Sunday, September 29, 2013

Say What!?

Bay Bridge- Photo: S.Banos
The amount of tension, mistrust and underlying bigotry can be rather apparent in online discussions in various photographic forums when the subject of minority representation in professional or art photography is discussed (however inadequately and infrequently). But I must say even I was taken aback a few years ago when I encountered the rampant, in your face hate and racism propagated in more public online forums. No code words, no well honed political doublespeak. And it just wasn't the odd solitary guy standing in the corner of the virtual room by himself; it was the whole mighty chorus, each trying to out do the vile, profane, degenerate racist tirade of the previous commenter, and to a large part, they were in fact, succeeding- dragging the "conversation" yet further into the depths of monosyllabic hate and kill babble.

So whenever I walk the streets, I find myself (more than ever) asking who those strangers writing those "comments" might be. I know they don't all look like hideously deformed hate demons, I know they don't live in one solitary enclave- I know that we walk and live amongst them each and every day...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Eyes Of Your Sole(s)

One of the first things I notice about a person upon first meeting is- their shoes. They tell me way more about a person than their eyes- any lying liar can tell me whatever they want with their eyes. But their shoes are a whole different ballgame- shoes don't lie. Just think about it, they're the first things to come between you and the planet you deal with, the terra firma that spawned, nurtured and defined you. They reveal more about you than any damn photographic portrait- that's for damn sure! Your temperament, politics, favorite movie- they're all right there between your toes.

I've worn some variety, shape or form of sneaker most my life. High tops, low tops, canvas and leather of many styles, colors and brands- many fairly cheap, many fairly expensive. I walk- a lot. Many sneakers today, particularly the better made ones are both prohibitively LOUD, as well as prohibitively expensive for an aging person of non-means as myself. Recently, I took to wearing inexpensive canvas sneakers which when I was considerably younger were quite well built and durable- these days they are built so shabbily that I actually had to buy gel insoles to enhance their napkin thin soles. 

Of course, the very concept of buying insoles for... sneakers is well beyond insanity! So thinking outside the box, I decide to get some desert boots. Fairly stylish these days, and they have those nice, springy, cushiony, natural kinda soles. I'm in! And to make things even sweeter, I even got a brand new pair of gel soles to go with 'em- that's right, Stan's gonna ride high and live large once again! And the whole of the following week I'm draggin' my feet home with whatever's left of me- those freakin' shoes are the largest energy drags I've ever placed upon my body.

Nike Free 3.0 V5 (wish the soles were dark- but, hey...)

So back to the drawing board I go, when I see this pair of running shoes. Now I usually steer clear of running shoes- 99.99% of them are the absolute fugliest clown wear ever placed atop this earth. I don't care what they feel like. But these looked different, they didn't have a thousand stars, stripes and gyrations clashing about them every which way in every fluorescent color not humanly imaginable, they weren't clumsy, they weren't awkwardly pointy- in fact, they were pretty understated, classy even...

So I went to Uncle Amex, who always smiles upon his children, and ordered me up a pair. And, oh dear lord, the saints delivered!!! These shoes are a pair of heaven itself! Light as the literal feather and comfort beyond reckoning; it's not that my feet get less tired- they just don't get tired... period! At all! I feel like I'm twenty five again (at least my feet do). And no damn photo ever made me feel that good!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cristophe Kutner- The US

To be quite honest I'm not all that excited by this guy's photographs- many of them are simple snapshots, many unnecessarily overexposed, and quite a few others- quite good, indeed! What I do love is the concept-  the candy colored covers, the idea of one book for each state. Nicely understated, yet- Brilliant! And can't believe it hasn't been done (or at least attempted) before...

Photo: Cristophe Kutner

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Let The Sadness Hit You Like A Truck...

Gotta make a decent scan of this...
I don't have a smart phone, didn't get a cell phone till around 2003, after my wife kept insisting that we had to get them so that we could locate and dig each other out after The Big One here in "don't call it Frisco." It didn't seem to matter that cell phone service will undoubtedly be one of the first casualties when it does hit. So I carried it around for the first year and a half turned Off. And the wife yelled at me some more till I finally left it On. But I still don't text, and I've never responded to the one someone sent me a few years back.

I'm on the computer way too much as is; I have an addictive personality, and it's by far the best toy I've ever had since the camera. But I want to experience life when I leave my fortress of solitude and distraction- painfully, monotonously boring and aggravating as it usually is. And I don't want to be one of those people I constantly see looking into their palm sized screens as if it held the secret to a better life, a more fulfilled life, the life I could imagine myself to have if only I too walked around staring at my palm. Anyone can promptly list the advantages of smart phones- I'll let the great 21st century philosopher, Louis C.K., espouse the drawbacks...

Click on link below if video does not play-

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Heyward Hart's Foreign Language

Photo: Heyward Hart

There's something rather odd about Heyward Hart's photos. Something's just rather off, as if something we're not completely privy to is happening, or has happened, or maybe will happen-
damned if I know...

Photo: Heyward Hart

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Short, And Not So Simple...

Nope, ain't feeling guilty on this one. Not having it. Not one bit. At all... (some free floating anxiety, maybe).  Photo: S. Banos

I debated taking this photo, I debated posting it even more. Humorous? Mean spirited? Both???

I think one could make equally valid arguments for all the above. One of the things that Right Wingers repeatedly fail to comprehend is that one can understand something without condoning it. Their somewhat limited mindsets seem to short circuit at the consideration that comprehension does not automatically signal approval, that everything is not so clearly black and white in this often grey and murky world. I think that condition can also manifest (in admittedly fewer circumstances) with those on the Left, when you're perceived a traitor to the cause if you do not blindly buy into the whole 'manifesto.'

Obviously, one cannot paint the homeless into one homogeneous group. You have: abused women and runaway minors, the mentally ill, addicts, former military suffering from PTSD, your basic 'ne'er do wells' or criminal element-  not to mention ex cons effectively banned from most employment opportunities by the very history they're desperately trying to escape. And then there are those that hit much closer to home- the ever increasing number of unfortunates who have simply hit hard times and find themselves unemployed, underemployed, friendless and on the streets. And statistics prove that more and more of the latter now include formerly middle class suburban women, children, and adults of both sexes over 50.

Those on the Right tend to see them in one lump sum ("they're homeless because they want to be")- just like gays make a "conscious decision" to become gay, and schizophrenics supposedly choose to become mentally incompetent. 

I certainly don't know what the story is behind the person pictured above. Perhaps he's tried to get a job and change his situation for several years now, without luck or hope, and has now simply given up. Or perhaps he's simply a 'bum' or druggie thoroughly resigned to a life of hustling and playing the streets. I-Don't-Know. 

What I do know is that he does have a certain sense of humor, casually turning the whole discussion on homelessness on its royal side with his flippant in your face sign. And that life, cruel and sometimes funny mother that it can be, turned the joke back on him soon as he let his guard down. A reverse whammy that can't be ignored, and that he (at least in this case) very much set himself up for. 

Personally, I don't see a very optimistic future, then again, there's no way I could go on without some small sense of hope- sustained by the ability to suffer criticism and retain a sense of humor (particularly when at one's own expense)... it's the one thing the 1% can't do.

PS- I guess what I've been actually trying to say all along is- I see a lotta me in that guy. And perhaps, a little of us all...

Friday, September 13, 2013

What's Your Pleasure?

Pick your poison- be it still or moving, digital or film. Long Live Film above is yet to debut, Side By Side below available via Netflix...

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Just a Rascal away...  Photo: Stan B.

As in # of posts- not some tweetin' hashtag. Considerably more if you counted the posts from R-F's previous incarnation, but I guess minor league hits don't count. Anyway, as always- thanks for dropping by!

If I had any self discipline, I'd instead be making hi-res files of my greatest hits, doing post and preparing 'em for posterity. But then, I'd have nothing to do when it's finally time to invest in my very own Rascal. Honestly, I'm surprised to be still chuggin' away here, even if things have slowed a tad. Seems everyday I think will be my last... along comes something of interest at the last second to help keep it all good...

BTW... I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again- where the freak are all the yung-uns? Shouldn't they be out in the forefront forging, leading and blogging the way to the brave new (and retro) photographic universe? Where the hell are all their voices? Have they all instagrammed into an alternate reality far from the sight of this analog relic?

Speaking of the future... This planet will be a significantly different place at the end of this century, and not for the better. We are an amazingly self destructive species, I wish I could be more positive, but I suspect lot smarter species throughout the universe never made it past this period of their own civilization- the part where they finally achieved the power to destroy themselves countless times over, not only with their own weapons... but through their own greed, short sightedness and apathy. I had hoped we had the capacity to not only read all the signs around us, but to actually take the necessary steps to save ourselves while we still could. Instead, we have chosen to embrace the denial that will minimize our daily pain, and trash the future of our very existence.

And we'll have cameras to document it- every sad and quickening step of the way...    Peace.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The First 9/11

One of the major differences one can draw between Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and Henry Kissinger and the CIA, is that bin Laden first warned the US of dire consequences to come should they not withdraw their troops from his native country. Kissinger (or Nixon) gave no such warning- nor was any transgression against the US ever made by Salvador Allende's Chile.

We installed and supported a terrorist who killed thousands of his own people, and decades later attacked yet another country whose leader, interestingly enough, we first supported, and then tired of- all before we decided to kill hundreds of thousands of that country's men, women and children, for no reason whatsoever.

And yet to this day, we continue to call others "TERRORISTS" without shame, without hesitation, without the slightest pretense of self awareness...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Vanessa's Last Dance...

Photo: Vanessa Winship
The clock is ticking, and it ticks with every passing page in Vanessa Winship's She Dances On Jackson. The landscape is barren, brooding; the people joyless, surviving. It could be post Soviet Russia, or somewhere in the Eastern bloc, places where Vanessa Winship's work previously resonated. It is, in fact, turn of the century America post 9/11- an America on the decline.

The hope and resiliency that foreigners once detected in, and imported to, this former land of promise has waned and dissipated. The buildings are tattered, the vistas sunless, nature no longer seems capable of regenerating, or even enduring- the iconic shoe tree is bereft its branches, pairs of shoes sadly engulfing its once life giving trunk. The virus succumbs both man and nature alike.

The United States still has its expanses of wealth and beauty, but we're long past the denial of our down slide (if not the causes). Unemployment, failed drug policies, homelessness and the ever growing working poor are no longer isolated issues (to name but a few)- they now dictate the national psyche (even if one chooses to actively ignore them).

This is what Vanessa Winship concentrates her soulful gaze upon, survivors living in a land and time through which the cavalry no longer passes. And they know it. The implosion so imminent in The Americans, has finally come to pass.

Even the one photograph that threatens to awe us with its very grandeur reverberates with our own  mortality.   Photo: Vanessa Winship

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Guns And Violence, Part...

Interesting program trying to arrest rising gun violence amongst youth in the city of Philadelphia.

Courtesy Jessica Kourkounis

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Gatekeepers

Finally caught up with this remarkable documentary, and one not to be missed. The Gatekeepers is filled with the behind the scenes revelations that lend insight not only into the tactics of Shin Bet (the Israeli Secret Service), but more importantly, into their mind set.

Surprisingly, many of these hardened warriors who have been on the front lines before they assumed their command positions (unlike many a US politico) reveal a more thorough understanding of the no-win situation they're in than one would think. They know they can't possibly win by military means alone, they know that they are also viewed as terrorists- and they know that they have now been hijacked by Right Wing, religious extremists... just like many Muslin countries, and just like the good ol' USA. Unfortunately, that simple, basic glimpse of "self awareness" seems blatantly absent when it comes to the general populace of all three...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fall Semester Now In Session

Yeah, yeah- I'm working on the rest of 'em...    Photo: S. Banos

Well, the end of summer is nigh, and all the slowly reawakening photobloggers who have slept and partied (and supposedly photographed their way through summer) the last few months will soon emerge refreshed, renewed and revitalized (or so the legend doth go). And just in time, cause lately it's gone kinda crickets out here amongst the slumbering tubes of the interweb. Time for youngbloods (shouldn't they be screaming the most!?!) and elders alike to shoot a few sparks and get the blood flowing anew. 

Let's have at it gentlemen (and women), what's goes out there? It's almost freakin' Christmas for chrissakes!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What I Did On My Summer Vacation!

I'd like to think this was an exercise in constructive dialogue (see commentary). And keep in mind this occurred at one very civil, very well mannered site- otherwise, it would have been death threats (and worse) from the get go...

While there are some legitimately responsible gun owners out there, they're probably in the minority; most gun owners, like most other people with anything else, probably take fairly moderate precautions that usually are... just safe enough. The problem, of course, is that firearms are not like everything else and require much more strenuous safeguards, and on those occasions when guns are not vigilantly safeguarded and therefore stolen or otherwise misused- it's very frequently tragedy writ large on a personal, or massive scale (eg- Newtown).

And then... there are the yahoos, who I would respect a helluva lot more if they were simply honest enough to admit that the real reason they want such easy access to so many guns has nothing to do with hunting, nothing to do with The Bill of Rights- and certainly nothing to do with government officials who may someday (as they claim), inexplicably turn on them (despite being paid off so handsomely through the various gun lobbies). 

Just come out and say that we want our guns so we can keep darkie in place whenever need be...

Arm yourself- with the facts!