“A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine. Fabulous!”Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film maker
by Fred Lyon
Herb Caen called it “the monkey mind” and that aptly describes my thought processes. In a moment of restlessness in late Fall of 2016 I had a little idea for another book and tentatively floated it out on the market. Amazingly, it instantly struck a nerve with Princeton Architectural Press. They suggested a publication date of spring 2018. I protested that we would miss the holiday market, but their Fall list was full and, "anyway, there wouldn't be enough time to complete a book". Then I countered with a revolutionary idea: I would hand a large group of noir images to one of their trusted designers, promising to relinquish all control of editing and design. Princeton, and their genius designer Ben English, have a history of publishing irreverence and decided to take the bait. Ben scrapped my original concept and in one long and tortured weekend created a book far better than I could have dreamed. Fittingly, the book is both lavish and stylish. It taps a spectrum of my photography from 1940 to 2017. It’s no surprise thait tops the design awards list.
The book is a warmhearted look at the dark side of the City. It spotlights the cinematic glamour of an era when people dressed for dinner, contrasting it with the fog-wrapped mystery of gritty and ominous life in the steep alleyways. This is such a noir city, both sophisticated and raffish, romantic, and hard-boiled. There's a tinkle of melancholic jazz, seen through a smoke and whiskey haze. Lacking any modesty, these days I admit to wearing a huge grin.
The 500 Club, Mission District San Francisco, 2017.
Embarcadero Lunch, San Francisco, 1948.
Novelty Shop, San Francisco, 1947.
Saddle shoes, San Francisco, 1941.
Bass Player from Sonny Rollins Jazz Crusaders, Basin Street West, 1952.
Sonny Rollins’ and his Jazz Crusaders, Basin Street West, 1952.
California Street Cable Car, 1952.
After Hours Jam at a private club on Cannery Row after the Monterey Jazz Festival, 1958.
Clare Willey (piano) and Michelle Johnson (vocalist), San Francisco, 1951.
Foggy walk on Seal Rock Drive, Land’s End, San Francisco, 1953.
Woodside Avenue, Twin Peaks, San Francisco, 1949.
Police Car in fog, San Francisco, 1957.
Ocean Beach from Sutro Park, 1956.
Cable car rider, San Francisco 1963.
Financial District, San Francisco, 1955.
San Francisco Chronicle Columnist, Herb Caen, 1953.
Performer at the Sinaloa night club, 1952.
Chinese New Year celebration, Chinatown, San Francisco, 1956.