Archive for Washington DC

Chris Stamey’s “A Spy In The House Of Loud” Is An Unusual, And Excellent, Artist’s Memoir

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2018 by johnbuckley100

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It makes sense that Chris Stamey named his band The dBs, because he’s always been intrigued by the technical aspects of making music.

Stands For Decibels was this seminal New York-by-way-of-Winston-Salem band’s first album, and perhaps Stamey’s best song on it was “Cycles Per Second,” both reference points to music making.  So it makes sense that in his new book A Spy In The House Of Loud, Stamey doesn’t merely write about his bands, he writes about how they made records.  Even if you’re not a gear head, it’s fun, because he’s an engaging writer and he really was in the right place at the right time.

To place him in his proper coordinates, Chris Stamey came to New York midway through the ’70s and saw Television, often, in their earliest CBGB incarnations, quickly figured out the world was changing and that he wanted to play a role.  By 1978, he’d teamed up with fellow Southerner Alex Chilton in his post-Big Star solo foray.  Chilton and Television’s Richard Lloyd played on Stamey’s excellent initial singles, before he put together the dBs with fellow North Carolinians Will Rigby, Gene Holder, and Peter Holsapple.

If you were there at the time, and I was, the dBs were a remarkable anomaly in New York. An experimental pop band with an ear for the kind of radio hits their progenitors Big Star should have had, they existed in that post-first wave CBGB bands environment in which you could see, over successive nights, No Wave bands like DNA, the newest British important (from Gang of Four to XTC, Magazine to the Soft Boys), bands from L.A. like X, and Lou Reid’s latest incarnation.  New York was the center of the rock’n’roll world and the dBs were just slightly off kilter from the environment around them — excellent musicians with jangling guitars and a tight, propulsive rhythm section, two singer-songwriters vying for dominance, and a Farfisa adding color. They never quite made it, and some of it — explained in Stamey’s book — flowed from how they were never quite able to capture on vinyl — yeah, vinyl — that stage set that could bring down Hurrah or other clubs of the day.

Stamey went on to be a charter member of the Golden Palominos and release a number of solo albums, including one of the highlights of the 1980s, It’s Alright. Over time, as he moved back to North Carolina and raised a family, his influence on contemporary music shifted from musician to being the producer on several of the best albums of the age, particularly Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac, and Alejandro Escovedo’s A Man Under The Influence.  Most recently, it was Stamey who put together, following Chilton’s 2010 death, that series of all-star shows playing Big Star’s Sister Lovers, also known as Third.  In fact, Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live is one of the most remarkable documents of recent years, with Jeff Tweedy, Ira Kaplan, Robyn Hitchcock and so many more playing the music from this greatest of American artists of the ’70s and beyond.

And now Stamey has written a book.  A Spy In The House of Loud is fascinating reading for anyone who’s ever wanted to understand what happened when a new set of bands displaced the rot in Rock Music in the punk and post-punk era.  Stamey’s a musician and a fan, and he writes of his contemporaries with a rock critic’s eye.  But he also ably captures what happened when making albums shifted from an analog to a digital process — and all that got lost along the way.

Chris Stamey will read from his book at Politics and Prose in D.C. this coming Sunday, June 17th at 3:00 PM.

The Tulip Frenzy, 2018

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 14, 2018 by johnbuckley100

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All images Leica SL and Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 with 10X ND Filter

We missed the peak.  Which is what happens when you choose to go away for a week during the period when the Tulip Frenzy might emerge.  God, what a joy it is to see these friends, even if they are past their prime.

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We can’t account for our love of tulips.  Maybe it’s because their advent signals spring in earnest.  The ephemeral appearance.  Their individuality. How they’re a metaphor for financial excess.  The joy they bring to all. Whatever it is, we’re glad they’re here.  Even as by next week they’ll be gone.

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Our Top 10 Photos Taken This Year At Demonstrations Against Trump

Posted in Leica M, Trump Protests with tags , , , , on December 16, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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All images taken with the Leica M10 and 35mm Summilux 

The only solace we have had in 2017 against the cruel and unusual punishment visited upon the land by the election of Donald Trump has been the ability to go to Washington demonstrations.  They came so quickly after the inauguration — the Women’s March, which was scheduled, the protests against the Muslim ban, which for successive weekends were spontaneous — that at a certain point we joked about being appreciative of Trump, as he had organized our weekend activities for us: take camera to demonstration, march, record it for posterity.  In fact, we we have a gallery filled with dozens of images entitled “Washington Demonstrations In The Age of Trump”.

The picture above was taken in September at the combined March for Black Woman and March for Social Justice.  It’s our favorite image of the year because, for once, the light was decent, but also because it reflects  what happened in this awful, yet miraculous year of resistance.  See, two competing events merged into one, because the cause was unifying.  The white woman is out of place, but so what — this is the way we’re going to get out of this mess, as Virginia and Alabama show: white women and black women turning out in record numbers to vote these creeps from office.  So call that image our designated #1 picture of this year of demonstrations.  And, ah, what the Hell, here are 14 more from a remarkable year of political activity across the four seasons:

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At The Unity March For Puerto Rico

Posted in Trump Protests with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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All images Leica M10 and 35mm Summilux ASPH

On a blustery, sunny November day citizens turned out to protest the shameful treatment of Puerto Rico by the Trump Administration.  The cruelty and incompetence of  Trump and company is manifested hourly, but perhaps in no way quite so shamefully as in its treatment of three million citizens who await the help they should have received long weeks ago.

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The desperation of people who themselves, or whose relatives, have been suffering for weeks was palpable.

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But as with so many of the demonstrations since January 20th, there was an element of joy, of the fellowship that comes being with citizens who at least retain the right to speak up against this bizarre and un-American regime.

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After a large segment of the march had gone by, it seemed to reconstitute itself, and when we came close we saw that Lin-Manuel Miranda was there.  We were glad to see him, and the thousands who came out, reminding America how we are supposed to support our fellow citizens in need.

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Scenes From The 2017 High Heel Race

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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All images Leica Monochrom and 50mm Noctilux or 35mm Summicron v. IV (no flash, BTW)

The High Heel Race in Washington’s Dupont Circle is a spectacle of joy.  Taking place the Tuesday before Halloween, the 30-year old tradition has evolved to being as much for families as for anyone looking for a walk on the wild side.  It ranks up there with the Funk Parade as an event we enjoy photographing.  After a season of taking pictures at events protesting Trump, all joyous but with an undertone of seriousness, this year’s event was pure delight.

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Capital Pride Parade 2017: A Photo Gallery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on June 11, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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All images Leica M10 and 35mm Summilux FLE

Since Trump’s inauguration, we’ve taken to the streets, camera in hand, to capture the energy he’s unleashed.  The crowds have been determined — to fight back, to remove him, to save the nation and the planet — but it’s been pretty joyful, all in all, from the Women’s March through the Climate March and the smaller ones like last week’s March for Truth.  Even those spontaneous demonstrations following the Muslim Ban were filled with fellowship, if not precisely happiness — people smiled for the camera, they were glad to be counted.

The 2017 Capital Pride Parade today was as if the blight of Trump had not settled upon the land.  It’s always a fun event, but today’s felt like we caught a glimpse of what life will be when this pestilential administration has gone back where it came from.  What a delight it is to live in a city with such a large and dynamic LGBTQ community, and their thousands of friends, gay and straight, who come out each year to show their true colors.

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At The March For Truth DC: A Photo Gallery

Posted in Trump Protests with tags , , , , on June 3, 2017 by johnbuckley100

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All images Leica M10 and 35mm Summilux FLE.

Six months in, with the damage of the Trump presidency more obvious by the minute, the resistance will not let up.  On a hot summer day in DC, crowds still came out for the March For Truth, the protest organized around the principle that the President of the United States, his family, his staff, and their collusion with the Russians should be properly investigated.  This will be a big week on that score.  We believe our Saturdays will continue to be organized around capturing this steady resistance.

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