June 20, 2005 was on a mission this weekend, hitting four photobooth locations in three boroughs in one long afternoon, with a net result of twelve dollars spent, nine dollars refunded, three broken photobooths, one threat of arrest, and one photostrip. Not a bad haul, but not exactly what we were looking for.

Having met Bill from Photo-Me a few weeks ago, I called him up and asked him to leave me a message with some photobooth locations in the City, which he kindly did. I’d been to a few before, but most were unfamiliar, and I headed out to Long Island City in Queens to tackle the bar known, coincidentally, as L.I.C.. Great bar, well-placed photobooth, but no luck getting a strip of photos to come out. I went through everything twice, heard the blow-dryer come on, but no photos came out. The bartender was nice enough to give me my money back, without me even asking, and I think they’ll be getting someone in there to take a look at it for future bar-goers.

From L.I.C., I walked to the G line station and hopped the train down to the Atlantic Center in Brooklyn, in search of a color booth I’d heard they had. I passed a digital booth near the entrance, and came upon a traditional booth in the center food area at the base of the escalators. The booth itself was broken, and I snapped a photo of its ‘out of order’ sign. When I stepped back to take a photo of the booth itself, a security guard approached and asked me what I was doing. He told me it was “against the mall” for me to take photos, and even after I dropped the “Photo-Me” name and showed him my list (albeit scrawled on the back of a grocery list) he didn’t budge, but even went so far as to warn me I could be arrested for taking photos of mall property. Oh well.

From Brooklyn, I headed back into Manhattan and stopped off in the West Village to check out the booth at The Fat Black Pussycat. The bar was open but the lounge area wasn’t, but when I asked the bartender if the photobooth was still around, he let me into the lounge to take some photos. Like a bad case of déjà vu, the booth went through the motions but produced no photos. Rather than throw more money at it, I let the bartender know it wasn’t working, and felt around on the top of the booth, where I came up with some discarded strips from an evening sometime in the past. The bartender kindly refunded my money, again un-solicited, and I stayed to drink a Yuengling’s and watch Derek Jeter’s first career grand slam in an otherwise empty bar.

Up the West Side I went, heading for location number four, The Door Lounge. I had a little time to kill before it opened, and enjoyed watching traffic for the Lincoln Tunnel go absolutely nowhere for ten minutes on 9th Avenue in front of the bar. I also watched the legendary Wallace Shawn get unceremoniously honked at by some clod in an SUV before getting into a taxi. He looked like any other somewhat old New York guy clutching a plastic bag and minding his own business. It was a moment.

Once I got in The Door, so to speak, the booth worked fine, nice crisp color, and I had my first legitimate success of the day. The other booths in clubs and bars around the City will have to wait until the next trip; if any of our readers would care to visit Crobar, Lot 61, or Southpaw, take a photo of the booth and some photos of yourselves and send it our way.

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