robert zverina

photography >> NYC : 40° 47' N 73° 58' W scanned 35mm prints





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This guy is too cool. He's got it made in the shade because he made his own shade. Saw him riding down west side greenbelt after picking up my Spencer Tunick print at I-20 in Chelsea with Michael Gates and John King. We were on our way to board ferry across hudson to Jersey City--or was it Hoboken? Either way, Manhattan is totally getting it together. There's a walkable waterfront greenway around the whole island!

What can I say--an open and shut case, somewhere on the upper east side near where I lived in Manhattan. The "crash bar" (aka, "panic bar") emergency exit was invented, I think, by a relative of Kurt Vonnegut.

Behind the scenes at Children's Television Workshop Sesame Street workshop (web and magazine division). As you can tell by the gaily colored carpet squares and cubicle dividers, this was a supercreative and fun place to toil. I lasted about 6 months, missed the overdue 1998 website re-launch because I was at my first Burning Man, where I decided to quit and move to Seattle. I came back and gave several weeks notice, and even continued to telecommute from Seattle for about 6 weeks thereafter.

The people I worked with were talented, intelligent, and similarly disillusioned. Most quit or got the ax not long after my departure. The idea of getting kids to sit at computers did not sit well with most of us, except for the programmers, who obviously embraced screen interaction. I guess I like it, too, but don't advocate it for children any more than I do television, which is one of the few things more evil than institutional indoctrination (aka, public education).

Bird's eye view of good times in Jersey City, New Jersey. A green outdoor carpet. Beer in red plastic cups, white inside. I was visiting John King and company. Jersey City was always pretty cool. Now it's gentrifying, thanks in part to the new light rail. (It used to have great views of the twin towers, too.) Jersey City was the first place I lived after college in January 1992. It was a cute room in an old house next to Lincoln Park with John King and Joe Weston sharing the rent, but I struggled finding a job and soon moved back home where I quickly applied to Brooklyn College for an MFA in poetry and got in.

"Here's to alcohol: The source of, and answer to, all of life's problems." --Homer Simpson

Crossing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge en route to Baltimore after visiting my cancer-ridden mother on Long Island. I placed the camera pointing up on the dash of my 1986 120,000+ miles Honda Civic gold 2-door hatchback and hoped for the best.

I like the idea of a St. No Ills--someone to protect you from sickness. In this case it's just a damaged construction barrier, POST NO BILLS stencils having been an obsession of mine for quite a while. I don't know if it's unique to New York City, but the phrase "post no bills" is nowhere to be seen in Seattle--except maybe on this CD I made.

Nothing like a bleary windshield on a drunken taxi cab ride home in Manhattan, meter running but after 4 or 5 martinis you don't mind. (I still think the best true gin martinis were to be found at the E 72nd St Hi-Life.) My best ride was from Michael Gates's studio apartment down around East 2nd St and 1st Ave to 71st and 1st where I lived--it was a nonstop flight! We caught a green wave and rode it all the way, hardly anyone else out at 4 a.m., you could see the red lights way up ahead turning green as we flew through intersection after intersection. Another time, I asked a reckless cabbie to slow down. He said, "What? You want me to drive Jersey-style?" I replied, "If that means safely, then yes."

My friends in Spent liked this picture enough to put it on the cover of their second Merge LP, A Seat Beneath the Chairs. The photo itself was taken as I searched for my classroom on my first day of teaching freshman composition at Kingsborough Community College. This was a kind of weird flow-through room between stairs and corridor. It was a dismal semester teaching disinterested students. After 2 and half years, I was finished with teaching in an institutional setting. Oddly, my last day there resulted in another memorable photo.

This has been my most lucrative image. It is the only print I ever had commissioned through Picture of the Day, and in February 2004 Seattle Post-Intelligencer art critic Regina Hackett bought a 16x20 through Priceless Works Gallery in Fremont. (Photo was shot in January 1996 with pocket 35mm camera.)

Manhattan is the place which gave birth to the concept 24/7. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, it's go go go. That *almost* holds true for alcohol sales. You can buy a drink almost any time of day or night in New York, except for Sundays between 4 am and noon. Other than that, there is no official last call.

Central Park Sheep Meadow, looking south. I lived on the upper east side, worked on the upper west side. My daily commute took me across the park, usually on foot but sometimes by bike or inline skates. One morning on my bicycle, I was pedaling through the park pretty fast, one hand on the grip, the other holding 6-month old Kodak DC210 digital camera for action photographs. I hit a soft spot on my shortcut and flew over the handlebars, carefully cradling the camera at the expense of my face. An old eastern European woman saw it and approached me in the good samaritan way typical of New Yorkers: "You have to get a tet-a-noose shot," she kept repeating. "Am I bleeding?" I asked. My face was raw and numb but there was no blood there, though one knee was fairly shredded. I didn't go for a shot cause I'd had one not long before that. I arrived at work a dirty bloody mess, happy to introduce a taste of chaos and recklessness to the antiseptic offices of Children's Television Workshop online group near Lincoln Center.