I have a long history of bad dreams regarding my childhood, the places I’d been, the characters in my life and some of the crazy things I had seen and experienced. Thankfully, I reached a place in my life (a good one.) that’s given me a sense of closure that’s allowed me to look back upon those times with a sense of humor. While writing about many of those experiences has helped immensely when it came to that closure. It’s given me something I never could have expected. That being able to sharpen my memory and bring a greater sense of detail to my writing. Time and perhaps forgiveness has given me the strength and to a great extent, a chance to look back, laugh and share some of these stories with a sense of detachment that allows me to write as if I was penning fiction. Instead of waking in the middle of the night due to a nightmare. I wake refreshed with a fluent memories of an experience I haven’t thought of in decades.
One involving my Mother leaving me in the care of a very nice woman who managed or possibly owned a dry cleaners, While I can only recall being left there once. She was a very nice lady whose storefront was highlighted by a supersized fish tank that housed some rather colorful coy. I mean, I can’t think of a better place to leave your kids. “In before 9:00. Ready by 5:00.” had to have its origins.
The other, and perhaps the head scratcher of the two, came when left in the care of my father. Considering my parents worked shifts that almost insured they’d rarely see one another. (My Mother worked the regular 9-5 as a secretary in Manhattan. While my Dad’s city job as a bus driver had him on a 3-11 schedule. As far back as I could remember, my Dad was doing a lot of side jobs making money here and there doing work for bookies and loan sharks. While there were countless times when I could tag along to the bar (Cheese burger & fries, a plate of calamari and a couple of cokes. Armed with a handful of quarters for the jukebox. The hours would just slip away.) Or the local O.T.B. (Off Track Betting for those not old enough to remember.) Where I could sit and watch the races on closed circuit tv or run to the corner hot dog guy for a mustard, sauerkraut and onions Sabrett.
Through the years though, there were a number of occasions where my Dad couldn’t take me along with him on his rounds and had to get creative. The local gas station on the corner of 83rd st. and Astoria Blvd. just happened to be one. Though there were three filling stations within a two block radius of my Pop’s house. My Dad must have known the owner of this particular one. During the hours and occasions I was left in his care. I don’t recall any strange goings on. There was the office (or reception area) with a gumball machine. I spent time watching the mechanics work on cars. I can recall thinking how cool the collection of tools looked on the peg board. Those roller carts that allowed them to magically disappear under the cars and oh, those awesome car lifters that would raise the cars off the ground magically. The people there always looked after me, kept me entertained and safe from the constant traffic that flowed from La Guardia Airport into Astoria Blvd.
From a very young age, I had come to love visiting junk yards whether it be for a spare car or motorcycle part. Or to tag along with my Dad when he went to collect money for the bookies or sharks, By four or five, I had come to love the smell of gasoline.
Years later though, after hijacking my Aunts copy of The Daily News. I was somewhat surprised to see that the same gentleman my Father trusted to care for me was being arraigned on charges of extortion, arson and kidnapping. It was just one of many instances when someone I knew and trusted showed up in the local news paper or led off the days TV News report. It was just a part of growing up. People doing what they felt they needed to do to get from point A to point B taught me a lot about life and the many grey areas that you find along the road.
As the cars sped by on both sides of the concrete divider. I couldn’t help but think back to my earliest days on the Bowery standing just outside of CBGB’s. That short, yet treacherous dash from the curb of CBGB’S to the Bodega across the street was almost as risky as jumping in to a pit of raging fists occupying the real estate in front of the clubs stage. And just as I witnessed many enthusiastic participants knocked to the clubs floor. The number of pedestrians who never made it all the way across were enough to make one question how important that cold beverage really was.
Yet just as i left the nights event a few blocks south of my original haunt. I found myself setting up my tripod on that narrow slither of concrete known to many as a pedestrian divider. Having just recently been properly introduced to shooting long exposures. I was more than inspired to take what I’d learned to the busy streets of lower Manhattan.Crouching down, I quickly assembled my tripod and set it on manual. Waiting for the lens to close and complete the shot. I could feel the wind from the passing automobiles pushing me off my already unbalanced heels. Lucky for me. One shot, the one you see here, was all I needed. Using the little brains I seem to have left. I moved back to the sidewalk and on to Houston street to capture a few more shots before I headed home.
Summer has officially arrived, as our complaints turn from “It’s too damn cold.” to “Damn, it’s f@#king hot out.” Soon, the streets will be teeming with sweat soaked residents, tourists and the like. All looking for a moment in the spotlight and a day in the shade. Personally, I’ve managed to capture my share of moments and mayhem. With some new gear and a strong focus towards doing what ultimately makes me happiest. Be sure to stay tuned for the laughs, tears and lunacy.
My wife and I spend many of our weekends in Brooklyn. Whether it be exploring different neighborhoods, food or culture. Brooklyn seems to have it all. During our ill fated search for a condo we’d canvas the different areas going from one open house after another. Knowing my likes, dislikes and moods. She noted that Brooklyn was my “Switch”. No matter the circumstance, I always seem to enjoy my time there. On this particular day we did a lot of walking, stopped for mediterranean food, antique shopping and a Greek bakery. By the time we got to the river, the sun had just begun to soften. We walked a long distance in the high wind before grabbing a ferry back to the east side of the ferry. I shot these around 4:30 /5:00. My wife suggesting the set up for the first shot. The idea for the second was all mine. I got these printed at Duggal the next day. If we ever move. I’m going to find a place to hang them. Until then…
Wherever you go these days, make sure to your camera in tow. For the world is a stage and there is a long line to get on it. It seems that everyone and their uncle Sally are looking for the fifteen minutes of fame or moment in the spotlight. For better or worse, good, bad or ugly. It matters not the presentation. What matters is your documentation of such. Since my days in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen to my current Hoboken state of mind. I’ve always made a point of documenting my surroundings. It provides a sense of history and boatload of fun and frenzied images.
It was a beautiful, albeit breezy day. So with a little extra time and a need to stretch my legs a bit, I took a walk down to what’s known as the Pier C Park. A really nice circular extension that as built a few years back. With the sun on my face and the wind on my back. I decided to stretch those legs a little further and head towards Pier A and eventually the Lakawana area where the big trains and the light rail take passengers to and for. As I got there and began to look east to lower Manhattan. The sun began to set behind me and soften. It’s always been that perfect part of the day. The one most of us miss due to being behind a desk or in the studio. Though I was beginning to feel a bit tired, my sense of adventure, along with my need to take full advantage of a perfect day, pushed me to walk further.
Before I knew if I had walked all the way to the Newport Station in nearby Jersey City. It had been quite a while since I’d explored that part of J.C. and to be honest, I didn’t really miss much. (Towering office buildings and high rise condos don’t really do it for me. Regardless of where I ended up that day. It stood as a reminder to get out of your element and your everyday surroundings. Bring your camera and take a bunch of pictures you can fill your already “busting at the seems” hard drive with. Surely, it will be worth the trip.
If my calculations are correct. It’s been three weeks to the day since that Art of Portrait Photography ended. In hindsight, it was an experience that really had me in a twist. For whatever reason, I don’t think I ever felt comfortable or even confident at any given time during those four days. All that time I should have been having fun doing what I love most; I was busy trying to be perfect. It was a two weeks that shook my confidence as to what I’ve been doing and what I will be doing in the future. It was four days that even made me question if I really was a “good enough” photographer. Three weeks later I’m about to return from my trip to Japan. I return with countless memories, unique experiences and a hard drive full of beautiful images to share. I have a new confidence and appreciation for life and the people I’ve chosen to share it with. I’ll have lot’s to talk about and show in the upcoming weeks and months. In the meantime, I’d like to wish everyone that’s stopped by, followed and even left a message or comment in regard to a certain post or image. Don’t go crazy with those New Year’s Resolutions. I like you just the way you are. Here are a few images I took of out third model. She was by far, my favorite.
Cheers, The Photo Geek