Monday, March 2, 2015

Amelia

Fallbrook Shutters at Pinnell Gallery

© Brett Stokes 2015
My photography group is having an exhibition opening at the Pinnell Gallery in Fallbrook next Saturday. I only put a couple pieces in myself but looked at the rest of the work in the show this afternoon and it is really quite nice. People brought their "A" game. By my reckoning this is our sixth annual show and I believe that it will be hanging for a month.

My printer is down at present so a big note of thanks to Kip Peterson and Dixon Fish for helping me with printing and matting my shots. Unfortunately due to a scheduling conflict I will not be able to make the opening this year but I hope that you can.

Several of the photographers went back to film this year, with great results! Make sure to check it out.

Opening night: Saturday, March 7 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM

Pinnell Gallery
124 N. Main Ave.Fallbrook, CA 92028
760-728-8870

Interior, Drake Hotel © Kip Peterson 2015

Photographers represented:

Jon Harwood
Lou Nidorf 
William Olson
Kip Peterson
Mike Reardon
Ken Seals
Robert Sommers
Brett Stokes
Fred Young


White Water © Kenneth Ray Seals 2015

The Carpet Crawlers

The Scorpion and the Frog

An 1847 illustration of "The Scorpion and the Turtle" from the Persian Kalilah and Dimna
It is a very old tale. I have seen the protagonist victim depicted in various similar fables as a turtle, duck, swan and frog. And it goes something like this:
A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river. The frog is afraid of being stung during the trip, but the scorpion argues that if it stung the frog, both would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog agrees and begins carrying the scorpion, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why he would do such a foolish thing, the scorpion replies," Sorry man, it's just my nature."
Contrary to a misconception held by a few of you, I am not beating a war drum. I just think that it is wise to make sure that the person you bring to the dance doesn't end up stinging you or worse. Once you are in the middle of the river, I'm afraid it is usually too late.


Scorpion with chrysanthemum panel from Yvonne Bustamante Zodiac Tapestry

Sunday, March 1, 2015

3.1.15

An interesting story making the rounds today from the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jaridi. The claim is that the Obama administration threatened to shoot down Israeli planes last year if they attempted to bomb Iran's nuclear facilities. If this story is indeed true, it speaks miles as to the sympathies and position of this president towards Israel.

Reportedly the idea was hatched by Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

I am sure that the story will be denied, I for one, have no trouble believing it.
*
I want to be on record in saying that the reported pending deal with the Iranians stinks. The IAEA has said as recently as last week that the Iranians are stalling the inquiry into their nuclear program's capabilities. The Iranians were caught cheating at least four times last year.
"The United States has privately accused Iran of going on an international shopping spree to acquire components for a heavy-water reactor that American officials have long feared could be used in the production of nuclear weapons-grade plutonium," reports Colum Lynch.
"A U.S. delegation informed a U.N. Security Council panel of experts monitoring Iranian sanctions in recent months that Iranian procurement agents have been increasing their efforts to illicitly obtain equipment for the IR-40 research reactor at the Arak nuclear complex.
 "The American allegations, which have never before been reported, come more than a year after the Iranian government pledged as part of an interim agreement with the United States and other big powers to scale back Iran’s most controversial nuclear-related activities, including the enrichment of high-grade uranium, in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. They stand in stark contrast to recent remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry, who has repeatedly credited Tehran with abiding by the terms of the November 2013 pact, which bound Tehran to suspend some of its work at Arak. “Iran has held up its end of the bargain,” Kerry said last month in Vienna.
The Iranians have announced their intention to annihilate Israel as recently as last November. They have installed a shiite proxy in Yemen in a coup attempt and continue to back Assad in Syria with their proxy Hezbollah, which has also been rattling its sabers at the Israelis in the Golan. Why does the President have such a hard time believing what they say they would like to do?
The confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), obtained by Reuters, said Tehran was continuing to withhold full cooperation in two areas of a long-running IAEA investigation that it had committed to giving by August last year.
"Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures," the IAEA said, referring to allegations of explosives tests and other activity that could be used to develop nuclear bombs.
The Iranians, our president's bff, have persuaded american negotiators to allow them 6500 centrifuges, from an initial offer of 1500, far more than would be necessary for peaceful uses, and enough to allow them to sit on a threshold of nuclear material which would allow them to gear up to a bomb in a matter of months after the cessation of the deal. Which could be a lot sooner than anyone expected since word has just come out that Obama has actually granted them a sunset clause to opt out of any agreement. The agreement that was supposed to cover 20 to 30 years but has now become 10 to 15 instead. And they are still developing a robust ICBM program, which are made to deliver nuclear warheads.

It appears that the administration is throwing its hands up and saying "Hey, a bad deal is better than nothing. It was the best we could get." Not very reassuring, the Israelis have reason to worry.

*
I don't really trust Bibi, but I trust Obama even less. The Iran rapprochement is the crown jewel of his foreign policy legacy and he will take any deal that he can get and leave somebody else to clean up the problems it causes later. Keep in mind that it's not just Israelis that are terrified of a nuclear Iraq, the Gulf arabs and Iran's sunni neighbors are plenty worried too.

Obama is famous for once stating that he had Israel's back. What he neglected to say was that it was in his gunsights. The leaders have been long on a collision course, Obama's disdain for the Israelis, a long time ally of the United States, being apparent and palpable. And a disdain that is also easily perceived in his underlings in both the State and White House Communication Department.
A central worry for Netanyahu is enforcement. After a deal is signed, it may be very difficult to persuade nations that have resumed normal trade with oil-rich Iran to renew economic sanctions, or deploy military force, for what may appear technical violations.
"This is a very valid fear," said Jofi Joseph, a nonproliferation expert on the National Security Council staff early in the Obama administration.
Administration officials contend that they would accept only a deal that makes it impossible for Iran to stage a "breakout," a race to accumulate enough nuclear fuel for one bomb, in less than one year. That would give world powers ample time to intervene, they say.
*
Interesting article on the struggles of jews in Yemen in the NYT last week, Persecution Defines Life for Yemen’s Remaining Jews. When I lived in Israel I met many people who had fled such persecution in their native arab countries. Not only did the founding of Israel provide a place for the jews feeing the pogroms and camps of Europe but it also offered a homeland to fierce repression in tactically every mideast country save Morocco. Now Yemen has been taken over by the shiites and things are looking grim.
The last of Yemen’s once numerous Jews, who predated Muslims by many centuries, have seldom been so threatened and had so few protectors. The Houthis, who now dominate the country, are particularly strong in the two places with confirmed remaining Yemeni Jews: here in Raida, where there are 55 Jews, and in Sana, the capital, where a small number live under what amounts to house arrest by the Houthi leadership.
The two countries that have long facilitated Jewish emigration from Yemen — the United States and Britain — both closed their embassies last week, as did most other Western countries. And the Yemeni strongman who for three decades was the Jews’ protector, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, is not only out of power, but also, more recently, out of favor with the Houthis.
“We have no friends,” Mr. Jacob said, “so we just try to stay away from everyone as much as we can.”
Obama of course doesn't want to make waves with the Houthis, who reportedly chanted "Death to America" during their coup and forced the fleeing Americans to surrender their weapons, after seizing our vehicles.
Last night on The Kelly File, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki tried to explain why U.S. officials are taking the Houthis at their word.
"Do we want to return to Yemen? Absolutely. That's why we suspended our operations, we plan on returning when we can. The Houthis have said they're not threatening, they don't want to go after the United States, well the proof is in the pudding," Psaki said.
Anchor Megyn Kelly pointed out that the Houthis post signs that read "Death to America" at checkpoints and Psaki doubled down on her point about trusting the rebels.
"They have said they want the Americans, they want the westerners to have a presence in Yemen," Psaki said. 
*
Obama seems to have a strange choice of friends and allies. Get a look at the invitees to the recent White House Countering Violent Extremism Summit. One of the fellows was Salam Al-Maryati, who blamed Israel for staging 9-11 and advocates violent resistance against Israel. When asked about his remarks, he reportedly said that he didn't want to get into old "history."

*
The relationship between Israel and the United States is obviously at its nadir. There also seem to be serious schisms in the long relationship between blacks and jews in this country as evidenced by the the planned mass walkout by the congressional balk caucus. Jews themselves are deeply divided over their long standing liberal leanings and support for a liberal President who has such obvious antipathy towards them and a seeming blind eye to the transgressions of their enemies. A man who can't admit that we are in a titanic ideological struggle between civilization and those whose default move is cutting people's heads off and bombing synagogues if they don't get their way in establishing the caliphate and instituting sharia law.

I think that there is clear dividing line here. You can be on one side or the other, unfortunately not both.

*
A bipartisan Senate bill that would weigh in on Iran has raised our President's ire. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act would require the submission to Congress the text of any agreement within five days of concluding a final deal with Iran.
US President Barack Obama will veto any bills passed by the US Senate that allows lawmakers to weigh in on any deal signed between the P5+1 and Iran, the White House announced on Saturday.
“The president has been clear that now is not the time for Congress to pass additional legislation on Iran. If this bill is sent to the president, he will veto it,” said Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council.
It is unfortunate that he has promised to veto the legislation. The bill, brokered by Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Bob Menendez, would also prevent the Obama administration from lifting any congressional sanctions on Iran for at least 60 days. During this time, Congress would hold hearings and have a change to approve, disapprove or take no action on the Iranian agreement.

Classic narcissist. Nobody else is smart enough to have any say in the matter. Corker said it was “disappointing that the president feels he is the only one who speaks for the citizens of our country”.

I just talked to a rabbi friend in New Mexico who says that Obama is the best friend Israel ever had and to chill out. He made the point that Dick Cheney screwed everything up by invading Iraq and as I have said many times, at least on that point he is probably correct. We targeted the sunni and now the shia sunni balance is dangerously out of balance. Saddam was an asshole but he kept the people from killing each other.   Now we get a court side seat to a religious civil war between the two most popular islamic flavors.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gone for good.

Poster: Jack Jaxon
It is a bit embarrassing, still to this day, to proclaim my allegiance and long time love for the Grateful Dead.

People that didn't get it then will probably never get it, it was the nature of the beast, a twelve armed fire breathing dragon when it was on, but an almost ridiculous caricature to those people looking in from the outside.

I certainly wasn't an original deadhead. The band started playing around 1965 and I don't remember listening to them until 1970 or 71, while in boarding school.

Photographer unknown
There were different phases of the grateful dead, it started out as an electric jugband, with the heavy blues influences of "Pigpen" Ron McKernan.

Later it went harder and electric, then softened up a bit. On a really good night, they were simply the best, tightest and most cerebral band in the world.

The group formed near Palo Alto and the principal writer, Robert Hunter, was an early attendee of some of the Stanford MK - Ultra LSD experiments. LSD, you will remember, was still legal at the time and used by such pillars of society as Steve Allen and Cary Grant.

Psychedelics were a major part of the essential fabric of the band and the hippie culture at the time and the Grateful Dead were formed and tempered in a magical alembic of acid chaos. They cut through the kaleidoscopic soup like modern day explorers.

The dead had a country phase, a soft harmonic phase with Workingman's Dead and American Beauty and a powerful period of 1968 and 1969 that some of us refer to as the cranial period, an immensely intense phase where they would play their grand opus's, the other one and dark star, powerful explorations into open space.

They often jammed the songs into new territory and had a great habit of sort of making it all up as they went along. Later they touched a whole bunch of other disparate musical styles and idioms, including jazz and disco.

Anyway, back to my bona fides. I am not an original deadhead but you could call me a second or third generation deadhead, climbing on the bus at the Boston Music Hall in 1973 and seeing hundreds of concerts and making literally thousands of friends along the way, many who survive as my closest confidantes to this day.

A loving and sometimes tripping community. Never touched the stuff myself, preferring to sit in a corner and read Proust when things looked like they were maybe getting a little out of hand.

I met the various members of the band, some of them many times, including Jerry, connecting through the art conduit and having a good intimate relationship with many of the crew. Backstage, front of stage, back of the board, in the high rafters. It was all good.

Deadheads of course came in all stripes, straight, gay, rich, poor, stoned, sober, liberal and conservative. It really didn't make all that much difference. You were there to groove and have a good time. Didn't matter what you drove or what was in your bank account. Just are you kind?

*
Jerry unfortunately passed away in 1995. Big hole in our lives. The band tried to keep things going, through various incarnations, The Other Ones, Dead, Further, Rat Dog, Phil and Friends. They even pulled out some near forgotten nuggets.

But it was, at least for me, largely unlistenable without the giant brain in the middle, Jerry, cranking it out on stage.

The surviving members of the band are getting back together soon for a 50th anniversary concert in Chicago, supported by Hornsby, Trey Annastasio of Phish and Jeff Chimenti.

Many Deadheads are floored at the audacity of them now doing what they once pronounced they would never do, which was to play another concert under the sobriquet of the Grateful Dead. Why are they doing this? Is it merely a payday and one last chance to cash out? And if it is, so what?

But would I go? No fucking way. Not if you paid me. Wouldn't walk across the street now to see them. Word today that some tickets are going for up to 15k per ticket. Ridiculous. Wealthy deadheads are taking Lear jets to Chicago and paying off insiders with cases of expensive cabernet. For what? To listen to what? Some fucking horrible trucking jam? Face it, the idiom is toast, fellas.

When you plunder an artform a million times over, the magic escapes, the air leaks out, it happens every time. The whole concept, always an anachronism, is officially tired. Over. The magic is done gone for good and whoa-oh, nothing's gonna bring it back. 

If a bunch of sybaritic jet setters want to pony up tens of thousands of dollars to delude themselves into thinking that they caught the actual Grateful Dead, well let the cash registers ring, baby. We are after all, all entitled to our illusions.

Poster : Dennis Larkins
The Grateful Dead was always dedicated to both playing really well and to exploring new space. Are they going to write a bunch of new material for these shows? Are they going to venture into new and fresh musical territory? Highly doubtful. A greatest hits fest and lets get the fuck out of town boys.

Truth be told, things were starting to get stale long ago, when the real band was playing. The air was coming out of the balloon even then. The worst aspects of the experience resembled your Uncle Mortie's Shriners convention in Vegas or Fred and Barney tying one on down at the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo. Old home week at the fraternal organization.

Now the rich kids can try to squeeze back into those tie dyes and dust off those rusty strings just one more time. Or was it rust off those dusty strings? I forget.

Trey is a fine player but not nearly as fluid as Jerry and he has a very poor to fair voice. Hope he doesn't try to sing the late guitar player's vocal parts. The whole thing just doesn't add up, at least for me.

I love the Grateful Dead, I proclaim my fealty to them, I treasure all of their contributions, brilliance and output. Life would not have been the same without them and they gave us the greatest possible playgound imaginable to hang out and play in. I just wonder why this particular reunion was necessary?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Doldrums

Topical Depression © Robert Sommers 2015

You Don't Know Me



Billy steps on Boots a little bit but he won't be denied. Great tune, great sound.

Fascionista


I'm not much of a fashion plate. Went through the hang ten, clark wallabee, levi's cords phase like most of my peers, had a short stint with fry boots, that's about it. Functional slob, that's me. Don't personally pay a lot of attention to my clothing, as my friends and confidantes will certainly agree.

But I still like to look around, see what ticks, stay au courant, if you know what I mean?

I was reading the other day that Urban Outfitters had been slapped around for their most recent attempt to develop their holocaust chic™ line.  The article in question is a tapestry in their Assembly Home clothing that strongly resembles the garb that gay individuals were forced to wear in the nazi concentration camps. Little pink triangles nesting on a bed of jailhouse stripes. Very special.

This is of course not their first swing at capitalizing on the fashion piñata that is the nazi concentration camp.


Who can forget the yellow kristallnacht™ design with the star of david emblazoned on the pocket, like you just popped out of the Warsaw Ghetto?

Of course the Urbanites aren't the only company trying to mine the rich cultural vein that is the final solution.

Spanish company Zara introduced and quickly pulled their own line of clothing for the little Hitlerjugend in your house.


I know, I know, oversensitive...Unfortunately I don't think that this is in any way an accident.

Many years ago, my ex wife and I were in a cafe in the Yucatan when a very hip young couple walked into the restaurant we were in wearing the tres trendy Adolph Hitler t-shirts. I really had to greatly resist the urge not to punch the guy in the mouth. I guess I just have no sense of fashion.

*

In other fashion news, who has failed to chart the hottest trend of the season? Move aside concentration camp prisoner, make way for terrorist chic!


I first saw the look on Los Angeles Charger defensive back Eric Weddle. Mix one part lonesome lumberjack and four parts Isis jihadi and you've put your finger on a look that's sweeping our shores as fast as you can say Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Keep it short on top and long on the chin and you'll gain entrance to the sawmill, the leather bar and any terrorist confab this side of Djibouti!

I know that we cycle through weird phases and us old codgers don't always get it. But I'm telling you, I don't get the coiffed upstairs, facial pubes down below thing, at all. I get the concentration camp thing, everybody thinks that's funny.


Got to wonder what the hell is next? Commemorative Auschwitz tattoos?


The wonderful underground artist Robert Williams once drew a great cartoon foreseeing future fashion trends. Might have been in Zap. Space age rubes mulling around with mohawks and their underwear on the outside of their clothes.

Very prescient, that Robert. He foresaw both punk and Madonna. Wish I could find the comic the cartoon was in.

Captain Kirk vs. Spock



In a salute to the late Leonard Nimoy, a replay of one of the classic scenes. Spock's yiddishemama instructs her kindela to ring Captain Kirk's bell and instructs everybody present to not interfere mit it. Live long and prosper, Shpokela!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Step Right Up

Brett


Carl's Cowboy

I was supposed to meet a guy in the parking lot of the Carl's Jr. in San Clemente to buy the woodblock. The day was cold and cloudy and traffic on the 5 North was murder because of an accident on Basilone Rd.. I met my associate, did my deal and couldn't help but notice the interesting chap playing his guitar in the background in the parking lot to an audience of zero.


Now I collect people like this, love eccentrics, love their stories, enjoy seeing what makes people tick. A grizzled guy serenading exactly nobody in a god forsaken parking lot is right down my wheelhouse. Besides I had four exposures left in my Ilford 100 black and white roll and this would be perfect. My first black and white roll shot on the 1953 Rolleiflex K4a.

I asked the cowboy if I could get his story and take his picture.

"Well, I'm awful hungry."

I slipped him a ten spot, feeling flush at the moment and figuring whatever story I got would be worth the high price of admission. And maybe he was hungry, who the hell knows?

He told me that he was a broke down bronc rider from Texas. He had taken a fall that had literally broken his butt or some other major bone in the general vicinity. Life had evidently been not too kind and his new gig was playing the guitar and trying to figure out his next move.

I used to pan handle when I was broke and have heard lots of stories, some even true. This guy may have never been closer to Texas than Pacoima for all I know but it doesn't really matter. He had a good story and a slick patter.

He asked me how he would be able to see the shots and I told him he wouldn't and he was okay with that too.

Ken thought I was seriously underexposed but I'm actually really happy with my shots. Lots of information in a medium format. Click on the shot and look at it big. I think that I have found my portrait camera.

Postscript; here is the shot straight out of the can. You may like it more or hate it less...


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Seventh day of the seventh month



I love old architectural embellishments, especially the baroque and heraldic material. One of the interesting things to do in a big city is to look for the outrageous architectural element that has been neglected or forgotten, like this poor griffin here. A regal figure confined to a life of graffiti and bird shit, not to mention the thick and somewhat corrosive Los Angeles air.


Proud lion bird deserved better.

The truth is that a lot of amazing work like this is starting to die out there, the victim of neglect or the wrecking ball. A law of physics I recently learned, entropy only increases. Trying to resist decay is a herculean effort.

I can visualize a special night, the seventh day of the seventh month, year of the blood red hunter's moon, when at the appointed hour the ancient spell is cast once more and in the dead quiet of night, the noble clay figures suddenly animate in the magic air and briefly meet to talk about their past deeds and maybe to laugh or weep. Even a wyvern, calopus or amphitere likes to rehash their past exploits every once in a while...


There is a sound, perhaps a carriage approaches or is it the flight of a bird? On cue, the creatures slip back into their too familiar solid beds of plaster and clay, motionless once again they are sentenced to the dreary tomb of eternal sleep. 



Amazing to think of the work and craftsmanship to produce this level of artistry, a craft and guild that is sadly now extinguished. Look closely at these faces, they share the sorrow.


If you see a beautiful stone figure in some city that perhaps looks lonely and forgotten, give it some love. From me.



Rock And Soul Music




Hello Qatar!

The blog is getting a lot of play in the middle east today. An old post of mine from 2010, Queer Qatar, has been picked up and somebody is running with it. 850 hits already this morning.

I don't pay a lot of attention to who or how many is/are reading what these days. Readership has certainly dwindled from its previous heights when I was more prolific, not that I give a damn. Don't send it out all that much these days. It is what it is.


Still, like most people I have a fascination for even, round numbers and we are barreling towards a million page views and pardon me for my lack of humility but that is a whole mess of people. Thanks for reading. Insh'allah.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2.22.15

Crow on branch - Seitei
Fallbrook's crows have been blackening the local landscape of late, peppering the telephone wires and telephone wires in the cold, dewy mornings.

The hawks and the osprey have been quite visible as well, nature starting to slowly heat up as the winter wanes out of its slumber.

Ceanothus is blue purple as are the towering echium spires that are just now starting to show off. Magic southern California displays its florid charms once again for the lucky inhabitants to enjoy.



Last week I told you that Bruce Taylor saw a bald eagle near Elder St., a rarity in these parts. Yesterday Bill sent me pictures of said bird. A neighbor of Jerri's, location not important, took these pictures. Bird lives near a couple lakes. The photographer is Jay Waters. We have a resident bald eagle in Fallbrook now. Won't tell you where. Will have to send me to Guantanamo and apply moderate coercion techniques before I tell you.

*
Yesterday my camera group took a Los Angeles Conservancy tour of downtown Los Angeles's old theater district on Broadway. Got entrance to a few old theaters including the sumptuous Los Angeles Theater, where Charlie Chaplin hosted his guest Albert Einstein one long past opening night. Remarkable place, will post some pics later. Went gargoyle hunting, bagged a ton of them.

Afterwards we went to Phillipe's for french dips. It was Chinese New Year so the area was swamped. Managed to park, order and eat. We all shot film there. Today I snapped some exceptional portraits of a beaten down rodeo cowboy at the Carl's Jr. in San Clemente. Finished the Ilford 100 roll. Can't wait to develop them.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mose Allison ~ I've Got A Right To Cry


Recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, April 18, 1958
Mose Allison - Vocals, Piano
Addison Farmer - Bass
Ronnie Free - Drums

Rolleiflex first shots

I mentioned a while back that I had been given an old Rolleiflex K4A twin lens reflex camera recently, circa 1953.

I have been harboring a secret desire for a while to get back into film.

Couple reasons. There is something comforting about not seeing little pixelations for one thing. Two, I think that at this point in my life it will make me a better photographer, forcing me back to manual settings. I can romanticize about my film days but an objective look at the output tells me that I had more than my share of misses. Digital is just too easy, this will put me back on my toes.

The first camera I ever remember using was the exact same camera, around 1962, my stepfather's. I bought two more rollies last month, for peanuts up in San Francisco, an early Rolleicord with the Schneider 3.5 Xenar, in mint, never used shape and a 1961 Rolleimagic, one of the first aperture priority automatic exposure cameras.

Unfortunately when the selenium goes out in the meter on the magic you are left with a very pretty paperweight and I think that is what I am now stuck with. There is a guy up in Manhattan Beach who is supposed to be a rollei wizard and I will take it up to him and see if he will take a look.

I bought a roll of Ilford black and white and a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 at Oceanside Photo and Telescope and decided to put the Rolleiflex through its paces. Grabbed Brett, one of my favorite people and models, and headed for the alley next to the pub.

I was shooting at about F 5.6 and a third of a second. Have a new Sekinon light meter and I shot off my heavy Induro tripod. The Rolleiflex has a Zeiss 3.5 Opton Tessar lens. They can be soft at times and a little tricky. The velvia transparency film is known to be pretty temperamental as well.

I shot the velvia and Ken was nice enough to take it over to the North Coast lab in Carlsbad for development. My transparencies came back in a day. I have a new Epson v600 scanner and digitized the slides this morning and brought them into Lightroom.

I am reasonably pleased with the output and stoked about the camera. All of the new tools are going to take some dialing in and getting used to. The handheld stuff is pretty worthless. There is some sharpness variation even off the tripod. Will need to shoot the Xenar and see if I can tell the difference.

I like the organic quality of the bokeh and the blur of the film image, which in my opinion can not be matched by digital. Lot of my favorite photographers used this camera, Diane Arbus, Cecil Beaton, Robert Capa, Vivian Meier, Richard Avedon, Imogen Cunningham and the great Eisenstadt. Good enough for them, good enough for me.

Tomorrow a bunch of my fellow photographers and I shoot the downtown broadway theater district on a L.A. Conservancy Tour. Should be a lot of fun.

Everybody is shooting film at some point tomorrow, except maybe for Reardon. Ken just bought a mint Yashica tlr which was delivered yesterday. You can pick these things up for a song.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Politically correct bullshit

"Who can find a calf dead and freshly bleeding, with a butcher standing close by with an axe, and not think that it was he who did the slaughter?"

William Shakespeare, Henry VI


When I think about the face of terrorism it is really hard for me not to think of one Michael Adebelajo. He and his accomplice Michael Adebowale were the two british born muslim converts who killed and tried to behead british soldier Lee Rigby on a London street last year. Standing there with a meat cleaver, hands coated with blood, it is a stark and grim portrait of the true nature of the enemy.

The two men laughed and smirked at their trial. Later their attorney complained that their sentences were manifestly excessive and that their mental condition should be considered.

Their attorney may be a perfect fit for the Obama administration. The new company line seems to be that we can love these people to death and they will change their murderous ways. Give them jobs, get at the root of their deranged mental states and we can change these poor lost souls.

Good luck on that.

Obama seems to go to great pains to make excuses for radical islam, explaining that these foot soldiers' actions are not theologically or ideologically driven. I think that they are absolutely so driven. This stuff is straight out of the Koran.They are in a holy war, one that is easily recognizable to apparently everyone but members of this administration.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf started the apologetic drumbeat the other day;
"We're killing a lot of them, and we're going to keep killing more of them. ... But we cannot win this war by killing them," Harf said on MSNBC's "Hardball." "We need ... to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs, whether --"
At that point, Harf was interrupted by host Chris Matthews, who pointed out, "There's always going to be poor people. There's always going to be poor Muslims."
Harf continued to argue that the U.S. should work with other countries to "help improve their governance" and "help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people."
She said: "If we can help countries work at the root causes of this -- what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?" 
Pardon me for failing to grasp the delicate nuance of the situation but this is a typical liberal response that holds that everybody down deep is a really nice person and shares the basic benevolent worldview of the west.

You could substitute nazi soldiers for Islamic terrorists and the thinking of the administration would probably not change. Poor deluded kids. We need to kill the evildoers with kindness and they will soon be beating their swords into plowshares.

Obama is of course leading the charge.
Islamic State fighters "are not religious leaders, they are terrorists," Obama said. "And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."
"No religion is responsible for terrorism," he said. "People are responsible for violence and terrorism."
In Obamaland there are no evil religions, well except maybe the jewish one. Why does the administration need to be so touchy feely and dance around the question of Islamic extremism so? Joe Biden is carrying water for the company line as well, preferring to speak about the evils of Christian extremism at the recent Countering violent extremism (CVE) summit.

I think that every creed in the world has done something nasty and objectionable at one time or another but it is a little late to bring up the crusades and inquisition and all these incidents are certainly a matter of scale, frequency and level of barbarity. You hear about an atrocity that claims innocent lives today and you don't spin your head around looking for the southern methodists.
In his opening remarks at Tuesday’s panel discussion, Biden said the U.S. and other countries need to tackle violent extremism not just by using force, but by engaging communities that are “marginalized.”
“We have to work from the ground up and engage our communities, and engage those who might be susceptible to being radicalized because they are marginalized.”
“Societies have to provide an affirmative alternative for immigrant communities, a sense of opportunity, a sense of belonging that discredits the terrorist appeal to fear, isolation, hatred, resentment,” he said.
I say, fuck this attitude. You don't reward poor behavior and evil acts promulgated by subhuman vermin by putting them on psychologist couches and discussing their motivations. It's like trying to reason with a rattlesnake. Instead you cut off their heads and say better luck next incarnation. This administration has its own head firmly implanted up its ass.
"President Obama knows better. I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community." Thomas L. Friedman
In my view, pouring accelerant on someone and torching him, killing aid workers and journalists who are trying to help you, engaging in unspeakable acts of violence against innocent people you don't even know, you do those types of things and you forfeit the right to be called or treated like a human being. Not all muslims are evil but a great many seem to be and a lot of deluded westerners are providing cover for their misdeeds.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

José Feliciano - Hi-Heel Sneakers

Dynasty, the second sequel


Newly anointed GOP candidate Jeb Bush announced this morning that he will not be discussing the past during his campaign.
"I won't talk about the past," Bush said on Friday when a reporter asked him about an upcoming foreign policy speech in Chicago, according to Bloomberg Politics. "I'll talk about the future. If I'm in the process of considering the possibility of running, it's not about re-litigating anything in the past. It's about trying to create a set of ideas and principles that will help us move forward."
Pardon my innate skepticism but the Bush scion's reticence is a touch scary for me. If you are not willing to consider the events and mistakes of the past, how can you and we be sure that you will not repeat them in the future?

*
I was grilled by a Republican lass that I know the other day for having voted for President Obama in the last election. How could I?

Senator Brownback
The answer is of course, for me, as much as I detest Obama, I could never swing with the repubs on the social issues.

Look at the abortion bills that are popping up all over the red states like randy groundhogs, many not even granting exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Bills to restrict birth control. New bills to repeal protections for gays in the workplace, so you could fire someone for merely being gay.

Brownback has run Kansas into the sewer by cutting taxes and tanking the economy, forcing cuts to roads and education so he now has to feed red meat to his evangelical constituency by going after gay people.

Bills outlawing yoga pants. Bills to give the hungry a little more "dignity" by cutting off their food stamps. Bills forbidding the accurate teaching of history. Republicans that want to abolish the EPA. Bills to kill social security. Bills to ban new national parks. Bills to allow republicans to use "dynamic scoring" to fudge the math at the Congressional Budget Office.

I can never cast my lot with the stupid, short sighted and mean spirited bastards.