Despite becoming a cool beach destination in recent years, Rockaway Beach still has its scruffy aspects. There are SROs, nursing homes, and low income projects. There was a time when the beach was a convenient place to dump things — and people. There are also blocks and blocks of neatly kept houses.
Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum
The sun is out and I want some
It’s not hard, not far to reach, we can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach
Up on the roof, out on the street
Down in the playground, the hot concrete
Bus ride is too slow, they blast out the disco on the radio
Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach
Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach
Rock-rock, Rockaway Beach
We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach
— The Ramones
Rockaway Beach was badly hit by Hurricane Sandy back in 2012 — hard to believe it was almost five years ago. The damage is still evident, though much has been rebuilt along the beach in the Rockaways. Elevated modular structures house a lifeguard station and restrooms. The wooden boardwalk has been replaced with a sturdier concrete surface that is less comfortable to walk on barefoot. We didn’t hitch a ride like the Ramones, but took the NYC Ferry back to Manhattan, which is a great ride, and only $2.75.
A ghostly image of the Twin Towers in Queens. I did this picture a number of weeks ago, and posted a similar digital image from my point and shoot. This is the 4×5 film version, reduced from a hi res scan of about 700 MBs. The context is hard to grasp from this frame, but the elevated Long Island Expressway was directly above my camera position, and a steady flow of heavy trucks rumbled in front of me. I knew what time to be there for the raking early morning sunlight — there was only an hour of sun each day on the slightly northeast facing facade earlier in the fall. And I didn’t try to do anything fancy.
I’m working on my book, WTC, which will tell the story of the World Trade Center from about 1977 to the present. One section will be comprised of vernacular images of the Twin Towers like the one above. The recent events in Paris (and elsewhere) gives this book project a certain urgency, not that I have any solutions to offer for religious violence or the hyper anxiety currently on display by politicians. This book is offered as an antidote to some of that toxcitity. Stay tuned for further updates.
Several months ago I spotted a 9/11 mural in an obscure location underneath the Long Island Expressway in Queens. I was driving back from one of my son’s baseball tournaments on Long Island. It took me a while to get back there — in fact, re-finding it was a difficult. But thanks to Google maps I was able to track down the spot.
Using an app on my phone called Helios, I was able to determine exactly what time the light would be best on the mural. So, I went out early in the morning with my view camera, and walked about 15 minutes from the closest station on the #7 line in Long Island City. I couldn’t quite make out the signature at the base of the mural, painted on the side of an auto body shop in this gritty industrial part of Queens. Trucks thundered by as I set up my 4×5 camera under the elevated LIE. (The image above was taken with my digital camera.)
Although I have been calling my World Trade Center book project complete for some time, this seemed like a worthwhile addition to the series. A ghostlike rendering of the Twin Towers surrounded by calligraphic tags. The inscription says: “Dedicated to all the victims of September 11, 2001.” There are, or were, many such murals around the city, but they are gradually fading away.
It’s time to get this book published.
Delancey and Clinton Street — © Brian Rose
On Saturday I went to the NY Art Book Fair at PS 1 in Queens. All kinds of art publishers from big to small, serious to silly, or both simultaneously. The museum was jammed with people, the galleries uncomfortably hot–how can this many people be interested in arcane and esoteric artists’ books? And where does all the money come from, since obviously, very few can actually make money on books of this sort. I don’t know whether to be encouraged or depressed about the whole thing.
I introduced myself at a number of photography publisher’s tables, showed my book around, felt like an outsider more than a participant in this book publishing mania. Watched people’s jaws drop when I told them I had sold more than 500 books since releasing Time and Space on the Lower East Side at the end of May. With no distribution. Nevertheless, few people I talked to were familiar with my book despite its getting a fair amount of publicity. The photography crowd is still not clued in, and I obviously have a lot of work to do.
This is my America, from my heart, and by my heart. I give it now to my children and grandchildren, and to yours, so they will always know what it was like in America when people were free.
–Sarah Palin (from the introduction to her forthcoming book America By Heart)
Delusional and dangerous.
Back in New York after a week in the San Francisco Bay Area. I was unable to complete my assignments because the weather did not cooperate. I had to get back to NY to meet other obligations, and am heading back to San Francisco tomorrow with a good weather forecast.
Top photo, waiting for my equipment in the Jet Blue baggage area–under construction. Bottom photo, catching a cab, the wonderful TWA terminal, thankfully preserved as an icon of modern architecture.
Went to the opening at PS 1 in Long Island City of Pole Dance, by Florian Idenburg and Jin Liu, SO – IL (Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu) winner of the 2010 MoMA Young Architects Program.
Assignment work: In the past few weeks I’ve photographed an apartment building in Brooklyn, a residential interior in the same building, an NYU dormitory, an office in the Empire State Building, a residence for mentally disabled in the Bronx, a holocaust research center in Queens, and a series of photographs of the Hudson Square area of Manhattan. Next on deck, the Museum of the State of New Jersey, and a Columbia University academic building.
I’ve been busy lately. A number of assignments after a barren winter and spring. I get an email from the publisher of the Lost Border–this has been a particularly brutal year for the bookselling and publishing industries…
Basically they are telling me that my book is being remaindered–conveniently timed to the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Brilliant marketing strategy. Give the books away at the moment when interest in the subject will be at its peak.
Speeding through the city on a moving train. I am pleased, however, to contribute some of my Iron Curtain photographs to a literary project timed to the 20th anniversary of the end of the Wall, a book titled The Wall in my Head.
The Wall in My Head combines work from the generation of writers and artists who witnessed the fall of the Iron Curtain firsthand with the impressions and reflections of those who grew up in its wake and whose work, childhoods, and memories are all colored by the long shadow that it cast. The Wall in My Head provides a unique view into the change, optimism, and confusion that came with 1989 and examines how each of these has weathered the twenty years since that fateful year.
More on this later. Here is the book’s website.