Color in bottles.
It’s the end of the year and I’m feeling somewhat wistful. A year of accomplishments — the success of Time and Space on the Lower East Side — my show at Dillon Gallery — the completion of Metamorphosis, my Meatpacking District book to be released this coming summer . But also a year punctuated by moments of poignancy as is inevitable with the passage of time.
Earlier today I tested out my new camera, a Sigma DP1, a much improved refresh of the somewhat balky second generation of the camera. The former took incredible pictures in ideal light conditions — better than other point and shoots I’ve used. But it was a difficult camera to handle, even for me. Nevertheless, I’ve stuck with it because of its large image sensor size and stripped down design. The new version is better in almost every way, and now produces image files large enough to make decent size prints.
The picture above was made in Greenpoint, Brooklyn while waiting for my family to meet me at a nearby restaurant. I came across one of the ads seen around town with Lou Reed in headphones. I’ve been unsure how I felt about them coming so soon after his death. But the image of Reed is beautiful, and when I came across one of the posters caught in a stream of low winter light, I felt a pang of sadness for the loss of one of rock and roll’s greatest figures.
Yesterday evening I went to see “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Martin Scorsese’s latest. I’ve generally been a fan — from his rough and tumble Little Italy films to the magical “Hugo.” But I walked out of this one barely an hour into it. I’ve never been so beat down, so bored, so exhausted by a film. Bah humbug! Happy New Year!
An abandoned factory building from the 1930s, and now an environmental superfund site. Made plastic sheeting. Very simple moderne architecture–unlandmarked. Very difficult to track down much on the building, but found this in the Brooklyn Paper. And this from the New York Times. The chain of ownership with regard to this property may be more complicated than the articles imply–who or what is 49 Dupont Realty, the owner of the property and many others nearby. And neither article addresses the legal responsibility of the owners, past or present, for allowing chemical storage tanks to leak into the ground water.
And Jesus! Wit dat, he pulls it out of his pocket, an’ so help me, but he’s got it – he’s tellin’ duh troot – a big map of duh whole f______ place with all duh different pahts mahked out. You know – Canarsie an’ East Noo Yawk an’ Flatbush, Bensonhoist, Sout’ Brooklyn, duh Heights, Bay Ridge, Greenpernt – duh whole goddam layout, he’s got it right deh on duh map.
“You been to any of dose places?” I says.
“Sure,” he says. “I been to most of ’em. I was down in Red Hook just last night,” he says.
“Jesus! Red Hook!” I says. “Whatcha do down deh?”
“Oh,” he says, “nuttin’ much. I just walked aroun’. I went into a coupla places an’ had a drink,” he says, “but most of the time I just walked aroun’.”
“Just walked aroun’?” I says.
“Sure,” he says, “just lookin’ at t’ings, y’know.”
Thomas Wolfe, Only the Dead Know Brooklyn, 1935
Over the weekend I went to the Newtown Creek sewage plant to tour the famous digester eggs, iconic sludge stomachs that tower over Greenpoint and can be seen from many vantage points around the city. The tour was part of Open House New York, a yearly event, in which architectural landmarks, not usually accessible, are open to the public.
The eggs dominate a post-apocalyptic industrial landscape, the site of the largest oil spill in US history–still lurking beneath the surface–where ancient crumbling infrastructure meets futuristic high technology.
On Saturday I walked around with my digital camera after going up on the catwalk above the eggs. There’s a “nature walk” that takes one along Newtown Creek, a walled in pathway leads through and around the treatment plant. It’s both wonderful and alien. The light from a leaden sky pressed down.
On Sunday I returned with my view camera–brilliant sunshine this time–and walked over the bridge that crosses Newtown Creek, and went up to an immense cemetery that overlooks the area. As to be expected I was chased out as soon as I set up my tripod. Photography not allowed. Fortunately, however, I was not picked up as a suspected terrorist while framing the eggs through the oil tanks next to the creek or the fluttering sunflowers on N. Henry Street.
God Bless America.