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Chris Stein’s POINT OF VIEW in NYT Reviews

POINT OF VIEW just made the NYT Book Reviews‘ photography holiday round-up.

Chris Stein did not become a professional photographer — he already had a day job as principal songwriter and lead guitarist for Blondie, in business since 1974. But he might have done so in another life. His POINT OF VIEW: Me, New York City, and the Punk Scene (Rizzoli, $55) is a fascinating document, not only of the punk scene of the early and middle 1970s but more generally of New York City in its years of chaos, decay and creative energy. The chronology begins in 1969, when Stein moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan, as one did then. You witness his self-directed photographic apprenticeship as he records street hippies and nodding junkies and Coney Island carnies, burning cars and improvised apartments on the Lower East Side, and the many old people who lived upstairs or next door or down the street in those years, too old or too contrary to have moved to the suburbs with the rest of their families. He is a more assured photographer by the time the punk scene gets going, and he discovers his true calling as a portraitist. That is an especially good thing because he enjoys the daily presence of Deborah Harry, Blondie’s incomparable singer and Stein’s companion then, who in addition to her other accomplishments surely belongs in the pantheon of models. The book is erratically designed, with a jumpy arrhythmic magazine feeling, but it contains more than its share of solid and immediate photographs.