Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jonathan Olley- Castles of the North

Sometimes certain pictures affect you, stay with you, haunt you (in a positive way). The really good ones have a habit of doing that, they resonate and touch something deep inside we can't always name or categorize- perhaps that is why we take photograhs to begin with...

As alluded to previously, I'll be (re)posting some of the "greatest hits" from my previous address occasionally, since I couldn't incorporate my archives. Jonathan Olley has a series on 20th century English citadels called Castles of the North, whose eerie presence I keep revisiting like some other life childhood trauma. Starkly beautiful!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto-- Osama was murdered...

She said it in November (about 6:10 into the interview), apparently Frost didn't catch it- and The Press didn't question it, follow up on it, or even mention it (surprise)... even if she did misspeak!!! (via The Mike Malloy Show)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sometimes I get to thinkin'...

shot Hood

The Atomic Issue of Daylight Magazine got me to thinking of several things. One was Carole Gallagher's incredible project: American Ground Zero- The Secret Nuclear War, an incredible decade long project of significant historical note that captures both the portraits and life stories of Atomic Vets and down winders who were adversely (to say the very least) affected by America's mad and reckless, atmospheric nuclear bomb testing in the continental US. All conducted by a government that considered its military, indeed, its very citizens, expendable. And no doubt, done all in the name of their ultimate "protection." The logic back then might of went something like- Best to bomb us here, in case we have to bomb them there.

Of course, the thing I still remember most upon first reading in '93 was the revelation by Marine Sergeant Israel Torres, one of several marines ordered into the detonation area shortly after the explosion of "shot Hood," the largest, dirtiest, thermonucleur (as in hydrogen bomb) device detonated in the continental US. In addition to finding dead animals in cages near the blast site- some also said they came across caged and hand cuffed humans... Proof? When they attempted to sue, many of these Atomic Vets discovered that they had no actual documentation that proved they were even at a test site- and the army sure wasn't supplying them any. They couldn't even prove they were there, let alone what they saw.

How many people would've believed The Tuskegee Experiment went well into the 70's, if someone hadn't finally blown the whistle. And I'll spare you the photo (for now) of Puerto Rican independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos, whose hospital room was bombarded with radiation as he cooked in his own juices...

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Story

So I'm off on my bike on a glorious day off, take a few snaps here and there, smoke a stogie- having a pretty good day, then notice my back tire is thoroughly encrusted in shit. Fortunately, there was an ample amount of grass about, so I proceeded cleaning up the nasty bit of business, only to realize that in so doing, my left foot and front wheel were now thoroughly encased with a brand new pile. Which brings us to the holiday moral of this story- which I'll be happy to print upon advisement...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

If I have to sit through the god-awful CITIZEN SOLDIER war rock promo just one more time before I see a movie- I Swear I'm Gonna...
Yes, people from other countries- this is what we're force fed at major movie theaters... Please, send help!

Friday, December 21, 2007

UFO Central...


Most likely, but I don't care, I love the composition- or as Picasso said: Art is a lie that reveals the truth! Strange thing about UFO photos though... Blurry and featureless- they don't prove a thing. Sharp & detailed-- They gotta be Photoshop!!!

Do I believe in UFO's? Absolutely! Where's the proof? Good question. I can cite numerous radar and multiple witness sightings by trained military, police and aviation personnel (incl pilots and astronauts). But hardcore sceptics will not be satisfied until they experience their own personal fantasy of having them land on the White House lawn (actually they did fly over the Capitol building- twice in '52). And the latter are always more than willing to accentuate the copious amounts of wierdos and eccentrics that the field undoubtedly attracts- the so called "giggle factor" the government relies on to automatically discredit the entire issue of any legitimacy.

Many UFO's are, in fact, mistaken observations of naturally occurring phenomena; others either top secret military test aircraft, or military hoaxes perpetrated to gage public reaction. That small remaining percentage of true unknowns are just that; extraterrestrial or interdimensional, biological or robotic- who's to say? Unfortunately, most serious scientists are leery to probe or investigate- the resulting professional (as opposed to public) scorn and ridicule would be guaranteed career closers. And so the only hands on "science" on the subject remains the exclusive domain of well funded, but ultra secretive government "black projects."

Doctors John E. Mack, J.Allen Hyneck and Jacques Vallee are but three who have, in fact, laid their professional and personal reputations on the line, at considerable cost. Would you believe: A Rocket Scientist? A 747 pilot? An astronaut? How about Dan Akroyd? A NASA aerospace engineer? Maybe a... Death Bed Affidavit- from one of the All Time Roswell UFO Debunkers?

Some scientists are finally "coming out" after deades of denial and backdoor whispering, finally asking for (of all things)... scientific investigation! Coalition for Freedom of Information- comprehensive site of UFO research related links and info! is as impossible to confirm them (UFOs) in the present as it will be to deny them in the future. -Dr. Wernher von Braun

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Person of the Year!

The very first time I saw Mr. Putin's face I instantly heard a rather well known Spanish saying echoing in my head- "Hijo de la gran puta!" Rough translation- Son of a bitch! And now the owner of that very infamous mug (which allowed our very own son of a bitch to peer into the depths of its very soul) has been chosen as The Time Person of the Year.

I recall reading years back, before having ascended to Russia's number one slot, how Mr. Putin was repeatedly overheard shouting, "More vodka! More hookers!" while vacationing in the great outdoors one summer, right here in the good ol' USA (change the vodka to beer, and you come up with W's college rendition).

PS- Anyone recall this portrait of his equally evil twin? And I wonder if Mr. Platon will be visiting Mother Russia anytime soon- then again, este hijo de gran puta probably revels in his Time depiction...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

DAYLIGHT Magazine- Issue #6

Paul Shambroom

The latest issue of Daylight magazine is nothing short of phenomenal! I usually think twice before buying any photo magazine these days, the content rarely warranting the cost. But at ten dollars, The Atomic Issue is a bargain for what you get- every short essay here is an absolute gem, and the reproduction values practically lush. This edition reads like a greatest hits compilation of (mostly) new and vintage work by: Harold Edgerton, Paul Shambroom, Pierpaol Mittica, Ramin Talaie, Jurgen Nefzger, Hiroshi Watanabe, Richard Ross, Yosuke Yamhata, Simon Roberts, Robert Del Tredici, and Carole Gallagher. A lot of ground is covered in this wee little volume, both photographically and historically, as to the the continued ramifications of our post atomic world.

You may even place this issue together with your fine art/documentary books...
PS- And there's a small treasure trove of photographic wonders to link to above.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Joseph Mills- INNER CITY

Most of my photo books are monographs that contain a fine selection of photographs; a few however, you can treasure as uniquely beautiful works of art in and of themselves. Joseph Mills' Inner City, which I had the extreme fortune to discover at a neighborhood used bookshelf, is just such an exception. It's relatively thin and modestly sized as far as photo books go, already making it kind of precious and rare- and its full of the beauty, contradictions and ironies that revelatory art can invoke.

The photographs themselves are of street scenes, filled with much of the gritty urban vernacular so popular within the genre: the homeless and hustlers, working folk and down and outers of every stripe and denomination. They're shot fast and loose from the hip, the highlights blown out to accentuate fragments and moments of life in passing. Yet these images take a marked departure from traditional street photography in that they are printed and presented on outdated paper. This gives the photographs a worn, faded, almost transitory appearance of improperly exposed and developed prints on the way to the trash bin. Mr. Mills, however, then applies a unique toning process involving varnish which transforms those very prints into subtle, genteel, images of vintage sophistication. And in so doing, stark, gritty street images become the waking, walking dreams that collide with reality in equal measure.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Zoe Crosher- Out The Window

Zoe Crosher's Out the Window is a lovely little book of snapshots that each feature a commercial airliner in some small corner of the view from the window of hotel rooms neighboring LAX. I'm tempted to leave it at that, since that alone suffices as an "accurate review." But this little series really sucks you in with its playful, yet intriguing compositions, colors and abstract forms.

This book aptly demonstrates how square format frees up the space within a frame into a more democratic form that allows one to pay equal attention, at once and in equal measure, to all the compositional elements, instead of focusing on certain elements based on how much space they're allotted within an elongated frame, or how that space is used to accentuate or isolate. Everything kind of happily floats around in a squared circle- it's either in the middle, or not. That's not to say that square format necessarily makes composition easier, it just offers up a different visual language with different contexts and nuances. Abstract shapes and colors are free to take on a life of their own.

The book is not all playful form and style however, it's a contemplative reminder of all the passing, fleeting moments spent furtively peering out onto foreign locales, wondering aloud in those transitory moments of our lives.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Photo Books '07

Sam Fentress

Didn't buy that many books this year- not for a lack of wanting. Finally retrieving my pre-'98 book collection from NYC played a major factor, economics the other. That said, there were six that made my all star list:

1) Motherland by Simon Roberts makes it into the number one post with its epic but intimate portrayal of Mother Russia.

2) Class Pictures by Dawoud Bey- with all the hoopla about portraiture this year, I sure didn't see much reference made to this master portraitist.

3) Henry Wessel- this retrospective edition should have made my number one, the subpar B&W reproduction however took its toll- so unlike the nearly miraculous quality of the actual silver gelatin prints which helped make his exhibit at SFMOMA one for the ages...

4) Bible Road by Sam Fentress is a comical, lyrical look at religious signs and landscapes that leave me more than a little jealous.

5) Out The Window (LAX) by Zoe Crosher- (see separate post to come).

6) The Idea of Cuba by Alex Harris- portraits, monuments and car interior scenics that manage to go beyond the now customary Cuban cliches.

Lost in the Dark

One of the things I really regret not doing in life is writing down all the movies I've seen each year- a plethora of vital little pieces of my life (many quite favorable indeed) that I can't even remember... No way I can recall just the movies I saw this year alone!

Anyway, one I do remember (because it was both so good and so recent) is Gone, Baby, Gone.
Operating under the "every dog has his day" school of life, Ben Affleck turns in one absolutely masterful directorial debut. There aren't too many directors around, whatever their calibre or experience, that could've handled and delivered one little scene in a classic dive of a bar that goes from uneasy, to familiar, to downright chilling in a very personal manner that had yours truly squirming as to how to make haste...
The rest of the movie aint bad either- small time movie making via grand Greek tragedy at its best.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Might never have moved outta NYC if I had me one of these...

Low Riders

This video is both mesmerizingly hypnotic, and... nostalgic- reminding one of how much faster life seemed to move when you were twenty and had hormones shooting out both your ears on a constant basis, so that contemplating doing something this crazed seemed fun, infinitely doable, and not particularly dangerous.

Now... I'll just wait for the IMAX version.
Here's one guy who can't!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Moving and rebuilding my site (for the first time since 10/04) has proved the literal "learning how to walk all over again." Of course, I feel guilty just uttering those words- when people are doing just that, returning from this phony, illegal, immoral war with problems that overshadow mine by the proverbial leaps and bounds.

Then again, I can't help feeling it in many small ways everyday as one embarks on the "downward arc" of life's journey, and technology continues to spiral ever upward like the virus that replicates uncontrollably until it devours its host. And that said... great to be back!

Didn't think I'd be gone quite this long, and yes, I was (as predicted) in sheer and utter computer hell. The Mac I inherited not only couldn't run my film scanner, it couldn't run my sitebuilder software. After researching much, nearly useless information on various software and operating systems, after questioning and arguing with various 20 yr olds at the local Mac daddy store (who would supply contradictory info and answers on subsequent days and weeks), and after conversing with representatives from various unknown countries on the phone, I finally ended up having to buy a brand new pc- the very last thing I could have predicted, or afforded... only to find that Vista would also not accomodate my Yahoo sitebuilder software (still haven't checked out the scanner)!

Which brings me to my happy new home here in the "public housing" of blogdom. Incidentally, it was public housing that was actually built to withstand the onslaught of hurricanes like Katrina- and they won't be building much of them in New Orleans anymore. But I digress...

One of the unfortunate things, (besides all the extra work) about starting over is that there's no easy way to transfer all my archives- so I'll occasionally "repackage" those most relevant in a "greatest hits" sort of manner (eg- will soon repost list of favorite photographers). And it's nice to actually have a comments section, which I heartily encourage- except for the one asshole who always seems to pick out a particular site (of course, with my luck, I'll be "fortunate" to even have one of those).

Catching up...

Amazing all that's happened since 10/24/07 (date of last post on my ol' blog). Less amazing is what hasn't happened (ie- an all out jihad for impeachment over the never ending cavalcade of high crimes and misdemeanors from a lying president hellbent on starting WWIII). Which reminds me- what was the name of that General that said there wouldn't be a war with Iran on his watch? You don't think he and certain US Intelligence Agencies determined not to be made fools of again got together and launched a little preemptive strike of their own on the commander-in-chief! Nah, that would be a... conspiracy theory.

On the photo front, was quite surprised no one in the blogosphere mentioned the passing of Fred W. McDarrah, photographer and photo editor at the Village Voice for many a year. Personally, I'll always feel in his debt just for hiring James Hamilton, whose portraits of the famous and anonymous alike adorned the pages of the Voice throughtout the seventies and were like weekly tutorials on just how magnificent portraiture could be (with a 35mm no less)! Crying shame there isn't a book commemorating those incredible images.

Anyway, here's but a few notes of mention (some of which I'm sure you've already seen) from the past weeks culled from the hallowed list of notable sources already prominently displayed here:


How Photos Become Fine Art The view from the high road.
Danny Wilcox Frazier- Driftless: Photographs from Iowa
What I Wish I'd Known When I Started... ($$$)
Plagiarism v Imitation Your call...
Words Without Pictures Is Photography art? Again.
Truth and Photography- (again)
The Shot- the fashion version of the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

StoryCorps- audio documentation. Dave Isay and his amazing oral history project, the largest in the US!

I Don't Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier's Life
5 Myths About Terror
Torture's Roots in the good ol' USA

Will Okun

A man after my own heart, fellow teacher/photographer Will Okun sheds a ray of light into the world most of us would rather not see, hear or mention- let alone interact with. The comments section is particularly enlightening. Seems when certain members of society at large have their accidental interaction (of the negative kind) with "the other," most of those (who have, in fact, been wronged) react simply with condemnation and the vow to retreat even further from any possible contact-- the latter being the very same game plan they so readily condemn residents of the hood for adapting for their own survival!

Miss Landmine

No, I'm not making it up, and I too was not quite sure what to make of this at first. But it certainly seems to be one of the most uniquely imaginative and enlightening endeavors ever to confront the depths of human indifference...

The Joy of Pottersville

I like to think myself fairly astute politically, and that I can turn the occasional phrase when needed, but reading Welcome to Potterswille (a small daily joy and addiction) demonstrates just how lacking I am in the latter. This guy churns out the most scalding, political commentary imaginable- all of it armed to the teeth with the facts and background material that go well beyond mere diatribe. And he does it with all the unconscious effort of a half assed Cheney smirk and scowl. The guy's pissed- as we all should damn well be...

PS- He's not bad at piecing together a visual history of hell, either.

Bilal Hussein

This poor bastard is one of the "lucky" ones! Bilal Hussein- one of thousands whose name is actually known, one of faceless thousands whose name has in turn attracted higher profile names. One of thousands of completely innocent, anonymous human beings whose country we have decapitated into daily, murderous chaos...

He may have a chance, but what of them...

They're All Out Of Their Ever Lovin' Minds...

Commercial and military pilots, assorted former military officers and government officials, including a former Federal Aviation Administration Investigator. Highly trained observers all- each and every one, howling certifiable whackos, crazed beyond all known measure. Pitiful, mistaken bastards. Deluded, dazed and delusional to the core...