Archive | 9:26 am

Day One at the Warf

22 Jul

” July 11. I went to the warf this morning before class began. I’ve been eyeing this place since the first day Nancy and I passed it en route to school.  It’s an old wooden garage that is littered with gondolas and fiberglass boats in need of work.  I crossed the bridge of Fondamenta Nani and turned the corner- dead end. I crossed the second bridge up the canal- another dead end?  Through a small passageway I find a vacant square, which houses an old building with giant wood doors. On the side “garu” is spray painted in orange.  It seems like a fortress.

I sat outside with a business card in my pocket, trying to figure out how to approach the situation behind the closed doors- the music, men laughing, sandpaper belts revving.  I’ve seen them working each morning on repairing and painting chipped gondolas back to perfectly veneered jet black.

I’m sitting there, praying for St. Mark Bussell to be with me, and the door opens.  A young guy, age 20-tops, exits while trying to birth his head through a twisted white undershirt. He sees me and stops, the white slinky stuck mid chest and his eyebrows inquiring about what the hell I’m doing there. We exchange Boun girornos, and I ask if he speaks English.  He laughs and turns to the garage space, yells something in Italian, and tells me to enter.

I tentatively walk through the door, and boom!  The smell of oil, must and paint remover instantly transports me back to my granddad’s garage.  I’m six, and my eight year old brother is watching and replicating movements of our grandfather’s greased hands working on reassembling a motor.

Back to the present, a man slightly older than me approaches and asks if I am alone.  I say yes. He invites me in further and asks why I’m there. I give my spheal- “photographer, student, teacher, interested in taking some photos of this place”…  The 30-something yells back over his shoulder to a tattooed shirtless man who is clearly in charge.  He points me back in the direction of the the guy in charge.

He is hardass-looking blondie probably close to forty with bright blue eyes and wonderfully sun aged face.  He is holding the hose of a loud shop vac and a cigarette is precariously teetering out the side of his mouth.  “Tell me.”  he says.  Over the rumble I introduce myself nervously and he doesn’t move, the ash growing on the cig.  He finally shuts the vac off, flicks out the cherry and tells me to repeat.  I do.  He yells something back to the first guy, turns the vac back on and continues working, not looking at me again. The younger says “you have ten minutes.”  I sheepishly admit that I have not brought my camera, I was just coming to see if it was ok.  I ask if I can return tomorrow and he says I can have ten minutes then.”

The following day I returned, and they let me stay for an hour! Here are some of the photos.