Tuesday, April 30, 2013

street shots*

New York City Photographs 1970s

Rich Allen

Rhode Island: City Pound Press, 2012



as an oakland native, when traveling from coast to coast or even overseas -
& all of these travels were done frequently back in the day, i was frequently
asked by those i knew and those i didn't know: 'how is san francisco' and i always
told them 'i don't know' cause i am from the east bay, which is oakland and berkeley.
& don't get me wrong, i adore san francisco, more now than when i lived across the
bay but it was always too damn cold!
but whenever i was away, a city that made a big impression on me was new york
city, and this was from approximately 1977-1985. i visited as often as could be
arranged, usually on the way back to california from europe.
the first stay was in 1977, and i stayed at the tudor hotel for a week......that
glorious 3rd week of august '77...a month after the blackout riots and the week of
the death of elvis...breakfasts were 99 cents until 11 and new york seemed to me to
be the pulse of the world, & this coming back from the first time seeing london &
paris... even tangier.
there is now a bit of nostalgia (of course!) for a broke new york city of the '70s
for many, many reasons.
rich allen's superb book of primarily black & white fotos will take you (hell, it will
take us all) back to a new york that no longer exists. allen found himself in new york
city as an aspiring filmmaker, tho circumstance dictated he take up photography while
working as a bike messenger, and living & loving, fathering a child, & just out there
living. living on the edge...he had absolutely no fear of what made new york interesting
whether its the hells angels (who were his neighbours) or the other somewhat shattered
down & out denizens of fair gotham. no one seemed to object to allen photographing
primarily human subjects, regardless of how they felt that day. a good photographer
gains trust from his or her subjects. allen has succeeded.
the book is divided into 2 parts: 'street shots' and 'hooky' and includes an 11 minute
DVD on the making of 'hooky'. ah yes, the kids of east 3rd street. disagreements with
the angels about the abandoned lot. even a few colour fotos! this book is just too fucking
real and belongs in better book collections everywhere. allen should be given a grant
from then & now for preserving what needed to be preserved. and has now published.
just the other day nick tosches phoned from sophies tavern on east 5th st, ostensibly to
order some 60s rolling stones stuff but really just to talk about old new york city.
the book will leave one wanting more.