I have mined my archive of Dundee 1970s photographs to exhaustion so this is positively the last post on the subject. A few people expressed an interest on what might be left of the Mean Streets and these photographs suggest not very much. The sad part is that the new build in the background looks much less attractive than the tenements they replaced – I guess it is quite possible they have also disappeared some forty years later:
Finally, an example of competitive chimney construction – there is always someone who goes too far:
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Not really Man on Wire, more Man’s Washing on Wire. I am guessing these lines are a thing of the past but maybe not; washing lines strung from tenement windows to a series of distant poles which look as though they alone are responsible for keeping the buildings upright, bending with the strain. The washing at the top would seem to benefit most from a drying wind but pegged too lightly and the smalls would most likely end up floating on the Tay. These are more pictures taken along the back streets of Dundee in the 1970s; I would guess the poles and lines have disappeared along with the supported buildings.
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This was intended to accompany the two images used for this week’s Photo Challenge but anything less “companionable” is hard to imagine; this is solitary, lonely and bleak. The saving grace is the afternoon sun which casts long shadows as the isolated figure walks home into a harsh bright light:
“You don’t make up for your sins in church; you do it in the streets; you do it at home. The rest is bulls–t, and you know it.” – from Martin Scorsese’s 1973 film, Mean Streets.
By coincidence I was about to post these two images under another topic but conveniently they seem to fit this week’s photo challenge. During the week I watched the BBC Imagine story of Vivian Maier, the nanny and amateur photographer whose prodigious talent was only recognised after her death in 2007. Predominantly she photographed the streets of Chicago and New York in the 1950s and 1960s leaving a precious archive of more than 100,000 negatives which were only saved from oblivion quite by accident. The photographs are a delight and surprisingly, they were all shot on a twin lens 120 roll film Rolleiflex, a less than discreet device which would have demanded a close-up relationship between subject and photographer on some very mean streets; not something I would like to attempt unless I was relaxed about losing some teeth. These two examples are not intended for comparison with Vivian’s much superior work but they do demonstrate how close I was prepared to get on the 1970s back streets of Dundee with a similar camera – a twin lens Mamiyaflex. Vivian would work from about three feet for some of her street subjects – I only felt comfortable at something like thirty. Cartier-Bresson worked with a Leica 35mm for good reasons.
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Travel theme: Benches: Immediately I saw this theme I thought of this photograph, taken on Beach Crescent, Broughty Ferry near Dundee in the early 1980s. The age of the photograph is evident from the cars and the sports headline on the Daily Record back page: £100,000 World Cup Deal – an impossibly small sum that today would not be sufficient to cover the bribes. Go there on Google Maps : Street View and between the parked cars you can still see the benches; just south of the castle, not much has changed:
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