I jumped in the car to take my dear friend Danny Multer out for dinner. His cat is relocating to Miami and Danny felt it was the right thing to to do to follow Minke. Danny was kind enough to gift me several old photographic books and a few glass plates that are amazing to play with. The Mexican beer was good, I won’t talk about the quality of food but the beer was good.
Hugh’s recent birthday celebration https://vimeo.com/204043097
About Hugh Brodie – Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Illinois Jacquet were just a few of the musicians that were in Hugh’s dreams as a boy. Little did he know that he would be playing with Jacquet in the 1980’s. Yet, even before he could afford his 3 dollar lessons, Hugh Brodie would fantasize about becoming one of the great jazz musicians.
Hugh’s first exposure to the blues came when he was very young in the fields of North Carolina. He worked on his cousin’s farm and listed to the workers as they sang the blues in the blazing sun tending to the watermelon and sugar cane.
Later, in his early teens, Hugh was amazed by the way the members of the Sanctified Church in Newark N.J. used music in their worship. Hugh was astonished when he witnessed fellow worshipers being overcome by “the great creator” from their toes to their head. These experiences planted the seeds for Brodie’s future music. They created the life experiences and burning hunger that Hugh needed to create music about the spiritual world. Hugh wanted to play music so badly that he begged his father to buy him a sax. Tenor Sax
Times Herald Record – Hugh was a storied jazz veteran. When asked to describe himself, he first says, “I am a creator,” then, “I am a searcher.” He played tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet, flute, sang and scatted. He was cousin to the great Ella Fitzgerald. Hugh devoted his entire life to jazz, developing his own sound, creating his own music and executing his own unique musical visions. He was taught and encouraged by the greats before him and he, in turn, passed on his collected knowledge, to those who played on the bandstand with him or, who sought him out at his home in Monticello, NY. He has many recordings to his credit, played with the famous Illinois Jacquet big band, traveled the world, produced his own music and appeared in movies and modeled throughout his life.
To All the Ships at Sea,
There was a great man by the name of Pat Napolitano. Patty was one of my oldest and
dearest friends and a person that was very important in my life. On many
occasions, I’ve mentioned that I’m the luckiest man in the world. I have a
great family, great friends, and a great life partner I call Sunshine. Most
of these people have been with me, most of my life. They’ve supported me and
helped me to be a better person.
When God made Pat he literally threw away the mold. He was one of the
strongest, bravest, and true friends God put on this earth. At the ripe old
age of 15, five people tried to kill me. They had me on the ground kicking
me in the face and chest and delicate parts of my body. A total stranger
came along and literally pulled them off, one at a time and saved my life.
The bottom line is, if he did not help me, I wouldn’t be around today. It’s
been many, many years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. This was the
foundation for a very long friendship.
We’d all gather at Pat’s home 10-15 of us and we’d work on our cars, have a
party and play poker. It was a beautiful time. The Napolitano family had a
curse. They all seemed to have genetic heart disease. Pat’s dad passed away
at 55 of a heart attack, then his mom, then his older brother Ralph.
You should not be surprised that Pat was the Captain of the Football Team as
well as Captain of the Wrestling Team. In those days we played both offense
and defense. He was an amazing physical specimen and extremely intelligent.
Patty had an interesting way of motivating people especially someone like me
who was considerably weaker, smaller, and not nearly as brave. One day
somebody for no particular reason, called me a “Diego Wop”, and called me
out for a street fight. One of our teachers broke it up. and as truth be
known, I did everything I could to avoid it, because I was frightened. I
managed to avoid this gentleman and I use the term lightly, for two to three
days. One night after a movie Pat brought me to the back alley of the movie
house in the parking lot. He had arranged for this person to be there so
the fight could happen. I still had my doubts and fears but Pat made it
simple. He grabbed my shoulder and pulled me nose to nose, looked into my
eyes and simply said you have a choice Joe D, you can fight him or me the
choice is yours. The fight lasted maybe 40 seconds, I beat him because Pat
taught me you may be afraid but failure is never an option. On the football
field and on the wrestling mat he was an animal but once he left he was a
mild mannered sweet person. He had a slight birth defect which made him
deaf in one ear. He talked low, slow and cautiously. They called us the
“Shy Ones” Andy Boy Saccone, Richie Walsh, Lew Staudenbauer, Teddie Milito,
Jerry Riggerio, Ronnie Valerio, Frank Alagna, Pete Picciano, Bobby Wein, Ray Williamson, Al
Bukowski, Tommy Halinar, Bob Hoffman, Ralph Brandofino, Bob Piracci, and Joe
DiMaggio. I hope I did not forget anyone of the guys.
Something happened in March of this year, exactly what it was, I don’t know
but it was very serious. It was the beginning of my friend Pat’s highly
specialized dementia. As soon as I found out how serious this was, I got
into my automobile and drove to see my friend at Stony Brook University
Hospital. I spent about 3 1/2 hours with him and helped feed him. He did
not recognize me. I prayed for a miracle and prayed that God would come
down from the heavens and save him and his life would go on and it would be
good and complete. My friend Patty had a great wife and two great children.
Pat had another close friend who was the third Musketeer by the name of
Ralph, flew in from Fort Lauderdale. I picked him up and we went to the
hospital together and visited Pat for 4.5 hours. It was obvious then that
things were not getting better. Pat wasn’t shaved in weeks so we asked the
nurse for a shaving kit and she brought us an electric razor. We shaved our
friend and took turns holding his hand. While I was holding Pat’s hand I
could feel the strength oozing out of his body. It was a strange feeling.
I had a funny feeling he was not going to be with us much longer.
At the end of our visit with Pat, I changed my prayer. Before we left,
Ralph kissed him on the right of his forehead I kissed the left. At the end
of my last visit I change my prayer that God will take him quickly so he
wouldn’t suffer anymore. God answered my prayer but it didn’t make me feel
happy. I don’t believe in the word closure. I loved him the day I met him, I
love him every day of all the years I’ve known him. I will always love Pat.
At the wake which was one day and only four hours, there were at least 400
people possibly more that came to pay their respect. They came from all
over the United States. In all the years I knew Pat, I never heard one bad
word. One of the things I almost forgot to mention was his great sense of
humor. One day coming back from Manhattan, he asked me for a light for his
cigarette. He was driving his 1957 Chevrolet and I was sitting shotgun. I
passed him my zippo lighter. He lit the cigarette and threw the lighter out
the window. About 30 minutes later he asked me for another light. I pressed
the cigarette lighter in the car, he lit the cigarette and threw that out
the window. At the time I did not think it was funny but looking back at it
I find it hysterical.
I could write a book on what a great friend and helluva person he
was. Pat I will always love you. To All The Ships At Sea – I pray you have
a great friend like Pat Napolitano
To All The Ships At Sea
Yes it’s been a long time since I’ve done a blog. I’ve been on location, shooting, editing and working on a new documentary.
The most important thing in my life these days is time. I’d like to take a little bit of time out and tell a story about two beautiful people. My brother Amir and his beautiful wife Hannah. They live in a beautiful home on the West Bank in Israel and have an amazing family. It’s a home filled with love, understanding, compassion and true caring. This is a family that doesn’t see hate or prejudice. They’re always looking at the beautiful Sun in the desert they call Israel. It’s a special time as Passover is right around the corner. In a world that is moving at light speed (yes I used it again,) we all need to take a breath and really enjoy the sunrises, sunsets, smell the flowers. A hug, a kiss are both wonderful things that are free. So Hannah I wish you a great journey. I’ve included a few photos from our Book A Land of Milk & Honey.
To All The Ships At Sea
On more than one occasion I’ve made an announcement on the loss of a very special human being. As a young man I wrote a letter to John Dominis, staff photographer at LIFE Magazine and much to my surprise I received a beautiful letter back and phone call. Like all great talented people, most of them are genuinely humble. John was the epitome of this.
It was several years before we had an opportunity to meet in person and nothing changed. Still one of the greatest photographers of our time and a helluva great person. I guess I’ve learned to celebrate someone’s life and not go into a morbid funk about their loss. Having said that, I will share a story with you. John Dominis turned out to be my Photo Editor at Sports Illustrated. When he took over he called me into his office and asked me what lens I used which was a total shock. When I told him it was a 16mm Nikkor (or was it a 15mm Nikkor I don’t remember?) He told me never to use a full frame fisheye on an S.I. assignment again or I will hear the words – you’ll never work for this book again. That was a side of John I had never seen before – stern, to the point and no bull – his way or the highway. About a year later, he gave me an assignment which may have been the longest assignment I had ever had at S.I. It was in excess of 3 weeks and covered 8 states from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to SaltLake City Utah, Reno Nevada, with a stop in Atlanta, Georgia and I forgot where else. I was doing a story on the Wittington Brothers who had just won Le Mans and were in the process of breaking the speed record in a WWII P51 Mustang. After three or four days of delays Bill Wittington, also known as the Wildman, said, “okay let’s go now.” I sat in the back of the P51 where the radio used to be. He said there was room for me, one camera, one lens, and some film. He also suggested I take an ID in case we crash. I looked at my assistant and said give me the F2 with the widest lens we have. He handed it to me and the next thing I knew we were at 900 feet doing a snap roll (it got my attention.) It was not lost on me that I had the full frame fisheye which if you bend off it’s axis it will just look like a super wide angle lens. When the assignment was over, I turned in all my film and heard nothing. It was a future bonus piece so there was no deadline per se. A few months later about 1 AM the phone rang and John Dominis was on the line. He said, “I just wanted to tell you I just edited your Wittington Story and it’s one of the finest stories to go past my desk. You did one hell of a great job and I did not want to wait to tell you. By the way, what lens did you use in the cockpit?” I said, “John I think it was an 18mm.” Dominis said, “I helped design that lens and that was no 18mm. Didn’t I tell you not to use that lens? It worked for this but don’t ever use it again.” That’s my story.
If you want to see a some really fine photography check out John Dominis’ work. He’s right there with W. Gene Smith, Alfred Eisenstadt, Carl Mydans and one of the all time greats.
To all the ships at sea, I had an old friend call me and ask if there was anything I could do to help his daughter make a few contacts on the west coast. That old friend was Gary LaFranco. Gary is an extremely fine photo instructor at Sussex Community College and has maintained an ongoing photo business for the last 25 years in Newton, New Jersey. Over the years he’s been extremely kind to me and now I’m going to take the opportunity to see if I can repay him just a little bit. Gary, Amanda LaFranco, JoAnne, and I had a meeting on Monday morning and discussed the lay of the land in Los Angeles. Obviously, we concentrated on the positive aspects of a relocation to the city of angels. There’s no doubt that it takes a little bit of getting used to, but Amanda wants to be part and parcel of the world of film. The last time I checked, Hollywood was still the film capital of the world, followed rapidly by New York, Toronto, and the list goes on. As soon as I finish this blog, I’m going to write five or six emails to some good friends in LA and see if we can give her a little bit of a jump start. She’s an extremely bright and dynamic young lady with a great work ethic and dedication to her art. I can’t wait to see her credit on a feature film. Hey, another good day! Two in a row? That’s scary.
This blog should have been put up June 6, 2013
There are many people who judge their wealth by how much money they have in stocks, bonds, bank accounts, the size of their automobiles and how many summer homes they have. I’m not going to question them for the simple reason I am one of the richest men in the world. There are only 8 or 9 people who can verify that. I became this wealthy because of great friendships. The oldest living friend I have , since Will Barnet has gone onto his studio in the sky at 101 years old. It now brings me to Jess Weiss my second oldest friend. The great part is he’s alive and well. The first time I stepped into his office I noticed there was a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt thanking him for his bravery and next to the letter was the Silver Star, Purple Heart and several other Medals which unfortunately, I’m not familiar with. That was approximately 20 years ago. I said to Jess, “my God you’re a hero” and he looked at me and said, “no I’m a coward.” Like most true heroes they never speak of the war. They lived it and bled with it and it’s imbedded in every fiber of their being forever and probably will remain with them to the next level of consciousness. He explained he saw 3,000 men die that day and during the balance of the war about another 7,000 men. He never elaborated on why he received all the medals he did. Jess was there for me when my mother, father, my son and my brother died. His words of wisdom, his teaching allowed me to go on and not give up. That translates into an infinite amount of money. Obviously the money is meaningless but the friendship is worth everything. So on the 69th Anniversary of the D Day Invasion I take my Beret off to my dear friend Jess Weiss. Monday he will be attending a dinner held by the French consulate and will be giving a short speech on Omaha Beach. I hope they’re not disappointed because Jess is not only one of the bravest men I know, but one of the humblest as well . God is truly in him. The French Government has just bestowed this Medal for Jess’s outstanding service 69 years ago on Omaha Beach. Thank you my friend. All Americans and all Frenchmen thank you.
Hi to All the Ships at Sea,
I never put a name on a photograph nor do I put titles, and for the most part, I don’t dedicate photographs to anyone. Last night JoAnne and I had the opportunity to go visit an old friend, Ann Raine. Ann is one of the most beautiful, lovely, wonderful people I have ever met. In a world before multi-tasking, she was an international horse woman, potter, smart banker, business woman and more recently a great photographer. We went to say hello and we did. She is as beautiful today as when I met her 10 years ago. So I dedicate this photo to Ann, she inspired me to take it. It’s not my usual style. Thanks for the inspiration.
All the Best,
“I was a young lad when I met Joe and JoAnne, I was a junior (maybe) in high school, showed up at their waterfront house to interview. Thought JoAnne was his daughter, good thing I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say that. They’ve become more of my second family rather than a job, and that’s why I never truly got fired. I processed black and white film and printed,(my 14-year-old asked “whats a darkroom?”) stamped color slides for days on end, drove cool cars, traveled and sat ringside at the Cooney Holmes championship fight. Fished, moved them to the sticks and idealized all they did (almost All). Love you guys dearly, I don’t blog but that’s all”
Andrew started with both JoAnne and myself when he was 15 years old. He loaded my cameras at heavyweight champion fights. Over the years, we all became very close friends and now the relationship has grown into absolute family. He has an extraordinary family, beautiful wife, children and is extremely successful in his business. He has taken photography, his original passion, to a whole new level. He has a brutal schedule. His passion is so strong, that he will drive two hours in one direction, shoot for half an hour and drive three hours back in traffic. Not only to make a great photo, but it becomes a zen like experience.
Of course I told him he was out of his mind to do that. Thank God he doesn’t listen to me all the time. To this day, if I called Andrew and said, I have a 6 figure assignment and I need your help, he would come out of retirement, (there’s no doubt in my mind) he would drop what he was doing and join me anywhere in the world. If I told you once, I told you a thousand times, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. The following two photographs, well they need not be explained. Photo tip for today: take what you really like, turn it into a passion. You’ll make great art, and maybe take a little stress out of your life. His black and white photos motivated me to go out and shoot some serious black and white.
All the Best,
Hi to all the ships at sea,
I would like to wish everybody a healthy happy, new year (hey idiot, it’s the 15th-where have you been?!) Sorry guys, the last 45 days have been brutal, and I’m not going to go there today. I decided to take Saturday off, and I went to visit my former English professor/football coach, who has just been admitted to the Stoney Brook VA Nursing Home. It was the best 60 seconds and the worst 19.5 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life. I’ve loved this man for 50 plus years, and I’ve resolved myself to the fact that will be the last time I get to see him. I drove 7 miles to see one of my former assistants, he showed my three photographs that blew my head off. They were just gorgeous. He explained how he did them,why he did them, not that he had to; the photographs did not require any information, they moved me from a very negative place to a very good place. 15 miles west and an hour later, I went to see my oldest friend Pat Nap and he looked great! In the day he was a great football player and a world-class amateur wrestler, and ya know what, he still looks great today. OK-this moves us another hour and a half down the road and I stopped by to see my spiritual advisor, Jess Weiss. We had three or four emails in the last week, and three or four phone calls. His lovely bride of 38 years passed away four weeks ago. I went to see him because he’s my hero. The first time I walked into his office, above his desk was the silver star and ten other medals. I told him he was a true hero. He explained to me that he was a coward. He felt guilty that he left Omaha Beach alive during the D-day invasion and thousands of his brothers did not. Jess has written five books, I strongly recommend reading one of them or more…he’s not only a true hero, but he’s a visionary. He is one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. His 97th birthday is in two weeks and looking into his eyes, I saw a 20 year old man. Thank God for Jess. My life partner JoAnne Kalish reminds me that I’m a photographer and filmmaker and that my blogs should be about photography and filmmaking. This blog IS about communication and respect and history. That’s what photography is. I remember someone telling me, life is hills and valleys. In twelve hours I went from the highest mountain to the lowest peak and back to the highest mountain, so I guess that person was right. LIFE IS PRECIOUS. Please spend every second you can enjoying what you have.
Healthy, happy new year