Author - Paul Schatzkin

The Photos That ‘Ended My Career’

Back in the early 1970s I saw a student film called “Hot Dogs for Gauguin,” written and directed by Martin Brest, who went on to have a notable film career.  He directed such memorable hits as Midnight Run, Beverly Hills Cop, and The Scent of a Woman before becoming a Hollywood persona-non-grata for directing a fiasco called Gigli in 2003; Marty’s IMDB bio ends there.

Oh, the humanity!

Hot Dogs for Gauguin” is about a photographer – played by a then-unknown actor named Danny DeVito – who wants to replicate the kind of acclaim that he thinks befell the photographer who shot the Hindenberg disaster (Oh, the humanity!).  DeVito’s character figures to achieve similar acclaim by blowing up the Statue of Liberty – and being on-hand to capture the moment with his camera. Suffice it to say it doesn’t end well…

This is a story about my own “Hot Dogs for Gauguin” moment.”

Or maybe it was more of a “Gigli” moment, if not quite on the same scale.

There was a period a couple of years ago when I was making a concerted attempt to market myself as a photographer, in particular of music-related subjects.

With some coaching, I’d set up a program at thejoyofmakingmusic.com (it’s still there) and created a couple of ‘packages’ for shooting stills during studio recording sessions.

Not long after I set all that up I was invited into a studio by an A-List, first-call musician, a side-player to the stars, who was recording her own album for an indie label, and had called on some of the town’s top A-List players in support.  I did not know most of the names, nor of the many-arms-lengths lists of credits they all carried.  I was a bit of a fish out of water.  They all knew each other, and I only barely knew the woman who’d invited me to the session (I’d met her when we worked together on another project).

I will mention just one actual name, because it was the effort to capture his thousand-watt smile that got me in trouble (I think). Read More

Today in #TMITM – Just Stop Whatever You’re Doing…

..and listen to Ezra Klein’s podcast interview with Jaron Lanier:

“The problem here is that as technology improves and as algorithms improve… the whole system is just trying to optimize itself… advertising turns in to something very different than what it started as. It turns into behaviorism on a global scale, it turns into feedback loops that modify peoples’ behavior by algorithm and for pay, and once you’ve gone over that threshold you really make society insane…”

You’re welcome…

 

Winter Footwear

I confess, I don’t quite get a lot of what passes for women’s footwear.

Which is what was going through my mind last Saturday at the Downtown Art Crawl, where I have a wall of my photography on exhibit at Erabellum,  a coop gallery in The Arcade.

The temperatures were in the low-20s that night, but one woman apparently thought that open-toed pumps were entirely suitable for the occasion.

Brr.

But what do I know about women’s fashion (or women, for that matter….)

Let’s hear it for sensible shoes.  And David Lee Roth…

A Modest Proposal for “The Holidays”

… or whatever you want to call this time of year – also my first actually thought-out, direct-to-Facebook post in several months. I’m sure this one oughta win me lotsa new friends..

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This is what I’m thinking about in the early evening of a cold Sunday in December:

First of all, this thing we call “Christmas” starts out as a religious holiday and as such has no business being on the “official” calendar of a nation that honors that other tradition called “the First Amendment.” But never mind, it’s a nice tradition (even if it does come in the dead of winter, and for some reason coincides with the not only the worst weather of the year but the worst traffic as well…).

Coming as it does on a Monday this year, I’m thinking the tradition could use an updating. Call it “XmasOS2017”:

For starters, the date is entirely arbitrary since nobody really knows when Jesus or Emmanuel or whatever his actual name was was actually born. It could just have well been in March or August. The only reason a date in December was chosen – back in something like the 4th century – was to co-opt the Pagan traditions around the Winter Solstice.

So how about – instead of a religious holiday on Dec 25, we declare a religiously-neutral holiday for friends-and-family gatherings and gift exchanges on the Monday following the last weekend in December? Then every year we’d have a three-day weekend at the end of the year.
I’m trying to think what to call it. How about…oh, I know…

FESTIVUS!
(damn, why didn’t <I> think of that…?)

OK, that’s my contribution to the occasion. Now, please don’t lecture me with “…. but this is a Christian Nation!” Oy, don’t start me…

And in case your wondering, Thomas Jefferson pretty much agrees.

In Case You Were Wondering

Well,  maybe you weren’t wondering.   But I’m the kind of guy who looks at a movie and wonders “where’d they put the camera?”

So if you’re are wondering how – or more importantly where – they shot the scenes of Luke Skywalker’s ancient Jedi Temple in “The Last Jedi,” here’s your answer.

A rocky island called Skellig Michael, 7 miles off the coast of Ireland, served as the location for the final scene at the end of  “Episode VI, The Force Awakens.”

But the site is much to fragile to accomodate the rigors of a lengthy location shoot, so the 7th-century dry masonry beehive huts of the abandoned  monastery  on Skellig Michael were recreated on a cliff over the Atlantic Ocean on Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula.

Dont bother looking for the location now, though.  Everything was struck from the site once the filming was completed.

 

Dispatch From The Outskirts – Dec 12
The Beating A Not-Quite-Dead-Horse Edition

From the Department of “stop me if you’ve heard this before.”

Frankly, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to avoid the day-to-day Drumbeat Of Doom. No amount of putting my hands over my ears makes any difference.  It’s hard to enjoy Christmas music at the mall (irony alert!) when all you can hear inside your own head is the soundtrack from “Jaws.”

And despite my best (?) efforts to the contrary, I still find myself sucked into the vacuum. Empty feeling inside? Meet the infinite random trivial generator.  How’s that working out for you?  Not so well?  Scroll some more…

I know I’m not saying anything particularly original here.

And I take little solace when I see other voices – supposedly speaking with some higher authority  – echoing the themes that I’ve been expressing here for the past several months.

For example, a former Facebook executive who now confesses his personal guilt for  breathing the life into Frankenberg’s digital monster:

Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media.

A “hard break” from Facebook.  That’s what I’ve been trying to do since October. But it’s, umm… hard….

Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

Apparently this guy has a new job title, “Master Of The Obvious.” From which pedestal he further enlightens:

Your behaviors… are being programmed…”

And this from a guy who left Facebook SIX YEARS ago! Dude… you’re just now figuring this out??

Personally, I find much irony in Palihapitya’s comments – and the fact that these digital media outlets are publishing them. All these people are suddenly waking up to the realization that new technologies are unpredictably disruptive.

Gee, who’da thunk?

Right now, in the wake of all the revelations about the 2016 election, Facebook and Twitter are getting all the critical press.  But it’s not  just Facebook and/or Twitter. It’s the whole new digital environment, everything from smart phones to  Netflix to the incredibly shitty new NYTimes iPad app.

Why is anybody surprised that all of this new technology is re-wiring our brains, and, consequently, the whole fabric of society is being rewoven in disturbing new ways?

To observe these impacts now is like registering surprise that “this hammer, it keeps banging on nails!”  That’s what hammers do.  They bang on nails.

And that’s what new technologies do: they fuck shit up.

That is why even the gentle strains of Bing Crosby and David Bowie crooning together on “The Little Drummer Boy” sounds like the soundtrack from a forty-year-old shark movie.

The News…

… is increasingly dire and unfathomably grim.

Every time we hit a new low, we think it’s the bottom.  Until we reach the next new low.  Until we finally come to the conclusion that there just is no fucking bottom.

So here, have a rainbow.

Better yet, have two of them.

And don’t say I never did anything for you…