Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ruminations At Year's End...

Photo © S. Banos

If I ever get the time, energy and focus to scan and edit sixty of so silver negs to make a book of my:  a) greatest hits,  b) sign related images,  c) pictures taken on daily constitutionals- this will probably be the title and cover photo. Can't possibly get any better at ultimate lifetime statements. Or maybe just the lead photo, been actually fancying photoless covers of late. It's a helluva lot more convenient doing post on a computer screen, but a whole lotta work nonetheless as I'm repeatedly reminded when doing submission scans.


Last weekend a large, hysterically amped up female came blundering down a San Franciscan hill, yelling and screaming in my general direction. When she got within twenty feet of me she stopped, and after panting a few rounds to regain her breath, lunged towards me threatening to smash my *@#!! camera. "You can't take my picture, it's against the *@#!! law. Give me the *@#!! camera, I'm gonna smash it right now!" Oh, so that's what she was screaming.

Holding my camera at arm's length beyond her reach, I considered my options, all the time quite amused by the extensive "legal knowledge" this obviously law abiding individual had at her possession. I had just had a fairly productive afternoon snapping a few possibilities here and there in the Tenderloin, enough to earn myself a beer on my return, and was feeling rather contemplative and mellow a coupla blocks from home. Analyzing and deciphering the fine legalities of photographing in public were not going to persevere here, and fortunately, I didn't feel particularly threatened. I definitely had the reflexes to flee, and if push came to shove I had the confidence to take her despite her obvious weight advantage. Still, should she latch on- it would definitely turn ugly fast, and I just wasn't in the mood to risk getting scratched, gouged, bitten, etc.

Yelling back (my first reaction, just to send the message I wasn't gonna fold under her aural onslaught) was definitely gonna get it on, so I tried the more diplomatic approach. "I wasn't taking a picture of you, my camera wasn't even pointed at you!" It got the expected response- more cussing and threats, but it effectively took it down a notch. Actually, this episode was very much a repeat- I had gone through a very similar episode with a parent in a classroom once who came in (it quickly dawned on me) with the express intent of fighting me- incite your opponent with verbal mayhem, and then.... That time the Vice Principal saved the day (one split second before I had decided to make the first move) by calling me out of the classroom saying I was "needed elsewhere," this time I knew to say my peace, and keep walking. Guess, that was the point all along...


Finally, sad to see Lenscratch jettison the commentary section- doesn't exactly further conversation and the free exchange of ideas, does it? I can understand why if you have a popular blog; it's extra work, but then- it is one of the very purposes of a blog. As for the inevitable assholes, prohibit Anonymous commenters (why would anyone have to comment anonymously on a photography blog anyway?) and spam the rest. But then, blogs are more and more passe with each and every year I suppose. Regardless, I'm not about to do Face time (talk about old news), and I don't fancy commenting in Haiku via Twitter. So... we'll see how it goes another year, or not...


Oh, and on the international front... Japan Solves Chronic Unemployment/Homelessness!

 Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

3 Films To Catch @ Year's End...

Although I've yet to see American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street, I have seen three, rather good, rather small films that I can definitely recommend. Don't think their available for rental just quite yet, so keep an eye out...

Dallas Buyer's Club traces the very abrupt journey of a hard core, Texan homophobe's transformation into an AIDS's fighting activist (when he contracts the disease himself in the '80s).

Can't help but think back to The Deer Hunter (one of the most over rated pieces of crap ever created) when viewing Out Of The Furnace; it's set in an nearly identical albeit updated backdrop. But I like the slow, deliberate pace of this film (one can almost feel the humidity of the hot summer sun on your skin)- in contrast to Woody Harrelson's intense and truly intimidating White Trash, villain extraordinaire (worth the price of admission alone).

And finally there's Philomena, an interesting journey back into the Catholic guilt, abuse and denial of Ireland's past, and it's legacy into the present.

Friday, December 27, 2013

New Pro-Photo Low?

Child abuse, child labor, child endangerment...

Reuters- at least take some measure of acknowledgement and responsibility...

Please sign.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Best Of Times, The...

Been looking back, and it's been quite the year! And as I prepare a few scans for my very first rejection of the brand new year (hope springs eternal), I took some time to look over my favorite books of 2013. Fortunately, there are so many goddamn photography books being made now, self published and otherwise- many of them ridiculously good! But unless you're someway, somehow one of the blessed few, most are well out of our physical/geographical reach (unless ya got the bucks)- otherwise, one must settle for occasional glimpses on these here internets. 

Have you seen... well, uh, I, yeah, saw bits and pieces of lo res reproductions online, and read the reviews. It's uh... really, really good, so I am led to believe...

I was however, lucky to obtain the following:
  1. Orchard Beach by Wayne Lawrence- just got it for Christmas, and it's even better than I expected, why this guy's name isn't an automatic mention when photographic portraitists of this century are discussed is... well, don't get me started.
  2. She Dances on Jackson by Vanessa Winship- America The Great, the grand decline in all its B&W melancholy.
  3. The Landscape Of Murder by Antonio Olmos- on order, and can't wait...
  4. Time And Space On The Lower East Side by Brian Rose- truth be told, haven't been able to shell out the buckaroos for this one, quite as of yet...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Techno Update... X2

Well, hardly- more like a poor, Luddite's fancies...

I really love those iPad Minis- have absolutely no practical use for them, but really do love the things. They are one sleek, light, lovely designed, super piece of technology I've been long time jonesin' for. It's just such a cool goddang toy!!! And so goddamn expensive. Actually, they would come in super handy when traveling, but since I no longer have the $$$ to travel, particularly overseas... like I said- really have no real need of one. None.

But what if I could get me something approximate for considerably less (kinda like what I've been doing with photo equipment for the last few decades)? I've had my eye on 7in tablets for some time, but even the new Nexus 7 costs over two, with cheaper ones all pretty much crap. Then along comes my ASUS 7 for well under $150 (actually, it's at $150 now, check after Xmas sales) with its remarkably positive reviews. I understand it's not tops for 'gaming,' but I've never gamed in my life and don't intend on starting now. It's fine for email, web surfing, storing a few photos (yeah, I took that) to impress strangers at foreign wi-fi cafes while I sip imaginary wine and cappuccinos on my imaginary travels- and it looks just fine, thank you! And did I mention the price, yes-I-did!

And here's something everyone can appreciate- if you write, that is... with a pen, that is. That's right, the manual (digital?) application of ink to paper. I'm talking the PaperMate Profile 1.4B! This little cheapo ballpoint is one absolute, writing pleasure! This little plastic wonder operates WAY ABOVE its price scale in terms of performance, comfort and pure writing pleasure... one SMOOTH customer! Grab a few dozen before they realize they're making something so damn good for so damn cheap... They even got little plastic nibs on the ballpoint you must first remove- classy!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Republican Road To Riches...

Ever hear of the TPP? Neither did I. Listen to David Cay Johnston as he explains and reveals just some of the reasons we continue to get robbed, pillaged and raped by our Rich, Republican Overseers...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Photo Of The Year/Hypocrite Of Many

Need a little irony writ large for that end of year boost?

 Here's the perfect ticket- a full color panoramic poster of the Wall St. Occupy movement currently for sale (only $42.75), at- yes, are you ready...
WALMART! Where America sells its soul!!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Photo © S. Banos

The Holiday Season is a joyous, celebratory time of year! And a time of absolute stress and tribulation. So don't be surprised should ya end up on all fours, wonderin' how ya got there... (w/o a drink to show for it).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sixty Minutes (Of Fluff)

Gen. Keith Alexander: "There was nobody willfully or knowingly trying to break the law."

SO sayeth the general of his NSA, to which the great John Miller responds by saying... nothing, not-one-word. And we're supposed to take that seriously, as if we're grown adults not insulting each other's intelligence. Really Keith? Really John? I mean, if anything was the greatest spit take line of all time, created by god himself- that had to be it... So this is the pinnacle of "investigative" journalism on American TV?

Wasn't there some kerfuffle recently about not getting the facts straight? I guess the antidote is a series of fluff pieces, first on Amazon (w/o 1 word on worker cond), now the NSA.

Gen. Keith Alexander: "I think people have to be held accountable for their actions."          HA!

So should CBS.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Onset Of "Affluenza"

It's hard for me to even admit this, but growing up a rich spoiled brat with uncaring parents is almost (almost) as bad as growing up dirt poor under same said parents- of course, the key here is the latter; absent, abusive or uncaring parents create the ideal breeding ground for tomorrow's sociopaths. Being rich provides an opportunity to be exposed to alternatives, but without that parental love and guidance, those are usually wasted opportunities. What's needed for these "AFFLUENZA" sufferers however is an immediate crash diet of reality writ large.* Not just another slap on the wrist- isn't that what White folk always prescribe Blacks and Hispanics?

* along with the necessary therapy that should be available and mandatory to either side.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Antonio Olmos- The Landscape Of Murder

Photo: Antonio Olmos

Of course, everything has been done and there is nothing new to photograph anymore. And that's fairly true... 99.99% of the time. And the following is definitely not the exception to the rule- I can name at least three other instances in which similar work has been done, each of them brilliant in their own right... as-is-this!  I've posted on Eva Leitolf's moving and eloquent work quite a few times, Joel Sternfeld's similar interpretation with On This Site, and then there's the photographer (whose name I don't recall) that did wide angle, B&W pinhole photographs of places where people were murdered back in the early '80s (a truly eerie essay of commonplace imagery). I've also seen a variety of series done on roadside descansos which have ranged from fairly impressive to mostly readily forgettable.

Interactive Map of Murder Sites
What this particular project does show is what a little (make that a lot of) imagination can do applied to the very simplest of premises, even those that have already been done (and done well). For most photographers it's hard enough to properly photograph what is clearly there before them, all the photographers mentioned here also had to effectively cope with photographing... what's not there! Antonio Olmos is a professional photojournalist, one who (like everyone else) is constantly seeking out new ideas and projects. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much upon first viewing, maybe a couple of good shots among a cast of supporting mediocrities; what I got instead was a series of solid images with hardly a weak link amongst them- moving, compelling images that draw you in with their composition, lighting and stirring emotional impact. This is brilliant work, both in concept and execution!

Most documentary projects are just that, falling well short of any artistic pretense, the converse can also be true- the most highly touted documentary projects can offer such beautifully aestheticized images that the subject matter takes second place, almost to the point of exclusion (think Salgado, Koudelka, etc). Neither is the case here, as beautiful (even 'serene') as so many of these photographs are, one never loses sight of what they are documenting; instead, their inherent beauty helps draw attention towards emphasizing the content. This is what the best photodocumentary does- publicize, depict and explain to an ill informed public the nature of the subject, its causes, and its consequent aftermath(s)... and do so in a unique, informative and visually compelling manner.

        The Landscape of Murder is one very late and very welcomed addition to this year's must get, must have photo book list.

Photo: Antonio Olmos

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Meritocracy Of It All!

"Never before in the history of photography have so many bad photographs been taken so well."

That was written in the NY Times in the mid-nineties (don't remember the author)- that's right, long before digital became the official coin of the realm. And this is more comment than rebuttal to what Joerg Colberg wrote, my two cents to his well thought out four or five. First, the easy part- I do take exception to what he said about Vivian Maier, and I think that is, at least, in part because of his overall dismissal of so called street photography. Vivian had her style down and in motion by the time Arbus and Winogrand et al started to gather the wind at their sails. And could deservedly be included in the pantheon of contemporaries, incl: Frank, Callahan, Klein and uh... a coupla French guys. FWIW- I think her work to be both substantial and significant; her story is great because of the depth and breadth of her work- no substance, no story.

There is also no doubt that we are flooded with photographic images, more than ever, even without Facebook or Instagram (sorry Mr. Campbell). I don't use either, but the torrent is real and deep, as well as fast and furious. It's a never ending flood, one that is renewed and engorged each and every day. No, not all these photographs are meant to seriously compete with the best and the finest, or even each other, but they take their sensory toll nonetheless. It was hyperinflation in The Weimar Republic no matter what you were trying to buy, and everyone suffered as a result. In the predigital days, there were fewer photographers, fewer photographs, fewer outlets. One had the luxury of time to: discover, analyze, critique and savor; hell, we even had to wait for our images to... develop! We are no longer afforded that most crucial of judicial elements, and it makes any discussion of artistic value or merit all the harder- if not impossible.  

As to how to evaluate merit, well, good luck with that. It's like trying to standardize fender heights on cars- it aint gonna happen. Nor should it. It's what separates ART from science, there are no hard and fast rules. There are always those who have some semblance of what they're talking about amongst the babbling minions, except now there's more of both (or at least the latter)- no great surprise there, or that the better ones get drowned out. More choices, more voices, more outlets, right and wrong. One thing's for sure, the curators and gallerists continue to pick and choose and make the big bucks and careers. Their big monied role has remained essentially unscathed and undiminished throughout. I don't hear them complaining much- or is that because my world is so far removed from theirs?

That's not to say that I don't want to be enlightened, or at least occasionally surprised, we should all be so lucky. But to quote that great (and oh so entirely useless!) twenty first century, philosophical axiom... "It is what it is." We should be talking about this, we need to talk about this- it is both a pragmatic and worthy endeavor, particularly for the yung-uns. To the disappointment of no one, I'd rather refrain from chasing the ever elusive Unified Field Theory of Photographic Merit, and use the precious time remaining to take a picture or two, whether anyone looks or not...

Zazzle Frazzle

I recently gave a rather positive report on Zazzle and their card printing service. On 11/29, I spoke to them via phone concerning the emailed photographic evidence they requested and returned their defective cards- well, it's12/09... and I still have yet to receive my reprint order! In fact, after speaking to them again, it became quite apparent that they have yet to even print it!!! So in short- ZAZZLE SUCKS!--- and apologies for leading anyone astray...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Two Dancers Dreaming

David Gonzalez, Dancers Mott Haven, 1979

I am in absolute love with this photograph. I have witnessed the dance countless times, from the sidewalks and boroughs of New York to the warm, blue Caribbean waters of its birth. I know the moves, the rhythms, the music that draws and compels this couple together. Life celebrated, and life lost. 

The steps are second nature, executed with the utmost finesse. The dancer would never betray the dance, but it is routine now, the passion dissipated.  She's done it too many times, under too many promises; so she exhibits her grace, displays her charm, but she no longer dreams. 

While he... He cannot help but dream. He clutches intensely as the rhythm takes hold; it pervades his body, rejuvenates his desire. Gone is the life that has thrown him about, the people that he has deserted, and that have deserted him. Now he will match her every step and challenge her to make good on the best she still offers. Two people dancing the rhythm of life in a street neither could escape, the dance now all that's left of dreams. 

Two dreamers dancing, two dancers dreaming...

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Brentwaters-Rendlesham Incident

Why would the US government deny a dying Vet his medical records- even when none other than Senator John McCain has requested them on his behalf!?!? This interview is only good for the week, and that is, only if you can get past Whitley Strieber's histrionics. The Brentwaters-Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident at a joint US-RAF Air Force Base however was very real (also see here and here). And of course, there is a 'logical explanation' for it involving a light house (that moves from place to place) or the guy flashing his car lights, or...

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika

There are anthems, and then there are anthems. Some are moving, all are patriotic- but none stirs the very soul, none disturbs it, and none ultimately soothes as South Africa's. None...


Thursday, December 5, 2013


The Sisters Wood, Sandy and Lisa, at... The Woods

The Woods is the the name of the newly opened joint venture by the sisters Wood, Lisa and Sandy, the former (in the interest of full disclosure) being my wife- often referred to here simply as... "The Wife." And needless to say, I'm very proud of what she  they have created and cobbled together here for public consumption, almost as much museum as it is store- like some off kilter science project set in a distorted universe a full century back in time.

This Friday 12/06 at 6PM marks their official, gala opening and celebration. So please drop by if in the neighborhood. The store features everything from her ornate, original and antiquated jewelry to a plethora of various collections and whimsical insect dioramas- an impressive gamut of Victorian oddities: animals and nature, cards and books, flora and fauna, the bizarre and the humorous. It also features a world famous book, B&W photograph and Christmas card for sale. Located at 3248 16 St. (between Delores and Guerrero); hope to see ya's there...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The One That Got Away... Almost

"Tania Head" and Friends
David Handschuh/N.Y. Daily News via Getty Images

I can't believe I totally missed this! Didn't have the slightest. So it came as somewhat of a double whammy deluxe that something so blatantly, and totally outlandish flew right by my radar without my slightest notice. Someone, something that makes the likes of Rosie Ruiz seem like the rank amateur that she was...

Poor ol' Rosie couldn't pull her scam off for more than a coupla days at best- Tania Head kept at it for six long years! And unlike hapless Rosie- Tania wasn't present for any part of the event, just fabricated each and every bit of lie upon lie whole cloth, from thousands of miles away...

The Woman Who Wasn't There is far from a great documentary, but it is one deceptively good story about one deceptively good con that fills you with an unsettling queasiness as you witness the 'rise' and fall of someone so desperate to fill some underlying and overbearingly huge need to belong... at any cost.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Card of the Year!!!

The following is blatant, in your face, commercial exploitation...

Not quite the calendar I've yet to make, but a step in the right direction; and must say, I'm rather quite pleased by it! You can make your own cards (and other stuff) quite easily at Zazzle, or better yet, buy mine so that I can continue to live my decadent bourgeois lifestyle while doubling down my commitment to... The War on Christmas!

Photo © S. Banos

Unfortunately, my card printed with a bit of a light streak on one side- Zazzle offered to reprint and pay return postage on their dime (as well they should)- their customer service was both quick and commendable...      UPDATE!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two Of Three For Christmas

The two things I want for this Christmas are Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan, and Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera by Wayne Lawrence. I'll abstain from placing World Peace on my list this year, since if we ever do achieve that in my lifetime, it will sadly and no doubt come in the form of a somewhat troubled basketball player.

Anxious to read how Edward C. Curtis managed to pursue his life long obsession despite the many obstacles thrown his way, not least of which was the American Indians initial reluctance to his photographic advances, before ultimately completing his self imposed, photographic opus- only to die penniless... Where have we heard that before? Have also been dying to get that most beautiful (if sometimes bizarre) collection of portraits by Wayne Lawrence celebrating the varying colors of the rainbow coalition of humanity that populates Orchard Beach.

Photo: Wayne Lawrence

Friday, November 29, 2013

Almost Home!

Marissa Alexander has finally been released from prison; and although now under house arrest, it's the first step in something to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Business of Incarceration

Quick- What's the best way to get those suspicious looking brown and black malcontents off the streets and give some down on their luck, unemployed white folk a career (talk about Win-Win)?

"The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners."   --Adam Liptak, NY Times

Life w/o possibility of parole for stealing a $159 dollar jacket? But wait- there's more...

Still have doubts? Get the facts...

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Assassination Here, Assassination There...

I've currently come to believe that Lee Harvey Oswald did probably shoot and kill JFK, the Nova study plus several others make a fairly strong case- and there has been no other real evidence, save for speculation, concerning other shooters. There are experts who say he was certainly a good enough shooter, others that say he was nowhere close, even if his crap rifle was up to the job. Either way, it certainly doesn't mean that there wasn't a slew of sinister forces that supported, and then abandoned him. And speaking of sinister forces- even MLK's family profess that James Earl Ray did not kill the famed civil rights leader.

Back in the '70s or '80s I was listening to a radio program on the RFK assassination in which they played the most remarkable of tapes, a tape that to this day I can't believe was somehow made public. The tape is over an hour long and features LAPD Sgt. Hernandez (who allegedly had CIA connections) basically browbeating a female witness into saying the story he wants her to say and believe. I could not find the entire tape, but did mange to locate a video with important excerpts in which you can hear her interrogator (again, you can hear for yourself this is an interrogation, not an interview): bully, plead, demand, and coerce- all the time attempting to both identify with and shame Sandra Serrano into changing her story into his. At first she is adamant, indeed defiant, about what she saw- but gradually over time, he eventually starts to wear her down until she finally (finally) realizes she ain't going nowhere until she converts to his exact version of what he says happened. At the end you can hear the utter exasperation in her voice. It is not dissimilar to what NYPD did years later with The Central Park Five. Interestingly, LAPD Officer Paul Sharaga corroborated her story, and LAPD later stated that he recanted his report. Mr. Sharaga to this day denies it.  
(listen to Parts 2 & 3 on You Tube)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Dr. Richard Haines- Another UFO 'Whacko'

Who just happens to be a retired NASA research scientist.

"From a science point of view, I just cannot ignore the data."

Speaking of scientists who dare to go where no scientist has gone before... Dr. Rupert Sheldrake.

And last, and certainly not least- one of the most well researched compilations on some of the all time best documented cases.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pick Your Poison- Gilden vs. Stanton

Photo: Bruce Gilden
Bruce Gilden is one of my 'guilty' pleasures- everyone deserves a few. Devoid of any ethics (he'll be the first to tell ya), he has no qualms depicting his fellow human beings as something approximating the humanoids of the classic Twilight Zone episode where grotesqueness was the norm, and conventional human beauty, abhorrent. Sometimes I wonder if he'd have photographed his own mother like that, or perhaps the question should be- would mom let him near her with a camera?

And in the corner directly opposite, we have the likes of Brandon Stanton of HONY fame and fortune. He takes very complimentary portraits, photos that his subjects would be proud and happy to show anyone- including their mothers.

Two very different approaches, two widely disparate aesthetics; one has a small, almost cult like following, the other, a practically unprecedented, massive, worldwide appeal. I've been a long time Gilden fan since I first remember him honing his craft on 5th Ave.in the early Eighties. So how would I justify his New York cast of characters, or perhaps more appropriately, caricaturizations- not to mention his abrupt, no apology, in your face brand of hit and run photography?

Photo: Brandon Stanton
I can't. All I do know is that I love his work- on a gut level, aesthetic level, hell- just about any damn level you can throw my way. As a New Yorker whose walked those very streets, it may be surprising to hear that it is not as easy as one may think to effectively portray in a simple photograph every which way those streets can wear you down, tear you down, each and every day, one little piece atta time until, until... you end up looking like something in a Gilden portrait. And even if ya don't, ya damn well feel it! That is, in fact, how Gilden succeeds- using his photography on a descriptive literary level, every bit as any novelist would in depicting the angst and depersonalization so prevalent in New York, or any large metropolitan area. 

Unlike a novelist, however, Gilden uses real, identifiable people in the portrayal of his often zombie like vision of urban dread. Does the end justify the means? I'm not a big fan of that credo, particularly since it is often the excuse that leads to even more egregious debacles. And so I call on my major trump card, the infamous, no holds barred and don't ask me to explain any further (because I damn well can't) Every Dog Has Its Day card. And in Gilden's case (like so many others too numerous to mention)- the end does justify the means. His New York is the New York I so often felt coursing through my veins as I walked those very streets- and my hat off to him for capturing it in such a remarkably mesmerizing way, for art and posterity. As Gilden most accurately points out, traditional New York archetypes are fast disappearing- everyone everywhere is starting to look more and more the same.

Brandon Stanton lives in a different reality, and a different New York. Perhaps because he's not a native, perhaps because he's an optimist- I don't know. His legions of fans state that the stories that he elicits from his subjects are the real strength of his work.* In all fairness, they are- I just don't have the stomach to get past his feel good portraits. PS- How can you tell the really weird people in New York? Easy- they walk around... smiling.

Perhaps one day Mr. Stanton will compile his individual stories into a compelling film documentary where we get to know a few of his subjects on a personal level beyond mere anecdotes, perhaps that is, in fact, where his work is eventually leading him. I would be interested in seeing that. Right now, there is nothing in his photography (at least) that I find visually compelling- as opposed to the plethora of stories my imagination immediately conjures upon viewing a single Gilden image.

Bruce Gilden's latest tightly cropped portraits are devoid of any background relevant to subject or locale. Are they exploitative? Don't know how you could claim otherwise. What's the ethical justification for their raison d'ĂȘtre? Hell, I'm still gobsmacked just looking at 'em...

* I've said this before, one of the best photo exhibits I've ever seen was a series of small, nondescript B&W snapshots of 'Bowery bums' (taken in the '70s). Beside each portrait, typed on standard 3X5 index cards was the story of how each individual ended up there- Truly Powerful Stuff...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013


Photo © S. Banos

Guys- ever have one of those days when you leave the house and ya just know ya forgot something, but damn if ya know what the hell it is, or was, or... Then all of a sudden, Hold Everything- it hits ya like a thunderbolt right upside the head! Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Conservative Christianity

Starts @ 2:48.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

12 Years A Slave

I almost feel that to speak of this film only cheapens it, for nothing within it is wasted, and anything I would have to say could never pay it justice. Every scene, every moment is used to full potential, even the air hangs heavy, with you in its presence. Director Steve McQueen has resurrected the evil insanity upon which an entire nation was created, whose legacy we continue to deny to this very day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Butt, Butt, Butt...

You're gonna have to try really, Really, REALLY hard to top this in terms of absolute insanity ad absurdum...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Beautiful San Francisco!

I currently reside in San Francisco, one of the most beautiful (and expensive, along with New York) cities in these United States. Right now construction throughout the city is progressing at record levels; they are building an entirely new addition to the city in the waterfront area by AT&T Park (where the SF Giants play). And in the midst of this construction boom, the homeless population is... skyrocketing! Young, old, black, white and everything in between- including many newly homeless families.

As someone who struggles to meet rent each and every month, it seems an overwhelmingly impossible problem to even ponder, let alone solve. Of course, a small portion of all that new housing would be a nice start, along with the necessary mental health, social and employment services, etc. But we are no longer concerned with caring for those that Jesus dedicated his life to- despite  the consistent claims of being a majority Christian nation. In fact, everything we do as a country, a government, a society seems hell bent on increasing the schism between the haves and have-nots, and in so doing keep everyone in place for fear of joining the ever expanding ranks of the latter.

San Francisco, Photo: S. Banos

Meanwhile, NYC has finally (finally!) rid itself of would be King Bloomberg who departs the island in a hail of self congratulatory praise and adulation, reciting his own faked accomplishments in the name of legacy.

Yet a report issued by one of his own agencies, the Center for Economic Opportunity, revealed that by the end of 2011 more than a fifth of New Yorkers were living below the poverty line and another quarter just above it. These figures will rise, the report added, especially if federal spending declines, as expected.
This spring, the Fiscal Policy Institute, a progressive nonprofit research organization, issued an even grimmer report, concluding that there has been “no meaningful reduction in poverty” in the city in thirty years.       --Ken Auletta

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Apostasy- Jonathan Auch

Photo: Jonathan Auch
As much as I enjoy and encourage the new found interest and participation in "street photography," it also has brought about (quite predictably) a plethora of second and third rate imitations of imitations that can leave a rather vile taste in one's mouth for the entire genre. Yes, anyone with a half decent camera (or less) and a city street with (and sometimes even without) people can play- but like any other 'game,' it sure doesn't insure you're gonna be any good at it. I've been playing my particular version for a few decades and have amassed precious few baubles for the effort.

I've written on Jonathan Auch before, one of the better young street shooters out there now, and that's not to say that I like everything he shoots, or how he shoots it. But I respect the way he continues to push, question, explore; and unlike countless others shooting countless approximations of what they've already seen and somehow hope to recreate, Johnathan has the accomplished eye and reflexes to make striking images come true- and just as amazingly, has the ability to adapt to the subject matter at hand through a variety of styles! One can clearly see glimpses of Gilden, Ackerman, Levenstein and the whole history of street photography reverberating throughout...

A prodigious shooter, it's a joy to see his work continue to branch out and evolve- Jonathan will have his first one man show, Apostasy, on 11/06!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Black and White Photography

A month back I came upon the photo above, an even more dramatic depiction of what would have, could have happened below, if it wasn't for one brave individual named Keshia Thomas.

Photo: Mark Brunner

Both offer such a very stark contrast to the photo(s) below. This is not to say something as simplistic as one side good, one side bad; but it is a stark reminder that the often negative and stereotypical media images of predatory Blacks and minorities in general are not necessarily an accurate reflection of the complexities of how humans of either race interact with each other- to say the very least. Sometimes, the worst of situations can bring about the very best in us, and the most innocuous of occasions give rise to the most insidious.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy All Hallow's Eve

All Hallow's Eve: S. Banos

I'm not big on Halloween, but whatever you do- make sure you listen to the story below (rest of the episode here) ...  
Forget 'ghost story,' it's a story you won't soon (if ever) forget- period.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Politics 101

First, I must say that the very sight of this guy made me turn away in disgust- just one of those visceral, gut level things. Couldn't stand the very sight of him! And he certainly didn't seem to be very funny, or whatever it was he was supposed to be, or do. 

Then, quite accidentally, I heard Mr. Russell Brand speak, and though I still can't vouch for his comedy, he is as intelligent in his (political) thinking as he is lightning fast in his speech...

Monday, October 28, 2013

One World Trade Center Blues

Well, I certainly agree that it's one butt ugly building- perhaps Banksy is approaching it from the other end. He says it doesn't quite stand out enough, I think it stands out like a massive glass and concrete sore thumb in the shape of some vertical security vault. Maybe, that is what he's saying. Regardless, I think we both agree- good looking it is not...   (via skyscraperpage)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Times Two

Two from recent pages of NY Times Lens blog:
(much as I like the "playfulness" of the first- the precision drama of the second just blows me away)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No- WE Are Broken...

Not just the ocean.  The simple fact is- we cannot exist without it...

Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff

At the end of this century when people no longer have access to what was once the biggest source of protein on... earth, some will ask why we allowed our biggest giver of life to turn into an open sewer where only jellyfish can survive amidst the tons of floating plastic, garbage and other detritus. They will ask why we simply watched it happen, allowed it to happen, and still did absolutely nothing- knowing full well that we cannot possibly survive without it.

And all we'll be able to say is... because we're human; and when you come down to it, killing is what we do best. Oh, we can build and create, sing and even love, but killing is what we're best at. Sometimes it makes no matter what we kill, or how we do it, long as there's something left to kill: human, plant or animal. We can always ask why later...



Photo: Kambou Sia