Friday, February 06, 2009

Lux Interior, R.I.P.

He was one of two of my best and favorite subjects to photograph - Lux Interior... frontman and founder of The Cramps.

The noir lighting was my idea... the props were all his.

Lux was best known as a malevolent beast of a performer. He knew no boundaries... he wore women's clothes on stage, and more often than not, shed most of his clothing anyway. He'd fellate the microphone, dance around on super high fuck-me pumps and act like a transvestite Frankenstein and still, the ladies went wild for him.

Together with his soul-mate, life-long partner and wife, Poison Ivy Rorshach, Lux cut an atavistic path in a new genre's future. The Cramps music drew upon 50s and 60s culture and icons - b movies, monsters.... bikini girls with machine guns, Ghoulardi... they elevated bad taste from the underground sewer into the very same gutter that Oscar Wilde imagined being in while gazing up at the stars.

The unexpected passing of Lux Interior has struck a deep chord in the hearts of all punk rock fans. I don't know any death that has hit so hard. For all his dark side stage persona, Lux Interior was not an evil man. Far from it, he was clever and down right intelligent and kind. He gave so much to so many. And for me, he gave me confidence as an artist, encouraging me to trust my own vision and run with it.

The evidence of that is played out each day on punkturns30 and in coffee table books that feature the classic Cramps group portrait from the Tropicana, 1978.

Lux Interior, I will miss you.

Dear Ivy... there are no words to express how heavy my heart is for your loss, and how over the years, I have appreciated you sharing your man with the world.

Rest in Peace, Lux and give em hell in heaven.

Monday, October 13, 2008

the wall of death, part 1

over the course of the last three years, whenever i go for a walk in east nashville, i stumble upon a dead bird. luckily, most of the times, i have had some kind of camera to document it.

its not that i am morbid or fascinated by death in any way. its not that i like that the birds are dead. but they are incredibly interestingly photogenic.

while the advent of cameras built into cel phones has really lowered the bar for the appreciation of the art of capturing images, you simply cannot beat the convenience.

the very first dead bird i photographed in nashville
photo taken with a real camera

i was taken by the way the dead birds blended into the sidewalk, as if they were integrated as a single piece of art.

pigeons in cleveland

living birds just don't appeal to me the same way dead ones do... where photographs are concerned.
add to these particular images the low resolution of the cel phone camera, the absolute digital look of the pictures... they're strangely like a crime scene photo that has been photocopied just one time too many and has lost the definition. the weaknesses of digital photography and low res cel phone images work together to elevate a certain "artiness" to these dead birds... a certain postmodern, i saw it on tv art, but i believe that's what art has devolved to. a dangerously political statement to be expounded upon further elsewhere. perhaps.


i know an artist in brooklyn - a woman in her early 20s. her name is rebecca bird. her real name. for real. and she painted dead birds, from models. dead birds she found on the street. whenever i found dead birds in brooklyn, their cause of death was freezing. like this sparrow here:

Dead bird
dead sparrow photographed with a real camera

apart from natural causes, such as hypothermia, i think that the birds i see on east nashville's streets are killed by feral cats. there are so many stray animals... a feral cat lives under my house and i know she leaves us presents from time to time... i mean - i know the dead birds and assorted rodents i find on the porch are offerings from her, thanking us for the shelter


ah the food chain

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

its always been all about available light

it doesn't matter to me if the light is crappy; if it is the kind of light that most people wouldn't shoot in without a flash or without bringing in extra lights. that's the light i like....

i like mirrors too. they are a great source of light

it will all come to bear in my 2008/2009 show and tell.... starting in september....

Sunday, March 02, 2008

highway 304

last week, i took a day trip to northern mississippi... drove around taking pictures, ended up at tunica to have a cheap all you can eat buffet lunch at a casino.

PIG FOR SALE proclaims this sign on highway 304 in desoto county.
its like another time

thanks bobby for the day trip and the outrageously fattening lunch.

exploring the visual treats of mississippi is a project that could take months. i can't wait to take time off to do it...

Friday, February 08, 2008

the magic light of the photobooth

because i am a photographer - and behind the camera nearly all the time, i am not a good subject in front of the camera. i make a pretty stupid face most of the time and try to open my eyes wide and as a result, i look pretty lame most of the time. i do a lame rachael ray thing with my mouth... which is big, so its a big crooked smirk-instead-of-smile that i do. big. stupid.

however.... that doesn't negate anything from the PHOTO BOOTH ITSELF. what a fantastic contraption that thing is. the lights just blow all the ugly details out of your face (that means wrinkles, blemishes, etc). you are BLASTED with bright light... and you never have red eye because the bright lights begin to flash before the shutter does. ingenious. i wish i had one in my house.

but i have embarked on a brand new project - one in which i've already gathered 100's of images... all of which i find stunning

taking a photo of a subject who is seated in and illuminated by the photo booth.

i received the most amazing compliment from this handsome gentlemen, who let me focus on his recently broken nose in this shot:

bruce overhead web

that is bruce bennett, know for both his work as a musician, a filmmaker, and a writer.

as a writer, he is gifted with a particularly witty turn of phrase whether he is writing criticism or creative... a confirmed cineaste with encylopaedic knowledge of the geeky thing that is my craft: cinematography... well, bruce knows his cameras, angles, exposures and lenses... you can't get anything past this guy... and while i went out of my way to focus on the singular physical fault upon that most handsome face (and one which i find makes him just that much more handsome), bruce was man enough to look beyond my elevation of the evidence of his injury to invoke the name of one of my favorite cinematographers (shooting elvis and bill holden in one career! i strive for that kind of thing) when commenting on this technique.

therefore, i know i have latched on to a winner.

i photographed bruce in one of our favorite bars, magnetic field. its photo booth emanates this crazy chartreuse light. at once it reminds me of carnies and of vermeer. crazy.

in a photo booth across the river, at lakeside lounge, an even darker bar.... i photographed kae who is a percussionist in the local whimsical band, mr badger.

the photo booth at lakeside lounge has a colder light and dark blue curtains that keep the cold. it would be all wrong to call this photo "hot asian chick in the cold blue light," even though in the most vulgar of worlds, that's what it is...

kae 2

instead... i call this ECSTASY.

ECSTASY not unlike that of st teresa of avila (the one who spells her name wrong but who had the magical visions), ECSTASY yes... like in adult movies. ECSTASY, that as a photographer instead of a painter, i am able to capture in a fraction of a second, rather than remembering that fraction as i paint, or asking the model to hold her pose for an interminable period of time.

i am ECSTATIC about the light...

meanwhile, kae's bandmate jim donned his pirate gear for this fun portrait


the difference between the two photo booths is clear.

lee cropped for web

this is lee, one of the owners of magnetic field, in a photo booth portrait that for me channels vermeer... one of my favorite painters. i long to someday take a photograph that channels his "girl with a pearl earring" and i believe lee's photo booth can help me achieve that.