As I sit here in the library across the street from Shirlington, Virginia’s Busboys & Poets. I can’t help but think of all of the amazing history the restaurant/bookstore provides for it’s community. I took this image with my cell phone as my wife and me awaited our French toast and eggs Benedict. While I dream of spending hours and hours photographing the people, art, and atmosphere of the place with my Canon. I feel lucky for the chance to capture this little moment with my cell.
There are few things I love doing as much as spending endless hours in a good book store or a library. Aside from loving to read all sides of history and true crime, I often find myself drawn to biographies and any author known for his knack for gritty storytelling. Like with most things I tend to love, I have this habit of taking on more than I can handle, or in this case, read. Add to it a touch of ADHD, and I can now count seven
books that I’ve yet to complete reading. Only time and the continually shrinking space I keep compromising will have me using my library card or my kindle more often. Until then. And most likely long after, I’ll remain a book nerd.
I’ve been tuning in to the History channel’s TV show ‘American Pickers’ a lot these days. And while many of the characters and destinations featured on the show could easily find their way to an episode of ‘Hoarders’. Digging through a families history as opposed to unearthing years of unattended cat feces somehow appeals to me.
As a kid growing up in the shadows of Shea stadium, the junk yards guarded by attack dogs and pop up automotive repair and parts shacks just a few feet beyond, I became enamored with old trucks, their histories and the miles they accumulated while making their rounds. You see, everyone and everything has a history as well as a unique story to tell. For myself, I’ve always felt a responsibility to document and whenever possible preserve it. Knowing full well, that nothing is permanent.
I was only seven years old when I wandered onto my first construction site in Jackson Heights, Queens and just weeks after that I watched a close friend fall to his death at the same site. Though tragic in every way, it never deterred me from hopping a fence or overlooking any signs that bore the words “NO TRESPASSING!” As an adult, I discovered a passion for photography and though that passion consumed me. My love and appreciation for things like construction sites, junk yards, factories and the numerous locations that are often deemed “Off Limits.” Having a camera and a desire to document my surroundings led me to many destinations. A few years ago, I attended a Q&A in downtown NYC where the author of a book whose title escapes me would speak about his experiences shooting his factory themed images for his book. Imagine how disappointed I was when he talked about getting permission and a time frame to capture the images for his project. “What a jip!” I thought. This guy got an all access pass and chose to shoot from the cushy balcony. Where was the rush of adrenaline coming from? Where was the risk? Undaunted, I returned to my passion and that rush that comes from not knowing what will happen next. That feeling you get when the hairs on your neck stand on end and tingle. While I’m too old and too sick to climb fences, outrun police or feel the breath of an angry guard dog on the chase,. I’m still holding out that there’s a gallery exhibit or even a book in the future. And while I’ve begun to gather and post pictures on my social media page, I know I still have a long way to go. Here’s a link to some of the images I’ve come across. Left Behind
If you’re not into garbage strewn streets and unkempt property. My usual route home from the train is dull city. S0 0ver time I’ve devised different ways to not only get home, but to explore areas that I’ve yet to really crack. One of those routes lies just across the railroad tracks, about a block or two from the main area called Little India. One one of this winters nicer days I found one that suits me well and doesn’t have me taking the long route to the short cut. As I turned on to “I forget the name” street. My ears were filled with the sounds of children loudly enjoying their recess. Luckily, the almost ear piercing sound had zero effect on my eyes, as I walked right in to a car that looked as if it predated the Castro regime. It’s happened a lot over the years. There was a classic hunk of classic green junk parked in the lot behind Hoboken’s Monroe Center for centuries. So boldly occupying its space. It seemed immovable by current technology. There’s yet another parked within site of the route I take home almost daily. (I need to spend some time getting to know it one day.)
For me personally, the draw is the history, stories and uniqueness that captivates my attention. These monuments to the past surely have some tales to tell. Getting closer to get a good look and to take a few pictures guarantees that years after it’s gone. It will still be remembered.