March 18, 2013
On Tuesday, March 12th former gang member and drug addict Bob Powers, acclaimed photographer Bruce Davidson, and author Emily Davidson, gathered at Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side of New York to discuss Bob’s incredible story of survival and recovery, all detailed in Bobby’s Book.
Growing up park side—on the west side of Prospect Park—in the 1950s and 60s, Bob barely had a chance. His family wasn’t dysfunctional, the whole neighborhood was. Alcoholism was as common as tattoos and territorial fights at the 9th Street neighborhood line. The nuns at school were cruel and Bobby didn’t learn to read or write—not until he set out to master these basics in his 40s. Instead he honed his reputation for being tough, wrangled with the police, and got into drugs.
When he first tried heroin in his early twenties, he never imagined that it would lead to a black hole where for twenty years he would run million dollar drugs deals and then squander the money, cycle in and out of prison and through homelessness, and father three children who witnessed it all. It was a period of such desperation and loneliness that he was certain he would not make it out alive.
It wasn’t until he turned forty that Bobby realized no one could pull him out of this life but himself. And then he set out to help others like him, becoming a nationally respected drug counselor. With the delicate hand of Emily Davidson and photos by Bruce Davidson of Bob as a teenager in 1959, Bob’s story is told in his gritty voice, full of suffering and honesty, free of judgment but not free of remorse.