I Love This Picture!
Have you ever seen this photograph? It’s called Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, 1932, by Charles C. Ebbets. You can tell it was taken in New York City because of the Essex House sign just over the middle guy’s head, the same sign you can see today from just about anywhere in Central Park. This photograph draws me in like no other photograph can — it’s almost like Da Vinci’s Last Supper in that it (a) involves a meal and (b) each character depicted has a distinct personality. I tacked the framed photo onto my office wall yesterday morning and found myself at various points of the day simply stopping and staring at it. I’d love to go back in time and get to know each of those guys, really understand their frames of references. For a good joke, I might even tell them about that wacky future federal agency we call OSHA, just so they can get a chuckle out of what a bunch of pansies blue collar men and women turn out to be with all their silly safety standards.
The family and I were in New Jersey visiting the missus’ relatives over the weekend and decided to hit the Big Apple before returning to Boston, so I picked that photograph up from one of the stands you see along the edge of Central Park. That wasn’t the first time I saw the photo however. The first time I saw it was a couple of years ago when my wife dragged me over to our then-future house to take a tour. Right where we walked in, there it hung. I half-jokingly, half-seriously told her that one of the conditions I’d have to insist on should we buy the house would be that we keep the photograph. She laughed and I said, “I’m not kidding.” I really felt that way about it at the time.
I have, of course, encountered many photographs and paintings during my travels over the years. I remember quite fondly the art history courses I took in college and the hours spent in art museums. I even have this conceit that I possess an innate artistic sensibility that makes me a bit more receptive than average to the images we humans have rendered. Whether that’s true or not, as of right now, I can think of nothing that affects me more profoundly than this particular photo. I just can’t stop looking at it!