Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Back To My Real Rootz ~ Black & White!

photo (c)2008 Mario Flores

I was carrying my Bessa with the 15mm lens as usual when I got into a conversation with a guy, Mario Flores, carrying a Nikon DSLR. He said that he'd recently opened a gallery here in North Miami, that he too was a photographer, and that he was exhibiting photography along with other media. He invited me to stop by and show him some of my work, which I did a few days later.

I showed him a bunch of prints from the 1960's and 70's, a few more recent things like my self portraits with the 15mm lens, and a few of my current project which results in some very absract images.

I get the effect by not developing the prints in a tray. I splatter Dektol developer on the exposed paper, sometimes leaving the drops in place for well over 5 minutes, then tilting the paper this way and that to sort of control where the drops wander across the paper. The long development under the drops causes bromiding, which results in grey streaks as well as streaks of normal developed image. The grey streaks continue out over the white borders outside the image. A few of the photos also have hand prints, where I've pressed my hands directly on the paper for a few minutes after soaking them with Dektol. Fortunately I'm not allergic to the metol in the Dektol. Some people can really get a bad rash.

The artists that were exhibiting and their friends loved those prints, but by and large the photographers who saw them wondered why I had the guts to screw up a print so badly, and then have the audacity to hang it in a gallery...LOL. I did sell another 11X14 of my Janis Joplin photo and one of the abstracts in the days before the show opened. Saturday I'll stop by the gallery and see what's going on there.


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Monday, July 28, 2008

Trading Cards ~ Do Little Boys Ever Grow Up?

Probably not, actually. Some grow wider, some go bald, others publish blogs, but grow up? NEVER!

When I was a kid baseball cards were the thing. They were also called trading cards. You bought a pack of bubble gum and there was a card inside. You wanted to collect the complete set. That was what the bubble gum company said! COLLECT THE COMPLETE SET!

Of course the piece of bubble gum and the card were inside a wrapper. You didn't find out which card you got until you tore off the wrapper. The most famous players were the most sought after of course. One Ted Williams was better than ten unknown rookies. The fair way to make cards would be to make the same number of each player. A kid's dream would be to make ten times as many cards of the favorite players. I suspected by the tender age of eight that what they really did was make ten times as many cards of the unknown players on losing teams. That would encourage you to buy more and more bubble gum as you pursued The Complete Set.

More recently I've also thought that the evil dentists might also have had a hand in planning this. Sweet sugary gum! A sure way to produce cavities. (Why do dentists always insist on calling them "carries"?) Then they could get you in the chair, jam sharp needles in your gum, and charge your parents a bloody fortune to fill holes in teeth that were going to be falling out and replaced with your adult set of chompers by the time you lost interest in collecting The Complete Set. Twenty years later you might start to become concerned about retaining The Complete Set of Teeth, but inbetween times the dentist starves.

But we're mature folks now, and everybody carries business cards. Digital technology allows us to print full color cards at home or at the office, and put pictures on them as well. All that's missing are the baseball uniforms. Everyplace we go we meet people and trade cards. Don't forget to collect the complete set!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

What WAS at ROOTZ Gallery

These paintings and an assortment of other artwork have been on display at ROOTZ for the last few weeks. Tonight at 7:30 is the opening of a new exhibit, and I have a bunch of my photographs framed and hanging on the walls, along with an assortment of other art work by other people. Bring your friends and your checkbook (cash will do). The wine and cheese are free. You might even show up with me in a photo on this blog ;-)

The address is 12399 West Dixie Highway in North Miami. (Hey Janis! Scott will probably be there!) (Hey Scott! WOW, does that lady ever have the hots for you...LOL!)

On a more serious note, it's an art gallery and it's just hosting a little party for the opening of a new exhibit. Come and join us. ROOTZ Gallery, the east side of West Dixie Highway on the corner of 124th Street. Be there!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ROOTZ Gallery ~ My Photographs On Exhibit

Rootz is a new gallery located on the corner of West Dixie Highway and N.E. 124th St. For the longest time it was the location of Jaybo Photo, a custom lab and photo supply. Now Mario Flores has rented the place, cleaned it up, and put some fresh paint on the walls. It's now an art gallery! There are several rooms in the place, including a small upstairs.

The grand opening tomorrow night, Friday July 25th, will have oil paintings, etchings, drewings, I think some sculpture, and photographs by myself and another photographer, along with the usual opening night wine & cheese.

I'll be showing a number of my black and white photographs from the 1960's and 1970's, but for a change I'm also showing some of my new experimental black and white work. I know a lot of you enjoy seeing my older photos but now that I don't have to keep clients happy I've struck out in a new direction. I hope you like them.

Most all of the art galleries as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art will be open for the Friday night Gallery Walk sponsored by the City of North Miami. There'll be live jazz in the plaza in front of the museum. Across 125th St. from the plaza is the Lunastar Cafe, a coffee house with a wide assortment of coffees plus teas, imported beers and wines, and light food type things. Tell Alexis that I sent you...LOL

ROOTZ is about two blocks to the west of the museum.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Love-In At Greynold's Park

When I found out about the love-in at Greynold's Park I told Al that he's gotta take me! No excuses! I'd heard so much about hippies and the culture of the late 60's, love-ins at Greynold's Park, live rock music, free love, pot, the smell of incense, wildly painted VW Microbuses, miniskirts and bell bottom jeans...but to hear Al tell it? Girls, free love, ganga,girls, free love, ganga, girls, free love, ganga...Oh yeah, and rock music! Lots of great Rock Music (and girls, freelove, and ganga)

So here we were at Greynold's Park. No it wasn't in a time machine. Somebody came up with the bright idea of holding another love-in after a hiatus of forty years. And there weren't all that many sexy teenage chicks in miniskirts and love beads either. But what the hell. I'm a toy monkey and I'm female. I wasn't too happy to discover that all those handsome young guys depicted in Al's vintage photographs, the ones with shoulder length hair, fringed leather vests over tie dyed T-shirts (or even bare chests - yummmm!) still a few years from being hairy, bellbottom jeans, and sandles were now for the most part grey haired (those that still had hair anyway) old men with paunches spilling over what was left of a waist line.

Of course a lot of the ladies weren't in much better shape, but at least they had the excuse that making babies isn't exactly kind to a woman's figure. And there were the usual guys with chicks young enough to be their daughter, or grand-daughter even! Well, maybe they were. Let's give them the benifit of the doubt, OK?

The dudes all thought that Al was a complete nut (or REALLY stoned!) walking around carrying a toy monkey at his age. Toy monkeys? twenty year old chicks? Pretty much the same thing, isn't it? Reliving their earlier years, their childhood, the youth that's long lost but not forgotten.

Now the chicks, they're always fascinated by me, and they think that Al is one cool dude for having the guts to carry me around like that! I got more kisses and hugs from all those chicks than I've had in ages. I was hoping to catch a whiff or three of that ganga smoke, find out what that's all about, but these grey haired old fuddyduddies have all turned into beer drinkers just like their dads before them. Why can't they brew beer from bananas?

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Monday, July 21, 2008

An Historical Society With Its Own Building?

A few years ago Councilman Scott Galvin enlisted me and a few others to start the North Miami Historical Society. This isn't it! We meet monthly but don't have our own place. We'd love to have our own dedicated building. We went around and saw what other Historical Societies were doing. I think that this was in Hollywood, FL, but I'm not really sure. I need to make better notes or maybe write these captions closer to the time that I do the photographs.

Anyway, they have their very own building! They have photographs from esarly in the twentieth century framed on the walls. They have shelves full of books, photographs, documents, and records. It's all in a semblance of order. It gave us some ideas as to how we might make better use of our own archives. At least we get to display things at the library from time to time.

Having our own building would give us a more visible presense in the community. It might cause some folks to donate more memorabilia to the collection, and we should be making a greater effort to record the memories of some of those old timers who are still around.

I bet they're all drooling over the prospect that I might print up a few hundred photos of things and events from the 60's, 70's, and 80's. For now they're going to have to be satisfied with down loading and printing out various postings on The Price Of Silver.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Technical Difficulties :-(

For several years now Todd Frederick has been scanning my photos and posting them on the blog. Then I write the headline and copy and insert it. My ladyfriend Robin, a lot more into computer type stuff than I am, got the brilliant idea that I needed to own a scanner/printer combo. Just about the time when I was starting to get in the swing of things she left town for a few weeks. Without her looking over my shoulder I managed to do something to screw things up. It's not "problems with our servor" or whatever. It's pure and simple, problems with my trying to do too much new stuff to soon. Todd is encouraging me to muddle through it, learn by doing.

I keep shooting new photos, and there are at least 175,000 black and white negatives and color transparencies in my files. It's just that until I get this computer/scanner mess mastered I can't seem to get anything properly posted. What I might do is pick out some pictures, write up the stories and post them on the blog, and then post the photos when Robin gets back here. That way I can keep up the momentum and continuity of The Price of Silver for the time being.

There will be a lot more of my old black and white (and a few old color) photos going back to the 1960's. For the past year or so I drifted into shooting stuff for the blog in color. The old black and white stuff goes with some interesting stories. Keep checking back and we'll soon have this place operational once more. Thanks.

A Rainy Spring Day In Boston

It was a rainy spring day and I was walking through Boston Commons when I spotted this man with his umbrella ad like the justaposition of him with the pigeon walking in the other direction.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Just Another Typical Afternoon At Starbucks?

Robin went back to Vero Beach today after a ten day visit. "You sure know a lot of strange people here!" she remarked after the first couple of days here. My first inclination was to reply with a "Really? Who else beside you?" but I was afraid of getting my face slapped or worse. The truth is we really do have a lot of strange people here, and I guess you'd have to say that I'm one of them.

This guy is the only person I've ever seen at Starbucks carrying a conga drum. He stayed for maybe fifteen minutes and he was a good player! Then he wandered away and I haven't seen him since. But I suspect she was referring to my friends, the local politicians she met, my doctors we went to, the folks at the post office and the bank. I mean, where else can youi go and find a sixty-something guy carrying around a toy monkey? And when I don't have Monkette with me everybody asks "Where's your monkey?" They're all concerned that it's too hot to leave her in the truck this time of year. If I say that the truck is parked in the shade they say "I hope you left the windows cracked open a bit so she gets some fresh air!" I sometimes wonder if it just might be easier to carry around a conga drum? "Strange people"? Hell, this town is full of crazy people!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The North Miami Strangler?

Actually they were both actors. I shot this in the field behind Ruth Foreman's Playhouse on N.E. 123rd St. here in North Miami. She had a theater there, including a childrens' theater, and also ran a talent agency for models and actors. I was hired to shoot some pictures for this guy's portfolio. After nearly forty years my memory is a bit hazy on details but I seem to recall that he was trying out for a part in a movie where he'd be playing a character similar to this. The girl also wanted some photos for her portfolio I have no idea what happened to the two of them.
The theater is just memories now. Ruth Foreman died twenty years ago this week. She was well enough known to warrant an obituary in the New York Times http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE5DD153CF937A15752C1A96E948260
I was always fascinated by ultra wide angle lenses and used a 19mm Canon lens on my Leica for this shot. This was scanned off of a print I made back then, and I have to say that today's Tri-X has changed a lot over the years from what it used to be. It's a lot less grainy than it was years ago, but you don't really notice the difference when they claim "New! Improved!" every year or two. The cumulative changes sure add up though. Tri-X today sure ain't your Daddy's Tri-X.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Manatees and Monkeys

When you're a toy monkey like me life isn't always easy. Now me? I KNOW that Al is crazy but he's afraid that other people will find out. I can usually talk him into taking me places with him, but sometimes he insists on taking that silly camera (the one with the ultra w-i-d-e angle lens) with him and pretending like he's working on his so called "environmental self-portrait" project.

A few weeks ago they had this thing at the Oleta River State Park here in North Miami where you could learn all about the environment, the fish, the birds, all that kind of thing. At one of the tables they had information about manatees (also called sea cows) and this cute little toy manatee sitting next to the booklets and brochures. Since my reading isn't exactly up to snuff (I write pretty good though, huh?) Al suggested that I stay and chat for a bit with Manny. I learned that manatees are related to the elephants and that Indians used to live on the banks of the river, where they sometimes killed and ate (yuck!) manatees. Manny went on to tell me that like monkeys they're pretty much complete vegetarians. I'm not sure, though, if I'd ever be able to adapt to a diet of sea grass and mangrove leaves. He told me that the occasional piece of fruit he'd found was a bit sweet for his taste. Just as our conversation turned to something a bit more interesting than what was good to eat Al showed up and said "Time to go!"

If you want to find out more about manatees this is a pretty good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manatee

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Robin & George

It was 1971 and I'd recently purchased an old varnished wood 5 X 7 view camera with a red leather bellows that was dried out and leaked light, and it had a broken front standard. I was able to order a new bellows for it. While waiting for the bellows to arrive I salvaged a bit of mahogany from a broken piece of furniture and got the front standard repaired. The wood wasn't exactly a perfect match but the camera was about seventy-five years old and I was happy to just get it working again. I already had a 203mm f/7.7 Kodak Ektar lens on my 4 X 5 view camera and it would cover 5 X 7 so I made another lensboard for it and I was in business. All I needed was a subject!
Robin was dating Richard who lived with his mom and two brothers a few houses away. The motorcycle belonged to Richard, his pride and joy, and he kept it just inside the front door, right there in the living room so we could all admire it as we came and went. I wanted to try out my "new" old camera, Richard wanted photos of his motorcycle, and Robin wanted some pictures of herself with George, her pet snake. George started out coiled around Robin's neck, but then slowly started slithering along her left arm. In this shot his head is extended just past her hand.
A couple of years later Richard and his family moved away, and I lost track of everybody except for one of his cousins. He lives just a few blocks away and a few times a year we run into one another. I guess Robin would be about sixty now, and George has long since gone to Snake Heaven.
I sold the lens when I sold the 4 X 5 camera about twenty years ago. I've since bought a lens from about 1920 for the 5 X 7 camera and I'm thinking about starting to use it again.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Chef Creole Trumps Carvel Ice Cream

Somebody came up with the idea of having all of the businesses and art galleries and restaurants along West Dixie Highway in North Miami having a day of celebration for no particular good reason at all beyond just being there and inviting the community to come join them, eat some good food, explore the shops, and enjoy themselves!

Chef Creole set up this huge barbeque grill in the parking lot and I was drawn there by the smell drifting down the street. I've always been a sucker for barbeque and it wasn't disapointing in the least, hot and peppery as only the Haitans can make it.

The building itself dates from the late 1950's when it opened as a Carvel Ice Cream shop. Both the Jr. and Sr. high schools were located within a couple of blocks and business was great. By the 1980's the area had started to atract more blacks, mostly Haitians. Haitians had no tradition of eating ice cream, and blacks in general avoid milk products as adults. Their systems produce no lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose, the type of sugar found in milk. Within a few years Carvel closed and was replaced by Chef Creole.

It's strange how people from various ethnic groups can live on the same block and never get to taste the wide variety of foods that their neighbors cook and enjoy. This was a day when we all had the chance to try those tastes of other folks' cooking. Some people were brave enough to try goat for the first time while others got to eat things cooked differently than they were used to. New spices greeted their tongues. Perhaps meats stewed rather than roasted. And in some cases we got to really meet our neighbors on a deeper level than just a friendly wave from across the street.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Opa-Locka, Highest Violent Crime Rate In The United States?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opa-locka,_Florida will tell you all about the place. Just click on the link and you'll find out the history, the people, and the crime. Actually, where I'm standing is only about 6 miles due west of my house in North Miami. I've visited Opa-Locka many times over the years on assignments, or just wandering around photographing the buildings. I've never run into any situations where I felt threatened. I've had offers to buy drugs and I've had offers from some very sexy looking young ladies to purchase more personal things, but a friendly "no thank you" or "sorry, not today" seems to work just fine.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Second Coming

Al's been telling me about the love-ins at Greynolds Park back in the the '60's. He said that they were actually held across U.S. 1 in East Greynolds Park back then. There'd be a big flat bed truck for the band to set up, and whatever big name rock group was playing at Thee Image that weekend would give a free concert at the park on Sunday afternoon. Thee Image was located in a former bowling alley in what is now Sunny Isles Beach, and has long since been demolished to make way for still more high rise condo buildings.

Well, he told me that if you didn't have the few bucks to see your favorite group in air conditioned comfort on Friday or Saturday night you could see them for free on Sunday. One big advantage of the Sunday-in-the-park format was that since it was a peace loving crowd the cops mostly just minded their own business and pretended that the haze of smoke hanging over the crowd was due to so many people holding incense sticks in their hands. I've often wondered what it was really like back in those days. Just listening to Al isn't the same as having been there, I'm sure! Here's a photo of Al's VW Microbus from those good old days back in the 60's. http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6344/1997/1600/Blog%2070%20e.0.jpg

A few weeks ago somebody came up with the idea of having another Greynolds Park love-in after forty years. It was held in the main part of Greynolds Park and there was a pretty good turnout! Al let me ride on his shoulder so I could get a better view, but I sure wished that his hair was still below his shoulders so I had something to hang on to other than his big ears.

We met this cool chick (that's what Al still calls 'em) and the two of them chatted a bit about the old days. Al told her about the his '61 VW Microbus that he had back then. As I listened to the interesting stories they told of that long gone era it became obvious that their memories were were a bit on the hazy side. Was it the forty years that had passed or was it breathing all that haze in the past? I guess I'll never know.

On the way home Al said that he was trying his best to remember what she might have looked like as a teenager. I think that Al was really trying to remember if he'd ever had her in the back of his Microbus.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

The Teamsters And An Art Gallery ~ Neighbors

The word teamsters seems to conjure up images of big burly guys driving big rigs cross country, eighteen wheelers, big Macks and long horn Petes, and the smell of diesel exhaust. You'd hardly imagine that the headquarters of Local 769 would be in this newly renovated building in downtown North Miami. Right across the street is my dentist's office and thirty yards beyond that will get you seated at Jimmeys Place for a great meal.

Just to the left of the Teamsters is where Jaybo Photo was for years, a photo lab and photo supply. After several years of sitting vacant it's now home to Mario Flores Photography and his Suyu Gallery, which shows a variety of types of art including photography. I'll be showing some of my work there starting Saturday night.

I'm fascinated by shadow patterns, and under the word Teamsters is a circle of light on the wall criss-crossed by shadows of branches, sort of mirroring the stylized wheel in the Teamsters logo to its left.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lunching With A Barista

First off, thanks for checking the blog. You've probably noticed that it's no longer an every day like clockwork situation. That was difficult to maintain. I expect that a more or less every other day schedule, 3 or 4 posts a week, is achievable. Just keep checking in!

When Starbucks decided to open another North Miami location, this time right in front of the Museum of Contemprary Art and next to City Hall they trained the new help at the 135th St. Starbucks where I usually hang out, and they also transferred some of the more experienced baristas to the new location. It was a smooth transition. The new location opened without a hitch and the other store kept ticking along.

No, off hand I can't think of her name but she was sitting there outside the new place eating her lunch as I was headed in the direction of getting a fresh cup of hot coffee. She remembered my name. We sat and chatted a bit about how life was at the new store, the usual. Small talk it's called. She soon had to get back behind that counter, I got my coffee and headed off to the next adventure. If cashing a check is really an adventure.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Patriotism is Contagious ~ And Fashionable

This looks like it'll make for a good Fourth of July photograph. Actually I was wandering around the park on Memorial Day, May 30th, when I spotted this patriotic woman. Nobody could walk by without noticing her, for sure. As usual the city was handing out little Amercan flags, so I stood one in my shirt pocket. It looked great against the lighter blue of my shirt.

Councilman Scott Galvin made a good deal with a local flag company for bunches of 3x5 foot flags packed in a plastic bag along with a metal pole and a wall bracket. Any city resident could go to Scott's office at city hall and get one flag for free! I really thought that a lot more people would take advantage of the offer and that the streets would be awash in red, white, and blue. Well, in this neighborhood there's my flag and one on the next block, but he already had that one.

I'll attend tomorrow night's festivities, check out the refreshments, and watch the fireworks. Monkette wants to go too. I'm sure that I'll see this woman there, and I'm wondering what she'll be wearing. Most women don't want to be seen in the same outfit twice!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The All Night Hangout ~ No More

I was on 167th St. in North Miami Beach when I decided I was hungry and had a hankering for breakfast type fare. The Ham & Eggery had been an institution since 1970 or maybe a bit earlier. It was a 24 hour place serving mostly ham, bacon, and eggs with hash brownes or grits, and some pretty decent pancakes and waffles too. The coffee was too strong but usually fresh.

Many nights after a concert, or just with a bunch of friends, I'd go there in the middle of the night. Well, here it was early afternoon. There was that white van, the only vehicle in the lot until my red truck showed up. No lights on inside and the door was locked. The place looked deserted. I'd sure like to see it reopen but I'm pretty sure that a combination of the changing demographics in the area, together with a fear of crime, means that it'll never again be what it once was. I headed on down the street and had coffee and donuts instead.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Another day without a picture...

This morning I took a few of my new prints over to the Suyu Gallery to get some feedback from Mario. He loved them and he plans to show several of them along with some of my older work. Believe me, the new stuff doesn't look anything at all like my older work! Mario said that he'd never seen anything like it before. He wanted to know how I got those effects. I ain't giving away my secrets, no way!

Now in addition to Todd and Monkette getting on my case to spend more time printing in the darkroom I'll have Mario bugging me also.

We're cutting back the schedule of posting photos on the blog to three days a week. There should be another one posted tomorrow. Whether I'll be able to resist the opportunity to write about something on those off days anyway, that's another story.

In addition to using some of my new black and white work starting in a few weeks Monkette wanted me to mention that she has a cute little itty-bitty toy monkey herself now! He still doesn't have a name but I'm sure that Monkette will think up a good one for him. He'll soon start showing up here in the pictures.

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