In the 1970s, William S. Burroughs lived in New York City's Lower East Side in a former YMCA locker room, a windowless room affectionally referred to as The Bunker. Of course, Burroughs spent his later years in Lawrence, Kansas, but after his 1997 death, Burroughs's friend and landlord, avant-garde poet John Giorno kept the writer's Bunker bedroom intact. Photographer Peter Ross took a lovely series of photos of Uncle Bill's belongings. From an interview with Ross in The Morning News:
How did you choose what articles you wanted to photograph?"Burroughs" by Peter Ross (Thanks, Xeni!)
Most of the items just jumped out at me. How could I pull a book titled Medical Implications of Karate Blows out of a stack and not photograph it? Or the typewriter with his name on it? The blow darts and board that hang on the wall in his bedroom?
Well, how did you decide on the angle for each photograph--why the bottoms of the shoes, for example, instead of the tops?
I challenged myself to try and find what was unique to the items. I was looking for something historical and specific to their owner, and short of that I was pushing for an off-kilter angle or placement.
Shoes are just shoes, but only one man wore the holes into the bottoms of this pair. Just think of where these shoes have been, the conversations they have witnessed. These shoes likely have met many of my heroes of New York's 1970s and '80s culture.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.