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the lost years

I spent almost 25 years living alone in New York. There might be a moment on a shoot, when it became clear we would be running late. Phones were slid from pockets, as the crew had hushed conversations with their loved ones. That solemn, apologetic tone was the same no matter who was talking as they answered the question "When will you be home?" I had no one, nothing but an empty apartment and some dirty dishes. I had half-written books, and guitars leaning against the walls. There was film in the cameras, waiting to be developed.

I have almost no memory of these years now.

Right now, V is sick. Nothing terrible, but enough to stay home and parade around the apartment in her favorite pyjamas. N is cooking various treats for her, unable to predict which one she will actually eat. The doorbell rings, and it might be a doctor visiting from the local clinic but it is her sister. The rooms are full of conversation and fresh cups of coffee. I try not to step on the toys that are a…

every picture


It was too easy. At one point it seemed like there was an accordion player on every corner, or every underpass dodging the rain. I stopped taking pictures of them, these old men with grave expressions and a little cardboard box on the ground at their feet. The songs tended to be happy ones, nostalgia for the passer-by. Something from a Soviet cartoon, or a children's song.

Some say that every picture we take is a self-portrait, a mirror image of the person behind the camera. I want to agree, and when I do I understand that maybe I see myself as that old man looking out at the people, ignored. Maybe just for that moment. In the next, I am a child with a fresh drawing I am sticking on the door of a refrigerator. I am the chalk drawing on the pavement, the scrawled name on the wall.

There is something so metaphorical about the street musician - the giving it away, the humility of it all, and the occasional reward from a stranger. Great musicians started this way, busking for loose change. It may be the path to glory, or if all else fails, a bowl of soup. Somehow, this image sums all of this up for me - the hope, the ugly truth, the wish, the endless defeat, the fresh possibility.

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