Positively Fourth Street - Snow Dazed in NYC - February 1963

Watching the snow - gently falling as they say - after trudging around in it on this winter afternoon. Navigating all the icy slush on the NYC corner crossings, got me to thinking about one of my favorite album cover shots, the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan picture taken by Don Hunstein back on that snowy day in another February in another century - the year 1963.
photo by Don Hunstein

Things don't look all that different around that part of the neighborhood nowadays. Jones Street betweeen Bleecker and West 4th, where the picture was shot is still a pretty quiet block. Just around the corner at 161 West 4th Street is the apartment where Dylan and girlfriend Suze Rotolo were living. So it wasn't much of a hike in the cold slushy weather to do the iconic photo session - ain't that always the way.

161 W. 4th St.

Last summer, when I got a free giveaway photo by Don Hunstein with my purchase of Dylan's recent 'Together Through Life' album, I immediately recognized the location to be 161 West 4th. The little stairway stoop in front of the building hasn't changed that much - as you can see. This photo was probably taken at the beginning or end of the session - leaving or returning to Dylan's apartment. Even the railing is still painted the same color. To see how little has changed in that little spot, while looking down those steps through the viewfinder was to look time in the eye.  

1963 photo by Don Hunstein

2009 photo by Godlis

But wait  one more thing! At the 2007 NY Film Festival screening of Todd Haynes' Dylan film "I'm Not There", I noticed Suze Rotolo herself - looking like, uh Suze Rotolo, quietly hanging around waiting to say hello to the director. I hesitantly asked if I could step into their moment, and do a photo. They said yes and here it is. Don't think twice, just shoot.

Suze Rotolo & Todd Haynes, NYC 2007

It's alright Ma..."Mother: She'll Stop At Nothing"

Just that tagline alone should be enough to convince you to buy a ticket to Korean director Bong Joon-ho's new film, 'Mother'.  Look at that boy in the poster, that only a mother could love. He's accused of murder, and he's - I'm sorry Sarah Palin - somewhat retarded. So his mother is the only one going to bat for him. And she spends most of the film relentlessly tracking down the real killer - with an intensity that only a mother can muster. Established Korean actress Hye-ja Kim keeps the whole train rolling from the opening shot. Don't miss the begining!

You may have seen director Bong Joon-ho's 2006 film"The Host", in which a slimy undersea creature created by toxic chemical dumping in a Korean river, goes into shark attack mode on the city of Seoul, resulting in Bong Joon-ho being called the Steven Speilberg of Korea. When that movie had it's premiere screening at the 2006 New York Film Festival, Alice Tully Hall was packed with the local Korean community for the midnight screening - they definitely knew what was up.

This Friday February 26, Bam Cinematek in Brooklyn is bringing this very cool director to town for a screening of "Mother" in advance of it's March 12th opening, and a five day retrospective of his films. You better not miss it. Snow or no snow, I'll be going out there tonight to see his great early film  "Memories of Murder". I saw "Mother" this past fall at the 2009 NY Film Festival, where I took these pictures of Bong Joon - ho. I'll be back there tomorrow to hear him talk in person. You be there or be square.


Bong Joon-ho, NY Film Festival 2009 © GODLIS


Where I was at: CBGB's June 2006 / Sonic Youth soundcheck

On June 13, 2006 - 4 months before CBGB's closed - Sonic Youth, set to release their new album 'Rather Ripped', played the club, and filmed the video for the song "Do You Believe in Rapture" that night. I was asked by director Braden King to shoot stills during their set to incorporate into the video along, with super 8mm film footage superbly shot by Jem Cohen.

This photo was taken during the sound check that afternoon, before the fans crowded in down front. 


Where I was at: Tower Records NYC, October 2005

Does anyone remember Tower Records? Does anyone even remember stores?  It was October 2005 when Patti did a live performance at the Tower downtown in NYC for the special 30th (!) anniversary edition of Horses. I was digging through some old digital files - you know how they can accumulate and get buried in the intestines of your computer, no matter how good your filing system is - and this one jumped out at me. Man, that looks like a long time ago already. 


Mystery Train to D.C. / Return to Sender

This is just too good to be true. A whole website dedicated to the classically absurd meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon on December 21, 1970.  And it is a US Government website - we the people own this URL!  When Nixon Met Elvis

Here is page one of the actual letter handwritten by Elvis on American Airlines stationery, requesting to be made a "Federal Agent at large", explaining that "the drug culture and hippie elements do not consider me their enemy, or as they call it the establishment". There are the notes from Nixon's 'people' advising that it would be "extremely beneficial for the President to build some rapport with Presley". There is the meeting agenda including the absurd suggestion that Presley record an album "Get High On Life". There are photos and outtakes of the "event".  And it is all downloadable. 

But I'm gonna stop. You've got to take the mystery train right now to this terrific website, and have some fun for yourself.

Gun given by Elvis to Nixon as gift


oscar nominations + talking about a potato

'Precious' cast, director, Push author Sapphire, Lenny Kravitz, Mariah Carey  NY Film Fest screening 2009

So I'm watching the Academy Award nominations broadcast on TV yesterday morning - to see which nominees I have pictures of / which films I've seen. Of course there were those that were expected - Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Lee Daniels and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), and the Dude Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart). 

And in the Foreign Film category, the odds on winner is - 'The White Ribbon'  by Michael Haneke. This film is a pre-Nazi Germany 'Children of the Damned' Protestants creepy whodunnit. Before the film screened at the NY Film Fest last fall,  director Haneke told the very uptown Lincoln Center audience, with a smile on his face, "I wish you a disturbing screening".  Don't miss seeing this film on the large screen. For me, just the black and white cinematography was worth the price of admission.

But the most unexpected nomination yesterday - and I'll tell you why in  a moment - was also in the Foreign Film category. The Milk of Sorrow was directed by Claudia Llosa. I saw it last spring at the New Directors/New Films Festival here in NYC. I photographed the Peruvian director that same night, and then went in to see the film which was quite good. But I have to tell you that the plot revolves around - and this is a SPOILER ALERT of sorts - a main character who has a potato growing inside her vagina. I'll say that again - she has a potato growing out of her vagina. Really.

Michael Haneke and Claudia Llosa