Graham Parker @ The Ritz – New York, NY May 5, 1982
Updated Upate: Boy did I blow this — twice! I’ve changed this post three times now! D’oh! The first time I was corect placing it at The Ritz in NYC. Then I thought it was Irving Plaza, becuase in my brain I thought I NEVER saw a show at The Ritz! My buddy and concert mate Charlie Maraia kept telling me … “No Joe — it WAS the Ritz.” To which I answered, “No! I never saw a show at the Ritz.” I was dead wrong! In fact, having recently found a stash of old concert tickets I did find one for Mr Parker @ The Ritz — and the show was on May 5th not May 3rd as I originally thought. Aging brain cells … double D’oh!! Please enjoy Graham Parker @ Irving Plaza – New York, NY May 5, 1982
Long ago and far away in the shining metropolis of Manhattan, two young men ventured forth to see Graham Parker @ The Ritz – New York, NY May 5, 1982. This was no ordinary show. Okay. Let me rephrase that. The show was probably amazing! The circumstances surrounding my/us getting there have been shrouded in the fog of time & my aging brain. So most of the story I’m about to put forth has come second hand, as told to me by my long time friend ans fellow photographer Charlie Maraia, who was also in attendance—sort of.
A little back story might be appropriate here. Taking us to those “Back To Schooldays”. Charlie and I both attended college at CW Post Center of Long Island University. I’m not sure I knew him when I started Fall semester of 1978. But fast forward to 1982, Charlie and I are becoming fast friends. Still can’t tell you how we met. Maybe a common class? But the bottom line—Charlie and I were spending more and more time together. After graduation from Post he and I would travel to Europe for a month-log adventure. But this crazy night in New York had some backstory of its own.
Crazy Eddie’s in Syoset, NY is where it all started. I worked in the record department there. We had a odd promotional contest going on for the latest Graham Parker album “Another Grey Area”. On the display case near the register sat a large glass jar filled with—wait for it—graham crackers. Hey … I didn’t come up with it! The contest entailed guessing how many crackers were in the jar. The winner got two free tickets to see Graham Parker at The Ritz.
I have to say. I don’t remember any of this. But as Charlie told the story—it sounded very plausible. Seems I knew exactly how many crackers were in the jar—160. I asked Charlie to fill out a ticket and—funny—he won the tickets. Hmmm. It’s not like anyone got hurt—yet—and I REALLY wanted to see Mr Parker. But karma is a bitch!
As the story goes … Charlie was in NYC working in the photo studio of his then boss Bruce. I was on Long Island. I may have been working. Maybe not. But at some point, I climbed into my aging 1972 Dodge Omni—ERK—as it was lovingly named for the three letters in the license plate. Now ERK was my only mode of transport. It had broken down MANY times in the course of its life. And in that respect—ERK was on point that night.
As luck and karma would have it, ERK broke down at the entrance to the Queens Midtown Tunnel—AGAIN! This had happened once before a few year earlier on my way to see the Police at the Palladium with Ellyn Sollas and Candy Braught. But I digress. Remember … this is 1982. No cell phones. I sat at the entrance of the tunnel—at rush hour—and had to wait for them to shut down the tunnel so a tow-truck could come through the tunnel from the NYC side to pull me through. Let’s just say … there were a LOT of pissed off people on both sides of the tunnel!
While I was waiting to be dragged to a repair shop in Manhattan, Charlie was being introduced to scotch whiskey. And he “may” have imbibed a bit too much. This was Charlie’s first time drinking scotch. By the time we met up at Irving Plaza, Charlie was LOADED! So loaded he spent most of the show out in an alley puking his guts out on the sidewalk. I’m not even sure he saw ANY of the show. According to Charlie I would come out and check on him every once in a while to make sure he was alive.
But this is how we got to this place—Graham Parker @ Irving Plaza – New York, NY May 3, 1982.
So okay. Here I am at Irving Plaza. Charlie’s outside feeling like shit and I’m inside having a blast. If that wasn’t strange enough … I had memories of having taken photos that night. I had vague recollections of having photographed Graham Parker. I had a single B&W contact sheet of the show—including photos of two women I met and photographed at the show. Very odd! What was more odd—not being able to FIND the negatives in my archives. To further the mystery … the photos were shot on Ilford brand film. I had always shot Kodak film.
According to Charlie I used his Nikon 35mm camera to photograph the show that night. Guess I didn’t bring my cameras that night. This is plausible because Charlie has had the negatives for 33 years in his archives.
Charlie and I only recently reconnected. He had tried to find me many years ago via the interwebs, but couldn’t. Recently he did some radio shows and dedicated the shows to me—thinking I was 6 feet under! But I’m not dead yet! Coming home from the show Charlie broke down crying—thinking I was worm food. His wife told him … Charlie … Google Joe again. Sure enough … he found me and we reconnected. Life sure is strange!
Fucking long … isn’t it!
So who were these two women? Why in the world did I photograph them? Lord only knows! Looking at the photos I’d say they were VERY CLOSE friends. The poses may very well have been alcohol driven. But regardless … they were both very into it and they had fun posing! Great heart shaped glasses too!
If anyone knows who they are. YOu know the drill … leave a comment.
So I really can’t say I have solid memories of this show or that night. But as I look at the scans of the negatives, and I replay Charlie’s story, it does become more a memory of my own. Plus I can see I was shooting from all over the place at Irving Plaza—down in the audience, up in the balcony—and I also met and shot the two women at the club. Love thos glasses! It was a long night! It was a crazy night! But it was a fruitful night too. After al this time I have a friend back in my life and I have more new old photos.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I have … relearning how they came to be.