Satan in the Smoke, 20 Years After


Satan In The Smoke, Copyright Mark D Phillips, 2001We never say the year. We don’t have to. It has joined the ranks of “Dates which will live in Infamy.”

I always loved the Twin Towers. Their box shapes dominated the skyline wherever you were. If you were lost in the West Village, you would just look for them and know that was south. They were comforting. They weren’t the prettiest buildings archetecturally, but they were grand. And when the sun hit them just right, they were twin pillars of gold.

The only reason I was home on September 11, 2001, was for a happy occasion. Andrea, Eliza and I were all going together as a family to Eliza’s first day of pre-school. We were up early, we were excited, and we had no idea what was really in store for us on that day.

It began with a shout from the living room. “Mark, come see this now!” my wife Andrea shouted.


The Boys of Summer come to New England

History, Sports

Shawn Babineau joined the Worcester Bravehearts of the FCBL this year after a sensational sophomore season with Springfield College, where he was an ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division III All-Region honoree. ©Mark D Phillips NO RESALES OR REUSE WITHOUT PERMISSION/NO
ARCHIVING ©Mark D. PhillipsIt is baseball in its purest form with athletes who are playing for the love of the game, with the slim possibility of advancing to a Major League Baseball career.

Most people think of the Cape Cod League when they think of the place to see the hottest up-and-coming players on their way to Major League Baseball careers.

The same week that Vandy won their championship, the Bravehearts management took a road trip to Cleveland to witness Aaron Civale, the first Braveheart to make his Major League Baseball debut, earn a win for the Indians. Called up to make a spot start, the 24-year-old pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out six, which included all three batters in the first inning.


Our Meeting with Nelson Mandela


Andrea Peyser asks Nelson Mandela questions on the eve of his 1994 election in South Africa. ©Mark D. PhillipsApril 1994 was an exciting time in South Africa.

Nelson Mandela was campaigning to become the first black president of South Africa. My wife, Andrea Peyser, had been assigned to cover the election by the New York Post, and I was hired to accompany her to photograph the historical campaign.

This was the very early days of the use of digital technology. I had purchased my first laptop and film scanner, taking them along to the African continent with the purpose of providing instantaneous reportage using the first international Internet service, Compuserve, to send images back to New York. This was revolutionary.

Our trip was a combination of old and new technology. Cell phones were not common place, beepers ruled, and instant communication was far in the future.


Mikaela Shiffrin shows why she is a Role Model


Mikaela Shiffrin looks to  her Nana after winning the slalom at the AUDI FIS Ski World Cup Slalom at Killington. Copyright Mark D PhillipsThe best skiers in the world came to the East coast of the United States and the fans of the sport came out in force. As one of the accredited media photographing the event, it was one of the greatest sporting experiences I have had. And I have had many.

None of us knew what to expect when the AUDI FIS Ski World Cup made their decision to return to Vermont after a 40-year absence. The last time the world came to Vermont was 1978 when Stratton hosted an event. The last time they came to the East coast of America was Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, in 1991. Killington, known as the Beast of the East, spent over a month preparing the snow on Superstar to host the Women’s Giant Slalom and Slalom on November 27th and 28th. The mountain delivered.

But the East coast fans were there for hometown favorite Mikaela Shiffrin who finished a disappointing fifth overall in the Giant Slalom. With over 16,000 fans in attendance, the athletes were amazed at the volume of the crowd, hearing them cheer at the top of the race course in the starting gate. They had never experienced anything like it. And the World Cup officials have taken notice.

My daughter was one of those fans. Both race days, she and her ski race team members arrived at the mountain at 6:30am to claim spaces at the finish line. Mikaela Shiffrin is the ultimate East Coast ski racer. Sunday’s Slalom event was Mikaela’s chance to prove her dominance in the discipline. And she came through. My daughter has been ski racing in Massachusetts for most of her life, and Mikaela Shiffrin proved why she is the greatest athlete for young girls to emulate.


A Body in the Gowanus


NYPD Detective photographs body in the Gowanus Canal, Copyright Mark D PhillipsOver the years I heard all kind of stories about the reputation of the Gowanus Canal. You never knew what you might see in its waters. But on this beautiful day, I saw the worst, a human body.

I had gained a fascination with this putrid, stinking body of water that cuts through my neighborhood in Brooklyn. Sort of hidden from the beauty of Brownstone Brooklyn, the canal was surrounded by industrial buildings nestled in the lowlands between the gentrified neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope. It was a nowhere land with a toxic history. Today, it is a Superfund site.

My friend and colleague Kevin Larkin came with me to the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal so I could shoot a 360° photo of the bridge. You didn’t hang out on the Gowanus with expensive equipment alone for hours.

The Carroll Street Bridge is unique. One of the last drawbridges built to move laterally off the water, it’s architecture is truly spectacular with a dainty little brick house for the bridge tender. We were packing up equipment to leave when Kevin called me over to the bridge railing.

“Take a look at what that is floating in the water,” said Kevin. We could see a shape but couldn’t tell from the distance what it was. I pulled a telephoto lens and focused on the shape.

“Oh shit,” I said as I realized what we were looking at. I focused the length of the shape and realized the heels of shoes breaking the surface of the water were definitely attached to the feet of a body.


The Spy (-der Monkey) Who Loved Me


The Spider Monkey who loved me at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FloridaI learned first hand that primates are smarter than most of the people I know.

In 1987 while working as a staff photographer at the now defunct Tampa Tribune, I latched on to one of those long term projects that become a passion and change your life.

The old style Zoo for the City of Tampa had announced it was becoming the new style Lowry Park Zoo Association with state of the art natural habitats for all the animals. It was like a dream come true for a photographer. I immediately made contact with the management of the zoo.