On How The Internet Sucks Our Photos Into The Machine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2015 by johnbuckley100

IceCreamMan (1 of 1)

In 2013, this image we took of a DC ice cream man was chosen in a juried competition at D.C.’s Leica Store, and happily we posted it online.  Someone who knew the ice cream man saw the image hanging on the Leica Store’s walls, told him about it, and a few weeks later, we met him on the Mall and handed him a print.  He’s a nice guy.

So you can imagine how we felt when someone alerted us to this story posted by The Onion last week.  There was our ice cream man photo, appropriated, albeit with credit to Tulip Frenzy.  But still.  And of course, there is no way we would have approved this use in a satirical post.

Then yesterday, while going through our Twitter feed, we saw from American Suburb X “A Brief Interview With Saul Leiter,” which of course we clicked on, since we love Saul Leiter’s work.  In fact, we love Saul Leiter’s work so much that in 2014 we posted on Twitter our homage to Saul Leiter, which we called “Homage To Saul Leiter: The Kiss”:

The Kiss

Imagine our surprise, and yes, mortification, when we saw that our image was illustrating the interview with Leiter.  American Suburb X took it down when we pointed this out, and told us that they’d gotten it off of Google Images.  And yep, the way Google sucks content into the machine, by my having posted the picture as an “Homage To Saul Leiter: The Kiss” somehow it now showed up in HIS image feed.  Ugh.

The Internet giveth and it taketh away.  Our son has reported Instagram photos he’s taken being appropriated by others.  This easy skimming of images for use by others is, we suppose, something we have to accept.  Our examples aren’t exactly like Richard Prince making millions off of a stolen Sam Abell photograph, but the whole thing sucks.

Welcome To The Summer Solstice

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Actually, our second least favorite day of the year (the least favorite being when Daylight Savings ends), as it is all downhill from here, light-wise.  Leica Monochrom (type-246), 35mm Summicron v.4.  (Yes, the Bokeh king.)  ND filter.

summer solstice

Courtney Barnett At 930 Was Like Hearing Stiff Records’ Greatest Hits Played By Nirvana

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 14, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Courtney 2

We overheard someone in the audience next to us say that the last time Courtney Barnett played DC, it was at DC9, a venue considerably smaller than the 1000-and-change-sized 930 Club.  Given the roars of approval — as loud as we have heard them in 20+ years going to shows in this venue — and the quality of the performance, it seems almost inevitable that she’s going to make the leap to venues a quantum larger.

We love the Australian singer and guitarist’s debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, as readers of Tulip Frenzy well know.  Sometimes we prefer her real introduction to the States, 2014’s The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas.  Mostly, though, the hesitancy we had before fully embracing the album was that we were unprepared for the transition, the way the sound had been torqued tighter, louder, with more pop urgency. It would be like riding in your favorite ’73 BMW 2002 and suddenly getting into its most recent 3 Series descendent: familiar, but scary in way, once you put your foot to the pedal and saw how it had been modernized for the Autobahn.

Last night, she played virtually the entire new album, plus a number of our favorite songs from the double EP, and we realized how they both connect, and why we think she’s the strongest talent to emerge since Ty Segall five years ago. For what we liked most about The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas was the way she updated the sound of a particular era of British pop music that coincided with the emergence of punk but preceded Power Pop — those early albums by Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Nick Lowe.  Last night, that particular proto-Power Pop song sensibility was apparent — though powered along with a thunder more like Nirvana than any other trio we can remember.

Courtney

Barnett is a great storyteller, but that may make her sound twee, and she’s anything but: she and her band kick harder than any Aussies we can think of since Radio Birdman.  From “Elevator Operator,” which opened the set, to “History Eraser,” which finished the encore, the Courtney Barnett 3 played like a band with twice the instruments.  There may come a time when they’ll need sidemen to fill the arenas she’ll headline.  Yeah, after a thoroughly entertaining show last night, the first of two sold-out shows at 930, we have no doubt that’s where she’s heading.

(Pride) In The Name Of Love

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on June 14, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-10

Washington, D.C.’s Capital Pride Parade is the single most joyous event that takes place annually in the Nation’s Capital.  Gay and straight, young and old, all come out to celebrate — and this year seemed, by far, the biggest such celebration ever.  Here’s a collection of images taken along the parade route.

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-9

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-3

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-4Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-5

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-6

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-7

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-8

Pride 2015 Tfrenzy-11

What We Learned From Bruce Davidson’s Lecture At The Phillips Collection

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 12, 2015 by johnbuckley100

When you see a photograph taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson, the sound you hear is of the shutter closing at 1/125th of a second.  When you see any of the photographs Bruce Davidson has taken over his long, distinguished career, the soundtrack is musical — for the pictures from his 1959 Brooklyn Gangs project, we hear Dion singing “A Teenager In Love;” Miles Davis’ trumpet haunts the pictures taken for the East 100th Street series; The Clash’s Sandanista, or maybe Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks,” accompany the images taken in 1980 deep in the New York subway system.  For Davidson is not merely a photographer whose lyrical, softly dramatic work lives in individual photographs.  He is a cinematic storyteller who emerges from deep within an atmosphere he’s inhabited with poignant, touching pictures that, yes, swirl with their own soundtrack.

Last night at the Phillips Collection, the 81-year old Davidson provided commentary on many of the pictures from his most celebrated series of images, stretching all the way back to the ’50s.  It was part of the Phillips Collection’s “American Moments” show, which for the first time displays works from the plucky little museum’s permanent collection of photography.  If the pictures in the show are any indication of what the Phillips Collection has in store for us as their focus on photography becomes more ambitious, Washingtonians are in for a delightful ride.  And if their choice of photographers to invite to speak is any indication, the Phillips Collection is intent on making a mark.

Bruce Davidson

Davidson is not a household name, even in households that care about photography; he’s an American master, a photographer’s photographer, less famous than contemporaries like Garry Winogrand and Joel Meyerowitz, but a giant in the world of 20th Century photography.  What was clear last night is that his humanity and commitment run deep: he could cite, by name, what has happened to members of that Brooklyn Gang 60 years after the pictures came out, knew what kind of life the children of sharecroppers he’d photographed in the 1960s ended up having once some of the barriers to their integration in American life had toppled.  He spoke with just a touch of pride about the impact his photographs had had, in knocking down racial barriers, in helping people in an impoverished community in Spanish Harlem be recognized for their dignity — and the intolerable housing conditions they lived in.

Meyerowitz used to talk about “tough pictures,” photographs that showed how real were the dangers the photographer used to put himself in to come back with an image.  And Davidson took his share.  But mostly his images reflect the degree of intimacy he had with his subjects, showing the people on East 100th Street what the work would look like, so they’d trust him.  He repeated the famous story of persuading a fellow with a scarred face who sat across from him on the subway and threatened to smash his camera, to let him take his picture.  He did it by engaging him, talking to him, showing him his work.  Getting street subjects to sit for a photograph is an act of seduction, he said.

He told us there are three things you can do to get a picture of someone.  You can sneak the photo, take it and run, or you can ask them.  This is a man who has made a career, for the most part, asking people and being told yes, because with his direct Midwestern sensibility and occasionally impish twinkle in his eye, he was jovially seductive.

Asked whether he could undertake multiple projects simultaneously, he said no, and likened his work to a “bullfighter getting in rhythm with the bull.”  This is not someone who shows up on a street, takes a snapshot and walks away.  He said he had patience, and surely he must have, and ingenuity in spades: he told the story of advancing a beach in Brooklyn where the gang said they would hang out the next night, and bringing a light bulb to screw into a socket he’d identified, knowing it would illuminate his subjects.

Immersing ourselves, as we have over the past few weeks, in the great Steidl three-volume collection, we found ourselves thinking of another photographer whose work would not automatically be compared to Davidson’s.  Sebastiao Salgado also tells stories in great project arcs, deeply immersing himself in the lives of his subjects, his individual photos amazing, his series even greater than the sum of the parts.  Growing up in Illinois, Davidson’s immersed himself in subcultures perhaps less exotic than Salgado’s, which isn’t surprising given the latter’s growing up in a remote Brazilian agricultural community right out of Garcia Marquez.  But there is the same sensibility, the same commitment, the humanity, and the turn, in his career’s last innings, to nature and more lyrical images.  He’s a hell of a photographer, and we are so glad to have heard him.

The Performer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on June 9, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Excited To Perform

Botswana, August 2014

With The Live Material From 1971 Included, The “Sticky Fingers” Re-release Gets Us Closer To The Promised Land

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2015 by johnbuckley100

Bardists, as they like to be called, dream of finding an unpublished Shakespeare play.  Our needs are simple: we’ve only been waiting for 40+ years for a decent live album from the greatest tour of all time — the Rolling Stones’ 1972 foray across the U.S. — to emerge from the gauze of bootlegs and into the bright shimmering light of an official release.  As of today, we’re very, very close.

For those who signed up for the Extra Super Duper release of Sticky Fingers, or whatever it’s called, last night came a happy email: all 33 tracks had, like the Midnight Rambler himself, vaulted our hedge and hidden away deep in our iTunes collection.  Yeah, yeah, an acoustic version of “Wild Horses,” and all that.  As far as we’re concerned the release of the Eric Clapton version of “Brown Sugar” simply drives down the value of our red vinyl pressing we’ve carried us with everywhere since 10th grade. The good stuff is the 18-songs worth of live material, recorded on the Stones’ 1971″Farewell Tour” of England, prior to loudly going off as exiles on the main street near St. Tropez.

It’s not the ’72 tour, but it’s the same band with the essential sidemen: Mick Taylor on guitar, Nicky Hopkins on piano, and Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns.  We call Taylor a sideman, and that’s not really fair, but let us just posit that these four, added to Jagger, Richards, Watts, and Wyman completed what is unquestionably the greatest rock’n’roll live band of all time — a band that could swing, and turn on a dime, and kick at the stall all night.

Some weeks ago, a friend sent us someone’s long rave about how the version of “Midnight Rambler” on the officially released “Brussels Affair” is, I don’t know, the Stones’ most transcendent moment.  Yeah, but that had Billy Preston on it, playing organ! These tracks have Nicky Hopkins.  On piano.  Game over.

It’s weird that we have a partial album recorded at the end of the tour at the Roundhouse in London — “Live With Me,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love in Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” and then “Honky Tonk Women.”  Where’s the rest of me?   Then there is what we assume was the entire set of a concert at Leeds University — “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Live With Me,” “Dead Flowers,” “Stray Cat Blues,” “Love In Vain,” “Midnight Rambler,” “Bitch,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Little Queenie,” “Brown Sugar,” “Street Fighting Man,” and “Let It Rock.”  (An aside: whomever was student music coordinator at Leeds U in the ’70/’71 school year deserves to be knighted, for he/she booked, in the same year, the Stones and The Who, out of which came Live At Leeds, and now this. But we digress.)

We’ve heard much of the Leeds set on the bootleg Get Your Leeds Lungs Out, but the sound here is just: So. Much. Better.  We always knew what that show musta sounded like, because the version of “Let It Rock” has been around forever: it was what they had to press onto the Spanish release of Sticky Fingers after the Franco government banned “Sister Morphine.” Here everything is to that level, though perhaps not at a Get Yer Ya-Yas Out level of fidelity.

On both collections, the Stones have some ragged moments, as of course they did: Keith singing off key, Mick Taylor missing his entrance.  But all in, these are fantastic performances by a band approaching its peak.  A song like “Stray Cat Blues” isn’t improved over what came out of the ’69 live recording — you don’t need piano and horns on this relic.  And of course on the ’72 tour, and subsequently over the years, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” came near the end of the set, and Taylor had developed an entire vocabulary of tricks to work into his leads as the show climaxed.  But what’s apparent here is how quickly the Stones incorporated horns and piano into what would become the ephemeral, yet greatest sound of their career, rambling on, as it has done, for 50 years and counting.

We can see why they included the Roundhouse set — it’s better, the band a little crisper, the sound a little warmer.  And after listening to, oh, two dozen boots of different shows from the ’72 tour — such that we can tell you, definitively, the version of “All Down the Line” recorded in New York on July 24th was better than the version they’d played in Ft. Worth — we really don’t mind having versions of “Live With Me” to choose between.  If you are downloading songs one by one, start with the Roundhouse versions.

Last year, when Reprise, or whomever controls the Captain Beefheart estate, released the full Lick My Decals Off, Baby, we checked off one of the key missing pieces of our musical collection.  I guess we can say we are still living for the digital release of Henry Badowski’s 1981 masterpiece, Life Is A Grand.  But honestly, now that we have heard Nicky Hopkins tickle the ivory while the greatest Southern horn duo ever backs up the Stones on a non-bootleg version of “Bitch,” we are just that much closer to the Promised Land.

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