I’ve written about Drew Carolan’s photographs here a couple of time (most notably here). He’s an accomplished photographer, native New Yorker and Lower East Sider, but one of the projects that really defined his work was a series of pictures dubbed “Matinee."
Here’s how he officially describes it.
The Matinee photographs were made between 1983 and 1985 on the Bowery in New York City. The intent was to intercept kids on their to afternoon All Ages Hardcore punk shows at underground music mecca CBGB and photograph them in my makeshift outdoor studio.
As I understand it, Drew basically just set up his "makeshift outdoor studio” by putting up a large, white tarp on the south side of Bleecker Street, just steps to the west of Bowery (i.e. essentially across the street from CBGB), and from there he documented a wide cast of characters.
Even if you’re not a fan of the NYHC scene or punk rock in the slightest, Drew’s photographs are striking, poignant and affecting. Check them out on his official website here.
I’d become of fan of Drew’s after seeing his photos here and there, but it wasn’t until I saw the video at the bottom of this post that it all came together.
In any case, the Bowery of the mid-80’s seems several worlds away by this point. I don’t want to make this post into another laborious lament over the loss of CBGB (I’ve devoted more than enough bandwidth to that particular grievance, most recently here), but the neighborhood — nay, city as a whole — has so vastly transformed in the past fifteen to twenty years, that it can really make your head spin.
The strip of Bleecker Street between Lafayette and Bowery used to have such a great vibe to it. Obviously, I always associate it as the veritable river that plugged right into CBGB, but the street itself used to be much more interesting. Most of the facades are cleaner and have been scrubbed of the flyers and street art that formerly adorned them. Today, it’s just another street — and a busy one at that.
These days, I believe Drew Carolan lives in Southern California, but I wonder if he’d recognize the corner he used to hold court on with his tarp and his camera. I was out with my kids this afternoon (they have the week off), and we found ourselves on that very strip of concrete, so here’s my unrecognizable homage to Drew’s “Matinee” pictures.
Maybe not quite as gritty and punk, I must admit.
And here, once again, is the video…..