"Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear."
(Hart Crane, The Bridge: To Brooklyn Bridge)
'Ghosts' by Dr John D. Perivolaris
It was snowing when I arrived in New York City. As I left the airport, I saw some taxi drivers arguing with each other – pushing and shoving. Proper New Yorkers. They are as much a part of la gran manzana as the Empire State and Lady Liberty herself, the mother of all exiles.
I was there to see Eddy again – to make some recordings and to take some photographs. I went to visit him on Riverside Drive. I took him some Ron Mulata, which I had picked up in Havana. We talked about the city and my journey to see him that morning on the subway. We had lunch and he told me to get back down there and to learn about the people. I bought a Metro Card and went exploring for a week on an adventure loosely mapped around different Manhattan locations Edmundo had listed to me.
I went to Times Square and walked about. The street photographer Louis Mendes took a portrait of me with his old Polaroid Speed Graphic. “I’m out here makin’ money!” he shouted as he disappeared into the crowd.
I visited the Hispanic Society and was followed around by a security guard as I took photographs of the Joaquín Sorolla paintings that hang in there like bits of bric-à-brac waiting to never be sold in an old antiques store.
I walked down to Columbus Circle and stared at the figures in the Maine monument and remembered what Eddy had said about them. They looked desperate – reaching out for something. Eddy was right, no one ever looks at them.
I carried on down to 6th Ave. and watched the people posing by the statues of Latin American heroes. Horse-drawn carts and people dressed in wedding attire.
I made my way up to Spanish Harlem. I walked from the top and kept moving, I didn’t stop. People looked at my cameras and kept themselves to themselves in little huddles.
Later that week I met again with Eddy back at Riverside Drive, before returning to London. We recorded the sound of snow crunching beneath our feat as we walked around Joan of Arc Park. Inside his apartment Eddy smoked his pipe as we talked about the postcards on his bookshelves.
– JCK, August 2014
"Can we record the crunching of the snow? This is quite a sound."
The view from Williamsburg Bridge I
The view from Williamsburg Bridge II
The View from the Top of the Rock
"The streets – the people out there – are an extension of your body. If you don't understand your city, you don't understand your environment. Don't see it as a foreign thing. When you're here and you are on the subway, you're describing your new body here in New York."
The street photographer Louis Mendes took a portrait of me with his old Polaroid Speed Graphic. “I’m out here makin’ money!” he shouted as he disappeared into the crowd.
"Times Square – an image of the centre of the world. It used to be much more gutsy but now you go there and everything is controlled by the image."
“You look at a magazine and you see an advert and there’s a distance but you go to Times Square and you’re wrapped in it – by these lights, by these things … by these images that are larger than life.”
Businessman in the snow
“The subway has a more turbulent nature – a darkness to it – at the same time that it transports us from one place to another. You feel surrounded, like you’re in another world. It’s an underground world where even people are trapped into having to look at each other.”
“They say that you can go there and scream and no one will hear you. When the trains go by some people want to release tension and they scream. I have a friend that used to do that. When the express goes by in local stations you can scream and no one can hear you.”
“Whenever you see – let’s say on Amsterdam – a group of people on the corner gather, you know that they are Latino. They’re talking, discussing … they're talking shit.”
Status of Cuban national hero José Martí in Central Park, NYC
"Emptiness is the basis of something you can fill. When I'm too overwhelmed by other images I look at this empty frame."
El Cid in the Snow – Audubon Terrace, NYC
Edmundo Desnoes in his apartment on Riverside Drive
Japanese translation of Edmundo Desnoes's novella Memories of Underdevelopment
Riverside Drive, New York City
Photograph taken by Felicia Rosshandler.