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.
Cris and I took the train from New Haven to DC on Monday. She has a couple of days of consulting and I get to hang out with Peter.
This tiny restaurant is near to the Van Ness metro station and has been closed since Peter moved to the neighborhood. I really like the retro feel of the facade, and with the building permit in the window you know it will change soon.
I have always enjoyed shooting in underground stations. I like the movement of the trains during long exposures.
I will often stop after exiting the giant escalator at Dupont Circle to look down on cars that are passing below.
Peter was working the Nationals game last night so Cris and I showed up at around 6:00 to get tickets. The Nats are struggling this year and with playoff hopes low, they are selling seats for $5.00! $5.00; unbelievable. We got a couple of great seats in section 402 and saw a really good game with a win over the Marlins. My current favorite pitcher, Ross Ohlendorf, was on the mound and his old school wind-up is unique. You can get a look at it here. / Every time Wilson Ramos came up to bat, some guy behind me started chanting Hu go Cha vez, Hu go Cha vez. (There is a Venezuelan connection; only in DC can you hear something like this at a ball game.)
It was beautiful night, and between innings it was nice to look around at some of the architectural features of the park. Cris noticed these lights just above us and pointed them out to me.
We are off to the Lincoln Memorial in a bit to see if we can see the President speak in honor of the 50th anniversary of the MLK “I have a dream” speech. Could be interesting.
Cristine and I are visiting Peter in DC for the weekend. Pete is working as a “fan ambassador” for the Nationals. His job is to welcome people into the park and help them with any questions that they might have. So if you go to a game, chances are good that he will be around the center field entrance just inside the main gate. Look him up! He is a great guy and would love to chat. / The Nats are having a rough season this year and last night was emblematic of how things are going for them. A difficult loss in 10 innings. Everyone was moving very slowly on a hot summer’s night and the game lasted over 4 hours. It was a sell out and the only tickets Cris and I could get were standing room. But at $15.00 a real deal. Peter got us comp tickets for Monday’s game vs the Pirates and we are looking forward to having actual seats.
Due to a remarkable set of circumstances I was invited to stay at the home of Toby and Jerry Levine while I was in San Francisco. My friend Meredith from the Pelham Cultural Council is a great friend of theirs and encouraged me to get in touch before my trip. They were super hosts and are both very involved in San Francisco neighborhood preservation and development. Toby serves on several boards and seems to be familiar with every important neighborhood issue both past and present. At one point early in my stay she asked me if I was interested in large industrial sites. Indicating that I was, she made arrangements for me to have a tour of a few buildings at Pier 70 that are slated for development.
I only had about an hour and just my little cameras with me, but Everardo, who interns with the development company gave us a grand tour of buildings 112/113 and 104.
I get so jazzed about shooting in these environments.
There is something about this time in the life of a building that intrigues me.
Since I was not able to photograph during its productive era, I can only imagine what was happening in these rooms when they were in use.
But there is usually enough evidence left behind to give an inkling to what it might have been like to work here.
And the light is always so natural and soft.
This building is huge. It was part of a ship building and dry dock facility which at one time was part of Bethlehem Steel. I believe that it was originally the Union Iron Works.
Which at one time must have employed a ton of people.
I especially like old locker rooms and bathrooms.
Nice sign over the urinals.
It is not difficult to imagine people using these sinks after a long day’s work.
I like this little office in the middle of everything.
This is a view of the second floor of 113.
How about the red fingernails painted on this stylized hand which points the way to the rest room?
This color green shows up regularly in buildings like this one. The light fixtures give a bit of a clue to when this office space was last renovated. I’d say mid 1960′s.
These last few shots are from building 104 which seems to have been mostly used for administrative offices.
This is the top floor of 104. You can just see the skylights which at some time were painted black.
The staircases are fantastic.
More lockers here, and it seems odd to me that they were in what was essentially an office building.
There was a small hospital in one wing of 104, and with all the machinery that is saw, I can imagine it was a busy place at times.
Thanks so much to the Orton Development people for granting me access to these amazing buildings. And of course to Toby and Jerry. Here are a few links to learn more about the site, its history, and future. Click here and here.
Yesterday I went to see the Nationals play the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It was an interesting game. Very few hits and not much scoring. The Nationals won in 10, 2 to 1. As you can see it was a beautiful day, perfect for baseball. I was at the mercy of the guy selling the tickets, and just asked for a very cheap seat. Ended up in section 302, which by my estimation is the nicest place to sit in the whole park. The only problem was that for the first time in all my years of going to baseball games, it was difficult to concentrate on the action with this amazing view of the bay always pulling me away from the game. Even if you HATE baseball, it is totally worth $24.00 to sit up here for an afternoon drinking a few beers and being part of a crowd of very friendly people. / After the game I blasted over to the offices of Collector’s Weekly and met with Hunter Oatman-Stanford who wrote this article about the suitcases that really opened a lot of doors for me. We were joined by two other editors and had a great chat about this and that. I was totally blown away when they told me that the story had generated roughly 600,000 views on their site. I really owe a lot to Hunter for his great interview and interest in the project. / Made it out to the airport in time to catch the redeye back to Boston. Got home at about 9.30 this morning and was happy to see the Pearl, who after a bit of a scare this weekend seems to be back on her feet.
I have never given much thought to whether or not I am an artist. And the whole idea of whether or not photography is an art is a whole ball of wax that I try to avoid. So when Pam Winfrey (whose idea it was to have the Exploratorium host the “Normal” exhibit) invited me to be part of an artist’s night, I said yes without giving it much thought. So it was a bit weird for me to be introduced to people as one of the artists whose work was on display. I’ll accept it for the time being but I doubt it will go to my head. The event was pretty cool. Since I was basically alone, I wandered around looking lost for a while before I ran into my refound friend Katie Hahren and her daughter Annie. That loosened things up a bit. Eventually Karen Miller and I ended up signing catalogues and chatting with guests. / One thing about San Francisco that I really like is that dogs seem to be accepted in most public places. When I was at the Exploratorium in February I met a 4 month old black lab who was on his way to work for only the second day. I can not imagine bringing the Pearl to an office job even now when she is 12 and mostly calm.
This is the new Exploratorium on the Embarcadero at Pier 15. It is amazing. Go check it out if you ever get the chance.
One of the projects I did back in the 80s was a documentation of late 19th and early 20th century New York State prison architecture (funded by the New York State Council on the Arts). I shot it all with my 4 x 5 Wista and it is nice to look at the photographs from time to time. This shot at the Elmira Correctional Facility is the only one I took with evidence of a prisoner (note the guy’s hands on the lower left holding the mirror as he is checking me out). The corrections people were super nice to me, although I am pretty sure they could not really grasp what I was up to. If I remember correctly, this is one of the few NY State prisons with this traditional set up….just like in the movies!
I’ll be heading back out to San Francisco on Sunday for an Exploratorium event Monday evening. Thinking about trying to get together with any of you who are interested. Any ideas about a pub somewhere near the Embarcadero where we could hang out at the end of the day on Tuesday? Shoot me an email if you have any ideas.
I am going to break a few of my self-imposed rules in this post. I have always assumed that the reason people come to this site was to see interesting aspects of the world that they might not otherwise notice. I have never wanted it to be about me. But this post is mostly personal.
Peter Carroll and I have been working on a project on Tilghman Island for the past several years. In conjunction with the Tilghman Island Waterman’s Museum, we have been documenting the life of the watermen for two films that Peter has been shooting. The second of those films had its premier on Saturday evening at the elementary school. The auditorium was full and everyone loved it.
Then on Sunday Cristine and I flew to New Orleans where she was to receive an award from the Commission on Adult Basic Education. We walked around the city most of the day yesterday and it was as amazing to me as everyone said it would be.
Cris got the Kenneth J. Mattran Award for “Promoting Literacy Nationally and Internationally”. I was so proud and it was great to see people come up to her and thank her for being so inspirational.
After the luncheon we bugged out and walked back to the French Quarter. I would love to have seen this neon sign lit up, but The Pearl was closed today. Next stop was Cafe´du Monde for beignets and coffee. Later as we were walking down an almost totally deserted RiverWalk, we saw a video crew doing a stand up shot of a guy with the river in the background. It turned out to be Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel.
So here’s where I really break my self-imposed rule (don’t ever have a picture of me in this blog). My great friend Tania Werbizky has at various times in her life been totally obsessed with the Weather Channel. After Jim was done with his work, I approached him and asked if I could take a photograph. He was so nice and immediately suggested that he and I be in the shot. So Tania, I mentioned you to Jim effing Cantore. How’s about that?
Our hotel is just next to the Superdome and this is the view from the 17th floor hallway. / It is impossible to walk around this city and not think of hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused. And looking at this building that housed so many people in such great need is more than a bit unsettling. This is an amazing part of America and I feel fortunate to have finally made it down here.