Thursday, March 31, 2011

Moral- Take Photos...

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered, "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."

The Power Of One- Elissa Montanti

I've often posted on photographers who make me embarrassed and ashamed to even occasionally refer to myself as one... Then there are those people on this earth like Elissa Montanti who make me ashamed to even consider myself as any kind of responsible, compassionate human being.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Girl Ascending

Had the pleasure of seeing Melissa Ann Pinney's Girl Ascending, replete with its gorgeous reproductions. There's a lot of Larry Fink in these images, with their stolen moments and fleeting glances set amidst the trappings of aspiring high society- without his artful tricks of light. There's also a lot of the direct intimacy found in the photography of Jock Sturges- without the "naked' sexual tension. What you do get are very revealing, very intimate, very beautiful images that capture both the public rituals and private moments of reflection that mark and define this period of discovery in a girl's transition into womanhood- images that practically place you there.

How often does that happen? Most times I am acutely aware that I am viewing a photograph, an object- whether I'm leaning in to observe detail, or leaning back to enjoy and take it all in. Not that that's particularly good or bad- just a given. Many of Pinney's images however, like most good films, allow one to ignore that physical barrier and view them as if... actually witnessing them! And that's pretty impressive- no matter how you look at it.

Photo: Melissa Ann Pinney

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Baby I'm Amazed...

Now I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes have trouble telling my plutonium, uranium and cesium apart. Truth is, I really do try to put as much distance between them and me as possible on a daily basis. Don't much care for the whole freakin' lot.

So let me see if I got this anywhere near right... Men pour water on broken, crippled reactors (that had actually exploded to some unknown degree) because the water that cooled them down had escaped. Then when this water, whose purpose was to come into contact with said nuclear fuel rods to cool them the fuck down, in turn leaks out, nuclear engineers are shocked- shocked I tell you, gobsmacked beyond tarnation, that said water in turn has also become... radioactive!?!

This is is the manner of foresight, planning and training that permeates the world's most safety conscious and highly regulated, high tech energy industry in the world? Really? Seriously?


The "change" I've come to expect...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Robert Lyons- Intimate Revelations

I recently had occasion to listen to Robert Lyons speak and was most taken by his Intimate Enemy photo essay on the Rwandan genocide. They're stark, striking portraits, and I liked his approach of not immediately identifying killer from survivor (certainly proved me wrong- repeatedly), further expanding the "banality of evil" viewpoint (although, in this case, it is also not without its own inherent, unintended consequence).*

But it does cause one to stop, think and ponder on the insanity that betook this nation, an insanity that throughout the latter century (and well into this one) has well proven to lurk within each and everyone of us regardless of race, creed, color or sex.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I suppose if one does this long enough, you're bound to "collect" a few of these- images that were incorrectly exposed or developed, subject to accident, acts of god... whatever. In this case, the negative (shot circa '01) looks like it was trampled underfoot, don't know what the hell happened to it, except... it's scratched up hellabad! The "good news" is that I was finally able to clean it up enough to make a decent low res jpg so one can get a good idea of how it should look- but to get a decent print from it is going to take a helluva lot more than I can currently muster on Elements 6. Should be able to complete when my Lifetime Achievement Award kicks in...


There are 145 million lbs. of spent nuclear fuel in 77 locations in the USA alone- 44 million additional lbs. are produced each year. Much of it is stored in casks that can last 100+ yrs- the waste remains deadly for tens of thousands...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Walmart Hall Of Shame

The Fukushima 50, And Beyond...

(AP Photo/Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency)

As the bastards who design, finance and propagate these technological wonders of mass death continue to live happy, healthy and... wealthy lives, it's always the nameless worker bees who must come in and sacrifice their own lives to save ours and... theirs.

And long after those murderous bastards are long gone and dead, there'll still be this little problem we have yet to confront in any meaningful way whatsoever- a life and death decision that will be very much with us for thousands of years to come...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Anniversary

In this age when the minuscule sliver of remaining unions are being attacked by every monied business interest in these somewhat United States- here's but another small reminder as to why these worker inspired organizations are so critical to us now, and well into our future...

PS- And do I really have to remind anyone that the only reason we have: lunch breaks, OT, minimum wage, sick time, a weekend, etc is because of... unions.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Time Out...

People are homeless en masse in Japan, Haiti (who would have imagined those two in one sentence) and lord knows there are enough right here at home- and probably yours. People fighting tyrants for their very lives all over the Middle East. Thank god for the helpful eye photography allows us all, but I'm gonna break today, take a cue from Paul Graham, and dwell on a meditation page or two.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thomas Kern- Drug Free Land

 Photo: Thomas Kern

I haven't seen the actual book, but if the rest of A Drug Free Land is anything like what's depicted here... it's a must get- although at that price it's gonna have to wait some. I know it's all a matter of personal taste, etc, but this is something like what I would have hoped for from the likes of a Paul Graham- 'cept in color, natch. Good interview here! (via American Suburb X)  

PS- Who needs a "B&W Revival" when work this good is still being made right now? What? Looks like stuff from the '70s? If that constitutes legit criticism, then most present day color looks like the '80s- and Paul Graham is god... or Ryan McGinley.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FOX- America's Leading News Team (ordering breakfast)

TIME, Truth & Aristide

After a forced seven year exile, former President Aristide returned to Haiti over the weekend after being kidnapped and removed from power in a US led coup. Meanwhile TIME (in one of the most biased articles anywhere since... TIME's cover story asserting that only American troops could prevent violence against Afghani women) thought this a bad idea. Of course, one need just compare the article from the London Review of Books with the whitewash flight of fantasy from TIME- it doesn't take long to decipher which is first rate journalism, and which is a first rate hack job.

Tim Padgett asserts that although "the US may have performed less than admirably during his overthrow, Haiti 2004 was hardly Chile 73..." You're so right Mr. Padgett- in Chile, the US backed and supported Pinochet from the sidelines; in Haiti, the CIA and covert US military directly "escorted" President Aristide from his home, to unmarked plane, to destination unknown. Whatever his faults, Aristede was someone who actually placed Haitians first; for that, the US did everything they could to covertly sabotage his presidency, and when that wasn't enough, they literally executed a home invasion and kidnapped his entire family.

Bush & Co. didn't even bother with the usual ruse of having the natives perform the dirty deed of removal (no need there- there's no white ruling class to offend).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lizzy Oppenheimer- Rest Stops

 Photo: Lizzy Oppenheimer

I love these! So simple and direct in their execution, so exquisite in their presentation, they remind me of my own travails throughout the American West, complete with that all too fleeting sense of freedom and empowerment one gets while driving hundreds of miles not knowing where one will spend the night, or the next. Each morning filled with the expectation and promise of good things to come in that first hundred miles, or the hundred after. New things to see and experience, to photograph and remember as we trudge through the remainder of our lives...

Photo: Lizzy Oppenheimer

These photographs bring it home for me, and hope Ms. Oppenheimer gets her Kickstarter* funded!
*FWIW- A brief explanation is sufficient- droning on endlessly does not enhance the experience. Let the work speak for itself, it does so handsomely.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Radiation Is Good For You!!!

Someone please strap this BITCH unto any one of the cracks in those leaking reactors and do mankind (and herself) a favor! Okay, so much for the emotional response on my part, perhaps playing into the very reaction she wants to illicit. So let's go for the grown up take- Why isn't she reporting this "finding" live from the accident site to prove the "theory" correct? That will in turn allow me and countless others to apologetically kneel down and worship her as the goddess she so frightfully believes she is.

Well, Stan- no one takes this seriously. Point is, she's allowed to spew her twisted, vitriolic nonsense on commercial TV on whatever topic, as if she actually knows what the hell she's talking about, while fact and common sense remains persona non grata...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bachmann Homeschool Overdrive

One of the the primary accusations against immigrants has always been that they know nothing of our country, its culture, or its history...     (BTW- she's running for, uh... President)

Obama Complicit In Prisoner Abuse

No, you won't find that headline even on FOX- but this NY Times editorial on Bradley Manning and this (former) State Department spokesman  is as close as we're gonna get to any official proclamation of the obvious (meanwhile, Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition continue to the day).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Jürgen Nefzger- Fluffy Clouds

 Photo:  Jürgen Nefzger

Fluffy Clouds by Jürgen Nefzger is my third "photography" book (not incl a couple on Chernobyl) that surveys our nuclear landscape. One was American Ground Zero by Carole Gallagher, the other Nuclear Landscapes by Peter Goin. Both of the latter are serious inquiries into the history and consequences of America's atomic and thermonuclear weapons program(s) on the land, and its people.

Unlike them, Fluffy Clouds concentrates on... landscape photography, and how the nuclear power plants, cooling towers and steam ("fluffy clouds") they emit are incorporated into the European landscape.* Some are barely visible in the background (out of sight, out of mind), others dominate the picture area, still others are "hidden" in plain sight. And the photographs are indeed beautiful- serene, large format, idyllic. One plant (decommissioned) is directly on the grounds of a children's amusement park, the cooling tower festively painted and apparently open to visitors. The scariest ones however are those active and located directly beside towns, homes, farms. They seem as ubiquitous and "natural" as the trees, shopping malls and rivers that surround them.

But despite the prevailing scenic beauty, Mr. Nefzger does not leave us without a visual word to the wise. The very first photograph is a beachfront vista with a rather ominous warning sign: Radioactive particles are being found on the beaches at sandside. It imparts a distinct feeling of unease throughout the book; a very subtle, yet very direct reminder that what you can't see can kill you.
*Note: This was written before the Japanese catastrophe.

Photo:  Jürgen Nefzger

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not To Worry- Can't Possibly Ever Happen Here...

There are 23 reactors in the United States that are identical or close to identical to the first Fukushima reactor.

While the propaganda arm of the nuclear industry bestow their blessings and reassurances of safety on the US public (notice the zero representation of any contradictory opinion on corporate media), one question remains- do you think Japanese construction quality is better or worse than good ol' cost cutting Yankee ingenuity? Hint: Think Japanese v American car quality in the 70's when many a nuke plant was made.

Anyway, if you're not already scared shitless for the safety of you and yours- try this on for size:

The reactor that got me involved in this issue, in southwest Michigan, Palisades nuclear power plant, has been storing its high-level radioactive waste in outdoor silos of concrete and steel on the beach of Lake Michigan, a hundred yards from the water, in violation of NRC earthquake regulations since 1993. An NRC whistleblower in Chicago called attention to this problem in 1994. Nothing’s been done. There are two dozen containers, dry casks, of high-level radioactive waste next to the drinking water supply for 40 million people downstream in the U.S. and Canada, in violation of NRC earthquake regulations.

...Well, at Fermi 2 in Michigan, again, the same exact design as the Fukushima Daiichi unit 1, the emergency diesel generators in the year 2006 were discovered to have not been operable for 20 years. From 1986 to 2006, the emergency diesel generators at Fermi 2 in Michigan would not have operated if called upon. So, thank God that they were not needed during that 20-year period of time, or we could have lost Detroit, or we could have lost Toledo, or we could have lost Windsor, Ontario. That’s the level of safety with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the industry in this country.   --Kevin Kamps

Feeling reassured yet? For the rest of this rather enlightening info...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Friendly Atom!

This major catastrophe (which has the potential for far worse, long term after effects) within a major catastrophe has once again got me to thinking about our long term ally- the "friendly atom."

It was spawned to destroy on massive scale (its one inarguable ability and "advantage"), and ever since has been unsuccessfully coerced into donning its pro life, pro user friendly guise. If only all that time, all that money, all that energy had gone into developing renewable energy sources- we'd all be a lot safer now, without this looming, potential killer operating right beside many of us, ready to strike at any moment... then keep striking for millions upon millions of years.

Even in its infancy when it was only concerned with blowing things up and "defending" us, it still managed to become a money making enterprise that had little to do with "research," while leaving its tell tale legacy of slow, and painful death. It's sheer, overindulgent overuse both rampant and obvious...   (below via grubernd, thanks)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Nuclear Tide...

For some time now, the nuclear industry here in the US has been gearing up for a comeback. Already, its propaganda arm is boasting of how "safe" our plants are in wake of the developing Japanese catastrophe. I hope, just like this wave that reached here from halfway across the world, that the word continues to spread that the nuclear industry, by its very nature, is inherently deadly- for millions of years...

Friday, March 11, 2011


Just hearing this- and we on the West Coast can commiserate. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Japan.

A Little Help, Please...

So a pig like Limbaugh can say shit like---

Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.

Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?

---directly to and about African-Americans, and the slence is deafening! Meanwhile, a charlatan, sleazebag anything but a "journalist" O'Keefe gets someone to admit the blatantly obvious- that Tea Baggers are white, racist, pseudo religious kooks, and all hell must come asunder...

And let's not forget that the only reason that ACORN was targeted, attacked and destroyed was simply because they were so successful at registering Democratic voters (the same for unions).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Life Of Protest- Chauncey Hare

Blake Andrews recently reminded me about Chauncey Hare, one of photography's great riddles, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma- a person both very much at odds with, and yet highly attuned to his fellow man. There is no doubt that he lived, breathed and practiced photography for a very intense period of his life- and yet, eventually walked away from it without looking back. A man who won three Guggenheims and never sold a print in his life- because it would have dishonored those photographed; a man who boycotted the Windows and Mirrors group show he was in at SFMOMA because of a tobacco sponsor, and in so doing, knowingly doomed any chance of his dream to teach photography. His work appears spawned from the loins of the FSA itself, and yet, his dated images still manage to remain uniquely fresh and original- and his influence can be seen even in those working in color to this day. No, they don't build 'em like that no more...

For all working people*

These photographs were made by Chauncey Hare to protest and warn against the growing domination of working people by multinational corporations and their elite owners and managers.

*(Intro to Chauncey Hare's Protest Photographs)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How Does One Apologize?

How does one apologize for killing nine boys? Sorry... We never meant to do that- I mean, you know it was an accident, right? It's not like we... did it on purpose. No, really- sorry. OK? I mean it is a war, and it's not even the first time, so let's get real, huh? Aint gonna be the last...

Remember the movie Fail Safe, when the USA accidentally nuked Moscow? Do you remember when President Henry Fonda then ordered New York City to be nuked in order to make things "even?"

That was an apology...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Proof Of Extraterrestrial Life!?!

The scientist who discovered it definitely seems to have his head screwed on right- a lot more than can be said for the certain news media reporting it... And if after all the controversy, if this is, in fact, proven to everyone's satisfaction, a good majority will still insist- oh, sure microbial life maybe, but not anything, you know, like... intelligent. That's Impossible!

Yeah, and your girlfriend's just a little bit bit pregnant.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Sign Of Spring


Or not... But a guy with a hook wearing slippers is usually some kind of good omen.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bruce Haley- SUNDER

Photos: Bruce Haley
I've posted on Bruce Haley before- one look at his photography (particularly his "gorgeous" panoramics of the most blighted, post apocalyptic landscapes imaginable) will tell you why. And while those landscapes are what I best remember, I clean forgot just how damn good his portraiture is!

And you can finally get them both in his brand new book- Sunder...  (book launch- NYC 3/4/11)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Alternate Realities...

Of course, by now "everyone" knows that the foremost "unknown" photographer of the latter twentieth century, none other than the illustrious Ms. Vivian Maier, was both nanny, as well as accomplished photographer. I was recently looking at the well researched and photographed Chernobyl The Hidden Legacy by Pierpaolo Mittica, when I was surprised to learn that he was not a professional photojournalist or documentary photographer, but a... dentist.

This got me to wandering how many other photographers out there have created substantial, indeed, exceptional bodies of work while not earning their living through photography. And no, I don't mean people who became photographers after first doing something else- that list is too long and renowned. Salgado, Meyerowitz, Rogovin immediately come to mind; and I most certainly don't mean those who don't have to do anything whatsoever to earn a living (yeah, I'm real sorry, Bill). I mean people who concurrently support themselves through jobs other than photography. I remember yet another dentist, Toby Old (glad to know at least some of them put their Leicas to good use) made some great work back in the late seventies, early eighties and more recently, Jason Eskenazi, a museum guard amongst other "trades," compiled the enchanting Wonderland.

I'm sure there are others I've missed...