Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why The +98% Are Still At Home...

Most Americans are frantically treading water just to stay afloat, they know the treadmill's broke, and broke bad, but they're scared shitless to get off. They're gonna ride that bad boy straight down to the rims. Just as we've been trained and told. To get off would brand us losers, and worse still, it would mean we were lied to- and we took it all in: hook, line and sinker. So we'll continue to stay the course, and continue to struggle with ourselves- and the others just like us, all around us. It's the only option we've been allowed to hear, prepared to believe and allowed to follow. A dumb and sorry lot are we.

There was, of course, that brief wink of recognition when we could connect the dots, could see through the lies- had the insight to recognize the enemy. And knowledge emboldened us to strike back, in that brief shining moment called the sixties. But when all was said and done, it was the 1% that had learned the most. Which is why our public school system descended into absolute shambles, and debt for college loans now actually exceeds that of credit cards. The dumbing down of America was the first well calculated step towards the economic enslavement of the 99%. Make them so outstandingly ignorant they don't even know who to blame. Hence religious fundamentalism in the body politic, the rise of the FOX, the utter lunacy of a Tea Party- the "equality" of corporate personhood. No conspiracy here; it was all done in broad daylight, under guise of law, one small and very conscious step at a time as that most treasured American Dream became more and more just that with every succeeding year, with every passing decade. Pretty soon we were just living on its fumes, living off the numbers the 1% created and worshiped- until even they could no longer pretend they added up. But we were too busy shopping to notice, or care.

The dream long dissolved and dissipated, we now lack the means (economically or morally) to deal with the reality left us.  So much so, that when the most innocent amongst finally point the way to a most obvious truth- we ignore, deride, and belittle them. And in our most bountiful ignorance, still court those who so gleefully, willfully sold us out, to somehow, ultimately save us. A lost and sorry lot are we.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Vile Beyond Imagining- 73 Million...

I had no idea, no idea that such an atrocity was being inflicted on numbers this vast. Not to mention the multitude that have been hunted and slaughtered for sport, fun and "vengeance" ever since the fictional movie blockbuster some thirty plus years ago...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy SF (part III)

The Signs Of Protest

I had my reservations about posting these, being how ugly things have gotten in some places. But this ain't the place one comes to sample hard hitting photojournalism in the first place, is it? Admittedly, the commentary may sometimes strive for the jugular, but the personal visuals concentrate on humor and irony (hopefully). I let the serious pros handle the hardcore.

There's usually two sides to every story- if not two stories to every side. Besides, it's Friday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Beat Goes On...

They say that every movement needs its martyrs, that said, let's hope that two tour, Iraq vet Scott Olsen makes a full recovery. And that the needless, ill thought out attack under the cover of darkness designed to give Oakland mayor, Jean Quan, her political cajones backfires into the impetus that propels Occupy to the next level.

One of the truly beautiful aspects of this entire movement has been that for every negative action by the authorities, there has been a positive and more assertive reaction from the 99%. It's a chess game without impunity, where both sides must own their actions and take responsibility- exactly what the 1% have gotten away with for so very, very long...

Has Photography Come To This?

What won't a photographer do these days to get their project funded? Yesterday, I (and several others) received an email from a "name" photographer tearfully describing how she and her family were mugged, robbed and helpless in a foreign country. Odd- I had never corresponded with this photographer on a regular basis. Nevertheless, I emailed a wee bit of advice and then quickly got the squeeze on where and how to send the... $1, 950! Jeez, not even the hint of a postcard for my effort (like from many a project at Kickstarter)- and even my Nigerian friends always promise to cut me in handsomely!

Of course, it was all a scam, and they were quickly told what they could do while they waited. More importantly, perhaps this is a forerunner of more elaborate ploys to come our way...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So, It Aint Just Me...

Guess with a pair of peepers that big, one can't help but notice (buhrumpump)! Hey, she's the one talking large random objects... OK, OK, cut me some slack here- why do I suddenly feel like an aging borscht belt comic from the Catskills? Anyway, good to know one can still be... observant (if not subtle) at any age.

I always say they should put people in jail for wearing clothes like that. Especially stretch jeans over size 10 -- they should be outlawed.   -Iris Apfel

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Literature Of Occupation

Occupy SF- 10/15

Occupy SF, the left coast offshoot of the original Occupy Wall St. movement had a rather impressive showing on 10/15, marching about downtown San Francisco. The majority of the nine forthcoming photos were taken then, and the one thing I particularly noticed, as I have in reports elsewhere, was the plethora of witty, original and humorous signs that participants fondly created, displayed and identified with.

Every demonstration and movement has its signs that serve to punctuate and identify causes, groups and issues. But the Occupy movement have taken it a step further, their signs go well beyond the more mundane sloganeering of yesteryear. Occupy participants seem to have a genuine affinity with their signs, signs that reflect their personal idiosyncrasies, philosophies and identities. The wit, creativity and humor that help define them go well beyond the usual overt political and economic criticisms. This movement, more than any recent other, has been most literate in what it has to say, and how it wants to say it...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What We All Know And Can't Fathom...

The third comment down on this post by John MacPherson at Duckrabbit is probably the most thought provoking "revelation" written on any photo related media anywhere recently... Not that it's anything we don't already know, or haven't seen or discussed before- but when written that succinctly, it certainly does make one stop, and think... again.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Super Heroes Of Yesteryear

(multiple Thors and Spider Fellow on 5th and 6th Ave, respectively)...

These were the fictional heroes of days gone by that I encountered early September in NYC; they exist solely in our minds and are not anywhere as cool, or as powerful, as the real super heroes that have developed since Sept 17- some of whose faces I will be displaying here in the days to come...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The reason why...

"The reason why the military is claiming they don't investigate UFOs is because they don't want to respond to people like you. They don't want to respond to reporters or to the public as to what the heck is going on, and it's been going on for so long. They just don't want to have to answer that question," former Air Force Captain Robert Salas told The Huffington Post.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Most pleas from the 99% for cops to take a long hard look at themselves and perhaps reconsider their actions and/or attitudes are greeted with a dismissive roll of the eyes or the macho glare and posture that emphatically states "you don't wanna mess with this." What manner of protester could possibly deliver a message of reflection to NY's Finest that renders them mute and paralyzed from equal measures: shame, fear, and perhaps even... momentary self enlightenment? How 'bout the likes of a decorated ex Marine who looks like he could easily dispatch anyone (or more) of them well within the proverbial New York Minute?

Sometimes (sometimes) it's not so much the message, as it is the messenger...

(Via HuffPo)

Monday, October 17, 2011

On The Road

Hope you're making the effort to review Pete Brook's continuing series of On The Road interviews with various photographers and writers involved in documenting the American prison experience- a project made possible through Kickstarter. If anything, make sure you at least listen to the interview with Robert Gumpert and check out his essay Take a Picture, Tell A Story. I previously posted on Gumpert's phenomenal American Prison Tattoos.

Photo: Robert Gumpert

Speaking of Kickstarter... Pete recently stopped by on a dreary, rainy Columbus Day of Genocide to say hello and share a laugh...
Continued success, Pete!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Grayson, Camp & The 99%

We have 1% of the richest, greediest, filthiest people in the world v .001% of the 99- where's the rest of the 98+% that should be marching alongside in protest, shutting down and paralyzing every major city in this country and the next? And they call the OWS kids... slackers!? Yeah, I know we're all too damn busy just struggling to survive- point is, we'd all see a lot more return for that struggle if we simply united into a strong, indivisible front. The 1% delights in our innate ability to divide ourselves- they encourage it.

Where is the voice and membership of every damn union that's barely survived the purge? Where is the voice of Mr. Farrakhan who got out one million strong? Where are the preachers, rabbis and priests whose flocks have lost their homes, their jobs and well being? Where are the thousands of parents whose children attend long neglected public schools that can't properly educate their children for colleges they cannot afford? Where are the teachers whose workloads increase each and every year while their jobs are threatened, cut and privatized? Where are the elderly who can still raise holy hell? Where are the truck drivers and janitors, the food servers and sales persons, the plumbers and farmers- where is everyone who has seen their wages diminish, their health diminish, the future dreams and immediate needs of their own family and children delayed, denied and forgotten?

Why are you just watching- or worse yet, deriding? You can conveniently blame whatever struggling group of people you so choose- but it was the 1% that sent our jobs overseas, it's the 1% that still refuses to pay anything resembling their fair share of taxes- it's the 1% that are still giving themselves raises! And not one of the entire lot that so callously created this entire economic debacle has been charged, indicted or convicted. Is a Tea Party ignorant of our own history going to save you, or are you still betting on the eternal dance of Presidents from either side of one coin?

Think- Act- Demand- March!!! We can be... We must be... We are the 99%!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Mother Of Creepy (Photography) Sales Pitches

Anybody else get this in an email? OK, so he's pretty much the harmless kinda creep. But creepy nonetheless. Wouldn't he sell more of his color corrected widgets if he toned down the creep factor just a tad (as in a lot).

PS- I never got the promised 2nd video- could it be because I wrote back saying he was creeping me out?

Update: Alas, it's here!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Turning Point!

Today I awaken to discover what becomes of Occupy Wall St.- that burning, all consuming, youthful hope and desire that has once again dared to defy, lead, and somehow rekindle the dreams and ideals of a general populace long since corrupted by greed, opportunism and despondency. This will be the turning point where the movement begins to ignite the imaginations of people everywhere into an irreversible consciousness that will not be denied, or be delegated to the town hall of noble, historical asterisks.

Where I stand, I just can't see the latter- this is the first time since 9/11 that I'll really miss not being in my hometown... 

Update:  Victory in Liberty Plaza! This battle won- and the movement continues...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Help Save The Lower East Side...

Three decades in the making, The Lower East Side by Brian Rose is a piece of New York history the city itself should be helping to produce and publicize. Alas, New York is a cold hearted mistress, always the proud lover when praised and promoted, she acknowledges her debts only grudgingly, if ever.

The Lost Border, Brian's brilliant photographic tribute to the Berlin Wall/Iron Curtain, will forever stand tall in ways the actual barrier could never hope to achieve. Rather than divide, The Lower East Side forced people together in an extreme experiment of its own well before Riis, Hines and Weegee- they who so well explored and captured their own eras. Rose helps fill in that historical gap and bring us to the present with the closing days of a "Loisaida" that still remained a formidable player in the mix. His Kickstarter campaign, if successful, will serve to document part of a city, part of a century that needs to be remembered, treasured and hopefully, one day, learned from.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eric Cantor- Hypocrisy Is Thy Face

Portraits are tricky critters. They can purposely or unknowingly trick, mislead, even lie- and we in turn can misread them, choosing to see only what we want to see. Was Mona Lisa smiling in the security of her own self assuredness, masking her own insecurity, or was she merely exhibiting a tell tale consequence of some chronic form of agita, as has also been suggested?

But sometimes, sometimes (rare as it admittedly and most definitely is) a portrait, even a simple snapshot such as the one above can downright nail it, let the air out, release the trap door and expose the down and dirty behind the moat and castle walls. Such is the case in this most intriguing photo of Mr. Eric Cantor- the look of a guy who most definitely works on the sly, when your back is turned, when the lights are low, when there's a crowd to hide behind. The look of someone who will never look you full in the face, eyeball to eyeball, mano a mano...

How do I know I'm not simply misreading this, not pouring my own personal animus into the shell of this foul skinned excuse of humanity? Well, for one thing, you can just read the accompanying article- and countless others just like it. The writers may vary in their style and delivery, but his actions never waiver in their utter contempt for his fellow man. He lies, distorts, accuses and then hides- from the truth, from his constituents, and worst of all... from his very own words and actions.

True, that doesn't much separate him from a plethora (if not the overwhelming majority) of politicians. But take a long hard look at that face; deep down in your gut and right through to your very soul, every goddamn sensory organ in your whole goddamn body screams that that face does not lie- no matter what its mouth says!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Tale of Two People

This is the movement and these are the people that Glenn Beck swears will kill everyone in America- this from the premier American hypocrite clown, writ large, whose inane rantings have actually inspired people to the point of violence and assassination. One misinterprets and misrepresents the Constitution, the others try to make sure it applies to everyone, equally...

Meanwhile, Facing Change has quite the slide show on Occupy Wall St...

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein

Photo: Anthony Suau

Monday, October 10, 2011

On Tom Wik (and Calendars)

Photo: Tom Wik

I've mentioned Tom Wik a couple of times here, most recently when I was "reviewing" this year's Blurb ensemble- his book being one of the (very) few highlights to be seen. Anyway, in the interest of full disclosure, when I mentioned that I'd love to hang his pictures on my walls for a bit of inspiration- Tom was nice enough to send me his calendar. And a beautiful thing it is... his "portraits" of various idiosyncratic homes all seem possessed of some bizarre magic that make you want to look at them, enter them, live in them- some, quaint fairy tale like houses, others, graphically dynamic, and others still, just downright humorous.

Obviously, some projects would look better than others as calendars- surprised Blurb doesn't offer a calendar service. Or are calendars sooo last century? I think it remains a pretty neat option- thinking of it myself now.  Not to mention they make a very personal and great little present, promo, etc.

Photo: Tom Wik

Friday, October 7, 2011

On Visionaries...

Photo: Dave Martin, AP

I was gonna let this go, but then I saw the flowers, and the post-its, and the gathering crowd assembled in hushed silence at the Apple store yesterday...

Fred Shuttlesworth and Steve Jobs died the same day- I don't have to tell you who was more revered, praised and feted in the media. Steve Jobs* made pretty and efficient machines for those that could afford them. Shuttlesworth risked life and limb repeatedly, defying a world where segregation was the norm.

Now... who was the grand visionary again?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

MONO- The Book!

The good folks at GOMMA are planning on putting out a high quality photo book devoted to high quality mono imagery to be entitled... MONO. You have till the end of the year to get your shit together and send it on in, and best of all- it's free to enter (and you maintain copyright)! I dutifully try to enter at least one long shot every year just to go through the motions of not having completely given up on leading a fruitful and productive life (even though the complete futility and exasperation of repeated rejection just ends up reinforcing the vicious cycle I'm trying to avoid). Anyway, looks like this may just be this year's model (as well as the next)...

PS-  Which reminds me... instead of just philosophizing or fantasizing about some imaginary, illusory B&W Revival (some, what was it... five, six years ago?)- couldn't the photo bigwigs like Charlotte Cotton who were talking the talk actually have done something just like this to promote just that?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The 99%

I'm really getting tired of the media's hollow protestations that they don't know what these protesters "want." If they really don't know: a) what country do they live in, b) what world do they live in, c) how the hell do they call themselves "journalists?"

Are they really that unaware, that totally ignorant of the pain and abuse so many Americans are currently experiencing directly because of the predatory capitalism practiced by the scions of Wall St.? These young people are marching precisely because so many, so called journalists have time and time again abdicated their responsibility to uncover, expose and disseminate the truth- a truth as blatantly obvious as the smoke that filled the skies above the crematoria.

Monday, October 3, 2011

And The Worst Title Goes To...

Surprisingly, there didn't seem to be too much hoopla over the Blurb Photography Book Now competition this year. Was I absent, did they tone down the advertising, or is the thrill just gone? Anyway, going over the 1,947 entries is something I wouldn't wish on anyone. Fortunately, my review methods are less than fair or objective, and more like entirely subjective and arbitrary, which tends to speed up the process somewhat- if the cover don't grab me... next!

Although the judges came up with a couple of genuine winners, there seemed to be very slim pickings indeed. In fact, things got so genuinely boring as I failed to focus on even one entry on successive pages of twenty books, that I started to concentrate on nominees for worst title- something I should have done since the beginning with nom de guerres like: 40 Bird Shots, Hey Kids Don't Smoke Cigs, Etchings In Shades Of Grey, and the ever faultless classic, The Eye Of The Beholder!

So... what was worth gawking at this year? Most of these are already known, like Tom Wiks' domestic dysphoria, his suburban house landscapes that always make me smile. If I could afford his damn book, I'd be tempted to cut the pages out and hang them on the walls just to make me happy. Then there's Miska Henner's No Man's Land, the masterfully innovative Google landscape hookers that has already garnered much due attention. My sentimental fave, of course, is WTC by Brian Rose, which features photos of The World Trade Center throughout the years and boroughs.

Photo: Valerio Spada

As for the official winners, I have no problem with Valerio Spada's brilliant combination of original photographs and police documentation called Gomorrah Girl that won Grand Prize. And Travel Winner, Sunshine and Noir by Thomas Michael Alleman is perhaps my all time favorite Holga essay.

Perhaps we need less photo and Photoshop workshops, and more title and artist statement writing classes, and contests... Did I mention the unforgettable- A Way Of Seeing Is Also A Way Of Not Seeing. I think The Riddler shot that one.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I just saw some promising work by what I suppose could be called an up and coming photographer of sorts. Much of the work was quite good and I wish her all the best, but... when you price your print for $300- don't, Do Not price the photo with frame at... $600. There is no doubt that a bad frame can kill a good print, but... Is your original, creative work, the very fruit of your heart, soul and loins really no better than the frame that comes with it? Really girl, what are you thinking?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Occupy Wall St! Take ll...

The Occupy Wall St. movement is now finally getting a much needed boost from some much needed union support. It would be nice to see this evolve into the nationwide movement that would replace the justifiably angry people who don't have a clue (ie- The Tea Party) with those who have that precious modicum of common sense- the kind that allows them to properly identify exactly who is hellbent on screwing them (us) the most in a country so utterly hellbent on destroying itself.

Whether this will be the moment (shoulda happened in Wisconsin), I don't know. After eight years of railing against blatant Bush criminality, and three years of absolute betrayal, there's no way I can possibly allow myself to... "hope" anymore. Nonetheless, these youngbloods are to be applauded for trying- whether or not they lead us to The Final Awakening!