fire island

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March 12, 1962: Communities on Fire Island — and across the mid-Atlantic — were dealt millions of dollars of damage during the so-called Ash Wednesday Storm, which also killed dozens over the course of three days. The surging waters and high tides flooded much of New York City as well as damaging the area: “The east side of Whitehall Street from the tip of Manhattan island to Front Street was under water,” reported The Times. Photo: Ernie Sisto/The New York Times

Have you ever watched someone watch a sunset? Their bodies are completely still and their faces are smiling, as if they are spell bound. That’s nature, it’s magnetic. It physically draws people in, drowning thoughts, encouraging stillness, and yet some of us don’t take the time for it. We would rather satisfy ourselves with distractions than sit for a moment and let distractions satisfy us.
—  harleygusman

Polaroids by Tom Bianchi—Courtesy of Demiani; Book Photographed by Carolyn Griffin for TIME

For last-minute holiday shopping ideas, visit TIME’s Photobooks We Love in 2013 on LightBox.

Above: Fire Island Pines: Polaroids 1975-1983 by Tom Bianchi, published by Damiani, selected by Vince Aletti, photography critic, The New Yorker.

“A collection of SX-70 Polaroids made between 1975 and 1983, Fire Island Pines is a fraught and fascinating period piece: a dazzling view of Eden before the Fall. Bianchi’s particular paradise — a famously hedonistic summer enclave populated almost exclusively by handsome, buffed gay men — looks like a soft-core porn fantasy or a Calvin Klein photo shoot. In a brief introductory note, Edmund White calls this “one version of gay happiness,” and Bianchi anticipates the familiar criticism. He knows the Pines clique was often dismissed as “Too body obsessed. Too fashion obsessed. Too shallow. Too sleazy. Too wild.” But these were his friends and lovers, and in his photographs they’re splendid and seductive and terrifically alive. We know how this story ends; not long after Bianchi stopped taking pictures on Fire Island, many of his subjects had succumbed to AIDS. Looking back is painful; liberation can look like heedlessness in retrospect. But Bianchi’s photographs are also about gay camaraderie–the brotherly love that later turned a crisis into a crusade.”