Monday, November 2

Jim & Lenny and Battles

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In 1962 the guy on the left up there was 26. His name? Jim Furlong. The other guy was also one of my college roommates, Len Freiberg. Like Lenny, I was twenty years old and behind the 4X5 Speed Graphic triggering the shutter. Jim wanted to comment on the idea of subjectivity. You know, how opinions are all a matter of perspective, where you stand, how you view stuff. How people can see the same thing and one guy comes away thinking, "Hey, nice picture of a couple of men commuting on the subway." But someone else goes, "Holy dung! Those characters are dangling from the ceiling!"

Jim kept coming up with ideas like that, and talking us into risking our asses to make them work. He's the guy who taught me photography. We spent a bazillion hours together in a small darkroom at King's College where we were, I guess, the photography departments for the school paper, the literary magazine, and the yearbook. We also freelanced and sold pix to the local papers and some mags.

Lenny sent me this diptych last night. The originals had faded and frankly I was pretty sloppy back then, losing the battle against the dust storm that swirled in that darkroom. It was nice to have a second shot at them after forty eight years. I'm a lot more meticulous now and I've scraped away most of the lint, motes, and dribble that covered the images like a Spring snow.

Judging by the St. Patrick's Day Sale in that paper, it was early Spring when we did this thing.So there was probably as much white stuff on the ground outside as I left on these pix. Still, try as I might I couldn't restore one aspect of that cool evening. There was no real way to bring Jim back. He died recently. At least his body did. But that smile... that cheer... those ideas and feelings... They're just as real as my memories of two friends dangling from that ceiling and the way we laughed and still do... all three of us. Len and I here and I'm sure Jim somewhere else.

If it's a battle between death and Jim's warmth... Death runs a poor second.


Andreas said...

Touching story, and not only the story, it's the image as well. And that's what I absolutely admire in your work: I don't know Jim and Lenny, but at that twist in your tale I feel a sharp pain, a shock. The kind of pain and shock that you come back for.

Btw, don't know if you've already seen it, April has a new blog over at Now we only have to convince her to carry on after November :)

Gelfoto said...

The great history, stirring history. Friendship, and desire to pass it with the friendly well. The memories, are what it makes us continue.

A warm greeting