Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gypsies, Gypsies, Gypsies...

Photo: Josef Koudelka*

I had the distinct pleasure of rediscovering Koudelka's Gypsies while in NY. What's the big deal? The new Aperture version has many more pictures from the original essay that are every bit as good aesthetically as those featured in the first edition- and as if that aint enough, the reproductions in this version are luscious, luxurious, practically extravagant (and complete with several fold outs). It really doesn't matter if you (like I) have the first edition, that was only half the essay- printed with half their tonal values (and those of you who have the original know that the latter in not an exaggeration).   *Hard to believe the above photo was excluded from the original!

Meanwhile, another book on the Roma also called Gypsies (by Patrick Cariou) is also just out and very much worthwhile. The latter is filled with wonderfully busy, gorgeously colorful compositions- and must say I like it even more than The Roma Journeys by Joakim Eskildsen.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scot Sothern Interview

Photo from Low Life by Scot Sothern

Must say, it's great to revisit Scot Sothern in Colin Pantall's entertaining and enlightening interview in Gomma. Sometimes can't help think of ol' Mr. Sothern as some separated at birth, non-patrician, Bizarro world version of W. Eggleston in black and white sans trust fund... Unfortunately, LowLife the book is only available via the UK publisher Stanley Barker.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Elizabeth Warren- Truth To Power

She's running for Senate- I hope she run's for something higher in 2016....

In the meantime, I'm just going to run the comment I posted over at TYWKIWDBI:

I live in a country where corporations are considered "persons," in a country where corporate welfare, government subsidies and the ability of the uber-rich to hide their profits in foreign banks and not pay taxes on any of it is all well and good. It is also all well and good for the citizens of this country to die a miserable death because they cannot afford routine medical attention.

Republicans have always played to their base "of the haves and the have mores," as "W" himself put it so well in one of his pathetically few moments of clarity. Ms. Warren simply points out what happens when such skewed, misguided and pernicious governance is allowed to run amuck- like starting two wars while lowering taxes.

This country has become so deluged, so inundated with the daily, childlike, ideological right wing rantings of FOX and friends, that when an adult finally has the courage and common sense to speak... common sense, they are pilloried for making sense.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

(Well) Beyond Coincidence...

Somehow, I don't think it would have looked as good with a Kindle.

I was going to write about my recent trip back home, the picture above, and my most recent reflections and revelations- not to mention that I spent sixteen and a half goddamn dollars on a pair of blintzes at Veselkas (good as they were). And blah, blah, blah... What I will tell you about however, is my final night in said city...

One of my goals in NY was to interview Mr. Alex Harsley of The 4th. St. Photo Gallery. Mr. Harsley has been at that location since 1973, showcasing many a then no name, up and coming photographer- many who have faded into oblivion, many now household photographic names. The only African American photo-gallerist in NYC then, and unbelievably enough, perhaps the singular holder to that title to this very day.

Although I did not get to interview him then in my out of the blue drop in, he did agree to do so via email- something I am very much looking forward to. But this is not so much about that, as it is about a ridiculously, near semi-miraculous occurrence that transpired right there, that night, in his gallery, upon my arrival!

Upon seeing him that night, I immediately asked him if he remembered who I was- I kept mostly to myself those early years, but lived just a few doors down from him in the early eighties. Brandishing a broad, welcoming smile, he responded, "You're the guy with the dog!" After some initial small talk, I asked, "You remember what color the dog was?" I asked this for no other good reason than that at another time, another guy had recognized me as "the guy with the dog" and recalled my dog as being large and black (not the case).

Mr. Harsley then motioned me to follow him to the storefront window of his gallery- right there, center stage, in a large B&W print was a crowded street scene of that very block taken circa 1981 with me walking my dog Bob in the foreground. Then came the clincher- in all the thirty or so years that transpired, all approx 10,950 days... he had chosen to put up that photo on the very same day I just happened to drop by to see him!

Now all you rational type people out there can tell yourselves that that's nothing more than sheer coincidence. Nothing more, nothing less. 10,950 days to pick and choose from, and he just happened to pick the day I showed up completely unannounced to put that particular photo up (out of thousands of prints). You'd have to be certified to believe that was "coincidence".

Friday, September 23, 2011

End Of Summer

"My face won't be on poster!?"

He inquired/demanded. "Not on poster, commercial or reality TV," I replied. And we both smiled. Taken 9/12/11- Greenpoint, N.Y.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Onward Christian Soldiers...

Troy Davis was legally killed yesterday, his probable innocence- a question conveniently silenced by the state. And the family whose son was killed claim they will finally now have "peace." Very reasonable doubt will not disturb their peace...

When a gunman shot ten children, killing five (before killing himself)- the Amish forgave him, attended his funeral and sent money to his widow and three children. Those are the actions of believers in Christ- that person from back in the day who said things like "Love your enemy" and "It would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven."

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

And speaking of Christians, particularly rich, lying bastards running for President and also responsible for the execution of innocent men... Rick Perry fired the commissioner of his forensics lab the day he was about to reveal that the man convicted of (and executed for) killing his two young daughters (Cameron Todd Willingham) did not, in fact, set the fire that killed them.

Cameron Todd Willingham

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Marcus Bleasdale @ The Anastasia Photo Gallery

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale

Marcus Bleasdale photos of Africa contain all the cliches so common to documentary photography of this genre- they're stark, gritty, black and white images. We see refugee camps, child soldiers, people in turmoil...

But there's also something more; some images offer glimpses of joy, community- hope. Somehow you sense that not all those pictured are doomed, there are those that will not allow themselves to succumb to their circumstances- no matter how much has been taken, no matter how little remains. They are going to survive this, humanity intact.

I have mentioned The Anastasia Photo Gallery before, who not only exhibit exemplary documentary photography, but also tie in their exhibits with support for philanthropic organizations dealing with related causes (in this case an orphanage). God knows we could use more photographers- and galleries, such as these...

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Troy Davis...

...Is scheduled to die this Wednesday even though 7 of his 9 jurors have recanted- and the other two are suspect...    
UPDATE: Clemency Denied!

Monday, September 19, 2011

WTC Memorial

Few man made creations ever live up to their expectations, but the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center is one of the few that do just that. Beautiful, contemplative, a most fitting (if not stunning) piece of architecture that will serve to honor and remember those needlessly sacrificed in that most tragic of events. Everything about it works as it should: the names, the water, the sound, the size, shape, proportions and multilevel platforms make for a most moving experience.

I wish the same could be said for the armored narwhal looking behemoth being built beside it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Portraits Of Resilience- Marco Grob

An hour before I was scheduled to leave NYC for JFK, I accidentally wondered into The Milk Gallery after my last tour of NYC's High Line, and caught Portraits of Resilience by Marco Grob. They're extremely large B&W portraits (4 feet high I'd estimate), and never have I seen such resolution in images so large (a remarkable enough feat on its own).

They're minimalist portraits, most against a white backdrop, others against black; some full length or from the waist up, others featuring only the subjects' faces. I usually don't care much for the latter, since they often tend to read like anonymous 8X10 model head shots devoid of adequate form, depth or distinction- but such is most definitely not the case here. Even these tightly cropped images compel you to not only look at them, but look into them. Mr. Grob accomplishes this in a threefold manner: through his highly selective use of lighting, the aforementioned resolution extraordinaire, and the most vital attribute inherent to any exceedingly worthwhile portraitist- the ability to cajole, coerce or facilitate some small nuance of emotional resonance (no matter how subtle) that brings it all to life.

Fortunately, for six bucks you can get the TIME commemorative issue (Sept. 19; Beyond 9/11) with over two dozen full page, high quality reproductions of said portraits. Think of it as a small but highly exceptional book of photographic portraits (which is exactly what it is)- and for twice the price you can get this. Featured are many of the major and minor players of our post 9/11 world- some heroes, some the most incredible of survivors, others still- lying, murderous bastards who in a just world should have been photographed in prison. You won't come away as did I after seeing the original wall sized prints, but appreciate them you will, nonetheless.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Republican Speaks Truth!!!

If you think I can be bought for five thousand dollars, I'm offended."    -Rick Perry

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 Plus 10

It's hard to gage the general feel of the 9/11 tenth anniversary here in NYC, not having lived here of late. Unfortunately, the ceremony had a Members Only feel to it since it was only open to family members- and because of ongoing construction, understood. The public was kept at considerable distance, corralled and cordoned off blocks away. Perhaps things have evolved to a more personal, individual manner of reflection here, or perhaps the general public has just moved on, as life throughout history has demanded. But I can't help shake the feeling that the city itself could have done more to include its citizenry in the commemoration of an event which so profoundly changed this city, and the world...

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11- Ten Years After

9/22/01- Liberty St, NYC

It's been a long ten years since 9/11, many of the things I grew up with in NY are forever gone or changed. Many New Yorkers, like myself, sometimes forget how we "hated" those twin towers, those bland, overgrown metal boxes that only seemed to get in the way of the view, the neighborhood, the city itself- only to belatedly learn just how much they had become part of our everyday NY identity upon having them so violently torn away.

The entire country was united back then, the entire world waiting for us to respond in a manner both positive and transforming. We had the means, the impetus and the good will to lead, set the example, shame those who would commit such atrocities, and reward those aspiring to create a better world. 

WTC, 9/11/06

Instead we had "leaders" who boasted of exploring "the dark side," so called leaders who instilled fear instead of inspiration, who sewed mistrust and bigotry at every opportunity, until hatred and vengeance was all that we saw, all that we ourselves were capable of understanding and perpetrating. Instead of being blessed with those that would lead us into a new century and a new paradigm of how to cope with evil and criminality, we were cursed with the policies of those whose thinking was medieval in reasoning, and every bit as barbaric in practice as those they were supposedly meant to vanquish. Instead of building bridges to those we had previously isolated (and in many cases violated), we fostered a culture of torture, imprisonment, occupation and death. Our penchant for unbridled force and retaliation spread far and wide, even to a country that the President himself finally and reluctantly admitted had nothing to do with 9/11. In "liberating" that country, we killed hundreds of thousands, most of them innocent, many of them women and children- and in so doing managed to create even more of the enemy than had ever previously existed there! Or as one Iraqi put it, "Instead of one Saddam, we now have hundreds."

Photos: Stan Banos

Ten years later we have lost and thrown away a budget surplus that could have taught, healed and built so much of what we so desperately need right here, right now. While contently annihilating the entire infrastructure of one country, we watched our own crumble about us. We spent two to three hundred million dollars a day (if not more) in Iraq and Afghanistan, and were told to go forth about our business and... shop- as those in our stead lost life, limb and brain matter. We metastasized from a country (that at least in theory) decried the very thought of torture, to one that learned to fondle it like some new found masturbatory pleasure for which we would excuse ourselves over and over again. But most of all, we proved ourselves "too big" to admit we went about the whole damn thing, all wrong.

We learned nothing from the hubris called The Bay of Pigs, or the quagmire called Viet Nam (where our legacy of agent orange and unexploded ordinance continues to kill and maim to this very day). Ten years after 9/11 we're all so very pissed- why? Because we were yet again led into a needless and futile war (while fighting yet another) built on the most obvious of lies? No, because the get rich quick scam known as Iraq blew up in our face, while Afghanistan, the game ball from which we diverted our eyes, continues to suck us dry... And now we're stuck with the bill for both.

But on this day of commemoration, let us remember those who died that fatefully tragic morning- we could have done so much better by them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Victims Of The Future

Just like the Kennedy assassination(s)- (we) will probably never know what the hell REALLY happened before, after or on 9/11. I certainly have my doubts as to everything the "9/11 Truthers" state- but look no further than the actual  9/11 Commission Report for what an official conspiracy theory really looks and sounds like.

As for those that still flat out refuse to consider the possibility that our very own US government would ever perpetrate or even conceive of anything that might possibly harm (or kill) its own citizenry simply for political gain- I once again point you in this direction... And before dismissing the latter out of hand as yet another delusional "conspiracy theory," remember it was a thoroughly researched plan waiting to be enacted at the drop of the President's signature. Feeling a little less secure are ya? Until ya'all do, we'll remain victims of the future- and the past...

Leaving for NYC tomorrow- please, come by Friday for my 9/11 post. I'll be in New York for approx a week thereafter, so I don't know what posting will look like since my only internet access there will be via an Apple store or chance rental, and I'll (hopefully) be busy developing & scanning once back. Peace (and justice)...

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Should Be Every Front Page Headline...

... on every newspaper, magazine and TV "News" program in the US. It should be sermonized in every church, taught in every school- tweeted, Facebooked and emailed on every goddamn cell phone, laptop and iPad. Then maybe, just maybe, people will finally start asking (ie- realizing) exactly why they're losing their jobs, their pensions and their homes- instead of just accepting it as the inevitable fate ordained by our Christian gods of finance.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


When I first started exploring the photo internets back at the very inception of this 21st century, Gomma was one of the most comprehensive photography sites anywhere: websites, interviews, competitions, exhibitions, photo news from round the world, etc. But as the rest of the online photo community caught up to speed, they somehow lapsed and degraded into complete catatonia.

Seems they're now rejuiced, renewed and renovated! And look forward to making 'em a regular stop once again...

In a few short minutes looking through their Gomma News, I found: a site with free software, an online gallery with a seemingly endless array of interesting photographers, two interviews with Anders Petersen, and a plethora of submission opportunities...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Voigtlander III W

Just look at that baby- those curves, that lens hood, the vertical lugs... Not to mention the glorious, volumptuous 6X7 negs you get from the damn thing. I could even be an art photographer with that baby strapped on my shoulder- dang, at least look like one!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Glad That's Over With...

Yes, I know, everyone's been flooding me with inquires as to where I got the face, the logo, the inspiration for my new, cool as shit flavicon- something I did not even know existed as a word until recently. Well, actually... no one's been asking me about it, or probably even noticed it- all 1/4 by 1/4 glorious inch of it! But just in case someone does while I'm away- this is it's point of origin. And yeah, for the record- I'm already sick of it too! Need a professional to design me a new one I can get sick of even faster...

As for where I stand on the issue- you know, for something so damn personal and errrr... sensitive, I gotta tell ya- I'm really not all that sure on this one! I mean, I don't regret having it done (as if I had a choice), but the thought of a chance slip or accident (and it does happen) does tend to sober one up... on what is essentially an unnecessary (and sometimes prohibitively expensive) procedure.