Jeff Wiesenfeld for the New York Observer
The Observer loves to call me when I’m about to teach at 3rd Ward. When I last shot for them, I got to rush out of class to go shoot. This time, however, I had to shoot in the Upper Eastside (Manhattan) and then teach in Bushwick (Brooklyn) 30 minutes later. For non-New Yorkers, let me explain – that doesn’t sound remotely conceivable.
But I made it work. I biked furiously through the commuters trying to get home, up and over a bridge and tore through pothole-ridden streets in Brooklyn and made it in 29 minutes. My legs felt incredibly weird the next day. Possibly because the 2nd half of this shoot took place before 8 A.M. the next morning, for which I decided to also bike.
The story is about CUNY board member Jeffrey Weisenfeld who blocked playwright Tony Kushner from getting a honorary degree because of his views on Israel. The subsequent citywide backlash and outrage caught CUNY unaware and propelled this story to dizzying (local) heights. This was particularly of interest as I’m going to be at CUNY in the fall. Also because of my interest in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and its repercussions in the states. It’s pretty fascinating when a Jewish playwright can be blocked by a Jewish board member over his “extremist” views on Israel, which really top out at protesting the settlement policy in the Palestinian territories.
Weisenfeld, however, said to a New York Times reporter that the Palestinians were “People who worship death for their children are not human.” So there’s that. The decision was uninamously reversed at an emergency meeting.
Here are some shots that I’m CERTAIN that the Observer would have run, if there had just been the space.