17 September 2014

Brooklyn Gang 1959 ft. the Ghost of Holden Caulfield

This week I was lucky enough to stumble upon a seamless combination of two things I love dearly: black and white photography and the greaser subculture.

Elliott Erwitt, Robert Frank, and Brassai are among my favorite photographers. The other day, I was looking through some of the archives of old photographs on my laptop and I came across a picture that really stood out to me. The caption said "Brooklyn Gang 1959" so I decided to Google it for a bit of context.

It turns out the photograph I'd saved in my file was one of many taken by photographer Bruce Davidson in the summer of 1959. He captured New York's rebellious youth in various shapes and shadows. These photographs are an excellent representation of the greaser subculture: cigarettes, tattoos, and the white t-shirt as the uniform of youth. There are diners and jukeboxes and one boy in particular named Bengie. When I was clicking through the photos, I was stunned by this boy's face. He is featured at the end of the slideshow, in the last few.

As you know, I've just finished J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, (which, incidentally, is set in New York) and I swear this boy is exactly how I imagined Holden Caulfield to look. Ever since I saw the photographs, I cannot get him out of my head.

I think it's easy to look at these photos and see them as a sort of window to yesteryear. Put the slideshow on full screen, it's absolutely transporting.