At a time like this there really isn’t much you can say. I live in NYC and I lived through the storm just fine, however for some it was a devastating ordeal. The media made it seem as though the apocalypse had happened in NYC which, it didn’t. Yes it hit the city very hard in certain places, but in my neighborhood on 49th St. in Hell’s Kitchen, the bars were open , and I got pizza delivered. Starting only a few blocks south it began to show. Most of the West Side Highway was flooded, and it was then I decided to go out and make some pictures. Some of these were picked up by AP that night and ran all over the country. The images of the worst hit area’s are from Staten Island. I made a trip out there a couple days after the storm, and it was a gut wrenching site, as you will see in some places it simply looked like a war zone. You will also come across several images of a Marine Corps helicopter landing on a baseball field, yeah, that actually happened. I took some supplies to a couple area’s where they were collecting things and then proceeded to walk around and survey the damage. I came home exhausted both physically and mentally, after realizing that only a short distance away people’s lives had been decimated, meanwhile everything seemed like business as usual in Hell’s Kitchen…very surreal.
I should start this off by saying I’m not a photographer for any major news organization, nor has any media published any of the images seen here. When the Occupy Wall Street movement began I had the notion that I wanted to be a part of it in my own way.
I went down to Occupy Wall Street numerous times starting a few weeks into their occupation, and I found the whole atmosphere very invigorating and interesting on a personal level, and my goal was just to document what I was seeing regardless of my belief. I marched with them a couple times, and was also in Times Square for that huge gathering.
I posted these images with the soul purpose of documenting it, that is all. On a personal level I happen to agree with the general tone (fight corporate greed and corruption including politicians and CEO’s which brought our country to it’s knees) of the demonstrations but not all them. As it is with any protest where you get a lot of people together everyone has their own opinion, statement and agenda about what they like, and dislike. While it is easy to pick apart things in a photograph that are ironic, or that seem to contradict the given statement, it’s my belief that any protest should be looked at for it’s general focus and less for what one persons sign may say. I think most people in America are sick of the corruption on Wall street, and in the political world, and there is nothing wrong with trying to solve the problem and help the system work better for everyone. I also believe that the people want the same things on both the right and the left we just have different ways and methods of saying it. Solving problems takes intelligent, civil debates, and a willingness to look at things from multiple sides, thinking 3 dimensionally, compromise, and putting yourself in others shoes. I hope people will be able to look at these photo’s and whether they agree with them, or agree with a particular sign or whatever, that they will look at them and say there is some people DOING something about GENERALLY what we all disagree with. I can say that while not all of what the Tea Party has to say I like, but I can say that some of their concerns and their general tone are valid. In fact the two protests (Tea Party and Wall St protests) have very much in common, and perhaps we should focus on that, as it makes me wonder what could be done if they’d team up, while respecting each others individual specific desires for things they want changed. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Occupy Wall Street you have to respect it. I felt very proud to be an American seeing people standing up for what they believe. I think this is what I enjoyed most about this project of mine. It’s almost hard to talk about this subject without injecting my own views but that is the struggle. In short we all need to learn to communicate better about the things we disagree with and this is where pictures help, and hurt.
In short I consider myself lucky and proud to be a New Yorker, and here for these protests. Sometimes when I think that we have all been sucked into the drama of reality TV, sports, and other various forms of entertainment, it was nice to put my finger on the pulse of an idea and document it the way I saw it. It gave me comfort to know we are still alive in a funny sort of way. I think many street photographers probably have this same feeling…I know I do when I’m out wandering the streets looking for moments to connect with. The connection to people and seeing them in an environment that often is without the walls that we all put up is quite simply…awesome.
10 YEARS LATER…
Me and my wife went down to the September 11th memorial a couple weeks after the 10 year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack. Although I was not living in NYC at the time I moved here only a few years later, and have come to know many people whose friends and family died that day, as well as hearing many stories from friends about how they felt that day.
In short, the architects, landscapers, and many hundreds more did a beautiful job on the site. The pools are absolutely stunning, and while the Museum wasn’t open it, it is a spectacular building. The tone for me there was pretty solemn. There is a calm quiet there that is quite amazing. My only real complaint is it seems to have become a tourist attraction, which we all knew was to be expected I guess, but what really bugged me was some tourists apparent lack of respect for the whole meaning of the place. I witnessed kids throwing change in the pools, and people posing for pictures like they are at Disneyland. All of this really started to bother me, and I believe a group of young European travelers got the point when they were leaning on the sides where the names are inscribed posing like Mickey Mouse was with them. They had there legs up on the walls, and so forth. I walked a bit close and just glared at them until they walked away. It was sad and shocking all at the same time. I hope that when people come here they will respect the site as it’s meant to be, and honor it as they would any of their own families that may have died. This is a sacred site, and while it should be enjoyed, with people laughing and playing, it should also bring a respect that should be a universal understanding for all. I don’t believe that this site should be dominated by sadness, quite the contrary, but in the midst of laughing or crying there should always remain a respect and dignity for the memorial represents.