Wednesday, May 23, 2018

We Leave A Stain


Philip Roth
Rest In Peace

Fare thee well to my favorite author... I never met Philip Roth, but I still feel like I lost a friend last night. As with his writing, his death has hit me hard, though I am thankful that I can revisit him time and time again through his words. He is now truly immortal.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

In A Trance



The comedown soundtrack for when all you desire is to stare at the ceiling and contemplate all the bad decisions you've made in life.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Betrayal And Redemption

Last night I dreamt that a few old friends told me it had been decided by a collective that I was to be killed (sacrificed?) for some unspoken transgression. I accepted my fate, though after being stabbed multiple times in the stomach, and sitting with two of my friends on a long bench in some unrecognizable dystopian setting, I realized I wasn’t ready to die. I expressed this to them and they seemed relieved, as if I passed a test. They rushed me to a hospital, which was set up like a maze. Suddenly I was wandering around alone, clutching my gut, and when I finally found a doctor, she calmly told me I needed an organ transplant. She then walked me to a zip-line, the type you’d see set-up for tourists in a forest or jungle, that was to take me to the operating room...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Dissed And Dismissed

I can perfectly recall the first time someone spit in my face. It was 9th grade and the subway was so overcrowded — as per usual — that I had to climb in between cars to get a spot, otherwise I’d be late for school uptown. I did the not so graceful '80s train-jump, and ended up with a bunch of other miscreants like myself rolling towards the city. Within moments some b-boy ran along the side of the train as it left the platform, and launched a loogie at his boys next to me. It hit me full-on in the face, and the hard-rocks next to me didn’t even laugh as they knew that there were borders you just didn’t cross. The rage I felt was incalculable, and I still see red when I think of the slime running down my cheek.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sucking Rocks for Water


"By trying to export myself into a place that didn't fully exist I asked works of art to bear my expectation that they could be better than life, that they could redeem life. In fact, I believe they are, and do. My life is dedicated to that belief. But still, I asked too much of them: I asked them also to be both safer than life and fuller, a better family. That they couldn't give. At the depths I'd plumb them, so many perfectly sufficient works of art would become thin, anemic. I sucked the juice out of what I loved until I found myself in a desert, sucking rocks for water."

A Pair Of Shoes by Vincent Van Gogh
Words from The Disappointment Artist, 2006

Saturday, April 14, 2018

It Always Would Be


A lesson I learned a bit too late in life living in this big fucked up and wonderful city is to always take the time to look up, stop and smell the angles; take some time to live in the moment. There are countless days this place I’ve lived all my days drives me to drink — as of late, mostly due to the new breed transplants with no respect for our traditions — but there’s many more days when it feels like a first kiss. Oh New York City, I love you so. You own my heart.

Words and photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

In The Hour Of His Deepest Need

For as far back as he could recall, there was one thing that always brought him comfort. The words that rang true and glowed like burning coal. Words that heralded hope, proclaimed love, celebrated loss, embraced shattered faith, and shook a finger at corruption. Words that carried his broken self to lonesome side-streets, waterfront docks, and beauty parlors filled with sun-pecked faces. Words that caressed with a singular voice, a knowing wink, and left in their wake a warm, seemingly all-knowing security.

© 2011-2018 Lee Greenfeld

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Searching For The Light


“What was astonishing to him was how people seemed to run out of their own being, run out of whatever the stuff was that made them who they were and, drained of themselves, turn into the sort of people they would have once have felt sorry for. It was as though while their lives were rich and full they were secretly sick of themselves and couldn't wait to dispose of their sanity and their health and all sense of proportion so as to get down to that other self, the true self, who was a wholly deluded fuckup."

Words by Philip Roth from American Pastoral, 1997

Friday, March 2, 2018

The Electrified Rat-Race


"We are accustomed to think of ourselves as an emancipated people; we say that we are democratic, liberty-loving, free of prejudices and hatred. This is the melting-pot, the seat of a great human experiment. Beautiful words, full of noble, idealistic sentiment. Actually we are a vulgar, pushing mob whose passions are easily mobilized by demagogues, newspaper men, religious quacks, agitators and such like. To call this a society of free peoples is blasphemous. What have we to offer the world beside the superabundant loot which we recklessly plunder from the earth under the maniacal delusion that this insane activity represents progress and enlightenment? The land of opportunity has become the land of senseless sweat and struggle. The goal of all our striving has long been forgotten. We no longer wish to succor the oppressed and homeless; there is no room in this great, empty land for those who, like our forefathers before us, now seek a place of refuge. Millions of men and women are, or were until very recently, on relief, condemned like guinea pigs to a life of forced idleness. The world meanwhile looks to us with a desperation such as it has never known before. Where is the democratic spirit? Where are the leaders?"

Words by Henry Miller from The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, 1945

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Heart Of The White Rose


"The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive.' The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves — or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn."


Words attributed to Sophie Scholl (citation needed)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Is This Where It Is?





Mickey Jones
Rest In Peace

Fare thee well to drummer Mickey Jones who played on one of the most historic live recordings of all-time, as well as a clutch of classic songs like "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," "Secret Agent Man," and "If I Had a Hammer" (the Trini Lopez version), not to mention having had a pretty bad-ass acting career. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Stage


"Dreams are the touchstones of our characters. We are scarcely less afflicted when we remember some unworthiness in our conduct in a dream, than if it had been actual, and the intensity of our grief, which is our atonement, measures inversely the degree by which this is separated from an actual unworthiness. For in dreams we but act a part which must have been learned and rehearsed in our waking hours, and no doubt could discover some waking consent thereto. If this meanness has not its foundation in us, why are we grieved at it?"

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2018
Words by Henry David Thoreau from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Blinding Light


Just this past week when I was in New Orleans trying to take a break from the real world for a bit, I encountered antisemitism while having a drink in my hotel bar. The guy who very nearly caught a fist to his jaw was nice enough, and I actually doubt he had an inkling as to the ugliness of his words, yet he felt comfortable making a crack about Jews to someone he just met.

Today, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I think it's crucial to remember that a lack of understanding of people different from you — their collective experiences and culture — leads to desensitization, and ultimately dehumanization; dehumanization being just one of the tools which craven politicians use to fool people into accepting what should be the unacceptable, and as history has taught us, the unspeakable.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Immortality

"There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless."

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Here Comes The Judge


Hon. Jerome Cohen
Rest In Peace

Fare thee well to Coney Island’s own "Judge Jerry." This Brooklyn boy was a World War ll hero and Purple Heart recipient, who also fought for our vets long after the war as National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans (at one point telling Nixon face to face to get our boys out of 'Nam). Jerry, it was always a pleasure to have a mid-week drink with you, talk politics, and hear all your amazing tales; knowing you was a pleasure and a real honor. Sleep well, my friend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Endless Slumber


"I've dreamed a lot. I'm tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming. No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake."

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2017
Words by Fernando Pessoa from The Book Of Disquiet, 1920s

Friday, December 8, 2017

Writing The Light


"Windows, posters, signs, and writings on walls fascinate me."

John Naar
Rest In Peace

"From my first visits to the National Gallery in London and the Louvre in Paris, I recall Vermeer, Turner, Seurat and other painters but no photographers. However, on my sixteenth birthday in 1936 at the Sylvia Beach Shakespeare And Company bookshop in Paris I saw Paris De Nuit, a book of photographs by Brassai. It portrayed the denizens of the Parisian bars, brothels, and streets close to where I was living. And it made me want to become a photographer."

Photograph by John Naar, from The Faith Of Graffiti (1974)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Comradeship Is Essential


“For me, to remember friendship is to recall those conversations that it seemed a sin to break off: the ones that made the sacrifice of the following day a trivial one.”

Saturday, November 11, 2017

True Grit


There I was, sitting on the dock of the bay, when the thought came over me to shoot myself. Next thing I knew I was walking around in excruciating pain, but quite pleased with the perfect bulletholes in both my feet. As I was strutting proudly, I ran into a rather large lady who was insistent upon giving me a hug, which I shrugged off. Moments later I found myself in a well-lit room in an office building, in which stood a booth that was providing camping provisions. People lined-up and paid with some sort of blue stamp, the grimness on their faces giving off an actual odor of despair. After having a long and drawn-out conversation with an old man about the impending war, I took my leave to make my way towards Columbia University. As I walked, a young lady with a large umbrella approached me and asked me if I needed coverage; I accepted even though it wasn't raining. We proceeded to troop downtown for a few blocks, when she abruptly told me she had a fear of overpasses and took her leave. I then realized I was late for my appointment and the stress became overwhelming. Before I could sort out my plan of action, John Wayne himself ran out of the mist and kicked me in the stomach.

Words by Lee Greenfeld © 2017
Kill The Resisters woodcut by Jiang Feng, 1931

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Gentle Rebel


"To stir the masses, to appeal to their higher, better selves, to set them thinking for themselves, and to hold ever before them the ideal of mutual kindness and good will, based upon mutual interests, is to render real service to the cause of humanity."

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

We Loved Him, Despite Ourselves


His life felt constricted for so long it became something he just learned to tolerate, despite the pain. The serpent's grip seemed to tighten with every aching, passing day. There was a need for release, always the quest for action. His boredom was epic.

At times his journey seemed like a disease, rather than a pursuit. Typically, he chose libation as an out, but it only fueled things; the lust seeping from his pours when the fuel hit his bloodstream. He was always charming, for as far back as anyone could remember, yet there was a secret history there; a curse. The attention both feeding, and in the end, destroying his very core. Stumbling home night after night, wrecked and lost, he would feel the serpent again, its embrace strengthening. Tail to mouth.

One day he even stopped into a progressive temple, but he got hung up on the length of the skirt worn by the girl who greeted him. The cross resting deep in her cleavage sent him reeling, and running to the nearest tavern. It wasn't to be, like all the other emotional shards left in his wake tell us, now that it's all over. He continued the endless cycle, including daily rituals that did little to soothe.

And then there was the night that echoes like a schoolyard whisper. He walked off alone into the night, never to be heard from again. Rumors abound as to his fate, the most circulated tale being that he took a sharp turn into a strange pub, and through another typical night of debauchery, he was freed, and ultimately, reborn.

Words by Lee Greenfeld © 2011-2017
Photograph by Paul Mones, year unknown

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Umbrella Skies


When I was a teenager there was a short-lived tradition among some of my boys to do Well-Dressed Men Nights, where we'd go out to dive bars in the city dressed to the nines — or our budget interpretation of what that was — get loaded, and pump quarters into the jukebox, playing Frank, Frank, and more Frank. The nights always ended with something breaking — one of our hearts, glass, knuckles, or someone's nose — and a long subway ride back to our respective boroughs.

"Summer Wind" was our unofficial theme song, and will forever remind me of those carefree days, and my lost friend James.

Summer Wind tattoo by JT Miller at NYHC Tattoo

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The New Breed: Lvger




Lvger are a new band straight out of New York City who play tough street-rock — think Motörhead meets the punkier side of early NWOBHM. The power-trio is comprised of Chris (The Templars/ Prowler), James, and James. Dig their two-song demo here.

Photography by Lee Greenfeld © 2017

Monday, October 16, 2017

Third Avenue, Circa 1989

Pitchers of beer consumed in mugs, never pints.
In places where the tables were always sticky,
The jukebox too loud and distorted,
And the good times never seemed to end.

That was the atmosphere.
Words by Lee Greenfeld © 2011-2017

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Double The Pleasure

While I was waiting to enter a nightclub on a side-street in South Brooklyn, there was a commotion out front. I was with my childhood friend Len, who went pale and started to point furiously. I looked over and I was staring at myself, dressed to the nines in a sharkskin suit, cursing, and pushing people around while swigging out of a forty-ounce bottle of Old English beer. Before I could process what was happening, the alternate me staggered in front of me, sneered, and then smashed the bottle at my feet, soaking my legs in malt liquor. I was immediately torn as to how I should retaliate...

Words by Lee Greenfeld © 2017

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Roads to Freedom


"He was free, free in every way, free to behave like a fool or a machine, free to accept, free to refuse, free to equivocate: to marry, to give up the game, to drag this dead weight about with him for years to come. He could do what he liked, no one had the right to advise him, there would be for him no Good nor Evil unless he brought them into being. All around him things were gathered in a circle, expectant, impassive, and indicative of nothing. He was alone, enveloped in this monstrous silence, free and alone, without assistance and without excuse, condemned to decide without support from any quarter, condemned for ever to be free."

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2017
Words by Jean-Paul Sartre from The Age Of Reason, 1945