By James Maher
Name: Matt Torres
Occupation: Construction Worker
Location: East 8th Street and Avenue C.
Time: 12:45 on Sunday, May 26
I’m 19. I just came out for the [Loisaida] festival. I heard it from out my window. I was born on 11th Street and Avenue C, not even in a hospital — right there in my grandmother’s building. I’ve been out here for years. I’ve been back and forth between Brooklyn and here but this is my home. Everyone knows my family in some type of way — most of my family lives around here.
My grandfather’s parents live over there on 2nd Street and my grandmother’s parents live over on 10th and B. They’ve been around here all their life. All their cousins, everybody. My grandmother’s father, he lives right down on Avenue D. He’s still alive. He went to PS34 on 10th Street. My family has been here all their lives.
It was alright growing up here. You did have your struggles but it was pretty good. Everyone gets along with each other and knows each other in some type of way. This is definitely a neighborhood. It’s different from any other place. It’s the diversity that’s interesting because you’ve got so many different people here.
I play sports around here, well I used to when I was growing up. I played for OLS [Our Lady of Sorrows], Felix Millan Little League. I played football, basketball, baseball, just about everything. Got trophies in all of them. I also have a little brother. He’s only 11 months younger than me but when people first started to get to know us around here they thought we were twins. We just had a lot of fun. Most of the fun happened on the basketball court.
I’m also a Sergeant here in the Explorers, PSA 4 [Police Service Area]. It’s a leadership program for 15 to 21-year-olds. We try to teach young people leadership and structure. We also make sure you’re doing good in school. We do competitions with other precincts around the city, with drills and things like that.
I was going to go to the Marines, but then I started getting tattooed, and the Marines don’t allow tats from the elbow down. So right now I’m in the construction business, operating construction machinery and things like that.
I’ve got LES tattooed on my hand right here.
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.