June 2, 2011

Zubin Pastakia's Cinemas Project


When I was a kid, sometimes on hot summer days my abuelito and I would drive in his big American car to Cine Elizondo in the middle of the day and watch movies. I remember seeing westerns, Santo movies, and American films like Herbie the Love Bug dubbed in Spanish. I loved the everything about those days, but the theater made everything extra-special. The air was cold and theater was spectacular, covered in dragons and golden temples. Audiences were loud and enthusiastic and they clapped at the end of each movie. Years later I would visit Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood only to be disappointed by it's relative plainness. I had been ruined.

The Elizondo was torn down in the 80's. Hearing about it from my dad who also loved that theater, I remember thinking it was the end of an era. I thought I would never again experience a movie like that. But then years later I found myself in India, again on a hot day. The food was a little different (samosas and vada), but there was the cool, the fantastic decoration, and the sense that you were experiencing something special.

Zubin Pastakia has been photographing Bollywood movie palaces which it seems are again being destroyed. The pictures make me nostalgic for places I've never seen.

June 7, 2011

Dayanita Singh

dayanita singh

I have a couple of books of Dayanita Singh's work and am a big fan so I was excited to hear that Radius is publishing a new book titled House of Love. The press release says "House of Love is a work of photographic fiction that takes the form of nine short stories." I've not seen the book yet or the work, but am looking forward to grabbing a copy.

Don't know Singh's work? You can find a few of her images here and on her gallery site. Her books are available through Amazon UK.

June 9, 2011

Manhattan Bridge 1908/1974/2011

manhattan-bridge.jpgClick the image for a larger version.

I see this view every morning when I walk to work. Business Insider posted the middle image by Danny Lyon this morning... (via @kottke)

June 13, 2011

Conversations with Gabriel

G: Does Louis Armstrong have strong arms?

Me: Yes. Very strong.

G: But not stronger than Superman.

Me: Nope.

G: But he sings better than Superman.


G: I love Louis Armstrong. He is dead though.


G on the bus w/ his mom, apropos of nothing.

G: Who is Louis Leakey?

Jenn: He was a famous researcher. Where did you learn about Louis Leakey?

G: What's a researcher?

Jenn: Someone who studies things.

G: Louis Leakey studied fossils.

Jenn: Well he looked for human fossils from people who lived a long time ago.

G: Only humans? No dinosaurs? Right?

Jenn: Only humans.

G: Louis Leakey is dead. He should study his own bones.

June 14, 2011

One Week's Headlines in Mexico's Drug War

Monday, June 13
Monterrey: Man hung from a busy overpass and burned
Guadalupe: Butchered man in taxi left at Police Headquarters
Guerrero: 4 gunmen killed in firefight with army
Tabasco: Police confuse famers with gunman, two dead
Chihuahua: Pregnant woman killed by gunman
Acapulco: Man tortured and beheaded
Nayarit: Pregnant woman found badly tortured
Morelia: Executed man discovered
Sunday, June 12
Generan Teran: 3 skinned heads discovered in bags on busy street
Monterrey: beheaded man found in park
Sinaloa: Man tortured and executed in Sinaloa
Canatlan: Father and 2 sons executed
Montemorelos: Armed men open fire in front of Police Station
Excobedo: Violent gun battle, 3 dead
Campesina: 3 men executed at a rehab center
Saturday, June 11
Guerreo: Men killed and skinned, left on highway
Tijuana: Human head discovered
Monterrey: Two men hung from overpass
Monterrey: Man tortured, beheaded
Sinola: Man executed
Nuevo Leon: Butchered man dumped by school
Chihuahua: 3 men gunned down
Guerrero: Warning to Police. Two men skinned. One videotaped before death
Friday, June 10
Sinaloa: Man gunned down in restaurant
Hualahuises: Heads of 3 policeman found
Monterrey: Grenade thrown at State Investigation Agency
Acapulco: Six unmarked graves discovered
Acapulco: Young woman executed
Michoacan: 21 executed
Monterrey: Handcuffed man chased and killed
Vera Cruz: Tortured body of navy man discovered
Thursday, June 9
Guanajuato: Scores of trash bags found with human body parts
Cadereyta: Dismembered woman found
Monterrey: Prison break after grenades are thrown
Monterrey: Police kill two gunman
Chihuahua: Gunman kill three men
Sinaloa: Two young men executed in stolen car
Coahuila: Arsenal discovered
Durango: Police ambushed and executed
Monterrey: Rotting corpse discovered under a bridge
Guerrero: Young Man tortured and burned
Michoacan: 21 bodies found
Santiago: Army attacked by assassins, several dead
Monterrey: Young man executed on busy street
Wednesday, June 8
Monterrey: Woman's Head left at popular restaurant
Victoria: Remains of 30 people found in fuel drums
Chihuahua: Hitmen attack police
Monterrey: Two men hung in broad daylight
Guerrero: Armed group ambush police
Monterrey: Gunbattle in Monterrey
Sinaloa: Armed group attacks and kills three
Guerrero: Two people chased and gunned down
Coahuila: Homemade tank discovered buried in a cave
Tuesday, June 7
Torreon: 11 dead by gunfire.
Guerrero: Body of brutally tortured man found
Tamaulipas: Grenade thrown
Mochicahui: Bullet riddled body of man found
Cadereyta: Bodies of dead men found being eaten by animals
Guadalupe: Two men executed
Monterrey: Beheaded man foudn on street.
Chihuahua: Bodies of two beheaded women discovered
Monterrey: Young man executed in his bedroom
Sinaloa: Policeman and son killed.
Nuevo Leon: Three headless bodies found on the highway
Nuevo Leon: Three heads discovered
Michoacan: Man quartered fond on side of road
Morelos: Running run battle. At least two killed.
Juarez: At least 7 found dead in shallow grave
Monterrey: Officer surrounded and attacked

It's estimated that since 2006 when this drug war ramped up between 30,000 and 40,000 people have died in narco related violence. This is roughly double the total number of estimated deaths (civilian and military) in Afghanistan since 2001.

These headlines were taken from a single blog that covers narco violence. If I were to include accounts from major newspapers and other blogs this list would have been many times longer.

Update: Two days after this was posted between 33-39 people were killed in drug violence in Monterrey. This went largely unreported in American media. To give this context on an average day in New York City which is more than double the size on Monterrey, 1.4 people are murdered.

If you want more background on the drug war in Monterrey, Nik Steinberg's piece The Monster and Monterrey in the Nation is excellent.

June 16, 2011

Nicolo Degiorgis

In his Oasis Hotel project Nicolo Degiorgis documents life on the Xinjiang highway that stretches across the Taklamakan. I've travelled the highway a few time and Degiorgis' project gives you a sense of the place. It's often grim. I wish more work was available. This feels more like the beginning of project than something that is fully realized. I hope more is coming...

June 20, 2011

Making Buckets

I put my kids to sleep tonight with a story as I do most nights. Tonight's story was to be about a boy who finds a message in a bottle from a shipwrecked sea captain. I often wing stories making them up as I go along, but this one had been gestating for a few days... it was a good one. The kids were in their bunk beds eyes closed and ready.

Me: Once upon a time, before you were born, there was a boy who lived in a little white house on cliff overlooking the sea. Every morning before breakfast, he would walk down the stone steps carved into the wall of the cliff to the a small beach to search for treasures left by the tide.

Gabriel: Did he ever find sea snails? I found one once.

Raul Andres: What about sand dollars?

Me: Yes he found lots of sea snails and sand dollars and even a starfish or two.

Gabriel: Starfish look soft but the are really hard. It's true. Was the boy wearing shoes?

Me: Yes that's true, starfish feel hard and he found a few of those over the years, and no the boy never wore shoes in the summer. Now this boy was walking down the beach when...

Gabriel: Did the boy have a bucket?

Raul Andres: He had to have a bucket to collect all this stuff.

Gabriel: He could just hold everything in his hands.

Raul Andres: But the sea creatures would die.

Gabriel: Dad what was the bucket like?

Me: It was a metal bucket. Anyway, one day...

Gabriel: What color?

Me: It was blue. Do you have any more questions about the bucket?

Gabriel: Did it have any words on it or pictures or anything?

Raul Andres: Gabriel! Let dad finish the story.

Gabriel: But I want to know.

Me: The bucket had a moon on one side. No words.

Gabriel: Was it a big round moon with a face?

Me: Thin crescent. No face.

Gabriel: Did the moon glow in the dark?

Me: Yes, it glowed for when he would collect things by night.

Gabriel: What about stars? Did it have a few stars?

Me: Yes. it had lots. In fact the boy called this bucket his star bucket.

Gabriel: I like that bucket.

Raul Andres: It doesn't even exist Gabriel. It's just a story.

Gabriel: We could make one.... Dad can you make us a star bucket?

Me: I'll try.

Raul Andres: That's no fair. Can I get one too?

Me: Yes, you can get one too, but you have to help paint it...

[at this point the conversation veered in another direction.... but later...]

Gabriel: Remember you promised star buckets.

Me: I said I would try.

Raul Andres: I'll help you paint the stars.

Gabriel: The bucket glows in the dark. Those are my favorite buckets.

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