Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook Shut Down an Entire City Block
A week ago, on a balmy Sunday evening in downtown Manhattan, a photography show shut down an entire city block. It was the New York edition of Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook installation at Team Gallery, where vivid and hedonistic portraits of beautiful youngsters have been wallpapered to every surface in the gallery. I saw a similar exhibition of McGinley’s Yearbookpictures in San Francisco last fall, but this new show takes the installation to an even more elaborate and all-encompassing level, coating every surface of the gallery in glossy, chromatic youth-beauty, so that not an inch of white wall remains. The photos, shot over the last 5 years in McGinley’s Chinatown studio, picture sweethearts of the downtown art scene, and everyone looks like they’re having fun. The air is getting colder, so back-to-school vibes are strong, and this seems like the perfect time to be looking at photos called Yearbook. VICE asked Ryan a few questions to find out more. 
 
VICE: How many photos are in the exhibition?
Ryan McGinley: The show has over 700 photographs stuck on the walls. Most people have two different photos from their studio shoot. 
 
How many years did it take you to shoot all the portraits for Yearbook?
The project has taken 5 years. I’ve shot peoples portraits ever month for it in my Chinatown studio in NYC since 2009. 
 
Where did the idea to totally cover the gallery walls come from?
I’ve always loved how street advertisements in NYC are wheat pasted on top of each other. I talked with a guy late one night who was doing it and he explained the process to me. 
 
Who are the people in the photographs?
Everyone I shoot is part of downtown’s creative community. Painters, Musicians, Dancers, Writers, Sculptors or Photographers. Those are the people that understand what I do and are excited to pose nude for me. 
 
What’s a typical studio shoot like?
I really love to have people lay on the floor and slowly move around, there is something so intimate about being on the ground together. Then we pick up the pace and the model gets to choose three songs they love to jam out to and we dance. Sometimes we break out the mini trampoline and jump around in circles on it. I’ve also got a treadmill that we’ve cut the guardrails off of and people run on that. I love collecting old beat up chairs that get thrown out from the streets of Chinatown. I’ve got a collection of them that models sit on, they’ve got character. 
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Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook Shut Down an Entire City Block

A week ago, on a balmy Sunday evening in downtown Manhattan, a photography show shut down an entire city block. It was the New York edition of Ryan McGinley’s Yearbook installation at Team Gallery, where vivid and hedonistic portraits of beautiful youngsters have been wallpapered to every surface in the gallery. I saw a similar exhibition of McGinley’s Yearbookpictures in San Francisco last fall, but this new show takes the installation to an even more elaborate and all-encompassing level, coating every surface of the gallery in glossy, chromatic youth-beauty, so that not an inch of white wall remains. The photos, shot over the last 5 years in McGinley’s Chinatown studio, picture sweethearts of the downtown art scene, and everyone looks like they’re having fun. The air is getting colder, so back-to-school vibes are strong, and this seems like the perfect time to be looking at photos called Yearbook. VICE asked Ryan a few questions to find out more. 
 
VICE: How many photos are in the exhibition?
Ryan McGinley: The show has over 700 photographs stuck on the walls. Most people have two different photos from their studio shoot. 
 
How many years did it take you to shoot all the portraits for Yearbook?
The project has taken 5 years. I’ve shot peoples portraits ever month for it in my Chinatown studio in NYC since 2009. 
 
Where did the idea to totally cover the gallery walls come from?
I’ve always loved how street advertisements in NYC are wheat pasted on top of each other. I talked with a guy late one night who was doing it and he explained the process to me. 
 
Who are the people in the photographs?
Everyone I shoot is part of downtown’s creative community. Painters, Musicians, Dancers, Writers, Sculptors or Photographers. Those are the people that understand what I do and are excited to pose nude for me. 
 
What’s a typical studio shoot like?
I really love to have people lay on the floor and slowly move around, there is something so intimate about being on the ground together. Then we pick up the pace and the model gets to choose three songs they love to jam out to and we dance. Sometimes we break out the mini trampoline and jump around in circles on it. I’ve also got a treadmill that we’ve cut the guardrails off of and people run on that. I love collecting old beat up chairs that get thrown out from the streets of Chinatown. I’ve got a collection of them that models sit on, they’ve got character. 

Continue

How One of NYC’s Most Storied Cops Became Public Enemy No. 1
In early August, just four days after Michael Brown was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and just under a month after 43-year-old, father of six, Eric Garner, was killed on camera while the NYPD attempted to arrest him, retired Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues appeared on an episode of the popular hip-hop podcast, the Combat Jack Show. What followed was a fascinating conversation in which Pegues detailed his childhood growing up as one of five kids with an alcoholic father and struggling mother in rough and tumble North Queens. The family’s dire financial straits led Corey to get involved in the street life at age 13. “The ironic thing is I think about Eric Garner getting murdered in Staten Island—for the record, you heard what I said, murdered—is at 13, I [was] selling loosies.” After a few years as a “hobbyist” drug dealer, Pegues says he graduated from loosies to becoming a full-fledged member of Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff’s notorious Supreme Team.Pegues operated as a loyal solider in the Supreme Team for years, engaging in various street brawls, gun fights, and robberies. But that all changed in 1988 when Corey’s first son was born. “When my son was born, I was like: ‘What kind of hero am I going to be? I’m either going to be a street legend or somebody positive,” Pegues told Combat Jack. “That was the change in my life. If you’re 25 and you’re selling drugs, you’re either going to be dead or in jail.”
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How One of NYC’s Most Storied Cops Became Public Enemy No. 1

In early August, just four days after Michael Brown was gunned down by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and just under a month after 43-year-old, father of six, Eric Garner, was killed on camera while the NYPD attempted to arrest him, retired Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues appeared on an episode of the popular hip-hop podcast, the Combat Jack Show

What followed was a fascinating conversation in which Pegues detailed his childhood growing up as one of five kids with an alcoholic father and struggling mother in rough and tumble North Queens. The family’s dire financial straits led Corey to get involved in the street life at age 13. “The ironic thing is I think about Eric Garner getting murdered in Staten Island—for the record, you heard what I said, murdered—is at 13, I [was] selling loosies.” 

After a few years as a “hobbyist” drug dealer, Pegues says he graduated from loosies to becoming a full-fledged member of Kenneth “Supreme” McGriff’s notorious Supreme Team.

Pegues operated as a loyal solider in the Supreme Team for years, engaging in various street brawls, gun fights, and robberies. But that all changed in 1988 when Corey’s first son was born. “When my son was born, I was like: ‘What kind of hero am I going to be? I’m either going to be a street legend or somebody positive,” Pegues told Combat Jack. “That was the change in my life. If you’re 25 and you’re selling drugs, you’re either going to be dead or in jail.”

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Spike Jonze Made a Surprise ‘Music Video’ for Karen O

On Sunday we made a one-act play for my friend Humberto’s company, Opening Ceremony. The idea was to do a play instead of a regular fashion show during Fashion Week, and, miraculously, we were able to do it at the New York Metropolitan Opera House. (Thank you, Peter Gelb and everyone at the Met!) Also, this week my dear friend Karen is putting out her first solo album of precious, personal love and heartache gems titled Crush Songs. They are songs made so intimately and spontaneously alone in her bedroom a few years ago that they feel more like unguarded whispers from her heart than a traditionally produced album. So on Sunday, during a ten-minute break as we were rehearsing and lighting at the Met, we made a very impromptu “music video” for Karen in the spirit of her album. It just seemed like if you have the Opera House, that song, and Elle Fanning together, you shouldn’t let the opportunity go by. So we made this as a surprise gift for Karen to congratulate her on her album. She is going to see this for the first time as you do. I hope you enjoy.

—Spike Jonze

(Source: Vice Magazine)

Why People of Color in NYC Still Don’t Trust the Cops
On July 17, New York City police officers surrounded Eric Garner, an overweight, asthmatic black man, near his home on Staten Island. According to Garner’s neighborhood pal Ramsey Orta, the cops were hassling Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, because they thought he was involved in a street scuffle. The police’s version of the incident is that they approached Garner for selling individual cigarettes—“loosies”—which is illegal because the government doesn’t collect taxes on those sales.
As captured on video by Orta, Garner complained about routine NYPD harassment and was subsequently placed in a choke hold by a plainclothes officer named Daniel Pantaleo. With his head being smashed against the ground and the cops holding him down, Garner cried out, “I can’t breathe!” nine times—you can watch the video on YouTube yourself and count—to no avail. He was pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later, and the video quickly went viral. It bears a horrifying resemblance to the climactic scene of Radio Raheem getting murdered by the NYPD in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing—Lee even created his own mash-up of the two scenes after Garner’s death.
Almost immediately, cries rang out that Garner was a casualty of “broken windows” policing. That’s the theory that says going after minor quality-of-life offenses like graffiti, subway panhandling, and illegal cigarette sales helps discourage serious crimes like rape and murder. It’s the brainchild of criminologist George Kelling, who co-authored a 1982 Atlantic article that remains a sort of manual for modern policing in America. Broken windows was popularized by William Bratton, the NYPD commissioner in the 90s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani who has taken up his old post under the new mayor, Bill de Blasio. The mythology holds that it was the chief factor in the city’s incredible turnaround since the high-crime 70s and 80s—though many criminologists disagree.
Continue

Why People of Color in NYC Still Don’t Trust the Cops

On July 17, New York City police officers surrounded Eric Garner, an overweight, asthmatic black man, near his home on Staten Island. According to Garner’s neighborhood pal Ramsey Orta, the cops were hassling Garner, a 43-year-old father of six, because they thought he was involved in a street scuffle. The police’s version of the incident is that they approached Garner for selling individual cigarettes—“loosies”—which is illegal because the government doesn’t collect taxes on those sales.

As captured on video by Orta, Garner complained about routine NYPD harassment and was subsequently placed in a choke hold by a plainclothes officer named Daniel Pantaleo. With his head being smashed against the ground and the cops holding him down, Garner cried out, “I can’t breathe!” nine times—you can watch the video on YouTube yourself and count—to no avail. He was pronounced dead at a hospital an hour later, and the video quickly went viral. It bears a horrifying resemblance to the climactic scene of Radio Raheem getting murdered by the NYPD in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing—Lee even created his own mash-up of the two scenes after Garner’s death.

Almost immediately, cries rang out that Garner was a casualty of “broken windows” policing. That’s the theory that says going after minor quality-of-life offenses like graffiti, subway panhandling, and illegal cigarette sales helps discourage serious crimes like rape and murder. It’s the brainchild of criminologist George Kelling, who co-authored a 1982 Atlantic article that remains a sort of manual for modern policing in America. Broken windows was popularized by William Bratton, the NYPD commissioner in the 90s under Mayor Rudy Giuliani who has taken up his old post under the new mayor, Bill de Blasio. The mythology holds that it was the chief factor in the city’s incredible turnaround since the high-crime 70s and 80s—though many criminologists disagree.

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Jason Polan Is Trying/Failing to Draw Every Person in New York City

Artist Jason Polan is trying to draw every person in New York City, and he’s failing.
 
Over six years ago, the idea formed in his head, and when it existed in the laboratory that sits between his ears, the concept was so simple, so clean, so utterly perfect in the way a circle drawn by some theoretical supercomputer is perfect. A) There is New York. B) There are people in New York. So, C) There could exist a total, whole and complete document of Every Person in New York.
 
But then, just after conception, the idea left his head and entered the world—as any art that ends up actually existing does—and became subject to the brutal elements of this sloppy place where drawing a perfect circle is, it turns out, inherently impossible. Suddenly, “Every Person in New York” was flawed, messy, ugly even.
 
Jason wouldn’t know if he was drawing residents, tourists or those just passing through. He could go door-to-door with piles of census data, but there’d still be plenty of people who existed off the grid, or people who moved here since the last data collection, or babies being born, or people dying, or some other factor that made New York a subject that just wouldn’t sit still. Any way he approached it, there would be countless tiny gaps in a portrait of the city, holes that would render the thing fatally incomplete. And even if Polan somehow disentangled this logistical puzzle, there was still the most glaring problem of all: He would have to draw something like 14 people an hour for 70 years to include “every person.”

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Bobby Viteri photographed the West Indian Day Parade, one of New York City’s last great street festivals

Barbershops of Brooklyn 
Photos by Ol’ Skool Sean

Barbershops of Brooklyn 

Photos by Ol’ Skool Sean

Eric Garner and the Plague of Police Brutality Against Black Men
If you haven’t heard about Eric Garner yet, let me fill you in. He was a 43-year-old father of six who lived in Staten Island, and he died in the street on Thursday after as many as four New York police officers choked him and slammed his head on the ground. The NYPD told the Associated Press that they stopped Garner because he was selling untaxed cigarettes, something he’d been arrested for before. However, witnesses who spoke with local news website Staten Island Live have basically said that’s bullshit. Ramsey Orta, who was on the scene and shot a now infamous video that is making the rounds, can be heard in the clip saying that all Garner had done to get bothered by the police was break up a fight.
In the video, Garner denies any wrongdoing and asks why he’s being hassled. “Every time you see me you want to mess with me,” he says in an exasperated tone that most men of color across this country can relate to. Garner, who was 400 pounds and has been described by people who knew him as a “gentle giant,” suffered from chronic asthma and police claim his death was the result of a heart attack suffered during the arrest.
Police say that Garner made a “fighting stance” and resisted arrest. Which, based on the video clip, is complete nonsense, considering we can see him pleading to the officers, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” before going completely silent as several officers pile on him.
The video of Garner’s death is disgusting, but I can’t say I was shocked or even outraged the first time I watched it. At this point, as someone who’s read and written about some of these stories time and time again—and who’s had firsthand experiences with the way cops treat black males—this kind of reprehensible shit is not surprising at all. After so many cases like Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, you start to feel desensitized by the seemingly insurmountable injustice that plagues communities of color.
Continue

Eric Garner and the Plague of Police Brutality Against Black Men

If you haven’t heard about Eric Garner yet, let me fill you in. He was a 43-year-old father of six who lived in Staten Island, and he died in the street on Thursday after as many as four New York police officers choked him and slammed his head on the ground. The NYPD told the Associated Press that they stopped Garner because he was selling untaxed cigarettes, something he’d been arrested for before. However, witnesses who spoke with local news website Staten Island Live have basically said that’s bullshit. Ramsey Orta, who was on the scene and shot a now infamous video that is making the rounds, can be heard in the clip saying that all Garner had done to get bothered by the police was break up a fight.

In the video, Garner denies any wrongdoing and asks why he’s being hassled. “Every time you see me you want to mess with me,” he says in an exasperated tone that most men of color across this country can relate to. Garner, who was 400 pounds and has been described by people who knew him as a “gentle giant,” suffered from chronic asthma and police claim his death was the result of a heart attack suffered during the arrest.

Police say that Garner made a “fighting stance” and resisted arrest. Which, based on the video clip, is complete nonsense, considering we can see him pleading to the officers, “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” before going completely silent as several officers pile on him.

The video of Garner’s death is disgusting, but I can’t say I was shocked or even outraged the first time I watched it. At this point, as someone who’s read and written about some of these stories time and time again—and who’s had firsthand experiences with the way cops treat black males—this kind of reprehensible shit is not surprising at all. After so many cases like Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, you start to feel desensitized by the seemingly insurmountable injustice that plagues communities of color.

Continue

Meet the Pier Kids: The Homeless LGBT Youth of New York City
If you’re gay in New York City, you’ve probably been to Christopher Street in the West Village to get drunk or visit the historic-landmark-turned-gay-tourist-trap known as the Stonewall Inn. Chances are that you’ve also seen what director Elegance Bratton calls the “pier kids”—the homeless LGBT youth who congregate at the Christopher Street Pier, looking for everything from food to drugs to potential johns. According to statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless, 20 percent of homeless youth are gay or transgender (roughly 320,000 to 400,000 young people according to one conservative estimate). 
Filmmaker Elegance Bratton was one of these kids for ten years. To teach his family about his experience, he has spent three years filming the lives of three homeless kids—Krystal, DeSean, and Casper—for a documentary called Pier Kids: The Life. Recently, I went to the pier to sit down and talk to Krystal, one the film’s stars, about the movie, the Christopher Street Pier, and being homeless in New York City. 
VICE: How did you end up homeless in New York?Krystal: It was a choice between going back to Las Vegas or staying in Philadelphia. I went to my brother’s house in Philadelphia after being kicked out of the house at 16 by my mother. After I had spent six months there—he had a family, and I didn’t want to impose my lifestyle on his kids—I just went out on my own after that. After two or three years, I came to New York City and found the pier.
Once you arrived in New York, how did you discover the pier and Christopher Street?I had heard about some of the history about the riots, but I never really knew what the street was. But when I got here, I went to the food stamp office, and they gave me a pamphlet that told me that there was an LGBT community center that had programs. Some of the kids there said they were going to the pier after some of the support groups, so I went with them. It gave me a sense of being back on the west coast, with the water and people just hanging out, playing Spades and talking to friends, just finding some sense of normalcy in a situation that wasn’t normal.
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Meet the Pier Kids: The Homeless LGBT Youth of New York City

If you’re gay in New York City, you’ve probably been to Christopher Street in the West Village to get drunk or visit the historic-landmark-turned-gay-tourist-trap known as the Stonewall Inn. Chances are that you’ve also seen what director Elegance Bratton calls the “pier kids”—the homeless LGBT youth who congregate at the Christopher Street Pier, looking for everything from food to drugs to potential johns. According to statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless, 20 percent of homeless youth are gay or transgender (roughly 320,000 to 400,000 young people according to one conservative estimate). 

Filmmaker Elegance Bratton was one of these kids for ten years. To teach his family about his experience, he has spent three years filming the lives of three homeless kids—Krystal, DeSean, and Casper—for a documentary called Pier Kids: The Life. Recently, I went to the pier to sit down and talk to Krystal, one the film’s stars, about the movie, the Christopher Street Pier, and being homeless in New York City. 

VICE: How did you end up homeless in New York?
Krystal: It was a choice between going back to Las Vegas or staying in Philadelphia. I went to my brother’s house in Philadelphia after being kicked out of the house at 16 by my mother. After I had spent six months there—he had a family, and I didn’t want to impose my lifestyle on his kids—I just went out on my own after that. After two or three years, I came to New York City and found the pier.

Once you arrived in New York, how did you discover the pier and Christopher Street?
I had heard about some of the history about the riots, but I never really knew what the street was. But when I got here, I went to the food stamp office, and they gave me a pamphlet that told me that there was an LGBT community center that had programs. Some of the kids there said they were going to the pier after some of the support groups, so I went with them. It gave me a sense of being back on the west coast, with the water and people just hanging out, playing Spades and talking to friends, just finding some sense of normalcy in a situation that wasn’t normal.

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