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.
The 13th annual Bike Kill went down around Halloween weekend 2016. Bike Kill is usually in the streets, but this year it was in a massive, appropriately dilapidated warehouse. Hundreds gathered to ride funky franken-bikes and watch tall bike jousting.
This is a little compilation of unedited phone video that I took:
Josh Stewart’s gear pile.
Josh Stewart’s mini DV tapes.
Kenny Reed and Louise Menke published a book about their visit to Skateistan in Kabul, titled Some Time To Smile.
Scott Augustine, Kenny Reed, Louisa Menke, Lee Smith, Tony Cox.
Waiting for the janitor to leave.
T told me the skaters I was in Harlem with should where helmets, I told her I liked her dress.
I took down her mailing address to mail her the photos, and she said she could use them for her funeral.
This skateboarder dropped in on a Jeff Koons sculpture.
There was an art show at a new LES gallery galled Chinatown Soup, with some cement waves in their back alley.
Jon Mehring published a book with National Geographic titled Skate The World.
5boro premiered their video 5BNY at Sunshine Cinemas.
Paulgar Roura’s tattoo, an image from Smiths’ 2nd studio album Meat Is Murder.
I used to go to this reservoir in high school, in like 1999/2000.
It’s super clean water, clean enough to be New York City’s drinking supply.
There were 2 rope swings, one is still there today!
A young local couple joined us, and one said, “Hey bro bro, would you mind doing a brolic swing so I can get it on video?” That’s when I found out most friends not from the northeast knew the term brolic.
It’s an ice bath jacuzzi!
Vermonsters in their natural habitat.
We went to the Green Mountain State and looked around for places to sleep.
Heavy metal breakfast.
It was Independence Day.
Another snow melt jacuzzi!
A few years ago Brett Nelson said, “That’s the best part about having professional photographer friends… you’ll never see the photos”, referring to personal photos getting pushed aside for work photos. I always think about how unfortunate that is, as if photos of your friends don’t matter more than your work.
Hoyos had an art show.
This highschool kid was playing with steel wool and drano, or was it sterno…
Annelise and Andrea
Danilo’s signature bicycle move.
Cameron was working at Magnum, and linked me up with their master darkroom printer, Pablo Inirio, posing here with mega dodge and burn notes. He gave me the most amazing tutorial on split filtration printing, where you burn the blacks with a higher contrast filter, and burn the highlights with a low contrast filter, for example.
The Violent Femmes at Rough Trade, that acoustic bass guitar is amazing.
That is a Tom Fruin water tower, made with reclaimed plastic bits of storefront signs from chinatown.
We got to climb inside it!
Caroline on her 30th birthday.
Leks, Amanda, and Laia
I was gifted a last minute ticket to see Morrissey at Madison Square Garden. When they made me check my 80-200 lens, I went to the security office and the Gonz was there being forced to check his ipad. I was also bummed to miss the opener, Blondie.
Josh and Annelise
I met this girl on the street, and then months later we became roommates for a while.
Nazar, he’s one of the best dudes out, and an undercover sharp shooter.
Jamie Florance rented a Brooklyn treehouse for his birthday off Airbnb.
The kids who lived there were our chaperones.
Jilleen launched her shoe company, Onto.
Watching the Perseids.
Nazar brought us to a roof party in midtown, and we climbed a really big water tower.
Bryan got a trampoline, it’s looking really safe here…
Mukunda Angulo, one of the Wolfpack brothers, and Spike Jones, outside the Wolfpack’s art show.
Sade threw a carnival themed birthday party.
Bryan and Rachel
Whitey and Hagen
I bought a car to run biodiesel, which is made from waste vegetable oil collected from new york city restaurants, and goes straight in diesel cars’ fuel tanks without any major modifications, just changing some fuel lines to synthetic rubber ones, since natural oils eat away at natural rubber.
Chairlift at Cameo.
Chris Bernsten had the most amazing photo show, with a manual slideshow showing to music he picked.
It took a couple summers of trying before it happened, but about this time last year I caught a new addiction. But it’s ok because it’s fully therapeutic, and doesn’t rely on other people, just the ocean… Everything I could say about how beautiful, free and natural it is to splash around in the waves trying to surf some… and everything I’ve said about how it’s so perfectly addictive to be teased and fail all day with just a teaspoon of success to keep you hooked… it’s all so cliche, but all so true!
I’m not super down for the sunrise session, but they convinced me to give it a try.
I’m more about the sunset sessions.
It gets pretty crowded in Rockaway, even when all we get all summer are crumbling waves.
GX1000 is a series of short online skate videos made by Ryan Garshell. The GX crew are one of my few favorites. They’re a crew of real, raw, street skateboarders, with genuine intentions, independent of a lot of the nonsense in skateboarding, or outside of it. They’re are mostly based in either San Francisco or New York, but had been putting together trips to various states or countries, mostly self-funded, which isn’t, or wasn’t, super common for professional skateboarders. What also blows me away is how good the footage is that they put online fairly frequently, especially considering they were supposedly saving the best stuff for a full length video.
The full length GX1000 video was kept semi-secret, and is now due to premiere in a week or so. These are some photos from just a few sessions out skating with some of them, from around May 2013 through 2014, and mostly in New York when Garshell visits. The skate photos from these missions have since been published, with a few still being saved, but a lot of these photos are shot when we’d go out but not get any actual skate photos.
Ryan Garshell and Al Davis.
Brian Downey, Jake Johnson, Chris Jata, Yonnie Cruz, and Coco.
Chris Jata, Jake Johnson, Yonnie Cruz, and Al Davis.
Al Davis, Stephen McClintock, Chris Jata, Jake Johnson, Ryan Garshell, and Coco.
Ryan Garhsell and Yonnie Cruz, using a smartphone to record the playback in the VX1000. These cameras have a cult following for being so good for filming skateboarding. It’s not good for the tape or the head to play back footage over and over, plus there’s no external screen.
Yonnie ollies a sleeping man.
Yonnie Cruz, Luke Malaney, Chris Jata, and Ryan Garshell.
Brian Delatorre and Ryan Garshell with a black VX1000.
Ryan Garshell can always get himself on a roof, or access to somewhere inaccessible. This photo was shot digitally. Why do I bother to acknowledge that? A couple reasons. First, at one point I claimed everything on my blog was shot on film, which is still true for 99% of it. Second, I hold digital photography in contempt. I hold it in contempt for all of it’s unintended, often ignored, consequences affecting traditional photography, which many did not have the foresight to predict. It is now at least 3 times more expensive, and much more difficult, to make photography in an analog fashion. Film stocks are diminishing, labs and darkrooms are closing, the costs of film and chemistry are rising, all while many photographers are working longer hours for lower rates, and the middle class is shrinking. I’ll continue to say this regardless of it’s difficulty, inconvenience, or inexpedience, and it’s unfortunate that photography doesn’t have a Bernie Sanders to fight for it.
Bombing hills in Harlem.
Yonnie somehow got on this roof in Soho just to film a clip on his phone.
Keep it real, literally in the streets,
Marius Syvanen is on his phone while Yonnie escapes amputation.
Al Davis and Brendan Carroll.
Ryan Garshell, Danny Renaud, Al Davis, and Brendan Carroll, in the Bronx.
I went with GX to Montreal around May 2014, these are some of the Montreal homies.
Ryan Garshell in Skate and Destroy shirt and sweatpants.
Ryan Garshell, Brian Downey, Yonnie Cruz, in Montreal.
Al Davis, Ryan Garshell, Brian Downey, and Yonnie Cruz, in Montreal.
Jake Johnson in Rockaway.
These photos are from the last 3 Morrissey nights at Sway, the last 3 Sunday nights of 2015, starting from Dec. 13 when the news of Sway’s closing went public. These final nights were like jumping 10 years into the past to the party’s heyday, dancing with countless strangers, singing along to our favorite songs.
I’d been going every Sunday night since 2006, from about 12:30 a.m. until 4 a.m. It was such a beautiful place, and aside from being a wild party, it was a cultural, transformative, and often therapeutic experience. I remember the first few times being blown away how many people were out that late on a Sunday night, and it really made me appreciate New York City and its alternatives to the norm. Eventually I would plan my life around Morrissey night – keeping it mellow and working on Sundays, when to eat dinner, when to do laundry… I used to book my flights out of town based on missing the least number of Sunday nights in town. A lot of people I’d only see there, and never even knew their full names or had any contact info for each other. We didn’t need it, we’d see each other there. I guess it’s comparable to a church, or a religious practice, or other stories about communal subculture establishments, like DIY music venues or certain rollerskating rinks. This was our version, mostly based around seminal 1980s post-punk and related music. A few years ago the party calmed down quite a bit compared to what it used to be. A lot of friends stopped going, and then it was every few Sundays for me.
This is a pretty personal account, and I’m sure others had some pretty different experiences. These photos are about the people, the characters of Sway. There were a lot of old regulars that were also there every Sunday, that I might never see again, but didn’t get to catch a photo of while dancing and hanging in the dark. We didn’t all know each other, or each others stories. Some would say hi, some wouldn’t even make eye contact, but we all shared our love for the place.
This is Q, it’s been so many years, I forget what his original role was at Sway, he used to work there, then got banned I think, but it didn’t last since he’s part of the crew.
Dima Dubson. As far as I remember Dima started DJing regularly when Brian DeGraw came less often. He was already a regular, and a great addition to the lineup of DJs, playing a bit more LCD Soundsystem, Le Tigre, Belle & Sebastian, The Strokes, and some eastern european 80s dance jams.
Fernando Lions and Timothy Gorbett. Fernando was one of the oldest regulars I personally remember recognizing, he eventually DJ’d at the occasional Mexican Morrissey night at Lit. Tim has been the bar-back for forever, I think we didn’t really talk until we saw each other at a Pulp show, and when the party had mellowed out and there was time to talk.
These guys were always there, getting in their dance zone. We didn’t really talk, but we always gave each other space. I used to think some of the guys were pretty weird, maybe they are, but I realized what’s so great about them. The one on the right is one of the few that I have run into outside of a party scenario, when he was protesting fracking at Union Square. Then we’d run into each other at Organic Avenue “dumpstering”, which was just opening up clean garbage bags to get to sealed organic juices and smoothies that had “expired” that day.
The guy on the right almost always wore a suit of some sort, and usually ended up dancing with a girl I wanted to dance with.
I’ve known Danny Weiss since we were around 19, through skateboarding, and he’s since become an excellent photographer. He was already a regular when I started going to Sway, he’d be dancing with a hardcover book under one arm, and a manual Nikon SLR around his shoulder. He’s been thrown out of Sway a few times but they always let him back in since he’s an old regular.
Greg K from the Misshapes. I didn’t used to party back in the heydey of the Misshapes parties, but they sounded fun.
Ryan McGinley and friend. I’d never run into McGinley at Sway before, but I imagine he used to go when it first started, before I started going.
I met Candy at Sway a few years ago. She bought me a Morrissey holiday sweater, and brought me to see Morrissey at Radio City Music Hall. Thanks Candy!
I never got this guy’s name, actually we never spoke until the last Sway, acknowledging that it was coming to an end. He’s another one of the interesting guys that get in their dance zone. It was funny not talking with so many of these guys for so long, especially when the party died down and only a few of us were still going.
Dave Mason used to bartend at Lit. I hadn’t seen him in years, he’s looking very sharp lately.
Kristine Valmonte is an old friend, old regular, great dancer, and music encyclopedia, especially in the post-punk genre.
Brian DeGraw is a musician from the group Gang Gang Dance, and one of the original DJs who started the party with Ben Cho. He would often play stuff like Hot Chip and some other funky electronic music, that I’m not sure anyone there was familiar with. A lot of people there for 80s music were not into it, but a lot were, or, like me, realized later on how great it juxtaposed and blended with the 80s jams. He stopped DJing there around when the party started dying down, and I really missed his music selection.
Some of my fondest Sway memories were dancing and singing along to Morrissey with these guys, Ricardo Napoli and John Hoyos, touching girls’ hair to catch their attention and trying to serenade them with lyrics. This might sound funny but that’s what happened.
Ben Cho was a god to some of us. Anyone can put on songs by The Smiths or Morrissey, and at the height of the popularity of Sway, a lot of other clubs started to, but Ben Cho really knew how to play them, and it always sounded better at Sway. They had their sound and speakers dialed – just a little bit too loud so you couldn’t think, and you could just feel it, and dance.
Aside from more popular 80s post-punk bands like The Cure, Pulp, Joy Division, New Order, or The Stone Roses, Ben and the other DJs would throw in Kate Bush, Sinead O’Connor, Devo, Diana Ross, The Supremes, The Violent Femmes, Yaz, the Primitives, T. Rex, Modern English, Saint Etienne, Erasure, Dead or Alive, When in Rome, the Undertones, Gang of Four, Grimes, or Fugazi, a lot of which i hadn’t listened to before.
Flutura Bardhi and Ansku Heiskanen. I met Flute in Barcelona, and Ansku is from Finland. In the mid to late 2000s, it felt pretty normal to meet someone halfway around the world who knew about or had been to Sway, these days a lot of people in New York haven’t heard of it.
In the dance zone with pretty unique moves.
I’d seen these two at Sway for years and haven’t talked to them.
One of the long time bartenders. I didn’t hang at the bar much so I didn’t really get to know the bartenders.
Our heroes, Brian DeGraw and Ben Cho.
There hasn’t been a line for Sway in years. In the mid 2000s, if there was a long line, it didn’t really matter if you were actually there for the music.
Fernando’s holding a shirt that says “last sway ever 12-27-15”, made by old regular Jorge Valenzuela.
The bartender in the back room, wearing a Pixies shirt. There was another guy back there for so long before her who was super awesome too.
One of the old regulars. We always wondered about him, he seemed to be friends with some of the OG Sway crew, someone said his name was Sparks, and that’s about all we knew.
I spy Derballa.
Bryan Derballa and Lily Koppel.
Nicolette Santos, an old regular.
Bar-back Timothy Gorbett.
The crowd is cleared out for the last time.
An old regular.
A bartender and Pebbles, tearing up at the end of the last night, it was very sad for a lot of us.
Another longtime bartender, also tearing up.
I spoke to Ben Cho at the end of the last night. He reminisced that when they first started the party 14 years ago, it would be so dead they would have to egg their friends on to see who would be the first person to dance in the empty dance floor. They would put on songs they thought would be sick to skateboard to, and stack the benches for their friends to ollie over.
Ben would also invite people he met through his work, which sometimes were somewhat famous actors. Some would come and just didn’t really understand it, something like The Stone Roses would come on and everyone would go crazy, and the dude was just so confused and just couldn’t wrap his head around what was going on. He remembers it getting weird after one time in particular, an actress he barely knew wrote about how much fun she had in a “page 6” somewhere, and the next Sunday the crowd got super weird and lame, like a bunch of finance people.
If you’re looking for a photo of yourself, or a 2nd or 3rd photo of yourself, I put some extra photos here: