Andre Kertesz ‘OF NEW YORK…’

of ny

Andre Kertesz, OF NEW YORK… Knopf, 1976. 184 gravure printed photographs.

kertesz ws snow

kertesz window warp


I remember seeing OF NEW YORK… in the MoMA bookstore around the time it was published. $22.50 was a lot in 1976.

The book left a lasting impression. I’ve loved gravure printing of black and white photographs since I discovered Weegee’s Naked City in the stacks at the old LA Main Library, 1968. Another gravure printed masterpiece is William Claxton’s Jazz. The first edition, 1952, of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s The Decisive Moment and Verve magazine, 1937-39 were printed in heliogravure, in Paris. All of these publications are classics of black and white photography.

When I sell my own work I nearly always blow the proceeds on records, photo gear, music gear or photo books. These are my luxury items. Found  OF NEW YORK… on eBay and jumped on it as soon as the description got to 184 gravure prints! That’s what made an impression on me in 1976, looking at the book in MoMA store. The greatness of Kertesz, enhanced by the velvet richness of gravure.

I put on the new Willie Nelson CD, God’s Problem Child, when I got home from the Post Office. Opened the package and took a joy ride through OF NEW YORK… Put on Rodney Crowell’s new cd Close Ties about halfway through the book. Suffice it to say, I love New York City and great photographs of NY are also special to me. Weegee’s Naked City, a love letter written in 1945.  OF NEW YORK–memoir of a love affair 1937–1976.


Andre Kertesz at home, Greenwich Village NYC.

Walker Evans- Havana 1933


Walker Evans- Havana 1933. Pantheon, 1989. Essay by Gilles Mora.


Best $7 ever spent on eBay. Walker Evans first major photo-essay, to illustrate The Crime of Cuba, 1933, a political book by Carleton Beals with 31 Evans photographs printed in aquatone. By today’s standards the 1933 book has sub par photo reproduction. Havana 1933, 1989, has 111 gorgeous duotones printed in Italy.

I haven’t yet read Gilles Mora’s essay, translated from French, but I am familiar with another great photo book he did, Bernard Plossu’s New Mexico. Text by Gilles Mora, foreword by Edward T Hall. Plossu’s Frenchmans take on New Mexico, my home state, in the early 80s is another recently discovered favorite of mine. It’s easy to see how Mora would be drawn to the work of Walker and Plossu. Foreigners discovering a new cultures through the lens of a camera.

Evans photographs of Cuba were well received. The Museum of Modern Art exhibition and catalog, American Photographs, followed in 1938. The 1938 MoMA book currently selling for $3-4,000. I have the 75th anniversary edition. This book has long been considered a benchmark of American photojournalism/fine art street photography. Walker EvansHavana 1933 displays his greatness every bit as much as American Photographs.




Walker Evans in Cuba, 1933.



Willie’s Manifesto


Vinyl now playing at Rancho Mantequilla. Willie Nelson …and then I wrote, Liberty, 1962. My personal, autographed copy.

Willie’s shockingly original debut LP, introduces his jazzy vocal styling on Nelson originals– Touch Me, Hello Walls, Funny How Time Slips Away, Three Days, Crazy. Most were already hits for Faron Young, Carl Smith, Patsy Cline when Willie went into the studio to record his first album in 1961.

Aside from the occasional clutter of background singers, this has the sonic clarity of a Sinatra session. …and then I wrote brings a fresh, spare breeze into Country music. Like Sinatra, Willie Nelson’s vocal phrasing is riveting and casual at the same time. None other than Miles Davis credited Willie as an influence.

No one ever sang a Willie Nelson song better than Willie. Different maybe, radio hit maybe, but Willie broke the molds and crafted a whole new model with …and then i wrote. The record sucks you in like a Hoover. Never fails to satisfy. 55 years old and sounds like tomorrow.

#willienelson, #libertyrecords, #andtheniwrote,

Mazie of the Bowery


Mazie of the Bowery, © by Todd Webb. From Webb retrospective exhibition at Museum of the City of New York. Link below.

Todd Webb is not a familiar name to me. He was a fine art, large format street photographer in 1940s New York City, a contemporary of Weegee the Famous and friends with many of the leading photographers of the day, Alfred Stieglitz, Harry Callahan, Berenice Abbott, Helen Levitt, and Lisette Model.

The shot of Mazie of the Bowery is astonishing.  It’s just how I pictured her, one of Joseph Mitchell’s Profile subjects in The New Yorker. Mazie was a fantastic New York character and famous on the Bowery for her generosity.

Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg

a novel based on Mazie, 2015.

The movie theater she owned was home to hundreds of bums, homeless, down-and-out alkies–the life blood of the Bowery. The Mitchell collection “Up In the Old Hotel” from the 1990s is a great place to start if you like your journalism with a pinch of literature. Mazie is my all time favorite New Yorker. A great biopic subject, no doubt.

Link to New Yorker archive. Mazie by Joseph Mitchell. 12/21/1940  (New Yorker subscribers)

I’ve re-read Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel cover to cover, a few times. I fall in love with Mazie every time.




Willie Nelson’s ‘God’s Problem Child’


Just started streaming Willie’s NEW album. Hooray. NPR Music rocks. Trigger and Mickey Raphael get great workouts. Tony Joe White and Jamey Johnson co-wrote and sing on the title track, ‘God’s Problem Child.” Ends on a sad note, tribute to Merle Haggard.

Rancho Mantequilla-creative content rating: FABO!

Most deeply satisfying Willie record in years. #willienelson