Thursday, May 25, 2017

East First Street Revisited

East First Street: My first solo apartment back when the neighborhood was the Lower East Side – that is, before it was the “East Village” - the difference being around $1500 a month; Flower Power was in bloom and my block boasted 3 bodegas, a real candy store owned by an elderly Italian couple named Mama and Papa and a Chinese Hand Laundry run by a smiling lady whose single word of English, as far as anyone could remember, was “Starch?” We also had our very own outdoor drug supermarket at the corner of First Avenue in the ruins of a boccie court that was also occasionally used for a film location. At the other corner was a real gas station that was opened all night. Along with the “Summer Of Love,” two of my neighbors were murdered and one committed suicide. But all in all it was a pretty good block. And a cheap place to live.

There used to be a vacant lot in the middle of the block right across from my old apartment. It is still sort of vacant, but it now has cobble stones instead of garbage to walk on and someone has painted the walls of the buildings that face it. My old building is still there along with several new ones. None of the bodegas are there. Mama and Papa are long gone and their candy story is pretending to be an art gallery. There is a huge new building going up at the corner where the gas station used to be.  I wonder if the 'art' will be there when the new folks move into that building.

And: After I posted this, I got a note from Ed Pacht. Ed and I were roommates a long, long time ago, actually pre-First Street longtime ago. It was a place on 9th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C. It was my first experience living (sort of) on my own. I was 19 and life was lots simpler and easier and I had no idea. Anyway as it usually happens, Ed and I went on to lead our separate lives separately. As it also happened to those f us who are lucky, we reconnected a few years back and now manage to get together once or twice a year. Ed writes poetry. I am flattered that he remembers me in this piece and I wanted to add it here:

2536. May 25, 2017.  Several things worked together to bring me here.  In yesterday’s poetry class I mentioned that it was Bob Dylan’s birthday.  I drank beer with him once before he was famous.  I am reading “Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan”, which brings back many New York memories.  I had an email from my old roommate about a slightly later place he’d lived.  All of that keyed in this bit of reminiscence…

East Ninth Still

In days gone by
when rent was cheap
and hopes were running high,
in a world gone mad,
or so it seemed
(but not as mad as now),
when streets were full of freaks,
and immigrants of every kind,
and every faith (or none) was held,
and many tongues were spoken,
a motley, grungy culture thrived,
and youth descended on the place,
and I,
young, naïve, and learning much,
was one of those who came,
one of those young and restless souls,
unsatisfied with the homes they had
and with the lives desired for them
who sought a different way,
and came,
and lived in a place like this:
five floors high, on each floor four
apartments much the same,
a motley group contained within,
a theater person, Jewish Bahai,
a Polish couple of factory work,
an artist whose comics were very strange,
a poet who dealt in many drugs,
and me,
with a roommate who sang folk songs,
and a stream of strange folk ever coming,
and conversations ever changing.
It was a time of endless learning,
and a time of foolish failing;
a time of splendid moral growth,
and a time of moral failure,
a short time many years ago,
a fraction of a man’s long life,
and yet a time to be remembered,
a time to be cherished,
even though it be regretted
in part, for some of what it was.
It was a time,
for an aged poet-sometime-preacher
that built on what already was
and helped to make him what he is,
and still East Ninth is in his heart,
and in some undetermined way,
still guides him,
still feeds him,
and feels like home.
-Ed Pacht

Monday, May 22, 2017

Alien Occupation Blockades Village- Press Blackout! Exclusive photos!

Masked demonstration leaders refuse comment. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Dance To Spring

Union Square this afternoon.
The Season begins, 
Two Souls share the Sprit
All is As it Should Be.
Presented here without further comment:

Well, one comment:
Cheeto-Face is still president
Still Bat-Shit Crazy!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

In Remembrance

In Remembrance: My Grandmother was born in a tiny town in Poland named Frompel. Her maiden name was Huff. She married my Grandfather and, as family legend has it, they lived together long enough for her to get pregnant, whereupon Grandfather took off for America to work, save and send back enough for her boat ticket. A year later, carrying my infant mother (and probably not much else), she joined him in New York. That was around 1910. The rest of her family was not as fortunate.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to find a copy of a book published in Israel in 1966 by the survivors of Frompol.  The book was in the library of the Yivo Institute; it's purpose was simply to document stories and bits of history of the Jewish community there, along with the names of those murdered by the Nazis.

With the help of a kind staff member I found the page with the list 28 people named Huff. They are all relatives of mine from that village.  None of them survived. Although I had heard stories of family members 'left behind,' this is the first time I actually read their names. My Yiddish is not very good, but I was able to make out the name of my Great Grandfather, Avram (Abraham) among them.

In Remembrance on this day, Yom HaShoah:

A Footnote: When I was a kid – really young, like around 5 – I remember noticing really old people – and when you are 5, damn near everybody over 20 is old – old people with numbers tattooed on their arms.  I guess at the time didn't know they were tattoos, and just thought they were another strange thing old people did, like smoking cigars.  I also remember that occasionally some of these folks acted odd, like yelling or crying for no reason.  When that happened, I would sometimes hear someone say “He was in the camps.”  Everyone would nod and not say anything more.  After all, what could anyone say?

It was only much later that I got some understanding of the real horror of what these people had been through.  Seems like the older I get, the greater my sense of the magnitude of the Holocaust becomes.  I had forgotten about the book of my grandmother's village that I cited on my last post.  Yesterday I remembered the folder and found it stuck away in a file draw.  I looked at it for the first time in years and read off the names of my relatives.  and this time I had to fight back tears.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Scientists Occupy Broadway: Conway Denies Gravity!

A demonstration by scientists in support of science;  who would of thought?

...... or (to sum it all up):


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Behold and Go Forth!"

In a century old tradition, on this, the holiest day of the Christian calender the faithful from around the world come to New York City to gather in worship at the Cathedral of St. Patrick. This year I was deeply honored by being the first photographer permitted to photograph the Grand Procession of Communicants. I have selected a few images that I feel capture a small part of this year's recounting of this solemn event. 

In the words of St.Galapagos Letter To The Revisionists: “Behold and go forth in rudiments of randiment and be ye by this known and therefore unto all and one for on this day you shall indeed!”

Saturday, April 15, 2017

April 15, 1967 - April 15, 2017

April 15, 2017: Fifty years ago today, around 8 in the morning, I was standing in the middle of Central Park's Sheep Meadow.  It was an overcast day and the forecast was for rain. I was carrying a bunch of camera equipment; I remember being mildly concerned about keeping it all dry if it started raining.  As it happened the rain held off until mid-afternoon; by then more than a quarter of a million people would have assembled in the park and marched the several miles to the United Nations to protest the war in Vietnam.

 I had volunteered to 'coordinate' a group of photographers to photograph the march.  We scheduled a meeting and expected a dozen or so; over a hundred photographers showed up that evening.  On the morning of April 15th, we had everybody assigned to cover different parts of the march.  Many professionals who could not be there had responded with contributions of cash, film and use of their darkrooms to develop the shots.  Richard Avedon was teaching a master class and assigned his students to photograph the event. 

One strong memory of that morning was watching the Sheep Meadow fill and realizing that this was going to be lots bigger than we expected. And things started happening early.  One young man burned his draft card; more joined.  Suddenly a hundred more were setting the small white cards on fire. 

 When the march began, Dr. Martin Luther King and Dr. Benjamin Spock lead the way.  Pete Seegar sang.  It would take more than 7 hours for the last marcher to reach the UN Plaza. 

I had forgotten that today was the anniversary of that march. As I recall,  I am pretty sure I managed to keep my cameras dry. Fifty years later and a few snapshots to share:

One Personal Footnote: The following day, Sunday, April 17th, the New York Times
 had a short article and a single photo of the event. 
 Somehow I managed to save that clipping all these years. 
The newsprint is yellow and faded, but see, that really is me 
getting a hell of a better shot of the draft card burning!

Just saying.


Later The Same Day 50 Years Later: 
"Trumpie Tax Day Demo"
 Bryant Park
 "Show Us Your Tax Returns"  

and him: