Sunday, November 30, 2014

9 Bleecker Street, NYC

Every and then, I need to devote a posting to a single photo, because it is special to me and/or it is an orphan that I can find no other place for and/or it is a great image.  9 Bleeker is one of those pictures.  I grew up on the subways in the city in the 50's and 60's and no longer live there, but when I do go back, I don't recognize the place anymore and wonder what I am doing there.  But every now and then, my meanderings will bring me to a place like this that take me home, if only for a minute and reminds me of the lovely squalor of the city in which I once wallowed, of a time when so much of NYC looked like this.

Is it hard for me to imagine New York City
without Schrafft's, full of Hadassah Ladies
fresh from a Broadway show and deciding
between the french toast or bagel and lox to
fortify them for the Long Island Rail Road trip
back to the suburban tedium we called home?

Not really (he answered with no small sense of
sadness over the inexorable ravage of time).
No harder than it is to imagine life
without my mother, without whom
Schrafft's would never have existed
as an object of mystery and reverence to me
ever present at the corner of 5th Ave and 13th St
across from the Graduate Faculty of 
The New School for Social Research where
I spent two years working to cleanse my mind
of the bourgeois ideas my parents worked so hard
two instill in me.

Two years, and never once setting foot inside,
never once imagining that this holy shrine I passed daily
and the city I inhabited, and that inhabited me,
could cease to exist.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

PaJ Gallery, Albany...

Imagine you could open your own museum!!!
I do,
full of things intriguing, fascinating, and important to you,
a sort of museum of the mind,
on display for all to see and touch and ponder...
in all it's joy and splendor 
wonderful and glorious things,
bought for a song or found along the way...
no monument to the grasping power of wealth, this...
no hastily gathered collection of
priceless things to be awed and gawked at,
 other people's souls bought by the pound
by some thick fingered tycoon restless to impress
to be catalogued and purveyed
by some shrill wire rimmed anglophile
foisting his woolfian pretensions on
an unsuspecting public eager to be educated...
$5 for adults, $3.50 for seniors and students,
and for those too young to see, 
FREE, Thank you.

Hannah Walsh's summer show at PaJ

A work in progress, stay tuned...


Athenaeum, Portsmouth NH...

I love the word athenaeum.  Like so many latin words and phrases it has such gravitas and a sense of importance to it.  So while I knew it was basically latin for library, when I looked it up I was hoping for something more... but that was it.  It derives from the old Roman name for a school for the arts, but there was none of the more mystical connotation I had hoped for.  Guess I have been reading too many Dan Brown books lately.  But the two athenaeums I have been to were indeed ancient and magical places that were surely repositories of secrets and treasure far beyond anything to found at your public library, and my visit to the athenaeum in Portsmouth NH did mark the first stop on our recent Maine/Maritime adventure after all.   Photographically the record is not complete.  Didn't know it would become a posting...for that matter you often don't know till later and then you just have to work with what you have.  Sometimes you can go back and fill in the blanks, sometimes you can't.  Portsmouth is nice, but don't feel the need to return.  But it is on the way to Portland Maine which I loved for so many reasons, and also need to get back to, so to be continued, but you get the idea.

Tom Hardiman, director, talking to Lynn Crocker, member and book binder in the gallery on the first floor.

This is the first floor gallery, but where are the books?  Need to get back to finish the job!!!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

What ever happened to Brian Ermanski?

Was editing my blog the other day and came across this long forgotten photo of Brian Ermanski  that I took during a shoot down on Elizabeth Street in 9/04 (see posting...) and got wondering how things turned out for him.

The photo was taken on the corner of Prince and Elizabeth Streets in the heart of SOHO on one of those magically warm early September mornings when you can feel the air, the streets are quiet, and all seems well with the world.  As we got talking, Brian introduced himself as the self proclaimed "Prince of Elizabeth Street" who appeared to be a passable artist and I think writer, still early in his career, with delusions of grandeur and a funny, playful manner that reminded me a lot of myself when I was young and a student in NYC.  He was lying on this discarded couch on Prince Street with his signature top hat on his knee.  When I asked if I could take his picture,  he said "sure, for a dollar" which I gladly gave him, saying it was a bargain at that.  After we talked for a while, he took me to some cafe to see a few of his paintings which were OK.  I bought us each a cup of coffee, we talked for a while longer, and that was that.

Googling him, I found that he has developed into a much better artist as well as a master of self promotion, which is no sin as Andy Warhol would be the first admit, and has done quite well for himself it would appear, especially in the area of performance art, his greatest creation being himself, although he might disagree.  Funny, but Prince and Elizabeth have always been a touchstone for me as well, a place I return to frequently and am always rewarded.  If nothing else there is always a great cup of coffee at Cafe Habana

or a slice at the Prince Street Pizzaria between Mott and Elizabeth, one of the few pizza places in New York still run by Italians who understand the concept.  Was there a few months ago and found a most extraordinary NYC tableau across the street from the cafe on Elizabeth, which has been waiting for a spot to be posted (but where?), so this posting has worked out quite well...

If not a prince, its always good to be at least a flaneur at the corner of Prince and Elizabeth.


Spent Thanksgiving in a suite at 48 Lexington Ave. with Jackie's family who spent the morning shivering out on 5th Ave watching the parade.  Used that time to head downtown.  The subways were quiet, the streets almost empty, and there were few cars on the street to block the view.  Stopped in the Habana for a coffee or two and got a couple of good shots of the two meat markets across the street from each other on Elizabeth, a few doors north of Prince.  One still kind of active, the other in tact, but now being used as an art gallery, with the meat hooks still in place...
By the time I got back, Ben's Deli was delivering our Thanksgiving banquet.

209 Elizabeth St. South of Prince

While there is nothing intrinsically special about these last three photos beyond their location, they are important because places like that don't really exist much in NYC any more.