The thirteen year old kid with a camera knew fully well what he
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
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.
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