Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Hand Of The Liberator

I cannot read, listen to or watch this without equal parts blinding rage and profound, overwhelming sorrow. Like most Americans who would have such depraved and grievous violence perpetrated against them, I too would want to lash out with a purifying vengeance, that in truth, would do little more than reduce me to the same level of such heinous atrocity.

This is the story of a man who has undergone such pain and injustice, and has refused to belittle himself, over and over again...

Friday, January 29, 2010


Lot's of great stuff in the new issue of Urbanautica. It's my first exposure to this online magazine/gallery, and I'll be spending considerable time perusing their inventory of photographers. Only negative- not enough photos by each photographer (seems there's a limit of six). You get groovin' (never thought I'd use that word either) on a certain photographer's work- then boom, you're shut down cold! Remedy: Link to the photographer's website...

Some Faves:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gettin' There...

We're getting there, little by little, one (high res) scan atta time. Pet Cemeteries- the greatest B&W monograph in the annals of Blurbdom- Coming This Summer (just in time to herald the coming of... The Great B&W Revival)!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Will Probably Be Found Dead In The Woods...

Of course, we all know that only non-western, uncivilized countries go about killing their own... David Kelly, scientist, servant of the state, and casualty of Iraq- thousands of miles from any desert battlefield. His autopsy results sealed for seventy years... (via TYWKIWDBI)

Suicide is a funny thing...

Post Racial America, Part...

Yeah, we've all seen the cameras that don't recognize their own race- but this is just, so much more... American!
(stolen from Welcome Back To Pottersville)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sacco, Salgado & Muellner

No- it's anything but a law firm! Just three individuals loosely involved in a somewhat aborted and partially redeemed foray into Berkeley one evening- which started out on a quest to hear Joe Sacco speak at a local bookstore. Unfortunately, when I arrived in Berkeley, I soon discovered that said bookstore was not anywhere near the immediate town hub and that Stan would have to engage a bus to get there. Already running late, I decided to abort. Incredibly, I looked to my side, and behold- an exhibition by Sebastian Salgado. Now, I had seen his work several times before, but these were the largest prints I'd ever seen of his work, some of these measuring 35x53in, and they were digital- and gorgeous! And it was quite revealing to see how this size differential affected his work when no longer reduced, limited and restricted to the confines of the printed page. At these monumental sizes, his work was free to take on and more fully express the epic themes and grandeur that his photographs so readily portray and encompass!

Then on my way home, I came upon another bookstore where I found a delightful little photo book by Nick Muellner entitled Moscow Plastic Arts. It has the world's worst reproductions printed on what looks like prematurely aged and yellowed paper that all somehow works in its favor to make one endearing little package. Curiously, the online reproductions are of considerably higher quality- a good thing, I suppose.

And although I never got to hear Joe Sacco speak about his new book Footnotes In Gaza, I did find the video below. For those not familiar with his work, Sacco is an exceptional journalist and graphic novelist. He does painstaking field research into what he writes and draws, so that his work includes the little details and histories that are so often excluded by both camera lens and news print. The end result is a much better feel for the place, the people, and ultimately the experience they have shared with him and passed on to you ...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The White Ribbon

There's a lot (a whole lot) of repressesd German and religious angst (yes, of course, that includes sexual as well) in The White Ribbon that takes place in a small pre-WWI town. Prevailing class structure is all that's holding the town together, and helping tear it apart as some very cruel and mean spirited things continue to occur in this bucolic setting. Children are also very much suspect... and victimized.

Makes ya kinda wonder what was really behind all those iconic August Sander portraits...

Photographer- Not A Terrorist!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Truth Be Told

If it's one thing that particularly infuriated me during the W years is how we allowed the most heinous acts of torture to be committed in our name, and then have them frequently described as little more than stress positions and sleep deprivation not unlike what any professional experiences during a long day at the office shackled to his computer, only to be left tossing and turning during a restless night's sleep. That is the analogy we were supposed to buy- while innocent prisoners were beaten, permanently disfigured and sometimes outright murdered...

They practiced every form of torture on my son and on many others as well. What was the result? What facts did they find? They found nothing. They learned nothing. They accomplished nothing.”

And many thanks to Prison Photography for pointing out this essential article...

Photo:  Stefan Wermuth/REUTERS

Game Over!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Greater Atlanta- Mark Steinmetz

I just got my copy of Greater Atlanta by Mark Steinmetz, photography which strikes a very personal, introspective note. And while I like it very much, I must say I was quite surprised how much it reminded me of what is supposedly complete anathema to some of your more Conscientious photo enthusiasts- B&W photography straight from the seventies! Maybe once past this dumb ass mind set we can then get on with the promised B&W Revival...

State of the Art

Even before the earthquake, I often thought time spent on photography, art, etc, somewhat obscene when so many around us lost jobs, homes and health (care) here in this country- and so many worse off elsewhere. And as much as part of me feels that just about everything should just shut down until everyone in Haiti has food, water and medical care- hell, Haiti was a major tragedy well before this earthquake. It has been since its very inception, when every major country sought to punish blacks for even thinking of standing up and fighting back. Punished through trade embargoes, forced financial debts, military occupations, and foreign based and financed coups. It was meant to be hell on earth, by everyone but the Haitian people. Funny, David Brooks failed to mention any of that.

Fortunately, most people don't frequent this site for the latest in news of any kind, and though any number of my posts on any given day might be viewed as somewhat of a "downer," the occasional update and contribution is, and will be, the very least anyone can do- this tragedy, after all, will be with them (I dare not say us) for days, months, years to come...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tragedy Made Right...

First we were told that it happened because the people made a deal with the devil. That was the hard core, hard sell version- not too many takers. Now comes this brilliant  point by point synopsis from one of our leading analytical thinkers. Fair minded, objective, sympathetic but always on the straight and narrow; share the wonder as The Right breaks it down for us in ways that even you and I can understand, courtesy of David Brooks via the NY Times. And if ya still don't get it, Matt Taibbi tranlates it into language even a NY Post aficionado would understand... Cause afterall- it really was their fault.  

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scary Shit

Some people will dismiss the following straight out of hand. It's just too damn scary. I can understand that; some people just can't go there. Others will dismiss it simply because it's too unbelievable- the stuff of wild irresponsible "conspiracy theories." That I cannot excuse.

This long standing human travesty would have been readily dismissed- had it not been so well documented- and exposed while still ongoing. This program from hell would have never seen the light of day had not its very head so fondly bragged of his exploits. And this proposed US military program against the very people they're sworn to defend never reached fruition due to direct presidential intervention! And yes, there are still others- not to mention the radiation experiments President Clinton officially apologized for...

So when Evil the likes that Nick Bryant has investigated (involving children and the powers that be) comes along, we have the options of complete and adamant denial, or healthy skepticism combined with the willingness to confront the boundaries that define our usual paradigms of common decency, humanity, and uhhh... "patriotism." And if that doesn't faze ya- just ask yourself why the FBI and CIA has had decades long involvement not in investigating these allegations, but in quashing any government investigations. 

The following testimony (A, B, C) from The Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experimentation in Wash, DC 3/15/95 also provides further insight into traumatic psychological experimentation :

Monday, January 18, 2010

Legitimate Theatre...

Lots of good stuff up on Issue #10 of Fraction Mag, particularly Phil Toledano's A New Kind Of Beauty, which seems to jump right off the page monitor with its uniquely startling artistry. Toledano's featured work, somewhat conceptual in nature, translates into pure photographic genius where the rubber hits the road. In all fairness, I guess one could argue that even photo booth portraits could yield exceptional photographs given the exceptional photogenic nature of the individuals assembled. Quite likely. But Toledano doesn't play it safe, adding yet another layer of surreal hyper reality with his theatrical studio lighting and presentation that both confronts and complements the intense physical dynamics of his subject matter.

Then I couldn't help but think of several other photographers who also infuse their own unique sense of "theatricality" into their portraiture. One is Loretta Lux. Unlike Toledano's prephotoshopped specimens, she applies her own secret potpourri of digital sorcery to successfully create her own infectious hybrid universe.

Another is Andres Serrrano. His attemps to induce the theatrical seem to more aggressively derive from his absolute desire to shock. Unfortunately, it doesn't always compensate for his lackluster lighting and composition. If you're going to go all out to shock and awe us, then master the medium that turns the trick and makes the magic. Piss Christ succeeds not because of its shock value, but because of its uniquely intrinsic beauty...

Speaking of shock value, we sure can't leave out Mr. Joel-Peter Witkin. This guy most definitely has his craft down; and while I no doubt find the occasional photo of interest (usually the "tamer" ones)- he just tries way too hard for my liking. Always trying to shock and revolt, make us queasy and uncomfortable. Always striving for the next audacious same ol' thang... sex and freaks and various parts thereof in various, never ending combinations. A bit embarrassing after a while, like Mick singing Satisfaction at 65; or Billy Joel at any age (another consummate, experienced craftsmen that'll bore ya to tears). Creeps me out for all the wrong reasons...

Last and certainly not least is the absolute king of spectacle and theatricality, none other than Mr. Les Krims himself. A guy with enough imagination for a dozen damn artists. And while I certainly don't like everything he's done (and his politics are somewhere to the right of 90 degrees), this guy can do it all and take it to places where dreams run wild- black and white or color, documentary or fabricated beyond belief. Some of his staged tableaux can be very elaborate, others as simple as his (naked) middle aged mother making chicken soup. Dark or foreboding, sexy, surreal or humorous- but rarely boring.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Amazed And Privileged

Often, I'm amazed, if not dumbfounded, by the constant exchange of money, products and services involved in this little thing called photography. The maddening escalation that occurred in the scramble from 3 to 6, 6 to 10, 10 to 12, 12 to 20+ megapixels; the ongoing demand for superior printers, papers, inks and all the never ending array of computer hardware and software. The exploding profusion of highly specialized DSLR's, micro 4/3rd's, and point and shoots of every size and function for every conceivable assignment and occasion.

At times like this, when so many have died and continue to die by the thousands in the streets of Haiti from broken limbs, infections and bare lack of necessities that could be quickly treated anywhere else- it gives us all time to pause, take stock, and remind ourselves just how incredibly fortunate, and perhaps, self absorbed we truly are. Bad as things have been of late, and it has been just that for many of us, most of us don't even rate on their misery scale- not even close. Yes, time to take stock... And for me to stop preaching.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Please, Let This Not Be True...

Back when the US of A was hot and heavy with blood lust to quench our thirst for vengeance and cheap oil, one of the few authoritative voices against that madness belonged to former UN Weapons Inspector, and gung ho Marine and Republican, Scott Ritter. For his efforts to explain the lies and madness surrounding that still continuing debacle he was quickly marginalized and silenced by corporate media, and ultimately accused of being a child molester.

Now it seems, he may have, in fact, been caught in the act. And while this does not invalidate any of what he said and did as far as that illegal, unnecessary war, if true, this would be one truly sad, despairing event. I sincerely hope it is not...

Friday, January 15, 2010

FOX Non-News Network

With all the suffering of late, "art" can take a back seat for a day or two. And only one person anywhere has made mention of a very real possibility that is most likely starting to rear its ugly head as we speak...

And while changing the topic (but not the outrage), we go to something I should have posted quite some time ago... This is going up simply for posterity's sake, cause this is the kind of thing that just sucks the air right out of you, kicks you in the groin and then ridicules you for being in pain. And it's all a perfectly legal travesty of justice...  Both videos are well worth the look!

Even the former World Wrestling Federation had enough "humility" to change its official nomenclature to World Wrestling Entertainment.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

And I Thought He Was Dead...

Don't know if an entire nation can make a pact with Satan, but I'm betting that individual to his right knows a thing or two about making such deals...

Monsanto GMO Corn = Organ Failure!

Wow! I'm completely taken aback, nonplussed, flabbergasted even... Who would've thought?!?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The B&W And Color Of It

It's no secret that Benjamin Chesterton at Duckrabbit* has been prone to pointing out how every news item and photo essay out of Africa seems to border somewhere between the horrific and the apocalyptic, and the vast majority of it (unlike in other "happier" places in the world) depicted in the solemn, autumnal tones of black and white- as if its the official legal tender of The Bad News Africa Corps.

It's an observation worth noting. Being a B&W aficionado, I strive to search out whatever quality B&W remains in a world long dominated by color photography both in the art and reportage categories. But if you negate all the Nat Geo animal takes, a lot of the color in Sub-Saharan Africa seems to dissipate out of the world wide news media. No, I'm certainly not insinuating international conspiracy, or underlying shades of racism, but it's an interesting little factoid nonetheless. Is B&W intrinsically more somber and therefore the medium of choice for such "serious" reportage that depicts suffering and strife? Do "less developed" parts of the world somehow lend themselves to the absence of color for more accurate description? Would color only serve to accentuate the grim realities that already seem to dominate? Would more coverage of upbeat subject matter from the area also see a rise in the use of color?

Despite my personal preference for B&W, I have to ask myself what kind of effect (subtle as it may be) this has on the general public's mindset when the world in general is primarily depicted in living color, and this other geographic area, this area called Africa, as vast and varied in its topography and population as it may be, is predominantly displayed in shades of grey.

All those thoughts came racing to mind upon viewing Cedric Gerbehaye's work at LENS blog. It's truly exceptional, and looking at it, one clearly "gets it" as to why B&W best suits his style and message. Mr. Gerbehaye has received many honors and awards in his career, and most likely will continue to do so. He is to be commended for providing testament to "the forgotten war” that has already cost millions of lives and shows little sign of abating. His images cover the gamut of players affected and traumatized by that ongoing conflict, and do so with an eye and sensitivity that are both brutally honest and aesthetically captivating.

It is his continued coverage and commitment that can add both depth and understanding to this godforsaken situation- and hopefully keep it in the public’s mind long enough for it to take notice and address before moving on to the next “distraction.” If anything will provide a more accurate and nuanced view of the subject matter at hand, it is the dedication and insight provided by long term commitments. Hopefully, Mr. Gerbehaye will live to chronicle the region and its inhabitants well past this current crisis, long enough to maybe even document some smiling faces- in color...

PS- Contrast this outstanding work with the subtle colors that define the grandeur of Nadav Kander's work in China! Superlatives truly fail both bodies of work. Would each work as well if we interchanged mediums? Is color just best suited for that which depicts hope and change, with B&W relegated to depression's backdoor- the gateway to "The Dark Continent?"

*Addendum- One thing Mr. Chesterton is also apt to remind anyone (and which I glaringly omitted) is the importance of giving voice to survivors by letting them have their say, no matter the medium, or the conflict. It's one of the most important ways we can begin to personalize and see them as fellow human beings with lives not unlike our own- and not as the most recent addition of anonymous victims.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Waking Up!

Stole this excellent follow up video to yesterday's post on Gen. Smedley Butler directly from Welcome Back To Pottersville, who took my little intro and went all out opus. Which is exactly why I find myself in Pottersville as often as I do- it's always worth the trip.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

War Is A Racket- Gen. Smedley Butler USMC 1935

"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives."

"A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war."

BTW- Smedley, recipient of two Congressional Medals of Honor, was the most decorated officer of his time and was the person who reported to his then Commander-in-Chief Franklin Delano Roosevelt that there was a military coup being plotted against him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

70 + 63 + 60 = 100% FOX

Why I Shouldn't Drink

So, I'm  patiently waiting my turn right outside the loo, since all of both toilets are occupied, and this asshole with a cigarette dangling from his mouth walks right past me and walks in just as one guy happens to walk out.  I immediately follow as the second guy walks out and  mutter "Asshole" as I walk past, hoping he's gonna say something, anything- but he doesn't. He's younger and bigger, but my three pints are feeling pretty damn good. Another lost opportunity to get my ass kicked...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Myca of Twin Peaks

I've really come to admire and respect coyotes, scrappy critters who learn to make do, wherever, however- like right here in San Francisco (and they're kinda cute)...

Thursday, January 7, 2010


(via Boingboing)

Why Do I Even Try?

Just went through computer hell once more... Got me a nice trackball mouse to relieve the impending carpal tunnel in my right hand- and my keyboard wouldn't work! Tried to connect, reconnect, restart, reboot, over and over and over again. In desperation, reconnected the old mouse once more- and then it no longer worked! Reconnect, restart, reboot... Called them up and they're closed.

Next day and several frustrating phone calls to India later, I finally received redemption and got the old mouse working again. The new mouse goes back to the jungle of Amazon. So I'm back on track to post editing my scans for my Blurb book- which I may or may not be able to open with my right hand when completed...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mice On My Mind...

The Good News- I slightly surpassed my minimum goal of twenty completed print worthy scans by year's end. And post editing scans from silver based negs mean you have to clone each and every microscopic scratch and dust mark individually (since digital ICE won't fit the bill) before you get on to the real deal. The Bad News: pre carpal tunnel sydrome of my right hand- it hurt! Not so much the arm/wrist, as the finger/knuckle area.

Now, a guy who uses a Nikon FG is not exactly someone versed in cutting edge technology; nevertheless, I did some research, read some commentary, and without actually trying any of them out, chose the one I imagined myself least likely to scream at in pure and utter frustration. First, there was The Alleviator thing (yipes!), then the Touchpad fellows, nice, but they seemed somewhat fragile and perhaps not as accurate or responsive. Next were the vertical guys, but some said they could move when you clicked (the last thing you want when cloning) and scrolling could be an issue. For out and out pick of the litter, this seemed the guy to beat- and had the price to match. I then proceeded to the Trackball family- this butt ugly odd ball was really comfortable in the hand and the only one I tried on at a store (without actually operating), has same scrolling issues, and questioned whether cloning would be as accurate using your thumb. So I ended up with this guy, and hoping for the best (at least it looks cool)...

But if I had to pick the All Time Loser Winner when it comes to mousedom... well, here she is, in all her "significally" mesmerizing, hippie, cheap porno allure:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Denis Diderot

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. -Diderot   (inspired by Mike Malloy's reflections on Rachel Maddow's recent reporting)

Feds Sabotage Selves To Let Blackwater Murderers Loose...

This judge's decision finally all makes sense- instead of using the plethora of untainted evidence available, the federal prosecutors very purposely sabotaged their own case against these vile, murdering bastards...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Flash Forward/Backward 2010 Competition

The Magenta Foundation's Flash Forward 2010 Emerging Photographer Competition  submissions deadline has  been extended. So has its age limitation (34 yr. olds)... C'mon Canada- you're better than that! As the smarter, gentler cous' to the US of A- you should be leading the way in sensible reform, instead of antiquated restrictions...

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Just in case you missed in all the holiday hubbub...  (via boingboing)

Muzorama from Muzorama Team on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

That Time Of Year...

When (a) I start looking for the ultimate discarded Christmas tree photo (have yet to come even close on that account), and (b) sweat and wonder to a point of near panic as to when I'll take the first decent photo of anything in the brand new year...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Pet Peeve of the Past... Decades

Yeah, Happy New Year... This is one well deserved REPOST, since nothing has changed and it continues to hinder and frustrate without reason or end in sight. And I have yet to see such an obvious, blatant problem addressed anywhere (and it looks a thousand times worse in color)...