2/22/2012

First Avenue looked so Medieval

I was calmly drinking down my morning coffee last week, when my friend Tim Broun, whose Stupefaction blog is burning up the internet, alerted me to a blogpost on Flaming Pablum about this photograph I took of the band Television in the East Village in the fall of1977. It seems that there was a photo quiz posted last spring to search out the location of several cool photographs, of which mine was not only one - but one of the only ones that remained unidentified until last week - imagine that!


Well this was all news to me when Tim's alert arrived. And it just gets better. It turns out the photo detective who finally figured out my shoot location was none other than Bob Egan of PopSpotsNYC, whose indefatigable archeological investigations into the shot locations of several key Bob Dylan LP cover photos I've been in awe of since I stumbled upon them last year. In fact I've been telling everyone who can bear to listen to my Bob Dylan fanaticism that they have to check these out - Daniel Kramer's shot for Highway 61 Revisited, Sandy Speiser's shot for Another Side AND Jerry Schatzberg's shot for Blonde on Blonde.These are so unbelievably detailed, carefully laid out, and delightful to read, that it shudders me to think that the same Bob Egan went out and conducted an investigation for Flaming Pablum to deconstruct the location of my 1977 Television photograph.


Yes he's right it was First Avenue at 9th Street - we had just walked down St.Marks Place (past the recently extinct Holiday Cocktail Lounge and the ever present Stromboli Pizza) proceeding up First Avenue to 9th street when


we encountered this puddle overtaking the whole corner. It wasn't raining that fall day in 1977, so I suspect there was a drainage problem on that still somewhat crooked corner. In any case, it looked perfect for a photo, so I asked everyone to wait while I crossed over to the other side to get this view from across the pond (hoping no cars would turn up 9th and knock me over).


People have asked me quite often over the years about the location of this photo - even people who live in that neighborhood. And I am sometimes stumped myself, because there was still an outdoor fruit and vegetable stand on that corner for many years. And all those quirky little stores - Curtain shops, button shops - are now restaurants.


But what really strikes me about Bob Egan's investigations of Bob Dylan cover shots - and it's true of my Television photo as well - is how close to home all those photographs were taken (well not exactly the Blonde on Blonde - though that might be the most fascinating one).  Freewheelin'  was shot on Jones Street , literally around the corner from Dylan's West 4th St. apartment. Another Side just a block away from his record company's offices on 52nd Street, and Bringing it all Back Home on the front steps of his manager's Gramercy Park Townhouse. And indeed, my photograph of Television follows the same pattern. I was living  on St.Marks Place between Second & Third Ave. while Fred Smith - Television's lovable bass player - lived on St.Marks between First and Second Ave. - which is where we all gathered before the shoot. So the distance between meeting point and this shot was two whole blocks. Were we just lazy or was there just a plethora of great locations in that short radius? A little bit of both (we actually continued our walk up to 18th street to finish the session). But indeed, First Avenue looked so medieval in those days.

ALL PHOTOS © GODLIS

I am pleased to have stumped Flaming Pablum's readers with my shot location, and honored to have Bob Egan's thorough investigation (referencing a microfiche of the 1977 phone book - brilliant), but I'm most amused with Tim Broun's post in the comment section - "Nice post, but you could have just asked Godlis - he took the photo". Yeah but this is so much more fun!

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