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CBGB’s awning being auctioned by Sotheby’s is expected to fetch at least $25,000
12.01.2016
09:23 am

Topics:
History
Music
Punk
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:
CBGB
Sotheby's


 
Man, who knew rock ‘n’ roll was so posh? Earlier this week, we alerted you to the sale of Dennis Hopper’s extremely modest record collection for only about 1500 times its probable value. This is unrelated, but it feels like a part of the same stupidity: an awning from CBGB, the Bowery dive bar that in the ‘70s became the Ur venue for the musical insurgency that would come to be known as punk rock, is being auctioned by the elite house Sotheby’s, and is estimated to fetch between $25,000 and $35,000.

The club was never really home base for people who could afford that kind of cash outlay for an outsized souvenir—the bands that played there were decidedly low-rent. The bands that made the place a Mecca included the Ramones, Patti Smith, Television, Blonde, Talking Heads, the Cramps, and the Dead Boys (who recorded their live album Night of the Living Dead Boys there), well before they became marquee names. After a long and legendary run, the club closed ten years ago, and was “resurrected” in name only as we shit you not a restaurant in the Newark Airport (one and a half stars on Yelp). That restaurant has a small-scale replica of the club’s iconic awning. One of the several actual awnings that adorned the club’s doorway over the years lives on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but while the Sotheby’s web site claims that the awning for sale is the original, Time Out New York says that’s incorrect:

Though the venerable auction house is listing the item as the “original awning for punk mecca CBGB,” that’s not actually the case. It’s a version rescued from the trash in 2004 by former club manager Drew Bushong. Bushong’s find was one several iterations of the iconic sign, beginning with the first one hand-painted by CBGB owner Hilly Kristal. That awning is believed to have been stolen one night in the 1980s by the band Jody Foster’s Army (JFA), after the group played a gig. It’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Yeah, that’s fucking hilarious. I didn’t realize I could love JFA more!

The auction is scheduled for Saturday, December 10th. I’m sincerely hoping some CBGB O.G. gets it, but it will probably get sold to a fuckin’ pharma bro.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Murder the faculty’: Crazy high school yearbook quotes from 1911
11.28.2016
10:44 am

Topics:
Amusing
History

Tags:
yearbook


 
Here’s a high school yearbook with amusing Senior quotes from 1911. It’s from the Spokane’s High Class of ‘11. Some interesting life ambitions from Gretta Alice Robinson—who “wants to marry a dwarf”—or Phyllis Belle Johnson who wants “to murder the faculty.” There’s even an edgy socialist agitator in the class whose goal is “to incite a riot.”

I didn’t even know high school yearbook quotes were “a thing” back in 1911 or even that they made high school yearbooks at that time. Apparently high school yearbooks go all the way to the 1880s. Now whether or not they had whimsical quotes in them back then, I do not know. Considering 1911 isn’t too far from the 1880s, I’d wager they probably did. Don’t quote me on that, though. No pun intended.


 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Married to the Mob: Dames and Molls who hung with Mafia Wise Guys
11.23.2016
11:54 am

Topics:
Crime
History

Tags:
photography
mob molls
Mafia

001mobmollbulletalicegranville31.jpg
 
Mob molls are tough dames. They gotta put up with a lotta shit and a lotta bad juju. Not every broad has what it takes to hang with the Mob. Take bit-part actress Alice Granville (above) who was shot twice in the arm by her hitman husband Pete Donahue. Apparently she didn’t even wince. Donahue was a trigger-happy lieutenant for mob boss Dutch Schultz. Granville said her mob beau only shot her to prove how much he loved her. Hate to think what he got her for Valentine’s Day.

Or take fifteen-year-old Carmen Martinez (below)—who was willing to kill for her mob bf. That’s her struggling with cops on her way to Felony Court having been charged with the murder of seventeen-year-old Raul Banuchi in 1951. What says “I love you” more than whacking someone?

Being a Mob moll takes a lotta guts, a lotta loyalty and a helluva lotta just plain dumb. Here’s a rogue’s gallery of some hardboiled Mob molls.
 
002mobmoll.jpg
 
003mobmolls42.jpg
Mob moll Smitty White claims the fifth while getting the third degree from New York’s finest after her boyfriend Ralph Prisco was shot and killed during a failed holdup in 1942. The word “moll” comes from “molly” as in the old 17th century English term for prostitute—though like many English words when transposed to America (fanny being an obvious example) the word developed a different meaning—as in the girlfriend or female accomplice of a gangster.
 
004mobmollsqueen.jpg
Big Mama Virginia Hill—the so-called ‘Queen of Mob Molls’ looks like butter wouldn’t melt…. when testifying she knew nothing about her boyfriend Bugsy Siegel’s crime record and Mob connections after he was whacked in 1951.
 
More mob molls, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Look, they’re crucifying Him! And nobody cares!’: When Charlie Chaplin met Igor Stravinsky


 
For a couple of years when I was a little kid—before I discovered rock music, so like 3rd and 4th grade—I collected Charlie Chaplin movies that I purchased on 8mm film from Blackhawk Films. Blackhawk sold newsreels of the Hindenburg disaster and WWII along with the public domain silent horror films of Lon Chaney and comedies by Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Blackhawk advertised in comic books, Famous Monsters of Filmland and in a nostalgia magazine my grandfather used to read (I wish I could recall the name of it, I’d buy every issue on eBay). I sent for their free catalog. The price of the Chaplin shorts ranged from like $7.98 to $14.98 which was an astronomical amount of money at that time, for someone who was eight years old, or otherwise. When I say “collected,” I probably had like seven Chaplin shorts that I got from Blackhawk. I’d tell my parents and grandparents just to give me money for Christmas and birthdays so I could order them. A $10 reward for a good report card meant another Chaplin film. I would screen them in my parents’ basement on a moldy-smelling Westinghouse 8mm projector my father had long ago lost any interest in.

I was really, really Chaplin obsessed. I still am to this day.

Charles Chaplin’s My Autobiography was published by Simon & Schuster in 1964, when the great man was then in his seventies and living a life of comfortable exile at Manoir de Ban, a 35-acre estate overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland, having been pushed out of Hollywood during the Red Scare. It’s one of the most extraordinary books that I’ve ever read. The first portion of the book describes, in brutal detail, the life of crushing Dickensian poverty that Chaplin and his brother Sydney were thrust into when their mother—who’d gone mad from syphilis and malnutrition—had to drop them off at the pauper’s workhouse, unable to care for herself, let alone them.

Chaplin’s remarkably beautiful prose is nothing short of heartbreaking. It’s not just the harsh Victorian circumstances he’s describing that are so excruciatingly Dickensian, it’s the quality of his writing as well. My Autobiography starts off exactly like a lost novel by Charles Dickens, and indeed there is probably no greater true life rags to riches story that has ever been told in the entire history of humankind. Chaplin went from being an innocent young boy who’d had his head shaved and painted with iodine for a lice treatment (there’s a group shot in the book that will hit you in the gut) in the lowest of circumstances to being the most famous man in the world just a few years later. It’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read and it’s one that will still be read long into the future as long as we don’t go the way of Planet of the Apes.
 

Stravinsky takes a spin on a hoop contraption that Chaplin had built at his Beverly Hills home.
 
And speaking of our puzzling new Bizarro World national reality, there’s an anecdote that happens later in Chaplin’s book (pages 395-397) where he writes about a meeting that he had with Russian composer Igor Stravinsky where he proposed a collaboration between them. It was sometime in 1937. War had yet to be declared, but something very dark was happening in the world.

I was thinking about this over the weekend, and how potent this imagery is in Donald Trump’s America:

While dining at my house, Igor Stravinsky suggested we should do a film together. I invented a story. It should be surrealistic, I said—a decadent night club with tables around the dance floor, at each table, greed, at another, hypocrisy, at another, ruthlessness. The floor show is the Passion play, and while the crucifixion of the Saviour is going on, groups at each table watch it indifferently, some ordering meals, others talking business, others showing little interest. The mob, the High Priests and the Pharisees are shaking their fists up at the Cross, shouting: “If Thou be the Son of God come down and save Thyself.” At a nearby table a group of businessmen are talking excitedly about a big deal. One draws nervously on his cigarette, looking up at the Saviour and blowing his smoke absent-mindedly in His direction.

At another table a businessman and his wife sit studying the menu. She looks up, then nervously moves her chair back from the floor. “I can’t understand why people come here,” she says uncomfortably. “It’s depressing.”

“It’s good entertainment,” says the businessman. “The place was bankrupt until they put on this show. Now they are out of the red.”

“I think it’s sacrilegious,” says his wife.

“It does a lot of good,” says the man. “People who have never been inside a church come here and get the story of Christianity.”

And the show progresses, a drunk, being under the influence of alcohol, is on a different plane; he is seated alone and begins to weep and shout loudly: “Look, they’re crucifying Him! And nobody cares!” He staggers to his feet and stretches his arms appealingly toward the Cross. The wife of a minister sitting nearby complains to the headwaiter, and the drunk is escorted out of the place still weeping and remonstrating, “Look, nobody cares! A fine lot of Christians you are!”

“You see,” I told Stravinsky, “they throw him out because he is upsetting the show.” I explained that putting a passion play on the dance floor of a nightclub was to show how cynical and conventional the world has become in professing Christianity.

The maestro’s face became very grave. “But that’s sacrilegious!” he said.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Bend me, shape me: The art of contortionism makes a comeback
11.21.2016
10:06 am

Topics:
History
Sports

Tags:
1900s
contortionist


Contortionist ‘Ben Dover’ (born Joseph Späh) striking the ‘Hairpin Pose,’ early 1900s. Dover was one of the 62 survivors of the crash of the Hindenburg in 1937.

Optional soundtrack to this post.

The art of body contortion can be traced back to the 13th century BC in Greece, Egypt and Mexico until it started to decline in popularity during the Middle Ages. The start of the 20th century would bring about a revival of sorts of the ancient art of bending your body into impossible positions for entertainment in circuses and burlesque shows around the world.

In the 2016 book The Path of Modern Yoga: The History of an Embodied Spiritual Practise author Elliott Goldberg writes that contortionists performing during the vaudeville era were lumped into the category of “dumb acts” along with jugglers, dancers and acrobats as their shows didn’t involve any speaking. When it came to the appeal of watching a contortionist silently fold their limbs in ways that defy all logic, Goldberg had this fascinating insight into why people can’t seem to look away from other humans performing these incredible physical feats:

We’re delighted by the gracefulness of the movements and poses, yet we are also repulsed (or at least made uncomfortable) by the seemingly haphazard, violent and gruesome arrangement of body parts. And we’re also turned on. By violating some natural law of how bodies twist and bend contortion seems to especially transgress normative sexual practises. We’re sexually stimulated by performers seeming to strut their stuff as an invitation to kinky, delirious sex.

Some of these images may remind you of the more formidable poses in yoga like the “Sirsa Padasana” or the “Head to Foot Pose” (which looks like this) and others are amusing plays on activities such as enjoying cocktails with friends or spinning a few records on a Saturday night. That said some of the images in this post are slightly NSFW.
 

Burlesque dancer and contortionist Barbara Blaine, 1934.
 

 
More contortions after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Pink Floyd’s BBC ‘moon-landing jam session’ of 1969: ‘So What If It’s Just Green Cheese?’
11.17.2016
10:31 am

Topics:
History
Music
Television

Tags:
Pink Floyd
Apollo 11


One of the posters that came with copies of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ LP

The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon easily qualifies as one of the truly epochal moments of the twentieth century. The three American astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin, spent about 21 hours on the moon, during which time countless thousands of people surely looked up and thought, “Wow, there are human beings up there.” In fact, we know for sure that David Gilmour of Pink Floyd was one of those people, as we shall see.

With some assistance from its colleagues in the Netherlands and Germany, the BBC mounted programming to celebrate the great event. One of the shows featured a live jam by Pink Floyd. The program was a one-hour BBC1 TV Omnibus special with the whimsical title of So What If It’s Just Green Cheese?. It was broadcast on July 20, 1969, at 10 p.m. Interestingly, the program featured two actors who would become much more famous about three decades later—Ian McKellan and Judi Dench. Dudley Moore and the Dudley Moore Trio were also on hand.

The Floyd jam session eventually came to be called “Moonhead.” It’s included in Pink Floyd’s massive new box set The Early Years 1965-1972, which was released just last week (its 2,840 minutes makes its $571 price tag seem almost affordable. Almost.).
 

Bootleg cover

David Gilmour reminisced about the appearance in an article he wrote for the Guardian in 2009:

We were in a BBC TV studio jamming to the landing. It was a live broadcast, and there was a panel of scientists on one side of the studio, with us on the other. I was 23.

The programming was a little looser in those days, and if a producer of a late-night programme felt like it, they would do something a bit off the wall. ... They were broadcasting the moon landing and they thought that to provide a bit of a break they would show us jamming. It was only about five minutes long. The song was called “Moonhead”—it’s a nice, atmospheric, spacey, 12-bar blues.

I also remember at the time being in my flat in London, gazing up at the moon, and thinking, “There are actually people standing up there right now.” It brought it home to me powerfully, that you could be looking up at the moon and there would be people standing on it.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Arsenic and old lace: When women’s clothing could actually kill you
11.17.2016
10:13 am

Topics:
Design
Fashion
History

Tags:
1800s
arsenic


A child’s dress dyed green with arsenic, 1838-1843.
 
Ah, the color green. Generally associated with good luck and four-leaf fucking clovers the color green was anything but good luck back in the 1800s. During the entire century and into the 1900s arsenic was used in all kinds of everyday products from wallpaper to paint as well as women’s clothing and beauty products. Yikes.

Originally known as “Scheele Green” in 1814 German company Wilhelm Dye and White Lead Company decided to try to modify the paint by adding arsenic and verdigris (a blue/green color that is made by using copper or brass to oxidize it). The new color was dubbed “emerald green” and was an overnight smash. It was soon being used for all kinds of things including dying dresses, shoes and flower hair accessories for women, among countless other products too numerous to mention. When the actual “recipe” for the dye was published in 1822 distributors attempted to temper the color as well as change its name so customers would keep using products that would eventually kill many of them.

Due to their constant contact with the deadly dye, seamstresses and makers of flower hair accessories were especially susceptible to the dangers of getting up close and personal with arsenic and would pay for it by developing horrific lesions on their skin or face. And they were the lucky ones. Death from arsenic poisoning was preceded by vomit that was a distinct shade of green, foaming at the mouth and convulsions. All things considered, as bad as things are now, they really seemed a whole lot worse during a time when looking good could literally kill you. I’ve included many images in this post of vintage garments, shoes and other items that drastically cut the average life-expectancy of a lot of ladies and anyone who liked cake because guess what? Arsenic was also used to color cake icing back in the 1800s! If this kind of historical weirdness is your kind of thing I highly recommend picking up the book Fashion Victims: The Dangers of Dress Past and Present by Alison Matthews David.
 

The effect of constant contact with arsenic on the hands of perhaps a seamstress or flower maker.
 

Boots dyed with arsenic, mid-1800s.
 
More deadly clothing after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Political ‘propaganda kimonos’ from pre-World War II Japan
11.16.2016
12:46 pm

Topics:
Design
Fashion
History

Tags:
Japan
World War II
kimonos


 
There’s something very alluring about secret codes intended to transmit a message of solidarity to a select few. Just recently in the wake of the presidential election, a significant number of people have adopted the practice of wearing a safety pin as a sign of resistance to President-Elect Trump and as a message of support to groups likely to be marginalized under a Trump administration such as African-Americans, Muslims, and women. Gee thanks, white people.

One example of this that I learned about recently was the Japanese practice of wearing militaristic propaganda in a way that only close friends and family would be in a position to notice—on ornate, specially designed kimonos. They were mainly reserved for inside the home or at private parties. Since the designs were often on undergarments or linings, a host would show them off to small groups of family or friends. These “propaganda kimonos” are called omoshirogara—denoting “interesting” or “amusing” designs—and were popular from 1900 to 1945, and for the first half of that period they had little to do with warfare.

For instance, in the 1920s and 1930s, many omoshirogara featured a bright consumerist future with gleaming art deco cityscapes and chugging locomotives and ocean liners. In the late 1920s, however, conservative and ultra-nationalist forces in the military and government started to assert themselves. In 1931 Japan invaded Manchuria and installed a puppet regime there, marking the start of a period of extreme militaristic nationalism and aggression as well as isolation from the West.

Norman Brosterman is one of the world’s foremost collectors of propaganda kimonos, and his website is a trove of arresting imagery. All of the kimonos depicted on this page come from his collection. He writes:
 

The Japanese tradition of pictures on garments took an insidious turn in 1895 and 1905 with the Sino-Japanese, and Russo-Japanese Wars, when kimono were first made with images of troops, cannon, and battleships. In the 20th century, kimono with a plethora of themes were produced – travel, sports, politics, fashion, and in the 1930’s, an outpouring of imagery of war. From 1931 and the Japanese annexation of Manchuria, until Pearl Harbor and the complete war footing it necessitated, Japanese propaganda in the form of clothing for men, boys, and more rarely, women, was produced and worn in Japan in support of the efforts overseas.

 
Here are some excellent specimens of the form:
 

This boy’s kimono with an image of a streamlined car.
 

This detail from a kimono from 1933 depicts the popular figures of “the Three Brave Bombers,” real-life soldiers who perished while laying explosives to clear out the enemy’s barbed wire defenses.
 
Many more remarkable kimonos after the jump…......

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Product of America’: Members of the Germs and Meat Puppets resurrect a Phoenix punk band from 1978


 
I don’t expect that many people think of Phoenix, AZ, as a nerve center of punk rock. My go-to Phoenix bands have long been the Meat Puppets, Sun City Girls, and to a lesser degree the Feederz, but that’s been about the extent of my knowledge of that city’s contributions. Little did I know that it was a hub where a surprising number of crucial spokes met.

The Exterminators were a short-lived Phoenix punk band whose existence has long eluded the outside world. They existed only in 1977 and 1978 and never released a single note of music, but its members went on to play in The Germs (drummer Don Bolles), 45 Grave (bassist Rob Graves, Bolles), The Gun Club (Graves), The Feederz (singer Dan “Johnny Macho” Clark), and Mighty Sphincter (guitarist Doug “Buzzy Murder” Clark). The only known surviving documents of the band were a raw sounding and totally unheard cassette recording of a 1978 gig, and a few songs, among them “Bionic Girl” and “Destruction Unit,” which Dan Clark brought with him to the Feederz, and which appeared on their debut Ever Feel Like Killing Your Boss?. This gap in the historical record has been corrected: Slope Records, a Phoenix-based archival label with a local focus, has released Product of America, a brand-new recording of that 1978 material by the original band, minus the deceased Mr. Graves (RIP 1990, many punk points awarded for pseudonymous irony), whose spot has been filled by another Phoenix lifer, Cris Kirkwood of The Meat Puppets.

The album is a primal emission of toxic hate-noise, recorded quickly so as to preserve the younger band’s raw directness, though it’s being played by now-seasoned musicians almost 40 years after the fact of the songs’ creation (though when we chatted, Bolles wisecracked that just because he’s made a lot of music doesn’t mean he’s learned to play). It contains “Bionic Girl” and “Destruction Unit,” plus 14 other blasts of malice, with themes ranging from sexual depravity to nihilistic politics. Dangerous Minds was privileged to speak with Bolles and Kirkwood about the early Phoenix scene (such as it was), the formation of The Exterminators, and the circumstances that led to the release of Product of America.
 

 
Cris Kirkwood: The Exterminators were a band from about 77-78, and I never saw them when they were active. Derrick Bostrom, the Meat Puppets’ original drummer, was a lot more hip to the local scene, and once I started hanging around with him I became aware of things that had happened before I started playing. My first Phoenix punk rock show was this thing called “Trout-O-Rama” and one of the band’s was the Brainz, which was Doug Clark’s band, and he was “Buzzy Murder” in The Exterminators. He was friends with someone I’d gone to grade school with, and eventually I got to be friends with Doug and his brother Dan, who was “Johnny Macho” in The Exterminators. 

Don Bolles:There wasn’t really a punk scene at that time, just this band The Consumers, which I tried to be in but I wasn’t a good enough. I tried to start things in Phoenix but nobody else I knew was into punk, except Paul Cutler and David Wiley of The Consumers. I’d moved back to Phoenix from an unsuccessful foray to San Francisco, and I called Paul and David to see if anything was happening, and they said their bass played had been hit by a car, and I said “Well, I just got a bass. How about I come and jam out with you guys?” So I went to play with them, and those guys were GOOD. They had like 50 amazing songs, and they were super tight. But I was so terrible. One day I showed up for practice and they hid from me, and I could hear them snickering behind the kitchen door.

We started having all these other weird bands with all the same people. There was The Consumers, there was my band Crazy Homicide, and there were like five other people, and that was our “punk scene.” We started doing shows, and then I started hearing about this other band, and I was livid that I wasn’t in it. They were called The Exterminators and they were really young. They had done a show already and the cops had come. The Exterminators had covered themselves in Saran wrap and tinfoil and painted themselves, and this was at a pool party and there were police helicopters, and it was total chaos. They needed a a drummer, so I borrowed a drum set, which was tough, because nobody wanted me to use theirs because when I played drums I’d break them, but I dragged some drums over to this storage warehouse where they rehearsed, and they were like 14, 15 years old. I tried out with this broken stuff, and I guess it still sounded good because I was in the band. Then they lost their bass player, so I got Rob Graves to play with us. He had a bass, and their guitar player was this crazy kid, Buzzy Murder, and the singer was his brother, Johnny Macho. They were actually Dan and Doug Clark.

Kirkwood: There’s this guy in Phoenix, Tom Lopez, and he came up in the Phoenix punk rock scene, and he managed to get himself in a financial position to be able to start a record label, so he started Slope Records to kind of document the old Phoenix punk rock stuff that was happening. It was a part of his early experience and he was working on a record with Doug, who was in Mighty Sphincter. Tom was asking about the older stuff that had happened before, and Doug brought up The Exterminators as a sort of infamous band that had caught on to that whole thing early on.

Bolles: I didn’t know Tom, I moved out before he was old enough to actually meet people, I was 21 when I moved out of Phoenix. But Doug called me up and told me “this guy wants to put out an Exterminators album. Me and Danny and you, and Cris Kirkwood would play bass.” So I talked to Tom, who flew me out to Phoenix and put me up—in the fucking Clarendon hotel, which has a bust of the real Don Bolles, who was murdered there [Clarification: Bolles’ real name is James Giorsetti, he took his stage name from an Arizona journalist who was killed by a car bomb in 1976]—and I went and recorded all The Exterminators’ songs from back then. All the songs. We tried to do them as faithfully as we could. I had a tape of one of our shows. I had a rehearsal tape for a while but I lost it, probably in the ‘90s.

Kirkwood: A cassette still existed of an entire Exterminators show, from like ’78, and Tom had the idea of recording the songs, but Rob Graves, the bass player, is unfortunately no longer with us, so I was asked to play bass. Some of the songs are kind of Phoenix punk rock classics that had been recorded by other bands, so I knew them. With very little practice, we went into the studio—we had one practice day with the full band and on the same day we did a photo shoot—and it came up surprisingly cohesive. It was funny, Doug was like 15 when they had the band, and here we are, pretty seasoned players, doing this batch of youthful songs that had never been recorded, and now we’re these old farts taking a stab at them. It was a very fun, very fucking satisfying experience, and it came out well.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Photographer recreates pics he took nearly four decades ago—with the same people
11.14.2016
01:34 pm

Topics:
Art
History

Tags:
photography


 
The most elementary fact of our existence—time passes, implacably and forever—is always the one that surprises us the most. You probably see the note hit several times a week in your social media: “Return to Cookie Mountain came out ten years ago??” “Third Rock from the Sun is twenty years old!! No way!” Well, yes way. Time passes.

Some photographs can have the same effect, but few more forcefully than the series of before/after pictures that have recently been unveiled of British people caught in their everyday lives decades ago—and then recreated much more recently. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in eastern England had a gregarious paramedic who liked to amuse himself by taking pictures of local citizens. HIs name is Chris Porsz, and some took to calling him the “paramedic paparazzo.”

One of the striking things about Porsz’s unfussy and unpretentious pictures is the sheer lack of judgment. Porsz had a knack for capturing people of all types—young lovers, cheerful punks, children at play, women contemplating a makeover, and working people making their way through the day.

Over the last seven years Porsz has dedicated countless hours tracking down his original subjects and persuading them to pose for pictures—in fact, the same pictures that were taken so long ago. The result is almost unbelievably evocative and poignant, a little bit reminiscent of Michael Apted’s landmark Up series of documentaries, which tracked a group of twenty British schoolchildren every seven years until deep into middle age.

Porsz has a new book coming out called Reunions that contains the entire series of before/after photos. As the photographer says, “This book has been nearly forty years in the making, and I believe the project is totally unique. I don’t think anyone else has tracked down so many strangers and recreated photos in this way before.”

Several years ago Porsz came out with a related book called New England: The Culture and People of an English New Town During the 1970s and 1980s.

Porsz became interested in photography shortly after his first child was born in 1978. He was working as a “casualty porter” at Peterborough District Hospital at the time, and took to the streets for inspiration.

“It has been very hard work and I’ve had lots of setbacks along the way, but I always believed this could be something really special and was determined to do at least 100 reunion pictures and it has been a labour of love.” The final product, Reunions, actually has 134 re-created pics in it, so he surpassed his original goal by a considerable margin.
 

 

 
Many more before/after pics after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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