In 1997, weary of the old routine of sending out clips in order to get more magazine work — as well as explaining how I was also a fairly creative and original photographer, and, if necessary, could shimmy as well as my sister Kate! — I came up with the idea of self-publishing a coffee book-cum-catalogue of my best work from the prior half decade.
I broke down my work into six basic categories: “Nordic Man,” for my Scandinavian reportage for The International Herald Tribune (I had yet to work my way down to the Balts); “London Calling,” for my fast-growing pile of dispatches from my creative headquarters du jour; “Gotham,” for my articles about my former hometown, especially my work as The New York Times’ sometime nightlife correspondent; “It’s Academic,” for my continuing coverage of academe, especially the three-part series “The Ivy Valley” I did for Hudson Valley Magazine in the mid ’90s; “Serling,” for my first book, and related articles about broadcasting history; and “Exhibits,” for my massive 1998 photography retrospective in Helsinki, and the coverage of that personal milestone.
Next, I took the disparate ingredients of Gordy’s Smash Hits to my friend and sponsor Ami Hasan, founder and managing director of the pioneering Helsinki-based advertising agency hasan & partners, and asked whether his design staff could help me put them together in book form.
The extraordinarily attractive (albeit expensive) result was “book.” The minimum number of copies I could order to make the job practical — as well as the maximum I thought I would need — would be 100. After all, I only needed, say, 10, for my own purposes. What to do with the rest?
Sell them, of course. And so I did, at $100 a pop. In a major coup, Helsinki’s Academic Bookstore was so impressed that it took an order of 20, placing them in their art book section and bringing me even on my investment.
And then they were gone. Today, I have exactly two well-worn copies in my possession.
In a sense, this site is its cyber-successor.