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A Photographer Recreated Scenes From His Father’s Life After He Passed Away

Mike Mellia’s series Another Day in Paradise is a lament for and celebration of both New York City and his father.

1. Mellia tells BuzzFeed: “This is a landscape of the Bronx, New York, where I grew up as a child and teenager, and the neighbourhood where my family still lives.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“Even though it is only 15 minutes north of Manhattan, this Italian-American neighbourhood is from a completely different era. I like the intersecting graphic lines of the telephone wires and the Christmas decorations mixed in. The tranquility and beauty is very unsettling to me when juxtaposed against the urbanity of the neighborhood.”

2. “My father used to take my brother and myself to all of these great American diners around Manhattan and the Bronx.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“He would tell us about drinking ‘malteds’, old-fashioned malted milk ice cream shakes that he used to buy as a kid. I think these diners are loved by an entire generation of New Yorkers because they remind them of their own childhoods in an era long gone. After he passed away I started going to all these diners and other places to start photographing them and rediscovering the beauty in all of them.”

3. “My father played jazz saxophone, and loved collecting vinyl records of great jazz musicians from the 1950s and 1960s.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“When he was a kid, for ten cents he would ride the subway from the Bronx to manhattan and check out all the record stores downtown. Caravan is a jazz record by the great jazz drummer Art Blakey and his band the Jazz Messengers. This image is a reference to a time, over half a century ago, when New York City was the cultural mecca of the entire world for jazz musicians, artists, poets, and writers, who fearlessly reinvented the avant-garde and set the foundation for culture today.”

4. “Like most people, I have many childhood memories of riding bicycles, and my father kept this aspect of the American dream with him his whole life.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“This scene can have many different interpretations but to me the bicycle is symbolic of when New York City still had a small-town community feeling. The mysterious figure looking on from the shadows while the bicycle melts in an inferno might represent a loss of innocence.”

5. “The Village Vanguard in downtown NYC is the most historic and important jazz club in the entire world. John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk…all the great musicians played there.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“My father saw thousands of amazing concerts there throughout his life as a kid and as an adult, and he took me there many times when I was a teenager. We loved seeing live jazz because as musicians it was a huge thrill for us to see legends perform in such a small room and to sit right up front. The historic club is still the same and no other club in the world can even come close even today.”

6. “In this image, this couple remind me of my mother and father walking together, after my brother and I had grown up and moved away from them.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“It’s about my own family and also about the changing elements of New York City. The “art gallery” is an autobiographical reference.”

7. “With this image I was thinking about the parallels between my father as a young man and myself today.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“The tension comes from him doing something very intimate and private, not in his living room but rather in the middle of a sprawling metropolis. This image has an element of isolation and pensiveness, and it could refer either to my father as a young man and his interest in culture or to myself as an artist without him.”

8. “This is Coney Island, which suffered major damage during Hurricane Sandy.”

Mike Mellia / Via mikemellia.com

“The park is still running and is a major source of nostalgia in New York. When I was very small I can remember eating hot dogs and being aware how all-American it was. I think this image and many of the others have a simultaneous feeling of both hope and sadness.”

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