February 1, 2006

Farm & Ranch News

From age 5 to 18 I lived in Lufkin, Texas. There was only one television channel. The first show of the day was Farm and Ranch News with Horace McQueen. The report always began at 6:00am sharp following the Star Spangled Banner (played over military jets) at 5:55. Abruptly the screen would change to a shot of a tiny desk in a cramped room with fake wood walls (later there were opening titles and music from a fiddle). Horace, a big man, would enter the room and sit uncomfortably behind the desk. He wore dusty western shirts and always gave the impression he had just arrived from birthing a calf. His deep bass voice projected assurance, but would always fidget. There were often technical problems with the steer report, so he would sip coffee and ruminate on the weather with lots of little observations about fishing or hunting. Sometimes he would play with his string tie.

After settling in he would take off his cowboy hat at throw it onto a hook on the wall. He would do this without looking back or breaking his verbal stride. He never missed and after throwing the hat, he would start speaking faster and faster until he reached an auctioneers gait...he would talk about soil and steers and grain prices with authority and passion. He seemed to know a lot about how the world worked.

It always bothered me that I could not see his eyes. He wore those glasses that turned brown in bright light, and the studio lights made the lenses really dark. Once he took off his glasses to wipe his brow and his eyes looked older and more confused than I had imagined. For years he was held an important place in my imagination, not because his reports had any bearing on my life, but because my brothers and I would watch because there was nothing else on and because cartoons would follow his show. His patter became part of the rhythm of our lives and even today I miss the conviction and joy of his weather reports. Cable arrived to my town in 1985 just as I was leaving for college. The town changed. Now with CNN, MTV, and 24 hour cartoon channels I can't imagine that anyone watches old Horace any more. The last time I checked a few years ago he had been moved to UHF 37. It must be lonely over there but I don't think Horace minds. I'm sure he's always awake before sunup and I doubt he ever misses that hook on that fake wood wall.

February 1, 2006

Congrats Mike and Rion

Photobooth Fun

I've always wanted to do a photobooth project with my wife in which we go from frame to frame across two strips. But sometimes Jenn has no patience for me and my photobooth projects so it has never happened. All was not lost though because today I got a chance to realize the idea and art directed this set of shots for my friends Mike and Rion on their wedding day. If I do say so myself, it looks great.

Congrats guys. Exciting times.

February 1, 2006


Leon Bittick a man who worked for our family as a yardman for almost 20 years died last week. He was almost 90 and insisted on working right up to the end. Leon was a humble man who spoke with a honey-rich East Texas accent untempered by exposure to the outside world. His language indeed the world he lived in is fast dissapearing. A few Leonisms:

Lick by lick, that there cow ate the grindstone (nothing is impossible)

We've howdyed but we ain't shook. ( I know you but we're not friends)

He's studyin' to be a half-wit and I'm afraid he ain't gonna make it

There's something seldom about that ol' boy (the kid is a bit weird)

It's still as a pig a wettin'. (very very quiet)

He'd brag about the number of holes in his outhouse

We used her biscuits to chunk the dog. (bad cook)

He walks too slow to catch a cold.

Oh it was tasty. Tasty as day old lard.

Still as a bowl of spit. (calm)

When she says frog, he jumps. (man run around by his wife)

She buys crutches for lame ducks. (spendthrift)

Figures don't lie, liars sure can figure

That fella would drown a widow woman's hen. (mean)

Talk is cheap, but money buys whiskey.

She's so ugly she has to sneak up on the mirror

What in cornbread hell is going on?

February 2, 2006

Dumbo, Night

February 2, 2006

RAW file demystified

This pdf file (found via digg) has a good technical explanation of the creation and structure of a RAW file. If you don't know what a RAW file is, please ignore this post.

February 2, 2006

Sze Tsung Leong

Landscapes generally don't have much impact on me, but Sze Tsung Leong's work is something special.

February 3, 2006

Drive Home

February 4, 2006


Mark Powell aka locaburg on flickr now has a proper photoblog. His images of Detroit and Mexico City are some of my favorites anywhere. You can view them at locaburg.com and markalor.com.

February 5, 2006


Photo find of the day: Polar Inertia: a journal of nomadic and popular culture. This site reminds me of Colors Magazine before it's change of editorial regime. Happily an archive of the old great Colors Magazine is now online (including my favorite issue #58.

February 5, 2006

How not to take an impulsive road trip

1. Don't do much research.

2. Leave kind of late in the day.

3. Annoy your wife.

4. Drive 3 hours north away from sunny weather into cloudy weather.

5. Arrive to find the place you were going to visit closed.

6. Have your kid play on a rock before realizing your kid doesn't want to play on a rock.

7. Decide to make the best of it by taking a walk down a country road.

8. Have the country road lead to a garbage dump.

9. Get your wife carsick on winding roads.

10. Drive 3 hours back.

February 7, 2006

City Kid

February 8, 2006

Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story

Jenn and I snuck out to watch Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story at the Angelica tonight. Perhaps we were just in the right mood, but we were both cracking up throughout (much more so than the rest of the people in the audience). The movie doesn't add up to much, and you have to be a fan of a certain type of English humor, but I recommend it nonetheless. How often do you actually guffaw? At one point I almost did a spit take. That's worth the admission price for me. Jenn's summary while walking out, 'I think Michael Winterbaum started shooting and at some point just said, "You know what, I've got nothin'... let's wing it", and you know what I don't hold it against him.'

Adendum: To the person who emailed me that "snuck" is not proper English. Not exactly proper, but popular.

February 9, 2006

I always forget how much I love Raymond Carver

Two Worlds

In air heavy
with odor of crocuses,

sensual smell of crocuses,
I watch a lemon sun disappear,

a sea change blue
to olive black.

I watch lightning leap from Asia as

my love stirs and breathes and
sleeps again,

part of this world and yet
part that.

-Raymond Carver

February 9, 2006

Photographs I did not Take Today

8:30, Borough Hall Subway Station
A toddler with a spiderman costume visible under his winter coat hopping up and down as his mother, oblivious reads the newspaper.

9:45 72nd and 5th
My elderly doctor standing inside a tiny lead nook and peering out of a small window as he x-rayed me.

10:15 The Frick
A group of uniformed schoolgirls on their tiptoes straining to see Girl Interupted at her Music, one of my favorite Vermeers. One girl in the group, uninterested and staring out the window.

1:20 Cadman Plaza Post Office
My son cracking up with my wife across the hall as I wait at the passport window. Everybody else in the room grey and deadpan.

2:40 In front of the State Supreme Court
A very old man with coal black skin holding a small red paper valentine to his chest against the breeze.

3:20 Atlantic Avenue
A woman walking out of a dry cleaners holding 2 translucent bags of clothing up near her shoulders. Her shadow like an angel with gossamer wings flying behind her.

6:20 Somewhere in Cobble Hill
Boys playing baseball in the cold evening on a quiet street. The sun has set, the streetlights are not on, the sky is turning deep blue. They are shadows. I only see the ball.

10:30 Deli on Atlantic
Two Pakistani guys play rock scissors paper behind the counter.

February 12, 2006

Snow... at last

If a certain someone on an impromptu valentine weekend in Paris happens to read this, it's pouring snow back here in New York. Your flight is probably delayed if not cancelled. Check your flight. You guys might get an extra day or two. :)

February 13, 2006

Lots of Snow

February 13, 2006

Dark Waters

Do you have a metaphor for sleep? For most of my life I thought of sleep as a dark flowing river. I would often dream of being swept far and fast in the powerful enveloping current eventually finding myself on the banks of some foreign land always a moment before waking.

But last year my wife introduced me to a new metaphor. When our son was falling to sleep she would say she imagined tucking him into a small boat and pushing him out to sea. This is the shorthand we use around the house: "Has the boat launched?" I will ask, and then she will shush me and say, "The boat is on shore, but the tide is coming in and we can walk it to the deep water."

My wife's image took hold and I dream of rivers no longer, now I see a starlit sea with groups of parents standing in pairs on the beaches gently pushing sailboats, kayaks, and canoes into the inky depths.

Sleep is one of the unspoken fears of new parents. When our children sleep we put our hands to their chests to check their breathing. Night is when sickness strikes. And there is always the terror that one day you will wake and your child will be gone. In my new dreams the sight of the boats disappearing into the night is chilling, but I know it is a fear we must accept. Then in my dream, stars fall from the sky and in the shadows we parents hold each other and sleep on the beach waiting for dawn. By morning the children are back from their night's journey, changed by degrees, poking us, and watching us stir. And that's where the dream pushes into the reality of the new day.

I wake up each morning and look at my son and wonder if this is a day he will remember. For a long time, I found it unspeakably sad knowing none of days of the last year would hold. He would not remember the unfettered joy of playing ball for the first time, he would not remember the discovery of oranges, and if something were to happen to his mother or myself, he would not remember us.

Each night we push him out into the deep and each morning he returns a slightly more complex human being. Our relationship changes as his personality grows. He is learning to say "no". One day something we do will disappoint him and he us. Things will change. And I've realized that these first years without memory are for us, the parents. The utter sweetness of these days is necessary not only to face the dread of that dark sea but because love is an abyss, and these days give us the courage to dive in.

February 14, 2006

East River

As a tonic to the somewhat purple prose of many of my late night ramblings, my wife proposes I start a new blog titled Heading Into the East River with actual quotes from our daily lives.

Some samples:

While throwing a ball across the kitchen:
"Jenn watch it because if you miss, I bean the kid."
. . .
As I lotion the baby after a bath:
Jenn: What's that smell.
Me: Lotion.
Jenn: You're lotioning our child with soap.
. . .
Jenn: Your son is peeing on the carpet.
. . .
Me: Your son just punched me in the adam's apple.
. . .
Jenn: Your son shoved a Japanese kid to the ground.
. . .
Me: Your son is eating leaves.
. . .
Jenn: Your son is eating toilet paper.
. . .
Jenn: Arh.. Argr. Argh.
Me (from the other room): What is it, speak up woman.
Jenn: Arhh. Grrrr. Barrby.
Me: What?!
Jenn: Baby vomit. My face.

February 15, 2006

Mark Powell Interview

I've been looking forward to this interview with Mark Powell ever since I got wind of it a few weeks ago. Both Michael David Murphy's questions and Mr. Powell's answers do not dissapoint. Mark is one of the rare photographers whose words are as compelling as his images.

February 15, 2006

Here, there, everywhere

Blogging can sometimes be a seemingly thankless endeavor. Even reading reports of x number of visitors from this country or that, the task of posting images or words sometimes feel like something we do for ourselves rather than some theoretical audience on the other side of the screen, but recently I installed a bit of code from gvisit onto my site which plots out ip addresses on a google map and gives you an rss feed of the actual cities of your visitors. Put that feed into a ticker and suddenly you feel a bit more connected to the world. Hello Long Beach, Dubai, Istanbul, and Chino. Yo yo yo Ruesselsheim, Tblisi, Chicago, and Brooklyn. A shout out to Perth, Malaga, Herdon, Berlin, Jersey City, and the scores of other places that scroll by all day. If you are a blogger yourself I recommend this.

February 16, 2006

Missing LA

I don't miss LA much, but just a moment ago I had a flashback to driving my 53 Caddy up a winding road up to Muholland Drive in the early evening. Windows down. This song on the radio. Smell of damp honeysuckle and palms and I full body missed the place.

February 17, 2006

Not missing LA

As I was reminded today.

Q: Why did you leave LA?
Answer 1: In an entire year of LA dinners with friends, acquaintences, and business people my wife and I never had single meal in which the conversation did not eventually turn to diets, celebrities, or hit movies (often all 3). I am happy to note that in the last year our NY dinner conversations almost never end up being about diets, celebrities, or hit movies... Real estate is the pornography of this city, but even real estate never seems to dominate. People talk about things that actually matter.

Answer 2: In LA you have to schedule friends. Months go by between the times you hang out and even your closest friends will often break out of a lunch to discuss a deal on the cellphone. In NY people drop by and I have never once had someone run out of a lunch for an "important call".

Answer 3: I like seasons.

Answer 4: Earthquakes scare me more than terrorists.

Answer 5: Walking is fun.

February 17, 2006

Korea in the 30's

My brother-in-law Paul pointed me to a page with about 50 images of Korean village life in the 1930's. You don't see images like this much... I thought they were cool. (note page loads slowly)

February 18, 2006

2/18/1994, 2/18/2006

February 20, 2006

Fortune House, Henry Street

February 20, 2006

Stomping Around

February 21, 2006

77 Superstar

A few days ago a friend doubted my childhood East Texas accent. How wrong you are my friend. How very wrong you are: Recording dated December 28, 1977 (mp3 format)

February 23, 2006

Polka Question

Why is a dot alone only a dot, but when joined by others a polka dot?

February 23, 2006

10 Semi-Obscure Mac Programs You Shouldn't Be Without

I keep seeing lists of 10 must have Mac programs, but the lists is they are well known can't-live-without programs like Launchbar and Windowshade already installed on Machead machines. Here are some slightly more obscure programs I use every day:

1. Inquisitor. Inquisitor adds live search to Safari. You start typing it starts searching/suggesting. 90% of the time I never even have to go to the google results page because I find exactly what I am looking for right in the search window.. After installing this program Safari will feel better, smarter, better looking.

2. Saft. Saft is another Safari enhancement that adds the function of many of the most popular Firefox extensions to Safari. Think fancy ad filtering, tab restoration on quit, history search etc. My favorite addition: the ability to drag tabs from one window to another. This + Inquisitor have brought me back to
Safari after a several month hiatus to Firefox.

3. Flip4Mac is an extension that allows you to view unprotected Windows Media Player content within Quicktime. Why would you want to use this when Microsoft provides a free player? 1. Because it's better than the MS player. 2. Because the MS player is now discontinued and Microsoft is now supporting the flip4mac extension.

4. AppleJack. If you're lucky you'll never have to use Applejack. It's a little utility that hides in the bowels of your machine and gives you simple non-techie access to most of OS X's built in maintenance routines. What does this mean to you? If your computer starts acting funky you can boot up with command-S and type in "applejack" and repair a host of common OS X problems. It can be a lifesaver.

5. Growl is a utility that gives you translucent status messages from background applications. That description is deeply unsexy, but once you start using Growl, you'll forget what it was like to work without it. Basically it will tell you when downloads are done, what song is playing, etc without you having to move from your work.

6. Chax adds a host of large and small improvements to ichat.

7. Screensavers are never essential, but Soundstream is at least sort of fun. It's a screensaver that responds to the ambient noise in the room. Fun when the stereo is blasting. [Short aside] Here's the screensaver I want: Screensaver captures images from your iSight camera at defined intervals and then plays the images as a looping movie onscreen. When you return to your computer you see what happened while you were gone.

8. Are you a keyboard navigator? If so Witch will make you happy. It lets you jump from window to window easily without touching your mouse.

9. Sbook is a little notepad with smarts. Type in an address and it knows it's an address. A phone number is a phone number etc. Handy.

10. Delicious Library is probably the least obscure item on the list, but I'm surprised how few people know of it. This program lets you scan your book, cd, and dvd barcodes looks up info about the media (title, cover, etc) and stores it all in an easy to use database.

11. Here's an 11th one for free. Jumpcut allows you to keep multiple clipboards. It's simple low weight and it just works.

Update: Someone in the comments reminded me of Texpander. I use this program so organically I had forgotten about it. Texpander allows you to create abbreviations that expand as you type them. So instead of typing my name into forms I just type rrgg and it instantly expands into my full name. You can add bits of text (and images) at will. Darned useful. Also the sBook site is back up.

February 24, 2006

Santa Monica 2/24/1996

From an old journal:

It's almost 3am. My friend died today. Cancer. She was only 26. I couldn't sleep.

I drove up PCH. The clouds were low. The ocean dull, dark, almost invisible. Hungry and awake, I drove inland and stopped at a diner somewhere in Ventura county. As always at diners I ordered a burger and key lime pie. The place was empty and Janet, the waitress poured herself a coffee, sat down with me, and talked about a dream of horses she had had many years ago. I talked about India and the things I had seen there. She asked a lot of questions about camels and monsoons and holy men. Except for the cook and a sleepy bus boy named Manuelito, there was nobody else. I didn't tell her about my friend. When I got up to go she told me to come again, turned the TV to old Star Trek episode. Kirk was fighting some alien guy. Janet said she had seen it before. "The Gorn," she says, "They are unstoppable."

I drove back down the coast past the lights and stopped on a deserted beach. I like to open the windows, crank the heater up, and listen to the waves. I sat there in the dark for a while with the radio playing static. The world seems less round on nights like this. Hard to imagine tommorrow much less ten years from tomorrow.

February 25, 2006

Photobooth yearbook

My web friend Angelica is the curator of Swapatorium a website full of compelling found images. Check out her recent find of 1970 Rice University yearbook. The student portraits are photobooth strips. Man o man is that groovy.

February 26, 2006

Paras, Nuevo Leon 1955

The first picture is of two of my great aunts and my father's sister. The second is of a weekend barbecue. My grandmother is dead center. This is a lost world.

February 26, 2006

Dog Dreams and other short notes

I've had a couple of dogs in my lifetime although I don't have one now. New York despite it's abundance of smells is a cruel place to keep an animal who's great love is roaming around in the woods. I am thinking of a particular dog from my childhood. He's been gone for a while now. I was wondering if he ever dreamed of me and if so was I me or was I just some friendly anonymous human. Did he dream in color as I sometimes dream in black and white?

Often if I see a tourist taking a picture of something, I will step into frame just as he puts the camera to his face. Sometimes if it's a group shot and I'll step behind the group while the camera is being adjusted, step out quickly for the shot, and then head off before anyone notices. Over the years I've done this hundreds, maybe thousands of times. I've never told anyone. My wife will learn this small secret when she reads this post. I think of those pictures sometimes... I imagine them pasted in albums, lost in Parisian shoeboxes, and perhaps even hung by magnets on a few Japanese refrigerators... out there... somewhere. Do they wonder about the guy standing there with the slight grin?

My son is into bellybuttons right now. He likes to poke them and explore their depth. If you meet him don't be shocked if he goes for yours and gives it a good poke. Watch out.

February 27, 2006


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