For as long as I can remember and probably before. I’ve always been drawn to gas stations and junk yards. From a very young age I could often be found snooping around the gas station on my corner of 83rd street and Astoria Blvd. or tagging along with my Dad to collect from many of the gamblers who worked at the junk yards outside of Shea Stadium. Drawn perhaps, by the smell of gasoline, barb wired fences, guard dogs and random car parts. These places served as the keys to some of my earliest adventures.
So when my wife pulled in to the parking space across from Central District Ice Cream. My excitement regarding a sweet weekend treat was doubled by the site of an abandoned / out of business gas station. Between the antique cars parked in the lot to the hose-less gas pumps. It was all goosebumps and fist pumps. Once again, I was reduced to using my cellphone. I snapped a few shots before joining my wife for ice cream across the street.
As for the ice cream. My wife had a cup of Peanut Butter & Plum Jam. While I indulged in a waffle cone of Coconut Cantaloupe. Great stuff and highly recommended on our part. As I get older, I take a lot of satisfaction knowing that the smell of old gas stations and the taste of freshly scooped ice cream still bring a smile to my face.
Having seen my share of iPhone and Samsung commercial spots talking up the wonderful images you can create with their new technology and reading various articles predicting the beginning of the end of SLR’s as we know them. I’m somewhat surprised by how well I was responding and reacting. After hearing “Do you think you can set up a studio in this room? Or “Do you think all your photo gear will fit in this closet?” during our years trying to buy a condo. That and the fact that I’m holding on to a dozen or so film cameras. I found myself feeling more relieved than stressed.
And why not? How often have we wished for a magic wand to clear away all the clutter and extra stuff that takes up our closets, our shelves, floors, the space under our beds. Forcing us to foolishly rent storage space and make hard decisions about what stays or goes. Though I haven’t gotten into the disease / disorder that, as it progresses, wrecks havoc on my balance and ability to walk. The practice of carrying around a camera back full of gear is becoming a major issue. What if all of that could fit in the back of my pocket? Times change and the media we use to create art changes with it. I clearly remember the resistance I had when switch from film SLR’s to Digital. And though I put up a good fight. I was and still am feeling the rewards. More and more these days I’m reserving my camera, the myriad of lenses and my add on flash for more demanding moments. While keeping my iPhone handy for when my wife texts me or I see something like what I’ve posted above to capture for future consideration.
I’m amazed by how little I promote my own work at the appropriate times. That said, I thought I’d urge you all to visit to enjoy and take in some of the amazing art currently on view at Canco Lofts in conjunction with Jersey Artist Tours and JCAST. Below is the 20X40 Canvas I have displayed as well as a link to JCAST and some artist bios. Work will be on display thoughout October. Come see what’s happening. JD
I was talking to a friend about a recent excursion that really made the hairs on my arm stand on end. A little over a month ago, I came across a spot that was as scary as it was intriguing. That day, I spent a matter of minutes exploring the area just adjacent to the old, abandoned automotive parts/repair shop. At the time, I peaked through, before briefly entering the side door. When returning a few weeks later, I found an obscured front door and entered with as much caution as I had curiosity. Almost immediately, I could feel the hair on my arms stand on end as I had entered a dragon’s lair of graffitied walls, random garbage and the remnants of a recent visitor, or worse, occupant.
As I stepped cautiously through the debris and squalor. I couldn’t help but feel the tortured spirits of those who may have preceded my visit. As I moved from room to room through hand carved holes in the walls. I couldn’t help but feel that I might have bitten off more than I could chew. The random needles, paint cans and emptied glue containers served as evidence of recent hardcore drug use. “You’re too old to be doing this. You should be enjoying a plate of eggs and hash browns with you wife right now”
As creepy as my visit might have been. I had no inkling as to how weird things were about to get. While carefully opening one of the container doors. I unveiled what seemed to be a living space, complete with mattress. Though not the unveiling of a colony of brain thirsty zombies or bat wielding crack heads I spooked myself into imagining. It quickly served as the hair-raising moment that told me “Times up. Get your ass back in the car” Thankfully, I was in complete and total agreement with that inner voice. Until the next time.
We live in an ever-changing world where we are constantly in perpetual movement. Very few, if anything holds permanence. While not a bad thing per say. It’s one of the founding principles that influenced my becoming a photographer who felt it important to document my surroundings.The need to explore and document things that may soon be gone is one of the key factors in what originally drew me to photography.
Knowing full well that changes would soon come to one of my current favorite local photo destinations. I took a ride with the wife to see what had developed since my last visit. As we drove closer. The unwelcoming sound of barking dogs echoed in the distance. The immediate question “Could that barking be coming from indie the construction site?” and if so, “Where those dogs chained up or were they loose?” Knowing the answer would soon reveal itself. I proceeded with extreme caution.
Just as predicted. The incessant barking was coming from two Pit Bulls inside and thankfully, not roaming around awaiting their next meal. While it always pains me to see such beautiful animals being chained or caged. I was greatful to feel a bit safer while I quickly got what I came for. Noting the projects progress, the precence of trucks and of course the guard dogs. I relized that this was in all likelyhood, my last visit here. And while we were happy to see that the dogd had plenty of food and water. We made it a point to report the siting to both the lacal Humane Society and Police.
Some of my earliest memories involve my Dad taking me to the junk yards just beyond Shea stadium at Willets Point. Whether it was to scavenge for parts to keep his T-bird running or as a shark collecting on bets whose payment had over reached the official calendar dates. For me personally, the opportunity to seize the passenger’s seat and tag along on such an adventure was better than a trip to Disneyland, or at least the local arcade. That excitement I felt when the car would come to a rolling stop. Where I’d eject myself from the car, run past the half-berserk junk yard dog towards the wrecked cars, old tires and random parts that lay about like toys waiting to be opened on Christmas Day. I tell ya. From the age of five to about ten years old, there weren’t many playgrounds or theme parks worthy of such excitement on my part.
Decades later, and with many years behind me. I find myself, sometimes embarrassingly, drawn to the same things that inspired me as a child. Things that, till this day, raise my brow as well as the hair on my arm or the back of my neck.Those sensors and those knots in my stomach let me know that… as broken down as I may be. I’m still alive and full of a passion to get closer, investigate, document and report back. I hope that passion never leaves me.
I’ve always been intrigued with dusty old things. The older the better. If it’s run down, rusted or sitting abandoned in an open field somewhere. It’s character, stories and history draw me in, inviting me to explore and uncover.
On our first trip to Blooming Hill Farm a few weeks ago. We immediately noticed this particular truck in distance. Driven by hunger, a little lack of balance and not being sure how to get close enough to inspect without dredging through the crops. We kept a respectful distance. On our return, my curiosity peaked and a sense of determination got me from point A to B without stomping the yard or losing my ever vanishing sense of balance.
As I grew closer I began to feel the trucks rich history and purpose. It had most likely served decades hauling vegetables from the farm to markets and restaurants throughout the tristate area. As I opened the cabins squeaky cabin door to capture the rusted steering wheel and eroded seats I imagined the many drivers who navigated that truck down dark and dusty roads on the way to the highway and it’s intended destination. And while my wife will often lurk close by wondering just what it is that draws me to things of this nature. She understands and perhaps shares that wanderlust.