…scanned from my archive. 1969 - Fifty years ago I went to Woodstock

The photo above was taken in 1969 when I was 15.

The photo above was taken in 1969 when I was 15.

I arrived at the Woodstock Festival three days before it was scheduled to start. My friend Clifford and I actually had tickets for the festival, we were 14 and 15 years old respectively and ready for anything. Cliff’s mom was going to be driving to her country home near Bethel and she offered to drive us up, but the deal was we had to go up a few days early if we wanted the ride.

When we arrived, we found the few people already there doing the work of building and putting together the festival grounds. We somehow migrated to the area the Hog Farm had set up, they had a free kitchen that fed us and in return we helped build some concession stands and other structures around the area. They also gave us free hash breaks, which made the work a bit more pleasant.

Once the music started there were two options: cram yourself into the throngs of people sitting on the hill around the stage, or walk around and take in the scenery. I spent a lot of my time doing the latter. People would offer up a variety of drugs as I walked around, both the smoking kind and the pill kind. Sometimes they would just hand you a bottle, jug or goatskin canteen (a bota) filled presumably with wine, but often with some mescaline or other hallucinogen diluted in. Taking a sip was always an adventure, which I sometimes indulged but often didn’t. I suppose I would size up the offerer before making my decision.

The music was always there, whether you were looking directly at the stage or off somewhere in the rambles or over a hill or in one of the few unfortunate Porta-Pottys. I had seen many of the bands perform before, I was a regular at the Filmore East, usually as the result of my asking for free tickets from the parade of concert attendees filing into the theatre. But The Who, The Band, The Dead, were always a must see if I could. I had seen Hendrix a number of times, always magical, but I was long asleep by the time he played at sunrise.

I remember the one band everyone was talking about and anxiously awaiting was Crosby, Stills and Nash, it was to my knowledge one of, if not the first time they were playing together in front of a large crowd, and we were all looking forward to it. They were great, and it was to be the only time I would ever hear them perform.

The last night I ran into a girl I had met earlier in the summer on a bike trip to Nova Scotia. We gathered around some others who had found a dry spot on top of about 1000 Screw Magazines someone had given out. We all sat around a campfire on our Screw Magazine blankets talking about the last few days. Someone had also given out inflatable orange pup tents, which we blew up and then squeezed into for the night.

To this day I have no idea how I got back home to New York City. I remember walking a bit and then perhaps a bus, really not sure. Really doesn’t matter.

My memories of the whole event was that of a strange tableau of people and freaks, as we called ourselves then, having fun, being outrageous and loving and laughing with each other, all to the most amazing soundtrack every presented. I wish I remembered more of it, but as they say, if you say you remember Woodstock, you probably weren’t there.

…scanned from my archive. Posing at Grandpa’s studio

…scanned from my archive. Posing at Grandpa’s studio

I’ve mentioned many time that my Grandfather, Boris Lenoff, owned and ran a portrait studio on the Coney Island Boardwalk in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. It later moved to Ocean Parkway and probably closed sometime in the sixties when he sold off the entire inventory of cameras and photo files.

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…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

In 1974 my brothers Tim and Nico took a trip out the Midwest to visit their grandparents. My stepmother Susan was originally from Minnesota but her parents had relocated to Missouri and so the family took off for the heartland. Along the way they stopped for a visit to Mount Rushmore.

I love this shot that my father took. The quintessential snapshot would have typically had my brothers facing the camera, framed from head to toe (because we all know how important it is to include footwear in meaningful family portraits), with the four presidents shrunk to minuscule versions of themselves in the background.

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Saving your family photo collection from devastating events

Saving your family photo collection from devastating events

I recently had a chance to visit the fire zone in Agoura and Malibu, this was the wildfire called the Woolsey Fire that scorched parts of LA and Ventura Counties in November of 2018. It burned almost 100k acres, destroyed over 1600 homes and killed three people. Almost 300,000 people had to evacuate their homes, and it was many days before they could return because of fallen power lines and the danger from falling trees and branches. Most were lucky to return to intact homes, but many were not.

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…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958

…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958

…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958. While growing up, there were always certain photos that seemed to be present, either in frames on the wall, taped to cabinets, stuck to the fridge or in one of the several photo albums lying around. My father and my mother’s father Boris, were usually the photographers of most of the family photos, so they aren’t present in as many of the family photos as other family members. Boris was a professional photographer, so like myself, he was usually much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.

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It’s wildfire season; do you know where your photos are?

It’s wildfire season; do you know where your photos are?

Depending on what part of the country you live in, natural disasters can strike, and strike fast. While here in California we are bracing for another torrid wildfire season (and it’s always earthquake season), the Gulf States are readying themselves for a hurricane season that seemingly gets more intense each year. Other parts of the country can experience tornados, floods and Nor’easters.

Natural disasters can be horrific, but fires and floods in your home can also cause terrible damage and wipe out most, if not all belongings.

So of course you grab your kids and pets, but what is next on the list, that’s if you even have the time? Many people grab the family photos. But as we are living in the age of digital, the question has to be asked – do you know which hard drive to grab? And what about your older prints and albums?

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