February 1997

fuckin' e. friedman.

"I got a 'D' in photography using a pocket Instamatic, but six months later I was published anyway, so fuck 'em," says Glen E. Friedman, looking back on 20 years of documenting the chronologically overlapping scenes of skateboarding, punk rock and hip hop. With an exhibition culled from his second book of prints, Fuck You Too, crossing the Atlantic for the first time, Friedman is looking forward to another opportunity to share his work. Recently in New York and Tokyo, the appropriately titled Fuck You All show follows on from Friedman's first book, Fuck You Heroes, published a few years back. "This is all the extra stuff that didn't make it into the first book. Y'know, the kind of people that I thought were pretty cool, even if they weren't at total hero status," he explains.

The 12 year-old schoolkid from South California started on the road to this casual glory when the nascent skate scene of which he was a part began to get noticed and photographed: "I was just hanging out at some of the schools where the big skaters skated," Friedman explains. "When I saw some of the published photos in Skateboarder magazine, I just thought that they didn't do the scene I was witnessing justice." But when the participant becomes the observer, does the reaction toward him change? "Not at all!" he states, unequivocally. "The reality is that I'm not always taking pictures when I'm hanging out. Most of the time I don't even carry a camera".
Multiple connections within both the punk and hip hop scenes of Los Angeles and New York took Friedman into music photography. Brought to the attention of Def Jam through his work with The Beastie Boys, Friedman returned to New York and continued to photograph the seminal hip hop groups of the mid-80s.

He shot album and single covers for Public Enemy and a host of promotional shots for Run DMC, Stetsasonic and others. He stated simply that, "They became like family. To me hip-hop had the same energy and ideas as punk rock." But did his subject share his views? "Sure, the similarities between skating and punk rock were greater, but there were still enough," he laughs. "We all knew how radical hip-hop was at the start. Black urban kids' response to disco!"

Having already documented and effortlessly blended these scenes, Friedman's next book, The Idealist, will show a previously unpublished side to his work - portraits and landscapes. Throughout his work though, Friedman's views remain unchanged. He won't be working for the corporate dollar anytime soon. "I do what I do for me and my friends," he states. "I just think that people shouldn't let themselves down easy. You gotta do what you can!"


(one full page with several color photos)