Monday, March 31, 2014

The Crime Of Education

See whole chart, and more- Here.

I remember thinking even as a kid how stupid adults had to be to burn books like they did in Nazi Germany. But really, how different is it to live in a society where an average college tuition can set you up for a near lifetime of debt? And where even the very college professors meant to educate you into a better life can die penniless, homeless and w/o healthcare. That more than anything clearly SHOUTS just how little our society values the role of educators, and lays bare the lip service we pay to the desire of having an educated population.

So when you hear about how crime is going up- remember, many of those embarking on a life of crime got the message loud and clear, weighed their opportunities (or lack thereof), and acted quite... rationally. Educating yourself with money you don't have for jobs that don't exist is not a viable option. Maybe we should think twice before automatically condemning each and every criminal as chronically lazy or inherently crazed bad guys. They're not the crazy ones, they made a logical decision based on the facts and their reality, our reality as it exists today. No, it certainly ain't the best for all concerned: certainly not for the victim, society as a whole, or even the criminals themselves who eventually end up dead or incarcerated.* But before you condemn them for being amoral, irresponsible, cold hearted subhumans, think about a society that lets a college professor of 25 years die in the streets like an unwanted dog- and thinks nothing of it...

Then get back to me.

* Speaking of careers- The Prison-Industrial Complex!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Insanity Of American Health Care Costs...

One pretty concise (and altogether maddening) explanation as to the wholesale insanity of the cost of American health care:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Everybody Knows God Controls The Weather & God Is Super Angry"

Portrait of An American Politician

Bit late with this, but then, this has been an ongoing joke since Republicans purposely chose to dumb down our electorate late last century. Must give credit where credit's due- great job guys! We are the laughing stock of the world- and these are the same ignorant, arrogant bastards who will crack racist jokes about natives in "deepest, darkest Africa" and their... uncivilized superstitions.

I'm also gonna go out on a limb (and not a very long one at that) and bet the person above would have no problem cracking lesbian and trans-gender jokes. Go figure...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Meatpacking District 1985-2013

Once again, Mr. Rose has salvaged yet another part of the great city that was...

Been reminiscing about ye olde NY, my old NY* here lately, which put me to mind of Metamorphosis- Meatpacking District 1985-2013 by Brian Rose. This once dubious section of NYC was at various odd hours of day turned to night bustling with meat products and sex workers- the isolated afternoon hours spent idling in the odor of carcasses since quartered, packed and delivered.

Of course, you're more likely to smell the various aromas of pricey, pungent perfumes these days in what has become a fashion mecca within the fashion mecca. Another unique section of NY forever lost to time, gentrified to near ossification.

*Watch it and weep...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Faster, Bigger, Smaller, Better....

I'm always amazed at the plethora of internet camera buyers. Every time they add a number, reverse the number, add a letter, a megapixel- they're out there buyin' anew. Must admit, I too felt really insecure by the digital juggernaut at the turn of this century. I had looked down on it all along, until one day I noticed it was all around and looking down on me. My mistake. So I went about relearning the wheel best I could, and there are still a lotta spaces between the spokes. But at least I'm now at the point where I don't feel a complete outcast, despite what others may think. And to them...

Anyway, up until now I really didn't even feel the urge to switch. I was happy with film, still am, but recently I've had palpable pangs of envy now that there are digital cameras that I would actually like to own, use, or at least try. Slowly, I'm starting to get over this recent lust, and looking at digital B&W over the internets again helps a long way- their sensors handle subjects in open shade remarkably well, more contrasty lighting though can look questionable, even downright nasty... Think I'll stick to the original game plan of waiting for the organic sensors to debut with there alleged promise of increased dynamic range with more "natural" tonal values- and hopefully, I'll have won the Lotto by then to afford one, presuming, of course, that I start playing. In the meantime...

This guy gives me hope, he don' need no stinkin' digital...

Photo: Thomas Alleman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Google Go Home!

The first time I saw one of these unmarked buses, I thought it was just a fancy foreign tourist bus. Then I found out the truth*- they're luxury "Google buses" that transport Google employees to and fro between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. They use public bus stops, often nudging out public transit buses so that they have to pick up their working class passengers in the middle of the street. These Google riders are the same elitist slime that are currently doubling rents in SF (already amongst the highest in the land) and encouraging landlords to evict elderly tenants, single mothers, you name it. They come and take at will, they expect to be served and catered to, and those who make less must defer and exit in their presence- they make no apology, offer no compromise, and if you complain or call them on their unlimited greed and callousness, will simply dismiss you as a whining loser. Case closed; earbuds need not be removed.

It's high time these people were made less comfortable, less welcomed. These ass wipes need to be taken down a few notches; I'm not advocating violence, I am advocating that they contribute and share- or get the fuck out. I'm not talking about nickel and dime contributions to a coupla charities, that doesn't in any way compensate for the long time residents they're single handedly kicking out. It's high time they realized they too are imperfect humans with faults and imperfections, and that they must share this space in a fair and equitable manner with fellow humans of all economic levels. Or... get the fuck out!

* if you think I exaggerate their complete arrogance and overriding ignorance- just read their comments...

Friday, March 21, 2014

New York City (aka- Home)

I'm an expat New Yorker currently residing in San Francisco; it's an uneasy coexistence. I'd like to think our parting was mutual, but I could gauge her patience was done with me- and too often had I seen how she'd lash out when ignored.

My NYC is one rooted in time; it no longer exists. My NY was dirtier, scarier, poorer and yet, somehow more humane. That doesn't particularly make sense, but then neither does wholesale gentrification (also occurring right here, right now in SF- more on that soon). My NY remains within, a part of who I am, and what I will always be.

NY, of course, could not care less of me, or any of its own. It is a solitary, monolithic creature devoid of sentiment, nostalgia or human kindness. Greater than its parts, it simply carries on, however wounded or emboldened. It woos, uses, discards- no exceptions. Be thankful for the ride, however long or short the day or night.

New York City, you're a woman.
Cold hearted bitch, oughta be you're name.
Oh, you ain't never loved nobody,
Yet I'm drawn to you, like a moth to flame...
-Al Kooper

Yeah, this is the real NYC anthem, perhaps a mythic or no longer existent NY, but one thing's for sure- you can dump that overstuffed, overblown Frank Sinatra bombast of a homage deep down in the Hudson where it belongs; all due respect Frankie Boy!

PS- To those offended by the female metaphor, my apologies- it's an old fave... but no excuse. Some day a woman will compose a fitting counterpart. And old goats like me will soon depart...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Artisan State Books

Back in the day (when I took an intro photo class with Louis Stettner at the local community college), one of "the darkroom guys" devised a way of presenting prints that involved dry mounting a double weight print unto yet another. This rather straightforward, ingenious method gave the prints a unique tactile quality that was both durable and aesthetically appealing. I was duly impressed (to this day)...

The description Artisan State provided of their book products was very reminiscent of that approach, with their stiff, sturdy pages; and for the going price ($20 for a 20p 5X7 book), I was definitely game for a certain project I had recently undertaken (and more than a tad dubious)... 

Well, I'm quite happy to report it was well worth the "investment," and came out every bit as good as better than I could have possibly hoped! The B&W printing on lustre "Fuji silver halide photographic paper" is light years beyond what I got on Blurb a coupla years back- richer, deeper tonal values with full, continuous gradations. Hell, I've seen many a commercially produced monograph by name photographers where the reproductions aren't as good.

Really, can't say enough- what I got is absolutely amazing for a mere... $21 ($1 for an extra sheet- 2p). In other words you can get quality 5X7 prints (you're gonna have to test the waters yourself with color- but if they're doing B&W right...) for a dollar a piece! Five bucks for shipping, and next time I'll spring for the handsome $5 box to store it in!

I printed one portrait on the right hand side with the subject's name centered on the white page to the left. Makes for one classy kinda presentation- and it sure is (damn!) nice not having to make excuses for the quality you can afford! Each rigid, durable page comes off as a stand alone presentation in and of itself; and I just love the portable size, portrait or landscape (bigger sizes and cover materials available). And double truck lays out flat- double nice!

Now, I wish I could show ya's the actual images, but gonna have to put that on the backburner, least for now...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Finding Vivian Maier

I indeed feel fortunate in having had the opportunity to view Finding Vivian Maier online this weekend, just for previously supporting Mr. Maloof's effort with such a modest contribution. I guess like many others, I thought I pretty much had a handle on the whole myth and magic of this enigmatic figure, when in truth I didn't realize, or even imagine, the task it would be to balance the many facets and dueling natures of this complex human being and gifted artist that Mr. Maloof would eventually come to uncover- along with the mountains of undeveloped film and negatives that he would unearth and sort through. And even upon her death, as he takes on the full time job of promoting and celebrating her legacy, she is still as much shunned by certain factions of the photographic hierarchy, as she was by society in general during her rather eccentric and secretive life.

Unlike The Vivian Maier Mystery by the BBC which sought in large part to bare her photographic pedigree, this project concentrates on the person, as it seeks to lay clear that this was not just some care free, devil may care Mary Poppins. And it makes for a far more interesting portrait. Vivian had some serious problems, issues she could neither fathom nor resolve. But she sure could take a picture, a fact that she did not actively promote by any measure- but that she was definitely not unaware of! And this film is a fitting tribute to an artist who was very much attuned to the humor, suffering and subtle nuances that life bequeaths upon us all. Of course, no one can say if she created her remarkable legacy because of or despite her considerable psychic trauma- but her legacy attests to the extent to which she could triumph above it.

Finally, there are those who would criticize Mr. Maloof for making a buck from the life's work of an anonymous artist who suffered an isolated and ultimately impoverished death. Without any self aggrandizement, Mr. Maloof does allude to the still ongoing amount of work that he has willingly and enthusiastically undertaken to preserve and disseminate her work in the most dignified manner possible. His may have been a chance encounter, a sheer collision of coincidence, but we can all be grateful that someone (without any previous photographic experience) had the wherewithal to successfully navigate the corridors of the art world to complement and complete the earthly mission of the lady with the floppy hat...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Terry Richardson = Major Dickhead Supreme

I gotta admit, years ago I thought that maybe (just maybe) there was a bit of possible (penis) envy involved when it came to Terry Richardson. Here was a middle aged four eyes with a plaid shirt, one major sleaze bomb of a pervert looking guy shooting, partying and scoring beautiful 20yr old models galore. Hey, he's doing it- you're not! Get over it, and cut the guy some slack for livin' the dream...

But over the years, the Lance Armstrong factor came into play big time, and just kept building... There are some guys where the sleaze factor finally reaches critical mass because they've been getting away with it for so damn long, they really don't give a flyin' anymore. They think themselves invulnerable.

Then along comes this claim (amongst countless others)... And to all those who say she could have simply said, "NO." Yes, very true- someone with a little more gumption would have simply bit his dick off and told him to, "Photograph this!" Or simply walked out... But there are others who when put in high pressure, threatening (yes, shoving your dick in someone's face is threatening) situations simply comply to get it over with, particularly when they're in the perpetrator's home court, surrounded by his collaborators. Aggressors know when they have someone compliant in hand, usually because they've done it so many times before. And he's damn well smart enough not to try it with someone on an equal power level. That's how he gets away with it, time and time again.

By now, everyone should be aware that even innocent people can be made to confess to the crime at hand (even murder raps) when aggressively interrogated- just to get the ordeal over with...

Friday, March 14, 2014

NYC '77

It leaves out a helluva lot (like perpetually stalled rush hour trains stuck between stations w/o air conditioning in 100+ degree heat), but it does get the gist; the NYC I remember- in all its nostalgic (7 part) glamour and gloom...
(and FUCK Koch and Geraldo)

Thursday, March 13, 2014


They're finally (FINALLY) making digital cameras that are not only competent image makers, but also quite the lookers! After more than a decade of suffering through countless reiterations of plastic looking blobs of oversized DSLR's, digital is also finally starting to make good on its long standing promise of performance, convenience and size.

Fuji is no doubt in the lead with those things looking good; the gorgeous X100s, the formidable X-Pro1, and now... the ever delectable X-T1!!! Have already alluded to just how much I want this baby- the first digital I've ever truly lusted for...

And I sure wouldn't mind having the OMD 10 as an everyday sports car, it's one very petite, very competent cutie- just wish their 12mm didn't cost as much as the damn body (there goes the savings). This new crop of winners, with more to follow for sure, is something to finally get excited about for those fortunate enough to imbibe.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Save $5,000!!!

Someone from something called "The Sedatel Studios" of Toronto, Canada sent me an email announcing their official Spring Cleaning Sale. Perhaps they need to tighten up their marketing research before sending the likes of this in my direction...
(for that $$$, you'd think LEICA would afford properly cut inserts)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Once scorned...

... these thirteen year old photos highlight just how fickle and ignorant we are as a species- and how photography can be interpreted, and misinterpreted, throughout the years and defining cultures...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cannon Fodder

It's amazing (ie- disgusting, outrageous, blatantly criminal) how our military continues to treat its very own as subhuman expendables, time and time and time again... From marching them straight into atomic bombs, to Gulf War Syndrome, to Fukushima. I damn well saw this coming, why didn't their commanding officers have the basic human decency to prevent such an obvious threat to the health and well being of their own men and women?

And then you have the chorus of lying hypocritical bastards crying out about how many lives Edward Snowden may be responsible for!?!? Why do we live in fear of an Al Qaeda dirty bomb when our very own leaders jump to send their own countrymen ill informed and unequipped into a radioactive danger zone- and then deny them basic medical care for the years of pain and suffering that was guaranteed should they live to tell the tale???? You don't have to spend millions to send drones to far off Yemen to find monsters that will gleefully kill Americans- they live right here in our own ranks...

Monday, March 3, 2014

Reality/And The Lack Thereof...

Two loyal readers and very competent photographers in their own right sent me two interesting posts this week, one photo-related, the other not. Both should have had the element of surprise, even shock, if it wasn't that both are thoroughly logical... coming from their particular schools of thought.

Eric Rose alerted me to this particular affair; but at this point, I'm more just plain exasperated than infuriated. These people have neither shame nor scruples, they translate lack of wealth simply as lack of moral integrity (coupled with zero work ethic)- it doesn't matter that they either inherited their wealth, or that they "work" pushing numbers around while taunting and degrading those they steal their money from, those who have far less than them and actually do have to work for a living. Of course, this is what they do to celebrate and excuse their inexcusable actions! And whether some actually meet to conspire in top level secret meetings of the Illuminati no longer concerns me, whether they do or don't- they get their evil done, their agenda gets pushed through, regardless...

I'm too jaded at this point. That's why it takes someone like a Snowden to do what he did. Young enough and still wet behind the ears enough so that the extent of the malfeasance he unearthed rocked his very world and... shocked him into action! That's why we need the influx of informed youth, and why they do everything to keep ours, ignorant, underemployed and imprisoned!


Dave Reichert alerted me to this interesting Burtynsky article citing the prevalence of staged photography that has currently taken hold (see below). I suppose one can put forth a number of reasons for such an overwhelming prevalence, and while I certainly don't travel in those circles... I certainly can't see every illustrious university with a photo program training their grad students in how to advance their careers through journalistic endeavors. Everyone knows that kite's no longer flying- they have to sell a much stronger drug. They're teaching them to be artists of the highest caliber- and you certainly have to create (and live in) your own separate reality these days to believe that you are actually going to succeed in the photo art world once you  graduate. They have to delude themselves into believing that- that's what their money's buying them...

You know it already, so how do you say something new about it? It locks us into a cliché, or a genre of understanding. We immediately understand it, so there’s nothing there.

I just came back from a conference on the future of photography, where we had an interesting conversation around this. One of the curators of a museum in Switzerland had invited students from any art school, anywhere in the world to submit work to be included in a survey of photography of the new generation. The one thing that was consistent in 1,200 submissions was that not one of the students was showing anything that had to do with spontaneity. Spontaneity was gone completely.

There were no pictures with light coming through the glass on the table or a Robert Frank kind of street photograph or a decisive moment photograph—nothing like that at all. It was all very staged and all very deliberate—not photography as the act of seeing the world or reacting to seeing the world, but rather a photography of crafting things in the studio. We didn’t find one that varied from that, which I thought was fascinating.

We were wondering, why this is? In school, are they teaching that all the possibilities for taking photographs of reality and interpreting reality and reacting to reality in a spontaneous way have all been done? There seemed to be a feeling that there is no new narrative that can be found by pursuing that avenue of representation, and that they have to move into creating their own world.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Blinded Them With Science

To say this is so scary on so many levels is, of course, a cliche. And yet scary is exactly what it is- and this I found particularly chilling (and telling)...

And eventually, when I spoke with the lawyer here at the University, I was told that, "Well, I represent the university, and I protect the university from liability. You’re kind of on your own." And I remember I looked at him, and I said, "But the very university, from the Latin universitas, is a collection of scholars, of teachers and students, so who is this entity, the university, that you represent that doesn’t include me?" But clearly there’s some entity that doesn’t really include us, the professors and students, and doesn’t really protect our academic freedom, I think, the way that it should.  (emphasis mine)