The idea for this book began taking shape in October 1999 upon moving to New York City, a town renowned equally for its eclectic style and harshness of character.
A place where, generally, we don’t make eye contact.
Sitting in a subway car, we follow protocol. Hunched against the winter wind, our gaze drops to the ground beneath our feet. Our field of vision is self-limited to that narrow frame between the pockmarked sidewalk and the waistlines of our fellow New Yorkers. Through this lens we gather our first concrete observations, draw our initial conclusions about the kind of person passing by us might be. Where they dine. Where they dance. Where they work and play.
The answers are intimated by their choice of footwear...
Dizzied by variety and feeling a little guilty and lascivious, I began shooting from the hip wherever I went. Then, reading on the subway one morning, I came across this passage from Don DeLillo’s Underworld:
...and he sat there in his khaki slouch, looking down between his feet,
glancing at the feet across the aisle, all the notched and dimpled shoes
that did not seem to be things that people bought and wore
so much as permanent parts, body parts,
inseparable from the men and women sitting there,
because the subway seals you durably in the stone of the moment.
Here, then, was my vindication. An erudite voice had given rhyme to my reason.
And so it is...