Tomorrow is a long time / R.I.P. Suze Rotolo

Suze Rotolo with Todd Haynes 2007

It was about a year before I took this picture, a summer day 2006. I was walking east on 4th Street, near Second Avenue, when it struck me that the girl I just passed going in the other direction was / had to be Suze Rotolo. Too recognizable a figure for me to be dreaming it, I told the story to my friends, how I had passed the Freewheelin' Suze Rotolo on positively 4th street. How she looked the same as on that cover. How I hadn't bothered her to take a photo. It was just a great New York story for me. 

A similar non-meeting in passing had occurred back in the mid 1980's, when I suddenly realized that the guy who just passed me in a hoodie on lower Fourth Avenue was someone - right Bob Dylan, no actually Bob Zimmerman. He was peering into each window of each little leftover store front - a watch repair shop, a small bookstore - one by one, nose pressed up to the glass, as he continued in disheveled fashion up lower Fourth Avenue towards 14th street. I just watched him to be sure that was who had passed me. The back pocket of his jeans was sticking inside out of his pants. And after almost tripping off one of the side walks three blocks north of me he turned around, and yes it was Robert Zimmerman. Being a complete unknown. He wasn't being Bob Dylan. And I didn't take his photograph either.  Better as a story. 

So it was in fall of 2007, a  year after I saw Suze Rotolo on East Fourth Street, that I attended the NY Film Festival press screening of the eagerly anticipated Todd Haynes film I'm Not There. And it was the next day after that I was assigned to photograph Todd Haynes at a talk he was giving about the film at Lincoln Center. After the talk, I noticed Suze Rotolo hanging around to talk to Todd Haynes. And that was the moment I knew I had to take the chance to step in and ask if I could take their photo together. Not looking to be noticed, she was very obliging, happy to be photographed with Todd. When I asked her quickly what she thought of the film, her reply was "it was all about me". I don't know why, but I was under the impression that she was there to report to Bob, who never once commented on the film - though had given his approval for it to proceed. When I told this story to some Dylan insider types I was introduced to shortly after at a tribute show at the Beacon Theater, they said "you now he's still in touch with her."

Within a year after that, Suze Rotolo's book "Freewheelin' Time" was coming out, and so was she - doing interviews for the first time in her life.  Her ex - Bob Dylan's "Chronicles" had already covered the same territory from the other side of the street, in 2004. It seemed more like a beginning than an end for her. I was so sad to hear of Suze Rotolo's passing this week.  She was as cool as I thought she'd be. As soft, quiet and beautiful as Bob Dylan described her to be. May she rest in peace, her spirit sweetly walking forever down Jones Street for all to behold.

"If today was not a crooked highway...