Echos of Ectoplasm and Phantasmagoric Photographs…

Unidentified Ghoulographers, [Unidentified boy and ghost and Weegee sitting on a throne], ca. 1870 and 1956 (2411.2005 and 19939.1993)

By this time, I had my picture taken by a street tintype photographer, and had been fascinated by the result. (I think I was what you might call a “natural born” photographer, with hypo in my blood.)
That street photographer really started the wheels going in my brain. I sent off to a Chicago mail order house for a tintype outfit, and as soon as it came, began to take street tintypes myself.
Weegee by Weegee, p. 14

Whoooo knooows what’s lurking in the Fansinaflashbulb catacombs… Revisit, unearth, dig up terrifying tricks and treats, magnificently macabre, and srsly spooooky Halloween posts of the past!

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Drawing with light

Carlotta CorpronCaptured Light,  ca. 1946-48 (51.1982)

Carlotta Corpron, Eggs Encircled,  ca. 1947 (52.1982)

Carlotta Corpron, Rae Ann with Amaryllis,  1945 (64.1982)

Carlotta Corpron, Light Follows Form,  1948 (58.1982)

Carlotta Corpron, Big Cubes,  1944 (430.1993)

Carlotta Corpron, A Walk in Fair Park, Dallas,  ca. 1948 (54.1982)

Born in Minnesota in 1901 and raised in India, Carlotta Corpron didn’t start her focus on photography until 1933, after receiving her M.A. and buying a camera to study the texture of fabrics. From the moment she graduated from the Teachers’ College of Columbia University in 1926 she started teaching a variety of art, design and photography classes. In an interview with The Amon Carter Museum, where a retrospective of her work was shown in 1980, Corpron modestly commented that she felt that her students made work that was “truly creative”, but that she was grateful that after all these years people were interested in the work she had done years before.

Carlotta Corpron work is mainly known for her exploration of light. Her interest in the subject was being motivated by Gyorgy Kepes, the Hungarian artist and one of the founders of the Institute of Design, who she met when she was teaching at the Texas Women’s University in 1942.

In a relatively short but productive few years, Corpron created six series in the 1940s through which she examined the expression and effect of light in photography: Nature Studies, Light Drawings, Light Patterns, Light Follows Form, Space Compositions and Fluid Light Designs.

After Nature Studies, she continued her investigation with Light Drawings. To create A Walk in Fair Park, Dallas, part of this series, Corpron would move her camera along with the movement of the lights in the dark, thereby creating steady and surprising patterns of light.

During this time, Gyorgy Kepes inspired her to continue her investigation and create a light box: a perforated box with light sensitive paper inside. By shining a light through the holes in the box, random and abstract forms of light and shadow were created on the paper inside. The works that Corpron created this way were part of her series “Light Patterns”.

In Light Follows Form, from which an example is shown above, Corpron used light as a sculptural tool and further explored the use of light on three-dimensional forms. In the interview with The Amon Carter Museum she explained how she “found these three shapes [… and] I happened to notice the light coming through the Venetian blind and how it followed the form, and so I grouped them in a such a way that the light would follow a form. And it is wonderful how it contracts and expands and gives a rich tone.”

Carlotta Corpron retired from teaching in 1968 and it wasn’t until later in life that her work became recognized again. In the 1970s and early 1980 her photographs were part of several important group exhibitions, among which Recollections: Ten Women of Photography at the International Center of Photography in 1979. A retrospective was organized at The Amon Carter Museum in 1980, which also took on her archive. Carlotta Corpron died in 1988, at the age of 87.

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Weegee Wednesday: Killer Cars

Weegee, [Car crash], ca. 1939 (14147.1993)

Weegee, [Car crash], ca. 1941 (14149.1993)

Weegee, [Car crash], ca. 1940 (14145.1993)

Weegee, [Car crash], ca. 1938 (14142.1993)

Weegee, Holiday accidents took their toll as motorists started on their Labor Day week end, August 31, 1941 (14140.1993)

“Holiday accidents took their toll as motorists started on their Labor Day week end. Early yesterday Joseph Morris and his brother’s wife, Charlotte, were killed when this car overturned in Bronx Park. The driver, Anthony Morris, Navy purchasing agent, was injured. Three other auto deaths had been listed last night, the Motor Vehicle Bureau says about 40 will die before Tuesday in New York State” PM Daily, August 31, 1941, p. 18

PM, August 31, 1941, p. 18

In the 1940s PM campaigned tirelessly (small pun) for automobile (and consumer, labor and every kind of) safety. And Weegee, a person who spent a fair amount of his time in his maroon 1938 Chevy, sometimes listening to “New York’s favorite egghead radio station WQXR. (The WQXR listeners read the New York Post, smoke filter tipped cigarettes, and like guitar music.”) Weegee by Weegee, p.84, and/or a police radio, often provided photos of some of the Naked City’s most dangerous streets. The photos were at times enhanced by PM‘s great art department.

Seventy five summers ago, PM (1940-1948) focused its’ attention on Robert Moses’ (1888-1981) relatively new (1934-1937) Henry Hudson Parkway and its 72d St. entrance.

PM, July 21, 1940, p. 10 (photos by Weegee and Wide World)

Chief Danger Point on Henry Hudson Parkway Is at 72d St. Entrance
Since March 30 last year ten cars have crashed into light poles or the guard rail (shown in photograph left) with a toll of four dead, 19 injured. Police say that no correctable driving hazard exists at this point, contend that a reasonable amount of caution on the part of motorists would have averted the accidents.
The Park Department, however, which was responsible for designing and construction of the parkway, is now making a study of this situation.
Curious facts about these crashes:
None has involved a collision of cars.
In all cases but one (a blowout), car was southbound.
In all cases but two (driver treated for alcoholism in one), accidents occurred between midnight and 6 a.m., when traffic on the parkway is lightest. PM, July 21, 1940, p. 10

In the Spring of 1941, perhaps as a result of PMs‘ words and images, this deadly stretch of parkway was improved and made safer. PM, never shy to give itself credit for righting a wrong and making the world a better place to live, (from the original Prospectus of PM: We are against people who push other people around, whether they flourish in this country or abroad. We are against fraud and deceit and greed, and cruelty and we will seek to expose their practitioners. We are for people who are kindly and courageous and honest…”) re-published the page from July 21, 1940 (with a new photo by Martin Harris) on March 14, 1941:

PM, March 14, 1941, p. 12 (photos by Weegee, Martin Harris, and Wide World)

Death Used to Ride This Curve
Seven months ago, on July 21, PM portrayed in story and pictures, reproduced at left, the auto death trap at the 72nd Street entrance to the Henry Hudson Parkway. Experts couldn’t explain why accidents occurred at that particular spot but the statistics for 1940 added up to this: seven accidents, two killed, ten injured.
A study of the accidents showered that almost all involved southbound cars making the slight curve to the West Side elevated highway, none were collisions, and most occurred between midnight and 6 a.m., when light traffic invites speeding.
The cars involved crashed into the high curb that divided the lanes or into electric light stanchions; often-until it was removed-into a police booth.
With these curious facts to work on, engineers of the Park Department recently undertook to remove the hazard. After extensive study, they installed heavy guard rails and softened the curb.
The death curve as it looks today is shown above. The work was completed on Feb. 18, two weeks ago. There have been no accidents since, but only time will tell whether the curious problem has been solved. PM, March 14, 1941, p. 12

This softened curb was significant to Weegee who wrote:

“I also hated automobile accidents, but about those I did something. There was a real death trap on the West Side Highway at Seventy-second St.
Cars would hit the abutments, and some would come crashing down into the streets below. I made a series of pictures of the accidents there, and the newspaper PM ran a whole page and started a campaign. Finally, the city put red lights on the unmarked abutments, and the accidents stopped. This work I consider my memorial.
Weegee by Weegee, 1961, pp. 67-68

In the fall of 1941 PM highlighted a deadly part of the West Side Highway… (See post below.)

And in the winter of 1942 PM turned it’s attention to East 155th Street, (before another of Robert Moses’ creations, the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive reached 155th St.).

PM, February 24, 1942, p. 3 (photos by Weegee and Irving Haberman)

1. At 5:10 yesterday morning, an automobile, traveling 50 m.p.h., plunged straight along the dotted line into the Harlem River. It should have turned right, following the arrow. There are no signs at this 155th St. corner to tell drivers to turn. Until yesterday afternoon, firemen failed to find the car by dragging the river. Police boats had similar bad luck most of the day. They called for expert help…

2. Late in the afternoon, Thomas Walsh, 78-year-old diver, went into icy river, located car, and affixed hooks…

3. At 9 last night, the car, a shiny, black Buick, with Rhode Island license plates, was hoisted out of the river by a tug. Body of a Negro (feet are visible) was found in the car. Police Sgt. William Wilson eyewitnessed accident. PM, February 24, 1942, p. 3

Three years later Weegee framed (a variant of) this image differently in Naked City:

Weegee, Naked City, 1945, p.88

It’s a lovely evening… the full moon is out. A car somehow or other drives off the pier into the river. The couples in the parked cars in “Lovers’ Lane,” as the pier is called, run out of the cars dressed in pajamas. Police boats arrive with powerful searchlights which illuminate the waters as other cops try to get a “bite” on the car. It is a long trying job to locate the car in the river. Weegee, Naked City, 1945, p.88

Fortunately there were fewer people killed by cars in 2009 than in any of the previous 100 years:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and [the brilliant] Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced in January that New York City traffic fatalities fell to an all-time record low in 2009. Last year, there were 256 traffic fatalities in New York City, 12 percent fewer than in 2008, and a 35 percent reduction compared to 2001. The previous record low was in 2007, with 274 fatalities. Traffic safety records have been kept in New York City since 1910.

And the wondrous car-free Broadway in near-by Times Square has become permanent! Or as permanent as anything in the Naked City…

This post, perhaps relevant after the previous post, “…the whole machine was reduced to this crumpled mass”, was composed over five years ago, before Vision Zero and the daily pothole, and when Times Square was near-by. In 2014 there were 257 traffic fatalities and 51,039 traffic injuries in New York City.

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Weegee Wednesday: 74 Years Ago Today “… the whole machine was reduced to this crumpled mass.”

PM, October 14, 1941, Vol. 2, No. 85, p. 15 (Photos by Weegee and Bob Evans.)

32 People Have Died on This West Side Highway Curve
There’s a murderous curve on the West Side Highway at Little W. 12th St., that has claimed the lives of 32 motorists since the drive was finished in 1930.
Three have died in crashes on this sharp-angled turn in the last three days, two Saturday night, another last night. Two others are in critical condition in hospitals. Police who patrol the section say it is the wickedest spot for an automobile driver in or around New York. A rule-straight stretch approaches it and it looms up without warning. Maybe the latest death toll will spur city authorities to some action toward eliminating the danger, either by banking or rounding off the vicious twist.
Joseph J. Donovan, 51. Brooklyn, was last night’s victim. He was a passenger in a car driven by Cornelius Murphy, 38. Missing the turn, the machine smashed into the concrete island, hit a pole and ended up against the retaining wall. Donovan was killed instantly. Murphy is in St. Vincent’s hospital under a charge of motor-vehicle homicide. He has a possible skull fracture.
Of three men in a car, which took an almost identical course to disaster Saturday night, two were killed and a third is in a hospital. Little hope is held for his recovery. PM, October 14, 1941, Vol. 2, No. 85, p. 15

PM, October 14, 1941, Vol. 2, No. 85, p. 15

Three middle-aged men were on their way home after visiting friends early Saturday morning. The machine in which they were riding failed to make the turn. It climbed the concrete island curbing, tore across the roadway and smashed with terrific force into the retaining wall. the metal body was literally ripped from the frame and the whole machine was reduced to this crumpled mass. Carlo Marino, is in St. Vincent’s Hospital with a fractured skull and multiple lacerations. He may die. When police and ambulances arrived Dominico Palnizzo, 50, and Dominick Caspaglione, 50, were dead, killed instantly in the crash. The sharpness of the turn is indicated by the white broken lines. PM Photo by Weegee. PM, October 14, 1941, Vol. 2, No. 85, p. 15,


Weegee’s Guide to New York, pp. 152-153

“The West Side Elevated Highway at Little West 12 Street. [At present moment, that’s slightly north west of the Whitney Museum of American Art and slightly north east of the New York City Department of Sanitation.]
The West Side Elevated Highway looking south. The highway was built between 1929 and 1937 (Canal to West 72nd Street), with southern extensions (Canal to the Battery) added from the mid-1930s onward. The section of the highway between Gansevoort and Little West 12th – which included the “murderous curve” – collapsed in 1973. The West Side Elevated Highway should not be confused with the West Side Line (see 02). The buildings in the background are part of the Gansevoort Market, originally bounded by Little West 12th, Gansevoort, West, and Washington, but eventually expanding north to West 16th Street and east to Ninth Avenue. Weegee’s Guide to New York, p. 152.

The whole JPEG was reduced to this pix-elated mass.
(This is an attempt to reduce the JPEG to a “crumpled mass” and an attempt at Photoshop and Lightroom humor and experimentation. In Lightroom the JPEG was exported at 90% quality, then 80%, etc. until 0%, then, in Photoshop, the 0% quality JPEG was re-saved and re-saved and re-saved at 0% quality… 0% quality! Who knew this post would take an autobiographical turn, this reads like my performance evaluations…)

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Art Workers Coalition, Let Me Say, at the Risk of Sounding Ridiculous, That the True Revolutionary is Guided by Great Feelings of Love, ca. 1971 (804.2002)

Unidentified Photographer, [Che Guevara riding a tractor on a dirt road], 1950s, (2014.63.4)

Unidentified Photographer, [Che Guevara walking arm in arm with two men], 1963 (2014.63.22)

48 years ago today Che Guevara (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967) was killed.

Unidentified Photographer, [Body of Che Guevara], October 10, 1967 (2009.17.1)

(NY41 – Oct. 10) BODY SAID TO BE GUEVARA’S – – This is a close-up of the body displayed by Bolivian army officers today at Vallegrande and said to be that of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The officers said Guevara, former top aide of Fidel Castro, was slain in a clash with Guerrillas in the Bolivian jungle Sunday [October 9, 1967]. (AP Wirephoto by radio from La Paz, 19670

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Weegee Wednesday: Hat’s Off!

Weegee, [Robert Redwing brought in for questioning by New York police in Albert Langford murder case], June 1945 (2333.1945)

LANGFORD MURDER. BIG CHIEF REDWING who was imported from WASHINGTON DC BY THE NY DAILY NEWS & WHO posed for exclusive pictures for them (NO DOUBT for a nice consideration) covered up for the common photographers from other papers.” [Written and typed caption adhered to verso.]

Weegee, A minor witness questioned in Redwood murder in New Jersey, 1937 (2332.1993)

[Norman Redwood, leader of striking “sandhogs” (tunnel excavators) on a project in Manhattan, was murdered in front of his home in Teaneck, N.J. on February 20, 1937. “A Mystery of Labor Politics: Who Murdered the Sandhog Leader?” Life, March 8, 1937, Vol 2, No, 10, pp.9-13. “Murdered in Jersey” by Gerald Tomlinson. “Open Files” by Jay Robert Nash.]

Weegee, Girl arrested at Anna Swift raid, New York, 1941 (2063.1993)

Weegee, [Waxey Gordon, arrested, New York], ca. 1942 (14009.1993)

Weegee, [Top Hats in Trouble: Charles Sodokoff and Arthur Webber using their top hats to hide their faces, New York] January 27, 1942 (2067.1993)

“Hiding their (above) behind toppled top hats. Charles Sodokoff, 28, and Arthur Webber, 32, both Brooklynites, get a free ride to Felony Court. Boys were tippling at Astor Bar when they decided to slide down banisters. Cop was called and they attacked him. Sodokoff (above right) lights ciggie for Weber in court. They were released on $1,000 bail.” New York Daily News, January 27, 1942, p. 19

Weegee, Intermission, November 25, 1941 (1060.1993)

I made this at the opening of the Met Opera Season… I wanted to get something different than the usual… Society celebrities.. Noting a lot of men in military uniforms mingling with the high hats… during intermission… I saw this row of hats in one of the cloak rooms… So I photographed it… [Typed caption adhered to verso]

PM, Nov. 25, 1941, Vol. II, No. 115, p. 22

“This season the opera opening was not all high hat; there was a showing of gold braid and a generous turnout of plain khaki. The fancy peaked cap above is a captain’s, the other just a lieutenant’s.” PM, Nov. 25, 1941, Vol. II, No. 115, p. 22

Weegee, [Hats in a pool room, New York], 1943 (15595.1993)
[Names and dates: “Jimmy Parisi, 4/41, NAVY,” “Leo Negrcurio, 4/9/43,” “Freddy Battaglino /43” written on paper and adhered to hats nailed on a mural of boats and water on the wall…]

The stories and mysteries, crimes and connections, behind and below a hat: a bizarre yet banal unsolved murder of the husband of a wealthy heiress in the Hotel Marguery, 270 Park Ave. at 47th St., above the Restaurant Marguery, “Where French Cooking is an Art,” (now it’s the JPMorgan Chase Tower and was previously the Union Carbide Building, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) and a man, perhaps a native American, named Robert Redwing; a violent labor dispute that included an “unsolved” murder of a labor leader, a man named Norman Redwood, with a box of strawberries in his car in Teaneck, New Jersey; prostitution and a madam named Anna Swift; drugs and a gangster named Waxey, born Irving Wexler, who died in Alcatraz. A working Wednesday is almost over, perhaps at the drop of a hat, I can pull a blog post out of a hat, although a rabbit would be a lot more fun. (After I toss my hat in the ring, I’ll eat my hat if this becomes a good post). This is a tip of the hat to the often hatted (and sometimes hated) Weegee and his photos of people using their hats to shield, cover and conceal, their faces from Weegee’s camera. And it’s a tip of the hat to soldier’s and sailors’ war time hats on a wall in a pool hall. (As always, I’m talking through my hat…) Do the innocent cover up?

Weegee, [Body of Dominick Didato, New York], August 6, 1936 (2070.1993)

“It’s Bad Luck to Chisel in on Lucky
The body of Dominick Didato, who called himself Terry Burns, is shown where he was shot down in front of a restaurant in Elizabeth Street. The fourth gangster to die within two weeks. Didato’s death resulted, police say, from his attempts to break into Lucky Luciano’s rackets.”
New York Post, August 7, 1936

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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Weegee Wednesday: The Photographer Who Mistook a Photographer’s Hat for a Head



[Weegee’s hat], ca. 1950

There aren’t too many hats here in the archive, but there is this beautiful brown fedora, once worn by Weegee. (The connection between the French actress Sarah Bernhardt and Weegee, Sarah Bernhardt and Weegee walk into a bar… no, no, no, not Weegee, just his preferred kind of hat, can be read here.) This hat, size and manufacturer unknown, can be seen at the Ryerson Image Centre, in Toronto, Canada, (October 14 – December 13, 2015) in the “Weegee: Murder is My Business” exhibition. A few fotos of a felt fedora clad Fellig:

Weegee, 6 foot snake found at Broadway and 78th St. Curious bystander looks over snake, ca. 1940 (19721.1993)

Weegee, With bomb, ca. 1940 (19722.1993)

Unidentified Photographer, Opening of Naked City – Mark Hellinger bought my book Naked City, 1948 (20130.1993) (The card, a reference and possibly a subtle memorial to the recently deceased 44 year old Mark Hellinger [1903-1947], in the fedora reads, in part: “The New York Heart Assn. Inc. Admit One, Mark Hellinger Memorial Fund… Capitol Theater… The Naked City…”)

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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