(Summer 1995)

Book review:

The thirteen year old kid with a camera knew fully well what he wanted to do. He had no intentions of becoming rich or beginning a career. All he knew was that he wanted to be in SkateBoarder magazine with the rest of his friends- and the fact that he couldn't skate as well as his peers wasn't about to stop him. He'd find another way, and he did. That was the first time anyone had ever heard of Glen E. Friedman, and unless you've been living an extremly sheltered life, devoid of underground subculture, it certainly wouldn't be the last.

In the next few years, Friedman would shoot all of the seminal skaters in action- Jay Adams, Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta. These were only names to me, but even the kid who could never skate held them in reverence. The photos seemed flawless in their angles and lighting. And more than anything, Friedman's images came from the viewpoint of someone who knew the art of skating as well as the skaters themselves. His personality was conveyed in a realistic overtone, and even those of us who were unable to perform the activity without breaking some kind of bone could understand it.

So it's only natural that the next object to be focused in on by the later-teen Friedman would be New York City's earliest hardcore scene. Portraits from Lower East Side punk clubs like A7 and CBGB become animated by his camera, and fully come to life. The full color portrait of a pre-pubescent Harley Flanagan foreshadows a fully-inked Cro-Mag that none of us will forget. The charismatic H.R. flips himself in mid-air, and even though it seemed as if no one in 1982 was amazed, this Johnny-come-lately punker is floored. And Ian Mackaye. Quite simply, I've never seen anyone take a more meaningful photograph of Minor Threat or Fugazi. Ever.

By 1985, the New York-by-way-of-Los-Angeles based photographer was reintroduced to the reinvented post-hardcore Beastie Boys, and because of it, Friedman became the unofficial photographer for the entire Def Jam roster- which at the time, also included Run DMC and LL Cool J. Again, there seems to be a thread that binds. A string of personality that creates a relatable aura to the collection of photos that are chosen to represent the past fifteen years of Friedman's career. Even without reading the disposition-precise introduction, I already felt somewhat attached to the man behind the lens, Fuck You Heroes is potent and in-your-face. And as I flipped through each page, I realized that there wasn't one photo that didn't make me wish that I was there to see it taken.

Much like writing, photography can summon up both image and pathos. Friedman is a man with integrity and talent, and a fuck you hero in his own right. Perhaps that's why one of the most intriguing pictures within the book is one of his own self-portrait: staring into a bathroom mirror, completely exposing the face of a man who knows what he wants. Even nineteen years later, some things never change.