Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Young girl in pink

We were on Williams Street in Newburgh on Sunday afternoon to film a woman and her boyfriend. At the last minute she was unable to make it, but as often happens, I found another subject. We chatted with the woman's mother who was minding six or seven children; this was one of them.   

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Homeless on Broadway, Newburgh NY

With winter approaching the question of homelessness is acute. We asked this homeless 57 year-old what plans he had;  dreams of warmer places, friends with apartments, more money for rent and...

He is standing on Broadway looking over to the Wherehouse and is lit by the lights from the Ritz Marquee. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Forever, aged seven

We were filming a 27 year-old woman who has five children and expecting her sixth. Caroline nudged me and said, "Don't you think you'd better photograph Catherine's seven-year-old? She's beautiful."

Thanks largely to Patricia at the Regional Economic Community Action Program, Catherine and her five children have a roof over their heads in a motel shelter. They live in one room. Patricia is looking for an apartment for them. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Alissa is homeless because — "My father chose his girl friend over me." She sleeps in a car with her boy friend who does a paper run upstate. She spends the day with her boyfriend's brother, and another friend, both of whom are homeless. Often they are in Newburgh because the people, "who have less are the people who are more willing to help. The people who have money tend to treat you like you are diseased, or you are bothering them."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mother and baby on doorstep with friend

I put my camera on the tripod and pressed record. This did not worry them. I decided as soon as I saw them that the picture and action were the thing. I would not be able to record intelligibly the secrets they were sharing; a microphone on the end of a nine foot pole would have scared them away. I walked away leaving the camera running and talked to my crew and other possible subjects on the other side of the street. The couple were too close to each other, too eager to hear the latest news to see or care they were being filmed. 

I felt they knew the small stubby mic mounted atop the camera was not going to make much sense of their conversation amidst the traffic noise and rapping from car radios. Why move from the comfort of that doorstep; so convenient for cigarettes from the corner store.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Couple with five children

On the left is Tiffany, sitting with her partner Michelle. They have five children between them. Tiffany does not want to give Newburgh a chance. She is worried about how to bring up her children there, "To be good citizens, to be good people, to do the right thing. To go to school, to treat others how they want to be treated, to have positive attitudes. To make something out of life because you only get one." Tiffany would like to leave Newburgh. Michelle wants to stick it out. "If we just have a little bit more faith in us, in the community, we would make it."   

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gathering of friends on Lander Street, Newburgh, NY

A very hot day in September. Friendships, teasing, frayed tempers, thirst and criticism of Newburgh run high.

Man's best friend

Here is Travis and his very dear friend Vegas. Vegas did not like the look of either the camera tripod nor the nine foot microphone boom pole when we were setting up to film. He barked and danced about but Travis gently calmed him down explaining that he was perfectly safe and that we needed the equipment to film. As can be seen from this picture, Vegas understood this and sat still and alert, allowing his master to speak his mind about the plight of Newburgh without interruption.

Father and daughter on Lander Street, Newburgh NY

The bulk of the filming of Newburgh: Beauty and Tragedy is complete. If we are lucky with the weather we shall be able to finish it and start work on the editing in November.

At the end of our interview with Point, we asked if we could see his daughter. He spends a lot of time looking after her and he has a particularly gentle way with her. Amongst the violence and hardship that Point experienced during his childhood, he suffered as much, he said, from his father's absence. He does not want that to happen between him and his daughter.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Two of the fine house on the south end of Lander Street in Newburgh NY. Built in the days when materials and workmanship were of the highest quality, it is not surprising that some, like these two, have survived being unoccupied for forty years, and could still be saved.

South end of Lander Street

This popular and extroverted girl sat with her friends on the stoop of a house on the south end of Lander Street in Newburgh NY. Here stand doomed houses ready for execution by the wrecker's ball.

She had words to say about the terrible food in her school, and the mice that ran free. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Twilight on Broadway

I stop people on street corners always by a corner store so that I have light to illuminate them. I ask them to stand stock still.  The world whirls around them, shadowy figures and tearing cars.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mother with one of her nine children

Mother and daughter on Dubois Street. One of nine children.

Finely dressed Vietnam veteran

Driving home from the City Terrace block party (outstanding Jamaican disk jockey and dancing from 50 year-old mothers), we passed three men in the bus shelter on the corner of Broadway and Liberty. Tavares said, "Did you see them?" We stopped and walked back. Two of the men said no to photographs but the third said yes.

He is a Vietnam veteran. I asked him if he had seen Full Metal Jacket. "The only one," he replied. After a pause he added, "And Apocalypse Now." 

Later I asked Caroline if she thought the three men were waiting for a bus. "Oh, no, the bus shelter is the senior citizen center."

Monday, August 17, 2015

August on Broadway

                                                                                                                                                Photograph by Caroline Kasterine

Our sound crew crossing Broadway in Newburgh to film Amina. Amina is a librarian who collects books that are donated by libraries and parents. She loads them on to wagons and gives them away to children on the streets of Newburgh. 

The Fullerton Cultural Center are helping by allowing books to be dropped off at their carriage house. Amina and her two children are seen in the video below on a recent 93 degree day on Lander Street, distributing books from one of their wagons donated by a Newburgh resident. The success of this endeavor is one example of the generosity that  exists in Newburgh.

My two sound recordists, Veronica, age 18 and Tavares, aged 23, are both Newburgh residents whom I trained from scratch. Not difficult; Veronica is a singer, and Tavares a music lover who has experience with studio recording.


Advice to the city council

Two sisters of Liberty Street give their views on what must be done with the city they love.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Remembering a tragedy, Newburgh NY

A young woman looks down the street where her brother crashed his car into a tree as he was being chased by the police. He died on the way to hospital.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Father, mother and daughter, Newburgh NY, 1997

With a view to interviewing or recording conversations with some of my subjects from my book Newburgh: Portrait of a City, I recently asked Veronica, our production assistant and fixer, to look at a number of photographs in the book to see if she knew any of the people in the photographs, or their whereabouts. Below is one of the pictures I showed her. She recognized the 13 year-old (now 31) and knew where she lived although she did not remember her name.
Yesterday we went round to her house but she was not there. While we stood outside talking to the neighbors, a car drew up and a middle-aged woman climbed out followed by a younger woman. "That's them," said Veronica. The mother's name is Jacqueline Burnett. Her daughter is Natalie.

Mother and child on Liberty Street, Newburgh NY

Fearing an accident I have relinquished the driving in Newburgh to Caroline so that I can look for subjects with both eyes. But it was eagle eyes herself who spotted this mother and child. (They were on her side of the street and she had stopped at a light.)