November 24, 2009

Salvation Army and Charities

Today after having lunch with a client I walked past the Salvation Army on 8th Ave and even though I'm on this "minimalist" kick I was lured in the door with hopes of finding a cheap treasure. I immediately snapped up a great guitar stand for $5.99, two cool guitar capos, a Jew's harp and this new, never worn T-shirt all for 99 cents each. I'm sure it will impress the chicks. It's meant as a joke, however in my case....

Speaking of money. Next time someone calls you or asks for a donation please check the CEO's salary and where and how that charity, university or foundation spends their money before you write that check.
Here are some examples of "NONPROFIT" salaries:
Partners Healthcare in Boston- CEO James Mongan, $3.4 million a year.
Museum of Modern Art NYC-CEO Glenn Lowry, $2.4 Million
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia-CEO Steven Altschuler, $2.4 million
Yale University-CEO $4.4 million
USC's head coach-$4.4 million
United Negro College Fund-CEO William Grey, $404,000 (seems fair, comparatively speaking)
Sloan Kettering Cancer Center-CEO Harold Varmus, $1.45 million
Chicago Symphany Orchestra-$840,000
Metropolitan Opera Association-Peter Gelb, $1.1+ million
United Way- CEO, $1.5 million
Red Cross-CEO Mark Everson, $500K
Nature Conservancy-CEO Steven McCormick, $378,366
Columbia, Emory,Cornell, NYU, University of Pa, Stanford, Princeton, Duke and Mount Sinai's universities and hospitals all have upper management making between $2.0 and $4.3 million.

Then you have the cases of nepotism where many family members will work in top management such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation: Janelle Hail-CEO $126K, Kevin Hail-CEO $114K, Neal Hail-Exec $105K, Brent Hail-VP $83K.
Feed the Children: Larry Jones $220K, Frances Jones $176K, Larri Jones $155K

How about Franklin Graham (Billy's son) pulling down $1.1 million+ from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Samaritan's Purse (charity). Two salaries.

Oh yeah.. Salvation Army's CEO makes $167,000. (See donation/purchase above)

Also check the disbursment of funds of organizations: The Association of Firefighters and Paramedics makes $3 million per year in donations and fundraising but spends only 3% on programs and services. Perhaps they throw a great yearly barbecue? Yee-hah!

Also something I found interesting is, many of these organizations will have a CEO making millions and a director not far from the top pulling down $50K. Charities seem to have a greatly disproportionate scale from the top to the rest of the executive team.

Personally, I think this is MAJOR bullshit. I think a "nonprofit" company should be run by someone who is either retired from a large corporation after making millions in the private sector or someone who puts their monetary desire aside for the sake of choosing to do "charity" work. And, someone who will accept a wage of $100,000 (max) for running such a company. A hundred grand I can deal with, receiving millions of "donation dollars" is bullshit.

So, think about that next time someone calls you begging for money for their charity.

November 19, 2009

Fashion, Chinese, Kids

I was watching a "behind the scenes" photo shoot on Youtube today that someone forwarded me. It mentioned somewhere in the text that there were 50 people on set. I remember an interview with 60's photographer David Bailey talking about some shoot he did for Vogue back in the 60's and his model met him at a coffee shop with her makeup done, ready to shoot. They walked in the rain on the beautiful streets of Paris and snapped beautiful iconic photos. Just the two of them. So what happened to fashion? If you watch a typical shoot these days with a top photographer there are people everywhere. Photographer, model, three photo assistants, a stylist and their assistants, makeup artist, hair stylist, an art director and maybe a few interns. Peter Lindbergh has 50 people on set, Leibovitz has 50 people. Who are all of these people? Okay, add a few lighting techs, a digital tech or two? Who are the rest? I shoot with maximum 12 and five of those are usually worthless employees who came just to get out of the office for the day and eat the catered food. Sadly, these days you almost need all these people to get that "over-produced" fashion look so popular today. Smoke machines, animals, huge sets, clowns, pools of water etc. etc. Like all things in this world, photography and film have gotten too big. Everything is over produced. The average film in 1978 cost $5 million to produce, in 2008 it was $34 million. That's just bullshit.

Tonight I went to the Chinese place across the street as I do about three times a week. I walk in, nod to the guy behind the cash register and he turns and barks out some Chinese to the cook in back. "Dong ping wahh. Keem fo poo." Translation: "That douche nozzle from across the street is back getting the same thing for the 800th time". As my order is being made some guy walks in who I've seen about 30 times in the same restaurant. He's about 60, grey hair, flannel shirt, wearing a camo baseball hat and looks like he just stepped out of a coal mine. He walks in, nods and mumbles "same thing". The guy behind the counter shouts out "Bing fo ming, kong bah wat" Translation: "That other older dildo who get's the same thing every night just walked in".
Seven minutes later I have a delicious bowl of steamed chicken and broccoli to go. I love that place. A bargain at $4.95.

I'm on a roll. About 20 years ago I was a photo assistant for some pretty big name photographers. I looked one of them up today who moved to LA to seek fame and fortune, which he actually achieved. On his website he has beautiful provocative images of many famous celebrities. Also on his site are photos of his kids. What is he thinking? Note to all: Everybody loves their kids and thinks they're amazing but putting them on your website is stupid. Nobody else except Grandma wants to see your kids. WTF? Put them on Facebook or Flickr. Not your website you use to get work. Parents, they have kids and lose their minds.

Porsche? No thanks, I'll take the Element

I was hitting the art galleries in Chelsea Saturday when I came upon this eyesore. Who would paint their Lexus turquoise? That's one ugly car. To each his own I guess.

I haven't owned a car in 15 years. That's sort of sad and sort of nice at the same time. Think of the money I've saved on insurance, registration, tags, repairs, gas etc. etc. Previous to moving to NYC I owned a few nice cars and some clunkers bought simply for transportation. Some were expensive and others I got for as little as a few hundred bucks.
My love for cars began as a high school junior with my first car, a 1969 Chevelle SS396. Silver with black interior, bucket seats, Hurst 4 speed, fat tires, Cragar mag wheels and loud dual exhaust. A redneck's wet dream. I thought it was so cool back then and now I wouldn't be caught dead in it unless it was returned back to complete stock. It used to be my brothers but my Dad helped me buy it and I paid him back....or at least I hope I did. I loved that car and I drove it everywhere. It loyally took me on hundreds of road trips, short and long. Most of my friends had great cars too. Bruce had a Roadrunner, a Corvette and a Duster, Tom had a Roadrunner, Mike had a Firebird. Back then muscle cars were just old enough to be affordable and easy to aquire. My good friend Mike Breen and I took my Chevelle to Rehoboth Beach Delaware after graduation and I remember it had no reverse. We would pull into a parking space and then have to push it backwards when we left (I repaired it shortly thereafter). We were always under the hoods of our cars fixing something. My friends were much better mechanics than me and I recruited them for their help often. After the Chevelle I no particular order...a Ford Bronco, another 69 Chevelle SS (emerald green), Datsun B210 (with red door), Ford F250 4wd truck, Chevy Blazer (for 2 weeks), Corvette, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Dodge Colt, Nissan station wagon, Nissan 200sx and maybe a few others I can't remember. One of my first jobs was parking cars at a used car dealership (while I was working on my doctoral degree in physics). I couldn't do many things well but after a year of parking cars I could back a car into the tightest of spots without hitting anything. Such a skill. I decided to drop out of the doctoral program at Yale to pursue a career in valet parking.
My friends and I all drove like maniacs and drag raced pretty much every Friday and Saturday night. Cruising Rte 50 back and forth for hours like a scene from American Graffiti. It's truly a miracle none of us died in a fiery crash.
Cars were a status symbol in my town. Without a car you didn't have much of a social life, not to mention many dates. And, I've seen some major nerds elevate their status up many many notches solely due to buying a cool car (Brian Caras, Bob Anderson...sorry)
And now here I am renting a car a few times a year and getting excited when there's a Prius in stock so I can get that great gas mileage. Both me and my love of cars have become middle-aged. Now I dream of the day when I have a little minivan or a small RV where I can toss a bunch of cameras and a sleeping bag in the back and go somewhere to take photos. Given the choice between a Porsche or a Honda Element.... that's pretty obvious.

November 17, 2009

General? I say we book Wayne Newton

This morning I was clicking through the channels, drinking my morning coffee and stopped briefly on the Today show. Did I mention Kathy Lee Gifford is the most repulsive woman alive? Anyway, Wayne Newton was on, talking about his recent "tour" of the Middle East entertaining the troops. What I want to know is: Who was the military genius who thought Wayne Newton would be the best choice to entertain our troops? These soldiers whose average age is around 22? How many of those troops do you think own a Wayne Newton cd, much less even know who he is? My bet is none! Wouldn't a better choice be someone like... I don't know, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, U2, Metallica or even AC/DC? Maybe a cute singer like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood or even chubby Jessica Simpson? Imagine the joy of hearing that the USO was putting on a big show. Then the horror hearing the headliner was Wayne Newton. Honestly, given the news, I'd rather be out poking around in the sand with a bayonet looking for I.E.Ds than listening to him screech out "Danke Schoen" for the 4 millionth time. Shit, the guy is 67 years old, his hair plugs are dyed poodle black and his face looks like a baseball with skin stretched over it.
I've been bitching about this war since the day Bush started it, but now the military has gone too far. They're actually abusing our own troops, using Wayne Newton's voice as a torture device. They should be playing Wayne's "best of" cd through giant speakers aimed at the Afghan mountains. Al-Qaeda would surrender within hours, pleading for earplugs and begging them to stop the cruelty. Wayne Newton entertaining troops? How friggin stupid is the U.S. Army?

November 15, 2009

Hole in my sole

It's been rainy and miserable for the past few days. I was walking around yesterday and my left shoe got so wet the leather turned dark. I could feel my sock squishing around down there. I finally stopped to take a look at the bottom of my boot, and sure enough, there was a little hole in the sole. Suddenly I felt like a homeless person walking around in the rain with old holey shoes. Later I took off my shoes and socks and put them on a friend's radiator for a few hours. When I was ready to leave I put on my left sock, then slipped on one of those black, skinny black plastic bags they put wine bottles in at the liquor store and slid my foot into the shoe. Comfy! Then, I was back out into the rain for my trip home.

On the 45-minute subway ride I thought about my shoes and wondered if it might be time to try a different style. Something with laces? A cowboy-ish boot? A wellington? Something pointy? I love these boots and I've been wearing the same style for about 10 years, replacing them about every 2 years. I walk a lot. These babies take a pounding and I wear them exclusively every single day. One exception is summer.. where I tend to wear my Teva sandals. My friends jokingly call them my Jesus shoes or my old man shoes. I think they're more "hippie-like" than something an old man might wear. I am a creature of habit. I don't like change. I've never been very adventurous or creative with my attire. I've had on basically the same daily uniform for the past 30+ years. Basic navy blue t-shirt, pair of jeans, black socks, boxer briefs, Blinde sunglasses and the ever-present hat. Makes my clothing options pretty simple each morning, not to mention laundry. Like my Dad, I do have a fondness for jackets. Perhaps there's a "jacket gene"? Oddly, I don't really have a preference for winter coats, just jackets. Lately I've been alternating between two vintage Woolrich jackets. A red and a green plaid. I walk around looking like a tourist from Vermont. The only giveaways that I'm a New Yorker are the boots and the "man-bag". I do love these boots. I'll buy another pair tomorrow.

Coolest, most comfortable boots ever made
Puddle with window reflection.

Writer's opus on bus stop schedule with Sharpie. click on image and read.
Sewer lid detail in the rain, 1:00am. Almost hit by a car taking it.

November 14, 2009


I was surfing and reading the internet today and ran across some seriously disturbing articles on plastic. Take a look. It's incredible. My local store gives you two bags for anything you buy. A small pint of ice cream, two bags. A tube of toothpaste, two bags. I always refuse the bags and they look at me like I'm crazy. As I'm writing this, that new Ken Burn's show is on about our National Parks. They were just talking about how destructive humans have been to the environment. You want to see destruction? Click on the links below. This is insanity.

November 12, 2009

Not much to say

Work has picked up. Only time will tell whether it's a fluke or actually getting back to normal. Then again, I'm a bit of a pessimist. This past week I shot 5 authors, an interior and a portrait of shoe mogul Steve Madden. All interesting jobs. Some fun, some not so much.
I haven't been doing my 6:30am "crack of dawn" shoots for awhile. I need to get back to that. I feel I've covered every inch of my neighborhood in the past few months. I need new scenery. I wish I had the balls to drag my stuff around the worst parts of Harlem or the South Bronx. I'd need to pack an Uzi in my stand bag. But, that's what it takes to get the shot nobody else will get. I play it too safe unless I'm down in Appalachia where I'm more inclined to put myself in sticky situations. Rattlesnakes seem safer to me than some drug addict with a knife.

I've been walking around looking at patterns and light on buildings. Here are a few snaps.

November 10, 2009


Today I woke up late after editing 1000 images until 4:30am. I was running around like a head with my chicken cut off. I showered, dressed quickly and ran out the door. As I was slowly clunking along on the A train headed south I suddenly realized I'd forgotten my phone. I felt a rush of panic. I didn't even have any of the numbers I needed to correspond with anyone so I couldn't even use a pay phone. I sat there wondering if I should get off at the next stop (168th) and go back for my phone. I was all stiff and tense. I stopped myself, rationalized my dilemma and tried to remain calm. After all, I had just been on a farm in Bumfuck, Pennsylvania for 5 days with no phone service and nothing bad had happened. I hadn't missed any calls from New Yorker, Vogue or Bazaar.
For the past 6 million years no one even had a cell phone. Is it REALLY that important to have mine with me 24/7? The stress made my shoulders tighten like a crazy monkey fist. I finally stopped, took some deep breaths, relaxed and felt the tension subside. I became peaceful. I mentally threw my hands into the air.
It's amazing to me how everyone has become completely dependent on technology. You forget your phone or Blackberry and you basically become disabled and completely out of touch. I even thought for a second.."How did people ever meet each other prior to cell phones?"
I went to a meet a client stopping in unannounced but found myself apologizing for not calling and explaining my horrible communication situation. Forgetting my phone became a topic of conversation. People looked at me with concern in their eyes... "Oh no, I'm so sorry, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have my phone" was a typical response. I walked from Canal Street to midtown zigzagging from avenue to avenue doing errands. Total Incommunicado. Perhaps everyone should put down their cell phones for at least one day a week, maybe on Sundays, and remember what it's like NOT to be always available to anyone. For at least a single day. It's actually pretty nice.

It's Mario's birthday... It doesn't seem like a year and a half since he passed away. I miss him horribly.

What's with the Christmas decorations? I was in Time Warner Center yesterday. Giant snowflakes already hanging from the ceiling. When I was a kid the stores (pre-mall days) started decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Now it's the day after Halloween. In 20 years it'll be the day after Labor day. In 2050 they'll start decorating for Christmas the day after Christmas. So stupid. So, with that said... Buy Buy Buy America. Keep buying shit no one wants or really needs. Keep those credit cards maxed out. Shop shop shop... Get all that Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. Beat the crowds. Now, here's the sad part, I can say this with about 85% certainty... Almost everything you buy someone this Christmas will end up either buried in the closet, in a drawer, in a box, regifted or (most likely) at the Salvation Army within a year. Especially clothing! Because, anyone over 20 would have already bought it for themselves if they really wanted it. I have the problem solved. As usual, I'm not buying anything for anybody. If you believe in Christmas and you believe the bible, it's not your's Jesus'. In fact, according to historians he was born in May. The whole Santa, reindeer, commercialism is a load of crap. Everybody feels obligated to go buy their loved ones some shitty gift that nobody wants. Save your money. Have a nice meal together, do a group hug and be done with it. Christmas as we know it is bullshit.

Today's snaps, 11-09

Walking around Central Park yesterday I saw some interesting things. Bra in a tree and a saggy pumpkin at the end of its usefulness.

Just after dark I snapped some of my blurry photos. I walk around squinting to see the world a bit fuzzy, then shoot everything out of focus.

November 8, 2009

City Snaps (no, it aint art)

In Soho today I saw this dog in a basket. Owner nowhere in sight. I think the woman to the left was crazy. Skull attached to the roof of a Cushman. Like the cops drive. Who drives a Cushman? Is it a car? A scooter?
Today a waitress at Lupe's dropped some salad on my foot. The tomato left a wet spot as it bounced off. She glanced down and then smiled, she didn't care. She was puzzled that I took a snap of the lettuce on my foot. It's not about the photo, it's about her attitude.
34th street last night
Woman on subway with her dog in one of those kid carriers. Pet love taken to the next level.
Sunset from 9th floor of 100 Ave of Americas

November 5, 2009

Neil Simon?

Waiting on the A trainWaiting on a bus

After all these years, I still find living in NYC so interesting and inspiring. I've seen countless movies that use New York as a backdrop which helps make all the day to day annoying sights and sounds seem almost romantic. Like West Side Story or Brighton Beach Memoirs. I've even seen young people spilling out of the "Fame" school on Amsterdam in overly styled outfits singing and dancing and dismissed it as artistic nerds using a bit of drama and choreography to create a little episode of their theatrical lives in the big city.
In nearly every apartment building there are characters who make living there either annoying or special depending on how you want to look at it. Last night I stayed up until 4:30am and I woke up this morning to a woman singing an opera aria at the top of her lungs. Apparently there are two opera singers in this building. One is very vocal, practicing often, the other not so frequently. Later in the afternoon some person on the 3rd floor across from my apartment was blaring music alternating between Latino and rap with windows wide open. Though slightly annoyed, I couldn't help thinking that this was like the background noise of a Spike Lee film, or earlier a Neil Simon play with the opera singer's practicing. For a moment it seemed sort of quaint. I tried not to be bothered, imaging a film crew outside my window or just tried to accept the fact that these ARE the sounds of New York City, like it of not.
I was thinking of starting a segment on this blog of some of the crazier things I witness on a daily basis as I walk around with my camera. Not a single day passes where I don't see something I find strange, amusing, disturbing, filthy, repulsive, uplifting, beautiful or truly unbelievable. Things someone in Kentucky or Iowa would never see in a lifetime we see on a regular basis. When do you think was the last time somebody in Romance, Arkansas (a real town) saw: Someone take a poop on the street? I've seen it, more than once. How about a guy smoking crack or shooting heroin? A person getting squished dead by a trash truck? A prostitute picking up a John? Countless celebrities doing everyday things like everyone else? A fist fight between two drag queens? A guy getting stabbed in the stomach by a stock boy for shoplifting? Two giant skyscrapers falling down? An impromptu musical performance by Paul McCartney? Someone performing an illegal sexual act to someone else in a car just outside your bedroom window? Or, stepping over a dead person in a public restroom? That's a tiny bit of what I've seen living in New York City.

November 2, 2009

Absolute Craziness

So today I was having lunch with my good friend Ron and we were talking about my baseball blog post from yesterday. Then we got on the subject of the ridiculous prices of players' salaries and professional games of all types. I decided to Google a few facts. Did you know that the top 10 baseball players each make between $18.3 and 28 million a year? Did you know the average price for a family of four to attend a game in Boston is $276 with parking, a few hot dogs, 2 hats and a program? An NFL game costs the same family $301? Then again the average family of 4 spends $180 just to get into Six Flags. Sports Illustrated did a piece where it sent a reporter to a baseball game that took 3 hours and 15 minutes. The ball was actually in play for 12 minutes and 22 seconds. The rest of the time was spent "spitting, jumping in and out of the batting box and players adjusting themselves". Sports Illustrated said that, not me. Does anyone see the absurdity in this? Some steroid juiced, muscle head makes $20 million to throw or hit a ball (usually not both) while teachers in the United States are pulling down an average of $43,000 a year. South Dakota's average is $32.5K, California's is $55K. That means that a teacher with two kids probably can't afford to go to a baseball game.
I think EVERYONE should boycott ALL sporting events and demand that ticket prices for any game be no more than $15 for adults, $7 for kids. Until then, the stadiums should be empty and Alex Rodriguez should never make more than $100K. And no $7.50 hot dogs, no $8.75 beers or $6.50 sodas. It's bullshit and robbery.
If a teacher makes $43K/yr during a lifetime of working, say, 30 years, he or she will pull down a total of $1.2 million. That's what Alex Rodriguez makes in 2 weeks of swinging a bat and pulling on his nuts.
If this isn't the most fucked up place on earth I don't know where is.

November 1, 2009

Two things I wonder about

I've never seen a baseball game, football game or basketball game in its entirety in my life, neither live OR on TV. I'm proud of this personal record. Today I was channel surfing and came across the World Series. I stopped to watch thinking that for once I might actually find "America's national pastime" interesting. I put down the remote expecting to watch for awhile. Andy Pettitte was pitching (whom I've never seen before and obviously has too many t's in his name). Someone tosses him a ball and he begins this agonizingly slow OCD ritual. He has the ball in his hand and he raises his glove up to his face covering everything from the bridge of his nose down. He blows four full breaths into his mitt with eyes fixed on the mound. He then turns his head to the left and blows out two more full breaths. Then he finally winds up and throws the ball. Each pitch takes about 1 minute. Maybe the Yankees should consider some sort of team doctor/shrink intervention? Perhaps some Ritalin or Adderall in his Gatorade. Does he really need to perform all these drawn out obsessive maneuvers before he can throw the stupid ball? No wonder a game takes 4 hours. In between that mind numbing show of mild retardation I'm forced to watch Alex Rodriguez blow his nose onto the field holding one finger against a nostril and blowing snot out of the other (a snot rocket). Note to Alex: You're on Tv, people are watching, some while eating. They put the camera on Jeter and we see him scratch and tug his balls and then pan over to every other player and coach as they sniff, scratch, pull, rub and pick every possible part of their bodies. Not to mention the 8 million hat adjustments. I watched this Tourette's extravaganza for about 10 minutes and I wanted to get in the tub with a toaster. After one half of an inning I was even more pleased that I'd never seen a baseball game. Not to mention the countless hours I've saved by leaving this time sucker out of my life. How anyone can find this game interesting is beyond me. When I die and go to hell (oh yeah, I'm going) I'll wake up in some huge stadium with a bunch of drunken, cheering assholes screaming at overpaid neanderthals playing that ridiculous game. I really need to go to church to avoid this fate.

2nd thing I wonder:

Somewhere, sometime, long long ago there had to be one single person who ate something for the first time. I want to know who ate the following and why:
The first oyster.
The first bull testicle.
Sea urchin.
Coffee bean. They had to pick it, roast it, grind it and finally strain it through water. How did they know to do that to that particular bean?
Tea leaves. Same thing...why that particular leaf to dry and drink?
Blowfish. Knowing that it's deadly except for a few choice cuts? How many people died finding this out? 300 people a year still die from it.
Chocolate. Same as coffee, the raw bean tastes nasty.. How did they know how to process it?
Certain berries. So similar, yet so many are poisonous.
Blood pudding.
All bugs.
Mushrooms. Same problem as berries.
Olives. So much has to be done before they have taste.
Most grains. How did they figure out how to process?
Fertilized duck embryo.
Milk, all kinds. Early conversation: "I'm going to walk over and squeeze that thing hanging down under that cow and drink whatever comes out". Who did that?