45 Years Later. Boston City Hall Plaza Meets A New Mayor.

According to Wikipedia, The Soiling of Old Glory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken by Stanley Forman during the Boston busing crisis in 1976. It depicts a white teenager, Joseph Rakes, assaulting a black man—lawyer and civil rights activist Ted Landsmark—with a flagpole bearing the American flag (also known as Old Glory). I believe the first time that I set eyes on this photo was as a Swampscott High School freshman in a 1979 current events/history class. Every SINGLE time that I walk near or on this ground, I feel something. I always give at least a moment’s pause to think about the photo, think about the hurt that came from that assault, from that time. Today, I was given the assignment to: “be near the State St. MBTA station at 9:15am, and photograph (the new) Mayor’s first commute/walk to work.” I knew where Mayor Wu had to go from point A, the T station, to point B, City Hall. It was not lost on me the difference between today as compared to that moment 45 years ago. I got there 15 minutes early, but not early enough. Her MBTA train was early! I had already plotted-out my course of action, choosing a lens that would correspond with Stanley’s ultra-wide lens. I knew almost exactly where Stan stood, and where the assault on Ted Landsmark occurred, but Mayor Michelle Wu had already passed that area, albeit by just a few feet. I shot this photo. I was so excited, like a kid in a candy store. I started to show my photo to others who were gathered near Wu. Sadly, many did not know what I was talking about. Many thanks to Stanley Forman Photos who is a friend and mentor. I STILL learn something from him every week.

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I chase and photograph thunderstorms. Every thunderstorm that I can chase, I chase. July 28, 2014 was a day off from work, which afforded me the opportunity to storm chase. The storm cells that the weather radar showed just after 9am that morning, looked like a good possibility for me. I drove to Bayswater St. in East Boston thinking I could shoot the Boston skyline with any lightning that might be occur. It did not occur. The storm’s energy seemed to shift quickly toward the northeast, over what appeared to be the Revere, Saugus, Everett area. I then drove to Morton St. in Winthrop, which gives a nice view of Revere. Photos of daytime lightning are very difficult to achieve, especially during haze and heavy rain, so this was not turning out too well for me. I did, however, notice the very turbulent sky above Revere. I snapped a few photos. Shortly thereafter I got a tip that Revere had a lot of damage near the lower Broadway area, near city hall. I headed out toward Broadway and Tafts St., arriving in short order. The extent of the damage was shocking. I started taking photos and then moved toward Revere Beach Parkway. There I saw several homes with rooftops blown off. It was then, after seeing the angle of the fallen trees and calling up a high school weather class memory, that I guessed it might have been a tornado that socked this area. If fallen trees are angled in several different angles, then most likely it was a tornado. If the trees are lined up in the same way, then it was straight line winds that tore through the area. Here are some of the cloud formations just prior to, and after the tornado, and also the damage caused by it. 
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              It was 11 years ago today that Christine Desrochers-Broderick, clinging to the roof of her submerged car, was rescued by off-duty Somerville firefighter Michael Marino in the Assembly Square underpass at Mystic Ave. It was not long after that all three of us were contacted by The Weather Channel, to “star” in their (then) new show, Twist of Fate. Here is my blog dispatch from that day.
              I came upon this dramatic scene after completing news coverage of a long, hot, then very rainy immigration rally in Boston. The police scanner was crackling something about a person or persons stuck under the Assembly Square underpass at Mystic Ave. I drove to an area near the courthouse where I saw troopers feverishly trying to enter the water and gain access to the serious situation that was unfolding. I noticed a young couple sitting on the curb and I turned to see that their car’s roof, about an inch of it, was still visible. Within a few minutes the tunnel was almost 80% filled with water maybe 10 feet high. I had to kneel down to see what was unfolding about 70 yards into the tunnel. There I could see a woman atop of what appeared to be her car. I returned to my car to get my 800mm telephoto lens, snapped a few photos there and then ran like hell to the other side of the underpass. That is where I saw troopers Joe Kalil and Stephen Barnes and Somerville firefighters Jack Betkwith, LT Michael Anzalone and off-duty firefighter Michael Marino. I positioned myself on McGrath Highway above the rescue and pointed my 70-200 mm lens through the chain link fence. The troopers and the firefighters worked in unison to perfection. The only problem was, would my lens stay dry enough in the rain to capture the rescue? I borrowed the corner of a passerby’s dry shirt to use to clean my lens since my clothes were drenched. Lucky for me that the man didn’t think I was nuts when I asked him: “may I use your shirt to clean my lens?” Then, out the rescuers popped with one cold and wet Christine Broderick, as they guided her through the water that now contained mostly raw sewage.
              

 

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I was there 27 years ago tonight when John Valentin recorded an unassisted triple play. He was so nonchalant that the photo I got of the play was not even worth putting up on this blog (plus it would take me hours to find it :-).  I did, however, snap this photo in 1995 at the request of then Boston Herald baseball guru and all-around nice guy Steve Buckley. I dug up this photo on the occasion of  the 27th anniversary of  John Valentin’s unassisted triple play, July 8, 1994. From left, Johnny Pesky, Rico Petrocelli, Rick Burleson, Spike Owen and John Valentin.

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Photographing the Boston Eclipse. The Challenges.

This morning’s new moon, called the “Strawberry Moon,” passed between the Earth and sun shortly before sunrise, and moved fully away at 6:32 am. The eclipse began at 4:38 am, 29 minutes before sunrise, as the moon passed in front of the sun, blocking much of the sunlight.

There were many challenges involved in photographing this. The first challenge was to find a decent foreground that would align with the event. I chose Marblehead’s Hammond Park, as I would be able to align the eclipse with Marblehead Lighthouse. The weather was also a significant problem as the sunrise was not viewable, through clouds, until several minutes after the sun fell out of alignment with the lighthouse, hence no real good foreground to tell the viewer where I was. Once the sun and moon’s positions were starting to become visually clear, the difference in exposure from the top (sun & moon) of the photo to the bottom (the full harbor view) made it impossible for me to get both the Marblehead harbor landscape with a defined view of the event. The clouds turned to a thin layer several minutes after sunrise, thus making a decent photo without the usual necessary eye-safe filter one needs for protection during these eclipses. However, once the sun rose a bit more, and then clouds faded more, I needed to use a homemade filter that I created out of a very thick, dark solar filter sheet. I used an unfiltered 100-400mm lens, and a filtered 800mm lens, seen below. Once filtered, the color shift is another challenge, because much of the photo will go semi-dark except for the extremely bright sun.
NBC10Boston photos by Mark Garfinkel


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Maureen O’Neill, cancer victim and Hospice of the North Shore patient, died 18 years ago today, May 9, 2003. 

In January 2003, I contacted the Danvers-based hospice now known as Care Dimensions about the possibility of following the life and trials of one of their patients. They introduced me to Danvers resident Maureen O’Neill.

I spent the majority of my time with Maureen, at her house and beyond, from the time she returned home from Salem Hospital to the moment of her death. 

I often think about the first time I met Maureen.

In order for this project to go forward, Maureen insisted on meeting with me first and seeing some of my photography work. I brought my photo portfolio to Salem Hospital, just a few days before she was to be released to the peaceful confines of her home.

Maureen chose to bypass chemotherapy to die at home with her 92- year-old mother at her side.  

One of the first photos in that portfolio was a mother duckling and her babies crossing a busy street in Waltham. Maureen loved the photo as she was a huge bird lover. We hit it off from that moment forward.

The following photos are dedicated to Maureen’s loyal friends and family, Care Dimensions, and most of all, Maureen, who wanted to show the benefits and dignity of dying at home.

Above & below: Cancer victim Maureen O’Neill, wishing to die at home with her mother, returns home from the hospital after realizing Chemotherapy was not going to work against her cancer.

“Don’t worry Mum, we will get thru this” Maureen O’Neill (above) returns from the hospital greeted by her 92 yr old mother Ann

Maureen O’Neill shares a laugh with Hospice Nurse Ann-Marie DePaolo and mom Ann.

After a difficult morning, Maureen O’Neill is instructed on her medicine usage by Hospice Nurse Ann-Marie DePaolo.

Maureen O’Neill sits on her Mom’s bed as she talks about her family.

Maureen O’Neill celebrates what would be her last birthday, her 63rd, with Josh, her friend’s grandson.

A tired Maureen O’Neill is watched over by her mom Ann.

"Choosing Hospice" - Ann O'Neill wipes moisture from the face of her daughter Maureen O'Neill. The next day Maureen would be gone. fragm

As friend Bob Supino places one hand on Maureen’s forehead and one hand on her pulse, Maureen O’Neill dies in her Danver’s living room with best friend Glenda, mother Ann and Hospice Nurse Ann-Marie DePaolo at her side.

Maureen O’Neill is laid to rest in her lifelong home of Danvers, Massachusetts

 

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It was February 20, 2003. A late Thursday night concert had gone horribly bad in West Warwick,  RI. I’m usually a sound sleeper, but for some reason I awoke at 4am that next morning and turned on the television. Horrific images greeted early morning news viewers. I could not believe what was before my eyes. The news reports at the early stages of this tragedy were stating somewhere in the ballpark of 19 dead, as I remember. My fellow colleagues/photographers Matt Stone and Robert Eng had already been down there for many hours. I would soon join them with a bevy of reporters, some who had also been there overnight. Once there, I took up a position where a Rhode Island state trooper told me to go. I was happy to see my friend Curtis Bailey, a  Tv videographer. We were told that the victim count was now at 30. One of the first things that I noticed was the caring response by the fire and police officials who had the grim task of bringing out one, after another of the victims. After each person was carried out, a small semi-circle of officials would huddle and say a prayer. After about 35 of these prayer vigils, I turned to Curtis and said something to the effect of: “Wow, I think that’s more than the 30 or so (victims) that we had thought.” Curtis answered me by saying that his reporter, I believe to have been Amalia Barreda, had said she now heard the count was at a staggering 50. The Station Nightclub fire victim count grew to 100. Below are three of my photos from that morning. 

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Full moon rises over Boston Harbor’s Graves Light.


The full Friday the 13th Harvest Moon rises over Boston Harbor’s Graves Light. A short story about this photo. I left our house at 7:00pm, having left at the end of dinner with Laura and Leo. I got to where I wanted to be for the moonrise at about 7:03, and the moon rose at 7:10. I was positioned a little too far away from where I wanted to be (for the alignment of all these elements) so I had to run a couple of blocks as fast as I could to lineup the moon exactly where I wanted the lighthouse to be. Prior to my running to line things up, I was a top a seawall. There was a resident, a flight attendant leaving for a flight and she was very chatty and nice. She asked me what I was doing and I told her that within a minute or two the moon will be seen as an orange glow, and I pointed, “right there”. She had recently moved here from Texas. The moon started its colorful ascent. She was saying something like “oh cool, oh wow , there it is!” I abandoned her, and my phones and car keys, as I started my run to align. She grabbed them and ran them over to me fast, so she wouldn’t miss her flight, and so that I would also get my stuff (secured). Now I’ve got a friend. I’m gonna email her the photo. Have a nice flight Sarah. Anyway, I was back home at 7:18pm. A very memorable 18 minutes. Pretty quick! My very supportive employer, NBC10Boston, ran the photo during the weather segment on a few shows.

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Boston fire Lt. Steven Minehan died 25 years ago today.

On June 24, 1994 Boston fire Lieutenant Steven F. Minehan, of Boylston street’s Ladder 15, died in a 9-alarm fire  in Charlestown after he became trapped in a large warehouse while searching for other  firefighters who had become trapped. I had been a staff photographer at the Boston Herald for almost 15 months that night when the police/fire radio scanners broke the silence of what had been a quiet evening on my 5pm-1am shift. John Landers Jr., then Herald night desk photo editor, and I heard the initial call for help from Minehan as John dispatched me to the scene. Below are my photos from that night and from Lt. Minehan’s funeral. Over the years I have been lucky to be able to call Lt. Minehan’s wife Kathy a friend. She is a very kind and considerate soul. RIP Lt. Minehan. My photos from that night are seen below. The photo of Lt. Minehan, at very bottom of page, is courtesy of Bill Noonan. 

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I am proud to have my first full quarter photographing at my new job, under my belt, so to say. I took hundreds and hundreds of photographs in January, February, and March. Here is a fraction of them, starting in order from January 2- March 27. I have high hopes for the future, and I thank my new employer NBC10Boston/NECN/Telemundo.
As always, thanks for your support, and news tips, etc.

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