Inaugural Addresses Past

January 20, 2009


Here are the full texts of all the inaugural addresses past.

And a few snippets that stuck out for me (in no particular order):

Lyndon Johnson:

"My fellow countrymen, on this occasion, the oath I have taken before you and before God is not mine alone, but ours together. We are one nation and one people. Our fate as a nation and our future as a people rest not upon one citizen, but upon all citizens.

This is the majesty and the meaning of this moment.

For every generation, there is a destiny. For some, history decides. For this generation, the choice must be our own.

Even now, a rocket moves toward Mars. It reminds us that the world will not be the same for our children, or even for ourselves in a short span of years. The next man to stand here will look out on a scene different from our own, because ours is a time of change—rapid and fantastic change bearing the secrets of nature, multiplying the nations, placing in uncertain hands new weapons for mastery and destruction, shaking old values, and uprooting old ways.

Our destiny in the midst of change will rest on the unchanged character of our people, and on their faith." (video)

Teddy Roosevelt:

" Yet, after all, though the problems are new, though the tasks set before us differ from the tasks set before our fathers who founded and preserved this Republic, the spirit in which these tasks must be undertaken and these problems faced, if our duty is to be well done, remains essentially unchanged. We know that self-government is difficult. We know that no people needs such high traits of character as that people which seeks to govern its affairs aright through the freely expressed will of the freemen who compose it. But we have faith that we shall not prove false to the memories of the men of the mighty past. They did their work, they left us the splendid heritage we now enjoy. We in our turn have an assured confidence that we shall be able to leave this heritage unwasted and enlarged to our children and our children's children. To do so we must show, not merely in great crises, but in the everyday affairs of life, the qualities of practical intelligence, of courage, of hardihood, and endurance, and above all the power of devotion to a lofty ideal, which made great the men who founded this Republic in the days of Washington, which made great the men who preserved this Republic in the days of Abraham Lincoln."

Woodrow Wilson

We are provincials no longer. The tragic events of the thirty months of vital turmoil through which we have just passed have made us citizens of the world. There can be no turning back. Our own fortunes as a nation are involved whether we would have it so or not.

And yet we are not the less Americans on that account. We shall be the more American if we but remain true to the principles in which we have been bred. They are not the principles of a province or of a single continent. We have known and boasted all along that they were the principles of a liberated mankind. These, therefore, are the things we shall stand for, whether in war or in peace.

Harry Truman

The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law and equal opportunity to share in the common good. We believe that all men have the right to freedom of thought and expression. We believe that all men are created equal because they are created in the image of God.

From this faith we will not be moved.

(Partial Speech - mp3)

Howard Taft

The negroes are now Americans. Their ancestors came here years ago against their will, and this is their only country and their only flag. They have shown themselves anxious to live for it and to die for it. Encountering the race feeling against them, subjected at times to cruel injustice growing out of it, they may well have our profound sympathy and aid in the struggle they are making. We are charged with the sacred duty of making their path as smooth and easy as we can. Any recognition of their distinguished men, any appointment to office from among their number, is properly taken as an encouragement and an appreciation of their progress, and this just policy should be pursued when suitable occasion offers.

Grover Cleveland

Care for the property of the nation and for the needs of future settlers requires that the public domain should be protected from purloining schemes and unlawful occupation.

The conscience of the people demands that the Indians within our boundaries shall be fairly and honestly treated as wards of the Government and their education and civilization promoted with a view to their ultimate citizenship, and that polygamy in the Territories, destructive of the family relation and offensive to the moral sense of the civilized world, shall be repressed.

The laws should be rigidly enforced which prohibit the immigration of a servile class to compete with American labor, with no intention of acquiring citizenship, and bringing with them and retaining habits and customs repugnant to our civilization.

John F Kennedy (full speech) (mp3)

Dwight D. Eisenhower (full speech)

FDR's First Innagural (mp3)

John Adams

There may be little solidity in an ancient idea that congregations of men into cities and nations are the most pleasing objects in the sight of superior intelligences, but this is very certain, that to a benevolent human mind there can be no spectacle presented by any nation more pleasing, more noble, majestic, or august, than an assembly like that which has so often been seen in this and the other Chamber of Congress, of a Government in which the Executive authority, as well as that of all the branches of the Legislature, are exercised by citizens selected at regular periods by their neighbors to make and execute laws for the general good. Can anything essential, anything more than mere ornament and decoration, be added to this by robes and diamonds? Can authority be more amiable and respectable when it descends from accidents or institutions established in remote antiquity than when it springs fresh from the hearts and judgments of an honest and enlightened people? For it is the people only that are represented. It is their power and majesty that is reflected, and only for their good, in every legitimate government, under whatever form it may appear. The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.

Christian Chaize

January 19, 2009

We're featuring the Lyon based, Portuguese photographer Christian Chaize on 20x200 in the next few weeks. I can pre-announce because the cat's already out of the bag (Our Chaize image, not the one above, was featured in the Febrary Domino magazine). Chaize's images have an easy appeal, are also interesting studies on time and group dynamics, and are the perfect antidote to a cold winter's night.

Patrick O'Dell

January 14, 2009


One of the great pleasures in life is jumping into a car and just driving for a couple of days or weeks with no particular destination in mind.

I don't know the story behind Patrick O'Dell's Natives (shot for Vice Magazine), but I'm guessing he hopped into a car and ended up on a reservation somewhere way out west. Feels exactly right and I like it because of that.

The rest of the portfolio can be found here.

Gabriel at Night

January 14, 2009

My son Gabriel who is 22 months old had growing pains last night. At some ungodly hour he started, began moaning, and then sobbing loudly. When we asked what was wrong he simply cried "hurts" and pointed down at his legs, a much simpler and direct diagnosis than is found in medical literature which describes these pains as "non-inflammatory musculoskeletal pain syndromes, non-articular, inter-mittent bilateral aches" (but so far provides no clues as to why they occur).

Holding Gabriel's legs tight made him feel better; his moans dissolved into whimpers, and he faded back into sleep. When we would let go of his his legs, even in slumber, he would guide our hands back. I have foggy memories of my own growing pains and I have no idea if someone held my legs, but I distinctly felt the rush of sense memory so I think it must have happened. And in those half remembered moments in the middle of the night you also get the impression that this memory will be passed on through some subterranean reptilian channel. And I wonder which is the deeper comfort: knowing on some primitive level that someone is there to hold your legs at night when they hurt, or being the person who was able to be there?

Pieter Hugo's Nollywood

January 7, 2009

South African photographer Pieter Hugo has produced yet another intriguing punch-you-in-the-gut project titled Nollywood. It's a collection of portraits of actors in the Nigerian Film Industry recreating typical scenes from Nollywood movies which are produced by the thousands often direct to video. I haven't seen many Nollywood films but what I have seen reminds me very much of pulp-filled Mexican cinema of the 60's of the 70's which were filled with stories the extreme and the macabre. I grew up on the Santo series for example in which El Santo a masked hero would battle vampire women, martians, the blue demons, and of course (always) the armies of the undead. There were similarly extreme Mexican westerns, telenovelas (soaps), musicals, and science fiction. All were making movie magic and capturing the popular imagination of millions of people with the slimmest of budgets and improvised props. These were not mainstream films, but rather pulp shown on late night TV and later distributed by video. The pulp Nollywood films I've seen are similar. If you had undertaken an analogous photography project in Mexico 30 years ago you would have ended up with many similar archetypes— images influenced by Western cinema, but made uniquely local and encoded with popular mythologies.

Pieter's work also always brings up questions of race, identity, and of the photographer's gaze and this project like so many of his projects provokes questions, demands attention, and is at once intriguing, maddening, and exhilarating.

Related: Stefan Ruiz and Pieter Hugo worked together at Colors Magazine for a few years and intentionally or not they seem to influence each other. Check out Stefan's project called Telenovelas in which photographs the stars of telenovelas on the Mexico City sets of their shows.

Juliana Beasley

January 5, 2009


Via my work with 20x200 and Hey Hot Shot I see the portfolios of hundreds if not thousands of photographers, and I'm struck by is how very few photographs—even photographs by very good photographers—are truly memorable. Juliana Beasley has a knack for taking memorable photographs often of subjects who live in the underbelly of society (drunks, strippers, the insane, and the unloved). When I first encountered Beasley's project "Rockaways" a few years ago I think my impression was that the images were striking but that the work showed little compassion for their subjects. But over time the portraits of broken men and hard weary women photographed in harsh light worked their way into my subconscious. I realized my original assessment was completely off base. I mistook her bracing clarity for sarcasm. Many of the images are simply unforgettable. They stick with you. I've since been impressed by the range of Beasley's work and her ability to tell stories most people don't want to hear. She recently started a blog and I'll definitely be following along.

Note: The image above is from Beasley's series on Cambodian land mine victims, it came to mind today while watching this tangentially related but equally courageous story on Cambodian Sex Slavery by Nicholas Kristoff in today's New York Times.

Letter to Santa

December 25, 2008

Dear Santa Claus,

I miss you. Why are your presents so beautiful? Why do you... why do you...why do you live in the North Pole? I want you to live closer so we can be friends. I had a very good idea, I would like to give you a Christmas present. Maybe a guitar. I hope you like it.

Raul Andres
Age 4 and 17 days
Dec 24, 2008


a few hours later:


Unwritten Letters Part I

December 23, 2008

In my file cabinet I have several folders dedicated to letters. There is a section for letters received, a section for unsent letters, another for half-finished letters, and one labeled 'unwritten letters' containing fragments of letter ideas.

In the spirit of the Unwritten Letter file here are a few of the unwritten blog entries I started over the last two years... partial ideas for posts. Here are a few I wish I had fleshed out. I can't recall writing most of these and have no idea how I was planning to finish them off.

It's 1951.
You're directing Clash by Night, a B movie but things could be worse. Marilyn Monroe is starring. No need to push her down the stairs as you had done to Peter Lorre.
It's been twenty years since M, seventeen years since defying Goebbels and losing your wife to the Nazis. The Americans will come to know you for The Big Heat, but that's two years away and eight years after that you'll direct your last movie. A horror flick. For the next 16 years after that you'll try to make another film but will never will.


guy bullet pants: I'm gonna call that bitch Happy Meal.

guy puffy jacket: Grins is fine enough for me.

guy bullet pants: I got it. We call him Emoticon.

A modest proposal. It's not a stretch to say that museum websites are generally, terrible. They are over-designed or under-designed, are often overproduced, and generally lack the very thing people are coming to find within them- pictures, audio, and video of the items within the said museums. Instead of all the Smithsonian and MOMA and everyone else reinventing the wheel with each website, why not spend some money to license a version of flickr that can be customized for all museums. Include all the normal flickr-like features substituting institutions for users, but with organizational levels beyond mere commenting and single institution-set making. Give it depth. Allow for scholarly documents to be attached to images. Allow wiki-style editing of explanatory text as well as official texts. And allow connections to be made between objects/images. Allow users to curate collections, and allow any and all organizations that play by certain rules to join.

The best images I think are sensual, not sensual in the libidinous modern sense of the word, but in the original meaning of the word... that they provoke the senses and give us shorthand for experience... (Aside: Milton coined sensuous to avoid the sexual overtones that were attached to sensual, but sensuous was also soon co-opted as shorthand for infused w/ sex)... Sometimes all I need to get through the day is one great image, something to hang onto before I close my eyes at night. Here is today's image:
[there was no image]


I walked into the kitchen tonight and found my wife sitting alone at the table and upset. "What's the matter?" I asked. She tells me the story of 3 young friends of friends who died in a car accident, one was killed on impact, 2 others were burned alive while people tried in vain to rescue them. I noticed she was holding our new baby's socks. "You raise a child for twenty years and then THAT?" she said quietly.

Sometimes it takes half a lifetime to think of a retort. Twenty years ago today after a longish hike in the Welsh countryside I walked into a pub and met a man who said

Christopher Handran

December 18, 2008


Christopher Handran, in his project Happy Birthday To Me rephotographs his own birthday snapshots using macro lenses he modifies himself. The results are intriguing and evoke Gerard Richter's candle paintings. At the risk of sounding arty, for me they also speak to the gauzy uncertainty of memory and the mutability of time. I like 'em.

Bad Santa

December 14, 2008


My collection of bad Santa portraits grows. I couldn't be more pleased: 2007, 2006, 2005.

On the Road

December 5, 2008

Virtually every traveling photographer I know takes pictures of the roads on which they journey, but some do it better than others. Bert Teunissen has a great little show right now titled The Road, that is simply that, pictures of roads he followed while shooting Domestic Landscapes... The show can be seen here in New York at the Wizenhausen Gallery or online at Bert's website.

I've met Bert a few times via 20x200 and he seems to have fashioned a rich life for himself. As I say around the house about people I admire and respect, "He's my kind of human being."

There are many similar/related projects but I was reminded of John Divola's Dogs Chasing my Cars in the Desert (main site), which is one of my favorite books.

Christmas Ideas for Kids

December 4, 2008


A little inside baseball here. On 20x200 today we released a super new set of five prints by one of my favorite local artists, Jason Polan. The set includes drawings of dinosaurs, birds, rocks, sea creatures, and bugs from the American Museum of Natural History. I think they're awesome and if my kids are any measure, they are perfect gifts for children. I got involved in creating 20x200 because this is the kind of thing I believe in getting out there in the world. With 20x200 it's sort of a hair club for men thing — "I'm also a client".


Also if you have kids in the under 8 set on your Christmas list, my wife's new little T-shirt shop has some really fun offerings based on our son's obsessions (think diggers, robots, garbage trucks, etc) and a few based on my obsessions (polaroid cameras, record players, foosball tables). The designs are from old technical and, instruction manuals, and so on and were essentially dictated by our kids. They didn't want "cute trucks" or "colorful trucks", they wanted their shirts to look "like a real thing".

The name by the way came from our son's first obsession: blue cars. After "momma","dadda", and "dog the first modified noun out of his mouth was "blue car". For months he would point out blue cars in the street. Eventually he began looking for "two blue cars" which gave him particular pleasure... hence the name. The kid above is not my son btw, it's a kid named Max.

Mu Ge

December 3, 2008


Mu Ge is a photographer from Chongqing living in Chengdu. I think his work is super. (via erebung)
. . . . .
On another China related note, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my favorite photostudios (the one in the sidebar) photographed by Le Monde's China blog. Looks like the studio has had an upgrade! (my version, my picture taken in the studio, and more pictures taken in this studio and similar studios by local Chinese photographers...)

Lot's of interesting imagery on this blog. I love this picture of a restaurant in Yarkland... in fact I'm pretty sure I've eaten there.

Nicholas Hughes

November 29, 2008

I have great respect for artists who successfully produce minimalist abstract photography, because this kind of work is so darned hard to do well (Ever try to take a decent picture of snow?). But with the right person behind the camera, the results can be spectacular. Nicholas Hughes, is a mid-career English photographer whose work is rigorous but never feels forced. He titles his many of his portfolios as 'verses' and indeed they seem to be verses of some epic poem. I'm a fan.

The Garden

November 29, 2008

Today's kimchi making by my wife's mom and recent New Yorker article about a Hangzhow restauranteur who serves local/organic dishes (a minor miracle in modern China), spurred a long conversation tonight between my wife and myself about the practical difficulty of eating locally grown organic food, the lost culinary worlds of our childhoods, and the messiness of milking cows. (In her ideal future world for us, Jenn would own a cow and make butter by hand. She would also keep chickens for eggs — she almost convinced me to buy chickens when we were in LA, but I owned a chicken as a child as wasn't convinced.)

Anyway, the conversation led me to search for a photographer who's name has escaped me and whose site I ultimately did not find who has super portfolio of photos of the English and their kitchen gardens. Instead, I discovered Lucas Foglia, a Yale MFA student, who has a nice portfolio of images taken in and around the Somerset Community Garden in Rhode Island. What is extraordinary to me about these pictures is that taken individually you might have guessed they had been taken in Cambodia, Africa, Eastern Europe, The American South etcetera, almost anywhere but Rhode Island.

Also be sure to check out Foglia's series Re-Wilding covering families who have rejected modern society and have decided to live off the grid.

Sounds & Vocabulary

November 23, 2008

I've just spent the better part of 2 hours listening to dialects spoken in the International Dialects for English Archive. Funny how various accents instantly conjure people and places. Texas One for example, recalls my 4th grade teacher, whereas England 62 recalls a long forgotten friend I made many summers ago in England. Anyway it's an interesting archive, if an incomplete one. The Louisiana page houses only 4 samples whereas it should rightfully hold scores.

More dialect links.


Here are a few words I've learned recently. I love them already. What do you love?

barlafumble - a call for a truce by one who has fallen in fighting or play; a request for a time out.

ephemerist - one who studies the daily motions and positions of the planets.

zenzizenzizzenzic - the eighth power of a number.

xenodochium - A house for the reception of strangers. In the Middle Ages, a room in a monastery for the reception and entertainment of strangers and pilgrims, and for the relief of paupers.

Illustrated Children's Books I Love Part II

November 21, 2008

A reader named Molly asked for "non-obvious" picture book buying suggestions for her nephew who will be turning 3 soon. I posted a list of great children's books about a year ago. Non obvious? Dunno. All are still in heavy rotation here. Here are a few more:

The Charles Addams Mother Goose - The classic Mother Goose rhymes told Addams style. My son loves this book and is terrified by it (in the best way possible).
Wonder Bear- Tao Nyeu - This book is a wordless visual delight.
Life Story - Virginia Lee Burton - Teach your 3 year olds about deep time, evolution, and the history of the world. You'll be amazed at how much they pick up from this one.
The Rooster Crows -Petersham - This is a book of classic American rhymes and songs. The rhymes seem archaic, but kids respond as if they've heard them forever.
The Whispering Rabbit - Margaret Wise Brown (Weekly Reader editions) - The editions of this book illustrated by Garth Williams are particularly super, beware of later editions which have been both edited and illustrated by some less talented artist.
When You Were Small - Sara O'Leary - You know you've stumbled on a good new book, when after the first read, your kid goes silent for a second and then shouts, "Again!"
Tim All Alone - Edward Ardizzone (series) - This series along with Tin Tin made me want to be an explorer.
Into the Forest - Anthony Browne - Kind of creepy/great. Not for everyone but my kids love it.
D'aulaires Book of Trolls - Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire - Do you love trolls? We love trolls.
The Two Cars - Ingri & Edgar Parin d'Aulaire - I could link to all the d'Aulaire books, but I hilight this one because it's often overlooked. It's a tortoise and hare story told with cars.
The Three Robbers - Tomi Ungerer - Maybe my son's favorite book right now. It was a favorite of mine too.
Sylvester and The Magic Pebble - William Steig - Another favorite. We heart Steig.
Go Away Big Green Monster -Ed Emberly - This is a book Raul Andres reads at school. It's cleverly put together and you'll have fun shouting back at the book.
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge - Swift and Ward - This is one of those classic Mike Mulligan/Little Toot type books from the 40's with knockout illustrations.
Katy and the Big Snow - Virginia Lee Burton - Having grown up in a place where snow was rare, this book always seemed exotic to me. As an adult I appreciate it as a tour deforce in the use of negative space for illustration.

I'll add these to my advice list from the previous post:

6. Don't buy junk books - novelizations of children's films, books about Disney or Pixar characters ect...

7. Don't underestimate your kid. If you read books to them regularly, even books that might seem a little advanced for them, they will absorb them like little sponges. In a few months you'll be shocked when they start reading the books back to you from memory.

Eggleston at the Whitney Roundup

November 17, 2008


It will not be news to the photo minded readers of this blog that William Eggleston has finally been officially been canonized with a full blown retrospective (William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961-2008).

The reviews of the show are mainly fairly dull lionizations (Reviews: New York Times, The New York Observer, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, W, and The Herald Tribune). Most of the reviewers seem to struggle to find something interesting to say about the man. The subtext for me is that the work is so obviously sublime that there's not much to say...

To get an idea of how far our collective taste has come, it's instructive (and fun) to read a NYTimes review of Eggleston's first show at the MOMA. Hilton Kramer writing in 1976 seemed positively offended. And of course in retrospect the article is not only a reminder of how shocking Eggleston's work was in historical context but of the courageousness curatorial brilliance of John Szarkowski.

The entire review can be downloaded here (Times id required).

A few choice excerpts:

It starts:

'Historic breakthroughs are not, alas what they used to be — at least in the world of art.'

'Mr Szarkowski throws all caution to the winds and speaks of Mr. Eggleston's pictures as "perfect".

Perfect? Perfectly banal, perhaps. Perfectly boring, certainly. A perfect example of what, for Mr. Szarkowski and many like-mined connoisseurs of contemporary photography, is now à la mode, But this is not, of course, what Mr. Szarkowski means by "perfect." He means that Mr. Eggleston's pictures achieve a rare degree of excellence and originality, and that—to put the matter mildly—is something about which opinions will differ.'

'That bathroom shower is an index to the kind of subject Mr. Eggleston favors. He likes trucks, cars, tricycles unremarkable suburban houses and dreary landscapes too, and he especially likes his family and friends, who may, for all I know be wonderful people, who who appear in these pictures as dismal figures inhabiting a commonplace world of little visual interest.'

'To this snapshot style, Mr. Eggleston has added some effects borrowed from recent developments in, of all things, photorealist painting—a case, if not of the blind leading the blind, at least of the banal leading the banal...'

update: Youngna shares an amusing (if creepy) anecdote about meeting Eggleston last year.

Andres Gonzalez

November 14, 2008

Istanbul based Mexican photographer Andres Gonzalez recently sent me a short preview of his new project Tarlabashi, photographed in the Kurdish neighborhood he calls home. It's a promising start. Gonzalez' website contains several more projects taken along roads that inspire deep wanderlust, a reminder that the world is too vast and beautiful to be left unexplored.

Who We Were

November 8, 2008

The guys behind Square America, a site that collects and curates vernacular photography, have put together a super book called Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America. The book displays the humble photographs with great respect (generally one per page), at close to actual size. Snapshots are often accompanied by bits of text written on their backs. The combinations are sometimes mysterious, often poetic, occasionally tragic—tiny puzzle stories.

While the photographers in Who We Were are mainly anonymous, photographs sometimes appear to be naive echos of well known images by Man Ray, Dorothea Lang, Frielander, Eggleston, etcetera... Books like this can feel scattershot, but the sharp curatorial team behind this collection have culled through countless images to create a thought provoking volume I'll definitely be returning to again and again.

Continue reading "Who We Were" →

Pablo Cabado

November 7, 2008

I am not particularly a fan of the genre of photography that covers abandoned buildings or of the subgenre that covers abandoned amusement parks. Photographers are drawn to these places (myself included) because of the easy analogy to death and the perverse beauty of decay. Like many subjects imbued with easy emotional shorthand (unmade beds, grandparent's houses, strangers staring into the middle distance, gas stations at night, etc) the very attraction of hordes of photographers to abandoned theme parks turn most images of these things into tired clichés. But of course the thing about clichés is that they are also challenges. A good artists will take a cliché and turn it on it's head, or they will take an image so iconic that it becomes the defining image of the genre, or they will find subject matter so extreme in it's beauty that it forces us to consider it outside the context of the banal stream of other similar less beautiful images.

Argentinean photographer Pablo Cabado's 37*57'35"S 57*34'47"W is one of those projects that breaks from the pack. It's not just a bunch of pictures of a beautiful old abandoned amusement park, it's a self contained world gone topsy turvy. Large pigs roam the amusement park grounds only to be butchered by a band of rough looking men one would never like to encounter after dark. It's dark and heady stuff.

Also check out Cabado's much praised book, Cuba the 90s (Coleccion La Vista Gorda).

As a side note Cabado's bio notes he drives a 1971 Ford Falcon and anyone who drives a 71 Falcon is cool with me.

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