The stage was set perfectly for a cop movie.
Inside the neutral colored car, two tired looking guys, ashtray full of butts, and empty coffee cups rattling around our feet.
Outside it’s a gloomy, rainy, Tuesday in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn.
“This is where I usually see them”, Jon Melemed, Editor of Overflow Magazine tells me, “but I wonder if the rain will keep them away”.
My thoughts drift towards filling up my newly freed up day along with which one of my image making counterparts are sipping a cappuccino in a climate controlled studio, surrounded by fragrant smelling models today.
“There’s one, let’s get a few blocks in front of him” and with the lurch of an engine and some spilt coffee, we are off.
It takes the hulking man pushing a full shopping cart with a fishook scar an astonishingly quick three and a half minutes to clear the span of 3 blocks.
We get out of the car, perhaps a bit too eager, and unintentionally spook him, he takes a few steps back and looks around for a way out.
“….hey………..OHHH, Hey there”
He says eyeing a $20 we are offering per portrait.
With the calm of someone feeding wild bears, we slowly and deliberately tell him the story we are working on about the scrap collectors of Gowanus.
Funny, sometimes people just want to know that there’s someone, anyone, that gives some semblance of a damn about them.
It’s like he has been waiting to get things off his chest.
Not whiny tissue heavy high priced daddy issues, just simply, what he does.
That this hulk, with the scar, pushing a 700 pound cart 3 blocks in less than four minutes is actually, well, kinda a regular blue collar cat.
He works harder than most, knows all his spots (he was coming from Fort Greene because “that’s where the copper is”), and has got to have brains.
Are you involved in an ALL cash business?
That day, we met all manner of scrap guys, the substance abuser with a temper, the guy who is saving for a van to expand his business (he scheduled an interview with us on his blackberry), and yes, the scarred gentle giant who was our, fitting, introduction to this world.
That was the beauty of it, this shoot was the quintessential NYC experience of being put in direct contact with all sorts of folks.
Hurt, dangerous, benevolent, friendly, confusing, or just working their ass off, it’s all here in millions of tiny little worlds that make up one, big, metal apple.