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Archive for November, 2009


Roy DeCarava R.I.P.

November 28th, 2009

John Coltrane by Roy DeCarava      Catalog ©1983, Studio Museum in Harlem
The Sound I Saw

Roy DeCarava isn’t a photographer, he’s a composer.”
–Historian Nat Hentoff to me, 1988

Master photographer Roy DeCarava died last month. It took a while for me to find the photo of his that turned my world around, but here it is, as part of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s 1983 catalog for his one man show of jazz photographs that introduced me to his eye. Getting to meet Roy and Sherry DeCarava became a great bonus in my life.

Roy chronicled the New York African American experience with an unparalleled voice, as just a glance at any of his (currently out of print) monographs or a Google Image search clearly shows.

I was always interested in photography, but music had taken its place for more than 20 years in my life, when my photographer sister invited me to a show in 1983. I’d never been to the Studio Museum in Harlem, and had never heard of the photographer, but she didn’t ask often and it was great for us to spend some time together over a shared interest.

Immediately, this shot of John Coltrane hit me like a ball of lightning. For me, music photography had been an enlightening capture of a moment, a remembrance of a sound maybe I hadn’t heard. For the first time, in this kinetic image of Coltrane I felt the same way as when I listened. It was pure emotion, not a recording.

Obsessive I can sometimes be, and I tried in those pre-internet days to find out something about this man, an almost unknown jazz photographer. There was almost nothing, a few references to some out of print books. No one at any galleries I visited seemed to know anything. How could it be someone so great was so poorly chronicled. Finally, I turned up a copy of a monograph, patiently waited for the mail, cracked it open and saw… not too much jazz. Or, more precisely, jazz as it really was, a small part of the day to day experience of African Americans in the 1950s and 60s.

Photo of Roy DeCarava by Mitsu Yasukawa for the Los Angeles Times
Roy De Carava by Mitsu Yasukawa
For five years I hoped to learn more, and somehow or other, found that Roy lived in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. In the process, I’d become friendly (and obsessed) with other jazz photographers like William Claxton who only had reverence for Roy’s work. I wrote and called repeatedly, mentioning my interest in helping getting the jazz photographs published in a book (even if I had to do it myself) and after months of quiet rejection, got an invitation to the DeCarava’s home. I found an artist and a scholar, proud of their accomplishments and their family, protective of Roy’s work, willing to entertain any ideas that could help spread the legacy in a way they felt appropriate. Declining the traditional methods of promotion and distribution they felt the photographs represented a great body of work that needed to be exposed in just the right way. Roy taught master printing at Hunter College in New York (who better? Check out his tones that often start at 60% gray) and could wait until his wishes were properly followed.

I wasn’t able to be helpful, spirited amateur that I was, but we stayed in touch sporadically over the years. I brought my wife to San Francisco for the traveling show curated by the Museum of Modern Art. We spoke last month on the phone, he sounded great.


Listen to Roy himself, interviewed by Charlie Rose, on the occasion of his Museum of Modern Art retrospective.

By the way, Roy’s jazz work was finally released with exactly the vision he saw for it. The museum catalog was named the same, but was just a hint of what was to be The Sound I  Saw, published by the Phaidon Press. Whatever you think of jazz, buy it. It sounds just right.

Oh, so that’s the answer…

November 27th, 2009

Frederator Postcards Series 8.9
Frederator Postcard Series 8.9, mailed November 27, 2009   

I was touring my son around high schools in New York and saw a Xerox of this quote hanging on a wall somewhere. For years I’ve been saying that people who succeed in show business are just those of us who are too stupid to know that it’s impossible. Churchill certainly is more elegant in his observation.

….
More Frederator postcards:

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008
Frederator Postcards Series 7, 2008-2009
Frederator Postcards Series 8, 2009-2010
Frederator Postcards Non-series cards

Va Va Toon!

November 20th, 2009

Frederator Postcards Series 8.8
Frederator Postcard Series 8.8, mailed November 20, 2009 

….
More Frederator postcards:

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008
Frederator Postcards Series 7, 2008-2009
Frederator Postcards Series 8, 2009-2010
Frederator Postcards Non-series cards

Ken Auletta works hard.

November 18th, 2009

ken_auletta.jpg

There’s no one who can translate the BS of media jargon for us like  prolific author and media observer Ken Auletta. Almost two years ago he came by to do background research for what turned into “Googled: The End of the World as We Know It,” his just released book. If you’re interested in the media revolution you’re living through (yes, this time it truly is a revolution; your kids will be reading the history of this era when they’re in school) it’s a must read.

Over his two and a half years of his usual, thorough, research (no quickie here) Ken came up with a bunch of truths that didn’t fit neatly into his narrative. Being involved in media for almost 40 years now, it still astounds me how… stuck media executives can be (me too, often). Writer William Goldman once said that in Hollywood “Nobody knows anything,” and media executives are really no different. No one knows how anything will turn out, but so many of them think they do so they rarely try things that are actually new (me too, often). They read stuff like Ken’s maxims and pretty much ignore the lessons.

Mr. Auletta’s warnings are embedded below. Read ‘em and get smarter.

…:::Update: I posted these Media Maxims of Ken’s and then read them, noticing my quote at the end of page 26. Thanks Ken. :::…
Ken Auletta : Media Maxims

Some things never change.

November 13th, 2009

Frederator Postcards Series 8.7
Frederator Postcard Series 8.7, mailed November 13, 2009  

From
Animated Cartoons
‘How They Are Made Their Origin and Development’

By E.G. Lutz
Illustrated
Charles Scribner’s Sons
©1920

….
More Frederator postcards:

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008
Frederator Postcards Series 7, 2008-2009
Frederator Postcards Series 8, 2009-2010
Frederator Postcards Non-series cards

Marv Newland Takes Festivals by Storm

November 9th, 2009

A Letter from Marv Newland

Marv Newland really gets around! Postalolio, the short that Marv produced with Frederator will be screening all over the world over the coming months. If you’re in any of these countries or states, make sure you come out to support this great film.

04 - 08 November 2009
Holland Animated Film Festival
Utrecht

11 - 15 November 2009
15th Cucalorus Film Festival
Wilmington, North Carolina

03 - 06 November 2009
Les Sommets Du Cinéma D’Animation
Montreal, Canada

25 - 29 November 2009
I Castelli Animati
Italy

01 - 04 April 2010
11th Dawson City International Short Film Festival
at the Klondike Institute of Art
Dawson City, Yukon, Canada

21 - 27 June 2010
Melbourne International Animation Festival
Australia

Congratulations to Marv on gaining entry to these prestigious festivals and best of luck!

A Still from

What a couple o’ hams.

November 6th, 2009

Frederator Postcards Series 8.6
Frederator Postcard Series 8.6, mailed November 6, 2009

Perry & Alan Goodman
Photography ©2009, by Elena Seibert. All rights reserved.

….
More Frederator postcards:

Frederator Postcards Series 1, 1998
Frederator Postcards Series 2, 1999
Frederator Postcards Series 3, 2000
Frederator Postcards Series 4, 2003
Frederator Postcards Series 5, 2004-2005
Frederator Postcards Series 6, 2007-2008
Frederator Postcards Series 7, 2008-2009
Frederator Postcards Series 8, 2009-2010
Frederator Postcards Non-series cards

Five stars, definitely.

November 6th, 2009

Michael Jackson: “This Is It”

“This is It”  Michael Jackson Trailer from Create Design LA on Vimeo.

Go see it in the theatre, it’s worth it.