Jerry Hsu Shows Us the Street Photography on His Camera Roll — Even Though He Hates the Term

Published April 15, 2019

Skateboarder Jerry Hsu is a legend, sure, but he’s also a really cool guy. The LA-based skater-turned-artist first started posting his images on Tumblr back in 2009, quickly gaining popularity due to his keen eye and sharp wit. Hsu’s photographs straddled diaristic impulses with an hysterical combination of high – low content. “I guess you could describe it as just diaristic,” Hsu said, “and also kind of like street photography, but I hate that term.” Whatever you want to call, Hsu has collected all of his best, and most ironic, photographs in a new book titled The Beautiful Flower is The World from Anthology Editions.The book took form back in 2006 when Hsu purchased his first smart phone, a Blackberry Pearl, which had the pre-iMessage text function known as BlackBerry Messenger. “The groups were basically group chats, and we started to just send photos back and forth. It was like imagery as communication — that’s what the book is about,” said Hsu. It only seemed fitting, then, that with the release of Hsu’s new book, he share pictures of his (iPhone) camera roll with us  — which included shots of friendly possums, a discourse on vanity plates, and the loneliest skater at the skatepark.

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“I asked him my friend whose cat this is: “What happened to the cat?” He didn’t know. “Only the cat knows,” he said. Something happened. He came home and the cat was hurt. I think it just got it knocked something over and broke its own leg. The cat is just so cute and so ridiculous looking with that cast on. There’s videos of it walking around like a pirate. It’s just a super adorable, dumb cat.”

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“That’s a possum that lives at my friend Rowan’s house. When we’re outside drinking and smoking, it just sits there and it lets me photograph it. The possum lets me stay so close — it doesn’t move. It’s also like a little bit cross-eyed, which kind of makes the picture even funnier.”

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“These things (air dancers) are always at car dealerships to advertise or get people’s attention. This one is at this place here in LA called Dearly Departed. It’s a tour that you take of famous Hollywood murders and deaths. This van takes tourists around to show them where the Black Dahlia died, or where Guns N’ Roses used to hang — or not that because that’s not murder. Just all like weird, macabre Hollywood mystery type shit. I always think it’s kind of funny because they’re usually really bright, this one’s black, and with the whole concept of what they do…” [Laughs]

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“This is in Coral Gables. It’s kind of a suburb in Miami where a lot of old white people live. That’s just on the side of the side of an apartment building. It’s just is so crazy that they’re so many of them. So it’s a comment on, ‘Why does every single person need their own dish?’ It’s so ugly, but so beautiful and interesting looking at the same time. It’s sort of  this unnecessary, excessive thing that exists.”

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” My wife’s cat. She had that cat when we met, and the cat is also named Jerry, coincidentally. I’m Jerry. The cat’s named Jerry, and it’s just kind of confusing in the house. She’s goes yelling at the cat, and I think she’s yelling at me. It’s also embarrassing when I have to take the cat to the vet because I have to be like, ‘This is Jerry, and I’m also Jerry.’ Everyone thinks I named the cat after myself, so I have to explain every single time the story of my wife’s cat is named Jerry. The cat’s named Jerry because my wife lived in a house full of guys when she brought the cat home as kitten. She wanted to name it something girly like Margo or something like that. But all the guys were watching Seinfeld, and it was the Little Jerry episode where Kramer names the chicken Little Jerry. They all started calling the cat Jerry, Little Jerry — and it stuck. Also, the cat’s a girl.”

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“That photo’s just kind of funny because of the way it’s cropped. He’s wearing these shoes called D3’s. They’re this shit from the early 2000s that became really popular in rave culture. This style of shoe is slowly coming back, but at the time I took this picture, not so much. When you go to a skate park there’s always that one weird guy who’s doing weird tricks that aren’t in vogue, and he doesn’t like, get it, or he’s not like, with it. But it’s also really cool, too. I like those guys. They’re just completely on their own, and that’s kind of what this photo is about. It’s kind of a lonely photo. There’s no one else in it, just him — and his D3’s. [Laughs] He doesn’t give a shit, like he’s just gonna wear those things. He likes them.”

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“This was in LA on the 405 going towards Orange County. It’s the more conservative part of southern California, so there’s a lot of religious people that live there. It’s funny because in LA everyone needs to express themselves it seems like. People do it with their cars, a lot. The number of vanity license plates here is phenomenal. It’s astonishing how many there are. And everyone’s car is supposed to say something about them, so everyone has their own little message on their car.