Visit to Willets Point -
My friend Anne Mette W. Nielsen is in town leading a group of young students from Denmark and Norway in an exploration of the inner workings of this city. Although reluctant at first, I agreed to take the group on a site visit to Willets Point. I say reluctantly but I actually mean with great trepidation. The reason being that it is so painful to witness the gradual demise of a place that meant so much to me. These days a full 60% of the businesses are shuttered down and the place has an air of abandonment like the ghost towns of cowboy westerns. Almost all of my good friends are gone from there.
Our visit was far from depressing however. Youth is charming after all. And our small and unexpected parade of blondness brought some smiles to the worried faces of the mechanics. Most importantly we had ample time to discuss the changing character of New York City and other large metropolis and to dwell on the nature of documentary work. Our friend Robert Schweitzer was also present and his questions and observations were penetrating and inspiring.
Making our way back to Manhattan on the 7 train, three of the girls asked to see my copy of YONKEROS again. I loved the way they lingered on each image and discussed it at length. Something of Willets Point will live on in their spirits too.