Photography and art making as play.

Category: holidays

Monday, May 29, 2023: Memorial Day

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Saturday, December 24, 2022: Season’s Greetings

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Monday, May 30, 2022: Memorial Day

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Here is a question we might want to ask as we honor those who died while serving in our armed forces: In what ways has this country become unworthy of their sacrifice?

Four developments come immediately to mind, all connected to one of our nation’s major political parties: (1) the wide embrace of the Big Lie that refuses to accept the results of a free and legitimate presidential election; (2) Republican-led state efforts to restrict voting rights and choice through onerous election regulations, gerrymandering, and partisan appointments; (3) minority and obstructionist rule in the Senate; (4) a Supreme Court majority whose religious and ultra-conservative views can no longer be counted on to guarantee individual rights or the government’s role in protecting public and environmental health.

Feel free to add to this list.

While America has never lived up to its founding ideals, it remains incumbent upon every generation to bring us closer to them — not to send us backwards.

Friday, December 31, 2021: New Year’s Eve

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Friday, December 24, 2021: Holiday Greetings

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Saturday, September 11, 2021: 9/11 Twentieth Anniversary

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Monday, May 31, 2021: Memorial Day

As I reflect on this Memorial Day, I am ashamed of this country. We show respect for our nation’s war dead by having picnics and barbecues, and shopping for sales. We make a pretense of honoring the ultimate sacrifice soldiers made, yet millions of Americans refused to be inconvenienced by masking-up, practicing social distancing, and getting life-saving vaccinations in the cause of a greater good. We celebrate our military for defending our freedoms while Republican politicians and legislatures undertake an all-out assault on electoral voting, the bedrock of our democracy.

For this sorry state of affairs on Memorial Day, 2021, there’s one person in particular who deserves special thanks—Cadet Bone Spurs.

Let us not forget the damage this man has left in his wake.

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Monday, September 7, 2020: Labored Day

This may be a stretch in terms of a holiday link, but a good part of my Labor Day weekend was spent revisiting my career as a professional photographer specializing in corporate/industrial editorial assignments. A friend of mine had expressed interest in seeing samples from my commercial portfolio, most of which pre-dates the digital age and exists largely in slide form.

I hadn’t shown that work in more than 25 years, and since then, the presentation had gotten broken up in the course of 3 different house moves and a shift in career focus from business to higher ed. Putting something together for her involved emptying a closet full of cartons, spending hours going through boxes of slides amidst the resulting chaos (see below), and then more hours restoring order.

It all goes to prove that sometimes retirement still involves work!

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Title Slides from an Ancient Career Retrospective:

My first job in photography was painting a white bathroom black for use as a darkroom . . . or was it a black bathroom, white?

I rarely photograph people at work smiling. If work was really enjoyable, it wouldn’t be called work.

A professional photographer is one who makes every mistake in the book — once. After 16 years, I’m still an amateur.

Two of my favorite pieces of photographic equipment: Swiss Army knife (with toothpick); airplane air-sickness bags (good for separating each day’s exposed rolls of film).

Things go wrong so often on assignment, I now take it as a sign that things are going right. If there are no problems during a shoot, then I really begin to worry.

Photographing in cluttered, aging factory environments quickly gives rise to the aesthetic known as the “art of exclusion.”

The question I am most often asked: “Do you photograph women naked?” To which I reply: “I only take my clothes off when I bathe, sleep, or skinny dip.”



Tuesday, July 14, 2020: Bastille Day

July 14 is Bastille Day in France, a holiday that celebrates a major turning point in the French Revolution. It seems an apt occasion on which to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to speak of something infinitely more serious than photographic images.

Based on our history and comparatively high standard of living, I think it’s very difficult for most Americans, including myself, to fully comprehend the reality of having a madman in the Oval Office, one whose willful negligence and arrogant stupidity are sending millions of citizens to their sickbeds, and more than a hundred-thousand to painful deaths.

To vote this monster out of office in November is to give Trump the benefit of democratic and civilized norms that he’s been regularly trashing for the last 3 years. I’m not sure what the answer is but an election might be too late. This nation needs to do something commensurate with the scale of his malfeasance. Two hundred plus years ago, the French had a remedy that begins with “g” but that’s no longer an option.

One place to start would be for companies to stop advertising on FAUX News, the state propaganda outlet for spreading Trump’s lies. Twitter and Facebook should delete his accounts. Network news anchors and reporters should just get up and leave whenever a government spokesperson or GOP toady starts spouting crap. Mike Pence’s smarminess needs to bleeped.

Enough with the private asides that acknowledge how monumentally unfit Trump is for the presidency, especially during this period of unfathomable loss. It’s long past time to say these truths out loud. I’m looking at you, Republican congressman or senator, as well as former administration officials who still have an intact conscience.

We also need to hear from the bigwigs at major corporations, those who bring in the big bucks for exercising “leadership,” “vision,” and “competency”— one of the few constituencies perhaps that Trump cannot ignore. In this ever-darkening era, their concern for the bottom line, like the band on the Titanic, means little compared to the necessity of speaking out forcefully against behaviors that wouldn’t be tolerated for a nano-second in their companies. If executives like Goya’s CEO can’t tell the difference between a leader who unites a country and marshals all of its resources to fight the gravest of threats, and a “builder” who routinely stiffed contractors, defrauded banks and students, drove 5 or more businesses into bankruptcy, and carried that failing, corrupt legacy right into the presidency, they should go back to their planet of origin. Robert Unanue, you make the residents of Plato’s cave look like enlightened beings.

Americans cannot afford to be passive participants in this nightmare. Every sector of society must rise up and let those in power know we will no longer accept the disconnect from reality, ignorance, dishonesty, and unchecked narcissism that are Trump’s defining traits. The stakes are too high. The times demand that we take this country back, away from the precipice that gets closer and closer with each passing day.

As parents, we don’t allow two-year-olds to hold us hostage with their destructive tantrums. Why are we allowing this man-child to wreak havoc on on our families, friends, neighbors, and institutions?

Trump is a lights-flashing, alarm-sounding menace—as dangerous to the country as any lethal pandemic or foreign enemy. The sooner he is out of office, the more hope there’ll be for America and the world.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020: Earth Day

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