Photographer Christer Strömholm beautifully documented 1950s and 1960s sex workers, many of whom were transsexuals, for his 1983 book, Les Amies de Place Blanche.
“This is a book about insecurity. A portrayal of those living a different life in the big city of Paris, of people who endured the roughness of the streets.
This is a book about humiliation, about the smell of whores and night life in cafés.
This is a book about the quest for self-identity, about the right to live, about the right to own and control one’s own body.
This is also a book about friendship, an account of the life we lived in the place Blanche and place Pigalle neighborhood. Its market, its boulevard and the small hotels we resided in.
These are images from another time. A time when de Gaulle was president and France was at war against Algeria.
These are images of people whose lives I shared and whom I think I understood.
These are images of women—biologically born as men—that we call ‘transsexuals.’
As for me, I call them ‘my friends of place Blanche.’ This friendship started here, in the early 60s and it still continues.”
- Christer Strömholm
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter has passed away at the age of 76.
Long familiar to sports and music fans alike, Carter spent nineteen years in prison for a 1966 New Jersey triple homicide in what has largely become one of the most iconic examples of the racial biases of mid-century civil rights era America. While the courts found him guilty twice, both his 1967 and 1976 convictions were later overturned. Carter was finally released in 1985.
He died yesterday, so in the world of the Internet, it’s old news. But as a huge boxing and Bob Dylan fan, Carter’s story has always stuck with me - as it should for anyone really, sports and music tastes aside. Like most people my age, I first heard his tale of shoddy police work, racism, and corruption via Dylan’s classic*:
Four in the morning and they haul Rubin in, take him to the hospital and they bring him upstairs. The wounded man looks up through his one dying eye - says “Wha’d you bring him in here for? He ain’t the guy!” Yes here comes the story of the Hurricane - the man the authorities came to blame for something that he never done. Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been the champion of the world.
But I’m older. I wonder if many younger folks know who Rubin Carter is. They should though. More people should know his story.
(Photo 1 source unknown. Photo 2 via.)
*Video contains clips from the 1999 movie The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington. It’s something else worth checking out.