The New York Times has an article about how amateurs have been flooding the professional photography market. This isn’t news for somebody like me. This is what I’ve been calling the Craigslist phenomenon. The shitty economy has forced everybody to get more creative about how they earn money. And many photo hobbyists are discovering that they’d happily take photos for next to nothing, thus the undercutting of prices and the devaluing of pro quality. Wedding photography for $3-500 is now commonplace. Headshots for $75. When you’re an amateur, time is not money. The complication of course is that there’s often little that distinguishes amateur from pro work. This is often the case in the arts. But technology-based jobs have been getting outsourced to cheaper competition—India, China, etc.—for years. Professional photographers now either have to pursue the high-end or compete against the lowest-common denominator. Of course journalism and photojournalism are dying professions anyway. Twitter and blogs now deliver the news and flickr allows anyone to enter the stock photo business. Competition is healthy of course and as Cocteau said, a medium only really becomes an art form when it is affordable by the masses. So, while I love the increasingly visually saturated world, I’m preparing for my full retreat into another non-lucrative passion, fiction writing.
Above is Joe Nocella holding my early 90s vintage Bianchi Premio frame with a new set of wheels and drivetrain. Joe runs 718 Cyclery, a one-man shop on the edge of Park Slope which specializes in refurbishing old bikes and fixed-gear conversions. He’s unique in that he calls his upgrades collaborations, which they truly are. All aspects of the conversion were discussed, and though I wanted to go exclusively fixed gear, I knew that since I’d probably be riding with Max occasionally, it was better to opt for a flip-flop hub, with fixed gear on one side and a singlespeed freewheel on the other. I highly recommend Joe if you’re in the area and tired of the attitude and incompetence at local bike shops. Joe is honest and fair and he stands behind his work. If you’re into bike porn and want to see his blog posting on my conversion, go here. And of course the most important thing to report is that the bike rides great--smooth, silently, and with total harmony. I’m very happy.
It’s spring and the sun is once again pouring through the skylights!
In two years, we will have this glorious building down the street from us. This afternoon, Bruce Ratner’s ratpack of politicians, Paterson, Bloomberg, Schumer, Markowitz, etc. pushed their ceremonial shovels into some ceremonial dirt.
Thanks to taxpayer subsidies, Ratner’s pockets are very deep, deep enough to buy almost everyone out. Most likely there will be a few eminent domain fights before Forest City Ratner can claim the last few pockets of privately owned land, but the Supreme Court has already spoken about that. Like the Republican Convention held in NYC in 2004, protestors were forced a block away from the ceremony. The Times reported this, but the story was mostly buried, strange given the scale of the Atlantic Yards project. (Could it have something to do with the NYT’s cozy relationship with Forest City Ratner?).
While I’m all for jobs and the expansion of affordable housing, this plan will do little good for the borough except help the construction industry and possibly build some borough pride with the Nets. Aside from real estate speculators, I do not know a single person who is in favor of this enormous project. It is totally out of character with the neighborhood, in scale and design. The traffic will be a nightmare. There aren’t enough schools, the subway and LIRR will be overburdened. And then there will be the loss of neighborhood businesses as anonymous mall life invades the borough. We live in Brooklyn because we like the brownstone scale of life. We like trees and parks and peace and quiet. We like owner-occupied small structures. There’s a reason we didn’t want to live in Manhattan. This is a very sad day for Brooklyn.
I had the privilege of spending a week with Barry Hannah in 2007, at a summer workshop at Amherst College. Though his love of storytelling was still richly evident, it was clear his failing health was most on his mind. Drink and cancer had ravaged him, and the financial fallout was terrible. Like Orson Welles, who needed to pontificate about cheap domestic wines to pay the rent, Hannah joked that he only did these workshops for the money. Still, I was charmed by his raucous sense of humor and his reverence for his literary forbears. After enjoying brief monologues on the craft of fiction, I got to lunch with him and talk about Faulkner and John Grisham and Larry Brown, and Donna Tartt, his hatred of the label southern writing. He had an amazing, playful way with words. His sentences and characters were wild and fun and irreverent. I have never encountered voices like those in Airships or Geronimo Rex. The horror and grotesque humor of Yonder Stands Your Orphan still haunts me. On Monday, America lost a truly original voice. Read the NYT obit here and an appreciation at Vanity Fair.
The EPA did the right thing, naming the polluted Gowanus a SuperFund site. According to this NYT article, the cleanup could take 10-12 years and cost $300-500 million. Bloomberg and company were very disappointed, no doubt upset about the prospects for crony real estate development. Next up should be the Superfund labeling of the terrible oil spill under Greenpoint, one of the worst domestic oil spills (even bigger than the Exxon Valdez).
He was a very, very special cat, but his cancer had gotten so bad he’d stopped eating and was too weak even to seek affection. Clearly he was in pain. With the expert help of our vet Helen from Animal Kind, Mochi was euthanized around 4pm. We will really miss his unique, loving sentience.