• Irving Penn
  • From “Underfoot”

Perhaps there’s no good reason why the image of masticated gum on a New York City sidewalk should remind me of a grainy Polaroid depicting a drug-fueled orgy, but it does.

Irving Penn shot the gum—several pieces of it, actually, each crushed into a tiny, self-contained world on the city’s filthy pavement. He came to the subject late in life, after spending decades as a celebrated fashion photographer for Vogue.

Dash Snow shot the orgy. He was also its star. He died of a heroin overdose in a Manhattan hotel—his brief, explosive existence culminating in the most expected of ways.

Penn also died in New York, at the age of 92. Snow was exactly two weeks shy of turning 28.