I have created a small problem for myself in that although I mostly do what I guess would be called “Fine Art” photography (and, oh, how I hesitate to apply that name to my work out of some small sense of humility), I also engage in an element of documentary photography. It is not my primary focus, but when I photograph an area, I try to capture important elements, even if I don’t think they make great images.
This is one such occasion. This is the entrance to St. Mark’s Place, with the St. Mark’s Hotel. This is how everyone approaches the street, unless you are coming from the far East Village.
If you are going to do a series on St. Mark’s Place, you need this as an establishing shot. The problem is that I don’t love it, and if I were editing my images based solely on quality, this wouldn’t make the cut. On top of that, the shot was a pain in the neck to get and to process afterwards.
But enough whinging, I want to convey why I always loved this street so much and why my pulse quickened when I approached it, back in my college days in the early 80s.
In truth, there wasn’t really all that much on St. Mark’s for me from a practical perspective. Apart from the record store, St. Mark’s Sounds, I never ventured into most of the shops, and ate at few of the restaurants. I was aware of the legends that punk and new wave rockers like the New York Dolls, Blondie, and the Ramones frequented some of its shops like Trash and Vaudeville and Manic Panic, but realistically knew that those stories were at best overhyped, and the likelihood was I’d never see any famous people there.*
Despite all that, I loved coming down here: call it a vibe, call it energy, I’m not sure, but this place had it, and probably still does.
* The only time I saw one of those folks in New York (not counting at a concert) was when I shared a standing table with Joey Ramone at a pizza joint on 8th Street near Sixth Avenue. Many New Yorkers, including me, ascribe to the ethos that you don’t go crazy and hyper in the presence of celebrities, so I just looked at him, said “Hey,” and nodded my head. He returned the exact same greeting. It was awesome.
Meanwhile, the latest edition of the HDR Collaboration Group is up and posted at my friend Scott Frederick’s blog. It is an image of Al Capone’s cell from Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Everybody in the group just loved playing with this image, including Scott, Mike “Theaterwiz” Criswell, Jim Denham, Mark “Silent G” Gvadzinskas, Jacques Gude, Rob Hanson, and Bob Lussier. I’m so grateful to be part of this group. Go check it out.