Elda (Gentile) Stilletto and Guitarist at CBGB, NY, NY April 1978 (Photo: © Meryl Meisler)

Elda (Gentile) Stilletto and Guitarist at CBGB, NY, NY April 1978 (Photo: © Meryl Meisler)

Meryl Meisler turned heads last year with her photographs of Bushwick in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when the neighborhood was racked by arson, economic crisis, and crime, epitomized in the chaos of the 1977 blackout. Nevertheless, her photos were filled with as much liveliness as the dance floor at Studio 54 (which the photographer also documented). As a local school teacher, Meisler saw beyond the blight, connecting with the community in spite of the neighborhood’s troubles. But her photos are just as much a conduit for nostalgia as they are a memo for the present and seem as relevant as ever for the neighborhood as it continues to go through immense change. Now our initial obsession the photographer’s work has been rewarded with a new book, Purgatory & Paradise: Sassy ’70s Suburbia & the City.

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