Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Exhibition Opportunities...

If Color Photography Had Been Invented First...

 If color photography had been invented first, would anyone have missed black-and-white?

Came upon this quite by accident and thought it made for a possibly interesting hypothetical- unfortunately, can't for the life of me find where the subject of the title is actually addressed. Instead we're treated to History of Color Photography 101- and a very brief one at that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Alex Harsley and 4th St. Photo

Photo: Brian Rose

In 1973, Alex Harsley was the first Black man to open a photo gallery in New York City- The 4th St. Photo Gallery. He was the only African American photo gallerist then- a unique distinction one would think he would have well lost by now in a city so culturally diverse and inundated with galleries of every type and reason. Then again, how many people of any color have run a gallery in Manhattan that long? No, we're not talking some multi-thousand sq. ft. gallery in Soho, Chelsea or the Upper East Side. His is a modest storefront operation where photographers of every style and demographic have gone to meet other photographers since well before the internet and chew the fat with whoever happened to be there- be it the enthusiastic, aspiring unknown having his first show, or the the old curmudgeon from around the corner named Robert Frank.

One of the first things you realize about Alex Harsley is just how unimposing he is. He sets you at ease, does not inflict his ego upon yours- rare in a city where everyone makes it a point to tell you everything that they think they are within the proverbial New York minute. And despite the fact that he wasn't exactly welcomed with open arms upon first arriving on 4th St.- after nearly forty years, "the lights still turn on." Or as he puts it, "If they had left me alone, I probably wouldn't have lasted so long."

Alex is not a bitter man, doesn't dwell on the negative, whether dealing with racism or the other multitude of obstacles life throws your way. He looks at the big picture and how things fit in context, in history, in current and future society. And that is, no doubt, at least in part how he has been able to adapt, overcome and survive since he founded Minority Photographers, Inc. in 1971 to address the obvious lack of opportunities for minority photographers. After his own first show, Alex was taken to task by none other than A. D. Coleman in a scathing review. He then made it a point to confront Mr. Coleman in person, not so much to even the score, but to see where the man (the critic) was coming from- yeah, he turned it into a learning moment. The two would remain cordial, long enough to see Mr. Coleman himself get ostracized for giving one too many critical reviews when it came to one particularly well connected photographer.

In a city that almost commands you to reach for the top whatever the cost, Alex never sought out the limelight; he kept his bearings, never lost his base. It's the same steady, quiet kind of confidence and perseverance that allowed him to ride a bike in NYC well past his youth and well before the advent of "bike lanes." Something I could never summon the courage to do. 

After you've gone to all the big blockbuster shows in NY and played street photographer extraordinaire on the city corners of your choosing, make sure to amble down Loisaida way between Bowery and Second Ave. and discover one of photography's most under celebrated resources hidden in plain sight. As long as the lights are on, a wealth of info, experience and hospitality awaits you.

PS- Before I moved, Alex advised me against a very common (and surprisingly unhealthy) darkroom practice- I rolled my eyes with a face that screamed... what, really, you sure about that!? And he shot my youngblood self back a look that said- you wanna be a fool, stay a fool! That's another reason he's survived so long, so well- nice as he is, he doesn't readily suffer fools.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Into The Abyss

There's lot to be said about this film, for this film, in which Werner Herzog navigates material that's not exactly untraversed. The fact that it rises to the occasion so admirably, so often, speaks for itself. And the one thing I couldn't stop thinking was how vastly different Into The Abyss is from the sleazy "murder investigation" programs on TV that leave you feeling as cheap and empty as some of the characters that inhabit those one act plays. I suspect it's as simple as concentrating on the humanity of the situation, instead of the cheap sensationalism.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Thanksgiving Massacre

Lawyer, Pin Up, Chemical Analyst & TV "News" Something Or Other...

I really have no intention of turning this site into a petition signing forum- but Megyn Kelly really needs to get slapped upside the head with this one- (along with Dildo Bill).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What's Worse Than Not Knowing Anything?

"...the results show us that there is something about watching Fox News that leads people to do worse on these questions than those who don’t watch any news at all."

Didn't think I'd be quoting this again quite so soon:

"To me, FNC reporters' laziness was the worst part of the bias. It wasn't that they were toeing some political line (though of course they were; see the embarrassing series on property rights from 2000), it was that the facts of a story just didn't matter at all. The idea was to get those viewers out of their seats, screaming at the TV, the politicians, the liberals -- whoever -- simply by running a provocative story," he wrote in October 2003.   --Matt Gross

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Walk Of Shame &...

After signalling that she was scared shitless of the out of control students rioting outside her office- the same said rabid students at UC Davis somehow managed to restrain themselves from feasting on the Royal Chancellor's entrails as she was escorted to her car. One can actually sense this video does not portray just how eerie the whole scenario was in person.


And then, there's this ...

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Pledge Not To Shop At Amazon...

I've avoided this long enough- I've got very few pennies these days, can hardly buy books... forget equipment. But it's time I put them where my mouth is and tell Amazon to do the same thing they do to their workers. I just ordered Vivian Maier's book as a birthday present to myself from Barnes & Noble for just a couple of bucks more, and hope you also find suitable alternatives, incl your neighborhood bookstore (for those of you who can afford it).

I think it would be great if anyone out there would like to get together and form some kind of united photo book buyers' front to better send the message (strength in #'s, ya know).  Please, let me know...

At the very least- please, sign and take the pledge below...
Despite thousands of customers raising hell, hasn't addressed the core problems underlying the shameful working conditions at its warehouses.Warehouse employees in Breinigsville, PA, have been working on their hands and knees at a frantic pace, enduring the pain because they're afraid of losing their jobs.1I admit I've relied on Amazon for a lot of my shopping. But now I know that Amazon's great deals and convenience come at the expense of its workers.That's why this holiday, I'm personally not doing any of my shopping with Amazon, and I hope you'll join me.
Like most retailers, Amazon depends on holiday shopping for a large percentage of its profit.2 During the biggest retail season of the year, the company won't want to risk losing customers – which means right now is our best opportunity to make a difference for its warehouse workers. Amazon is a $100 billion corporate giant3 known for its innovation – but mistreating workers is hardly cutting edge. Amazon has more than the means necessary to be a hugely profitable company without putting workers' health and well-being at risk. Amazon's workers deserve better. And as customers, we can demand better.
I emailed you a few weeks ago about how had been forcing employees to work in sweatshop conditions, with temperatures so high that Amazon kept ambulances parked outside to carry sick workers out on stretchers.Thanks to public attention and our collective outrage, Amazon is now planning to install air conditioners in its warehouses,4 but the company hasn't bothered to address other problems that are just as serious. Amazon is still continuing to rely on temporary employees who are forced to work at exhausting, brutal speeds – just because it's cheaper. One temporary worker "...was expected to pick 1,200 items in a 10-hour shift, or one item every 30 seconds."5 Unfortunately, it's much harder for temporary workers to organize for better working conditions, and that's why we've got to step up and demand change.
Send a message to Amazon and make a difference for these workers. Pledge not to shop at Amazon this holiday season.
Thanks for your commitment to workers' rights.
Liz, Hilary, Beth, Zoe, Michael, and the American Rights at Work team

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Add another to the list of spectacular, much hyped and ballyhooed holiday turkeys. Melancholia starts out with all guns a blazing with a series of amazing slow motion special effect sequences that have you wondering- Damn, if this is what he's throwing out for eye candy, I can't begin to imagine what wonder and amazement awaits the actual plot! Unfortunately, that's pretty much it for the sense of wonder in this grand non epic. You're next put through one of the most painfully bad wedding experiences you'll ever find yourself trapped in- and it doesn't get particularly better after that. 

It reminded me a lot of The Shining, where you're sequestered in a large estate with no recourse other than the promise of titanic terror, or in this case, incredible wonder- only to find out that the director is so entranced in his own personal dream state, that he's neglected to include anyone else. So you end up thinking of the movie that could have been...

There is one absolutely hilarious shot towards the end that has Kirsten Dunst splayed out completely nude in the forest primeval adorned solely by the blazing night light of impending Melancholia. It's the penultimate '50s glamour shot deluxe that's just plopped down in front of an audience with all the force of an errant planetary collision! Best line in whole movie has Kiefer Southerland admonishing his butler concerning his telescope, "You, don't touch the instrument!"

Update: It also turned out to be one of the most expensive movies I ever attended since one particularly malicious piece of popcorn decided to crack open one of my molars which will now require a crown- at least Amex is happy; they've been big fans of my teeth throughout this goddamn year!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Growing Gallery Of Shame

Cops can choose to be heroes, the mindless unwavering sheep of their puppet masters (admittedly, where most of us reside), or complete and utter cowards and assholes as exemplified by Mr. Pepper Spray above. Wow, a video he can show to his grand kids with pride!

Sadly, but the latest incident in a growing gallery of shame...

Photo: Joshua Trujillo

You don't have to take a very close look at these photos to see the work of bullies.The first fat bastard sprays a dozen people because he knows they're completely non violent, pose no threat, and has his boys in full riot gear to bust ass in his stead even if he did somehow face retribution. The second- jeez, an armed terrorist mugs a little ol' lady, basically... for laughs. The final coward strikes from the anonymity of the crowd- a very well armed crowd of thugs. Brave fuckers all, going that extra mile to protect decent people like you and me.

Photo: Randy L. Rasmussen

Friday, November 18, 2011

Two Uhmmm... Vertical Shots

Hardly ever shoot verticals, does anyone? Guess if you shoot a lot of portraits, or covers. Let's see, last time I shot a cover...  
Yeah, could've named these two shots something else- not gonna go there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Animals Are Outside Today- Colleen Plumb

Photo: Colleen Plumb

Animals Are Outside Today is a curious mix of life and death, celebration and loss- equal parts exuberance and reflection that perhaps raises more questions than insight into the roles and relationships that transpire between animals and humans in the life and rhythm of everyday existence. We befriend them, eat them, play with them, capture them, extol their virtues and abuse them. Colleen Plumb's photographs examine our various interactions with animals, both domestic and wild, that occur since childhood. Often they are elementary as to how we form relationships, how we experience death, how we establish boundaries and perceptions that persist throughout life. Sometimes it's an ongoing relationship that we explore and nurture, other times one that we are barely aware of, unless confronted.

Ms. Plumb's photographs are alive with color and compositions filled with childlike wonder- as well as the tragedy and dissonance one also experiences during that passage.

Photo: Colleen Plumb

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And So It Goes...

Meanwhile, the mayor of NYC is ignoring the restraining order from the judge that allows them to remain with their equipment and belongings; and as to the latter, which they were told they could reclaim- it's all been trashed and sent to the dump. The same shameless shirking of the law by those in power that profess to uphold it that initiated the whole movement in the first place.

It's Uh.... Bleach- I Swear!!!

And no, it's not the kind I'd use to overtake the cockpit by threatening to discolor passengers' clothes!!!

On my recent trip to NYC, I had all my Tri-X in old metal and black plastic canisters. What I didn't know was that I had accidentally included a canister that I had long ago filled with potassium ferricyanide. Just imagine the scenario at the airport had security chosen to inspect that particular canister, only to find it filled with a bright, reddish orange powder inside- and I (already looking every bit the terrorist suspect- as my wife is needlessly fond of reminding me) would have been instantly surrounded by a cadre of: TSA, FBI, police, Homeland Security and a varied assortment of armalites...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Self Reflection

56 (and counting...)

I first attempted blogging in '04 during a period of unemployment right 'round my mid century mark, and transferred to Blogger in '07 when I finally decided to seriously commit to the damn thing, that is, develop the discipline to post most every day with something to say, present or show of some particular relevance or "importance." At first I wanted to create the largest audience possible, and after a couple of years of that said, "fuck it," it is what is. Just as I had concluded with my photography, it's ultimately something I do for myself, which at first sounds incredibly selfish and self defeating- particularly considering a medium that is so inherently meant to be shared, as is... a blog. But in a time when everyone is a photographer and everyone has something to say (and the means to do it), the choices are numerous, the alternatives plentiful. Fact of the matter- you can reach a helluva lot more people now simply via Facebook.

I can't deny what a leak it still is being able to meet, contribute, and share online; but I've pretty much said most of what I've wanted to say- as loudly and articulately as I possibly can. And with the work involved, I certainly don't want to embark on repetition for an ever decreasing "return." Curiously, others are also reassessing their roles in blogdom, and others still perhaps quietly fading away- some having already succumbed to... the inevitable(?). In fact, when you come down to it- it's hard to think of many (any?) "successful" photo blogs nowadays that are not at least partially funded in some manner.

Soon come, we'll be turning the corner on post 1,500- we'll see where we take it from there... And as always, thank you for dropping by.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Simpsons v FOX

In October 2003 the creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, revealed that Fox News had threatened to sue Fox Entertainment - which makes the show - over the satirical use of rolling ticker lines on the screen. "Pointless news crawls up 37 per cent... Do Democrats cause cancer? Find out at Rupert Murdoch: Terrific dancer... Dow down 5,000 points... Study: 92 per cent of Democrats are gay... JFK posthumously joins Republican Party... Oil slicks found to keep seals young, supple...," read the ticker on the program that sparked the threat. "Fox said they would sue the show and we called their bluff because we didn't think Rupert Murdoch would pay for Fox to sue itself. We got away with it.... But now Fox has a new rule that we can't do those little fake news crawls [tickers] on the bottom of the screen in a cartoon because it might confuse the viewers into thinking it's real news," Groening told National Public Radio. Fox denied that it threatened legal action.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

How Republicans "Win" Debates

Not by logic, adherence to facts or the ability to break down complicated issues into understandable truths- but with threats, backyard bullying and sheer intimidation. Doesn't matter if it's a Republican politico or a FOX Views pundit. Whoever yells the loudest while repeating the mantra of unsubstantiated dogma wins...   

"Let me just say that the right-wing bias was there in the newsroom, up-front and obvious, from the day a certain executive editor was sent down from the channel to bring us in line with their coverage. His first directive to us: Seek out stories that cater to angry, middle-aged white men who listen to talk radio and yell at their televisions. (Oh, how I'd love to stick quotation marks around what is nearly a direct quote.)"
"To me, FNC reporters' laziness was the worst part of the bias. It wasn't that they were toeing some political line (though of course they were; see the embarrassing series on property rights from 2000), it was that the facts of a story just didn't matter at all. The idea was to get those viewers out of their seats, screaming at the TV, the politicians, the liberals -- whoever -- simply by running a provocative story," he wrote in October 2003.   --Matt Gross

Monday, November 7, 2011

Just Making It Up...

It's hard to take anything from the mouth of a Republican too seriously, whether it's badly informed, primitively bigoted, or purposely misleading and pernicious. This is one thing that I actually believed however- one that I thought made perfect sense from a purely business/financial point of view. And even this one turns out to be pure and utter bullshit...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupy One Goal?

Photo courtesy: ©2011 John Montgomery

Now that Occupy has everyone's attention, should we perhaps concentrate on just one goal- one demand that could truly inspire, unite and actually bring out the 99% en masse? Namely, the fact that the 1% (incl corporations- who are now legally recognized as people in the US of A) must pay their fair share of taxes! Not that it would be nice, not that it's a good idea, but that they must do it- and do it now! 

Sure, every other Occupy demand is also eminently just, righteous and well, well overdue- but instead of just taking symbolic, philosophical stands, what if We The People finally said BASTA, and concentrated all our effort on just this one! So far, it's gone nowhere fast legislatively- but it's the one that would most easily garner (and already has) the widest nonpartisan public support and enthusiasm!

If we could get that one thing done, not only would it clear the deficit- it would also help pave the way for everything else that so desperately needs to get done...

PS-  Wrote the above a week before I found the photo, and the accompanying site...  Guess we got some like minded people out there- Let's do this!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Grand Tour

Impressive indeed... Go to any Occupy Movement and yes, there are a lot of somewhat grungy looking kids all about- what would you look like if you made the sacrifice to camp out under same said conditions? But once you get your mind beyond that (if you can get your mind beyond that), walk around, tour the various stations, attend a general assembly and see just how incredibly efficient, organized and yes, well disciplined, they actually are. And remember, it's all voluntary (ie- not for profit)!