Archive for the ‘Photo Essays’ Category

shameSOUNDTRACK: REGINA HELCHER YOST-“Up on the Housetop” (2008).

winstonI am introducing my selection of new (to me) Christmas music with this bizarre (and topically appropriate) entry.  I heard this song on NPR’s Holiday music show from 2008 (it’s in the 2009 show as well, but the 2008 version includes the CD opening!).  So Winston is, apparently, the pug on the cover.  And this version of “Up on the Housetop” (a song I didn’t recognize but have since heard other version of which makes this even stranger) is a (mostly) instrumental one.

The main melody is played on a tin whistle with flute, accompaniment.  But that’s not the only accompaniment, because Winston chimes in throughout the song.  He makes barks and growls and whines and, at the very end of the song he barks in tune with the beat (or should I say his barks were placed in time with the beat).  Despite how goofy it is, the whistle is done very well and the song is actually quite pretty.

Normally NPR tells you a lot about the artists that they play, but not a word was given about Regina.  Here’s what I found out about this CD: “A fun CD featuring beautiful traditional Christmas flute melodies played by internationally acclaimed flutist Regina Helcher Yost and accompanied by her pug dog, Winston to help support the Pug Rescue of North Carolina.”

Amazon has samples of tracks online.  While I think this track is cute, “The 12 Pugs of Christmas” may be the most interminable version of that interminable song I have ever heard (and I only heard 20 seconds of it).  But there you have it.

Ho Ho Woof.

[READ: December 6, 2013] Dog Shaming

Typically by the time a blog gets a book, the blog has outlived its usefulness, or funny-ness.  I don’t know how long Dog Shaming has been around (not very long I don’t think).  I only visited the site once, but I was delighted by the premise and the entries.  So when I saw this book at the library I knew I had to check it out.

This is the perfect blog-into-book thing.  There is a very brief introduction which explains the origins of the site (something I never bothered to find out online).  It also talks about what a huge phenomenon Dog Shaming is (I guess).  And implies that the site will live forever (I think it’s good they got a book deal when they did).

But snarkiness aside, this book is really frikkin funny.  Evidently it is largely photos that were unused on the site (I’m not sure why they were unused, as it implies that one or the other was not good enough for the photos), but whatever, it’s nice that the book isn’t just the web site.  It also says that there are fan favorites from the site included.  As I said I’ve only visited once, so I don’t know which is which. (more…)

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school spiritSOUNDTRACK: PINK FLOYD-Live BBC 1970-1971 (1970/1971).

pink-floyd-paris-theatre-london-bbc-archives-back-cover-17638Since I am delving deeply into early Pink Floyd, I came across this bootleg of Floyd on the John Peel show.

The first show is Live at Paris Cinema, London 07-16-1970, just before the release of the album Atom Heart Mother (which we know because Peel says the song will be on their forthcoming album).  The first set includes “Embryo” (which only ever appeared on their compilation Works, in a much shorter version), “Fat Old Sun” (from AHM), “Green is the Colour” (from the More soundtrack), “Careful with that Axe, Eugene” (available on Relics and in live formats), “If” (from AHM) and “Atom Heart Mother.”

The version of “AHM” here is interesting  because the cello solo is played by a horn instead.  The reason for this is because it allowed them to have fewer musicians on tour.  It’s the same theme but the horn brings a very different feel than the cello did.  It’s also interesting to hear that the horn players are nowhere near as polished as they might be.  (In Geesin’s book he does talk about the lack of rehearsal the orchestra had for their live shows).

The second show is Live at Paris Cinema 09-30-1971, just over a year later.  They once again do “Fat Old Sun” but in 1970 it was 6 minutes and in 1971 it is now 15 minutes long with a lot of jamming and keyboard stuff thrown on top.  Next up is “One of These Days” (from the forthcoming Meddle) a favorite of mine. From this set I learned that the distorted voice that says “one of these days I’m going to cut  you in to little pieces” is actually that of Nick Mason (and interestingly, in this version, the quote comes at the end of the song rather than the middle).  Then they play “Embryo” again (it was clearly a concert favorite even if it never got a proper release (same length for each show and not drastically different).  Then comes “Echoes,” the big side long epic from Meddle.  And the set ends with “Blues,” which is indeed a blues.  I don’t really expect to hear a blues from Pink Floyd, but here it is, and it’s a good one (Gilmour clearly can jam to anything).

The video below contains the two complete shows running at over 2 hours.

[READ: September 29, 2013] School Spirit

This is the final obscure Douglas Coupland book that I’m aware of and will be the final DC book that I need to hunt down for this blog (I have three other proper novels that I haven’t posted about, but those are proper books and will be dealt with in turn).

This book has about the least amount of information about it that I’ve seen in a book.

The (I assume) official description of the book (which I get from Amazon and Google Books) says

Dis Voir’s Encounters series invites a well-known contemporary artist to choose a subject for a book. The artist also selects a person with “elective affinities”–someone with whom he or she would like to share this exchange. The resulting collaborative volumes serve as an artistic and political laboratory of the present. For this first installment, French artist Pierre Huyghe choose Canadian writer Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, for the influence that Coupland has had on his generation, and on Huyghe’s own work. Using a high school yearbook as scaffolding for their meditations, they discuss the construction of character, narrative techniques based on chance and the political dimensions of Coupland’s work–themes that are also fundamental questions for Huyghe’s projects.  Using a high school yearbook as the framework for a meditation on memory.

But my copy (which has a different cover and limited publication information so may possibly be a different version) does not have anything to say at all about “the construction of character, narrative techniques based on chance and the political dimensions of Coupland’s work.” (more…)

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hardartSOUNDTRACK: THE TEEN IDLES-Minor Disturbance (1981).

minorThe Teen Idles were the first band released on Ian MacKaye’s Dischord Records.  And this EP was record 001 (MacKaye was in the band and he made his own label to release the record).

There are eight songs, done in a total of 9 minutes and 20 seconds.  The final song is a live track and it reaches 2 minutes mostly because of the introduction and crowd noise.  Three songs almost reach 90 seconds long.  The rest are under 1 minute.

Interestingly, there are earlier demos of these songs that are a little slower and a little less fastinyourfacescreamedlyricswhat???  Perhaps because I’m old I like the slower ones a little better, but I know that this represents the core of DC Hardcore and I respect that.  And you can actually make out the lyrics if you try.

Some themes include being too young to go to shows, people trying to grow old too fast, punk music (“you say we need practice, maybe in a couple of years”), and apparently dissing British punk for selling out. (“There goes your fury out the door, don’t expect our respect anymore”).

The acerbic “Deadhead” even has a slow section (but is still overall less than 90 seconds) in which they parody the Grateful Dead—the song is anti-Dead primarily because of the drugs they espoused (The Teen Idles, like Minor Threat were straight edge).  I had to look up Fiorucci to see what “Fiorucci Nightmare” was about (it’s a fashion house).

For an early taste of the DC Hardcore scene, it pretty much starts here.

[READ: August 22, 2013] Hard Art DC 1979

Do you like punk rock?  Punk rock from the late 70s? Specifically bands from Washington DC? In particular bands that played at three venues?  On four specific dates?  That’s the focus of this book.

This is a collection of photographs by Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Lucien Perkins.  Perkins has been taking pictures for decades, primarily for The Washington Post—covering major events in Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and, in the late 70s, a few DC punk shows.

The book doesn’t say anything about his motive for doing these shows—other than that he was new to the scene and thought it looked interesting.  And since Bad Brains are the focus of most of the pictures, I’m certain that race and racism had something to do with his showing up at these events.  Especially because the first event was called Rock Against Racism and was held in a public housing area of Washington D.C. (more…)

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bikesSOUNDTRACK: ARCHIE PELAGO-“Avocado Roller” (2013).

archie-563227e1389d31573229dc9d8c7651d5cda681a0-s1I’d never heard of Archie Pelago (get it?).  This is an instrumental that begins with lots of electronic percussion, creating  complex rhythms and beats. It’s funky, but mildly funky.  Then after about a minute or so, there’s some music thrown on top–layers of sounds that are interesting. Then comes a weird sax solo–is this suddenly smooth jazz?  Then we gets some voices and spoken word, all working to create an instrumental soundscape.

I can see this in a movie, although I wouldn’t choose to listen to it myself.

[READ: May 19, 2013] Bicycles Locked to Poles

I recall when this book came out from McSweeney’s and I remember thinking what a weird idea–a book of pictures of bicycles locked to poles.  I thought it sounded … I don’t know… weird.  So, when I saw it used for a penny I decided to check it out.  And indeed, nearly ten years later it’s still weird.

It is an incredibly audacious book as it is literally just pictures of bicycles locked to poles (and an occasional tree).  The book is broken down into four parts, although there is no difference between the parts–it’s just more pictures.  And there is no text at all.  Except for a chart on the front and back inside cover which shows what pats of the bike were left in the picture (an unusual index which could be useful if you were doing some kind of study of the state of bicycles left to poles, but something which is not terribly useful in this book).  Categories include: Frame, fork, front wheel–spokes, steering–grips, comfort–saddle, options–front basket. (more…)

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wim SOUNDTRACK: GIRAFFES? GIRAFFES!-“Fucking Ants Man! Where They Coming From? (Let’s Hang The Carroll Footnoteitsists)” (2005).

girafI just learned that there is a band named Giraffes? Giraffes!, which is the name of a silly book published by McSweeney’s.  I was so delighted to find out about this band, that I immediately went to their band camp site, where I was further delighted to find out that they are an instrumental post-rock kind of band with some great tunes.  And, of course, when your songs are instrumental, you get to make up the best titles.  Like this one.

There’s only two guys in the band which must mean overdubs (I hope so, otherwise they defy physics).  This song starts out with a riff in what I think is 5/4 time which discombobulates for a while until it becomes a wild guitar riff (and the drums come more to the fore).  While that speedy riff is going on, another more pleasant solo plays over the top.  Then the song plays some really fast drums with chords that sound like mid 70s Who, which is followed by another pretty guitar solo.  The end resorts back to some mild chaos and fun until it ends very prettily.

If you like post rock, give Giraffes? Giraffes! a try.

This song comes from their debut album, Superbass!!!! (Black Death Greatest Hits Vol. 1).  Which you can hear here.

[READ May 5, 2013] Places, Strange and Quiet

This is a book of photographs by Wim Wenders, filmmaker extraordinaire.  What I fouond very interesting about this book is that it is not a book of art (as far as I define it).  It is rather a book of documentation.  These pictures are not beautiful, they are not artistically arranged, they are not profound.  Rather, it is the combination of picture and text that really makes the story.  In some ways this becomes a book of stills from a never-to-be-made film.  And as such, it’s very cool.

The first one is a picture of a family in front of a dinosaur (which looks like it is from the 1970s—huh turns out to be 1983).  It is under-lit and not very impressive.  Until you read the sidebar: “A picture is defined twice.  When you see the whole at first glance: “A dinosaur!  A family!” And then when you find a detail that changes everything…Mom reading in the backseat.  He’s absolutely right.

I loved “Sun Bather” with a crazy scene of polka dotted sun benches in Palermo.  Wender’s text: “Nothing exists without its opposite…But what could the opposite of this be?”  To me the most profound pictures are the series Ferris Wheel from two different angles. His comment “Sometimes only the reverse angle tells the truth” is really powerful, because from one angle the Ferris Wheel shows one scene and yet from the other the background is entirely different.

I loved the wall with sink and the Armenian alphabet—although the Armenian cemetery was even more impressive.  And the gorgeous gorgeous (this one is art) pictures of the islands off of Japan is simply beautiful. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FOREVER THE SICKEST KIDS-“What Do You Want from Me?” (2010).

I wanted to a pick a song from this soundtrack to add here.  Evidently there isn’t really a soundtrack so much as a score (who is buying the score from this film?).  Well, I’ll bet it was fun to write a piece called “Zoo Wee Mama.”

Anyhow, this song is apparently in the movie (over the end credits).  According to Amazon, you can order the MP3 that is somehow affiliated with the soundtrack.

So this is a poppy emo song.  It’s got loud guitars and a chanting chorus and it’s pretty darn catchy.  It sounds like so many other bands that I’d never have guessed it wasn’t by any of  dozen bands that are kinda punk but not really with high-pitched singers who are kind of bratty.  This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it–in small doses I like emo a lot.  I dislike that this had a lot of “Hey Ho” chanting which is just way too easy to make it catchy.  But aside from that, I would leave this song on at a party.

The actual Amazon MP3 is a “Diary of a Wimpy Kid Mix”.  I have no idea what they have changed about it, though as I only listened to the original.

[READ: April 25, 2012] The Wimpy Kid Movie Diary

I have enjoyed every one of the Wimpy Kid books (and now my son is enjoying them too, although he’s still too young to “get” them).  But I never bothered checking out this book because it seemed, well, unfunny.  Then I saw the book at Five Below for a couple bucks so I grabbed it.

This is a movie tie-in book.  But what’s nice about this book as opposed to many other tie-ins is that Jeff Kinney actually wrote it (I think–his name’s on it, after all).  There are also new drawings that tie in to what he’s writing about and lots and lots of pictures from the movie.

If you’re a fan of the books, this book won’t do a lot for you.  Although there are a few insights into how Kinney got started making his series–including some original drawings.  But if you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll learn a lot.  Kinney talks about how they chose the actors they hired (which was quiet interesting), where the movie was filmed (Vancouver) and what kind of homework he made the two leads do (they had to write an essay from the point of view of who they were playing to make sure they understood the character). (more…)

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Stop the presses…  I just received an email that I was given a Versatile Blogger Award!

The super cool folks at tripsfor2 ranked me as one of 15 bloggers deserving this award.  And just as I was fearing I would have to reduce my output, they rave about my output!

The rules of the award state that I must write some details about myself and also pass along this award to fifteen other bloggers.  Since I just found that out, that will have to wait until probably next week, when I have a moment to think about it.

But in the meantime, I want to thank Hadi and Kathleen who have really wonderful posts about traveling (I swear, they’ve been everywhere) including, but not limited to some wonderful posts about aboriginal art.  And the photos are really great.  They are (just about) all by Hadi.  I mean, check out the birds here and the hummingbird that attracted me to his photos in the first place (on a different site but the same folks).

This was a delightful way to start of 2012.  As was a wonderful selection of short story recommendations from Karen Carlson over at A Just Recompense.  She has given me a selection of really intriguing stories to read and I’m quite grateful for them.  I hope to start those this week.  Oh, and just when I thought that Karen was only about the books, a quick browse over to her site shows that she’s also a Project Runway fan.  I’ll be checking in with her as the year progresses.

A final note, my wife has been taking beautiful pictures for over two years now.  She posts a picture every day at her site The Fair View.  For her end of the year post at her other blog Sew Buttons, she posted her favorite photos of the year.  And while I’m biased (and even more because there’s several of my kids), I think she takes some really stunning pictures. So, if you like nature photos (and photos of other people’s kids, pop on over.  And if you like what you see, spread the word.  I know there’s a million photographers out there, but I happen to think she’s terribly under-recognized (she needs some work on the shameless self promotion side of things). (more…)

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