Photo of the Day: Melancholy Shades of Blue

Photo of the Day: Melancholy Shades of Blue

Photography by:  Glenn Losack, M.D. (NYC)

Can you now recall all that you have known?
Will you never fall
When the light has flown?
Tell me all that you may know
Show me what you have to show
Won’t you come and say
If you know the way to blue?

-Nick Drake, 1969

Nick Drake: Way to Blue (1969)

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Another Shade of Blue: Portraits of The Lonely Fall River Boys

Another Shade of Blue: Portraits of The Lonely Fall River Boys

Fall River Boys is a series of photographs by Richard Renaldi, an extraordinary street photographer.  Renaldi’s works are political, seeking out those who are at the edges of society.  His previous photographic-essays captured the bus stations and rural byways of America and gay meeting places in New York.  Fall River Boys chronicles the lives of Fall River’s dead-end kids as icons of the downwardly mobile, young people who are doomed to spend their lives in a once-prosperous, now post-industrial city.

Nick Drake: Way to Blue

Slide Show: Another Shade of Blue/Portraits of The Lonely Fall River Boys

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Another Shade of Blue: Portraits of Strangers and Landscapes

Another Shade of Blue: Portraits of Strangers and Landscapes

Photography by: Richard Renaldi

Nick Drake: Way to Blue

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Blue Has Never Looked So Tempting, Sexy and Hot!!

Blue Has Never Looked So Tempting, Sexy and Hot!!

Blue Has Never Looked So Tempting, Sexy and Hot!!

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Captivated by New York City’s Lower East Side

Captivated by New York City’s Lower East Side: Tompkin’s Square Park

In The New York Times, Colin Moynihan has written a wonderful article about Q. Sakamaki a Japanese photographer living in New York. During the last 15 years Mr. Sakamati has won a reputation as an acclaimed documentarian of conflict and suffering. From the civil war in Liberia to the misery of sex workers in Bangladesh, he has created pictorial narratives of the devastation that unfolds when military or economic forces collide with ordinary human lives.

His latest work returns to his early days in New York City, when he was still adjusting to a new home and a new avocation, photography, after having given up a job at an advertising agency in Osaka. Upon arriving in the city in 1986, he moved to the East Village, where he was alternately charmed and horrified by what he saw. Dilapidated and abandoned buildings lined the streets. Entire blocks were filled with little more than rubble and bricks. Heroin was sold in candy stores, and gunshots sounded in the night. In the morning he sometimes spotted the bodies of people who had been killed or had died of overdoses.

Even more surprising was the huge number of people who were living on the sidewalks. “The homeless people were spread out all over the neighborhood,” Mr. Sakamaki recalled. “It was like a third world city.” Before long he was drawn to Tompkins Square Park, which was then the East Village’s central gathering spot, where he found a lively mix of people. There were law students, punks, poets and older, lifelong residents who could remember the days of the New Deal.

Twenty years ago this week the neighborhood was also much like a war zone as protesters clashed with police officers seeking to enforce a curfew in the park. Mr. Sakamaki has explained that,”This [work] focuses on Tompkins Square Park as the symbol and stronghold of the anti-gentrification movement, the scene of one of the most important political and avant-garde movements in New York history.”

As his black-and-white photographs make clear, Mr. Sakamaki found much that was life-affirming amidst the ongoing experiences of conflict and poverty. The energy and camaraderie of the people who banded together in the face of such suffering and adversity captivated him; so did the desire of East Villagers to create their own social order even as they received little help from mainstream society. The struggles he documented took place against a backdrop of rapid and sometimes greedy gentrification that took hold in the 1980s and is the unifying theme for the photographs in this pictorial documentary.

Photographs of political protests, demonstrations and police responses that range from arrests inside the park in 1989 to a clash in May 1991, when bottles flew through the air and police officers in visored helmets formed a line across Avenue B. Mr. Sakamaki documents a major demonstration a week later in which a crowd marched on Avenue A at night to condemn the city’s decision to shut the park and bulldoze part of it.

But the work focuses most of all upon the lives of the homeless people who lived in the park or on the nearby streets. The streets and park paths shown in his documentary still exist, of course, but many of the people who populated that landscape have died or left town. Mr. Sakamaki’s photography has always been about people, from the street children of Rio de Janeiro to denizens of an empty lot on Avenue C.

In the end Mr. Sakamaki’s photographs of the East Village and Tompkins Square Park is a valediction of to lost people and a lost place that has been supplanted by a neighborhood that he finds rather sterile and uninspiring. “We lost our culture,” he said, “and we lost control of our dreams.”

Captivated by the Lower East Side: Tompkins Sq. Park

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Alone: All By Myself

Way to Blue

Way to Blue: Nick Drake (1948-1974)

Way to Blue is sung by Nick Drake. Drake (1948-1974) was an English singer who failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime.  However, interest in Drake’s work has grown steadily, to the extent that he now ranks among the most influential English singers of the last 50 years.

Since the late 1990s, Drake’s music has been featured on the soundtracks of a number of Hollywood films, including Hideous Kinky (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), Serendipity (2001) and Garden State (2004).  Drake consistently employed themes in his musical works that were largely drawn from nature.  The moon, stars, sea, rain, trees, sky, mist and seasons were all commonly used.   Images related to summer figured centrally in his earlier works; later on, his themes became more autumnal, a season commonly used to convey senses of loss and sorrow. T hrough all of his music, Drake wrote with a deep sense of solitude and detachment, more as an observer than participant, as if he were viewing his own life from a great, unbridgeable distance.

Way to Blue is a song from the 1994 compilation album of the same title.  It features tracks taken from Drake’s original three albums plus Time Of No Reply.  The album reached “gold certificate” in the United Kingdom on September 30th, 1999 shipping 100,000 copies.

Nick Drake: Way to Blue

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