I moved to Berlin in January of 1986. I really needed to get away from Ithaca, and I had some issues which needed attention. I spent mornings at the Goethe Institute studying German and the rest of the day photographing. I was drawn to the city because of the division; one could see the extremes of Capitalism on the West side, then go through a checkpoint on the same day and see what the Commies were up to. It was like stepping back forty years.
I like the phrase “wer mauert hat’s nötig” which I always took to mean “whoever builds walls needs them”. Which is relevant here as the East Germans built the thing and then called it an “anti-facist barrier”.
In looking over my contact sheets this morning I realized that there are very few people in any of my wall photographs. It always amazed me that even on the West side, people stayed away from it (except the graffiti folks who must have worked at odd hours, as I never saw anyone writing on the thing).
I used to like to take the bus to Steinstücken and wander around. It was an odd little Western enclave almost totally surrounded by the East. You can read about it here. There was a rail line running straight through it and you could stick your head around a corner and be face to face with a guard tower. It always seemed a likely place for a crossing, but I never heard of one. / I met a lot of Berliners and was always interested to hear stories of unique situations with the wall. I was once told that at some locations there were gates where Westerners could use a key to access their gardens in the East. Probably not true, but interesting to think about.
Here is Checkpoint Charlie at night.
The wall has been down for 25 years now. I seriously doubt it was Reagan’s “Mr Gorbachev, bring down this wall” plea that had anything to do with it opening up. More like the East Germans made some really stupid mistakes, which is not surprising as they were running a completely effed up and vile organization.
We made it to the Tate Britain today to see the Turner show. It was amazing. No photography in the temporary exhibits, so no pics, but oh my, what an exhibit. He was it.
The rest of the museum was nice. All Brit artists and huge, with lots of variety.
Walked around London afterwards and saw these coots in St. James’s Park. I love coots.
Long bus ride out to Hammersmith to have a few pints at The Dove.
To me, it is the nicest and most welcoming pub in London.
John and I have a long history here. We never made it to the V and A for the Constable exhibit. Maybe tomorrow or Friday.
I took a long bike ride around the island this morning with the intention of stopping at the Southeast lighthouse.
It is now owned by a private foundation, and they offer brief tours for $10.00.
A very nice young woman by the name of Winter showed me around.
The building was built in the 1870s and shows signs of wear, but it is still a functioning lighthouse.
The lens is amazing and beautiful.
There are two bulbs; Winter thought the one on the left was a backup. It cycles on and off every 3.7 seconds. It is interesting how such a small bulb can produce so much illumination.
The hexagonal shapes in the floor are small glass skylights.
I usually photograph Nineteenth Century buildings that are not in use and are abandoned. It is lovely to be in one that is still used for its original purpose.
I have spent the last two days on Tilghman Island shooting more artifacts and a bunch of really interesting artwork. It is a remarkable place, and I just love working there. The above shot is a detail from a very old linen map of oyster beds near the island. It was literally falling apart but is an amazing remnant of work life on the bay.
After 6 months of really hard work, it looks like Peter has found a job. It will be a few weeks before he starts, but we are so happy for him. I took a quick shower after the drive back to DC from Tilghman’s and we went right out to buy him some work clothes. There is a GAP practically next to Nando’s so we ate some chicken and then went to Larry’s for ice cream. It is a wonderful place on Connecticut Avenue. I had lavender, which was probably the most interesting flavor I’ve had in years.
There was a very nice mention of the suitcases project on PetaPixel yesterday. Thanks DL Cade!
Cristine, our friend Kate, and I drove to Salem today to see the J M W Turner exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum. It is amazing and worth the trip. No photos allowed in the gallery, but it is a very cool museum. Note the early Airstream trailer (lower right) that is part of the mid century LA exhibit.
The upcoming 10 days are going to be very hectic for me, so please be patient if I don’t respond directly to email. I’ll do my best.
It has been a while since I’ve posted. I think it was a combination of having the Kickstarter campaign wrap up and feeling a bit of “Kharma Congestion” as my friend Alex would call it.
Last week Cris and I drove to Toronto. She was presenting at the annual CIES Conference and I was tagging along for fun.
We went out to an amazing South Indian restaurant called Udupi Palace and it was the best. Cristine’s favorite food in the world is a paper masala dosa, and Udupi has the best ones she has ever found outside of India. After we ate, we were waiting for a streetcar to take us back downtown and I saw this window display. Love the hands.
I was very excited to get back to Toronto to be able to see the Thompson Collection of Cornelius Krieghoff paintings at The Art Gallery of Ontario. Here is a previous post about my relation to him. The museum has a ton of his work. I was really jazzed to see so many in one place.
This is a detail from one of his paintings that is a sort of self-portrait of his family (in the sleigh).
I especially liked reading the bottom paragraph here. It helps to explain where I might get my own disregard for authority.
After Toronto, we drove to Pittsburgh for another of Cris’ conferences. On the way we had to stop at Niagara Falls. I hadn’t been on the Canadian side for years, and it was a beautiful day. (Unlike many, I also really like the American side.)
In Toronto we scored some of these great Roots mittens. And I bought this hat in the Soviet Union in 1982, a very long time ago.
Next stop was Eddie’s Footlong Hot Dogs on the Lake Road just outside of Meadville. I grew up eating these and was thrilled to see that they had opened for the season just a few days earlier. I rarely post pictures of food, but oh man are these good. Too cold to eat at the picnic tables, but two with the works hit the spot.
We got to Pittsburgh in time for a nice walk along the River. It is a fantastic city that somehow remains largely intact. The downtown is full of beautiful buildings that are mostly in good shape, and it seems, just waiting for a revival of sorts. It is hard to imagine why young artists aren’t flocking here and making it home. It is such a cheap place to live, with amazing loft spaces right in town, and tons of culture. And the rivers!
So many beautiful steel bridges. This one leads to PNC Park, just across the river from downtown.
Here’s a view looking back across the water.
Our hotel was very near to Penn Station and on Sunday morning I took a walk over to check it out. As a kid I had traveled through it on the train, and the upper floors are now converted to “luxury” apartments. This is a section of the dome which used to be the main entryway from the street.
It was sad to see the “modern” waiting room like this.
With only two trains a day, and nothing running North/South there isn’t much activity. And the times aren’t particularly convenient.
Thanks for checking in. I’ll try to get on a more regular schedule of posting. Tomorrow Peggy Ross is coming over and we are meeting with my friends at Small Batch Books to start work on the Suitcases book reward. I’ll keep updating progress on the project, and plan to be back shooting next week.
I drove to Tilghman today for several days of shooting for the Waterman’s Museum. The sun was setting just as I crossed the Knapps Narrows Bridge and I stopped to take a few shots. I love this little bridge tender’s building. It is purportedly the busiest drawbridge in the US. / Looking forward to hanging with the Tilgman folks and working with Peter Carroll; it is always fun and they are so welcoming to us. And I am REALLY looking forward to Saturday’s Oyster and Ham dinner at the church.
Peter and I had a great visit to the Museum of Natural History this afternoon. I wanted to show him the Hope Diamond and some of the other gems.
The big diamond was ok, but we were drawn more to the emeralds and rubies. This necklace was pretty cool.
These two pieces of chalcedony (quartz) were so cool; especially the green one. Amazing that this stuff appears in nature only to be found, polished, and put on display.
Cool elephant in the main foyer.
Not being much in the way of scientists, we didn’t understand a lot of what was going on in the genome exhibit.
When we told Cris we were going to the Natural History Museum, she said “Ooooh, dioramas!”
The guy here looks like he is hailing a cab in New York City. I have actually seen guys who look pretty much like him doing just that. When I was taking this photograph, a dad beside me was photographing his two kids and one of them said, “Daddy, I want to be a caveman.”
We kept coming back to the elephant.
We had an early dinner reservation at Mon Ami Gabi to celebrate Peter’s birthday. It was great. The escalator at the Bethesda station is enormous.
Back home tomorrow.
Craig Williams sent me a link to an article that ran in the Trumansburg, NY weekly paper, and I wanted to pass it along. It is a very well thought out editorial on the potential closing of two Southern Tier psych centers (Willard is also mentioned). Here is the link. I thought of the above photo when the writer spoke about how the alternative to folks getting help in psych centers is to house them in prisons. The above photo is from a project I did in the 1980s photographing early 20th Century New York State prisons. This particular shot was taken in the Elmira Correctional Facility which would undoubtedly end up hosting some of the very people who would not be able to get treatment in the psych centers that are meant to close. I accept that it is all very complicated, but some logical planning on the State’s part should be encouraged.
On a somewhat connected note, yesterday I photographed a very moving interfaith service at the South Church in Springfield called “Creating a Peace-Full City”. There has been an awful spate of gun-related violence in Springfield this year, and many have come together to see if something positive could be done about it. I had never been in this church before and it is stunning.
After I posted the shots of the capitol building yesterday, I found myself thinking about previous visits to the same location. I took the above picture sometime in 1985 (when this Studebaker Lark was already over 20 years old). It was this photo that popped into my mind as I was taking yesterday’s shot.
I took the above photograph on 19th January, 1985 the night before Reagan’s second inauguration. Stacy Dabney (and I am not sure of the exact spelling) was living under these very same steps. My friend Brad Edmondson and I were walking around the building the night before the ceremony and we were surprised to see this gentleman living there. He was happy to talk to us about his situation. He was a veteran and felt he was getting screwed by the VA. The Capitol Police didn’t bother him much, but Stacy was pretty sure they would kick him out by the next day. They did. I remember thinking at the time that this was a HUGE story that no one was covering. A homeless guy living under the capitol building.
Brad and I were back in DC that April working on a story about congressman Matt McHugh (D-NY 1975-1993). We went back to the capitol steps and sure enough Stacy was still in residence. We caught him late at night just as he was turning in. It still seems amazing that not only was he living there, but the police never really hassled him. This shot was taken on 24 April, 1985 and it was the last time I saw him. Do any of you out there remember meeting him or reading about him? I did a search for his name and nothing came up. (UPDATE. Thanks to reader DotRot for letting me know his real name.; Stacy Abner. Here is a link to an article that explains the situation. Still an amazing story.)
I really like this photo of Brad, taken that same evening just after we left Stacy.