Stuck between her high school diploma and her mother's scrapbook of her achievements, were several copies of a professional 'headshot' of Florence and this picture.
The headshot has Florence against a white backdrop, gazing into the distance with subtle glamor befitting a young Julliard pianist. She's floating in some cloud that we are all part of.
But this picture tells a different story. It must have been taken at the same time because Florence is wearing the same dress and makeup.
But its attempt at being a professional photo of a young Julliard pianist falls short. It's when you look closely that you realize you are not in some artistic bubble of comfort and genteel intellect.
No. You are in a tenement, probably the one on Hester Street where Florence and her mother Sophie lived in for many years.
The window sill is beat up. The radiator cover a bit worn. There are blinds on the window, not something one might find in a lush home. And barely visible, but clearly there, are the bars of a fire escape.
I looked at this picture and cringed. It reminded me all too well of Florence's and my own attempts to step into a world beyond our own wallets, thinking we were representing our work just like everyone else, but in fact revealing how far away we lived from the world we were trying to enter.
MY PRIVATE CONEY presents IT WAS HER NEW YORK, the short stories that accompany the work-in-progress video and photo collection of the same name (myprivateconey.com - media link - IT WAS HER NEW YORK). The stories and the media explore the tender rubble that holds both my mother, Florence's and New York's soul as one disappears into old age and the other into gentrification. All are real observations and/or experiences with very little tall-tale telling.
Except when it makes the story better.
Please visit myprivateconey.com for additional information and sample works.