Every year, beyond the privilege of working with Farm Aid and writing the blog, or hosting the webcast, I have the pleasure of meeting the amazing folks behind the scenes that make the concert and organization a success. This year was no exception. In fact, the stars were aligned for me to meet the most genuine person ever.
It started two weeks before the concert when I received a call from Kim Bucheit (one of the official Farm Aid photographers). She wanted to let me know her schedule and that instead of her following me around and taking pictures for the blog, she coordinating with staff to bring in a “Newbie” for the assignment. She went on with a list of impressive credentials for the prospective candidates. Ike – well-known chef, restaurateur, and aspiring photographer ultimately ended up in the position to donate his time and do the job. She said that we would hit it off really well – we had the same sense of humor.
The night before the concert I was supposed to meet up with Ike to go over our plan of attack for the day of the concert. He was late getting to Randall’s Island because he had catered a large event for the Governor of New Jersey that day around noon… then packed his bags and headed for New York. When I finally did catch him for our introduction, guess where I found him…in the catering tent whipping up his world famous crabcakes for the Farm Aid staff and Neil Young’s crew. The guy just never stopped. Ike Cossaboon was dedicated to good food.
So we spent the entire concert. Bouncing from the audience to backstage to vendor booths and then to the production trailer to download the photos while I wrote the articles to go with them. Kim was right, we were a good team. In fact, at the start of the day, this big, burley, stone of a guy got nervous about taking photos. I assured him that is was not about the perfect angle, it was about just capturing the moment. And after the first round of photo-taking, the nervousness went away, and he was on fire.
We talked a great deal of plans for the future. He had this great idea of a show that he was pitching to the food network that highlighted the seafood from sea to table. And boy was he the person to do that show too. He was the owner and creative genesis behind 2 restaurants in New Jersey – Ike’s Famous Crabcakes.
We joked with his friends in the audience about how normally he is the guy in charge at an event and that it was funny to see him following my orders….the juxtaposition in size made it even funnier. But really we were a team that day.
We ended our day exchanging information and he gave me a slew of Ike’s Famous Crabcakes shirts and hot sauce. We made plans to meet again at his restaurant – he said to call before, because if we showed up to the restaurant and asked for him, he has instructed his staff to say he is not there…
Well, he might not be there, but his spirit will always be. Ike passed away yesterday.
I had written this article for the blog the day of the concert but never posted it. Now I post this in his memory. I know he made an impact on me in just one day, I can only imagine the amazing impact that he had on his family and friends. Farm Aids thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and especially his kids, Paul and Caleb. Ike was an outstanding, generous and dedicated person, he will be greatly missed.
IKE EARNED HIS WINGS
By Kim Buchheit, Photography Team
We are still sorting through and selecting our best images to finalize the 2007 Photo Album. We’re going to be improving upon the content of the album in the near future. A lot was happening on the day of the show and it was a challenge to get everything just right under hectic conditions.
The basic idea is that we (Mike, Ike and I) ran around shooting lots of photos for various purposes, and then we hoofed it a good distance back to our stations, downloaded, resized images and made some quick judgments about which photos were worthy to give web viewers a feel for the events. We delivered groups of photos to Jeni and Jeff who were editing content and updating the website continuously until the last set list was posted. Ryan, Ike and Wendy were keeping up with the blog entries and another team was responsible for bringing in the video blog segments.
We have been making good progress on our deliverables and further coordination of our efforts, when we got the shocking news of Ike’s sudden departure from life.
I had been thinking about writing a blog entry about my experiences as a Farm Aid photographer and what a fun, cool gig it is. But, in this case, it is far more appropriate and compelling to honor Ike Cossaboon.
Ike was the newest member of the Farm Aid Photography team, having volunteered to pitch in as needed. He would be sure to make it known that he was first and foremost, “Daddy” to two most remarkable young boys. Ike’s favorite photo subjects were his boys. They allowed him an excuse to use his camera at any moment.
Ike’s love for his boys was clearly announced by a lovely photo on his laptop screen that faced out to the world from the top of the folding table in our portable workspace that we made home on the very memorable day that we shared with him on September 9, 2007.
Ike was proud to lift the sleeve of his black “Got Crabs?” t-shirt to show me a likeness of his boys indelibly inscribed in ink on his upper left arm. Completing the picture at the highest extent of the sleeve stretch was his Dad’s likeness symbolically looking down on them from above. Ike may have looked like a rough and tough biker type, but he was a self-proclaimed softie when it came to his emotions for family and friends.
Ryan spoke of the top-notch seafood dinner that Ike personally planned, delivered and prepared for the crew on the night immediately preceding Farm Aid 2007. Ike arrived at the venue on Saturday night after a run of consecutive long days to immediately start preparing a feast for his old and new friends. The Farm Aid staff and some of the crew were working a late night to make final preparations for Sunday. Strangers, new acquaintances and old friends were overwhelmed with Ike’s desire and ability to provide a special treat. That’s just one small example of the generosity and kindness that will continue to make Ike’s legacy World Famous.
Like others that have left this planet too soon, we can’t help but reflect on the impact of their fleeting presence. We wish to recall the life in their eyes, replay the sound of their voices and save the best laughs that we had together. There is no doubt that many of us are unexpectedly constructing some permanent space in our heart for Ike at this moment.
Ike made his debut as a Farm Aid Photographer with passion and gusto. Mike and I were proud to watch him come through under pressure after all of his worries and to get the great shots that he did. He was pretty happy with this shot.
His eye for each new situation and his photos added to the stories that were told. He did a great job. His concerns about fitting in and being capable of contributing seem rather distant today.
Ike earned his wings and was well on his way to bigger and better photographs. He is welcome to fly over next year and drop a feather or two, just to keep us wondering.