Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Shame And Redemption

Photo: Marc Garanger

Even stripped of their context, these portraits of Algerian women by Marc Garanger maintain their power- despite the deliberate attempt to strip their subjects of their very dignity. The camera that took these photos was used as much as a weapon as it was a recording device, and the photographer forced to take them, hoped that their subjects' haunting glares would in turn forever lay bare the injustice done unto them. The ironies of intent and usage, violation and liberation are rife all around. The purpose, actions and end products all testify to the dehumanizing consequences of colonization, itself a manifestation of racism.  

In a humane world these photographs would not exist. These rare and powerful images of anger, defiance, injustice and yes, beauty would have never seen the light of day. And that perhaps is the ultimate irony. These photographs that mean so much today (even to their unwilling subjects)- how do we even contemplate extolling their wonders? And yet, marvel we must, at what they reveal, what they preserve, what they tell us about their subjects, and ourselves...

Sunday, April 28, 2013


As feared, Sirius was a pretty poorly thrown together mish-mosh that occasionally raised some good questions along with a few good assertions, and then went absolutely nowhere with them- at least during the parts I managed to stay awake. Even the six inch (non alien) body wanted outta this one...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Instant Camera Bags

The Lowepro Exchange Messenger Bag
Lately as I get older errr... wiser, I've tended to simplify. Easier, lighter- less is more. That particularly pertains to equipment- especially the amount of equipment carried. I have the previous version of the Crumpler $6 Million dollar bag (the present version is as butt ugly as butt ugly gets); great for road trips when you can pack the kitchen sink. As for my everyday sojourns to and from the day job, I pack my FM3 w/20mm in one of those equally butt ugly triangular SLR pouches conveniently unseen within my Manhattan Portage (Small) DJ bag along with my water bottle, binder, lunch, etc. Lately however I've been wanting an equally smallish and lean, non conspicuous camera bag for casual street shooting.

I at first thought of getting an economical camera bag insert for said Manhattan Portage DJ bag, but I would then have to purchase the slightly larger Medium sized version to accommodate the insert, approx cost for both- $100. Then I came upon the Lowepro  Exchange Messenger Bag. Not quite as sturdy as the DJ Bag w/add. padded insert, but... it's $30 all told! Built well enough for casual everyday shooting, has three adjustable padded compartments, a couple of side pockets, can fit a camera, 2 add. short lenses, flash, small accessories (stop- no more!), is inconspicuous and hugs the body.  Look forward to using when I visit the homeland in NYC this June. When it wears down, you're good to go for another $30- or get the MP alternative described above (my eventual route when my current wears out).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Two Things...

1.) Been wondering (OK, more like self amused) for well over a week now, as to why The Media doesn't refer to the two Boston bombing suspects from The Caucasus as... Caucasians?*

2.) Why is it that the FBI and their related law enforcement agencies are so great at entrapping and busting witless, gullible chumps with dummy bombs and even dumber terrorism plots they themselves help choreograph- and so raggedy-ass awful at preventing real terrorism plots even when they've been warned, often repeatedly, by their fellow intelligence agencies, both foreign and domestic?

*I remember reading quite some years back (in a Nat Geo if memory serves) that ethnic people from the Caucasus (ie- Chechnyans) referred to themselves as "Black" and that they were the target of discrimination from lighter skinned Russians. Remember shaking my head and thinking to myself...ain't that some shit!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Aitor Lara's Ronda Goyesco

Photo: Aitor Lara

I recently came across Aitor Lara's Ronda Goyesco, a beautifully photographed book filled with gorgeous B&W reproductions; it covers the primitively sadistic bloodsport known as bull fighting that is forever ingrained into and protected by "culture." That said, Lara covers all aspects of this highly ritualized blood letting: the pomp and circumstance, the fashion and traditions, the fear and emotion behind the stands and within the arena, and finally, a peak at the action itself, and its aftermath. As if that wasn't enough, he even throws in some remarkable studio style portraits. Unfortunately, I could not find any quality representations of this work online, not even on his website- so I opted instead to include some exquisite samples of his other work... 

Photo: Aitor Lara

Monday, April 22, 2013


This is some scary shit, and it affects each and everyone of us- there's no hiding, no running away, no ignoring. And it will bite us all- BIGTIME!

"Carbon in the atmosphere greater than 350PPM is not compatible with life on earth. Today we are at 395..." Now watch it in earnest---

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Central Park Five Fiasco

Remember it like yesterday- pacing the halls of our school at 116th and Lenox (my first permanent teaching assignment), hoping it was "not one of ours." And asking ourselves with befuddled looks, "What the hell is... Wilding?" Of course, turned out it was a non existent term manufactured by the cops- as were the well orchestrated stories these five minors were rehearsed into telling an outraged city in order to successfully prosecute, convict and condemn themselves of a crime they did not commit, and therefore grant the aggrieved populace some measure of closure.
And yes, even I at the time (am quite saddened to admit) was of the belief that where there was smoke... there was fire. More like smoke and mirrors...

Watch Central Park Five Preview on PBS. See more from Central Park Five.

Week In Review...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Photographic Truisms

Bubbles by: (See Below)

Ya know all those truisms about photography, you know like, "A picture is worth a thousand words," or how 'bout, "You are what you photograph." Nobody really believes those things- right?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Guantanamo: Let The Dying Begin!

I’ve been detained at Guantánamo for 11 years and three months. I have never been charged with any crime. I have never received a trial.   -Samir Naji al Hasan Moobel

Wasn't this nation expressly conceived and created to permanently abolish the very possibility of such living nightmares?

Over half the people there have been cleared for release. They have committed no crime, done no wrong- they know it, we know it. And yet we continue to imprison them in a living hell: without the slightest modicum of justice, without the slightest opportunity for hope. 

Basically, they have been told that we have committed such an egregious and fundamental error that admitting to it, even acknowledging it, would be such a monumental admission of guilt, that we simply could not endure the consequences of such embarrassment. Therefore, it was decided that it was in our best interest that they technically do not exist and should just die, quietly and well out of sight. All that we ask of them is that they do not do anything to draw attention to themselves.

Obama- this is on you...

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sorrow, Suffering And Survival In Syria

The Veils of Aleppo- Franco Pagetti

The Frontline piece is both incredibly sad and maddening, a small glimpse into the bitter consequences of yet another purposely manufactured breakdown between peoples who had lived, shared and known better- all so they could indulge the twisted fallacy of superiority touted by some lecherous lunatic that would infect and pervert one and all to the point of wanton mass murder, just as in Yugoslavia, Rawanda and so many other countless and all so ultimately futile ethnic conflicts.

It is the way of the bully, the unrelenting will of the sociopathic mind and the unthinking masses that first allow and then participate in the ravages of civilian killings, the slaughter of young innocents. Inevitable, untold suffering that will persist for decades, hatred that will long outlast the petty mind from which it spawned.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Was Wrong- Some People Really Do Deserve To Be Tortured!


I'm speaking, of course, of privileged, spoiled, ignorant assholes  who refuse to metamorphose into any kind of sentient beings capable of the least amount of empathy with the rest of their species; those concerned with themselves and themselves only.

Let me be clear, this is very much a ticking time bomb scenario- these people have all reached the age of consent and show not the slightest remorse for their fundamentalist, sociopathic practices. Time to go to the dark side with their ilk. Let's treat 'em to a manicure they won't forget, let's rock and shock their nether regions, and then clean 'em all up with the water treatment of their lives.

These fuckers make me sick.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Photo: S. Banos

After a while there are some things in life (ie- photography) that you slowly come to realize there's just no explaining- even when it comes to the most basic of things, like what's new and what's old.

I shoot B&W film- I'm old times two. Granted. But... color photography is like the super baggy, sagging pants trend- still popular and current as all hell, particularly with those who don't know how old the shit actually is, ie- those who weren't born when it was, in fact- new! But new it's nowhere near- it's every bit as played and funky as anything else in the known universe. Both color and "sagging" have entered the staid and hallowed halls of "tradition," their time as rebels long since over... but neither can come to grips (because they can't come up with whatever the next real new will be).

So they keep retouching, punching holes in, and drawing shit on photographs just like they've been doing since day one- and what's really old is having people "discover" these things every decade and then treat them as "new." And this is no way any knock against truly original stuff like Doug Rickard's A New American Picture

The thing is, like it or not, photography begins in camera- it's Achilles heel (far as "newness" is concerned). And that's where photography's "artistic" insecurity lies; unlike so many other arts- photography, is unavoidably beholden to that machine, and some will always tend to overcompensate for that. Like it or not- photographers will always have to do a good portion of their thinking within the box (no matter the technology of how that box records). I'm all for new visions and new approaches, and look forward to them as much as anyone- but it also doesn't mean we need belittle or apologize for what cameras can and always have done, and what photography will always do best... 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


No idea how good, or bad, this is gonna be- Sirius! Production values seem decent, as to content... Hope it's something more substantive than the usual speculative TV production with an "alien body" thrown in for good measure. 


As I've said all too many times before, no one book, movie, or "expert" is going to shake my belief that they are here- a belief that comes neither from blind faith nor some new age longing, but  from the testimony of those scientists and trained observers brave enough to voice their beliefs and opinions based on the scientific evidence they themselves have witnessed, examined and were no longer able to keep to themselves- despite the very real  threat and repercussions to their own careers from corporate science.


Monday, April 8, 2013

"Good Riddance"

AMEN! Bye-bye, Thatcher- a pox on you and all your ilk. The world would have been, and forever will be a better place without the likes of you, Reagan and all the goddamn Bushes of the world...

"I've just sent a letter of congratulations," (Pallo Jordan) said.  "I say good riddance. She was a staunch supporter of the apartheid regime. She was part of the right wing alliance with Ronald Reagan that led to a lot of avoidable deaths."

PETA- Wanton Slaughterer of Animals

No- REALLY! Who the hell could have thought this one up (and it's well past the 1st)! They've always sounded and felt like a cult, but for a supposedly good (if overbearingly self righteous) cause, right? Right!?! Never figured them this Jim Jonesian in scope- or action! Unfreakin' believable...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Well Beyond The Pines...

The Place Beyond The Pines is one ambitious but uneven flick that bounces from stretches of clear, confident film making to moments where the seams are far from transparent- and no doubt because it aint gonna end its two and a half hour stretch till it ties it all up in a nice big bow for one and all.

It's divided into three parts; in the first, we get caught up with the turbo charged, heart throb, bad boy who volunteers to meet his fate a tad too early- and your left wondering... huh? Then we transition to Part II- and just before you're about to cash out, the plot once again thickens with a dirty cop scenario. We're good again! Then we're immersed in Part III- 15 Years Later...

And half way through the latter, ya kinda wish someone had ended it fifteen years, and a half hour earlier.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Safe, Cheap, Efficient- Nuclear!

 Signs & Symbols
We dodged the bullet big time with Three Mile Island, and it didn't exactly take a rocket nuclear scientist to predict that if anyone would fuck up big time with the almighty atom, it would be the (just sweep it under the rug) Soviets- so Chernobyl certainly came as no surprise. But if the do it to the detail Japanese can't keep the cap on this deadly game of power now/contamination later (for centuries)- than who on earth can???

Don't worry America! That radiation leaking into your water supply is well within safety limits. And that ever growing, ever warming pile of long buried radioactive waste is every bit as safe and secure as your mama's loving bosom... (2nd link fixed)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mark Steinmetz (in San Francisco)

Love that suspended animation box materializing from another dimension in the middle of...  
Photo: Mark Steinmetz

Mark Steinmetz is an unusual cat; got to see him at The CA College Of The Arts this week. He publishes and exhibits exclusively in B&W- like now, today... successfully! And while he's thoroughly dedicated to that particular medium, he is very much a generalist otherwise; that is, he takes: portraits, landscapes, street scenes, still lifes... all with the power to seduce you, unlike many photographers today who seem to stay within specific niche categories. 

Steinmetz started with a street photographer's aesthetic but managed to make it more his own, more elegant, more diverse; in part due to his use of larger formats, but largely because his vision evolved into a richer, more finely nuanced, and very eloquent hybrid that seems capable of adapting to whatever the subject matter. They're very subdued, contemplative images- yet they pack a sustained wallop nonetheless. Spend some time on his website- you'll see what I mean and it'll be time well spent (better yet, study one of his books). Did I mention he doesn't do color? Actually he does, just doesn't show it much, you can well see why...

Mr. Steinmetz is currently on view at The Stephen Wirtz Gallery till 4/27.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Strike 1-2-3-4...

I'd have a better chance parking here...
Well, spring has finally sprung, and I've already officially struck out- and then some. Every once in a great while I manage to get up the courage to submit some work for the express purpose of being ignored, humiliated and reminded that I'm too old, out of touch and just not worth the bother. Entered five different competitions this year, and only one remains left to mock, reject and just plain... forget me. 

Now, I never thought I'd make it to the NY Times Portfolio Review, that was just a nice (free) pipe dream from the start, same goes for being published in Canteen (even though the Lenscratch consolation prize was a fairly sweet way to be labeled... LOSER!). I did think I had a decent chance, a really decent chance at this Fotofilmic competition meant solely for film users. Man, they either have some pretty high fucking standards up Canada way, or they're just flat out jealous of us true blue citizens of the US of A- you know, the real Americans (sorry, Eric)! And of course, the year started off by getting the boot right here in the hood from the local Bay Area Photo Alliance exhibit. Four for four baby! And now the clock is finally ticking on the last remaining option towards completion of the 2013 perfect storm of humiliation.

Of course, I'm still very much keeping fingers crossed for #5; what's that definition of insanity again? I entered a few photos for The Brooklyn Fence this year under the category of Home- four very strong entries that very much reverberate, relate and speak to that particular theme. There's really no excuse imaginable for them to be rejected- None! I can state that, emphatically and unequivocally, before anyone and everyone.

That and $2.75 will get you on the subway...