2020 – My Wall Flowers
(ignore May 1, 2017 publish date – this was published on June 19, 2020)
Some are hanging on the walls, some are leaning against the walls and some are hanging from doors. So what do I pick for my lead shot? Something that’s none of the above and isn’t even displayed in my apartment.
It’s a 35-year-old promo piece for AC/DC’s “Fly on the Wall” album:
That’s maybe kinda sorta appropriate, right? It’s still on the card and in better shape than my walls.
1. Aside from a TON of suspiciously-missing money belonging to dozens of photographers, this is what’s left of the agency I was with for the majority of my career. It breathed its last in 2006. This 28.5” x 29” framed shot of the Jimi Hendrix Experience was on their wall for as long as I can remember. The brass plate that sits atop it is what graced the agency’s front door:
2, 3. The sign is 43.5” x 48” and the clock is 18” x 23.5″. The small paper attached to the bottom left side of the clock is an auction ticket. I don’t recall where I got either of these.
4. Cubby’s is a BBQ restaurant in Hackensack. Someone gave me the jacket, but I’ve never worn it, The second pic is me there in 2013. The carrier bag is mine from the early 60s when I was a paperboy (https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=272). Both of these items hang from the door of my abandoned darkroom. Next to it is a 1935 picture of a NJ State Trooper on a motorcycle:
1. Remember this pic from https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=6541?
2. Aside from the mirror and the light fixture, this is what’s hanging on the wall:
The car was in my parents’ house – also in the bathroom – so since my father worked in automotive management (and since the THINK sign was also his), I kept the pair together.
My parents did not play with cars in the bathroom (or anywhere else), so what purpose did this one serve?
It was an AM radio. One spare tire was the on-off switch and the other one was the tuner (let’s see………the WMCA Good Guys were at 570, WABeatleC was at 770, Murray the K at WINS was at 1010 and Peter Tripp (the curly-headed kid in the third row) was heard on WMGM, 1050. How’s THAT for a memory?)
It’s a small hallway – one side’s for history and the other’s for fun.
Hanging on the history side is a 3’ x 2’ repop 1896 map of Hackensack, complete with 35 illustrations of some of the local estates and businesses of the time:
Leaning on the wall below that is something very similar, 30” x 20”, NOT a copy or a repop, but MUCH more interesting (and 20 years older). It comes from what is considered to be the “bible” for local historians – the Walker 1876 Atlas of Bergen County:
Someone I was involved with offered to buy me one of these Atlases for my birthday 16 or 17 years ago for $500. I said “NO! It’s WAY too much money to spend!”. I just did a search for one and that’s exactly what I found……….ONE for sale……….for $2500!
It’s considered serious sacrilege among historians to buy these books, dismantle them page by page and sell individual pages on eBay (or anywhere), but when people see the pages of their town for sale, they figure the damage has already been done (by someone else), so it’s OK to acquire it (guilt-free!) and frame it for their walls.
A very-related story: twenty or so years ago, I was buying up everything in sight on eBay that was Hackensack-related. I was an extremely efficient bidder and lost very few auctions.
That changed a bit one day when I started noticing a bidder who had the same interests and he was beating me. He didn’t seem to care about price…………the guy had bucks to spare.
I noticed that his eBay ID had “430” in it – the address on my building. Coincidence? A couple of weeks later, I was picking up my mail when another tenant came by, said hello and then mentioned some detail about an auction I lost…………….TO HIM!
Needless to say, I didn’t exactly bond with this guy over our shared experiences.
A few months (or maybe it was a couple of years) passed when I got a call from his roommate telling me that the guy died. He also told me about the guy’s obsession with beating me (I didn’t know it was THAT serious).
Anyway, he then said that he didn’t approve of his roommate’s actions toward me and asked me if I would come downstairs to their apartment………..he had something for me (?!)
I went downstairs, expressed my condolences and was presented with this:
It was (framed) pages 52 and 53 of the 1876 Walker Atlas, showing the part of Hackensack I live in! The roommate didn’t want it and was moving out anyway.
I graciously accepted and felt quite guilt-free because I didn’t pay for it and support whoever dismantled a perfectly good atlas……………my eBay enemy did.
I examined this map very closely and circled the corner where my building stands………..where houses were back then:
Houses also stood where the churches on either side of me are today. The church across the street was there in 1876, but Anderson Park is about a third of a block longer than it is today.
You’ll note that two doors south of me (to the left), it says “Geo. DeBaun”. Would you like to know what Mr. DeBaun did there?
So if I lived here then and my horse or buggy ever broke down, I wouldn’t have to go far for repairs, but then I wouldn’t be here to tell you about any of this today.
On the fun side of the hallway wall, we have Van Camp’s Pork and Beans – not the actual food, but original cels created for advertising.
The first item is the original sketch with added hands holding product. I could find no reference to a name for what was referred to in one online auction as “a dancing hot dog for a 1980s TV commercial”:
This is actually two separate cels: the dancing hot dog and the store. This is how I positioned them because no other placement made any sense:
I didn’t know what else to do with them, so this is how they’ve remained for the last two decades:
Well, where else would you put melons? Speaking of double-entendres (was I?), I’m pretty sure that “melons” were featured in most 42nd Street movies in the 70s:
You may remember this Muhammad Ali-signed image from a recent post:
To counter the effects of the back-room Coca-Cola, I have this tribute to Pepsi products (the Mountain Dew lighted sign/clock was featured in the “Collections: Signs of Illumination” post (https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=8452):
If you look towards the bottom of the Pepsi machine front plastic piece, you can see the opening where bought cans of soda were dispensed. I inserted a relevant sign.
I attended some kind of “cool stuff” sale on its third and final day. I saw this piece listed for $45, thought “maybe” and kept it in mind while I looked around at everything else.
Later, I decided to buy it, and as I approached the seller’s table, I saw him sitting down and writing something on the sign. It must have been Final Day Markdown Hour. It pays to wait – I got it for $25:
I’ve never worn this jacket (or chawed that tabacky), but they look kinda cool together. I can almost envision some guy wearing this jacket with a pouch of Yankee Girl chew hanging out of his right rear pocket while I’m mentally begging him to NOT turn around so as to not blow the cool image with a bunch of dried tobacco spit stains on the jacket’s front:
Uh-oh! Am I in trouble now that Quaker just pulled Aunt Jemima from their products (AND that I’m publishing this on Juneteenth)? I DID try to balance that with the album cover I shot for the (all white) Uncle Floyd Show:
(I’d better hide my Amos ‘N Andy tapes!)
I wrote about my one and only pinball machine in the 1998 post (https://iaintjustmusic.bobleafe.com/?p=885):
I was so enamored of this machine that I tried to buy anything I could related to it. Of course, eBay came up with something unexpected – a brand new playing field:
You never know when I might wear the old one out. The seller had a bunch of these and I got one for a lot less than the sticker price:
Even if I never needed it for my machine, I could envision putting it in some sort of box with flashing lights of various colors in or behind all the holes and colored lenses – a possible art piece.
It hasn’t exactly worked out that way so far, but I DID plug my 7’ roommate’s guitar into it and added some other connector. I don’t know what good it’s done for him, but he hasn’t complained:
Of course, the pièce de résistance is usually whatever you want framed and hanging over your sofa. This is one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken:
Got time for the story?
From my site:
Taken from good ol’ New Jersey (Liberty State Park), Jersey City, NJ 1985
Probably my favorite shot, a golden-framed, poster-sized copy hung over my parents’ fireplace for a dozen years and now hangs over my couch.
NOT doing what everybody else did got me this shot.
It started at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan where WNEW-FM was doing a week-long series of afternoon broadcasts featuring appearances by various rock stars, called ‘Shootout at the Hard Rock’.
The grand finale, called ‘Shootout in the Sky’, was a fireworks display on both sides of Manhattan in the Hudson and East rivers together with a stirring musical broadcast on the station that was coordinated to the fireworks.
When we finished shooting at the Hard Rock on Friday afternoon, some of the other photographers said to me, ‘C’mon – let’s go down to The Battery and shoot the fireworks’. The Battery is the southern tip of Manhattan (partially obscured in this picture by what I think is a dark Ellis Island).
I didn’t find that to be a particularly well-thought-out idea………..you can’t shoot the fireworks from BOTH rivers at once from there and you’d only have dark New Jersey or Brooklyn for a background, meaning they’d look like any other fireworks shots.
‘No thanks…………see ya’.
Off I went to Liberty State Park, set up a tripod and a radio, and took these shots with the added bonus of a full moon rising between the towers of the World Trade Center.
The Empire State Building is on the far left. What appears to be a horizontal sky scratch AND a squiggly blue line at the waterline are the lights of a small airplane and a boat that were moving and which ‘painted’ on the film while the shutter was wide open – in this case, probably for about 8 seconds on Kodachrome 64.
Post-September 11, 2001 comment: My favorite photo with the 2 fireworks was suddenly ‘the World Trade Towers with 2 explosions photo’ and it freaked me out a bit having it as my main living room picture.
After a few weeks, it evolved into the more-benevolent ‘the anti-September 11 photo’, because it was bright and celebratory, so all is right once again………………at least it is in my living room.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Freakout Factor #2 – There are actually TWO planes in the sky!
The one mentioned before has a flight path that’s either going away from or heading toward the upper floors of Tower 2! A second plane’s flight path appears to be going through the smoke under the left firework and is either going away from or heading towards the upper floors of Tower 1!
I have one more corner where I’ve got stuff hanging in my living room.
East Wall – an old family picture taken by my brother Ed hangs above an event clock commemorating the 16th Annual Peanut Pals National Convention in Mahwah, NJ in July of 1995 (I didn’t attend, but I DID once get a degree in Mahwah). The banner being waved from the ’57 Chevy convertible in the lower left corner says, “MAHWAH OR BUST”. The 45 single is Neil Sedaka’s, “Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen”:
Northeast Corner – This is an “antique” thermometer made by the company whose film propelled my career:
North Wall – This is a poster that commemorates a very important event we all (well, most of us) remember from 45 years ago……an event that I was fortunate enough to shoot:
Put them all together and you get a space that’s comfortable enough for me to come up with whatever it is that I do these days:
……and it’s all brought to you by our friends on the monitor, “FLORIDA DRUGS & LIQUOR” – a photograph I took in……………………where else?…………………..