Underneath the fireworks in the night sky, New York is dark, a nourish place where Arlene Gottfried takes her camera and collects images of a place like no other. The Lower East Side has become iconographic, all the more so because it’s been erased. But back when Gottfried walked the streets, another City awaited, one that was vibrant and vibrated with the rhythm and style best described by the word Nuyorican.
The Puerto Rican influence on New York is encapsulated by the Nuyorican Poet’s Café on East Third Street. Here, Gottfried went to listen to music and to dance, to meet people and connect with the community. Collected together in her fourth book, Bacalaitos & Fireworks (powerHouse Books), Gottfried’s L.E.S. is a highly charged environment, a period of volatility of lean and desperate years. Yet despite the stress and strife, a close-knit inner-city spirit shines forth, a spirit of the Latin energy found throughout the city’s homes, social clubs, churches, and streets. Prophets came in the form of poets like Miguel Piñero, who was a friend of Gottfried. Her portrait of him is a somber melody of a very old soul poised among the debris, haunting like the refrains from an epic poem written on the City streets.
Read the Full Story at NYC, 1981