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Sunday, 24 January 2021


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I've had my own home page (stobblehouse.com) since 1997, and I never understood why so many creative types still don't have one, it's so obvious.


American PHOTO.

Was a time I used to buy the French edition of PHOTO. It was quite interesting for anyone who was concerned with the world of fashion and advertising photography and the heroes from there.

Later, it took over American Photography and gave us American PHOTO. (Filipacchi gets everywhere!)

The French edition used to run an annual list of the most influential photographers in the world. They introuduced the concept into their American publication, too. Only problem: as I discovered, buying both magazines, the lists were different, including many more Americans in the American listing...

I stopped buying either magazine years ago. The last magazine that I bought (so far) was the UK September 2019 edition of Vogue, and that only because it came out as Peter Lindbergh died, and was his last shoot for them this side of the next reincarnation.

Magazines just seem so expensively redundant now. You know, like film Leicas... ;-)

You can at least see all of the Owen Edwards articles on the Smithsonian site here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/author/owen-edwards/

It says of Owen Edwards:

"Owen Edwards is a freelance writer who previously wrote the "Object at Hand" column in Smithsonian magazine."

There looks to be quite a few of them (the search results span 11 pages). Might keep you busy for a little while.

I think a lot of the success of The Far Side, besides talent, was the fact it didn't appeal to everyone. Much like Monty Python, if you got it then you were hip and clever; if not, then maybe we shouldn't be friends.

People like to feel that they are clever, or special, and The Far Side, or Monty Python allowed them to feel that. Just to name two examples.

Bat bombs... haven't thought about that program in a long time. Hard to believe the same country that came up with the atomic bomb also toyed with this low tech incendiary. Years ago, either the Discovery Channel or Smithsonian had a documentary on this project which failed the initial test after the bats ignored the test buildings constructed to emulate a Japanese village and roosted on actual base buildings which started to burn.

I wonder what programs were not approved out of those brain storming sessions.

As regards the footnote on The Far Side, if you like single panel comics, give a try to Herman, by the late Jim Unger. They put a different one up every day on gocomics.com. A sample of his humor: A doctor talking to his patient "I want you to walk 45 minutes every day. And I want you to take my dog." (I may have the amount of time wrong). You can safely ignore the Sunday strip, as it is multi panel, and in my opinion, his genius lies in the un-thrown punch of the single.


Try almost any book by Loren Eiseley.

Recently I tracked down a college friend to find any photos of a trip we shot in 1972. Actually, I found his obituary - his "passion was photography" and survived by 8 cousins... the end. No links to anything online or physical. What a waste.
I am also quite obscure on the internet - no social networks, just Flickr. So obviously I barely exist.
However, anyone who might be interested can see my whole public life (use album view for context). All I have in this life is a viewpoint; I'm just trying to share it. Someday I will stop adding to the pile, but it could go on.

Dear Mike,

A few months ago I was doing some research on photographer Alen MacWeeney, whose "Flies in the Window" is a particular favorite. I came across two short pieces written by Owen Edwards that you might find interesting (https://www.alenmacweeney.com/press).

I really wanted to read more of his stuff! But I ran into the same dead ends as you, apparently. I hope you enjoy these two short articles as much as I did.


Yup, the Smithsonian writer and your guy are reported to be the same at:

Do we like Monty Python because it makes us feel special? Or, maybe, is it because we just do, and we find other people who also like it have something meaningful in common with us? I'm sure I have friends who don't like Monty Python; just not sure who they are.

However, if you don't like XKCD, that's just a personal flaw.

Hi Mike,

I echo your thought on John Szarkowski - I would love to see more of his writing. Some years ago, on your recommendation, I bought his book "Looking at Photographs." Until just recently, the book sat in it's shrink wrap, waiting for me to find some free time. I'm about a third of the way through the book, and I have been delighted at how lucid and beautiful Mr. Szarkowski's writing is. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of photography, or just enjoys excellent writing about it.


I know it's not the thing to respond directly to another poster, but to Bruce, anyway: if you stop, do you have something better to do with your time? Unless you do, then you might as well just keep on truckin' until you can't.

Dorothea Lange got a certain photographer who printed for her going when she informed him that he had no point of departure. If you stop, as I pretty much did myself, then are you sure you will ever again discover a new point of departure that enables you to go forward again? Not much use consulting the former point of departure: if it were still relevant to you then you'd still be on that train. Inspiration, motivation; these are seldom seen to be growing on trees.

For Albert Smith. Another bird-brained idea in WW2 came from BF Skinner who proposed a pigeon-guided rocket. If this scheme had ever come to fruition it could have been interesting if homing pigeons had been used. My thoughts on the bat-bomb is that if it had been dropped it’s likely that all 6000 bats would have roosted in one or several places and could never have started a lot of fires — a lot of roasted bats though, which one is led to believe are yummy.


BTW, I’m not sure it’s fair to blame USA with “coming up with” the idea of the A-bomb, the U.K. was working on it before that, and the Germans too, and scientists of other nations had proposed or warned of its possibility.

Well, now you've got me hooked on the guy, too. Especially this aspect, mentioned as a sort of not particularly helpful or revealing aside: "Owen’s most recent book is “Caught in the Act,” a collaboration with photographer Howard Schatz. It hopefully will be joined soon by a memoir, recently completed, about his years on a Greek island." Greek island? Which Greek island?? What was he doing there??? Arrrgh. :-)

A bit of additional detail and a different photo of Owen Edwards at “the Craftsman Initiative”, https://craftsmanship.net/contributor/owen-edwards/

Last time I checked, anyone can make a Wikipedia page.
So if anyone knows about either of these subjects, it’s up to you! (Well, I could do it, but it would be pretty sparse).

This got me thinking...

I'm always trying to find people online for the articles and newsletters I write. It ain't easy - the web is now billions of pages. Finding someone is very difficult unless they have a peculiar name like "Astro Teller" the head of Google's space shot division "X."

I did a search for my name using Google. I was surprised by the fact that of 62,700,000 responses, my home page showed up twice on the first page below a bunch of ads for a car dealer owned by someone who shares the same name. But my home page goes back to 1994 when it was one of the first 30,000 web pages ever, so it's got some history.

It took until the 3rd page until it showed me listed with a magazine I've been writing for since the late 90s where they have archived about 500 articles by me.

Soon after that I lost interest in perusing the other 62million pages listed.

My website has hundreds of photos posted between 1994 and around 2005 when photo sites became a thing. Before that I used to get requests to use my photos all the time because people would find them online. Now the only ones I get requests for are the archived prints of 50s-70s sports car races that people find nowhere else.

I tried the photo sites early on, contributing photos until the ones I used all went belly-up.

Part of the problem of having a personal website is keeping it up. Then what happens when you die? (I'm turning 75 in a few weeks so I occasionally have those kinds of thoughts.) I've been thinking about writing my obituary with a link to some people who know my status (kids maybe) and saying at the end "check to see if this is in effect yet."

Paul Van up above mentions using Far Side and Monty Python as arbiters of taste and friends. I have a niece (physicist) to whom I introduced Edward Gorey and also got her a Doubtful Guest coffee mug. She leaves it on her desk to serve as a people filter. A smile of recognition turns to instant comradery. We do like people that like the same things, especially when the things in question represent our philosophy and approach to life.

Here is more about Owen Edwards


Certainly frustrating in the way you describe, but in this “I, me, mine” era it’s also somewhat refreshing to come across someone who doesn’t toot their own horn...

Just because a sale is reported doesn’t mean it actually occurred... .

How about 'Collected Writings of Beaumont Newhall' ?

PS. re Book of the Week: why, oh why do book designers drop photos across the gutter like that? It can destroy a picture by changing it into something completely different from that intended by the photographer.

If I was Peter Lindbergh, I would be very upset.

Idea for a column for you Mike?

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