My favourite photos from 2014.
My favourite photos from 2014.
Patterns more beautiful than a spot or a stripe.
Liesl and I met when our bands played together in a bowling alley in Brisbane more than ten years ago. She lives in Brooklyn now where she works and makes art and makes jokes and just walks around being the best person every day. I don’t think I’d be a photographer without her.Â Or a real, live human for that matter.
Juneâ€™s lived in the same apartment for 47 years. Sheâ€™s right in the heart of the Chelsea flower market, near Tin Pan Alley where George Gershwin sold his first songs.
Her house is full of reminders of her friends. The cups she drinks from, the art on her walls. It’s like they’re constantly with her in spirit. Something that becomes more important as they age, as they pass.
June teaches Alexander Technique to the dancers and actors of some of New York’s most prestigious schools and has done for many years.
Alexander Technique is not a form of exercise or a relaxation method. Itâ€™s a re-education for the body.
June gave me a lesson in the studio at the back of her apartment. She taught me how to think about how I sit and how I stand, about where my head moves and how I breathe. She widened and lengthened my shoulders and back. She told me to be present in everything I do.
I took her some hydrangeas from one of the flower sellers on W47th. I chose hydrangeas because they reminded me of the gardens I grew up in and familiarity is an easy way to discern ownability when you are surrounded by beautiful things. I remember the feeling of being in her apartment and the feeling before I went into her apartment. I think it rained that morning but it was warm later.
Brooklyn, June, 2012.
Brunch at the Phoenicia Diner.
We sat on a sofa and watched Sandy through the window and on Twitter and on Instagram. We saw the 14th Street explosions light up the sky over Manhattan, over Brooklyn and turn it white and turn it green. As the wind blew stronger and as the rain fell harder, as it went on longer and longer, we moved further and further back from the huge windows of Lieslâ€™s living room, further and further back from the street lamp that wobbled like a loose tooth in the ferocious wind.
The house lights flickered once, twice, three times and I took a shower and washed my hair and dried my hair because it mightâ€™ve been my last chance for a while. With Manhattan wet and darkened and the windows rattling, we went to sleep.
The day after the storm, the streets of Bushwick were covered in leaves and trash. A few branches had ripped themselves from the trees and fallen across the sidewalk and into a playground. Two men in grey sweatshirts jogged together along Flushing, a squirrel sat upright and alone near a puddle. The Walgreens was open and had no water to sell but they re-stocked shelves with Halloween candy instead.
The night after the storm the bars were open and we drank in The Narrows and in Dear Bushwick and we talked about our biggest fears (being alone, someone we love dying because of something we’ve done, cancer, sharks). We went home and slept again while much of Manhattan was still dark, while people in Queens, Long Island, Staten Island and so much of Brooklyn were re-imagining their lives.
The next day was Halloween and DUMBO was slowly draining so Liesl went back to work and I walked to Williamsburg where a street lamp was down and where people talked about the storm. I ate lunch at the bar at Reynards. People were camped out and someone called Evan had brought backgammon. They ate kale Caesar salads and big German sausages and talked about the storm. On the streets there were children dressed as superheroes and princesses, a little brown bear dragged her reluctant sister from shop to shop.
Later I dressed up as a pizza slice then went to a bar in Williamsburg and watched bands dressed up as other bands. Buckets were filled with cash for the Red Cross and it was loud and no one really talked about the storm.
Three days after the storm I walked to the Williamsburg Bridge. There were a lot people walking in both directions. On the Manhattan side, people carried around their phones and iPads, stopping wherever they could get reception. There was a row of cop cars on Delancey and no traffic lights, only little white gloves and whistles saying stop and go, stop and go. A dark convenience store and a pizza place cooking with gas were the only shops open. All the subway stations were closed and ripped yellow caution tape danced a wild dance off the corner of things.
On Ludlow, a small crowd gathered around a power outlet, all holding phones and chargers and patiently awaiting their turn. A woman gave a pair of white jeans to another woman outside the hurricane evacuation centre. A man lay across the door of his shuttered shop waiting for something.
I didnâ€™t stay long. The city felt frozen. Powerless.
Back on the bridge I saw people pushing prams and pulling suitcases. There were more people jogging. In Williamsburg a couple were breaking up on a corner; she sobbed quietly into a tissue. A queue of people were waiting to get their nails done.
On Metropolitan, something bad had just happened to someone at the hands of someone else. Police surrounded a house, blocked it off with blue and white tape.
After the storm a good person is still a good person. A bad person still bad.
After the storm couples still break up. Nail polish still chips.
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A wonderful serenity has taken possession of my entire soul, like these sweet mornings of spring which I enjoy with my whole heart. I am alone, and feel the charm of existence in this spot, which was created for the bliss of souls like mine. I am so happy, my dear friend, so absorbed in the exquisite sense of mere tranquil existence, that I neglect my talents. I should be incapable of drawing a single stroke at the present moment; and yet I feel that I never was a greater artist than now.
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