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?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HereAfter

 

Hereafter has gotten considerable flack for being too slow and plodding. I think many people are going into it expecting some kind of supernatural thriller complete with floating spirits and shape shifting entities that haunt, shock and amaze us when we least expect. No, it's none of that. The opening sequence of the 2004 tsunami is indeed incredible- but that's pretty much it from the ghee whiz special effects department. No one, repeat, no one, gets Raptured unto the heavens, Armageddon does not ensue, the secrets of life and death are not revealed.

What we do get are the trials and tribulations of several people who must directly deal with tragic death and loss in their own lives and who quietly, but doggedly try to pursue some kind of meaning and understanding as best they can from an experience that has offered them a glimpse- and a lifetime's worth of questions. Questions that the movie at one point does allude to are now finally being taken up by science with some surprising, if not well publicized results.

I really liked and admired this movie- my favorite Clint Eastwood flick since his little known gem some years back called A Perfect World.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And The Winner Is...


This is totally... awesome!!! And yes, that's the first (and last) time you'll ever hear me use that Californian adjective....

But first, let's talk about the photograph. There's something kinda interesting going on with the shape of the man's shirt- almost. And there's something odd going on with the seemingly disembodied hand- almost. And there's something almost happening with the variously colored patches of grass. And the muted, pastel color palette, and what about that extraterrestrial bread loaf- and come to think of it, is he dead or alive? What does it all mean?

Put that all together and you have... one seriously overrated photo. One overrated photo deluxe that has not only been raised to the level of art, but raised to that penultimate level of A-R-T that our limited mortal mindsets cannot ever hope to understand or appreciate! A photograph that "ascends" from the depths of two of photography's laziest and most cliched beginner "genres," the sleeping student on the lawn, and/or the down and out wasted guy. Subgenre- the down and out brother. Sure, you've probably seen plenty of the latter in every visual media outlet imaginable- but rarely at the level of... Fine Art!

I've posted on Michelle Sank before, and FWIW, I happen to admire and respect much of her work. She happens to be one gifted portraitist. Hopefully, she'll take the money to produce the kind of work she's capable of, the kind that doesn't win prizes like this.  (via TOP)

Monday, October 25, 2010

SO WRONG IN EVERY WAY...


Omar A. Khadr was a severely wounded child soldier when he was captured. The civilized world tends to rehabilitate them, knowing full well that whatever heinous acts they've committed- they're systematically coerced into such action for fear of their own pubescent lives. Seems the United States of America however, chooses to: torture such children, indefinitely imprison them- and then try them for crimes against humanity!

And this is exactly why we voted Obama in... right?

UPDATE:  Injustice Served...  After having already served nine years! Disgusting!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Turn The Other Cheek And Make His Day!


Action Jesus Deluxe surrounded by his Biblical Tactical Support Team of heavily armed saints and avatars. Forget Muslims, this Holy Jesus Posse can take on Godzilla and the evil Transformers- all at once. That's right, turn the other cheek on his watch and He'll blow your freakin' ass to kingdom come- guaranteed!

Remember When We Fought The Soviets In Afghanistan?

 Remember when American political candidates were reality based? B-O-R-I-N-G!!!





Saturday, October 23, 2010

How To Pet A Kitty...


I could never get the "empathy or murder" part right with humans, let alone cats...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Falling Trains and Breaking Waves

If you're ever on the #7 elevated subway line going into Manhattan from Queens, there's a rather sharp turn the train makes after the LIC stop that almost goes into a 45 degree bank as if on a large scale, slow motion roller coaster. Everyday commuters think nothing of it as they drag their worn and weary, half wakened DNA into the big city for yet another day's bout of making a meager living. Traditionally, this is not a line frequented by Wall Street insiders, and more likely traversed by those that clean their offices and make their meals.

One day, I noticed what seemed a relative newcomer seated with a look of increasing puzzlement on her face as we began the turn in question. The look quickly transitioned into apprehension, then wide eyed terror as the turning train proceeded into its 45 degree list. Said woman jumps unto her feet, frantically waving her arms and proclaiming with absolute clarity of voice and conviction, "Quick! Everybody to one side of the car!"

Of course, she meant well. She wanted to save us all by balancing the train so we wouldn't all plunge unto the rush hour traffic well below us. First Time Tourist Single Handedly Saves Train Load Of NYC Commuters! Looking about, I was the only person other than herself who even bothered to lift our sorry, if somewhat bemused, heads...

I recall this only because the first time I visited San Francisco, I was absolutely amazed and enthralled by the billowing fog that rolled down the hills on my bus ride from the airport to the city proper. Billowing waves of fog rolling down hills as if waves of water against the seashore- and I couldn't understand how everyone else was not every bit as mesmerized. What the?

This video gives one a pretty good sense, and even though it's speeded up, when you experience it in person first hand, the effect is even more intense and surreal in real time.



The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Facing Change

If you didn't catch this via LENS, then make a habit starting now- if your interests lie in reportage from the heart. Facing Change was inspired by the work of the FSA and has a stellar line up of photographers and an equally impressive display of work already online...

Photo: David Burnett

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Carl De Keyzer- Congo (Belge)

Someone once said, "a master photographer is one who has produced exceptionally high quality work- and lots of it." Yeah, for what I make here, why shouldn't I quote myself? And Carl De Keyzer's latest work Congo (Belge) once again proves why he's exactly just that. Not quite the name, the face, or celebrity of other photographers his equal, the guy just keeps churning out monster work again, and again, and again... And perhaps equally important as the work itself- the manner in which he goes about creating it.


Of particular note- in conjunction with this latest work on the Congo, De Keyzer also researched and exhibited the pertinent historical documentation that provides the definitive context for his current foray into the modern "Heart of Darkness."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Here are the best estimates that have been hidden from the public:


AMERICAN CASUALTIES

·      US soldiers' deaths under Bush [2001-2008] in Afghanistan: 630[i]

·      US soldiers' deaths under Obama [2009-Oct. 2010] in Afghanistan: 693[ii]

·      Total US soldiers' deaths in Afghanistan: 1,323[iii]

·      Total US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan: 5,748[iv]

·      Total US contractor deaths from 09.01.01 through 09.30.10 30: 2,400[v]

·      Total US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan: 8,530[vi]

·      Total US soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan: 40,464[vii]

·      Total US contractors wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan: 44,152[viii]

·      Total US military suicides during 2001-2009: 1,985[ix]

AMERICAN CASUALTIES TAX DOLLARS SPENT

·       Direct costs/month in Iraq: $12.5 billion[x]

·       Direct costs/month in Afghanistan $16 billion[xi]

·       Total direct cost, Iraq:  $737.5 billion[xii]

·       Total direct cost, Afghanistan: $354.4 billion[xiii]

·       Total projected direct and indirect costs, Iraq: $3 trillion+[xiv]

·       Total projected direct and indirect costs, Afghanistan: $1 trillion+[xv]

[i] A. iCasualties. 12 Oct. 2010.
B. DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics. Statistical Information Analysis Division. 12. Oct. 2010.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] United States of America. Department of Defense. OIF/OND/OEF U.S. Casualty Status. 10 Oct. 2010.
[v] United States of America. Department of Labor. Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP). "Defense Base Act Summary By Employer." 12 Oct. 2010.
[vi] United States of America. Department of Defense. OIF/OND/OEF U.S. Casualty Status.
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Schooner, Steven L., and Collin D. Swan. "Contractors and the Ultimate Sacrifice." Service Contractor September 2010: 16-8. 10 Oct. 2010.
[ix] Christenson, Sig. "Military is Battling Alarming Suicide Rate." The Houston Chronicle 10 Oct. 2010.
[x] Stiglitz, Joseph, and Linda Bilmes. United States of America. House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. The True Cost of War. 3 Oct. 2010.
[xi] Ibid.
[xii] The Cost of War. National Priorities Project. 10 Oct. 2010.
[xiii] Ibid.
[xiv] "The Three Trillion Dollar War." Stiglitz, Joseph and Linda Bilmes. The Times 23 Feb. 2008: Times Online. 10 Oct. 2010.
[xv] Obama estimates $113 billion in direct costs/per year at current U.S. troop levels of 100,000. If those troop levels are halved by 2013, then the direct costs will remain over $50 billion/per year. An additional three years would therefore cost at least $200 billion more. Using the Stiglitz/Bilmes methodology for measuring indirect--accrual--costs, such as veterans' health care and benefits, interest payments, etc--would add hundreds of billions in long-term costs, making Afghanistan another $1 trillion dollar war.

*All data accurate as of October 12, 2010.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Left Coast

I moved to San Francisco about ten years ago, round about when I was 40. I had a one bedroom sublet for $850 a month in Loisaida. Many a New Yorker would have killed me on the spot just for saying that. So why did I move? Basically, I just wanted a change having lived in NY all my life; I wanted to "reinvent" myself, like Madonna- without the cheek implants. I wanted out while I still had enough change in my pocket to make the move before I too turned into some sad, old New York caricature of my former self. 

So I moved to San Francisco, something I had considered upon seeing the utterly dreamlike street scenes featured in Vertigo- not to mention the haunting panorama in On The Beach. Why not LA? Cause I'm a city boy, and for those outside the States, LA is not a city. It's a vastly over extended suburb, not unlike most US cities, an over extended extension of countless, identical strip malls. A sad excuse for a city where you have to jump in a car to do the most simple, everyday things- like getting toilet paper to wipe your own ass. And unlike that sad situation, the city famed for having a heart left within it is one of a small handful in the US which is a real life, functioning city that one can actually live and walk in.

The first thing I noticed about San Francisco were the pigeons. They look exactly like NY pigeons, except that so many more of them were literally squashed flat on the streets. Like the hippies this town is still famous for, they're so laid back they don't get out of the way of oncoming cars and therefore suffer the most obvious results. Which is particularly telling when you consider that cars actually wait for you to cross the street here. That's right! People behind the wheel see you on the corner and they actually (as in literally) wait for you to cross the street before proceeding. In New York, drivers dare you to cross the street (I still haven't let go the sneaking suspicion that I'm just being lulled into complacency here).

Another weird thing is that people sometimes walk around... smiling. You heard right- I've actually had women smile at me as they walk past here. There are only two kinds of people who walk around smiling in NYC, those who just got laid for the very first time in their life, and those who are psycho- in all their innumerable, insufferable variants.

Personally, much as I appreciate and return said smiles whenever I travel, I find it strangely reassuring that in NY, if someone doesn't know ya, they're not likely gonna smile at ya. It's an earned response, like everything else there. But in my endless quest to expand my horizons, I've learned to adapt to my new environs- the inexcusably lousy pizza and bagels however, are quite another story....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scary Shit Saturday!

Those using a cell phone before the age of twenty have five times more brain cancer by their late twenties. Actually, that's one of the least scariest findings about the ubiquitous mobile in Disconnect by Dr. Devra Davis...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Photo Books In The Age Of The Internets

 Photo: S. Banos

Like so many others, I love photography books, have quite a few, and want so many, many more. That said, I must admit I don't cherish them as I once did. And that kinda saddens me, cause I know they're objects to be treasured. Yes, I do blame the internets (why shouldn't I?) with its ever present pornocopia of photographic imagery galore. No, of course, it's not the same thing as the private, tactile experience of a good book! It's like... it's like having a not so great version of your favorite meal- but the bad version tastes just similar enough, is faster, cheaper, and ultimately ends up diminishing the experience of that once great favorite meal. OK, it's probably not like that at all, but I could give you a half dozen other lousy analogies that don't pay justice to what I'm trying to say that you already surmise anyway. Right? I mean, back in the pre-internet days, there were exhibits, and there were books- case closed. If you couldn't catch the exhibit, your only option was the book. You caressed it, studied it (religiously), learned every nook and cranny of every image, word and page alike. And up until the mid nineties, they were a much rarer commodity- now anyone proclaiming themselves photographer (incl yours truly) can put out a book.

Like countless others, I've sadly become addicted to the continuous and never ending flow of  viewing new work, like some aging, steroid enhanced Barry Bonds moving on to the next photo, the next essay, the next photographer in ever faster, pharmaceutically enhanced quickstep. New imagery, nonstop, every day... while never having stopped to truly appreciate the previous work in all its depth and nuance- and therefore shortchanging the work, the artist, and ultimately, myself. Getting to know and appreciate someone's work means spending the necessary time and making the necessary effort.* That happens less and less every year, and every decade, along with every new technological innovation specifically promising us to save us that time.

Perhaps that's why I, at least in part, have purposely chosen to remain with film. To slow the whole process down some, and actually enjoy a bit of what the hell is going on, and what the hell I'm seeing...

*not to mention seeing it in print  (via Photokaboom)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

All Fame Is Fleeting...


Back when Mark Page of Manchester Photography and I started Expiration Notice, one of my dreams (in addition to promoting emerging older photographers) was to eventually find and bring to light just some of the many photographers that inspired me back in my gallery hopping days in NYC before the almighty internet. Too much of that work and their respective makers have now slipped from memory. This (not a great scan) was but one from a series of portraits by Lee Wexler, each complete with a personal history as intriguing as the portraits themselves.

Youth take note- All fame is fleeting...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Fall Of Man 10/10/10

 

You've probably already seen this. Frankly, I'm mesmerized by it. Yes, it's tragic (he dies in the fall), and yes, in all honesty, I find it tragically hilarious- unbelievably so (quite literally).

But it is this video that tells us who, as a species, we really are. Man, the maker of tools, conqueror of our physical limitations- and absolute child to our own emotion. What's really amazing is that that guy allowed himself to live as long as he did. And yes, it may be a tad simplistic, but it's the very reason we've been forever killing ourselves in wars, sabotaging our personal relationships, in essence- constantly thinking up new ways we can destroy all of what's most important to us while we build artificial constructs to delude ourselves of our most human of tendencies.

I've read that there are some scientists who think we should have never put our address on the Voyager satellite that we sent out into the great space beyond. It may provide access to those out there who may do us harm. Had we put this video on that spacecraft, no one out there would ever mess with us- or ever let us off this planet.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Coupla Things...

I love landscapes that include cooling towers (specifically of the nuclear persuasion). They're such lovely, organic forms that complement any countryside setting. Tranquil, idyllic- and quietly terrifying all the same. Can't get enough of those iconic structures, and the serene sense of dread they so in/conspicuously provide- so knew I had to put Puffy Clouds by J├╝rgen Nefzger (featured on Conscientious) on my must get list.

Those of you interested in getting a choice photo published on the internets can try your luck at the Best Shot competition being hosted by the Texas Photographic Society in conjunction with Fraction Magazine...

Photo: John Davies- Agecroft Power Station (coal powered)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lisa Wood's Domesticated Insect Revue

If you happen to be in the LA area tonight (Gold Bug 22East Union St, Pasadena- to be exact), do drop by to see Lisa Wood's* latest creations. They're intricately detailed constructions (using real insects) and quite clever and fanciful to boot...
*("the wife," she hates it when I say that)


Insect Dioramas from Lisa Wood on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Trapped...

Photo by Bayne Stanley

Like countless others from the inner city, Rodney Watson grew up in a hood not that dissimilar from a war zone, where gangs and the military are the two major "opportunities." He's already "served his country" bravely, risking his life repeatedly in an unjust war based on lies that has killed thousands of innocent lives- many of them women and children. The "Stop-Loss" program was an inhumane abomination created to continue this war with as little involvement from the American public as possible. He would have been insane to return to Iraq to run out his odds, and can only hope he leaves his current small island of tenuous refuge ASAP- as a free man.  And as if further explanation/argument were necessary...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Capitalism: The (Christian) American Way!!!

Sure, a Socialist fire department would've saved the Cranick's house (and the three dogs and cat)- but every, and I do mean every, civilized American knows socialism is inherently evil.

And it's about time we got rid of those socialist cops, schools, highways, bridges, ambulances- and please god, when are we gonna finally privatize Social Security so we can live in the true Capitalist society that Jesus sacrificed his very life for???


Walk Towards The Light...

If you're in the northern hemisphere now, you just gotta be loving the light- that amazingly beautiful, delicate amalgam that marks this autumnal time of year... Lovely!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Have Nothing Further To Say...


Guess I'm gonna have to say it sooner or later. And fact is, right now, I really don't have a thing to say. Particularly, since...

I don't have any leads about new camera technology- actually, never will.
I don't have any leads about the latest trends in photography- actually, never will.
I don't have any personal news concerning my latest inclusion or participation in: books, festivals, public (or private) collections, gallery exhibitions, grants or awards- actually, at this point, most likely never will.

And we as a species will continue to traverse our merry road of denial until our oceans are barren, our lands conjoined deserts, and our children the refugees of a world willfully poisoned by our own wanton negligence, violence and greed.

But I'll try and think of something..

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Yes, it was Oct. 1, 2010 as I ambled through the back of Bloomingdales to get to the godawful shopping mall foodmart here in downtown San Francisco for a mediocre meal deluxe before the Friday night movie with the wife. It most certainly aint Thanksgiving, it's not even goddamn Halloween, and there before me, soon as I opened the door and walked down the stairs was every imaginable Christmas decoration on a stick with gleaming lights galore... definitely funny (sick/ha ha) shit.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blog Post #1,004

FWIW- (not counting those on this blog's previous incarnation) we made and passed #1,000 this week...


I'm paraphrasing here, but it was Arbus who once said something to the effect that sometimes she would get secretly kinky about a certain picture she took. This was said in reference to those that weren't necessarily prize winners, but nevertheless held a certain something she couldn't quite finger, and couldn't help resist...