I speculated endlessly about how best to use my roll of Kodachrome film; all the provocative haunts/scenes at my disposal in the great city of New York. But it rained a gray winter rain for weeks. I didn’t acquire a camera in time, and was too inundated, apparently, by my luxury cat-sitting gig and my writerly brooding to capture any of the city outside my roommate’s Bushwick bedroom walls. The camera arrived just in time, courtesy of my friend Chelsea, who photographed a large portion of the roll, as I was juggling a little too much lipstick and glitter along with my wine, and hadn’t used a ‘real’ camera since high school.
The film turned out amazingly well, given the near-nonexistent lighting in my roommate’s Miss Havisham/Blanche DuBois boudoir. I was struck by the adaptability of the film, its breadth, diversity of tone and light, the sheer richness of the images. These photographs look as if they were taken in another time–a history that extends far deeper than we, children of the Internet Age, can authentically grasp.
The story here isn’t much, though it could be–but to tell one story is to walk blind into a thicket of infinite branching, and to risk losing the source along the way. A short synopsis might read: old college friends get dressed up and stay in Brooklyn apartment because the bars are expensive and the trains and streets are cold. They drink wine, take photos, smoke cigarettes. The light is honey rose, falling on lace-shrouded surfaces, tumults of pale plastic flowers, bright copper weaves. Nomi the kitten (after the Showgirls heroine) slinks in and out of the curling smoke and wrestles the silver jewelry stand to the floor with a crash.
I am so grateful to have these photos. I do not bemoan what they do not capture: the lights of the city upside down in the East River; the bathroom graffiti in Lucy’s bar on Ave. A, Mars Bar, last surviving bastion of the old anarchic/punk spirit of the Lower East Side. I’m not sorry for these or any other photos I did not take. Herein is testament to one of the many entities Time and all our machinations have, without epitaph or homage, quietly buried. Thank you, Jon Wohlfert, for undertaking this project and film, and raising my awareness of yet another casualty to technological ‘progress.’ We need more librarians, archivists, documentarians. Without them the past is dead, and no one will have even noticed it go.
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- July 13, 2011 / 12:01 am