Great Dad? Or Greatest Dad?
January 3, 2010 8:01 PM   Subscribe

In 1940s New York, Harry Dubin and his teenage son went out every weekend to take color pictures of people doing different jobs in the city. Well, not people...Harry Dubin, switching places with people and pretending to do their jobs.

"Dad would say, 'Let's do a fireman this week or a street sweeper.' But a plan was one thing; inducing the target to remove his clothes in a nearby alley and hand them over to a total stranger was another."

Thirty of those pictures survive, brilliant, ultra-hi-res color shots of a goofy Dad from another time out entertaining his son, and are being posted in batches at a newish blog that's full of great artifacts and NYC history.

For instance, stories of loogies and porn on NYC's Radio Row (Cortlandt St), a long-gone neighborhood you know today as Ground Zero, or a fascinating 1946 New Yorker profile (PDF) of one of the first NYC families with television, and what it's like to watch it. (That family, by the way? The Harry Dubins.) -- via Monkeyfilter
posted by stupidsexyFlanders (34 comments total) 111 users marked this as a favorite
 
wow... I've only hit half of those links...

best post of the day!
posted by HuronBob at 8:09 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a great post! I've only looked at a few of the pictures, but Harry Dubin seems to have lived his life like some sort of Early Proto-Kramer.
posted by bunglin jones at 8:12 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Excellent. Thanks for this.
posted by generalist at 8:19 PM on January 3, 2010


So good!
posted by defenestration at 8:21 PM on January 3, 2010


This is awesome!
posted by gomichild at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2010


Kind of like the original Dirty Jobs. Awesome post.
posted by amethysts at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2010


SO. COOL.
posted by The Whelk at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2010


This is absolute gold, thank you!
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 8:41 PM on January 3, 2010


A superb FPP. Thanks stupidsexyFlanders!
posted by applemeat at 8:46 PM on January 3, 2010


I'm just glad the loogies and the porn had nothing to do with each other.

Very nice post.
posted by ErWenn at 8:54 PM on January 3, 2010


Really superb stuff.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:11 PM on January 3, 2010


I love that this was posted by stupid... sexy... Flanders!
posted by mwhybark at 9:39 PM on January 3, 2010


Man, I just want to crawl into those pictures. The way that seeing Dubin in each picture makes you feel a bit like you're there too. When you add the rare experience of seeing color pictures from that time, there's something so visceral about this series.
posted by lunasol at 9:47 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Harry Dubin as everyone.
posted by stilist at 9:57 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my top 10 posts of all time. I love this blogger as well as Harry Dubin. THe fact that he so readily agreed to be interviewed again shows what an open fun loving guy he is.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:14 PM on January 3, 2010


The 1940s seem less grim in colour.
posted by Damienmce at 4:29 AM on January 4, 2010




Terrific post, thanks!

We are all Harry Dubin!
posted by languagehat at 7:46 AM on January 4, 2010


Brilliant post, thanks stupidsexyFlanders!
posted by ceri richard at 8:01 AM on January 4, 2010


Wonderful, just wonderful.
posted by seventyfour at 8:23 AM on January 4, 2010


darksasami: she's a little girl, and she's wearing pedal pushers. She even has a bike.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:03 AM on January 4, 2010


And oh - wonderful! Incredibly immersive; what a treat.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:04 AM on January 4, 2010


I am in awe of Harry 'trade clothes with me, stranger' Dubin, for his ability to let strangers borrow his clothes for a photography session. Go dad!
posted by sandraregina at 10:36 AM on January 4, 2010


If you haven't yet, you get to learn a lot more about Harry and his family through the New Yorker profile linked near the end of the post. How cool is it that Harry bought a TV set in 1941? And when the family pulled up their chairs in front of the set to watch their game show, he made sure he had a clear path to the phone so he could jump up and go call in his clue guesses.

Plus you get an inning-by-inning review of Ron Dubin and his friends watching a Dodgers/Phillies game. (Ron took the aforementioned pictures of Dad.)

TV watching is today so ingrained in our cultural DNA that the article reads like an anthropological observation of the first people to ever eat food. "Onward and Upward With the Arts"? New Yorker, you had no idea.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:46 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


*deep bow of appreciation*

These posts made my day and challenged me to up my game as a dad.
posted by salishsea at 12:15 PM on January 4, 2010


wow.
I'm the blogger in question, and I just wanted to say thanks to "stupidsexyflanders" for the post and thanks to the rest for the wonderful comments. Because of this site, the number of hits on the blog skyrocketed, which I guess means, I better start watching more carefully for typos.

harry was indeed a great guy. I interviewed a few hundred people for my TV book, and he was one of my very favorites, just as much fun as these photographs. I also wrote a book about old New York and viewed a lot of pictures during the course of my research, none as rich as these those. When you can see the city as it was back then in color it almost brings it back to life. Fifteen years after I was handed Harry and Ron's pictures, I still can't take my eyes off them.
posted by jeffisme at 2:21 PM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


The whole "photography project" story was just a cover-up. Actually, Harry Dubin was just really awful at holding down a job for more than fifteen minutes.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 3:31 PM on January 4, 2010


That New Yorker piece was a hell of a read, although the tone of bemused puzzlement was eerily reminiscent of an extended review of the Kindle I read recently.

"...the Dodgers and I were rained out on Saturday, which led me to ponder the value of a device which is useless on a rainy Saturday afternoon and keeps you indoors on a fine one."

Also, the ads were great. So after a quick snack of Sell's Liver Pate washed down by a Black Horse Ale (Canada's Finest) I'm off to the "cool Astor roof" for cocktails, to be serenaded by Skinnay Ennis and his Celebrated Orchestra.
posted by gamera at 6:31 PM on January 4, 2010


wow.
I'm the blogger in question, and I just wanted to say thanks to "stupidsexyflanders" for the post and thanks to the rest for the wonderful comments. Because of this site, the number of hits on the blog skyrocketed, which I guess means, I better start watching more carefully for typos.

harry was indeed a great guy. I interviewed a few hundred people for my TV book, and he was one of my very favorites, just as much fun as these photographs. I also wrote a book about old New York and viewed a lot of pictures during the course of my research, none as rich as these those. When you can see the city as it was back then in color it almost brings it back to life. Fifteen years after I was handed Harry and Ron's pictures, I still can't take my eyes off them.


Welcome Jeff! Love your blog. Stick around this place is great too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:38 PM on January 4, 2010


"She even has a bike."

I think the bike, actually a trike, is the ice cream vendor's.

Anyone know what kind of car that is in the back ground? I know I should recognize that taillight/fin and it's driving me crazy.
posted by Mitheral at 9:27 AM on January 5, 2010


That was driving me crazy, too, Mitheral.
darksasami's instincts were right, it looks like a 1953 or '54 Packard Caribbean Convertible.
I have no opinion on the pants.
posted by Floydd at 10:50 AM on January 5, 2010


I asked on Edmunds, and one person wrote back that you were right about it being a '53 or '54 Packard. What makes it interesting to me is that I had forgotten that Ron and Harry took a break from the project and picked it up several years later. I guess this picture is proof.
posted by jeffisme at 5:47 PM on January 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Puckishly fun, insightful and slightly condescending.
posted by applemeat at 5:33 AM on January 14, 2010


Can someone with better photoshop skills than me please make the following photos:

1. Harry Dubin as Nicolas Cage
2. Nicolas Cage as Harry Dubin as Everybody
3. Harry Dubin as Mike Rowe doing somebody else's job
posted by The World Famous at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2010


« Older Nicolas Cage's Many Faces   |   The black forest game series Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments