July 1995 I was a young aspiring photographer. And of course what does a financially strapped 24 year old do? He takes his frequent flyer miles and heads to New York City. Probably not the smartest move, but an adventure all the same. In my travels I had been to a few big cities; Mexico City, Saul Paulo-Brazil, Singapore but not the Big Apple. Fortunately my friends who took to New York out of college were open for a visit.
Back in 1994 people actually wrote letters and corresponded through the mail. Striving to be the next big thing, I contacted Brian at Cargo Records, looking for any of his bands in New York that might need some photos. FYI, It’s always cool to say you’re in New York to shoot a band, even if you’re not getting paid. Brian did not disappoint, he put me in touch with a band’s manager.
First impressions are always lasting. I remember heading from the airport over the Brooklyn Bridge, sun setting and city lights starting to come up. The cab stunk like misery. A ripe combination of cigarettes, BO and stale coffee with no AC. I rolled the window down, a beautiful, hot, sticky July day in New York City. The driver found Jen’s brownstone. The ride cost me $20.00 more than he told me at the airport, my New York christening. Jen was happy to see me, we stayed up and talked about whatever. The street looked different in the morning light. A bit dirtier in a homey way. The street lights take the edge off at night.
My ambition for the morning, grab coffee and check out Manhattan. Rode a train to the Bowery. Found Jens work. It isn’t hard to miss, Jay Maisel’s old bank building, it kind of sticks out. I poke my head in and ask Jen where the closest coffee shop is. Basically there is a Starbucks a few blocks away. I post up, already sweating my ass off. I write in my journal a bit, plan my day. Starting with the Empire State Building. I take a few trains, walk a few more blocks and there it is. Classic NY Architecture. I head up to the observation deck. I was surprised how windy it was up there. Still the hustle and bustle was electric. I hung out for an hour watching people peer out onto Manhattan. The city looked small, viewing uptown I could make out the twin towers. Looming large over the financial district. My thoughts were to go see the World Trade Center the next day. Unfortunately that never happened.
Next morning, coffee, trains, walking. No cabs, no money for cabs. My cab budget was blown from the airport ride. Central Park became my choice destination. It is a glorious city park. I walked, shot and watched New Yorkers jogging and spending time in this nirvana. There is a beauty of Central Park that is unexplainable.
Previously I made arrangements to meet up with friends from college. I headed into Manhattan meeting Dan at his commercial photo studio. We hung out for a bit, caught up. I told him about my sightseeing visit to the Empire State Building. Dan smiles a wicked grin. We took a walk, entered some building from a side entrance where on the roof we found this great old tennis court surrounded by an old rusted chain link fence with the perfect view of the Empire State Building. Shooting from that angle the architecture is a gift I still look at often today.
We had off to meet other friends in Bryant Park for a movie and Chinese food. My first time in New York, I really didn’t understand the idea of “flow”. Dan being a life long New Yorker, saw that I was hesitating while walking through h the bustling streets. So out of nowhere he grabbed my arm and we darted across the busy Avenue of the Americas. cabs honking, busses whizzing past. Stopping in the middle to wait for a few more cars to pass and honk at us. On the other side we jumped on a bus headed from Times Square. Several minutes later we jump off and we were across from Bryant Park. I don’t remember the movie but the food and company was great that evening.