Wednesday, May 15, 2019

If This Doesn't Scare The Bejesus Outta Ya...

Carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have soared to a new high, one never before been seen in human history, researchers announced as temperatures near the Arctic circle rose into the 80s... Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago... since before modern humans existed millions of years ago. 


If... you (like me) are dug in on the other side of 50 and therefore immune from the very worst of the imminent, world wide catastrophe you and I have helped set in motion and bequeathed our future generations! Yes, sir- WE got away with it! We took whatever We wanted, abused whatever WE wanted- whenever WE wanted. And now, all the young-uns we spawned all down the line get stuck paying the tab. Suckers don't stand a chance, half of 'em are still in denial- MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

  Before The Flood  provides a pretty thorough, accurate and entertaining look at our coming apocalypse- available on Netflix...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Sometimes, It Is, Sometimes it Ain't...


Photo: © Stan Banos

A cigar, that is. Saw this from across the street. It was just a guy in a wheelchair nodding off on the street, but I liked the way he was "commanding" the space about him. So I took the chance, crossed the street, made the quick snap and decided to decide later on.

Balancing the side lighting with its extremes of shadows and highlights was a major pain in the post- one thing led to another, led to another, led to... Eventually got it to where I envisioned, and am pretty happy with the result. But I'm sure a lot of people would say- it's just a guy in a wheelchair.

A while back, some photo editor who didn't like my work in some way, shape or manner told me, "Ya know, photography is more than just pointing a camera and snapping the shutter." I don't even recall what the work was, but do remember thinking that if you're gonna impart any personal pearls of wisdom- they shouldn't be fraught with enough irony to undermine your own argument. OK, ya thought my work lacking in some respect- then at least come up with something insightful, instead of proving you have no better conception of what photography is, other than describing it at its most obvious...

Thursday, May 9, 2019

There R Liars...


Photo: © Stan Banos

And then, there R... Liars!!!

Now, you're gonna have to be one pretty good liar to be any kind of politician- to be sure. And you have to be a Liar Amongst Liars Extraordinaire to become CIA Chief, natch! But as we all know the US of A has suffered from a complete and total embarrassment of riches for these last three years when it comes to our All Time, ALL TIME Liar-in-Chief!!!

Monday, May 6, 2019

... Be Happy!


Photo: © Stan Banos
  1. Shirt and Trousers- CHECK
  2. Jacket- CHECK
  3. Kicks- CHECK 
  4. Chain- CHECK
  5. Shades- CHECK
  6. Lid- CHECK
  7. Earphones- CHECK
  8. Backpack- CHECK

To be completely honest, I am a tad disappointed at the cell phone cover- but no points deducted. The man has clearly gone above and beyond- and I've no doubt the socks would not disappoint... Humankind's ability to accommodate, tune in and rise to the occasion is the stuff of legend- and our capability to look beyond, persevere and overcome whatever malevolence, whatever catastrophe sent our way is indeed formidable. Time and time again, it is our greatest, proven asset!

It's also our greatest liability. Humanity is literally fucking itself in the worst way(s) possible, and there aren't enough grown ups on the entire planet to save us. We Baby Boomers have raped, pillaged and ravaged Mother Earth- laughing all along the way. And while we talk of family values, we are leaving our sons and daughters, and their sons and daughters on down the line a dying planet on the verge of environmental collapse that will lead to: massive drought and flooding, severely diminished fresh water supplies and arable land, worldwide famines and opportunistic epidemics- and the inevitable rise in bloody conflicts for those remaining and rapidly dwindling resources. 

The time to have avoided the worst has long passed, now we can only try to salvage whatever little will remain- and we're steadfastly refusing to do even that. The signs are all around us, the warnings straight up in our face: heat records at all time highs, storms at record power levels, both polar ice caps melting, a Sixth Extinction Event, endemic coral bleaching, insects dying en masse, entire swaths of oceans lifeless, old tree forests cleared and cemented... 

Fortunately, it's all a hoax! It's just a... you know, a cycle- yeah, that! So, let's all do ourselves a favor- dress up, be happy and party like it's 1999!

I mean- who's gonna be alive in 2080... anyway?!?!?!?!

 
Gotta admit, grandma's really cute- even if she's brain dead...

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May Day... May Day!


Photo: © Stan Banos

I'm back! Uhhh... Actually, I-like-never-left. Day I'm about to leave, I get a call saying you may wanna reconsider coming at this time- a whole lotta rain coming the next week. Look at the long range forecast on the East Coast, and yeah, a whole lotta rain till... 5/07! This in turn is followed by a whole lotta gnashing of teeth and rending of garments as I contemplate cancelling my second attempted trip to The South! Seems a whole lot more than just Trump voters don't want me going.

 So... hoping third time's a charm sometime soon- sure as hell better be!

Friday, April 26, 2019

On Holiday...


Frozen In Time... Photography in a nutshell.

Like an aging beauty queen, San Francisco still has its charms; but while the tech industry has poured google plus amounts of $$$ into the economy, it is money that remains very much within the confines of their private virtual reality. The downtown area and adjoining SOMA (South of Market St.) neighborhoods are now 24/7 open air toilets* amidst their ever propagating towers of luxury apt buildings and five dollar coffee cafes. The homeless, the (seriously) mentally disturbed and the drug addled now roam the streets en masse like like a united full scale zombie nation, morning, noon and night...


All Photos: © Stan Banos

The area bordering Sixth and Tenth Streets between Mission and Market is an outright zombie apocalypse of the walking wounded, people with: needles sticking out their necks, arms and legs, arguing vehemently with themselves or yelling at passerby before passing out in their own filth. And the longer we continue to ignore them, curse them and just wish the problem away- the more their numbers have grown and the farther removed from reality we both continue to become.




Sometimes while walking through the midst of that daily stench and depravity, it actually feels as if the ancient embodiment of evil unearthed in The Exorcist once again lives and thrives amongst us, guided by the offices directly overhead that house the head over heels tax incentive beneficiaries: Twitter, Uber, Yahoo and countless other tech start ups... 

PS- I'll be on vacation next coupla weeks, we're going for the road trip we never took last year through the southern states (from DC to New Orleans), when we got hurricaned and flooded out- if it happens again, we got plan B through The Rust Belt. Either way, got my MAGA** hat, Lock Her Up and Build The Wall T-shirts ready to roll (joke, small joke). See yas in late May when I return for my radiation treatment courtesy of Verizon who insists it's 4G, while those actually installing it (PG & E) swear it's... 5g! Sounds all legal and legit to me, no?
*Thanks, Eric!! **via Gotham!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Two Photographers With A Message

Photo: Dana Lixenberg

Many moons ago while talking photography with an African American friend, we got to discussing the ethics of photographing the down and out- something I continue to consider, reconsider and reevaluate to this very day. I was considerably more hard edge back then- hell, people get themselves into the positions they're in, they make their own choices in life, blah blah, blah... had it all figured out. 

My friend countered with- "Why would you want to take a photo of a brother when he's down, ain't there enough of that already out there?" At the time I took it as if he wanted to ignore and sugar coat the reality of life- as opposed to "look it in the eye and show the truth no matter what" me. But with growing maturity, I began to see the strengths of his argument, and the arrogance and ignorance of my own. Although Hispanic, I did not grow up in the inner city the majority of my life- and although about as low as lower middle class can possibly get, still enough to come from a place of relative privilege.





For a long time running, there has been a certain "reality" that has been readily depicted and accepted: inner cities = minorities = drugs = crime = violence, etc, etc... And that's the kind of limited equation that formulates prevalent, racist mind sets that readily dismiss "those people" as... "animals." And it's a damn easy way to (not) think, as someone looking from the outside in.

I'm not going to go into all the reasons why poverty, crime and inner cities exist and intertwine as they do- not going to go into why: red lining, sub prime loans, food deserts, racial profiling, inadequate health care, schools and housing all go into creating these nightmares long before people are even born to make their (already purposely limited and predetermined) choices. I've done that elsewhere, as I've also made the case for personal responsibility- and it's not a particularly easy line to draw, one requiring generous applications of both hemispheres.

What I am saying, what I think my friend was saying- is that there is also a need for a certain degree of balance. The evils inherent to inner city life have now been laid apparent to those who have never even set foot, from: Eugene Richards, to The Wire, to the daily news which tend to make them pretty damn evident. But to the day, we're never quite equally furnished with the: images, modus operandi and perp walks of the White collar criminals who help create and finance those illegal activities from top down.

So yeah, hats off to a coupla (White) photographers who didn't fall for the immediate stereotypical "gritty, real life" photos of drugs, guns and crime, that faux and envied notion of earning themselves their requisite notch of perceived hardcore photo, street cred. These two photographers ditched the obvious to put in the time, maturity and effort to come up with something much more grand, balanced and nuanced- something that speaks to the complexities of life itself, regardless the time, place or people...  Such is the work of Dana Lixenberg and Matt Eich. The former's unpretentious, slice of life portraits hearken back to August Sanders monumental celebration of those not accustomed to such attention, while Matt Eich  presents us with intimate moments of the everyday, both big and small...

Photo: Matt Eich

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Decade, Just a Decade...


"The evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease, and war... It is time we consider the implications of it being too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe in the lifetimes of people alive today." (emphasis mine)

And, uhhh- it kinda goes downhill from there...

Friday, April 12, 2019

Broke Ass World!

Well, I've been honored to have a piece published on 5G Tech on legendary San Francisco celebrity/activist Broke Ass Stuart's website!!! Let's see how many people ignore it completely or... praise the fact that it will bring us all incredibly more lifelike virtual reality which we will then enjoy the benefit of while watching in hospital recuperating from our EMR induced illnesses...

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

In The Company Of Strangers: Americans Parade- George Georgiou


Photo: George Georgiou

Most photographers (incl yours truly) when working a crowd at a large event go about looking for individuals who are either symbolic of said event as a whole, or for the outliers that it may inevitably attract. George Georgiou kinda plays it both ways, by photographing highly detailed sections of large swaths of crowds at a time, one can make out both the contrasts and similarities between varying individuals. These multifaceted, B&W photographic updates that would make Norman Rockwell proud are an interesting take on "the forest for the trees" idiom; and as always with Georgiou- great, insightful photographs...

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Permission To Radiate American Citizens

Well, below was my say (3 minute Max) at an appeal to deny putting up a 5G cell phone antenna directly opposite out apartment. To say it fell on deaf ears would be an understatement- it was a show trial at its best, a pure procedural SCAM writ large. I also presented detailed medical documentation (highlighting: abnormal brain scans, profound memory loss, etc)- which of course, they never looked at before officially approving Verizon's request bribe to install. If I babble incoherently (more than usual) in the near future, well...........

And so one day soon, we'll see them erect said antenna outside our bedroom window and just wait to see what short and long term effects their little experiment will have on our health... And remember- this shit's coming to your (USA) neighborhood as well!

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

Radiation- can't see it*, can't touch it, can't even feel it; that’s its very nature- the ability to invisibly go right through walls and windows unimpeded, and penetrate our very cells, changing, mutating and permanently damaging our DNA forever.  

In California it is illegal to install and operate cell towers and antennae near any fire station. Under the CA SB649 exemption for firefighters, no one involved is allowed to acknowledge the reasons, even though it is common knowledge that EMR radiation emanating from such antennae wrecked havoc with the health and well being of the firefighters within the station in question. A myriad of serious, short term health problems resulted: skin rashes, memory loss, fatigue, mood swings, headaches and confusion that led to basic inabilities to perform their required tasks; the long term health effects remain unknown.

These antennae so affected the very strongest and healthiest among us that it prevented them from carrying out their life saving responsibilities- and yet... it is perfectly legal to place them in close proximity to pregnant women, infants, the infirm, and the elderly. This is criminal conduct in any civilized nation, criminal conduct that was paid for and condoned on the state and federal level. And by placing these antennae atop city owned property, it will position companies like Verizon to argue that if people do develop long term health complications due to long term EMR exposure- it will be the fiscal responsibility of the city of San Francisco, not their company to deal with...

The tobacco companies repeatedly reassured us that their product was, in fact, safe and non addictive, and public alarm, both unnecessary and alarmist. Trust us they said, we would not put your health at risk- our studies don't lie, our researchers don't lie, and we, the company executives would certainly never lie. Studies and reality proved otherwise. The pharmaceutical companies told us that opiates such Oxycontin and Oxycodone were safe as prescribed and also non addictive- once again, profit and propaganda triumphed over truth and science. 


Verizon says it will take EMR readings, and that naturally, they will be well within safety limits. Their readings, however, will in no way whatsoever reflect the real dosage of what we will absorb 24/7, day after day, week after week, year after year as we eat, rest and go about our lives at home. Radiation will continuously penetrate our: skin, organs, skull and brain tissue while we sleep. And let’s not forget that radiation damage is cumulative- permanent and cumulative.


Once again, the refrain echoes anew, “Trust us...”

*if one actually could- game over...

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Franco Fortini- Landscapes Bathed In Light



I love Franco Fortini's landscapes, both for his sense of space and composition, as well as his highly introspective and contemplative viewpoint, which in truth, doesn't say a helluva lot- just that I find them utterly beautiful and eerily fascinating! They're obviously, purposely overexposed- probably mimicking the sun drenched, semi-arid, Sicilian landscape. On a couple, it does somewhat hinder my appreciation of them, but as a whole, it's a wonderful body of work I will return to, repeatedly- for appreciation and inspiration...

Photos: © Franco Fortini

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Just In Case...

Ya don't hear from me in a while, my hard drive is sputtering along in its apparent death throes. Fortunately, I've pretty much backed up everything that counts and I'm gonna try an "emergency restore to factory virginity maneuver" to see if  I can add a coupla more years..........

Friday, March 29, 2019

That Does NOT Make It... OK!

Always thought Schiff somewhat of a whiner, even if he was consistently on the right correct side of things. So it's great to see him finally grow a pair and say what has to be said: loud, clear, unapologetically, while looking these lowlife suck up sycophants* straight-in-the-eye!

This is what needs to be said... how it needs to be said- just more often; as often, and as loudly as tRUMP repeats the LIE!!!


     

*Little boy Nunes doesn't look all that happy there- does he?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Life With Bernie

I attended Bernie Sander's rally in SF this weekend. I hoped to get some decent shots, but honestly, I didn't expect much. And I was right. I don't so much document actual events, as much as try to get shots of the outliers. And Bernie attracts: the very rational, civilized and well behaved; you want colorful, visual whackos... go to a Trump rally (not much of a chance in San Francisco). 

Not sure if I'm all in with the superhero shot below, hoping it grows on me, but I do love that left foot. There was this comedian/performance artist walking about in a full length mink coat and a handlebar moustache complete with an attendant entourage of two photographers/videographers and two black suited "secret service agents," complete with shades, coiled ear pieces and protective hand gestures- they really had it down. He was going about introducing himself to anyone who would listen as "a Russian strongman oligarch" complete with mandatory central casting Russian accent. Got a few decent doc shots, but nothing, unfortunately, that stands on its own.

 
Photo: © Stan Banos

Bernie's not the greatest or even most inspiring orator- but unlike many another Dem candidate, he doesn't say we should do something, or that we really need to do something; he comes out and says it- we ARE going to do this, and this, and this! He really does check all the boxes (eg- health care, climate change, education, etc).

That said, he needs to FORCEFULLY and REPEATEDLY explain, reiterate and explain anew what Democratic Socialism is, and how we will (and already do) ALL profit from it. And he needs to do it over, and over, and over again. Normalize it, take the sting outta it! He needs to repeat The Truth to the American people as much as Trump repeats the lie- more so!!! He didn't do it enough last year, and if he doesn't do it this year- Trump will make a quick meal of him with the Socialist fear mongering he's already battering Warren with...

I'd like Bernie to be the Dem candidate, but I'll back whoever has the MOJO to beat Trump in 2020- yeah, even Biden!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

IT'S MUELLER TIME!


Photo: © Stan Banos

Been saving this photo for quite some time now, admittedly to herald the absolute and unequivocal Robert Mueller slam dunk concerning one Donald J. Trump. I am writing this on Saturday, before any of the report has been made public, other than that there are no further indictments- which in turn has fueled speculation that the report has no hardcore evidence substantiating criminal activity concerning our current POTUS. And perhaps as early as tomorrow, we will, in fact, know the substance of his report...

A life long Republican who Trump insists on calling "a Democrat," I don't see Robert Mueller, a man duly noted for doing seriously important work in a seriously impressive manner, as the guy who knowingly goes down in history as the chump who investigated someone for 22 months (with a hand picked, crack team of the sharpest prosecutors and investigators in the world), someone whose entire career has been bathed in criminality from the jump- and coming outta this shrugging his shoulders and saying, "I tried."  

For the last coupla years, we have repeatedly been subjected to someone who has lied, denied, fabricated and obscured his way through self imposed behavior and consequences that would have taken down the most honest and forthright of men. Let's give credit where credit is due... Donald J. Trump is the greatest con man many a generation has ever seen- full stop! He has done it through sheer force of will, and as with any and all con men- we have emboldened and allowed him to do it.

I don't know what the next few hours, days, weeks will reveal, conclusively. But I do know that Mr. Mueller, despite all his tenacity and expertise, was handcuffed in what he could actively pursue in this investigation (unlike Ken Starr). Wisely, he bequeathed what he uncovered in those areas to the jurisdiction of New York State, and that may be he his final and most redeeming legacy- having Donald J Trump found guilty in his hometown, where it all started, and where it will all end...

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Few Good Books and Photographers...

Two come courtesy of Photo-Eye Bookstore, another through Lens of The NY Times and one from Photograph. Jeff Mermelstein should be a familiar name, known for his street photography well before the term degraded into a video meme. The great photographers show us everyday things and occurrences in ways we haven't seen before, and that's exactly what Mermelstein's ARENA does- and at his age (as with Friedlander), it gives one hope to continue to see things anew and not rely on the usual tried and (truly over)done...
 
Photo: Jeff Marmelstein


Meanwhile, Ute and Werner Mahler provide an intimate and reflective look into small town life in Germany through their combination of portraits and environmental scenarios. This is the depth, power and poetry that B&W photos can impart when documenting a certain time, place, and the people within it.

 
Photo: Ute and Werner Mahler

Bruce Polin has received a lot of well earned accolades recently as he reminds us of the visual power and emotion that is still, and perhaps only, possible with the quality and technique of the view camera. His simple, direct portraits, devoid of artifice provide what is nowadays an other worldly intimacy made courtesy of photography's now oft neglected large format legacy.


Photo: Bruce Polin


Finally, there's John Lehr's Island Position. So many times, things catch our eye and we don't quite know how to make the best of it, how to frame it most effectively, how to draw the pure essence out and exclude the noise and chaff. So many of us have seen these very exact scenes, some of us have even bothered to take the occasional photo, and upon review- a boring storefront snapshot like a thousand million others, "Why did I even bother?" Well, John Lehr did- only he was able to transform your boring snapshot, my boring snapshot, into the the colorful, geometric dynamos that make up The Island Position. Brilliant! 

Which brings us full circle- showing the mundane in exciting, innovative ways...


Photo: John Lehr
 

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Street Photography Blues

I was contently perusing the high ground on You Tube (hey, I don't got cable), bouncing from: Robot Chicken, to Idiots at Work, to Russian Car Crashes, steroid addled body builders (M&F) and the requisite alien abductions when all of a sudden, I'm surrounded by a plethora of "Street Photography" videos by these hipster "photographers" of every possible persuasion and denomination. And they're all offering their personal, expert tips and advice based on what must be multiple w-e-e-k-s of actual hands on experience! And they do this while simultaneously mugging for the video- often in tandem with their street photo friends as they crack "jokes" and shove their cameras in people faces.

What passes for light hearted attempts at humor and frivolity is really enlightening us all as to how they "work the street" using their favorite camera kits and settings while spouting their favored photo philosophies and holding us captive to when they divulge their favorite software editing presets and workflow!

Of course, the real laughs are when you see the photos themselves- genuine replicas of mediocrities from decades past with well exposed shots highlighting and punctuating yet another super successful episode in their "professional" street shooting career; a career you get to learn from first hand- and please Click, Like and Follow...

Why let your photos do the talking when you can say it all on video...

I remember when I first viewed one of these street photo, life style videos of the hip and clueless a coupla years ago as the person in question paraded down a sidewalk, wrap-around shades and camera in hand (the serious, pro photo, shooting combo) with this shit eating grin that just begged to be smacked off his face ASAP. I thought that would be the end of such foolishness- instead, it has seemingly spawned an entire generation.*

There's one guy currently on Petapixel who's become a featured writer every week for a coupla months now. He kinda admitted being new to the game, not that that's in any way going to dissuade him from bequeathing us the keen insights he's thus far amassed. Now that's not to say there's anything wrong with a newbie (or anyone else) sharing their growth and experiences with whomever interested- I stand readily accused! But... it's a whole 'nother to actually monetize that experience of relative ignorance and inquiry into a pay to play workshop enterprise of supposed insight and education!

*Anyone know whatever happened to the guy who would jump outta doorways to photograph shocked passerby? At least he was "original," not to mention... amusing.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Why Repubs FEAR AOC

Ever wondered why Republican heads EXPLODE anytime AOC does so much as... Breathe? Sharp as a whip, White Repubs are absolutely incensed that they are forced to deal with this Latina as an actual equal rather than a hot, brown chambermaid they would consider worthy of propositioning, or worse...

 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Music A Go-Go!!!

This guy ROCKS! And as good as the horns are- make sure you listen carefully (very carefully) to the lyrics- because they're complete... gibberish! Nonsense syllables he manufactured to sound like American "English!" And damn good job he does of it- question being, who would have noticed?