Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Deep Blue Insanity...

I knew this would be quite informative, but I held off watching it for months, because I knew it would also be incredibly depressing, and hard to watch. It is. And if you eat fish, use plastic, or just plain don't give a shit... you-are-culpable! Point being, dead oceans = dead planet. Translation for Trump supporters- it means you're dead as well: no matter how much you deny, scream "Fake News," try to ridicule, or shoot on full automatic...

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Who Says Americans Can't...

Drama of Biblical proportions, or pure entertainment- we got 'em both!    Photo: © Stan Banos

Walk and chew gum at the same time? I mean, we got Covid, climate change, a 'stolen' election... And if it's sordid and/or surreal entertainment ya want- yeah, we got that too! Ya think the missing, vacationing Instagram couple is bizarre? Y'all aint seen nothing yet...

Good On Him!

Doctor does the right thing and tells Texas, Repubs and Trump's Supreme Court to go fuck themselves...

“At the hospital that year, I saw three teenagers die from illegal abortions,” he recounted. “One I will never forget. When she came into the ER, her vaginal cavity was packed with rags. She died a few days later from massive organ failure, caused by a septic infection.”

Monday, September 13, 2021

Reality Check

Shadows can be pretty funny critters with all their particular peculiarities, and yet we see and experience them each and every day. Advancements in computer software has certainly helped suss things out these days. And while it's hard enough to make sense of the things we actually can see, that won't stop certain people from pontificating on what they can't- oh, things like... viruses.

 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Looking For Leo...

Power, Greed, Money, Politics, International Intrigue, Sex... No sex. Huh!? Nope, No Sex- actually, not even a little. Weird, right? But you can easily double down on all the rest. All involving this one little painting originally bought for a few grand and ultimately sold for... $400,000,000! Ladies and Gentlemen: Leo's Salvator Mundi; yeah, that Leo- da VInci. So, who bought it, and... did Leo really paint it? Yup- fun and educational!

 Addendum: And can't leave this one out either!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Scalp Society

Photo: © Stan Banos

Always been kinda ticked off that we didn't get to see this when down that neck of the woods... But, "it is what is," as the famous philosopher says. At least I got to witness and immortalize the the joint above right here in SF, that somehow managed to give off a similar vibe (least to me) and specializes in these very timely services- which I could properly benefit from! I'm guessing I'm somewhere in the $3000 range...

Wasn't sure at first, thought the baseless parking meter and No Parking signs imposing their way into the shot would serve only to detract; instead, I think they add a bit of nuanced dynamism that serves to emphasize a pretty somber composition! And not that anyone cares (or should for that matter), but after studying the compositional possibilities from across the street, I had about 2.3 seconds to dash into said street, compose, snap and hastily retreat before being run over by a serious phalanx of no nonsense, oncoming traffic on one of San Francisco's busier streets (and pedestrian empty sidewalks).

Monday, September 6, 2021

Labor Day Sale- Leica Q2 $40

 


With all the fixins! Yup, you heard right! What's the catch!?! Nuthin! Just pay the $700 Shipping Fee. Too steep? Remember folks, this here's the updated, modern day Q2, a $5,500 camera Brand Spankin' New! And this one's in Primo Cond- straight from a Seller with Absolute (0) eBay sales in the heart of the Russian Federation. Win-Win, Baby! Get 'em while they're... hot, or before I snatch up each and every one of 'em- three of 'em as of writing, all with similar price points, and they disappear from view (not Sold- disappeared) faster than you can zone focus...

Friday, September 3, 2021

John Alinder- Master Portraitist

Think of the greatest, bestest portraitists in the history of photography, and I don't think the name John Alinder readily comes to mind. And yet, I don't see how anyone could realistically exclude him!

 


Perhaps it's the sheer excitement of the novelty speaking, but I may like this guy more than perennial fave, Mr. Sander. The latter's portraits have a more reserved, view at a distance feel (as personality intense as they are); Alinder invites you into his seemingly self made, backyard worlds- a personal meet and greet with the subjects at hand, as if walking into intimate, hand created dioramas. And what a lively cast of local characters from
a century ago in the middle of...

The curators* of the exhibit state that there was a certain crudeness to his compositions- hell, I wish I was as confident and competent as Mr. Alinder was in transforming backyard scenarios into such complementary studio backdrops that so endearingly presented his subjects! 

Anyway, definitely more to say once I get said book into hand- this is the kind that inspires and resonates for a good lifetime of views...

PS- I almost (almost) bypassed this book on Photo-Eye, Photo Book Daily because of... the cover! Isn't there a saying about that? Either make it more dynamic or more minimalist, I don't particularly care which- but that clinical, perfunctory and overused presentation is a complete betrayal and injustice to the life contained within.

*who also observantly remarked in the video that smaller pictures make one stop, inspect and reflect- as opposed to larger wall size editions that one can simply scan and pass at a distance!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Giving Credit, Where Credit Due...

 

Photo: © Stan Banos

I've always admired photos with written text on the margins, or even on the pictures themselves. There's an incredible book* on Holocaust survivors (whose name sadly escapes me), and of course, there's Jim Golberg's iconic Rich and Poor- amongst others... Again, in the midst of a lull in picture taking in the time of plague, the light bulb finally went off concerning one photo that has always nagged me- a photo of the AT&T building here in SF. While composed as best as I can get it- it's still not a photo that can stand on it's own- there's no real there, there; too much bland, empty space that doesn't accomplish anything. So... text to the rescue!

Now, I ain't claiming it's all that, but... it's better than it was- one can now 'see' behind that uniform, fortress like, metallic exterior without having to ensure the caption somehow, some way accompanies the image itself! Certainly not novel by today's standards (technically or aesthetically), but I'm relatively pleased with my rather primitive** result- and who knows, it may lead to some further project somewhere down the road, particularly one involving unseen history...

BTW, ya shoulda seen my first rendition where I hand wrote (scrawled) said caption- not a pretty sight! But it did remind me that if I had any balls- I would have tagged said building (just 3 blocks from where I now live) with said caption in real life for all to see...

* since donated to Bronx Documentary Center
**would be interesting to see how the text would look running along the lines and receding perspective of the building panels- but don't have the tech chops for that (even though shouldn't be all that difficult)...

Monday, August 30, 2021

Eddie Gallagher- Navy Seal, Serial Murderer

Recently, I posted about a known innocent, and purposely overlooked prisoner convicted of murder languishing in prison; recently, I posted about a slimy piece of shit who committed his vile acts of defamation well behind the light of day. This is a tale of a sanctioned serial murderer, a killer of civilians, both old men and teenage girls alike- a war criminal eager to viciously kill wounded prisoners of war. This is the kind of rabid animal* that a draft dodging Donald J. Trump more than eagerly proclaims to be a national, patriotic... war hero!

*True, rabid animals do not choose to become rabid.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Honestly!!!

                                                    


   
 
 
Lots and lots of 'em, on just about everything- and Roger's really got his shit down!!! 
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

In This World and The Next


Photo: ©  Stan Banos

Every day their shadows loom large around me, people with minds and lives lost or undone- and I keep reminding myself that so many of those very same faces will be light years ahead in the waiting line of the life thereafter. And if so lucky, St. Peter, as calm and resolute in this world as the next, won't begrudge or deny me that final step forward...

Monday, August 23, 2021

"If I Die Tomorrow, I Was Overpaid."

 
The Destroyer

 
I used to be a BIG fight fan- ravenous! Lightweight, Welterweight, Middleweight, Heavyweight- didn't matter! All of life's trials and tribulations contained within and unleashed by and upon the two individuals within that squared circle. One wild, testosterone fueled joy ride of semi civilized savagery. And, the ultimate drama, those rare occasions when highly skilled opponents would counter each other's strengths not through raw physicality, but through sheer smarts and mind set. The epitome of sports, or so I used to think, where one man literally tries to prevent the other from winning by inflicting direct physical punishment... Until you see how it can completely unravel when my age.

Mike Tyson was one of the very best, so good that you knew the only person that could beat Mike Tyson was... Mike Tyson. He was blessed (cursed?) with the rare combination of incredible strength and speed, a burning, searing rage from a life of early neglect and abuse, and... a PhD's intense knowledge of ring theory and tactics. He existed to destroy whatever set before him, and did it so well, he became the youngest heavyweight champion of all time! He was... in effect, The Destroyer.

Of course, all did not go well for young Mike. The two people closest to him, those that nurtured and guided him (Cus D'Amato and Jimmy Jacobs) died in quick succession. Rudderless, he quickly and predictably succumbed to his inner demons, as his career, life and very sanity quickly spiraled out of control and into a jail cell.

That downward spiral is a well worn path in "the sweet science," but the thing that struck me most about Tyson, that was written all over him- was just how deeply damaged, and yes, vulnerable, he was behind that raging ferocity. It was the same look I saw in many of my "at risk" students, a hurt worn on the sleeve- a look that also hinted that it also just... possibly, disguised an intense curiosity, a thirst for knowledge that betrayed a keen intelligence and humanity. But chances were, as so often is the case when one originates from said void, that that very vestige of humanity would only implode, self immolate and die before ever set free. 

Years went by, I disassociated from the tangled mess that boxing had become (and no doubt always was), and so it came as a welcomed relief (and joy, really) to stumble upon videos of an older, calmer, more reflective Mike Tyson who seemed to have exorcised, or at least committed to confronting and working through his life long demons. He was sober, apologetic to those he had harmed, eager to reclaim his life anew- and yet, insightful enough to realize he is a work in progress. You can see the blinding rage has cleared, substituted with that thirst for knowledge and a yearning to reconnect on the most basic of human levels. Yeah, this is the fight Teddy Atlas was really talking about...

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

An Innocent Man

Everyone agrees he's... INNOCENT- so he continues to rot in jail (going on... 44 years)!!!

Monday, August 16, 2021

Check That Box...

 

Portrait of Man in Decline...           Photo: © Stan Banos

Don't know about you, but I've never been comfortable with the way I look. Some people are-  no matter what they may particularly look like, and I kind of envy them. I would never be able to look upon myself on a billboard or a movie screen- a computer monitor proves difficult enough. Yet, most people regardless of their physical attributes relish the very sight of themselves- the bigger the better, often in more ways than one!

The past (now almost) two years have been difficult enough trying to find things to photograph, with vacant streets all around and travel so strictly limited; many a photographer has been searching for subject matter. I've taken my share of pandemic related photos, even tried my hand at stitching a coupla digital panoramics here and there; and now in this indecisive, are we winning yet scenario, the desperation continues...

So I figured I'd try and take on my personal photographic taboo- the self portrait. I've now had a work smartphone for about half year- not one food shot or selfie to be found anywhere. But I got to thinking that I'm at the age where what I looked like for the vast majority of my life will (very) soon be permanently obliterated by the ravages of time, which granted, would not be that bad if only the resulting consequence isn't almost guaranteed to be... far worse. So, after decades of resistance, the challenge was finally accepted- create a portrait of yourself you would not be ashamed to include in your portfolio (more or less). 

I started with some evenly lit shots in my living/dining/bed room which had a distinct old, lost guy motif. Which might be a good theme in five or ten years, but the very antithesis of what I was presently trying to portray. Usually, I'd stop right there telling myself this is exactly why I never indulge this lost cause. Instead, I heard myself saying that this is just part of the learning curve, besides... the very reason you're doing this now is because there's little else left on the to do list at this particular time!

Then I somehow got to thinking about Rene Gelpi's portraits, and how only some 0.5% of my photographs are vertical. Yet another challenge. Could I somehow wrangle something worthwhile somewhere within those aesthetics? So I tried again... This time, I uhhh... switched venues, eventually stacking three books atop the toilet lid no less so I could get the needed elevation. And although I can't say I'm 100% satisfied (not even quite sure it's really in focus), the composition's fairly strong, and it at least strives for something more than just an adequate representation, which any worthwhile portrait should.

One thing became obvious in the process- the real time feedback of one of those side twisting, flippy screens would be infinitely helpful for this kinda project! And being that no one knows when this goddang thing will end (if only we had some magic cure that could nip it in the bud with a quick one-two), maybe (as in, maybe, but I really doubt it) I'll try it again to get everything down just right... just that- I'm really sick of looking at myself...


PS- The real artist is in the background- Julie Wilson!

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Nine Days

This is not like any movie I've ever seen; chances are, not like any you've ever seen.
It's also one of the best movies I've ever seen.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

TWIMC

I sent the accompanying comment (and photos) to the San Francisco Chronicle out of long standing frustration: frustration at how long this problem has persisted, frustration at how it has grown and metastasized, frustration as to how all concerned have proved so inept and ineffective at combating it. And this is just from the point of having to observe it on a daily basis, not live it as a recurring, personal reality.

I included the photos as a point of reference and emphasis. Some may call it homeless porn- yes, absolutely, 100%! If you know a better way to make someone look at and (hopefully) acknowledge something that we naturally divert our eyes from and strive to ignore- please, pass it along... These are but a small scenic handful of the multitude of examples of palpable misery beheld daily, as the city applauds itself for the bandaids it spews out annually, while the gaping wound continues to fester and grow.

 

Photo: © Stan Banos

 

Photo: © Stan Banos

 

Photo: © Stan Banos

TWIMC,

How long do we continue to ignore this, turn our heads, throw piecemeal, self absolving, non-solutions at a problem that has metastasized all around us, swallowing up whatever remains of our own humanity just as surely as it obliterates the lives we step around each day? How much longer do we ignore it, deny it, curse it and wait for someone to do what needs to be done? Every year it gets worse, while we're told not to believe our own eyes because, because... it's getting better! People literally incapable of taking care of their most basic of needs, defecating themselves, left to fend for themselves- in a city awash in money.

How long do we continue to ignore this?
Stan Banos

Addendum: No sooner had I clicked SEND, when a vague recollection came to mind- that of doing the same exact thing just a few years prior... sending an equally alarmed commentary along with a few illustrative photos. All of it ultimately garnering the same amount of feedback and reaction- silence.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The End of Democracy...

Republicans are no longer satisfied with gerrymandering extremes and suppressing the vote at any cost- they are now actively pursuing and effectively passing laws meant to legally and directly subvert, negate and overturn our votes.

This-is-no-exaggeration!