March 1, 2006
I love driving in countries where there are no traffic rules. There is something exhilarating about getting to a 5 way intersection of zooming motorcycles, cars turning right and left across traffic and JUST GOING FOR IT.
March 2, 2006
Many guidebooks on the Dominican Republic warn the reader WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T DRIVE AT NIGHT, but they don't explain their excess of caution. I wanted to know what the big deal was, so I went out tonight. Here are the reasons the warnings are in all caps.
1. No streetlights.
2. Motorbikes that pass on either side of you without headlights.
3. Potholes so deep they bang your teeth together.
4. Bridges that don't exist and are unmarked by some sort of "bridge out' sign.
5. People in the streets.
6. Dogs in the streets.
7. Chickens in the streets.
8. Police who stop you and ask you for a few pesos for some Presidentes.
9. Random guys waving machetes who appear out of nowhere in the middle of the road.
10. No stop signs on unlit 4 and 5 way intersections.
11. No streetsigns whatsoever.
Don't take this as a complaint. We're all enjoying ourselves here. Driving is part of the adventure.
March 3, 2006
If you ever find yourself in this part of the world. I recommend turning off the main road into a path that runs through a field of sugar cane. Kill the car, open the windows and maybe open the door and stand outside letting the sweet air envelop you. Listen to the sound of wind in the high cane with the surf beyond. This, you will not forget.
March 6, 2006
March 6, 2006
Ever wonder what it feels like to hang out in Hanoi? Check out Thinh Le's Hanoi Panoramas.
March 8, 2006
We're back home... Say hello. I'll be posting DR images on Mexican Pictures for another week or so.
March 9, 2006
Are you in New York and looking for something to do this weekend? ABCDF promises to be a great show. Many of the photographers like Daniela Rosell are well known but there are many names that are new to me. I'll try to make the opening on Sunday.
UPDATE: We went out today to check out this show and I was disappointed. The photography was presented mounted on boards and as big transparencies. Both choices minimize the power of the photograph as an artistic object, giving them a more commercial and less substantial feel. Many of the prints were poorly made. Additionally the curators made several bad editing decisions leaving the show without coherence. Modern photography was thrown together with a random shot of the 50's. Interior scenes were juxtaposed with architectural photography. Images practically screaming to be printed large were presented small and several humdrum shots were shown large. A few somewhat mismatched video and sculpture pieces were thrown in for no apparent reason. Unforgivably the lighting was bad. All this is a shame because the work of many compelling photographers was on display minimized by the presentation...
March 11, 2006
March 12, 2006
Ever wonder what the city might look like if it had not been touched by Robert Moses, modernists, or Donald Trump? If so I recommend The Metropolis of Tomorrow by Hugh Ferriss. The illustrations in this manifesto published in 1929 are a tour de force of imagination. The writing is passionate and odd. An example:
BUILDINGS like crystals
Walls of translucent glass.
Sheer glass blocks sheathing a steel grill.
No Gothic branch: no Acanthus leaf: no recollection of the plant world.
A mineral kingdom.
Forms as cold as ice.
Night in the Science Zone.
Whenever I feel bad about our physical world (a trip to Times Square or up 6th Avenue will do it for me), I dissapear into this book.
March 13, 2006
Powder blue poly suit with deep bell bottoms. Check.
Cool pose. Check.
Earth shoes. Check. (essential)
W i d e & high open collar shirt. No tie. Check.
Show off your garden. No. No! So not cool. Stop.
March 13, 2006
Saturday was beyond nice here in New York City. You know it's a nice day when they wheel out the great-grandmothers from the doorman buildings and let them warm in the sun. Not too hot. Not too cold... No humidity. Yesterday it rained which was fine because it was warm friendly rain and then today I walked out and I could feel it in my bones, no doubt about it: winter has passed. Hello spring.
March 14, 2006
Ever since we caught the trailer for Duck Season (Temporada de Patos), by the Mexican director Fernando Eimbcke a few months ago, Jenn and I have been eager to check out the film. Last night we finally did. The frenetic trailer misrepresents the movie somewhat. The film about boredom of pre-teens stuck in an apartment without electricity on a Sunday afternoon is presented with bone dry deadpan humor that recalls Aki Kaurismaki or Jim Jarmusch. The camera is stationary, the dialog slow , and the humor often found in the tiniest of glances. Boredom is hard to pull off on screen unless you plant a few ticking time bombs to keep the audience hooked and while there are plenty of ticking bombs here, they don't get planted until rather late in the game. By that time about a quarter of our audience had already checked out (the lady next to me was snoring loudly about 15 minutes in). Still there are plenty of laughs here (and ultimately some real emotion) especially if you are patient and speak Spanish (much gets lost in translation). Add strong cinematography, a winning cast of young actors, a great soundtrack and you have a fun little movie. Check it out if you are in the right mood.
March 15, 2006
Today was my grandmother's birthday. Her name was Olivia Aurora Perez. This is a picture of her at the age of 6 in her Sunday best on her father's ranch. She never liked the picture and it was 8 years before she would have another one made. This image originally included 4 of her 10 siblings. Each of the 4 kept their torn portions of the picture until their deaths. Her curse was watching 9 of the 10 die before her. Often she would dream the deaths a few days before they would happen and wake up with eyes full of tears clutching her well worn rosary. She would whisper her own death was near each time she said goodbye to me. As a child I would cry, but after 25 years I stopped believing her and then of course it happened.
My grandmother spent a good portion of her life in the kitchen a fact of which she was most proud. When I dream of food I am always sitting at that small table prodding her (between bites) for another story of her father the bandit/revolutionary or laughing at one of her sharp observations. One of her brothers would say his 25 years of marriage had gone by "in ten minutes." "Ten minutes under cold water," she would whisper. She only finished the 6th grade but would always joke that she was more educated than my grandfather who only made it through the 4th. Her penmenship maintained the studied care of a child and sometimes she would use a ruler to keep her lines straight.
I was her favorite. She made no effort to hide this from my cousins or my brothers. I could do no wrong by her even though I managed to flood her house, crash my grandfather's car (at age 4), and nearly blow up a neighbor's workshop with homemade fireworks.
I look at her eyebrows and nose every day in the mirror. She smelled of rosewater and flour and she had the softest hands. I miss her.
March 16, 2006
March 16, 2006
Now that it's less freezing it's time to do some gallery hopping. These are some photo shows I've want to see:
Paris in the 50's looks fun.
The always great Martin Parr has a show at Danziger Projects.
The show titled 1968: All in a Dream intrigues. It's a collection of amateur photos from 1968 collected by a guy who worked at a photo processing lab in Boston.
Mark the new Sallie Mann show as another must visit.
Anthony Lepore makes interesting images and I like his nice big prints but I'm not sure I love the work... they feel a bit cold to me. Emotionless.
I'm curious about the new Nan Goldin exhibition (no imageS). She's a photo hero of mine although I haven't been compelled by her recent work as much as I was by her early work... That said, is there anyone who could keep up that level of intensity through a career?
As an aside why are gallery websites so god awful, so.... 1995. And why so few images from your exhibitions? Here's a humble suggestion: 1) publish your homepage as a blog using movabletype or some other easy to manage blogware. This would allow you to stay up to date without a fuss and keep your audience up to date via rss 2) get good digital images of your artists' work and publish galleries using iphoto or aperture (this will give you professional easy to navigate, easyt to update galleries).
Jen Beckman gets all this already. Her site a) incorporates a blog b) has an RSS feed. My only suggested improvement would be to link images from a specific artist to a gallery by that artist (right now clicking images takes you to a page with only that image on it which is a bit disorientating)...
Anyway that's it. See you out there. I'll be the guy with the stroller and the camera.
March 17, 2006
If you were a little punk rock kid in Texas in the early 80's you probably loved the Judys. Their albums are all out of print (I have the vinyl) but now through the magic of the interweb you can listen to their albums without your mom throwing them out. Start with Washarama (My mom destroyed 3 different copies of this one). Sounds almost cute now. (Links are realaudio only unfortunately.) Don't you think Guyana Punch is due for a good cover?
March 18, 2006
We're in our car sitting on Atlantic Avenue trying to cross the street into Fort Green, but people keep running the red light preventing us from crossing.
Me: Aaarg. I think I have road rage.
Jenn: We don't drive enough for you to have road rage. You have to earn it.
Another car runs red light.
Jenn: It's not road rage if you're smiling.
Me: (frowning) Son of a Bitch!
Jenn: More like a road meow.
March 18, 2006
I recently followed a link from the always interesting Proceedings of the Athanathius Kirshner Society to RAW Vision Magazine. Raw Vision is new to me but it seems it shouldn't be as each issue seems to hold something of interest... Whether it's Nigerian Cement Sculpture, Loy Allen Bowlin, Afgan War Rugs, Prison Tattoos, or Mediumistic Art, they've got my number.
As an aside, my wife on magazine subscriptions: "Somebody has to rethink the whole renewal process. I could do without the threats."
March 20, 2006
About half of our beach snapshots look something like this.
March 22, 2006
Tonight I attended a meeting of the New York Burger Club. There were no rules or minutes, just discussions of burgers and burger joints and of course eating of hamburgers. I was the new guy but everyone in the group was welcoming, friendly, and curious. "How do you like your burgers?" was always the opening line. My preference for well done was oohed and ahhed with none of the anticipated distain. Apparently I'm the first in the group to take my burgers this way and that was ok with everyone. One guy confided that each member of the group was on his own quest. Indeed everyone seemed to know everyone else's preferences for thickness, juciness, bun size etc. At one point after a long discussion of meat to bun ratios and whether the meat in tonight's meal had been frozen at some point one of the girls and turned to me and asked if I was ok, worried that it might be too much. "Are you kidding this is my internal dialog every time I pick up a hamburger," I answered. She and the others seemed to relax a bit. I could tell I was amongst friends. Photos from this evening can be found here.
March 22, 2006
A photographer friend who shall go unnamed recently confided, "I'm bored with all the photography being posted to blogs out there."
Perhaps he's browsing in the wrong places...
Jessie Chan Norris
March 22, 2006
Check out Chilean Photographer Marcelo Montecino's incredible collection of vintage latin American photographs.
March 22, 2006
I've tinkered with making Polaroid panoramas, but I've never done it as well as Paul Schiek.
More of Mr. Schiek's elliptically delicious work can be seen at the Stephen Wirtz gallery site.
March 23, 2006
Most of us have led other lives. I do not have to roll back the years too far to see myself as another person, standing in another house, thinking thoughts that would be foreign to me now. I am always amazed when I meet people whose paths are orderly-in which one dot leads to the next in a straight line-and I am almost offended when someone from my childhood tells me, "you know, you haven't changed one bit." I suppress the urge to to curse, and tell them the lie they expect to hear, "you know, you haven't changed either."
Sometimes in dreams I am transported to one time or another. I will be back in Rajastan sitting on the roof of an overcrowded train, watching the monsoon sweep across the desert, waiting for the men who sit cross-legged on elephants to raise their umbrellas one by one. I will remember what it was to be a shaggy haired nomad detached from the world experiencing that moment: the smell of the rushing hot air, the blue holy man, immobile, his hair whipping around his face, the roar of the train, and those umbrellas going up. I will forget I am asleep in my bed next to my wife and child. Except for a lingering feeling akin to deja vu I do not remember what will come, so I will lose myself in the rain, and feel all joy and sadness I felt back then.
Sometimes these dreams go on for eons, but invariably I will be pulled back, startled by my smiling son with a poke to the face and a burst of speech in strange toddler language best described as a Gallic yodel. In the seconds that make up that post-liminial eternity I cross the divide. I am that guy on that train and I am this guy now. Soon... by the time I am fully awake the other lives fade back to their proper place and I am ready to start the day. My one lingering sadness: knowing this moment, this day, will be one that someday I return to in dreams for I will be someone else, in some other house, in some other place.
March 25, 2006
John Siracusa my favorite writer about all things OS X notes that OS X is five years old. In honor of this anniversary I thought it might be fun to dig up one of my old web columns written in January 2000 a year before the official release OS X release. The writing style is annoying, but it's fun to see what I got wrong and what I got right. I've reposted it here. Note most of the links are dead, so just ignore them.
March 27, 2006
March 28, 2006
I'm really looking forward to checking out Little Miss Sunshine this summer. One minor issue with the trailer. The family is eating Dinah's Fried Chicken and Dinah's is in Glendale, California (I used to eat there regularly), but in the trailer the grandfather says the family is going to California...
March 28, 2006
I've was organizing the attic tonight when I ran across a bunch of images of my wife from one of her college photography classes... My guess is that these ones went down like this:
Assignment: Self Portrait
1. Drive out from Chicago looking for something "artistic"....
2. See a corn field and swerve to a stop.
3. Quickly set the camera up on a tripod. Worry about being discovered.
4. Set the timer and run like hell into the corn.
5. Make serious arty face, wait for the snap, repeat.
Actually I love this whole contact sheet and am tempted to post the whole thing. Enjoy because Jenn might force me to remove them.
March 30, 2006
One day if you are lucky, you will travel across the the Taklamakan desert of Xinjiang. And on the journey you will stop in the small oasis towns along the way. And if you do find yourself in this situation, if you are the type of person to find yourself in the middle of the Taklamakan, inevitably you will walk to the outskirts of those villages where the irrigation ends and the desert encroaches, it is here you will find holy sites marked with prayer flags, a practice perhaps borrowed from Tibetans or perhaps inherited from distant Sythian ancestors. Lisa Ross has visited these places and stood there and photographed them. Her fantastic new show is called Traces of Devotion. It opens tomorrow and if you are in Dumbo you should check it out.
March 30, 2006
March 31, 2006
Yesterday (actually the day before yesterday as it is already tomorrow), was our anniversary. Three years. Leather. THREE YEARS! Time accelerates at an uncomfortable pace. If I rewind to the moment Jenn and I were at the alter being lassoed together (literally lassoed, as this was a Mexican wedding and that's part of the ceremony) I remember time suddenly becoming very slow, expanding, and silencing the room.
It was an improbable situation. A couple of hundred people from the many disparate parts of our lives converged in a little village church 4 hours away from anything. The scene was pretty-radiating strands of flowers hung from the wooden beams down to the alter. Villagers in their cowboy hats had gathered outside to watch the men in tuxedos, and the women in hamboks, saris, and dresses pass through the old wooden doors. It was sunset just as we had planned and we knew by the time the long Catholic service was over stars would be peeking out in the desert sky.
So many things had gone wrong leading up to that moment- big things. Serious things like Jenn being stuck down for 3 days with food poisoning, my tuxedo going missing in a cab, and a bus of Koreans getting lost in the desert. When they placed that lasso over us, the same one that had married my parents, I felt it was the first time I could take a breath, look over at my lovely bride, and just relax. I held her hand. In a minute my godfather would give us thirteen gold coins (another Mexican tradition) and then in a few more minutes, I would put a ring on Jenn's finger.
I thought many things in that long moment most of which I have forgotten, but the one question that stuck was, "By what principle will we lead our life together?" Someone had just spoken about us and had said our greatest virtue and our greatest flaw was that we loved beauty. That we would search for it. "True," I thought, but surely beauty is ephemeral, hardly an organizing principle. 'Love' seemed too obvious, too broad; 'truth', self righteous. I decided the question needed more thought and of course consultation. This would be decided together. Three years later we're still asking the question, and perhaps the answer is that there is no simple answer, perhaps the important thing is to remember to keep asking the question despite the years rushing past and all the other things that make us forget the moments when time stands still.