Down on the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

Down on the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Some people feel that The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is the best Christmas song ever, and not just one of the best, but a gorgeous song no matter why or how you observe Christmas. Fairytale of New York isn’t exactly the epitome of restraint, with Shane MacGowan and the sadly departed Kirsty MacColl singing all over each other, slurring words and tossing all kinds of insults at each other.

The song starts out tenderly, with MacGowan recounting Christmas Eve spent in a Bowery drunk tank, but also his recent gambling win and dreams for the future. MacColl lets us know, as the tempo picks up, that they met on a Christmas Eve, and after some light banter they really get into it, blaming each other for anything they can get their hands on, MacColl ending with “Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last.

But then they sing the chorus again, and a string section that actually sounds like it belongs in a Christmas song begins to take over. And it all feels, in spite of itself, grand and sweeping and even a little touching. They squabble a little more, the same as every Christmas, but they’re losing steam; finally MacColl accuses MacGowan of stealing her dreams when they met. This is a terribly poetic way to depict the deadening of expectations in terrible lives. But MacGowan’s voice turns gentle, even though it’s still rough, and he responds: “I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, Can’t make it all alone, I’ve built my dreams around you.”

It’s a tough old life, and Fairytale of New York practically oozes with the gritty spirit of urban decay, poverty, alcoholism and general dysfunction. But as the sounds of those strings float off and out of sight, it doesn’t seem to matter. Not to them and not to us, because it’s the day to sigh and give in to our better inclinations and hold each other and admit there’s still something there. Christmas is the arbitrary day of the year that purely through willpower and tradition we’ve turned into the day where we all try just a little bit harder at being better than we thought we could be.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Slide Show: Down on the Bowery

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Anthony Pisano’s East Village Apartment: A Home for the Heart

Anthony Pisano’s East Village Apartment: A Home for the Heart

Welcome to My Home is delightful documentary short film by Kelsey Holtaway and Mark Cersosimo at Departure/Arrival Films. Anthony Pisano is a sweet old man who sits on the sidewalk and invites passersby to browse the contents of his East Village home, an amber-lit apartment-space packed with antiques, photographs, knickknacks, figurines and watch parts, which might easily be confused with a rummage sale or second-hand shop.

But nothing in the collections Mr. Pisano has built throughout his life is for sale. Instead, for Mr. Pisano, the benefit of living in his East Village storefront is that it offers him a chance to meet people. He leaves the front door ajar, and blasts Frank Sinatra music into the street. Passersby peer at his collection of unusual items, like a Bill Clinton doll on an antique model boat. .The New York Times reported in 2010 that Pisano “estimates he gives away 10 to 12 trinkets every day.”

Anthony Pisano’s East Village Apartment: A Home for the Heart

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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A Year in New York: A Beautiful Visual Symphony

A Year in New York: A Beautiful Visual Symphony

Photography by: Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

A Year in New York is an enchanting, emotionally moving five-minute documentary short film by videographer Andrew Clancy, accompanied by Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow’s beautiful song We Don’t Eat. Sometimes words cannot do justice to life in a big city, as A Year in New York so entrancingly confirms. The film reveals that despite the chaos that surrounds urban life, there is a common thread of excitement and resilient optimism.

A Year in New York presents the viewer with a stream of quintessential New York visual imagery, from the No. 7 train rolling past Silvercup Studios’ iconic film and television complex, to die-hard Rangers fans losing it at Madison Square Garden; from runners and rollerbladers cruising through city parks, to late-night, outdoor summer concerts; from blinking beacons on NYPD police cars, to the sparkling lights of the colossal Rockefeller Christmas Tree, resulting in a stunning homage to the city that never sleeps and to its lucky inhabitants.

A Year in New York: A Beautiful Visual Symphony

Photo-Gallery: A Year in New York

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On the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

On the Bowery: A Fairytale of New York

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Some people feel that The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is the best Christmas song ever, and not just one of the best, but a gorgeous song no matter why or how you observe Christmas. Fairytale of New York isn’t exactly the epitome of restraint, with Shane MacGowan and the sadly departed Kirsty MacColl singing all over each other, slurring words and tossing all kinds of insults at each other.

The song starts out tenderly, with MacGowan recounting Christmas Eve spent in a Bowery drunk tank, but also his recent gambling win and dreams for the future.  MacColl lets us know, as the tempo picks up, that they met on a Christmas Eve, and after some light banter they really get into it, blaming each other for anything they can get their hands on, MacColl ending with “Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last.

But then they sing the chorus again, and a string section that actually sounds like it belongs in a Christmas song begins to take over.  And it all feels, in spite of itself, grand and sweeping and even a little touching.  They squabble a little more, the same as every Christmas, but they’re losing steam; finally MacColl accuses MacGowan of stealing her dreams when they met.  This is a terribly poetic way to depict the deadening of expectations in terrible lives.  But MacGowan’s voice turns gentle, even though it’s still rough, and he responds:  “I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, Can’t make it all alone, I’ve built my dreams around you.”

It’s a tough old life, and Fairytale of New York practically oozes with the gritty spirit of urban decay, poverty, alcoholism and general dysfunction.  But as the sounds of those strings float off and out of sight, it doesn’t seem to matter.  Not to them and not to us, because it’s the day to sigh and give in to our better inclinations and hold each other and admit there’s still something there.   Christmas is the arbitrary day of the year that purely through willpower and tradition we’ve turned into the day where we all try just a little bit harder at being better than we thought we could be.

The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl: Fairy Tale of New York

Slide Show: On the Bowery

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Up Close: Photographs of Candid Intimacy

Up Close: Photographs of Candid Intimacy

Up Close is a collection of photographs on exhibition at Australia’s Heide Museum of Modern Art, featuring the exceptional talent of four photographers whose images capture people, places and events with candid intimacy.  Up Close traces the significant legacy of Australian photographer Carol Jerrems (1949–1980) alongside that of contemporary artists Larry Clark (USA), Nan Goldin (USA) and William Yang (Sydney).  The collection takes its inspiration from the way each artist candidly depicts a social milieu and urban life of the 1970s and early 1980s.  Sharing an interest in sub-cultural groups and individuals on the margins of society, each artist reveals a remarkable capacity to provide an empathetic glimpse into semi-private worlds through intimate depictions of people and their surroundings.

Jerrems’ photography was associated with a feminist and political imperative, a preoccupation with  subcultures, forgotten and dispossessed groups, especially Aboriginal communities of the time.  Larry Clark unflinchingly turned the camera onto himself and his amphetamine-shooting coterie to produce Tulsa (1971), a series of photographs repeatedly cited for its raw depiction of marginalized youth.  With its grainy shot-from-the-hip style, Tulsa exposes a world of sex, death, violence, anxiety and boredom capturing the aimlessness and ennui of teenagers.

Larry Clark’s work influenced Nan Goldin and a whole generation of artists who aspired to break with the more traditional documentary modes.  Mining the emotional depths of her friends, lovers and family, Goldin’s work reveals a riveting intimacy while  uncovering the bohemian life of New York’s Lower East Side.  Goldin says, “I was documenting my life.  It comes directly from the snapshot, which is always about love.”

William Yang’s photographs from the 1970s further the snapshot aesthetic through journeying into the intimate world of his particular social milieu: drag queens, Sydney gay and inner-city culture.  Yang’s direct, unpretentious photographs provide a unique chronicle of marginalised groups especially as he put it: “…people who are gay, who were invisible, who were too scared to come out.  During gay liberation people became visible, people became politicized, and there was a Mardi Gras that was a symbol of the movement.”

Girl in a Mirror: A Portrait of Carol Jerrems

Tulsa: The Photography of Larry Clark

Slide Show: Up Close/Photographs of Candid Intimacy

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Photo of the Day: New Rock City

Photo of the Day: New Rock City

Photography by:  Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

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Photo of the Day: Look on the Sunny Side

Photo of the Day: Look on the Sunny Side

Photography by:  Joseph O. Holmes, NYC

June Carter Cash: Keep On The Sunny Side

June Carter and Johnny Cash: Keep On The Sunny Side

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