Next Stop Go


SoHo Walking Tour: A New Light
March 4, 2009, 5:10 am
Filed under: Fashion, New York, Travel, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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By Dean Stattmann

I recently did a walking tour of SoHo. Except instead of using a tour guide – a.k.a. walking encyclopedia – I opted for a tour of the self-guided persuasion. I thought that this would provide me with a more personal experience; I imagined that it would allow me to discover my SoHo.

I began my tour, as the New York Times suggested, on Broadway and Houston. Armed with a wealth of information obtained on the internet the night before, I was ready to venture into what I imagined would be an intriguing world of historical anecdotes and interesting facts.

Twenty minutes later, after knocking out the Singer Building and the rest of the “must-sees,” I decided that this tour sucked. Despite my best efforts, there was nothing personal about it. The facts were still the same, the buildings looked the same to me as they did to everyone else and quite honestly – despite my history major – I have an extremely limited interest in the subject.

I put my two-dimensional guide back in my pocket and started walking. I went where I wanted to go; creating my own tour if you will.

After taking a turn onto Wooster St, I was stopped by an elderly man with white hair, wearing a grey coat that extended to the floor. “Lovely lighting today!” he said.

“Excuse me?” I replied

“For taking photographs,” he said, gesturing towards the camera slung over my shoulder. “You can get some great photos today.”

I’m not going to lie. I thought this man was crazy. He seemed way too excited about the absence of clouds in the sky. He also had a peculiar growth on his forehead that resembled an M&M trying to escape from the inside of an inflated balloon.

His next comment threw me off even more.

“You should wear more colors!”

“I’m sorry… what?”

“Colors. You look depressed,” he said. “Are you depressed?”

“I don’t think so. No, I’m not depressed.”

Granted, I was wearing blue jeans and a grey hoodie. But in my defense, I was wearing a pair of extremely bright red shoes, a point that I made to him, hoping to convince him that I wasn’t depressed. Besides, he was wearing a grey frikkin’ coat!

When I asked him about his “adventurous” wardrobe choice, he looked at me, and began slowly undoing the top button of his coat. Then the next one. Then the next one.

By the time he had undone the last button, I had nothing left to say. If someone ever went back in time, stole Joseph’s technicolored dreamcoat and fashioned it into a three piece suit, this man was wearing it.

“Ok, you win,” I said

He just smiled

“Where did you get that?”

“I made it.” he replied

Following a brief exchange about his desire to appear out of the ordinary at all times, it was soon revealed to me that this man was a photographer, a painter, a musician and a poet. However, with technology as his arch nemesis, he assured me that I would  not find a word about him online. He didn’t even give me his name.

“There’s some great light today,” he said again as if he hadn’t just said the exact same thing moments earlier.

“Yes there is,” I replied. And with that, we walked our separate ways.

I had discovered my SoHo.

Photo by Dean Stattmann


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The Bowery Mission: Faith, Brotherhood and the American Dream

A helping hand

By Dean Stattmann

New York is a city where even the wildest dreams can come true. It is also a city in which 100,000 people experience homelessness each year. And one step into the Bowery Mission will teach you that it doesn’t take a lot to go from one to the other.

Humbly situated at 227 Bowery, nestled in between Stanton and Rivington Streets, is the Bowery Mission, an organization that has offered a helping hand to New York City’s less fortunate for over 130 years.

Providing help and resources along every step of the way to recovery, the Bowery Mission has truly taken the problems of homelessness and addiction in New York City into it’s own welcoming hands. Beyond accommodation (Participants in rehabilitation programs can stay as long as one year), the Mission also provides three cooked meals a day, computer learning services, employment resources and most importantly, a safe, friendly environment that encourages recovery and total rehabilitation.

Bowery Mission chef Marshall Beatty makes sure to include all the vital food groups in his dishes
Bowery Mission chef Marshall Beatty makes sure to include all the vital food groups in his dishes

“We’re here as a beacon of light,” says James Macklin, Director of Outreach at the Bowery Mission. Macklin – himself an alumnus of the Mission’s rehabilitation program – found himself in need of such a beacon when he lost his business to cocaine in the early 80s. He came to the Bowery Mission with nowhere else to go.

Fortunately, the Mission, which has since moved from its former location on Canal Street, has devised a rehabilitation program that has its residents hopeful that a better tomorrow is around the corner.

“We believe that rehabilitation comes from a change of the heart,” says Macklin. “You have to change the way people perceive themselves, you have to change their perception of life and then you start them off on a brand new track.” By new track, he is of course referring to one of faith.

James Macklin, Director of Outreach at the Bowery Mission
James Macklin, Director of Outreach at the Bowery Mission

Religion is a key component at the Mission – which hosts three mandatory prayer sessions daily – and many of its residents attribute their recovery in part to discovering a spiritual side to them that they never knew existed. One graduate of the program, Steve Zakrzewski, was the Senior Vice President of one of the largest quality services organizations in the world before crossing the line with alcohol.

“AA didn’t work for me,” says Zakrzewski. “I realized at that point that I needed a long-term program. A social worker at the hospital told me about the bowery mission and they got me a bed. I came here and life was completely different from that point on.”

Zakrzewski is grateful for all the help the Bowery Mission has provided him with, but more so for introducing him to his Savior.

The chapel, where daily prayer sessions are held
The chapel, where daily prayer sessions are held

Another success story goes by the name of Kiki Adebola, a Nigerian immigrant who came to New York in the early 80s in search of the American Dream.

“I used to house soldiers and G.I.s in Nigeria,” Adebola says. “I used to show them where to get the weed and the girls. That’s how I was introduced to American people.”

After arriving in New York and enrolling at a college in Brooklyn, Adebola had a prosperous future ahead of him, until his addiction to crack cocaine got the better of him.

“First I was in control of it, but as time went on, it flipped the script on me and I became a slave to it,” he says. “Drugs will take you places that you really don’t want to go, they will cost you more than you would like to pay and they will keep you longer than you’d like to stay.”

Adebola stayed with his addiction for eight years, living on the streets of New York and “hustling” tourists just to stay alive. It was only when he met Macklin that he realized that life could be different.

The Bowery Mission Helped Kiki Adebola find the American Dream
The Bowery Mission Helped Kiki Adebola find the American Dream

Listening to the testimonies of these individuals, one cannot ignore their repeated referral to one another as “brother,” as if they were members of a fraternity. In fact, they even refer to the Mission as “the house.” This is the product of an undeniable sense of brotherhood that fills the hallways of the Bowery Mission.

Nobody can save themselves from the kind of perils that are carried through the Mission’s iconic red doors each day, and strength through brotherhood is the only way to win when the stakes are human lives. Thankfully, that is a hand that graduates of the Bowery Mission will not have to play.

“The American dream talks about a house, car, wife and kids – I have all that,” says Adebola. “The only thing I don’t have is a dog named Bingo and a cat named Fluffy.”

Helping New York's homeless for 130 years

Photos by Dean Stattmann



An Uncertain Future

Photo by Dean Stattmann

Photo by Dean Stattmann



NYU’s All University Games in Photos

CAS

Rebound

Umpire

There Was Nothing They Could Do

Lawyerlings

Foosball

Score

Tisch High Five

Net

Stare Down

Referee

Team

Gallatin

Basketball Courts

Fight!

Placed

Cooperation

Blue Spike

Tabled

Smackdown

Photos by Dean Stattmann



The Direction

Dean StattmannFirst of all, I want to thank everyone who has kept this blog alive by checking back to see what’s new every day. I have been a lot better about posting recently and you can expect far more frequent posting as of now. I’ve received some great feedback and criticism and that is precisely what keeps me motivated and inspired so please keep it up. And leave comments!

While I am a photographer, and this blog was originally set up as a photography blog, I want to start posting written stories too (The response to And the Interns Shall Inherit the Earth was unbelievable). One thing I want people to understand is that these will not be your stereotypical “today I saw a plastic bag floating carelessly in the wind” blog posts. I am a journalist and I intend to put my skills to use right here, on Next Stop Go. That said, while you will see some newsy pieces, I am going to try take a more magazine-oriented approach from now on. That’s my focus and I will be posting a lot to get as much practice as possible.

However, photography will not depart from this blog in any way, shape or form and I intend to up the volume in that area as well. I take photos at least five days a week and there will be a constant stream of new material right here.

Also, WordPress.com blogs make it virtually impossible to customize stuff but there is always some room for improvement. So, if you ever have a thought or idea on how this blog could be better, please dont hesitate to let me know.

I currently have several projects in motion and they will all appear here on Next Stop Go over the next couple days so watch this space!

That is all.

Next stop go!

Dean Stattmann



Photos Published on Front Page of Washington Square News

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After yesterday’s photojournalism class, I left NYU’s journalism department to find two firetrucks and an emergency Con Ed vehicle cluttered around a smoking manhole. Camera already in hand, I started snapping. Minutes later, a Washington Square News reporter is on the scene. “Are you with WSN?,” she asked. “Nope,” I replied. “Any idea who I could talk to around here?” “Yeah there are a couple NYPD guys the other side. They’d probably know what’s going on.”

As she turned to leave, I figured I may as well try get something out of my shots. “Hey, I mean, if you need any photos to go with your article, here’s my email adress…

Later that night, I got an email from WSN’s continuous news editor asking if he could see the frames. An hour later they were on flickr and I heard nothing more.

This morning I arrived at the journalism department at 9 a.m. once more for another reporting class. Eyes blurry, I rounded the corner past the camp of administrators and glanced down upon a fresh stack of papers and noticed two familiar photos. That was easy.

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Clip from Men’s Fitness February Issue
February 6, 2009, 4:51 am
Filed under: Clips, Writing | Tags: , , , , ,

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This month’s issue of Men’s Fitness contains my first ever magazine clip! Back page. Check it out.