Monday, August 31, 2009

A Really Cool Customized Volkswagen Microbus

"Feb. 1972" is scribbled on the back of the contact sheet and it's a pretty clean looking scan because it's a 6x7cm negative on 120 roll film. I was probably shooting with my Century Graphic.

I remember seeing this vehicle a knowing that I just had to get a few pictures. It appears to be a "custom" but amateurishly done combining of a travel trailer and a VW Microbus. It's hardly streamlined, and it makes you wonder how that 40 or 50 horsepower motor ever got it up to highway speed.

I'm not sure but I think this was in Coconut Grove. Lethal Yellowing had yet to wipe out the coconut palms.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

"The Amorous Drawings of the Marquis von Bayros" ~ Monkette's Favorite

I first met Rene Ricard either in the New Bedford, MA Public Library or Paul Noll's Arabian Nights Cafe back in the early sixties. Rene was a tall skinny 14 year old who'd already dropped out of school because he didn't fit in very well. There's not much room in a typical Jr. High for a genius level I.Q., and being gay wasn't exactly the right thing to be half a century ago. But google his name to find out what a bright Jr. High drop-out can accomplish!

Anyway, Rene introduced me to the works of Aubrey Beardsley and the Marquis von Bayros. I found a copy of the von Bayros book in Mary Poh's antique shop here in North Miami back in the early seventies. That's also where I met Claudia and she owned the same book! A match made in heaven? Not quite 100% but we're still best friends although the marriage only lasted about a dozen years and someplace along the way we'd decided that we didn't need two copies of the same book. We sold one.

This morning Monkette and I stopped by Claudia's house. I had a cup of coffee while Monkette played with Claudia's two dogs. Then she started looking through some books. She loves art books of late nineteenth century artists. Suddenly she let out an excited "Hey Al, you've got to take a look at this!" There was no way she could carry a book that big across the room so I put down my cup and walked over to the book. Monkette kept flipping pages and pointing at the drawings. "Look, monkeys!" she screamed. "You never told me about this book before!"

After a bit of discussion she extracted a promise from me to post a couple of the monkey pictures on the priceofsilver. That girl is very artistic, and like she said, "I never finished Jr. High either!" Yes, Monkette, you're in good company.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Boston Street Beggar ~ November 1964

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Shopping Trip To Downtown Boston ~ November 1964

Thursday, August 27, 2009

To The Most Beautiful Girl In The World ***************** HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEPHANIE

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Art Deco Sterling Silver Cigarette Cases

These days in most places you're treated like an escapee from a leper colony if you admit that you smoke. If you pull a pouch of Bugler out of your pocket and start rolling a cigarette people range from rapt fascination to wondering when you fell off the turnip truck. Light up an Indian bidi and you'll engender some mystery and intrigue into your nicotine habit. Casually slide a sterling silver cigarette case out of your pocket and suddenly you become a dashingly handsome character out of a 1930's movie in some exotic locale. The ladies don't chastize you for smoking. They want to hold it, to feel it, and they'll often say something along the lines of "Ooh, I haven't smoked in years, but may I please try one?" followed by "Where did you ever find it? It's just so beautiful!"

My good friend, the late Mary Poh, had an antique shop for years right across from city hall on 125th St. and often I'd drop by just to say hello and see what interesting new things she had in the shop. The one with the gold bands and fancy engraving has no makers mark. The engraved initials are actually an AH but it looks close enough to an AK to pass. The other one is marked Sterling and it's also marked Tiffany. A jeweler friend put the little plate with my initials over the place where sombody else's initials were once engraved. Smoking is respectable again. Sort of...

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

North Miami City Manager Clarance Patterson Resigns

That's Clarance in the red cap on July Fourth, and I took the photo. Here's what Councilman Scott Galvin wrote on his website tonght:

North Miami Manager
Clarance Patterson Resigns
Effective November 30, 2009
I am sad to pass along to you that North Miami City Manager Clarance Patterson has submitted his resignation effective November 30, 2009. Patterson has served as North Miami's Manager since March 2004.

"This ninety day notice is to allow the Mayor and Council time to recruit an interim or permanent replacement," reads Patterson's letter to the Mayor and City Council. The letter was handed to Councilmembers as we walked into our August 25th meeting.

Patterson's steady leadership has brought the city through several challenges, including Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, negotiations of police contracts, and the establishment of our Community Redevelopment Agency.

Patterson is a Savannah, Georgia native and current North Miami resident. He has worked in the public sector for over 45 years. Previously, he was the City of Miami's Director of Solid Waste. He has also worked for the City of Miami Springs, Miami-Dade County, AFL-CIO, City of Savannah, Georgia and served on the North Miami city planning commission.

Closed Patterson's letter, "Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as the City Manager...I have enjoyed my tenure here and will continue to contribute in a positive way to the development of this city."

Clarance, my friend, you have worked so hard for our City. I thank you for your immeasurable efforts and wish you a happy, fun retirement!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Double Cross

One of my photography clients was the City of North Miami but I still thought of myself as the Hippie Photographer. My daughter Elena was responsible for changing me into a suit & tie sort of guy. Howard Neu was on the city council.

One day he called me up. He wanted me to meet him over at his law office. After the usual hand shake and "how are the wife and kids?" sort of small talk we sat down (good thing I was sitting down!) and he hit me with "I want you to chair my campaign for mayor!" Like I said, I had this self image of hippie photographer. Hippies aren't supposed to chair political campaigns.

We went with something a bit different, as campaign buttons go. These do not look like your typical red, white, and blue "Elect So & So" campaign buttons. They worked! Howard became mayor!

This past spring I got involved in a couple of campaigns, but I also attended functions where I didn't want to show favoritism. You're walking a fine line when you've been long time good friends with both candidates. Monkette came up with a great suggestion! We dug out old T-shirts like the one I'd saved from John Patteson's campaign from twenty or so years ago, and buttons going back to the early seventies from other candidates. I wore them. It gave everybody a good laugh. I collected a bunch of T-shirts from this election cycle for future use. Nobody seems to give out buttons anymore.

The double cross is another story for another time.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

SNCC ~ The Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee

I got this little button back about 1962 from Paul Band. the guy who introduced me to my first wife and mother of my children, Dr. Stephanie C. Brundage. They'd met on a ship coming back to the U.S. Paul was originally from Germany and had gone back to visit relatives while Stephanie was living with an aunt and uncle while attending the University of Geneva.

Puul was very much involved in the ant-war movement and active in organizations like the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee. I guess living through World War II in Germany as a boy made him very aware of the evils of war.

The button itself is about 12mm in diameter, meant to be worn descreetly as a lapel pin. The symbol itself became known as the Peace Sign. It largely fell into disuse until recently. now students and younger adults wear clothes with the symbol emblazoned in a very in-your-face manner. This is where it all started.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

...A Few Weeks Before Woodstock!

This is my press button from the Miami Pop Festival at Gulfstream Park Race Track in Hallandale Florida. It was hurridly put together but hugely succesful. The promoters then made last minute arrangements to get essentially the same line-up of rock groups playing on a farm in New York State just a couple of weeks later. Publicity was via rock radio stations, underground newspapers, and word of mouth. Half a million people showed up in Woodstock! I didn't make it. I'd already seen it.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting Off to an Early Start! Elect Al Kaplan For North Miami City Council!

I got a phone call last night from John Patteson wanting to know if I was considering a run for city council in the next election cycle. I told him that I wouldn't run for Scott Galvin's seat if he decided to run for re-election and that I really had no desire to run for mayor. I had enough folks trying to get me to run this past May. Plus it was still about 21 months to go!

We knocked around various possibilities of who should run, would Scott decide to seek a county or state office, or maybe use his school teacher background for running for school board. Of course he could also just run for re-election to council again. Safe and secure, right! Not really. John reminded me about an incumbant councilman I'd challenged about twenty years ago. Everybody is vulnerable. He opted to just not run, but that stuck me in the position of trying to fend off a much better financed challenger. I lost by a narrow margin and we had to wait for the last precinct to be tallied to know for sure. Inthe meantime when I discovered that the mayor, who had talked me into running to begin with, was backing this other guy, I went ballistic!

The city attorney, Will Splitstoesser and I talked his girlfriend Christine Mareno into running for mayor. She was fresh out of law school, zero political experience, extremely bright and very pretty.

In retrospect I think that had I concentrated on my own campaign I could have won. I got way too involved in making sure that the incumbant mayor got defeated. I was dissapointed at not winning the council seat but it sure felt good to see a popular multi-term incumbant mayor lose an election to an inexperienced young female attorney. We haven't had another woman as mayor since then either.

I think that what we decided last night boils down to that I'm being offered support and funds from several sources, the community support is out there, and while Scott might prevail in the next council election I could make him really sweat and lose a lot of sleep holding on to that seat. The effort might be better invested in moving on and moving up. Start making your plans, Scott. You're a good councilman and a good friend but we both, you and I, need to move on to the the next level for the greater good of the community. It's time to get things moving again.

I've already got the campaign button designs. These are from the 1979 campaign and the top one is huge! My (now ex) wife Claudia Bailey designed them and they'd look as good today as they did then. All I have to do is order a bunch of new ones from a button company.

As for a campaign portrait for the posters, campaign brochures, and newspaper ads I'm thinking of something really dynamic and eye catching to use with a caption like "Al Can Really Take It On the Chin For North Miami". There's the photo of me with the bruised face and swollen black eye from when that well drilling contractor, working without a permit, got upset when I took picture of him and his truck drilling a well. Then there's that photo from the last election where one of Councilman Marcellus's campaign workers decided that I had no right to take pictures of her campaigning. You can see her fist coming straight at my face. That REALLY hurt! It cracked my dentures too. Now I'm ready to come out fighting! Thanks, John, for talking me into it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When The Ladies Wore Tennis Skirts ~ 1972

Ladies weren't supposed to look like athletes back in 1972. They were supposed to look ladylike, sweet and not quite sexy. North Miami Mayor Bob Hough is in the center after presenting trophies to the two ladies. I have no idea who they were. On the left is tennis legend Gardner Malloy and the gentleman on the right is another mystery. Can anybody I.D. these people?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Thank You To The Hunt Bros.

The Hunt brothers decided that the solution to going from extremely wealthy to obscenely wealthy was to corner the market on silver, drive up the price, then bail out. It almost worked.

In the meantime the price of film was skyrocketing as the price of silver went up and up. One night I was sitting around chatting photography with my friend Al Olme and some others, probably including Nathan Benn, Al Wessel, and Paul and Louise Dana, and the topic if conversation was film and paper prices.

One idea that we knocked around was making a film that could be processed in color chemistry. I think it was still C-22 at the time, not C-41. The idea was that it would have a black dye image and all the silver gets bleached out and reclaimed, just like color film. We didn't know it at the time but across the Big Pond Ilford was already working on it. Soon they introduced XP-1.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It was May of 1972 and I don't remember why we were taking photos but I loved the light. Behind her is a trowel splatter textured plaster wall painted white. She's facing the long narrow window on the door which was a textured glass to let light through but you really couldn't see through it. I shot a 12 exposure roll of 120 film in my Pentacon-Six with the 80mm Biometer lens, probably wide open at f/2.8 and when I first saw the contact sheet I knew that "This was the one"! I don't think that I ever did another shoot of Ruthie and I lost track of her soon after.

This is another one of those "scanned directly from the contact sheet" pictures so I'm presenting it complete with dust spots. For many years I included an 11x14 print of this in my portfolio. I really loved the picture. I still do.

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Eddie Deknegt, May 1972

I'd already known Eddie for a few years when I took this shot of him in his TV repair shop, Delta TV, on West Dixie Highway. I met him at a Greynolds Park Love-In when some major group or another was giving a free Sunday afternoon concert. Eddie was close to forty at the time, liked to get high, loved his rock and roll music, and had a thing for black chicks. He also had a thick Dutch accent. He'd come from a place where it seemed that liking black chicks was common and smoking pot was legal.

Back then televisions were something you got repaired rather than just replace the whole dang thing! They were expensive and came in big wood consoles, often with a radio and record player combined. They were furniture for your living room. They were too big to just toss in your car and take to the shop so the TV repairman would come to your house. In the days before transistorized TV's it probably just needed a tube replaced but there was money to be made in taking it back to the shop and "checking it out".

Our daughter Elena had fallen in love with a young black woman, Eva Bridges, who was her teacher at day care, and Eva thought the world of Elena. One day my wife Stephanie went to pick up Elena and Eva was in tears. Her boy friend didn't want her anymore. She had no place to go. Stephanie stuck her, her belongings, and Elena in the VW Bug and brought them home with her. The first black living in my neighborhood was Eva. Elena was thrilled! I guess Eva lived with us for close to a year, but once she and Eddie met they fell in love. Soon Eva was pregnant with Shanequa and a few years later Eddie closed Delta TV and the three of them moved to Holland.

By then every 7-11 sold tubes and had a tube tester. Do it yourself had arrived.

Delta TV, May 1972

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Monday, August 17, 2009

You Have To Walk Before You Can Run

Back in January 1972 Elena was about seven months old, grabbing hold of anything she could so she could pull herself up into a standing position. Stephanie did all she could to encourage Elena to walk. At this point she had the movements down pat but hadn't quite gotten the balance part. Soon enough she got entered "terrible twos" and we either couldn't keep track of her or couldn't keep up with her.

About thirty-five years later she decided to run - for a seat on the Georgia Legislature to represent her district in Atlanta. She lost by a narrow margin. Hopefully she'll give it another try. She did learn to walk after all!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Boston, 1962

I spent my early years in Massachusettes but moved to Miami just before my 14th birthday. What made me want to move back there? It had little to do with the fact that my dad lived there. Perhaps a more intellectual atmosphere. Miami back then was hardly a center of the arts either. What it did have going for it was warm. Boston had colleges, theaters, art galleries, art schools, subways, and snow.

I'd only become interested in photography about a year before I shot this one. I had a Canon II-s with a 35/1.8 Canon lens. Mostly I was shooting people I knew. I was never much for random "street shooting" of strangers.

This was scanned directly from the contact sheet. The scanner was set for "color" and 45+ years of sitting in a box had resulted in some discoloration.The contact sheet lacked good contrast so I boosted it. I made the discovery that boosting the contrast accentuates the brightness of the discoloration. Cool!

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rene Ricard ~ 1962

I have no idea what the occasion might have been, but Rene didn't need an occasion to be dramatic. I know that the shoe towards the upper right corner of the photo belonged to Ben Lackey because you can see all of him in some of the frames on this strip. I know that it was winter in Boston. A few other frames show people trudging through the snow.

Back then I was shooting with a Canon II-S rangefinder camera with a 35mm f/1.8 lens. Even back then I liked Tri-X, although it was a much different film than today's Tri-X. It had a bit finer grain than the Ilford and Agfa films of the day. I was a also less knowledgeable of developing back then, and probably underexposed the film as well. Oh well, contact sheets are to see what's there, a visual file of all your photographs. I was never really careful about making comtact sheets look like finished prints and this scan was off the contact sheet, not printed from the negative. I'm sure that the negative could be printed on a higher contrast paper and look just fine.

Rene went on to fame and fortune as a poet, author, actor in Andy Warhol films, and art critic. I never could figure out whatever happened to Ben.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Little Havana Restaurant ~ Fidel Castro Would Have Been Proud ~ Why I'll Never Eat There Again!

I'm not a big fan of Cuban cuisine. Frankly I prefer bland American style cooking, but when you live less than a kilometer away from a highly touted Cuban restaurant, and on occasion an organization to which you belong holds a luncheon there, you eat there. Last week I had some friends in from out of town and they wanted to eat there. We did, they were thrilled, and I left there pleasantly full.

This week we had a similar situation. A couple of friends called mid-afternoon, said that they'd just gotten to Little Havana, and did I care to join them. They hadn't even ordered yet. I'd just gotten home and was starving but I figured I'd survive another half an hour before getting to eat.

The parking lot was empty. Inside the large dining room were my friends, and at a far table sat another couple. We sat and chatted while four waiters at the far end of the room jabbered away in Spanish with one another. Finally one of my friends got up the nerve to tell them that perhaps they might bring me a menu and a glass of water. I immediately requested a cup of coffee. My friends were half through eating, I had no coffee, and nobody had taken my order. Well, I don't want to write a book here, but my coffee arrived after I'd received my food. No cream! It took several requests and at least ten minutes before cream arrived. After finally getting the attention of one of the waiters again I pointed out that my plate of food was now cold.
They told me that they'd be glad to reheat it in the microwave. I stood up and started screaming "If I wanted microwave reheated food I'd go to Burger King. At these prices I expect freshly cooked food". It was all I could do to keep from dumping the plate of food on the floor, and hurling it discus style across the room seemed appealing, but I just stormed out of there loudly cursing out the waiters and manager. I didn't pay or leave a tip* for the waiters. One of my friends called aterwards to appologize. I told her that it wasn't her fault. In the meantime I'd stopped off at Burger King. Not the greatest food but good service.

Do yourself a favor. NEVER EVER EAT AT LITTLE HAVANA RESTAURANT in North Miami. They must not need our money. Spread the word about the lousy Service, nasty waiters, and their snooty attitude. To hell with them!

*TIP stands for To Insure Promptness

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

June Of Nineteen-Seventy ~ John & Lindsey

My back porch had a much more interesting life forty years ago. There was also a lot more light than there is today. A tall hedge on the property line now competes for light with a couple of big trees. The porch come in a poor third. John had been renting a room in my house and at this point Lindsey was his lady.

Whose idea it was, or what motivated us to do it, is knowledge forever lost, but the light was good, John assured me that he still remembered how to take off clothes, and Linsey seemed to need a bit of help, or maybe she just couldn't balance on one foot. Of course nobody could agree on the best shot. I prefer the one with her arm curving overhead.

Again, that trusty old Minolta Autocord was the camera used. I still get together with John on occasion and we talk some on the phone, but I have no idea about Lindsey's current whereabouts.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where Did All The News Stands Go?

Here's another circa 1970 photo with my trusty Minolta Autocord. This news stand was on the corner of Biscayne Blvd., alias U.S. 1, and N.E. 79th St. Head west and it it takes you to Hialeah Race Track,and horse racing enticed a lot of people to stay in the hotels along Miami Beach. Head east across the 79th Street Causeway and you were on Miami Beach.

Tourists who wanted to check out the paper from their home town could find a decent selection, at least from the major cities, and news stands could be found scattered around town. They also sold magazines and, of course, cigarettes because nobody told you not to smoke back then, although you were supposed to be 16. Nowadays the newspapers are barely hanging in there. TV pretty much did in the second paper in two newspaper cities. Now the internet is rapidly killing off the one remaining paper. Pretty soon there'll be noplace left to read the comics or find a crossword puzzle. Horse racing and dog tracks are pretty much a thing of the past also.

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John Patteson, My Best Friend For Over Forty Years

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

...And It Still Ain't Legal!

Here we are forty years later and nothing has changed on the legal front. What has changed is that we now have people who smoked pot in positions of power. Everybody from business executives, members of the clergy, people holding political office, judges, cops, all sorts of people! Some no doubt still smoke pot. And I suppose we have to consider them all criminals, but they're not about to be arrested. There'd be no place to put them all and the very infrastructure of the country would grind to a halt.

These days you'd have to be caught with a major load of the stuff for the cops to even give a damned. Most of the nickle and dime busts are situations where they're looking for an excuse to detain somebody while they're investigating something of greater importance.

I'd gotten a call from the editor at the local underground (now we call them counter-culture) newspaper, The Daily Planet. He wanted a photo arranged on the Miami Herald. I could charge "expenses" for the shoot and could keep the "props". Good deal! I already had a roach clip that would look great in a photo, and I figured that since it wasn't my nickle that perhaps some primo Colombian would look better in the photo than cheap Mexican grass. What the hell, it was 1968 and I had a budget of thirty-five bucks to work with. I could get a full weighed ounce!

It was photographed with my Minolta Autocord with a plus 2 close-up lens by window light.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Frame Shop

I have vague recollections of this little frame shop but I can't remember where it was, nor do I remember the woman's name. The back of the contact sheet only says "Sept. 1969". I'm pretty sure that I used my Century Graphic camera, a "baby Graphic", with the Wollensack Raptar lens and the eight exposure roll film back.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ana ~ Can You Really Improve On Natural Beauty?

I'd met Ana just a few days earlier at Little Havana Restaurant. I ended up sitting about half a meter north of her at the next table. Pure happenstance! I was supposed to be there to meet up with Bob Michaels, an Orlando area photographer who was briefly in town. Bob and I continued our coversation later at Starbucks. There was an immediate spark between Ana and me. We couldn't stop talking!

She invited me to a party at her place a couple of days later. I have this stupid habit of getting places on time, so that of course made me "early". Ana was still getting the finishing touches of her hair style and make-up. The light was dismal, I only had ISO 200 film, and the 15mm lens I love so much is no speed demon either. Maybe it's not of the best technical quality but I love that expression on Ana's face.


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Lunching At Fun Fair

It was September 1969 and we were having a bite to eat at Fun Fair. They had great crinkle cut French fries and Coney Island style really long hot dogs with tough rubbery skins, but boy oh boy, did they ever taste good with sauer kraut!

Back in the fifties and sixties it was THE place to go on a date. They had all sorts of arcade games and a place to get in out of the rain, but nobody really expected air conditioning so nobody really missed it. They also offered miniature golf.

It was located on the north side of the 79th St. Causeway connecting Miami to Miami Beach, maybe a kilometer east of the Channel 7 TV studio. I looked on the cantact sheet and checked the negative sleeves, but I still don't know her name. She does look familiar though. At the time I'd just bought a Century Graphic with a Wollensack Raptar lens and the eight exposure back.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Al Olme At Browne's Photo Center ~ Spotting Prints

Here's another one of those circa 1969 photos. This was shot inside Brownes Photo Center while it was still on the corner of N.W. 22nd Ave. and 79th Street.

That show case behind Al was where all the used cameras and lenses were displayed, but it was those drawers below that held the real treasures. Those were the famous "Junk Drawers". They contained everything from oddball flash synch cords to filters nobody ever heard of. When Brownie bought out a bunch of used photo equipment the big stuff went on display. The rest got shoved in a drawer.

Eventually Al moved out of town, the store moved over to Biscayne Blvd and 82nd Street, and both the the quality and quantity of the junk quickly spiraled down hill. When Brownie died it was all over but the shouting.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Did You Lose Your Head?

The last Friday of the month North Miami hosts an outdoor jazz concert downtown by the art museum. The museum and all the nearby art galleries stay open late, showing their new exhibits. I went into Mario's gallery and was surprised to see this crocodile skull being displayed as art. Mario must know something about "art" that I don't know. The skull was the only thing with a sold tag on it from the git-go.

A few months ago he was displaying the jaw bone of a donkey all bleached white from the sun. All the teeth were still in place, but loose in their sockets so they rattled when you shook it. He showed me how in his native Peru the jawbone is used as a rythm instrument. You hold it in one hand, shake it, and every few beats you bang it into the palm of your other hand.

I can't imagine myself trying to explain to a city code enforcemet officer "Oh! The dead donkey in my back yard? The one rotting in the sun? I'm just making some musical instruments. It usually only stinks really bad for the first couple of weeks."

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

North Miami's Fourth Of July Festivities

I took my neighbor Janis to North Miami's Fourth of July festivities. She's extremely deaf, even with a hearing aid, but she can hear loud sounds like drums, thunder, and fireworks. Mostly she reads lips. Since her husband died a year ago I take her shopping, to the doctor, etc. and she likes going to festivals and the outdoor concerts the city has on the last Friday night of the month.

Before the concert we visit the new exhibits at the art galleries. She's extremely shy and is convinced that she's not pretty. She hates it when I try to photograph her. She sees the camera and hides her face. Just a guess on my part but I think she's autistic. She spends most of her time home alone. She seems to like going to these things but she doesn't want me to introduce her to anybody.

We had some refreshments, the political types gave the usual patriotic speeches, and when it got dark Janis was finally able to smile. She watched the fireworks, she HEARD the fireworks. We could also see fireworks from surrounding towns. She was looking happy for a change. It was about all she talked about for the next few days.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Jamine Miller When She Sang With Fantasy

I shot these in February 1970 for use on an album by a local rock group, Fantasy, who had just signed with Liberty Records. The cover featured a fanciful painting by one of the group, Billie Robins. Incorporated into the image were little stark black and white photos of the four members. I shot the photos with strongly directional lighting against a black background, and then printed them so as to eliminate any trace of middle tones. These photos of Jamine hadn't yet been reduced to just black and white.

Fantasy came out with two albums. One song, Stoned Cowboy, was a big hit. The group eventually broke up, everybody going their seperate ways. A few months ago I was reading the Miami Herald and there was a sizeable obituary for Jamine. She was 55 and died in Tampa from drugs. I found out that she never liked performing live but had appeared on dozens of records by about every major rock group there was. Put her in the studio and she was in her glory! She also wrote and arranged music for a lot of the major rock groups.

In these 1970 photos she was either fifteen years old or perhaps had just turned sixteen. The camera was my trusty old Minolta Autocord. The scans were off the original contact sheets, hence the dust spots. We miss you, Jamine.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Sherry, The November Girl

November 1969 was the month that I turned 27 and according to our annual ritual Jim Kukar had asured me back in July that it was possible to turn 27 and still feel alive. He recently gave me the same a asurance about turning 67. Somehow "feeling alive" now doesn't quite feel the same as "feeling alive" did back then.

Jim was editing the North Dade Journal and I was the photographer. I got to go all sorts of places and meet all sorts of people. I suspect that was how I first met Sherry. I remember that she lived maybe a dozen blocks away and she wanted me to take some pictures of her. She liked the idea of being photographed in the nearby woods and frankly I was a little surprised when she told me that she wanted to pose for some nudes, but being the gentleman that I am I obliged her wishes.

That piece of cloth covered the tattered upholstry of the seat back in my VW Microbus, and the stripes were shades of magenta. The wooded area was to the north of 163rd St. east of U.S. 1, growing on filled in salt marsh. The taller trees are Australian pine while the bushes are Brazilian pepper, both invasive fast growing non-native species that the state has since spent a huge fortune cutting down and clearing out.

Sherry had a natural flair for posing and moving around gracefully, and we got several nice photos but this was our favorite. I was using my Minolta Autocord. The scan is off the contact sheet.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ike and Tina Turner ~ March 1970

I'd recently shot a record album cover for a Miami group called Fantasy and I got a call from Wayne at Liberty Records. He wanted to know if I could schedule a shoot in a few days. They wanted black & white to use for publicity, concert programs, and such. Ike and Tina were playing and staying at the Newport Hotel in Sunny Isles, just a few kilometers from my house. We set up a time for a few days later.

When I arrived they asked me to come up to the room. Tina wasn't ready. She was still doing her hair and make-up. She did her own. Ike asked me if I played guitar, pointing to the one on the bed. I said "not really, but I do know a few blues runs", picked up the guitar and asked him if it would be OK to put it in open G tuning. Once retuned I proceeded to do some fancy runs, slides, and muffing the strings with the heel of my hand after stroking the strings. He liked it and then I had to show him the fingering. We talked about some of the great blues players from the past and he was intrigued that I had so many re-releases of blues records going back the 1920's. Then he said "play something else" and I had to tell him that the reason I could wow him wasn't that I was an accomplished player but that I'd been practicing the same little bit for years, over and over. Tina said she was now lookin' good.

The first location was by the fishing pier that was just south of the Newport, and then we got into a stretch black limo and I told the driver how to get to a place with rows of stately royal palms where a motel had been years before, near Greynolds Park. then they wanted to go to a colored neighborhood.

Just A few blocks to the north were some gravel roads heading east from U.S. 1, going towards the mangroves, that had a number of run down two story houses with rental apartments. In those segregated days that was where the maids and gardeners lived so they could easily walk to work or catch a bus. When we pulled in it caused quite a stir! People wanted autographs and the Turners obliged. That entire neighborhood was bulldozed a few years later and replaced with retirement condos.

On the way back to the Newport Ike talked about the fact that when the hotel booked them they told them that they'd made reservations for the Turners to stay at a colored hotel in downtown Miami. Ike said that if they were good enough to play in the Newport's night club they were good enough to stay at the Newport. Management relented and they were the first blacks to stay at a beachfront "white" hotel in the Miami area.

The top photo was the one that I liked best. The scan is directly off the contact sheet so it's a bit light. I was shooting with an old Minolta Autocord. The art director didn't want me using 35mm.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

June in September, 1969

I remember taking these photos, but not why. Was it my idea or hers? I also don't remember where I met her, although the back of my mind keeps coming up with a blurred vision of the section of the 79th St. Causeway near where Fun Fair used to be. Perhaps she lived near there or maybe that's where we first met.

All I really know is the month and year, that her name was June Hardie, and that I was using a Burleigh Brooks Bee-Bee camera that came with a Schneider Radionar 3 element lens which I had replaced with a 4 element Voightlander Skopar. Just about every camera maker before WW-II made a similar camera. They came with 3 plate holders for glass plates which in turn usually contained film sheaths to hold a sheet of film. They were interchangeable with a ground glass back for more accurate focusing than using the distance scale. Some had after-market rangefinders installed. The cameras came in two sizes: 6.5x9cm and 9x12cm. A company by the name of RADA made roll film holders that fit these cameras, and they came with masks to make 8, 12, or 16 exposures on a roll of 120 film. You had to wind and see the frame number through a little red window. I always used the eight exposure option. All very primitive but I got some very good pictures with it.

I still have the velvet wing chair in my living room. I haven't seen June in forty years. At some point I sold the Bee-Bee.

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