Friday, March 24, 2017

nobody's home..........

And if you are a tax-paying American, 
you might consider that during the few
 minutes it took me to shoot this photo,
 approximately $23,000 of your money 
was spent to safe guard this building, 
so a 10 year old boy could attend 
a private school.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In 1968 We Ran A Pig For President

1968 was the year we ran a pig for president.  Actually, I shouldn't say 'we' since I was only there to take snapshots.  Officially, Pigasus was the candidate of the Youth International Party, aka: Yippie!  Well, 'officially' might be a stretch since Yippie! folks were at best kind of disorganized. At best.  And given the times and the place, chances are that a good deal of consciousness altering substances were involved in any decision making. It was the 60's: all of the people was stoned some of the time and some of the people were stoned all of the time, there was a war on, sex was free and well, there we were.  And there was the Candidate. We held a benefit at the Village Theater.  Everyone joined in a rousing rendition of "You're A Grand Old Pig."

The campaign did not fare well: the candidate was arrested.  Actually, as I remember it, he was arrested several times.  Well, the pig was not actually arrested, it was the people with him.  They were charged with having an 'Unlicensed Swine.'  Nobody knew there was a license required for a presidential candidate, but again, there we were.  Pigasus was 'confiscate' by the authorities.  Each time, a replacement pig was promptly purchased.  As one Yippie! commented: “One pig is pretty much like another.”

The high point in the campaign came when the Candidate arrived at a Times Square hotel.  By an amazing coincidence, there was also a rally for Democratic Party candidate Hubert Humphrey at that very same hotel that evening.  There was a large police presence.  There was an anti-war  demonstration in the streets in front of the hotel. And there we were.

The NYPD's  Bureau of Special Services, affectionately known as the  “Red Squad,” was there too, headed up by our all-time favorite, Detective Finnegan.  Everybody knew Finnegan and his partner, Det. Brennan.  They knew us too.  They also thought we were dangerous. Very dangerous. So dangerous that they assigned at least two undercover cops ‘infiltrate’ the ‘organization.'  You can spot them in some of the snapshots ‘guarding’ the candidate. One of them went on to write a book about his experience and then to become Chief of Police in some jerkwater town, but that's another story.

Anyway, on that evening Pigasus arrived in the back seat of a convertible, surrounded by his Not-So-Secret Service guards. And the undercover cops. The circus had come to town.  The police, the ones in uniform, seeing the convertible and the escorts (in Dark Suits and wraparound shades) coming down Broadway, held up traffic and let it pass.  They made it to the front of the hotel before someone noticed that it was not Democratic Party Candidate Humphrey in the back seat.

In our final snapshot, you can see an embarrassed  Det. Finnegan holding a police radio and looking at me.  As I recall, he was also yelling “Get that  #@$! photographer out of here!”  

Times were simpler - and lots more fun. The rest is history.

Arthur and Pigasus had a special relationship.
Note original Ratner's in the background.  Ahh, the onion rolls!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Remembering Fallen Brothers

On the evening of March 14, 2007, NYPD Auxiliary Police Officers Nick Pekearo and Gene Marshalik were shot and killed on Sullivan Street, right near Bleecker Street. Today the intersection is marked with street signs in their memory. Every year we held a walk with family members, friends and members of the service from the 6th Precinct to that intersection. This year that walk was canceled due to a snowstorm, so I am posting this in their memory and to share something that did not show up in any of the news reports.

That night, unlike this, was unseasonably warm. Restaurants had tables set up outside, sidewalks were crowded: lots of people were out enjoying the evening. We will never know exactly what motivated the killer, but some facts are clear enough: he walked into a restaurant on MacDougal Street, sat down and shot a busboy 15 times. He then calmly walked out along Bleecker Street, turned up Sullivan and shot the 2 officers. Moments later, officers responding to the reports of 'shots fired,' shot and killed the killer.

Later we learned the killer was carrying 2 high powered handguns and 130 rounds of ammunition.

In the weeks that followed, investigators could not come up with any connection between the killer and the busboy in the restaurant. There was nothing in his background to indicate any problems with police officers. Only one thing is clear: with those two guns and all that firepower, he came into our community that night to kill. On that balmy evening, he had a choice of many targets. Had it not been for the actions of Nick and Gene, he would have gone on killing. And on that night instead of two families grieving for their loss, there would have been many, many more.

So there will not be a memorial tonight for anyone else who was out in the Village that evening, or for anyone who had friends or family at NYU. Or who lived in the neighborhood. Everyone got home safely that evening except Nick and Gene.


I got a call that evening around 9 from my patrol partner. He told me there had been a shooting and one of our guys was involved. He was at St. Vincent's Hospital. My apartment was only a couple of blocks away and I was there a few minutes later. There were hundreds of cops, Department brass and lots of press. The first person I recognized was a detective from my precinct. His first words: “They are both dead.”

The Mayor and Police Commissioner showed up along with the two families. Hours later we formed up an escort to take them to the Medical Examiner's Office. 2 Ambulances and many cars with flashing lights, driving slowly through the Village. I remember empty streets and Officers standing at attention at every corner.  More filled the sidewalks in front of the  6th Precinct and saluted as we passed. Later there would be tears and exhaustion. It was a very long night.

Here is a link to a video clip of a part of that evening: 

There is another from a security camera on Sullivan Street that recorded the shooting and, moments later, the arrival of other Police Officers.  That is a difficult one to watch.

I served as an Auxiliary Officer in the 6th  for 35 years; I knew and worked with both Nick and Gene. Nick was 28. Gene was 19. They were good guys.

Bringing Our Brothers Home

Friday, March 3, 2017

Last Night's Art

New York City art galleries have their openings on Thursday nights. I have on idea why. There used to be a while bunch of galleries along one stretch of Broadway. You didn't really need to know which galleries were having openings, you just walked around looking for people with plastic tumblers and checked to see where they were coming from. On a good evening, if you started early enough, you could tank up on a meal of cheap wine and fairly good cheese. Sometimes crackers. Or sometimes it was the other way around. After a few openings it didn't usually make much difference. But there was a whole gallery scene down there. I knew one guy who actually taught a course at the New School on visiting gallery openings. It was a place to meet. And to be seen.  The art rarely played a part in it. And if the cheese gave out,  Chinatown was nearby.

The galleries have mostly moved to anther neighborhood that is nowhere near as interesting. And a pain to get to. But there are a few new places on the Lower East Side. I went to an opening last night at a gallery on the Bowery. I remembered the block from a New Year's Eve party a hazy long, long time ago, in a loft, with very cheap wine. I didn't try the gallerie's wine, but the cheese was only passable. The crackers were good. The art sucked. On the way home, I found this wall and it turned into a wonderful evening. Should you be near the corner of Houston Street and Bowery, you can see it there. It is yet another one of the reasons I continue to love my City:

Friday, February 24, 2017


Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy NMP Day!

When I was a kid we celebrated George Washington's birthday. Then we celebrated Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Or maybe it was in Lincoln's first: I don't remember. But I do remember that they were 2 important guys and we learned about them in school. Then someone decided to combine the two into one, and now they want us to celebrate something called “President's Day.” Lots of people don't think that is such a good idea, so today we celebrated “Not My President's Day.” That makes a lot more sense.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Button, Button, He Got Ya Button!

I was working as an assistant in a photo studio on the 28th floor of a building on 7th Avenue when the lights went out. We looked out and watched them wink off across town: it was 1965 and we got to watch the first New York City blackout. It was weird. As it happened, my friend Al lived a few blocks away and after walking down the fire stairs with a few hundred other people, I figured I might as well walk over to his apartment since without electricity it seemed to be a good bet that there would be no subway to get me home to my parents house in Brooklyn. Fortunately Al and his folks lived on the 3rd floor. And they were home. For some reason, the phones were working so I was able to call home and assure Mom that I was well and had a place to spend the night and equally important, that Al's mother was going to feed us. Then me and Al decided to take a walk.

With all the stuff that went on that evening, my strongest memory was walking up to Times Square. There were no street lights and traffic signals were out but  less than an hour later there were guys on the street selling flashlights. And by the time we got up to 42nd Street, the food joints and hot dog stands had gas lamps and candles set up and were doing business as usual. That was the evening I learned that New Yorkers – the ones who make the place happen - have their own particular hustle. By next morning there were guys driving around with trucks loaded with huge hunks of dry ice, hawking it to food retailers. Of course, these are the same people who set up stands selling umbrellas within seconds of the first drops hitting the pavement. 

 And in that great New York spirit, here is a guy who appeared on 5th Avenue around the 3rd week of January.  

 He probably was there the day before too, but with 400,000 people walking by, it was hard to notice him then.  Today I stopped to chat with him.  Pleasant guy.  Nice buttons and tourists probably think $5 is a fair price. Hey, buck's a buck, right?  Say hello if you are demonstrating in the neighborhood.

Monday, February 6, 2017

This Week in Tattooing

I still find it kind of hard to believe, but the New York Historical Society, that venerable institution of our fine City has actually mounted an exhibition documenting the history of tattooing in New York City. OK, we all know getting inked has become pretty much mainstream.  Much as some of us may regret it, it is no longer the province of sailors, hookers and gangbangers, but to 'come out' in show like this, here?  Hoo-Boy!

Also figure that up until 1997, tattooing was illegal in New York City.  So here is this staid, conservative bunch suddenly recognizing tattooing.  As art.  The mind boggles.  Mine, anyway.  Not only that, but I am actually a part of it,  Me. Two of my photographs are there, included in the show. OK, my prints are not all that big and you have to look around the show to find them, but they did have the discernment pick one to use in the press release, so I guess that kind of makes up for it.
As followers of this blog might have picked up, I have been photographing the 'tattoo scene' for the better part of 2 decades. Much of it was for the pure enjoyment of producing images of beautiful body art and meeting an endless array of collectors and artists from around the world. OK, a bunch of beautiful babes too.  Along the way, I became a regular contributor to one of the top tattoo magazines and actually realized a bit of return and recognition, but would I never have imagined seeing any my work here.  Not only that, but displayed along with historical art and artifacts and the work of some of the most talented artists in the tattoo world.  Kind of humbling.  And I don't do humble well, but in this case........

And yes, the opening reception was everything you might think it was.

Someone suggested that I add this to my curriculum vitae
Problem is I don't have a curriculum vitae. 
 It sounded like a vitamin supplement.
That name also reminded me of someone I dated a long time.  
 But I think her name was Clytemnestra or something like that. 
 It was a long time ago.
But I did look up curriculum vitae and now I do know what it is. 
And I am sure this will look great the next time some one asks for mine.
Actually, I have never been asked for my curriculum vitae.
But if someone ever wants to see mine, I now do got this! 
 Impressive, huh?

(artist maury englander doing field research for this project)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Saturday on Christopher Street

Saturday, February 4th and a fine day for some snapshots of my neighborhood:

In Memoriam

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of yet another victim of what the media is calling The Bowling Green Massacre, my dear and distant Cousin and beloved founder of Manhattan Mobil Moyls, Rabbi Sambo “Snipper” Lipschitz.

Reb Snipper's 'Moylemobile' was a regular fixture at Bowling Green where he set up shop most evenings. In addition to his “Circumcision-While-You-Wait” service, a great asset to busy New Yorkers, he also sold a line of fine quality woman's ready to wear formals and could always get you a good deal on aluminum siding. He will also be remembered by the many tourists who made the mistake of trying  to take photos of him only to be sprayed with the pepper spray he always kept handy.

Anyway, on the tragic evening, he had the misfortune to be right on top of the explosive charge and was only identified by his mangled surgical shear, a fragment of an obscene joke tattooed on his lower abdomen and the remains of the Hebrew National salami he always carried in his pocket.

His family and friends deplore the senseless violence that took him from us in this untimely manner and call upon the authorities to bring the nogoodniks responsible to justice. They would also like to announce a sale of slightly blast damaged (but otherwise fine) ladies ready to wear formals. I would also like the return of the lawnmower he borrowed in 1987, but that's probably not going to happen. 

He is survived by his wife, Boom-Boom, a free lance domitrix who is currently touring with with the Yiddish Theater musical production of "Whipniks" and could not be reached for comment which is probably just as well since they have been seperated for the last 40 years and never had anything good to say about each other anyway.

A planned memorial service will probably not happen either due to lack of interest. In lieu of flowers the family has requested contributions to Reb Snipper's favorite charities, Fondue Bowls For The Homeless and Perverts Without Partners.



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Today's Snapshots

Notes: Subways jammed this morning heading uptown. Ended up walking across town from Times Square. Supposed to meet a friend at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at noon: never happened. Every street for blocks around packed. Packed solid. Police were cool: gave trying to control the crowds. “The streets belong to the people!” .........and lots of drivers found that out. I spent 3 wonderful hours wandering around and smiled lots. Walked up Madison Avenue with a few thousand others. By then all the streets off 5th Avenue (where, in theory, the March was going to take place) were also packed solid. No idea of how many people were there and won't even try to guess. Six figures easy, OK? Lots of families with kids. Been a long time since I have seen this kind of enthusiasm at a demonstration. Like since 1968 when we ran a pig for president.  But that's another story.  Mean time, let the snapshots do the talking and like the man said:

" Here's lookin' at you kid!"

A sad - and disturbing - footnote to this post: while all the local and national news broadcasts lead off with stories on the day's demonstrations, our CBS Evening News at 11:00 PM began with a story on a private plane crash in New Jersey. That was followed by a weather report and only then did they put up some clips of the day's protests. Coverage included a statement that the demonstration in Chicago had been called off by organizers because there were so many people that it could not be contained. Could their crew have been on a break when 200,000 protesters hit Chicago's streets?