Hank O

No. 31: Hank O’Neal (2006)

Hank O'Neal, photo by ROmy Ashby

Perhaps most inspiring about Hank O’Neal is the way he’s made a life’s work out of all of his favorite things. He’s been recording music since 1966 and has a label (Chiaroscuro Records) full of stardust.
Over the decades he’s been lucky to count among his friends such people as Eddie Condon, Lee Wiley, Djuna Barnes, Jackie O and Berenice Abbott.
He lives down on Lower Broadway near the Strand bookstore, in a loft full of records, books and photographs.
He loves baseball and Jazz, and in a certain way, he loves everything. Having spent decades wandering around the city photographing graffiti, Hank published a book of those photos in 2012 called XCIA’s Street Art Project: The First Four Decades. The name, XCIA, comes from the fact that Hank, along with having been a modern ballet dancer, was once an actual CIA agent.

Hank has published many books on many subjects, including Eddie Condon’s Scrapbook of Jazz, The Ghosts of Harlem, Berenice Abbott: American Photographer and Life is Painful, Nasty and Short; In My Case it Has Only Been Painful and Nasty: Djuna Barnes, among others.

He’s never short on stories, and those stories are what make his Goodie such a delightful one to read.

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Photo by Romy Ashby, 2012.