Jon Crispin's Notebook


Posted in Boats, People, Sport, Transportation by joncrispin on 31/10/2013

I used to shoot a lot of rowing.  I started in Ithaca while shooting sports for Cornell and Ithaca College.  And for many years I shot the annual Harvard/Yale Regatta on the Thames River in New London, CT.  I have such a great respect for these athletes and their dedication to training and competing.  This morning I was up way before first light to shoot some of the UMASS rowers as they were preparing for a competition this weekend.

Here is a shot of the coxswain in a 4+.  It was barely light when I shot this and when we left the dock it was 39 degrees.

These women are on the water 6 days a week way before most people are out of bed.  Title IX is the greatest!

Big thanks to Megan McHugh for piloting me around the Connecticut River.  She was really nice and it was so great to have an opportunity to be on the water again.

Willard Suitcases / Leo R. / Peg Ross

Posted in ephemera, History, Jon Crispin, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 28/10/2013

The New York State Museum did an amazing job conserving and cataloguing the suitcase collection.  Three staffers did most of the work.  Sarah Jastremsky, Christine Allen, and Kara Chambers worked for months on the project, and they each had their own style of wrapping.  I have never been able to tell who did which case, but they all did an amazing job.  This particular case represents one of those distinctive styles. / Peg and I always try very hard to return the suitcases to their original condition once we are done shooting.

And it is she who does most the work in this regard.  Here is the result of rewrapping Leo R’s case;  very close to the original and equally effective.  She looks very proud and happy in this picture, as well she should. /  From time to time I mention Peg in these posts and it bears saying again that I would have a very hard time doing this work without her help.  She deserves a lot of the credit for what you see here and on and I am so grateful that she is a partner on the project.

Leo’s case was one of many leather grips that we have photographed.  There wasn’t much in it, but what was there was great.  You can see by the label that he was admitted on 25 June, 1954.

I have never seen a Vaseline tube in this color.  I wish they would have kept using it, as it is a shade of green that knocks me out.

I have been adding more cases to the suitcases site.  Eleanor G’s just went up, which one of the larger collections of photographs.  I’ll have more posted by the end of the week, just click on “The Cases” at the top of the page.  Thanks for checking it out.

Boston Park Street Station

Posted in Cities, Transportation, Travel by joncrispin on 26/10/2013

Cris and I drove into Boston last night for the World Education annual dinner.  She had the board meeting today so I got the chance to wander around Boston.  It was a beautiful Autumn day and there was a nice relaxed vibe about town.  The Red Line was shut down between Park and Kendall so the T was running buses between the two stations.

There was fresh air coming into the crowded bus through the emergency exit.  / Sometimes I don’t know why I take certain photographs.  And then I don’t know why I post them here.  But I end up shooting a lot of public transport images like the one on top, and I like the graphic nature of the emergency exit shot.

Andre Dubus III

Posted in People, Published work, Writers by joncrispin on 22/10/2013

I received my preview copy of the latest Poets & Writers in the mail today.  They chose a really nice photo of Andre Dubus III for the article ↓.  There is no online link to the story yet, but they will probably put one up once the magazine has been on the newsstands for a while.  Check it out!

He is on a book tour to promote “Dirty Love”, and I was able to say hi last week when he gave a reading at Politics and Prose in DC.

DC From the Past (Update)

Posted in Architecture, Buildings, Cities, Friends, Government, People by joncrispin on 15/10/2013

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.

DC Again

Posted in Architecture, Family, Food by joncrispin on 14/10/2013

Cris and I are in DC for the long weekend visiting Peter.  We have been walking quite a lot and eating well.  Today was a visit to Tortilla Cafe near Eastern Market which was amazing and cheap. / I haven’t been inspired to shoot much, but the light was nice today and it is pleasant to see roses still blooming in October.

It is odd to see the public parts of the federal government closed up (not that you could get up these steps when there is no government shut-down).  I used to spend quite a bit of time shooting here, and for a time anyone could walk right up to the top. Times change; what can you do?

Tom Schack / Outerstylie

Posted in Friends, Music by joncrispin on 10/10/2013

My good bud Tom Schack just  got the first pressing of his band Outerstylie’s new CD.  He was kind enough to give me a copy (#2) which he is holding in his hand.  He was totally stoked to finally have it.  I’m listening to it now and it sounds great.  Here he is at his “day job”.

Willard Suitcases / Charles F

Posted in Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 04/10/2013

I have started shooting two days a week at the museum in an attempt to get through all 400 cases.  I have a long way to go.  Last week Peg was not able to help out and I was only able to get through 4 empty cases in a day..  She was with me this Wednesday and Thursday and we really wailed.  We were able to get through several empty cases and then started on Charles F’s collection; 2 small cases and a huge trunk with 4 archival boxes filled with his possessions.  He was such an interesting fellow and had saved very interesting items.  He was born in Russia in 1861, became a US citizen in 1896 and was admitted to Willard in 1946.  He died there and is buried in Ithaca.


I have slowly been uploading more cases to the gallery on  Check it out by clicking on “The Cases” in the tabs section at the top of the page.

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