Allan Tannenbaum

Allan Tannenbaum

Occupation Photojournalist and Author

Hometown Passaic, New Jersey

Current Residence Tribeca

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Chances are you’re familiar with the work of Allan Tannenbaum. Since the ’60s, Tannenbaum has been capturing iconic moments on film that have been published and exhibited all over the world. For the uninitiated, start with his first book of photographs, "New York in the 70s," before moving on to any one of his follow-up books—our favorite: "John & Yoko: A New York Love Story." “I’m a dyed in the wool New Yorker, international traveler, and raconteur,” Tannenbaum tells us. “I love to take photographs, play rock music on my guitar, and ride my classic 1968 Norton Commando motorcycle.”

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was born in Passaic, New Jersey, January  4, 1945. You could see Manhattan from there and I used to love coming to the city with my parents, especially on the car ferries that used to run from Hoboken and Weehawken.

WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
I live in Tribeca with my wife, although these days it feels more like Triburbia. When I got my loft here in 1974, it was a real no man’s land. Now it’s safe for nannies and double-wide strollers.

WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE?
Diary of a Mad Photog.

WHAT CAN’T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT AND WHY?
I can’t travel without my camera equipment, because I like to photograph everywhere I go. Another necessity is my iPod Classic with Bose noise-canceling headphones—perfect for long flights.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION AND WHY?
After seeing so many places around the world my favorite destination is Portugal. My wife and I have been there several times in the last two years. Excellent quality of life, spectacular natural beauty, beautiful cities, deep history and culture, nice people, wonderful food, and good prices are an unbeatable combination. And, it’s very romantic.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN NYC?
In good weather, it’s lovely to stroll along the esplanade in Hudson River Park, with a stop at the dog run for our three Chihuahuas.

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ONE PERSON TO SHOW YOU “THEIR NEW YORK CITY,” WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Keith Richards, because there’s nobody else I’d rather hang out with more than Keith and experience his New York City.

WHO OR WHAT HAS INSPIRED YOU RECENTLY?
I’ve been photographing a young musician named Brandon “Taz” Niederauer. This 14-year-old guitar genius is so good that he’s truly inspirational. He plays in NYC fairly often so check him out. I just finished reading a book about former Velvet Underground singer Nico titled Nico:In The Shadow Of The Moon Goddess. It’s by Lutz Graf-Ulbrich, who was her lover and bandmate for five years. TV series are now my favorite motion picture medium, and I’ve recently enjoyed Shtisel on Netflix and True Detective Season 3 on HBO. Carmen Ejogo is phenomenal opposite Mahershala Ali. Other great series I’ve been enjoying are Babylon Berlin, Fauda, and Ozark.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NYC RESTAURANTS? WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE?
For sushi, Tokyo Bay on Duane Street in Tribeca is the best. Ask Billy the sushi chef what the specials are. Locanda Verde has a great atmosphere and the pasta dishes are great. The Odeon is a long time favorite—I like the steak frites. For Mexican food, La Esquina in SoHo is tops. Another old fave in SoHo is Fanelli Café, which has not changed at all for decades.

WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO SPOT IN NYC FOR DRINKS?
The Reade Street Pub in Tribeca.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE BRUNCH SPOTS?
Spiegel on First Avenue and East Second Street has great Israeli cuisine and a cool ambience. Try the shakshuka, it’s the best in town.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR ART FIX IN NYC? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE ARTIST?
I like Chase Contemporary on 10th Avenue. Bernie Chase always has interesting artists exhibiting. MoMA is always great. My favorite NYC artist is Kenny Scharf, whom I’ve known since the early ’80s.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE LATE-NIGHT HANGOUTS IN NYC AND WHY?
To quote David Bowie, “I know when to go out, know when to stay in, get things done.” I experienced the peak of NYC nightlife in the ’70s and ’80s, photographing at places like Studio 54 and the Mudd Club, so I don’t feel the need to explore NYC nightlife except for special occasions. Interestingly, the places I’ve had the most fun at night recently are a Mudd Club reunion at the Roxy Hotel and the Soho Grand with Richard Boch’s DJ parties. Great ambience and people in both locations.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNDER-THE-RADAR MUST-DO RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NYC VISITORS?
Nine-eleven was an event of such magnitude in New York and American history. Visitors should see the 9/11 Memorial to remember those who lost their lives and to visit the 9/11 Museum to understand what happened that terrible day and what’s happening to survivors exposed to Ground Zero toxins.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE NYC STORES AND WHY?
K&M Camera on Broadway and Franklin is a wonderful store for photography enthusiasts and they will match prices with B&H Photo. Whether you’re a motorcyclist or just want to look like one, Union Garage in Brooklyn has stylish and practical jackets and all-weather gear from Belstaff and other brands. Filipacchi in Nolita is also moto oriented but they also have electric scooters and other interesting wheeled transportation. Nili Lotan in Tribeca has elegant and original women’s clothing. The original Kiehl’s Pharmacy on 3rd and 13th has a nice atmosphere and stocks all my grooming essentials. Housing Works Thrift Shop is a great source for inexpensive vintage items and the purchases help people with HIV/AIDS.

WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS? WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS?
My favorite music is the blues, rock and roll, and jazz of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. I love the Rolling Stones and the underappreciated Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. I love Muddy Waters, Bob Marley, The Ramones, and The Clash. I dig John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, and Jimmy McGriff.  Recently, I’ve tuned into The Dandy Warhols and The War on Drugs, and more recently I’ve gotten into Allah Las, The Chromatics, Au Revoir Simone, and Lissie. My favorite radio station is Little Steven’s Underground Garage on Sirius XM, with my old friend Lenny Kaye hosting my favorite show.

WHAT ALBUM OR SONG WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL SOUNDTRACK TO NYC?
There isn’t one song or album, but I compiled a playlist for Tim Broun’s Stupefaction on Spotify, and you can listen to it—here. For some reason, James Chance’s name is there but he had nothing to do with this playlist.

WHEN YOU THINK OF NYC, ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR EMOTIONS OR MEMORIES THAT IMMEDIATELY COME TO MIND?
Whether it’s for imaging, licensing, exhibitions, or fine art print sales, my photographs of New York in the ’70s are in constant demand, and I’m immersed in the ’70s and early ’80s every day and night. The New York City of this exciting and challenging era provides my best memories.

 

Best Rate Promise
Soho Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-3000
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013

212.519.6600