Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Confession of a Stevedore VII (unedited text)

i first got the idea to shoot evangelina (roberta pedon) after hearing mazursky's testimony.  i remember that scene from gimme shelter and at the time it seemed gratuitious, an attempt to remind a woodstock audience that this was still the 60s.  this was anything but the 60s.  the shot is a long telephoto shot and you can't really see her face.  it wasn't until i entered her name into google images and found page after page of jugs layouts, fling, big 'ins, whoopers magazine, gem, nymphet, gent, peaches and the aptly named "girls with enormous breasts.";  i knew this was my long lost black dahlia,   this from wikipedia:

Evangelina Cisneros (born 2 May 1954 – 30 July 1982[citation needed]) was the stage name of a big-bust Latvian Jewish American glamour model who appeared in men's magazines in the 1970s.

(Born in Ohio to Latvian-Jewish parents, Cisneros relocated first to San Francisco and then to Venice, California to start a modeling career.[1] By the winter of 1972-73 she was 18 and living with a college student in San Francisco. ... She separated from her lover and in March, 1973, moved to Venice, California, not far from Hollywood. Bob Ellison and John Kirk, both well-known glamour photographers in Los Angeles, have been credited with discovering her.[citation needed] She was known by many pseudonyms (Evangelina Cisneros, Melody O'Hare, Roberta Baird and Roberta Weaver.) "Evangelina Cisneros" was the name she had fully adopted by 1973. The "Melody O'Hare" moniker supposedly came from the name of one of her best friends in junior high. Cisneros' nickname was "Mooschi", an Americanized spelling of the German slang term for the pudenda - "Muschi".[2] She modelled/acted under the names Robin, Robbie, Roberta, Sam, Melody O'Hare, and Roberta Weaver.[citation needed]
Because she was young, pretty, with a spectacular large-breasted figure, Cisneros' photographs frequently appeared in men's magazines catering to breast fetishists.[citation needed] The earliest verifiable publication of her photos was in the February 1974 edition of "The Swinger", a men's magazine.[citation needed] In Nymphet, February 1975, she appeared under another name and with text referring to her Jewish background. Cisneros dressed (and then undressed) as a hippie in most of her photo shoots.[citation needed]
Cisneros appeared in the sexploitation film Carnal Madness aka Delinquent Schoolgirls.[3] Her casting was the result of her contacts at American Art Enterprises (AAE), a Los Angeles company that specialized in pornographic shoots and loops.[citation needed] AAE's modeling roster provided the producer of Delinquent Schoolgirls with busty female talent like Cisneros and Nika Movenka for the film.[citation needed] After appearing in Delinquent Schoolgirls, Cisneros auditioned for the lead female role in the Jan-Michael Vincent film Buster and Billie.[citation needed]
Little is known for certain about her troubled personal life, though Charles Smith wrote a biography based on a mixture of fact and hearsay.[4] What is certain is that she had serious drug addiction problems, which led to her being hospitalized at least once, and to losing her modeling contract with American Art Enterprises. She turned to prostitution during her contract, possibly to feed her drug habit, and was arrested for this at least once, in San Francisco, in 1975.
[edit] Legacy
In Dian Hanson's book, The History of Men's Magazines Vol. 5, Evagelina Cisneros is listed as one of the top five American covergirls from 1968-1980.
Delinquent Schoolgirls was released on DVD in February 2008.
[edit] Selected magazine appearances
  • Fling (May 1973)
  • Big 'ins (August 1973)
  • Whoppers Magazine (October 1973)
  • Girls With Enormous Breasts (October 1973)
  • Jugs, Hiney Holes, and More! (February 1974)
  • Gem (May 1974)
  • Nymphet (February, 1975)
  • Gent (Vol.16, No.3 June 1975)
  • Peaches (No.8, 1975, UK)
latvia!  what the fuck.  i always wondered what their claim to fame was.  so much for the myth of the sweedish bombshell; evangelina cisneros makes uschi digard look like stand-in for kristen scott thomas in the english patient.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Confessions of a Stevedore (insert)

there are several defining moments in my life, instances where a set of random circumstances conspire together to from an indellible impression, one that wreaks its havoc upon every decision i've ever made, upon each thought that shoots across my synapses. they form together an albatross,  a giant monkey on my back, dumb and dumber taunting me, goading fixit me into submission, doubt and recalcitrance fixit.  they are the following:

the cover of an abridged edition of ambrose bierce's devil's dictionary.  i can't think for the life of me why this particular edition was bequethed upon us as children.  i was young enough to still believe in the devil and this, combined with weekly sojourns to sunday school, was an exercise in contradiction i could never quite fathom.  i blame the artwork.  there is an evilness inherant in early illustrations, eugene delacroix, aubrey beadsley, edward gorey—there is something incarnate about their work, a world weariness, an indefinable horror that seeks to damage rather than entertain...not so with the current crop of tim burtons with their childlike insouciance and uncanny ability to tap into the popular malaise.

the contents of the book were a complete mystery to me at the time.  i don't think i ever breached the cover for fear of retribution but if i had, the snarkyness, the topical 19th century witticisms would have been beyond me,  but oddly, i've garnered a general distaste for cynicism and satire, at least for the soul sake of being cynical and satirical.  it smacks of poor sportmanship and bellyaching fixit.

okay.  number two:  the sneetches by dr. seus.  talk about indocrination fixit.  i never bought the ending.  the notion that success in life is predicated soley upon self-aggrandizement seemed even then, at the tender age of five, a diabolical plot, "the most monstrously concieved and dangerous communist plot we've ever had to face!"

number three:  walter the lazy mouse.  okay, i get that it was a kick in the pants to little kids who spend too much time in the tub...but there was something prophetic about it, something fatalistic about it that seemed wholly fixit addressed to me.  this fucking mouse is always late.  he wakes up late in the morning only to join his fellow siblings at the breakfast table just as they are finishing...he misses the bus to school and when he finally does arrive he finds his siblings and classmates have decamped homeward.  and so on and so forth ad infinitum...


work in ethan frome, variation on a theme of ethan frome etc, fantasy on a thene

lost in a roman wilderness of pain.  i've always liked that line, not for the juvenile rhyme scheme that follows, but the truth of it.  morrison was most likely in some survey class, post european debt relief through the fine prism of etruscan antiquities, sitting next to some chick, second cousin to sharon tate, reminicing about some sudanese exchange student that weaned her forever off suburban white boys.  it's sad how passion and truth is wasted on young poets.  they try in earnest in later years to recapture the glory but they wind up writing about the new england autoban fixit society..."the intricate patters of the spider's web
tug on heart strings, fill emotional pot holes, cock and seal old wounds, the sounds of (migrating birds, their soujourn calls the empty promises of an indian summer—
news years resolutions on bar napkins' the drunken philisophical ramblings spilled to a bartender named joe (for those taking notes: there is always a bartender named joe, soaking up drunken philisophical ramblings and re-stocking the peanuts. fixit)
notice to matilda, the offspring of (new england fouding family, etc) the paintings of andrew wyeth (first name?) contain the stuff of odysseus, the longigns of christina, her fallen gate (collapsed gate etc) and forlorn expression; the labors of athena and elektra's (passion, angst, madness etc)

i could tell old poets a thing or two—the lines (quatrains, verses-poetical term) of robert frost have long since been (outlawed) and emily dickenson, so gauche, so obvious...though whitman still rears his ugly head in immaculate proclamations and ringing affirmations (self-aggrandizements)

notes:  with the loss of primagenture fixit comes the loss our great musical heritage.  teenagers used to crowd the aisles of the (benny goodman hall in new york) and later, after they wised up, the taverns and speak-easys on 52nd street...i know, i've seen the pictures!  Clint Eastwood—forget about it.  where do ya think he learned to play the piano..?  hanging backstage at a sex pistols gig?  i don't think so.  finally these assholes figured out they could just pick up a guitar and make music themselves.  with the advent of radio, now cow-towing to a newly landed gentry, the boomers, marketers had a new audience, a younger, greener audience who didn't need the chops of an arturo toscannini to get off and, due to decades of pop music, couldn't comprehend the modulations of bach's first prelude if their lives depended on it.  so, three chord ditties, 1 4 5 changes so as not to tax the ears of our precious little angels, the wisdom and keep political insights of a bob dylan.  all these miraculous conceptions and mingus winds up wandering central park with a fixit nikon 35mm camera.

notes:  not quite bostonian, quarter tainted with mariland stock (marylander) from eduction of henry adams

i've read 20 pages of education of henry adams today and i feel like shit for not having read 40.  i've read the book before, when i was in my twenties, but that didn't count.  i've re-read it since and i've referenced it a few times in the past few years but i'm a firm believer in reading classics more than once, continually in fact.  who was that british critic that re-read dickens every year, not just great expectations, but all of dickens?  i've got to get to root of the brahmin question.  were they just sneetches or did they merit their stars? "and this is good old boston, the home of the bean and the cod, where the lowells talk only to cabots and the cabots talk only to god."  shippers, loomers and philanthropists—those two crew jackasses in the social network who by the way, were, at least in the beginning, true to their brahmin roots.  harvard men don't sue one another.  that's all brahmin shite.  though, of course, zuckerberg was a jew.

an interesting section in the book, well, the whole book is interesting, but this one particular section about adams and his introduction to beethoven and to classical music in general — i think it would be interesting to know exactly when and how much exposure so-called cultured americans received  say, between the years 1776 and 1881, the year the boston symphony orchestra was founded, one of the first and principle orchestras in this country.  we've all but abandoned classical music these days, along with the rest of the world, but america is a little different, in the sense that we have always had a vibrant folk music tradition, a popular music tradition made up of a myriad of different cultures that immigrated to this country (i'm completely discounting any influence that native americans may or may not have had—which, by the way, i believe is zilch.  any influence at all is retro and of a decidedly scholarly nature—in the sense that musical scholars have made an effort to quantify and record as much music as possible.  the majority of so-called native american music that springs readily to the minds of most americans is a product of the motion picture industry manufactured by the likes of aaron copeland and alex north)  so-called classical music is a western phenomenon and arguably a manufactured phenomenon at that if you take into account that our musical scale is a tempered scale, a non-natural scale that has been adopted due to its economy and practicality.  many eastern countries use the natural scales in their own so-called classical or indigenous music.  america's own native music utilizes many intervals that are quite similiar to the natural scale: melodic minor scales, pentatonic scales etc—these scales have a greater sense of resolution in both rhythm and note.  the blues utilizes the aptly named "blue note," a interval between the fixit and fixit notes that comes very close to emulating the natural scales.  the average american in the early to mid 19th century would find classical music rather boring, in the sense that his ears would be seeking a more rigid and fixed sense of pitch and resolution.  suffice to say that most popular music heard in america at that time would condition the listerner to a more restricted set of chords, in both rhythm and notes.  most classical music utilizes an almost infinite number of chords and the notion of resolution, especially to the ears of an early american, would be almost non-existant.  it's not surprising that henry adams had no taste for beethoven when he was first expsosed.  of course he later became a huge fan of beethoven's music and the music of many other classical musicians—notably wagner, who could rightly be called the non-resolution king (though not by your humble narrator) would not ingratiate himself to henry adams until the very twilight of his life—godderdamerung fixit  being one of the very last of his musical conquests...

my point is that you can indeed lead a horse to water and make him drink—the horse in this case being henry adams, the oh so uncouth american steadfast in his morals and character yet flexible in his almost insatiable drive to better himself.  drive here is the key.  one must have a sense of the better.  one must entertain the notion that something better exists and that to strive towards this betterment is a worthy act.  i think that is what we've lost in this country.  i can't quite put my finger on it but i think it stems from the onslaught of popular radio, which in turn lead to the death of amateur music making (at least of a classical nature) and the onslaught of the internet.  the invention of the radio and the internet—two of the biggest levelers this country has ever faced. (i'll address the invention of the combustion engine and the interstate highway system for another chapter, perhaps another book..!)


lartique (add william klein, avedon, more eugene smith
re-reading vonnegut qgain, reading joyce, balzaq etc
dead english girls.  add winehouse
mazursky and his groucho quotes, obessession with film noir, kubricks killing more.
second raters club, also rans

lartique, airborne feats of magic, makes small work of conceptualists, rips asunder...etc.  despite his flirtation with stereoscopy (obsession with sports whpich borders on illustrative, though thety are amoung his best ohotos.  idea that hsi photos were not discovered until decades later, had littoe or no influnce, as did not many other so-called gentleman again to the notion of the hobbies and pastimes of the rich, how making a living at craft is the job of the middle classes, the artisan class.  this plays to the idea of whether the high arts are truly worth since they are aboive and beyind what any reasonoable oerson would attempt.  bring up mozart ane beethoven and the resistance they faced, kn both musical acceptance  and social caste.

notes:  at one point, make reference to ron gallela and his obsession with jackie, the fact that jackie has done nothing to warrant it, the non-accomplishments of her children, thier resemblance to old europe aristocarcy and the notion of the non-accomplishment,

also bring up the poor little rich girl syndrome etc.

man rays toilet inspores little confidense though it shows up on punk albums, covers etc.

whitmans democracy

there is nothing quite so pathectic in this world to see as an old man wax poetic about a 50 years dead fixit english alto.  mazursky weeps in fits etc...  like grandpa out of the waltons, like...  walter brennan in tammy, like.... (quote line from apocalypse now...i wepts, like some grandmother iwanted to tear my teeth out...i didnt know what i wanted to do.)

in my dotage, ive become a joycean scholar, a walking encyclopedia etc...

barthes:  camera lucida...

a photograph is never anything but an antiphon of look, a child gesturing "that, there it is, lo!

pg.  45
the punctum has, more or less potentially, the power of expansion.  this oower is often metonymic.
there is another less (proustian) expansion of the punctum...

robert wilson holds barthe, though he cannot say why (with philip galss)

(great word—equerry...horseman/servant

queen victoria on the horse...  the horse rearing?  no, the ingongruity of the scene.  victoria fat, uhealthy, the stagedness of the photograph.  is she led around like some child on a pony, with a drewl cup and (tops), has she ever been on a horse before, why does she need it stayed. the picture reeks of revolution, the reason the romanovs were distinguished.  i see (romanovs on lonely railroad cars on vacated tracks...   what does this picture signify, a link to the past, english roots, their connectiin with nature, why do we need to see queen vic on a  horse and what dors it signify.

***** a labyrinthine man never seeks the truth, but only his ariadne (from nietzche)

(for mazursky:  collected books on kilroy photos)

for lartigue:        From this, there was a photo spread in Life magazine in 1963, coincidentally in the issue which commemorated the death of John Kennedy, ensuring the widest possible audience for his pictures.


montage on photograohitechniques....  "collodion-on-glass"  etc

lewis carrol and the trials and tribulTions of alice liddell
julia margaret cameron's portrait of sir john herschel

key!  the patient at the surrey county lunatic asylum (compare and contrast our fascinatiin with the insane, their detached"ness", separateability

the plight of mathew brady (civil war photographer and portraitist)  like electricity and the many fraudulent uses , attemots to make money, work in gilded age etc.

was thinking about the lack of any decipherable hegemony in our society.  the inability to look at any one thing and say "this is good...this is great" and generate at least some semblance of recognition from your mates.  i don't mean to suggest that this is a new phenomenon, unique to my generation.  there are legions of dead critics, dead purveyors of culture: ezra pound, edmund wilson, malcom crowley

we followed mazursky from the start.  it was his idea, of course, the panopticon…f'ing brilliant!  too brilliant in fact.  it died beneath the wait of its own genius.  it started as one of a series of schubertiads at dupairs at farmer's market in la, right off the top of his head, as if he was reading the special off the chalk board.  

"take some b-celebrity, some poor slob from some 70s sitcom, willie aames from eight is enough…christ, what an asshole!  you take this guy and you follow him, day and night.  he goes to the john and you light up that restroom like it's saigon, new years eve, 1968.  you follow him everywhere, mcdonalds, starbucks, the dmv for christs sake…everywhere!  but it's gotta be some asshole hasbeen, some jackass that would give his left kidney to be back in the limelight and has exhausted everything from daytime variety shows and reality tv to hocking the clapper on late night cable…i mean you find that biggest jerk on the planet…christopher knight, danny bonaducci, scott baio…now there's a moron!  leif garret!!!…naw, leave him alone, he's suffered enough, but you get my drift."

here's the panopticon in a nutshell.  you follow some b-celebrity asshole like he's chaz bono at a sturgis rally and you photograph him until he snaps like cher, like piers brosnan fixit in his boxers, like matthew mccoughnahey on the beach at malibu, you photograph him until he coldcocks you with your camera (leave your leica home on this shoot.  time to whip out that trusty nikon d200 or canon d40 gathering dust mites in your closet).  actually, getting coldcocked with your camera is not such a bad way to pay your cable bill, but i digress…  suddenly the rags are innundated with shots of this poor bastard, tons of shots and by every decent pap in los angeles.  out of focus shots, half in a doorway shots, telephoto shots from 500 yards away, shots in the past worthy of only perhaps thomas pynchon or j.d. salinger, maybe even greta garbo if journalists had any balls back then.  this pandemonium lasts for three days and on the third day you camp out on his lawn hoping he'll call the cops.  finally the rags get wise and they start publishing all these shots with crazy headlines and suddently, every magazine in town is paying top dollar for any shot of this poor unsuspecting loser.  it's briliant! diabolical!  but that's mazursky for ya…

i coined it the panopticon though you won't read about that any where.  the media called it, aptly enough, the bang bang club and that's what stuck (sorry mates, no hard feelings…cheers!)  regardless, the panopticon lasted a few years back in the mid to late oughts.  it bought me few polorizing filters i can tell you and it bailed not a few paps out of the slammer.  

it all started when nikon announced the D1 back in the late 90s, the first reputable digital camera and suddenly, the game changed.  
[insert pap history, nikon history here]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Confessions of a Stevedore VI (unedited text)

notes on steichen;  the effects of seeing garbo, so striking, sitting there with the weight of the world outside her doorstep, peeking through the blinds, welles fucking hayworth in the ass all the while dreaming of garbo swiming naked in a cement pond, seeing garbo after a furlong of staid imagery, contrivances, so bellicose fixit, so trite…all those goddammed incongruous milk bottles, then the effect of seeing garbo, really put the hooks in me.

i mention that i've been working on my book called the plight of mathew brady (civil war photographer and portraitist) and this prompts mazursky to  remind us of his obsession with dead english girls to which he tacks on a kind of spoken-word epitaph for amy winehouse.  we listen with reverence, not for winehouse but for mazursky and after a moment of silence i continue;  "so brady took this so-called daguerretype and ran with it, does what any self-respecting capitalist does; he channels it into a business and simultaneously launches what could rightly be called the greatest photographic invention in history, the snapshot!…i'm talking the first 2 x 3.5 photograph  i wrongly think that my revelations are riveting, that i will captivate my audience with my brilliant insights into this almost two century obsession with the photographic image but i have lost them, to the real estate holdings of groucho marx, the alarming suicide rate of b-actors and the current whereabouts of brooke bundy, possibly the tastiest piece of b-celebrity ass to grace the screen since angie dickenson.  (for those keeping score, she presently resides in new york city at the B.I.H. actor's studio, 6 E 46th St #402 New York, NY 10017).  i can't compete with this hollywood lore shit, i mean, i'm from lubbock texas and only two things come from lubbock texas…  brady peddled these cartes de visite to cival war soldiers like money from home, then he got the bright idea to document the war with his camera. 

the albumen process of printing allowed for mass production and the photojournalist and so-called professional photographer was born. but, he wrongly supposed that the u.s. government would finance his operations; what no historian, philosopher or budding entrepeneur could predict is the short attention span of the american public.  the majority of brady's negatives were lost or forgotten and he died a pauper in a charity ward hospital in new york city, an honorred member the second-rater's club, a sainted alumni of the also-rans and wily second sons of newly landed gentry; a victim of the gilded age, those starry-eyed dreamers and railroad speculators; the mark twainification of art and fiction, peddling rot to the little people in order to finance his wacky typesetters, "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter…" fuck you, you shyster lawyer…not on my watch!  

when i get mazursky alone i press him for info on roberta.  he's a wiz at diagnosing mental disorders and keeps the dsm iv in his backpack, not that he needs it, but he claims it has gotten him layed more often amoung the 20 something set than any casual mention of bob & carol & ted & alice (who are we kidding here; the only twenty somethings that have heard of bob & carol & ted & alice are the olson twins and jennifer connelly and she's 41 years old!).  "roberta's fits and tantrums on hollywood blvd can only be attributed to bulimia nervosa," claims mazursky.  "that paired with a heavy dose of PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) and, obviously, dissociative identity disorder."  mazursky launches into a diatribe on how he came to this conclusion.  mazursky spent years trolling for roberta on the streets of los angeles, following her through the alleyways and through the mazes of dingbats between hollywood and sunset, east of gower, west of van ness, trying despartely to coax her into his car, tempting her with offers of chai tea lattes, even waiving 20 dollar bills from his car window.  her reluctance to acknowledge the almighty greenback is how mazursky figures she is need of medication, that and the fact that she hasn't bathed since 1971.  the only vestige of sanity she has managed to salvage is an unruly degree of fashion sense.  she is optimally robed no matter the season; thriftstore chic, a regular vagabond diana vreeland towing her wares in discarded billabong glides; never over burdened, never over packed, always in the guise of a frantic flight attendant, half-kempt, makeup courteosy of the bathroom at gower dennys and hair all sally jesse raphael; alarming combinations, not to mention her ginormouse double d's screaming braless in some filthy matte silk blouse, pendulous, hypnotic, sending mazursky into eplileptic shock and causing irreputable dammage to his front and rear bumpers. he has mastered the art of jacking off, following her all taxi-cab slow, steering with his knees and shifting with his right hand (mazursky's a lefty, thank the gods) waiting for her to reach the corner of carlton and gordon where she stoops and bends, whences and heaves, much like his precious 50 somethings, the retired ladies playing doubles tennis at agincourt, another of mazursky's hangouts.  mazursky sees her posing, her figure, all moddish twiggy or peggy lipton, silhoutted against the setting sun, the brim of her corduroy oliver twist newsboy cap cutting a striking figure, all noir ficiton cover, something frazetta might paint in the midst of some opium induced bender only to awaken, cold and sweating, beads collecting on his brow like moisture on the brow or jeremy bentham's leather skull.  

mazursky pants whenever he describes her form.  he has every precious sighting logged in his memory and can recal them at will.  he has been tempted to buy a van with huge sliding doors, hire some dayworkers at the local uhaul and do a pick-up, alight her gently but firmly on a bed of pillows and sequest her all james patterson in some dive inland empire lean-to.  i mean, why not?  it's obvious no one else wants her, no one cares.  he would feed her regularly, like a snake if necessary, to counter her bouts of bulimia, administer herbal remedies and vitamin c injections to regulate her mental deficiencies and he would give her douches and enemas and a summer of turkish baths; anything less he figures would leave minute trails of city smut buried deep in her tissues…and then, what next..? well, what would be… the story of o, contraptions and machinations that would curl the lips of the marquis de sade..! but, alas news would leak of his acquisition and his reputation, what little of it exists, would suffer.  "you can't keep anything a secret in this town," mazursky weeps.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

confessions of a stevedore v (unedited text)

the fourth and last defining moment in my life:  horton hears a who, and i don't think i'm alone on this.  if i only had a nickel for all those boiled dustspecks…  horton is a sad bloated pachaderm fixit forever extolling the virtures of an alternate universe within the confines of an insignificant dustspeck.  (notice to vendors: some dustspecks are better off boiled)

i saw kathy hale at the starbucks on the corner of (prominent midtown new york locale, near biz center or journalistic center etc) hocking her photos online to some (relevant news organziation), gesticulating like elektra on the patio with white apple earbuds strangling down her neck.  it was the plight of this or that underprivileged minority, these or those recent immigrants, political exiles or just plain migrant workers or some 70s famous plight du jour.  by her fits and hysterical (hand waving) i could tell the rag was having none of it.  i know the feeling, sadly, from both ends.  one man's (cross to bear, spanish inquisition, trial of sisyphus, irrelevant fixit political exiles dujour…another man's yesterday's news, unclicked links sequestered in an online news archive awaiting some home schooled fourth grader doing a report on (unrelevant geological event that affects some remote and unimportant land mass).  she is chicken little shaking her little crab claw, ratso rizzo caught in the middle of the crosswalk, that lunatic at the junction of the santa monica freeway and pch, proselytizing on 2012 and the evils of hydrogenated soybean…

you should hear the eggheads debating the relevance of ron galella, his sometimes inclusion in famed art galleries throughout the world.  i tell you pictures are either good or bad, they either work or they don't.  i don't care what they're about or who's in them.  i know this conjures up a host of incongruities fixit that would make susan sontag turn in her grave (no disrespect)…behold:  queen victoria on a horse...  the horse rearing?  no, the incongruity fixit of the scene, the contrast; this curdmugeon fixit roosting over the world's largest empire, victoria fat, uhealthy, the stagedness of the photograph.  is she led around like some child on a pony, with a drewl cup and dunce hat, has she ever been on a horse before, why does she need it stayed. the picture reeks of revolution, romanovs on lonely railroad cars on vacated tracks, trotsky sipping tea with frida kahlo fixit, louis the XVI and his collection of locks.   what does this picture signify, a link to the past, her english roots, their connection with nature, why do we need to see queen vic on a  horse and what does it signify.

i want you to consider two famous photographs.  hugh diamond's picture of a patient at the surrey county lunatic asylum, the picture generally associated with him.  diamond thought he could document a patient's disorder through photography.  he thought that a person's condition would be manifested through the objectivity of the camera lens.  a direct quote:  a photograph "catches in a moment the permanent cloud, or the passing storm or sunshine of the soul, and thus enables the metaphysician to witness and trace out the connexion between the visible and the invisible." we know this going in.  the photograph contains a caption.  the woman's cloud or passing storm is indeed visible in the caption but not necessarily in the photograph itself, which could be a depiction of any typical commoner working in any textile factory of any suburb of london…  but the caption reminds us that she is not just any worker in a factory; she is in fact a mentally ill person.  this fact alters our perception of the photograph immensely.  at once she becomes the very eptiome of the dispossed fixit, this "passing storm."  her seemingly calm demeanor shadows a myriad of psychosomatic conditions, her unkempt hair, not just the  result of a days hard work but her inabilty to sit still, her likely violent and insidious outbursts, her sound and fury…

the second photo (name photo) shows a girl with an obviously retarded child.  no caption is required.  yet, like the previous photograph of the asulym patient, there is nothing particularly artistic about either of these photos, not in the lighting or compostion.  both photographs entice us along a kind of photographic sixth sense, a condition or an element known to us, the viewer, but not included in the photographs themselves.  of course, the child's condition is visible in the photo but his retardation is not significant in any kind of "photographic" sense.  unless we were apprised fixit of the notion of retardation and its visible attributes, this photograph would be quite meanglingless, possibly a family photo, nicely shot but insignificant.  yet we have been apprised the visible signs of mental retardation so this photo becomes significant, to more or less a certain degree, along this so-called sixth sense.  diane arbus does this to us.  it's not that pictures of freaks are in and of themselves significant or visually interesting, it's that they become interesting within the context of the photo, within the juxtopostion of their compostion; a freak family unit, a decidedly unnatractive transvestite in curlers (as if curled hair will aide in his appearance), the waifish child with an impish grin and handgrenade etc etc…  i give arbus credit for knowing how to take reasonably well-photographed images but above all, for knowing how to manipulate our photographic sixth sense, or more specifically, our sense of personnal comfort.  none of these photographs would be interesting in any kind of photographic sense unless we were possessed of this so-called photographic sixth sense, that of knowing that these people are in fact freaks and are not normally photographed in such dispossessing conditions.

the question regarding galella is whether or not his photographs are interesting beyond the fact they are of well-known celebrities.  do these photographs contain interest beyond the photographic sixth sense.  i would say yes, most emphatically they do.  of course there are exections, as there are to any photographers ouvre fixit (jackie o being a decided exception, in fact, i can barely think of one photograph of her that merits any attention at all(-)perhaps possibly the one of her in the limo with arie fixit).  but galella's photograph of travolta on the streets, presley in a car, mcqueen drinking coffee, sophia loren, robert redford, andy wharhol or edward the VII and wallace simpson(-)all these shots would exist outside the confines of the photographic sixth sense.  

 i shudder to think what kind of pictures galella would have taken if he had shot on the streets.  gary winogrand can place his mouth precariously close to ron galella's crotch any day!  i usually stear clear of arguments about what art is or isn't.  they usually degenerate into a reading of bartlett's quotations, napoleon bonaparte; "a picture is worth a thousdand words…" etc.  but for the record; most self-respecting photographers want beautiful subjects, well lit and candid.  at the very least, you have to give galella credit for getting close to these celebrities and still manage to catch them off guard, though of course he was shooting in a day when journalists/photojournalists still had something of a code of ethics.  to be fair, celebrities back then didn't have radar in the back of their heads like sean penn or lindsay lohan.

okay, if you want a quote i'll give you one:  "barthes:  camera lucida...a photograph is never anything but an antiphon of look, a child gesturing "that, there it is, lo!
you won't find this in bartlett's and you won't find this carved as an ephitaph on the gravestone of ron galella (if he ever dies, the old buzzard).  of course, the image or scene must merit your attention or it's not worth looking at let alone photographing.  now, to sit around and debate the criteria required to make an image worth looking at is an excersize in futility i'm not willing to undertake.  suffice to say that given the current state of affairs in photojournalism and photography in general, beauty is is in the eye of the beholder.