I took the title of this blog post from a song I like by Chairlift.
I took the title of this blog post from a song I like by Chairlift.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
This blog post is about various political events over the last 1-2 years. I would take phone pics or video more than shoot photos, or sometimes none of the above, so this is just what I caught on camera.
The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent those of any one else on this group blog.
This is where it started for me, January 10, 2015, a rally to stand in solidarity with the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, an attack on freedom of press, speech, and expression. I felt compelled to join. It was freezing and my feet went numb.
Edit: I guess this wasn’t where it started, I forgot about the protest against the pipeline going under the Rockaways.
But this is when it really started, Bernie Sanders, undeniably a movement to be reckoned with. January 30, 2016, I joined the march from around Union Square to Zuccotti Park. Before this, it was just internet hype for me, and I wasn’t sure how much a town like New York City was paying attention.
Eventually I started seeing Bernie all around town, stickers, graffiti tags, murals, pins, shirts, hats… It was an amazing movement, it was the best of times.
Then it got really real. Bernie’s first NYC rally was up in the Bronx, March 31, 2016. I didn’t know if it was going to be his only NYC rally or not. The line wrapped around for blocks and we couldn’t get in. There was a massive overflow field with a jumbo screen, but then off to the side we noticed they gated out a little area and were making a makeshift podium, so we got right up on those gates, and got front row standing room to see Bernie speak.
After that overflow speech, they let some more people in the main venue, and I got in just in time.
In retrospect, it seems a little crazy how much we idolized Bernie. So many people, from teenagers to seniors, were really freaking out about just being able to see, hear, or touch him. Like him or not, it happened, and it still makes sense to me in so many ways.
April 4, 2016, the folks of Spring/Break Art Fair put together a party they called Bern NY Bern. There was a variety of art, posters, shirts and accessories available, and a cover band playing songs with the word burn in it, with lyrics changed to be about the movement.
Susan Sarandon gave a heartfelt speech.
4 days later, April 8, 2016, Bernie held 2 smaller rallies in Brooklyn, one near his high school, James Madison High School, in Midwood/Flatbush in south Brooklyn, one up north at Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, picture above. I’ll never forget the newsprint poster I saw at the park, showing a young Bernie getting arrested with the word Real in bold. I tried my best to get a poster from the artist, Ryder Ripp, but never got one.
A couple weeks later the traveling art show titled The Art of a Political Revolution came to the Hole gallery. With the work being created alongside what seemed like a mass paradigm shift, it felt like quite a renaissance.
April 19, 2016, the night of the New York primaries was also the night of the GX1000 premiere at Sunshine. That night skateboarding kept it real while democracy did not. Fellow New York skateboard photographer Pep Kim made this shirt.
Around this time when many heated divisive arguments started between friends, it was the worst of times.
A month later at a The Nude Party show at Baby’s All Right.
When the DNC fully stole the candidacy from Bernie, as they have now admitted to in court, I went to back to where being Green. Anxious to see Jill Stein speak, I went to a rally where she as just on screen.
October 12, 2016, there was an official Green Party Rally at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Robin Laverne Wilson was running for NY State Senator.
Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, victim of police brutality in Staten Island, spoke.
Ajamu Baraka, a veteran grassroots organizer of many movements, was Jill Stein’s running mate, a very eloquent speaker in my opinion.
November 5, 2016, The Standing Rock movement was spreading around the world, protesting against pipelines, excessive force by militarized police, imperial exploitation, systematic racism, and for clean drinking water. I joined the march from 14th st. to 96th st. that started at the Native American Museum, at the bottom of Manna-hata, and ended at the native caves at the northern tip of the island, along the Wickquasgeck Trail, the Lenni-Lenape path that ran the length of the island, now Broadway. This and a number of other protests for Standing Rock throughout the year were also more documented on my phone.
November 9, 2016, the day after the general election, massive protests broke out. I caught the end at the Trump International Hotel And Tower by Columbus Circle.
It felt like much more of a general public and younger student protest, at least towards the midnight hour.
January 21, 2017, the Women’s March in Washington DC.
Standing Rock was there to represent the large role women were playing in the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
January 25, 2017, an emergency rally for Muslim and immigrant rights, at Washington Square park, as the new President signed an executive order to ban travel from 7 Muslim majority countries.
Standing Rock water protectors joined.
The rally marched to Union Square and beyond.
Mony Ty is a water protector I met and started seeing at nearly every Standing Rock protest.
A few days later protests broke out at airports across the country as people were being unconstitutionally detained after arriving on flights, regardless if they were citizens or residents returning home. I couldn’t make it JFK, but I first was hearing about it around noon, and next thing you know it kept going and growing, continuing into the early hours of the morning, and Kevin Hayden told me piping hot pizza was being delivered to the protest at 1am. Without the mass protests and attention, I don’t think there would have been any action to free the unjustly detained.
For a while it seemed like there were protests every day, and now still every week or so. There’s literally one happening right now as i type this. Vote with your feet, vote with in the street. It makes a difference.
Josh and I became kooky surf dorks.
I don’t know how these ants were surviving.
So a few years ago Bryan told me I might like DIIV, ’cause they have like a New Order / Cure kind of vibe, which may or may not be true, but I got pretty into them, and even more so after seeing them live.
DIIV played a show of only new material from their forthcoming 2nd album at Baby’s All Right. A band I hadn’t heard of, Sunflower Bean, pictured above, opened. It turns out they were shredding super hard, with a Black Sabbath kind of vibe. By the way these descriptions are not necessarily accurate to all listeners, just feelings I remember having.
Then DIIV played all new material to a packed, stuffy, hot room, and the album didn’t come out for almost a year after that!
A couple months later Sunflower Bean played at Rough Trade and it was sick.
Then the 2 bands toured together and played at Webster Hall.
It was around Halloween time so DIIV played their encore as the Wizard of Oz characters.
Sunflower Bean played my birthday at Bowery Ballroom. It was the homecoming show of their US tour for their 2nd album, Human Ceremony. Julia Cumming, the bassist, jumped into the crowd during a song, and it was epic, basically.
DIIV did a residency at Market Hotel when their 2nd album, Is The Is Are, finally came out.
The 2 bands played together again at the House of Vans, and since then I’ve missed all of their local shows :(.
Fall 2015, I was still obsessed and enthralled with the beauty of surfing and the sea, and everything that happens with them. Summer had ended, but I hadn’t noticed.
That’s Kevin, with Josh’s family heirloom board, also known as the kook pride.
This was a memorable day for me. It was mid week in early October, and my first encounter with a Fall storm swell. Joaquin was it’s name. Arriving at B67 was like a scene from a 70s surf film shot in California, cars with boards hanging out pulled up to the boardwalk, parking wherever they want, nearly everyone coming and going was there to surf.
The waves were scary for me, the biggest I’d seen in person at the time, but Kevin had said to me something like, “you’ve been skateboarding all your life, you’ve taken some slams, you can hold your breath for 5 seconds.” So took some slams I did, and I found out holding your breath for 5 seconds can be kind of hard when you’re already out of breath.
Someone’s in there.
This looks like it could hurt.
But this looks fun.
This is Andreea Waters. She recently had a book published called Surf NYC.
I didn’t know New York waves could focus your board.
Tuesday, March 14, 2017, Chaharshanbe Suri was celebrated at the La Plaza Cultural Community Garden on Avenue C. Chaharshanbe Suri is a fire jumping festival celebrated just before the Persian New Year, which is on the Spring Equinox. The there was a bit of a snow storm during the day, but the festivities carried on.
Three small fires were lit, and according to the event organizers, the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space, “It is customary to sing the phrase, “zardi-ye man az toh, sorkhi-ye toh az man” as you jump. Literal translation: my yellow is yours, your red is mine. This is a purification rite. Loosely translated, it means you want the fire to take your pallor, sickness, problems and winter blues and in turn give you health, warmth, and energy.”
Kids found a hill to sled.
The ol’ cardboard box sled.
We made our way slowly down the path that led to the stream,
Drunk on the sun, I suppose.
It was a real summer’s day.
The air humming with heat whilst the trees beckoned us into their cool green shade.
And when we reached the stream I put a bottle of cider into the water to chill,
Both of us knowing that we’d drink it long before it had the chance.
It was Friday, July 31, 2015, I had just caught the mega surf bug that summer, and went down for an end of the week sunset session. Sunset sessions are my favorite, the beauty and the colors are seriously overwhelming. This particular sunset was accompanied by a golden full moon rise, which happened to be the 2nd full moon of the month, a blue moon, and a super moon. (Gee, the moon has so many moon adjectives these days.)
Floating out on the water, with the celestials aligned, the scene was ridiculous. I remember debating whether or not to paddle in to grab my camera and photograph, but decided to stay out. As I continued float and watch the moon rise out of the ocean, an epiphanic feeling hit me – the moon is really, actually, way out there, massive heavy rock, somehow just floating, just like I was floating.
Anyway, fast forward into the night, we’re hangin’ at a backyard BBQ with a bunch of local surfers, and all of the sudden they’re talking about hitting the full moon session around midnight. What!?! That’s a thing? I was elated! It’s rare to meet anyone in New York City who gets in the ocean at night, let alone tries to catch waves on a board! But the moon was extra bright, and there were actually waves, it was another very rare combination.
We reconvened on the beach and they’re all wearing glow sticks around their necks and wrists so they can see each other. I was already too dead from the sunset sesh to paddle out, but i swam out with my waterproof point-n-shoot camera. It seemed like a rough chance to get photos, plus they couldn’t really see me, and we didn’t really know each other, but I got as close as I could…
Some of the homies lit off a Chinese paper lantern.
A month or 2 later, I was dying to shoot more night surfing under the full moon, except the waves were way choppy with a strong undertow. Reid and I tried for a bit and just got these 2 photos.
After years of claiming, we finally spent the night sleeping like homeless on a New York City beach, making a washed up boat our home.
We woke up surrounded by flies, but could wash the itch of the bites off in the sea.
3 worlds of skateboard photographers come together over beach tacos. I originally knew of Frankie Galland for shooting skateboarding in the late 90s and early 00s, Terry Worona for shooting in Ottawa and now San Francisco, and Evan Collisson for shooting in Dubai in his teens and early 20s.
Fresh from the farmer’s market, summer fruit is the best.
The mud-bath sauna of upstate mud, installed in Rockaway.
There was a major lunar eclipse around September 2015,
and Rockaway locals came out to enjoy it.
It was one of the blood moon eclipse’s.