Monday, December 29, 2014

The Bayou Blues

Recently had the opportunity to binge watch True Detective. It took me back to the late seventies, when I embarked on my first road trip south of DC to experience the mystery called Mardi Gras in the equally exotic locale of New Orleans, spurred on by the B&W photos of Toby Old. I would emerge from a day and a half long bus trip (a small lump on the side of my head from falling asleep and repeatedly bumping my head against the bus window), take photos from noon till six, and then repeat the process back to NY. Young, dumb, full of cum...

The bayou landscape I first gazed upon from the Greyhound bus was as eerie a landscape as I had ever set eyes upon. Not your average, everyday, run of the mill, generic Americana; a presence unto itself- one gets that straight off. Something that could be intensely beautiful, and equally as foreboding. And that was just my initial reaction from the main road, my mind hazily wandering onto what possibly laid beyond in the side roads that meandered off.

I was reminded of that while watching True Detective, a series concerning two partners, each as unlike the other as can be; one possessed in his utter determination and intuition, the other workmanlike, coasting lazily to some futile facsimile of domestic American normalcy. Turns out they're hunting a serial killer, something I was quite interested in around the time I made my aforementioned bus trip- something I had well grown bored to tears with by the time Silence of The Lambs premiered.

Fortunately, the series does not burden and subject us to the usual myriad of the killer's idiosyncratic tendencies and lifestyle. We don't see him plotting and fantasizing, capturing and torturing. We are thankfully spared that long over used and abused scenario. The main character and threat here is the bayou itself. The hold it casts upon its inhabitants, it's a life force that can turn either way. You can feel its overbearing presence in the heavy predominance of long shots, the weight and stillness of the humidity, the wide open spaces that short cut to dead ends.

These detectives are caught within their own dark predicaments, in a land that can only exacerbate them, as they obsessively search for that which will offer but little release.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Five Che's

Photo: © S. Banos

When all the anti Castro, anti diplomacy, anti negotiation diehards protest against opening relations with Cuba because of their human rights violations, it sometimes gets me to wondering how hard they protest our own abuses right here at home... or if they're too busy making their way to buy cheap Chinese made goods at the local box store.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Season Of Faith And Faithlessness...

Great little video, though I think it would have been better still minus the "faith plug" stuck in at end. While I most definitely believe in a higher power, the history of religion(s) preventing war and conflict throughout the world, and history is... well, let's just say they're a tad better at starting them; in fact, the case can actually be made that organized religions are also quite adept at making conflicts harder to solve.

I choose to place my trust in people whose faith comes in dealing directly with humanity: honestly, peacefully, without bias for god or country. Put your faith in that cause and one will follow in the best tenets of any major religion by default...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Homeless Savior Day!

Photo: © S. Banos

Happy Holidays- as many of us ready to celebrate, headed to the church of our choice, merrily navigating our way round those damned homeless we may encounter along the way, cussing the very sight of them, rejoicing when at distance. Needless nuisances marring our way to worship the birth of Our Lord and Savior, the homeless baby boy from the homeless family no one wanted any part of...

(Thanks, Bruce!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

G.A.S. By Increment

Lately, I've been thinking of getting one of these: incredible image quality, compact as hell, and on sale! Actually, if I still lived in NYC, I probably would have pulled the trigger just to try out on the street- even though it provides absolute zero in the way of: physical, tactile, aesthetic connection. But Stan, for just a couple hundred more, you could pick up one of these: just a tad bigger with the same basic profile, but a whole lot better looking, an EVF, and interchangeable lenses. Hhmmm... But hell, if it's a system you're gonna go for, might as well just spend a few hundred more and go all out for the camera you really want with the money you don't have!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fred Lyon

Photo: Fred Lyon

Certainly took me long enough (considering I live but a few blocks away), but I finally got to see the Fred Lyon exhibit at The Harvey Milk Photo Center, and I'm certainly glad I made the "effort," cause it was quite the unexpected treat! Mr. Lyon was a commercial photographer in San Francisco who also shot extensively on the streets of his hometown during the late forties, fifties and early sixties. His compositions betray a keen eye, and while one is rather reticent to make the comparison: the subject matter, time period and square format certainly bring to mind a West Coast version of Ms. Vivian Maier- although it's safe to say that their life styles were also miles apart and that he in no way approached his street environment with the single minded dedication and ferocity of Ms. Maier.

Nevertheless, his work is an absolute joy to behold! The prints, which I'm assuming are inkjets (confirmed) are gorgeous, and I have noticed that unlike their silver gelatin counterparts, inkjets printed in matte finish can really sing- as do these! Always great to see how these pioneers made work as eye catching as anything today, and without the technological advances so many of us can't seem to do without.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Long Live Film

Personally, I don't give the proverbial rat's ass what anyone shoots. I've never (really) been tempted to shoot digital simply because there were no digital cameras that appealed to me... until now. And since I can't afford what I want, I'm damn lucky that I do like shooting film- the look, the more deliberate process,  the satisfyingly more tactile feel from start to finish... Well, you can skip the darkroom part actually- romantic as hell (granted), but way too much pain and frustration on my part to get things just right (esp w/35mm). Despite its own trials and tribulations, scanning and digital post provide (in most cases) a very viable, hybrid option in the majority of instances.

Anyway, didn't know what to expect with this documentary, but since I am an avid film fan, was hoping for a fun ride... and let's just say it didn't start off well when the first guy up was sporting some silly ass hat thing that screamed pretentious (wannabe) hipster. You'd think by now that the last thing you'd want to portray film camera enthusiasts as is some subcult of pretentious  twenty year olds. And yet that's exactly how this documentary commences as we're presented with about a dozen twenty to thirty yr olds, all pretty much repeating the same thing in their own words, that film: looks different, slows one down and makes you concentrate more. True that, but...

Dang guys- if you want us to get excited about the medium, then ya gotta make the effort! Show us how film looks and feels different, show us the variations and results of different format analog cameras, show us just how tactile and sensuous they are compared to their amorphous, carbon composite, digital brethren. Let's see the the glistening chrome and hear the wondrous pop of a classic Hasselblad, make us feel the refined elegance of a Leica shutter and advance lever, the precision workmanship of a Rolleiflex;  make us revel in the tactile pleasure of wood, metal and leather, the joy of loading film. And how can you have a documentary dedicated to film and not even tease us with the magic and romance of the mystery called a darkroom? What the? Sure all this stuff is briefly alluded to, but... Show Us Goddamn It! You're supposed to be visual story tellers! You're certainly not gonna win any converts by endlessly repeating a three minute mantra. And it certainly wouldn't have hurt to include one or two actual masters of said medium, you know... old farts who have actually lived it their whole lives and have made the shit sing in ways these newbies are just starting to figure out.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trust Us, We Lie For A Living

I don't know how anyone can say they have nothing to hide- if you believe in anything, they can use it against you.     
-Diane Roark

Whenever Obama or any national security official assures us that there are channels aplenty through which government whistle blowers can report their concerns of abuse or malfeasance within the system, all one needs do is utter the name Diane Roark to give testament to just how large a lie that really is, and always has been.

And why Edward Snowden did what he did, exactly how he did it...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

America Is Awesome!

America's so awesome- we don't even know just how awesome we really are! We are like The MOST AWESOME people in all history...No One Can Get In The Way Of Our Complete And Utter Awesomeness! And if they ever even dream of trying- we'll force feed their sorry ass butts with ...
Non-Stop Awesomeness!!!  USA! USA!! USA!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Zabriskie Pt. Dilemma

Zabriskie Pt.;  Photo: © Stan Banos
Update: have inserted new & improved version since original posting.

Although I certainly don't go around combining negatives a la Eugene Smith, even this rudimentary snap is far from "straight." Taken at Death Valley just before a rather tumultuous thunderstorm complete with lightning and flash flooding, there was plenty to look at when I pressed the shutter, but the lighting was flatter than the flattest flat. No problem when you're shooting with a view camera that captures all the subtle tonal nuances and gradations, but when you're shooting 35mm, I knew it was gonna be one major problem galore long before I made the exposure, and didn't give it more than a fifty/fifty chance of seeing the "light of day." The first time I brought it up in PS, I went through the motions for 20 minutes, and it looked like my apprehension was well justified- couldn't do a damn thing with it. He was officially a goner...

Half a year later on a wet and dreary Sunday afternoon when I ain't going anywhere, I stumbled upon him once again. I'm no football fan, so... Take II. The only way I was going to win this formidable test of will was to patiently keep futzing around with the contrast and tonal values locally until they somehow gelled and approximated what I saw- or at least felt at the time. It took me the better part of a day (and then some), admittedly my PS (Elements 9) skills are absolute nominal (at best).

Had I attempted this in the darkroom, I would have emerged several days later, having wasted enough paper to fell yet another, entire old growth forest's worth of trees, kicked the cat, kicked the dog (if I had one), and given the wife more than ample reason to seek out a lawyer. And... have nothing of consequence for the effort!

The photo hints of an overcast sun highlighting the clouds and caressing the contours of the landforms- there was none, not even close. Nonetheless, dramatic they were! And a guy's gotta do, what a guy's gotta do...      

BTW-  It is dilemma- not dilemna...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The People- Awakened!

Photo: Julio Cortez/AP
If there's one bright shining light that has come out of this police killer madness, it's that people of all colors have finally come out in numbers to Represent! And they are coming out united and en force! Human beings are being killed for no good reason, and it seems the sheer magnitude of this continuing injustice has finally struck the universal nerve. Years ago when Amadou Diallo was needlessly gunned down amidst a torrent of 41 gun shots, public response was sympathetic but minimal and mostly local, his but one of a long list of criminal killings involving police against people of color long before this latest onslaught.
Bigoted Whites can no longer point at Jesse and Big Al with their shrill claims of- there they go again, stirring things up, playing the race card! This mass outrage of humanity is from the ground up, and across the full spectrum of socio-economic-racial boundaries.
So it's with great pride that I congratulate the people of my hometown, who have acknowledged this murderous insanity, called it for what it is, and responded en masse from Harlem to Wall St., from the East Side to the West, from Staten Island and on to Brooklyn. It does a New Yorker good, and everyone proud who has marched in cities throughout America, and beyond. Only wish I could attend the march in DC next week...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Rogue Cops, Or Rogue Police Force(s)?

I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct the deficiencies.*

How crazy, outta control has this "rogue" cop phenomenon become, this phenomenon that reaches across cities large and small, and across state lines? Has it become so widespread that they are no longer referred to as rogue cops, and are now simply what we have come to expect? How is that those that are supposed to protect us are killing us, at least a certain significant faction of us, even when clearly unarmed?

An unarmed nineteen yr old dead in Missouri; an unarmed citizen in NY killed over cigarettes; an unarmed resident killed entering his building in Phoenix, an unarmed resident shot dead in the stairwell of his building (the officer calling his union rep before calling an ambulance); and finally, the cop who shot a twelve year old with a pellet gun. Now I might have cut the latter a little slack, fake guns can look like real guns- that possible empathy flew when it was learned that the officer responsible for the shooting was kicked off a previous police force for his utter incompetency... particularly when it came to dealing with his own gun!*

This is shear madness, madness in need of very real change and reform, change that would save lives and promote police and community trust and cooperation. Instead, after the current tsunami of police denial, we'll proceed with the usual makeovers- makeovers like the ones that permit choke holds, even after specifically banning choke holds (see below). And the killings murders will continue...

Was This Ever Read To The Grand Jury?

Go to 40:30 in the clip and listen to the official NYPD Patrol Guide- not only what it says about the use of choke holds, but what it then goes on to state about police who fail to stop fellow officers from using excessive force...

Thursday, December 4, 2014

NYPD Officially Banned Choke Holds 20 Years Ago...

Kinda, sorta, in a way- and definitely not so much that it still doesn't get used... enough to kill. At this point, it seems that police nationwide have clearly proclaimed (and society has sanctioned  by default) open season on African American males. All officers need do is quote the mantra: he resisted, came at me, reached for his waist, made a scary face...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

It's All In The Name...

Photo: © S. Banos

It's over there, all the way to the right. No, it's not- it's straight ahead. Uh-uh, it's up there at 2 o'clock.
Ya sure it's not in that big ol' tarp in back?

Recently, during a period of extreme self examination (this is pretty much that time of year- is it not?), I set about tackling the age old question... why ain't I famous yet? Why am I not in every gallery, museum and private photography collection- when I so obviously deserve to?

So I set about examining this age old mystery, dissecting every possible raisonne de jour. Boundless talent- check; unrivaled originality- check; sheer, unbridled charisma- check, check and check! Stumped as I was, this time I pushed forward- this time, there would be no rest or retreat until I broke through the bonds that  would unleash me from my ill begotten anonymity...

The name! How on earth could I ever achieve photographic stardom with such obvious an impediment, such weighted albatross round yonder neck. As if the first name is not bad enough, I must endure a last name prominently displayed on the rest room door of every Hispanic restaurant in existence! Clearly, I had finally unearthed the very root of my life long dilemma- I needed a name worthy of my photographic pedigree.

First, I have to go by three names, two just don't make it, and Stanley Joseph Banos certainly does not make it. After several years of closely monitoring the names most often associated with photographic achievement, I hereby present and ask you to vote for my brand spanking new nome de guerre, the one destined to lead me to fame in 2015, the one that will forever inherit the riches and rewards of my well deserved photographic legacy:

Monday, December 1, 2014

If Ya Still Need A Reason...

Photo: Noah Addis

Still have your doubts, not quite convinced on why you should get on your freakin' knees and give thanks... Check out this illuminating essay by Noah Addis at Fraction mag.

When I first visited Europe in the early 80's, I was amazed to discover this foreign realm of the future where lights went on and off automatically as one entered and exited a room- a magical, logical land of the future I said to myself! Meanwhile, here in 21st USA we still unabashedly burn our office lights bright even when no one is to be seen on floor after floor...
So before ya start to yellin' at how other people are mucking up the world- just keep in mind the world's all time user and abuser of the world's resources...



Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Government of Law

It is so often stated (with much pomp and pride) that this is a nation of law, as if this sacred principle applies to everyone equally, when in reality, the law serves those that most directly control and influence it- while those most in need of its protection are, in turn, those most abused by it. The Ferguson Grand Jury was not the greatest perversion of law and justice, merely its most recent, and more importantly, it's most publicized.  And yet, even when so obviously twisted and perverted to facilitate and favor those in power, so many remain oblivious, silent or... satisfied.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

9/22/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

And speaking of unbridled greed run amuck- James Risen's Pay Any Price, will walk you through one very long list of astronomical economic gaffes willingly perpetrated by our government.  Up to $20,000,000,000 (yup, billions with a B) were delivered to Iraq in 2003, on pallets no less- and quickly... l-o-s-t! Up to half of that is still completely unaccounted for (if you really believe the first half was)- and the US has shown no desire whatsoever to even look for it. Billion$ to shoot, maim, bomb and kill; billion$ to lose and corrupt, but scant few dollars for these people, or even those much, much closer to home...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Is A Ham Sandwich...

Every witness in defense of Michael Brown was cross examined, interrogated and supposedly discredited. Darren Wilson was allowed to fully present his version unchallenged and unimpeded. This so called grand jury process was a one sided, second class "trial" for second class citizens- one very convenient semblance of justice, on the fly in full public view, to quash any real chance of justice actually playing out.

*According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found

It's BIG, it's thick, it's (fairly) Expen$ive- most of all it's... surprisingly damn good! Surprisingly, not because I had any doubt whatsoever about Vivian Maier's talent, but because this is the first book of her work that one doesn't have to make excuses for. There's nothing to complain about as far as the quality of the reproductions (unlike that first powerHouse sepia fiasco), and there's a good amount of work included- even though the book excludes some shots I've already come to regard as "favorites," there's still many a potent image to be found here that demonstrates just how much talent she had at her command. You look through this body of work and any lingering doubt that anyone may still hold that she was just some lucky holiday snapshooter with a load of posthumous publicity at her back... well, that just implodes and dissipates into the envious, vacuous bullshit that it always was.

This woman was in control of her vision- and she was killing it. A shot of her with Rollei and Leica at the forefront shows this was one very determined female on a mission. Nothing la-de-da in her attitude, or her results. I just came upon Vivian Maier: A Photographer Found the other day, so I'm late in the game, but there's no doubt whatsoever this is the best of the bunch thus far, by far. You get a good sense of who and what she was as an artist, and it is amazing how she predated so much of what was yet to come on the street...

And as if that wasn't enough, there's even a few choice color shots thrown in; a handful to be fair, but just enough to let you know that she could talk the talk and walk the walk in that language too. A couple could easily have gone into Eggleston's For Now. I don't have the money to grab this one at the moment (Xmas sounds nice), but it's certainly good to know that there's finally, at least one good, representative book out there, right now that shows Ms. Maier in her best light before that scum trawling bucket of sleaze gummed up the works.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I'm gonna assume this guy had ample reason to do exactly what he did, and doesn't any man alive wish he could do just that when the occasion calls?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Funny Ha-HA, Or Funny Sick?

"If its [function] is just something like getting rid of e-mail spam and it determines the best way of getting rid of spam is getting rid of humans..."   -Elon Musk

Hey, the guy's no joke, neither are his... jokes. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Way of the (Photo) Gallery

Going to photo galleries in NYC, which I did religiously from the mid seventies until 1998, was not unlike... attending (Catholic) church. No one from on high (from the pulpit to the high heavens) would ever actually engage you personally- usually, you'd leave as if you'd seen and heard it all before; at best, you left inspired to do your best. Catholicism, of course, is big on ceremony and hierarchy, and unfortunately, often a top down experience- accept the dogma, no need to question.

Photo galleries in NYC operate in similar manner to this very day. The big ones are imposing and sacrosanct- they, through their good graces, are letting you enter and partake... at a distance. Your silence and deference is part and parcel of the understood contractual agreement. Unless you are actually buying and dealing with those in the inner sanctum, you will be tolerated (begrudgingly).

Photo galleries in San Francisco can look like those in NY, but they are generally smaller and fewer in number. And oddly, very oddly, gallery owners and directors will at times, rare as they may be, actually stop, acknowledge and converse with anonymous gallery goers like myself. Such blatant breach in protocol would never, ever occur in a NY gallery. In fact, as previously mentioned here, the only interaction I remember a gallerist initiating in NY was two weeks post 9/11 when an owner saw me and quickly turned and fled, sheer terror on her face, into the safety of her back room. Didn't even have time to inform her I was just your average, everyday New Yorican. Somehow, she had intuited that Muslim terrorists as myself had downed the towers as mere diversion- the unmitigated destruction of New York's photo galleries was the real jihadi prize galore.  

Recently, not one, but two staff members on two separate occasions have asked me what they thought of their shows as they exited their offices at The Fraenkel Gallery. Gallerists Stephen Wirtz (sadly, his gallery is now closed) and Ann Jastrab have also voluntarily made the effort to interact with gallery goers. It is one of the positives that help distinguish galleries in San Francisco, something I fear may not last much longer as more and more money pours into this city, along with the people who feel that we must defer to them.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Times Square- Past & Present

9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Times Square is no longer the seedy, sometimes dangerous place I once knew. Like the Berlin Wall, it was something I never questioned was destined to remain forever so. Most would probably find it odd that I'd prefer what it once was to the safe, people friendly environment it is now. I'd probably feel differently, if only it wasn't so Disneyfied- literally.

There is this one tiniest of patches however that retains a shadow of that gloomy, nostalgic past; ironically, it's right behind the small NYPD building right in its very midst. NYC, past and present, @ 1/30 & 2.8.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Have A Listen...

One of the best This American Life programs in some time- particularly about the bus driver in 1947 who turns his bus left instead of right one beautiful, sunny weekday in NYC and... keeps driving to Florida, and the episode where they interview seniors about time travel.

Meanwhile, Russell Brand, whose very sight would make me cringe (until I heard him speak) continues to outtalk and out logic anyone, anywhere when it comes to socio/economic/political discourse on either side of the Atlantic...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Books! Books! Books!

In case ya haven't seen Blake's post on B, or Alines's on Lenscratch, there are some pretty damn good photo books for sale via Blue Sky for a really damn good price! These are not ebooks, but real, on paper books by damn good photographers. And although they may not be as "refined" in presentation as your more standard photo book offerings- B assures us they are, in fact, good enough (and that's good enough for me). Did I mention the prices? Something for everyone, and I'm gonna get me some...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Honesty vs. Cowardice

Iraq War vet/peace activist Tomas Young died Monday. Tomas Young was a victim of a needless, unnecessary war fought at the behest of a man too cowardly to go to war himself. Instead, the coward chose to fly planes at home, and when bored of flying planes, just left and got drunk.

Mr. Young died a slow, excruciatingly painful death- a death that lasted a good ten years. While Mr. Young suffered, the man who sent him to death laughed and made fun of the needless, useless war he himself had created- a war that cost hundreds of thousands of lives (many, women and children) was laughed at by those that didn't have to fight it. A needless war that created more conflicts and more enemies, persisting to this very day. 

Mr. Young is dead- but thousands of others, wounded and maimed, survive silent and unseen. The remainder of their lives spent in pain, while one man lives the rest of his in luxury and denial.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

US Marshalls- Art And Testosterone

Photo: Brian Finke

No doubt that Brian Finke can take one helluva photo. This guy's got chops, period. He can take high adrenaline action shots and formalize them into "fine art" color photography that can compete with the best of 'em. Not only does he make masterful use of the color palette, he also artfully composes his shots so that the action (or lack of it), staged or real, grabs your attention and holds it. And his use of lighting is just the right balance to complement and define the shot without sanitizing or commercializing it. It's interesting to examine just how this guy sees and work, and how he brings that complexity of vision to this particular "action genre."

Photo: Brian Finke

Do ya sense a but here? That's because I could not help but feel a tad queasy while viewing U.S. Marshalls. They no doubt do some really great work, dangerous work, necessary work that has to be done. But I'm also leery of all the gun ho, militarization of today's various police forces, and their glamorization. While millions upon millions are being poured into this nation's law enforcement agencies, many, if not most prisons today get little to no dollars for: rehabilitation, drug rehab, job training or education programs. Why, oh why, should prisons get funding for such programs? Because the vast majority of those prisoners will be coming out unto our streets once again at some point. Banned by law from public housing and effectively banned from most jobs when they are made to confess their personal history on job applications- wouldn't we all feel considerably safer if they had something constructive to do with their time? And maybe, just maybe, that is in large part why prisons nationwide hover around a 70% recidivism rate- what other business is allowed to operate with such a ridiculously high failure rate?

Photo: Brian Finke

If anything, this book reads as much recruitment poster, as it does art. Perhaps that's not entirely fair to throw in when judging a monograph solely on artistic merit, but eminently fair when considering and judging as a work of art.

Mr. Finke was allowed access to the world of US Marshalls through a childhood friend, now agent. During that time, effectively as an embed, they talked of mutual childhood acquaintances that were currently incarcerated. Perhaps one day Mr. Finke will also allow us a view into the federal prison system. And at that point, I may even accuse him of painting too alluring a picture of prison life...

PS- In the interest of full disclosure, Powerhouse Books contacted me to write about this book- no money, books, or other miscellaneous swag were exchanged in the process.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lists, Conspiracies, and Point of Origin

9/23/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Although there is no doubt whatsoever that Washington is awash in AIPAC $$$ (thus thoroughly compromising our Middle East foreign policy), "rest" assured that the remainder of America, and the world (from ruling WASP elites to average working stiffs of every color and denomination), is still thoroughly entrenched knee deep in anti-Semitism. The above is one conspiracy theory that has been around for centuries- and one that should have been put to rest just as long ago...

Reciprocity Failure: San Francisco Peaceniks, conspiracy theorists, and the marginalized silent majority   -via B
I knew it would happen one day- if I was knowledgeable enough, dedicated enough, sincere enough.  Reciprocity Failure would finally (FINALLY!) make it onto a "best of" list! Well, kinda, sorta... not really. But it was... a list!!! Strangest part was being associated with- San Francisco.*

Anyway, the positive side to all this (yes, there actually is one) is that there were some really good sites mentioned on said list that I've just either never got around to including, or just plain didn't know about- which you can now find (due right), thanks to Blake!

*So why exactly did I move to San Francisco? After all, it's been well over a decade now and I've yet to mutter dude or Awesome, that would just be hella gnarly. Well, there were three possible options in NYC: A) Start a family, like most folks, B) Make it big in whatever area of your choosing, C) Turn into a dithering old man muttering nonsensically on a street corner. I chose not to do A;  B kinda just didn't happen- trust me, there are plans in place right now (won't get into details) to deal with those who prevented that from happening; and  C... I just really wanted to avoid.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Help Us, Save Us... Anyone!?

Well, the American people have spoken! Dissatisfied with our current lot and our current crop of ineffectual, so called leaders, we once again ran screaming to the flip side of the same sad coin to elect those who can get things done- and in the worst possible way. Case in point- soon to be Senate Majority Leader Mad Max Mitch O'Connell gathered mucho support because of his pro-US stance on Big Coal- his gun ho, yahoo supporters completely oblivious to the fact that his filthy rich wife is in the business of shipping in cheap coal from... Columbia (along with a little blow on the side). The "git the gov'ment out of my Medicare" brain fart mentality goes a long (long) way in brainwashing the Republican faithful, along with copious amounts of voter suppression and under the counter racism galore. These guys are determined to run whatever's left of the earth into the ground, out of the ground and straight into their ever lovin' pockets. And they won't stop until there's nothing left to hide behind...

9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How Do I Love Sage Sohier!?

Let me count the ways... No, seriously. This is a photographer who I had never heard of just a few short days ago, a photographer who is very much the complete amalgam of every photographer I love most (slight exaggeration only- see below). How could she have escaped my view for so long- we're talking... years decades here! A photographer using many of my favorite tools and language, ways of seeing and communicating... all of which she employs to so much better use. Each photograph a plethora of details and minutiae, and somewhere within those intriguing frames... a uniquely powerful human presence. And she's been creating these wonders, forever- where the hell was I???

So rather than trying (and no doubt failing) to further explain why I appreciate her so, why don't I just try something a tad different to illustrate (and celebrate) said admiration with the myriad of influences and similarities so readily visible in her work. The only question being- who influenced whom!?!? (This is not to proclaim direct influences either way, merely to denote similarities- feel free to make your own comparison list).

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Vanessa Winship)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Mark Cohen)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Chauncey Hare)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Bill Owens)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Diane Arbus)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Tod Papageorge)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Thomas Roma)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Mark Steinmetz)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Shelby Lee Adams)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Matt Black)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Gary Winogrand)

Photo: Sage Sohier  (via Joel Sternfeld)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Franz Reichelt- Man Of Conviction

Didn't know what to make of this at first- silent movie clip of Parisian witch? But the guy, Franz Reichelt, was without a doubt the real thing- all the way to his death. Alas, most of our ideas don't allude to such great heights, or cost us so dearly, but all too many end with the same all too linear results...

Franz Reichelt was the first to “invent” the parachute and the first to fall victim to it on February 4 1912. His last words were "I want to try the experiment myself and without trickery, as I intend to prove the worth of my invention."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oliver Hartung

Photo: Oliver Hartung

Despite the rigid stereotype, I'm happy to report that all things are indeed, possible- not only do Germans with a sense of humor exist, some even incorporate a few laughs into their photography, thank you very much.

And speaking of stereotypes, seems Mr. Hartung's roadside Americana type curiosities are not solely limited to America, or even the Christian persuasion for that matter, as clearly evidenced in his travails throughout The Middle East.  My admiration of his work did fall into momentary jealousy when I discovered we had traversed some similar paths in the American Southwest and he had managed to come upon a few gems that had totally eluded my travels- not surprising since things are kinda "stretched out" over there,* though still subject to change more than one would think (one of the reasons I continue to love returning there). Petty "jealousies" aside, it's a joy to look at his work- been a while since I've felt the urge to get a photo book.

*Being a city boy, I'm used to experiencing change within a few city blocks. In desert environs, those same changes are measured in... hundreds of miles.

Photo: Oliver Hartung

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dumb Ass GONE GIRL Movie

From the rave reviews, I thought this flick (which I knew nothing about) was gonna be some type of good (which kind, I didn't know)- damn, did I guess wrong. It started out as one of those 1940 girl meets guy (guy meets girl?) movies where each one outdoes the other by being twice as cute and clever in their dueling repartee. Fall madly in love, get married, then not so much, then... oh, oh- watch out...

I knew it- he's a cheating, wife beating fuck. NO- WAIT! Is she a crazed, lunatic psycho? No... yes! NO... YES!!! She's a super duper, have that Fatal Attraction bitch for lunch, Ultra Psycho?!!! And what's a guy to do?

Comic book lazy "surprise" plot. I wasn't the only guy laughing in the end on this one- again, so why the rave reviews??? At best, surprisingly misogynistic- unfortunately, thoroughly lame.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Know Thyself

9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

"A photograph should be more interesting than the subject and transcend its obviousness." 
The most succinct and eloquent definition of "fine art" photography I've yet found. Someone like John Gossage has done exactly that his whole career. Apply it to your work, see where you stand. Many of my photos serve merely to celebrate and complement the subject. Alas...

Actually, not bad for an epitaph- "At the very least, he realized his limitations."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mark Page- Man On A Mission

A YEAR IN PROVENCE 2013- Mark Page
HENS 2013- Mark Page
Mark Page, me ol' mate from across the pond  (my best Cockney impersonation- even though, it should well be noted he hails from Manchester*) and collaborator at Expiration Notice has been a most busy man of late. Not only has he created a series of brilliant and exquisitely tongue in cheek Still Lives, he has also set about single handedly establishing the much adulated and critically acclaimed Museum of Takeaway Menu Art (MoTMA)- yes, complete with requisite gift shop, interactive family education center and related art sundries.

Again, nice to see someone operating with a sense of humor out there- and coming up with the goods to show for it! Can't keep a good man down...

*would call him a Manc- but hesitate upon reading these "definitions." Are there really that many Manc haters out there, Mark!?!?

Sunday, October 19, 2014


9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Worst thing about getting old (and lord knows it ain't easy picking just one) is the loss of that intangible lightness called... hope. Like raging hormones, hope is a product of youth, it's most potent, bountiful and thoroughly addictive of drugs. It's what keeps us chugging along- despite the odds, regardless of the setbacks, irrespective of the failures. Year, after year, disappointment after disappointment. Hope was always there picking ya up the next day- it's gonna get better, things are gonna change, just... keep... going... 

Until the day arrives when hope no longer greets you. Like a receding hairline, dissipating at a snail's pace, it doesn't come as shock- more... foregone conclusion. You can still make plans, you can still test your limits, but the mindful reassurance is forever gone. Hope will get ya up the hillside, but ultimately it must revert to those still young enough to believe.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

McAfee Sucks- And Other Various Sundries...

Went to see Kill The Messenger (recommended) this Wed; got home at 8:30, turned computer on and... an ominous black screen appeared that I'd never (ever) seen before.

Stay calm, stay calm... stay... the fuck... calm...

Try my thoroughly, amateurishly pitiful this and that and- nothing, nothing, nothing... Call some numbers on the official Mozilla and McAfee sites which immediately hook me up with your friendly internet technical specialists (ie- Major Scumbag SCAMMERS). One tells me that my IP address is compromised, the other that some files are corrupted, one says he wants $400, the other wants $200. I tell both to go fuck themselves, knowing full well that the only one who's totally fucked is yours truly. And it's now 1 AM.
Come home from work following day- delete Mozilla, install Mozilla... same shit. Repeat- same shit. Screw Mozilla, I'll just use IE that came with the hard drive, thank you very much. Dead in the water. SHIT!!! Somewhere amidst the cussing I see that IE wants to install a security update. Why not- nothing else works. Install finally completes, and... IE is fully operational!!! I'm a happy man; lost a ton of bookmarks (actually, in a file I can't open), but least got my computer back for "free" (even if it does, or doesn't, have a freaking ticking time bomb inscribed with my name somewhere deep down under). Guess I now know why people buy freakin'... Macs.

9/22/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bloggity Blog Blogger...

UPDATE: OK, OK- I have no idea what the hell happened yesterday morning, but when I clicked to embiggen my photos on Blogger, not only was there the apparent lack of contrast (which has been manifesting of late), but the resolution and overall sharpness were shot to absolute shit. It was scary- so I took them down, and out of their misery. Tonight, I reposted one of same said photos for the hell of it, and although the lack of contrast was still apparent, the resolution had indeed... returned! So, I guess I'm more or less back in the game, more or less...

9/21/14 NYC- Photo: © S. Banos