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A big, sweaty dispatch from NYC
Diversion #6: Brands, stories, people & images from New York.
Hey friends 👋
This is Desire Paths, where I go deep with fascinating small biz owners and creative people, sharing their incredible, lesson-filled life journeys.
You’re reading the twice-a-month DIVERSION edition—a more personal roundup of brands, people, photos, links, recommendations and other good stuff on my radar. Fewer interviews, more fun.
I’m just back from unbelievably hot and humid (but always amazing) New York—and this newsletter is packed with some of the trip’s highlights…
Courier blows up NYC
Street shots from the city that does it best
Dashwood Books’ legendary manager
Plus, things to buy & read
*NOTE: This edition is sort of long. Click here to read it in your browser instead.*
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1. Courier takes on NYC
Courier—the magazine I played a role in building and editing over the past 6 years—is London-based, so it’s always fun to share the mag with new audiences outside the UK. Even though the print mag’s got readers in most corners of the planet these days and our email newsletter’s got ~2 million (!) subscribers, there are still bajillions of small biz owners who don’t yet know about us. (How’s that for a total addressable market?).
The US in particular is a juicy market. I dream of airdropping Courier from planes over major American cities. But… sounds expensive? Instead we spread the gospel via fun events. As we did last week.
A small Courier crew flew to NYC for a packed schedule of meet-and-greets—first at magCulture Live, an indie mag conference hosted by the London-based mag store’s founder, Jeremy Leslie. Our editor John and photo director Anna spoke on stage, as did Matt Willey and Dan Crowe, who shared their war stories from launching, funding and producing the incredible Inque, Zembla and Port. I also finally met up with Happy David, the creative and organizational force behind the inimitable Casa Magazines—she’s got a Desire Paths-worthy story herself. And I had a great chat with Ali at the shop too, but missed Mohammed on this trip. They’re the best.
Then there were Courier dinner/drinks in the subterranean lounge of Casino (former site of Mission Chinese, which was a surprise.) Italian riviera vibes, 90 degree heat, cocktails, giant shrimp, and lots of familiar faces, friends and supporters. The night was hazy but I definitely geeked over analog cameras with Malcolm Dia, talked media shenanigans with Brian Morrissey, caught up with Éva Goicochea about her sexual wellness company Maude, learned about Central American distillers from Mark Byrne, and heard the latest in snacks/booze innovation from Andrea Hernandez. Thanks everyone.
And if you haven’t yet seen a copy of our new issue, but all means grab one here.
Onward and upward…
2. Shadow hunter pt. 2
Last month I wrote about my infatuation, obsession, passion for street photography—and shared images I made during a recent trip to London. Now it’s New York’s turn.
NYC is in many ways the spiritual home of street photography, but also one of the best places to still practice it. (Paris might take issue with the former statement and Tokyo or Mumbai with the latter, but I’m just talking facts. Highly subjective facts.)
NYC is where some of the all-time greats did their best work. Winogrand, Levitt, Meyerowitz, Leiter, Arbus, Erwitt, even Weegee. As someone who’s shot everywhere from Bangkok and Seoul to Naples and New Orleans, there are few cities that match the high-octane energy, weirdness, beauty, and abundance of bizarre, serendipitous moments of shooting in New York’s streets.
Here are some of the images I brought home from a week there.
3. Dashwood Books
What’s better than an indie bookstore? An indie bookstore specializing in photobooks. Strike that. An indie bookstore specializing in photobooks with a manager who’s a true expert and cares deeply about your experience.
Yeah, that’s it. And that’s Dashwood.
Dashwood Books, for the uninitiated, is a small, beautiful, perfectly curated shop in NoHo, founded by David Strettell in 2005. It’s also one of the most important photobook stores in the country.
The shop is managed by Miwa Susuda, a photo consultant and owner of the publishing imprint Session Press. Miwa moved to NYC from Japan two decades ago. And when you walk in, Miwa’s inevitably there behind the counter—ready to greet you, give suggestions, and take your photo when you (surely) buy something. You’ll probably end up on her Instagram.
On my visit, I talked with her for a half hour. First about the effects of AI on photography—I’m pessimistic; Miwa less so, explaining the human role and intention behind photography will always persevere—and then she asked me what drew me to the books I chose, including a beautiful, slim Susan Meiselas volume. She suggested additional options from behind the counter. Have you seen this one? What about this? This photographer is up your street, too.
Price check? $250. $90. ($600?!)
On her suggestion, I ended up getting a gorgeous book of Araki—the Japanese photographer who Miwa’s actually worked with—featuring his black and white street photos from NYC:
I told Miwa I’d love to interview her for Desire Paths. Let’s see if she says yes. Maybe one day you’ll see her face—and story—here. Until then, why not visit Dashwood, say hi, and bring home a new book? (Or read this great interview she did with Drake’s).
4. Readings & links
People carving their own path.
1. Casual Luke Rides the Big Wave
Earlier this year, a North Shore local named Luke Shepardson paddled out during his break and won the most prestigious big-wave competition on the planet, beating some of surfing’s brightest stars. So we went to Hawaii to figure out how Luke pulled off the damn near impossible. [GQ]
2. What Happened When Henry Yao Almost Went Bust
For 13 years, he had been a beloved figure, another small business owner folded into the local framework. He liked the straight talk of New Yorkers and loved anything baseball. Especially the Mets. Maybe you, too, have a Mr. Yao. A familiar fixture at a restaurant or bodega or bookstore or coffee shop. Someone who sells you a slice of pizza, repairs your shoes, cuts your hair, remembers your face. A sight of comfort in your usual territory. Maybe you take them for granted. Maybe you will notice when they are gone. [NYT]
3. How Dr. Bronner’s became the soap for every subculture
Dr. Bronner’s progressive ideals are largely driven by tie-dye-and-black-fedora-wearing David, who is CEO, but not chief executive. The three letters instead stand for “Cosmic Engagement Officer” (Mike is president, and the tonal difference in their titles loosely reflects the contrast in their personalities). Lisa, the youngest, is consumer educator and blogger; their mother, Trudy Bronner, is chief financial officer; and Lisa’s husband, Michael Milam, is chief operating officer. [LAT]
4. The Battle of Fishkill
Domenic Broccoli, the IHOP kingpin of the Bronx, lives a good life. He drives a nice car, spends time with his six grandkids, and golfs often enough to have a tan for most of the year. He owns a four-bedroom home in Pelham Manor, a house upstate, and IHOPs throughout the borough where he grew up, each of which runs smoothly enough to give Broccoli the time and resources to devote himself, at the age of 66, to the animating force in his life: destroying his enemies. This mission came as a surprise to Broccoli, who had little reason to expect that trying to expand his pancake empire into upstate New York — and to build his grandest IHOP yet — would lead to such conflict. But sometimes that’s what happens when you find a dead body. [Curbed]
5. Venkatesh Rao: the master of cultural trends
The founder of low-fi website Ribbonfarm tells us how he made a career out of analyzing movements of the moment – from premium mediocre and domestic cozy to the internet of beefs. [Courier]
6. Building Salmon Creek Farm: inside California’s ultimate creative retreat
I ‘dropped out’ in 2014. Traded in home in LA for a life in the woods. I bought a commune founded by idealistic hippies in 1971 on California’s Mendocino coast. Eleven handcrafted cabins clinging to logging roads carved into a south-facing slope of second- and third-growth redwoods. I wrote a letter to the 13 remaining shareholders and expressed interest in continuing the legacy and spirit of the place. [Wallpaper]
Stuff I’m loving.
Brownbook. It’s back. The thick magazine was sort of the Monocle of the Middle East and North Africa. Great photography, stories, paper stock. You read each issue and ended up with 50 tabs and 10 pages of notes. But it mysteriously stopped printing in 2018. On a visit to Tate Modern last month I saw a fresh copy. The new issue is all about Middle Eastern connections in Tokyo. It’s fantastic.
LongHouse Reserve. We went to Storm King recently, the massive, 500-acre sculpture park in upstate New York. It was beautiful. But… alright, have you been to LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton? Because I think it’s better. A micro Storm King. More surprises per square foot. But maybe I’m missing the point.
Uncharted Supply Co. I’ve used these guys to fill out parts of an emergency / earthquake / bug-out bag (or two). Very quality stuff. Living in Southern California is a whole different vibe from London, lemme tell you…
Family. Looking forward to getting the new issue of Kennedy Mag from Chris Kontos, Athens-based photographer and all around creative/smart guy.
Le Restaurant l'Estagnol. The most special restaurant I can think of. A childhood spot of my wife Kim. Near Bormes les Mimosas, in the south of France. In a forested area 10 meters from the beach, dining with feet in the sand, giant pots of langoustine spaghetti and red sauce, fresh fish cooked on freshly cut wood, massive umbrellas to shade families in bathing suits, lots of white wine. Founded by Patrick (Pat) and Geneviève (Gene) in 1991 and now run by them and their kids.
UNTIL NEXT TIME,
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