October 2007

Monthly Archive

Everything is just the same. We’re all part of society. Think we’ve got what we want. Think we’ve got variety. We like to watch television, listen to the radio. We like to read the Sunday paper. We believe what we’re shown.
There are those who disagree. They don’t like what they see. Different faces, different cases. Fighting all the apathy. I call it revolution.

It’s not the usual jaunty number I find myself singing as I step out of the shower but somehow I seemed to be channeling what was going on hundreds of miles away. My old friend Lance Hahn died today.

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I knew him before I ever knew him, y’know? When I was just getting started with music one of the first 7″ I bought was by an old band called Cringer, who had broken up before I was even aware of anything other than my sister’s tapes and MTV. The memory is pretty clear– Zen Flesh Zen Bones used at Neurotic Records for about two bucks. It wasn’t their best but the name was all over thanks lists from my favorite bands of the time, Green Day and The Mr T Experience and Crimpshrine, so I picked up the far superior Perversion is Their Destiny for a similar cost from Epicenter Zone and I had the bug. A collection of sharp, impassioned, literate (enough) but immediate and raw political and personal songs. The lines were blurry– it wasn’t exactly hardcore but it wasn’t too poppy. The lyrics were directly political and yet distinctly personal. The character of the band bled through the wax and the cover, dripped in your hands. These were people you could find yourself talking to on the street, at a show or at a party. There was no detachment from life, no separation brought on by the stage. These were people.

If I had your pen I’d write this song again, and let someone else write the next lyric. Every single day we have something to say, or at least have some appearance.

I can’t be right all the time. I plagiarized the next line. I can’t say that I feel shame. If everyone did the same there’d be nothing left to blame. It’s hard to believe– in anything– til everyone– does everything.

And so Cringer became and has persisted over the years as one of my favorite bands. Not because they never released a bad record or wrote a bad song but because the spirit of their existence and the heart and soul of their songs came to exist within me. More than probably any other band Cringer single-handedly is responsible for my drawing lines between my personal existence and the political implications of my life on the world around me. Lance wrote love songs that sounded like political treatises and political songs that were a conversation between two lovers unconscious in their struggle for control. Kit and fucking kaboodle…

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When I started working at Epicenter we came to know one another and it was a little incongruous, the man and the records that had taken part in the shaping of the younger me. I never told him just what exactly his songs had meant to me and continued to mean– frankly it was embarrassing and he was a little more dorky then I had expected. Not that I was star-struck, possibly because from the connection of me and that band there had been that underlying understanding that we were on equal terms. Maybe it’s because he was so dorky. It just kinda happened, us knowing one another as people. I would sit behind the counter drinking a 40oz and smoking, spitting on the ground and irritating customers (both of them) by playing country records and he would walk in in his AK Press sweatshirt and maybe some fried tortellini from Mr. Pizza Man. It seemed like neither of us had anywhere else to go so we sat there, sometimes for hours, sometimes with others. We started staying well past closing, Lance and Kate and I most often, watching movies and talking massive amounts of shit. Non-stop shit talking. A never-ending torrent of shit was talked.

I’m watching for signals, they turn every night. It’s making me restless but nothing ignites. Oh, you know that I wanted this to be so much more, but I know we both know I should head for the door.

After a couple years Epicenter became financially and, honestly, culturally un-viable. I was pretending to live in Minneapolis while the collective dissolved itself, but at the same time Lance was seeing doctors and learning that he had a congestive-heart issue that was crushing his lungs against his rib cage. While I crawled the streets along the Mississippi at three in the morning he was getting blood work twice a week and working desperately to save his life. By the time I returned to help lay Epicenter down he was out of the worst but now had a permanent condition which would require constant monitoring and medication. You would never have known by talking with him unless you knew. Because he was so full of life and something like a potentially fatal disease was not going to keep him from hanging out and talking shit all night. Epicenter was what brought us into orbit and when it was gone things changed dramatically. Kate’s house wasn’t as conducive to hanging out and now Lance and Liberty had started going out so we didn’t see too much of either of them. Eventually Libby decided to go back to school for linguistics and got into a program at the University of Texas in Austin. Lance continued to play in his post-Cringer band, J-Church, and continued to run his record label, Honeybear Records, through two house-fires which not only left them homeless but also destroyed his entire collection of records and

priceless artifacts of his personal and punk rock history. We didn’t keep in touch, never having been the closest of friends and no longer having the common bonds we once shared. The last time we spoke was several years ago when J Church was on tour and played Bottom of the Hill. I skipped the show, not yet having attempted to listen to the band (a common feature of knowing Lance shared by everyone seems to be not being able to like whatever band he’s in when you know him– oh shit, except once I saw them play when I loaned them my PA to do an in-store at Howling Bull but I was busy kicking the amp trying to squeeze volume for the mics out of it so I didn’t really notice much except Lance had the guitar slung around his ankles and was bending chords by kneeing the neck), but we hung out afterwards before the van moved on for Portland. I was working a dead end job at a dying video store, the same as when he moved away. “I’m doing the same thing” he said. “Neither of us has changed since I moved” Well, I’m living at home tho, that’s shit. “Fuck, I’d live with your parents if I could. Your parents are cool.” Okay, once he did spend the night at my parents’ house but they were out of town at the time.

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Some months ago I heard through the grapevine that he had begun to experience kidney failure and had been placed on dialysis. There was talk of a waiting list for a transplant. It was bad news but something made me shrug it off, just as I shrugged off countless benefit shows and eventually a benefit compilation CD. I mean, this is Lance we’re talking about. He’ll be fine. He’ll be up and running in no time. J Church will go back on tour (maybe this time he can play Japan and wouldn’t it be funny to actually roadie this one now that I have money and he’s not having to go to the hospital every day) and he’ll release more records on Honeybear, write another newsletter and another historical essay on a long forgotten Peace-Punk band for MRR. He’ll be back and talking shit somewhere in the wee hours eating fried tortellini or telling a story from some Polish tour way back when. But he went in for dialysis on Friday and collapsed. He slipped into a coma and on Sunday, October 21st, he slipped out of this world. I came home to two messages on my machine telling me and I spent some time on the phone talking about it and other things. Two people who I haven’t been very good about keeping up with but two people who are friends in the truest sense of the word and who deserve a little more effort on my part. And Lance did too, of course, even if it wouldn’t have mattered to him. Once again I have someone who I had stored away in the memory file assuming that we’d meet again and, when the time came, I could just reach back and grab that information, open the folder and begin where we left off. Not so, he’s gone. And despite the distance and the time in between the last time we spoke and now I will miss him.

Trapped in the back of my mind, is the thought too little too late. So when I try to define, I tend to over-complicate. When I’m told, again and again, ‘that’s just the way things go’. It leaves a bitter taste with me, because I think that we should know. But at this time, I would have guessed that we could rise above the rest. But at this time, I guess I know there are things we still can’t show. Trapped in the back of our minds is a single ideology. Yet we bicker and we battle about what it means to be free. We never seem to have the courage to live the life we choose. So we lost what we should have won, because our numbers are diffused. But at this time, I would have guessed that we could rise above the rest. But at this time, I guess I know there are things we still can’t show. Trapped in the back of my mind, trapped in the back of our minds. Trapped in the back of my mind, trapped in the back of our minds.

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Mexico City 2007. Dear friends, I could not techno tonight because I have blisters the size of baby fetuses. Instead I am served overpriced cerveza by a bartender who is the worst person I cialis makes you last longer have ever met. He seems to have learned English by watching Claude Van Dam movies, you know the ballerina. Actually, he seems a little like a bartender from 21 Jump Street. Point being, I´m at hostel, amigo, in the historic center of Mexico City. The first night I was here a girl was topless at ten o´clock. Later I left my room to go the the bathroom to stumble upon a frenchie in nothing but a tie and a smile. He was pleasant enough, I was just worried when he sat down on the hostel floor. Athletes foot you know, you gotta pee on that shit. Anyhoo, it´s late, and I feel like I´ve been away for a very long time. Here is a quick recap: My favorite bit of Mexico City thus far is the bootleggers. They fill their backpacks with speakers and sell CD mixes on the metro. Their sound systems are incredible. The other day we were heading out of town and this kid got on with a 90s dance mix. It was so amazing. It´s loud here, everywhere.

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Present day [Mexico City] used to be a lake, and as a result it´s all sinking. All of the sidewalks are wonky and the cathedral leans to one side. There will viagra make me bigger used to be these fantasy

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Mayan islands, which where later adopted by the Aztecs. Cortez had fun for a bit and then drained the whole region. The only remnants are these canals just on the outskirts in a town called Xochimilco, a town with a street that translates to ¨children killer¨. You can take a boat ride through the network of waterways which are jam packed with taco boats and boats with old guys playing marimbas. There is also an island there called Isla de las Munecas where a man by the name of Don Julian strung thousands of dolls he fished from the canal. I guess he wished to mollify the spirit of a little girl who drowned there by decorating with decaying dolls. Cool, right?

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We spent a day at Teotihuacan, climbing Piramides del Sol y de la Luna. This is the site where Aztecs believed that all of the gods sacrificed themselves to start the sun in motion, er

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something like that. It was pretty india cialis awesome, our tour guide told us where to get mushrooms in Oaxaca, so that was an added bonus. Mexico City: traffic is ridiculous, run when you can. 18 million people live here, OMG. The smog is just as bad as advertised. Our snot has been black all week. However, it´s so beautiful here, and there are people making out on motor bikes all over. We leave Monday morning for Guanajuato. so, there is more to come. I am a little homesick already, rather friendsick, but I´ll manage. Hasta pronto!

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Keith Loutit is a photographer whose work I happened upon at Jeff Curto’s photoblog. It’s one of the better blogs out there dealing with all things digi-visi-photi related. It is called Camera Position. Loutit’s work was new to me, it amused me. When I sent friends the link to his work, they didn’t spend much time with it. They replied why send us pictures of Tonka toys and lego men? Aha! They had been fooled like the many pitiful naive

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saps before them. Loutit’s not interested in models, only making images that appear to be models! He’s fooling and foiling the world one person at a time…

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As it transpired, there is quite a buzz about tilt-shift photography – a statement that would have been more welcome two years ago, when it was novel enough. Now, as I discovered through my research, every Tom, Dick and Harry is up to the old tilt-shift shenanigans. Unfortunately, most of it is gish (def: an olde Scotch term for pish, which is a mispronunciation of piss. Origin; the Black Cow Public House, Glasgow). The reason for this is selfish economics. To buy a tilt-shift lens will set you back the best part of a grand. A feasible alternative for our laptop-room developers is to mimic the effect using photoshop. This has produced shamefully bad results. I admire people experimenting with self-taught techniques. I wince whenever those piss-poor results get posted on the web.

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Keith Loutit was my first exposure to this photographic game being played and with a convenient (yet acquiescent) confidence I’ll state that he is one of the best players out there. Simply, an actual tilt-shift lens renders way better results. In addition, there are certain types of images that are more suited to manipulation and reduction.

Three simple rules – an image should be an aerial shot or at least at captured half way up

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the fire escape; primary colours are good (as are sharp lines); ambient, morning or evening shadows are bad. Miniatures and models are viewed from above, are decidedly paired down in terms of palette and lit by fluorescent lamp. Give your image the best chance to look like a model. Fog and Seattle weather is also to be avoided.

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Props to you Keith Loutit. You’re not the only one out there doing a cheeky technique well, but you’re my first and my favourite. To prove a point about how editing and selection is more important than pointing a camera

and clicking listen to this New York Times Photographer get all excited about mediocre results. Apart from the tennis arena shots, I was devastatingly non-plussed by this presentation.

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Sidewalk Patch

Berkeley has its problems, exemplified best by a recent attempt to score another 12-pack of beer as the evening dragged on. Come ten o’clock most stores, regardless of their wares, are locked up and vacant; liquor stores, not nearly as omnipresent as in most cities, are no exception. It took nearly forty-five minutes in a car to pick up beer, rum and cigarettes. The cigarettes we found in an open store which didn’t sell beer or rum. After our wild success a couple of us took advantage of the warm night and strolled through the streets. A couple blocks up from any major avenues and you may as well have been in small-town USA. Quiet, peaceful, clean. You could walk a couple blocks before passing anyone and no one seemed concerned or uptight about being out. The dog running after thrown sticks probably caused more sound pollution than anything else that night; our open containers and conversation probably presented the neighborhood with its most dramatic criminal incidents of the evening. It was nice, as nice as an evening’s walk can be, and something I’m not normally accustomed to experiencing. Walking down my street after Saturday night you’ll find ample evidence that San Francisco is lacking in small town pleasures such as quiet evening strolls. On any given night there’s a bitter chill blown in off the Pacific which, regardless of your lefts and rights in any neighborhood, cannot be avoided. This doesn’t keep people from the sidewalks, not on a weekend bender. The cement has scars, stains from every bodily fluid ever spilled. The Sunday morning sun alights on drying pools of piss, crusting heaps of puke, hardening piles of shit. The shopkeepers are out with buckets and hoses, washing the remnants of revelry from their doorstep. Thank Christ they are– the number of times I’ve had to step carefully into my own gate are innumerable. The bar next door is shuttered and dim but the woman held hostage by the coin-op downstairs is out in her trademark yellow rubber gloves doing us all a favor.

Sidewalk Cone

I’d swear that I’ve never been much for the weekends. Crowds are not my thing, fun is not my thing, seeing people live their lives in this vapid manner is not my thing. Maybe if I hadn’t spent most of my Friday and Saturday nights working it would have been a habit I’d have fallen into but the time has passed and now I just bob and weave trough the assembled teenagers ten years past their prime. They say that 30 is the new 20 but I’d say this adjustment still lends people too much credit in the maturity department. It’s amazing to see people who’ve never learned the lessons of countless nights leaning against a wall, the trunk of a car, a tree or a lamp-post. The same staggering clusters of twenty-somethings screaming shrilly on Friday night return to work Monday morning in their business casual attire. No more fish on Friday for this era, there’s an art-school graduate spinning rehashed disco down the street and everyone has enough money for another shot, no matter how much they complain about being poor. So I step gingerly over their unwillingness to grow the fuck up. Sunday morning sunlight and the streets are deserted except for the miserable wage-earners who had to be in bed by ten to punch the clock at seven. Trash cans outside of the latest art-show/hair-salon have spilled out into the street but soon the DPW will come along and play mommy for everyone. Someone’s kicked over all the recycling bins the length of the sidewalk but soon people will drag them back into their garages. When we were sixteen we used to bike down Market Street in the middle of the night and kick shit over, stone-cold sober and laughing like Leprechauns. Sixteen seems,

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in so many ways, a very long time ago.

Gutter Boy

That’s Haight Street, of course, where bars and traffic are more exaggerated than most other places. It draws from outside the neighborhood, outside the city even. I mostly walk along Waller when I’m heading towards work– collision of residential and urban. Saturday mornings the Church of Whatever hosts spaghetti meals for the down-and-out so they’re sprawled along the side of the building waiting for room, or waiting for a reason to sprawl somewhere else. I pass late sleepers tucked under blankets that carried small-pox over the Atlantic, shopping carts full of trash, dogs looking bored and hopeful, or bored and hateful. A couple blocks down and the Haight-Ashbury soup kitchen has an even greater audience. People are screaming across the street at one another, someone’s cutting through the intersection wearing no shoes. There’s one guy I see almost every day if I’m up early enough. He sits slumped against the wall rubbing his temples maniacally– his hairline has receded from this constant assault. I pass him and I don’t bother trying to make some sort of compassionate-light eye-contact, to view him as a human being. It never worked. A collection of late-comers pass on their way to the free meal asking what’s being served. I buy coffee and maybe a day-old if there is any on the counter. I like Page Street better because it’s less prone to moments

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of urban interference. There’s a library which doesn’t seem to attract the amount of idlers found downtown. People walk up to front doors and disappear inside without looking like rejects from a studio “indie” film’s open casting call. There’s an ambulance up ahead, paramedics haunched over a frail looking grey-hair. I pass without staring, thinking about how embarrassing it would be to wear her shoes today. A neighbor has called it in and is standing there trying to assure the woman that they know one another. Pass the school for rich kids with their own cross-walk that lights up, pass the stately homes, down the hill, past the grocery. Just watch your step because no one picks up after their dogs. Real dogs, mind you, none of those shivering rats you see on Haight Street. When these fucking people breed I hope their children get a little more rearing then what these show-dogs are forced to endure. No street kids, no trash, no puke, no piss you’d notice. One block down and you’re almost in Berkeley. Trees. Houses. Normal people. You’d guess. More normal than me, probably. One evening on Page after work I found myself behind a sharply-dressed couple walking silent and rigid. They were probably in their late twenties, which seemed like a good time to be an adult when I was sixteen but now… The impression was that I had just interrupted, or perhaps caught the end of, some marital argument which satisfied neither party. No holding hands, but they were too close to one another for anything serious. It was curious to me, something was off. They stopped suddenly and the male removed from his coat a stick which he handed to the female. She silently accepted the stick and, gravely, bent to a fresh patch of cement drying without supervision. I passed as she began her immortalization and I didn’t bother looking for any signs of life happening on the pavement.

Sidewalk Stencil

Stencils, clever little bastards, crawl along the sidewalks throughout town. They’re rebellious in a Betty Crocker fashion. Technically vandalism but the odds of being caught or imperiled pale in comparison to spray-painting a wall. There’s a bit of fission around here, some perplexing cultural divide which accepts sidewalk stencils as intelligent and right, graffiti as stupid and immature. The most popular stencil messages are quips seemingly stolen from some maudlin indie-pop love song, manipulative one-liners that anyone breathing can find some connection to. Basically it’s the same effect as any successful marketing campaign or platinum pop single– the resonance appeals to our common ground. There’s no imagination behind them and no actual craft in their design. You’ll find other stencils on the ground with little pictures and slogans but they’re just billboards– in fact the guerilla art was so menacing even IBM, the granddaddy of white collar business, co-opted the principle. Perhaps this lack of menace is why the sidewalk stencil has been accepted as adult and acceptable while tagging has been snubbed as juvenile. Traces of life on every block. The puke and piss and shit get hosed off, bleached, scrubbed and run out into the gutter. The clever stencils, the mash notes carved in drying cement, remain slowly fading and losing their definition. Another weekend appears on the horizon to begin the cycle again and come Monday everyone takes their work clothes out of the closet and catches the bus downtown. Dead Mac

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Hello legions of readers. Just a quick tip of the tip to a photographer who deals with security, homeland identity and shiny boiler suits. Paul Shambroom viagra cialis comparison is not a rookie, he’s one of those ‘gradual geniuses‘ that lets his great ideas gestate for a few years. He is quoted as saying he knew 9/11 would affect the focus of his work but he didn’t quite know how.

Shambroom

He is not alone. Everyone was confused by 9/11. Not always by the events, but on how to respond accordingly in their work. This was of particular concern to photographers – those first in line to answer accusations of opportunistic career-building off the back of an international spectacle. People expect to see death and destruction on TV, but in an art gallery?…

Shambroom was at a disadvantage – he was not a photojournalist. Joel Meyerowitz cemented his reputation with some clever networking that sealed

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nine months of exclusive access. Jim Nachtwey went down to the rubble to create his documents. Elliott Erwitt went to the blood bank.

The effect of the 11th of September on Shambroom took a couple of years to emerge. In generic viagra canada 2003 he rolled out – Security Series – from which a book was born. Previously, Shambroom had been working on a nuclear series, whereby he had gained access to restricted areas and big guns. He was accustomed to making tangential comment on government power. That was closely followed by Meetings. Conceptually Meetings is more engaging; the witty tableaux arrangement of mom and pop, micro-level civic groupings appeals to the self-absorbed art historian. BUT, Meetings hardly arouses the viewers latent fear like an image of a person looking like an E.T. extra.

Shambroom Meeting

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Seriously, Shambroom as an artist is fantastic. Spend time with his images. He puts up a mirror to the crazy world we live in – a world where knowledge of chemical agents overnight shipping of viagra amounts to political power. I much preferred the days when anthrax was a butt-rock cliche, but one must admit that now it’s not so much the pen, but the letter that is more powerful than the sword … and the biological warhead.

Maybe the day will come when artists like Shambroom won’t have government drones in cialis for sale vancouver ridiculous suits as subjects; the day when contingency troops and emergency response units have no threat to answer. One possible route to such an unlikely absence of paranoia would be the newest weapon of mass deviation. It is a chemical/hormone/who know’s what the frig it is agent that turns infantry into a bunch of homosexuals baying for cock. I’d like to think that if superpowers unleashed this novel tactic simultaneously, military squads the world over would turn to the intellectual reasoning of most gay communities – that war, aggression, fear and paranoia are all linked, a fact evident mostly to minority groups. Nations would turn attentions to putting right their own civil injustices before they went to shoot up other continents.

Instead of disarray amongst the troops, the weapon would unleash heightened enlightenment and instant reconciliation across battle generic version of viagra lines drawn. Gay is the new Peace – a simple theory, but I just thought I’d throw it out there. Perhaps, Larry Craig should run for president? Then again he’s not gay, his wife’s gormless grin tells us that … right?

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