"Eight years ago, the blogosphere felt like a handful of individual cranks fighting with one another. Today, it feels like a universe of cranks, with vast, pulsating readerships, fighting with one another."
- "Why I Blog," The Atlantic Monthly
I get the strangest sensation from time to time—I get to wishing that I had a blog. Of course, I do have a blog—this one. But TOP started out life as a newsletter (it was called "The 37th Frame"), and of my three duties hereat (writer, editor, host), I often consider that "writer" is the least of the three. It would be nice to maunder on about the weather, what animals I've seen lately, the peccadilloes of the locals, politics, remarkable bits from my reading, what the dog did at the park, etc.; but I feel constrained to at least pretend to confine my blather to legitimately photo-related topics.
I have to warn you, though, that I probably won't be a very good editor, host, and writer over the next couple of weeks, until this damned interminable election is over. I am consumed by the election. I'm basically useless until it's done. I can hardly think of anything else. Photography? What's that?
Here's an interesting, if quirky and ultimately useless photo-related tidbit: I ran across this the other day whilst filling my quota on eMusic. It's the song list for a record called "Beat Reader" by reedist Ken Vandermark's Vandermark 5:
1. Friction (For Gyorgy Ligeti)
2. New Acrylic (For Andreas Gursky)
3. Any Given Number (For Bernd And Hilla Becher)
4. Signposts (For Lee Friedlander)
5. Speedplay (For Max Roach)
6. Compass Shatters Magnet (For Paul Rutherford)
7. Further From the Truth (For Walker Evans)
8. Desireless (For Daido Moriyama)
That's pretty cool, to name a handful of photographers as inspirations alongside a hatful of musicians and composers. I hate to say it, but I can't say I care for the music, so don't take this mention as a recommendation, necessarily. (I really do hate to say it, too—I hate to diss any working artist's work without knowing enough about it to diss it; but there's that "appearance of endorsement" to worry about when you're an editor-host-writer type guy. Sigh.)
If you want a solid recommendation, try Erik Friedlander's Broken Arm Trio (Erik Friedlander, 'cello; Trevor Dunn, bass; Michael Sarin, drums). Why broken arm?
"Accident Leads To Invention: In 1949 Oscar Pettiford broke his arm playing baseball. He could still move his fingers even though his arm was in a sling, so he began experimenting with a cello a friend had lent to him. He tuned the cello like a bass only an octave higher and later made history recording a series of cello-led projects including the great, under-recognized 1964 Fantasy release, 'My Little Cello' featuring a photo of his newborn son whom he named Cello.
"Erik Friedlander tosses away his bow for this new band, playing only pizzicato in a world steeped in the influences of Oscar Pettiford and the small group feel of Herbie Nichols." (From the website.)
Also cool, to name a band for Oscar Pettiford's broken arm because it made him switch to 'cello.
It's a terrific record, I think, one of Friedlander's best, and if you dare to admit that you care about geeky things like sound quality, it's a terrific-sounding record, too, very rich and immediate. (The audio equivalent of a full-frame sensor?)
So what does this record have to do with photography? Not much, but as you probably already know, and as I'm sure he's tired of hearing said, Erik is Lee Friedlander's son. Note that Lee and Maria show up in a photograph early on in the following video. The video is from Erik's previous project. It does feature a good dose of his pizzicato playing, though.
Broken Arm Trio—that one I recommend. It's available on iTunes, eMusic, and of course CD.
Featured comment by erik f: "Many thanks for the kind remarks. Since you mentioned the quality of the recording I thought I would point out some more nerdy details: I work with an exceptional engineer and producer named Scott Solter who prefers to work with 2" tape (analogue). For those who don't know, this is the way things used to be done and many feel it is still the best method to capture sound. However, just like in photography, using a particular camera means very little when compared with what you actually do with it—the format is secondary to one's vision. Scott likes to get as much sonic information as possible and so the character of the individual instruments shine brightly. I think his recordings would sound good using a boom box....
"The tracks were mixed to 1" tape and then mastered (the final process before manufacturing) digitally.
"Thanks again for checking out the recording. Much appreciated!"