I drove over to Albany yesterday to work with Peggy on the Willard suitcases website and meet with the museum people about resuming photographing the cases. The meeting went well and I really hope to be able to get started soon. I am planning to have the complete willardsuitcases.com site up and running in the next few weeks and it should be pretty cool. / This truck was parked at the Blandford rest area on the Mass Pike and for obvious reasons caught my eye.
Yesterday I went to see the Nationals play the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It was an interesting game. Very few hits and not much scoring. The Nationals won in 10, 2 to 1. As you can see it was a beautiful day, perfect for baseball. I was at the mercy of the guy selling the tickets, and just asked for a very cheap seat. Ended up in section 302, which by my estimation is the nicest place to sit in the whole park. The only problem was that for the first time in all my years of going to baseball games, it was difficult to concentrate on the action with this amazing view of the bay always pulling me away from the game. Even if you HATE baseball, it is totally worth $24.00 to sit up here for an afternoon drinking a few beers and being part of a crowd of very friendly people. / After the game I blasted over to the offices of Collector’s Weekly and met with Hunter Oatman-Stanford who wrote this article about the suitcases that really opened a lot of doors for me. We were joined by two other editors and had a great chat about this and that. I was totally blown away when they told me that the story had generated roughly 600,000 views on their site. I really owe a lot to Hunter for his great interview and interest in the project. / Made it out to the airport in time to catch the redeye back to Boston. Got home at about 9.30 this morning and was happy to see the Pearl, who after a bit of a scare this weekend seems to be back on her feet.
I’m working on the “Normal” post, but in the interim wanted to mention that as we were just off the end of the runway at Logan last night, the pilot juiced the engines and pulled up into a steep climb. We cruised around for about 20 minutes and as we headed back toward the airport we were then informed that the landing gear hadn’t come down on our approach and that the pilot had to lower it manually (hand crank?). When we finally landed there were lots of flashing lights and fire trucks everywhere. For some reason we had to be towed to the gate. It was never too scary but an interesting way to return to Massachusetts.
We will be heading back East early tomorrow. I had hoped to have a long post about the Exploratorium exhibit ready to go, but I am still processing my feelings. I will have something up by Thursday. What can be said now though is that by mounting “The Changing Face of What is Normal” in what was basically a museum dedicated to science related issues, they have done something incredibly daring. It is not what many people familiar with the Exploratorium expect to see, and for that I give them a ton of credit. It is a very interesting experience and for those of you who get the chance to be in the area, well worth the effort.
I have been fortunate as a photographer to get into a number amazing buildings. Not many quite as incredible as the Stahl House in LA. Cristine’s sister Lynne and her husband John are docents there, and on Sunday evening we had the privilege to be in one of the most iconic mid-century homes in the world.
The story of the house is well documented so I will not go into it, but it is well worth reading about. Click on the Stahl House link above and you can read a bit more about it here.
The most amazing aspect of the house now is that it is still family owned, and they have graciously made it open to the public. For what is a very reasonable fee, small groups can have guided tours (possibly by Lynne and John) that allow visitors to experience something so rare that it is almost inconceivable. (Cristine looks quite at home in this shot.)
This is a stitched photograph (2 images) that is not perfect (one funky area that I noticed right away), but it shows the house pretty well at twilight. / Big thanks to the Stahl family, and especially to Lynne and John who have become experts in mid-century architecture and artifacts. They also docent at the Eames House, which is open to the public on a limited basis. / Go to the Stahl House website to poke around and set up a tour. If you are in LA it is easily one of the top 5 things to do.
I was all set to do a final post about last weekend’s trip to to DC when the news of events at the Marathon started trickling in. I just felt so bad for most of the week that anything I could say here seemed trivial. Last night I flew out to Southern California to meet up with Cris who has been staying with her sister in Orange County. Since things in Boston appear to be mostly resolved, and it is so nice to be here with family, my mood has lightened considerably. And who wouldn’t be cheered by the sight of these lemons growing in Lynne and John’s front garden. I will never cease to be amazed by this tree.
And Lynne’s desert tortoises have recently come out of hibernation. She suggested I grab a hibiscus flower and as I walked toward George here, he came to me and got right to it.
I always try to be positive when I post here, so I will not say much on the death of Margaret Thatcher. But here is a link to a great song. This photograph was taken on 11 November, 1980 on Remembrance Day. It used to be possible to get pretty close to Number 10.
As I was going through my contact sheets I came across a couple of other shots I have been meaning to post here.
I think this is the English footballer Kevin Keegan outside of Buckingham Palace on 9 November,1982, the day he received his OBE from the Queen. Anyone out there who can correct me?
And finally, this shot.
This photographed has always gotten to me. I have a framed copy above my desk here in my studio. I was walking through Victoria Station in November of 1983 and saw this child, with an adult who I assume is his father. A month later the IRA set off a bomb outside of Harrods that killed six and injured 90. I am not sure why I put the two events together, but the connection of toy guns and real violence seems reasonable to me.
Here’s a bunch of random stuff.
On our last day in New Orleans we took the trolley out to the Garden District. I was very happy to walk under The Pearl neon sign and see that it was turned on this time.
I have always liked wandering around graveyards and the Lafayette Cemetery was near to the trolley.
There is a great bookstore nearby and I was finally able to find a copy of Maira Kalman’s “And The Pursuit of Happiness”. I have been looking for a while now, and was so happy to find it. She sent me the nicest email about the Willard Suitcases and I was eager to see this book, as I really like her work. I especially like that she mentions the numbered graves at Gettysburg since they are so much like the ones at the Willard cemetery.
We flew back very late into BWI and this is what I saw out the window as we flew over DC.
I had a great shoot on Wednesday with another amazing writer. Poets & Writers asked me to photograph Neil Gaiman and he is the nicest guy. I can not post any shots until the story runs sometime this summer, but I will as soon as I can.
And finally, we drive Peter to DC tomorrow to help him find a place to live and get him settled. The usual melancholy has been creeping in and so I have been listening to a lot of Percy Grainger. I have always been so taken with his music. I seem to recall as a boy listening to a CBC program with my dad that used this piece as a theme. Here’s another that I especially like. The thing for me about Grainger is that there is an element of sadness in his music in spite of the light-hearted feeling of the tunes. He was a pretty out there fellow and the one quote of his that I think of often is him talking about his work. When speaking of his use of harmony, he said “My efforts even in those young days, were to wrench the listener’s heart with my chords. It is the contrast between the sweet and the harsh…that is heart-rending…And the worth of my music will never be guessed, or its value to mankind felt, until the approach to my music is consciously undertaken as a ‘pilgrimage to sorrows.’”
I am going to break a few of my self-imposed rules in this post. I have always assumed that the reason people come to this site was to see interesting aspects of the world that they might not otherwise notice. I have never wanted it to be about me. But this post is mostly personal.
Peter Carroll and I have been working on a project on Tilghman Island for the past several years. In conjunction with the Tilghman Island Waterman’s Museum, we have been documenting the life of the watermen for two films that Peter has been shooting. The second of those films had its premier on Saturday evening at the elementary school. The auditorium was full and everyone loved it.
Then on Sunday Cristine and I flew to New Orleans where she was to receive an award from the Commission on Adult Basic Education. We walked around the city most of the day yesterday and it was as amazing to me as everyone said it would be.
Cris got the Kenneth J. Mattran Award for “Promoting Literacy Nationally and Internationally”. I was so proud and it was great to see people come up to her and thank her for being so inspirational.
After the luncheon we bugged out and walked back to the French Quarter. I would love to have seen this neon sign lit up, but The Pearl was closed today. Next stop was Cafe´du Monde for beignets and coffee. Later as we were walking down an almost totally deserted RiverWalk, we saw a video crew doing a stand up shot of a guy with the river in the background. It turned out to be Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel.
So here’s where I really break my self-imposed rule (don’t ever have a picture of me in this blog). My great friend Tania Werbizky has at various times in her life been totally obsessed with the Weather Channel. After Jim was done with his work, I approached him and asked if I could take a photograph. He was so nice and immediately suggested that he and I be in the shot. So Tania, I mentioned you to Jim effing Cantore. How’s about that?
Our hotel is just next to the Superdome and this is the view from the 17th floor hallway. / It is impossible to walk around this city and not think of hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused. And looking at this building that housed so many people in such great need is more than a bit unsettling. This is an amazing part of America and I feel fortunate to have finally made it down here.
Slate Magazine ran a really nice piece on the Willard Suitcase project. Here’s the link. Big thanks to David Rosenberg for his interest and doing a great job choosing and laying out the photos. / When I was recently in San Francisco I stayed at this place. It is a great old building and the staff are loads of fun.