Midnight Jazz at the McKittrick

It was about a quarter to midnight on a Sunday and I was wandering my way to the McKittrick Hotel. I don’t think I’ve been there since the secret Spoon concert a few years ago.1

The New York Hot Jazz Festival made its way onto my radar earlier in the week and sounded like fun, but I was pretty sure after an adventurous weekend of book launches and photoshoots that I wouldn’t be able to handle attending an entire day. Luckily, Shanghai Mermaid came to the rescue and they had a Midnight Speakeasy, perfect for my Night Owl Club tendencies.2

After entering the building and taking a short elevator ride up a few floors, I made my way down a hallway, stealing a cursory, curious glance at a sliver of light through a roped-off set of curtains: bright colors, some music fading away, and lots of movement. At the end of the hall was another doorway with the curtains parted and tied to the sides. I ducked under it and found myself in some other time and place. The scene was a jarring change from the quiet, dim hallway. Everyone was dressed like they stepped right out of the Roaring Twenties and the decor matched. There was a stage at the far end of the room, blindingly lit. A few couples were finishing dancing as the band wrapped up their set. The bar was on my left, and the bartenders had joined in on the fashion theme. I ordered an Old Fashioned and tried to scope out the room and get my bearings.

Of course I brought my camera along. I haven’t shot any music in a while, so between that, two perfect Old Fashions, and just trying to relax and enjoy the show, I still got some pretty good photos.3 Hours of good music and fancy dancing followed.

The party slowly wound down, star performers from earlier in the day who had made one last encore over the past two hours finished their drinks and said their goodbyes, wandering out into the early a.m. hours of the night.4

  1. And it was so amazing and still the best concert I’ve ever been to, to the point that I don’t need to ever go to another one.

  2. I’m appropriating this Langism that usually happens when games start after 10:30… Although now I’m just realizing that I may have heard that phrase during a Penguins game for the last time last season and I’m really sad about that! ☹️

  3. I’ll probably revisit editing these photos. I’m still getting used to Lightroom (since the end of Aperture and the inability of it to process my X100F shots). So they’re kind of rough drafts.

  4. I’m already looking forward to next year’s rendition. I’m definitely going to try to go to more of the festival. Maybe a half-day. The only way it’d have been better is if someone wasn’t missing, half a country away…

Moments of Escape & Solace

Photography is about freezing a moment in time, creating a memory that you can share by showing others. There’s a lot of blanks to fill in, and I’m always happier to leave it that way. 1 Some of the answers can remain unsaid, others cannot be said.

About three years ago, I got to have some of my photos exhibited as part of a group project. 2

I was nervous when the exhibition night rolled around. I think I was actually shaking with anticipation. I hadn’t had my photos on display since high school, maybe nine years prior. It felt good to have my work up on a wall in a gallery for people to see. And we had sponsored drinks and snacks, so that made it a bit easier to pass the time. Turns out, only two friends showed up. 3

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It’s odd going back and seeing what I focused on.4 Looking at the pictures now, the set of them definitely reflect the lonely and isolated feeling I had at the time. The rest of 2014 would be a roller coaster as well, but that’s another story….


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We also had to write a didactic panel to go along with our work. This was the scariest part for me. I like to let my photos speak for themselves to the point that I won’t even give them titles if I can help it.


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This project was initially a foray into exploring the use of black and white photography in New York’s urban environment, but a funny thing happened on the way to the darkroom… Manhattan’s unrelenting hustle and bustle, brusqueness, and confinement led to exhaustion and a need to escape. I found myself searching for open, natural, and quiet locations; trying to find a small measure of peace and solace. Whether it was New York’s parks where one could almost (but not quite) leave the city behind, to the edge of Long Island on the beaches of Montauk, or far up in the Catskills in the rolling, foggy mountains, I needed to be away from everything in order to read, write, or relax. In Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino describes the concept of the city as “the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together.” These photographs are an attempt to illustrate respite from that inferno.

That was me in that moment, three years ago; it almost sounds like someone else, or at least it doesn’t sound like me now. No better or worse, just different. I think I was still coming to terms with everything I had gone through in the first year or two in New York. It was quite the tale of two cities, and this was the cap on the end of a particular phase.

  1. That’s the point of art, everyone can interpret it in it’s own way.

  2. Moments seems defunct now, which is too bad. I think I was a little advanced for their target audience, but it was a lot of fun going through it with a group, discussing our work, and having an assignment or goal every week or so to go out and work on.

  3. So heads-up if you miss out on something I do: it might take years to catch it again!

  4. Pun intended, ha!