Category Archives: Greenwich Village

New York/PS 3

Brendan and photo at PS 3 — © Brian Rose

My son Brendan has just completed elementary school at PS 3 in the West Village, and we’re pleased that he will be attending the NYC Lab School in the fall. Our experience at PS 3 has been extraordinary, beginning with second grade when we arrived in New York from the Netherlands. Special thanks to Otis Kriegel, Bendan’s 5th grade teacher, one of a string of exceptional teachers we’ve had at PS 3.

One of the last projects Brendan did in Otis’s class was to take a photograph with black and white film, and then make a print in the darkroom. Although it isn’t necessary these days to work with film, one’s understanding of the nature of photography and its history is deepened by experiencing the whole process of shooting, developing, and printing. The magical moment an image appears in a tray of developer can’t quite be duplicated in digital photography, though digital has plenty of other kinds of magic to offer.

A few days ago I went to Brendan’s class photo show. Each student displayed a black and white 8×10 and a short description of what went into making his or her picture. Brendan, who has accompanied me on several photo shoots when working with the view camera, brought an architectural photographer’s eye to his choice of imagery. He photographed the arch above one of the doors to PS 3, perfectly composed, lines absolutely straight, despite being hand held.

New York/Folk City

Folk City crowd in 1978 as seen from the stage — © Brian Rose

When I first arrived in New York in 1977 as a budding photographer and songwriter, I discovered Folk City, the club that was the center of the New York folk scene in the 60s. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Dave van Ronk, Phil Ochs and a host of others played the club and established its reputation. By the time I showed up looking for other songwriters and a chance to play, most of that older generation had moved on.

After playing the open mic (called the hoot) for a few weeks, and not hearing much to be inspired by, I began to wonder if the folk scene was permanently dead. One Monday at the hoot, while waiting for my number to come up, and my chance to perform two songs to a bored audience of other performers, a string of a dozen amazing songwriters went on stage and blew me away. One of them was Jack Hardy, the leader of the New York folk scene, and I recall that David Massengill and Rod MacDonald played as well. The inexplicable run of talent, I later discovered, was due to the fact that the hoot numbers were  not exactly picked randomly, and once I became part of the Folk City family, I, too, benefited from the system.

The hoot numbers were distributed under the benevolent dictatorship of owner Mike Porco, who had started Folk City in 1960 at its original location on East 4th Street. Even after becoming a fixture of the Monday night hoot, Mike wasn’t sure I was ready for a gig –“you need a following”– but Jack persuaded him to let me play. So, my first gig was at Folk City, and I subsequently opened for a number of acts there, but never headlined. After Mike sold Folk City, I began to play at the Speak Easy, a falafel joint around the corner with a backroom performance space.

It’s been fifty years since Folk City was established. A couple of months ago, I was contacted by Bob Porco, Mike Porco’s grandson, about photographing an event he was organizing to celebrate the club’s anniversary. That event happened two nights ago, and the pictures that follow are random highlights from the show, a little skewed toward my generation of performers. The show took place in the basement of the last location of Folk City on West 3rd Street, a club now known as the Village Underground. Before the night was over, I was asked to play, and I took the stage and played my song Roll with the Wind (which I performed in my first gig at Folk City) accompanied by the incomparable Frank Christian and Mark Dann. I had a blast.

Check out these blogs:

Happy Traum performing Dylan’s Buckets of Rain
— © Brian Rose

Sylvia Tyson performing her song You Were on My Mind
— © Brian Rose

David Bromberg — © Brian Rose

Suzzy and Terre Roche performing their song Face Down at Folk City
— © Brian Rose

Willie Nile — © Brian Rose

Erik Frandsen performing his song Unique New York
— © Brian Rose

Rod MacDonald performing his song Amercan Jerusalem
— © Brian Rose

David Massengill performing his song On the Road to Fairfax County
— © Brian Rose

Jack Hardy with Mark Dann performing his song Go Tell the Savior
— © Brian Rose

New York/Odds and Ends

Greenwich Village — © Brian Rose

It’s nice weather and the open top red buses are full of tourists gawking at us like we’re wild animals in an African game park.

I was at the Museum of Modern Art today meeting with one of the curators. It went well–left my portfolio to be looked at further. Hope something good comes of it.

A few days ago I posted a musical response to the “if you see something say something” subways signs, which were recently written about in the New York Times. I thought my song was the ultimate retort, but yesterday, in the Times, actor Rick Moranis, came up with something–a really funny and brilliant something. Click on the image below for the full something.

New York/Greenwich Village

Houston Street and MacDougal — © Brian Rose

I saw the MoMA ad for the Cartier-Bresson show and began taking some snaps through the chainlink fence. Within seconds I was accosted by a man who requested/demanded that I stop photographing the children. I told him I was photographing the whole scene, not the kids in particular, and that I would not take any more pictures, because he had asked. As I began to walk away, a girl on the other side of the fence asked if I was “videoing” them, and I answered, “no, just still photos.” The man, presumably a teacher at a nearby private school, then admonished the girl for talking to me, saying “you know what we’ve said about people like that.”

I understand the concerns about protecting children from predators–I am, after all, the father of an 11 year old boy–but this is simply another example of the demonization of photographers. Had I wanted to surreptitiously photograph the kids, I could easily have done so without being noticed. Moreover, I was standing on a public street, and the students were using a public park, not even a private school playground, for recreation. A pattern of undue interest might well be considered worthy of some level of intervention. But simply taking photographs in a public place where kids are playing does not constitute suspicious behavior, and it is certainly not illegal.

More photos of  children in public places:

Photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Photograph by Helen Levitt

New York/Greenwich Village

Ben’s Pizza at McDougal and W3rd Street — © Brian Rose

Back when I was hanging out in folk clubs in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I survived on two basic food groups, falafel and pizza. Ben’s was and is a small pizza joint located–in those days–equidistant between Folk City and the Speakeasy, two places where I used to perform. Both long gone. Ben’s is still there, wholly unchanged, and the pizza by the slice remains above average. When the weather is mild, the walls and doors are opened, and restaurant and street merge in a colorful, tawdry mess.

New York/Hudson River Park

Hudson River Park — © Brian Rose

A beautiful day in New York. It got up above 50F degrees. After dropping my son off at a middle school test/interview–even public schools are selective in New York–I walked several miles along the Hudson. Just took a few pictures.

Hudson River Park — © Brian Rose

Still a lot of snow piled up in places, but it’s going fast. The parks police placed yellow tape around this snow mountain and posted a sign. Keep off.