Thursday, October 2, 2014

The NY Report...

Well, the Climate March in NYC on 9/21 got 350,000+ people, considerably more than expected (approx 100,000). And what was especially good to see was that it wasn't just the usual gang of aging White hippies out there- it was multi-generational, multi-ethnic and multi-racial. And it's a damn good thing we protested on the streets of midtown (not to mention the sit down event the following day near Wall St.), because they weren't letting anyone anywhere near the UN building on the the day of the actual conference on the 23rd. Sadly, the protest is merely an exclamation point, one desperate all out plea for a reality check that will not arrive anytime soon; the real progress occurs behind the scenes, and suffice to say, I really don't think any real action(s) of consequence will occur until the tsunamis are licking at the doors of those in power in real time. Of course, by then, it will already have been far too late...




Meanwhile, NYC has managed to cram yet another several million people unto its streets since I visited last year, and it was while I was promenading through Bryant Park that I spotted the oddest looking tour bus ever, in which people are seated in rows, theater style, all facing one side of the sidewalk, with pedestrians literally on stage and on display- a much more unsettling experience than even the bizarre scenario below alludes to, I assure you!

Photo: Marc Bryan-Brown
Also couldn't help but notice that there were considerably more photographers of color out taking fashion and wedding photos (a good thing), more people of color in the NYPD (good if their diversity impacts the police force- and not vice versa, as is usually the case), and MOST surprisingly of all... more people of color in the dancing, chanting Hare Krishnas- talk about... unsettling!

Naturally, I went to play with all the new cameras at B&H, and I'm happy to report that there wasn't one I was truly excited about save for the Fujifilm XT-1; happy because there's no way I can afford one of those along with a couple of lenses, happy because I'll no longer be tempted by anything else, happy to remain happy with what I got.... And I'm also bizarrely happy, confused and perplexed to report that I didn't see one single book at Dashwood, MOMA or Strands that I absolutely, positively had to have- not a one. And lord knows I have enough relatively recent acquisitions that I have yet to pay adequate homage and attention to.

Couldn't get to a lotta shows since I had familial obligations to attend to (my 91 year old father was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's), but did see Matt Black at Anastasia Gallery, and did manage to make it to Photoville on its last day. The latter was a bit overwhelming to do in just one day, even without attending any workshops/conferences; there was just so much there in all those assorted shipping containers- good, bad and indifferent, that in the end made for quite an impressive showing nonetheless. One was dedicated solely to James Nachtwey's work- always fascinating to see how he remains just one notch above everyone else's work in that particular "genre."

Gorged myself on Two Boots Pizza and donuts at the appropriately named Donut Pub on W14 St, but was disheartened to find that St. Mark's Books is no longer with us- that particular book store was to The East Village what CBGB's was to its music scene- RIP.

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo of NY created a commission to examine corruption- only to disband it when it began to examine the festerings in his own backyard. And speaking of cover ups.... new mayor of NYC Bill de Blasio dropped the groundhog presented to him on Groundhog Day, which later died of internal injuries. The zoo however reports that the precipitous fall from the good mayor's arms had nothing to do with its demise. Why this came out in September, when it occurred in February...

Favorite T-shirt (particularly in these times when people my age are contemplating their own mortality while dealing with that of their elders): Too Old To Die Young.

Got four rolls to process and edit (a helluva lot for me), hopefully something to show for in the upcoming weeks, and will also be posting on my favorite new photographer spotted at Photoville...

Friday, September 19, 2014

Don't Shoot... Going Home


Photo: © S. Banos

Actually, this elderly (White) gentleman doesn't have much to fear in that respect- as clearly evidenced here. But point most definitely... taken. Seems that except for those in complete denial (and yes, that faction always does represent in substantial numbers), there now seems to have opened a small window to which the public at large can no longer claim ignorance to the fact that maybe, just maybe, cops do treat Whites different than... the darker complected spectrum of humanity.

Reciprocity Failure will be recharging its analog batteries in the coming fortnight as I head over towards the homeland to visit the folks, participate in the largest climate march in the world to date, check out the doings in Photoville, and catch a show or two. May send in a brief on the spot post if and when appropriate- and do say hello if so inclined...

Once again, thanks to all who drop by to make this little endeavor worthwhile!

Speaking of home...



And if ya made it this far, you may wish you hadn't- something else to think on during the interim... 10 mind chilling scenarios!

OK, OK- couldn't leave everyone in such a foul funk, these make everyone* happy!!! Least, did me, when I had one...
*(who has Pinterest- sorry)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Income Inequality Is Higher NOW Than In 1928

 

In 2001, the deputy spokesperson of the White House Press Office was asked what he thought the median income was on that year's tax returns. He replied it was around... $250,000.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Those Shooting Film...

Those of you us still shooting film should shoot a look at Aaron Brethorst's appropriately titled... I Shoot Film. Dissatisfied with The Massive Development Chart data, he set about compiling his own comprehensive film data chart-  in addition to the ultimate photo processing lab directory in these semi United States...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Money, Photography, Diversity

Recently, I shot Joerg Colberg a quick note of thanks and appreciation for his Sixth Annual Portfolio Competition  (deadline 10/31) labor of love. Interestingly, he wrote back a brief response stating how much more diverse the submissions were (as far as race and sex were concerned) than the usual competition fare, primarily because it was, in fact... free. Also of interest, the fact that the winners are "blindly" chosen, another nod towards avoiding- the usual suspects.

No surprise, of course, that most photo reviews and festivals are overwhelmingly White simply because of cost involved, or that most unpaid photo "intern" positions are filled by those (White) applicants who can most afford to work for... free. Or that those who can afford to attend those events are those that will most likely be remembered and invited to participate in upcoming projects, exhibitions, etc. The last part, at least, is easily understandable, it's how we humans interact and socialize- it's the first part that can get easily ignored, forgotten or... denied.

Anyone who's come here more than once by now realizes that I (along with a few handful of others) do on occasion talk about race and its relation to this thing we love called photography.  And while I'm certainly not going to apologize for it, it is very simply a reaction to the dearth of these conversations elsewhere, 'cause as we all know- people who talk about race are... racists!. Clearly, no faction of humanity is without fault or sin, and surely, everything isn't always "black and white," exactly why we need more open and ongoing discussion- as opposed to accusatory tirades. And it always, always, always devolves into just that because we never continue the discussion beyond that. Everyone either yells and screams at each other, or tries to talk over each other until in the end- we repeat, retreat or exhaust ourselves, accomplishing little, quietly gathering our strength and talking points until the next screamfest.

This is not to say that we could "cure" anyone of their hardcore, ingrained racism, no one is that naive, but it would be nice if there was an ongoing attempt to further dialogue beyond accusation and examine just how certain factors can influence and exclude. Of course, some (like myself) would say those factors and consequences are already well established and clearly evident- I think a good starting point is... why has their been so much more progress towards fighting sexism in the arts? Has sexism been vanquished- of course not! But the strides that women and LGBT people have made are obviously evident in places of power and consequence when it comes to the arts. Why has that segment of society experienced such consequential change, while so many people of color (with the possible exceptions of certain Asian populations) still struggle to maintain token representation? The question of economics looms large, but it is both cause and consequence of even larger factors.

Everyone harbors their own personal prejudices- admitting that is the first step, discussing how it impacts our world (of photography) would be the second...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minimum Wage/Maximum Outrage- From Debt To Death


Maria Fernandes
There are those who seek to better themselves through sheer force of will, working as many jobs and as many hours (often at minimum wage) as their bodies will endure. The constant physical wear involved in multiple jobs combined with the challenges of raising a family leaves many a parent with little time to rest, sleep or stabilize themselves long enough to maintain their physical, as well as psychological well being. Domestic abuse, addiction, and other stress and chronic health related issues all come to manifest themselves as a result of this physical and psychic abuse. Forget success, hard work and determination at minimum wage can't even cover the rent, and only guarantee perpetual slavery to a system designed to ensure just that. Sometimes, as in the case of Maria Fernandes, the result is the new face of economic martyrdom- the once proud American Dream reduced to the nightmare of premature death.

But what of education, Stan? Surely someone who's had some years in the teaching biz cannot deny the age old ladder towards upward mobility? Going through all the hoops against all odds from ghetto to mainstream for acceptance into jobs that are simply no longer there is bad enough, now the final insult has been firmly nailed in place with prohibitive tuition costs and for profit schools that are pledged to keep you in a world of debt before you even enter it.

I don't know how many new capitalist ploys will yet be introduced to squeeze every last remaining crumb and penny from those who can least afford it, for those who least need it- but fear not, they're working scheming on it...


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On Blogs And Jackalopes And...

  Photo: Bruce Haley 

Not usually big on kid pictures, and yet... this is the kind that stops you in your tracks and just makes ya think. The contemplative look on this "little bruiser" (same two words came to my mind) does make one wonder the paths that lay before him- those he chose to walk, and those that chose him. Did he use his brawn and good looks to muscle his way through every one of life's problems; did those who came to fear him negotiate a premature demise? Did his physicality succumb solely to the allure of immediate gratification, or was he of a much rarer breed (as this photo seems to suggest) with the wherewithal to develop that rather pensive mind into that rarest of entities- a conscientious leader in the cause of righteousness? Yeah, good photography, good art, can make ya think on all them things....





Not many people keeping up (let alone starting up) photo blogs anymore. And along comes... Ropin' The Jackalope, making its grand debut with none other than former conflict photographer, prophet and raconteur extraordinaire (made at least one of those up) Bruce Haley at the helm. This could be (ie- will be) a most welcomed addition of oxygen rich blood doping into this now somewhat tired mix of the usual suspects, especially with all the youngbloods out there too busy tweetin' around. 

All shittin' aside, Bruce brings an experienced voice with a considerably different background and outlook that will be a most welcomed addition to most anyone's photo reading list: amusing, informative- and most definitely worth a look and listen...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Maier Conundrum(s)

Recently, Petapixel linked to a couple of items of note concerning Vivian Maier, the more mundane of the two concerned this post from The Online Darkroom:

Vivian's photography is of a standard that I imagine I or most readers could have produced given the same opportunity...    
-Bruce Robbins

I think the key word in that statement is "imagine;" anyone's free to imagine they're as good as anyone else. No, she's not HCB. but she definitely deserves every accolade she's earned for the plethora of quality images she created in a time when such artistry was not exactly plentiful. Certain photo critics, historians and gallerists will snub her talent and/or work due to the lack of original prints, and don't take into account the most obvious of factors- how on earth was she then able to assess and improve her work without actually seeing it? And yet, that's exactly what she did- that alone is some unique kind of extraordinary genius in and of itself! Ironically, no one snubs HCB for not doing his own printing.

The author then goes on to assert that she must have had money to burn since she owned a Rolleiflex and shot a lot of film. Huh??? Maybe that's why she couldn't afford (to make) prints, she saved every penny of her meager nanny's salary to acquire basic, but top notch shooting equipment- and simply had to sacrifice on the other end. Not that hard to figure, especially if you've had to live on a tight budget- something's gotta give...

One of the main problems with Ms. Maier is that her extraordinary life story sometimes tends to trump her incredible legacy of work and talent- both are equally remarkable. Interestingly, would we know anything of an HCB, or Eggleston, or... if they hadn't been born into $$$?

---------------------------------------------------------------


The other issue, the one of considerably greater concern, is found within this article in the NY Times. This is where the Maier saga finally transforms into modern day, capitalist horror story via hostile takeover courtesy of none other than that classic 19th century villain reassuming his rightful position as 21st century scum of the earth. Enter (the oh so appropriately named) Mr. Deal, lawyer and leech of the lowest order, crawling in after the fact, seeking whatever crumbs he can wrest free and acquire. 

In truth, it was the one and only factor that has been missing from this fairy tale of art and longing- up until now we haven't had a real villain, a true foil to Maier's innocence and Maloof's quest to anoint her. The stage is set, the final act has commenced, as bullshit writ large strides in demanding its cut of money and notoriety. This chapter will only add to the legend; unfortunately, when lawyers ride in on the back of the law, the conclusion can be anything but happy.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Cell Tower Fakes vs. Fake Cell Towers


Photo: Dillon Marsh
Photo: Robert Voit
























Bad enough having cell phone towers disguised as fake trees- at least they're grotesquely bad in a cool lookin' kinda way. But fake cell phone towers disguised as cell phone towers by god knows who, doing god knows what??? Now that's just plain... evil!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

But... I... Don't... See... (race)



Jesus Christ Hallelujah!!! How do I even start!? Lemme count the ways...

Forget about those who deny that prejudice is alive and well when it comes to employment (and everything else for that matter)- first, we gotta get through the hordes that actually believe that because you're Hispanic (or anyone of color), you get... preferential treatment! Yeah, some still stand up and shout that Affirmative Action snatched up all the choice jobs right outta the hands of the beleaguered White man. First, we gotta cut through that layer of insanity before we even start to approach reality... 

And fortunately, some guy (whose name begins with "J") just made recognizing reality a whole lot easier, a whole lot quicker, and way, way clearer- just by dropping an "s."      (posted by the son of... Jose Banos) 

Monday, September 1, 2014

ClimateChange/Climate March



Climate change means, amongst other things: less land to live on, and less potable water and food, particularly in areas already stricken with famine and drought- which in turn means... more (many more) people fighting for whatever remaining: food, land and water.

What promises to be the biggest climate protest will occur in NYC this Sept. 21st...


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Laetrile- Pure Quackery (Right?)

That's certainly what we've been told since the... seventies- when I last heard the word. But what if, what if... there really is something to it (and it's just too cheap to make an outrageous profit from)?




UPDATE: Interesting rebuttal...  (via Minnesotastan @ TYWKIWDBI)

The absolute vitriol in the rebuttal above could alone kill the most virulent of cancer cells! 

I'm not the biggest fan of Big Pharma for sure, but I don't have a particular dog in this fight. Laetrile could be complete quackery, or there could be something there. And it's also very interesting, that the major study this rebuttal quotes (the only one done on humans), was on advanced stage cancer patients- exactly what even Laetrile proponents say it is ineffective against (save for those south of the border anxious to make an American $).

I'm always particularly amused when the scientific establishment (ie- government) attempts to put down, ridicule and disavow anything "alternative" not by producing conclusive scientific evidence (the very hallmark of their existence), but by in turn putting out their own focused, emotional and anecdotal appeals and conjecture based solely on their reputation and beliefs (eg- nothing like dismissing UFO's with... swamp gas).

Friday, August 29, 2014

F-I-N-A-L-L-Y!!!

Wet_Trails_JMN
Photo by Jim Norris courtesy of Scripps Oceanography

Year after bloody year I'd yell at someone (anyone)- why the hell hasn't someone bothered filming this; it's not like they have no idea where they are. All that was ever freakin' needed was a coupla cameras with the necessary technology, and a wee bit of patience...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Radioactive!

For the past several years I've felt very safe going on the occasional flight with film safely wrapped in my heavy duty, double laminated lead film bag designed to protect film up to ISO 1600. I was invincible, invulnerable, very much on the order of an aging analog demigod. But I recently read that all security has to do is ramp up their X-ray machines until they can see inside that sucker. Who knew!?!? Now, I really don't know what to think. Have they been double dosing their radiation all along to peek inside- or have they just quietly been giving me the pass? I have no clue... Actually, my film did go through a scanner unprotected when I visited the WTC memorial a couple of years back (the cops weren't making any exceptions). I somehow managed to keep both mouth and emotion in check- fortunately, no dire results; but no one wants to have their film X-rayed, voluntarily or otherwise- and sweat to see what does or doesn't happen...

Current wisdom says to just put the film naked in a transparent plastic bag and kindly ask security to hand inspect. For good measure, it's also said one should throw in a roll or two of 1600 ISO film, since 400 ISO is officially touted as the magic cut off point of the scanner safety limit- the high ISO presence would hopefully provide the needed incentive for them to grudgingly acquiesce and hand inspect.

So the question remains... this Sept. when I'm off visiting the folks in NYC, do I continue with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, or do I dispense with the supposed facade of (non)protection altogether, and accept the possibility that I've just been flying lucky all along???

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Super Hero Identities Exposed And Revealed!


Photo: © S. Banos

 A fellow photographer calls 'em my "dick pictures," guess I can't argue much there. They say you are what you photograph, so... I... errrr... Yeah, really don't know where to go with that either...


Photo: © S. Banos



Photo: © S. Banos


For the judgemental, at least ya know what ya get with these guys, unlike all the closeted, "straight laced," Gay bashing Republicans. These photos are taken at predominantly Gay, S&M "street fairs" in San Francisco that occur twice a year, in a closed off section of town ($10 entry). And since I'm neither Gay, nor into S&M, I suppose I am operating strictly in the capacity of voyeur, telling myself I'm a photographer who must document for posterity and understanding- not to mention the inherent humor of it all. Perhaps, the fact these images challenge us to more closely examine ourselves as a species is validation enough.

What I definitely can say is that they are nice enough to let me do my thing, while they do theirs...


Photo: © S. Banos

Friday, August 22, 2014