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do not climb the fence!by Ernie Koy, Jr Look, my favorite Christmas movie is Blast Of Silence, so I’m not going to tell anybody to buy Lisa Kahane‘s Do Not Give Way To Evil: Photographs of the South Bronx, 1979-1987 for any reason other than the fact it’s goddamn great. I don’t want to give too much away either but it’s fully the equal of something likebronx ballin’ Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper’s Subway Art, Mel Rosenthal’s In The South Bronx of America and Camilo Vergara’s The New American Ghetto. And yet I wonder, what kind of name is Kahane anyway? Koy is Bronx Irish (with 1/8th Filipino) but Kahane, Kahane: that’s an odd one. Growing up in the Bronx, it used to be the Albanians tried to pass as Italians; nowadays the Italians feel lucky if they’re mistaken for Albanian and nearly all the cooks in Belmont are from Mexico or Ecuador. Back when I was running South Boogie Down— full court, half-court, handball, down the freight tracks in Port Morfreedom nowris on the way back from Hell Gate or away from some flatfoot in the 4-0 during a late night graffiti mission—there weren’t many Italians left, very very few. That’s when I started learning Spanish: El Jockey es vuelto and other popular songs. (I had taken some Latin at Cardinal Hayes High School but I was more interested in the streets than Catullus.) What’s especially wild about Do Not Give Way To Evil (Ne cede malis— see Father MacMurray; I learned something) is how much it overlaps with New York Calling without actually having bumped into each other at the corner of E. 138th Street and Rider, say. In fact, ever since it came out this past sahearn torres styleummer, Brian Berger and Bronx-writer C.J. Sullivan have been battling to see who can figure out every single one of Lisa’s locations first. Last I heard, they’d nailed about 3/4ths of the spots but I don’t know if either dude has it in him to finish the job— I guess we’ll see. Meanwhile, get this book— and if you’re in the ‘hood, it’s right from the source, Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main Street, Brooklyn; it’s still Fulton Ferry to me, man!

Ernie Koy Jr. grew up Catholic in Kingsbridge.

Berenice “The Abbott”/BZA adds: first three photographs are by Lisa Kahane; all rights and then some are reserved. The last picture is by Brian Berger and appears in black and white on page 18 of New York Calling. The sculpture is called “Life On Dawson Street” and it’s by John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres. For Lisa’s 1982 photo of John and Rigoberto’s “Double Dutch At Kelly Street” see page 92 of Do Not Give Way To Evil; my own “Double Dutch” shot from last summer is currently inaccessible.


Brian Berger himself jumps off: Lisa is awesome, yes, and if anyone is stumped for gift ideas, let me remind ya’ll of the best New York City photography book of 2007, Joseph Anastasio’s Subway Solitude. Don’t be fooled by the self-publication; almost every art photographer will tell you the racket pays barely more than poetry and the monetary costs— especially for those working with film— are far higher. While Anastasio’s work and Lisa’s are quite different they both have similar drives to get in there and do the work. Some publisher would be wise to put out more books by both these artists. (See To The Gates OV Hell for a brief introduction to Joe’s above ground work.)

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