The event was Steve Madden and Star magazine present live music by IYAZ. The Steve Madden store on Ludlow and Rivington was packed beyond capacity. The event was by invitation only. One of the burly door security men was an ex-cop, then ex-fire marshal, now retired. I became familiar with him when he showed up when I was documenting local fires. We first met when a highly suspicious fire, the 3rd for this landlord, once again, destroyed his failing furniture business.
AS soon as you entered the Steve Madden store door you could feel the excitement pressed hard up against you like a rip tide at Coney Island. The air was filled with the smell of leather and lace, and coconut oil and expensive perfume.
Not one attracted by the free booze, or being especially comfortable stuck in the middle of a mindless mass of over excited people all pushing each other back and forth trying to touch or be close to some nouveau celebrity, so spotting the perfect location to take a few shots unencumbered by the mental madness of celebrity excitement I made my way outside. On the street, looking in the window, was a perfect place to shot the event. This spot included the bonuses of being able to comfortably hear the music without shattering my ear drums, offered a great view, I was the only one there, and what was most exhilarating for me was to be able to photograph some of the local kids who could not get in, but had the same view I did. The kids knew about IYAZ, knew the words to all his songs and sang along.
I am not a paparazzi, nothing against those guys, have friends who are, but what attracted me to this story was to be able to document the next stage of gentrification on this street. I have documented Ludlow for more than 2 decades. I have numerous photos of the drug dealers who used to control this block, crews like Hell Raiser. One especially poignant memory is of Tony a hit seller. Tony was shot. No ambulance came. No cops arrived. I hooked up with a local Dominican limousine and we raced him to the Bellevue emergency . Was amazing because different than on TV, the only evidence you could see of his wound was an end of your pinky sized burn mark on his sweater. No blood splattered everywhere, all the blood was flowing to all the wrong places inside his body- it was a serious internal injury. Once we got to the hospital the drive took off. I went inside. With the help of a nurse we throw him on a gurney and they rushed him into an operating room. I got off one shot of the medical staff cutting off his clothes- then a doctor went nuts and threw my ass out of there. I walked home. Feeling lucky to be alive.
Tony survived- Ludlow did not.