May 29, 2012

Back from Virginia

Back from Virginia after a 10-day visit. It was my Dad's 80th birthday on May 18th and it would have been my mother's 79th on May 20th. Happy Birthday Dad (and Mom)!  Stopped by the cemetery and took a snap of Mom's grave. Hard to believe it's been almost a year since she passed.

I found some old photos in a box in Dad's basement. This is 100 years ago with my third camera. My first, a Minolta, was quickly traded for a Canon, which was quickly traded for a Nikon FE. The beginning of a long love affair.

Another found photo, this one of me with Keith Richards in Soho. My girlfriend Laura and I ran into him on one of my first visits to NYC many years ago. She took the photo. I think I tried to smile and my upper lip stuck to my gums...odd toothy embarrassing. Nice porn mustache....

Back in NYC. Good to be home. Last night walking through Times Square. It's Fleet Week...  A sailor gets lonely on those long deployments at sea.

May 18, 2012

On Broadway (and off)

I had the very good fortune of photographing Tracie Bennett for Conde Nast this week. She's in a play about Judy Garland called "End of the Rainbow" now playing at the Belasco Theater on 44th Street. She's getting rave reviews.

I never know what I'll get when shooting backstage or in a dressing room. They're always dark and dimly lit and you never know what type of interaction you'll have with an actor. And, to make matters worse, the local union won't let you plug in any lights. So, you have to rely on battery-powered strobes. Tiny room, no light, usually huge egos...sign me up.

I was waiting outside (for my turn with her) in a dark rainy alley and she came out and lit up a cigarette. Much to my surprise Tracie was a pistol. Tiny little woman with a heavy Manchester accent. She was amazing. Very sweet, funny, and best of all incredibly accommodating. I had one light and she posed for me any way I asked. Afterwards we walked outside for a smoke and I snapped a photo with my point and shoot.  My finest Broadway experience--ever!

Old stage door at the Belasco. I wonder who's gone in and out of that door since its opening in 1907.

 "Judy's" eyelashes

 I often fall asleep on the long ride home from downtown. The train rocks and clacks and lulls many to sleep. Stepping off recently, I saw this person and decided I should try to stay awake from now on. Most people are not pretty sleepers.

While strolling the High Line the other evening, I saw this construction worked assembling some sort of art piece. Two guys who seemed like a money guy and a foreman watched and talked about the project. Later it struck me as an odd photo...the perspective...a little man.

May 15, 2012

Frustration, Art & Artists

Been very busy. Shot a portrait of designer Marc Jacobs the other day. As with many celebs, I got less than 10 minutes with him (told I'd have 30). Frustrating to be expected to create a great image in such a short time. Can he design a dress in 10 minutes? Can Gaga write a song in 10 minutes? I don't get it. I need ample time to "do my thing" as well.

The next day I shot for 20/20 Magazine. One of my favorite clients. Shot eyewear in a dark pool hall. Extremely hard to light. Turned out to be a great day. Good crew, two great models, tacos for lunch... What's not to love?

I've been going art crazy. Galleries every Thursday night as well as a few shows during the weekend. As I've mentioned many times before, I walk out of most galleries scratching my head wondering how in the hell that artist got a show in the first place. It's truly one of the great mysteries. Right up there with the pyramids, crop circles and where the hell is Jimmy Hoffa. Baffling.

Here was an odd one. Among the other mediocre work was a woman perched about 20 feet off the ground, topless, blowing on an egg suspended from a string attached to the ceiling. Frankly, I don't get it.

I enjoy the work of Alice Neel. Her paintings seem simple and true. She led a colorful yet troubled life. Her first child died and later her husband ran off to Cuba with their second child causing her to have a nervous breakdown. She attempted suicide and spent time in a sanitorium. She painted still life, family members, lovers, artists, intellectuals and friends associated with the Communist Party.
At David Zwirner gallery, 525 West 19th Street.

May 10, 2012

Bags, Etc.

I read recently that Americans now use 60,000 plastic bags a minute! Nearly all these bags end up in landfills and many in the ocean. This is bad, very bad. I very rarely take a bag when shopping. I always carry a nylon bag with me for groceries. I never once thought of using a bag as a hat. Even in a hurricane, wet blowing hair would look better than a plastic bag on your head. In this instance it wasn't even raining.

With the average speed in the city of around 35mph you don't see this too often. Odd sighting in Chinatown.

Tagged by a cynical and emotionally bruised graffiti artist.

May 8, 2012


The other day I was sitting on a bench in Central Park, right off Columbus Circle. I was by myself, bending wire and occasionally looking up to people watch. After about 15 minutes an elderly woman sat down next to me. I was a bit annoyed actually, there were plenty of empty benches. A few minutes passed and she must have noticed the pliers, my little sculpture and small spool of wire, she asked me what I was making. I explained that it was like knitting, it soothed me and the end result was almost unimportant. We struck up a conversation and she somehow got on the subject of her dog. She explained that "Sunshine" was a rescued 15-year-old pitbull. I can't explain it but I heard the words come from my mouth offering to photograph her and her old dog. Elderly woman, elderly dog, seemed interesting enough. She asked me in an abrasive, suspicious voice, "How much?" I told her I'd shoot them for free and she gave me the look of someone who thinks they're about to be swindled.

A few days later we set up a time to meet near her apartment in Tribeca. As I walked up to them on North Moore Street I was truly astonished at how fit and spry this dog Sunshine was. She looked to be about 5 years old. Lean and fit. After sensing my amazement, Jewel, the elderly woman, told me that the dog is on a very strict daily diet of 3/4 lb of raw meat mixed with various raw vegetables including bell peppers and cilantro. What dog has cilantro in its diet?

At a nearby dog run we both tossed the ball for Sunshine for about 45 minutes. I took many photos. Over and over, the dog would bring the ball back, drop it at our feet and wait for another throw. Each time running as fast and steady as the first toss. This animal was the Jack LaLanne of dogs. I've never seen anything like it...ever.

I think I need to start eating raw meat and cilantro.

May 7, 2012


Here are some quotes I've remembered or recently come across. Inspiring, thought-provoking, cynical and the first I found very poignant.

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."—Tolstoy
"Expectation is the root of all heartache."—William Shakespeare 
"The chief enemy of creativity is good sense."― Pablo Picasso

"I pay absolutely no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or ridicule. I simply follow my own feelings."— Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

"To find yourself, think for yourself."— Socrates 
"You lose what individualism you have, if you have enough of course, you retain some of it, but most dont have enough, so they become watchers of game shows, y’know, things like that. Then you work the 8 hour job with almost a feeling of goodness, like you’re doing something, and you get married, like marriage is a victory and you have children like having children is a victory, but most things people do are a total grind, marriage, birth, children, it’s something they HAVE to do because they have nothing else to do. There is no glory in it, no esteem, no fire, their lives are flat and the earth is full of them. Sorry, but thats the way I see it. I could not accept the snail’s pace 8-5, Johnnie Carson, merry christmas, happy new year, to me it’s the sickest of all sick things."—Charles Bukowski

And lastly:    

"In the end we will only regret the chances we didn't take. The relationships we were scared to have and the decisions we waited too long to make. There comes a time in your life when you realize who matters, who doesn't, who never did and who always will. So don't worry about people from your past, there's a reason they didn't make it to your future."—Adam Lindsay Gordon

May 5, 2012


 Master lock, Lower East Side.

Walking around Chinatown, I found these coin-operated "kiddie rides." They're usually located in front of some small convenience store. I find it very odd that you put your kid on these contraptions, insert 50 cents and it sways, rocks or shakes your child for a few minutes. No sound, not particularly nice looking and probably teeming with germs.

Perhaps vibrating beds in hotel rooms are designed to appeal to adults who rode on these things as kids. Same concept.

May 4, 2012


While doing laundry, somewhere during my wash cycle or dry cycle I walked over to the Hudson River. I looked north and snapped a photo. I looked south and snapped a photo. For a brief moment I thought of buying a kayak.

I've gone to the Guggenheim twice in the last month. John Chamberlain's show is going on now, which looks to me like something you might find in a rural junkyard. Fenders, bumpers and various car parts squished and welded together into big blocks. I found his sculptures to be boring and redundant. I actually found it more entertaining to watch the people above me looking over the edge. Not good when you find the building more interesting than the art it houses (the Guggenheim is beautiful).

Francesca Woodman's work is also showing there, which was the reason I went. That show is dark, thought-provoking and beautiful.