cities

Paris after the attack

Gallery: Paris >>

Neither of us have been to Paris in over thirty years. We were scheduled to go over Thanksgiving. Paris was attacked a week before we were supposed to leave—after about giving it thirty seconds of consideration, we decided to go anyway.

The week after an attack is fear and panic. The second week is defiance and the assertion of the life force. We were there for the second week. What a magnificent city, a celebration of life, and above all, Liberté, Egualité and Fraternity. Vive la France!

Direct current

Direct current

Washington hasn’t exactly enthralled me over the years. The first time I went was for a nuclear freeze demonstration in the aftermath of Three Mile Island, in 1979. Crowds, buses, agendas galore. Hair, lots of hair. Since then I’ve been a few times, not that many. A weekend for Amnesty International, a visit with a girl I met in Vermont, two nutty roadtrips in one week with Robin and Marina, and a gentle excursion with Duston’s dad and stepmom a few years ago.

 

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Down

Bowery, NYC, 14 July 2009  © Jon-Marc Seimon

I was walking down the Bowery on Tuesday and was accosted by these fellows.  A moment early they had been all sitting on the ground and were frankly looking a little menacing but for the fact that it was mid-afternoon and glorious. Had it been a nastier day, perhaps, but anything unworthy of a lamb seemed pretty out of the question on this particular afternoon. They seemed to be lining up for some sort of a handout, although the Bowery these days feels like the last place you’d actually go for one.

As soon as they saw the camera, they hopped to attention. Lots of banter - I guess my camera looks expensive enough and my Domke bag tattered enough that they took me to be a serious photojournalist or something. I was fascinated by what they said to me: “Do something with this”. Okay, they also wanted a couple of bucks. But their main concern was that their image end UP somewhere. “Make a billboard,” said the man in the middle, and he was eagerly supported by the man in the houndstooth jacket.

Make a billboard. Make me famous. Make me look as good as the youths I see everyday giant in the ads, who’re all posturing to look like tough guys on the street. Like me.

They cheered me up. It’s not that I was down, exactly, but it’s just so hard sometimes to photograph the familiar, and even though the Bowery and Chinatown and Little Italy (what’s left of it) are intense, visually rich places that are constantly changing, after 25 years of walking these streets and poking my camera at people and things it’s difficult to take a picture that you feel like you haven’t already taken. And it’s difficult to take a picture that you feel like you haven’t already seen - if not yours, then someone else’s. 

Like this picture - I took essentially the same snap in Soweto, in 1986. A bunch of guys, younger than these ones, posturing and hamming and wanting me, through my camera, to make them “famous”. 

Same attitudes, same stares, same yearning.

60 Hours

Gallery: Mexico City >>

Last time I was in Mexico City was 13 years ago, with Duston. It was our first big trip together; you learn a lot about someone when you travel with them. We learned enough to know that we should keep at it for the rest of our lives. 

When my birthday rolled around last week, we decided to head back to down there for the weekend.

I’m trying to think of something profound to say about it, but really it was all visceral, sensational. So why don’t you take a look at some snaps, and I’ll just shut up. And hey - consider going there. It’s not that far (depending where you are), but it’s a long, long way from home. What a place!