Monday, August 27, 2007

A walker in the city

"There is no destination. Ideally, the afternoon is wide open. Time is limitless. The streets taken on the way out are never the ones taken on the way back. The walk unfurls according to mood, physical endurance and visual appetite." Nicole Krauss

"Montmartre," Andre Kertesz, All rights reserved

I take most of my pictures on long walks, usually in the late afternoon. Sometimes there are assignments that mean going to a particular place at a certain time, but I prefer wandering without preconceptions. The method is a little like meditation. Go to a place you want to explore. Empty the mind, concentrate on walking, wait for visual interest to rise in the eye & mind. Walk toward what attracts -- it may be just a color or it may be more complex. Consider it. If you're still attracted, try to photograph it.

Walking photography is always found, not invented. Most walking photographers are drawn to the same subjects again & again. Sometimes these become obsessions for a long time, perhaps even permanently; sometimes they fade fairly quickly. These obsessions are about the photographer more than the subject. For myself, I don't try to explain this in words. I just take the pictures.

"Boy with cap pistol, S. Minneapolis," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Any number of great photographers are walking photographers, at least part of the time. Off the top of my head -- & this is not only the ones who have especially influenced me -- the list would include Eugene Atget, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Lee Friedlander, Harry Callahan, William Eggleston, Joel Meyerowitz, Alex Webb, Mitch Epstein, Sylvia Plachy, Tod Papageorge & Gary Winogrand. It would also include a number of my un-famous friends.

"Paris chairs," Andre Kertesz, All rights reserved

But the walking photographer I'd put at the very top of my list is Andre Kertesz. I think he's the best walking photographer who ever lived. He made wonderful photographs in his native Hungary, in Paris & in New York. The best to my mind are the ones from Paris. They're subtle & delicate but full of sensuality. Kertesz consistently found masterful compositions in the everyday, & his timing was exquisite. It may be too that Paris in the 1920s was one of those extraordinary places (perhaps Athens around 400 BC would be another) where a certain level of prosperity came together with a rare moment of human awareness in a setting that combined robust tradition with liberating modernity -- all at a human scale.

"Behind Notre Dame," Andre Kertesz, All rights reserved

That's what I thought when I saw an exhibition a few years ago at the Met of Kertesz's prints of Paris. They were small -- perhaps 3" X 4" -- mounted on boards. They had a golden sepia tone (from time not toner) that gave them a jewel-like quality. They were among the most exquisite objects I've ever been close to.

"Woman reading," Andre Kertesz, All rights reserved

"Man reading (with cow)," Andre Kertesz, All rights reserved

The pictures above come from a wonderful book by Kertesz. The American edition was called simply On Reading (in France it was L'intime plaisir de lire). I had picked it up casually in a used bookstore somewhere before I had any idea who Kertesz was. Later I lost it. In the book Kertesz showed people all over the world engaged in this simple & absorbing activity. I looked at this book over & over. It had a lot to do with my decision to become a photographer. Here's a final homage to it.

"Postman reading, S. Minneapolis," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Friday, August 24, 2007


"Kyla & Charley sleeping," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

This is my daughter Kyla snoozing with her pup a few weeks ago. Today we drive her to freshman orientation at Vassar College. I can't begin to describe the boil of strong emotions I'm feeling. It's one of those "just show up" moments.

I'll be back Sunday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wounded in Iraq: Portraits by Nina Berman

"Sam Ross, 21, blind & missing a leg," Nina Berman, All rights reserved

Nina Berman's photos of wounded veterans, currently at Jen Bekman's gallery, got some much-deserved recognition in a review by Holland Cotter in today's Arts section of the NY Times (review is here).

When Nina presented this work to a photojournalism class I was co-teaching at Empire State College two years ago she was having trouble getting the work looked at, though she had managed to publish a book and video: Purple Hearts. She was undaunted, as she had been throughout the multi-year project (she had done it by herself with no sponsorship or financial help). The students saw the value -- and the difficulties -- of picking really important stories that might never find a market. Nina was completely matter-of-fact about this. It was just what she does.

I was impressed by her refusal to be used by anyone -- pro or anti-war -- in the raging media debate about Iraq. She made it clear to our class that she had been strongly against the Iraq invasion from the start, but her primary commitment in this project was to the vets -- damaged & in some cases completely isolated & forgotten. Most of the vets still supported the war.

There were no raging denunciations or underlining of tragic ironies. She showed the pictures, read aloud the words of the men that she had recorded & transcribed. That was the story. Her opinions weren't the story.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Immigrants' story

I received a short story that brilliantly imagines what I was trying to get at in my last post. It's by my friend & neighbor Robin Hirsch, author of the excellent memoir Last Dance at the Hotel Kempinski & self-described Minister of Culture/Wine Czar at Night & Day/Biscuit BBQ at 5th Ave. & President St. in Park Slope, Brooklyn & the Cornelia Street Cafe in Greenwich Village. The story appears in the Summer 2007 issue of Alimentum: the literature of food.

Read this one. It's a voice you won't soon forget.

By Robin Hirsch

I will tell you a secret. I am in love with my dishwasher. Not my Hobart. That's a machine, and only a fool or an anti-Semite can love a machine. No, I am in love with my Mexican dishwasher, Miguel. Now, this is no blind passion. I am sixty-three. The time for blind passion is over. No, he evokes in me mature, tender feelings for which the appropriate term, if I understand such things correctly, is love.
Now this understanding my wife Rose might question. After more than thirty-seven years of marriage, she might say, what do you know of love? That you leave your family every night for another, that you are never home, that your son, his first baseball game, you aren't there, when he walks, when he talks for the first time, you aren't there, when he becomes Bar Mitzvah it's a miracle that you are there and then only because the reception is in your vershtunkene restaurant. What do you, Samuel Grant, born Shlomo Ganz in Bialystok, Poland, know of love?
Ah, Rosele, my little Cracow sparrow, I know one thing—I used to love you, oh, how I used to love you, and some nights when it is late and I am still here and we are closing, I wonder, did it fly away, this love, has it gone for ever or one morning when I open up will it be there as it used to be, sitting on a broken railing of the park across the street, saying, "Don't forget. Don't forget. I didn't go anywhere. Things get lost is all, in this big city. But I'm still here." Where are you, Rose? My little Rosele, who saw so much, who said so little, what has become of you? Now, how you speak, how sure of everything you are, how you forget the past. The children, grown, strangers almost, strong, healthy, American, sure of themselves, that I can tolerate, I am almost even proud. But you, that I do not understand.
Oh, there’s no good reasoning with love. It comes out of the abyss and it hits you like a mugger. And then it vanishes around a corner and even the police can't find it.

It was my son, Sammy the Doctor, the apple of his mother's eye--Dr. Samuel Grant, Jr.--who gave my business the name it enjoys in my family to this day--Grant's Tomb, where his father, he said, fifteen vears old, the little chochom, goes to die. But he is wrong, they are all wrong, they forget too quickly. The restaurant I own, the little business we started, Rose and I, thirty-seven years ago, with the money I saved from driving a cab twelve, fourteen, sixteen hours a day, the corner luncheonette which grew so I could send the little pische to medical school, so his little sister Amy, Her Royal Highness, can now see her analyst four times a week at my expense and complain about the terrible things her father didn't do to her because he was never home, this little business which is not so little any more, is where I go to live.
Rose, once it was true for you, too. For you, it's over. For me, it's like yesterday. Thirty-seven years. My little Rose. We ate, we breathed, we slept, we dreamed success. Rose's Luncheon Specialties. We made our bed in the back and when we closed, oh, how you made it nice, with a candle and flowers from the counter. And how you begged me, "No, no, NO," when I had to leave, and how I loved you for that, and how your smell and the last look of you in your shift at the door lived with me in the cab on the dark streets and how I longed to be back with you in that hard, short, narrow, lumpy bed with your little breasts like birds in my rough hands. And when I came back at six in the morning there you were, up, ready, bright as the day, with the coffee and the steam table and the stove and the griddle going. But the fire on the stove was nothing compared to the fire in your eyes. Oh, Rose, where is that fire now?
Now--now she is happy in the suburbs. Peace she wants now. Only the best for her children--I want less? She would rather forget, blend in, no waves. For me, how's it possible, no waves? Every day I deal with the City, screaming, crying, shouting, tummling--cops, truckers, short-change artists, gonifs, not to mention our Italian friends who collect the garbage. I have every nationality under the sun, some good, some not so good, some hard workers, some not so hard. But this is America: you work hard, you shout, you scream, you push--you get ahead. Here in the city I come alive, out on Long Island I die. Rose is right. I have two families. Here, when I come in the door, Mike the bartender says, "How are you, Mr. S? What can I get you? Everything alright?" Nobody says, "Where have you been, why are you so late," everyone is glad to see me and I am glad to see almost everyone--and it is everyone. If you had known us thirty years ago you wouldn't recognize us now. The Madison Square Deli. How did we get so big? It's a long story--New York, tearing down, building up--I won't bore you. We're big, bigger headaches now, but underneath, she's right, it's still family--just a bigger family. And for every one of them I have a word and each one has a word for me. Even the dishwashers.
Now I say even the dishwashers, but I am wrong to put it that way. You think, if you don't know, that dishwashers are the lowest of the totem pole. But it's not true. If you want to know the truth, the heart of a restaurant, it's not the chef, although the chef thinks it's the chef, it's not the bartender or the manager or even the owner, it's the dishwashers. Because, if the dishwasher doesn't do his job, the whole meshuqqene edifice falls apart. And you want to know something else? If Reagan with his amnesty, which is just another way of rounding up illegals, is really going to send the Labor Department in to restaurants to check green cards, you can close just about every restaurant in the city. Because Americans can do a lot, but one thing they cannot do is wash dishes. I don't care what color they are, as soon as they become a citizen they forget how to wash dishes. The only people who can wash dishes, who are not afraid of work, are illegals. Like Miguel. And Ranulfo. And Plutarcho. All of whom I love. Deeply. But especially Miguel. Miguel, sweet, smiling Miguel, with his Yankee cap, who never complains. Miguel, if I were not already married, you I would marry.

When I came to this country I was nineteen years old. I came on a boat, packed like a herring, the crossing was terrible, but believe me it is better than a train. I had been in a place you had better not know. And there we arrived--hundreds, thousands--on a train. And ahead of us trains. And behind us more trains. And every train bursting. Unlike my father, my mother, all four of their parents, my brother, my little sister, my two uncles, my four aunts and all eleven of their children except my cousin Jakov, I survived. I was young and strong and lucky. By the end I was just lucky. If that's what you call lucky.
After it was over I spent my life in camps--from one camp to another. Thousands of us, bedraggled, spent, crossing Europe in trains--again, trains--like flies on a corpse. Europe was dead, the past, finished. In people's eyes I could see we were all dead. One day on a train, twelve of us in a compartment, I look into a dead man's eyes and I see my cousin Jakov, whom I never liked. But if you've survived what we had survived, it's a miracle and we kissed. We spent three months together, in camps, on trains. Enough is enough. In Vienna, they offered us we could go to America or we could go to Israel. I had seen the American soldiers, young, strong, healthy. My cousin Jakov decided Israel. I decided three months is enough. I decided New York.
America was the future. But when I arrived in Ellis Island they tell me the Land of Opportunity is not New York, it's Ohio, it's Mississippi, it's California. I say does it mean trains? In that case I stay. So I stayed. I got a job, any kind of job, a shlepper, a packer, a porter. And at night I studied English. And one night at a dance, a workingman's dance, I met Rose. What she had seen she wouldn't tell me. She couldn't tell me. She couldn't talk. What she had seen was so bad she had lost her power to speak. I thought first she was ignoring me. But she had a friend who said no, try again. So about the tenth time, she agreed to dance. And the words that came were only her name and Cracow: But I talked enough for two. And there was something tender and determined about her and over the next few months, gradually she talked and then I started driving a cab and the rest, well, you know the rest.
But New York, forty years ago, was a different city. There was still a chance. It wasn't all so written down, four hundred forms. For this you need a permit, for that you need a license. And the rents--well, two Jews from Poland could open a luncheonette. Now, forget it. If I were a Jew from Poland arriving in the City today I'd take a train and go to Mississippi.

I can deal with anyone except the City. And the union. I won't deal with the union--the minute they try and organize in here it's over, finished. I have nothing against the idea in principle, but it has nothing to do with principle any more. Bunch of fat cats lining their pockets, and nobody works. It's as bad as the City. And the City I have to deal with.
It's not the corruption--the corruption you manage. When we opened it was after the war, there was some cockamamie ordinance, no new gas installations--how can you cook without gas? I tell Rose I'll fix it. She is frightened. The uniform. I tell her don't worry. The Con Ed inspector comes over, he looks at me, I look at him. A hundred, he says. A hundred was a hundred in those days, a lot of money. A hundred? I say. He doesn't move. So I paid a hundred, I got gas. You see, I tell Rose, it works. But Rose was still frightened.
With the City you pay and pay and pay and you get nothing. I had to deal with nine city agencies to get those tables and chairs out on the sidewalk--nine--and then it took three years. In the old days you paid the guy something when he came around, he overlooked it. Now it's all cleaned up, you get nowhere. No, it's not corruption. You know what it is? It's dehumanization. That's right. They're not human beings any more--they sit in an office, no windows, terrible light, all that paper, dust, dirt--cages. They sit in cages. No soul, no spirit. When the phone rings, it's not a wonder they don't answer. Let it ring, what dc they care?
You know the biggest bribe? Rose taught me. She did it without thinking. It takes a little longer but it works like a miracle. It's not money. It's to take them in, give them a bowl of soup, listen to their troubles. It's to treat them like a human being.

Miguel is teaching me Spanish. Yesterday we had a celebration. It was July 4th. We always have a celebration July 4th, not so much because of America but because on the weekend which was July the 4th thirty-seven years ago Rosele and I opened our little luncheonette and, now, all these years later, it has become a big place, a landmark even. But also of course it is July 4th. I put out flags, we make sangria for the customers—very American, very Jewish--and I hire a band which plays on the street outside. In the old days Rose and I used to dance, and everybody would dance, it was a party. Now she rarely comes by, sometimes the children, but for them all this is too sentimental. Rose says I cling too much to the past. But for me the past is everything. Without yesterday there is no today. Without today there can be no tomorrow. So I keep up the tradition. Old friends come by, old customers, even the cops who give me a hard time the rest of the year. I give everyone a bonus, I work behind the bar, in the kitchen, on the floor. It's a holiday. The streets are deserted, everyone is out of town, the only life for blocks around is my little party. And by the evening it slows down.
So in the evening I went into the dishwashing station and told the dishwashers 'basta'. I told the cooks to feed them and I ran the Hobart myself for half an hour. I can still do it, but it's not so easy. They have their own systems, where everything goes--dishes here, glasses there, silver in a basket. It's become much more complicated, and I am slow, slow, compared to them.
Anyhow, the night is ending. I sit down with Miguel and Ranulfo and I ask them if they want a drink. "Anniversario," I say. They smile. "Drink?" Well, of course, any Mexican is going to drink if you offer, but not sangria. "Margarita?" "No, no." Miguel a tequila and Ranulfo a beer. "Cerveza," Ranulfo tells me. "O.K.," I say, “You teach me Spanish. I teach you Yiddish." I explain to them the restaurant, how I came here forty-three years ago, how I drove a cab, how today is the birthday of my business and of America. I have two children, both qrande. Ranulfo? He shakes his head. Miguel holds up three fingers--tres--and tells me their names, a girl and two boys. They are all in school. It is true, Rose, I am sentimental, an old fool--but to me it is amazing. We understand each other, we make conversation, almost with no words.
Ranulfo goes back to clean the kitchen. Miguel and I sit for another hour. He touches something in me. He could be a son. But he is also a man, a father. Rose has no patience any more, but for me this is America, this struggle, this coming together. I want my son the doctor to have half the dignity, the humility, the dedication, the sense of right, that such a man has, struggling for his family. Ach, enough. When I left for the night Miguel and Ranulfo were cleaning. I gave them each fifty dollars. "Once a year," I say. "Todos los años," says Miguel, smiling--"every year." And I smile, too. But, who can explain it, in my car when I drive home I start for the first time since . . . I start to cry.

Plutarcho was drunk tonight. One of the waitresses came upstairs with fresh tablecloths and said, "Mr. S, something is wrong with Plutarcho. He is ill. He is out cold. I think maybe he's dead." I go downstairs and there he is in the prep kitchen, lying by the cold station, rag in hand, eyes closed, dead. Plutarcho." I shake him. He groans. "Plutarcho," I slap his face. "Oh, yes, mister. Sorry, mister." Sorry, mister! I help him up. I pour cold water on his face. To-morrow morning, Carlos will let him go. There is no choice.

Rose told me it would come to no good. You hire them, you're a fool, they will only cause you trouble. Oh, Rose, have you forgotten who we are, who we were. Efren a thief. Plutarcho drunk. Alright. Alright. But those bastards, those verbissene Feds, can they not leave us in peace? They're hunting down illegals as though they were animals. They smile, of course, and they present papers, and then the police come and make an arrest. My God, they crack down like this, don't they understand what they're doing? Who's going to do the dirty work? Americans? And to send a girl. They're getting smarter. I liked them better when they were slow and stupid. I tried to talk to her like a human being, Rose. Such people are not human beings. Oy, Miguel, my beloved dishwasher, how can I protect you? Miguel, Ranulfo, Ismail, where can you hide? We can't pay them off--things don't work so easy any more. What do I do now? My God, I came to this country to get away from this. Todos los años, Miguel, todos los años. Does it never end? Is it always the same?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

In praise of immigrants

"Kitchen worker on break," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Coming up from the subway in Union Square this morning I grabbed my free Metro New York , as is my habit, & glanced at the headline. "Terror from within" was spelled out in big black & red screamer type. Below was a grim photo of a cop in a military helmet holding an automatic rifle. The subhead was: "NYPD: 'Unremarkable immigrants can become terrorists.' " (The story is here. The Times version is here.)

Call me paranoid, but this is hardly news. And, though the New York report primarily discusses Muslims new to the U.S., it conflates seamlessly with the ugly strain of anti-Latino nativism that recently doomed immigration reforms in the Congress. Last week on the campaign trail Rudy Giuliani -- formerly mayor of a proud city of immigrants -- tried to distract voters from Iraq & other debacles by talking tough about "aliens" who sneak across the border. Meanwhile the Department of Homeland Security and the Bush administration did everything but pound their all-American chests announcing a new crackdown on undocumented workers & those who hire them.

These and other pols clearly smell a red meat campaign issue. I wish it would work to just say to them,"Get real." The idea that immigrants -- with or without papers -- are here for the welfare or are bent on stealing something from our society -- is just crazy. Immigrants are here to work. That is especially true of the illegals, who do the scut work Americans don't want to do themselves.

The guy who handed me my Metro New York this morning may have been illegal. Some of the men who drive for the car services my family takes are illegal. The people who cook the food I eat in restaurants are illegal. The guys rehabbing buildings in my neighborhood are illegal. The women who clean the houses & push the strollers there are illegal. Not all, of course, or even most, but anybody who rides the subways in from the boroughs like I do every day knows what I'm talking about. Who are they trying to kid?

"Fruit stand worker in winter," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Get real. Illegal or not, immigrants are arguably the best workers in America. They are loyal, dependable, honest & competent -- as anyone who employs them will tell you. And, like the waves of immigrants who came before them, they in fact really do embody the "family values" Republicans like Giuliani (whose family is a mess) love to prattle about.

So how is this nasty scapegoating getting sold? You may not be shocked to know that Karl Rove wrote the manual. Locate the fear & with the complicity of a greedy media, magnify it, he taught. Convince the demoralized & distracted public your party is the only one strong enough to make the fear go away. Vilify as a traitor anyone who disagrees. So speaketh Bush's "Boy Genius."

It should be noted that Rove, though perfectly willing to demonize Muslims, took care to lay off Latinos during his tenure because he saw them as a potential new constituency for Republicans. It's a measure of how power has shifted in the party that this political judgment is now being ignored ( Rove quit last week). Still, it's his playbook.

Rove's strategy worked perfectly to get us mired in the blood & despair of Iraq & at home the endless War on Terror. As it happens, Herman Goering, who also had considerable success with the same strategy, explained it perfectly in 1939: "Naturally the common people don't want war... That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along ...That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Lately, the War on Terror isn't working so well for the get-tough crowd. It's necessary to gin up a new dimension to this so-called War (how can you keep focusing hatred on bin Laden when you've known exactly where he is for 5 years but can't manage to do anything but growl threats & shake your fist at him?). It's necessary to muster the troops against a new Evil Other.

"Flower shop worker on watch," Tim Connor, All rights reserved

American citizens have two ways to go, it seems to me. Either we can once again believe Karl Rove & his historical mentor Herman Goering. Or we can believe the evidence of our own eyes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


"Mountain and Sky, Lake George," 1924, Alfred Stieglitz

As photographers, our medium is light. I thought the following, from a letter to Sunday's NY Times Magazine in response to an essay about atheists & heaven , was apropos. And beautiful.

"...Carl Sagan often said that when you look at the stars, you look back in time. The stars we see now first emitted light billions of years ago. And yet we see that light in the present, although many of those stars have since died. That means our sun, and the reflected light of its planets, are currently emitting light into the future, which means we do exist forever.

Perhaps time and space are heaven. We’re streaming through the night sky, where the ancients always said heaven would be."

Lorraine Dittko
Manorville, N.Y.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Beside the seaside by the beautiful sea

"Woman with no footprints," Tim Connor, All rights reserved.

I'm going to Fire Island for 6 days. Bringing my camera but no computer. Plan to swim eat talk read walk sleep. Repeat. Vary sequence. Repeat again.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

When does the publicity replace the art?

"Duke Riley in his submarine," Damon Winter, All rights reserved

The question arose as I read the NY Times account of Brooklyn artist Duke Riley’s recent performance/adventure in the waters off Red Hook (An Artist and His Sub Surrender in Brooklyn). Riley had built a replica of a Revolutionary War wooden submarine called the Turtle & floated it across New York Harbor “to stage an incursion against the Queen Mary II,” docked offshore. Not surprisingly, he was stopped by an NYPD patrol boat & arrested as a police helicopter hovered overhead & a city hazmat truck flashed its emergency lights on the pier.

You can't help but admire Riley’s savvy & his PR strategy & execution. Timed perfectly to make the Sunday papers, Riley's team made sure the launch was attended by Times reporter Randy Kennedy & photographer Damon Winter. The event was also professionally videotaped (see photos here & video here). And Riley himself turned in a command performance. Lean & rugged-looking in the video, bobbing shirtless in the hatch of his outlandish craft, his extensive tattoos give him the look of a pirate charmer as he sips a beer & grins. Asked how he will get back to shore, he answers, “I haven’t really thought about that yet.”

The Turtle never submerged or tipped over, but the event went swimmingly. The harbor cops played their parts calmly & no one lost their cool as the arrests proceeded. Afterward, Commissioner Kelly issued a sophisticated statement that managed to both ridicule the stunt, “…we can summarize today’s incident as marine mischief” & the submarine, “…the creative craft of three adventuresome individuals” while quietly answering the question on everybody’s mind, “It does not pose any terrorist threat.” Meanwhile, Riley’s dealers, who had cheered on his performance from the shore, promised to bail him out of jail. And, oh yes, they revealed their plans to show his now-famous sub at their gallery in Chelsea.

The way to go, of course, is to be entertained by this little farce. And I am. Why, then, do I also find myself annoyed. Maybe it has to do with Riley’s smugly PC artist’s statement: “I am interested in the struggle of marginal peoples to sustain independent spaces within all-encompassing societies, the tension between individual and collective behavior, the conflict with institutional power.” Oh please. I didn’t catch the explanation of how towing something that looks like a cartoon bomb toward a passenger ship in a city that not long ago lost thousands of citizens to terrorists is advancing the struggle of marginal peoples. Nor do I see how Riley’s cruise helped to “…profile the space where water meets the land, traditionally marking the periphery of urban society, what lies beyond rigid moral constructs, a sense of danger and possibility.” What I see is a smart, possibly talented guy & his friends & business associates crafting a story the media can’t refuse, handing it to them & then cashing in on the publicity.

Well, what’s wrong with that? Nothing I suppose. After all, self-promotion was a fixture of the art world long before Jeff Koons. I guess I’m just getting tired of it -- this perfectly planned & choreographed goofy act the public loves so much. “Oh, well, those crazy artists, you know.”

Yeah, crazy like a fox.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Good news on NY photo rules

"Under Manhattan Bridge," Michael Fairchild

New York City has backed away from proposed new rules for photography & film-making that riled the image-making community & triggered widespread protests, reports today's New York Times. It's another reminder of the practical power of internet campaigning. Luckily, solidarity was easy this time because the city's proposed rules were so insultingly dumb, but the quick creation of anti-rules' website Picture New York & its effective operation are cause for celebration. There's a lot wrong with the U.S. right now but one remarkable fact is that anyone with a computer & internet connection can email, blog & youtube everyone else with a computer & internet connection.

Go Netroots!

If you want evidence of the growing real-world political power of the blogs, consider the Daily Kos convention in Chicago. Today, they're hosting a forum of all the top Democratic candidates, & they've arranged "break-out" sessions for each of them. Hillary Clinton tried to skip hers but soon realized she wasn't going to get away with it. See the story here.