Aftermath: The Station nightclub fire 2003 / 2007

On February 25th, 2007 our car broke down driving on I-95, near West Warwick, Rhode Island. The tow truck driver, on his way to the repair garage, pointed out to us that we were passing the site of The Station, a nightclub where 100 people lost their lives in a tragic fire on February 23, 2003. By coincidence, we were there two days after the 4th anniversary of that terrible event.

Now, with the Brazilian nightclub fire in the news, where 230 people lost their lives last weekend, I revisited the photographs I took on The Station site, that cold day in February. I pulled them from the archives, and as I was editing I realized it was going to be the 10th anniversary of that event next month.

I can still remember standing among all the aching memorials, laid out uncovered in the open space where the club once stood. By daylight it took on the feeling of a cemetery, only more personal. The two events were eerily similar - pyrotechnics onstage, a mad rush to the exits. Standing on the site, the presence of the lost AND those that loved them was overwhelming. I took these photos and packed them away for years. The tragedy struck a little too close to home.

Now, I've read that the land where the club once stood was transferred this past September, to a survivor fund, and a new memorial they were hoping for over the last 10 years, will be built.

the FULL SET OF PHOTOS can be viewed here

all photos © GODLIS


my Dad, Al Godlis - January 24th

Godlis on Godlis

My Dad, Albert Godlis, passed away on this date in 1978. It was a cold January 24th, when I received the call at work in New Jersey that day. New York City was in between two blizzards that January. A cold hard winter. I have several pictures outside CBGB's taken in the snow during those blizzards. A moment frozen in time that rolls around in my mind every January 24th.
Inwood in the 1950's

Al Godlis - as he was known - was a career musician, who grew up and learned to play brass music in the 1920's, at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum on Amsterdam Avenue and 138th Street, His father died from TB two years after emigrating from Kiev, Russia and my father was placed there at age the age of 2 with both his sisters. The Orphanage, as it turns out, was a stroke of luck for the two year old boy. It was there that he was trained by fine Jewish immigrant brass musicians in New York to play in the Orphanage Marching Band. And with that training he was able to go to Julliard. It was there that he met my mother, also a musician. And it was at Julliard graduation rehearsal ceremonies in 1931 that he was picked out by guest conductor Leopold Stokowski to join the esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra as 2nd Trombonist - in the midst of the great depression.

at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum
with my mother outside Julliard

He played with the Philadelphia Orchestra until 1939, when he moved back to New York City to do freelance studio recording and radio work. In the 1950's he was on a weekly live television show - Voice of Firestone. And in the 1960's, he played on Broadway - most notably in Sound of Music, which I saw way too many times. He always enjoyed telling the story of all the musicians in the pit turning his way every night, when the head Sister tells Maria - who is asking for permission to leave the convent and marry - "Just because you love a man more, does not mean you love God Less." All the musicians would point his way - love Godlis, ha ha ha! Every time that damn Sound of Music plays on TV, I love hearing that line. 

And so another January 24th. I miss my Dad more on this day every year. Life is too short, and it reminds me every year to enjoy every moment. When I was a teenager, and he bought me my first stereo, he told me "I had to blow a lot of notes for that." Some things you never forget.
New York in the 1940's
Voice of Firestone 1950's

NYC in the 1970's
1974, Nassau Coliseum