Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Announcing the Birth Day of Robert Barry Francos: A Photo Essay

Text (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2011
Photos credited where known; from RBF archive

I was born the same year rock'n'roll was proclaimed, on May 10, 1955. I have often commented that if I was born five days earlier (as it was I was over a week past the due date), it would have been 5/5/55. Still, it's a cool number.

Sharing a birthday are the likes of Fred Astaire, Nancy Walker and Bono. Oh, and Mark David Chapman was actually born the same day I was, but don't hold that against me.

I drew my first breath at 12:10 AM, at Brooklyn Doctor's Hospital, which closed soon after I was born. Bensonhurst was where I was raised and lived most of my life, with some exceptions being two-and-a-half years in Soho (Elizabeth and Houston, just around the corner from CBGB), and another two-and-a-half years in Astoria. It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I did the big move, coming to Saskatoon to live permanently.

The photos below are semi-chronological, or in groups, but I have tried to keep them as realistically in order as reasonable. I have given credit for the photo where known.

This photo was taken in the Catskill Mountains, upstate New York, probably the summer of 1956, when I was a year-and-a-half old. I don't recognize any other the people in the background. [pic: Helen Francos?]

In a stroller in front of our apartment building at 8109 20th Avenue, in Brooklyn. The person on the right side of the picture is unknown. [pic: Helen Francos]

Sitting on the couch in our apartment with older (and only) brother, Richard Francos (on the right). [pic: Helen Francos]

While I don't recall in which playpark this was taken, I actually do remember that sweater as being one of my favorites. It was soooo warm. [pic: Helen Francos]

Just before a second or third grade dance recital (my only one) which was to be held in Lafayette High School (the big time!). From left to right: Julie Ann Dobies, RBF, Elise Mendato, and Patty Roman. It was a rare moment when we all got along. I apologize if I misspelled any names. [pic: probably Helen Francos]

Official First Grade photo.

Third Grade.
Fourth Grade.
Fifth Grade.
Sixth Grade.

Sitting in our kitchen, a mess at the moment. I don't really remember that wallpaper, but probably out of mental self-defense. All four of us used to have dinner around that tiny table in that small kitchen, for my entire childhood. [pic: Helen Francos]

With my mom, Helen Francos, by the Dino Sinclair Oil pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair in Queens. I was nine years old. Blinking at the sun would become a common theme, as my eyes proved to be photosensitive. [pic: Richard Francos]
Sitting in front of our apartment building at 10 years old in 1965. [pic: Helen Francos]

The day of my Bar Mitzvah, May 18, 1968. You may recognize the same couch from the third photo above. [pic: Helen Francos]

With my mom at my Junior High School graduation, held on the grounds of Brooklyn College. I was already taller, as she stood an even 5-foot. This blurry image is a perfect example of why my dad did not take too many of the family photos. [pic: Leo Francos]
Washington DC during a family vacation in 1965. [pic: Helen Francos]

At the piano at a then-friend's apartment. I actually could not play (except for that thing with the knuckles, and a bit of "Heart and Soul"). Note the braces, and the photo behind my head. Look familiar? [pic: Marilyn Saffer]

While I loved my time at H.E.S. Sleepaway Camp for most of the 8 years I was there, 1969 was not one of them as I was severely bullied by a group of bored teens. This self portrait was taken the day they first landed on the moon. [pic: RBF]

In 1970, when I was 15 years old, our family made a trip up to Canada, here at Niagara Falls. Little could I know back then that Canada would become my home in 2009. [both pics: Helen Francos]

Here's a few of hanging out with my pal Bernie Kugel. The first one (twin set) was taken around the time we became friends in the early 1970s, while still in high school. [Pic: Gertrude Kugel] The second was at a Rock Ages conference in 1979, where we tried to sell copies of our fanzines (FFanzeen and Big Star), but they put us in the middle of nowhere. So rather than sell any, we befriended some of those stuck in the same situation, including Suzanne Newman, who's husband put out Time Barrier Express. For this photo, we jokingly tried to look "punk." And yes, that is my bracelet. [pic: Suzanne Newman].

During FFanzeen publishing days (1977-88), I had the honor to interview Ronnie Spector at Polish Records headquarters (run by Genya Ravan) in 1980. Just after we took this picture, she jokingly grabbed my crotch, a memory I've held dear all these years! [pic: John DeCeasre]

I worked as a floor manager / photographer / videographer for a cable access show called Videowave for most of the 1980s and '90s. This was at the Blue Willow (Broadway and West 3rd). The show is still on the air, and in re-boot.

Taken during a punk show in 2002 at the Punk Temple, in Bensonhurst. I was in attendance often from 2001-2003. I had "my spot" on the stage by the right side. By far the oldest one there besides parents of both the audience and bands, and the building's caretaker, who was in his 80s and not happy to be there, I felt very at home thanks to open heartedness of many of its regulars. My presence also help calm the parents who talked to me believing I too was one of them, rather than a willing participant in the scene. The place and people are still missed by me.

Taken at another punk show sponosed by the band The Nerve! at Peggy O'Neill's in Coney Island, around 2007. [pic by Iz]

At a party with co-workers from MultiVu, some of whom have become good friends to this day: (from left to right) Dariusz Liszkiewicz, Kellie Allen, Dermont Bruce, RBF, Gena Sabin, Nick Cuccia, and Laurie Eimers Wheeler. [pic: James Hall]

In business dress at an awards dinner in 2008 for the advertising field, in which MultiVu was nominated: (left to right) unknown, Todd Grossman, Risa Barkan Chuang and RBF. [pic: event photographer]

A 2008 self-portrait during a garage sale held by my brother Richard, and his wife Bernadette. [pic: RBF]

Just before leaving for Canada in 2009, a gathering of some of my buddies: Dennis Concepcion, Alan Abramowitz, Walter Ocner, and RBF. Since this picture, I have lost 20 lbs. I have lots of pictures of myself with another great pal, Bernie Kugel, but they need to be scanned. [pic: Sandra Bossert]

My life is now in Saskatchewan, taken on a trip to Alberta. [pic: ML]

On a summer of 2010 camping-drive to and from Yellowknife that took nine days, taken by the camera set on time delay as we crossed the border from Alberta into, well... From left to right: Ian Dowle, RBF, John Penner. [pic set up: RBF]

Yes, this is a real street name in the city of Yellowknife (not to be confused with White Horse). Oh, just a technical FYI, my arm is actually floating because the sign was flush against the fence. [pic: John Penner]

At a 2010 opening at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. I'm the fourth standing person from the right, in the blue jacket. [pic: Event photographer; taken from the Mendel Website]

Taken in our living room in Saskatoon. We have beveled glass windows, and when the sun hits them, it produces rainbows all through the downstairs of the house. It's one of my favorite features about our place. I have new glasses since this was taken in the spring of 2010, but still use this as my Facebook avatar. [pic: ML]

1 comment:

  1. Dennis ConcepcionMay 22, 2015 at 5:53 AM

    Imagine your life after 1978 if you hadn't been cajoled to going to Montreal after you just came back from Florida..... No, I can't either. Dennis