Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


As regular readers will know, I’m a fan of street photography, not least of Ron Galella (above), who is obviously a special case, and I suppose really a paparazzo (not that I see an absolute difference).  He seems to have been a fairly “square” guy who nevertheless had (and since he’s still alive and well as far as one can tell - he’s 84 - I hope still has) an intense, instinctive understanding of modernity and the nature of images, news, celebrity, fame and whatnot .

He was also fortunate in his obsessions.  He befriended and then endlessly photographed Andy Warhol, who if not exactly a kindred soul, was at least a fellow traveler.  They shared data.  In part they wanted the same thing - to photograph and be around celebrity, though they wanted this in rather different ways.

Galella’s other obsession, one that eventually got him into all kinds of legal trouble was Jackie Onassis.  He followed her, photographed her, by some definitions stalked her.

Now, personally I was too young to “get” Jackie Onassis at the time.  To mine youthful eyes she always looked like a middle aged woman.  I can now see that different opinions are possible.

Still, as a Hollywood walker, I did come across the above picture taken by Galella showing Jackie walking down the street with a kind of “Hollywood sign” behind her.  In fact the sign belongs to the Hollywood Twin Cinema in Manhattan, from which she was emerging, having seen Death in Venice.   It seems the building’s still there, but apparently no longer a cinema.

There’s also this picture of Jackie being pursued by Ron, taken by – which seems wonderfully meta.  The picture shows Galella following her to take the Hollywood Cinema picture, even as this photograph itself is evidence of further, supplementary stalking.

And if I was too young to understand the appeal of Jackie Kennedy, I was DEFINITELY too young to understand the appeal of Aristotle Onassis.  In my innocence and naivety I didn’t realize that women might be attracted to dodgy, unattractive old billionaires.  A lesson learned there.

 I’m not sure that Jackie absolutely always walked behind Onassis, but evidently she sometimes did.

And equally I’m sure she didn’t absolutely always walk alongside or in front of JFK, but again the photo evidence suggests that she surprisingly often did.

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