Fulton Fish Market, 1936, Berenice Abbott
'…The Fulton Fish Market was set up in the eighteen-twenties. It quickly became the prime wholesale point for the North Atlantic fishing fleet; later, most of the catch would be trucked in. There were rumours, always, that Organised Crime held the runnings of the place. The city never got on with its fish market—it was an unknowable world within a world, and treated with suspicion. When I arrived, well before dawn, buyers from the restaurants of Little Italy and Chinatown were already thick on the cobblestoned ground. Everywhere the stones were slick with fins, washed-out guts, silvery skins. The buyers pored over the glistening trays of iced fish on the trestle tables and haggled the prices hard with the dealers. Side-mouthed insults were traded and everybody smoked furiously. An old lady swaddled in many coats and wearing several hats sold Marlboro Lites in cartons of two hundred. I drifted around the cobbles and the open-sided warehouses in a half-dream haze, and there was the sense of the market crowd as an impenetrable fraternity. They had their own language, gestures, body moves. Trucks glided in and out from the city beyond, and the crates of fish were hooked and grappled from the trucks’ chilled interiors, and money changed hands from wads of grimed twenties; the count was so dizzyingly made. There was a tang of boiled coffee on the air, and the scrape of raw commerce along the cobbles, and nobody noticed as the light came up and crept across the river. Trucks from Montauk, Saint John, Portland, Long Island, New Bedford. Everybody in fleeces and with steel grapples hung from the belt loops of their jeans. Fish for the chowder and fish for the grill—the dead eyes of the salmon and the pollock; the alien squirming of the still-livid shrimp. A truck sold bacon rolls and doughnuts—salt and sugar to keep the workers fuelled. The daylight as it rose didn’t suit the place. The last of the fish went for the low money, and the shutters were dragged down for another day, and the market was left to its rats and ghosts…'
What are we all trying to get to in the making of anything? We’re trying to get to ourselves. What I want is more of my feelings and less of my thoughts…I see the photograph as a chip of experience itself. It exists in the world. It is not a comment on the world. In a photograph you don’t look for, you look at! It’s close to the thing itself. It’s like an excitation. I want the experience that I am sensitive to to pass back into the world, fixed by chemistry and light to be reexamined. That’s what all photographs are about—looking at things hard. I want to find an instrument with the fidelity of its own technology to carry my feelings in a true, clear, and simple way.
— Joel Meyerowitz
Kyaitteyo Pagoda, miraculously balanced by a hair of Buddha, Kelasa hills, Burma, Stereoscopic view, 1900.
Accepting the [Booker] prize, [Richard] Yates said he would spend one third of the money on booze, one third on kicking the booze, and one third on running away from his mother. Those present laughed along with him, but could not tell from his tone whether or not he was joking. As his recent biography confirms, he wasn’t.
I’m doing badly, I’m doing well, whichever you prefer.
Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.
Portuguese Armada Fleet, 1507, from the Livro de Lisuarte de Abreu
Fado - The Soul of Portugal
Heading to Lisbon in a couple of weeks so this handy pocket guide to Portugal’s most famous music, Fado. is just the thing, Once denounced as ‘evil music sung by prostitutes’, which is good enough for me. It’s also introduced me to the voice of Amalia Rodriques, especially the first song here, the amazing Barco Negro.
You may not be interested in absurdity," she said, "but absurdity is interested in you.
— Shower of Gold, Donald Barthelme
Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.
— Romain Rolland