L. A.   6th  and  Main   1984

In the mid 1980's My wife and I moved from suburban Seattle to Downtown Los Angeles. We moved from a big house to a fifth floor loft. We had just as well moved to outer space.

My wife is a commercial artist and I am a photographer. She had offers to do freelance art for the movie industry and I was going to photograph the mood of Downtown L A . We had been raised on farms in rural America. That is where your word is your bond and friendships often last a lifetime. For us that was all about to change.

I started photographing the people on the street. I soon learned that the sizable medium format camera that I was using was all wrong. It caused too much attention and I couldn't run very fast with it. I traded it for a much smaller Nikon.

There were all sorts of people on the street. There were businessmen in fresh expensive suits and street cops walking in pairs. There were few young people and even fewer old people. Mostly there were street people in varying degrees of fresh decay.

The street people didn't abide by rules. They had nothing to lose and they knew it. Their meager existence came mostly from petty drug deals and panhandling. No two were alike and no two had the same story.
I spoke with most of the people I photographed. I would ask them simple questions to open a dialog. I kept copious notes of their responses. The most intriguing thing to me about the responses is how they didn't match the questions.
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Working on the 6th and Main photos with oil colors back in 1984.

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The photographs below were selected out of 64 images. The images were printed on Ektalure G paper when it was still available and hand colored with Marshall's oil colors.

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This is Al. He used to be a flagman on an aircraft carrier. I asked him why he had a cigarette by his ear. He explained that it was a show of wealth to have one to smoke and one to show. When I asked him if I could photograph him he replied "if you want to take my picture then go ahead. I could be dead in 3 days."

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Why The Hubcap?  "Go back to Israel where you belong."

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I asked this man if he had been here long.  He said "Roll these knuckles!" I found out later that the cops roll your knuckles to see if there are calcium deposits from street fighting . I had mine rolled many times .

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 I asked her if she needed any help and she said "I've carried these bags for almost a block and if you touch them I will smear you with this green rag."

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This lady looked as though she had been on the street quite a while. I asked her if she was from L A and she replied "I used to model for Vogue. I'm really a writer. I'm just here for the money."

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I asked if I could photograph him and he replied "You have one second to take my picture asshole." I was told by one of the other bikers that my subject was the President of Hells Angels L A.

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 I found this lady on the street one afternoon. She seemed very agitated and when I asked who gave her the scars she blurted out "I'll kill him if I find him, and I'm lookin'."

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I asked this man if he could see all right. He responded with "I see just fine."

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 "I like this time of day."

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A product of a system.

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This salesman walked right up to me a little too close and said"I can get you anything you want man."

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This poor guy was in obvious great discomfort. I asked how he liked L A and he replied "I'm gonna get through this."

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"I won a lot of medals in Nam."