I moved to New York City on Saturday, May 6, 2000. It was a sunny day and the Carmel car service I took from the airport smelled like a hospital and hot wings. I arrived at my temporary residence which was literally a floor in an illegal storefront apartment on Bedford Ave. The place smelled like a black cat and Nag Champa because there was a black cat (Sheba) in it…and Nag Champa.
This stretch of Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg is near a vintage motorcycle repair and restoration shop so it stands to reason that there might be cool cars and trucks parked nearby. It’s kind of like shooting fish in a barrel or throwing a rock and hitting a guitar player outside of the Bedford L. Easy peasy. The International Harvester 1210 Eight above was shot the weekend before last and is in the same spot as this truck. Quite a bit of graffiti has built up on the blue wall behind it and the artist/poet? cunning linguist (a student of Latin, obvi) has added to it with, “Fear will blacken hearts, drive them away. Leave them lonely.” British folkster, Bill Fay‘s song, “Be Not So Fearful” walks a similar line:
“Be not so sorry
For what you have done
You must forget them now
Here’s the clip…
Here we have a 1969 Plymouth Valiant Signet similar to a Dodge Dart. Behind the Plymouth we have the Polonia Democratic Club and Ladies Auxiliary in Williamsburg. There was a story a few years back in New York Magazine about a guy who raised pigeons on the roof of this building. Not sure if it’s still there but a recent Google Maps satellite view seems to confirm the coops. When I think of pigeon coops I think of Jim Jarmusch‘s classic, Ghost Dog. The lead character played by Forrest Whitaker raises carrier pigeons in between his hitman/samurai duties. It’s a great slow-burn film with a fantastic original score (CD released only in Japan) by RZA.
Here’s a link to video taken inside of the Polonia Club:
And a clip from Ghost Dog with Whitaker and RZA:
The first time I walked down Fillmore Place I felt as if I was on a movie set. The narrow street of mostly Italianate buildings seemed like the idyllic NYC street scene. Except for the graffiti, you wouldn’t have to do much set decoration in order for it to look like late 1800′s Brooklyn. Author Henry Miller who lived nearby described the street in his book Tropic of Capricorn:
“It was the most enchanting street I have ever seen in all my life. It was the ideal street for a boy, a lover, a maniac, a drunkard, a crook, a lecher, a thug, an astronomer, a musician, a poet, a tailor, a shoemaker, a politician. In fact this is just the sort of street it was, containing just such representative of the human race, each one a world unto himself and all living together harmoniously and inharmoniously.”
It would please me if an astronomer owns this mid-60′s Chevy Nova SS but I’ll settle for a candlestick maker.
The second 1800 series Volvo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn within a few blocks of last week’s offering. This one has the original hubcaps plus a skinnier bumper with rubber guards. Here’s an article about record holder Irv Gordon. Oh and by the way, Diana Reyna did win her re-election. She is a member of the city council and the first woman of Dominican descent to be elected to office in New York State.
Here’s a nice late-60′s Volvo 122S hot off the presses. I shot this one on Sunday as I was roaming around the ‘burg searching through the bins of record stores for my white whale, otherwise known as a copy of Thelonious Monk‘s Monk’s Time on vinyl. I found the record btw at the trusted Academy (Annex) Records. Check out this clip of Thelonious Monk commenting on his band member’s new pants.
I like the smooth lines of the Volvo 120 Series along with the wedge-shaped P1800 (coming next week) as opposed to the boxy (or rectilinear as they like to say) shape of later model Volvos. Graffiti by DANO.
I think this Chevy van once had a life as a Bell Telephone utility vehicle but now it’s being used by a hip Williamsburg resident. I watched and waited as he parked in this spot. I knew I had a good shot but the oncoming traffic was tricky even on this slow morning. I carefully stepped into the street and made my shot. Maybe I should start wearing an orange safety vest like Bill Cunnningham. I came across this same van before in Greenpoint, Brooklyn near where they built the set of HBO‘s Boardwalk Empire but it lacked this nice brick background. I often pass up nice looking cars because the surroundings aren’t quite right. Note: Bell also used Corvair Rampsides and Ford Econolines. See below.
This is a later model Volkswagen Vanagon. I’ve always wanted one of the early VW Type 2 Transporter or Kombi models or more affectionately known as the “hippie van.” My friend Steve had one. He played S-T-E-V-E with a Van in the movie Slacker. After his role in that film he went on to become very famous and is now living in Mexico somewhere working on a boat with Morgan Freeman. I must admit I didn’t think much of Steve the first time I laid eyes on him; looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over. That was my first impression of the man. Some of the details of this story are fabrications and appropriations of movie quotes much like in my real life.
My beloved football club Chelsea lost over the weekend to Liverpool. Two great teams that I love to watch even when they aren’t playing each other. Their respective colors are blue and red so this recent photograph seemed a perfect choice for this week’s offering.
This I believe is a 1956 Ford F-100 distinguished by the large wraparound windshield and hulking mass of a front end. My father drove a similar 1965 model only his had a custom bullet hole in the front hood. The story goes that he laid his rifle on the hood to steady his aim through the scope to shoot an armadillo not realizing that the barrel was pointed right into the bump of the hood. The truck took a hit and the armadillo lived to fight another redneck day. I loved that old truck. It had two gun racks; one on the back window and the other mounted on the floor near the gearshift for easy access. The old man has always driven trucks and even when he traded the ’65 truck for a car it was really a truck…a ’77 Ford Ranchero. Stubborn is just another word for consistent.
Bismuth subsalicylate, also known as pink bismuth is the main ingredient in Pepto-Bismol which has seemed to inform the color of this 1967 Buick Special. The car is supposedly owned by one of The Wau Wau Sisters, a burlesque act from Brooklyn, NY. They dress up like Catholic schoolgirls, talk dirty and dance suggestively. These were the type of women that my mother, the former nun, warned me about. Shake well before use. 1 dose (2 Tbsp or 30 ml) every 1/2 to 1 hour as needed.
I visited this spot so many times hoping for the right car to fill the space. I love the corrugated aluminum siding and the small windows of this building that occupies most of this triangular block. It reminds me of the side of a ship.
This blue Lincoln Town Car had been parked in various sections of the street but never on its own against this background. I once sat across the street, waiting and waiting for a large idling truck to move so I could shoot the car properly. The driver decided to take a lunch break so I moved on.
Then one morning it finally happened. There was the car all by itself. I quickly snapped a few shots before the street started filling up. I unconsciously left a bit of blue sky in the top left corner of the frame. It plays nicely with the Lincoln’s body color, and was one of those nice surprises from reviewing shots at the end of the day.