Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Greenpoint


This is the Continental Ironworks in Greenpoint Brooklyn where the Monitor was built.

Old buildings fascinate me. I think it's one of the reasons that I loved living in New York, and Greenpoint in particular. They give a concrete glimpse into the past. I would walk past the now abandoned Continental Ironworks and wonder what it must have been like 150 years ago when it was in its heyday. What did it look like? How was the neighborhood different? What was daily life like?
Much of my writing starts with a picture, whether one of my own, or something I've found, usually the former (which is part of the reason I am missing having a camera right now).
While I think pictures can tell their own stories, I usually find myself writing about the story behind the picture. What led up to this moment? What stories took place right before it was shot?
When I don't have a camera on me, my writer's notebook takes it place, as I jot down images and impressions. I never write stories in them, instead I just try to capture the moment, the feeling. Like what it felt like to walk through College of Staten Island's CUNY campus late at night, knowing that it was once Willowbrook State School, a place that Geraldo Rivera exposed for its cruelty to children and adults that were mentally challenged. ()

What The Public Theatre was like when it was the Astor Library. When the columns were braced with bookcases, and filled with books. When the skylights weren't blacked out and sunlight streamed through it. When the soft swish of bookcarts and heels echoed on the marble floors.

What is was like on Alcatraz, not just for the prisoners, but the guard families that lived there, the soldiers stationed there. What is was like to stand out there at night and look out on the water.

Being single, with no one to take pictures of me in the frame, just about every picture I take is of buildings or places without any people in them. Maybe part of this is because I see each picture as potential story, and it makes it easier for me to set the story without someone else's characters cluttering up my frame.

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