I had the most incredible thing happen this Memorial Day Weekend and no one seems to, or could possibly appreciate it as much as I. Years ago, the winter of 2013-14, during a sorting and cleaning house process with my external hard drives, I mistakenly threw out 2013. People have asked me if I’ve lost footage I’ve shot over time, and that answer is, God, yes. This time it included every photo and video I shot in 2013. And the 2 seconds after I emptied that trashcan I knew exactly what I’d done. It was terrible.
I called my friend Greg and he told me to bring that hard drive over and he’d retrieve what he could. But another mistake I made was while searching for it in panic mode I moved stuff back and forth on hard drives which unbeknownst to me makes what I tossed even more difficult to retrieve. Anyhow, I took it all to Greg, and he couldn’t get the bulk of it. Most the photos were saved, but all he could restore of all the videos were thumbnails. It was heartbreaking. So I made a new folder for 2013 where I put all this so at the very least I’d have record of what I lost. And every time I went there in the months and years to follow I’d see these incomplete folders and my heart would break all over again.
The one thing this tragedy did do was make me commit, from that day forward to back stuff up better. The other commitment I made after this was to shoot enough footage from here on to dwarf what had been lost.
So now here I am in Michigan with finally the time, quiet and mindset to get back into organizing and editing old videos that I’ve had stored away for so long. By the way, I’ve got sooooo much unused, unseen footage now I could post a new video a week for the next year and still have more left over. And it’s quality footage too, as you might have seen from the stuff I’ve been posting lately. It’s insane how much I’ve accumulated over a decade.
Anyhow, this last weekend I was going through old hard drives (I have several) and buried in a folder within a folder within another folder, deep down in the matrix of my files was one titled 2013. My heart skipped a beat. And upon opening it, low and behold there was the entire 2013 year of photos and videos, just sitting there! Lord knows how or why. I don’t remember backing it up there, but that was also a time when I was trying to be a responsible photographer, and, my god, it paid off. I’m just overjoyed.
I’ve really been getting into going back through all this stuff and giving it new life. The process is helping my brain hone in on this project’s future. I’m able to see more clearly where this is going, what I’ll do down the line to complete these stories, and what it all might look like. I’ve contacted my friend Neil Abramson who shot the Bob Smith movie back in 2003 to see if he might have any interest in working on this with me. He also has footage of Shaggy and me when we first met that year which never made it to his final movie, but would be perfect for this. Either way though, I’m going to make something happen. I just need time.
In all this Union Square nostalgia I finally made a new postcard! This one’s different though. What I did was take every character I ever put on the Matchgame postcards from the past and gathered them for a group photo at the illustrated park. You’d have to be the most obsessive Amazing Strangers nerd to name them all, but I tell ya, it’s beautiful. It’s about twice the size of a normal store-bought postcard, and the back is the standard for mailing, but includes the Wendell Head logo I drew last year. They really are quite impressive, and I’ve put them up for sale in my store. The other match game cards are all gone except for the 2013 one. I’ve got this up for sale too for as long as they last.
If your cartoon image actually appears on this group shot card I will mail you it for free! You have to prove to me somehow you’re the person you say you are, and give me a mailing address, but I’ll happily send one to you no charge under those conditions.
I’ve been speaking to Shaggy on an almost weekly basis and he’s still visiting Union daily. But he’s also said the parks completely changed. He described the change as freaky. None of the regulars from the past hang around any more. The groups like the junkies, homeless kids, crusties and other weirdos aren’t there any more. And in Shaggy’s own words “Union is no different now than any other park in NYC.” I’m not sure how much of that has to do with me leaving, or the direction it was already headed that nudged me towards leaving, but the combination of both are probably what did it. If you go there and find otherwise please let me know. But for now this is the news from Union Square.
Now here’s some more of that 2013 year I thought was lost forever.