‘It was clear that these two had each other in their lives, and that was pretty much it’
In the 1970s I lived in SoHo in New York, which is not far from the Bowery, but the two districts were like separate universes. SoHo was full of artists and creative types but the Bowery was known as the place where you ended up when you were at the bottom of the barrel. There were a lot of flophouses and a lot of alcoholism and drug use. It was the darkest place in New York City for a long time.
The Bowery Mission is a Christian rescue centre for homeless people. Only men are allowed to stay overnight but it feeds anybody. I used to go there around Thanksgiving and Christmas time to help serve dinner. The face-to-face contact and interactions I had with people meant that I always felt a real connection with them, and it also made me grateful for what I had in my own life.