Weegee Wednesdays: “There should be suthin deep between us…”

April is the craziest month, photographing
Lilacs out in the dead land, archiving
Memory and desire, preserving
Dull roots with spring rain…

If April is National Poetry month and if it’s a Weegee Wednesday, then this must be a post about photography, poetry and poets in a mad, very loud and naked city by Weegee… Poets, bohemians and the colorful characters who perform their poems, impecuniously and mostly in Greenwich Village, were perennial penniless subjects of Weegee photographs. PM Newspaper PM, July 28, 1941, (2007.15.223), pp. 18-19 Perhaps the first significant meeting of Weegee (not Fellig) and poetry, in lower Manhattan: Weegee photos on the left, page 18, and photos of real Greenwich Village poets on the right, page 19, by Ray Platnick.

These Are Pictures of Real, Honest-to-Greenwich Village Poets You don’t have to be a celebrity to get your verses displayed on the Village Arts Center, 1 Charles St. If your lines are short and to the point, and a member of the club likes it, and if there is space on the plaster walls, you have the club’s permission to print your works on it. These pictures of Greenwich Village poets were taken on the club this week end, on the occasion of a club anniversary. Most of them have published volumes of verse, which is hard and creditable work. It doesn’t pay much. Diana Barrett Moulton, poet, [holding her book, Beer and Skittles] also poses for portraits in spare time. Maxwell Bodenheim, novelist and poet, at first refused to pose. Then he consented, on condition he could give the clenched fist salute. Joe Gould, 51, Harvard ’11, has been working these 20 years on the Oral History of Today. It includes only material Mr. Gould has seen, or heard by word of mouth. Verses on the club wall behind him are his own. He is a satiric poet and a book reviewer. PM, July 28, 1941, p. 19

pm_1943_09_22z PM, September 22, 1943, pp. 12-13, photos by Dan Keleher

There’s Some Life in the Village Yet PM Attends Joe Gould’s 54th Birthday Party The flaming days of Greenwich Village are gone, but there are still some bright sparks among the embers. One of these sparks is Joseph Ferdinand Gould (Harvard ’11). Joe Gould, Yankee Bohemian, ex-ethnologist, ex-expert on Albanian politics, ex-police reporter, ex-book reviewer has spent the last 28 years in an intimate study of poverty. In that time he had been voluntarily unemployed becase he was too busy writing his Oral History of Our Time, into which he pours everything of interest that he sees, hears or happens to think of. Its 9,000,000 words (so far) make it probably the longest literary work of all time. [Presciently predicting Twitter, perhaps.] Gould, who once told an interviewer that he was “the foremost authority in the United States on the subject of doing without,” writes incessantly, sometimes in a bar, sometimes a Bowery hotel, sometimes riding all night on the subway. Joe Gould, author of an unpublished book which is 11 times longer than the Bible… Gould recites his poem of social unconsciousness, The Barricades. He declares Communists are too conservative to suit his tastes… In this candid shot are, left to right: Joseph Mitchell [1908-1996], who wrote Gould’s New Yorker profile, Professor Sea Gull (December 12, 1942, p. 28); Dawn Powell [author, 1896-1965], and Gould and Beauford Delaney [1901-1979], well known artist. [“Blowing soap bubbles is fun, too…” 17454.1993]

weegee_17405_1993 Weegee (1899-1968), The Sidewalk. Open air poetry exhibit in Greenwich Village… Even poets like to eat… But there were few buyers…, ca. 1944, (17405.1993) Members of the Raven Poetry Circle assembled in front of Judson Memorial Church during their annual poetry exhibition. Raven founder, Francis Lambert McCrudden is in the center of the group, in front of his poems, wearing a pith helmet. Great blog post about the Raven Poetry Circle, “Quoth the Raven Poetry Circle” on the “From the Stacks” blog from the N-Y Historical society. weegee_17400_1993 Weegee (1899-1968), [Two poems by Joe Gould], ca. 1944, (17400.1993) weegee_9388_1993 Weegee (1899-1968), [Joe Gould and poem], ca. 1944, (9388.1993) Joe Gould (1889-1957), bohemian, poet, subject of two profiles by Joseph Mitchell in New Yorker, Professor Sea Gull (December 12, 1942, p. 28), and “Joe Gould’s Secret,” (September 19 and 26, 1964,p. 61) not the author of Oral History of Our Time [“Revisiting Joe Gould’s Secret” by Sewell Chan, NY Times City Room blog, August 17, 2007] is affectionately and amusingly photographed and preserved, pickled perhaps, in the above photo-montage. weegee_negative_959z Weegee (1899-1968), [Dylan Thomas], ca. 1950-53, (9398.1993) DT memorably photographed presumably in that last few years, or days, of the poet’s life. Writing from midtown Manhattan: “And I have no idea what on earth I am doing here in the very loud, mad middle of the last mad Empire on Earth: – except to think of you, & love you, & to work for us…” Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), “The Love Letters of Dylan Thomas,” p. 89 weegee_16862_1993z Weegee (1899-1968), Poetry Circle, ca. 1960 (16862.1993) Ted Joans (born Theodore Jones, 1928 – 2003), beat generation poet, painter, musician, holding a book or papers, is the star of this reading in Greenwich Village; signs on the walls read: “Regardez” and, not visible in this photo: “Geniuses, Sigmund Freud, 1856 – 1957, André Breton, born 1896 [-1966]”

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the darkroom the photographers come and go
Talking of Weegee…

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Bread – Preparing

USSR in Construction, “The Soviet Food Industry,” August 1938, (2012.13.55)

Regards, April 13, 1934 (2011.7.251)

This is the third and penultimate post about BREAD. The first and perhaps best bread post is here, the second, and second best, is here. (Yes, the words are sandwiched between the images.)

chleb – Polish
pão – Portuguese
pâine – Romanian
chlieb – Slovak
kruh – Slovenian
rooti – Somali
pan – Spanish
mkate – Swahili
bröd – Swedish
ekmek – Turkish
bánh mì – Vietnamese
bara – Welsh
akara – Yoruba
isinkwa – Zulu

Bread in different languages (from Google translate and the link is a Google image search – an experiment).

Marvin Koner (1921-1983), Woman Cutting Bread, Immigration Story, Italy, 1956 (3599.1992)

Leonard Freed (1929-2006), [Three elderly men sitting in front of a house cutting bread and fruit], 1976 (2014.56.28)

Aleksandras Macijauskas, In the market, Lithuanian Countryside Markets, No. 56, Siauliai, 1974 (1138.1986.y)

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A Love Story

Jill Freedman, Tinker Boys, County Kerry, 1973 (9.1988)

Jill Freedman, Fiddlers Light, County Donegal, 1974 (50.1988)

Jill Freedman, Sailing Homeward, County Galway, 1984 (32.1988)

Jill Freedman, Sligo Women, County Sligo, 1974 (7.1988)

Jill Freedman,Man with Pipe, County Sligo 1974 (6.1988)

Born in 1939 in Pittsburg the adventurous young Jill Freedman left the parental house the moment she could and spent several years living in Europe and Israel. During her travels in the sixties –a time when she was not yet documenting the stories around her with a camera, she also went to Ireland, visiting a music festival. Ms. Freedman returned in 1973 to capture and share the stories of the country and its people, to which she developed a deep love. A feeling she describes best in her own wordsI loved the gentleness, the sweet shyness, the warm welcomes and farewells, the soda bread warm from the hearth, and always a sup to eat and drink. Guinness fresh as mother’s milk, all the nutritional benefits of dark amber whiskey. The pleasure they had in welcoming a stranger, who left a friend. After over 40 years, Ms. Freedman’s photographs of Ireland still tell a moving story of a photographer who connected deeply to a people who love music, their country and life itself.

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Weegee Wednesdays: “Dora,” Weegee says, “is a singer of sentimental songs at Sammy’s. She sings very loud, but good.”

Weegee (1899-1968), [Dora performing at Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], April 16, 1944 (14254.1993)

PM, April 16, 1944, p. m4

Seventy one years ago tomorrow, April 16, PM published a photo of Dora Pelletier, an entertainer at Sammy’s Bowery Follies (267 Bowery), singing, and the words of Weegee, a freelance photographer (who lived a few blocks away at 5 Centre Market Place).

Weegee reports on Sammy’s, the Bowery
At No. 267 on the Bowery, among the missions and the flop houses is Sammy’s, the poor man’s Stork Club [14322.1993], the only saloon on the Bowery having a cabaret license. There is never a cover change. There’s no cigaret girl – a vending machine puts out cigarets for a penny apiece [14349.1993]. There’s no hatcheck girl – patrons prefer to dance [20068.1993] with their hats and coats on. But there is a lulu of a floor show [14298.1993], according to Weegee, who covers Sammy’s for us.
The place was opened 10 years ago by Sammy Fuchs [2384.1993] as a regular Bowery barroom. Three years ago a well-dressed man wearing a monocle began dropping in. He would sit at a table by himself and drink. Then Sammy got curious and asked the fellow how come. The fellow answered, “I am an English lord who is tired of the stuffy and formal drinking places uptown and prefer the Bowery, where I know I will escape my friends.”

It grew and it grew
Sammy figured there must be hundreds of characters like that, so he enlarged his place, took out the cabaret license, put in an orchestra and entertainers and the place began to grow. Now Sammy has just taken over the building next door to double the capacity of the place [2032.1993].
As customers arrive from uptown in cabs they are besieged by a bunch of panhandlers asking for a dime for a glass of beer. They get it, too. The place is jammed, the uptown crowd mingling happily with the Bowery crowd [125.1982].
Jimmy Durante once dropped in and gave a free show; also Irving Berlin and wife. (Mr. B. got his start in the Bowery, you know.) Toward midnight some odd types [14228.1993] drop in for a quick one. There is a woman called Pruneface; a man called Horseface; Ethel, the Queen of the Bowery [2023.1993], who generally sports a pair of black eyes “that nature did not give her,” (according to Weegee); a man with a long white beard called The Bishop who, old timers say, is looking all over the Bowery for the man who stole his wife 40 years ago.
Weegee says that one evening “while I was at Sammy’s absorbing the atmosphere and drinks, a midget walked in. He was about three and one-half feet in height. I invited him to have a drink with me. He said he had just arrived from Los Angeles where he had been working for the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., walking the streets dressed as a penguin advertising Kool cigarets. The midget was flush and started buying me drinks. He proudly showed me his social security card and told me that he was 37 years old, and single, as the girls were only after money. After the seventh round of drinks this midget got boisterous and offered to fight [2029.1993] any man (his size) in the house.”

Scotch at $1 – and why
Sammy told Weegee the other night that the new 30% Federal tax hadn’t affected the volume of business. A sign [14305.1993] over the bar says “Drinks of Scotch, $1.” [14307.1993] Sammy gave Weegee the breakdown for the figure…
The extra penny is added because Sammy’s cash register doesn’t add odd numbers. Bowery drinkers don’t mind paying a buck for a drink of Scotch, says Weegee, because it makes them feel important and besides they are helping the war effort by contributing the tax money to Uncle Sam. Sammy sells beer for 15 and 20 cents, rye for 55 and 65.
Sammy greets his patrons at the door. He frisks some of the Bowery ones if he spots a bulge on their hips. They sometimes try to smuggle in a bottle of smoke (straight alcohol) to drink in the washroom. Sammy is wise to the chisellers, but he is a friendly fellow.
“I know Sammy gave $100 without being asked for it for a woman in the neighborhood who died and there was no money for for the funeral,” Weegee told us. “He also takes care of customers’ valuables. I also saw him turn men away from his bar, telling them not to drink till their day off. I saw one woman at the bar give Sammy her wrist watch and $30 to save for her until the following day.
“Sammy [14305.1993] is sector commander of the air raid wardens in the neighborhood and has contributed $5000 worth of equipment. He is known as Mayor of the Bowery and his ambition is to become Mayor of New York City.
PM, April 16, 1944, pp. m4-m5

Weegee’s reporting in PM resembles Weegee’s entertaining encounters with, and photos of, the denizens of Sammy’s published a year later in Naked City (1945). The text in Naked City was entertainingly embroidered with a few more gags and the tax and war material was cut.

The Bowery
At No. 267 Bowery. sandwiched in between Missions and quarter-a-night flop houses, is “Sammy’s,” the poor man’s Stork Club. There is no cover charge nor cigarette girl, and a vending machine dispenses cigarettes [14349.1993]. Neither is there a hat check girl. Patrons prefer to dance [20068.1993] with their hats and coats on. But there is a lively [14298.1993] floor show [2032.1993]… the only saloon on the Bowery with a cabaret license.
As the customers arrive from uptown in cabs, they are greeted by a bunch of panhandlers who don’t ask for the usual “got a nickel for a cup of coffee mister,” but instead for a dime for a glass of beer… and get it too. Inside, the place is jammed with the uptown crowd mingling with the Bowery crowd and enjoying it [125.1982]. But towards midnight some odd types [14228.1993] drop in for a quick one. There is a woman called “Pruneface,” a man called “Horseface”… “Ethel” the queen of the Bowery [2023.1993] who generally sports a pair of black eyes that nature did not give her, a man with a long white beard, who old timers say is looking all over the Bowery for the man who forty years ago stole his wife… they wonder when the two meet whether the wife-stealer will get beat
up or thanked.
While I was there absorbing the atmosphere and drinks, a midget walked in… he was about three and a half feet. I invited him for a drink. He told me that he had just arrived from Los Angeles, where he had been working for a Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., walking the streets dressed as a penguin. The midget was flush and started buying me drinks. He proudly showed me his social security card, told me that he was thirty-seven years old, was single as the girls were only alter money, that once in a while he got some affection, but had to pay for it… After the seventh round he got boisterous and offered to fight [2029.1993] any man his size in the house. Sammy grabbed the midget and threw him out through the doorway which has a red neon sign saying “Thank you, call again,” hollering at him not to ever come back again. Sammy’s has a blacklist just like Billingsley’s Stork Club [14322.1993] uptown.
Sammy greets all his patrons at the door. I noticed he frisked some of the Bowery ones. He told me that they were the “bottle” babies and he could spot them by the bulge in their hip pockets. They would try to smuggle in a bottle of “smoke” into Sammy’s place to drink in the washroom because if they drank out in the street or hallways the cruising patrol wagons would pick them up. Sammy is wise to all the tricks of the Bowery chiselers. but he is also a friend and always ready to lend a helping hand… lending money so a man can get cleaned up, load and a room while he is getting over a hangover. I know Sammy gave $l00 without being asked for it for a woman in the neighborhood who died and there was no money for the funeral. He also takes care of his customers’ valuables. I saw one woman at the bar give Sammy her wrist watch and thirty dollars to save for her till the following day, and I also saw him turn men away from his bar, telling them not to drink till their day off.
Sammy [2384.1993] is known as the “Mayor of the Bowery” and his ambition is to become Mayor of New York City. And when that happy day arrives Sammy [14305.1993] promises free drinks in every gin mill in town.
Weegee, Naked City, pp. 138-139

Weegee was so smitten with Sammy [20102.1993] and Sammy’s that both of his book parties Naked City (1945) [20068.1993] and Weegee’s People (11/11/1946) [20078.1993] were held there…

It’s really Weegee Wednesday, a weekly series of Weegee related posts. The premiere post begins with Weegee’s reportage on Sammy’s and a photo of a singer of sentimental songs’ swan song. (Perhaps coincidentally ICP’s new exhibition space is located near the site of the former Sammy’s.) If you like Weegee’s work, please return next week; if you don’t like Weegee’s work, please return next week anyway… for another very loud but good post on Weegee Wednesday…

Weegee (1899-1968), [Dora at Sammy’s on the Bowery, New York], April 16, 1944 (14255.1993)

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 145 years

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870. For 145 years, today,  the museum has lived by its mission statement “to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.”

Jerry Uelsmann, [Exhibition poster for 20th Century Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York], 1980s (2011.68.240)

Alan Fisher, [Tapestries exhibited at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York], 1941 (2012.121.32)

Ruth OrkinWoody Allen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1963 (545.1983)

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The American Civil War ended 150 years ago today: April 9, 1865

Unidentified Photographer, [Private Benjamin F. Smith, 11th U.S. Infantry], ca. 1875 (78.2004)

Unidentified Photographer, [Unidentified Woman and Soldier], ca. 1863 (2007.14.1)

Alexander Gardner (1821-1882), [Union Army hospital ward], ca. 1864 (81.1999)

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Happy 185th Birthday Anniversary to Eadweard Muybridge


Eadweard Muybridge, LeCount Bros. & Mansur’s Stationary Establishment, ca. 1873 (977.2005)

Eadweard Muybridge (AKA Edward James Muggeridge), an innovative photographer, was born on April 9th, 1830.

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