Sunday, December 31

Crushed Together

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Big times tonight (New Year's Eve), so wanna blog early. Saw this crushed plastic water bottle during Rocco's Great Train Adventure yesterday. They say that mid day lighting, particularly in winter, is the worst. Yet this seemed so gentle. How to explain it? Anybody got ideas? Anywayzzzzz...

Here were wonderful elements... trackbed stones, a metal wuzzit, and that capped bottle. Hmmm... I wonder which of these will have the longest half-life? Anywayzzzz.... It was a combination of the forms basked in glorious light and the color that sparked up at me and begged out for doucumentation. Nothing here is "natural"... every element was randomly distributed by some people. But slathered in that end-of-the-year-light... Whoa! They meld together in a perfect major chord, no?

Happy 2007 everyone...

Saturday, December 30

Secret Forgotten Passageway

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Took a hike with my buddy today. In 1927, Lancaster finally threw the Pennsylvania Railroad out of its center city and opened a new "grand" station on what was the city's far border. From the 1850's at least, tracks and trains cut a wide swath across the town, creating intolerable noise, congestion, wild vibrations, and just plain danger to commerce and pedestrians alike. So, how did these tracks wander through neighborhoods, and what did the city's front door look like to those hundreds of thousands who arrived over the years by might Pennsylvania Rail Road train? Rocco and I followed the clues and discovered the hidden passageway into this colonial brick and shutter town.

Friday, December 29

Judgmental? Uh-Huh.

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Why not judge? So much of Pittsburgh is grim. Look at this street. The homes are maintained in the sense that they are generally clean, the siding is rugged, and the sidewalks are swept. The owners can afford reasonably new cars and satellite dishes. So why are they aggressively insensitive to the dingy, depressing discordancy of the way their residences look like so much architectural litter? Don't they get the Home & Garden channel on those ugly dishes? Here're private property rights gone carcinogenic. There's no way to make an uplifting image of this urban flotsam. I know... I know... I am being judgmental. But maybe judgments are what's needed to keep civilization from fraying around the edges. Like here in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, December 28

Suite Moments

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Deadlines day is, like, synonymous with the last minutes of an NBA game. There's a blast of frenzy you can smell. My space at the magazines is NOT a paperless office. Note that you cannot even see the monitor on my desktop Apple. Fact is, should any of this cargo shift, limbs could snap. It takes me the best part of the morning-after-deadline, to file, clean and repack the stuff each month that gets flung around in those last moments. It is simultaneously a way hot job... and a way cool way to make a living.
Careful where you tread in here, you could splash through a puddle of adrenalin. And that's a suite thing.

Wednesday, December 27

Tractor Beam

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Pittsburgh has two Apple Stores! There is only one in the entire eastern part of Pennsylvania. Hmmmm.... And since we were visiting Pittsburgh, well, HEY! Unless they tie me to the mast and pour wax in my ears, I am going to throw myself up against the place. This one is in Shadyside, a chi-chi spot where medical people vie with Univeristy of Pittsburgh students to buy latté, Lord & Taylor, and posh art. I'm guessing the shells around the shops are remains of mid-nineteenth century brick and shutter buildings. Lancaster could look like Shadyside... and any twelve women off the street could look like Gwyneth Paltrow with a zillion bucks worth of fashion, cosmetic and surgical enhancement. Hell, it takes Gwyneth Paltrow a zillion bucks worth of cosmetic, fashion, and surgical enhancement to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.
But anyway... here's an image of the money-magnet store looking all sexy and alluring. Yeah, I went in. Yeah, I came out with a portable HD and a new graphic application. It was like shooting up... right into a vein. It rocks! Thank God there's no Apple Store in Lancaster.

Tuesday, December 26


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Visited an antique dealer recently. She had a collection of newspapers from the 1950s. The society section was in a strange sort of color that was called Rotogravure, I think. Don't know much about the process, but the colors were peculiar. So when I stood atop Mount Troy overlooking Pittsburgh today, I had those slightly fading, slightly out of register, slightly off colors in mind. They seemed right to capture this aging city's vision of itself. Can you feel the mood?

Monday, December 25

Un-Happy - Finally

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Aren't you run down with all the happy happy happy stuff? I mean what if the New Year, ain't looking all that good? Suppose that you bumped into a realist? After all, there's a war of civilization's going on. The dollar is in the hopper. The American borders may be leaking terrorists. Another 9-11 could send the whole world spiralling into depression. And Iran is maybe the best new nation to join the nuclear club, and it's headed up by a theocratic fascist with apocaliptic pretensions! Hey.... What izzat breaking upon the beach?

Sunday, December 24

Christmas Cow

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Forget your reindeer... Forget red noses. Here'ze a red cow. Hey! Y'godda' problem widdat?

Merry, happy, and blissful - Christmas everybody.


Saturday, December 23

Strange Winter Moon

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Coming out of Gibralter's Restaurant this evening, my friend said that this global warming is tough on retailers. "They can't sell winter clothes!"
Tomorrow's Christmas Eve and we shall be finally going through those woods and across some rivers. So this probably really shall be my last musing until sometime next week (till Wednesday maybe). We're going to Pittsburg where the lake effects usually ramp up the cold and snow. Wonder if the people staying in our home will be warmer than us? It is strange, look at the green grass in front of Snyder's Funeral home here. Hmmm.... maybe if I buy some land just to the east in Blue Ball or Intercourse - you think it'll be shorefront property soon? That'd make it a cool investment, eh? Know what? Better strike that word, "cool".
Merry Christmas to all...


Friday, December 22

A Penitential Season

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Advent is a penitential season. Whiners who think that we start the Christmas season too early should have been around during the seventh and eighth centuries when fully 60 days were set aside to meditate upon the birth and Epiphany. Regardless of when Christ was born, choosing the winter solstice almost guaranties penitential weather. Interesting isn't it the the two greatest feasts of Christendom, Lent and Advent are synonymous with storms? It's no surprise that pop singers here in the northern hemisphere croon about April showers during the first and white Christmases during the second - of course the reverse happens down south.
Regardless, absent the snow - which really doesn't much fall here abouts until late January/early February, here's a stereotypical night in a Pennsylvania Advent. Actually while damp and chilled, it's kind of pretty, don't you think? And of course, penitential. Can you hear Crosby singing... "I'm dreamin' of a drizzling Christmas?" Tra-la.

Thursday, December 21

Barnstormers Fleeing?

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From way back there, sometimes it's hard to figger out what's going on. Like suppose this lad thought that all the guys who made his team the league champs... Suppose it seemed that way off in the distance those giants were... were leaving. No... Hey! Suppose they left? Suppose the general manager, the coach, the marketing director, and the corporate sales directors all quit. Well, hey... that'd be some story, huh?

And suppose that none of the Lancaster newspapers, TV or radio stations reported why every important executive abruptly quit right after the new Barnstormer baseball team won its division and league titles! Well, that'd sure leave this little fella down, right? It'd seem as if there was some sort of astonishing cover-up going on. If only he could see better. If only the rest of us could, maybe we'd know what the hell was going on, eh? WHY THE HELL DID EVERY ONE OF THEM QUIT? At Christmas time, izzat the best present to give to little Bleacher Boy?

Wednesday, December 20

What's "Real" Here?

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A print of this image just sold for a reasonable amount of money. Now, I don't sell my images as a rule. But I do donate them to charitable organizations so they can raise money. This one was sold by the Lancaster Museum of Art. I enjoyed watching it hang... well I enjoyed standing around and listening to people comment, and question the thing.
"Is that a photograph?"
"No... no... look at the sky, it's painted."
"But the stores are so perfectly rendered."
"Yes, but look at the foreground. And Look at the buildings in the darkness behind."
"Wait... wait... those Christmas lights, are they real? What is real here?"
"Oh,it has to be a photograph."
"No! No it can't be. But, how did he do that?"
Of course I'd have preferred the debate to have involved standards of beauty... References to Albrecht Durer, or perhaps Whistler, Eakins, or, um, Winslow Homer. Okay... I can dream, huh?
Still, it does evoke another time when things were simpler here in the states. Or, I wonder, did they ever seem simpler when they were happening? Gosh... here I am patronizing the past... Jeeez.... Ah well, have a happy.
This may be my last post for a while. We are off to go over the river and through the woods. If I cannot get here until perhaps a week from now... my best for a holy and happy holiday - whatever flavor you prefer.

Tuesday, December 19


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It's an annoyance that Lancaster County hates its county seat and only city. Whether they consider it God-less, heathen, criminal, spend-thrift, foreign, minority ridden, inefficient, inebriate, lazy, grim, or just plain dangerous - the consensus among county folks would agree with fencing the thing in. And yet, in order to serve the religious, political, civil, judicial, professional, and social service requirements of the county, some 30% of the city of Lancaster's land has been removed from the tax roles (including a couple of very large plots containing the county's only jails). Meantime surrounding municipalities erected thick zoning walls against high or even medium density residential construction - legally sealing into the city low and moderate income people.

All of that has resulted in a disproportionate number of city residents with special needs. But since only property taxes are allowed to support the city services, middle income people flee the Lancaster's consequently higher taxes.

And when the city attempts to create tax enhancing projects - like a convention center - the county people of both political parties - fearing competition - rebel, electing a team of viciously hostile county commissioners who are less than affectionately known as Manny, Moe, and Molly.

Can you see the fence built all along the tracks? Incidentally, residents of the county are deeply religious.

Monday, December 18

Top Of St. James

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Last night I looked down, tonight, lettuce go up, eh? That's the oldest Episcopal church in the city. The graveyard's stones are a who's-who of 18th & 19th century commercial and government leaders. The artists of the city earn their spurs by imaging the city's church spires. It's sort of a rule, you gotta do the Big Six. But how to find them in your own voice?
I tried to combine a touch of Charles Demuth with a lot of Ted Byrne here. I'm reasonably confident that no one has ever made this image before. That's something anyway. This is maybe the twentieth time I've worked on the belfry. It's the first time the result doesn't look, to me, like a cliché. Hope you agree and enjoy.

Sunday, December 17

There Ought'a Be A Law

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Two and a half blocks from my house, all around E. King St. and N. Lime there's a gunk of these places. They take a piece of the check as a charge for cashing them. Banks don't do that. In fact, most local banks are now offering free checking, and are paying interest on accounts even without minimum balances! So, who needs so many of these places?
Banks demand verifiable identification to open an account. These businesses demand a part of the value of the check.
Apparently there are a lot of people who find it less expensive to pay for check cashing than to pay for phony documentation.
So, why doesn't the state simply regulate these services the way they do banks and require that they require at least the same documentation a banks. If it's possible that some employer is making out pay checks to illegal immigrants, then these spots, working under my proposed revised regulations, will discover them pretty quickly, eh? Are you listening state legislators?

Saturday, December 16

Marquee Triptych

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Here are three approaches, each takes on some significant differences from bottom to top. Yet, like faces, at first glance they might seem almost identical. We're able to learn visual differences so quickly. And we can remember them, even though the differences might defy verbal explanation.
I wonder how it is that we can learn complex visual nuances, and respond to them on both intellectual and emotional levels, yet much simpler arguments elude us when they're explained to us in words or print?
Oh, this graphic is a triptych play upon the marquee of Lancaster's Fulton Opera House, one of the oldest theaters in continuing use here in America.

Friday, December 15

Before Planes And Television

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This hotel went up in the 1840s. Who knows, Lincoln may have slept here during his commute to Gettysburg for the address. It's a four story Lancaster building on N. Queen Street. And it occurred to me that once upon a time you could only get that high by packing a lot of stuff underneath you.
Now we can get so much higher with only air beneath us. There have been a lot of people who have soared with only air under them in recent years. But in their case it was broadcast air. An insubstantial support they discovered, when the media decided that they were yesterday's news. Old as it is, maybe there's more to be said for moving on up with something substantial undeneath, eh?

Thursday, December 14

Movie Dreams

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Odd, it was last night that I dreamt it. Well, this is as close as I can remember the thing. There were people coming and going along the ramp. Zeotropolis has been gone a while. At least, um, maybe. It was an independent movie theater on the west side of the city. The owners were mellow people with such a love for what they did. Unfortunately, love couldn't book big buck movies. Still, it had a following. And good cheap buttered popcorn.
But none of that accounts for the dream. A couple of defeated city councilors were in it. One, everybody's fool, went around screwing folks. And they threw popcorn at him. And after awhile it stuck. So someone broke open a pillow. And we all threw feathers. He ran out, popcorned and feathered. And the movie ended. You Fruedians, does any of this have something to do with my mother? If I had an analyst, this'd giver her a laugh, huh?

Tuesday, December 12

Light Bursts

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A certain image can seem like a ball of light beneath one’s mouse – on the verge of bursting. And light is one of the most vivid dimensions of our experience. Leonardo wrote that a painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light. He felt that there was a value in starting with shadows. It is light that invents color, and color that finally bursts things into being. If existence is about being, then light is a necessary and moving condition.

Monday, December 11


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After a century, the last animal bustled through the narrow room behind that window on the left. And the guy slid a final weight along the manual scale's bar. He jotted down the numbers, handed one carbon copy to a farmer to the other side of that low partition behind his chair, another to the shipper at the farmer's side. The weighman pushed his original into a folder, grabbed it, pushed back his chair and left for the main office some distance outside. He shut that door, picked up his check, and never returned.

The once-largest stockyard east of Chicago closed that day. See the last calendar on the right? The manuals, pencils and sharpeners, all sit the way they were left for a century of days at closing time. The man forgot his sweater,along with some personal stuff, it's still hanging in that closet back on the left. Since then, only dust has come each day to an office that's waiting... waiting for farmers, shippers and its weighman.

The office is patient.

Sunday, December 10

Sfumato Depreciation

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Eighty years ago, in 1927, the Pennsylvania Railroad moved its main station from the very center of Lancaster city to a spot on the border. It was, as pictures of the day show, an unambitious new building. And for eight decades it's been worn into nubs by countless travelers. Twenty five years ago, Harrison Ford's hand grabbed this post in a movie called "Witness". Maybe they don't want to repair it out of sentimentality? Perhaps it's like the teenager who refuses to wash her fingers for days after touching a rock-star idol?
The station still works, and probably will until it tumbles. But its workers seem to love her. They've got the inside merrily decorated for the Christmas season. But I guess this little pictured post's beyond shining. Subsidized roads and airports have stolen the travelers away, and a financially struggling AMTRAK won't be soon around with polish.
For this little guy, at least, it doesn't look to be a happy newel year.

Saturday, December 9

Chick Magnet

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We should have named this guy, "Aww..." That's what people call him, at least at first. I had a snapshot. I wanted to see if it could be made into a portrait. Here's the result. Does it work? Or is it still just a snap?
Regardless, this is Rocco. He's just over two years old. If you look back a week or so on the blog (November 27 = "Crow Droppings"), you'll see my VW spattered with bird poop. The city's startling the crows to get them to move on. They do it by shooting very loud rounds from a portable cannon. Rocco is sitting there quite concerned that the %$#@! cannon will explode at any second. He does not like cannons. Know what? Neither do I. I dislike crow droppings more.
Oh, the title of this piece? If you are looking to meet women, Rocco is the key. He has an astonishing way of drawing ladies from everywhere. Social life drooping? Get a Rocco.

Friday, December 8

Golden Meaning

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It's not so much that I shall die - but that everything else goes on. It's the party that I shall miss, the ideas, joy, art, music, greatness, achievement, answers,feelings, that won't happen on my watch. It's tantalizing to realize that now that we know so much about so much, that we can understand questions that were never before even anticipated. And that somewhere along the time line beyond ours... they will know answers and even more astonishing questions.

Thursday, December 7


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We tend to think that a smiling monk has arrived in a place where we want to be.Everything about him seems to be cast in the same wonder. He's carried along on a tide of dreams, but are they his, or ours?

Wednesday, December 6

Sun Spill

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Saw this on Cape Cod in October. The sunrise caught by the morning dew makes a glimmering flow that's shuffled one way by the breeze and another by the sun's rising direction. The currents give me a buzz.

Tuesday, December 5

Christmas Door

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My wife's president of the Lancaster Historic Preservation Trust. We had friends from the board over for a little holiday thing tonight. Our wreath went up on Sunday. Lancaster doors are famous for their Christmas wreaths. Well, if not famous... content. Here's ours. Merry....

Monday, December 4

Marching Home

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This monument starts with the American Civil War and then adds ornamentation around its base for every succeeding conflict of any note. At the moment, they're preparing a spot for whatever it is Washington's calling the current business in Iraq (the last plaque was engraved "Dessert Storm"). Interestingly, there's still a passel of places for more plaques. Do you think, on the designers' parts, this was insightful or pessimistic?
Do you think those empty spaces are really, like, the designer’s editorial comment? If that’s true, was he a monument builder, or a social critic? Are those spaces indication of despair of our weaknesses, or confidence in our resolution to defend what’s good?

Sunday, December 3

Me By Three

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Over at another website asked contributors to submit self portraits. Now these are all people with gordo photographic knowledge. The height of the steaks is (or is that "stakes"?) intimidating. There are contributors, for example, who are doing self portraits through pin-hole cameras somehow attached to digital camera bodies. Holy Fisheye, Batman!!
So what to do? I wanted to get a likeness of me. I wanted something showy... yet subtle. Elegantly arty.... Which at the same time would dribble technique, yet... yet still show something about me as a photographer... You know... intense, serious, yet approachably gentle, brilliantly humble, and of course sexually intense.
Unfortunately the Robert Redford who starred in The Sting was no longer available to be my stand in. Sigh.... So, I figured that I'd go for a low-key shot. Something with a lot of portentous (no... not PRE-tentious) shadows. Noir... I wanted to slather noir all over the thing. And color, but classy color, you know? Warm classy color.... SEPIA! Of course. But some intense, over-saturated chromes too. Something that says... "This guy glows! He's hot! And.... thoughtful... DEEEEEEEP!" But since you can't have intense color and sepia all in one shot... Okay... so I figured I'd combine them. And add a prop camera since that's what all this is about... And hands. Big hands to distract from my face (you'll recall the unavailability of Redford, right?).
And finally, an artsy crumble. After all the careful work (which is NOT retouched), why not show just how casual I am by aging the final print? So, I did that then folded in a couple of drop shadows to make it all pop.
And here it is... You want the technical data? Sure.....
DATA: Saturday, 12/02/06, 12:52 pm: Apple 17" MacBookPro w/ bundled PhotoBooth Application, Meter Mode Auto, Exposure Program: Normal, ISO Whatever, Lens built into the built in camera, built into the top of the monitor, Exposure: Wait three seconds and the screen flashes.

So? Wuddaya think? Izzis fun or flop?
Comments? Huh? Huh?

Saturday, December 2


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Has anyone else noticed that the great northern U.S. cities are becoming seedy? As folks post images of Asian, European, Canadian, and Southern American cities - you see glimmer, high-tech and a patina of elegance. In the north, it looks as if the economic tides are receding, leaving behind shells, and detrius which still have the shape of their purpose - but their essence has left.
I wonder if bricks, cement, wrought and mill work have any way to miss their now dead functions? Look here, see how each was crafted to shape a hope, a dream, a plan? And now, urban weeds grow up as signage of abandonment. All over America there are bodies like these, not yet crumbling, not yet decayed... just lifeless... purposeless... Answers seeking questions. They're memories really. But they're not written in words, so they'll soon be like a melody carried in bits on the breeze... hardly heard, and increasingly unfamiliar.

Friday, December 1


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I've heard that daVinci's Last Supper began deteriorating only months after it was finished. Apparently the north wall of the monk's refectory at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan was not entirely hospitable to the oil-and-tempera based medium the master used to paint the masterpiece.
Ironic then that this wall scribble is maybe a decade old on the southern wall beneath a railroad bridge going into Lancaster. While it rarely gets direct rain or sunlight, it's otherwise completely exposed to the temperature and humidity shifts of our part of the world. Yet it's still as bright and uncracked as it came out of the spray cans. Just as roaches will survive an atomic blast, grafitti will probably build the stories of the Fourth Millenium's archeologists. Don't you wonder what they'll conclude about us from these sort of things?