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-  J├╝rgen 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!