Early Works

Birthday Party, Greenwich Village, 1969


I took this picture at my ninth birthday party in 1969 in our fourth-floor walkup apartment in Greenwich Village. I used my Kodak Instamatic 124 camera. We were dancing to The Beatles or The Stones. It was an Alice in Wonderland party and each girl had a party hat representing a character from the book. I was Alice, of course. My friend Nancy was the White Rabbit. She is the only one here who has not lost her headgear. My mother put "Drink Me" labels on our cups and "Eat Me" signs on toothpicks in each slice of cake. You can see the buildings across the courtyard out the window. In the summer we could sometimes hear whole conversations and a tinkling piano. A man with a clubfoot used to sit in his window and read the newspaper, his bulbous shoe propped on the sill.

This picture makes me think of the juxtaposition of innocence and sophistication we experienced growing up in that time and place. Just a year later, the Weather Underground blew up a building four blocks away. A boy at school said they found a finger on the street after the bombing. This was during Vietnam, and peace rallies and protests were a regular things. Yet, we still had birthday parties and dressed in velvet dresses. In a year or two these would become slumber parties where we had séances and tried to contact people like Jimi Hendrix and Bobby Kennedy with a Ouija Board.