"ME: Good afternoon
CALLER: Do you have to answer the phone that way?
ME: ...Excuse me?
CALLER: How can you be so rude!
ME: All I said is good afternoon...
CALLER: Well, you shouldn't be so abrupt.
ME: Lady, did you call me for a reason or just to criticise my phone etiquette, because I have better things to do with my time."
Kris is a struggling actress from Bermuda who moved to London few years ago. She works part time in a call center and sometimes lets the phone ring.
One day she quoted that conversation on her Facebook wall and closed it with the hashtag #2moredays. When I read it on my feed, I couldn't help asking "Two more days and then what?"
"No idea. Hoping something happens soon".
London, Borough Market | 2015
JUST DOING MY JOB
London, Borough Market | 2015
LOOK AT YOU
London, Borough Market | 2015
NO PICTURES PLEASE
At first I thought he was just a bit shy. Then the Palestinian guy who was with me asked him why he didn't want to be photographed.
He said he didn't want to end up on one of those Western charities' campaigns to raise money for the Palestinians. "He doesn't want Western people pity", my guide said.
West Bank, Ramallah | 2012
LIKE A FINGER POINTING IN THE NIGHT
West Bank, Ramallah | 2012
"SEE U AT THE WESTERN WALL. XXX"
Israel, Jerusalem | 2012
Israel, Jerusalem | 2012
NYC, Chelsea | 2016 [Canon AE-1, film]
IODINE AND IRON /// Before
It was like a moon in its quiet cosmic dance,
It was like something that would make you forget about the sun.
Armand. His white heart, his chill, still heart,
digs down into the mind, digs down into Etienne.
Digs down, into the dirt, into the blood
Digs down into that genius
Into that mad, black-and-blue soul dressed up as Etienne.
That’s all they’ve got left
Just the echoes of some other lives
Just a bunch of lies that need to be saved.
Two flowers picked from the shadows by unknown hand. That’s what they are.
Two children cast out of nothing, like the sculptor does with his own statue. Armand, Etienne.
Their arms thrown around a pennyless-Paris’ neck
Their mouths seeking its breasts.
They are carrying the best they have with them
One something to smoke, a bunch of poems, and few bruises.
The other something to die for, a pair of eyes, and a few bruises.
Look at them. They are there
Seated in the fire – crossed arms, legs and crossed spirits –
Waiting to drizzle off into the idiot wind just like honey
Look, look at them. Nothing will be spared
The ocean splashing into their heads, the sky blushing beneath their feet
They are just waiting that Love will make them
And that Lunacy will reveal all the truths, once and for all.
Look at them another time, one last time.
They are there. Heading together-to-hell
Dancing together on broken wine glasses
Making together their promises
Take another good-long-last-look, please
"never give up, die yelling and laughing"
Take another look, another look at those two, please
Armand and Etienne are going to keep faith with what they promised.
And I’m looking at them. They gave me the right to do so.
London, Regents Park | 2010
EVERYBODY NEEDS A PLACE TO THINK /// Then
He spent the whole day in the belly
Blabbering about life, on and on,
“for life knows nothing of years”, he’d say
“nothing of the very imporant days,
nothing of the best shirts, the best nights out
nothing of cups of coffee, flight tickets or ‘thank you!’ cards”.
Then he woke up. He got out of the belly. He had a different face.
He got up, he started with lunch - he had a different face, he had different hands –
He looked into the plate: another useless death stranded on olive oil and too much salt.
Then he went to the window and stared at the city he had been so much longing for.
- He had a different face, different hands, he had different eyes –
The sun above them was bleached of any brightness.
He was watching it dying quietly - the clock ticking, the moon killing.
A death as simple as plucking daisies.
His mouth full of tears, he could taste aluminium and fear
In the eyes two lovers are kicking the shit out of each other, just like dogs in the street
In the eyes two lovers are saying “I love you” before falling asleep
In the eyes two lovers won’t look at each other, won’t talk, won’t touch each other
In the eyes two lovers believed they were different from the rest of you people
In the eyes all their clumsy pulsions
In the eyes two lovers were unfaithful to each other
They would give shelter to each other
They would make a vow, make a promise
In the eyes two lovers would hate, would punish and take revenge,
They would hope to part forever and not to look back, ever.
They found out truth is not as strong as it should be
and feared perhaps not even love would be enough
In the eyes two lovers would wonder
what would be next once all the lies will have been told and then forgotten?
He had a different face, different hands, different eyes, he had a different voice.
Outside the door someone up the staircase to the first floor
No more sign of the sun. No more sign of those two lovers.
Outside the door a bunch of keys jingling against each other
Just a couple of fucking poems left of those lovers.
Outside the door someone finally found the right key, slowly unlock the door
In the eyes two lovers had been waiting for each other for so many lives.
He took a deep breath and leapt up back in the belly. Everybody needs a place to think.
His mouth full of tears, the taste of aluminium and fear
The door is wide open, pouring white light inside
The moon is burning in the cold black sky outside
He had a different face, he had different eyes
The passersby are looking up in the street - he had different hands
All around stray cats meowing and yowling - he had a different voice
All around children crying their own first hate
the mothers are all scratching their heads – he had a different heart.
London, Soho | 2009
Read THIS first. Then this:
get ready man, cause you are about to read a "love letter".
Don't panic though! It's not the kind of lover letter that would make you freak out (or at least that's what I'm hoping for).
Right now I'm sitting in the tiniest cafe I've ever found myself sipping a cappuccino in. There are a couple of tables, few stools and two girls serving coffee here. None of them is German. The cappuccino is not bad, the croissants as they are meant to be – crispy at first, then warm and tender.
Some Mac De Marco's tune is playing on the radio. I wanted to keep working on my poem about Berlin, but then that song got to my ears, you popped to my mind and writing something for you felt like the right thing to do.
There is a demo outside. A man is babbling through a megaphone, angry and loud. German words, German people and German cops are poured all over the street outside the ’19 grams’ café. When I asked the girls staring out of the window what was that about, they couldn’t really say, “our German is too poor to understand” one of them said with an Australian accent.
I guess this moment is a good 'snap' of this city: plenty of young people coming from somewhere else. They don't really seem to know much about this place, its past, its present... They are all hoping to become part of its future though, all looking for some sort of healing, for a place kind enough to be called "home". They are all just like us, like me, you and Jack: all throwing themselves in the endless pursuit of the most accurate idea of themselves and Berlin is just there: cold hands but a warm smile, open arms, ready to welcome anybody in need to be rescued. Somehow, I believe we are all refugees in a way or another in these times.
Last night I found a really good quote by a guy called Karl Scheffler (God knows who the man is): "Berlin is condemned forever to becoming and never to being". He wrote these words more than a century ago, in 1910. It's funny how he couldn't really envision what would have happened over the following hundred years, yet he saw it all. He couldn't know of Adolf Hitler and his moustache, his speeches and the yellow stars sewed on the Jews' coats. He didn't have to fight in a World War; he wasn't there, in that frozen November night, to see the Wall finally crumbling down. David Bowie wasn't even born and children couldn't see any angel squatting on the city's rooftops at that time. Karl Scheffler wasn't with us either, he didn't share the many frosty footsteps of these frosty nights.
Yet he saw it all. As soon as I read it, I thought it was the best definition of this city someone could come up with. I also thought it is quite a good definition of myself too: so many dreams and promising things kept there, awaiting me. You know, it often feels like being seated in a waiting room, waiting for someone to call your name so you could eventually stand up and finally be off to become yourself. Hopefully one day that call will come. I'm working hard on it, doing the best I can to be ready for it.
If I should pick something I learnt from Berlin, it would be that there's no need to scrap clean the earth in order to start again and, also, that there is no wall you cannot pull down if that's what it needs to be done.
I'm seated at this table with a countless spread of memories from this trip before me: Rodin's kissers, Max asking for some vodka 5.30 am in the very first day of this new year, being in a band with you — even though just for a few hours and because of a few Mojitos, the three of us seated on those Parisian steps with nothing and everything in our minds, Jack's crash course in rolling cigarettes while drinking in the Berlin night, that Russian bar and picking the songs we love while outside everything was coated in snow and silence, you taking a picture of me and me taking a picture of you and Templehof and cold all around us.
I could go on and on forever, so could do this letter. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm happy you were born, I'm happy you popped at that stall one day and I'm happy I did all of this with you. I'm trying to imagine how it will feel like to jump on that plane on Monday: the song will be over, yeah, but the melody will still linger on. I know that.
Do not forget: "LA BEAUTE EST PARTOUT". That's how you spell it.
I love you man,
Berlin, Templehof | 2016 [Canon AE-1, film]
UN MOMENT DICISIF
"For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to 'give meaning' to the world, one has to feel oneself involved in what one frames through the viewfinder."
| Henri Cartier-Bresson
NYC, nearby Washington Square | 2016 [Canon AE-1, film]
GREGG: "Is there any particular photograph you would like to tell me about?"
ME: "There is a picture I took in New York few years ago. It's a black and white picture of a disabled man on one of those electric wheel chairs in the middle of Central Park. I remember it was a sunny, warm day. The sky was deep and blue. There were no clouds, there was no wind. Everybody was chilling under the sunlight. They were drinking, eating sandwiches, laughing, chatting, listening to music, reading. That man was there, right in the middle of it — still, silent, witnessing that loud life-storm happening before him, like a sandstorm in the desert. I was strolling round there with my brother, our first time in Central Park. When I noticed him, I felt like he couldn't really be part of all of that, even if he was there. It was because of the wheel chair, you know? It seemed like he was staring at all the things he couldn't have, all the things he couldn't be..."
GREGG: "Is it one of the pictures you hanged on the wall?"
ME: "Yeah, it's the biggest one. Right in the middle. When someone comes to my place for the first time, they couldn't help noticing it. Everybody stops for a few seconds to look at it, some say they really like it, some don't say anything at all. Nobody really gets it though..."
GREGG: "Why you think so?"
ME: "Well, in some way that's a self-portrait. A very accurate one..."
NYC, Central Park | 2009
FELT LIKE JUST KIDS
The plan was pretty simple. We would have done everything they did on that day, back in 1969.
It was a special day. It was the day they had enough money to get one hot dog each at Nathan's. It was the day of their second anniversary together. They had to celebrate, so they took a train to Coney Island. And so we did.
It was a very sunny midweek day. There were only few people around, the theme park was shut. I remember all the lifeless attractions, tinted in loud shocking colours. I remember the pink, the red and yellow, the bright white and the blue. I remember all their lights off and their cold steel gently petted by the crispy air of the sea in April.
I remember us walking on the beach and I remember me trying to picture them walking on that same beach. I remember a red flag moving frantically in the wind. I remember someone wrote on the sand: "Under the sea wish I could be part of that world". I remember I thought somehow we were part of that world.
I remember I saw this heavily bearded old man wearing a black Basque-style beret, smoking a cigar on the pier. He had that "French-expressionist" look and was busy taking pictures of what was in between the sky and the ocean with a late 19th Century plate camera.
I remember I thought he seemed the best person to ask to:
- "Hello, I'm sorry to bother. Would you mind taking a picture of us?"
- "Sure, no problem."
- "Thanks man, I appreciate it!", I said excited. Then I took the book out of my bag and showed it to him. "It has to look like this photo..."
He looked at it and said: "Oh! Robert and Patti... I knew them..."
- "What? How did you know them?"
- "Well, in those years you would bump pretty much into the same people if you were in certain circles, you know. It's not like she really knows me, but she would probably still remember my face. I worked in the Factory for a while too."
I was left in awe. Only partly because of what he said, but mostly because in that moment I realised we magically gravitated toward one another, God knows how, and both happened to be on that pier, in that day, at that time — us looking for someone able to take a decent picture of us and him having the biggest camera I've ever seen in real life.
I remember we sat on a bench a few meters away from him. He shouted "I just need a couple of minutes to set this thing properly" and then disappeared behind the three-legged, mahogany cyclops.
I remember I then remembered I was carrying a camera myself too and managed to take a picture of him few moments before he would press the shutter against us.
You can see that picture, mine, next to these words. I wasn't really photographing someone taking a picture of me taking a picture of him. In that moment I took a picture of what was between us in that midweek day in April and them on their second anniversary day, back in 1969 — this photograph is my portal to just two kids dressed up in their favourite outfits, just enough money in the pockets for a hot dog each at Nathan's and not even a clue of what was awaiting them.
New York, Coney Island | 2016 [Canon AE-1, film]