"Time Starts Now…" Newburgh, NY. 13•March•10

“News doesn’t wait. It never has…”
Shameeka Burks (24) cries as she talks on a cellular telephone near the intersection of Benkard Ave. and Little Monument Street in the City of Newburgh, NY on Saturday morning, March 13, 2010. Her boyfriend, John “Tarzan” Maldonado (21) was shot and killed at the scene on Friday night. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

“Time Starts Now…” Shit Happens. People die. What are you going to do when the phone rings or the PD/FD pager is blaring out coded text info on yet another homicide / fatal fire or MVA (motor vehicle accident) in the neighborhood…? I am constantly anticipating what will my reaction time be to any of these events, including jumping out of bed, and the hurried driving like a Tokyo cabbie needed to sometimes get to a breaking news scene. (“Hubba-Hubba Honcho…!”) I don’t like to miss pictures – particularly news pictures. Every single thought-out frame can potentially tell the story. Forget about the work schedule – this business demands an unending desire or passion to just “get there…” As a photojournalist, working the streets can be as difficult and challenging as any big time ballgame or staged political event with the current well-heeled national or international talking head. Want to improve your core photographic strengths and polish your social skills? Work the streets in an urban area for a while. Go to crime scenes. Cover funerals. Walk and eat with those less fortunate and/or homeless. Stay overnight in a shelter to gain the trust of your subjects. I have – and more than once. Get in there with “the people…” There are those that get it and thrive on this kind of work to the point of excellence and those that can go their whole careers and not tell you any two intersecting streets in ‘da hood. I’ve been in this business a long, long time and have been fortunate to have worked alongside quite a few from the former. I continually look back at my training and those that mentored me – particularly on the streets in Newark, The Bronx & Harlem, and now draw on those experiences here in Newburgh, Middletown and Kingston, NY as a means that has shaped my own inner desire to excel on the street. There is no mistaking a good news photograph or the effort the photographer made to get it.

In all the craziness the past two weeks or so in covering the high school basketball
playoffs and now preparing mentally, as well as physically for the upcoming road trip for the state tournament games upstate this weekend, I’d thought for a couple of days about not even writing about the 24-year old woman seen here crying at the scene where her boyfriend was gunned down the night before. You see, this was the second homicide in less than 24 hours in my town, that I covered. (first one at left)

Yea, Newburgh is now “My Town…” too. I live here. And you can bet I take offense when others knock the city. Shoot, I grew up in Newark and remember the riots of the late 60’s – albeit as a youngster, and lived briefly in the South Bronx before landing this job.
I hear the occasional gunfire. It’s no secret what’s going on in these neighborhoods. We’re in the middle of an escalating gang war. We’ve recently had a 13 year-old knife a 17 year-old in the leg, killing him. (memorial at right)
Heavy stuff, man. I mean a 13 YEAR-OLD…!

In a sense of these happenings on the streets, these images will easily become part of an ongoing project that I’ve been archiving the past 18 months or so. Covering the streets from various POV has allowed me good access, and at some point I’ll share more of those images and thoughts here… ~cg.


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