Tag Archives: water

Mariah Carey Lets Her Hair Down


In 1973, Mariah Carey was three years old and learning to sing by practicing Verdi’s Rigoletto in Huntington, Long Island. Jon Kane was eleven and sitting on his front porch in Pittsburgh with his hand wrapped in an Ace bandage. In East Bruinswick, New Jersey, “Johnny” was still three years away from being born.  Mariah would grow up to become the bestselling female vocalist of the millenium, Jon would become a ski-racer, then a DJ, then a film editor, and Johnny would become a junkie.

Anyone who has ever done heroin will tell you it is the world’s most beautiful feeling, but most people prefer to listen to Mariah Carey. That’s why Jon Kane met Mariah, in 1998, and why, thirteen years later, over 60% of readers on the opticnerve™ blog voted to hear a story about a famous singer instead of a junkie.  (We don’t have a childhood photo for “Johnny,” but that doesn’t matter.  His story ends here.)


It was 1998 and Jon was filming a series of promotional spots for VH1: Behind the Music.  Earlier in the year, he had interviewed Jewel in Alaska surrounded by her close family and organized a surprise reunion between John Cougar Mellencamp and some of his long lost childhood friends. When Jon’s not beating them at arm wrestling, he likes to film his celebrity subjects off their guard.

Mariah Carey feels most at home in water.  At least, that’s what she had her people tell Jon Kane. That’s why he arranged to shoot her in a rooftop pool.

Jon was to meet Mariah at 8:00 PM in Manhattan, the day after his second daughter was born.  The hotel rooftop was cleared of civilians and the lights and equipment set up.  Nine o’clock passed, then ten, then midnight.  Finally, at two in the morning, Mariah—along with an entourage of twenty— made her entrance. They had come from a night on the town and the atmosphere was festive, if unprofessional.  Mariah was in what Jon would describe delicately as “a party kind of mood.”

She was wearing a one-piece bathing suit and jeweled stiletto heels and armed with an uncompromising manager and an exacting contract.  “You can’t get her hair wet,” everyone kept saying.  Jon tried to film Mariah on an inflatable raft but that didn’t work.  She was unfocused; her entourage was noisy; it was three in the morning; it was getting later.

Finally Jon put his foot down and insisted that everyone leave.  Except for Mariah and her manager, everyone did.  And then, very quickly, they captured the intimate scene you see here.

Jon didn’t say anything when Mariah dipped her head in the water, but he did ask her about those shoes.  “It’s fine,” she said.

Then everybody went home: Jon to his new baby girl, Mariah to her mysterious dreams. “Johnny” was somewhere in New Jersey, asleep on a doorstep, his story erased before it had ever been told.


The Tempest

It was March of last year, a few days before Easter. The thing to remember about that night is that it was stormy everywhere. Hard rain was falling all over the city, “But in Red Hook,” says Jon, “it was apocalyptic.”  At 499 Van Brunt St. the winds cut down the pier at sixty miles an hour.  The clouds would drop eighteen inches of rain by the end of the night, and rising tides and the last of the winter thaw combined with the rainfall to turn the cobblestone streets into a greasy swamp.

Elsewhere in the world, a lot of bad things hadn’t happened yet.  Spills and Roni were in the studio, working on a spot for Rodarte. Twitching images of gaunt women draped in lattices of leather and string repeated themselves on the screens of the edit room as the untended fire went out.

It was maybe too late at night to be editing footage of a fashion collection inspired by Japanese horror films; it was time for Spills and Roni to go home.

When they went downstairs they stepped outside and found a lake where the lot should be. The water, they swear, was waist-deep in places. A glassblower stood in front of the warehouse, half submerged in water.  He raised his arms in a gesture of comic defeat and announced “Exploration time!” Then he waded away.

Spills and Roni stood on the high concrete blocks that mark off the parking lot to keep themselves dry, and Spills took out his camera to capture the flood on film.  That’s when a man materialized out of the blackness, wading through three feet of water, wearing garbage bags for pants and carrying a spotted dog.  The hard wind barely ruffled his long white beard and hair.

Spills and Roni went back into the studio and huddled for warmth.  Convinced they were stranded indefinitely, they trembled, and resolved to sleep in the studio if they survived the storm.  If you ask Jon Kane, he’ll tell you what happened next:

I remember the night perfectly.

I called into the studio to check progress on a job. [Roni] and [Spills] were in a full blown panic about being flooded in. It was real rainy out for sure. I drove my car over to see what was up. The water was all the way back to Fairway on Van Brunt, like a lake. I drove to the other gate and drove through. The land slants up that way so there was no water. I drove along the back of the pier, around the dumpsters, and up to the front door, which, by this time had no water in front of it.  I had my Big Boots™ on, of course. The water had receded and they didn’t realize. They were no longer flooded in. I walked in, told them they were pussies, drank some whiskey, watched their video, and went home.

If the waters would part for anyone, they would part for Jon Kane, of course. The love between the three men only grew stronger after surviving the storm.

The only victim in this story was The Tempest. Pork, who was not in the studio, remembers that night only as the day his Tempest sank.

R.I.P. Tempest

He found her in Greenpoint on Easter Sunday, broken beyond beyond repair.