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February 14th, 2011

Valentine’s Day 1991

I just found this photo of me on Jamie Livingston’s Photo of the Day website from February 14, 1991.

Here I am pregnant, in a bed at  Lenox Hill Hospital with pre-term labor. I had to stay there for a month so that my son, Henry, wouldn’t be born 4 months early.

His due date was June 12th.

I remember spending Valentine’s Day at the hospital. Hugh, who managed to stay strong throughout this ordeal, made me a beautiful valentine’s card that made me cry. And I guess he gave me a box of chocolates. Or someone did.

That was one of the most stressful times of my life. I thought Henry might not survive. I was under doctor’s orders to be calm and told not to laugh or cry. I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed, to stand. It was pretty awful. But staying calm was hardest of all.

CALM? How can you be calm in a situation like that?

I had so much love and support from Hugh, my family and friends. My parents, who divorced years before and were rarely in the same room together, were there day after day, side by side (able for the first time to overlook their own differences in the face of this emergency).

My sister, my cousins, my aunts, my friends, including one who figured out how to wash my hair while lying in bed, all rallied round. They brought food, books, magazines. Jamie gave me cassette tapes of his favorite ethnic music, another friend brought  Creme Brulee from a French Bistro, still another gave me an adorable stuffed dog that sat on top of the hospital TV like a mascot.

My twin sister gave blood for me (just in case). At first she was told that she was too thin to give blood. While she was disappointed about not being able to give blood, she was THRILLED to be too thin. As I recall, they told her to go out and have a big meal and then come back.

She did end up giving blood for me and I was grateful.

The room was often full of people. It was actually kind of festive and fun. I got so many flowers from a Upper West Side flower shop called Surroundings, it was a lush garden on my windowsill, which had a diagonal view of Park Avenue.

I remember wanting to connect with the baby(I had just learned that he was a he) but I was afraid because I thought he might die.

A wise person told me: attach to the baby inside of you. If something does happen, you will deal with the loss then.

And so I did. I soared at the art of positive even magical thinking. And you know what? It worked!

Henry was born on his due date. The nurse screamed out “He’s cute.” Indeed, he was the most adorable– and beloved — baby in the world.

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October 25th, 2010

Jamie Livingston: On Polaroids and Lasting Friendship

Since 2004, I’ve run this post about Jamie Livingston called On Polaroids and lasting friendships on October 25th, his birthday and the day of his death (in 1997). There is now a website devoted to Jamie Livingston’s Polaroids called  Some Photographs of that Day.

When Jamie Livingston, photographer, filmmaker, circus performer, accordian player, Mets fan, and above all, loyal friend, died on October 25th (his birthday) in 1997 at the age of 41, he left behind hundreds of bereft friends and a collection of 6,000 photographs neatly organized in small suitcases and wooden fruit crates.

Jamie took a polaroid once a day, every day, including his last, for 18 years.

This photographic diary, which he called, “Polaroid of the Day,” or P.O.D., began when Jaime was a student at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. The project continued when he moved to apartments in New York City including the incredible circus memorabelia-filled loft on Fulton Street, which he shared with his best friend Chris Wangro. That loft was the site of many a Glug party, an “orphans thanksgiving,” a super-8 festival of Jamie’s lyrical films, and a rollicking music jam.

The picture taking continued as Jamie traveled the world with the Janus Circus, the circus-troupe founded by Chris Wangro, and later when he became a much-in-demand cinematographer and editor of music videos back in the early days of MTV. He contributed his talents to the ground-breaking Nike “Revolution” spot and many other commercials, too. Through it all he took pictures, made movies, and loved his friends. And the Polaroids reflect all of that: a life bursting with activity, joy and sadness, too.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in arts and culture, Jamie Livingston | 2 Comments »

February 14th, 2010

Valentine’s Day 1991

I just found this photo of me on Jamie Livingston’s Photo of the Day website from February 14, 1991.

Here I am pregnant, in a bed at  Lenox Hill Hospital with pre-term labor. I had to stay there for a month so that my son, Henry, wouldn’t be born 4 months early.

His due date was June 12th.

I remember spending Valentine’s Day at the hospital. Hugh, who managed to stay strong throughout this ordeal, made me a beautiful valentine’s card that made me cry. And I guess he gave me a box of chocolates. Or someone did.

That was one of the most stressful times of my life. I thought Henry might not survive. I was under doctor’s orders to be calm and told not to laugh or cry. I wasn’t allowed to get out of bed, to stand. It was pretty awful. But staying calm was hardest of all.

CALM? How can you be calm in a situation like that?

I had so much love and support from Hugh, my family and friends. My parents, who divorced years before and were rarely in the same room together, were there day after day, side by side (able for the first time to overlook their own differences in the face of this emergency).

My sister, my cousins, my aunts, my friends, including one who figured out how to wash my hair while lying in bed, all rallied round. They brought food, books, magazines. Jamie gave me cassette tapes of his favorite ethnic music, another friend brought  Creme Brulee from a French Bistro, still another gave me an adorable stuffed dog that sat on top of the hospital TV like a mascot.

My twin sister gave blood for me (just in case). At first she was told that she was too thin to give blood. While she was disappointed about not being able to give blood, she was THRILLED to be too thin. As I recall, they told her to go out and have a big meal and then come back.

She did end up giving blood for me and I was grateful.

The room was often full of people. It was actually kind of festive and fun (sort of). I got so many flowers from a Upper West Side flower shop called Surroundings, it was a lush garden on my windowsill, which had a diagonal view of Park Avenue.

I remember wanting to connect with the baby(I had just learned that the baby was a he) but I was afraid because I thought he might die.

A wise person told me: attach to the baby inside of you. If something does happen, you will deal with the loss then.

And so I did. I soared at the art of positive even magical thinking. And you know what, it worked.

Henry was born on his due date. The nurse screamed out “He’s cute.” Indeed, he was the most adorable– and beloved — baby in the world.

Posted in Jamie Livingston, Smartmom | 2 Comments »

September 6th, 2009

Hugh Crawford and Photo-of-the-Day on A Standardized Test

Remember this article about Jamie Livingston's Photo-of-the-Day in the Guardian last year. Well, now this article is being used in an English language standardized test in Spain.

Instant Recall

I was idly flicking through blogs when I stumbled upon a website. It was a collection of
polaroid photographs and gradually I began to realize that there was one for every day
between March 1979 and October 1997. There was no way of telling who they belonged
to, no commentary or captions, just the photos, arranged month by month like contact
sheets. There was a sense, too, that I was not supposed to be there, browsing through
these snaps of friends and family, of baseball games and picnics, but they were funny.
There were pictures of things that did not exist any more as well as car parks and
swimming-pools.

Slowly it became apparent whose collection it was – friends would come and go but one
man regularly popped up over the 18 years documented, doing ordinary stuff like eating
dinner or unusual things in faraway countries. In one picture he is proudly holding a
skinned goat, in another he is on stilts. A lot of the time he looks serious while doing
ridiculous things. During the 80s there are lots of pictures of him playing music with an
avant-garde street performance outfit called Janus Circus. There are pictures of TV
screens – ball games, Frank Zappa’s death, president Carter, Reagan and Clinton.

Then, in 1997, events take a dark turn. There are pictures of the photographer in
hospital, then with a long scar across his head. He is gravely ill. For a short while his
health appears to improve and he returns home. In October there is a picture of a ring,
then two days later a wedding ceremony. But just a few weeks after that he is back in
hospital with some friends from the early photos. On October 25 the series ends. The
photographer has died.

Of course I was not alone in discovering this remarkable site. Since the end of May it
has been passed from blog to blog across America. “The first I knew about it was when all
my other websites started to closing down under the strain,” says New Yorker Hugh

Crawford, who was responsible for putting his friend’s pictures on line after his death.
“Initially it was not meant to be looked at by anyone. A group of us were putting on an
exhibition of the photos and the site was a place where we could look at the pictures while
we talked on the phone.”

The photographer’s name was Jamie Livingston. He was a film maker and editor who
worked on public information films, adverts and promo videos for MTV. Taking a single
photo every day began by accident when he was 22 and studying film with Crawford at
Bart College, in upstate New York. “He’d been doing it for about a month before he
realised he’d been taking a photo about one picture a day, and then he made the
commitment to keep doing that,” says Crawford. “That’s what he was like. There are some
people who have flashes of brilliance and do things in a huge rush or creative burst but he
was more of a steady, keep-at-it kind of guy and he did amazing stuff. Part of the appeal of
the site is that Jamie was not this amazing-looking guy. He led an incredible life, but
there’s an every man quality to the photographs.”

There are a lot of visual jokes, funny shots and fluted self-portraits, but the plan was to
take one picture and keep it no matter how it turned out. Once they found themselves
walking with a circus of elephants through the heart of New York, late at night. Crawford
turned to his friend and suggested this could be the picture of the day. “He was like, “No, I
took a picture of my lunch, it’s already been taken,” laughs Crawford.  […]

Only one mystery remains about Livingston’s life: “There’s one woman who appears a
lot (in the earlier photographs) who seems to have been a girlfriend but no one knows who
she is,” says Crawford, much of whose own life story is told within the pictures as well.
The more famous the pictures become, the more likely it is that one day he’ll find out.
© The Guardian 13.08.08

1) When looking at the photos, the writer
a) felt confused.
b) felt like an intruder.
c) saw they were focussed on places.

2) The protagonist of the photos
a) had a boring life.
b) had a varied life.
c) lived close to celebrities.

3) As far as the photo collection is concerned, Hugh Crawford
a) admits that its use didn’t turn out as planned.
b) claims that he published his friend’s pictures without permission.
c) is unhappy about the attention it is getting.

4) According to Hugh Crawford, taking a photo on a day-to-day basis
a) proved Livingston’s huge talent.
b) showed Livingston’s commitment.
c) was Livingston’s dream.

5) According to Hugh Crawford, when making his collection,
Livingston
a) didn’t like being given advice by others.
b) didn’t like taking surprising photos.
c) wouldn’t go back on what he decided.

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October 12th, 2008

18 Years and 6,000 Photos Later: Jamie in the Times

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Get the real paper edition of the Times today so you can see The City section story on page 4, The Days of His Life: 18 Years and 6,000 photos later, one man’s chronicle of his times. It’s big and lovely. The website doesn’t do it justice. Here’s an excerpt:

The narrative
that unfolds between those two images tells the story not only of the
friendships Mr. Livingston forged over the years but also the evolution
of a city. It charts New York’s progression from an era of urban decay
and fiscal crisis to a place characterized by the economic recovery
that had arrived by the time of Mr. Livingston’s death, of melanoma, in
1997. This was especially true downtown, where he lived for much of the
period covered in the photographs.

Before Mr. Livingston died,
his friends Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid promised they would not let
the project die with him. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of their
friend’s death, they digitally photographed the Polaroids and
reproduced them for an exhibition at Bard, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 2 Comments »

October 11th, 2008

For More Information About Jamie Livingston and Photo-of-the-Day

For those of you who want MORE information about Jamie Livingston and his life-long photo-of-the-day project here’s what you can do:

–For information, interviews, and inquiries you can email Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid: hugh(at)hughcrawford(dot)com and betsy.reid(at)earthlink(dot)net

–You can view all of Jamie Livingston’s polaroids at photooftheday.hughcrawford.com

–To see what the exhibition of Jamie Livingston’s Photo-of-the-Day project looked like at Bard College in October 2007, you can go to Hugh’s website: hughcrawford.com

–Scroll down on this page for many articles that have appeared about Jamie Livingston on OTBKB and elsewhere.

–Last but not least: Google "Jamie Livingston" and see everything about him on various blogs and websites around the world. Lately there’s been quite a lot of interest in China.

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October 11th, 2008

Jamie Livingston in the New York Times City Section

Here’s
the article by David Shaftel which is on the City Visible page of The
City section of the New York Times
(October 12th, 2008): 

AS a senior at Bard
College
in 1979, Jamie Livingston acquired a Polaroid camera. After a few
weeks, he noticed that he was taking about one picture a day, and
shortly thereafter he decided to continue doing so.

The project, which quickly
evolved into something of an obsession, began with a snapshot of Mindy
Goldstein, Mr. Livingston’s girlfriend at the time, along with another
friend, both of them smiling at something outside the frame. It ended
18 years and more than 6,000 photos later with a self-portrait of the
photographer on his deathbed on his 41st birthday.

The narrative
that unfolds between those two images tells the story not only of the
friendships Mr. Livingston forged over the years but also the evolution
of a city. It charts New York’s progression from an era of urban decay
and fiscal crisis to a place characterized by the economic recovery
that had arrived by the time of Mr. Livingston’s death, of melanoma, in
1997. This was especially true downtown, where he lived for much of the
period covered in the photographs.

Before Mr. Livingston died,
his friends Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid promised they would not let
the project die with him. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of their
friend’s death, they digitally photographed the Polaroids and
reproduced them for an exhibition at Bard, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Mr. Crawford also loaded the images onto a Web site (photooftheday.hughcrawford.com)
so they could be experienced in their entirety.

As
the cityscape has changed, many of the pictures have accrued meaning.
“They often don’t mean anything by themselves,” Mr. Crawford said. “But
when you put them all together, they take on a life of their own.”

Ms.
Reid, who met Mr. Livingston in 1985, cited other benefits of the
collection. “When I look at a picture that I was involved in or know
about,” she said, “you’re just sent right back in time and you just
remember everything about that day.”

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August 13th, 2008

A Life Captured on Polaroid: Today in The Guardian

In today’s Guardian, there’s another article about Jamie Livingston, our friend who took a Polaroid every day from 1979-1997. Hugh Crawford is quoted in the article. 

The photographer’s name was Jamie Livingston. He was a filmmaker and
editor who worked on public information films, adverts and promo videos
for MTV. Taking a single photo every day began by accident when he was
22 and studying film with Crawford at Bard College, in upstate New
York. "He’d been doing it for about a month before he realised he’d
been taking about one picture a day, and then he made a commitment to
keep doing that," says Crawford. "That’s what he was like. There are
some people who have flashes of brilliance and do things in a huge rush
or creative bursts but he was more of a steady, keeps-at-it kind of guy
and he did amazing stuff. Part of the appeal of the site is that Jamie
wasn’t this amazing-looking guy. He led an incredible life, but there’s
an everyman quality to the photographs."

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June 18th, 2008

Jamie Livingston Polaroid-A-Day on Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

2587269913_0021313917Listen to this CBC Podcast. It’s a very moving and beautiful segment about  Jamie Livingston, who took a Polaroid a day for 18 years including his last. The show includes interviews with Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid, who re-photographed over 6,000 Polaroids and created the site, as well as Chris Higgins of Mental Floss, who uncovered the site before it was ever meant to be found. You can also hear Betsy read the letter Jamie wrote to the Polaroid Corporation in 1986.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 1 Comment »

June 6th, 2008

The Great Jones Cafe: June 6, 1986

060686_thmObligatory Jamie Livingston photo of Hepcat on his birthday. This shot was taken on 06/06/86.

To see more pictures go to Jamie’s  One Polaroid-a-Day website.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 2 Comments »

June 3rd, 2008

Thanks To The Kindness of Strangers: Bil and Vizzini From iphouse

061188_stdEvery day more and more people—from all over the world—are discovering the magic of Jamie Livingston’s Photo of-the-Day site. "I am constantly amazed at how much thought people are putting into writing about Jamie Livingston’s work. It’s not the same thing over and over. There are all these different interpretations. Some are similar but they’re not the same," Hugh tells me in a state of over-the-top gratification that Jamie’s work is getting out there and being appreciated by so many people.

Here’s something he found on a site called A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That:

I was intrigued by the title of an article on www.Foxnews.com the other day.  The title read “Daily Polaroids Detail Last 18 Years of NYC Man’s Life.”  I bet it got your attention too!  It was about a man named Jamie Livingston who took at least one photo of his life, every day, for 18 years.  It started as a College Project and it continued on til the day he died.  Oddly enough, he died at the age of 41 on the same day of his birth.  He passed away in 1997, and yes there is a picture taken on the very last day of his life.

I actually spent a lot of time going through them.  His friends have always wanted to do this for him, as a memorial and to share his life with others.  I think they did an absolutely amazing job.  They also put all of the pictures up at Bard College, which is the college where Livingston started the project.  It filled a wall 120 feet by 8 feet.

It’s erie to go and look at the pictures.  Towards the end you can really see the decline in his health.  Apparently he lost his battle with cancer.  It’s so sad to think that a man with such a interesting outlook on life, had to die so young.

The Jamie Livingston site continues to attract traffic from around the world. Hugh noticed that there’s been a lot of traffic coming from Brazil. It’s also being picked up in China. Hugh has no idea how many people have been to the site. But at times it is receiving something like 150 hits per second. That means 150 pages or pictures are being requested per second.

That’s an awful lot.

If you’d like a partial list of many blogs that have picked up Jamie’s site go to Ice Rocket for an index.

Thankfully the site is at a hosting company called iphouse that has a lot of bandwidth.  Hugh and I would like to take a moment to thank two men in Minneapolis we’ve never met. But they are real behind-the-scenes heroes and we are filled with gratitude.

Vizzini and Bil contacted Hugh after the Jamie site went up on Mental Floss all those days ago.

They reached out in a very generous and kind-hearted way—and offered Hugh much needed bandwidth—and now he’s part of the Jamie story.

Thanks to Bil MacLeslie, CEO of iphouse.com, for bandwidth/collocation and Vizzini Sampere for Servers and System Administration for all that you’ve done.
.
Vizzini and Bil are willing to continue donating the server, disk space, and their time to administrate the server for the site as long as we arrange bandwidth with Bil/iphouse.

"The particular machine I have you on is a online backup and development machine I have just in case one of my other servers dies or a site needs some additional capacity," Vizzini wrote to Hugh in an email.

Vizzini and Bill at iphouse.com: Thank you from all of us.

Photo of the Day by Jamie Livingston of Hugh Crawford on 6-11-88 (Hugh still has that shirt. We call it his Hawaiian Punch shirt.)

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May 28th, 2008

Jamie Livingston Polaroid-A-Day on Very Short List

Lots of traffic expected. Here’s the story on Very Short List. The Jamie Livingston site seems to be holding up well thanks to Hugh and friends in Minneapolis.

When that itch surfaces to revisit all the big moments in our lives (the proms, weddings, births, European vacations), we naturally reach for the photo album. But where are all those other days — that Tuesday in March, say, when, as far as we can recall, nothing happened? The New York–based cinematographer Jamie Livingston found something worth photographing that day, and the next, as he meticulously (and miraculously) chronicled twenty years of his life in Polaroids before succumbing to cancer in 1997, on his 41st birthday.

Photo of the Day is the beautifully sad website erected by Livingston’s friends to catalogue his prodigious output, with 6,697 captured moments ranging from the mundane to the sublime. There he is napping in one, and newly engaged in another. His lovely gesture of toting around a camera to immortalize the everyday, every day, feels oddly prescient. After all, that cell-phone camera you carry everywhere? Maybe use it or lose it, forever.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 8 Comments »

May 27th, 2008

Jamie Livingston Polaroid-A-Day Site is Back Up! Again

013089_std
The Huffington Post traffic caused the Jamie Livingston Polaroid-of-the-Day site to crash over the weekend.

But as of today (Tuesday May 27th 2008), it back up. After much, much, much, much work, Hugh fixed the site with many thanks to the kindness of strangers.

"A really nice guy in Minneapolis has put the site up on a server there and thinks that it can withstand the onslaught. It’s the 2nd most popular site on Digg this week. Jamie’s site is now on its very own machine at a big Internet company. They’re pretty sure that it can take whatever sort of beating it’s going to get. We’re very confident and hoping for the best," says Hugh.

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May 23rd, 2008

Jamie Livingston’s Polaroid-A-Day Website Back Up

060791_std_2
Yesterday because of the intense volume of traffic to Jamie Livingston’s Photo-of-the-Day site, the site crashed.

Hugh worked on it all day and night and it seems to be up and running. I hope it stays that way. "The site is barely able to deal with the number of people right now. Please be patient. If you experience a problem, just try again later."

Jamie Livingston (1956-1997) took a Polaroid every day for 18 years, including the day he died in 1997.

He was an amazing artist who’s project seems to have captured the hearts of tens of thousands of people on the Internet.

071688_std
On May 21, Mental Floss ran a story by Chris Higgens about his discovery of Jamie’s website.

"What started for me as an amusing collection of photos — who takes
photos every day for eighteen years? — ended with a shock. Who was this
man? How did his photos end up on the web? I went on a two-day hunt,
examined the source code of the website, and tried various Google
tricks.

Finally my investigation turned up the photographer as Jamie Livingston,
and he did indeed take a photo every day for eighteen years, until the
day he died, using a Polaroid SX-70 camera. He called the project
“Photo of the Day” and presumably planned to collect them at some point
— had he lived. He died on October 25, 1997 — his 41st birthday."

The site wasn’t even public yet. Hugh and Betsy Reid have been working on it for years. They had to scan 6000 plus photographs; Hugh has spent days and nights of his life coding it. It is, truly a labor of love.

Hugh and Betsy are thrilled that the Internet has discovered Jamie. Friends were writing and calling all day with joy that Jamie’s work is getting to those, who really seem to appreciate it.

Betsy wrote me early Thursday morning:

i knew it would happen in some random way. i love it. the tears started coming when i pulled up OTBKB and read the first few words….
Another friend wrote to her:

i can just see the shit eatin’ grin on jamie — the new hero of the blogosphere’s — face! precious and priceless.

So why did the site crash? Because it’s an interactive site, the volume of visitors—and the amount of time they spend at the site clicking from one picture to the next—was more than the site could bear. Hopefully Hugh has fixed the problem. We’ll see as the day progresses.

Above is a picture of Hugh from 1991. Below that is a pix of Betsy Reid and Jamie on July 16th 1988. Below left to right: Billy Swindler, composer, musician, and friend, who died of AIDs. Tim Allen, friend. And the guy with the open mouth—that’s Jamie taking a picture of a tooth.

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Posted in Jamie Livingston | 5 Comments »

May 22nd, 2008

Mental Floss Discovers Jamie Livingston’s Photo-of-the-Day Website

070289_std_2Somehow Mental Floss (Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix) uncovered Photo-of-the Day by Jamie Livingston, the not-yet-public website Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid created for Jamie Livingston’s 6000+ Polaroids. Because it’s a work-in-progress site (a Beta site), there are no names on it, no credits. No contact information. Nothing.

It took Chris Higgens at Mental Floss some time to figure out Jamie’s name. Or to learn that it was Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid who spent years putting the site together after Jamie Livingston died.

“Yesterday I came across a slightly mysterious website — a collection of Polaroids, one per day, from March 31, 1979 through October 25, 1997. There’s no author listed, no contact info, and no other indication as to where these came from. So, naturally, I started looking through the photos. I was stunned by what I found.”

Higgens did some impressive Internet detective work to  find out more about Jamie. He discovered OTBKB and learned the story.

What started for me as an amusing collection of photos — who takes photos every day for eighteen years? — ended with a shock. Who was this man? How did his photos end up on the web? I went on a two-day hunt, examined the source code of the website, and tried various Google tricks. Finally my investigation turned up the photographer as Jamie Livingston, and he did indeed take a photo every day for eighteen years, until the day he died, using a Polaroid SX-70 camera. He called the project “Photo of the Day” and presumably planned to collect them at some point — had he lived. He died on October 25, 1997 — his 41st birthday.

After Livingston’s death, his friends Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid put together a public exhibit and website using the photos and called it JAMIE LIVINGSTON. PHOTO OF THE DAY: 1979-1997, 6,697 Polaroids, dated in sequence. The physical exhibit opened in 2007 at the Bertelsmann Campus Center at Bard College (where Livingston started the series, as a student, way back when). The exhibit included rephotographs of every Polaroid and took up a 7 x 120 foot space.

Because of that post (and others), thousands of people are visiting the Jamie site and OTBKB to find out more about Jamie Livingston

Apparently a bunch of Spanish language newspapers picked up the story today and the volume of visitors caused the Jamie site to crash in the middle of the night. That problem is being remedied as we speak.

I heard Hepcat speaking loudly on the telephone at 3 am and it woke me up. Turns out he was on the phone with the people from Host Monster, trying to get them to restore the site. It should be up and running soon. We hope.

There are so many interesting comments on Mental Floss and other places that have picked up the story. Over and over people are saying that it’s one of the most moving things they’ve ever seen on the Internet.

Indeed, the story of Jamie’s life and work is an incredible one. Here’s an excerpt from the post I run every October 25, the day Jamie died, which happened to be his birthday. Every October 25th is Jamie Livingston Day at OTBKB. This post was originally called, On Polaroids and Lasting Friendship.

When Jamie Livingston, photographer, filmmaker, circus performer, accordian player, Mets fan, and above all, loyal friend, died on October 25th (his birthday) in 1997 at the age of 41, he left behind hundreds of bereft friends and a collection of 6,000 photographs neatly organized in small suitcases and wooden fruit crates.

Jamie took a polaroid once a day, every day, including his last, for 18 years.

This photographic diary, which he called, “Polaroid of the Day,” or P.O.D., began when Jaime was a student at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson. The project continued when he moved to apartments in New York City including the incredible circus memorabilia-filled loft on Fulton Street, which he shared with his best friend Chris Wangro.
That loft was the site of many a Glug party, an “orphans thanksgiving,” a super-8 festival of Jamie’s lyrical Super-8 films, and a rollicking music jam.

The picture taking continued as Jamie traveled the world
with the Janus Circus, the circus-troupe founded by Chris Wangro, and later when he became a much-in-demand cinematographer and editor of music videos back in the early days of MTV. He contributed his talents to the ground-breaking Nike “Revolution” spot and many other commercials, too. Through it all he took pictures, made movies, and loved his friends. And the Polaroids reflect all of that: a life bursting with activity, joy and sadness, too.

Jamie brought his camera wherever he went. As one friend said, “It probably helped his social life because everyone wanted to be in a photo of the day.” It was always interesting to see what Jaime deemed worthy of a P.O.D. My husband remembers his own 30th birthday party in his photo studio on Ludlow Street: “Hundreds of people filled my loft and the party snaked down Ludlow Street to Stanton. But what did Jamie take a picture of? A potato chip or something. It was a gorgeous shot, though.”

But more often than not, the photos were of friends, family, himself, special places he had visited, or just something that caught his discriminating eye. And if he’d been to a Mets Game that day, that was it — a Mets game was always a worthy P.O.D.

And the pictures are utterly gorgeous miracles of photographic artistry. The color, the light, the time lapse swirls, the unerring composition. Whether it was a still life of what he’d eaten for dinner, an unblinking shot of his beloved grandfather (Pops), or swooningly romantic portraits of his beautiful wife or ex-girlfriends, any one of these photographs should be in a museum collection. But perhaps more importantly, Jamie’s friends and the world need access to these pictures, which is why his devoted friends have been talking for years about ways to exhibit this massive body of work.

The fact that so many people are discovering the life and work of Jamie Livingston via the Mental Floss site is unbelievably gratifying to Hepcat. Yes he’s a little overwhelmed at the moment and is trying to figure out how to resuscitate the Jamie site, all of this attention is a great way to honor a beautiful man and artist who died at the age of 41.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 26 Comments »

May 22nd, 2008

Jamie Livingston is on Wikipedia Now!!!

It went up a few hours ago. We’re not sure who put it up there. But it’s here.

Hugh has also gotten quite a few offers to host the site if he’s having problems. The volume of visitors to the Jamie site, which is still broken, and OTBKB is record breaking. There is unbelievable interest in this.

On Wiki, Livingston is mispelled as Livingstone. Here’s what they have

Jamie Livingstone (25 October 1956-25 October 1997) was a New York-based photographer, film-maker and circus performer who from March 31, 1979 through to the day of his death on October 25, 1997 took a Polaroid photograph every day.[1]

Livingstone’s ‘Polaroid a Day’ photographic diary started at Bertelsmann Campus Center at Bard College
and though some photos have gone missing from the collection, 6,697
Polaroids remain. The collection, dated in sequence, has been organised
by his friends Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid into an exhibit at Bard
College called "JAMIE LIVINGSTON. PHOTO OF THE DAY: 1979-1997", which
opened in 2007.[2]

Livingstone was a member of the musical, percussionist circus troupe
Janus Circus from Bard College. He also worked as a cinematographer and
editor of music videos for MTV, as well as working on advertisements with Nike. [1]

Livingstone’s Polarid a Day charted his experiences with cancer, and even his subsequent engagement. His photographs in and out of hospital continued up until the day of his death.[3]

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May 22nd, 2008

Reaction to Jamie Livingston’s One Polaroid A Day

1602911631_04b5a7dbc7
Betsy Reid, who has worked with Hugh Crawford for years to bring Jamie Livingston’s Photo-of-the Day project to the web has been reading the comments on Meta Filter, Mental Floss and elsewhere. She enjoyed on comment on Metafilter by someone named krippledkonscious.

"I had to think a little bit about why this is so stirring. This is not a technical achievement, nor an endeavor that requires an inaccessible skill set. This is one thing, done once a day. Something so spare and ordinary, just taken to extraordinary lengths. A simple thing: whatever struck his fancy on a given day – just capture one thing on film. Simple.

"I know a lot of people try to do this on Flickr, but this is strikingly different in many respects. This isn’t a collection of forced poses or composed shots or juxtapositions, he isn’t looking for something funny, weird, or ironic. I find myself thinking I should try this, but give up within days because I’d try to wait until something interesting happened. That’s me not appreciating the ordinary, or trying to force it, and not having the discipline to just do something on principle. These photos are as simple as memories. They don’t always make sense, they don’t always fit into some grand theme or design. Here is a memory. Here is another. All you need to know is: this was then, on this date. This happened, I was there. Do you remember?

"Nothing seems framed here. You don’t feel as if he is trying to sell you anything about himself. I like to think that the people in his life probably questioned this hobby or wondered what purpose it could ever serve – especially in those days before such a scheme could bring you internet glory. There was no market for this kind of thing. Who would care? Why keep at it? No one will see it. That camera isn’t even portable. The resolution is terrible. Why bother?

"I think we react to this because it is so rare. A refreshingly simple thing, devoid of polish or fanfare, suddenly set in front of us by chance. It doesn’t ask anything of you. You take what you will.

Photo above is one wall of Jamie’s photos from the exhibition organized by Friends of Livingston at Bard College October 2007 taken Tom Boettcher:   Osbeefeel2001

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 4 Comments »

May 22nd, 2008

A Life Cut Short: Note from Hugh Crawford About Jamie Livingston Project

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Here’s a note from Hugh Crawford to Chris Higgens in response to his post, He took a Polaroid, Until The Day He Died on Mental Floss:

The Photo of That Day project is a work in progress, and the site was put up partly to help coordinate the effor to put together the show at Bard College. That’s why there is so little information on the site. The photos of the post-its with dates are placeholders for photos that were lost.

Once in an incident too complicated to relate here many of Jamie’s
possessions got put out on the street by a landlord picked up by the Department of Sanitation.

Fortunately the truck was intercepted by Jamie and friends en route and they
dumped an entire garbage truck load of garbage out on a NYC pier and sifted through it to recover the photos.

Some of the photos were lost then and in other random incidents while traveling etc. There were other times where there were no photos taken, often while filming in exotic parts of the world where it turned out that there was no Polaroid film.

The photos marked with the orange Xs are photos that I had to re-shoot after a hard drive crash.

It’s kind of cool having someone wander into the site and figure it out. I’m sort of enjoying that mystery aspect of it.

We were all quite amazed at the  personal connection people who didn’t know Jamie made with the work. One of the striking things at the show was that students at Bard were looking at the pictures as a full life experience to aspire to, at the same time that his friends were commemorating a life cut short.

The POD above shows the Polaroids in the suitcases Jamie used to organize them.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 1 Comment »

October 25th, 2007

JESUS H CHRIST AND THE FOUR HORNSMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE

Risa Mickenberg, who wrote the piece about Jamie today, is a member of the band Jesus H Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse.

The New Yorker Magazine and many other music journalists love them:

This lovable local band transcends the novelty of its name with
wry, thundering power-pop songs about such previously under-explored
subjects as the boredom of living in the Constitution State
(“Connecticut Is for Fucking”), the appeal of the recently widowed (“Do
Me”), and how pharmaceuticals can help love (“Happy Me”)."

The song, "Obviously You Slept with That Girl at the Reunion" HAS TO BE LISTENED TO. Obviously.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 1 Comment »

October 22nd, 2007

6,000 POLAROIDS ON VIEW: VISUAL DIARY OF A LIFE LIVED FULLY

Friends of artist Jamie Livingston gathered at the Bertelsmann Campus Center at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson on a brilliantly colored fall day for the opening reception of the exhibition, JAMIE LIVINGSTON. PHOTO OF THE DAY: 1979-1997, 6,697 Polaroids, dated in sequence.

Livingston, a photographer, filmmaker, circus performer, accordian player, Mets fan, and above all, loyal friend, died on October 25th (his birthday) in 1997 at the age of 41. He left behind hundreds of bereft friends and a collection of 6,000 photographs neatly organized in small suitcases and wooden fruit crates.

Livingston took a polaroid once a day, every day, including his last, for 18 years.

This photographic diary, which he called, "Photo of the Day," or P.O.D., began when Jaime was a student at Bard College. The project continued when he moved to apartments in New York City including the incredible circus memorabilia-filled loft on Fulton Street, which he shared with his best friend. That loft was the site of many a Glug party, an "orphans thanksgiving," a super-8 festival of Livingston’s lyrical films, and a rollicking music jam.

In a Herculean effort since his death, the Polaroids were scanned, digitized and cataloged by Hugh Crawford and Betsy Reid. Friends of Jamie, a group led by his widow Linda Schaeffer, raised funds to have the photos digitally re-printed on 80 panels. The Bard exhibit opened on October 13th.

On Saturday, friends came from near and far (Greece, Paris, California, Brooklyn) for the first public exhibition of Livingston’s life work. It will be on view until October 27th. The response from Bard students has been overwhelmingly positive.  They love studying this grid of thousands of photos, especially pictures taken when Livingston was a student at Bard. Someone has even added a Polaroid of their own. Friends of Jamie didn’t seem to mind.

"If Jamie was alive he’d have been the one to do that," someone said.

Friends examined the 7 x 120 ft wall of Polaroids arranged chronologically from 1979 until 1997. There were squeals of recognition, oooh’s, ahhhh’s, cries of "Where was that picture taken?", "I remember that day." or "Look at that shirt!"

Photo’s of  friends, girlfriends, objects, landscapes, ball games, and New York City scenes, are interspersed with shots of famous people like Philip Johnson, Keith Richards, Lionel Richie and many others Livingston met in his career as a music video and commercial director and cinematographer.

Some days there are no pictures. Usually he’d write a note explaining the absence. When he was in Europe in 1982 there’s a lapse of 14 days. "He couldn’t find any Polaroid film," Hepcat explained.

"What’s with February 29th?" I asked. There are just 4 pictures for that day.

"It’s a leap year," someone shouted. DUH.

A decidedly upbeat and celebratory atmosphere prevailed at the reception and the dinner that followed. Tears were shed and stories shared about many of the Photo’s of the Day.

A joyful tribute to a man who insisted on capturing one moment of every day, the show is a personal and public record by an artist, who lived his life with immense creativity, connectedness, and close looking.

"It’s like he knew his life was going to be short. He accomplished so much in the time he had," one friend told me.

Bard College
Bertelsmann Campus Center
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
organized by Friends of Jamie
Sponsored by the Bard-St. Stephens’s Alumni/ae Assocation
For more information, contact info@photooftheday.net

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 3 Comments »

October 25th, 2006

JAMIE LIVINGSTON: AN ANNUAL CELEBRATION ON OTBKB

071689_thm_2For the last two years, I have run this piece on October 25th. It’s called ON POLAROIDS AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP. Tonight some of Jamie’s  friends are getting together to toast their friend — OTBKB

When Jamie Livingston, photographer, filmmaker, circus performer,
accordian player, Mets fan, and above all, loyal friend, died
on October 25th (his birthday) in 1997 at the age of 41, he left behind
hundreds of bereft friends and a collection of 6,000 photographs neatly
organized in small suitcases and wooden fruit crates.

Jamie took a polaroid once a day, every day, including his last, for 18 years.

This
photographic diary, which he called, “Polaroid of the Day,” or P.O.D.,
began when Jaime was a student at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.
The project continued when he moved to apartments in New York City
including the incredible circus memorabelia-filled loft on Fulton
Street, which he shared with his best friend Chris Wangro. That loft was the site of
many a Glug party, an “orphans thanksgiving,” a super-8 festival of
Jamie’s lyrical films, and a rollicking music jam.

The picture
taking continued as Jamie traveled the world
with the Janus Circus, the circus-troupe founded by Chris Wangro,
and later when he became a much-in-demand
cinematographer and editor of music videos back in the early days of
MTV. He contributed his talents to the ground-breaking Nike
“Revolution” spot and many other commercials, too. Through it all he
took pictures, made movies, and loved his friends. And the polaroids
reflect all of that: a life bursting with activity, joy and sadness, too.

Jamie brought his camera wherever he went. As one friend
said, “It probably helped his social life because everyone wanted to be
in a photo of the day.” It was always interesting to see what Jaime
deemed worthy of a P.O.D. My husband remembers his own 30th birthday party
in his photo studio on Ludlow Street: “Hundreds of people filled my
loft and the party snaked down Ludlow Street to Stanton. But what did
Jamie take a picture of? A potato chip or something. It was a gorgeous
shot, though.”

But more often than not, the photos were of
friends, family, himself, special places he had visited, or just
something that caught his discriminating eye. And if he’d been to a
Mets Game that day, that was it — a Mets game was always a worthy
P.O.D.

And the pictures are utterly gorgeous miracles of
photographic artistry. The color, the light, the time lapse swirls, the
unerring composition. Whether it was a still life of what he’d eaten
for dinner, an unblinking shot of his beloved grandfather (Pops), or
swooningly romantic portraits of his beautiful wife or ex-girlfriends,
any one of these photographs should be in a museum collection. But
perhaps more importantly, Jamie’s friends and the world need access to
these pictures, which is why his devoted friends have been talking for
years about ways to exhibit this massive body of work.

Back in
September at a bris for the son of a good friend, HC and our friend Betsy, one
of Jamie’s still devoted ex-girlfriends, started talking about the
P.O.D.s:  “Why don’t we finally re-photograph all 6,000 of
them and put them on a web site.” And that’s practically what they did.
They spent many October days digitally re-photographing the picures.
This labor of love was also exceedingly labor intensive and they only
got up to 1990 (the P.O.D.s started in 1978). But they plan to finish the
rest when they have some time again.

A year ago today there was a “Jamie Fest,” a
commemoration of the seventh anniversary of his death, a small group of
friends gathered at the envy-inducing loft of one of Jamie’s oldest,
dearest friends in Tribeca and were treated to a veritable feast of
PODs, films, good red wine, beer, and Chinese food. There was a warmth
in that room, a convivial feeling of purpose, as the friends remembered
their friend who left behind a journal of his life and their’s too.

HC set up a random, non-chronological slide show of these pictures, as
well as a special “computer station” where Jamie’s friends could browse
the well-indexed shots year-by-year, month-by-month, day-by-day.
Hunched over the computer,some pictures made them sad, some made them
reflective, some made them very, very quiet. Others made them laugh or
squeal with recognition of an almost forgotten face, a wonderful
memory, a special time too, too long ago.

Jamie was the best
man at our wedding. He was HC’s treasured co-hort since their
days at Bard College. I met Jamie soon after
meeting Hepcat, probably at the Great Jones Cafe, and always enjoyed
our group adventures, including the annual walk of the elephants down
34th Street when the Ringling Brothers Circus arrived in town, the
trips to photo shows to buy cameras and old photographs, their brunches
at the Cottonwood Cafe, or seeing the Mets, and the Rolling Stones’
Steel Wheels tour at Shea Stadium. I remember when Jamie
visited me at the hospital when I was having pre-term labor with my son
and nearly lost him. I remember how he and Betsy carried a heavy gift
of a vintage toy box to my son’s first
birthday party in Prospect Park.

At the “Jamie Fest” last year in 2004 I located the stunning P.O.D. of our
wedding day and
marveled at how young and thin I was back then (marriage and kids
really ages you). My husband looked so young and
handsome in his father’s tuxedo. I also found the picture from the
night before the wedding when Jaime and Betsy joined at the emergency
room at Beth Israel Hospital because my husband thought he had a broken
his neck in a minor (okay major) car accident a
few days before the wedding (pre-wedding nerves, no doubt).

Jaime
and Betsy sat with us from mid-night until five a.m., while we waited
for my husband’s  neck to be X-Rayed. It turned out that he had a nasty
case of whiplash and had to wear a neck brace at the wedding.
When I suggested that Jamie and Betsy go home to get some sleep,
Jaime refused to budge saying, “I’m your bestman. This is part of my
job.”

On this the 8th 9th anniversary of Jamie’s death:  Thank you, Jamie, for being our bestman. And thanks for
giving us a stunning portrait of our lives. You gave us more than you
can ever know.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | 3 Comments »

October 25th, 2006

A STILL MOMENT FROM EVERY DAY: A JAMIE REMEMBRANCE

Risa Mickenberg, a friend of Jamie Livingston’s, wrote this soon after Jamie’s death in 1997. Risa is a writer and is in the band, Risa Mickenberg, Jesus H Christ & The 4 Hornsmen of the Apocalypse, who will be appearing on PBS on Halloween. Check out their MY SPACE page (link above) for more information.

A Still Moment From Every Day

It’s
strange for someone to leave behind a record of every day of their
life. Or to obsessively follow a project whose only perfect completion
ends with their death.

Our work is always ahead of us. It
starts when we are born and it ends when we die – this work of seeing,
touching and affecting the world.

Jamie spread this collection out every year and examined it – reviewed it.

Our
lives are a flood of images and we are collectors who keep a strange
assortment of images: moments of extreme emotion, pain, beauty, and
fear stand out. Events we’re taught to remember: weddings, graduations,
births, deaths.

Then there are the millions of images that we
can’t shake out of our heads, that come to us at strange times – things
we can’t remember why we remember: the gold threads in an old stereo
speaker, the way the light hit a thousand cars in a parking lot by the
water, the face of a stranger in a restaurant, a friend standing in a
pool – you can’t remember where, slapping the water with the flat of
her hand.

Memory is a sieve that holds curious things. A life is a trail of strange, colorful memories.

Jamie’s
Photo-of-the-Day works like a life. A still moment from every day for
years. Remains of the day, immortalized. It is a selection: what we
choose to remember, what we add to our collection of days.

There was no set time of day.  It was when the mood struck: this is what I will take.

It’s an accumulation, a collection, a life’s work.

Posted in Jamie Livingston | Comments Off on A STILL MOMENT FROM EVERY DAY: A JAMIE REMEMBRANCE

October 25th, 2005

POSTCARD FROM THE SLOPE_OF POLAROIDS AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP

071689_thm_2When Jamie Livingston, photographer, filmmaker, circus performer,
accordian player, Mets fan, and above all, loyal friend, died
on October 25th (his birthday) in 1997 at the age of 41, he left behind
hundreds of bereft friends and a collection of 6,000 photographs neatly
organized in small suitcases and wooden fruit crates.

Jamie took a polaroid once a day, every day, including his last, for 18 years.

This
photographic diary, which he called, “Polaroid of the Day,” or P.O.D.,
began when Jaime was a student at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson.
The project continued when he moved to apartments in New York City
including the incredible circus memorabelia-filled loft on Fulton
Street, which he shared with his best friend Chris Wangro. That loft was the site of
many a Glug party, an “orphans thanksgiving,” a super-8 festival of
Jamie’s lyrical films, and a rollicking music jam.

The picture
taking continued as Jamie traveled the world with the Janus Circus, the circus-troupe founded by Chris Wangro, and later when he became a much-in-demand
cinematographer and editor of music videos back in the early days of
MTV. He contributed his talents to the ground-breaking Nike
“Revolution” spot and many other commercials, too. Through it all he
took pictures, made movies, and loved his friends. And the polaroids
reflect all of that: a life bursting with activity, joy and sadness, too.

Jamie brought his camera wherever he went. As one friend
said, “It probably helped his social life because everyone wanted to be
in a photo of the day.” It was always interesting to see what Jaime
deemed worthy of a P.O.D. My husband remembers his own 30th birthday party
in his photo studio on Ludlow Street: “Hundreds of people filled my
loft and the party snaked down Ludlow Street to Stanton. But what did
Jamie take a picture of? A potato chip or something. It was a gorgeous
shot, though.”

But more often than not, the photos were of
friends, family, himself, special places he had visited, or just
something that caught his discriminating eye. And if he’d been to a
Mets Game that day, that was it — a Mets game was always a worthy
P.O.D.

And the pictures are utterly gorgeous miracles of
photographic artistry. The color, the light, the time lapse swirls, the
unerring composition. Whether it was a still life of what he’d eaten
for dinner, an unblinking shot of his beloved grandfather (Pops), or
swooningly romantic portraits of his beautiful wife or ex-girlfriends,
any one of these photographs should be in a museum collection. But
perhaps more importantly, Jamie’s friends and the world need access to
these pictures, which is why his devoted friends have been talking for
years about ways to exhibit this massive body of work.

Back in
September at a bris for the son of a good friend, my husband and our friend Betsy, one
of Jamie’s still devoted ex-girlfriends, started talking about the
P.O.D.s:  “Why don’t we finally re-photograph all 6,000 of
them and put them on a web site.” And that’s practically what they did.
They spent many October days digitally re-photographing the picures.
This labor of love was also exceedingly labor intensive and they only
got up to 1990 (the P.O.D.s started in 1978). But they plan to finish the
rest when they have some time again.

A year ago today there was a “Jamie Fest,” a
commemoration of the seventh anniversary of his death, a small group of
friends gathered at the envy-inducing loft of one of Jamie’s oldest,
dearest friends in Tribeca and were treated to a veritable feast of
PODs, films, good red wine, beer, and Chinese food. There was a warmth
in that room, a convivial feeling of purpose, as the friends remembered
their friend who left behind a journal of his life and their’s too.

My husband set up a random, non-chronological slide show of these pictures, as
well as a special “computer station” where Jamie’s friends could browse
the well-indexed shots year-by-year, month-by-month, day-by-day.
Hunched over the computer,some pictures made them sad, some made them
reflective, some made them very, very quiet. Others made them laugh or
squeal with recognition of an almost forgotten face, a wonderful
memory, a special time too, too long ago.

Jamie was the best
man at our wedding. He was husband’s tereasured co-hort since their days at Bard College. I met Jamie soon after
meeting Hepcat, probably at the Great Jones Cafe, and always enjoyed our group adventures, including the annual walk of the elephants down
34th Street when the Ringling Brothers Circus arrived in town, the
trips to photo shows to buy cameras and old photographs, their brunches
at the Cottonwood Cafe, or seeing the Mets, and the Rolling Stones’
Steel Wheels tour at Shea Stadium. I remember when Jamie
visited me at the hospital when I was having pre-term labor with my son and nearly lost him. I remember how he and Betsy carried a heavy gift of a vintage toy box to my son’s first
birthday party in Prospect Park.

At the “Jamie Fest” last year I located the stunning P.O.D. of our wedding day and
marveled at how young and thin I was back then (marriage and kids
really ages you). My husband looked so young and
handsome in his father’s tuxedo. I also found the picture from the
night before the wedding when Jaime and Betsy joined at the emergency room at Beth Israel Hospital because my husband thought he had a broken his neck in a minor (okay major) car accident a
few days before the wedding (pre-wedding nerves, no doubt).

Jaime
and Betsy sat with us from mid-night until five a.m., while we waited for my husband’s  neck to be X-Rayed. It turned out that he had a nasty case of whiplash and had to wear a neck brace at the wedding.
When I suggested that Jamie and Betsy go home to get some sleep,
Jaime refused to budge saying, “I’m your bestman. This is part of my
job.”

On this the 8th anniversary of Jamie’s death:  Thank you, Jamie, for being our bestman. And thanks for
giving us a stunning portrait of our lives. You gave us more than you
can ever know.

Posted in Jamie Livingston, jamie-livingston-pod | 1 Comment »