Archive for November, 2009

1975 As Talisman In Bildungsroman

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 20, 2009 by johnbuckley100

We have exhibit A, The Savage Detectives, the posthumously published novel by the Chilean writer Roberto Bolano — he being probably the greatest talent to have emerged from South America since The Boom, when Garcia Marquez, and Cortazar, and Vargas Llosa made their presence felt — which secured his reputation in Estados Unidos, slow to catch on to this secret of the Iberian world, and prepared us, if preparation were possible, for 2666, which surely stands in the front rank of best novels of this decade.

And now we have The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Laureate and first man of Turkish letters, author of the beguiling yet disturbing Snow, as well as My Name Is Red.

The Savage Detectives is largely a Bildungsroman about Mexico City teenagers in the middle of the ’70s, 1975-’76 to be exact.  The Museum of Innocence is also about a young man coming of age — or more precisely, a 31-year old man and his love for his beautiful 18-year old distant cousin, also in the summer of ’75.

Two different continents, two different traditions, two different explorations of youth and love and sex in 1975.  For years, 1968 has lorded over all of us born too young to have been hurling rocks that year at the French gendarmerie, too young to have been chasing tanks in Prague, to have seen the Doors at Ondines in New York.

Could 1975 be making its mark?

What If Dali Got His Hands On The Nokton?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 18, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, Nokton 50mm, F/1.1, Wide Open…. Obviously.  (What is that thing melting in the background?  A clock?)

The Ones That Got Away: 2008 Albums Tulip Frenzy Wished It Had Noticed

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on November 18, 2009 by johnbuckley100

As the gang at Tulip Frenzy World HQ gets ready to prepare the 2009 Tulip Frenzy Top Ten List, let’s just acknowledge that long about February, we’ll already be playing music we missed from this year and saying, “Damn, how did we miss that?”  So just to clear up some  loose ends, let’s put down the list of music from 2008 we flat out missed.  There was a lot of good music that came out in 2009, but here’s what we listened to from 2008, regretting it took us so long.

First Communion After Party

How it was we missed the best record by a new band in 2008, we may not know, and we’re not too proud to admit it.  FCAP’s Sorry For All The Mondays and To Those Who Can’t Sing was the best debut since, dunno, Echo and the Bunnymen?  The Pixies? This neo-psychedelic powerhouse from Minneapolis was on the iPod all year long.  Too bad we couldn’t have given them their due.  And boys and girls?  Time to get back in the studio and crank out a new one.  After all, since we consider you as good as, if not better than, Black Mountain, the Black Angels, the Warlocks, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, and have been telling this to everyone we meet, it’s time to pick up the slack and crank out new tunes!  We want you to put out the best album of 2010!

Tift Merrit

We really like Tift Merrit, we just got a little sick of her circa Bramble Rose. Somehow last year she came out with a killer album, Another Country, and it wasn’t until this year that we went, Who was that?  And sure ‘nough, it was Tift.   Who uncorked a scorcher of a country’n’torch song soulfest.  Love it.

Darker My Love

Straight out of the BRMC school of fuzztone punk, kickass beat, and solid, throbbing mid-tempo songwriting, Darker My Love released their second album in 2008, imaginatively entitled 2, and we missed it.  Fortunately, we got on the bandwagon and discovered their even better eponymous first album from 2006 (they save their creativity for the studio, not titling their albums.)  Wish we hadn’t missed ’em, glad it wasn’t a permanent error.

King Khan and The Shrines

We’re not even sure we missed them last year; it may have been the year before.  After all, one of the two or three greatest garage rock songs of the last decade is their “Outta Harms Way.”  But if you go sleuthin’, you’ll find it shows up on various albums spread out over a couple of years.  The one on the obscure Serbian label may have come out first, or was the Burkina Faso version?  Anyway, the version we first heard came out last year.  Missed it.

Okay, enough admission of fallibility.  We’re not planning on going on a self-lacerating kick.  It happens.  Wait til next year… when we review what we’re about to miss when compiling our list of the best of this year…


Surprisingly Intelligent Piece In The NY Times On Plastic People Of The Universe

Posted in Music with tags , on November 16, 2009 by johnbuckley100

One doesn’t generally rely on the New York Times for a correct take on the historical importance of an obscure rock band, but Tulip Frenzy could not find a single fault to cite in this morning’s quite quite excellent piece on Plastic People of the Universe.

Okay, so maybe Dan Bilefsky doesn’t truly convey what a lugubrious time can be had listening to the arty, theatrical dirges the Plastic People actually played. (This was a band that sounds better on paper than they actually did over stereo speakers, not that we don’t normally like bands that admired the Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart.) But he does get their genuinely revolutionary impact: in the aftermath of the Prague Spring, after the Soviet tanks rolled, the embers of Czech dissidence were in no small part kept warm by the skronk of a single rock band.

The Berlin Wall fell twenty years ago last week, and I am all for the credit being shared magnanimously among many.  Reagan, Gorby, Pope JP II, that East German apparatchik putz who screwed up at the news conference and announced the free movements of the (newly free) East German people, Peter Robinson who authored the “tear down this wall” line for his boss in the Oval Office, the reporter who asked that East German spokesidiot the right question at the right news conference: let them all get their due.

But let’s hoist a glass to a rock band that clanged and banged  for freedom, and kicked loose at least one brick from the Wall.

Let’s also toast Dan Bilefsky, the Times’ Man In Istanbul.  And while we’re on this theme, allow us to say: Come home, Dan.  Liberate us from the writing of Jon Pareles!  May freedom ring in Times Square!  May the reign of Jon Pareles as the Times’ chief rock critic be more short-lived than communism was in Central Europe!

The Leica M9 After Eight Weeks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 13, 2009 by johnbuckley100

On 09/09/09 Leica announced it was releasing the M9, a digital full-frame rangefinder, available immediately.  In the rarified world of Leicaphiles, this was not quite the Second Coming, nor the announcement of a cure for cancer, but it was close. I was extremely lucky to get one early — supply has well outstripped demand, waiting lists are long, and as of early November, rumors spread that one of Leica’s suppliers had “let them down.” The members of the Leica Forum who have patiently waited for theirs are getting less patient, deservedly so.  But I was, as I said, lucky, and on September 22nd, I posted a review after a single day’s use: 24 Hours With the Leica M9 Additionally, I have put together a gallery of M9 images here: M9 Images

I’ve now been using the M9 on virtually a daily basis for eight weeks, and while I believed at the outset that it was “the perfect camera,” and by definition you can’t improve on such an accolade, I’ve nonetheless grown to think of it as something more.

As a writer, I’ve long believed I “think through my fingers.” That is, I don’t know exactly what I think until the act of writing clarifies everything; my fingers on a keyboard are an extension of my mind, and typing is a more precise medium than speaking, not just for conveying thought, but for actually processing it. Henri Cartier Bresson talked of his (Leica) camera as an extension of his eye, but even though I’ve taken pictures all my life, it wasn’t until I started carrying an M9 around with me that I understood what he meant to the same extent that I understand the concept of thinking through my fingers.

Women with Apple

One reason some photographers fall in love with a rangefinder like the M9 is because it is small, discrete, you don’t freak people out standing in a outdoor market while people choose their apples.

I say that the M9 becomes an extension of the eye, not simply because when you’re carrying a camera, you mentally frame what you see.  The M9 becomes an extension of the eye because you begin to think in terms specific to it, and to the blessing of fast Leica lenses with their magnificent bokeh, or selective focus.


The M9 weighs 22 ounces without a lens.  The full-frame SLRs — those Indy Car monsters that can race faster but perhaps not as elegantly as the Grand Prix model Leica — all weigh about as much as a 7th-grader’s book bag; the M9, with a 35mm Summicron lens can literally fit in my coat pocket.

Aside from the fact that the M9 takes 18 megapixel images on a full-frame sensor and produces large (up to 32 mb) RAW files, the photographic advantage of any Leica M are the rightfully acclaimed M lenses, which wide open have a signature in the diffusion of detail from the in-focus to the selectively out-of-focus area.


In the focused-upon area, these lenses can be crisp as a breadstick.

No Tres

Or soft and creamy in the out-of-focus area.


The M9 is amazingly versatile for such a small camera, with much better high ISO performance than the M8 (if still not the ISO 3200-without-noise of the legendary Nikon D3 or other comparable cameras.)


An M9 is to ur-Leicas what I imagine a present-day Porsche 911 is to its same model number from the 1960s: recognizable in form, easy to use by anyone familiar with the concept, simple and classic without certain doodads necessary to sell other cars, but updated for the modern era.  Yes, there are point and shoot cameras with image stabilization and live view monitors and cheap DSLRs with 62-point focusing (I have no idea what the actual number is), whereas the M9 is a simple, classic tool, able to capture images virtually identically to the way one would have captured them with a film camera in 1973.

King o Road

It has been 8 weeks that I’ve been able to work with an M9.  I have no complaints. Oh, I wish it was water-sealed.  And there have been a few times when it has frozen, just like my M8s did.  But it’s a pretty glorious contraption, built to last, built to be an extension of the eye by which you can capture whatever it is you come across in your daily walk.  I suspect I will carry it, or its successors, until I look like this guy.


Beyond Here Lies Nothing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 12, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Don’t go out that door….  Leica M9, 21mm Summilux

An Entrepreneur Seeks His Leica M9, One Tee Shirt At A Time

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 12, 2009 by johnbuckley100

My rangefinder tee-shirt arrived in the mail, and I must say it’s comfortable.  Click on the link below to read the story of the man who, desirous of the Leica M9 but slightly short of the scratch to get one, became a micro-retailer with a big goal.  Here’s hoping his M9 is delivered, if not by a dealer, then at least by Santa.

Selling Tee Shirts to Buy An M9

Veterans Day And The Flag

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 11, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, 35mm Summilux


Not Trying To Tip Our Hands On Tulip Frenzy’s Album Of The Year

Posted in Music with tags on November 11, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Hey, the year’s young.  There’s at least three weeks for someone to produce an album better than anything released by Sonic Youth, Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, Robyn Hitchcock, and all the rest of the contenders.

Let us just say that this is an excellent moment for Sonic Youth to have released on iTunes a set from an in-store promotion at the Soho Apple Store.  With most of the songs emanating from The Eternal, we’re reminded what was on our playlist all summer long. So the version of “Leaky Lifeboat (For Gregory Corso)” has a vocal performance that makes us think Kim and Thurston were looking longingly at that new 27″ iMac, and not concentrating on harmonies, it’s a pretty impressive set, especially the version of  “Anti-Orgasm.”

Wish I could have been there, because I missed ’em when they were in DC this summer, and I would have loved to have heard the band that made the bes… I mean, a really good album that looms high in the office betting on who’s going to walk off with the vaunted T.Frenzy “Album ‘o The Year” gold cup.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 10, 2009 by johnbuckley100

Leica M9, 35mm Summilux, ISO 160, Wide Open



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