July 3, 2005

We're in the Catskills this weekend for a wedding. This hotel (motel actually) has the WORLD'S SLOWEST INTERNET CONNECTION. More when I have bandwidth greater than 9600 baud.

Locaburg @ Jack Shainman Gallery

July 2, 2005

One of my favorite photographers on the web is Mark Powell, aka Locaburg or Location Iceberg. He has several photos up in the Brooklyn Institute of Contemporary Art's Living for the City Exhibition. If you are in town this weekend check it out. Mark is from Detroit, but lives in Mexico City. His images of both cities are a surreal fever dream grounded in a sunbathed reality that will leave you amazed and delighted. You can check out Mark's images on flickr ( I'd start here), and on fotolog (in that case start here). He has a book coming out this fall.

. . . . .
And while you are looking at photography check out yamasaki ko-ji, a Japanese photoblog that never fails to knock me out.

Portrait of Becky

July 1, 2005

Jenn's sister Becky is taking care of the baby. Jenn hears her from the other room repeating, "If a bear can do it, so can you. If a a bear can do it so can you." Curious, Jenn walks into the room and finds Becky holding the baby over a large blue ball trying to get him to roll it with his feet like a circus bear. Jenn, unnoticed, says nothing and retreats. "If a bear can do it, so can you," is repeated for a good long time followed by an "oh well...", a sigh, and then silence.

The New Freedom Tower Design

June 29, 2005

First of all I hate the name. Freedom Tower sounds so Orwellian and jingoistic. Perhaps it is the constant repetition of the word "freedom" by President Bush as he makes war that had inverted the meaning for me...

But on to the new design. My first impression is that it is bland. David Childs the architect has a knack at big bland projects that ultimately end up looking like generic malls. Think Time Warner Center. This design for the tower says Dallas or Detroit rather than New York. All the renderings show it from a distance where, as would virtually any tower that height, it looks impressive compared to the surrounding buildings. My guess is the architects are trying to obfuscate the fact that the building feautures a 200 foot high fortified concrete base without windows. Yikes! While the base might be clad in metal, this will not obscure the fact that from the ground, ie in the multiacre plaza that will surround it, individuals will be faced with a massive windowless block of steel and concrete. Have you ever been around big buildings sans windows? They are awful (Think of the much hated 2 Columbus Circle. Or go back and look at German architecture circa 1939.). The Freedom Tower design sends absolutely the wrong message managing to be both cowardly & embarrassing. How can a tower named Freedom be built on a massive bunker? My suggestion: If the bureaucrats are so worried about terrorism via truck bomb, they should save the money on the base and spend it on submerging all nearby roads creating more parkland. Go back to the Libeskind design. While it was not perfect it had an ounce of wit, lightness, and grace. A win win for all.

What we don't know

June 29, 2005

Since my wife's pregnancy last year I've read my fair share of baby books--all the standard titles and a few not so standard ones. I remember my panic right after the initial "it's a baby!" news. "What do I know about infants.... NOTHING!" So I started reading, but the more I read the more convinced I became we are still in the dark ages of understanding of infant development.

There is so much that is simply unknown. Do infants dream? What do infants actually see? What is there perception of the world? Why do they cry sometimes seemingly at random? etc. Most of what we do know centers around obvious external developmental milestones (tracking a person across a room, responding to noise, sticking out a tongue, sitting up etc), but the actual reality of how they perceive world is little known. Infant sleep, a topic, most new parents can talk about ad nauseam is a vast empty sea of speculation and conjecture. Most of the books that deal with this subject are are organized like fad diet books and have "systems" to get a child to sleep through the night or in his own bed. There are competing theories often at odds with each other (in an extreme example: some recommend "extinction" which means just leaving the baby alone night after night until he cries it out, others say the calm that follows that kind of hysterical crying is a trauma shutdown mechanism and leads to emotional problems...). And then there are the differences between kids themselves. We know several babies born within a week of our son. All of them have unique behaviors so distinct that an alien researcher might conclude they were different species all together. It is easy to conclude we know very little...

So what is the point of this post? The point is that tonight as I was holding the kid in the dark rocking him back to sleep after an 11pm wakeup I realized that none of that stack of books had prepared me for that particular moment and that none of those theories or sleep formulas mattered. I just held him tight and told him a pretty good story about bear that lives in a forest on the far side of the moon and before I knew it he was asleep in my arms, soft breath on my shoulder. Somehow despite everything that is unknown, I had known exactly what to do.

Busy Weekend

June 27, 2005

Once again I am bone tired. Jenn's cousins Esther and Lauren were here for the weekend to take in New York. Apparently we did a pretty good job as hosts. According to Esther, Friday was the best day of her life. "Seriously." Jenn and Becky deserve most of the credit. They are excellent elder cousins.

Saturday I followed around Jolly and the East Village Mir-maids documenting their day from East 3rd Street to the Mermaid Festival on Coney Island. Thanks Jolly for allowing me to snap away all day and congrats to your crew of ladies on finishing 2nd.

The parade was literally infested with phtographers and perhaps because of this I ran into a couple of fellow photobloggers who recognized me from my photoblog. As usual the conversations were a bit awkward, but it's awfully nice for strangers to say hello. So hi there Kurt (and girlfriend) from Toronto, Jacinda from Adelaide, Stephanie from New Jersey and the tall guy from Queens. If you send me your urls I'll definately check out your sites...

With the scores and scores of phtoographers around (and subjects who were all exhibitionists on some level vamping for the cameras) I found myself thinking about photo cliché's and how to avoid them. Perhaps in a situation like this it is impossible, but I found myself constantly trying to step back a few steps from everyone else, and seeing out small moments on the periphery. I haven't seen my film yet so i don't know if I succeeded. Probably not. There were probably as many photographers as there were mermaids and mermen. I was thinking next year I should ditch the camera and don a costume along with the wife and baby. Raul Andres would make an awfully cute octopus or lobster.

Jenn's sister Becky lost her car. Or it was stolen. We're not sure yet.

My brain is on slo-mo. Time to sleep.

Nuevo Leon, Imagenes de Nuestra Memoria

June 24, 2005

I have no idea where you would find this book in the US, but if collect photobooks and find yourself in Monterrey, pick up a copy of Nuevo Leon, Imagenes de Nuestra Memoria. It is chock full of images that will knock you out. As a side benefit you get a several pictures from "La Nevada", ie the day it snowed for the first time in recorded memory, otherwise known as the day I was born.

Out of Wack

June 23, 2005

My circadian rhythms are a mess.

Life around the Gutierrez household

June 22, 2005

I am up in the attic engrossed on my computer working out some arcane css issue and I feel something skitter across my toes. A cockroach. No too big. A rat. Chills, then terror. I let out a man scream while simultaneously rolling back in chair and jumping in the air.

Cut to my wife in her underwear rolling on the ground with screams of laughter under my desk with a piece of string that she had run across my food. Cracking up so hard she can't breath. Tears.

Then Becky, Jenn's sister, runs up (she thought I had fallen down the stairs) and Jenn (still hysterical with laughter), mocks me "Who am I? Who am I?" as she mimics my inelegant scream.

She got me.

But this is an ongoing war I will have my revenge.

This is me tired:

June 21, 2005

1. Work on project late. Get to sleep 3:30am.
2. Wake up and tend to morning baby wakeup 5:20am.
3. Sleep 7:15am-8:45am.
4. Work. Work. Work.
5. 3:30pm take car from Jenn to fill it up with gas and park it (I had told Jenn to fill it up with gas before her errands). Car runs out of gas in the middle of Court street.
6. 3:35 Raul pushing car with 2 homeless guys to the side of the road and running to buy a slurpee cup full of gasoline.
7. 5:00 turn in one web project.
8. 5:15 start another web project.
9. 5:30 decide I'm not ready for project #2 and need a nap. Snap this picture:

10. 10:08pm Back to work.


June 21, 2005

can't be good:

Fort Greene:

they are asking a million for this fire damaged ratrap of an SRO (with a rent control tenant!):

Can we say bubble?

Photobloggers 4

June 19, 2005

Perhaps because weddings and funerals have been the primary venue for my public speaking, there is an emotional sense memory attached to the act of standing in front of an audience. The unhappy anticipation generally leads to dryness of mouth a blankness of mind, and a rabbit-like heart rate. Weird things happen to my voice. It's awful.

But last night when I finally started talking I calmed down. While I went off the rails a bit and babbled, I wasn't nervous, which I suppose is progress. Still, I envy those people who can speak clearly and eloquently in front of a crowd like some of my fellow presenters. Travis Ruse in particular, gave a compelling talk about the thinking behind his subway photography. By documenting his daily commute week in and week out, his images form a dignified portrait of the people of this great city presenting a cross-section of it's diversity, complexity and grace. He spoke of being compelled to his project by a sense that the rest of the world misunderstands Americans, thinking of us all as right wing lemmings and wanted to in his small way to fight that image by small portraits of our daily truth.

As I was sitting there listening to Travis, I thought about the ease with which virtually anyone with access to the internet can publish to a worldwide audience and present a portrait of his world and just perhaps change a few minds. We are lucky indeed.

My Dad's Birthday

June 16, 2005

We had a nice little brithday party for my dad today. As usual Jenny made an amazing meal. My dad basically didn't let go of the baby the entire time he was here...

the heat

June 15, 2005

has broken and the entire city of New York seems to be in a better mood today. This does not explain why I ate an entire bag of spice candies (I feel sick now).
. . .

The books say 6 month old babies don't have nightmares. I beg to differ. REM is occasionally followed by tossing and turning, leg pumping, and then a sharp blood curdling scream. After being woken up there is some disorientation as the memory fades. Pretty much exactly how I experience nightmares (only I scream a bit louder).

On the left is a picture of a baby during the scream. On the right, a few minutes later, after a few songs by yours truly.

The pictures were taken with a Hogla with a polaroid back. I found the polaroid attatchment recently on ebay for $11. Best $11 I've ever spent.

The other new toy in my life is an Epson 4990 Scanner, a replacement for my dead Agfa. The Agfa was one of those $99 specials thrown in for 'free' when you buy a new computer. After years with the Agfa, what a joy the 4990 is. I can scan straight from photoshop, it scans 48bit color, the colors are accurate, and it's fast. Really fast. Now I regret the countless hours I spent waiting for the Agfa to scan and fixing the colors of those scans.
. . .
Does anyone have good links lying around for hypnosis techniques. I've decided I want to teach myself this skill but became frustrated after an admittedly short google session. The best I found was this page (beware badly rendering html) with links and explanations of different theories: http://www.deep-trance.com/definition/hypnosis.html

. . .

Back to the baby. From the picture you can see he is developing a bit of mohawk. Now I like the idea of a baby with a real mohawk, but in practice it would probably be sort of lame (I think of all those little redneck kids I grew up with in their tiny mullets) and anyway it probably wouldn't grow in properly (my guess, the swath of hair will just fuzz out). I'm thinking we should should shave him down to even everything out. My wife disagrees.


June 15, 2005

I am a great hater of hot humid days. They make me grumpy and foul tempered. I become especially grumpy when the fuses in the house keep blowing under the strain of our measly window units. Good god, and it's not even officially summer yet.

We must retreat like Europeans to someplace more agreeable.

24 Middagh

June 13, 2005

Brownstoner is running a series on Brooklyn Heights this week. They start with 24 Middegah which according to The Brooklyn Historical Society is the oldest standing building in the neighborhood. While most books say this house was built in 1824, the caption this picture from 1922 says "This place was used as a chop-house in 1815. It became a residence in 1836" which would imply it was older still:

As noted by the Brownstoner, the other house of interest on Middagh was #7. Back in the 40's W. H. Auden, Carson McCullers, Jane and Paul Bowles, Benjamin Britten, and Gypsy Rose Lee all lived there together for one alcohol tinged year of bohemian living that proved inspirational for several books, musical compositions, et-cetera amongst them. The story of the year is told in the book February House (there were lots of February birthdays). #7 was torn down to make way for the BQE.

The name Middagh came from the Middagh farm. This document (originally from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle 1896), a treasure trove of information about the area circa 1800, notes:

"The First ward was occupied by the HICKS and MIDDAGH farms, the land being
about equa11y divided between the two families. The boundaries were Fulton street,
the East river and Clark street.. The dividing line was midway between Hicks and
Henry streets. HICKS having all the west and MIDDAGH having all the east section.
Soutb or the Middagh farm were the small WARING, KIMBERLEY and Samuel JACKSON

Another o1d time land owner was the famous Dr. SWEETCOPE, a Hessian who had
served in the British army during the revolution and remained here after the close
of the War. He had an office at the corner of Fulton and Clinto streets and his
property lay along Love lane, which then ran from Fulton street to the river."

The document goes to talk about a fight between Mr. Joralemon, a harness and saddle maker, and Charles Hoyt a real estate speculator. Joralemon opposed the creation of Clinton street named after a politician who spearheaded the Erie Canal project. I will now never cross the intersection Joralemon and Clinton without a chuckle. Damn that Mr. Hoyt.

Happy Trails

June 13, 2005

We had a great time this weekend. Have a safe trip back to Buffalo!


June 12, 2005

We were visited by the fabulous Bea Hoffman (and her family) this weekend. This was her first photobooth portrait.
Our son, of course, is already an old pro.


June 7, 2005

1. Although I hate sites that have pop up windows, I do enjoy a bit of surrealism now and then.

2. Photoblogger's 4 is happening on June 17 @ 7:00pm at the Apple Store. Stop by and watch me choke (I'm one of the speakers and anyone who has known me long enough knows I'm famously shy about this stuff). Otherwise these things are like big slide shows. Is anyone in blogworld ancient enough to remember the family slideshow? Or even better the neighbor's slideshow of his vacation ("The Sullivans go to Vegas!"). Anyway it will sort of be like that. As a random aside, if you don't know the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, you probably should.

3. Check out this nice bit of photojournalism on land and identity from Magnum. I found this link via Martin Fuchs who is interning at Magnum this summer.

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