Last week I went out to Laurel Valley Soils for an editorial assignment. Laurel Valley is an Avondale, Pennsylvania based manufacturer of soil and compost based products for wholesale to garden centers, landscape contractors, sports turf installers, and nurseries. I love dirt. I love digging in it with my bare hands, planting seeds into it and pulling plants out of it. Chances are that if you meet me anytime between early spring and late fall I’ll have dirt under my nails from digging around my garden. So when the opportunity to run around this giant dirt box came my way I jumped at the chance. Learning about where commercial soil comes from has always been of some interest to me especially since I developed a debilitating gardening addiction. Jake Chalfin, the sales manager whose portrait is at the end of this post was kind enough to give me the full rundown of how this process works, where soil comes from and how different mixtures and created.
My dear friend Chrissy came on by last night for a drink or two but let on she couldn’t stay as she had to wake up early the next morning to attend an implosion. I’ve heard a lot of early exit excuses, but none have ever piqued my interest quite as much. She explained that a 16-story uninhabited high rise apartment building in the Germantown section of Philadelphia was due to be razed at 7:15 am by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and as she’s in the archaeological preservation business she would be attending with some co-workers. Naturally I jumped on board. I woke at 6 am the following morning and headed on out to the site which was about twenty minutes from my apartment. When I got there, I discovered a wide radius surrounding the building had been closed off by the police. I played it cool and parked a few blocks away. I gathered my gear and proceeded on foot. When I reached the main blockade I was told I could not enter as I did not have a proper pass or hard hat. I miss my days as a credentialed member of the Philadelphia Press. It was early and I was feeling fearless so I decided to head down a street that ran parallel to the viewing area and cut through a yard that led to a wide open expanse with a clear view of the spectacle to come. The press at this point was already set up and not wanting to ruffle any feathers I found a spot behind a cameraman slightly shorter than I. (always a good tactic when you’re the last man on the scene) It was now 7:10am. Made it with five minutes to spare. I quickly noticed everyone else had ear plugs and masks. This worried me a bit as I had neither. I figured I’ve done enough damaged to my ear drums over the years and only concerned myself with the dust cloud that could potentially come floating my way. But with no time to deal I just hoped the wind would shift and begin to blow in the opposite direction. The countdown began roughly at 7:15. As the PHA employees depressed the symbolic t-bar that supposedly set off the charges nothing happened for about 5 second then an incredible booming started echoing throughout the corridor. Moments later a plume of smoke began to rise from beneath the building and it started to dip at the corner which led to a massive and rapid crumbling. All in it took only about 10-15 seconds for the entire structure to fall. Pretty impressive.
On May 24th I participated in a photo show at a pop up gallery in the Frankford section of Philadelphia. The temporary gallery space is called Destination Frankford and the theme of the show I contributed to was Rediscover. The opening was great and the photos alone from that day necessitate their own post which is soon to follow. Leslie Kaufmann who is at the helm of the project really is a visionary and has accomplished something quite spectacular. Please visit the Desintation Frankford website for more info. The third and final show in the series is opening tomorrow and will run through July 26. It revolves around the theme Reanimate and features work by the Philadelphia Sculptors.
Here’s my bit
“The idea of trying to rediscover Philadelphia, which has such a rich history, was initially stifling. I attempted to flesh out a series that explored the physical change that the city is currently undergoing. It’s hard not to notice all the new condo developments popping up overnight like weeds in the summer time. What I ended up focusing on was not change but the ordinary surroundings in which I weave through on a daily basis. I focused on the often-ignored scenery that I pass by on my way to work, the store, bike riding and so on. I brought that backdrop to the forefront and at each location found a piece of scrap wood that I would use to present my image on. This not only allows for a visual representation of where I’ve been but a physical one as well. I ended up discovering the weird yet pedestrian environment I generally ignore and used gave new life to what would most likely end up as rotting garbage. ”
Check out the images below, before they’ve been transferred and the final product. The transfers don’t photograph too well but look killer in person. I printed them 11″ x 17″ and cut the wood i found down to fit.
My buddy Sean Basinski (as seen here) , founder and director of the Street Vendor Project invited me out to shoot this years Vendy Awards held in Industry City, Brooklyn. Who could pass up all the best free food and booze that NYC food trucks have to offer. Good times. Here’s a sampling.