This is an excerpt. Read the full interview with Manuel on evgrieve.com.
"This neighborhood here was really good, it was family oriented, and a lot of people were connected. All the parties, the New Year's parties, were all so good. Everything was so good. But drugs and credit messed everything up. As soon as they started giving credit out here and stuff like that, that made everybody fall off into their own depression, because now they owed money. They had exceeded their means of living. Once they put that out there it really put everybody in hardship.
But also back in the day you could make so much money, $200 just to walk out the door. You could make $200 spotting, standing at the corner, saying ‘Bajando’ [Down] or ‘Maria.’ You couldn’t even walk down the street without avoiding drugs. People were yelling like, ‘Executive,’ ‘Dom Perignon,’ ‘Black Magic,’ everybody was just yelling things out.
And the police would come by, look at it and just keep going. I think the agenda was to leave the people who did drugs alone. There was work available in the sense of selling drugs. There was a lot of money out here. This area was like a filter. Everybody had to come through here before they could get anywhere else. Now Jersey is where the drugs are and not here.
Back then the owners were burning down the buildings to get their money to go off somewhere else. There were burned-down buildings every other day. Then, what happened was the neighborhood got an opportunity from Koch — get a building for a dollar and fix it up. That was a great thing that a lot of people did. Now a lot of these buildings are owned by the people. We would rehabilitate these buildings, clean them out and gut them because people were using them for shooting galleries. We would break them all up and just leave the skeleton. We would start with the beams, the reinforcement beams, then from there we would put planks and plumbing in. I was only 13 when I started doing that.
Through that I became a plumber and later on in life I became a contractor. My highest point in life, I had 18 guys, and we volunteered to help out in Ground Zero. It was like the end of the world, armageddon. We were camping out in my utility trucks
I haven’t done anything for the past 5 years. I’ve just been in a slump. I broke up with my girl and I went into this slump using drugs, so that’s stagnated me. But I’m about to jump out of it. Right now, I live in the shelter on 3rd street. They have places like Workforce [Development Center] but they don’t really work. What they give you, everybody has. The people on welfare get the same printouts with the job listings. You go there and there are like a thousand people for one job. You think you have the upper hand by having these people help you, but they are just getting you the same thing that you can get yourself.
This is Madonna’s old stoop, 234. We used to hang out here. This is not the original door. The old one used to be covered in graffiti. She loved Spanish men. She was a real freak. She used to hang out here, she used to go to the World, the Palladium. She was really open with everybody. She’d smoke weed with us and everything. She wasn’t closed off, she was open minded and daring — and aggressive. If she liked you she’d tell you."
1/160th at F9, ISO 400 (43mm).
Read more about the end of 5 Pointz.
1/125th at F2.2, ISO 3200 (35mm).
I am nary the world traveler, despite what the blog might show from the last month or so. Nevertheless, I got to spend a few days in Nicaragua for a family wedding, and had a few short stints to photograph in a some incredibly interesting places. So more photos coming this week - Flying back today.