The Subway InfernoThe image above is the photograph that I shot for the cover of NC3. In case you’re the kind of person who likes details, I’ll tell you how I did it. In the summer of 1999 I lost my job and had a lot of trouble getting my unemployment benefits because the NY Unemployment Dept. closed many of their offices. As a result, I had to travel to Queens to show up in person and clear up some serious misunderstandings. It was a disaster. At this job I used to bring my camera and try to get a good shot of subways for the cover because I had the idea before I had a picture. The pictures never came out because in the subway system it is way too dark to get a good picture without employing a lot of lights, which I couldn’t afford.
When I went out to Queens the first time to go to the Unemployment Office, I saw how well lit the subway was because in Queens they run outdoors instead of in tunnels. I thought it would be a perfect place for the shot but I knew I’d never be back at unemployment because I would only want to clear it up once.
Luckily, civil servants screwed up my paperwork, so I had to go back to Queens. This time, I brought my camera to try to take the picture after I was done. My meeting there was a disaster but when I was done, I was itching to take the picture. I shot four different pictures before I got freaked out and had to leave and luckily, this one came out composed exactly like my original sketch.
To add the fire, I tried to find some good pictures online but they were all so low quality that they sucked. In my new apartment in San Francisco, I have a fireplace and one night I made a huge fire and shot about seven pictures. I used about half of them, overlapped, stretched and altered for effect and then I laid them around the subway. This issue was my biggest ever at the time and featured some of the best stories I have ever told. I tried to tackle a variety of subjects from love to drugs to visiting New York City. I also did my most ambitious trivia quiz ever but ever since search engines have gotten better, creating a trivia quiz that will challenge people has become an almost impossible task. If I could proctor an in-person trivia quiz where people had no access to the internet, then it might be a level playing field, but I like to challenge people's knowledge, not their researching ability.