Eli Reed on 23rd Street, NYC – 6.27.14

Eli Reed on 23rd Street, NYC – 6.27.14

In a random meeting last night last night on 23rd street in New York City, (between 7th and 8th Avenue), I meet Eli Reed. He lives in Austin, but has traveled the world, seen more than most have twenty times over. Eli is a Magnum photographer. It’s a small, elite club. What are the odds that we know the same people? He’s an international photographer, been all around the world, and I’m a songwriter from Austin.


Random. No connection, right?

I was walking with my friend Nigel Grainge (from LA, via London; the man who introduced me to Boo Hewerdine), and saw these two guys walking, coming from the opposite direction. And yes, the thought did cross my mind, “You see some crazy looking people on the streets of New York.”

His friend John stopped us. We’d met in Austin previously. Introductions are made.

Within minutes, Eli and I found eight connections between us, stretching from Paris to Seattle, from the photo editor John Morris, who I met at an event in Paris, to photographers Michael O’Brien, Stacy Pearsall and Andy Dunaway. There were more.

The point isn’t that we happen to know some of the same people in the photography world. It’s that the lives of two people walking down 23rd street on a Friday night, who might on first look appear to be vastly different from one another, intersect many times over. And how easily it could have slipped by us, had Nigel and I had stayed a little longer in the restaurant, or walked south on 7th Avenue.

So many times we see someone and think, “I have nothing in common with that person.” We miss the connection, and it’s often because of snap judgments and secret prejudice. It’s the idea that we’re separate islands.

More and more, I’m seeing that it’s up to me to make sure that I’m not the one pulling down that curtain.

When I open up, I meet the best people. I mean, Eli Reed, on 23rd Street, NYC, on a Friday night. Really?

Yes, really.