Sunday, March 29, 2009

Merry Christmas in Rockaway Park!

"Boarding House Garbage Cans",
Rockaway Park, NYC, Christmas, 1995?

Was it Winter 2005? I was offered to spend the holidays with several of my friends around NYC. I declined and instead went to go down to Rockaway Park for Christmas. I have an objective, find my buddy Butch. I haven't seen in at least over a year. I miss the man with the scratchy drunken voice covering up a heart, so innocent and kind.

Butch was out of sight. No one seemed to know where he had been.

The last winter, he was staying in a smaller than small studio in a boarding house. They like to call this particular house, a crack house. I've seen a lot going on there from booze to heroin, but crack never passed my way. I wouldn't be surprised. Often, I walk through fire and don't feel flames scorching my flesh.

Back then Butchie's friend had bought him a new vinyl lazy boy, dark shiny brown with swerves of black almost like some mutant pit bull. He sat on that chaired and flipped through the basic channels. She had bought him a new bed since the last one he had stained in feces after a long binge alone behind the padlock on his door. She had made sure that "Meals on Wheels" came to his place seven days a week to feed him twice a day on the weekdays and once on each weekend day. I can't forget when he showed me the platter of food stored in Styrofoam. He removed it from the refrigerator and opened the lid and told me with pride ever item in the container.

This friend, this very kind woman--I never met--she died of walking pneumonia at, I believe, no more than 50 years old.

The evening, Butchie found out, he had vodka dripping from his mouth like a fountain. There was nothing, but a quart of Smirnoff that could make any sense to him. Between deep guttural moans of mourning and spewed anger to those around him--he was out of his mind.

Butchie Under Covers, Rockaway Park, NYC, 1995?

That night I came to visit , he was surrounded by the fly-by-nighters, the ones that came when they needed a bit of cash from Butch who would give them money from his disability and VA checks hidden in cash somewhere who knew expect the ones who stole it.

A circle of friends attempted to comfort him, as he flayed his body around, while legs shook unsteady beneath him. He is beginning to show the signs of some neurological disorder...years of drinking surely had made things easier to tolerate, but soon enough would make him bound to a wheel chair. The last gasps of unjust anger faded away and off, he fell asleep, an inebriated calm baby under a half made bed.

So, Christmas...2005. One of the regulars at the Kerry Hill Garden's told me that he was staying at the Peninsula Hospital. It was a frigid day, I walked under the A tracks towards the water and found the Peninsula. Charlie was going to meet me there outside of the building. My cell phone rang and it was my girlfriend's nieces wishing me a Merry Christmas.

"Why aren't you here?", they screamed in unison. "Where are you? We wish you were here!"

"I'm fine," I said. I'm photographing for my project." I imagined them sitting in front of a fire in Narragansett, Rhode Island. They probably were wearing fleece tops, bottoms and footsies to keep warm. I kept a keen eye on any gang life. I held tightly onto two wrapped presents, one for Charlie and one for Butchie.

"Don't go down there!", they said to me before I left the pub. There are a lot of gangs down there. I walked swiftly looking into the interiors of busted car windows and walked quickly over chard's of glass.

Charlie was waiting outside of the Peninsula, smoking a cigarette. I had never seen him dressed so fine. A sports coat, covered with a wool winter coat past his knees. His hair was brushed to the side and brilliantined. He appeared as a ghost vision of my father, quiet, reserved and respectful.

Charlie at His Finest, Peninsula Hospital, Rockaways, NYC, 1995?

We went inside to the reception desk....

"Hello! We are looking for Edward McBride.", I ask. Charlie stands beside me.

Continued next week.

And for now, let me introduce you to a local Rockaway's Organization called "The Rockaway Jetty"

You can learn more about there group on Facebook. Her are some of the things they do:













Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sante Fe Project Competition 2009

The word is out on the street. This week Sante Fe announced the winners!

Of course, I must admit, I had been waiting for their decisions with great hopes until the end of last week, when that special e-mail didn't come my ways.

I would like to highlight two winners, Brian Ulrich who was one of three in the category of honorable mentions and Micheal Christopher Brown . Micheal made it into the Juror's Choice Award. Both very different in their styles but both hard hitting in their metaphorical imagery. These are images that need no words. And however, different the work is of both of these artists, they manage to depict the lonely aftermath of two worlds, so very far apart.

Brian's work always amazes me with is iconographic simplicity and irony. He puts the pieces together like a detective playing with legos, building and putting the pieces together, into a seamless truth. Economic crisis equals photographs of an ATM machine that's been ripped off a wall. Circuit City is nothing but a big red shadow of a building, remnants of a logo ripped off the exterior, with an empty parking lot...who will buy this monstrosity? Will it become someday soon a homeless shelter for those employees who lost their jobs there?

Brian Ulrich, from Dark Stores, Ghost Boxes, and Dead Malls.

Brian Ulrich, from Dark Stores, Ghost Boxes, and Dead Malls.

Micheal, where hasn't he been? Inquiring minds need to know!

Micheal has the artistry to create not only meaningful documentary work, but work that feel like sad film stills, pockets of colors alive in the loneliness of desolate landscapes.

He takes us to the lonely and abandoned Russian Island of Sakhalin. Small figures are in a burrow of white. The people and interiors are smothered in snow. Glass shields them.When I look at Micheal's work, I feel like I am listening to a sweet shushed and eery lullaby.

Micheal Christopher Brown from series, Journey to Sakhalin.

Micheal Christopher Brown from series, Journey to Sakhalin.

Micheal Christopher Brown from series, Journey to Sakhalin.

Check out the others at the Sante Fe Project Competition Page:

And by the way, I found out today that I made it with "Last Stop: Rockaway Park" in the 25 finalist group. Check us out:

Never keep trying!

A Little Bit of Meat!

Sorry folks...

It's been a long week, turning into another one. I so want to please you all with fabulous stories with many typos written from the heart, stories starting from photographs to memoir. I often don't have the time to sit down and write the goodness you deserve.

So, this might happen here....just turn off the brain and turn on the You Tube for some easy mindless gobbily gook!

In the's a beef burger on me and Billy Mays, served up to the classic boy school way.


Monday, March 9, 2009

I Want to Make You Smile!

"Smile!", My father in his kitchen in Philadelphia, 1979.

In 1979, I was on summer vacation at my father's house down in Phillie. He lived in the same house where I had spent the first six years of my life with him, my Mom, my sister, Eliza and our two dogs, Abygail and Maxine.

He never left and he died there. He worked less than two miles away, a morning walk in the summer months. He worked the same job for most of his 67 years. When he wasn't working, he was out in his urban garden, growing carrots, watermelons and his prized tomatoes. The cherry tree of my youth had lived and died and came back to live several generations. He taught me that birds ate the seeds of the cherries and then pooped them on the earth and so, began another tree.

He spent his free time alone, drinking and reading several pulp fiction books a week. He had a girlfriend who conveniently lived in California. His life was simple; some might say dysfunctional too.

That summer, we had gotten into a fight. I had teased him with what, I can't remember. I had taken the game too far. I pulled out my camera.

"Dad, please smile! I'm taking your picture."

Once, my camera had the power to my father and everyone else smile.

There is so much to say about the relationship between my father and me, a far distant relationship, from New Rochelle, New York to Philadelphia, sheltering me with a sense of security, one of which I did not feel or share in my mother's home. There is so much to say...

I loved him. I loved him across, a cheap kitchen table, me on one side reading the comics and him on the other reading and smoking Pall Malls.

And I wonder why now, I have decided to write about it. Is it because I found a photograph of my father, scowling with arms crossed, in a manila envelope or is it because on the opening of my group show at Mazzeo Gallery, my mother's second husband, Peter arrived.

There is so much to say between these empty spaces between words. There are thousands of unsaid words. This is a bookmark in storage which these days is a receptacle of stuttered and garrulous words streaming through my brain rapid fire. I could write for days on end if I let myself. I could divulge ever pathology. But, not tonight.

I hadn't seen Peter in 12 years since my mother's funeral. Before that I hadn't seen him for another 12 years.

At the funeral, I remember him well-dressed and poised. My friend's mother remarked later that my own father appeared tired and gray. I wanted to shoot her in the head for her insensitivity.

Peter got up in front of the mourners and spoke an reverent eulogy...still strong in my memory and weak in this shell of a recount.

Thank you Peter for coming to my show. Thank you for your recognition. I always wanted that. God bless you too.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Little Inspiration from My Heroes, An Ongoing Soap Opera!

Charice Pempengco

True genius! If you haven't seen these lovely girl belt it out....I'm begging you to do so! She has been a complete inspiration to me; even if, the media has picked her up as a pure oddity. Charice Pempengco is from the the Phillipines and made it all the way to the Ellen Degeneres Show.

How long will she last once she goes into puberty and loses her girlish supernatural voice?
Wouldn't it be great if she could sing a little Courtney Love?

Keep coming back for more inspiration from fabulous women and other gender types!