I remember walking down ye olde 42nd Street when I was bold and young and the theaters were packed with porn, horror and kung fu movies and hookers were like parking sign posts and mailboxes. One time, a crazy looking black man confronts me and we walk in tandem. At first he tries to sell me drugs, I say No. Then, knives. I say No. Guns? No. (Who am I, Travis Bickle?) Then he puts his hand on my chest and tries to sell me...a missile launcher. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at him as he waited for my answer. I couldn't even form the letters N and O because I was gobsmacked. A missile launcher? Really? I think I ran away.
(Dean Haspiel and Danny Fingeroth, photographed by Hannah Means-Shannon)
Hannah Means-Shannon reports on the comix performance/panel I did, "Blame it on New York," with several other cartoonists, curated and moderated by Danny Fingeroth at Soho Gallery for Digital Art.
"Dean Haspiel, also a graduate of the High School of Music and Art, but part of the first graduating class after it had been renamed LaGuardia High School of Music, Art & the Performing Arts, performed his autobiographical comic from STREET CODE, which, he informed the audience, dealt with events that happened only a “few blocks” from the Soho Gallery in the late 80’s. Living across from a hair salon curiously named “Boy Loves Girl Hair”, he witnessed a couple having oral sex on a bench in the wee hours of the morning. Since no one would have believed his tale of the nonchalant act, he recorded it on camera, and later became acquainted with the “female exhibitionist” in the video who, in fact, lived above the salon. Her public performances grew increasingly daring and lured Haspiel into competition, giving him pause to reflect on his father’s sage words, “There are things you never ever consider doing before midnight”. Haspiel’s active, bold art style conveyed the vivacious and the bizarre in his real-life experiences of the city, and also the potential to lose connections in the vastness of its human population, concluding that, after a time, he lost touch with his exhibitionist friend and “never saw her again."
"Haspiel noted that it’s all part of the inundation of narrative detail the city contains, constantly draining its inhabitants of money, leaving them “broker, but richer with stories”. In the 80’s, Haspiel was constantly “confronted with death and murder” to the extent that walking out the door became frightening, including being hit with debris from a car accident at close quarters..."