basketball visual

It's gotta be the shoes.

Nike Air Jordan 3 Black Cat

The Nike Air Jor­dan 3 Black Cat … This shoe fright­ened me when it first came out in 1988. It looked like it had arrived from out­er space, which made it absolute­ly the per­fect shoe for Jor­dan to wear when he was just begin­ning to dom­i­nate the NBA. His game was threat­en­ing. These shoes were so sleek, so — it must be said — fierce, that a kid knew that he need­ed to step up his game in order to be wor­thy of them. I'm cur­rent­ly total­ly riv­et­ed by the exten­sive Air Jor­dan doc­u­men­ta­tion and com­men­tary on the web. For instance, here's a killer 8‑minute video pro­file of Tin­ker Hat­field, the genius behind the Jor­dan line. Nobody in the world can cov­er my main man, Michael Jor­dan … Impos­si­ble! Impos­si­ble! Impos­si­ble! Imposs-!

inside art photo visual

Dream team

Saul Steinberg - Robert Frank - The Americans - Les Americains - first edition

Saul Stein­berg's cov­er for the first edi­tion The Amer­i­cans by Robert Frank. Pub­lish­er Robert Delpire: "The only point of dis­agree­ment was the cov­er. I insist­ed right away on using a draw­ing by Saul Stein­berg, whom I had met and whose work I liked. Frank said, 'It's a book of pho­tos, we could use a pho­to.' I told him, 'You can use a pho­to for the Amer­i­can edi­tion, but let me use a Stein­berg draw­ing.' But when I reprint­ed the book in 1986, I used a pho­to­graph because I had dis­cov­ered, basi­cal­ly, that he was right."

inside art photo san francisco visual

Robert Frank, The Americans, and grant-writing

Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Robert Frank is known for a few things, pri­mar­i­ly The Amer­i­cans, a ground-break­ing book of pho­tog­ra­phy pub­lished in the late 50's. He is also known for avant-garde film-mak­ing, e.g., Pull My Daisy, and his nev­er-released Rolling Stones doc­u­men­tary with an unprint­able name.We checked out SFMOMA's 50th anniver­sary ret­ro­spec­tive of The Amer­i­cans today, and I was aston­ished at anoth­er of Frank's skills: Grant-writ­ing. In order to fund the gath­er­ing of the pho­tos that became The Amer­i­cans, he applied for a Guggen­heim Fel­low­ship. I've past­ed his clear, sim­ple, two-part essay below. 

Part 1: Frank's brief summary of the proposal

To pho­to­graph freely through­out the Unit­ed States, using the minia­ture cam­era exclu­sive­ly. The mak­ing of a broad, volu­mi­nous pic­ture record of things Amer­i­can, past and present. This project is essen­tial­ly the visu­al study of a civ­i­liza­tion and will include cap­tion notes; but it is only part­ly doc­u­men­tary in nature: one of its aims is more artis­tic than the word doc­u­men­tary implies.

Part 2: The full statement of intent

I am apply­ing for a Fel­low­ship with a very sim­ple inten­tion: I wish to con­tin­ue, devel­op and widen the kind of work I already do, and have been doing for some ten years, and apply it to the Amer­i­can nation in gen­er­al. I am sub­mit­ting work that will be seen to be doc­u­men­ta­tion — most broad­ly speak­ing. Work of this kind is, I believe, to be found car­ry­ing its own visu­al impact with­out much work expla­na­tion. The project I have in mind is one that will shape itself as it pro­ceeds, and is essen­tial­ly elas­tic. The mate­r­i­al is there: the prac­tice will be in the photographer's hand, the vision in his mind. One says this with some embar­rass­ment but one can­not do less than claim vision if one is to ask for con­sid­er­a­tion. "The pho­tograph­ing of Amer­i­ca" is a large order — read at all lit­er­al­ly, the phrase would be an absur­di­ty. What I have in mind, then, is obser­va­tion and record of what one nat­u­ral­ized Amer­i­can finds to see in the Unit­ed States that sig­ni­fies the kind of civ­i­liza­tion born here and spread­ing else­where. Inci­den­tal­ly, it is fair to assume that when an obser­vant Amer­i­can trav­els abroad his eye will see fresh­ly; and that the reverse may be true when a Euro­pean eye looks at the Unit­ed States. I speak of the things that are there, any­where and every­where — eas­i­ly found, not eas­i­ly select­ed and inter­pret­ed. A small cat­a­log comes to the mind's eye: a town at night, a park­ing lot, a super­mar­ket, a high­way, the man who owns three cars and the man who owns none, the farmer and his chil­dren, a new house and a warped clap­board house, the dic­ta­tion of taste, the dream of grandeur, adver­tis­ing, neon lights, the faces of the lead­ers and the faces of the fol­low­ers, gas tanks and postof­fices and back­yards. The uses of my project would be soci­o­log­i­cal, his­tor­i­cal and aes­thet­ic. My total pro­duc­tion will be volu­mi­nous, as is usu­al­ly the case when the pho­tog­ra­ph­er works with minia­ture film. I intend to clas­si­fy and anno­tate my work on the spot, as I pro­ceed. Ulti­mate­ly the file I shall make should be deposit­ed in a col­lec­tion such as the one in the Library of Con­gress. A more imme­di­ate use I have in mind is both book and mag­a­zine publication.

Frank was award­ed a fel­low­ship, which amount­ed to $3,600, and he used this to trav­el in a long loop around the US in 1955–6. That "more imme­di­ate use" that he refers to in the final sen­tence turned into The Amer­i­cans, a stun­ning doc­u­ment that is every bit as inter­est­ing 50 years lat­er. The exhi­bi­tion is cap­tured in an extend­ed ver­sion of The Amer­i­cans, includ­ing con­tact sheets and commentary.

cinema street art urban

Dirty Hands / Arty documentaries

David Choe - Dirty HandsDavid Choe: Set­ting a good example.

I'm psy­ched to check out Dirty Hands, a new doc­u­men­tary about artist David Choe. I'm usu­al­ly skep­ti­cal about "street art" films, but the trail­er looks pret­ty great, and I've heard that Choe is kind of a mad­man. I com­pare every­thing in this street/art vein to Video Days — which, by the way, did you know that can watch all of Video Days on Google Video? — and I'm always hop­ing that new stuff will some­how advance the form that Spike Jonze laid out all those years ago. Maybe this will? Maybe oth­er stuff has? David Choe - Black Dynamite - watercolorChoe worked some water­col­or mag­ic for a movie called Black Dyna­mite that just made some waves at Sundance.

cinema visual

Groundbreaking / William Klein's Ali

David Remnick's excel­lent biog­ra­phy of Muham­mad Ali, King of the World con­tains a tru­ly stun­ning scene that sprung to mind dur­ing last week's inau­gu­ra­tion. Before Ali's first big bout, a meet­ing with Son­ny Lis­ton, the press didn't know what to make of Ali's con­fi­dence and bom­bast. A reporter asked: "Cas­sius, all these things you're say­ing about Lis­ton, do you real­ly mean them? Do you real­ly think you're going to beat this guy?"

Ali: I'm Christo­pher Colum­bus … I believe I'll win. I've nev­er been in there with him, but I believe the world is round and they all believe the world is flat. Maybe I'll fall off the world at the hori­zon but I believe the world is round.1

I feel like there's a thread that runs direct­ly from this state­ment to last Tuesday's inau­gu­ra­tion, and it made me want to dig deep­er into Ali, the myth-mak­er. So last night I watched a 1964 doc­u­men­tary, made by pho­tog­ra­ph­er William Klein, called Muham­mad Ali: The Great­est; it's includ­ed in a recent Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion release called The Deliri­ous Fic­tions of William Klein, which is cheap‑o on Ama­zon right now, actually. 

Muhammad Ali - William Klein - TitleTypog­ra­phy suits the sub­ject. ALI. Yeah.

Muhammad Ali - William Klein - AliKlein is known for his still pho­tog­ra­phy, and he brings a photographer's eye, and a cav­a­lier atti­tude toward edit­ing. The movie is a mon­tage of spon­tane­ity and action, trac­ing Ali's path from the build-up to his first fight with Son­ny Lis­ton to the Rum­ble in the Jun­gle with George Foreman.

Muhammad Ali - William Klein - Joe LouisKlein catch­es a nice glimpse of anoth­er ground­break­ing fig­ure.

William Klein - Muhammad Ali - Mysterious punchAli's sec­ond fight with Lis­ton became infa­mous for the "phan­tom" punch that end­ed it. Rumors abound that Lis­ton took a dive, either because he bet against him­self or because he was afraid that the Nation of Islam would seek revenge if Ali lost. See it for your­self on the YouTubez.

Muhammad Ali - William Klein - Kids in ZaireKlein cap­tures some amaz­ing moments around the Rum­ble, which took place in Zaire, 1974.

Muhammad Ali - William Klein - Foreman fanThe whole nation appears to be in and around the sta­di­um. When We Were Kings tells the whole sto­ry. It will blow your mind, and make you love Nor­man Mail­er at the same time.

Muhammad Ali - William Klein - Mobutu Sese SekoMobu­tu Sese Seko, Zaire's strong­man pres­i­dent, is omnipresent in Klein's footage from the fight. I love this image of his head slow­ly com­ing into focus from the clouds.

san francisco visual

Domestic policy / US out of everywhere

US out of North America

Long ago, some­one spray paint­ed "US out of North Dako­ta" on the wall of the Cave, a lit­tle bar in the base­ment of a Car­leton dorm. It was direct­ly above the stage, a stage where I saw a lot of good bands (Walt Mink, FIREHOSE, Phish, and prob­a­bly oth­ers). So I spent a lot of time star­ing at it. It made a deep impres­sion on me. I still think about it. Which reminds me: Seces­sion. The coun­ties of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and South­ern Ore­gon tried to secede from their respec­tive states in the 40's. True sto­ry. So any­way, it makes me real­ly hap­py that Justin took this pho­to of a Duster in his neigh­bor­hood in Berke­ley. Dis­sent! It's your patri­ot­ic duty.

san francisco tip visual

Stars are just like us! / They wear cool barettes

Violet wears Mara's barrettes

The classi­est fam in Hol­ly­wood loves Mara's bar­rettes; this time Vio­let rocks them. Nice. Buy em here, and pass it on.

san francisco tip visual

Caught in the act! / Jennifer Garner wears Greenaway

File this one under: Holy crap. It has come to the atten­tion of the tabloid-read­ing world that Jen­nifer Gar­ner was seen wear­ing red bar­rettes! But, wait, there's more. A cer­tain bar­rette-mak­ing friend of ours made them. By hand. In San Francisco.


Jennifer Garner wears barrettes


This is from Just Jared, and I must say: If the blog real­ly is just a guy named Jared writ­ing about celebri­ties, my hat is off to him. He pub­lish­es some tid­bit of celebri­ty gos­sip rough­ly every 5 sec­onds. That's ded­i­ca­tion, homes. If you're inter­est­ed in the bar­rettes, you can buy a pair for your­self at Lit­tle Some­thing; if you're con­cerned that they'll make you look like Jen­nifer Gar­ner, you can ask Mara for some guid­ance in the prop­er way to wear them.


Snap snap snap


I'm glad that the bar­rettes got the full paparazzi treat­ment. A cou­ple of pho­tos just wouldn't have been suf­fi­cient. Bet­ter get 17 and be safe. Check em all out.(Con­grat­u­la­tions, you big loser).

ideas inside art visual

Seek and ye shall find / Enlightenment helmet

Yes, enlightenment

I could use one of these right about now. Via these genius­es.

inside art photo visual

RFK funeral train / A breaking up

Paul Fusco - So-long Bobby

The New York Times recent­ly ran some pho­tos that were tak­en from the train car­ry­ing Bob­by Kennedy's body between Wash­ing­ton to New York. The pho­tos them­selves are amaz­ing doc­u­ments of a nation in mourn­ing, peo­ple from all walks of life lin­ing the tracks, hold­ing signs, salut­ing or just watch­ing, but they're also beau­ti­ful — sat­u­rat­ed and blurred, cre­at­ing the sen­sa­tion that things are mov­ing too fast, that some­thing is irre­sistibly bar­rel­ing on. The pho­tog­ra­ph­er, Paul Fus­co, nar­rates a slideshow on the New York Times site, and it's well worth a view­ing. He's nice­ly describes the expe­ri­ence around the pho­tos, and pro­vides some insight into the mechan­ics (Kodachrome film, of course). He also men­tions that he hadn't planned on tak­ing pic­tures while on the train; he was sim­ply trav­el­ing along with the cof­fin to take pho­tos at the funeral. 

The first thing I saw were hun­dreds of peo­ple on the plat­form … For­tu­nate­ly, I just react­ed. My instinct was: There's some­thing going on, pho­to­graph it … [The train] was a mov­ing plat­form. I couldn't change my view. I couldn't change my per­spec­tive. I had to just … grab it, when I could.

Paul Fusco - Family salutes"Every­one was there. Amer­i­ca came out to mourn." Pho­tos: Paul Fusco/Magnum Photos

Fus­co has a show that's cur­rent­ly at Danziger Project in New York, and a book com­ing out in the fall, too. Looks nice.