Burning Flags Press The website of Glen E. Friedman. Renowned for both his work with musicians like Fugazi, Minor Threat, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, Slayer (and many, many more) as well as his groundbreaking documentation of the burgeoning skateboard phenomenon in the late `70's, Glen has been privvy to (and has summarily captured on film) some of the coolest stuff ever. He's also an incredibly insightful and nice guy to boot.
SoHo Blues - Photography by Allan Tannenbaum Allan Tannenbaum is a local photographer who has been everywhere and shot everything, from members of Blondie hanging out at the Mudd Club through the collapsing towers of the World Trade Center on September 11th. You could spend hours on this site, and I have.
Robert Otter Photographs Amazing vintage photographs of New York City, specifically my own neighborhood, Greenwich Village.
oboylephoto Just some intensely cool photographs of abandoned places.
The Weblog of Spumco's John K. The weblog of cartoonist John Kricfalusi, crazed mind and frantic pencil behind the original "Ren & Stimpy," as well as "The Goddamn George Liquor Show." Surreal, unapologetic, uncompromising genius.
Well, the latest outlet to take notice of Bob Egan’s efforts is the BBC Radio, who profiled him for their “Digital Human series.” Here that profile (and see a nice gallery of Bob’s work) by clicking right here.
About twenty years ago, I peered out my living room window on East 12th Street to discover that it was a misty, atmospheric day after an early morning rainfall. As I had the day off, I grabbed my trusty Maxxum 400si…then newly fitted with a wide-angle lens, and set out to take some pictures.
While strolling around foggy SoHo, I found myself on Greene Street, strangely bereft of any cars. I raised my camera, pointed it to the south and snapped. A few days later, I repaired to the Spectra Photo Lab on LaGuardia Place and picked up my film, delighted to discover how certain ones had turned out, notably my Greene Street shot. That shot is below….
At the time, I was still finding my way with photography as an eager novice. I’d taken a crash darkroom course at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine, so I had a vague idea of what I was doing, but being that I didn’t have access to a darkroom myself, I took all my film to Specta, and they always did an amazing job. While I could take credit for the composition, Spectra made my images positively shine. This Greene Street shot remains a particular favorite, so much so that I had the Spectra folks blow up a version and it now hangs on our living room wall. I love how you just make out the hint of the World Trade Center towers behind the street lamp.
As I mentioned in this post from 2008, when my first child was born in 2004, I switched to a digital camera out of sheer convenience, and sadly never went back. Clearly, I wasn’t alone, as the advent of digital photography basically seemed to put photo labs like Spectra out of business. They had to give up that massive space on LaGuardia Place as a result. It sort of broke my heart.
Six years later, however, I recently noticed that Specta has re-appeared at 333 Fifth Avenue just off 33rd Street. I’ve recently been kicking the idea around of shooting film again, so it might be time to go visit.
And just for the Hell of it, I was down on Greene Street again yesterday, and tried to replicate that earlier shot. Suffice to say, SoHo is no longer the same place that it was all those years ago.
I had a longer piece in the works about my very first hardcore show, that being the Circle Jerks, D.O.A. and Redd Kross at the Ritz in 1985, prompted the discovery on the official Redd Kross page of a couple of pics from the show in question.
In any case, while looking for other documentation of this gig (which was, for all intents and purposes, a life-changing event for me), I stumbled upon the photo below by photographer Lisa Haun (who I mentioned in the last post). Possibly taken during at the same point as the show in question, it depicts the Redd Kross lads standing in a city park. Here it is below….
Now, I took one look at that shot and instantly believed it to be Tompkins Square Park. Unfortunately, on Haun’s on site, the photographer doesn’t give a lot of information.
In this instance, however, I’m pretty confident that I have the right area, but I’m not sure I have the correct spot. I want to say that the band are pictured looking south towards 7th Street. Being that the shot probably dates back to the mid-80’s, though, it’s hard to verify. The trees don’t exactly match up. What do you think? Do I have it right?
Meanwhile, here's Redd Kross from around that same era...
As such, I'm taking a leap --- given that Hugh is pictured wearing the same overcoat as in that previous picture -- and suggesting that they were taken during the same shoot. In that instance, I am then happy to give the proper credit to photographer Lisa Haun. See more of her absolutely excellent shots of musicians on this page....well worth your time.
Okay, after first posting the question yesterday, I didn’t immediately expect that the location of this picture was going to be that tricky to divine. I assumed that someone would have documented the specifics (especially since the photograph features the still-feverishly-revered Patti Smith) on the `net, but if so — I’ll be damned if I could find it, let alone the name of the photographer who captured the shot.
So, as I’m wont to do, I posted a link to the question over on Facebook, and a few of the usual suspects dutifully weighed in. Obviously there are hundreds of little enclaves, mewses, lanes and gated gardens on this island — it could have been snapped virtually anywhere in Manhattan. My old high school pal Lela suggested the gated mews on West 10th Street between Sixth Ave and Greenwich Ave — specifically Patchin Place. I’ve taken a number of shots of Patchin Place over the years (most recently withmy kids), but I couldn’t be sure, so I strolled back over there….
As you can tell, the entrance to Patchin Place seems far too wide for it to be the same entry Patti and Jim are obstructing. That said, there is that little place around the corner on Sixth Avenue…that being Milligan Place...
Close, but no real cigar.
Filmmaker Karen Gehres, meanwhile, suggested looking on the other side of town, specifically an address on East 12th Street just east of Second Avenue, catty-cornered to storied Italian eatery, John’s. Here’s that address….
That didn’t fit either. For some reason, meanwhile, I had a nagging feeling that it might the entrance to that little cemetery on West 21st Street, just steps to the west of Sixth Avenue…..
Nope, not it either. Maybe it was MacDougal Alley off 8th Street?
Nope, that’s also way too wide.
Earlier in the day, meanwhile, I’d trekked through the heart of the Village, thinking it might be an address on Minetta Street, specifically 19. That looked really close, but the gate didn’t match up.
At this point, I was getting frustrated. Then again, I thought, being that the photograph of Patti and Jim was most likely taken at some point in the early-to-mid 1970’s, the probability that some specifics of the location had changed over the ensuing decades was pretty high.
Bob Egan of PopSpots had the same suspicion. As such, I started scouring the `net, looking for images of some of these addresses from decades past.
I thought about maybe skimming through “Serpico,” the 1973 Al Pacino film, given that the protagonist lives in a tiny apartment down Minetta Street.
Case closed. Here I am this morning in front of the new gate (invariably to the chagrin of 19’s current occupants).
In my searching, I also came across this curious track by Anton Newcombe (he of the excellent Brian Jonestown Massacre). Here's a BJM demo dubbed "Jim Carroll Meets Patti Smith (as slurred by a very drunk Anton Newcombe)". Enjoy....
A couple of weeks back, I was lucky enough to attend the Irish-American Writers & Artists, Inc’s benefit and cocktail party for their annual Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award, in this particular instance honoring storied journalist/author Pete Hamill. As a long-time fan of Mr. Hammill’s, I had a great time (although I was shocked to see the author confined to a wheelchair following some sort of hip surgery). He certainly doesn’t need my help in evangelizing his work, but if you haven’t read any of Hammill’s stuff — even if you’re not feverishly steeped in all things New York City — you’re truly missing out.
In any case, this is the third such ceremony I’ve attended of this organization’s. My good friend (an accomplished author himself) Rob D. invited me to one a few years back, and I was hooked. The entire time I was at this past one, though, I was thinking of another great Irish-American writer/artist from New York City who I think would also be ripe for such an honor, were he sadly not already dead. That writer is Jim Carroll.
I’ve written about my fandom for Jim Carroll here before — most notably about the greatness of “People Who Died” — but the man was truly so much more than that solitary song (and the less said about the cinematic adaptation of “The Basketball Diaries” the better).
As with Pete Hamill, I’m not exactly going out on any precarious limbs espousing Jim’s celebrated books like “The Basketball Diaries,” “Forced Entries,” or his posthumously published “The Petting Zoo.” All his work — to say nothing of his music with the mighty Jim Carroll Band — is worth your time. I’m particularlly fond of his 1991 spoken word album, Praying Mantis. It’s probably out of print by this point, but it’s a sincerely a great listening experience.
Anyway, maybe his material is a little on the dark, gritty and frankly druggy side, but I think the IAW&A, Inc. ought to tip their hat to ol’ Jim. He certainly earned it.
With all that in mind, I have two thing to expound on. First up, I did a random search earlier in the evening on Halloween (before I escorted my little children on their search-&-feverishly-consume mission of Trick-or-Treating) and found this gem. Here’s a crazy-rare clip of the Jim Carroll Band tearing through “People Who Died” at San Francisco’s legendary Mabuhay Gardens in 1978.
Given Jim’s cemented status as being New York City to the very bone, I figured I could probably dig up some photographs of the man in and around Manhattan, but you’d be surprised — there doesn’t seem to be much out there. There are multiple great shots of the JCB rocking out onstage with Keith Richards (photographed at the Trax, a club up on West 72nd Street….no longer there, obviously), but otherwise, the best photograph of Jim Carroll in Manhattan that serves my usual purposes (i.e. can you spot the location?) is this one below…
Quite similar to this shot of Patti with Robert Mapplethorpe, (which turned out to be taken on Washington Mews), I feel certain that his photograph was taken in Manhattan. But…the question remains….where was this shot snapped?
Have at it, campers...here's a larger version.....
Just when I thought the master might have lost it, Bob Egan corrects himself for the win.
You might remember my quest last week to divine the precise location of a photograph of Pussy Galore from 1987 (the one above by Monica Dee). To my mind, the image of Neil Haggerty, Julia Cafritz, Cristina Martinez, Bob Bert and Jon Spencer lounging at a city park chess table and doing rude things with their hands almost CERTAINLY seemed to be shot in Tompkins Square Park. To verify, I went on a little field trip and tried to find the spot, but no dice.
Then, Bob Egan of PopSpots (the veritable Obi Wan Kenobi to my Luke Skywalker), weighed in and suggested that while that very well have been the case, he’d sooner direct me towards the median of Allen Street a few blocks to the south.
Being largely unencumbered with much else to do, I dutifully trekked off to investigate same, only to find Allen Street something of a mysterious red herring. I snapped a few pics to be sure, but nothing completely added up there either. Click here for those results.
Just as I was giving up hope, however, the estimable Mr. Egan wrote back with the following:
Hi Alex, In my rush, I mislabeled Forsythe/Christie as ALlen. From the "sky" they both look alike.. Here's what I meant…
Galvanized by the new possibility, I went down to Forsyth Street this afternoon to take a gander…
Once again, the urban topography has probably changed a great deal since the balmy days of 1987, a year which would have found the 20-year-old me routinely raiding the record stores around downtown, but rarely straying as far east as Forsyth Street, a little strip of badlands that even today retains a whiff of the grim old days.
Sure enough, though, while skulking around the park, looking entirely suspicious to the gaggles of high schoolers gathered in furtive packs, I believe I may have pinpointed the spot Bob directed me to. I wasn’t able to put my hand to the knobby tree pictured to the right of Jon Spencer’s head in Monica Dee’s original photo, but I think this is indeed the very spot.
Take a look....
Here's a wider shot of the same spot....Click to enlarge....
I'm pretty sure this is it, but speak up if you beg to differ.
Here, meanwhile, once again,....is Pussy Galore... PLAY IT LOUD!
Some might remember a fleeting little post from 2010 wherein I touted the release of "135 Grand Street New York 1979," a documentary by Ericka Beckman about a little slice of downtown NYC’s No Wave scene from the SoHo perspective.
Well, I stumbled upon the "director's reel" of the film on YouTube this morning. If you haven’t seen it and care about such things, check it out.
Above it what 135 Grand (the address where all this went down) looks like today.
Alright, in the wake of postulating my theory that the photo above of the 1987-era line-up of the great Pussy Galore, taken by Monica Dee, had been staged and snapped in the northern end of Tompkins Square Park (basically in the courtyard behind the restrooms), I decided to take it to the authorities, flying my work by both former Pussy Galore member Bob Bert again, and also the great Bob Egan of PopSpots.
Mr. Bert chimed back in with the following:
Very nice except. Impulse magazine was put out by a guy named Art (whose last name is escaping me). He was married to Monica Dee at the time. I remember she had health problems back then. There have been discussions in the past here on FB about whatever happened to her. She definitely has a archive of great pix from back then.
Bob Egan, meanwhile, had this to say.
Giving you a most likely since I gotta run. My next step would be to see if they had those concrete chess tables along Allen in 87.
The two buildings in the circle from the other picture have been replaced by a high rise but they seem pretty clear in the back of the black and white -- especially the wide window-or-door with two thin vertical windows next to them.
Bob appended his response with these visuals:
Honestly, I hadn’t even considered those park areas south of Houston. My curiosity piqued, I found myself with a little more free time yesterday afternoon, so I set back out to the Allen Street median.
Once again, the urban topography of lower Manhattan has changed pretty radically since 1987, but I was hoping to still catch some visual signifiers. In all candor, regardless of the encroaching development on either side, the Allen Street median remains a pretty lonely and desolate strip. I walked it up and down between East Houston and Stanton street, vainly looking for clues. Again, I’d been hoping that knobby tree pictured to the right of young Jon Spencer’s head was going to reveal itself to me, but who knows if that tree is still even standing — wherever it may be.
Along the sides of the media, there did appear to be marks, holes and divots where concrete chess tables and benches might have been (see photos below), but it’s still hard to accurately divine.