30 December, 2006

The Last Time

Gerald Ford is dead, and with his death we are once again reminded of the last president to give full access to the White House. David Kennerly was the Ford photographer, something that remains one of the....wait...I'm watching the funeral right now, and Kennerly just passed by the television monitor. Brokaw said, "there goes David Hume Kennerly, still on the job."
When Kennerly decided to be the photographer, his approach, from what I understand, was "Gerald, I need all access." Ford said, "Okay." "Where I go, Kennerly goes."

There has not been a president since then that has allowed this access, and we are all the ones that suffer for it. Ford was genuine, lacked the ego that is so pervasive in modern politics, and wasn't afraid to laugh at himself.
I'm not talking about politics here people, I'm talking about history and the characteristics of a certain president.

As I watch this thing this is near constant motor drive noises blasting away from every angle. On one hand I think, "probably good to have all those angles," but on the other hand I think, "Jesus people, learn to look for the moment." Might as well shoot video with most of these guys.

This reminds me of another story I recently read, a story by Dirck Halstead, another White House hound for over thirty years, who told of his trip to China, back in the day, to cover Nixon. This trip was HUGE, and the pressure on guys like Dirck was intense, as they not only had to shoot, but process, edit, print, and supply images for the pool. One of the photographers with Dirck was this old timer, a photographer from the old school, a guy bred on the idea of shooting sheet film(for you young digital people that means 4x5, not trying to belittle anyone but I have run into plenty of young shooters who don't know what this means.) At the end of the day when this photographer delivered his film, he dropped one roll on the table. One roll. Not only that, he shot a twenty-four exposure roll. And on that roll, he had exposed eight frames total. Eight frames. They used every one.

This photographer was the guy up close and person with Nixon, so he was in the mix all day long, and still only shot eight frames. This is perhaps an extreme example but it should be a lesson for young photographers in the digital age. THINK.

This funeral sure isn't flashy, not like Reagan's, but I think it probably fits Ford a little better. Betty is there. Someone just passed out in the stands. Looks like an older guy.

standbye.....

Somalia

This just in from a friend in Canada, good article regarding Somalia.

http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1246

The End

Saddam is dead. I can't imagine a more pathetic or lackluster downfall than what we just witnessed in the past five years. Has it been that long? It has. It seems like yesterday that the Iraqi Information Minister was addresses us infidels, alerting us to the fact our troops were being slaughtered like dogs outside the Royal Palace. I'm not sure what palace he was referering to at that time, but her sure seemed sure of himself. Then, suddenly, he was gone. Did we ever find him? He might possibly be the only bit of humor in this entire quagmire of a situation we convinced ourselves we needed to join. I'm lumping all of "us" into the "us" division because all of "us" elected our current, and past administations. We have nobody to blame but "us."

Found in a "spiderhole," and now hung on live TV. Who could have imagined an end like this? The sons are gone too, gone in the routine gun battle, leaving only the smoking ruins of the numerous shrines as the only physical reminder of this empire now brought to it's demise.

Now what? I haven't a clue.

The Horn

The Horn of Africa is about to erupt. Or, depending on how you look at it, the Horn is already there. Somalia, Ethiopia, long since arch rivals, are having it out the old fashioned way, with good old warfare. Keep watch on Eritrea, Egypt, and anyone else with a potential inventment to join the fray.

29 December, 2006

Movie Review: Miami Vice

After viewing this cover version of the classic, 1980's television series under the same name, I have come to the conclusion I must buy new equipment and begin to make my own films because I am just not going to be happy with anyone else behind the controls. This goes for Michael Mann as well, a talented director of both television and film, but the same person who I must burden with the reality that this film was bad from the opening credits.
Let's flash back to the 1980's. There I was, wasting my time in public, high school, existing on a day-to-day basis of "busy work," and detention. Nights were sometimes good, sometimes bad, but mostly those of a high school age male living in Texas. Then came this show called Miami Vice, which brought me something I didn't have before, a South Florida drug war captured in saturated color, flair and a new style of tv production. Pastel suits, fast cars, rock stars posing as bad guys, and a main character who drank and smoked in prime time.
What more could a kid ask for?
I wanted to be Sonny Crocket, wanted to bust down the doors of Haitian Voo Doo cult leaders and engage in high-speed pursuit of drug trafficers through the wide-open landscape of the Everglades.
Whoever had created this beast, or at least brought it to my attention (Mann), had gone one step further than most television shows, which seemed to have been dumbed down to a remarkable degree. Mann paid hommage to detail, simple things, like how many rounds Sonny had fired in his .45. He also built characters that surrounded the main course. It wasn't just Crocket and Tubbs, but rather it was the supporting cast, each bringing their own flavor to the mix. Location was prime, and no rock was left unturned in the South Florida battleground.
I wore pastel suits. I had a tan. I wanted a pet alligator.
With having said all of this, you can imagine how excited I was when I found out the recreation was taking place with Mann at the helm. After all, Mann had done many other movies, most of which were very good, including the fairly recent Collateral. I didn't see this flick (MV) in the theatre, but instead waited to get a copy to bring home, allowing me to stop, pause and explain the intricate details to my wife who missed the entire ten year history of the television show.
The problems started in the first scene. I literally said to myself, "Oh no, this isn't going to be any good." I tried to block out these thoughts, but I just knew my wife was sitting there saying, "What is going on?"
For some reason, most of this film appeared to have been shot on digital video, causing all cast members to have this embalmed, plastic looking skin tone, which almost made Gong Li look bad, something most people thought impossible until now. The sky, during the night scenes, was noisy and pixalated, and more incredibly, the dubbing was off.
Colin Farrel was miscast, and I like the guy, but masking his Irish accent with an on again, off again, Southernish drawl just wan't working and in fact just came out garlbed, making him nearly impossible to comprehend.
The plot was too complicated, and my wife said, "What, are we watching a music video?"
The violence was good, raw, just like it needs to be. A guy gets run over by a truck leaving a long, red smear on the highway. Another unlucky loser was shot with a .50 sniper rifle, blowing his arm off. This is good people, probably what would happen in these situations, but most of the time precisely what is left out during filming.
Jamie Foxx never really seemed to get going, and was perhaps outdone by a long cast of secondary characters, who suddenly become more interesting than the main duo.
I will say the soundtrack was good. And, oddly enough, something that was never really mentioned in the promotional material. I'll let you in on a little secret, if a movie advertises the soundtrack, THE MOVIE WILL SUCK. If the movie has a former rap star at the lead, and this is the only aspect being advertised, chances are THE MOVIE WILL SUCK.
If the movie has a good story, script, cast, director, etc, then you might have something. No guarantees, as evidenced by this Dade County misfire.
As the hours went by, and it felt like at least two days this thing kept rolling, I began to think of other things. "Did I leave the sprinklers on?" "Are there any cookies left from the holiday dinner?"
I couldn't wait for this thing to end, to finally finish so I could go to sleep and dream of the old Miami Vice.
I've got to give this thing a D- in my nonexistent movie ranking system. If you find youself thinking you want to try it out for yourself, stop, take a deep breath, and instead reach for that copy of Ishtar.

28 December, 2006

Interstate Carpool Lane Given the Okay

Independent sources are reporting that the Federal Government has gone ahead with funding for carpool lanes for all 20,000 miles of U.S. Interstate Highways. Incredible as it sounds, after studying the traffic issues during the holiday weekend, the approval for addition funds was okayed in a special session of congress.
Walt Papkiss at the Interstate Highway Planning Board was quoted as saying, "Well, we basically forgot to plan." "We were all coming to work as usual, but we were mostly just standing around," Papkiss added. "I knew there was something we were supposed to be doing, but we just couldn't remember what it was."
The holiday weekend saw thirty-mile traffic jams, excess wait times and was described by law enforcment as "dismal," and "grim."
So, beginning in early January, crews will begin work on this monumental project. Funding will come from the petroleum industry, tax increases and the sale of cookies.

Movie Review: Talladega Nights

It pains me to say this, but Talladega Nights wasn't funny. Not at all. I am a HUGE Will Farrell fan, but this one didn't make it. Not even close.
Anchorman? One of the best of all time. Should be standard viewing for any film student, government worker, peace keeper, diplomat or anyone in any position of power.

26 December, 2006

Bad Trak

Well, I tried. Was thinking of taking the train from Florida back to California. Typed in the departure city, the destination city, came up with $267. Wow, this great I'm thinking. Then, read closer and notice you are reserving just a seat for a four day trip. I'm game for most trips, anywhere, anytime, but four days in a regular seat is hell if you ask me.
So, I click further, adding to my needs, "just a simple sleeper car sir."
Now we are talking over a grand. The money I have, no big deal, but the concept I can't get my head around. Florida to DC, to Chicago, then to Los Angeles and home. Not sure I like that route for one, would rather tuck along the border and stay south. And, last time I tried a trip like this, via train, when I read the REALLY small print, it said, "Oh, one of these legs requires a small stretch on a BUS!"
No thanks. Train travel is for kings, but no offense to Greyhound, bus travel is like serving time.
Pass.
So, looks like I will once again be relegated to boring, overcrowded, no personality air travel. Flying ain't what it used to be.

25 December, 2006

Who Dat!

The Saints, yet again, dominate in yesterday’s performance against the puny Giant. On the road, in the cold, the Saints send a message to anyone and everyone, “we are ready for anyone, anything, anywhere.” Please remember this statement…the Giants did not take an offensive snap in Saint territory ALL DAY LONG. None, nada, nothing. Tiki who? Shockey? Who?
The puny Bear sweats it out against Detroit, embroiled in yet another quarterback controversy; they need a drive in the fading moments to get the win. Now, if Cowboy loses, New Orleans will have a first round bye. If not, no matter. They are the hottest team in the NFC, and are a near lock for the NFC Super Bowl participant.
Who can touch them? Cowboys? Nope, already toasted them IN DALLAS. Seattle? Please, don’t think so. Really, puny Bear is the only team that has a shot, and their only real hope is for Soldier Field to freeze over. The Saints have the number one offense in the league and with seven real weapons on offense, even the vaunted Bear defense will fold.
Yesterday was a warm up, and the Saint still racked up nearly 240 yards on the ground. Bush and McAllister are both studs, each gaining over the century mark. Horn out? No big deal, Copper in. Oh, and don’t forgot Colston or the burner Hendersen.
You can go ahead and pencil this one in.

Saints vs. Chargers in Super Bowl whatever.

24 December, 2006

SF MOMA

Anselm Kiefer show today at the museum. In addition, "Mexico as a Muse," with Modotti and Weston, a pleasant surprise, not to mention the rest of the permanent collection.
Kiefer is dark, German style, with much residue of The Nazi Party plastered as layers on the massive pieces. Mixed media and then some, with my favorite piece being covered in sunflower seeds.
A score of a day to go with the place being virtually empty, perfect for planting yourself on the birch benches and just watching these works.
Environment plays such a significant role in who we are, and with Kiefer, to me, it was a severe influence, harsh in fact. Old buildings, abandoned brick factories that powerfully reflect the grimness of post-war Germany are his haunted places of choice.
Burned books, fire; nature, the universe, relationships and twisted memories are all there in unbending detail. A must see.

As for Modotti and Weston...work I have seen before, but worth seeing over and over again. Mexico drawn out placed and captured, over time (the only way) through the lens of two who had a real relationship with this place. Tiny prints, framed wide, dark but smooth, faces, places, social artifacts long since replaced with the raunch of tourism and trade.
These were true artists, just being, living and making images. Commissions came later, and appeared to have perhaps been the beginning of the end. Weston leaving Mexico for good shortly after the last job was done, and Modotti wandering down the communist path, leading eventually to her banishment from Mexico.

SF MOMA is so overwhelming, in a good way, forcing you to realize you must return again and again to begin to understand the wealth of visual depth. By the way, the yearly membership is the way to go, $75.00 per person, or $95.00 per family.

Oh, and most importantly, the café, is good. Caesar salad, pizza, and yes, the COFFEE!

The Drive

Los Angeles to San Francisco:


Okay, the drive today was one of legend. At least ten times the amount of traffic as normal, which in itself was interesting. At least four near-death accidents, and that was just with me!
The highlight, just briefly, and if you are easily offended please skip this posting.
The thing I found most intriguing was the guy with a pair of fake balls hanging from his back bumper. Yep, it takes a special kind of guy to hang a fake scrotum from his rear bumper, and lucky for all of us this individual was out and about this close to the holidays. Cheers to this redneck!
For all you NoCal folks, it was in Los Angeles I noticed this. Whew! I hear ya. Hey, don’t look at me, I live in Orange County.
Another observation, seeing as I drive a hybrid car, there were A LOT of Prius on the road, and I’m using Prius as the plural here folks. Many, many more than say a year ago. Most of these cars were headed from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. And, for every one Prius, there were about twenty-five ENORMOUS trucks, most ripping along at 80-90mph. An exaggeration? I was doing 75, so if someone blows by me like I’m in reverse, I’m thinking I can safely guess their speed in the 80-90 range. Most of these trucks had one or two people inside, plus lots of empty space.
I just kept thinking, “Man, I would have loved to hop on a train in OC and be able to get off near SF.” I know, I know, you CAN do this, but I’m talking a nice train, a practical train, an affordable train.
I’m thinking of taking the train from Florida to OC in a few weeks, just for kicks, but I have a feeling this trip will take a week and will cost far, far more than air travel.
Oh, quickly, another take from yesterday. The feedlot off of the I5 had razor wire on the fence surrounding it. And, this wire ran and ran and ran, miles past the lot.
Yes, the smell, but why the razor wire? To keep something in or out?
I find this entire drive fascinating, even the long stretches of farmland, steaming with ground fog and dust from tractor wheels. The landscape is beautiful and a perfect example of man’s epic battle with nature.
We should all be punished, however, for the newer, manmade structures being created along the route, the quick-build strip malls, made to last about ten years before they begin to break down. Boring, ugly, cheap and created with no thought as to the environment surrounding it. In fact, made simply to try and keep nature out.
Thinking beyond the norm is a good plan for 2007.

22 December, 2006

Technology = Stupidity New Study Shows

Independent sources are reporting that stupidity is directly related to technology. According to the Slow Thinker Journal, the average IQ has dropped dramatically since the full-scale assault of technology on our society and environment. Archibald Henrod of the Journal reports that humans are now caught in a perpetual cycle of being "somewhere else" when interfacing with electronics, gadgets, gizmos and other new-fangled devices.
This reporter was recently treated to a display of this exact situation while enjoying a live dance performance. Someone seated several rows behind had accidentally left their cell phone on during the performance. Suddenly, the quiet of the room was pierced by what sounded like a Tupac song. Heads turned, fingers pointed and grumbling was the order of the day. But wait, it got better. This dance fan wasn't finished, not by a long shot. This person not only let the phone ring four or five times, but then actually took the call.! Somehow, through blind luck or the kindness of strangers, this person somehow managed to avoid a severe mangling at the hands of other audience members.
It is based on several hundred thousand of these events, occuring daily around us, that prompted the study and these terrifying findings.

21 December, 2006

Holiday

The world is crazy right now. Drive anywhere and you will know what I mean. Have you been out? If possible, don't go. Just hide and watch.

19 December, 2006

Back

Back to this cruel, cold world. 35 degrees this morning. Yard littering with palm fronds. Strange cats in my backyard.

15 December, 2006

North Shore: Day...Unknown

I’m so tired here. You think you are going to relax, and suddenly become aware of your exhaustion level.
The contest is over. AI dominates again, and not against a pack of lucky losers, but against the best in the game. The likes of Slater and cool-hand-Machado.
This is the first year the contest has ended with time left in our stay. Before, we seemed to have extended periods of downtime, wind, rain, etc. This year, wham, and we are at the final day.
The swell and conditions left much to be desired, especially during the morning hours, when squall-like conditions blanketed the beach. Three to four foot swells, wind, and a “warbled” wave face were standard.
Jake Patterson and Tamayo Perry both had mind blowing late-takeoff wipeouts that had the beach waiting for the water patrol to spring into action. We are talking 15 foot freefalls into the shallow section of Pipeline.
My enormous bag of film waits to be shipped and my digital files are safe on the drives. I didn’t shoot much digital, and what I did shoot was more out of just snapping for no reason more than trying to make memorable images. There are 80 other photographers on the beach, all with digital equipment, all trying for the same pages, so why would I join that game. You shoot Plus-x in a Blad and you suddenly become one in eighty. I like those odds.
Now we sit and have a beer, catch up, get our gear cleaned. I make calls to the magazines, answer picture requests and call portrait clients that want me to shoot for them before I leave the island. I can shoot portraits here virtually anywhere. So nice compared to the concrete block that is Orange County. I know, I know, there are nature “spots” in OC, but you know what I mean. This place is “country” and the light and clouds are far different than home. And, no SMOG!

14 December, 2006

Mug Shot

North Shore Day...Lost Track

North Shore: Day…lost track




Not sure how long this thing can last; this place, with all these people, all these needs and all this development. Hawaii. What was it like, back in the day when The Captain walked ashore in Kauai?
Now, I look around and see so much, with so much more on the way. They say the sea, if we continue at current consumption, will be fished out in less than 50 years. What will happen to this place? Buffet will be an unknown word.
Will everything crumble? Is it crumbling now, even as the bulldozers clear what little undeveloped land is left?
I know this must sound negative, or a total downer, but I have begun to realize you can think about this, ponder this, at face value. Just ask the questions. You don’t have to give up, fold or trudge around as if impending doom is all we have to look forward to.

I’m in a Photoshop class. Sure, I’m not paying attention, but rather doing email and writing this, but I’m still in the classroom. Me in a PS class, if that isn’t a sign things are about to implode I’m not sure what is. This stuff is just not for me. Nothing wrong with it by any means, but I’ve got other things to do with my life. I’m a 90%-10% photographer, which means I do 90% of my work in the field and 10% in the office when I’m done. A lot of “modern” shooters are the opposite. I just want to edit, tweak, convert, save, deliver or post and then archive. No funky layers, borders, retouching, etc. I just don’t care.

The lecturer says, “You guys are imagers aren’t you, you don’t get in and do all this stuff do you?” “We are too buy taking photos,” a photographer responds. “This program is just an unruly beast and we are never going to catch up,” he adds.
I’m not sure he should catch up. He is a good photographer, has been for a long while, and in some ways, this stuff will only move him in the wrong direction. Why get involved in this? Will it make him a better photographer? No. He will donate much of his nonshooting time to post-production when he could be spending it on advertising and marketing, or better yet, out shooting more!

The contest is rumored to be on for tomorrow morning when a 12-15 foot swell unloads on Pipeline. People are getting nervous as we near the end of the waiting period, and the long-term outlook does not promise much in terms of swell. Rabbit says they have 1.5 days left and they need to run all day tomorrow. We will be up early, once again, waiting, checking the site for the call.

No shooting today, just work inside, then beach time, for the first time. Sunny, calm and perfect for doing absolutely nothing.

13 December, 2006

Me in Hawaii


It seems rather odd but my new laptop just arrived. It has a camera built in, and now I will be abusing this feature for a least a week.

Rabbit

Just had a moment I will remember for a long while. Eating at Lei Lei's and up walks surf royalty, Rabbit Kekai, someone for whom the word "legend" is perhaps not enough. We were introduced and spoke about the bio being done on him. Rabbit is an icon, from a time that seemed to create these types. They are few and far between.

10 December, 2006

North Shore: Day Five

North Shore: Day Five


Already five days are gone. At the start of this trip, when people would ask how many days we would be in Hawaii, it seemed that twelve days would be a lifetime. It never is. Time here, although full, goes so quickly.
The strange part is that for most people, and I mean most people around the world, twelve days away from work, from home is a long time, far longer than the average person is “allowed.”
The Koreans get five days of vacation per year.
Day one of the Rip Curl Pipeline Masters is in the books. I walked the perimeter from eight to about one in the afternoon then bailed for a lunch and swim in the lagoon near Turtle Bay.
Sixteen heats, each with four men, droned on and on in average to above average surf. Pipeline is a unique beast, and even on days that are not maxed out reef days, the place is really amazing to watch.
The swell would one minute appear as if it was dying, then suddenly, white water on the horizon would indicate a monster looming on the second reef. Cleanup waves would ROLL through, chasing tourists up the beach and sending the water photographers diving for lobster.
The Hawaiians have such an advantage, wearing the fingerprint of those who have spent days, weeks, months or years in the lineup at Pipe.
One observation: There are WAY MORE people here than ever before. Traffic on the North Shore stretches from near Haleiwa to north of Sunset Beach. The next week will tell just how much things have changed. Today was a Sunday, with the marathon happening in town, as well as the U2 crowd still being around.
If this coming week is as crazy then next year could be like Los Angeles.
It appeared as if most of the favorites had moved on, but there is uncertainty about the contest running tomorrow.

North Shore: Day Four

It's on. The Pipeline Masters looks to be headed for day one when the little hand strikes eight. Up at 5:30, watching the stars and checking to see what the surf looks like, at least what it looks like from the balcony of the Turtle Bay. Can't tell much at this point.
Last night's U2 concert is in the books, not that I attended, but it seems that at least half of the island did. I'm hoping that this event had something to do with the amount of traffic and congestion we have been enduring as of late.
The entire North Shore seems to have quadrupled in population since last year.
The Digital Railroad programs are also in the books, and the reception was fantastic. Good to see the snappers getting geared up to get streamlined.
Our first surfing snaps yesterday afternoon at Rocky Point. I shoot a few rolls of black and white, then switch to digital and the 600mm just to get a few pics in. Ruined. Somehow the inside of my digi body looks as if it has been filled with lint. The entire viewfinder is awash in dust, dirt, a liquid of somekind as well as what looks like a fingerprint.
I shoot about 100 images, knowing I'm going to be trashing all of them. Sure enough, an edit later in the day and the images are just packed with grit. This is a typical issue with digital, always fighting to keep the insides clean, but most of the time it is not THAT big of a deal. This time, however, it was a BIG DEAL. Funny thing, this body had just been cleaned and checked. Ooops.
So, last night, technician of all technicians, Rolle Nuesco got me back in shape and ready for the day. No spotting, no cleaning up, just tweak and convert. Still, will be shooting 99% film, but in the case I need this digital thingy I will be good to go.

09 December, 2006

North Shore: Day Three

Dateline: North Shore Day Three

In Pursuit of the Monkey’s Lunch.


This place is a trap. Coming from the mainland and the “new pace” of lifers, this place appears on the horizon like a sacred stop. This place will be where I can slow down, relax, really focus, and get to a lot of those little things like peace, quiet time and lethargy.
It never happens. From seven to eleven there is a schedule, things to do, places to go and light to check.
Standing on the balcony at seven. The trades have dropped, the sky promises sun, but by eight the wind has picked up. The swell is smaller, cleaner and several people, the first I have seen since I’ve been here, paddle out next to the hotel.
Several members of the crew leave tomorrow, which means they will come and go without seeing any of the Pipeline contest. The plan is to head out today, midday, just to hit Rocky Point, Backdoor, or anywhere with any kind of swell, just to give them a taste.
Bernie tells me last night that things aren’t looking great weather wise, but perhaps in a day or two we will be surprised.
Last night’s program, Digital Railroad, played well, to a packed house, with two more programs on tap for this afternoon and evening. A special session has been called due to the U2 concert in town tonight. Many folks are ready to brave the world’s worst traffic to head in and see both Bono and Vedder.
Yesterday, coming from Honolulu, the typical 45-minute drive was taking 3.5 hours. Some took longer.
“I was ready to shoot someone,” one driver said. “I’m ready to kill.”
There is only one road in and out, and this was WITHOUT any contest going on. I think I’ll stay on the Northside and just wait for it all to begin. The pool bar is only ten steps away. No need to rush anything.

To really get anything done here I need at least four hours of uninterrupted time alone. The only real way to work as a photographer, writer, or gatherer of any kind is to travel and work alone. You don’t see CIA agents bringing the old family along to the Khyber Pass Hilton. Nope, they go alone. You must remain a stranger. If you know anyone your doomed. If your family tags alone, doomed. If there is a schedule of any kind, doomed. I don’t know how the “real” people do it.
I’ve got baggage, human baggage of all kinds, plus, far too many strings attached back to the mainland. Brother calling at 6am, sister leaving messages, mom calling, clients asking about this or that. I’m contemplating smashing all electronics within the confines of my room, but then I couldn’t’ write this useless crap.

08 December, 2006

North Shore: Day Two

Last night's welcome reception was grand. Ninety snappers converged and consumed.
Good to see a lot of old faces, some of which I had not seen in years. Blown out surf today has cancelled the contest, but things are looking somewhat in line for tomorrow. Bernie will be the one who lets me know for sure. It would be good to get a day in, get one under our belts. Shoot a few rolls, just to get in the groove.
A walk along the coast past the pillbox, around the bend and back into the banyan trees. A place I visit every time I am here. "You shoot the same place over and over?" Julie asks. "Yep, I like going back to the same places." "Do the photos all look the same?" she asks. "It depends on how I shoot them, what I'm using."

Choppers buzzing outside as the sun sets. The crowd huddles around the bar ordering Mai Tai's and Coladas.

North Shore: Day One

Dateline Kahuku: Day One

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind
Flight 3127 from San Francisco.
Honolulu International airport. The automatic doors open and the rush of humidity envelopes me. I’m back, again, headed for the North Shore.

Every year there are slight differences here. The shrimp truck near the Turtle Bay is gone, but a new one has appeared just south of Pipeline. You can’t get a towel at the pool at the Turtle Bay without a “towel card,” and development has started in earnest north of Sunset Beach.
“No Concrete” signs and “Save Rural Oahu,” bumper stickers dot the landscape as the outside world fights with locals over the future of this land.
It has been eight-years straight that I had made this pilgrimage to Oahu, to the North Shore and Banzai Pipeline surfing contest, the final contest of the year for the surfing professional.
The first few years were lazy years, somewhat static. The Turtle Bay had yet to be remodeled, had exposed rebar on the patios, colonial-style furniture and was rundown in all the right ways. The new Turtle Bay is much fancier, but lacks that old Hawaiian-charm, and is now filled with a younger, hipper clientele that has changed the overall feel.
In those first years there were no TV shows being filmed on the North Shore, not that I can remember, as we were post Magnum PI, but pre Lost, North Shore, etc.
These early days were intimate, and lacked that feeling of nervousness that accompanies development and “happening” events. As photographers we stood on the balcony of Brian Bielman’s house at Pipeline and shot the contest while sitting on his patio chairs. I was with Kodak, handing out the latest slide film and doing what I could to share my knowledge of film and photography.
Digital imaging and technology had yet to take over the industry, and the focus was more on pictures and not pixels. The old school snappers like Brewer, Divine and Hornbaker were still walking the sand, shooting the contest and attending the parties.
As a newbie, a spectator, everything was shiny, fantastic and evolving. I didn’t know it, but I was witnessing a change of grand proportion, a shifting of wind, talent and scale. I miss those days.

Today, returning for the eighth year, the feeling is very different. These places, this industry, have taken quantum leaps forward, ahead, backwards or whatever direction your eyes allow you to see. I haven’t seen Grambeau or Brewer in years, but a new breed has arrived, refreshed in my memory by last night’s chance meeting with Dustin Humphreys, a standout snapper of the new generation. (His new book is sitting in front of me, and it looks fantastic.)
The crowds, the traffic and the prize money are far beyond what those first years ever promised, and so is the media exposure and global knowledge of the surf industry.
Everything is bigger, faster and contains more, more of everything. The patio at Lei Lei’s is packed and you need a reservation. Pearl Jam and U2 are staying at the hotel. The purse for the contest is $280,000. There is talk that the remaining, natural spaces on the hotel property are all under possible development. As I sit here, helicopters buzz over the treetops outside my window.
But, with having said all this, on my morning run I head along the beach, past the golf course, and out on the furthest outcropping of rock. Beyond is just the sea. The stretch, the place hasn’t changed one bit. Nature always holds the upper hand.
The faces at the airport are the same, as are those at Foodland, and here at the Turtle Bay. “Hey, welcome back, “ we here from person after person, friends made over nearly ten years of being here.
A photographer I haven’t seen in year comes up last night and shakes my hand. “Welcome home,” he said.

05 December, 2006

That Time Again


North Shore 2006.

Seaside


Newport, 2006

The copyright notice really makes this picture.

Handsome Devil


Man, don't know who this guy is, but he is a clearly a heck of a guy. Snap courtesy Napper.

02 December, 2006

End of an Empire

Mighty Trojan crumbles.

Me


Me through a $1 camera with taped lens. The Casino, Culver City.

30 November, 2006

Pages

Wind

Umbrella, trash cans, plants, chairs. All stuff that blew over in the wind yesterday. Not to mention the palms raining down from my palm trees. These things are like razor sharp projectiles.

29 November, 2006

The Nog

About this time of year, when I'm wandering the aisles at the local food store, my eye is sensually drawn to an alluring old friend. Somewhere near the border of the dairy department, decked in bright green or red, where the air is cool and crisp, I say hello, once again, to my old friend Egg Nog.
Perhaps the greatest sports drink of all time, the Nog is the right choice for virtually any situation. Long ride on your bike? Sure, fill up that water bottle with Egg Nog. Having a party and need something to mix with whisky? Go ahead and Nog.
Good Egg Nog is like a gel, or paste, and should be somewhere between a solid and a liquid. They make, "light," but don't waste your time. This is an insult to what the real Nog is like.
Is it wrong to dream about Egg Nog. No.
Espresso + Egg Nog = morning heaven.
So, the next time you are wandering those same aisles, do youself a favor and do the Nog.

Tick Tock

Just read where the Iraq war has lasted longer than World War II.

28 November, 2006

Mom Update

Just spoke to the parental unit known as my mother. She was at home watching Kung Fu movies, and admitted that her dog was dominating her life.

25 November, 2006

The Journals



Okay, so I've kept these books for years. Why? Don't know really, just do. I keep them in an old shed in my backyard. The shed has been there for decades, and perhaps is not the most secure, weather wise, of all locations. But, it's cool. It's an old shed. The books, from time to time, get a little musty you might say. So, I take them out and let them breath.

22 November, 2006

Thanksgiving Officially Postponed One Day

According to independent sources, Thanksgiving has officially been postponed one day due to traffic on local roads and highways. It was determined that the vast majority of all persons traveling in Southern California were unable to get to their intended destinations due to violently dull gridlock.
Motorists, stranded on the 5, 405, 210, 605, 22, 91, 710, 73, 55, 57, 76, 78 and 15 freeways were all in agreement that something had to be done.
"This sucks man," one motorist was heard to utter. "I'm cooking my turkey right here," another blurted out as he began spraying lighter fluid over coals in the HOV lane.
Known as "The Land of the Automobile," Southern California has began to feel the bite of poor planning, lack of vision and mind-numbing lethargy, and now Thanksgiving has paid the price.
Stay tuned for further updates.

21 November, 2006

Inventions

Best inventions ever:

1-espresso coffee
2-film
3-equipment used to enjoy espresso coffee and film.

20 November, 2006

What next?

In this business, many of the people you end up working with, within the industry, try to envision you as one thing or another. Pidgeon-holing someone is another description for this, but it is not to say anyone does to to damage you. Just picture yourself, no pun intended, as a photo-editor having to deal with the hundreds and hundreds of photographers that clog your inbox everyday.
As a defense mechanism these editors, or other people in the position of hiring photographers, will want to remember you for just one thing, to make things easier when the times comes to hire someone. Someone says, "Los Angeles, spot news," and wham a name pops in their head. "Kid photographer," wham, another name.
For me, this has always been an issue. Why? Because I shoot A LOT of different things.
Recently, I was in New York showing work at a gathering of photo-agencies from around the world. All throughout the day, editors, art-buyers, picture researchers, etc, were coming through the door and up to the table I was sitting at. They would casually browse the work, mine as well as many others, and if something caught their eye they would move closer and ask questions.
Many times someone would look at my work, the varying images and ask about one or the other. Then, they would ask about the other work, and look for another person to be associated with it. I would say, "Oh, actually, all of that is mine," and we would laugh about the diversity of the pictures.
Last week, in one day I shot a kid portrait, an adult portrait, pictures of my mother, botanicals and black and white landscapes.
The crazy part. I feel like I haven't even started yet, and there are many more things on the way.

Scarface and the Coke Sub

So recently I watched the 1980's classic Scarface, one of the signature pieces of actor Al Pacino's career. I had seen this beauty before, but it had been years, and so many currents films are crap, so I decided to revisit this brutal classic to see how it would stand the test of time.
The disco scenes alone are worth the price of admission. Tragically 80's would be a accurate way to describe these awful moments. When I say awful I mean like a car accident where you know you shouldn't look but you just can't stop yourself. The cars, the clothes, the lighting, etc, might be the 80's, but Pacino's acting and the storyline are equally as strong today as they were in the days of daylights shootouts in Miami Dade.
We have had Enron and the Yankees, but nothing crumbles quite like a coke empire, and this film is worth revisiting.

And, on a newsworthy note, today, off the coast of Costa Rica, authorities captured a "coke sub." Yep, someone actually built a sub, a lame one(6 foot diving depth) to haul their booty to the US of A. Do you need a captain's license to pilot this thing? Is there a bathroom on board? A glass bottom to see the fish? Direct TV? I guess you don't have to worry about the captain falling asleep.

Who Dat?

Okay, the Saints have begun their yearly slide, slowly killing me in the process. Twice as many first downs. Twice as many total yards. 510 passing yards. And we lose big. Oh, not to mention the five turnovers.
Reality is like a shovel to the head.

17 November, 2006

NYC


NYC from my room. Nothing fancy.

LA Gallery Shows

Okay, if you have the time, there are two shows in Los Angeles that are must sees. First, "Subway," by Bruce Davidson, Magnum photographer and legendary documentary icon, at the Rose Gallery in Bergamont Station. Dye transfer prints. And for you digital love children, if you don't know what these are, put down the wacom pad and google it. Only one person still doing this style print, but they are unique and fun to look at, and will give you an idea of the power of "old school" color. Don't know Bergamont Station? Wake up, put down the pipe and drive there right now. An interesting place, typically something worthwhile at any point you decide to drop by.
Also, Daido Moriyama at Stephen Cohen Gallery on Beverly Blvd. Trend-setting Japanese master of the nasty streets of this Asian land. Dark, grain, mood, craziness. If you don't know Daido, don't fret, their is still hope for you. Drive there as fast as possible.

Was also able to take in BD lecture at the Anthony Nex studio in Culver City, a beautiful place. Thank you Anthony.
Bruce was fantastic, had a sense of humor and a body of work that just makes me shake in my boots. There are not many people like Bruce left, and unfortunately, there don't seem to be many young photographers producing the depth and girth of the work that Bruce has done. However, we live in a time when this type of depth is substituted for Tom and Kate's wedding, etc. There are great "young" photographers working, Magnum having at least three or four, but a different time indeed.
I always had respect for Bruce, but now it goes even further.
Oh, and just to remind you what this 73-year-old shooter does on a daily basis....PRINTS! His own work, from 5am to 2pm each day. How you like them apples?

It appears as if there will be much new work from Bruce, courtesy of Steidl publishing(my favorite by the way, not that I have ever had a book done!) which is good for all of us. A retrospective. 50 years, new work. Brace yourself.

Mom in the Backyard


Gotta have some snaps of the mother unit. Mid laugh.

13 November, 2006

Impossible

I knew it. I held the catalog in my hand and made the call. Computer catalog. Trying to buy new laptop. I knew it wouldn't work. Could I even get through the phone options? Would I get a human? Would they know the product? Would they have the product? Could I get a price?
I know, I know, in the computer age this kind of customer service, service with no face, never provides anything remotely this helpful.
So, here I sit. The call the over. I don't own a laptop. I'm no closer than before. The "online" service department "hasn't been updated" to show the options available in the catalog I hold in my hand.
"The most you can get is two gigs of RAM," the voice says. "No," I say. "I think the new model holds three."
It does.
"I see you can get a bundle with an extra gig of RAM," I say, reading this off the COVER of the new catalog.
"No, we don't have that option," the voice says. "Unless you can give me a part number."
Wait, ME give THEM a part number. Doesn't this work the other way?
"Do you have a showroom in Los Angeles?" I ask. "No," the voice says.
"You don't have a showroom in Santa Monica?" I ask again.
"Oh, wait, let me check....oh yes, we do have a showroom in Santa Monica."
Okay, now what.
Do I REALLY NEED a new laptop. Hmmm, maybe not.
I could have had it by now? Maybe.
Maybe I buy something else?

11 November, 2006

Dateline Newport Beach

Newport Beach Hike and Bike Trail Named World's Most Dangerous Road

Independent sources are confirming that the Newport Beach Hike and Bike trail has been named "The World's Most Dangerous Road." This title has in the past been linked to such destinations as Bolivia and Nepal, but this year finds itself right here in Southern California.
When cornered, the judges said the evidence was overwhelming. "People on cell-phones, walking like they drive, baby carriers, dogs off of leashes and those damn birdwatchers," one judge squawked as he sat with is head hung low. "I've never seen anything like it."
"Just carnage," another judge repeated over and over.

10 November, 2006




This little guy was wanting to sink his teeth into my fleshy thigh.

ED

I didn't know Ed Bradley. In fact, never met him, spoke to him or had any dealings with him. But, in a modern journalism world filled with mindless jackals(listen to the post election Bush interview if you need proof) Ed Bradley was a throw-back to more simplistic and effective times.
A journalist from seemingly the beginning of life itself, he had a respect and intensity that doesn't come around very often.
I think he actually cared about what he was reporting on. Let me repeat that. I think he actually cared about what he was reporting on, or at least it sure felt that way.
Perhaps he was above the fray of modern journalism, which allowed him to operate this way, and to focus on only the good projects.
He was at 60 Minutes for at least 200 years. And who can forget "the wade" into the coffee-colored waters of another world to help the struggling boat people, the story that was quite possibly the first memory many people had of this African-American pioneer.
And at 65 years young, Bradley should be a reminder to all of us to get off our asses and get done what we NEED to get done in life. Not the mindless antics we do on a daily basis, but the REAL stuff we always promise ourselves we need to do.

09 November, 2006

A Change in the Wind

Well, election results are in, and we see a change in the wind. House and Senate, under Dem control for the first time in over a decade. What does this mean? Something? Nothing?
Not really sure.
There are many folks talking and thinking big, but actually getting things done in Washingon is far more difficult than most idealists think. When things go right, everyone wants credit, and when they go wrong, the blame falls on who came before. It's just the way it works.
We the people are a strange entity, fickle and desiring everything for little or no required effort.
Our political system is like docking The Queen Mary, quick reversals and movements are not possible.
Steady as she goes.

08 November, 2006

Movie Review: The Aviator

Okay, with so many people talking about the recent release, "The Departed," I figured it was time to see the LAST Leonardo Dicaprio movie, at least the last one I know of, "The Aviator," a film revolving around the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes.
Dicaprio, a talented actor, has had his ups and downs, but this film had received many awards, so my expectations were high.
The film, with much of its content shot on blue screen, aided with special effects, never lost it's human feeling, something that commonly happens when computer effects are the selling point of a film. I was pleasantly surprised.
And, Dicaprio was very good. "Brilliant" is a word I reserve for films like "Enter the Dragon," "Wargames" and "Spies Like Us," so I'm not going to use it here, but you get my drift.
As the film played I ran the names and faces of other actors through my head, others who might have been better in this situation, and NOBODY came to mind. A good casting call in this one. Kate Blanchett as Kate Hepburn was also an interesing twist.
I'm giving this baby the finger, which will be MY rating systems. No thumbs up or down, just "giving it the finger." Rent it.

07 November, 2006

"E" None of the Above

Wow, just returned from the vote and was dying for "E none of the above," option. What a trainwreck of candidates. Not in all cats mind you. There were some clear choices, but in some cats it was truly the New American Option of "Lesser of Two Evils."
Let's see, do I want the guy with the mile long rap sheet, or the guy who steals only from rich folk?"
Is this it? Does it get better?

The Smog of War

Jesus, just back from voting and running some errands. The air in Orange County today is like breathing a faint liquid, so filled with particles and pollution it appears as if we are seeing the world through a warming filter, one a little on the brown side of warm.
How on Earth is this not more of an issue?
They say if your child is born in SoCal they are immediately at risk in their respiratory and immune systems.
The Santa Ana's have taken the hellish, Inland Empire fumes we call air and kindly transported them our way. Gee, thanks.
I was planning a short 25 on the bike, but will stay in today. No sense riding in this. Voting was bad enough.

More Tech Woes

Okay, today's update. My watch, digital special, just broke. Done.
Last night two beautiful, 16x20 prints of the new printer. Now, printer doesn't work.
Just pressed the "send" button on my phone...nothing. Frozen. Take the battery out and restart.
If you need me, I'll be out back trying to make fire.

Ballot Booth D-Day

It's here people. Voting day. And once again, the great question...."Who the hell are you going to vote for?"
My entire life, all thirty-seven-years of it, I've never had ANYONE who made me think, "I really feel great about voting for this person."
Nope. Never.
If you are HONEST about "your" candidate, and you look TRUTHFULLY into their background...I"m not sure how you can vote with confidence. Our system of government, although grand in many ways, does seem to produce candidates of alarming stature.
I always find myself asking,"Is this it?" "Is this the best we could come up with?"
Voting straight ticket is beyond my ability to fathom, and I know A LOT of folks who vote this way.
Just because I see a guy in a Satan's Slaves vest doesnt' make me think I want to join the biker gang. Then why would I vote for someone with "Democrat" or "Republican" around their neck?
Let's face it, the days of hard, party-line politics are as blurred as Mel Gibson's night vision.
I think...I think we have to THINK now. Does that make sense.
There IS one thing I enjoy about today, and that is the process of going to vote, the actual, physical process. Walking into the booth, punching, clipping, licking or whatever process we are dealing with at this point. It's cool. So go do it.

06 November, 2006

Photo Plus Review

Back from New York with a review of Photo Plus Expo, the annual gathering of the tribe known as the photo-industry.
I wasn’t sure how to go about this; how to give my impression, but I know that most people aren’t really going to care what I think, so there was a generous amount of flexibility.

My grand idea is to give medals. Yep, that’s it. Gold, silver, bronze, you know the drill.

My choices might surprise you because much of what I experienced at this grand convention was not that inspiring(I'm picky), so I had to look outside the bounds of traditional prize-winning subjects and dig deep into the experience of the event.
It is very clear the photo-industry is now run by technology and not photography. The vast majority of booths, lectures, seminars, etc, were technology based, and if that is your thing, then Photo Plus would have been a pixilated overload.
But for me, I think there are many ways to sell gear without having to talk tech. Show me work. And in this I was very disappointed.

It had been several years since I had been to New York, or Photo Plus, and what struck me immediately was the fact that many of the speakers endorsing one thing or another sure seemed like the same folks I saw endorsing the same stuff years ago…? There seemed to be an intense lack of new blood, of new work and new angles.

I think the photo-industry suffers from a malaise of creativity, which is masked by the continual infusing of new crap to buy and upgrade.

There was also intense overexposure, as in the same photographer speaking at three, four different booths. In my mind, there are very, very, few photographers worth seeing at more than one booth. And none of the speakers I witnessed really seemed to have work interesting enough to pull this off. (Mental note: I’m not claiming I’m a genius, or that my work would be worthy of this either. Not even close. But, I do have the right to critique. And, there were plenty of speakers I did not see.)

Okay, enough of this babble. Now, lets get to the awards.

Bronze Medal: Martin Parr

I would guess in the neighborhood of 250 people crammed into meeting room whatever to see and hear what Mr. Parr had to offer. Images and concepts were the dominant feature, how refreshing, with little to no questions or talk regarding software, cameras, etc. And, Mr. Parr had a sense of HUMOR, something lacking in many of the other presentations. Parr, one of the few photographers to really bridge the ever-important gap between art and photography, is one of the most influential photographers working today, and appears by all accounts to be a very normal guy with little ego or overt flash.

Silver Medal: All the companies who sponsored the nightly parties.

Oh, and I’m talking about the “open to most everyone” parties, not the “exclusionary” parties that also occur during this time.Those elitest party planners know who they are!(Am I pissed because I wasn't invited? You will have to guess.) American Photo, PDN, Digital Railroad, Livebooks, Photoshelter, Kodak, etc, all had parties that were “light at the door” if you know what I mean. These parties were about “come in and have a good time,” and not about whom you know or who you are. I’ve always had a problem with this other kind of party, probably why I’m not a joiner when it comes to clubs or groups. (Again, if that is your thing then so be it.)
A personal “thank you,” goes out to these welcoming folks and their shelling out the pesos to give all of us a good time.

Gold Medal: HERE IS IT PEOPLE, BEST IN SHOW!!!

The crews that clean up the Javits Center the MOMENT the event ends.

I wish I had a photo-related lecture, event or happening to take this medal, but there are only so many style points you are going to get by talking about software, lens elements or workflow options. It’s just not that interesting people! (Mental note: I, of course, use software, lens elements, and even engage in workflow, but there is no way in HELL these are taking the top prize.)
So, I’m relegated to handing out nothing other than my awe to the guys and gals that tear this great beast down.
If you haven’t seen these people in action, all I can say is they work faster cleaning this building than those lawyers in Glen Gary Glen Ross. It’s like they have something to hide.
One minute you are in a mini-mall of booths, and the next minute your standing on cold cement. Kudos people, you are a well-oiled machine.
Now I think I have some idea who cleaned up the Hoffa mess. If your not careful and hang around too long there is a danger of being swept up, boxed, taped, and shipped before anyone has a chance to realize your gone.
Again, this was an easy vote for me. This group was far and away the most dominant, interesting feature of the event. I’ve been looking for a new project, and I think I might have just found my subject matter. “Trade Show Hellions”


Honorable Mentions: There were plenty of other bright notes.


Apple Aperture(See, I’m not totally jaded): Complicated, but looks to be headed in the right direction, thinking of the total picture, including the cataloging idea. And, price reduced.

Leica M8: (See, I’m not totally jaded.) Looks interesting for those who feel digital M will give them what they need.

Darius Himes for his program about photo-books. Darius fits a niche in this industry, an interesting one, and you won’t find anyone who knows more about photo-books. And he has a cool car.

Kate Chase: A woman who reps retouching experts. Very nice, very interesting.

The crew at Digital Railroad: The team was great, fun, and walked me through the new operating system. Kudos to Jennifer, Tom, George and the others.

Dave Metz at Canon for final night dinner at Victors. I’m still full.

The Picturehouse crew for arranging the event.

Ted G(aka Ted Longfellow), writer friend from New York, who put a mighty dent in the whisky bottle during a nightly party, and became a hit in the process.

The guy stuffing buffet food in his photo vest at one of the events.

The guy I saw peeing in daylight hours somewhere on 38th street. A real daring dude he was.

Peter Waisnor for his dinner conversation, quirks, and just being Peter.

Janet Began for her Halloween costume.

Coney Island. My first trip. Fantastic.

Michael Grecco for the book.

Hussein Formani for the Lucy Awards, tons of work and fun.

Duane Michals for saying and doing what he says and does.

Scott D from Kodak, for his sense of humor and the film.

Clay Blackmore, someone I had never met, but someone who I now know is REALLY a photographer. He has the bug, the bug you can’t acquire, you are just born with it. Here is to printing and processing Mr. Blackmore.

Oh, last but not least. The Peruvian flute player on the subway. I’ve heard my fair share, and this guy was good.


Stay tuned for more thrilling photo-industry news.

Photo Plus Expo


Strange happenings at a strange place and time.

Tedly Von G, AKA "Ted Longfellow" after making a dent in the whisky bottle. Photo Plus Expo party. Scary, truly scary.

05 November, 2006

NYC

Just back from The Apple. Give me a moment to catch my breath. Much to report.

29 October, 2006

A Pattern Developing

Shot an event yesterday. Many creative, interesting people in attendance. Movie people, photography people. There must have been a half a dozen people who looked at me, the equipment, and said, "Oh, film, that is just the best." The same storyline I am hearing over and over. "I use digital when I HAVE to, but it just isnt' the same," "It lacks....."
"I use it when someone needs to see it right then, doctor it, but all MY STUFF is shot with film this or film that."
Are those cracks forming in the foundation? No. I don't think so. I think the foundation has too much money stuck between the straw and mud to form cracks, but I feel like I know a dirty little secret that NOBODY on the inside want to talk about.
Well, I guess I'll just have to make myself at home here in the Dark Ages.

28 October, 2006

Dream Weaver

Well, it's over. The lowest rated World Series in recent history, and the puny, "no chance" Cardinal has wrapped it up. "The experts are idiots," banner hung over the railing proved once again just have savvy the average fan really is.
Through all the hype and circumstance, one guy, in my opinion, believe it or not, stands above all the rest. Pujols? Nope. La Russa? No. Rolen? Nah.
Believe it or not, to me, the guy who made the stand, who made everyone eat their words was none other than SoCal native Jeff Weaver, the punching bag of the entire United States based sports media, who by all accounts act more like a pack of jackals than the "fair and unbiased" group they claim to be.
Weaver, a hard luck guy, who has made stops in Detroit, New York, Los Angeles and Anaheim, where he was dumped earlier this year to make room for his younger brother. Traded to St. Louis, he was left for dead, and once again provided fodder for local sports reporters.
"He will get lit up like a Christmas tree," one jackal said before last night's game. Eight innings, 9k's.
Oops.
Weaver, a gangly, mullett wearing guy who scowls from the mound as he looks in for the signs, is neither a skilled public speaker nor a guy who seems to possess any kind of luck.
But last night's performance was dominating, a sledge hammer to the thin skull that was the Detroit lineup. Even though Tiger pitchers were charged with five errors through the first five games, the reality is their lineup hit under .200 for the series, and it doesn't take an expert to know you arent' going to win with that level of puny bat.
"St. Louis the worst team to ever make the World Series," the jackals wrote, again again, as somehow this opinion became standard printable material. How you get to the final showdown by being a bad team is a revelation to me. What "technology" gave them this info? The BCS computer?
It is clear now the sports media is suffering from the same CNN' ish glut of time they need to fill with useless dribble. With 24hour sports channels eating up story after story, the jackals need to fill air time, so we are treated to these poignant points of view.
Weaver 1, Jackals 0

26 October, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust

My entire life I have destroyed watches. Some by accidentally breaking them, but most just stop working once they arrive on my wrist. Some after one day, others after one year. Tag Heur, gone. G-Shock, broke that one too. Timex, Casio, Seiko, you name it, I've broken it.
I sent one in for repair and the technician called and said, "I've never seen anything like this, the entire insides have shaken apart."
Now, my trusty Casio, the same model I had in eight grade, a collectors item in Japan, has frozen at 25:06, the time of my morning run. Stuck. No buttons work. It has been a good run with this baby, mabye two years, and now I am in the market once again.

24 October, 2006

Middle East Region

Emailed a journalist friend about the Middle East.

"They have the Palestinians going full Civil War tomorrow. They also just in case you have oil futures having the whole region sometime between now and the New Year erupting. Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and company attack Israel before the Americans can attack Iran. Iran doubles back on the Americans in Iraq and Saudi. The Turks and the Iranians invade the Kurds in the North from both sides. Take your pick what comes first and how, because nobody in this region, name the players knows how to stand down. Nassralah, Assad, Al-Sadr, Al-Queda in Iraq, Hamas, the Provisional Revolutionary Committees in Gaza, the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, Islamic Jihad, Al-Queda (the mother organization), Ahmadijad, Olmert or Bush. You got all of these little dicks trying to prove they can get the biggest hard-on and a lot of people are going to suffer for it...probably as you said, until the end of time. Or somebody comes up with a reality show that makes these guys all famous by dancing with Stars, instead of with the stars they all think are aligned for them eternally."

His answer. Brilliant but sad.

23 October, 2006

20 Minutes on a Cold Night


End of the road B&B, run by a fantastic, elderly Dutch couple. Twenty minutes. Temp was falling, fire going, relaxing. Leave the camera out and see what happens. One frame. You get it right or you don't. I can live with that.

Big Fat BC Snaps




A few snaps from BC.

I can't Cancel the Cancel

You ever notice how many cancel buttons don't work? You click on something, realize you just started a toxic chain reaction and frantically scratch for the "cancel" button, only to find it really doesn't work. The progress bar continues on, mindlessly destroying what you so cherish. Cancel, cancel cancel, you bang on the key. CANCEL!!!!!!!! Nothing. Gone. Nada.

Not Even Close

I was thinking I would get an hour each morning to write in the "real" paper journal. Not even close. I get up, turn the computer to work files, design, do billing , scheduling. Not difficult, not complaining, and this is the busiest month, for sure. Things will cool down later in the year when I work on my own projects.
Too much commercial makes Jack a dull boy.

DRM

19 October, 2006

Journal/Blog

If you don't know about this site, you must bookmark it now, today, right now.

http://www.moleskinerie.com/

The journals I use, and have used, for some time now. Quite a history with this little babies. Many famous hands have used famous pens to write famous things with this little books.

This site is a wealth of creative talent from around the world, all with one thing in common, okay, maybe more than that, but they all use Moleskin.

Smogranch Master List

Ten most polluted cities in the world.

Three Russian cities are among the most polluted — Dzherzhinsk, Norilsk and Rudnaya Pristan. The other cities are Linfen, China; Haina, Dominican Republic; Ranipet, India; Mayluu-Suu, Kyrgyzstan; La Oroya, Peru; Chernobyl, Ukraine; and Kabwe, Zambia.

18 October, 2006

I forgot, IT"S BETTER!

After yet another discussion with a non-photographer about the "death of film," I realized just how absurd the photo-world has become. Not like I didn't know this before, but now I am convinced beyond the a shadow of a doubt.
I mean let's face it, film looks too good, archives too well and is far too efficient to be any good. It's not like the entire foundation of photography is based on film or anything.
And, now, with digital, I can spend much of my day, inside, parked in front of my computer, correcting for things like embalmed skin tones, blown highlights (which I know are now widely accepted as being normal) and corrupted cards, computers, software, etc. And if this isn't enough fun, why gee whiz, I can take a little more time to upgrade all my addition software, firmware, hard drives and computer systems. I was going to say archive too, but digital doesn't have a good archive yet, so I can't spend much more time there. Oops.
Why shoot film and miss all this? Crazy.
Oh, and the good old environmental issue came up again. Wow, all those years of shooting film and destroying the environment. I had no idea how many photographers were environmentalists until digital came along. Funny, while everyone was shooting film, don't remember one person saying anything about environmental issues. I must not have been listening.
Oh, but just so you know. Digital equipment, cameras, cellphones and computers contain such lovely items as lead, mercury, and a material called gallium arsenide, which can degrade into the poison arsenic. Oops digi guy. Forget about that one? But what about the recycling programs! Ya recycling! Let's get em!
Well, according to the EPA, 11% of computers end up getting recycled and less than one percent of the cell phones....oops again. And according to EPA, digital cameras and camcorders are even LESS likely to be recycled.
Let's not forget that each new digital product, which has a far shorter lifespan than their analog version, requires design, promotion, development, manufacturing and marketing. Can you say natural resources??
Whenever I experience the digital shortfalls I remind myself, "Wait, it's better." And then, everything is fine.
I do see one GREAT aspect of digital, and that is the employment it is giving to all those unpaid interns who are "getting the experience" of being a photographer by doing other peoples digital grunt work. I keep hearing how "efficient" digital is. I guess this is what they mean?
Do I see a pattern here?
Hey, if you are shooting nothing but produced, controlled work which will be retouched and airbrushed beyond recognition... digital is your service partner. If you are walking the streets of Paris looking to make handmade, black and white fiber prints.....relax and just take the film body.
What is truly sad are the folks like Mann, Salgado, Corbijn, Burtinsky and a WIDE RANGE of others who obviously didn't get the "digital is better" memo. Bummer.

All kidding aside. I use both, and will continue to use both. No reason not to. Anyone that tells you you have to use one or the other has an agenda. Wants to leave the office at 5pm. Doesnt' care about quality. Isn't a photographer. Is misinformed. Likes technology more than photography. Likes post more than pre. Etc.

The digital machine reawakened a sleepy industry, and for that we say, "thank you." But please, if I see another article about the death of film," or "digital supremacy," I'm going to puke.
Now that I mention it. If I see another article on "digital black and white," "workflow," or another cover shot of some oddly lit, over retouched woman with her hair blowing I'm going to puke again.

A Snapper Follow Up

Two posts ago I wrote about eating dinner and watching the throngs of snappers work the HB pier.
A friend called today, telling me about scouting a location in Laguna. Just walking to the location he passed three snappers, all with 80-200 and 30D. There are too many of us. No wonder the location permit police are licking their chops. There is money to be made and the authorities want their piece. Time to dig deep. Those front lit flash memories are going to begin to cost......

My Head

Up early, a quick run, 3.5 miles, right before the wind began to blow. Allergies. Allergies. Oh my God, never before in California for me. The curse of Smogranch. All that Inland Empire horrendous air is now here, passing through on the way to Catalina and beyond, and I must have sucked up my body weight in pollution. I feel like my eyes are on fire and my head is full of dust.
No amount of cold beer, good wine or luck will get me through this one.

17 October, 2006

Snappers

Dinner last night at Duke's in HB. A gift certificate. During the time it took to eat dinner I noticed seven different snappers working the pier area. Gangling gear, pods, arms, strobes, mashers, just blasting direct strobe into the night. All shooting backlit with strobe. White shirts and jeans, a refusal on my part, "sorry, won't do that shot."
Anything in a PCH window shouldn't be done again. Move on. Start over. Study. Learn.

16 October, 2006

Donde Esta




Where the hell am I?

BC Sky over Hatley




The Castle, the day before the event.

Tiiimmmbbbeeerrr!




Virgin timber on the way to being chopsticks?

Portal




Seattle from the plane window, small, twin-turbo prop. Loud and low. On the way to Victoria. Crappy digital snap.

Oh God No

Yep, heard it again yesterday. "The Saints really are America's Team."
No, sorry, they are NOT America's team. They are the same hard luck lot that have been gettting burned for all these years.
Yes, new, improved, for sure, and all you needed to see was yesterday's fourth quarter to realize this ain't your old Brooks led, folding, house of cards.
The first half they owned the puny Eagle. Then, after halftime, for 1.5 quarters, the old Saints showed up. The gag reel was in place.
But suddenly, after giving up 21 straight points and losing the lead, something strange happened.
The regrouped. They tied it up. They held. They won the game.
I'm not sure, in twenty years, I"ve EVER seen that. Really. I don't remember it. It could be my bodies response to so much misery, like when your mind shuts down during a car wreck because it really doesn't want you to remember much.
Sean Payton is a miracle worker, and by the way, not affraid to get in the face of anyone from the team.
These same announcers, actually ALL of the announcers, from both networks, and both radio stations I listened to, PICKED PHILLY!
"The Saints aren't as good as their record."
"The Saints haven't played anyone."
Etc, etc,
Then, during the game, shock and awe. "Ahh, this New Orleans team is ah..ah., theya really....ah....playing well."
I think maybe that thump you heard was someone else landing on the Saint bandwagon.

15 October, 2006

How Low We Have Gone

I feel sorry for anyone from outside the United States who happens to end up staying in a hotel anywhere near an American Interstate Highway.
For a country with so much, we do so little when it comes to what we call hotels, or motels, or Inns or Casas.
Recently, I had the foul luck to stay in one of these little dwellings, and believe it or not, I think I set an alltime low for the overnight experience.
I knew I was in trouble even before exiting the freeway. From a distance I saw the poorly constructed structure and thought, "how can anyone legally build anything THAT CLOSE to the road?" And secondly, even if you COULD build it, WHY WOULD YOU?
An enormous "Free Internet" sign hung on the front of the building. Old plumbing equipment, trash, car parts and junk lined the perimeter and "landscaping" areas.
Normally, I would have just kept going, but I was here for an assignment and I knew all the other choices were booked. I was stuck.
From the window of the first room they tried to put me in I could see the faces of the drivers as they careened past at 80 mph. I could literally see their face, what they had on the seat, etc. I felt like a voyeur, peering into each little, metal coffin as they raced past. The noise was incredible.
I called the front desk, "no way," and off I went to another room, the "best" room there, strategically located right underneath the front desk. Half above ground, half below, this room, although an improvement, was dingy, dark, dirty, depressing and dank. Walking with my bags I passed another room occupied by a couple living in the hotel. Dogs, boxes, clothes, and the artifacts of people in permanent transition littered their room. Truckers? Carnival workers?
I rolled the dice, pulled back the sheets and hoped for the best. I would have paid $10,000 euro for a body condom. Like a soccer match, didn't want to touch anything with my hands.
Every guest, every body entering or exiting the building walked over the top of my room, past the front desk and out the door. The noice was incredible.
Luckily, I was exhausted, donned the earplugs and managed to sleep through it.
Morning I was treated with the "Deluxe Continental Breakfast," which forces me to ask, "what the hell is that supposed to mean?"
What is "continental" about fruit loops? toast? The world's worst coffee?
"You want a waffle?" came at me from about four feet four. A crotchety breakfast lady was manning the waffle iron and wanted my order.
I made the poor decision of hesitating for a half-second, and that was all it took to get on her bad side. "What are you looking for? she asked.
"Aaah, I don't know?" I said. She looked at me with total disgust. Across the room, a poor unsuspecting woman tried to close a window where diesel fumes and artic air blew into the room. Like a bullwhip, the breakfast lady smacked her down. "Don't close that window or it will set off the fire alarm and the fire truck will come," she snarled as she rode herd on the waffle fire. People took a wide birth and made no sudden movements.
I couldn't eat anything. Somehow they managed to ruin basic breakfast food. Just adding to my wonderful stay.
Oh, and the kicker, $99 for this slum. I don't know how they can get away with it, but they do.

13 October, 2006

American Badass Update

Kody Milnor, the nephew, in what I think is his first month of BMX racing has achieved the triple whammy! Three first place finishes in last night's moto.

He will not be denied.

Ouch

This does NOT look good on a resume.

"Youth coach gets prison in autistic player's beaning"

12 October, 2006

Big Bang

Go Kim Jong. A big bang in a cave in NoKorea. Now what? Seems like a rational guy...
Great to see he has been industrious in his free time. Now, if he could just grow some food.

11 October, 2006

Go Yankees

Go Yankees, oh, wait, forgot, they lost. Couldn't have happened to a richer team.

Mom Feeling the Heat


My mom in airport security. She looks like trouble.

04 October, 2006

Reality of Technology

Everything high-tech breaks, fails, quits or dies.
Recently, after an unexpected shutdown of my online archive someone asked me how much trouble it had caused me.
"None," was my answer. Why? Well, first of all, I was prepared, and in the end didn't lose anything.
But, more importantly, I expected my system to fail.
My question to my frieind was, "what technological device have you had in your lifetime that didn't fail in the end?" "Ah, oh, ah, um,....."
My Atari broke, all of my computers have failed, died, exploded burned up, or just greeted me with the blue screen of death. My Ipod died, calculator in high school, and even my mom's gameboy crapped out. Hard drives? All eventually died. CDs and DVDs corrupt, flame out, etc. And don't get me started on the camera world, the neverending line of new models, rife with mini flaws that are here on day, dead the next.
So why would I be surprised when ANYTHING tech goes belly up? I"m not.

Yankees

If the Yankee does not win every game, of every playoff series, and World Series, they are a bust. Nine all stars, 200 million in payroll, everything that is wrong with sports all on one team.
It's not that I don't like the players, they are fantastic. Just the idea of buying a championship, which is the REALITY of what is happening, it just bad for the game. Why? It's boring.
Your number six batter has 500 or so round trippers, and your number nine was third in the league in average.
I'm not even talking about fair. Life isn't fair, but to say there is not an advantage for large market teams is a joke.
Go anyone but Yankee.

03 October, 2006

Film Crew




Me being filmed. A change. Strange.

Mosquito


This little bugger just buzzed the house.

Wrong

Was buying razor blades earlier today. Don't worry, things aren't that bad, just an essential part of my life at this point. A few more years and it won't matter if I shave or not. I will be past the "productive" part of my life, and therefore, far less will be expected of me.
There was an old timer behind me buying diapers. Adult diapers. And down below, right in front of me, right after I made the diaper observation, I noticed a naked Barbie shoved into the candy rack.
The entire scene was just wrong.

02 October, 2006

Bolivia


Dia Del Mar, marchers, protests, water strikes and a crowd of angry people trying to turn over our rented van. Trapped in Copacabana, gasoline strike. Cold, really cold, sleeping in my clothes, waiting for the strike to break so we can return to La Paz. "Can we eat?" "Sure senior, but we have no food." Okay then.
Unable to leave we walk in the mountains, the altitude a dominating factor. Coca tea, chew, chew, chew. Walk, walk, walk.

Saints and Bears and Poweful Drugs

After watching last night's Bears/Seahawks game I was once again reminded just how little training one needs to be an "NFL Expert." Before the game, three of the four "experts" I heard said Seattle was going to go in to Chicago, without star back Alexander, and defeat the puny Bear, proof in my mind of the powerful drugs being passed behind closed doors on these gridiron sets.
Why on Earth would anyone, let alone an "NFL Expert," believe this. "Seattle has a powerful offense," they said. Ya, sure, against the puny Giant last week, this same Seattle team put up 42 points in the first half. Then, in the second half, they gave up 30 straight points against this same, lame Giant team. Did any of these guys notice that? Three picks for Hasselback??? In one half?
And then you have the Bears. The Bears are hideous, and I mean that in the most flattering way. They wear black shoes, white tape, smudges of black under their eyes, nothing that would make you believe they should be feared. They look slow. They aren't.
Two weeks ago, against Minnesota, it was obvious to me, the Bears were playing harder, hitting harder, in the fourth quarter of the game than the first quarter. They are a well oiled pain dispensing machine, and to top it off, they are in the worst division in football, or close to it. I think they are on their way to the post-season, DEEP into the post-season, and right now there is no other team in the NFC on pace with Chicago.

Now, on to more important teams, like New Orleans. Being a Saint fan for over fifteen years, I have begun to hear things I have yet to hear in all my years supporting this team. And let me remind you, in case you forgot, what it is like to BE a Saints fan. Oh, and I'm not talking the new, "America's Team," Saints fan, I'm talking about the one playoff win in francise history fan, or the "Ain'ts" fan, or the paper bags Saints fan, or the 3-13 post Katrina Saints fan. It hurts. It hurts to be a Saints fan, and has every year since I have been following the black and gold. All these new "Americ'a Team" fans, frankly, I can do without you.
Yesterday, MY Saints lose a squeaker to Carolina, in Carolina. A drag, yes, but better to lose early than late. I knew they would lose, again, been following them for a long time, and they always lose. I'm somewhat glad it happened now. Now the pressure of being undefeated is gone, and most importantly, we get a chance to see how they respond. The old Saints would go on a four game skid, someone would get a DUI, someone else would get caught in a strip club with someone else's wife, etc.
Personally, I think, mostly due to Sean Payton coming in and cleaning house, I have a feeling those days might be over. This team looks really good, is playing smart, and had this Caroline game in their hands. I think this team comes back with a vengeance and smears puny Buc all over the field, at home, and remains in first place in NFC South, perhaps the TOUGHEST division in all of football.
The curse is still in effect as the Saints face crossover games againt Bengal, Steeler and Raven. How do you go 3-13 and get this schedule NFL? Someone please help me with this!
But, Sean Payton is front runner for Coach of the Year. Drew Brees is a possible Comeback Player of the Year, (Grossman is possible as well), and Reggie Bush, who has yet to explode could be Rookie of the Year.
Who dat?

29 September, 2006

American Badass


Check out the helmet to head size ratio. Something is off, but regardless, the nephew, the Kman, in the early days of his racing career. He smokes.

28 September, 2006

Perfection

America is obsessed with perfection, perhaps the world is, but seeing as I live in America I think it is worse here.
I'm not sure I understand. Yesterday, in the mail, a brochure, photo-related, advertising an upcoming gathering of photographers. The level of retouching, airbrushing in this brochure was beyond anything I had ever seen. There was not an inch of skin, anywhere, untouched. There was nothing real. Not even the photos of the people speaking!
I have friends who photograph in the celebrity world, and the level of retouching goes so far beyond what most people realize they probably wouldn't believe it even if they have seen what I have seen.
But with celebrity I get it. It's not that I agree, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a more insecure lot on the planet. But I also think that world is so vicious and harsh that it leads to this insecurity. Everyone has to be perfect because if you show any sign of weakness you career could be over.
But with the rest of us lackies none of this makes sense.
Start with me. I'm 37, I'm aging. I've got lines, wrinkles, blotches, scars, barnacles, etc. That's what happens people. Deal with it.
For me, I think people look better as they age.
A photographer I used to know used a photo from 1970 as his advertising image, what he projected to the public. You could see the faces of people, as they met him in real life, and they were stunned. You know they wanted to say, "Whoa, you are not the guy in the photo."
He was my friend, but I still never said anything because it felt like a hidden world, something I should not enter into, something that he knew I knew, but that was not a subject open for discussion.
I think we are in a time now, at least as photographers, where we will look back in ten years, maybe twenty, maybe fifty and said, "Hey, cut them some slack, the computer was still relatively new, and they just didn't know when to say when."

Me Again


I just can't get enough of these snaps. My mom loves every single one of them.

Sometimes


Sometimes I do strange things. I had this cone mounted to my skull. I think it is earthy. I feel closer to nature. Is it obvious? Does it stand out too much?

Yeti


Just outside of this frame was a Yeti I came across on the Panum Crater trail. He was from Jersey, just out with the family for a ten-day trip through the Sierras. He was a little camera shy otherwise I would have included him.
Contrarty to popular belief they had very tiny feet.

27 September, 2006

The Essentials



Do I have too much free time? Yes?

They Have Arrived


The pens. Here they are. Small, light, perfect. And a catalog, handwritten note. Perhaps custumer service is not dead?

A famous photographer once told me, "Pictures are fine, but for Christ's sake, write everything down."

Do it.

26 September, 2006

The Pen of Pens

Okay, have kept a journal for fifteen years or so, not everyday, but darn close. Words, sketches and photos, of course, just a place to put down my thoughts.
I'm pen picky, so finding one I dig is critical for my inner child. Otherwise, shame spiral.
So, recently, thanks to someone bringing these things to my attention, I found a pen I like. Nothing fancy, not fountain, not chrome plated with spinners. Nope, just a simple pen. The Inoxcrom Short Gel.
Problem is, once the first one ran dry, and it did rather quickly, which for some reason is fine with me, I couldn't find another pen.
So, I track the company, find an email address and bingo, send one off. Now I'm jaded, about life, about humanity, and fifteen years of documentary work has done nothing to improve my jade level. So, I send this email thinking, "see you later friend."
Then, something incredible happened.....they wrote back.
Not only did they write back, they said they are sending me a pen.
I'm stunned. Again. Humanity is not dead. Well, at least Inoxcrom is not dead.
Long live the pen.

Who Dat?

Okay, twenty-years as a New Orleans Saints fan has truly taken a toll on me. As a Saints fan you learn to live with little victories. A loss by only ten? A victory really. A back goes over a hundred yards? A win, regardless of final score. Quarterback only sacked seven times? Victory!
Now, suddenly, the world is a Saints fan. I'm not sure how I feel about this.
Last night, local sports bar, Monday Night Football. The stools around me, filled with meat-eating, red blooded, American males devouring anything and everything in their path. Burgers, steaks, Irish carbombs, fry it, serve it, down it.
There were mullets, guts, odd facial hair, and believe it or not, Saints gear.
For the first time in twenty-years, I see someone besides myself cheering for the team.
3-0, leading the division?
A Monday night domination of puny Falcon. The first win since the Cajun Cannon Bobby Hebert was at the helm. The days of Ironhead, the Aint's and the paper bags.
Things are looking up in The Easy.

25 September, 2006

Whispers





Standing alone at the edge of the lake. A photo workshop invades. I hear whispers. I'm not using what I "should" be using, or "could" be using. Elephants through a glass house. The air is sharp, cuts and I feel frail in this environment where nature clearly has the upper hand. Around me hundreds upon hundreds of images are being made, or at least consumed. I wait for the light.
Now, shouting, "shoot with the light," "shoot against the light," two groups have formed amid the pack. The dominant wolf has yet to emerge.
"I don't know about you, but I'm DONE walking around," as tripod legs crash to the ground.
"Shoot, shoot the tafa or tofu or whatever that is," a voice pleads
I wait.

Copyright

PS: All images on this site are copyrighted....just in case anyone was getting any wise ideas.


Mono from the water.

It's Official, World's Greatest Invention

The steam engine? The wheel? Potable water? Nope. Espresso coffee is the world's greatest invention. I asked around, and everyone is in agreement.
Espresso is art. Italians do it the best, don't know why for sure, but ask an Italian what makes a good espresso and be prepared for forty-five minutes of explanation. The water, the machine, and yes, the skill of the operator.
Potent, explosive, espresso is life itself.