I took this photo in the Cook County Forest Preserve somewhere in 2015, and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 22nd, 2021.
I like some aspect of all three versions, and instead of discarding 2 of the three, decided to publish all three as a sort of triptych. If and when I print them, I’d like to make a 3d triangle sculpture, and hang it on a thread so it can rotate.
These are the thumbnails, but the image is better when bigger, imo.1
The original version of the photograph. I especially like the golden reflections of tree trunks in the pond. Also the faint reds of the leaves at the bottom right.
The tinted version speaks a different emotional language, achieved by using cross-processing2 of Ektar film. Maybe I’d use this as my LP album cover, when I release that sometime in the future.
The black and white version, using Fuji Neopan 16003 is more stark, yet beautiful because of it. There aren’t quite enough visual clues to ascertain exactly what this is a photo of until the viewer studies it for a moment.
The Dean of Rock Critics™, Robert Christgau, writes about a subject near and dear to my heart, namely can we separate the artist from the art?
A little while back in the introduction to your resurfacing of an old piece about Biz Markie, you wrote that you were boycotting Van Morrison. I’ve felt similarly disappointed and disgusted by him of late. (Same goes for Eric Clapton.) Short of him renouncing things he’s said—which seems unlikely—is there anything that would bring you back to his music? I have so much love for so much of his work, and I’m tempted to justify continuing to listen with the belief that the man singing “Into the Mystic” or “Everyone” is not the old crank talking harmful nonsense today. But that leap can feel awfully forced on some days. Should I be making it at all? Does it make an ethical difference if I’m listening to CDs and albums I’ve already bought and not listening to streams? I.E., not putting more money in his pocket. I guess I’m just curious to know more about how you draw—and might redraw—your lines in a case like Van’s. — David Marchese, Brooklyn
Ever read Barney Hoskyns’s excellent Small Town Talk, about the Woodstock “scene”? Van’s not a major player there, but he gets what I presume is his due, which left me with no doubt that he’s long if not always been a major prick. When I read it back in 2018 this did not stop me from listening to Moondance or Into the Music or “Jackie Wilson Said.” Nor has the ignorant, reactionary, racist-to-anti-Semitic blather he and his homeboy Clapton have been spewing during the pandemic turned me off their music (though the only Clapton I actively like is half a century old) because, yes, the music has its own reality. You could even say that the guy who’s making the music is not the prick—that he inhabits or creates some other reality when he sings and plays. So my boycott is about Morrison’s current Latest Record Project, which Greil Marcus did review and thought sounded pretty good until it approached the Protocols of the Elders of Zion part. But Greil’s a big big Van fan, where I’ve merely found some value in his ceaseless recent output. So it’s easy enough for me to say fuck that shit.
Speaking for myself, mostly I can distinguish the music (or other art) as a different entity from the artist who created the art. I always think of Ezra Pound’s fascist leanings, and his poems. Jimmy Page and David Bowie both had a sexual relationship with the same teenaged girl. John Lennon beat his wife. The film Chinatown remains great, despite the ickiness of the rapist Roman Polanski. George Orwell ratted out alleged communist-sympathizers. And so on, there is a long list of people behaving badly who are artists of note.
I rationalize listening to Van Morrison’s back catalog (some of which is pretty great) by not streaming or purchasing any of his newer work. I actually have all the Van Morrison albums I need (though I think my brother borrowed a few of my Van Morrison vinyl LPs), and Eric Clapton hasn’t made good music in decades, imo.
I took this photo on August 6th, 2021, and processed it in my digital darkroom on August 12th, 2021.
ƒ/1.8 at 1/160
35.0 mm prime lens
I think this was embedded in a church wall, but I could be wrong. Maybe it was a former priest’s apartment? I cannot recall. Somewhere in the Gold Coast, probably on Dearborn, if memory serves.
Is the face a Christ? Seems like it could be, though the broken nose reminds me of the Egyptian sculptures, and the conspiracy that the noses were broken off because they were African, or other reasons.
I liked the inherent decay of the sculpture1 and the expression of this man. So seriously sad.
I was listening to my vinyl collection; tonight I played Bob Dylan’s often disparaged album, Street-Legal, which I happen to think is pretty good. By the way, Jerry Garcia recorded a good cover of Señor (Tales of Yankee Power), as did Willie Nelson with Calexico, if you are keeping track.
Senor, senor, do you know where she is hidin’? How long are we gonna be ridin’? How long must I keep my eyes glued to the door? Will there be any comfort there, senor?
This seemed appropriate for a Christ embedded on a stone wall…
I’ve been ruminating about the new draconian Texas anti-abortion law we discussed recently. I’m deeply disturbed by it, and its potential for damage to young mothers & fathers. Not every act of fornication should result in progeny1 which is the long term plan of these Christian Taliban zealots.
Birth control should be free as well, I expect the Christian Taliban to start exerting pressure on this next.
Quoting from Lawrence Tribe:
If you suspect that a Texan is seeking to obtain an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, not only will you be able to sue the provider to try to stop it, but if you succeed, you’ll also be entitled to compensation. (And what’s known as the litigation privilege would likely protect you from a defamation claim even if you’re wrong.)
I have not yet made the time to read S.B. 8 closely, but can reports be made anonymously? If so, every liberal minded person in the entire world should file a report naming some conservative woman, or the wife and daughters of a conservative man.
If reports cannot be made anonymously, there still must be a concerted effort to gum up the works, to throw a wrench in the gears so that the machinery of repression cannot move freely. Brave and dedicated women2 could claim to have abortions, whether or not they did, and report each other. If hundreds of thousands or even millions of women are being investigated by Ken Paxton’s Uterus Police™, they won’t be able to process them all.
We cannot let this madness continue.
Planned Parenthood could use your donation too:
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new abortion ban into law
Sometimes referred to as the “heartbeat bill,” SB 8 is one of the most extreme abortion bans in the U.S. It would ban abortion in Texas at approximately six weeks — before most people even know they’re pregnant — with no exceptions for rape, sexual abuse, incest, and fetal anomaly diagnoses. For people with a regular menstrual cycle, that’s just two weeks after a missed period.
Abortion is still safe and legal throughout Texas and in all 50 states. Our health centers are open for patients to get the care they need, including medication and surgical abortion. Texas’ new abortion ban (SB 8) 8 is set to go into effect September 1, 2021, but we are now in court to challenge this extreme law.
Maybe the lawsuits will nip this vile legislative cruelty before it spreads across the nation, but we need a Plan B too…
and yes, speaking from personal experience, I am glad I came of age in a time after Roe v. Wade was settled law but before this current crop of zealots became powerful enough to impose their will on a reluctant public [↩]
The article that appeared online on Feb. 9 began with a seemingly innocuous question about the legal definition of vaccines. Then over its next 3,400 words, it declared coronavirus vaccines were “a medical fraud” and said the injections did not prevent infections, provide immunity or stop transmission of the disease.
Instead, the article claimed, the shots “alter your genetic coding, turning you into a viral protein factory that has no off-switch.”
Its assertions were easily disprovable. No matter. Over the next few hours, the article was translated from English into Spanish and Polish. It appeared on dozens of blogs and was picked up by anti-vaccination activists, who repeated the false claims online. The article also made its way to Facebook, where it reached 400,000 people, according to data from CrowdTangle, a Facebook-owned tool.
The entire effort traced back to one person: Joseph Mercola.
Dr. Mercola, 67, an osteopathic physician in Cape Coral, Fla., has long been a subject of criticism and government regulatory actions for his promotion of unproven or unapproved treatments. But most recently, he has become the chief spreader of coronavirus misinformation online, according to researchers.
The activity has earned Dr. Mercola, a natural health proponent with an Everyman demeanor, the dubious distinction of the top spot in the “Disinformation Dozen,” a list of 12 people responsible for sharing 65 percent of all anti-vaccine messaging on social media, said the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate. Others on the list include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a longtime anti-vaccine activist, and Erin Elizabeth, the founder of the website Health Nut News, who is also Dr. Mercola’s girlfriend.
“Mercola is the pioneer of the anti-vaccine movement,” said Kolina Koltai, a researcher at the University of Washington who studies online conspiracy theories. “He’s a master of capitalizing on periods of uncertainty, like the pandemic, to grow his movement.”
Some high-profile media figures have promoted skepticism of the vaccines, notably Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham of Fox News, though other Fox personalities have urged viewers to get the shots. Now, Dr. Mercola and others in the “Disinformation Dozen” are in the spotlight as vaccinations in the United States slow, just as the highly infectious Delta variant has fueled a resurgence in coronavirus cases. More than 97 percent of people hospitalized for Covid-19 are unvaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since the end of the Trump Presidency, Republicans have been ratcheting up the doom-and-gloom quotient in their rhetoric. By this spring, they settled on a narrative of permanent crisis—to be blamed on President Biden, of course. There was the Biden Border Crisis. The Crime Crisis. The Inflation Crisis and its corollary, the High-Gas-Price Crisis. The Critical-Race-Theory Crisis. Even, this week, the Ben & Jerry’s-Is-Mean-to-Israel Crisis. America under Biden, to hear them tell it, has become a hellscape of disasters. In June, the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, issued a letter to his colleagues. “Our country is in crisis,” he declared. “Republicans stand against the impending malaise and stand for a greatness that we reached just a few years ago.” The one crisis that Republicans have tended not to mention is the actual one—that is, the pandemic. When Republican politicians have focussed on covid in recent months, it’s often been to give Donald Trump credit for the vaccines, while simultaneously accusing the Biden Administration of forcing those same vaccines on unwilling Americans.
So it was more than a bit surprising to see some Republicans this week kinda, sorta, maybe embrace a different message. The Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise, the House’s No. 2 Republican, posed for a photo of himself getting a vaccine shot, many months after he was eligible, and urged others to do the same. “Get the vaccine,” Scalise said, at a press conference on Thursday. “I have high confidence in it. I got it myself.” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a polio survivor who was never on board with his party’s vaccine denialists and anti-maskers, warned, during his own press conference: either get vaccinated or get ready for more lockdowns. “This is not complicated,” McConnell said. Fox News, which, along with Facebook, has been among the country’s premier platforms for vaccine disinformation in recent months, started promoting a new get-vaccinated public-service announcement. Its prime-time star, the Trump confidant Sean Hannity, stared straight into the camera on Monday night and said, “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated.”
I dunno, can you really trust a Republican to do the right thing for humanity? Even once? For instance, Sean Hannity has already denied he told anyone to get vaccinated because, paraphrased since I’m not interested in looking at his face this morning, “I never told anyone to get vaccinated because I’m not a health care professional”.
The cynical answer to this conservative flip-flop is that1 some GOP political consultant did the math and wrote a warning memo to members of the party who are able to read. If thousands, or millions of conservatives die then some close “purple” Congressional districts will vote Democratic members into office, not to mention Fox News ratings will tumble if their viewers are on respirators or in funeral parlors and unable to control the remote.
The real question is will this new pro-vaccine message penetrate the conservative base’s consciousness? Honestly, the base has to be pretty gullible and easy to lead if they believed in nonsense like Obama is from Kenya, and Jade Helm, and that Hillary Clinton & Bill Gates has a secret pedophile ring in the basement of a Washington pizza restaurant, and whatever the gazillion other ridiculous conspiracies were. So maybe they will quickly forget months of these same talking heads arguing the exact opposite? Freedom!
But influential falsehood spreaders like Tucker Carlson and Joseph Mercola haven’t switched yet, thus I’m not sure what Brittany Johnson2 of Little Rock, AR will do – will she continue sharing fake news about 5G cell towers and mRNA on Facebook? Or will she get a vaccine before she is hospitalized? Is she still going to mindlessly chant, “lock her up” at the next Trump rally? Or tell people that keys stick to her forehead?
Only time and hospital bed availability numbers will tell…
For the faithful and/or lazy who still get periodic email from this humble blog, I guess we’ll have to find other means of distribution, as Feedburner1 is deprecating certain features, including the email-of-new-posts feature.
Starting in July, we are transitioning FeedBurner onto a more stable, modern infrastructure. This will keep the product up and running for all users, but it also means that we will be turning down most non-core feed management features, including email subscriptions, at that time.
What FeedBurner users can expect
For many users, no action is required. All existing feeds will continue to serve uninterrupted, and you can continue to create new accounts and burn new feeds. Core feed management functionality will continue to be supported, such as the ability to change the URL, source feed, title, and podcast metadata of your feed. Basic analytics on feed requests and the ability to create enclosure tags for MP3 files will also continue to be supported.
So what is changing? We are turning down most non-core feed management features that help you optimize and publicize your feed, e.g. email subscriptions, Browser Friendly, and Password Protector.
I’m not sure what I’ll do to replace this functionality. Or when. I suspect there are other tools I can use, but I don’t know what they are, yet.
To be honest, I’m pleasantly surprised that Google is keeping Feedburner at all!
My cousin drove to Toronto to spend the summer with his mom, and stopped in to visit for a few days. He was kind enough to bring up 5 crates of LPs that I had never managed to cart back with me from Austin. I have always collected music since I was a teen, and didn’t start buying CDs until the mid 1990s. In Austin during my interminable college years, there was a glut of quality, used LPs available at the record shops (probably as students passed through, or replaced vinyl with CDs), I bought several a week for a long time. As far as obsessive behavior goes, not a bad one…
I’ve been methodically playing each record, adding them to my Delicious Library database, looking up information in Wikipedia, Allmusic, and Discogs, and in general immersing my ears and brain into this time capsule from 1993. I have an audio-technica AT-LP120 USB turntable; my plan is that once I go through the 600 or so LPs once, I’ll start digitizing the ones that are unusual, or I don’t have CD versions of, or that are simply unavailable currently. My tastes in music are basically the same as then, which is way to say I haven’t found any horrible, cringe records, yet. Lots of blues, music from various African regions, Brazilian, classic rock, European classical, Indie & Alternative rock, jazz, and so on.
I initially have been working on the box of “A-C”, and “H-J”, loosely alphabetized by a prior self, and altered by other people’s explorations no doubt.
Playing an LP is a different mindset: deciding what to listen to, opening the album up, choosing a side to play, queuing up, holding the cover sleeve, reading liner notes, admiring the art, yadda yadda. An analog modality.
In 1992, there was no MSNBC or Fox News, no Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. Also, there weren’t many, if any, mainstream news organizations online. The Times didn’t start online publication until 1996, and then it was not the truly transformative force it would become.
I’ve been ruminating about 1992 lately1 – it was different from the current era in so many ways. Every paper I wrote for school was either long hand or on a typewriter. Nobody I knew owned a computer, nor a cellphone. Film cameras were the only kind of camera people owned. We had never heard of text messages, or websites, the list goes on and on. Such a radical shift in such a short period of time. Mostly for the better, but not always.
Texas is trying to destroy America in many ways currently, but their tactics regarding women’s health autonomy is especially troublesome.
Lawrence Tribe & Stephen Vladeck write:
Not only has Texas banned virtually all abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, a point at which many women do not even know they’re pregnant; it has also provided for enforcement of that ban by private citizens. If you suspect that a Texan is seeking to obtain an abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, not only will you be able to sue the provider to try to stop it, but if you succeed, you’ll also be entitled to compensation. (And what’s known as the litigation privilege would likely protect you from a defamation claim even if you’re wrong.) The law, known as S.B. 8, effectively enlists the citizenry to act as an anti-abortion Stasi.
All of that would be problematic enough, but enlisting private citizens to enforce the restriction makes it very difficult, procedurally, to challenge the bill’s constitutionality in court. A lawsuit filed in federal court in Austin last week tries to get around those roadblocks. We believe that it should succeed. But if it fails, not only would that leave the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country impervious to constitutional challenge; it would also encourage other states to follow Texas’ lead on abortion, as well as on every other contested question of social policy.
California could shift to private enforcement of its gun control regulations, never mind the Second Amendment implications of such restrictions. Vermont could shift to private enforcement of its environmental regulations, never mind the federal pre-emption implications. And the list goes on.
In the abstract, allowing citizens to help enforce the law is nothing new. Many states have so-called citizen suit or private attorney general provisions that allow people to help enforce a range of laws and rules governing consumer and environmental protection, government transparency and more. The federal government authorizes citizens to help bring certain fraud claims on behalf of the United States — and allows those citizens to share in any damages that the government receives. The critical point in both of those contexts is that citizens are supplementing government enforcement.
The Texas law, by contrast, leaves private enforcement as the only mechanism for enforcing the broad restrictions on abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. It specifically precludes the state’s attorney general or any other state official from initiating enforcement. Under this new law, private enforcement supplants government enforcement rather than supplements it. If this seems like a strange move, it is. And it appears to be a deeply cynical one, serving no purpose other than to make the abortion ban difficult to challenge in court.
I drove out to Lombard twice, the second time stopping to smell the flowers at Lilacia Park, literally and figuratively. Lilacs only bloom for a short span of time each year; inhaling their delicious springtime aroma is one of the bonuses of living on this planet.
HIPAA, also known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and its subsequently added Privacy Rule include provisions to protect a person’s identifying health information from being shared without their knowledge or consent. The law, though, only applies to specific health-related entities, such as insurance providers, health-care clearinghouses, health-care providers and their business associates.
That means that even if your friend, favorite restaurant or grocery store were to publicly share private details about your health, they would not be in violation of HIPAA because they aren’t one of the “covered entities,” Gatter said.
There are other federal and state confidentiality laws that may require employers and schools to protect your privacy. And, experts emphasized, there is nothing in HIPAA that bars asking people about their health — including vaccination status — or requiring proof that the information is accurate.
“It’s not really a prohibition on asking, it’s a prohibition against sharing,” said Kayte Spector-Bagdady, an associate director at the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan. The law, she added, “doesn’t mean you never have to tell anyone about your health information.”
HIPAA has become one of the “most misunderstood statutes in existence,” said Glenn Cohen, a Harvard Law School professor who is an expert on health law and bioethics. “People think it does a lot more than it’s actually doing.”
The misconceptions about the law likely stem from people widely using it in conversation as a “shorthand for privacy,” said Joshua Sharfstein, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University. If someone is asked a question about their health that they view as intrusive, he said, they might say, “I can’t tell you because of HIPAA,” when what they actually mean is that they consider the information private.
Many people also seem to have a problem spelling HIPAA properly, and as one Twitter aficionado opined, perhaps this is a sign of long-haul COVID-19?
There is a short story waiting to be written about this moment in time. The dog walker’s expression is one of surprised guilt, but why? Is the smoker following him? His bodyguard? Or an innocent bystander?
Alleys are the beating heart of a city.
I took this photo on on March 2, 2018, and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 11, 2021.
I realized last night that I have watched hundreds of music documentaries. I place them in three broad categories, not including actual concert movies, a related but different genre, nor including fictionalized BioPics about real or nearly-real musicians.
1. The quality ones, which are fairly rare. These documentaries often have a well known director, have licensed the actual music from the musicians involved, and if they are still alive, even interview some of them. Like Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home, for instance. Or Muscle Shoals, about the music studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, and which includes some great footage of Aretha Franklin belting out, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You). If you haven’t watched the first 2 seasons of Mike Judge Presents: Tales From The Tour Bus, you should.
2. A second tier style that does include some of the musicians, but usually not the ones who played on the albums in question. There always seems to be a few rock journalists who once wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine, or similar, who are interviewed in front of their shelves of CDs/vinyl, and interviews with contemporaries or studio partners, usually interviewed with studio equipment in the background. Sometimes these docs have enough of a budget to license some of the music or snippets of live performance. Frequent usage of the so-called Ken Burns Effect.
3. Documentaries that focus on a single album, track by track, and inevitably have multiple interviews with a sound engineer at a mixing console who slides the mixing panel controls to isolate vocals or drums or bass or all of these. Eddie Kramer, of Jimi Hendrix fame, seems to be in half of these for some reason. Some of these don’t license music from the original artists, so they can only have snippets, or video from television broadcasts or in a few cases, muzak-inspired studio versions. Yikes. A few of these are interesting, many of the documentaries I’ve watched in this category are for hard-core fans only, everyone else would be bored to tears. Very frequent usage of the so-called Ken Burns Effect.
The better documentaries also don’t shy away from controversy, drugs and sex are not skipped over. To be honest, the juicy bits are often the most fun, which is why tell all books about Led Zeppelin or Keith Richards are fun to read, and popular.
Feats First falls into tier 2 – a solid B in my estimation. Lowell George and Little Feat made 2 great LPs, a couple more really good LPs, and maybe a few other good tracks.1
He died young, probably due to his drug habits. The Feats First doc didn’t even mention that Lowell George was a cocaine-heroin speedball aficionado. Seems like this should have been relevant to the discussion, but nope. Whatever, still an enjoyable look at a great talent. I learned a few new-to-me facts, such as that Lowell George was a Frank Zappa protégé and hung out with Zappa and the other Freaks in LA. Or that George used a Sears Craftman 11/16th socket because it was easy to replace by going to a hardware store, and that it created a fairly unique sound, especially when George tuned his guitar up a step, instead of tuning down like so many other slide guitarists.
Dixie Chicken, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, Little Feat, Sailin’ Shoes, respectively… [↩]