cars rattled above me I noticed a couple slowly approaching hand in hand. Acknowledgement and some small talk followed and I recall sharing how bummed I was about the soon to come demolition. That’s when I realized that this lovely couple were not from these parts. “I’m losing my tourdar.” I thought. I can usually smell a tourist from a mile away. The male counterpart began asking me about graffiti and hip hop. (I know what your thinking. Typical racial and age profiling on their part) Any self respecting 30+ white guy can tell the story of how and where the now now celebrated art form started. He asked where the best places to view graffiti were and where he could explore the roots of Hip Hop. “It all started here.” He asked in an inquisitive manner. I thought for a second before referring to KRS-1’s “The Bridge is Over”. Suddenly and very quickly the moment froze. He looked at me puzzled and then “We’re in the Bronx now, right?” There was a sudden pause. Seconds that felt like hours, days, weeks. I took a deep breath, one usually reserved for the sex talk a father gives his thirteen year old daughter. A look reserved for the first time your son comes home drunk out of his mind with piss stains on his jeans. With a certain quickness I regained my composure and began pointing in the direction of Manhattan, The Bronx and Los Angeles. He asked if the Bronx was safe and if they could walk to Chinatown from where we were standing. I assured him that taking the nearby E to Canal street would be a faster route than walking and gave him a few other ways to get uptown from Canal. As for his question about the Bronx. I just told him to just use basic common sense. Hopefully my directions did them justice.
It’s been quite a while since I last posted to PhotoGeek. Too, too long for my own liking. Since returning from Japan I’ve gotten back to shooting and trying to get my work out there. I’m still going through those photos from my two weeks abroad and spending a lot of time discussing the idea of moving there full time. I know its kind of half ass but just realized that I hadn’t posted since mid January. If I went a full calendar month without posting something. I’d feel somewhat incomplete. So, stay tuned. There’s plenty more to come.
A couple of years back I wrote this article “Why We Hate You” A record store clerk speaks out. Having been on both sides of the counter I thought it would make for an interesting piece. What turns most record store clerks into snobs or in some cases, complete assholes. (Being that “I too” may have been considered a snob or complete asshole at one time or another excludes me from being insulting here.) All in all it was pretty tongue in cheek but my interviewee brought up some interesting points.
One thing I found particularly funny was his opinion that Doors fans were basically a bunch of knobs. It was something that really made me think. As a kid (I’m talking 5th or 6th grade here) I loved The Doors. It was part of the Classic Rock catalog. How could I shit on The Doors. However, as I got older (8th grade older) and left the limited focus and small minded restraints of FM radio and the “Classic Rock formula. Thus bringing me to the conclusion that I “hate the fucking Doors”. Fast forward a couple of decades and a few extra pounds and I come across this incredibly creative stairway to heaven…… um, I mean staircase to second floor of Lower East Side tenement building. I had to stop and take a picture. It made me think that something good actually came out of that drunken buffoon Jim Morrison.
We headed out to Queens this afternoon to do some exploring in Long Island City and Astoria. Our first stop was 5 Pointz where we checked in to see what new pieces had gone up and which ones had survived since our last visit. The more often I go the more I find myself talking to both the visitors and artists. Talking about art, paint and the spots I might have missed or perhaps would like to share. Today I met up with Slone (That’s him posing in front of his latest piece) and talked a bit. We exchanged info and if things go as planned I’ll be tagging along one day to shoot a piece in the making.
I had a little time on my hands yesterday and was looking for a little adventure. So I jumped on the train and headed from Chinatown to Long Island City to check out what was new over at Five Pointz. I’ve blogged about the place before and it’s stunning graffiti. One of the great things about the block is that the block is forever changing and evolving with new pieces and murals going up all the time. When I was growing up in nearby Jackson Heights I was exposed to the culture at an early age. There were plenty of graffiti crews and individuals with a wide array or styles and talents. Most of them were looked at as vandals and criminals and a lot of it was in all honesty crap. Yet so many had real talent and originality. Often taking it to the next level as artists and graphic designers. I always wished I was a better artist. Don’t get me wrong. Photography has made me very happy. But to be able to create something like that using pure imagination and talent is amazing. If you get the chance to go there I highly recommend it. Take the E train to 23 Ely and walk two blocks south. That’ll get you an eye full. Oh and stay the hell away from that general store by the train. 1.40 for a can of soda should be punishable by death.