5 Pointz

5 Pointz is old school New York – a living changing graffiti museum in Long Island City. Every spare spaces, walls, street lights, doors, dumpsters is covered by art made by legends of the graff world.

On the side streets guys are cleaning the donut carts that serve Wall st types downtown in the morning – oblivious to their sourroundings as they fill trash bags with the last of the unsold donuts  and cofee grounds, and crush the kosher donut company carboard boxes - french and spanish rap music is blaring,  the trains are rattling overhead.

5 Pointz is a hub for graffiti artists from around the world, constantly changing and  also honoring the legends passed like Dondi White.

Scheduled to be demolished to make way for condominiums – please sign a petition to preserve this icon of NYC

Update November 24th 2013 : Early Tuesday, under the cover of night, painters quietly blanketed much of the walls of 5Pointz with whitewash, erasing the work of hundreds and seemingly putting the final nail in the long battle between the building’s owners, who plan to erect luxury apartments, and the artists who fought to save it.

“This is the biggest rag and disrespect in the history of graffiti,” said a teary-eyed Marie Cecile Flaguel, a spokeswoman for the group behind 5Pointz, which sprang like a rainbow from the gray sidewalks near Jackson Avenue in Long Island City. “He’s painted over the work of at least 1,500 artists.”

Hassan Hajjaj London

I visited artist Hassan Hajjaj at his store in East London (above : Hassan (R) with his ‘bruvva’(L). Born in Morocco he moved to London in 1975, he seems to know everyone, the store is buzzing  with locals, musicians, artists dropping by for a chat and some tea.

Hassan is working on a photography project to do with identity. He says “I noticed that a lot of my friends in London come from places with very distinct traditional costumes that they wear for special occasions. When I’m in Morocco, I’ll wear a djellaba, but when I come back to London I wear Western clothes. When you see the different costumes side by side, you can really see the cultural differences. ”

I love his work,  beautiful images and video footage shot on the streets in London and Morocco, very real and from the heart.

Punk, NY Magazine, the Met

The punk show ‘Chaos to Couture’ at the Metropolitan Museum inspired New York Magazine to interview me about my experiences back in the seventies London punk days.

Punk brought an anti-establishment raw freshness to music, art and style. It was about change, the idea that people should question authority and do it for themselves. Coming from an art school background. I loved punk, 2 Tone, reggae. rockabilly, I liked soul music. I liked all kinds of music. At that time in England, the economy was really bad and the whole “No Future Punk” thing was going on. Kids would come out of school and they couldn’t get jobs. People were rebelling against that. To me, punk was an attitude, a life style, that changed everything in the UK.

FYI  In 1994 London’s Victoria & Albert Museum had an exhibition called ‘Streetstyle: from sidewalk to catwalk’ which explored a similar theme to the Met show – they displayed a twelve foot high print of my photo of the Islington Twins at the entrance – the exhibition unpretentiously showed how street style, music and youth culture affect the world.

Salt-N-Pepa Burton Lifebeat

Burton Snowboards has a new collaboration with hip-hop artists Salt-N-Pepa introducing a special-edition 2014 Burton Lip-Stick board available to the public next fall. The board was developed with Lifebeat, a nonprofit HIV/AIDS prevention organization that Salt-N-Pepa has been involved with since the early ’90s. The Burton creative team and Lifebeat came to my studio about six months ago to choose a photo for the board.

Sandy “Pepa” Denton says : “Burton and Lifebeat wanted to represent that particular moment in the hip-hop era, and out of all the pictures to choose from, when they picked this one I had to agree it was the best. When you think of Salt-N-Pepa, you remember this picture, these jackets. They called it the “Push It” jacket! If someone’s dressed up as Salt-N-Pepa for Halloween, this is what they’re dressed up like.

This was our take on that gold-chain-and-door-knocker-earrings b-boy stance era. It’s a great photo by Janette Beckman, and Play, from Kid ‘n Play, actually designed these jackets for us. … So there’s a lot of stories and a lot of memories behind that photo for us. Those were good times. The ’80s rocked!”

Salt-N-Pepa you rock!

Crash on Houston St

Crash was painting this beautiful mural featuring Popeye on Houston and Bowery in New York City today. And there was legendary photographer Martha Cooper signing her book, being photographed by more legends Joe Conzo and Francisco Reyes II, good to see them all and meet graffiti artists Bio, Wane and BG183

Venezuela Hip Hop School Tiuna El Fuerte

Visited Tiuna El Fuerte,  a community based cultural center in the dusty El Valle neighborhood of Caracas  Built from old shipping containers piled one on top of the other made into a recording studio, a store with spray cans of all colors, an underground performance space, classrooms, for art, hip hop, break dancing workshops, It is funded by the government and run by the rap artists Apache aka Cultur MC and Piky (below) who teach the local community the four elements of hip hop.

Tiuna El Fuerte is a c

President Hugo Chavez RIP

President Chavez of Venezuela died today

I was in Caracas last week. It is a vibrant crazy city. There is traffic everywhere, gas is so cheap, people drive big V8 American muscle cars from the 80′s or weave in and out of traffic on fast motor bikes.  Everywhere you go President Chavez stares down at you from high buildings, graffiti on walls, his supporters wear red T shirts with his eyes printed on them.

People told me: ” Chavez is a part of our lives whether we like it or not” As President he inspired both love and hate.

Chavez’s “Bolìvarian revolution”, was based on his ideals “Giving the poor what they deserved : the nation’s wealth”  He seized land from farmers, nationalized private companies, abolished term limits and put the state oil company under his personal control. In spite of record oil revenues, around a trillion dollars, the currency was recently devalued for the fifth time in a decade. Murder and kidnapping rates are enormous, approximately seventy people are murdered each week in Caracas alone. People drive with their car windows closed for fear of robbery – and armored vehicles are a new big business.

Chávez drank more than 30 cups of black coffee a day, worked till 3am, talked on his weekly TV show for eights hours straight about everything from politics and theology to rap, baseball and the state of his bowels ..

Chavez had won four presidential elections, was revered by millions who hailed him as a champion of the poor. People that live in the barrios felt he was on their side and understood their struggle. He slashed poverty, spent lavishly on health clinics, literacy courses and social programs (like the hip hop school ‘Tiuna El Fuerte’ we visited, more of that to come) and stood up to George Bush over Iraq.

He did it all with a certain charisma and flair. RIP President Hugo Chavez

Made in New York- the 1980′s

Inspired by Penguin paperbacks, fanzines and artist Edward Ruscha’s series, I decided to self publish these small books in a limited edition featuring mostly unseen photographs from my archives of the times.  Order them from me directly or get them at Bookmarc and Dashwood. The third book ‘Made in New York -the 1980′s’ is just out.

Fotografia in Caracas

Going to Venezuela on February 25th for an exhibition, lecture and photo workshop  at Roberto Mata’s photography school. Stella Kramer, the Pullitzer prize winning photo editor will be teaching the art of the edit and speaking about her work – Stella worked for the NY TImes during 9/11 editing film brought in by ash covered photographers, she worked for Life, Newsweek and so many other important mags. I will be recounting stories about photographing the punks, mods, hip hop, rockabilly, East LA gang,  and other scenes that are in the exhibition – as well as teaching students how to photograph on the street and ‘keep it real’.

AND President Chavez returned home yesterday from Cuba

Flood The Art Market Silent Auction & Party

A group of New York artists have got together to do a benefit for Hurricane Sandy. The silent auction and party is on monday at the Cristin Tierney Gallery 546 W 29th St in Chelsea – should be a lot of fun and a chance to buy some very cool art for a good cause. Artists include Todd James, Zephyr, Jamel Shabazz, Charlie Ahearn, Cey Adams, Jane Dickson The Sucklord, Hally McGehean, David Corio and many more. I donated a Clash photograph shot  at the Music Machine in London in 1979 – onstage with them is Jimmy Pursey and Steve Jones – all punk attitude.