Saturday, December 31, 2011

Into The Future

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again."

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Gallery Of Cool, Take Nine

Francoise Hardy


Lauren Bacall

The Purple Hearts

Laurel Aitken

The Birds

Lou Reed and Nico

Ringo Starr

[ Previous Galleries Of Cool: 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 ]

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"How comforting it is, once or twice a year, to get together and forget the old times."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Point Of No Return

Sean Bonniwell
Rest In Peace

I feel quite fortunate to have corresponded on and off with Sean Bonniwell for a brief period of time, sparked by him digging a review I wrote of a Music Machine reissue (Ignition, to be precise). He was really a one of a kind person, and a truly underrated and beyond-gifted songwriter. His incredible body of work speaks more than a mere eulogy ever could... May he rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A.I.T.A. Hall Of Fame: Peter Laughner


"Ain't it fun when you know that you're gonna die young."

To most who dig deep into rock history and search for its underbelly, Peter Laughner is remembered as a founding member of Cleveland's legendary 1970s proto-punks Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu, as well as a gifted rock critic from the days when they really mattered. To me, Laughner's legacy lies just as much in the solo acoustic cuts he laid down, many recorded the night before he left this mortal coil due to years of alcohol and drug abuse (you can almost taste the speed on all four takes of his manic "Ridin' On Ice"). "First Taste Of Heartache" and both versions of the brilliant "The Junkman" — recorded on that fateful night — belong on the same playlist as the sonic-ache/tragi-folk as put forth by the likes of Nick Drake, Tim Hardin, Townes Van Zandt, and Gary Higgins, though with a slant which is more Lou Reed than Bob Dylan. Speaking of Dylan, Laughner's cracked take on "Visions Of Johanna" is the ultimate cover version of what is one of Zimmy's true lyrical masterpieces. On these tapes he also showed his love of deep blues and poetry, via heartfelt covers of the great Robert Johnson, and songs paying tribute to two of the greatest poets to have walked this green earth... All this from a man who died at 24 years old.

Download: "Amphetamine" * • Download: "Ain't It Fun" *
Download: "Visions Of Johanna" • Download: "32.20 Blues"
Download: "Me And The Devil Blues" • Download: "Baudelaire"
Download: "Dear Richard" ** • Download: "The Junkman 1"
Download: "Ridin' On Ice 2" • Download: "The Junkman 2"

Laughner with RFTT
** Laughner with Friction

Monday, December 19, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"Without free, self-respecting, and autonomous citizens, there can be no free and independent nations. Without internal peace, that is, peace among citizens and between the citizens and their state, there can be no guarantee of external peace. A state that denies its citizens their basic rights becomes a danger to its neighbors as well: internal arbitrary rule will be reflected in arbitrary external relations. The suppression of public opinion, the abolition of public competition for power and its public exercise opens the way for the state power to arm itself in any way it sees fit."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens, R.I.P.

"Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness,
truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way." -Hitch

Christopher Hitchens was a hero (a word I reserve for very few), and I am absolutely devastated by his death. Reading Letters To A Young Contrarian in 2001 was a real life-changer, and after that I devoured pretty much every word the man wrote, not to mention tried to watch all his debates and TV appearances. Even if I didn't always agree with him, I always respected his opinion and marveled at his wit, compassion, bravery, incredible depth of knowledge, style, and love of the arts. Through Hitchens, I dove full-on into Orwell's writings (with much reward), fell in love with the poetry of Auden, and questioned stances I once held with great pride. I also felt like someone "got me" and articulated some of my deepest held views better than I ever could have hoped to have done on my own. Though he gave so very much, his loss is truly immeasurable.

Read: A Great Journalist’s Greatest Magazine Stories (via Longform)
Read: Hitchens Obituaries (via The Richard Dawkins Foundation)
Dig: God Is Not Great (Hitchens documentary trailer)
Dig: Five Great Christopher Hitchens Debates

Thursday, December 15, 2011

220 Years?

"By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in U.S. law. In the past, Obama has lauded the importance of being on the right side of history, but today he is definitely on the wrong side." -Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Adult Crash

"Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into
the world, he is responsible for everything he does."

From Existentialism Is Humanism, 1946

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Wanderer And His Shadow

I found out the morning after. I was in my folks' bedroom, kicking my feet into the blankets while lying on my stomach watching TV, as I did most mornings. My mom had already left for work, and my dad was in the bathroom preparing for the day. As always, the tiny radio he had in there with him was blasting the morning news. I was lost in the world of Fred and Barney when out he walked solemnly, red-eyed and with a face loaded with shaving cream. He told me John Lennon — who was one of my heroes in a time when I still had them — had been shot and killed. I was shocked. I felt like someone I actually knew died. The Beatles, along with Dylan and the Stones, brought me some of my earliest memories of happiness; days when I was content just sitting on the floor in my room alone with a meagre stack of glorious vinyl, listening to the sounds that took me away to other worlds. The moment I found out about Lennon dying also sticks with me as it was the first time I can recall seeing my dad cry, or at least be near tears. I finally saw him as human, and realized that my now-dead hero was also human; all too human.

Post originally titled 30 Years Ago Today, published 12/8/10.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Get It While You Can

Howard Tate
Rest In Peace

"Howard Tate died yesterday. He had been in poor health so it was no surprise to those who knew him. Howard was a great soul singer in that time when 'great soul singer' was a phrase that fit so many. In the late 1960s, he was up against Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Carr, Percy Sledge, Joe Tex, Sam & Dave and a whole lot of others." ... Story continues here: It's Not The Singer, It's The Song (Dick Waterman Music Photography)

Dig: Howard Tate (AllMusic bio)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thread Of Time #3

For the much-delayed third installment of Thread Of Time, we present Delincuentes, a compilation of lost, boss Latin American '60s sounds. Released back in 2001 by Martian Records (apparantly the same folks that gave us the Ils Sont Fous Ces Galois! series), the comp includes a few bands well-known to trans-world '60s addicts, like Peru's godlike Los Yorks and Los Saicos, along with lesser-knowns from the likes of Mexico, Columbia, Uruguay and Chilé. Sure, there's the usual clutch of cover versions included, but overall the quality on this one is top-flight all the way, with tons of fuzz, stomp, lustful vocals, and cheap swirling organ sounds. Highlights include "Ya Se," the Mexican punk classic by Los Ovnis, the psychotic "El Loco" by the aforementioned Los Yorks, the scorching "Lo Sue Sera" by Chilé's Los Beat 4, Los Yaki's "Las Estatuas De Marfil" (think Bob Seger and The Last Heard as filtered through a haze of mezcal), and Los Shains' dance-floor raver, "Shains A Go Go." Muy caliente!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"There comes a time in history when the man who dares to say that two and two make four is punished with death. The schoolteacher is well aware of this. And the question is not one of knowing what punishment or reward attends the making of this calculation. The question is that of knowing whether two and two do make four."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I’m Only Passing Through

Don Devito
Rest In Peace

"Don DeVito was Dylan’s most important producer during the 1970s. Together they did four albums, starting with the absolute classic Desire in 1976, the two live albums Hard Rain and At Budokan, as well as 1978′s Street Legal including the hits "Señor" and "Changing Of The Guards." In the 1990s DeVito returned as a compilation producer for the Bootleg Series, Vol.1-3 boxset in 1991, the 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration in 1993, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 in 1994 and The Best Of Bob Dylan in 1997. In 2000 he produced the single "Things Have Changed," which won the Oscar in 2001 for 'Best Song.' Lately he was recording Supervisor of the Bootleg Series Vol. 5 and producer of the Hybrid SACD set." [Text via Positively Bob Dylan]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grave Yard Trains

"The air conditioning never worked. People rode between cars because it was the only way to stay cool. And there was a way higher crime rate in the subway back then than on the streets. Everyone knew it. You avoided falling asleep at all costs." -John Conn

Bronx-born John Conn began his career at age nineteen as a United States Marine Corps photographer. Following his service, he earned a BFA in photography from the School Of Visual Arts in New York City, where he graduated with honors.

His work has been published in Time/Life Books, The New York Sunday Times, and in magazines including Nikon World, Hasselblad, Rangefinder, Studio Photography, Shutterbug, LensWork, and Popular Photography.

In the late 1970s while working as a freelance photographer, he captured the powerful black and white subway images that have become his signature collection. The artistry and historical significance of this work has earned it a place in the permanent collection of the Museum Of The City Of New York.

Dig: John Conn Photography

All photographs by John Conn

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"The worst fear is that I'll learn to be happy AT LAST and then get real sad when I see what I've missed."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

These Little Town Blues

"I've got the greatest job in the world. There's no other job in government where cause and effect is so tightly coupled where you can make a difference every day in so many different ways and in so many different people's lives." -Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor

Video by Casey Neistat

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Push On!

"Mightier than the tread of marching armies is the power of an idea whose time has come." -Victor Hugo

Photograph by Lee Greenfeld © 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception... If any one, upon serious and unprejudic'd reflection thinks he has a different notion of himself, I must confess I can reason no longer with him. All I can allow him is, that he may be in the right as well as I, and that we are essentially different in this particular. He may, perhaps, perceive something simple and continu'd, which he calls himself; tho' I am certain there is no such principle in me." [from A Treatise Of Human Nature]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Death Of The American Family

Bil Keane
Rest In Peace

"Daily, for more than half a century, millions of readers have received a serving of Bil (he really did spell it with one "L") Keane’s traditional-value, homespun humor in his cartoon The Family Circus, published in recent years in nearly 1,500 newspapers." ... Story continues here: Bil Keane, Creator Of ‘The Family Circus,’ Dies At 89 (NY Times)

Dig: The Family Circus (official site)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Out Of The Shadows

Joe Frazier
Rest In Peace

"Finally, in death, it appears Joe Frazier finally stepped out of Muhammad Ali's shadow... After Frazier died Monday night after a long battle with liver cancer, the appreciation began to pour out for the man doomed to be the second half of the Ali-Frazier coupling since their three epic battles in the early '70s. But even as Ali's name hung close to the top of every story told about Frazier, it fell behind for a change. As Ali gracefully expressed his sympathy, respect and admiration for Frazier, others made the case for him as far more than Ali's foil." ... Story continues here: Remembering Joe Frazier, The Working Man’s Champion (NY Times)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"The metaphysical comfort — with which, I am suggesting even now, every true tragedy leaves us —that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable —this comfort appears in incarnate clarity in the chorus of the satyrs, a chorus of natural beings who live ineradicably, as it were, behind all civilization and remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of the history of nations."

Friday, November 4, 2011

A.I.T.A. Hall Of Fame: Christopher Hitchens

"About once or twice every month I engage in public debates with those whose pressing need it is to woo and to win the approval of supernatural beings. Very often, when I give my view that there is no supernatural dimension, and certainly not one that is only or especially available to the faithful, and that the natural world is wonderful enough — and even miraculous enough if you insist — I attract pitying looks and anxious questions. How, in that case, I am asked, do I find meaning and purpose in life? How does a mere and gross materialist, with no expectation of a life to come, decide what, if anything, is worth caring about?

Depending on my mood, I sometimes but not always refrain from pointing out what a breathtakingly insulting and patronizing question this is. (It is on a par with the equally subtle inquiry: Since you don't believe in our god, what stops you from stealing and lying and raping and killing to your heart's content?) Just as the answer to the latter question is: self-respect and the desire for the respect of others — while in the meantime it is precisely those who think they have divine permission who are truly capable of any atrocity — so the answer to the first question falls into two parts. A life that partakes even a little of friendship, love, irony, humor, parenthood, literature, and music, and the chance to take part in battles for the liberation of others cannot be called 'meaningless' except if the person living it is also an existentialist and elects to call it so. It could be that all existence is a pointless joke, but it is not in fact possible to live one's everyday life as if this were so. Whereas if one sought to define meaninglessness and futility, the idea that a human life should be expended in the guilty, fearful, self-obsessed propitiation of supernatural nonentities... but there, there. Enough." [from Hitch-22]

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Sign Of The Times?

Photography by Lee Greenfeld © 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"There is nothing funny about Halloween. This sarcastic festival reflects, rather, an infernal demand for revenge by children on the adult world."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it."

Friday, October 21, 2011

When The Ship Comes In

Barry Feinstein
Rest In Peace

"Barry Feinstein, a photographer who chronicled the lives of seminal rock'n'roll stars of the 1960s, and who was perhaps best known for the stark portrait of Bob Dylan on the cover of the 1964 album The Times They Are A-Changin’, died on Thursday in a hospital near his home in Woodstock, NY." ... Story continues here: Barry Feinstein, Photographer of Defining Rock Portraits, Dies at 80 (NY Times)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent. "

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gotham's Lost Tribe

"Sunshine Rebels tells the story of a group of inner-city teenagers who in the 1970s came together in New York City’s Central Park and in the process left an indelible stamp on world culture through startling innovations in street art, alternative music and extreme sports.

A coming-of-age story set at the nadir of New York City history, and in the world’s most famous — and at that time infamous — park, abandoned and crumbling amid the city’s collapsed economy, the documentary reveals a unique and colorful 1970s subculture. The film highlights a family that formed at the Central Park Bandshell, a family that to this day is held together by the ties formed then.

Some became legends... Some moved on... Some died.

An important New York City story, Sunshine Rebels highlights the lives of intriguing figures who lived communally, intensely, at times ferally, in the shadowy grounds of Central Park's Naumburg Bandshell, the heart of a reeling and broken Gotham City. In the process they contributed to the cultural and artistic shifts that continue to have an impact today."

Dig: Sunshine Rebels (official film site)
Support: Sunshine Rebels (Kickstarter site)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you." [From the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture at UCLA, March 2010]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There Comes A Time

Bert Jansch
Rest In Peace

"Of all the guitarists to emerge from the early days of the British folk music revival, it was Bert Jansch, who has died aged 67, who had the most sustained influence, not only within folk circles, but also on the wider music scene. To Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Jansch was "the innovator of the time … so far ahead of what anyone else was doing". Johnny Marr of the Smiths described Jansch's effect on his musicianship as "massive … one of the most influential and intriguing musicians to have come out of the British music scene." ... Story continues here: Bert Jansch Obituary (The Guardian)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In Unity

"Agitators are a set of interfering, meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent amongst them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them, in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization." -Oscar Wilde

Monday, October 3, 2011

Quote Of The Week

"There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you're free the machine will be prevented from working at all."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The City In Motion

"The people in the subway, their flesh juxtaposed against the graffiti, the penetrating effect of the strobe light itself, and even the hollow darkness of the tunnels, inspired an aesthetic that goes unnoticed by passengers who are trapped underground, hiding behind masks and closed off from each other." -Bruce Davidson

Bruce Davidson is undeniably one of the most influential and important photographers of our time. Picking up a camera at the age of ten, Davidson quickly found himself on the streets of Chicago, photographing city life. After attending Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University, Davidson was drafted in the army and stationed near Paris, where he first met Henri Cartier-Bresson. In 1957, after his service ended, Davidson starting working for Life Magazine and became a full-time member of Magnum in 1958.

From 1958 to 1961, Davidson made some of his most seminal bodies of work, including The Dwarf, Brooklyn Gang and Freedom Riders. A Guggenheim grant in 1962 led him to create Time Of Change, which documented the civil rights movement in the United States. After a one-person show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1963, followed by a NEA grant in 1967, Davidson spent two years photographing in Harlem, resulting in East 100th Street, one of the most powerful documentations of poverty and housing discrimination ever published. In 1980, after living in New York City for 23 years, Davidson turned his camera underground, creating a startling color essay of urban life in Subway. -Catherine Edelman Gallery

Buy: Subway (2011 reprint edition)
Dig: A selection Davidson's photographs
Dig: The Way It Was (Brooklyn Gang)

All photographs by Bruce Davidson (Rose Gallery)