Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Civilization in a NYC Elevator I Can't Afford

Off to NYC tonight to visit the kinfolk for a week; and hopefully get in a coupla shows, a coupla shots and: a coupla beers, raspberry blintzes, potato pancakes, bagels (not some sorry assed roll with a hole), perogis (fried w/onions and sour cream), cuchifritos, egg creams and real honest to god pizza- not the sad and sorry cardboard crap of an excuse that passes for it everywhere else in the world (Italy not incl)! If I don't see ya's there, catch ya's online hopefully sometime the following weekend...

This is kinda what The City looked like to me back in the day when I was considerably younger and... well, younger. (go to full screen for this one and enjoy the show).

Civilization by Marco Brambilla from CRUSH on Vimeo.

USA v Iran

Iranians are sacrificing life and limb for their future. The US of A saw two of its presidential elections stolen right from under them. In one, voters' names were purposely stricken from the rolls, others physically prevented from casting their votes. In the other, the very manufacturer of the voting machines pledged his key state would be delivered to one candidate. And the bad ass American pioneer spirit rolled over and ate their burgers.


A while back I said the one thing, the only thing about growing old is that when you say you don't give a damn about something- you really don't. Well, take for instance the couple above- a coupla what I really don't know and really could not give a godddamn. And while I've been forced to look at their trivial little faces on these internets for I don't know how many weeks now, I'll be damned if I sacrifice even one remaining brain cell to find out who they actually are and how very little they have to do with anything halfway worthwhile in this life, or the next- that goes for Lady Gaga too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twilight of the Blogs...

...95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

When will mine, yours, everyone's eventually join the list of the departed blog list? Mine started, going on five years ago (albeit in a different guise on godforsaken Yahoo software) when I found myself very much unemployed. So far, it's still a kick. But I could see coming to a point where I've just had my say and... basta.

PS- I still remember telling people in 1998, "I've led forty very productive years without a computer, thank you very much." Well, at least I'm not on Facebook...

Monday, June 22, 2009

State of the Art

I just saw a video of a wounded Iranian woman, very beautiful, very young. She didn't appear terribly hurt, and as they slowly laid her on the ground blood began to at first slowly trickle out her mouth, and within an instant covered her face and then pooled thickly below her head. The video had a warning which I disregarded, for whatever reason not choosing to heed it. I had personally witnessed something very similar many years back, the violent death of a friend, every bit as senseless and tragic as only the waste of young, promising life can be.

Humanity doesn't learn from it's mistakes, it learns to deny them. I guess that's what some call optimism, something I'm sure someone wiser said before me. Our planet is slowly dying, the signs all around us. The majority of us quite content to continue our daily path to self destruction.

Food, Inc.

Monsanto is evil writ large- as in apocalyptic world wide plague of absolute biblical proportions...

The Beautiful Truth...

My wife is a vegetarian, and I'd sure like to be- the mere thought of killing cute little pigs sickens me. But the faintest airy wisp of thin crispity bacon (let alone the actual magic of having it settle upon the taste buds) is almost enough to induce near ecstasy. It's one of life's many contradictions I've learned to negotiate a very uneasy truce with, but the big C (as in cancer) is about the only incentive that will ever make me go totally vegetable. Of course, it may be a little too late by then, but them's the odds I've chosen.

For those a bit wiser, or just more self disciplined, The Beautiful Truth traces the path to longer, healthier living- and escaping the jaws of that dreaded disease. It describes nothing radically new or revolutionary as far as vegetarianism (juicing, organic fruits, vegetables, etc) and holistic lifestyles are concerned, and the film itself is certainly nowhere, anywhere near Oscar contention. In fact, the main reason, the only reason I can recommend said movie is that it introduced me to the the good Dr. Gerson, who devised and promoted said program a good many decades ago, and for his effort has been vehemently ridiculed, ostracized and condemned by both medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies alike ever since. And did I mention... was poisoned to death (arsenic) for his effort.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sarah Stolfa's A Regular Photographer

I've posted previously on Sarah Stolfa's The Regulars, so it was a delight to finally come upon her book. Right size, right price- and 40 gorgeous portraits in hardcover! Why can't we have more quality books priced like this? And she's obviously not the one trick pony any longer...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

From Relevant To Ridiculous

It's been heartening to see "the discussion" carry over and continue at Lightstalkers, Burn, John Edwin Mason's, and of course, duckrabbit, but sometimes you just shake your head in amazement at the things some people say- that is, people who should know better.

While I applaud Gary Knight's appeal (in his Lightstalkers' comment) to go beyond the dominant Western perspective, he also goes on to imply that your local, "home grown," Western person of color is somehow just not quite exotic enough to lend the diversity necessary to an all white cast. And that excuse is just so very wrong and offensive in oh so many ways, that it is ludicrous at best- at very best...

The Night Cries Out...

An entire nation cries out and awaits its destiny. This Saturday they awake to a nation transformed, or a country silenced with the blood of its own people.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gary Knight- A Reply...

Since I'm not a member of Lightstalkers, I'll simply make my reply to Mr. Knight's comment (dated 6/16), here:

Gary- I don't believe anyone's suggesting having people on any jury solely and simply because of race. That has never been the issue, and frankly, I'm surprised someone as accomplished and "enlightened" as yourself would actually repeat it. You go through great pains to delineate just how diverse the backgrounds are at VII- gender, age, class, etc, etc. Every which way but... race, where diversity remains very conspicuously in front of the lens.

Every top photo organization and publication would never, ever think of fronting a 100% all male roster in 2009. They damn well know the hell they'd catch, and rightfully so! But when it comes to race, it all gets poo-pooed into one very inflammatory "non issue." Hey, it's just the way things are, there are more important things- don't worry, be happy! Bottom line- If qualified women ain't buying it- why the hell should we!?

Yes, it's great other countries and cultures are now stepping up and doing for themselves. And wouldn't it be grand if they could all look up and see just how a truly diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-gender and multi-racial organization can function and thrive- think of how that would further set the example for their fledgling organizations in a world divided by Tutsi and Hutu, Serb and Croat, Muslim and Jew...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Prison Photography

When Pete Brook came out with his Prison Photography blog, I must admit I was like... huh? I mean, yeah, ya gotta find your own little niche and all, but- prison photography!? I thought it would quickly descend into one of those one or two posts a month blogs about stuff of little interest or consequence to anyone save a sociologist.

Not being a photo insider, I run a pretty generalized photo blog- finding things that interest me (let alone others) is not always easy. And yet this guy continues to prove me wrong each and everyday with one of the best photo blogs, period- featuring quality, original work not featured elsewhere, all with a very relevant social underpinning. Don't let the name throw ya, and check it out- regularly!

Photos: David Simonton

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


When I asked her if she understood the controversial nature of the photo, Goforth would only say she felt very bad about accidentally sending it to the wrong list. When I gave her a second chance to address the controversial nature of the email, she again repeated that she only felt bad about sending it to the wrong list of people.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Michelle Sank- Becoming

Michelle Sank's Becoming (as well as many other of her portrait essays) is from the direct, no frills school of portraiture. No dramatic lighting, no grand gestures- and yet, her straight forward environmental compositions provide an intensely penetrating and revealing look into teens transitioning into adulthood. Currently at the Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco, 5/24-6/22.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Black List

Timothy Greenfield-Sanders has some very interesting observations at the very end of his interview with A Photo Editor relevant to recent posts here and elsewhere...

Now, had that been myself, or any other person of color in that audience making that observation- who would have listened, who would have believed, who would have cared? We no longer have to sit in the back of the bus- true. We're just occasionally reminded where we really belong...

Aint it the Truth...

Get's good (real good) about 1:30 into it...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Deep Sleep and

Photo: Dave Wyatt
Deep Sleep's second edition has some interesting work, the most bizarre (in my book) being Dave Wyatt's Thames Town, which consists of architectural "still lifes" of a Chinese suburb next to Shanghai built to resemble a modern English village- part of a series of suburbs to be built to resemble other various ethnic European architecture. Creeepy! Although amazingly "life like," I wonder how it feels to actually live in something that so eerily resembles some weird tourist attraction based on a culture from the other side of the world. Reminds me (if memory serves) of some other documentary work that portrayed Dutch architecture built by the Afrikaners in South Africa. At least there was some kind of direct linkage there- blatantly colonial as it was. appears to be a new venture, and suffice to say that amongst the absolute top notch work featured (incl the one and only Tod Papageorge's Journey from Eden) is Mark Powell's latest- Mexico 21. Truly amazing stuff!

Photo: Mark Powell

Friday, June 12, 2009

We Now Resume Regular Programming...

I've been putting off, procrastinating, and delaying the rather arduous task of scanning and post editing 40 odd, high res images from my Pet Cemetery series to (finally) put into book form (along with another project yet to commence). So making my intention public is yet another means to motivate myself to Blurb it up in a year's time... or not. Regular posting may become more sporadic, if so, ya know why...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Note of Thanks!

Well, we finally all put on our happy face and made nice. From now on we'll all see a more representational proportion of sexes and races as editors, judges, panelists, and reviewers. All delusions aside, I would just like to thank those who gave a damn enough to participate- we even managed to stir that ironically titled Conscientious blogger to finally take notice and move to action. If this ain't deserving of the high end discourse he always pines for concerning this medium we all hold so dear, I don't know what the hell is. And I anxiously await the results of his inquiry.

I can only hope that other highly visible movers and shakers in the medium also take note and do whatever they can to further the cause. No, I'm not talking quotas, tokens or charity considerations. I am talking policies commencing in academia and continuing into the public and private sectors that promote and increase the participation of qualified artists and professionals of color. Really, got nothing against white folk getting their piece of the pie- would just like others to have equal access to their fair share. Aint that what it's always been about? Isn't that why PDN would never, ever dream of posting the photos of a 24 member all male jury in 2009?

I would really like to thank: Benjamin Chesterton of Duckrabbit, if it weren't for him this whole thing would have remained the lone, "paranoid" rantings of a small time,"racist" blogger. Yes folks, you heard right- the white man, once again, saved the day! Or was it just his money? It takes passionate people of good will and sound reason (whatever their color) to see past themselves and into the lives of others. Benjamin- forever in your debt.

Rob Haggart of A Photo Editor, for being such a gracious host and allowing the majority of this much needed, and long overdue discussion to take place on his home turf.

And Jim Johnson of Politics, Theory and Photography for breaking it all down and connecting the dots with such moral and academic zeal and certitude (kinda like having Noam Chomsky on your side)!

This was a nice, albeit small moral victory. One magazine erred big time, and how many even noticed? We've all become so accustomed to having the one minority token thrown in there amongst the sea of white faces that we now just automatically assume he or she is in there somewhere without even looking... and who's gonna be crazy enough to waste their time and bother looking- but another minority.

So the next time you're at a photo review or festival, check out the panel, the speakers, the participants- are they diverse, or the usual sea of white faces? You may want to ask, why or why not? Isn't that we photographers are supposed to do- look, notice, question?

In my original letter to PDN about a year ago concerning their Movers and Shakers edition, I mentioned how little some things had changed in my 35 some years involved in photography. Alex Harsley was the sole African-American photo gallery owner in NYC back then, and dollars to donuts- retains the same "distinctive" title to this day. I'll make sure to look him up when I go back to see my folks there this end of June- and be happy to share a pint with any y'all back home, despite your color (or lack thereof)...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Well, it took a wee bit of doing, but finally... a response, sincere and promising. For all those jumping up and down, salivating with their I told you so's- I can only repeat what I said in my reply: the problems are neither imaginary, exaggerated, nor resolved. Problems, which to their credit, PDN acknowledges and seeks to address- as we all need do; problems which are as real today as they were decades ago.

The discussion has started- do we continue to deny, or do we face it full on and affect the change necessary to make the medium that so many of us truly love more representative of the people it so often depicts?

The Daily Double: What do PDN, BLURB and Photo Reviews Have In Common...

Has PDN lowered the proverbial drawbridge yet? Remember when the Bush administration had the ultimate arrogance to declare that they "create their own reality." And no one had the cajones to tell them that the proper term for that was... fantasy. Well, whether it's a 24 member all white jury at PDN, a ten member all white jury at Blurb's Photography Book Now competition, or the sea of white faces at countless photo festival review panels, as I commented on APE- what we're talking about here is integration, or more precisely, the lack thereof...

In addition to all the wisdom currently at Duckrabbit and APE, Jim Johnson's Politics, Theory & Photography has currently weighed in with one brilliant post.

Thanks to all the Conscientious bloggers, photographers and participants who continue to give a shit!

Monday, June 8, 2009

PDN- Where Are You?

Well, I guess it remains to be seen whether PDN "officially" responds, or not. And while I applaud their efforts to bring up the subject of lack of diversity in photography (as evidenced in the comments section of my last post, and at A Photo Editor), it would be nice, having the bully pulpit that they do, to proactively engage in the righting of a wrong they themselves have occasionally (and so rightly) drawn attention to. That's why the "judging issue" was such an opportunity lost when there are many very qualified people of color.

Most likely end result: Back to the token one or two (three or four to make a statement) faces of color in the next judgement issue before it's all forgotten and back to "normal." Please prove me wrong.

And heartfelt thanks to all the truly Conscientious participants who continue to contribute constructive criticism. Hopefully, this won't be dismissed as a passing issue of conversation, but remembered as the everyday reality that it has always been...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

$1,000 v The 800lb Gorilla

I know there are those out there who think this whole passive racism charge and Duckrabbit's ensuing $1,000 Competition are making a mountain of a molehill. Certainly the people in the photo/art world are amongst the least biased, least prejudicial, and most liberal and progressive on the block. Probably, perhaps... And I'm certainly not accusing anyone at PDN of being an outright bigot. That said, doesn't the very sound of a "24 Member All White Jury" seem just a wee bit out of place in the 21st Century? Personally, it still makes my hair (those remaining) stand on end.

Unconvinced? Let me ask you this- do you think it's pure happenstance that 9 of the 24 (over 1/3) of the judges were female? Or was this the secret trade off for Hillary not being the Democratic Candidate? No, it's certainly not reflective of 50% of the overall population, but it is a very sizable presence. Fortunately, the effort was made. What effort at inclusion was made for people of color, if any? Not even the undisputed solitary token we've all become accustomed to since the sixties- even he or she was not there to relieve the hierarchy of the burden.

Photojournalism has a long history of featuring images of non whites, and while there are now more people of color behind the camera- it's also well past due that we see their faces in positions of decision. That's why we need people of goodwill in all areas of photography to speak up- from publishers and working pros, to the average everyday enthusiast (PDN certainly hasn't). We need Conscientious bloggers everywhere to address the 800lb gorilla. It's the only way to affect change.

And thank you, Benjamin Chesterton, for having the consideration and courage to bring this to the forefront...

Friday, June 5, 2009


I'm not big on "horror" films, most are fairly predictable, and therefore... not very scary. But I do love those films where all sorts of hell break loose from "real life" events. One of my all time faves from that genre is A Simple Plan, last night I saw another- Stuck, a Grade A, B movie done good. A violent black comedy starring the inimitable Stephen Rea that makes you squirm, and manages to go far above and beyond itself despite its somewhat sketchy acting.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Film's Present Relevance and Future Demise

For Luddites like myself, there's been considerable pressure to conform to the digital norm. With each succeeding year, one just feels more and more left out of the conversation; the grand photography bandwagon has done passed you by.

But three things practically guarantee to keep me out of said loop: the cost of a full frame digital body (so I don't have to buy new wide angles), the ridiculous complexity and near needless range of useless choices so integral to modern digital cameras, and last (and far from least in my book), the inherent butt ugliness of those digital recording devices. I could go on, expounding on each of the above, but I have no desire whatsoever for a digital v analogue debate- it's all been said...

And then comes this little (actually, quite comprehensive) article* which has got me feeling pretty damn good about myself- for the immediate future...

Film's true death knell- the inevitable environmental/water restrictions of the coming decades...
*(via Photokaboom).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Saw John Sayles' Matewan again for the first time in some twenty years. The film holds up- visually, dramatically, historically (although the sound was rather poor on my copy). Basically, it's the story of America in microcosm; every bit as relevant today...