Letters

  SNAPSHOTS OF FRED

Nice job on Fred's obit [Tom Robbins's 'Fred W. McDarrah, 1926–2007,' November 7]. I loved the guy, ran into him often on news stories, and always loved his pictures. He had a way of making any news or feature shot into a portrait, with the subject looking dead-on into the camera and out of the front page of the Voice—you never needed to check the credit line to see who made the shot. And he was a terrific person, too, a wonderful fit for the Voice. I hope he had a great retirement. I miss him.

Don Singleton
Retired Daily News reporter
Jersey City, New Jersey


MCDARRAH THE MENTOR

Fred W. McDarrah gave me my start in photography, and he remained a friend right up until the end. Fred gave me a Village Voice internship in late 1983, and years later, his wife Gloria introduced me to an editor, which led to a gig producing images for a travel guidebook series, a dream come true for me at the time. The Voice internship and later assignments through 1987 gave me a front-row seat to life in NYC. Fiercely protective of the rights of the photographer, Fred understood the value of his images, and he wanted to be paid. I think his work is not as well known because he considered most publishing offers too cheap—outside of his own long list of books—so he held his images in his archive. The things he taught me about being a book author remain valuable today. I have one of his quotes tacked up in my studio because it made me laugh: "A style can be very effective provided it is in keeping with what is going on. I have a style. My style is simple; I stand in front of something and I take the picture—it comes out or it doesn't." Thanks, Fred. I would have been a very different person without you.

Keri Pickett
Minneapolis, Minnesota


WHEN PHOTOS RULED THE WORLD

Fred W. McDarrah was the most wonderful pain-in-the-ass I've ever worked with. When I was hired as the paper's art director in 1976, Fred faced the unprecedented loss of his total control over the paper's visual identity. We had more than one run-in over assignments. I had my own fights with editors, trying to get enough goddamn space on the page to display a great photo. Fred's productive solution to his loss of authority was his famous "intern program" for younger photographers, which unleashed more than one major talent. By the mid-'80s, we had created a tradition of excellence in photojournalism, and Fred's paparazzi-extraordinaire talent was a crucial element in the mix. This Voice, back in the day, was extremely influential in that respect; it could be purely visual journalism, too. But no more. It is, as Sylvia Plachy said to me recently, all "bits and pieces." Photojournalism has devolved; it's now "all paparazzi, all the time"—as James Hamilton has also remarked. Thanks to the Net especially, we are now a nation only interested in viewing and publishing illegible, postage-stamp-size cell-phone jpegs. Fred McDarrah was part of an older tradition. All those who worked with us were authentic photojournalists, artists whose complex and ambiguous reactions to events and personalities seem to be sorely lacking in today's media swirl.

George Delmerico
Santa Barbara, California


THE KIDS'LL BE ALL RIGHT, ROB

Re Lynn Yaeger's column, 'All Sold Out at CBGB' [November 7]: It is hard to believe that what seems like yesterday was actually 30 years ago. I was a 17-year-old college freshman in 1976–'77 and was beckoned to NYC by a former bandmate from high school with tales of weird but great bands on the Bowery. Weekends were spent bouncing from Max's and CBGB to Dan Lynch, the Kiev Diner, and other downtown spots whose names I can't remember. We didn't know at the time that we were part of music history; we just dug the edgy simplicity of the music, the cheap beer, and the never-enforced drinking age of 18. It's hard to believe that all these places are gone, but it's also hard to believe that I'm a 48-year-old suburban businessman with a wife, two teenagers, and a big mortgage. Time rolls on, and a lot of us have, by necessity, sold out along the way. I am sure that somewhere out there is a 21st-century CBGB rising from the ashes. I hope my kids find their way there. Rest in peace, CBGB, Dan Lynch, and, most of all, the Kiev.

Rob Grant
Unionville, Pennsylvania


WE NOTICED THAT TOO

I enjoyed Wayne Barrett's 'No Skeletons in My Closet' [October 31], though I was somewhat surprised to open up The New York Times that Saturday morning and find an article on Bernard Kerik and his association with Rudy Giuliani that was pretty much a copy of the second half of Mr. Barrett's piece. The Times version was "objective" on certain points when describing Mr. Giuliani's judgment and Mr. Kerik's crimes, but it was basically the same. Shouldn't Mr. Barrett have gotten some recognition or mention in the article, which appeared several days after his Voice cover story? It was basically a copy with some re-edits.

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