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On a warm summer day in 2002, in Charlevoix, Michigan, Richard Joseph’s bad luck began. The lawyer, husband, and father of two was walking across the driveway with a bag of garbage when his bare foot slipped in a puddle of water that had collected beneath his car’s air conditioner. His leg gave out and he landed on his back. While nothing was broken, the blow prevented blood from reaching his spinal cord. He laid there for an hour, unable to move, while his daughters watched television in the living room. By the time he was discovered, the damage had been done. He'd never walk again.

Eventually, Joseph would make it back to work at his law firm, although he couldn’t keep up his old pace. By August 2007, complications prevented him...

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Photographer Stephen Shames began his project shooting on East Tremont Ave in the Bronx while on assignment for Look Magazine in 1977. The magazine went under while Shames was on assignment, but he continued with the project for two decades, sometimes staying on the block for weeks, sometimes visiting only once or twice a year. Accompanying the photographs is the riveting story of Bronx born Martin Dones, who Shames follows from childhood to manhood. Dones is an exception, a young man who manages to escape a violent life to successfully raise his own family. Dones offers his earliest memories of his life in the Bronx:

“My first memory is still as clear as a picture: my cousin being murdered. I didn’t actually see him being murdered but I heard the thud of his body hitting the pavement. That death sound is the first thing I remember. Thud. I jump awake, startled and everybody is screaming. Years later I learn he was murdered because his brother robbed this gangs’ little nightclub. Since they couldn’t get the brother, they got him. He’s tossed off the roof. His body has to clear a fence. They swing him so his body arks up and out, like a diver, before gravity carries it down to the schoolyard. The cops never caught them. The 135th Street Boys of the South Bronx did it, but we never found out for sure which ones. People said, “It was maybe him, maybe not, maybe this one, maybe not.” The crazy thing is they all died eventually, one by one. Right after my cousin was thrown from the roof, other cousins torch my building. We escape as the third floor explodes and falls on the lower floors. The building whimpers, and then collapses. I stand in the cold and watch all of our stuff fly away. I’m sad. I got a new monorail track that morning for Christmas.

My mother’s boyfriend is an alcoholic. They drink, party, talk and sing Spanish songs. Pretty much, they just drink and argue. And me, at age four, I just want to escape from the noise. I open the front door and walk out. Nobody even knows I’m gone. That’s how drunk they are. I walk up, past the fourth, the fifth floor, up to the roof. Well, not the roof, because the door is locked. I go to the last step. Crunch into a little ball, lay down and try to sleep.

Another time, my mother pours lighter fluid on her boyfriend then torches the bed. My brothers and I try to put it out. He barely escapes with his life. One day my mom finds hickies on my sister’s neck and chest. So my mother beats her up and then calls her father. He arrives from Spanish Harlem, takes an extension cord and wraps it up around his hand. I hear my sister screaming. He gives her marks all over her body. Shortly after that, he was shot six times in the hallway by his sister.”

The electronic book Bronx Boys is available from FotoEvidence Press. The Ebook Bronx Boys has the look and feel of a physical book– the high-resolution images that can be viewed full screen, with a feature allows the viewer to zoom into details without loss of image quality. Most of the photographs in Bronx Boys are published by FotoEvidence Press for the first time.

Martin Dones

Clubhouse, circa 1980

Hanging out

Ralph jumps, 1977

Martin Dones, flirting

Hot summer night

Hanging out

Ponch with girlfriend

After breaking into the pool, hot summer night

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