Friday, December 31, 2010

Brian Rose- WTC

If you're searching for something to look at this holiday weekend, you may wanna check out Brian Rose's WTC book. Although it definitely seems like ten years since 9/11- mostly thanks to the bludgeoning neanderthalism of life under the Bush regime, for someone away from his hometown, it still seems surreal that something so imposing a presence, so prevalent to the landscape is truly, permanently gone. That couldn't have been made clearer than when I returned to NY that first day they allowed flights back- as I headed downtown I suddenly felt strangely unbalanced, lightheaded, as if I couldn't walk a straight line. Turning my gaze upward, I then realized there was a hole in the sky, the looming presence of the World Trade Center was not dominating the patch of sky on my right where it should have been, where it seemed it had always been- and I was therefore actually, physically unbalanced without the "anchoring" effect it had provided upon that portion of the landscape! Clearly, I couldn't have been the only one who had undergone that spatial anomaly. The World Trade Center had ascended gradually into our consciousness, only to vanish in a torrent of trauma.

These photographs serve a fitting tribute.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Piece Of History...

I've just been amazed at the quality, consistency and quantity of work by Vivian Maier that has thus far been posted on Mr. Maloof's blog. Which in turn leads me to wonder just how Mr. Westerbeck's statement would differ had he been directly involved in her discovery...

When all is said and done, the truth will hopefully have out... And she will be duly recognized as the great American art icon that almost got away.

And I will cherish my small piece of photographic history- a film spool from the late, great Vivian Maier...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recent Books & Random Thoughts...

Well, it's that time of year when we look back... and plan ahead. This year I finally got it down and put together (kind of ridiculous to say published) my first Blurb book. A helluva lotta work starting from B&W negs, but pretty happy the way it turned out- for my first try. Of course, it woulda been loads nicer had someone actually noticed the damn thing, but... Actually, its the way to go- if only for the fact that I have neither darkroom, nor printer. It definitely makes for a somewhat convenient alternative (not the most preferable obviously, but definitely the cheapest) for getting one's work in some kind of print form.

My exposure to the plethora of photography books now available is limited, probably a good thing since I can't afford or have room for one more. But for now (and in no particular order)...

1)  Greater Atlanta- Mark Steinmetz   Subject of much critical acclaim, and good as his work is- I think a lot of people (who simply don't know better) were just taken aback that, yes, one could do straight, "fine art" photography that didn't fit their particular stereotype of what all B&W photography looks like. I saw all kinds of the stuff back in the day (when a lot of these guys were still prepubescent embryos)- and to my eternal discredit, I didn't take better note of all the names. Back when I was young, dumb and twenty one, I thought B&W would last forever. But a lot of the work of those who began to carve their own distinctive paths in B&W were simply steamrolled in time by the avalanche that was color... Good? Yes! Great to see and experience (again)? Yes! Original? Hell No!

2)  Looking For Evidence- Eva Leitolf   Every time I look at one of her photographs, I transfix yet again at what Ms. Leitolf manages to accomplish- transform the ugliness of past events within the beauty of the present.

3)  Wonderland- Jason Eskanazi   The pocket Bible of 35mm B&W.

4)  Father/Photographer- Henry Frank   Big Bob's Ol' man gives it a go in a nice little, compact scrapbook (it's in the genes don't ya know).

5)  America By Car- Lee Friedlander   Let's see you take better pictures sitting on your ass...

6)  Newton Creek Anthony Hamboussi   There's art to be had in all that documentary!

7)  This Is Not My Sky- Noah Beil    Home made goodness you can taste and feel.

8)  Nan Goldin     The portable entry vehicle. 

9)  Working The Line- David Taylor    The as of yet definitive photographic study of the US/Mexican border, complete with hardcover book and beautiful accompanying accordion styled typology insert. Incredible work, and incredible bang for the buck!

10)  Fluffy Clouds-  Jürgen Nefzger   On order... (I'm a sucker for cooling towers).

 If there's one, and only one, book I get in all of 2011-- it's gonna be Vivian Maier's...

And now... make way, yes, I can see it, just over the horizon- the light at the end of the tunnel...  
The Great B&W Photo Revival of 20__!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 2010 Blizzard Timelapse from Michael Black on Vimeo.

Real Hard To Figure...

Year after year, I'd see all those derelict buildings and empty lots just waiting to be renovated and built upon. Plenty of potential housing for the people who needed it most right there in the hood. Instead...

Wouldn't matter what color they were if you can no longer afford your very own neighborhood- to make room for a bunch of young, well to do whatevers... The same thing happened thirty years ago in The Lower East Side, twenty years ago in Williamsburg.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Susan Lindauer- Whistleblower/Political Prisoner/Patriot

I must admit I lost all remembrance of this until I once again read about it at Welcome Back To Pottersville. At the time, I had simply lost track of all the nonstop transgressions and high crimes and misdemeanors by the Bush/Cheney regime- as well as all hope. It had finally dawned on me like an inevitably corrosive cancer, that unlike with Nixon, the truth would not catch up with these two- justice would not have out. Basic common sense had long lost out to fear, prejudice and those who create their own reality.

Susan Lindauer has been put through hell- a hell created by empire. Treated as any political prisoner of the Soviet empire, except she was a US citizen imprisoned in a US prison by the US government. A direct casualty of the Bush/Cheney regime, and a complete miscarriage and travesty of justice that would have gotten any US journalist the Pulitzer had he or she reported on the Chinese equivalent in China. Instead, US citizen Susan Lindauer was imprisoned, silenced and forgotten in her own country for standing up for that which this country allegedly prides itself for representing and personifying. How come she isn't invited on all the morning news programs? How come she hasn't been feted on the beloved Oprah?

Her book is called Extreme Prejudice, every US citizen should read it.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Just want to take the opportunity to thank everyone for stopping by this year, and wish you all a happy holiday season, and the best of New Years!

Christmas- the most festive and famous celebration of... The Homeless!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

That Which Defines You

 Photo: Brian Rose

This is one of my favorite all time photographs of New York. No doubt because there's a lot of personal nostalgia attached to it: a time when NYC was not part of the Disney hub, the pre-yuppified, pre-gentrified NY, when subway cars were minus life saving air conditioning, and you could walk certain downtown areas for blocks on a weekend, and count the number of humans you saw on one hand. 

Nostalgia be damned, and you still got one formidable photograph here. The contrasting hues of warm and cool tones, sleek and traditional, the constant give/take that characterize this city so always on the make. Of course, New Yorkers no longer "recall" how so many of us once derided those very background towers for being the plain, ungainly intrusions that so unbalanced our skyline. Once denied them, we instantly realized just how much they had become an inseparable part of us. They helped define us just as any other symbol, artifact or ritual that was uniquely New York. As instantly recognizable as our own accent.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

So Long, Network Neutrality...

"A compromise, of a compromise, of a compromise..." Quick- does that sound like the trademark of anyone we know- a person who pledged, "I will take a backseat to no one with regards to net neutrality."    Update.

Brightly Colored Clowns...

I just heard a report where an airport in Germany introduced "brightly colored clowns" to reduce the tension and anxiety in a snow locked airport. I don't think anything would induce the nuclear option more readily in yours truly than to be entrapped in an enclosed area for days against my will with "brightly colored clowns."

Monday, December 20, 2010

Open Call For Submissions!

One of the things I most enjoy here is turning on to new or undervalued work and in turn, sharing it with others. I'd certainly like to do a lot more of that on Reciprocity Failure starting this year. So if you have some serious work out there that deserves a bit more exposure- send it on in. If I like it, fine- if not, no hard feelings!

Eligibility: Pretty much anyone...

Criteria:  I shouldn't have to say any of this, but- from my experience co-editing Expiration Notice ... Don't send in your weekend or holiday snaps that you and your squeeze think turned out real well. Don't send in stuff that everyone on Flickr responds to with, "Awesome, dude!" Excessive photoshop is like excessive make up. Individual images are fine- but not "different styles;" are you a cover band, or a photographer?  Work can be current, or "pre-internet." 

Make your jpgs 72dpi 750-850 px wide; around 6-10, with a brief (very) artist's statement. I'd like to publish anywhere between 3-6 images with a link for a period of two days. Submissions ongoing... Send to:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heroes & Hypocrites

With all the attention currently on Julian Assange- let's not forget Bradley Manning, the man who for all practical purposes, had the courage to sacrifice the remainder of his young life for what he believed needed to be done. He now lies in solitary without being charged, and forcibly drugged (not because he's violent or uncooperative, but to offset the direct road to insanity brought on by sensory deprivation).

And before the over zealous, vengeful minions cast the first stone with their accusations of traitor, terrorist and worse- how many of them have condemned the continued maiming and slaughter of innocent children in Iraq and Afghanistan? How loud have they lifted their voices in opposition and condemnation of the mercenaries we employ who commit those war crimes in the name of The United States of America?

PS- And at the very least- instead of bitchin' about Wikileaks and birth certificates... why don't they make themselves useful and go look for the missing $12 BILLION cash the Pentagon "misplaced" somewhere in Iraq in one lump sum- "the biggest transfer of cash in the history of the Federal Reserve."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If Only!

If you haven't seen  Driftless by Danny Wilcox Frazier, do yourself the favor- it is one incredibly powerful and moving documentary. Really can't say enough. And all the more incredible when one considers that all of the still photography in the essay was done with one lens (and massive commitment and imagination)! Does that fly in the face of everything I said yesterday? Is it possible to create a kick ass essay with the absolute minimum of equipment of one camera/lens (and film at that)- yes. As for extending it the length of a career- Good Luck...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dying words...

"You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan."

Photography- Eternal Realm of the Stratus City Dwellers

As we draw ever closer to Christmas, I can't help but think of what a truly schizophrenic society we have become. People out of work for months if not years, two ongoing and completely unnecessary wars, home owners evicted by banks who can't even produce the relevant paperwork, and yet, with all the camera equipment being produced, distributed and outdated before the change of every season- you'd swear technology, art and our economy were all moving at record pace, thank you very much.

The worlds of professional and fine art photography are everyday becoming more and more the domain of the Stratus City Dwellers, Troglites* need not apply. iphone or ipad, M9 or 5D Mkll? Light Room, cs5, hard drives, ink jets... Hell, I can't name half the shit because I don't even know what half of it does, let alone afford it. No, I'm not bitching about digital technology per se, I do realize that specifically in the professional world, it's often sink or swim when it comes to accepting and utilizing technology to the fullest. And yes, a few (very few) imaginative souls will somehow survive within their own low tech, highly imaginative niche. But where does this put the great majority of those not affluent enough to afford what have become technological and artistic (ie- financial) necessities- particularly those from minority backgrounds or developing countries so often seen in front of the lens?

And if I hear one more asswipe say he no longer has to pay for film...

* Stratus City- the realm of fair skinned intellectual and artistic elites who lived on the productivity of the Troglites who mined the netherworld below in the original Star Trek TV series.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photojournalism- Now & Then Some...

Not the most visually captivating piece of video (it's a Skype interview for chrissakes), but if you're really interested in photojournalism, particularly in its future, then you really owe yourself a listen here. I have no idea how it will transform itself in twenty years, nor does anyone else, but Benjamin Chesterton lays out not only its present failings, but where photojournalism is currently going, where it must go- and why, if it is to remain relevant and viable.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Alan George's San Francisco

Every few months when I'm feeling a tad low/in need of recharge, I head over to Alan George's Flickr pages, and damn if his images don't get me invigoratin' yet again. Humorous, contemplative, dynamic... beautiful!

Photo: Alan George

A native of the South, Mr. George has found San Francisco one very fertile playing field to seek out and mine for images. I like to think I have a pretty good eye for the passing picture possibility- this son of a bitch (whose only been photographing a little over 5 freakin' years) shows me how much I miss with every step. The guy's been wandering about every little known, side street and cranny that somehow hold this town together with what can only be described as an Atgetian intensity. And the results are a wonder to behold! Hope there's a book on these soon- this town owes him one...

(Won't begin to tell ya how long I tried to get that very shot of that goddamn lamp post against that goddamn wall.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

But... But...

Did a double take a couple of days back when I first read what Never A Straight Answer were being accused of. Aren't they the guys always belittling UFO researchers for their lack of scientific know how? Watch it guys, or you may start to make Creationists look good...

Thursday, December 9, 2010


All the innocent men, women and children maimed, tortured and killed by our armies and "private contractors." All in our name, at the request of our leaders- and yet it is they who declare Julian Assange has blood on his hands. Or is it non consenting sex that so appalls them so? Just who is it that deserves to be taken out?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Judge Thyself! (updated)...

I could never understand photographers who state that they can't edit their own work, can't pick out their own best pictures. Do they actually mean that they need someone to tell them what their best work is, that they really have no clue how to tell the rejects  from the stand outs that they themselves created? I can understand needing a certain amount of time to pass before being able to judge in a more critical, less emotional manner. That makes sense, but being clueless?

I'm fairly critical about anything and everything, especially my own work- and 99 times out of hundred, I only need a second or two to tell what does and doesn't make the grade.  So it's rather frustrating when I do get stumped by the rare fence sitter. Take this August Sanders redux for example- I just don't know. Love the guy, really love the backdrop- but... I just don't know if it comes off as a whole. I think maybe it's because the the guy is kinda smiling, and I'm really not a happy face portrait kinda guy. Now if he had an "I'm gonna kick your MFing ass right now, MF" scowl on his face, I probably wouldn't be here pondering. I guess optimism doesn't sit well with me. But wasn't one of the things that made me want to photograph the guy in the first place the very fact that he seemed such a gentle bear of a giant? So, close as it may be, is the crucial "magical" ingredient just not there, or is what I'm second guessing here, not the photograph itself- but some, errr... personal insecurity? An actual high resolution print to have and hold, sure wouldn't hurt, but I feel this goes beyond even that.

I really need an extra hand here- this is where time will definitely have to play its role.

UPDATE: Dollars to donuts- this same photo taken in medium to large format color & blown up to mural size- instant 21st century, museum wall worthiness. No questions asked- maybe even (dare I say it)... Flak Photo worthy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Hallowed Hall Of Greed And Shame

Alan Grayson was voted out of Congress this November- in the best of worlds, he would be our President. Perhaps the only person in government anywhere with a heart- and  a pair of balls bar none. You haters, Tea Baggers and twits galore, make sure to make a donation to anyone of your multimillionaire Republican FOX heroes on the placards below- they got your working class back, right?

"The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we'll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on." -Warren Buffet

I hope so WB, but I fear the vast majority in the good ol' USA have been brainwashed and bamboozled into absolute cluelessness... This is clear- We now live in an America that is run by those who believe that this planet was created 6,000 years ago, and those scared shitless to confront them...

Monday, December 6, 2010

OK, OK... So What Was The Flight #?

Wasn't gonna get in this, perfectly willing to believe the non official explanation, no problem-
Even though you got equal numbers of "experts" on either side detailing why it was a missile/airliner.

It's not a missile, it's not a missile, it's not a missile!

Perfectly easy to (dis)prove.
Right... NORAD, Pentagon, FAA?*

*So... What Was The Flight #!??
("Official Source" only, please)

Cartoon Reality

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lost In Time

Was it '90, '93? Even during peak tourist season, Versailles is a place where time is almost transparent, those powdered wigs and minuets still linger uneasily within its finely manicured grounds. Funny thing about time (at least as we understand it), one day you're drinking brews with your buds, the next, it's twenty, thirty years down the line and (if you're one of "the lucky ones") you find yourself doing whatever it is you happen to be doing. 

Someone once asked Miguel Pinero (a compatriot of mine who lived a much harder life, and frequently rose to much greater heights) how he'd like to be remembered, and he replied something to the effect that once they got past his life, he just wanted people to read his stuff and say, "Ya know, that motherfucker could write!" I long ago abandoned any idea of fame and fortune, but I'm still not past the occasional daydream where a few of my images somehow, someway survive to the end of the century and unto someone's hand or screen, and with a wry smile on his or her face, some future denizen of this planet proclaims "This fucker had an eye." 

Hey- it's my daydream.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Finally- Someone Steps Up!

Jesus H. Christ!

He could have been one of the greatest Presidents we ever had, he should have been the greatest President we ever had. Of course, he would've been capped for his effort...

But we don't have to worry about that quite as much now, do we? This super intelligent, super articulate, super suave and handsome first black President of the US ever has been way too busy compromising, capitulating and, in short, embarrassing himself (and all who ever came to believe in him) every chance possible this way of Kansas and back. This much hallowed Constitutional Scholar couldn't even pick up the ball long enough to make a decent Presidential Pardon of historical, noteworthy significance even when left to his very lonesome!

Jesus H. Christ- Jesus H. Christ.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Before It's Just A Memory

Much as I admire Richard Misrach's Destroy This Memory (and the cause), recently I've had to ask myself just what is accomplished making the book so damn... BIG. I mean yes, it's amazing getting quality that good from a camera that small, point taken, but the book is so clumsy, I'd end up wanting to pick it up (and look at it) less. And, no surprise here, bigger means more expensive. The latter being the other reason I have yet to get a copy, much as I'd like. Here's hoping they release a smaller, handier, more affordable version...

I would think making more affordably priced books would be paramount in these times- particularly if one wants to sell them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hope Springs...

With all the emerging (art) photographers being born, entering puberty and turning pro, and all the technology and equipment I can't even dream of affording... false as it may be, these guys give me hope. And even if it doesn't spread out far and wide enough to encompass yours truly in some small and concrete way- they do provide an amazing amount of inspiration whatever your age, occupation or tribulation.

Lee Friedlander was never a favorite photographer of mine, liked him well enough mind ya (and always thought he'd benefit from a much tighter edit- still do), but it wasn't till Sticks and Stones followed by America By Car that I really became a true believer... Most artists (incl photographers) at his age are producing tired, second rate versions of former glories, regurgitating originals into yet another thinning anthology, or reanimating whatever unseen mold and mildew they might happen to scrounge at their leisure. This guy literally took the saying to heart and really did leave the best for last!

Jason Eskanazi is by far my favorite photographer/museum guard bar none, and Wonderland, my favorite small photography book of all time!

And Julio Mitchel is now ready to represent in a major way after many a year of working tenaciously in the shadows...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

China: The Past Is A Foreign Country

 Christian Als

The subjects of the last two posts involving Asian Americans were both made and found on the same day. Getting both ready to post, I stumbled upon 100 Eyes' current online issue featuring modern day China through the eyes of quite a few photographers- some truly excellent stuff there!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Portrait Of Lee

 Saw this guy lying at my feet awaiting a light- quite the handsome chap!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Some Settling Of Contents May Occur...

We'll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We'll insert a strip of Jewish settlement in between the Palestinians, and then another strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart.    -Ariel Sharon, 1973

Saturday, November 27, 2010

That's A Fact, Jack!

To say that Julian Assange better watch his back is the understatement of the decade, if not the century. This guy puts his very life on the line to get the truth out- and how many people give a flying...? With Wikileaks soon to be latest release of The Embassy Files, he's gonna have a lot more to worry about than a smear campaign and a lawsuit.

UPDATE: The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Animal Mutilations

Paranormal TV - Cattle Mutilations
Uploaded by paranormaltv. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online.

What better time than the Thanksgiving excretory process to talk about ... animal mutilations. Here are the facts:

1)  It's a worldwide phenomenon affecting cattle, horses and sheep- and it's been happening for decades.
2)  Organs (eg- udders, tongues, sexual organs) are removed with absolute surgical precision (anuses are cored out).
3)  Usually, there is no blood found around or within the animal.
4)  No teeth, claw or tear marks- and predators do not feed on the remains.
5)  Often there is an impact crater beneath the carcass, or it has broken legs (as if dropped from a great height).
6)  Satanic cults are often blamed, but to date- no arrests have been made.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

From the unapproved, unlisted, not quite worthy, sometime photography blog of an unrepresented, unexhibited, unpublished, sometime photographer...

 How long will our planet continue to embrace us?

Hope yours is a happy one- and you need not remind me that I'm luckier and more fortunate than the great majority of folks on this sinking blue marble of pain and suffering. The insanity of this earthly life is, of course, that the better we treat that majority, the better we would all be. But we never do seem to learn- not then, or now, or when left to our own devices, ever...

Latter generations are fond of blaming  Baby Boomers for much of our current day woes. And rightfully so. We took things to the very edge... and instead of completing said task, we stopped full short and dived headlong into the very financial comfort zone we so thoroughly vowed to annihilate. We truly deserve your wrath- but don't stop there. It wasn't just a generation that failed you, it's an entire species that fails with every chance given. No better example than the very short glimpse of human history I've been allowed thus far.

Our earth is crying out every which way it knows how that our last chance has already set sail. Glaciers and "lesser" animal species are disappearing, our oceans are fished out and on the verge of becoming a veritable global cesspool. And can't wait till the methane hits the fan in earnest.

So, young-uns, this is the legacy you've inherited...what kinda apps you got?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

They Hate Us Because...

Of our freedoms? 

We could start with the fact that there are  373 American military bases throughout the world. And the majority of those bases are not defending our freedoms, and certainly not the freedoms of those whose land they occupy. They are however, very much defending the rights and privileges of our major corporations and financial interests that use their particular territory however they see fit, usually to the detriment and repression of the indigenous peoples who are being occupied.

Common sense to those who possess it, traitorous heresy to those with a flag up their butt.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Last Conquistador (of The Art World)

He sort of ravaged the countryside,” says one organizer, before pointing to a model on display: “But look at the detail in this: isn’t that beautiful?”

Try as you might, long as you like- you really won't find a better one sentence summation of the relation  between the power brokers of the art world, and the medium itself! The Last Conquistador centers on the larger than life creation by artist/sculptor John Houser of the 16th-century Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate. Like most Spanish conquistadors of the era,  El gran hombre de Oñate had a not so secret penchant for the wholesale slaughter and enslavement of indigenous peoples. His particular trademark was chopping off a foot from every Indian male capable of active resistance. But hey, that was a different era Mr. Houser fondly reminds us, and I guess it would be kinda petty, to hold such a centuries old grudge. Mr. Houser also sculpted a bust of Jaime Bermúdez (the founder of the maquila industry). Can this guy pick 'em, or what?

The film gives voice to the great divide that has existed for centuries between lighter skinned, wanna be white Hispanics and their "social lessers," the darker skinned, Indian and mixed race peoples of these Americas, who for some reason just can't seem to shake their world view of being the subjects of a brutal history of oppression to this very day. And while both sides passionately enunciate their opposing views, Mr. Houser finally reaches a moment of enlightenment where he actually begins to perceive how his own messianic hardheadedness has served to further perpetuate that history- before managing to conveniently complete his 360 in time for the great unveiling. Far above the fray, the the ruling WASP enclave parties through it all, carefree and (intentionally) oblivious as ever...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Way Back Home

This will serve the perfect antidote to cleanse oneself from yesterday's abysmal dive into the netherworld. Filmed in Scotland (I'll take the rugged Scottish/Irish terrain over any tropical paradise)- if I could ride my bike like this, wouldn't need a camera to make me happy...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Out My Window

Interactive Views from the Global Highrise- A 360 Documentary by Katerina Cizek

Love the concept and the visuals ... unfortunately, think most come up short on the content end. That said, hope this continues to grow and improve...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Deep Sleep

Photo: Vanessa Winship

I never heard of online photo mag Deep Sleep until I received their email, and the current issue is well worth a look, if only to reacquaint oneself with Vanessa Winship. Much as I like her portraits, it's her reportage that never loses it for me. This is the kind of photography that has always inspired me, not because it's "street photography" (hell, it's more landscape than anything), but because it's every bit as mystical, gritty and beautiful as the land and culture she immortalizes. And she accomplishes that magical lyricism not with wall sized prints, Hollywood sized production ensembles or the very latest technological innovations, but with the most basic of photographic tools- yesterday's hand held film camera, and a remarkably astute and attuned eye.

 Photo: Vanessa Winship

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

David Taylor- Working The Line

I made all too brief mention of David Taylor's Working The Line before, but last week I finally got to see the actual book- and it is most definitely on the must get list. The photographs and text  give a vivid  accounting of this age old desert terrain, its rapidly altering function and landscape, and the varied activities meant to track and control the transient population that traverses it time and time again. The reproductions are top notch, and if that wasn't enough, the book itself is contained in a hardcover sleeve that also holds an accordion configured booklet that is printed on both sides of heavy stock paper depicting a wonderfully captivating typology of the small obelisk shaped border markers that line the US-Mexico border. Worth every penny and more...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers." -DS

David Stockman was the guy who first helped institute the shell game of an economic policy that Republicans first "revitalized" our country with under Reagan, who had soundly defeated Carter for trying to balance a budget the old fashioned way, using real, as opposed to imaginary dollars and cents. Now he's back in the news saying that it's that exact Republican philosophy of economics (with a steroid chaser) that is running the country directly to hell in a handbasket. Maybe that's what he was also hinting at some thirty years ago?

Last week I went to see Matt Taibbi talk about his new book Griftopia, which is chock full of amusing and amazing tales of just how our financial institutions have so thoroughly and enthusiastically defrauded our government, and uhhh... its citizenry. And he actually does have some idea of what's going on with all these numbers. Or, as he so eloquently put in after months of trying to make sense of such a complex issue and then struggling to condense it into one gracefully petite passage- "It's like if the banks were selling you oregano, and calling it weed."

And for a more "animated" explanation of the deep doo we've been dropped in (and why)- there's always...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Workshop Du Jour...

Travel Photographer has an informative and useful take on photo workshops. And Duckrabbit highlights one in which David White (in the comments section) reflects on what may very well be the highlight- if not the overall theme.

Ode To A Teabagger...

The Teabagger gets up at 6:00 a.m. to prepare his morning pot of tea. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards.
He takes his daily psychotropic medication with his first swallow of tea.  His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised. All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employer's (FOX News) medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance reform, now The Teabagger gets it too .
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. The Teabagger's bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
The Teabagger takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents, because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
The Teabagger dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree-hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
The Teabagger begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, sick days, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. The Teabagger's employer accepts these standards, because The Teabagger's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union.
If The Teabagger is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check, because some liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
It's noontime.* The Teabagger needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. The Teabagger's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect The Teabagger's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.
The Teabagger has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that The Teabagger and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.
The Teabagger is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dad's; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards.
He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration, because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republicans would still be sitting in the dark)
He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension, because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so The Teabagger wouldn't have to.
After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home. He turns on a radio talk show, the host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good (He doesn't tell The Teabagger that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit The Teabagger enjoys throughout his day).
The Teabagger agrees, "We don't need those big government liberals ruining our lives."
(Internet forward. Posted at
and lots of other places, but origin obscure.)

* She or he also has a guaranteed lunch break, OT and a minimum wage because of a ....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Guilty As Scripted

I strongly urge you to watch Frontline's The Confessions in its entirety. Four completely innocent men  (The Norfolk Four) are made not only to confess to murder and rape- but to actually provide very detailed, vivid, and lurid accounts of how they each "committed" their supposed crimes. This is what the word haunting was originally meant to convey.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

PBS- The Petroleum Broadcasting System

PBS has reached an all time low with their new Chevron commercials featuring proud, super enthusiastic, real live Africans (why would they possibly lie?) extolling the virtues of Chevron and the untold, unheralded opportunities they will provide both their people and their native land. And who should you be to deny them?

                                                                                                          Jane Hahn for The New York Times

Truly, truly nauseating- especially if you're already aware of the living conditions Nigerians must endure daily beside the Shell and Exxon refineries that have raped, plundered and decimated their environment while pocketing every penny of profit and sending in military to silence and kill anyone who dares protest.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Non WIRED, Non Approved ...

True to long standing tradition, Reciprocity Failure was yet again shunned from an "approved" photography blog list du jour. Maybe its the politics, the UFOs, the "editorial policy," or all three.

So instead of thanking whoever for putting me on their list- as always, thank you one and all for coming by and checking in.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Rule Of?

This is why whenever someone serves up the line that what separates us from your average, everyday banana republic is our inherent respect and abidance to the rule of law- I just gotta stop myself from yet another spit take. And this, in the same week when a cop received less than two years for shooting and killing an unarmed, handcuffed civilian at point blank range.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

KickStart Your Project...

Have a project that needs funding? Didn't quite get that grant? Well... you could try KickStarter. It's worked for a couple of folks* and seems like a very viable alternative- where you at least get to beg on your own terms...
*(couldn't embed video)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Did You Hear The One About...

Comedians once helped relieve the stress garnered from modern everyday life and anxiety- only occasionally poking fun of our leaders. Now we turn to them to also dissect and disseminate the daily news that is under reported, ignored or perverted beyond all manner. The court jesters have become our primary, de facto fact checkers, the keepers of the truth, the very guardians of the last vestiges of American sanity.

In America, news programs are sad, sick jokes, parodies of a tradition of journalism that currently have legal license to make it up as they go along...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

SUPERMAN- No Waiting, Right Here, Right Now!

While Guggenheim's blatantly one sided Waiting For Superman espouses its perhaps well meaning, but thoroughly short sighted, naive and misleading propaganda, it's important to realize that there already is a Superman on this front. 

Jonathan Kozol is an impassioned education advocate who has devoted the entirety of his being to exposing and improving the many faults within this most failed of public institutions. Unlike most in this field, he is not interested in consolidating political or personal administrative power. Instead, he has put many a year into the type of hands on, in the field research that leaves no stone unturned in the most difficult nooks and crannies served by public education. He openly scoffs at the so called ed. experts who pompously prescribe their quick fix resolutions without addressing the multi-ton elephant in the room- de facto racism.

While some people, like former Ed Czar William Benet, openly contemplated what the country would be like without black children, Mr. Kozol contemplates what this nation would be like if it was afforded a first rate education system that served all its constituents fairly and appropriately. His books teach and inform not by theory, but by entering and examining the very homes, classrooms and lives of students, parents and teachers alike- and only then offering real life analysis and solutions.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pier 24

Finally made it to Pier 24 in San Francisco to see the current exhibit which reads like a Greatest Hits of Classic Rock: Arbus, Winogrand, Friedlander, Eggleston, the Bechers, etc (perfect for a concentrated review of 70's era photography) along with a few blasts from the distant past (eg- Evans, Frank, Man Ray, etc) and a half dozen or so contemporary, wall sized prints thrown in for good measure. The actual space is cavernous and uncrowded, ideal for meditating on the work at hand, and despite the large volume of space, the smaller 70's photographs held up just fine- it was interesting to experience how Winogrand's street scenes still had the power to draw you in with their frenetic NY energy.

The one truly negative thing about Pier 24 is that it's not open during weekends, I was fortunate to be able to go there during the week with students from my class. And will hopefully be able to return for each change of scenery.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

...You Will Hurt.

  If Only Obama Drove This Vehicle! 

Instead, we have a President who tries to negotiate and compromise with those who have openly sworn to make him a one term President, with those who routinely, enthusiastically- block, sabotage and ridicule anything and everything he has ever tried to accomplish. Smart as he is, you'd think he'd wise up and threaten to burn down the whole goddamn plantation. Instead, he promises to double his commitment to... compromise and negotiate.

As Mike Malloy asserted- they're not gonna stop until he cries out--- "Toby!"

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nan Goldin

Note: If you click on Look Inside on Amazon it shows you pages not in the book (go figure).

I just had occasion to purchase Phaidon's Nan Goldin, a small, nicely printed and thoroughly handsome little hardcover. It's the perfect entry vehicle for her photography, although of course, I've been aware of it for decades. Why I haven't been thoroughly taken in by her work all this time is hard to say- all the needed requirements are there: dramatic color, compelling compositions and social narratives.

I think my main aversion to her work was primarily my own immaturity dating back to the New Wave days of my youth in NYC. Perhaps, because many of her subjects struck me as bloody poseurs, or was I just jealous of Nan's extended family- even if everyone did look some kind of miserable. Could I be that shallow?

So it was nice to run into this book that reintroduced me to her- and at a price I could  readily afford! I don't think I'll ever fully understand why I've never been more enthusiastic about her work. To this day, I don't know- but it is curious the reasons I give are so thoroughly subjective, not aesthetic. Maybe you're not meant to jump up and down about certain work- just appreciate it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Alien Halloween...

Whether you think him charlatan or genuine (I go with the latter- if it was just about publicity, he could have certainly gone a route that would have cost him far less public ridicule and personal inconvenience), Whitley Strieber (yes, that Whitley Strieber of Communion fame) is a man with a story to tell. Several thousand of them actually, and he'll be the first to tell you he's not quite sure how many are all together real or what they all mean. But if you think his life one strictly of alien visitation, it's not. It's actually much, much weirder...

Click on the Dreamland Halloween segment on his Unknown Country website (persevere through the painfully hokey beginning and then the real fun starts)... Also check out his Journal.

PS-  For my solo journey into the land of the unexplained...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Guys- I Really Don't Have It...

To No One In Particular-

Actually, this is aimed at all the nonprofits that send me 200+ emails a week and continually bombard me with urgent (and very legitimate) requests for much needed funds. I have none. Really. I literally live check to check; and I'm 5g's in the hole.

I wish it were different, once I did have some extra spending money, a portion of which I was more than happy to send your way- those times are long gone (and not because of any wanton excess on my part- if only). I'll be working till the day I die, and will hopefully have some more to throw your way sometime in the interim. As for the immediate future, I'll continue to petition, advocate, and ride my bike- as for money...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Public School, Public Shame

Characterize the public school system in the US as a structure mired in the legacy of passive racism and you're guaranteed to elicit more than a few old fashioned beat downs- mostly from school administrators of every aspiring rank and delineation. Yet everyone knows public education has been a dead horse for decades- it's malignant stench reeks from any major city you name. The sorry aftermath of desegregation and white flight, where anyone with the money and resources removed the fruit of their loins as far from the brown swirling masses as possible. That cynical act of panicked desperation has continued for decades and has condemned generations to a bleak and often hopeless underclass that worships ignorance as a virtue and violence as its ultimate religion- whether in camo abroad, or saggin' in the hood.

Of course, ignorance does have its more amusing moments, spawning the likes of cult figures and US Senate aspirants alike who can disprove evolution by clearly demonstrating that no monkey known to mankind has ever shape shifted into human form in front of their very eyes. Unfortunately, it also begets much more serious consequences, consequences that can result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives when we believe our own misguided, unfounded rhetoric that we can literally will countries into submission. Think of what those misspent TRILLIONS would have done for education...

No, that's not to say that you can solve this, or any other problem, simply by throwing money at it. There is for absolute certainty, enough blame to go around- well beyond both teachers and teachers' unions. Kids must be made responsible for their actions, and parents should be held to some manner of account- actually, I'd take it a step further... Any person entering parenthood should be required by law to enroll in parenting classes. You have to take a test to drive a car- why shouldn't you prove competent to perform the very minimum concerning the most important societal function that any adult can possibly undertake?