Jul 31, 2013

Picadilly Circus in 1967

Check out this fab, swinging video of London's Picadilly Circus from 1967! Like, dig the cool cars, the swinging clothes, the beat scene!

More Original Photography From Magnum Arts

I've been raiding my external hard drive, discovering images I've shot from years ago that I've forgotten about, which deserve a second look.

Click on each picture for a larger view

Below: I was grabbing a burger in Midtown Manhattan when I noticed this man holding a sign for a shoe store. I grabbed my camera and watched while he began conversing with the woman on the bench. I have no idea what they were talking about, but it looked like an engaging conversation. A tiny one-act play on the streets of New York City to which I was the only audience.

Below: Time exposures with sparklers during a 4th of July evening in Cold Spring, New York

 Left: I thought this man was going to confront me after I took his picture, but I kept walking and he left me alone

Right: A hot dog vendor and a cab driver. Doesn't get any more New York than that

Below: volunteer firefighter in Cold Spring, New York

Telco Companies Try to Smear Book About Telco Corruption

UPDATED It's no surprise that telecommunications corporations like Time Warner, AT&T and Comcast wield enormous power in our society, so much so, that they can freely treat their customers with contempt. Why should they care? After all, most people don't have a choice of who they get their services from, and even if they do, the alternatives are not much better.

The latest example is Time Warner's move to increase the rental fee on outdated cable boxes it provides to its subscribers. Not because it needs the money to maintain its network, but because it can. Don't like it? Tough.

The press, like a slumbering giant, may finally be starting to realize what many people already know: that corporations like Time Warner and Comcast are predatory monopolies. The telco blog Dslreports.com has a good article about this; it is definitely worth a read. Check it out HERE.

Update: The current battle (as of August 6, 2013) between CBS and Time Warner has led to the removal of CBS from many TW customers' homes, with both sides blaming the other. The awesome blog Consumerist has a great post about how these two companies show contempt for their customers even while they try to win them over to their point of view. Read their great analysis of this mess HERE.

Telecommunications corporations have such enormous power because of corruption in our government. They shower lawmakers with huge amounts of money to make sure their interests - not yours - are protected. They've become the coal and railroad barons of our age, holding our country back technologically in order to ensure their own profits. 

A new book by Susan Crawford called Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age has upset the telcos, so much so, that they are smearing her book on Amazon and trying to drive down the book's rating through fake reviews written by industry shills (a practice called astroturfing). 

The blog Techdirt has an examination of the telcos' attempt to discredit this book HERE. The fact that telcos have seen fit to discredit her message makes it worthwhile to read Crawford's book. The United States has some of the worst IT infrastructure in the world, and it is getting worse. The rest of us are suffering while a handful that control the nervous system of this country get insanely rich.

The link to the book is HERE. Need some summer reading? Pick up a copy! Below is a fantastic video that explains what telcos would say if they were forced to tell the truth.

Jul 28, 2013

Further Updates on Your Surveillance Society

Now that the cat is out of the bag, the government has found it much more difficult to contain the news of, and justify to the public it's wildly out of control surveillance programs.

For more information about what these programs are, and why you should care, click HERE.

Showing a surprising level of backbone, congress recently held a vote on whether or not to force the NSA to roll back its sweeping dragnet, leading to furious lobbying by the Obama administration and the intelligence community to maintain these programs.

The advocates for reforming the NSA lost. But the vote was much narrower than the Obama administration had hoped or expected, and indicates that this issue isn't going away. Indeed, polls show that the majority of Americans are wary about giving the government so much power to spy on them without oversight.

The NSA Can't Search Its Own E-mails

This one actually made me laugh. 

A reporter for the non-partisan news service ProPublica filed a Freedom-of-Information request with the NSA to understand the NSA's public relations efforts, specifically e-mails between the NSA and National Geographic.

The NSA's response? We don't have the technology, sorry. 

Responded NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker, "There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately,"

This response is absurd, and is a reason why the NSA has found itself on the defensive. Read the story HERE. 

Money Talks

Surprise surprise: the lawmakers who voted for maintaining the NSA's unchecked powers were the ones who received the most defense industry money. Still think your representatives represent your interests? Wired magazine has this story HERE.

The tide is turning, however. Even supporters of the NSA concede that government has not made a great case about why these powers are necessary and how they are protecting innocent Americans' privacy. The Los Angeles Times has a story about this HERE. The New York Times writes that it may be impossible for the NSA to stop the opposition to its surveillance; read the story HERE.

So: what can you do to help make sure your rights are being protected, when your own representatives are not protecting your interests?

Support causes that fight for you, that's what. Consider making a donation to the two groups below. They have been fighting tirelessly to defend your rights against a government that has been bent on curtailing them.
  • The ACLU is the best known group that fights tirelessly, all the time, for the rights of citizens. Support them. Help them fight for you, to protect your rights. They are your advocate, whether your views are popular or not. Visit them HERE and please consider making a donation.
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation fights for the rights of digital users, from defending people's free speech rights, to beating back anti-consumer legislation, to exposing the misdeeds of corporations, patent trolls and the government, the EFF fights for consumers. They depend on your help. Consider giving them a donation to help them keep fighting. Visit them HERE.

Jul 26, 2013

Original Photography From Magnum Arts

These are slides I shot years ago when I was living in Westchester County New York, right above Manhattan.

I use to shoot a lot of slide film before the advent of digital cameras; I am going to start shooting slides again with my trusty Minolta X-700. Slides have a color depth and resonance you just don't get with digital images.

Left: This image was shot in South Hero Vermont at an apple festival. The old truck was parked in the field where people were parking. This is one of my favorite images. 

Click on each picture for a super-sized view

All photographs copyright Magnum Arts

Garden and lawn shops are great places to take pictures of the garden statues. The statues seem to have a life of their own that people don't notice, when they gaze silently on the world

Outdoor flea markets are also great places for pictures; I discovered how interesting dolls at flea markets are when you zoom in closely on them. The results are really interesting

These are random, slides shot both in New York and Vermont, culled from literally hundreds and hundreds of slides and negatives I've shot over the years

Adhesive graffiti strips on the side of a railroad box car, Burlington VT, 1991

Binocular station at Rye Playland, New York, during winter snow storm, 1990

This bottle was in my room when I moved in; one winter morning when I woke up I noticed how the frost on the outside of the window looked with the early morning light shining through it and onto the bottle. The first thing I did was grab my camera

A mid-sixties Chevrolet ice cream truck, the kind with the special body designed for selling ice cream in quiet neighborhoods to kids playing, on hot summer days. A kind of specialty vehicle you don't see any more

A time exposure with colored polarizing filter of the FDR expressway in lower Manhattan

This frog candle has seen better days, to put it mildly

Spectators at a small-town fire department parade, Katonah, NY 1990

A late afternoon softball game, one last inning before a summer day gives way to dusk. Port Chester, NY 1990

An abandoned Volkwagen Beetle in the corner of a used car lot, Greenwich, CT 1991

Left: A man in American Indian garb relaxing after a small town parade, Katonah New York 1990 Right: Sitting on edge of subway platform, Montreal, 1989

The interior of a vintage passenger train car at a train museum, 1991

Below: This is a happy accident. On my last day in New York, I shot a self-portrait of myself on a park bench, smoking a cigar, looking at lower Manhattan from Brooklyn. I re-wound the slide film back into the canister  making note if the last frame I shot. When I got to Vermont, I set my camera up on a beach, put in the slide film and advanced the film (with the lens cap on) to a point beyond the last frame I had shot.

Or so I thought.

I ended up double-exposing some of the pictures, with this one being the best. Sometimes serendipity smiles on you. Because of my mistake, I ended up with a pretty cool image.

This sign just across the Vermont border in Canada always fascinated me.

Can you guess what this is a picture of? No? Take a look and give it your best shot.

OK, I'll tell you. It's a close-up shot of rusty iron rivets on an old railroad trestle in upstate New York. It looks like an alien landscape.

They don't make cars this beautiful any more. Truly our loss as a society.

A billboard during a building renovation in Times Square, New York, 1989

This close-up of a vintage movie projector makes it look like an Art Deco sky scraper

While waiting for a late-night train in Grand Central Terminal, in New York City, I took this time exposure with a colored polarizing filter. The reason the station looks deserted is because the people moving through it were not still enough to leave an image on film, except for one man reading the newspaper. One of my favorite images.

Sad, empty car lot seen while driving through one of the small towns in upstate New York heading back toward Vermont