The best part of living in New York is the feeling that you’re in the center of everything. This feeling is like heroin and soon you want more. Eventually, Brooklyn isn’t enough. Then,
(Photos by Maria Schoenherr)
The best part of living in New York is the feeling that you’re in the center of everything. This feeling is like heroin and soon you want more. Eventually, Brooklyn isn’t enough. Then, certain parts of Manhattan aren’t enough. You feel like you’re visiting your parents when you’re in Soho or you’re on a road trip when you’re in Chelsea. St. Marks is a mini mall and even the East Village feels like a pale imitation of the Lower East Side.
You never felt like that when you were partying with Dash Snow. You felt like you were in the center of New York. The guy was fucking fun. He was the kind of thing people move to New York for. He was the first guy my wife met when she moved here and he was the one person who defined the city when I got here. Every night with Dash felt like The Night. It was like he invited you here from your small town and felt responsible if you had a bad time. I remember coming from Black & White on 10th St. and everyone being mildly bummed at what a mediocre evening it had been. Without warning, Dash lit a discarded Christmas tree on fire, which exploded into flames and brought down a white Range Rover before attacking a building. This led to an all-nighter of vandalism that we all still talk about in awe. He was New York City. He wrote, “All Europeans must leave now” dozens of times, all over the Lower East Side. He invented Hamster Parties wherein you rip up phone books of paper for so long, the room looks like a hamster cage, and then you party in it. What did you invent? When Saddam Hussein was captured in a “spider hole” he thought the term was hilarious and got a tattoo of a spider with Saadam Hussein’s head [UPDATE: Wrong. It was from a shirt]. I never met a guy with a stupid tattoo I didn’t instantly love. It shows you get it. Dash Snow is also the only guy I’ve ever seen get into a fight with a huge smile on his face the entire time. Bull Terriers do that too. They wag their tails when they go into battle.
New York has a reputation as a melting pot but it’s not. It’s several totally different New Yorks piled on top of each other with people co-existing on different planes and never saying hi. I don’t know any Puerto Ricans nor do I know anyone who knows any Puerto Ricans. There’s an entire city of jocks who go to Irish bars up by 34th street and probably have their own legends they pour some of their beer out to and do a line (which I just did for Dash by the way). There’s the born-and-raised New Yorkers who hate our guts and wear their thick accents as a badge of honor. Personally, I don’t give a shit about any of those scenes. In fact, I make a concerted effort to ensure my daughter never gets that fucking accent. The New York that interests me is these strange 10-year waves of contemporary pop culture enthusiasts who come here from all over the world and party so hard, an epoch is defined. I love the beatniks of the 50s who hung out with scary negroes and got high in Greenwich Village while Jack Kerouac wrote it down. I love the art fag weirdoes of the 60s who went to an abandoned Soho and turned it into Philip Glass songs and Chuck Close paintings. I love the nihilist assholes of CBGBs with Lou Reed and Debbie Harry telling everyone to fuck off. To me, Dash Snow defines the 2000 to 2010 New York. I was lucky enough to ride that wave and stick my magazine into its wood chipper for a minute. There would be no Vice without Ryan McGinley and I dare say there’d be no Ryan McGinley without Dash.
When I used to run around with a camera and a notepad following Irak and documenting as much of their lives as I could, he said something that changed my life forever. He said, “Why are you always reporting on shit and reviewing other people’s shit? Why don’t you do your own shit?” I couldn’t get it out of my head. I still can’t. And you shouldn’t either.