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


"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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Little Bit Of Urban Rock

I still love this damn city, even if it's a shell of what it once was, and any semblance of a real community is nearly gone. I miss the days when your neighbors actually wanted to know you, would say hello, and knew they could turn to you for help if needed. I miss when there were cats in the neighborhood who'd chase-out/beatdown the predators when they rolled through looking for a vic; when folks didn't turn a blind eye to someone in distress. Long gone are the days when you didn't get sneered at by transplants for sitting on their stoop, when there weren't separate entrances for the poor in newly built buildings, and nearly everyone could afford a piece of the pie, even if only a small slice.

All that said, I still get a massive jolt of city-love when I spend the afternoon in Coney Island or an evening in South Brooklyn, or spend time in one of the many boss parks that I once took for granted. When I drink in Jimmy's Corner, catch a rock'n'roll show, grab a plate of $1 dumplings in some hole-in-the-wall joint in Chinatown or tacos from a street-cart in Jackson Heights, hit up one of the hundreds of free gallery openings that happen monthly, or chop it up with another local, reminiscing about the good times and the bad... I feel alive.

This is still a great city filled with art, adventure, culture, and a fair amount of real humans, but for how much longer it's hard to say.

Words by Lee Greenfeld © 2017
[ If anyone knows the name of the photographer who snapped the above shot of
the Montague Street OTB, please be in touch so they can receive proper credit. ]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Love That's Like Music Or Something

“When I'm dead, I hope it may be said: his sins were scarlet, but his books were read.” 

J.P. Donleavy
Rest In Peace

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

From The Ashes

"I think it's a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one's self. One day the house smells of fresh bread, the next of smoke and blood. One day you faint because the gardener cuts his finger off, within a week you're climbing over corpses of children bombed in a subway. What hope can there be if that is so? I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned each night until I dared not to go to sleep and grew quite ill. I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes. Until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible … but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one's life in one's arms."

Words from After The Fall, 1964

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Coney Island Of My Mind #21


"Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."

Photograph by Chris Stein

Monday, August 14, 2017

Beautifully Simple

"If you had asked me why I had joined the militia I should have answered: 'To fight against Fascism,' and if you had asked me what I was fighting for, I should have answered: 'Common decency.'"

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cries Of A Nation


Heather Heyer
Rest In Peace

Heather Heyer was murdered by a domestic terrorist on Saturday, August 12th for standing up for her country and fellow human being.