Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why Must You Be A Mystery To Me?

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE mystery...

I'm just trying to make an educated guess...

Cover Star: Wednesday Night In The Universe
Headlining Band: Luna

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Monday, September 27, 2010

Here Comes the Hardcore Life...

Sunday in the universe. Gallery review. Smiles over a burger at The Half King. Drinks with John, Matt and Andy at Fontana's. Enchiladas at El Sombrero. The Q train. Pulp and red wine and a cigarette at home. One of a kind prints at eBay.

Ahhhhh, New York City...

Cover Star: 28th and 10th
Headlining Band: Pulp

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Swans - A Cultural Lesson

Long, one of my favorite bands 'of all time', Swans played their "Last NYC Show Forever" on January 27, 1997.

I guess forever is over. The new album, "My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky", just came out yesterday and as previously stated, I have tickets to see their first two NYC shows in close to 14 years on October 8th and 9th. Which makes me and Swans OLD, but GOOD...

I probably saw Swans eight or nine times from 1986 - 1997, the first being the "Children of God" tour at The Cat's Cradle, which was life changing. The last show, at Irving Plaza, was transcendental. I 'literally' had an out of body experience, especially when Michael Gira said, "This will be the last thing you ever see us play" and the band launched into "Blood Promise" for a good twenty-so minutes. When the show was over, everybody just stood there, long after the applause had subsided.

Sadly, Jarboe either was not asked or declined to be a part of the reunion, but the line-up of musicians - Gira - guitar / voice / mendicant friar act; Norman Westberg – guitar (original Swans); Christoph Hahn – guitar (mid period Swans and most Angels of Light); Phil Puleo – drums, percussion, dulcimer etc (final Swans tour and most Angels of Light); Chris Pravdica – bass and gadgets (Flux Information Sciences / Services/ Gunga Din); Thor Harris - drums, percussion, vibes, dulcimer, curios, keys (Angels of Light, now also with Shearwater) - is astonishing.

Listening to "My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky" for the first time right now and I have full body goosebumps. And that's way better then falling over and cracking my crown (thanks, Patrick).

Portfolio review Sunday at 11am. Wish me luck. Five NYC fine art galleries...

Cover Star: Swans 2010
Headlining Band: Swans 2010

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How Long Are You Going To Go On Like This?

They say as soon as you have to cut down on your drinking, you have a drinking problem. My mind is a jumble. I can't organize my thoughts and typing feels like work. I've never written more than two hundred and fifty words - not even in high school. Five paragraphs, fifty words a piece. God, I was lazy. I should have finished high school. Everything could have been different.

Are you okay, sir?

Summer's coming. I've smelled it. And I thought I smelled corn, which isn't possible. There it was again - perfume.

Good morning Mrs. Blankenship, how was your surgery?

Cover Star: Mr. Draper
Headlining Band: The Stones

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Monday, September 20, 2010

Head - A Cultural Lesson

From Wikipedia:

"'Head' is the soundtrack to the band's first and only theatrical release. It was The Monkees' sixth album and their last to feature Peter Tork until 1987's 'Pool It!' and the last to feature all four Monkees until 1996's 'Justus'. Neither of which, count.

The original issue of the record (Colgems #COSO-5008) featured a front cover with a surface of aluminized PET film, meant to reflect the listener's "head" (face) back at him. With the movie having only a limited release (and virtually no publicity), the point was largely lost, and while the cover was innovative for its time, manufacturing was problematic; Micky Dolenz recalled years later that the cover was "actually ruining the printing presses at RCA!" A March 1985 LP reissue from Rhino Records (RNLP-145) was less problematic by using foil paper instead, the end result less reflective than the original. The presently in-print CD from Rhino (R2-71795) has a grey cover that is not reflective at all.

Showing the growing influence of Frank Zappa on the Monkees' circle (Zappa even has a cameo role as "The Critic" in the film itself), the soundtrack album intersperses the six proper songs ("Porpoise Song," "Circle Sky," "Can You Dig It?," "As We Go Along," "Daddy's Song" and "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?") with bits of Ken Thorne's incidental music, dialogue fragments and oddball sound effects, for an overall effect surprisingly close to Zappa's 'Lumpy Gravy'.

The selection of music and dialogue approximates the flow of the movie itself, and was compiled by actor Jack Nicholson, who cowrote the film's shooting script. Nicholson recalled in Monkee Mania how he observed Michael Nesmith working on the album in the studio, asked if he could try some editing, and Nesmith let Nicholson take over the session, because "I just want to go home!".

I have it on DVD, if y'all want to come over...


Cover Star: HEAD
Headlining Band: The Monkees

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Idle, Idle, Idle, Idle...

My next show is The National at The Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ. It will be last time I see them on this tour, the third time (technically, the fourth), but this time with good friends. Perhaps I'll see one of the band members on the streets of Brooklyn soon, but we'll see.

After that:

Swans (reunion show) in Brooklyn 10/08/10

Swans (reunion show) in Manhattan 10/09/10

Isobel Campbell & Mark Fucking Lanegan in Manhattan 10/16/10

Greg Fucking Dulli in Manhattan 10/19/10

And then:

The first week of November the East Coast GBV Reunion tour starts. Meet me in Boston, Philly and NYC.

We'll have a drink and I'll be distant at best. It's how I roll, but please, say HI.

And buy me twenty beers, so I can attempt to keep up with Robert Pollard.


"It's a common fetish for a doting man
to ballerina on the coffee table cock in hand"

Cover Star: Socks, chosen this afternoon for the gallery review
Headlining Band: The National, first on the list...

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday Night In The Universe

Went to the Bettina Rhiems opening tonight at Edwynn Houk on 5th Avenue and 57th Street. 16 huge prints, all from the negatives, pretty much a sampling of a retrospective of her work.

I got to chat with her briefly. She is gorgeous, talented and had these hot little boots on sticking out from under her leather pants. Classiest person in the room. As it should be.

Prints were $22k and $32k depending on the size. I wanted one of them, but at this point, it has to remain a "want." Fuck it, I'm moving anyway. Not sure of the future wall space...

Got home to Park Slope to the tornado that touched down in my neighborhood. Trees everywhere. Debris. Detritus. Basically, shit all over the streets. And no, Chip, I didn't see any flying baby carriages, although I am sure there were some during the actual event. I was glad I was hanging out with Bettina...

Thinking about my friend Sarah, recently self-imposed in Virginia Beach. I'm proud to say that I had a little to do with that 36 hour move to leave NYC on Monday/Tuesday. Normally, I do not support that decision, but in her case, she needed to escape, and I helped.

A big fat kiss, Sarah. From me and Brendan and everyone else here that hopes you'll come back soon.

Cover Star: Sarah
Headlining Band: Mr. Young, chosen especially for Sarah

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Gimme Danger

Finalizing twenty prints tomorrow for a review with five NYC fine art galleries next week.

Went to the Max's Kansas City Retrospective tonight at the Steven Kasher Gallery.

Well done! I've seen tons of '70s "punk rock" photo shows, so I had my doubts. Max's was brilliantly represented, not only what was on the walls, but by the line outside. And the denizens inside.

Sometimes I think I was born too late. But tonight, I think I was born at EXACTLY the right time.

And there were tons of shots from Iggy's "Raw Power" shows for casual viewing.

And that made me smile. A lot.

They are still there. Visit.

Cover Star: Ang
Headlining Band: The Stooches

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Sordid History of Indie Rock...

Thanks to my great friend Greg Elkins (congrats on the recent nuptials!), I got to work with his band from 1988-1994, Vanilla Trainwreck from Raleigh, NC. First running sound, then running lights, then shooting photos for self-released 45s, then directing four music videos.

Three of the four videos ran on MTV's "120 Minutes" first with Kevin Seal, then with Dave Kendall.

The first was "Yellow" off of "Sounding To Try Like You," their second album. I drove from NYC back to Raleigh to shoot in Wayne Taylor's house in downtown Raleigh. I think the label forwarded me $1200 for the budget, but I still shot it on 16mm film (all of them, proudly). No one made a dime, but everyone got a sandwich. Wayne's house was all white walls and I lit each wall with a different color gel - red, blue, orange, green and yes, yellow. When we wrapped, Wayne earnestly asked if we could leave the gels and lights there. He liked his house that way. Greg lip-synced wearing a black velour suit with an American flag tie - something that any fashion forward band would covet now, twenty years later. I can totally see Matt Berninger from The National sporting such a get-up. My favorite and most smelly idea was to have Ken and Greg, guitar and bass respectively, fry up spam with soy sauce all over it to make it brown. DO NOT try this at home - especially after 10 takes. That was the only thing that Wayne wasn't wild about. I'll see if I can find that one...

I decided to make two videos for the price of one - pre-Tarantino/Rodriguez style. "Safer Than Zero" the lone acoustic track on the album, got a very cinematic treatment with me driving the rental car and my cinematographer (I wish I could remember his name) shooting out the window at 100 miles an hour on some back farm roads. I'll see if I can find that one, too...

"Yellow" was a huge success for Mammoth, featured on their "Framed" VHS video compilation and getting MTV airplay. The VP of the label, Steve, called me and said it was the best video they had, and they had Juliana Hatfield, Joe Henry, The Bats and The Chainsaw Kittens on their roster.

The next album and the Trainwreck's last was called "Mordecai" named after the neighborhood in downtown Raleigh where we "all" pretty much lived/had lived. And Steve called with another $1200 offer.

"Sister" was the next conceptual piece as it was the single off the album. It starred my friend Joe Dean, the redneck philosopher, as the principal and a little girl that was the daughter of someone Greg worked with at Fallon's Forists. My concept was two-fold: Have Joe getting ready for a date with the dude who was on the cover of the album and have the little girl fuck with the band while they were trying to play. Two "sister" concepts juxtaposed, if you will.

Juliana Hatfield introduced "Sister" on 120 Minutes on Sunday night, June 5th, 1994 and mispronounced the name of her Mammoth Records label-mates. We all sighed. I think she was junked out. Or on Robitussin...

Fuck it, it was still a "World Premiere." Right between Velocity Girl and Violent Femmes. And the Femmes were followed by "Deliah's Gone" by Johnny Cash, starring Kate Moss. Dead. And on the same show was Sonic Youth's video for "Bull In The Heather" where Kathleen Hannah from Bikini Kill jumped around and fucked with the band. Don't know if any of them ever saw "Sister" - probably not - but I felt justified.

Disney bought Mammoth and we all rejoiced. Then, they promptly folded the new Disney/Mammoth label, forever putting those three master recordings in limbo. I will never forget having a drink with Ken in The Village somewhere and him putting his head in his hands and saying "The Mouse owns my masters."

The Mouse still does, I think.

From the All Music Guide, 1994:

"This Raleigh, NC, indie-rock foursome write pop songs with layered, complex melodies. They've released three albums: Sofa Livin' Dreamazine, Sounding to Try Like You, and Mordecai, on Mammoth Records. The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Greg Elkins, guitarist Ken Bowers, bassist Greg Eades and drummer Brian Quaust."

You can get all three of their albums on eBay. I suggest you do.

I made this and I'm proud as fuck of it:

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This word, this concept is lost.

Amongst people. Amongst real photographers. Those of us that do not use our craft to...

...and I'm quoting, "to get laid."

So let's just say I just bought a digital camera and for some reason that makes me think that I am a "photographer."

Let's just say.

So let's just say that I'm in a bar and some "photographer" says to me that he gets fucked all the time because he "makes women look beautiful."

Let's just say.

Does one do this thing called photography (which is not just pressing that godforsaken button) just to get laid?

Let's just say.


Believe it or not.

It makes me ashamed. Ashamed of my craft. The thing that I've worked really hard at for twenty years. The thing that defines me. My work. My art. My expression.

Let's just say.

Can we show a little discipline?

Let's just say.

Cover Star: cuffs
Headlining Band: The Nat, live at The Kyhber Pass, Philly, June 1, 2005.

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Monday, September 13, 2010

I Don't Worry Anymore...

Magical weekend. Friday, a much needed bitch-slap. Saturday, a much needed embrace. Sunday, a much needed conversation followed by a Larry Brown story read out loud.

Big bad love.

I'm lucky. Champion, stay down.

I've shot so many people. People that are retired, disappeared or dead.

Cool, happy, genius heroes...

It's all right, all right to see a ghost...

Cover Star: Sharon, MIA.
Headlining Band: The Nat

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph

Friday, September 10, 2010


...isn't bad.

Attending. Ascending. Pretending. And paying ATTENTION, whether you think so or not.

Cover Star: me
Headlining Band: "Billy Powell on the piano."

James M. Graham, Website
James M. Graham, Tumblr
James M. Graham, Monograph