I think that I met Bob when I lived in a loft on 35th Street and 7th Avenue with my brotherFrank. That must have been in the mid-sixties. Macy's was my neighborhood store. I rememberhim coming over and he announced that it was “Murray the K” downstairs. Very funny. At that time he was a jazz disc jockey in a New Jersey station and he once drove me over there to watch him in action. Bob had and has a deep perfect for radio voice. At his station he did a lot of interviews of jazz players,none of which he now has. I do remember looking out of the window at the station and saying, “So that's radio land!”
He moved to the Apple and got a railroad flat on East 75th street as I remember. I asked him on the phone about the pad and he said that the bath tub was placed conveniently in the kitchen. At that time it was a fine place for young single guys. After work, beer and pizza and cigarettes legal and not.
Over the decades we dug Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Lee Konitz the most. Of course not only them. He has given me many, many tapes of his favorites and later CD”s. We still listen to the greatness of those three. And Monk, and Louis, and Getz, and Ornette, and Mingus.
He was and is more literate than me, reading poetry and writing it too. When talking movies in those years, he dug Kurosawa and I dug W.C.Fields and we both dug the Marx Brothers. Bob was taking lessons on the saxophone with Al Grigg, and I think he bought the ax from me.The very pretty Lynette lived in the same building and they became a couple and then moved in together.
Bob became interested in our photographic activities and was curious about the process. He felt that he wasn't making the kind of progress on the sax he wanted and then eventually gave it up. We spent time looking a books of photographs, paintings, etching and all manner of images. We all liked W. Eugene Smith, Eliot Porter and Edward Weston. And others too. We loved Ansel Adams ability with prints that could have only been made from his negatives. Like many New Yorkers he set up a darkroom in the bathroom. Of course it had to be taken down every evening so that they could bathe. He became more serious and he had to have a real darkroom.
He and Lynn moved to Long Valley New Jersey where he got that darkroom and got even more serious. Although I'm sure he regretted giving up developing and printing in his New York bathroom. (Ha). He was able to have one room as a permanent workspace for developing, printing, matting and framing and in general becoming more “professional”.
He moved to California where he ended up with several wives, (one at a time), and several children. There he continued to be enchanted with nature and made many fine photographs exploring the natural world. Not limited to that it is one of the roots of his esthetic. In the Bay Area of California he at one time was in charge of the Audio Visual department at Stanford University and was in a position to get me a job there for the summer as a darkroom man. I didn't have a car and hitchhiked both ways between the school and where Faye and I lived in La Honda. When the rainy season came we went back to New York.
With dry wit he has the ability on occasion make my laugh explosive. Having played football in school he was always fit enough to walk in the woods. He took us on a walk onto a mountain in California where we were engulfed in a blizzard. The wind blowing and snow hiding every thing more than a few feet away, as we descended the mountain the snow eased and when we got to the car the was no evidence of our adventure.
It seems to me that from the very beginning he went his own way. I think that my influence was probably one of technique and attitude rather than esthetics. Frank and I would go to Jersey to visit Bob and Lynette and then the guys would go shooting. We might be standing in a row taking pictures of the same scene, like a valley and mist and all of our pictures would be different. During the many decades of our friendship he has send and given me many photographs and copies of magazines in which his pictures and writing have appeared. I endeavor to preserve these treasures in archival conditions.
Over the years he has become a master printer and photographer. As an artist I would say that he hears well and he sees well. When he likes an artist I always pay attention to what he is pointing at. The urge to make pictures is ongoing and so is technology. Bob has adapted to digital cameras and print making and his esthetic and techniques remain. He has mastered that way too.
We go for years without meeting but we remain very good friends even living thousands of miles apart. When we do meet after a couple of decades it is if we live just around the corner and see each other regularly. Of course we recognize that we have less hair, fewer teeth and move a little slower. But we can still amuse each other and ourselves with quotes wisecracks and occasional jokes. There is less eating drinking and smoking nowadays but a little more gossip. I wonder if our old friend whats his name is still alive? Did you who died? Musicians, photographers, painters, comedians and writers that we had admired, or not. It is amazing to me to have a friend for more than fifty years. One of my best friends.