Friday, July 20, 2018

Only A Matter Of Time...

Treason- The constitution of the United States, art. 3, s. 3, defines treason against the United States to consist only in levying war (q.v.) against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid or comfort (emphasis mine)

I'm sure some people would say this is going Waaaaaaaaay too far! But when our own intelligence agencies right here in the US of A have categorically stated that Russia has launched repeated cyber attacks against the US (with NO sign of stopping), and Trump repeatedly goes out of his ever lovin' way to single handedly provide Putin with aid, comfort and succor... What the hell is anyone in their right mind supposed to think!?!?!?!

Photo: © Stan Banos

Personally, I'm going on out and getting rip roaring drunk when Mr. Mueller wraps up and shows his cards! I don't think I've ever endured such all out anxious anticipation- probably since the first Ali-Frazier Fight of the Century. But the stakes are considerably higher here, and oh, how I'd love to be a fly on the proverbial wall!

PS-  And a Good Time will be had, cause when I awake- it's gonna be one helluva nasty hangover called... Pence.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

REMEMBER?

Remember when Republicans used to scream, "Better DEAD than RED!"

Remember when Repubs accused Dems of being... "FLIP-FLOPPERS!"

Remember when Repubs pilloried: Radicals with deferments, Radicals who demeaned POW's, Radicals who mocked Gold Star Families?

Remember when US Presidents (who spoke English) didn't need entire cadres of translators to interpret and then reinterpret what they meant vs. what they said?

I do.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Old Dog/New Trick


Photo: Jeff Mermelstein
Jeff Mermelstein is a famous, name street/art photographer/professor. And as of late, he has undergone a rather drastic metamorphosis. For one thing, this rather traditional sixty yr old has traded in his Leica for a smart phone- in an era when many a 25 yr old photo enthusiast is opting to buy said camera to practice what he spent time perfecting some... 25 yrs ago. It's also interesting to note that many established artists that change styles as they mature also tend to minimalize their art to those most basic, essential parts that best expedite the delivery of the goods. Perhaps acknowledgement of certain days remaining causes them to streamline a delivery system that maximizes the message sans the wasted time and effort.

Well, Mr. Mermelstein certainly has cut to the chase in his most recent photo project. Technical expertise: minimal. Composition: minimalist. Lighting: supplied by subject matter. The guy's literally using his cell phone to take pictures of... other cell phones, more specifically- actual, on screen text  messages. 

Now, some will scream: Unlawful invasion of privacy! But every so called "street photographer" well knows that pretty much anything within public view is fair game- and very much, perfectly legal. But these are private messages between private individuals! True- but again, done in public view, in a public setting (identifying info deleted). N'est-ce pas? Hey, I can hear it either way to be perfectly honest. And perhaps this will, in fact, all be settled on down the road by two very angry litigants standing before someone with a much higher pay scale. I know I'd instinctively react with a few choice words if I caught Ol' Jeff peering down my shoulder up close and personal! I'm surprised no one as of yet, has responded with something considerably... more forceful. Also, strange how the critics at large out there are still not crowing one way or the other about something so timely, unique and potentially subversive; surprisingly little has been made of it (see latter half of post). Perhaps this is something so divisive, enough people (like myself) don't quite know where to stand!

So.... is it art? Most definitely! Inarguably a new way of seeing- an insanely simple, direct and revelatory way of documenting what is going on in the very hearts and minds of early 21st Century earthlings, of whom a good third now occupy every public space and cranny faces buried deep in their miniature communication mirrors. And... it's all so inherently controversial; tres magnifique- art at it's grandest!

Ahhhh... but is it good photography, ask the photo purists. No, most definitely not. But it's certainly one damn good use of photography!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

PetaPixel's Celebration of Misogyny...

The following is my emailed response to a post (and ensuing commentary) on Petapixel concerning... "Diversity!" 
I hope the present situation does not stand...   Full Disclosure: I have been banned on PetaPixel.

Well done! A post on "Diversity" featuring what seems an all male commentary who go out of their way to prove just how marvelously close minded and/or misogynist they truly are- and not one of them (or y-o-u) can even see, let alone respond to, that most blatant of irony!!!

And it seems the one woman who commented earlier has had her comments deleted- Exceptionally well done!!!

I don't know what she said to offend your official board of "ethics," but I'm betting she finally mouthed off after repeatedly getting pummeled by the usual torrent of misogynists who inhabit your bit of bandwidth.  The comments I previously read by her (before deletion) were logical, well mannered and on topic...

Thank you, for leading by example and exhibiting just how hostile an all male environment can become for women....


Addendum: More comments have appeared overnight, a couple fortunately sane...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Flaneur Fasciitis

 
Photo: © Stan Banos

I've always loved to walk, always been my primary mode of transportation- which is why I can only live in real cities... ie- cities you can get around in- without a car! And if you tend to photograph on the street, as do I (even though I am not considered an official street photographer, someone once said I was more a... flaneur- which kinda sounds like a French perv in a flannel shirt), your feet are tres important!

In my younger days I would easily walk from The Battery to 59St in NYC on a warm summer day, take a shower and be out ready to party. True, that was a while ago, but I can still out walk the average person my age, and younger. Recently however, the soles of my feet have begun to hurt, even upon waking- not fun. Thought it was temporary at first, but it's going on a year now, and I'm not quite ready to become sedentary by any means! Tried various gels/inserts, and while they do supply some relief- the pain is still very much there!

Truth is, everything starts to unravel with age (even my rear has gotten noticeably thinner in its natural padding last coupla years on my bike); but after the mandatory research, discovered I've got plantar fasciitis- the good news is there are actually some good, simple exercises (stretches really) that one can do to help alleviate the actual pain. I've just begun doing them (video: here) and I'm happy to say I do, in fact, feel some immediate relief. Hopefully, it's not just in my head (things have really thinned out up there)- we're gonna find out... 

Addendum: And this vid says to stretch... in the opposite direction!!!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Apologies...

Photo: © Stan Banos

For reasons unknown, recently, I have not been notified of many of the Comments sent this way! As a result, quite a few just languished about on a separate page. I don't know why that is now occurring, and realistically... probably never will. So, apologies all around for the apparent disrespect; I know just how freakin' frustrating it can be to try and actively engage, only to be ignored- and seemingly pooped on. I'm just gonna have to check said page from now on, on a regular basis. FWIW, over twenty comments that go back a year have now been published...

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Happy 4th of July!!!


Photo: © Stan Banos

Always used to imagine what it must have been like to live during The Fall of Rome, when I got older, that changed to the rise of The Third Reich. My god- those surely musta been some truly trambunctious times! And, of course, the truth is neither happened overnight- it was a gradual, step by step process whereupon people came to accept the incremental changes and... adjusted, begrudgingly or otherwise. Oh sure, some people complained (some people always complain)- but they were laughed at, marginalized or conveniently drowned out, until only the very loudest voice was heard- and obeyed.

I no longer fantasize about those times, I now get to witness the process on a daily, real time basis: the wearing down of civility, the bending, breaking and disregard of the most basic of simple facts and truths, the demonization of those most powerless...

Republicans used to be rabidly Anti-Communist- "Better Dead than Red!" That refrain echoed in my ear growing up- now they enthusiastically embrace he who enthusiastically embraces a former KGB Chief, a 5xDeferment who openly ridiculed our most famous POW! He openly encouraged violence at campaign rallies, mocked people with disabilities, called Neo-Nazis "Good People," and described the press as, "The enemy of the people!" And how I wish that was the worst, and end of it. But it is a gradual, step-by-step process of willful distortion and manipulation- with intermittent, fully-automatic bursts of complete Bat Shit CRAZY... Can anyone ever forget The Bowling Green Massacre, can anyone possibly forgive Hillary for her insidious Child Sex Ring/Pizza Parlor!? This is the absolute insanity a once reasonably rational nation has allowed itself to become... 

"... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."        -Hermann Goering


Photo: © Stan Banos

Oh- and BTW... Yes, U Can Still Help!!! 

Friday, June 29, 2018

OCASIO!!!



Although I no longer live in NYC, sure is nice to know that amidst all the rampant indifference, gentrification et al-  

Thursday, June 28, 2018

So... Let's Review!

In the last coupla weeks, we had: a White woman call the police on Blacks having a BBQ, a White man question a Black mother and child on whether her daughter was clean enough to swim in a pool, a White woman who calls the cops on a Black girl selling bottled water, White neighbors who call 5-0 on a Black (uniformed) fire inspector performing his duty (with the fire engine parked on the street), and most recently- a White woman assault an invited Black teenager out of a community pool! And hey, what does any of this count for without at least one unnecessary shooting death of an unarmed Black youth by a... White cop?

So... what's the one common thread in ALL these instances? Hhmmm...

Honestly, I had thought that at least some of these practices had been consigned to the dustbins of US history- but our Fascist Orange Dotard has managed to inspire and normalize the very worst in some of us, for old times sake! MAGA Baby!!!

ADDENDUM: And if you think it'll stop anytime soon... think again! And again, and again...    And... 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

David Goldblatt

Photo: David Goldblatt*

Unlike most photo-documentarians and or journalists of the time, David Goldblatt took a different route in depicting a society based on racial degradation. He showed us a different aspect of a history and policy that helped reflect and reveal the everyday evil. He depicted how Whites and Blacks interacted with each other- and how they didn't. He wasn't one of the famous Bang Bang Club photographers that documented the explosive demonstrations and other infamous events that kept South Africa on the world map during the turbulent Apartheid era.

 
Instead, he showed what mundane, routine life was like, behind the scenes in: homes, neighborhoods and city streets. He provided a much more nuanced vision of what Apartheid was about, the everyday hypocrisy and inequality of daily life behind a system that strained to appear normal, but was anything but...



*Who knew one could find humor (and-so-much-more) in a White pointing a gun at a Black in Apartheid South Africa? And yet... there it is!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Not Quite... That Desperate!

Some people probably think I'm some kinda photo competition junkie- I most assuredly am not. True, I gave it The Full Nelson this year- just to say I didn't approach it half assed, but even then, I have my... scruples. For instance, I always pay close attention to ownership/copyright, stay away from slick competitions like that sponsored by a certain glossy B&W magazine, and most recently upon reading the particulars, was inspired to respond to  Photo Alliance (a respectable San Francisco photo organization) which had an open call for work this summer:

Really? Seriously? If one should be so fortunate as to win this competition (upon paying the $45 entry fee)...

Without a car, it takes a minimum of two hours+ to get there- from San Francisco alone. One would therefore have to pay round trip tickets to drop off their art work, pick up their art work, and- should by any chance they want to attend opening night....

If Stefan Kirkeby is serious about promoting new/unknown art, he should either show it in his "co-owned" San Francisco gallery, or at the very fucking least- provide a free venue in the middle of god knows where San Anselmo! Never been, but something tells me I can't afford the rent there.

I may be desperate to show my work, but nowhere near this level of sorry, outright desperation....

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Proud, The Carefree and The Clueless...

 
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In life, there's usually ample room for some kinda greyish, in between area where things tend be a tad murky and unsure- situations where a look, a gesture, a certain turn of phrase is open to interpretation. And it can often make things either interesting or confusing, enticing or threatening, so we ploddingly muddle about life's torrent of mixed signals, forever trying to divine the truth from the tangential- pausing to reward ourselves in whatever manner we choose for whatever small measure of success in discerning said clues and missteps.

But sometimes life rubs right up to our thigh and throws us a freebie, as if it knows the hell it puts us through each and every day, and the countless more to come... And such is the case of Melania- beautiful, clueless Melania, married to the most powerful man in the whole wide world! A care free spirit, That Girl- so completely devoid of worry, that she openly celebrates and manifests her lack of concern even on the way to visit children her husband has forcibly separated from their parents and detained in cages, stopping only to bequeath them all with her fervent blessings of: "That's Great!" and "Good luck!

Throwing paper towels at them just wouldn't have sufficed...

PS- And it's always heartening to hear Melania's undaunted supporters cheer her on with their own words and gestures of support; after all, we all know that, in all fairness- those very same people would have also applauded Michelle Obama had she so chosen to adorn herself in the mantra of "I Really Don't Care." And they would have kept applauding with every plunge of their pitchforks...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rejection Mania!!!

Ever get that proverbial "up against a wall" kinda feeling?
Photo: © Stan Banos

Well... been a coupla weeks or so since I last wrote on goals aspired. I've since managed to get kicked, punched and kneed in the groin not once, not twice, not thrice- but a decisive four times over! I think that qualifies as an official whupping. Four (4) more rejections in rapid order, gnashing remaining hopes and dreams asunder upon the jagged rocks of fate. 

So why do I continue to chronicle this sinking ship of photographic doom, or better yet, why do I continue to put myself out there in the non-enviable position of repeated rejection? Well, I do get asked that, and no one has yet delivered a more viable (or affordable) option- other than to quit trying, period.

Photo festivals and reviews are for trust fund babies, galleries are for... artistes, grants are mainly for serious photographers and documentarians with an already strong track record of serious minded projects and concerns (god bless 'em). That doesn't leave a long string of viable options or venues, hell, even so called "street photography" competitions cater basically to one now dominant form of that genre- the one with oddly juxtaposed bits and pieces of subject matter suddenly coalescing for that one decisive moment, preferably under hugely contrasting lighting scenarios. Mind you, have nothing against those photos, love those kind of photos- they're simply not the be all and end all; and what's with all the Alex Webb impersonators out there, seriously! But I digress...

Once again I feel the call of that salving, seductive balm, the photographic equivalent of an onanistic, opioid derivative- time to Blurb and feel like actually accomplishing something by going through all the motions of making a book no one will ever see! Hell, at least they used to have an annual competition where people could at least get their books out there into some measure of the public eye, but even that hasn't occurred in years!

Well, I think there's one, maybe two possibilities left to hear from- told ya I went all out! Meanwhile... there is one brand spanking "new" and remaining photographic frontier I've yet to explore (and was really trying to avoid), but we all must eventually stare reality square in the face- and in this case, I guess it's spelled I-N-S-T-A-G-R-A-M... next year's "goal" to inevitable superstardom (ie- last stop on the bucket list)!!!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Mirror Image

 
Photo: © Stan Banos

Everyday one wonders the streets of this tale of two cities, one is confronted with moral decisions, amongst others: is it right to take photos that feature the homeless, the mentally ill, the "downtrodden?" 

Certainly not a new question to say the least, just one that most certainly needs to keep being asked, examined and challenged. I long ago came to the conclusion that to completely ignore such a blatant, daily reality (as a human being and photographer) was both unrealistic, and hypocritical in its own right. Photography of the homeless has literally been done to death; and yet, so has every other subject and genre of photography and that has certainly never stopped anyone from continuing to practice them. Nor should it. 

The question is: is it done with some manner of respect, does it have any relevancy (social, photographic, or otherwise)- will it, somehow, someway change anything, anything at all? Homelessness in San Francisco was extreme some twenty years ago when I first arrived, it has now metastasized to the point where the city and its police play Whac-A-Mole with the tent communities that appear, disappear and reappear on city streets while residents complain and luxury condos and upscale coffee shops continue to proliferate. Until: 1) affordable housing, 2) jobs with livable wages and 3) necessary programs for drug addiction, the mentally ill and working single moms are properly in place (we're no way even considering that)- it will only continue to worsen, and the newly elected mayor promises yet more of the same...

Intentionally photographing an unwitting stranger is an exploitative affair even under the best of circumstances. And photographing a potentially mentally ill/homeless person w/o permission ever the more so. One tries to do it with a certain amount of dignity and respect, but... Let's face it, the power weighs heavily on the side of the person behind the lens. And just what are that person's intentions: making "art" (really?), documentation, making the world a better place... 

Every couple of years, one does see a serious, rather well done photo essay on some aspect of homelessness- and if nothing else, it may help those who prefer to look elsewhere, finally face reality, albeit in the comfort of their own home. Whether that leads to  some kind of realization, "enlightenment" and action on their part- well...

The photo above graphically serves to remind one of that uneven and innately exploitative experience. I was initially drawn by the mystery of the "bright, shiny object," (ie- the red shroud). I passingly considered the inherent exploitative nature, the possibility that said subject might opt to up and confront me, the reality that it would most likely be a mediocre photo at best. And yet, I took the picture- if only to see if I could further make sense of any of the issues above, and below.

Whenever possible, I try to make these photos anonymous- as in this one. The person I did not take into account photographing was the one reflected. And there I am- hovering directly over my subject (unknowing or not, unwilling or not), in an unquestioned position of detachment and dominance. Perhaps we should always have some such reflection of ourselves somewhere in our images, something to remind us of what we do, how we do it- and how it feels to be on the other side of that instrument and experience, the serendipitous product of someone else's handiwork.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Biblical Parenting Day




Happy Father's Day to those it applies- Hopefully, you are not a parent made to suffer these most biblical of injustices...

PS-  I must admit to considerable difficulty in deciding which batch of lying, Republican bastards are The Most Vile and Abhorrent when it comes to separating prepubescent children from their parents. Is it the group that insists they simply have no other recourse under current law, the group that swears it simply isn't happening in the first place, or those (like little Beauregard) that assure us this policy is chock full of Biblical goodness?

Friday, June 15, 2018

American Animals



I almost didn't see this flick- the promos struck me as some kinda slick, flashy, whiz bang showman showcase for a lot of nothing that-just-wasn't-there. Turns out... this one is most definitely headed to my Top Ten All Time Flick List! We get to kick back, laugh and squeam as youthful ambition and American dreams disintegrate into one cataclysmic, life altering nightmare for all involved.

I love movies where the most simple of obvious plans progressively unravels at every possible and unforeseen moment, devolving from: bad, to worse, to how on god's green earth was I ever so dang stupid to believe something so completely and utterly insane!? Even in my rather bland and uneventful existence there has been more than one desperate situation where... if I could only turn back the hands of time! This unlikely journey of thieves and millionaire aspiring incompetents is further enhanced by the the equally simple fact that- it actually happened...

Director Bart Layton masterfully intercuts real life interviews with the actual participants throughout the course of the movie. This could have been used as ineffective filler, instead, it serves to: effectively offer insight into the logic and rational employed by the principals (think Rashomon),  increase the anxiety in you the viewer as to what's to come, and incrementally heighten the already peaking level of unreality! 

No, there is no happy alternative ending to this rather hilarious tale of cascading woe and ineptitude. Lives were ruined, real people suffered, and I couldn't help reflect how I also committed acts at that age that, while certainly not at that level of severity, were every bit as... selfish- and I-didn't-have-a-clue.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

AMERICAN INTERIORS- ML Casteel

Photo: ML Casteel

I remember someone doing a photo essay of sleeping soldier portraits during the height of the US/Iran, US/Afghanistan conflicts. It got waves of critical acclaim for... honestly, I really don't know what to this date. They felt uncomfortably invasive, provided zero insight into the subjects (soldiers fall asleep- really?), and as far as a new or novel way of seeing- uh, yeah, sure, I guess... But such is the art world.

I first saw American Interiors by ML Casteel on APE and was immediately taken by it. The work is almost  minimalist in nature- small sections of car interiors taken in autos owned by vets. The trauma, pain and consequence of war is plainly visible in these evidentiary photos- manifested by the scattered artifacts and paraphernalia of resulting addictions, physical debilitation and personal abandonment. We see only fragments, what's left behind by those left behind; and yet, they serve as blatant testament. These people carry scars that extend into every relationship they interact with: personal, social, environmental.  

These evenly lit, individualized visions of personal hells are clear, concise postcards of those broken, but surviving. And they go a long way towards documenting the personal aftermaths of those we send in our stead, to withstand ordeals we cannot possibly fathom and elect to ignore- both in the heat of battle, and for the remainder of our lives.

PS- Twenty-two vets die by their own hand each and every day...

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Anthony Bourdain, RIP

Been trying to figure out why I was affected as I was upon hearing of Anthony Bourdain's death. Since I don't have cable, I can count the number of Parts Unknown episodes I've seen on both hands. But I will miss him for several reasons, on the most superficial, he proved that someone past fifty could remain not only culturally relevant, but even relatively cool- and that, he most certainly was, without overdoing it in the most vacant and obvious of ways most people of a certain age are so wont to do. Hell, an American over sixty who wasn't... obese- practically deserved a TV show just for that!

On a more serious note, he had that rare, low key self assurance and panache that comes only with a certain amount of self awareness, the kind of introspection that accepts that one doesn't, and can't possibly know it all (like most insecure fools will insist). And (like most New Yorkers) while not suffering fools gladly, he still (unlike most people of any age or place) opened himself to the new, at least willing to see where it would lead. His programs, his very life, was all about that- till the very end...

Friday, June 8, 2018

The "Pizza Bomber"

I remember first seeing this on the news, desperately trying to make sense of... any of it! A supposedly unwilling bank robber with a bomb, locked around his neck, that he couldn't get off, put there by persons unknown, which was about to go off, while he repeatedly begged anyone to help, and the only thing anyone did- was point guns at him! Until it finally, in fact, detonated and killed him- while they still pointed guns at his dead body!

And as crazy, bizarre and irrational as that whole insane scenario was- what actually led up to it, was every bit as inexplicably surreal as its culmination. What are the odds of such an improbable cast of unlikely bat shit crazy characters coalescing in the midst of strip mall America and concocting such a ludicrously criminal act that purposely results in the senseless demise of some poor, hapless soul? 

A must watch, if only to ask- what have you learned???