Paul Walker

SEPTEMBER 12, 1973  -  NOVEMBER 30, 2013

My days in 2002 were filled with trips into Manhattan. Those days, every opportunity in the city was a print-film photo shoot, especially then. I was still reacting on some level, the attacks of September 11th. New York City offer a place of infinite opportunity. You simply never knew what ever trip could bring. This time it was meeting Paul Walker in Chinatown, in June of 2002.

Paul had just come off the 2002 MTV Movie Awards win for the "Best On-Screen Team" with Vin Diesel for the original "The Fast and the Furious". By June 12, Paul had found his way to New York and I did the same. Perhaps this was all coincidence?, Sure maybe it was. Yet I feel a moment of greatness to have just been able to make small talk with Paul for a fleeting moments. He was generous with his time. At not point he acted as if there was somewhere he need to be. We talked cars, we talked Fast and the Furious. 

After his passing last year, so many stories had surfaced of his positive, and generous nature. There was even a story of Paul secretly buying a couple their engagement ring. Turns out it was all true. That was the Paul Walker I meet 12 years ago. Below is the blog post I published in response to Paul's passing last year. It's the story of the day I ran into genuine and nicest celebrity in Lower Manhattan:


Lower Manhattan, New York City

JUNE 12, 2002

A few short days before I ran into Paul, He had just won the 'Best On Screen Team' with Vin Diesel at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards. This was broadcasted six days before I had met him. During the broadcast I gathered one item of his trademark style was his laces out Vans sneakers. This observation came in handy spotting Paul days later wondering through Chinatown towards Soho.

 My 2001 HP Digital Camera

My 2001 HP Digital Camera

It was his sneakers that confirmed his appearance to me. As I decided to approach Paul, I'm not sure exactly what crossed my mind. I know that the first thing out of my mouth was something about enjoying the first Fast and Furious film, being a fan and that I owned a 1984 Supra– A car with a lot of street creed in the Japanese car racing culture.  He immediately made and welcomed conversation about cars with me for a few minutes. He was totally cool about pausing for a few minutes to chat on the street.


As we wrapped up, I recalled one other detail about him. At the time I knew he was a big car guy beyond the film and especially that he owned a Nissan Skyline imported from Japan. He confirmed that this was true. Cool stuff to hear first hand and exciting for that time. Importing a Skyline from Japan was the only way to get one into the United States back then. As we parted, I asked him if was ok to do a quick photo. With my long arm I did a quick selfie (Yet to defined as such for another 11 years and with a 2001 HP Digital Camera on loan from my Uncle). My photo and abbreviated story (tweet below) was featured with similar fan stories on Buzzfeed.com

 Paul Walker and Michael Raisch seen in Chinatown New York City, June 12, 2002

Paul Walker and Michael Raisch seen in Chinatown New York City, June 12, 2002

 
 
 Paul posing with his 2002 Nissan R34 Skyline

Paul posing with his 2002 Nissan R34 Skyline

 Michael and friends posing with his 1984 Toyota Supra

Michael and friends posing with his 1984 Toyota Supra

At the time I meet Paul, I was devoted to documenting New York City in the wake the 9/11 attacks. Below is my work documenting New York City in 2002 accompanied with the official memorial produced for Paul Walker.

In my quick impression of Paul, I'll remember him this way; incredibly approachable and for all his success in Hollywood and a good guy. His death has impacted me greatly. I reflect back on a brief moment I had with him and feel incredibly grateful. Clearly he made many positive of impacts on people through out his film career and his life.