Friday, October 31, 2008

Going to the head of the Long Line

About 2 months ago we had the opening of an exhibit of various types of art, including photography and sculpture, at Rootz Gallery here in North Miami. I had a bunch of my photographs on display and the opening party was well attended. A couple of weeks ago I got a call from gallery owner Mario Flores telling me that the exhibit was being moved to the North Miami Public Library where they have a room dedicated to art exhibits. Another opening party! More publicity! I started running into folks, not your usual gallery goers, telling me that they'd enjoyed seeing my photographs. Starting last week I started getting calls and emails from people that I hardly knew telling me that they'd seen my photographs! I decided to check out the situation. I had to park a block away from the library. The line of people extended down the front walk, along the edge of the parking lot, and then down the block to the next corner. According to the newspaper sometimes the wait to get in was as long as five hours, even in the rain! People were being allowed in six or eight at a time where the first thing they got to look at was a wall of my framed prints on the right as they waited to be led to a voting booth or walked slowly by.Florida had "early voting" last week and the library was one of the few regional polling places open in the county. That's why all the hordes of people! Last week the hours were 7 AM until 1 PM and this week from 1 PM until 7 PM. This week the governor decided to increase the hours to 12 hours a day, 7 AM until 7 PM, and keep the polls open all weekend as well. Without a doubt this is the biggest turn-out in North Miami history. I'm interested in getting the final tally of just how many people voted at the library location when it's all over with.And yes, I got some photos of the lines and the crowds and people looking at my photographs. I'll be posting some soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Decrepit Old Dude Checking Out The Polls

When I arrived at thge N.M. Chamber of Commerce 84 year old Penney Valentine told me that us elderly 65 or over folk can go to the head of the line and get taken ahead of the youngsters. I guess I'll head around the corner to the library and check it out.

Jon Sinish and my son Jonathan have conspired with one another to pick out and order a new computer for me from some company by the name of Vision Computers. They sell a bunch of brands but also build custon units. The two Jons say that they're the best place to go and I'll get me a 'puter tailor made for surfing the net and posting on forums as well as this blog. I'll also be getting a bigger monitor, a modern flat panel example of the monitor designers' art.

Hopefully I'll get AOL loaded no problem and be up and running without having to find me a sexy young tech geek girlfriend (damn!).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fencing With Chain Link ~ The Crash

(Photo not yet available)

Life is just so exciting when you hear first a crash then the sound of what seems to be a truck dumping a load of scrap metal on your front lawn. All I wanted to do was enjoy my coffee and first cigarette of the day but instead I was running to the front door to see what was happening. By the time I got on the porch what was happening had happened. The chain link fabric was pulled out into the middle of the street, one end still attatched to the remaining standing posts, but long sections of the top rail and several posts were scattered about. Deep ruts crossed my lawn.

Well, I thought, as I dialed the North Miami Police, at least they missed hitting my truck by about ten feet as the veered off the road and they'd managed to stop before they would have crashed into my house. My neighbor from across the street pulled up before the police officer arrived. It seems that Mike was outside and saw the crash and he managed to follow the vehicle, a small black pick-up truck, long enough to get the tag number. The cop's onboard computer thing in her police car ran the tag. It was one of five cars registered at that address, but it wasn't registered to a black pick-up truck. Oh well, I have part of a black bumper as a souvenier, and a bunch of 4X6 color prints of the mess. The insurance adjuster comes tomorrow.

On another track, I'm looking into buying a new computer. Together with the new scanner I'm expecting to have a more exciting blog in the near future.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Me And Monkey

Kaplan and Monkey
Photo (c) James Mitchell

This charming sensitive portrait of me and Monkey (that's me on the left) is actually a few years old, shot when I was a youthful 63 and Monkey about a year younger. We were sitting around outside of Starbucks on Biscayne Blvd. and 135th St., me smoking cigarettes as usual. Monkey doesn't smoke, never has, but he does seem to enjoy being around smokers. He prefers ganga smokers though. Starbucks doesn't allow that on the patio.

I'll be turning 66 in a couple of weeks on the ninth of November. I'm not sure about Monkey's birthday, though. He keeps it a secret. He and I have a long history together!

He got really excited yesterday when we got an email from James telling us that he'd be in town toward the end of January or beginning of February. He wants to get James to photograph him together with Monkette. He said that James shoots better portraits than I do. Thanks a lot! Hell, at this point James probably had my 85mm f/2 Nikkor on his Leica, judging by the contrast and bokeh. He fell in love with that lens, and ended up buying two of them, one chrome, one black. Mine is chrome. I love it dearly, but when it comes to cuddling a toy monkey is much better than any silly old lens, don't you think?

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Janis ~ I snuck a few more photos

Janis, as I've mentioned before, is about as close to stone deaf as it's possible to get. She communicates in sign language with her deaf friends, reads lips, and hears a little bit with the help of a hearing aid. Her phone has some sort of amplification device, but talking to her on the phone can be touch and go. I might have to say the same thing several times, perhaps choosing different words, until she understands what I'm saying. It's a lot easier talking with her in person, although strangers probably wonder why she has such a happy look on her face when I seem to be screaming at her and waving my hands around.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Early Voting, The Interminable Wait

I haven't missed an election since I was old enough to vote. Even before that, as a toddler, I remember walking with my grandmother to vote at the Betsy B. Wislow grammar school four or five blocks away from the house. After she voted we stopped at Browne's Pharmacy and she bought us ice cream cones, chocolate for me and coffee for her. Was it the ice cream that kept the event ingrained in my memory? No, it was probably the continuous lecture that I was receiving on the importance of voting, how lucky we were in this country for having the right to vote, how our family had come from a country where people didn't get to vote for their leaders, and how my daddy was overseas fighting a war to preserve our right to vote....and on and on and on. It really meant something to her.

In the past few years "early voting" has been introduced. Around here most of the usual polling places are closed for early voting, but for two weeks before the election you can go to the open ones and vote. This week it's mornings, next week afternoons. Then on Election Day all the neighborhood polls will be open all day long. I vote at the Congregational Church two blocks away.

I'd heard that the line at the North Miami Public Library was around-the-block long, that the wait would be at least two hours in line. Yesterday at times it was four hours, and we've been having scattered light showers to boot. Some people brought lawn chairs, some brought umbrellas, and there were a lot of thermos bottles and bags of snacks in sight also.

The city has several charter amendments on the ballot in addition to the usual stuff. It's a l-o-n-g ballot so voting goes slow. Under normal conditions that would have dissuaded many voters from coming. North Miami's population is about 60% black, mostly Haitian, plus a fair amount of Hispanics, mostly from Central America. Most of the were grateful to be here but still thought of themselves as Haitians or whatever. There was no big rush to become U.S. citizens. Mostly they didn't vote.

When it became pretty obvious that Obama was going to be on the ballot that changed things. That around-the-block line had three or four white faces at most and everyone was talking Haitian Kreyole to one another. Block after block of houses have Obama signs in their yards. That includes the more upscale neighborhoods by the bay which are mostly all white. I wandered around in the drizzle for awhile getting some black and white photos of the crowd, library in the backround, flags fluttering from the flag poles in front. At this rate everybody who wanted to vote will have voted by election day, but I'll come back next week, vote if it looks reasonably possible, and run some color film through my Leica M2. It's set up with a 21mm lens.

I shot this photo a few years ago, but it's a good depiction of the way I felt wnen I saw those long lines. Most likely I'll soon be replacing it with a photograph from this election cycle.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No Photo (yet) No Audio

Janis is extremely shy. She's also about as close to stone deaf as you can get, and has been since early childhood. I first "met" her about 1980. She lives less than a block away. She wears a huge hearing aid but mostly reads lips. Even the hearing aid doesn't help much. For the past few years I'd see her on Wednesday nights at Starbucks where an informal Deaf Club meets. One of the guys, Don Meredith, is my age. He makes little tops and he can do amazing tricks with them, like getting it spinning on the back of his hand and making it run up his arm, or suddenly jerking his hand out from under it, flipping his hand over and catching it, still spinning, in the palm of his hand. For a few bucks he'll sell one to you and try to teach you how to do the tricks. Few succeed. I need to get some photos of him with his tops. With that 15mm lens I could get a big hand close to the camera with the spinning top, Don and some other folks in the background.

A few months ago Janis unexpectedly became a widow at 55. One day she knocked on my door asking if I was going to the market. Since then she calls a few times every afternoon and evening. It's after 11 PM now and I just got off the phone with her. We went shopping at Publix earlier, then stopped at McDonalds because they have fifty-nine cent hamburgers on Wednesdays. She loves them! At Publix all she bought was some peanut butter that was on sale. That's normal with her. She never seems to do much shopping at a time. We took the McDonalds burgers to Starbucks and ate them with our coffee. She seems to use food shopping as an excuse the get out of the house, but Don says that it's really an excuse to spend time with me, that she has a thing for me. As we sat around with Don, Don's wife Mary, and a few other deaf people signing one another, I finally managed to shoot a few photographs with the 21mm lens that included Janis, without her noticing. I should be adding a photo to this blog posting in the near future.

I also found out that a lot of tonight's sign language conversation consisted mostly of Don and Mary trying to convince Janis that I would make a good catch. She didn't tell me that, Don did. Things might be getting interesting around here.


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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

After The Destruction Perhaps It's Time For A Change?

I pulled this photo out of my archives because it reminds me of what Google's blogger stite was like yesterday and the day before. I couldn't log on to post, and I didn't understand why I was getting error messages and then directions to go to some nonexistant web site. I exchanged some emails with my buddy Jon Sinish, he researched it, and discovered that a lot of people were having the same problem.

As usual, Jon came up with a "work-around" to bypass the problem. In all likelyhood some young hotshot computer geek had decided to write the code to destroy Google, make it impossible to use at least some of its features, and seemed to be making decent progress at it too! But within a few hours things started getting back to normal as Google's computer geeks got in there and set things straight again. No doubt they also figured out a way to keep the same thing from happening again. Anyway, The Price Of Silver still lives!

This photo was shot for insurance purposes before the big clean-up after Hurricane Wilma. Yup, I also shot a roll of color without me in the photos. That's what was in the Leica that I'm using in my right hand. The location was my ex's back yard. She had power a week before I did so I was going over there every morning for a shower and hot coffee. It pays to stay friendly. I also brought my chain saw over to cut up the downed limbs.

Months later I discovered just how badly I'd screwed up. It seems that if I'd billed her for taking the photos her insurance company would have paid, plus paying me for cutting up the downed branches. In fact I could have gone around both my neighborhood and hers, taking pictures of the hurricane damage, explaining to people that their insurance companies would reimburse them for the expense. Oh well, live and learn.

And the change? I've been mulling over some possible changes to The Price Of Silver. I appreciate your comments and emails, so if you have any suggestions please let me know! Thanks.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Now Where In Hell Am I?

The past day or two have been hell for The Price Of Silver. Somehow somebody managed to get something into Google, it's random, doesn't happen all the time, but when it does I can't access the blog set-up page so I'm a bit behind here. In the meantime my buddy Jon Sinish understands all this tech geek stuff while not really being one himself...LOL, and he got me back up and running. A BIG thanks to Mr. Sinish (sound of aplause).

When I posted the photo I really couldn't remember where I was when I made the shot. After a day or more of staring at I've concluded it's most likely K-Mart, maybe Target, but the title really best describes how my brain has been feeling. I'm lost without my blog! This caused me to spend too much time on the Rangefinder Forum, esentially writing a blog post. Skip the first couple of photography tech babble if you like but there is an interesting story in there about my hippy days, the local rock and roll scene, and the recent death of Jamene Miller at 55, a fantastic singer that I first met and photographed when she was 15 and singing with a group named Fantasy. But hell, read the whole thing:

Memories! That's why now I say shoot everything, save everything, even the everyday and mundane, you never know what you might want a picture of and wish you'd shot it and/or kept it. Remember Thee Image, a rock venue in Sunny Isles made out of an old bowling alley, west side of Collins Ave. at about 170th Street? Late 1960's. A lot of MAJOR groups played there and a local group, Fantasy, got their start there, got a recording contract with Liberty/United Artists, had one big hit Stoned Cowboy.There was a big obituary in yesterday's Miami Herald for a girl who got her start as their singer, went on to sing with War and Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead) and others, by the name of Jamene Miller, dead at 55 a few days ago. Last time I ran into her must have been thirty years ago at least. The Herald doesn't keep these links active forever but it should work for a week or two.My point is, I still have all those negatives I shot back then when Fantasy was still a bunch of high school kids of 15 and 16. I shot them live at various places like Thee Image, outdoor concerts at Greynolds Park, probably a rock fest or two. I did two record covers as well as studio shots for press releases. I just ran across an 8x10 glossy press handout, but that was shot during one of the intervals when she was with another group. Jamene isn't in the shot. It's also one of the few studio shots I did of the group.I hate to sound like a vulture but I'm going to dig out those negatives & contacts, maybe print up a few, because no doubt there's going to be a market for them, at least for awhile. Plenty of kids used to take their Pentax and Nikon SLR's to those concerts, the Miami Herald no doubt shot a few pictures, but odds are my pictures are some of the very few surviving ones. At least the very few that anybody can locate after all these years.Yup, Sunny Isles Beach was more than just pickled tomatoes and hot pastrami on rye. It was also creativity, Rock 'n Roll, fun times, good ganga, and some of the first acid to make it to South Florida. Back then nobody said "You're still shooting FILM?", not even "You're still shooting BLACK & WHITE?" Nobody said "You're still shooting rangefinder cameras? Get with the SLR revolution!" Hell, I still shoot with some of the same stuff I used for shooting Fantasy. Someplace around here is the Fantasy album cover that I shot with that 400mm.To repeat, SHOOT EVERYTHING, SAVE EVERYTHING. I don't have any pictures, inside or out, of Pumpernick's, Wolfie's, or The Rascal House. Too everday, too mundane. Pickled tomatoes are just a memory.Thanks to Google a number of people have stumbled onto my blog, my photos and writings about that long gone local music scene. I've gotten together with a few of them for lunch or whatnot. Those cute teenage girls mostly now look exactly like the grandmothers that they've become.
__________________ (No, it's not Jamene)

I need to go pull those old negatives of Jamene. There might just be a revival in the market for photos of her. And I need to make a couple of Bob Dylan prints for a MAJOR Dylan fan.

I'd also like to thank a couple of folks who left comments on some of the blog posts. Yes, I approved them so they are there for all to read. Go to "Girls In Red Dresses" and find out about driving a cab in North Atlanta and what all the cabbies say about girls wearing red shoes! (Jeepers! My daughter Elena lives in Atlanta! I sure hope that she's not tooling around in cabs wearing red shoes!)

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Image Title: Tribute to Al Kaplan

Tribute to Al Kaplan

By: Jiri :-) Copyright ©2007

Jiri :-) {K:666}

Camera Model
Film Format
Film 35mm
Film / Memory Type
Foma 400

ISO / Film Speed
Pending / 0 Ratings
City - State - Country - Czech Republic
Raw scan from baryt-print (Fomabrom Variant 111)

[Pretty cool, huh! All I had to do is copy and paste!]

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

...and SOMETIMES the newspaper is boring!

Same old same old, but now that Sarah, of pregnant teeage daughter fame, is running on the Republican ticket for VP it's become FUN again. That Daddy-to-be is lucky that they all live in Alaska where the age of consent is 16. Here in Florida Sarah would have a real conundrum on her hands! Would she let him him get away with statuatory rape just because the girl is her daughter? Maybe because the kid is carrying her grandchild? Perhaps because he's promised to marry the girl?

But the law is the law. Screw an underaged girl and it's a stretch in The Big House, paying for your transgression! Shame on you, Sarah!

Can't you just picture the field day the tabloids are going to have with this if McCain wins? The paparazzi jostling for position to get the most uncute photos possible of the country's official First Bastard, while Grandma Sarah lectures all the other teenage girls about the joys of abstainance, chastity, self control, virginity...

Those girls will be beating down the doors of fundamentalist Protestant churches all all over the country, seeking salvation...from the lectures of the Vice President of the United States of America. Last I heard Alaska was still one of those fifty states united for the common good, but the rules must be different there. At least for some people!


Crankin' Up The Jig Factory Again ~ Maria Called

I just did another google search to come up with some photos of me sitting on the front porch making bucktail jigs for this post. I knew they were there someplace. So I typed keywords such as "Al Kaplan" and "bucktail jig" and came up with some STRANGE things. It seems that there's somebody else by the name of Al Kaplan who likes to fish.

>>>“Holy Mackerel!” (Al Kaplan, DougMinor)
Lockport, Manitoba and the Red River is the location for catching large catfish on a new Catfish Dynamite bait system. Lots of action and fun with these large cats.
Baits: Catfish Dynamite Huckleberries and Links <<<

is the website where I discovered the mention. It ain't me though! And they don't make bucktail jigs.


...But back on topic! Maria called. She and Henry were planning another fishing trip to the keys and needed more jigs. I'd first met them at least a dozen years ago atthe South Florida Fishing Club when it was a viable and competitive club here in the Miami area with a good number of members interested in light tackle fishing with artificial lures, before it was hijacked by a small group of big boat guys who always want things their way. A typical meeting would have forty or fifty people show up for dinner and a program on some sort of fishing or another. Now we're lucky if a dozen show up. Henry and Maria dropped out, and after a last ditch effort on my part to get things back on track, I dropped out too.

That means that they can no longer figure on replenishing their jig supply at the twice a month meetings so Maria calls, tells me what they want, and we meet up someplace so she can get their jigs. This photo was tken a few months ago as I got ready for her last pick-up. Well, she called a few days ago.

I'm about the only source around here of certain colors, like pink and white or green and white jigs and I'm willing to make whatever you want. Maria wanted to try green and pink! I made up half a dozen with the green on top and half a dozen with pink on top. When she stopped by the other day she gave me a glowing report about their fish catching abilities, and she said that it didn't seem to matter which color was on top. They both slaughtered the fish Then she told me that the brown and white, another one of her ideas, were great also, and that Henry had unexpectedly caught a bonefish on one while they were fishing the shallows off the northern tip of Virginia Key, within sight of downtown Miami.

Now I have to make up a bunch more of the pink and green, and she wants to try yellow and white, something I've never made before. I guess that I 'll be spending a few more evenings sitting here on the front porch keeping Maria happy.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Memories And Curiosity ~ Bob Dylan

Once more, for lack of anything better to do (now THAT'S a lie) I decided to Google around the net and see where some of my pictures of Bob Dylan might have ended up (In violation of copyright) or perhaps just a reference to them, and here's one of them: which led to this:

"The BOB DYLAN picture archive

Acknowledgements -
Please note that all images used on this site are for the purposes of review and comment, and to provide an illustration of Dylan's long career, and therefore, according to counsel, are within the "fair use" provisions of copyright law. And, as per the recent outcome of Prince's lawsuit against a fan publication, it is believed that this non-commercial project does not infringe on the artists' intellectual property rights. The copyright-holder's permission should of course be sought for any commercial use of the images, and contact information for the photographers or their agents is shown in the above notes on photographers where known. If any photographer or copyright-holder can give better information than we have shown then please make contact.
Thanks are due to dylanstubs & tobywansDad for their particularly large allowance of webspace for these pages and to all other contributors. If you have web-space that we could use even short-term it may be useful - please contact Stew.

Thanks to the following for their particular help and permission to show photos :

[and this is just one of a long list of photographers]

Al Kaplan -"


...and here's link to a Bob Dylan photo of mine:

...and another link:

Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog: Rene Ricard's Great...
Posted by: Al Kaplan May 25, 2008 at 02:27 PM. The 1960's were great times. ... Bob Dylan - Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat · Bob Dylan - Sara ... - 91k - Similar pages

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Enjoying The Sights On South Beach

James Mitchell and Chicks

I met James Mitchell at least five years ago through the Leica Forum. He's in the Miami area every few months on business and we always get together for lunch, or at least a drink. It's coffee for me and beer for James, so we have to find a place with a decent selection of imported beer and really good coffee, or try to at least. This was back in 2003 and a sidewalk cafe in South Beach was the location.

He had a "new" vintage Leica M3 in a fancy custom leather "half case" with matching strap. I like the Leica M3 myself ~ I have one ~ and it's probably a good idea to buy one that saw light use or maybe just sat under somebody's socks for the past fifty years. Get it cleaned of the dried out old lube, re-lubed, and it'll be good for half a century of actual use. What I don't understand is the concept of a fancy expensive half case. Yes, it protects the camera from dings and dents, but you have to remove it to stick a fresh roll of film in the camera.

I think that I was using my little Leica CL that day. It had looked pristine when I bought it a few years before but I don't make the effort to keep it that way. To me it's a tool I use to make photographs. It has a great lens and it's the kind of light weight/small size camera that makes me not mind schlepping it around all day. It's probably half the weight of the M3, and about one third smaller in size. It's not as well built either, but life is full of trade-offs.

What I really like about this picture, though, is the typical South Beach scenery walking by in the background. Noplace else around here seems to have as many cute chicks.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Back To The Sunnyside Cafe Again

There used to be two chains of donut shops making traditional cake donuts, Mr. Donut and Dunkin' Donut. The amount of shops ebbs and flows with how worried people seem to get about eating fats and sugar. All of the Mr. Donut shops seem to be gone, although one hung in there for several years under the name of The Donut Connection

Forty years or so ago this place was a Mr. Donut but they used to make the donuts at the larger 163rd St. store and bring them down here to 139th St. Then one day ALL the donut shops were history.

Coffee is the twenty-first century buzzword. Starbucks opened shops all over the place. Somebody at Dunkin' Donut got the brilliant idea of featuring their coffee, talking about what a smooth flavor it had, not mentioning donuts at all. It must be working because there are new Dunkin' Donut shops springing up everwhere. I often stop to pick up a couple donuts on my way to Starbucks.

This location sat empty for several years, then reopened as a breakfast and lunch place with counter seating and a few tables. You get a choice of home fries, hash browns, or grits and the eggs are cooked like you want them, along with link or patty sausage, bacon, or ham. They've added a Kreyole speaking Haitian waitress to the already bilingual Spanish/English mix. When I need something more sustatial than a donut first thing in the morning I stop at the Sunnyside Cafe (then I go to Starbucks for some stronger brew).

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The Ball And Chain

Not much has really changed since I shot this photo. The fan died and I got a new one. Instead of facing west into the glare of the late afternoon sun I now face east and look at a wall with a few framed pictures on it. I still make the effort to post a photo every night and write a bit about it. That's "the ball and chain part". I wore out one little fan and bought a desk lamp.

When I got dragged kicking and screaming into the blogosphere (isn't that what they call it?), very much against my best judgement, I figured that it would go on for a few months at best. At this rate I'll be crossing the "one thousand posts" mark before Christmas. It's fun and it keeps me out of trouble. Now I have to catch up and write something about Police Chief Jm Devaney. I didn't write it the other night!

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Comments On Old Posts

Blogger notifies me when someone leaves a comment on one of the blog postings. Other people just send me an email. The email address is on the bio page when you first get on the blog. What I find so interesting is that people actually are going back through the archives and are still looking at pictures and stories from several years ago! Either way I welcome your comments, good and bad!

Following these comments I'll put my comments on the comments...LOL

N.C.Street Photography has left a new comment on your post "My Zippo's 50th Birthday Party": My uncle always carried Zippo's. after he passed & all the families were fighting over what & all. My son stated all he wanted was his zippo lighter. He got it. Al your blog is fantastic. Love reading over all the older post & looking at the photos.

My comment: Shortly after I took this photo I lost that Zippo lighter. I bought another and promptly lost that one also. I bought a third Zippo, then it too was missing. I knew that it was here in the house someplace, but that was over a year ago, and I switched to disposeables. This afternoon I was sitting on the sofa when I droppred my pen. It quickly dissapeared down next to the arm where the fabric goes down alongside the fabric covering the padded springs. I fished around with my fingers. There was lots of cat hair, and the cat had died 4 or 5 years ago. I found another ballpoint pen totally dried out, a dime, and one of those missing Zippos. When I returned home after a pleasant evening of drinking coffee, chatting with friends, and lighting my smokes with a Zippo for the first time in several years I discovered the "Zippo Comment". Strange, huh?

N.C.Street Photography has left a new comment on your post "Painted White ~ Welcome To Klan Country": Living here in N.C. for most of my life I have never seen this sign. Looking @ it now makes me wonder how such a sign could of been allowed. Like you quoted Dylan in an earlier post...times,they are a changin.cheers,gb

My comment: The world was different three or four decades ago. I remember photographing the first black student at Barry College in nearby Miami Shores, the first black cop on the North Miami Police Department. I remember little Jessica, the first black little girl in the neighborhood. Our Elena played with her but a lot of the people here wouldn't let their children play with Jessica.

That sign was there. We saw it and I knew it was something that needed to be photographed. I knew that it wouldn't be all that long before signs like that only existed in old photographs and people's memories. Now a lot of those old prejudices are thankfully gone. Some have been forced underground, buried but only hidden.

(The past couple of days I've been moderately ill, but give me time and I will write the past few days postings!

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chatting With Jim Devaney, Former North Miami Police Chief And Former City Councilman

Jim DeVaney
Damn! Jim and I go back a long time. I was a kid, really still in my twenties, shooting for The North Dade Journal and Jim had yet to make chief. Then for the longest time he was the chief. Back then he was a bit too "old school" for my tastes. I was still going through my hippie period and there was no love lost between the "hippies" and the "pigs". We wanted to smoke a bit of herb and they had the law to enforce. But I was the news media and also the contract photographer for the City of North Miami. We had a truce. Don't ask, don't tell.

I was always getting assignments to photograph things like the new police station, police awards ceremonies, the police shooting at targets at the range. I even got to do some shooting at the range myself, the bullets out of guns type shooting. Me and the cops, we got along.

Then one day Jim retired. After a few years of boredom, I suppose, he ran for city council and had no trouble in getting elected. He was a good and effective councilman too, and it was useful to have the perspective of a cop sitting up there when it came to dealing with issues of crime, and public safety in general. These days Jim is really retired, but he pokes his nose in here and there. I think this occasion was at a swearing in for the new mayor and council.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Finding The Light In The Darkness

It's quiet, it's late. I come over here most evenings to drink some coffee, chat with friends at times, perhaps read a bit, or just collect my thoughts, as the saying goes.

That young woman? I have no idea who she is. I probably wasn't even aware that she was there at the time. When I'm shooting these self-portraits sometimes I look back there and see whats behind me. Most times I don't. It just happens, or it's intuiton, or the camera itself has a great sense of lighting and compostion.

She has her coffee and her cigarette, as do I. She's reading a book, or maybe studying. I'm taking pictures. I never seem to succeed at collecting my thoughts. We both needed the light.

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

The White Folk's Restaurant? By Default, Yes...

North Miami has seen a substantial racial and ethnic shift over the past couple of decades. We've had an influx of mostly Haitians, some Jamaicans, and quite a few mostly Central American Hispanics. They all share a penchant for spicey food, whether too much curry like the Jamaicans, or WAY too much hot pepper like the rest of them. Another turn-off for many of the old guard is goat meat, a staple of Carribean cuisine. I never really understood that one because I grew up eating lamb on a regular basis and I'd eaten horse meat with some French Canadian friends. I've had rabbit and squirrel and deer meat and I'm still alive and kicking. I've even eaten racoon, opossum, and back when it was still legal I dined on alligator a few times. Then there was armadillo and a couple species of turtles. What's so sacred about sticking to just eating cow meat?

Little by little the "typical American diner food" type places closed up, turned into Chinese restaurants, or started serving Carribean food, although for the most part the Haitians eat in their restaurants and the Jamaicans in theirs. Awhile back a Haitian guy bought the Atlantic Chinese Restaurant but kept everything the same, including the cooks and the waitresses. The place kept its customers and does a good take-out business. Another traditional American style restaurant went Haitian all the way. I used to eat breakfast there a few times a week. I walked in one morning after the new owners took over and they asked me if I'd made a mistake. I said "no" but I never went back. I guess they pulled that with a lot of former regulars because they soon closed for good.

Well, Jimmies Place is still there, they still make you feel right at home, and a fair number of American blacks that don't like Hispanic or Carribean fare are eating there on a regular basis. There are some blacks working in the kitchen and a black waitress. Their corned beef on rye is fantastic and you can get great grits with your fried eggs, but they don't offer Cuban coffee.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monkey Rides The Conveyor Belt

When I first met Peggy thirty or more years ago she and her boyfriend Richard were renting a duplex nearby. When Richard had come back from Vietnam he was having some mental problems and perhaps smoking a bit too much pot because he was getting a military disability pension, but for the most part he managed to work a bit of construction from time to time. Peggy was the stay at home housewife and they managed to get by. A few years later they managed to afford living in a rented house a dozen blocks away and her niece moved in with them. Her brother at that point was heavily in to drugswhen he wasn't in jail, and I never did find out where the little girl's mother was.

Stephanie, my wife at the time, encouraged Richard and Peggy to get married but they never did. Peggy was never able to read and write much beyond her name, and can only handle the simplest of math. A real job of any sort is of the question. Had they married she would have been eligible for widows' benefits when Richard died at about age forty, but they never did, so she manages to get by on welfare and food stamps. Now she lives with her dogs in a little trailer. She never found another boyfriend. Richard was the one love of her life.

I run into her by chance once in awhile, and on a rare occasion she'll call me. This particular day I took her to the supermarket. She'd just gotten her month's supply of food stamps and Monkey went along for the ride. Sometimes I run into the niece at Subway. She has some college, a good job, and a loving husband.

Last week I saw Peggy standing at the bus stop outside of the trailer park waiting for the bus. Good timing, because it was just starting to rain. I gave her a ride to the doctor and a folding umbrella in case it was raining on her way home. The 99 cent store sells these pretty decent made-in-China folding umbrellas. I usually buy them ten at a time and keep them behind the passenger seat in my truck. I'm always giving them away to people and I make sure that I keep one for myself. That one stays safely hidden behind the driver's seat.

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The Spirit Of The Tigers Lives On

Laymond Hardy introduced me to Bobby Tiger in 1973. My wife Stephanie and I spent many pleasant days visting Bobby and his family on the Miccosukee Indian Reservation on the Tamiami Trail about 30 miles west of Miami. Bobby was married to Louise, who was half Creek and half white but Bobby was full blooded Miccosukee. He wrestled alligators for the tourists and travelled around quite a bit wrestling alligators at fairs and carnivals. That's how he'd met Louise.

They had five children. When I met the Tigers the two youngest were Donna, 16, and Spencer,14. Years later I found out that Donna was adopted, a Creek I believe. They were both students at Palmetto Sr. High. The Dade County Public Schools used to bus a bunch of kids from the reservation every day. Even at 14 Spencer was pretty good at wrestling alligators, and as I got braver I went in the pit with him on several occasions to take some photographs. Then one day he said "Here! You try it!"

It looked easy enough and the 'gator was a small one, maybe six or seven feet at most. You crouch down, stick out one hand and wave it around over the 'gator's head. He'll raise up on his front legs and lift his head upward. With your other hand you come up from beneath and grab the soft flesh of his throat, all the while pushing upward, then you can grab both jaws and squeeze them together. They might be able to bite hard enough to take off a hand but the muscles that open the jaw is very weak. Within seconds I was lying in the sand, both hands holding the jaws closed, twisting the head around and pushing against one of his legs with my foot until I flipped him on his back. Once on their back the blood rushes to their brain, so I'm told, and they black out. That's when you're supposed to rub their belly and tell the tourists how much alligators just love to have their bellies tickled, but there were no tourists there. Spencer took a long pole and flipped the gator back on his feet. He looked a bit groggy, gave us what I suppose was a dirty look, then ate a couple of garfish that Spencer tossed his way.

Now Spencer and Donna are both gone. Donna had a son Robbie who now lives with Spencer's widow Flo, a nice Jewish girl in Bay Harbor Islands. In a few days I'm going to attend Robbie's 22nd birthday party on the dock of a fancy Miami Beach restaurant. I doubt that he'll ever get the chance to wrestle a 'gator.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Al Kaplan And Jon Sinish On Miami Beach

If you've been following this blog for awhile I'm sure that you're aware that Jon and I have been friends now for about forty years. We just look young! Every time he's visiting Miami there's the obligatory trip to Miami Beach so he can see the genuine Atlantic Ocean instead of Long Island Sound.

There's a bit of size distortion caused by the perspective of the 15mm Heliar, but I am 6' 3" and Jon is just a tad shorter. I have a much larger nose too. That part isn't camera induced distortion! The camera hanging from my shoulder is my Leica CL with a 40mm Summicron.

When I shot this one I hadn't had the Bessa with the 15mm Heliar for very long, and I wasn't yet very good at guessing the framing while holding the camera off to the side. I'm still not exactly adept at shooting verticals with the rig. I like this picture anyway. That stance and facial expression are pure Sinish!

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Too Famous For My Own Good

I started having problems when I first started posting on the Photo.Net forums four or five years ago. People thought that I was making up the stories I told, thought that I was full of B.S. really, but then I started posting photographs and yes I had met President Clinton and photographed Janis Joplin, etc. Also, I started to meet people in person that I'd f irst met on the forums when they visited Miami. One of them was Marc Williams, a Chicago advertising photographer who also shoots high end weddings. He shot the photo of me on the T-shirt on one of his trips to Miami as we sat at a sidewalk cafe in South Beach enjoying our morning coffee. Another photographer, James Mitchell, from the Washington, D.C. area had the idea of printing up some T-shirts and Marc did the layout, picked the type face, and Photoshopped the Leicas a bit bigger than they were in the original shot. They also vouched for the fact that yes, my tales were true!

The young lady in this photo, Melisa McKolay, saw my Janis Joplin picture and just had to have a signed print. She also got a T-shirt from James. She posted it on, as did a bunch of other photographers wearing their T-shirts. That was the beginning of the end for me on P-net. The inner circle, Brad, Jeff, etc. accused me of starting a cult. I was soon banned from the Leica Forum and in short order from ALL of the forums. I haven't heard from Melisa in a few years now, on a rare occasion I hear from Marc, but James and I get together a few times a year, whenever he's in Miami on business. I'm publishing this blog and posting on the Rangefinder Forum. Starting a cult sounds like it might be fun though!

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ELENA KAPLAN ~ The Candidate

This is a recent picture of my daughter, Elena Kaplan, from her law firm's web site. I didn't take the photo. She used to use one of my photos of her.

A couple of years ago I got a call from my old friend John Patteson, all excited. "Did you know that Elena is running for state representitive in Atlanta?" he asked. Well no, I didn't. It seems that he'd been googling names of people that he knew, just to see what might turn up. He found the web site of the law firm that she was with and he found her campaign web site. I wish that I'd done a copy & paste of it, because shortly after she lost the election the campaign web site was gone. It started out with her writing about how she first got interested in politics by going with her father (that's me) to North Miami City Council meetings as a little girl. I should have felt flattered, glowing with pride, and I was I suppose, despite the fact that it had been close to five years since she'd decided to stop talking to me. She'd sent me a letter saying that she never wanted to see or hear from me again.

Last night I discovered a comment had been added to a blog posting about her on this Georgia blog: Here's the comment:

"Anonymous said...
Now it's 2008, not 2006. Elena Kaplan should try a run for some other office! She could have one of the best campaign advisors and political writers in the business working for her."

Again, very flattering. Thanks, Liberal Lucidity!

But Elena still isn't talking to me. I've tried sending emails to her at her law firm's email address but got no response. I'd really been expecting her to make another run for office in the current election cycle, but she doesn't seem to be doing it.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008


Yup! This blog account was so screwed up I couldn't figure out which side was up. Fortunately I've got some great friends, some new and some going back many years. Jon and I were trying to figure out just how many years, it's been when he was in Miami a few months ago. We think that it was 1967 or 1968. What I need to do is get those boxes of negatives and contact sheets down off the shelves and spend a few hours squinting at the contacts through a magnifying glass, looking through my pix at the annual Wilson Hicks Photojournalism Conferences at the University of Miami, or from my summertime trips to visit my dad in Massachusettes and I'd stop off to visit Jon in Connecticut for a few days on the way.

Anyway, he's the computer/internet genius these days, and we spent a few hours the other night and again this evening, and now I'm back! I don't have a clue as to what or why we did what we did, but he stayed on the phone with me and walked me through it step by step.

For all of you who thought this might be health related it's not. Only the blog was sick. I'm in great shape. Monkey is sitting in his little chair in the bedroom gazing out the window while Monkette is in the truck, and I have no idea what she's doing out there. Watching the rain perhaps? They also are in great health.

Other news: I have about a dozen prints in a group show at the North Miami Public Library on N.E. 8th Ave. between 132nd and 133rd Streets. They have a dedicated room for art exhibits. The opening party was last night and the show runs through the end of October. I got an email a couple of days ago from a woman in Tampa who's putting together an audio visual presentation on Indians for a Boston based company. She'd googled Seminole Indian and came up with my name and several pictures from 1974 on the web. I have to get in the darkroom and make up some prints for her. I located the negatives this morning. It pays to have a good filing system and never ever throw anything out.

Again, thanks for hangin' in there for the last few weeks. I'm back! It might be slow going at first and I've got to get better at scanning if photos will be a regular feature again, and they will be! Congratulatory emails are flooding my mail box:

The oddest thig was that for the past year or two Yahoo! rated this blog about number 72 for traffic out of all the blogs on the internet, and suddenly it's moved up to number 65. I don't expect to get to number one. This isn't an all consuming passion. I want to have a life! But I take pride in turning out a good product.

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