In the bloodcurdling months since the actual burnout of the #vortexture incident, at least a dozen ways of dying have occurred, been recovered from and then replaced with new ways to not be alive, if you know what I mean. If there is a cure, I augmented it with alcohol, which was intended to help with the lack of sleep (which, I may add, did not) and other methods of it doesn’t matter. As a Commercial Real Estate Photographer, my life has changed drastically and my return to NYC has an extremely different genetic make-up than the 2015 trip (the one which did not occur).
Like the 2015 trip, my “NYC I” photography collection the meat grinder, not the meeting hall. As the new version of The Not-So-Distant Future thrives in the self-assembly hangar, the pieces of that past which still have relevance drift back up with oversized flags, advertising their value. Below are a few for your consideration.
This is a clipped version of the introduction to “NYC I” which currently resides – in great luxury, with all the sleep I never get, no doubt – in purgatory. And a few of the photographs. And page layouts.
“NEW YORK I: October 16 – 24, 2012” Words and Photography by Johnlee
On October 16th, 2012 at approximately 5pm, I arrived at the Jay Street Metrotech station in Brooklyn. The purpose of my trip was to conduct several key interviews for a documentary film project (then titled, ‘The Posthuman Condition’ and focused on biotech applications for Nanotechnology). The documentary is half of a larger project; its subtext-point is to pose ethical questions about genetic engineering, as presented in the 2nd half: “Blackline” a series of feature films set in a dystopian near-future controlled by corporations.
Don Henley had forewarned me about everything changing in a New York minute (a lyric specifically referenced in “Blackline”) and I love improvisation but its easy to forget that improvising is what happens when something goes wrong. On the 24th, before catching my train back to Union Station in Washington DC, a five minute meet-and-greet at the documentary film department at HBO turned into a pre-production meeting which lasted for well over an hour.
When I left the HBO headquarters, the rain, which had already been falling for a day or so, was coming down noticeably harder. Also, I missed my train back to DC and had to buy another ticket for the return trip (a problem I was destined to encounter again). When I arrived in DC, it was raining, the Metro was closed and there weren’t any affordable hotel rooms.
Thanks to a friend, I was able to spend the night on the ceilinged rooftop terrace of a luxurious hotel overlooking NW Washington DC, watching Dexter on my iPad until the Metro opened at 5am. I slept for a day and when I woke up on October 25th, the world had changed.
When I returned to New York for re-shoots in August of 2013, there would still be damage from Sandy. I suppose there always will be – but I also recall a conversation from the 23rd at the bar of the “W” hotel, nursing a third Jack and Coke. Don’t precisely recall how I ended up talking with a business consultant but I do recall that he told me the talk of the incoming hurricane was irrelevant because “this is New York.”
I didn’t know exactly what he meant but I believed him. We tapped glasses and he ordered another round and a New York minute had occurred. That was the first time I heard about Hurricane Sandy.
Like the city that existed before September 11th, the version of New York I experienced that week is a territory no road – or rail – can reach. Post-Sandy New York can be called stronger or taller but my interpretation is simpler. It isn’t that it’s a city capable of being renewed: it is New.
That’s what New York is to me.
January 8th, 2014