Tuesday, May 31, 2016

LIFE- It Don't Always Make Sense

     Photo: © S. Banos

I spent a considerable amount of time, money and effort to do "the right thing" and get my father in a different place where he would hopefully have a better time of it in his remaining years. This not to laud my own efforts, they've been absolute minimal- my mother has done the totality of the heavy lifting. And I mention it only because in the end, I succeeded in getting him placed in a setting where he this week broke his hip and now lies in a hospital post op in stable condition with a screw holding him together. 

And all he wanted to do was die in a dignified manner a few years back, when he still had his mind.

Friday, May 27, 2016


Jose Banos (1923-2016  ); Photo: © S. Banos

Like most men, my father was riddled with all too human faults and frailties, and as with most of us, it would be best to delve and concentrate on our own inadequacies. As a man, he was best defined by his life long religion of hard work. Arriving in NYC with wife in hand in 1946, the subway was a nickel, a cold water flat (in SOHO, no less) cost all of $15 per month, and when necessary (ie- Puerto Ricans weren't always treated with kid gloves), he could quit an unskilled labor job in the morning and have another by lunch. He loved his homeland dearly, but developed a strong affinity for his new island of tall buildings and even taller contradictions. He worked, endured, had a son, and ultimately retired (although he continued to work P/T till ninety). How does one reduce an entire life's frustrations and accomplishments into a few short sentences- how does life itself betray one of its very sense of self?

With each passing day my father now loses yet another small part of himself, replaced with some mutant aberration, some mocking misrepresentation of what he once was. At times, one can actually see him struggle still, trying to make sense of a situation of which he can no longer make sense of, and then just as, just as... Poof- the fog again takes hold before it ever cleared. Soon, even those brief, approximations of clarity will also dissipate. And you're left wondering- where is the fine line where you stop being you; where does your true self, the totality of all you learned, shared, succumbed to and overcome then reside? 

No amount of work will ever make sense of it.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Ain't It The Truth!

Uhhhhh... yup.    Photo: © S. Banos

Sometimes (sometimes) as I wonder about on my lifelong quest to avoid stepping on used needles and dubious piles of excrement, I'm actually rewarded with a smile, a word of wisdom, or... both.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Spring Time Photography in San Francisco

Some really good stuff (as in photo exhibits) are to be found in San Francisco right now and into June- and three of those exhibits are to be found in one building! In no particular order, there's Ai Wei Wei's series of finger photographs, where he flips the bird to pretty much the entire world in a long series of photographs covering the entire length of a long gallery wall at The Haines Gallery. I know, doesn't sound like much (agreed)- but surprisingly, they work better than expected, and quite a few work quite well on their own. The one at the Eiffel Tower with the red sleeve is quite beautiful indeed. Never gave much thought to Ai Wei Wei till I saw the documentary Never Sorry, and ever since... much respect.

Photos: Ai Wei Wei

Then there's the "classic" B&W work of conceptual photographer Kenneth Josephson at The Robert Koch Gallery. Any kind of conceptual art is a long shot at best in my book, but those rare times when it does in fact work can be enlightening and quite... fun!

Photo: Kenneth Josephson

Photo: Christian Marclay
And speaking of fun and conceptual (photographic) art... The Fraenkel Gallery is featuring some wicked "slide shows" (for lack of a better term) by one Christian Marclay. One features a succession of square format images of single straws poking through their plastic container lids. Before you take in the whole image image, you are introduced to another, and another, and another... Definitely more visually compelling than most, static grid presentations. And while that leaves ya with a smile on your face, the next coupla typologies accelerate the experience well into warp drive! A Q-tip is centered in square format as the backgrounds rapidly change by the hundreds while the Q-tips furl and unfurl, first left then right, gently seesawing in progression. Yes, it's one very hypnotic, drug induced meditation- same goes for the cigarette butt that lengthens and shortens, shortens and lengthens as it rolls around without ever leaving its rapidly changing center stage. And there are others...

Photo: McNair Evans

Finally, right in the basement of San Francisco City Hall itself, one can find the work of Guggenheim Fellow McNair Evans and his travels on Amrtack called In Search Of Great Men. This is what making the most out of whatever your dealt truly means as Mr. Evans proceeds to do just just that, photographing a myriad of  interesting: portraits, still lifes and landscapes taken in or from the various trains and their immediate environs. Be sure to also visit upstairs where some of his photographs have been handsomely blown up wall size, adorning what is already a pretty impressive building interior...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day! May Day!

Thomas Morton

Like punk, May Day originated in the good ol' USA, before it became all the rage and celebrated in many a country abroad as the true worker's holiday. Unfortunately, it was quashed, neutered and then repurposed in the country of its origin to suit the powers that be. Workers' Day demoted to yet another sales holiday, in September- want fries with that?