Photographer and writer Thomas W.P. Slatin, inspired by his parents and friends Charles Kuralt, Allen Ginsberg and Judith Edelman.
During a recent interview with Thomas Slatin, he discussed the impact which growing up on Bank Street in Greenwich Village of Manhattan has had on his life. His father, Dr. Harvey L. Slatin purchased an apartment building on Bank Street in Manhattan, where Thomas grew up in the 80’s. The Slatin family’s neighbors were most definitely also inspirational people, who were doing what they loved for a living. This certainly helped to form a young Slatin, who to this day holds a belief that living life with purpose and passion is entirely possible and of course, the “way to be.” Slatin’s neighbors specifically included, a friend of his father’s, Charles Kuralt and Judith Edelman. Slatin recalls playing in the backyard of the home owned by Judith Edelman.
Perhaps a real life Sesame Street –
“Come and play,
Friendly neighbors there,
That’s where we meet,
Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street.
It’s a magic carpet ride,
Every door will open wide,
To happy people like you,
What a beautiful sunny day,
Sweepin the clouds away, On the way to where the air is sweet.
Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street.
The Sesame Street theme was written by Bruce Hart, Jon Stone, Joseph Raposo © Sesame Street, Inc., Universal Music Group.
During the interview with Thomas Slatin discussed Charles Kuralt showing up at his doorstep after filming “Sunday Morning,” and then Slatin and his parents would watch “Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt,” shortly after Kuralt himself would stop by the Slatin’s, visiting with Slatin’s father. “They would often talk for hours at a time.” This fact and playing in Judith Edelman’s backyard as a child, where Slatin remembers how awesome she was as a person and he recalled “seeing her on “Sesame Street” stating, “I am an Architect,” and seeing her out and about on an almost daily basis. So yes, Slatin’s neighborhood as a child likens itself to a real life “Sesame Street,” “an inspirational example of good that is possible in life, comprised of plenty of encouragement.”
Slatin recalling words of wisdom from his father, who was a physicist and inventor with a true appreciation for the arts and photography, “My father told me from a young age to follow my dreams, never stop learning, and if there was anywhere that I wanted to travel or experience, I should pursue it.” Continuing, “Charles Kuralt inspired me very much and ‘On the Road with Charles Kuralt’ resonated with me the most. His insatiable desire to travel and to experience new and interesting things, in all the world has to offer, is timeless and inspiring to me. Charles often told my father that “I would be a writer one day because I have a keen eye for observation and have almost an insatiable curiosity.” This was first discussed between Charles and my father when he showed up at our house and was talking to my father, as they were watching me play in the yard, analyzing flowers with a magnifying glass that my father gave me as part of an adventure set.” Slatin adding, “My dad was friends with Allen Ginsberg too, upon their first meeting they spoke for hours at the home of a close family friend and medical doctor, Dr. Joel Gaidemak.”
“Did Allen Ginsberg inspire me,?” states Thomas, absolutely yes. I would listen to his conversations with my father and I was inspired and intrigued to say the least.”
Slatin states that Allen Ginsberg’s free verse poem “Howl” is his favorite Ginsberg poem. It was written by Allen Ginsberg to encourage people to cry out, and use their voice to resist against things such as subjugation. Concluding, “Allen Ginsberg was a great friend of my family, and he taught me a lot about life, and above all else he taught me, to constantly question things, to think for myself and make my own decisions. One thing he did say to me in the early 90’s was to, “Never let anyone else do your thinking for you.” Slatin said, “I will never forget that.”
On a funny note, when Slatin was a child, Allen Ginsberg and Slatin’s father, the late Dr. Harvey L. Slatin went to a diner in Upstate New York and Slatin remembers a funny, yet authentic and very real conversation between he and Ginsberg. Slatin recalls, “After Allen had spent decades being hounded by fans in New York City, Allen told me to ‘see what happens when the waitress stopped by their table to take the order.’ Continuing, “The waitress comes over to take our order and looks directly at Allen Ginsberg and says, ‘Are you ready to order?,” to which he replies, “I don’t believe we met, my name is Allen Ginsberg.” The waitress fakes a smile a bit and says “Nice to meet you Allen. Sooo, Are you ready to order?”
Allen ordered his usual, looked at Thomas, and said, “See, in the middle of Upstate New York, nobody really recognizes famous people, sometimes being unknown is a very welcome change.”
The fact that rings through for Slatin, “I do have a profound level of appreciation from being surrounded by such inspirational people, who were doing what they loved with purpose and passion. Has it inspired me to become the writer and photographer that I am today? – a resounding, yes! I want to carry this forward to let people know that one can do work they love and to be happy. Happiness is success.” Subscribe to his award winning blog at www.tomslatin.com.
Concluding, “I had direct examples of that fact.”