1/100th at F3.5, ISO 3200 (40mm).
One of the most fascinating and best storyteller that I've ever met. Over the years he's been a storyteller, submariner, actor, theatre sound tech, OTB announcer, and a computer systems / network administrator.
This is an excerpt. Read the full interview on evgrieve.
"I’ve been here a long time. I’m from Philadelphia originally. I was in the military when I was 18 and I got out at 22. I was down in a submarine. It’s a strange life. Then I went back to Philly and I went to a drama school for 3 years. Then I moved to New York for Summer Stock [Theatre]. I was passing through New York on my way to California and was taking some acting classes with Stella Adler and I kind of got sidetracked.
The first job I got was on 4th Street between 2nd and the Bowery. It was a good theater block. Cafe La MaMa was there and the Playwrights Horizons and the Fortune Theatre. There was a lot going on in that little neighborhood. So the first job I got was as an assistant stage manager, a sound man, and an understudy for Michael Douglas for the very first play he was ever in in New York, called 'City Scenes.' Dominic Chianese, the Uncle from 'The Sopranos' was in it as well as Raúl Juliá.
I got to move down here by way of the West Village. I moved in with a lady on Washington Place for awhile and when that ended I had nowhere to live. I was going to the School of Visual Arts for awhile and I slept in my instructors loft until he got tired of me, so I moved in with acting friends from Summer Stock on East 9th Street for a couple months. It was really awkward because there were four of us living in a tiny apartment. We had to smoke a lot of dope to stay sane.
So they helped me get the apartment on St. Mark's Place across from the Electric Circus — building number 26. In the ‘60s and early 70s, the Electric Circus was like the Studio 54. It was like a happening place. You would take acid or mescaline or mushrooms or something and go in there and the whole place was designed to make you go bizarro.
I only wanted to be an actor and at the time I erroneously thought that if I worked in the theater rather than doing some regular menial task that at least I would get to know people. Just the opposite happened. Over 3 or 4 years, I gained such a reputation as a competent technical person, who were hard to find outside the union, that it was all the jobs I was getting. I would audition for a part for a Broadway producer, who would know me cause I did his sound work and he would say, ‘C’mon Phil, actors are a dime-a-dozen. We need a stage manager.’
I wound up managing a recording studio that worked with the theater for several years, while I was still looking for acting work. I was the manager, but every summer I laid myself off because we did only theater recordings mostly, and rented sound equipment to theaters and there was no work in the summer. So we’d sit out front on the stoop and smoke dope and drink wine all summer. I did that for like 4 or 5 years in the early ‘70s. It was kind of like a four-year party. People were in and out all the time, crashing, the building was very liberal in terms of sexuality and drugs and stuff. That was around ‘70 to ‘75 or ‘76.
I started to grow up a little when I met my wife. We went on our first date to the midnight movie show at the St. Marks Theatre to see 'Reefer Madness.' It cost $1 and you could bring your own food in and your own weed in and you could sit there all night and nobody would ever hassle you..."
Read the rest on evgrieve.
1/400th at F2.5, ISO 400 (28mm).
The best rat trap ever. I remember when my first cat used to catch rats and leave them on the floor as presents.
1/400th at F10, ISO 800 (135mm).
One of the great immigrant populations of New York is the pigeon. Also called Rock Doves, these domesticated birds were brought over from Europe, most likely in the 1600s, to eat. Some escaped and the rest is history as they fit in easily on the buildings that resemble the Mediterranean cliffs that they were adapted to.
A lot of people dislike the pigeons, but I think they seem like every other resident of this city, nestled into whatever nook and crevice they can find and living off of the scraps.
There's probably even a pigeon living off of leftover Sushi in the back of some Japanese restaurant somewhere.
Elisabeth Diekmann, 1985 and 2013.
A very interesting life story with lots of East Village anecdotes. Full interview at evgrieve.com.
"I’m from New England originally. I came to New York in late ’77 when I was 20. I came down here for love. A boyfriend brought me here but I kind of had it in my mind to come here anyhow. I met him up in Maine and he lived in the City at the time. My father lived in Boston, I loved to travel, and I wanted to come to New York. I wanted to experience it. We got an apartment on 37 First Avenue.
I also subletted on 5th and A and on 12th Street. For awhile I lived in abandoned buildings, a couple of working ones, squatters. I had a lot of problems that I hadn’t dealt with that surfaced. I was ripe for addiction and I had an alcohol problem. But I survived. I lived in a good squat that was on 7th Street. There were a lot of politics and game playing within them. It was not the greatest experience, but I’m glad that I had it and I’m glad that I saw it. I had some friends that bought the buildings for $1 and worked on paying the back taxes. I have two friends that still have them. Then I got an apartment on 3rd Street and that’s where I lived for 17 years.
I loved walking down the street, I loved sitting on the stoops, even though there were drugs. In general, I always had really good experiences here. People sat on the stoops until around the late 80s when that became more forbidden. People began putting gates up by the end of the 80s when they started working on the real estate here. One of the things was to put gates up and not let people sit.
There were so many great people around. Keith Haring was a good friend of mine. He lived below me. Keith was just a really great, sweet guy — very low key, calm, casual. Before he even became well-known he used to have these art parties. He was very prolific and he would invite you to his space and he had his art all over. It was like a gallery showing but informal, with all kinds of drawings all over. You hung out and he’d try to sell stuff to pay his rent and whatever. He gave me a couple of pieces, which my boyfriend and I argued about who owned when we broke up.
There’s very few of us left that had survived all of the changes — a lot of people sold out, but they sold out for nothing. It’s hard to convey to the young people now what it was like then. It wasn’t what the outsiders think of it. It was the kind of community and the sense of comfort walking out on the street. Maybe the word comfort isn’t good. There was a dynamic or an energy, but to me it was very comfortable because I felt good in it.
And there was always something happening. Even if it was just on the street, there was an energy. You’d find things happening by walking down the street. There were also so many great, cheap places to eat. That’s where a lot of people would meet in the mornings, at Leshko’s and the one right next to it [the Odessa]. There were a lot of cheap breakfast meetings and gatherings.
I’m reading a historical novel by Jeannette Walls, who I really like, called "Half Broke Horses." Her writing is really amazing."The Glass Castle" was her first book and was the memoir of her being brought up by a very transient family. Her father had a hard time holding a job and living in normal society and so he and his wife traveled a lot and it was the experience of the children and what they had to go through. The kids were more of the parents and they finally broke away. The first child moved to New York back in the mid 1980s and came to this neighborhood. True Story. And the parents eventually followed them here, no kidding, and lived in an abandoned building on 9th Street. Jeannette had gotten a good job by then and remembers in a cab seeing her mother on 3rd Avenue, right up there, picking garbage out of a dumpster. It was really an incredible story about coming out of a difficult life.
It’s been very inspirational, especially for my historical novel, which I’ve been working on. This whole time I’ve always wanted to be a writer or an artist. That was really my goal so I’m still working on that in my spare time."
1/200th at F8, ISO 800 (45mm).
I've taken this shot a couple times before and it never came out right. Then on Saturday the remnants of a tropical storm caused the water level of the Lake in Central Park to rise as high as it could go. By Monday they had drained it significantly causing the water to turn this gorgeous green-algae color. I've never seen it this green and combined with a cloudy and rainy morning yesterday, it turned out to be the perfect conditions for this photo.