Monday, June 21, 2010

samurai photog vs. the march of progress.

national cold storage
national cold storage,
originally uploaded by samuraiphotog.
When you do the sort of work that I do, especially in a city like New York, you tend to get your heart broken often.

Ever since I've been documenting my world, there's a few places I revisit often, like old friends. One of them is the National Cold Storage Company.

It all started when I was a young aspiring poet, when someone gave me a book of Harvey Shapiro's poems as a gift. I became fixated on one of the poems within, "National Cold Storage Company" and longed to find this place by the harp of the bridge.

Fast forward to the mid '90s, when on a particularly bad day, I found myself walking around lower Manhattan, along the river. As I walked by the South Street Seaport, I looked across at Brooklyn, wondering if I should walk across the bridge to soothe my troubled soul (did I mention that I was an aspiring poet?) and there it was.

The National Cold Storage Company.

How had I never seen it before? How many times had I crept under the harp of that bridge, and never once looked to my right to see this wonderful, mysterious building?

I had a camera with me, as always, so I photographed this container of history for what would be the first of many times.

Every few months I would return, using different films, different cameras. Trying each time to reveal something else about this place, and maybe something about myself as well. When the redevelopment of the Brooklyn waterfront began, for the first time, I felt my friend's days were numbered.

I thought National would always be there for me. Last winter, I kissed someone in its shadow, as if I were looking for its blessing.

In early May, I went to National to photograph it with the Polaroid, for my Wish You Were Here series. The destruction had already begun, but the NATIONAL still remained. I felt like it had gotten a stay of execution somehow.

Last Tuesday, CW and I took his class to DUMBO to photograph by the bridges. After we walked from City Hall across the Brooklyn Bridge to the other side, I slipped away, hoping to get some portraits of my old friend in the beautiful, brilliant, magic hour light.

As I walked up the newly-constructed path that winds through the waterfront, I had my heart broken again. This time, it hurt more than the others.

Add this to the national total.

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