Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Birthday Gift

The most-coveted and wildly renegged on (Chris Bush!) Polaroid 180.

With the portrait and close-up lenses, which make all the difference in the world.

Thank you very much, Michael.

I'll do you proud, I promise.

You rock, as long as you continue to LISTEN TO BLACK SABBATH!

Self portrait with Evelyn standing on a chair in the background...

Hilly Kristal, CBGB Founder, Dies at 75

(From The New York Times)

"Hilly Kristal, who founded CBGB, the Bowery bar that became the cradle of punk and art-rock in New York in the 1970s and served as the inspiration for musician-friendly rock dives throughout the world, died in Manhattan on Tuesday. He was 75.

From its opening in late 1973, when Mr. Kristal, a lover of acoustic music, gave the club its name, an abbreviation of the kinds of music he originally intended to feature there — country, bluegrass and blues — until a dispute with its landlord forced the club to close last October, CBGB presented thousands of bands within its eternally crumbling, flyer-encrusted walls.

Most famously, it served as the incubator for the diverse underground scene of New York in the 1970s and early ’80s, with acts like the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, Talking Heads and Sonic Youth playing some of their earliest and most important concerts there, at a time when there were few outlets in the city for innovative rock music.

“There was no real venue in 1973 for people like us,” Ms. Smith said today. “We didn’t fit into the cabarets or the folk clubs. Hilly wanted the people that nobody else wanted. He wanted us.”

Besides his son, Mr. Kristal is survived by a daughter, Lisa Kristal Burgman, and two grandchildren."


I once rented CBGB Pizza (next door) as a location for a short 35mm film I made starring Richard Hell. Hilly was quite the gentlemen, taking my $300 for the day and letting us have the joint from 10am to 6pm. So we hauled all the shit in - Arriflex camera, dolly with tracks, hair, MU, actors, fucking Richard Hell and started shooting. At about 4:30pm, he came in and started screaming that we had to leave due to a sound check. I paid him another $100 and we stayed until 6pm. Awesome.

I used to see him in the East Village all the time leaving CBGB with the money bag and always wondered if he was able to make ends meet..., CBGB just sits there with a "For Rent" sign on it. I hope his family takes that shit to Vegas and makes a fortune...

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Naama Scan vs. "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere"

This is a picture that I took a long time ago, newly scanned for my book with the playing cards in her panties newly visable.

That's what I saw tonight.

These are the lytics to a song that Neil Young wrote.

That's what I heard tonight.

"I think I'd like to go
back home
And take it easy
There's a woman that
I'd like to get to know
Living there

Everybody seems to wonder
What it's like down here
I gotta get away
from this day-to-day
running around,
Everybody knows
this is nowhere.

Everybody, everybody knows
Everybody knows.

Every time I think about
back home
It's cool and breezy
I wish that I could be there
right now
Just passing time.

Everybody seems to wonder
What it's like down here
I gotta get away
from this day-to-day
running around,
Everybody knows
this is nowhere.

Everybody, everybody knows
Everybody knows."

Older now.

Got a haircut.
Got to see "Sunshine."
Got tickets to FARM AID.
Got a steak.
Got to see a Black Sabbath cover band.
Got a Polaroid 180.
Got a bunch of free drinks.

Got to feel made special by a bunch of folks.
Really special.

42 down...

Off to the lab.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Book

I am finishing up the almost impossible task of putting together my "portrait" book for the first time. A necessary nightmare of over-thinking and prioritizing that I must live through.

With an eye towards picking and sequencing between 20-30 shots, I chose 65 from the archives, which in and of itself was an interesting experience. For that I just relied on my "gut" instinct to say "I like that one."

And that was the end of my ability to move any further.

So off I went to Mustang Sally's to meet my mentor, Rich, so he could do the dirty work and pick the first edit. My criteria were only that I wanted the shots to be perceived as "portraits" and since this was going to be a commercial book, I wanted to limit the inclusion of too much nudity.

It was fascinating watching him go through the shots like he was dealing cards - a yes pile, a no pile and a maybe pile. Then from the yes pile we started to sequence them, adding shots as needed from the maybe pile and occasionally the no pile...

We tried to get a rhythm going from shot to shot and also within the two shots together when any given page was open. Two furniture shots together - too much? At first no, but then after looking at it for another hour - yes. Two many "headshots" together? Yes.

So we got it like we liked it after I added some shots back in (more color!) and rearranged some couplets, which Rich promptly re-rearranged.

Then the lovely and talented Ms. Anouk Morgan showed up and I let her pick as well. I ALWAYS respect a woman's opinion, and with Anouk, I got the double bonus of a young woman's opinion. She went for the core images that Rich had chosen, but her fringe images were more controversial, more odd and with more nudity.

Quite the evening seeing your life's work bandied about like pick-up-sticks, and very, very liberating in an ego-less way.

Thanks Rich and Anouk!

By the way, I changed everything back to the way I wanted it in the first place...

Off to the lab.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What Would You Rather Be Right Now?

My answer:


I'm not a lot, if you consider the hours of the day, but I am sometimes, too.

My answer emanates from the sober me.

If you are contemplating this question and you ARE drunk, you obviously cannot agree with my answer.

There is a remedy. One way OR the other...

The photo is of me. Not so sober.

A long time ago. With Bonnie. At her birthday party. Neither one of us remember much about this. Other than the evidence that Christopher Bush acquired.

Shown here. Thanks, Chris.

Monday, August 20, 2007


I don't really wear T-shirts.

I just don't really feel comfortable in them. Never have. Except when I'm painting a house or working out or just being lazy. My "house shirts" - the ones I wear around the house whilst "bumming around" are always button downs with the sleeves rolled up. The elbows may be worn through, but the sleeves are rolled up. Always.

I don't like slogans or labels or advertisements on my body either, and they seem to find their way onto T-shirts more often than not. So that's a reason too.

But I do see T-shirts sometimes and do I say to myself, "I'd wear that - that's a cool T-shirt."

I saw one about two years ago like that. Some dude in the East Village (or somewhere casual, i.e. NOT at a rock concert) and it said "LISTEN TO BLACK SABBATH" in white block letters on black fabric.

I told everyone I knew about it and the general consensus was "That's cool!" or "Figures you'd like that, James."

Black Sabbath isn’t even close to being my favorite band or anything, although, who can deny the absolute crushing mighty thunder and mystical heaviness of pre-1976 Osbourne, Butler, Iommi and Ward? Who? Who?? Who???

No one.

That's who.

And I like the gonzo-ness of it - the "why would anyone have a shirt that says that-ness" of it...

And the fact that it is a direct fucking order.

Last week I remembered the shirt in a fit of absolute corporate boredom and perhaps as an early birthday present to myself, or just a punk-rock reaction to what I was being paid to do, I Googled it.

"Listen to Black Sabbath"

It showed up today, and it kicks ass on me. It loves me WAY more than that dude that I saw in the East Village.

Because right now, I AM listening to Black Sabbath, recorded live in Asbury Park 20 days before my birthday, 1975.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Funny How it All Falls Away

"Help the aged,
One time they were just like you,
Drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue.
Help the aged,
Don't just put them in a home,
Can't have much fun in there all on their own.

Give a hand, if you can, try and help them to unwind.
Give them hope & give them comfort 'cos they're running out of time.

In the meantime we try.
Try to forget that nothing lasts forever.
No big deal so give us all a feel.
Funny how it all falls away.
When did you first realize?
It's time you took an older lover baby.
Teach you stuff although he's looking rough.
Funny how it all falls away.

Help the aged
'Cos one day you'll be older too
You might need someone who can pull you through
And if you look very hard
Behind the lines upon their face you may see where you are headed
And it's such a lonely place.

In the meantime we try.
Try to forget that nothing lasts forever.
No big deal so give us all a feel.
Funny how it all falls away.
When did you first realize?
It's time you took an older lover baby.
Teach you stuff although he's looking rough.
Funny how it all falls away.

You can dye your hair
But it's the one thing you can't change.
Can't run away from yourself, yourself...

So help the aged."

My father's mother died two years ago at 94.

My mother's mother is 93 and doing fine.

This FANTASTIC Pulp song reminds me of her. (Thanks, Leo!)

I was once staying with her sometime in the 1980's and after dinner, whilst sitting in the living room (what a strange name as no living really goes on there - I think I prefer sitting room, truth in advertising and all) she asked me, "Jamie, do you ever drink a beer?"

My mind exploded.

So, I managed a mumbled, "Yes I do, every once in a while."

She said, "Do you want one? I have some in the pantry. I like them every now and then. You want one? I'll go get two...but don't you tell your Mama!"

She brought out two Bud tallboys. I drank mine in the time it took her to sip the first sip of hers. She asked me if I wanted another one and I told her that I would get it. She was asleep before I could finish the second one. I woke her up and got her into bed. She was in her seventies then.

The photo is Juliet from the first roll shot with my new Konica Auto-Reflex half/full frame camera.

One of the best shots I've ever shot, I think. I'm gonna put it in my book and I'm gonna show it to my Grandmother.

I'm afraid, because of these women, that I will live forever. Even though I've done my best to sabotage that.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I'm working on the launch of a beauty line (fragrance, body stuffs) for a major women's fashion brand. They are calling the launch and the division - "beauty." Working with the images - a super model shot by a super photographer - has been interesting to say the least. Last Thursday, the photographer’s "picks" showed up in my office messengered to me by the art director, in the form of actual 11" x 14" prints. Color and black & white. Pretty fucking cool, considering who this guy is and who the shots are of…

While going through the box of 40 or so shots and separating them into four piles - one for each set-up, it began to dawn on me. This company, with these images of this young tsunami-surviving lady (whoops) shot by this hotshot photographer who's last name sounds like "Schmoratzio" (whoops) is going to further confuse and complicate "our" definition, perception and comprehension of the word "beauty."

This is what I'm saying: Beauty is relative, indefinable and sacred. You can’t just start a line of something and call it "beauty," can you? It's like calling something (that's not) "air" and representing it with a shoe - oh shit, wait...

Get my point?

Can you sell something that isn't tangible?

People do it everyday: Religion, Politics, Philosophy and Happiness.

I can tell you what is beautiful to me in a heartbeat. But it's not going to be the same thing that is beautiful to you. Probably not, anyway, and if what I describe as beautiful is beautiful to you too, it's gonna be beautiful to you for an entirely different and personal reason.

In this campaign, there is a lot of talk about "emotions."

At least they got that part right.

ps - this is my idea of beauty.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chinese Pig Virus Causes Global Concern

NY Times, front page.

End of the world, folks. End of the world.

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Jesus Rides Besides Me...

...and he never buys any smokes."

You know how you have those bands that you grew up with, that meant more than the world to you, that defined your young adulthood and your loss of innocence.

If I had to pick one, The Replacements would be that band to me. They make me remember the strength, the naïveté, the zest to see the world, the dream of moving to New York, love, friends, beer parties, running from the cops and the realization that those times are irretrievably gone.

I saw Mr. Westerburg on some solo album tour at Irving Plaza back in '97 or '98. When he did The Replacements stuff, I started weeping like a baby. It all came rushing in. I just realized that those days are gone. And it was profound. I was sad for me and sad for him. These two 12 year olds in front of me turned around and said, "You okay, man?" I couldn't talk. I couldn't tell them about seeing the "5-song then a fight" TIM show at Skatetown in Raleigh in '85 or the pitiful DON'T TELL A SOUL show in '89 at the Civic Center in Raleigh while visiting from Boston, and having a beer with Tommy that night.

Same as when I bought that Warner Bros. Best Of collection ten years ago (!) for the second disc of b-sides and rarities. The first song is the early, unreleased TIM version of “Can’t Hardly Wait” and the lyrics are almost entirely different than when they recorded it for real on PLEASE TO MEET ME three years later. As poor dead Bob's guitar screams, Paul screams, “I'm climbing to the top of this crummy water tower screamin’ I can’t hardly wait – ‘til it’s over.”

I burst into tears again at the sheer beauty of another suicide love song, changed by Paul drastically when it appeared on the album alongside “The Ledge." The hole through the gate that he snuck through to get to the top of the water tower had become a hole in the drapes.

I could talk about this shit for hours. Buy me a drink sometime and ask me - as long as you are sincere.

This is a model named Kira, from a long, long time ago, when I was innocent too. Well, more innocent than I am now...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

And the Chinese Food Said:

So, like, leave me alone, 'cause, I'm gonna, like, do that shit, yo.

"Happy Family" don't lie!


Monday, August 06, 2007


I called Toby tonight (see his link to the right) and we talked about important stuff, like "Freebie and the Bean" not being out on DVD, Monte Hellman, and Ben's "midget" story. And our lives. I love Toby.

I got an email from my girl tonight after my lament email to her about people dying without letters. Used to be when people died they had tons of letters to sift through, which told the living ABOUT THEIR LIVES. Now we got email (which you could print out and give away at a funeral, I suppose) and text messages that Verizon deletes after five days (which means you will NEVER be immortal) not that we'd like to read them anyway. I love my girl and I'm gonna start writng to her with a pen. About our life together.

Chip called (see his link to the right) and told me about this crazy, amazing experience he just went through in a land far away that may very well change his life. We also talked about our lives. I love Chip.

Stories are important. Stories about our lives are most important. I fear that they will ultimately be lost in our stupid fucking human version of "The Matrix." Laurence Fishburne will not be in it, but a big fucking idiot will be, guaranteed. And he will be straight and white and 'MERICAN, just like me.

Shame. I feel it. I think it of others. And mostly I just want to fuck THOSE people up.

Maybe it's time to check out. Or...maybe it's time to write some stuff down!

This is Jennifer Caban. I shot her a long time ago in bumfuck Williamsburg, which right now is probably teeming with million dollar condos. Anyway, she's cute and she's READING!

Oh, and I got a new hat.

I don't wear hats...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Bergman & Antonioni

They actually passed away on the same day.

Two of the greatest filmmakers of all time.

As a student of film, I highly recommend A.O. Scott's New York Times Obituary.

It's interesting that Scott brings up the old "Beatles vs. Stones" debate - Ingmar being The Beatles and Michelangelo being The Stones.

I've always preferred The Beatles in music and Mr. Antonioni in film, which is not to disrespect either The Stones ("People, people, just cool it.") or Mr. Bergman.

Scott ends his obit with this quote, "it seems clear the cultural climate that made it possible to hail filmmakers as supreme artists has vanished for good." This makes me sad. Is this true? I'd like to think not.

Rest in peace, talented sirs. I, for one, would not be taking photos like I do if it were not the the likes of you.

Rent "Red Desert" if you can find a copy. And "Weekend." And "The Passenger." If you are open to Mr. Antonioni's vision, they will change your life.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

You Must Leave Now, You Have No Choice

Warren Zevon.

The first time I've listened to this song in 20 years and it's killing me.

In fact, the whole album is killing me.

My best friend Toby turned me onto him. He used to give me the Zevon albums for my birthdays knowing hat I was never gonna buy them myself. I never really took Zevon seriously, I mean I knew Zevon was a good songwriter, but he was no Leonard Cohen.


My god, Toby was right. Zevon is one of the best songwriters of the Late 20th Century. How he ever got to record at all, I do not know (the answer is: Jackson Browne).

Zevon was not scared. And he wrote and sang about it. His lyrics are nothing but honest (or at least as honest as one can be about a headless Thompson gunner) and that's a rarity.

I am not jumping on the bandwagon of the "Oh he's dead, let's laud him" fucks.

Let's just say I have a new and profound appreciation for his work.

Thanks, Toby. Again.

This is Reby.
I have a profound appreciation for her too. I hope she gets home safely tonight from Chinatown...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Get R Done!

Just got back from NC on a 12 hour Amtrak ride which was supposed to be 9-ish.
I'm not gonna go into the shennigans (ok, we murdered three deer and nearly derailed, which is not Amtrak's fault, but the 1 1/2 hour layover in Rocky Mount while we waited for the replacement crew to SHOW UP, clearly is) but Amtrak is ghetto in a capitol "!!!" kinda way...

While you wait, you can get beer. You can talk to all sorts of people from all sorts of walks of life, whether you want to or not. You can witness bona fide child abuse! You can wonder what you are going to do with three of the four toilets are "out of order."

It's awesome!

But not as awesome as the song that kept going through my head and literally got me home:

"Comes a time when you're driftin'
Comes a time when you settle down
Comes a light feelin's liftin'
Lift that baby right up off the ground.

Oh, this old world keeps spinning round
It's a wonder tall trees ain't layin' down
There comes a time.

You and I we were captured
We took our souls and we flew away
We were right we were giving
That's how we kept what we gave away.

Oh, this old world keeps spinning round
It's a wonder tall trees ain't layin' down
There comes a time."

The more than brilliant NEIL YOUNG, who is bringing FARM AID to NYC for the first time ever! See ya there?
(No babies here, Neil, but thanks, man!)

My joint project with Michael Bierman from a couple of years ago - DEMOLITION DERBY.

We gotta do more of that, Michael...