Archive for July, 2022

Porno For Pryos

Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

….Washington, DC ….July 1997… During July 1997, I was hired to photograph a Greenpeace protest across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park. Greenpeace wanted to halt the launch of the Cassini spacecraft, which many years later delivered spectacular photographs of Saturn and its moons. Greenpeace feared that if Cassini exploded, the radioactive material used to power it would spread throughout the atmosphere. 

To attract publicity Greenpeace had Porno For Pyros play an acoustic set. I graduated university a year earlier, and was freelancing while assisting photographers in Washington, DC and NY. Assisting meant sweeping the darkroom, holding bags, and mixing chemicals. It wasn’t a glamorous start for a 22-year-old with a degree in Political Science.  Greenpeace didn’t pay me, but I was thrilled to photograph Porno For Pyros. That steamy afternoon I put on my Good God’s Urge! t-shirt, the band’s second album, and took a metro towards the White House. 

They played 4 songs in front of a hundred people. I was so close to the band that I shot some photos with a fish-eye lens.I had never photographed a famous band before.    

After they played, Stephen Perkins (drummer/percussionist) walked over to the food vendor that I was getting a hot dog from. He autographed my t-shirt. I still have it, unwashed 25-years-later to make sure the signature doesn’t fade. We spoke for a couple of minutes, he corrected me after I mistakenly referred to the bass player as “Martin” instead of “Martyn.” Stephen then asked me to send the photos to their manager, Roger Leonard. 

When I got my prints back from the lab, I sent some to Venice Beach with a thank you note. Weeks later, Roger left a message on my answering machine. Jane’s Addiction was reuniting for the “Relapse Tour.” On the night before Halloween, I photographed Jane’s Addiction.  That was the start of my career photographing bands. I photographed their tour, then tours with the Cure, Verve, Radiohead, and Smashing Pumpkins. I was on the road for a year, before returning to NY to become a portrait and editorial photographer. It started with a conversation while I was buying a hot dog in front of the White House.

Tompkins Square Park

Sunday, July 10th, 2022

…8:27pm…Tompkins Square Park… a pile of roses and a metal hanger; a memorial for those who didn’t have, or don’t have, access to safe and legal abortion.

i passed this on the way back to my car, which for the past twenty-five years i always park in the same area. i got to the city in the afternoon, then took my usual route, walking down Bleecker past Robert Frank’s old studio. a couple of strides down Bleecker i saw a young woman in tears hugging someone, who i assume was her mother, in front of the Planned Parenthood office. i respectfully averted my eyes down as i walked by. the mother was consoling the young woman. since this was happening in front of Planned Parenthood, i assume it had to do with abortion. all day i thought about women’s access to abortion and the restrictions they now face over their own bodies. the state now controls what choices they have over their health. hours later, walking back to my car, i saw this memorial dimly illuminated by the lanterns in Tompkins Square Park. felt like it brought the day to a close.