Monday, July 12, 2010

Iron Maiden - Madison Square Garden


Monday - July 12, 2010

Madison Square Garden - New York City

The set-list...

* The Wicker Man
* Ghost of the Navigator
* Wrathchild
* El Dorado
* Dance of Death
* The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
* These Colours Don't Run
* Blood Brothers
* Wildest Dreams
* No More Lies
* Brave New World
* Fear of the Dark
* Iron Maiden


* The Number of the Beast
* Hallowed Be Thy Name
* Running Free

Dream Theater was the opening act. Their set list was...

* As I Am
* A Rite of Passage
* Home
* Panic Attack
* Constant Motion
* Pull Me Under

Dream Theater put on a good set... but not nearly as good as I had expected them to be. Their sound was overpowering. We couldn't understand 90% of the vocals... and the guitars and keyboard just blended together in one big wall of noise. Still... the energy was high... and they really got the crowd into things.

Iron Maiden, on the other hand... was freakin' phenomenal! Their set was amazing! Almost as good as the "Somewhere Back In Time Tour" two years ago. It definitely blew away both of the Metallica "Death Magnetic Tour" shows we saw last year.

The sound was incredible and clear... the stage set was awesome... changing backgrounds with every song.

They did a really nice tribute to Ronnie James Dio. He was supposed to be the opening act for part of this tour... but unfortunately he passed away. Bruce Dickinson gave a really nice speech about Ronnie... then got everyone throwing up "The Horns"... and dedicated the song "Blood Brothers" to Ronnie. It was incredible!

The Garden was completely sold out. I didn't see an empty seat anywhere... and, as you can tell from the photo - the Pit was completely full too.

Oh... and did I mention that this was our kids very first concert ever!?!

They had a blast... though my son actually fell asleep during the break between Dream Theater and Iron Maiden... and slept through a good portion of Maiden's set. I'm not sure how the heck he was able to sleep... but much to the amazement of everyone around us... he was completely passed out!

* * *

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fat Larry

* * *

Fat Larry is talking nonsense again.

Why is he always here?

(For that matter... why am I always here?)

Fat Larry is talking nonsense again...

... and he won't shut up.

Fat Larry has no neck... and drives a Corolla.

He has a funky piercing at the top of his ear...

and tattoos on his legs surrounded by psoriasis.

Fat Larry hates immigrants...

... and burns the sugar cube when he makes absinthe.

Fat Larry gives the wrong information about most things...

... and opinions on everything.

Fat Larry slurs his words...

... deep toned words...

... woody words...

... that trail as his jowl wiggles.

Fat Larry doesn't shut up. I try to tune him out... but even Scandinavian Death Metal at full-blast is not strong enough to cancel out Fat Larry.

Fat Larry ALWAYS gets whipped cream on his drinks.

Fat Larry always knows of something better than whatever you're talking about.

Fat Larry is constant.

He's always here.

He's always there.

He's always everywhere.

He's where you live right now, probably.

He's in every café in every town... in some form.

Fat Larry is what we've become...

As American as a third helping of apple pie...

... and a large waistline of ignorance.

* * *

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

EXHIBIT REVIEW: Henri Cartier-Bresson at MoMA

* * *

Imagine, if you will, the following...

You stand on a busy city street on a bright day around lunchtime. The light is strong... so bright that whites are blinding and shadows are hard and unforgiving. You hold in your hands a fully manual camera: No autofocus... No automatic modes to choose the correct aperture or shutter speed, in fact there's not even a light meter to give you a recommendation! You've chosen your film for the day (that's right... "film") - so you do not have the luxury of switching from ISO 50 to ISO 100 to ISO 3200 and back to ISO 50 with each photo you take. You don't have auto-bracketing. You don't have anything. It's all up to YOU. It's up to YOUR eye... it's up to YOUR know-how.

Suddenly, it happens... "the decisive moment". Something happens in the crowd of people around you. Perhaps a child holding a balloon suddenly lost her grip of the string... and the balloon rises above the head of the crowd, as the child reaches up - the rest of the crowd oblivious. You have just a split-second to raise the camera to your eye, choose a shutter speed and aperture, focus and release the shutter. One mistake... one incorrect setting, and the photo is lost forever. The question is: Can YOU get the shot?

In all honesty, most photographers couldn't. Not anymore. We've become too reliant on auto focus... light meters... automatic shooting modes... auto-bracketing photo bursts... and, if all else fails (and sometimes even if it doesn't), the ability to make adjustments in Photoshop later on.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, on the other hand, could get the shot. He had the true photographers eye. In a fraction of a second he could raise his Leica... focus... and snap, with confidence. With just a quick glance of the light around him, his experience told him what the proper shutter-speed and aperture combo needed to be for a proper exposure. No light meter needed.

Time and time again his uncanny ability to "get the shot" captured incredible moments of day-to-day life that would have gone unnoticed otherwise. Moments that would have been "lost" if it weren't for his ability. Friends of Cartier-Bresson have recounted instances of walking with him... never even noticing him taking a photo - only to have him come back a day or two later with images of scenes that had occurred during their walk together... scenes the friends had never even noticed.

Cartier-Bresson truly was a master... and this despite the fact that he never considered himself to be a photographer (in fact, he HATED developing film and making enlargements - and left that up to "more qualified people") and preferred painting and sketching to photography. Yet the simple truth is that he was a master... one of the most important photographers of the 20th century... and the father of my personal favorite photographic genre, "street photography". These simple facts alone make the exhibit - "Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City a "must see" for any photographer or photography enthusiast.

The exhibit - which runs through June 28th - is the first major Cartier-Bresson retrospective in the United States in almost 30 years. It spans his entire career, bringing together close to 300 photographs... as well as periodicals and books featuring Cartier-Bresson's work.

I attended a Members Preview of the exhibit a week before it opened to the public, and was in awe the entire time! The photos are presented beautifully... and are easy to view and "absorb". The galleries begin with some of Cartier-Bresson's earliest pieces... as well as examples of how differently his photos appear depending on who the printer was and/or when the print was made. A famous image from Spain, taken in 1933, is used to show the stark difference between an early printing and a later printing from the very same negative.

Moving on, the galleries begin to take you on a tour with Cartier-Bresson... as he travelled the world capturing moments as a photographer for Magnum Photos (the famous photographic group he created alongside Robert Capa, George Rodger and David Seymour). Key locations include Spain, Mexico, the Soviet Union, Italy, India and the United States. Famous and familiar images, many of which appeared in LIFE magazine.

The show concludes with examples of the many portraits Cartier-Bresson took... including wonderful images of Alberto Giacometti, Truman Capote, Henri Matisse and others.

It has been three decades since such an impressive collection of Henri Cartier-Bresson's work has been presented. It may be several more decades before such a collection is presented again. Simply put: Don't miss your chance!

"Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Modern Century" runs through June 28th at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Special Gallery Talk Lectures will be held on Saturday, May 1st (1:30PM)... Thursday, May 6th (11:30AM)... and Friday, May 7th (1:30PM)

A full exhibition catalog is available.

For more information, visit the exhibition's official site HERE

Or visit the website of the Museum of Modern Art at

* * *

Monday, January 11, 2010

Why "photography"?

* * *

As an artist, photography is just one part of what I do. I love to paint... I love to create mixed-media collages... I sketch... I write... I make music... I enjoy just about anything that lets me create. Photography is just one outlet I turn to for creative expression. It just happens to be the one I tend to turn to most often. I had never really questioned that before. I never had a reason to!

Then one night last month I found myself in Bryant Park in Manhattan, taking photos of folks braving the cold and snow to skate on the rink which seems to "appear" every winter. I was snapping away, when suddenly a man skated towards me, saying "Excuse me... but do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Sure!", I replied.

"Why photography?", he asked. To which I could only manage to get out the word... "Huh?".

He quickly responded with "Why 'photography'... as opposed to something else? What does it do for you?"... then went on to say how he had worked with several photographers over the years, and just wanted to know why someone would choose the medium... and what it does for them as an artist.

"Good question!", I said... in an attempt to buy time as I formulated a better response.

"I mean... What do YOU do with your photographs?", he asked.

"Not much", I replied. "I have a web site I post some on... and a blog... and some I use in competitions with a camera club I belong to. But most of them I don't really 'do anything' with. They're just for me."

"Do you sell them?" he asked.

"No. That's not really what I want to do with them", I replied.

"So why photography?" he asked again. "What do you get out of it?"

I found myself in the middle of a very awkward feeling... the feeling of having to ask myself that very question - "Why photography" - as if I had never truly asked it of myself before. I wasn't nearly as concerned with providing a response for him... as I was with finding the response for myself.

Why "photography"?

My mind wandered... and a dozen or so of my favorite images flashed before my eyes. I thought of the image of the incredibly thin student standing in front of a newsstand, glaring at the fashion magazines. I thought of the image of an old woman gliding down Madison Ave on in-line skates while carrying a pink Disney Princesses umbrella. I thought of the day last May when I happened upon some newlyweds in Tompkins Square Park, and managed to catch the joy in the bride's face as she and her groom had their first dance as "husband & wife".

... And it hit me...

"I like capturing those little moments of day-to-day life that no one else sees... or, at least... that most tend to miss. There's beauty in those moments... beauty we seem to overlook or take for granted", I said.

Right at that moment a child skated by, being held up by her mother and father. I turned and snapped a few shots...

A young couple... obviously out on a date... nervously made their way around, each relying on the other to keep from hitting the ice...

A young man, trying to show off in front of the ladies - came rushing around a corner, only to fall on his rear while showboating...

Real moments... each of them absolutely beautiful!

I love the feeling I get when I raise my camera to my eye... look through the viewfinder... and see something within a frame that no one else is seeing at that exact moment. I love "finding" the image... and capturing it.

Whether it's a "moment" like those I've described... or the abstract corner of an object I'm photographing as some sort of a still-life - I like taking something that is "real"... something that is "common" - and showing people that there is, in fact, beauty there. That's part of why I almost never alter my images beyond basic darkroom-esque adjustments to brightness, saturation, contrast and the like. No "Photoshopping" or digital image manipulation. Nothing that couldn't be done in a darkroom. Just the straight image... pure and real.

I also love the challenge of it! One of my favorite artists, the painter and photographer Chuck Close, had this to say about photography...

"The thing that interests me about photography and why it's different from all other media, is that it's the only medium in which there is even the possibility of an accidental masterpiece. You cannot make an accidental masterpiece if you're a painter or a sculptor. It's just not going to happen. Something will be wrong.

This is simultaneously photography's great advantage and its Achilles' heel: it is the easiest medium in which to be competent. Anybody can be a marginally capable photographer, but it takes a lot of work to learn to become even a competent painter. Now, having said that, I think while photography is the easiest medium in which to be competent, it is probably the hardest one in which to develop an idiosyncratic personal vision. It's the hardest medium in which to separate yourself from all those other people who are doing reasonably good stuff and to find a personal voice, your own vision, and to make something that is truly, memorably yours and not someone else's. A recognized signature style of photography is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve.

It always amazes me that just when I think that there's nothing left to do in photography and that all permutations and possibilities have been exhausted, someone comes along and puts the medium to a new use, and makes it his or her own, yanks it out of this kind of amateur status, and makes it as profound and moving and as formally interesting as any other medium. It's like pushing something heavy uphill. Photography's not an easy medium. It is, finally, perhaps the hardest of them all."

This challenge adds another element to the question's answer for me. Why "photography"? It challenges me... perhaps more than any other medium... to show who I truly am... to myself.

There... that's it!

* * *