Ronaldo Brunet landed in New York from his native Chile in 1960, where he found a job as a night-time technician in a photo lab. He hung out downtown with other artists in the 60s at clubs like Max's Kansas City. The midnight hour has remained his call to hit the streets by bike and connect with acquaintances old and new at favorite bars and clubs in Soho and Greenwich Village.

I met Mr. Brunet in 2003 at Fanelli's, a landmark Tavern on Prince Street. Having spoken with him countless times in the following years, committing his voice to posterity had been on my mind for a while, as an extension of the images seen here.

On Sunday, September 30, 2007, we met at StoryCorps, an oral history organization with a recording booth tucked away in a corner of the Biltmore Room near tracks 41 and 42 of Grand Central Station.

For the 40-minute interview we talked about where he came from, settling in a new environment, exploring his creative outlets, and his take on the downtown art scene. Skirting past his childhood in Chile quicker than expected, Mr. Brunet was most willing to talk about his arrival in New York City and the creative spirit of the 1960s. He read a poem called “The Making of an Artist.”

I last saw Ronaldo sometime in 2013 when he was 81 years old. He moved out of his Murray Hill apartment and disappeared to somewhere.

Mr. Brunet photographed street art, played piano, wrote poetry, and was versed in traditional dance. His bike got him around Manhattan at any time of day or night. He also enjoyed jazz, classical, and Latin music.

Vodka and orange juice was his drink of choice. Later on he opted for the gentler Red Stripe beer. Before Fanelli’s kitchen would close, he often ordered a plate of mozzarella sticks.

Accompanying the images of Mr. Brunet are some selections from Soho spots he traversed after midnight.

Listen to an excerpt of our StoryCorps interview.
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