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Declare independence! Don't let them do that to you!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

It's 12:30 in the Morning 

Dressed up Jobs

In 7.5 hours, I've got to give a presentation to the client!

I love it.
I hate it.
I need to effing sleep.

Here, dress Steve up whilst I languish.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

South Water Street In Duotone 

Construction Site On Water Street 5Construction Site On Water Street 3Construction Site On Water Street 2Construction Site On Water Street 1Construction Site On Water Street 4

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Nikon D50 or A Step Up for the Far Out 

My Nikon CoolPix 3200 has served me well. Steadfastly delivering superior images with mediocre circuitry, an interface designed for simpletons and in less than expert hands, it has truly been a stalwart companion. It's been with me since we started shooting Tyrants two years ago, and has since seen two riots, several towns villages and cities, a dozen movie shoots, twice as many smiling friends, thrice as many smiling strangers, and truly sparked a renewed interest in still photography. It's a sturdy point and shoot that now feels as familiar and comfortable to me as a pencil. However like that wooden implement of yesteryear, my CoolPix is aging and dangerously close to obsoletion. I've outgrown it. Or more precisely, I've surpassed the point where it's handful of auto-modes is enough to satiate my curiosities. I've grown weary of it's Mickey Mouse lens, it's craptastic digital zoom, it's 'when I feel like it' focus, and the bottom of the barrel 3 megapixels which is barely enough to produce passable 8.5x11 prints. There will always be a place on the shelf for it's tiny yet study frame, but it is no longer my primary camera.

On the other hand, the Nikon D50 is a luxurious dream. Its evenly weighted heaviness fits snugly in my right hand, and when I press the shutter down it snaps quickly with a crunch that reminds me of my Nikon FE. ( I just realized I'm totally Nikon's bitch). By all accounts it looks and responds like your standard 35 milimeter SLR (single-lens reflex). However the D50's Nikon-classic unassuming body conceals a dirty truth: it's all digital and totally bad-ass. I've been working so much at ThoughtForm that i haven't really had the chance to take it for a walk, but included are some shots from my initial excursions. It's incredible how great these shots look right from the camera! That's because you can adjust your shutter speed and aperture, right there on the scene, fine tuning each shot until it's juuuust right. This might not sound like much to 'Jose Public', but I've spent many a while poring over my FE's controls trying to get the settings just right, only to find out two weeks later that the frame was just slightly off, or the shot was over exposed, or any one of a thousand other considerations that can ruin a carefully executed shot creeped into the frame without my noticing. And that's the beauty of the digital SLR. I retain supreme creative control, with the added bonus of instantaneous feedback! Sweet and Double-Sweet!! And although I do miss the chemical process and subsequently the texture of the resulting prints, I frame a shot, adjust for lighting, snap and 5 seconds later I'm looking at the results of my tinkering. There is no substitution for such immediate response. The experience is astounding.

 Nikon 28-100 F/3.5-5.6 G AF Nikkor Zoom Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG Macro Lens
With the D50 I also purchased two telephoto lenses, a wide-angle lens, an external digital flash (although the camera has one built-in), an aluminum hard case, a 'weather-proof' soft case, a few basic filters, a tripod, an SD card reader, and a lens cleaning kit. The telephoto lenses are really cool, one being the Nikon 28-100mm AF (auto-focus) Nikkor Zoom, and the Sigma 70-300mm AF Macro Lens. With the Sigma, I can take extremely close-up highly detailed (macro) shots, or those private-eye across the street, through the bushes shots. The pics posted here were both taken with the Nikon 28-100mm. The first zoomed in all the way at 100mm, and the next zoomed out at 28mm. Anyway, I'll have lots more to talk about once I've really put the D50 through it's courses, till then...
between the click of a light and the Start of a dream

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Tenderloin Brain Bats! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Sunoco at Night 

Midnight Sunoco

I should meditate more often.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Special" and "A Scanner Darkly" 

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LES FRANKEN (Michael Rapaport) leads a painfully unremarkable life as a metermaid until he enrolls in a drug study for an experimental anti-depressant. An unexpected side effect of the drug convinces Les he is developing special powers and must quit his job to answer his new calling in life... Superhero. "Special"

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Then check out the trailer for Richard Linklaters newest interpolatred rotoscoping gift to stoners.
"A Scanner Darkly" is set in suburban Orange County, California in a future where America has lost the war on drugs. When one reluctant undercover cop is ordered to start spying on his friends, he is launched on a paranoid journey into the absurd, where identities and loyalties are impossible to decode. It is a cautionary tale of drug use based on the novel by Philip K. Dick and his own experiences.

Click on Klaus! 

You know what works as a spiritual cure-all? Klaus Nomi and David Bowie doing: TVC 15 on SNL, check it! I swear, no matter what kind of funk I'm in, seeing those beautiful freaks perform really lifts my spirits.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lazy Sunday 

Lazy Sunday- The Chronicles of Narnia Rap

Friday, February 17, 2006

Location Scouting For Untitled True Story Murder Movie 

Listening To:Living Proof from the album "The Greatest" by Cat Power

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Year of the Rooster: Disk Three! 

The final disk of Year of the Rooster is here. The end of the three disk mega mix, is quieter and gentler. From 'go' it embarks on a wholly different path than its predecesors. After the hurry and hubbub of Disk Two, Three takes a moment to look around consider and reflect. There are themes that persist throughout the length of the disk, and so in this way Disk Three is likely the most personal of the trio which would explain why it has taken me a week to post it after it was finished. It's a confession presented in the form of love songs written in the form of revenge/heartbreak ballads. That's Disk Three in a nutshell.
And so ends the slightly herculean undertaking, with nought but a few covers and tracklists to be added shortly. Working on this has changed the way I listen to and process music. It's really been a lot of fun going through hundreds of albums in such a short amount of time, and this years already brought some wonderful new music, (I hear the new Cat Power is awesome). So turn off those played out Pearl Jam records and stick this in your head!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rare dolphin heading for extinction in Cambodia 

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The Cambodian Dolphin is nearly extinct.

by gezahorv

Sunday, February 12, 2006

That Sunday, Fires Were Lit 

GO STEELERS In the bus

Steeler Country 2

The Steelers made history.
Essentially they're the most statistically so-so team to beat the top 3 teams on their way to the SuperBowl. To top it off they served the Seattle Sea Hawks a 21-10 slap to become the Super Bowl XL Champions.

A fortnight before that...
As soon as the Steelers beat the Colts to clinch the AFC title the city exploded. It was a cool evening and Jon and I had decided that right after the game we would secure some party supplies. On the drive over to the distributor, as we pulled onto Murray Ave (Squirrel Hill's main road) we were surrounded by gold dervishes, who ran from one end of the block to the other, following cars, chanting, hooting, waving their Terrible Towels, On some corners there were groups of dozens of people cheering and celebrating. People were leaning out of their apartment windows yelling, also donning the towel. Kids were riding on their parents shoulders, traffic had slowed to a halt on some intersections, and in general it was like we had won the Revolution all over again. The two week period between then and the SuperBowl was a gradually increasing pressure cooker. Signs were thrown up everywhere, and the odd little yellow towel which already felt familiar, was damn near omnipresent. People talked about it at work, busses modded their route sign so that it would flash GO STEELERS, Pittsburgh was in an official Steelers frenzy. A fortnight later once they'd won I realize that it's more exciting waiting for the moment, anticipating it than actually having the moment. Tantric control of orgasms works the same way. The climax just can't be as much fun as the build up, can it?

Steeler Country

Go Steelers Marquee 2

The Super-Bowl Party
Shoes at the door, and coasters under the drink, the people that live with Greg, care. And when they invite people for a SuperBowl celebration, the care shows. It's in the dark stout in your glass that came from the tap behind their D.Y.I. bar. Or the Pitcher they kept fresh and filled for the duration. The wooden beer pub signs with their tiny chains and placards, with the matching stools and yeah maybe even the plasma television. Go into their bathroom and you'll see what must be at least 50 white untouched rolls of toilet paper in an equally white bathroom, these people maintain. All in all, it was an unusual place to watch the Steelers play for their first SuperBowl title since the 70s. Not quite the den of villainous scum you might expect to see such a game at, but a fine place in it's own right. Oh yeah there was food, but I could hardly touch it as I was drinking the Stout and the Whiskey. I think they had some sort of carnivorous delight where they take one slaughtered and spiced animal and place that into the gaping orifice of another carcass and grill that till both the animals souls are intertwined in the afterlife. I'd decided to skip the tailgating portion of the party in favor of walking around and breathing in the last of the tense cool Sunday afternoon pregame air before it all ended for good or ill. When I got there half an hour before kickoff it was clear that everyone was drunk. Some of these fools were even trashed.

One For the Team

Touchdown Shot #1

The First Touchdown

The game flew by. The first quarter was an emotional tumult, as it seemed the Seahawks were in firm command although they'd only just squeaked off a punting maneuver allotting them 3 measly points, I thought for sure the end of the first quarter signaled the end of the Steel City dream. But what do I know about football? There were some commercials that for the most part baffled and agitated our collective temperament, and I think I remember there was some commentating that did the same. It's all blurs with numbers, shots with long broad strokes that are meaningless strands that paint the scene of a whole game. The whole thing just flew by.

Haunted By Zeus

No Mas!


When the Steelers finally scored a bonafide touchdown in the second quarter we all took celebratory Whiskey shots (save for Jon who cant stand the stuff, he drank something else), and instantly the energy jumped. It was instantaneous. It suddenly felt as if there could be no other way, no other outcome to this apparently predesigned event The Steelers were going all the way! There was some sort of Half Time show where they let the geriatric ward loose on stage for 15 minutes, then once they had all been rounded up and tranqualized, they resumed the real show.


Sports Breeds Believers 2

Sports Breeds Believers

A little under two hours later we were cheering our heads off, the Steelers had just scored again deepening the gulf between them and Seattle by 11 whole points! The mounting buzz crescendoed into a reverberating crackle and although we 10 were alone in the house, we were sharing in the county wide high. When the game clock had gotten down to the last few moments of the game, the Sea Hawks quit the Steelers won and the room exploded. It was as if the winning city would get the cure for cancer, and we were all determined smokers and irresponsible sun bathers. We were saved! We were forgiven! We were blessed! All of us, each of us were winning the big game in Detroit. Or so it felt.
Jon Joyous

You Need a New Beer

Rory Roars!

I'm So Excited (And I just Can't Hide It)

Bottle the energy that was in the air that night and sell it to the highest bidder to make your trillions. We burst out of the house with one intention: join the other crazed lunatics. Meet our friendly strangers in the closest bar who would be waiting there to meet us, or whoever else. Each car was honking, each pedestrian was screaming, each bar was PACKED! I peeked into a local Sports Bar, FANATICS and was instantly accosted by a cute brunette who pointedly spat out at me 'y'got a Towel?' her eyes never leaving mine I thought quickly, and decided to play this one straight, "no' I uttered truthfully, and as the door snapped shut I made a mental note. And quoted to myself a line from the first Ghostbusters movie.

The Terrible Thwaker

John ran through the traffic methodically hitting each car he passed with the towel, and so we began our slow way to Oakland. The plan was to go to that part of the city which was only 10 minutes away. Oakland is decidedly a college town within the steel city. It's unlike any other part of Pittsburgh, with the Pitt, CMU, and Carlow campus all within walking distance of each other, there were sure to be some ebullient roisterers on the town that night. We hopped into 2 cars and drove, but before we could go very far the first car suddenly stopped. At first we couldn't tell why and thought to stay inside, but then we noticed the laying figure at the side of the road between the cars. Was some stranger sick at the side of the road? No! It was our pal Marty who last we knew was in the first car, how could it be that none of us noticed him roll out of the car that wasn't 6 feet ahead of us?? Intoxicated with the revelry, we were blinded by the moment. (Our driver was sober). So it was promptly decided that Car #1 had to go back home, if you're too drunk to be a PASSENGER in a car, then its time to get you to your bed. This left the five of us Jim, Lauren, Nate John and me to ourselves and to the night. Lauren who lived 10 minutes away from the heart of Oakland, parked her car near her house and we began to walk toward the Pitt campus. Accounts become a bit uncertain here. Jon had been complaining incessantly for the latter half of the car ride about how much he didn't want to walk, and then when we got out of the car about how cold he was. And for good reason, it was 20 degrees and he only had a black sweatshirt on with a Steelers logo and no insulation. As he complained his pace slowed. We kept walking, and I think we got split up from Jon. Soon Nate and Jim felt some weird urge to piss on an 18 wheeler, but Lauren and I kept walking and when we rounded a corner to see a big pile of burning trash in the center of the road we turned around to exclaim to our companions only to find they were nowhere to be found, we'd lost them in the growing stream of partiers.

Tell Us O Mighty Truck

Lit By the Glare of the Oakland Fires

We kept walking, and soon we had seen some people we recognized, but the further we walked the more people we lost in the crowds till I suddenly realized I was surrounded by kids I didn't know and cops I didn't want to meet, with no clue how the situation had snuck up on me. Now is a good time to tell you I didn't really get any great stills from the riotous ruckus that went down that night in Oakland. I was a little tipsy, and in the dark without a tripod I just couldn't get many shots to work out. I was smart enough to take some videos though, which you can download from here.

Walking Through Screens

Alcohol keeps us dumb, and violent and controllable. Predictable really, and if I learned any one thing from the insanity that erupted in Oakland that night it was that the Pittsburgh police are fully prepared to suppress scores of drunken rioters at a moments notice. One minute, there was a city block full of drunk kids breaking glass, tossing trash cans and screaming like certifiables. The next minute, that same block was zipped up tighter than a fat man in a body bag. They moved in on the crowd in strategic flanking maneuvers, and within one minute of loud orders and dogs barking they'd rounded everyone up into a big square in the center of an intersection. Most people who had dodged being rounded up (myself included) were yelled at to go home or to start walking in the opposite direction. Somehow I've developed a skill to acquiesce to and ignore cops simultaneously in such situations, it seems even authority is blinded by the shine of the camera, and so I was able to stay just behind the police lines for most of the insanity. Their strategy was to keep pushing the crowd up Forbes Avenue reforming the ranks at each intersection, while leaving K9 sentry units scattered about each reclaimed street. Very effective.

Oakland Watchdog


Some kids punched, kicked and screamed. Some threw bottles from within the anonymity of the crowd, but most of them had their cellphones up, talking to friends and taking pictures. What kind of riot is it if half the people are burning and the other half are recording? Nevertheless, the raucous half were putting in their fare share of work. Each time the police stopped to reform, it meant the agitated young rioters had fresh territory to mash up and mangle before being forced to move again, and each time they were forced to move again it seemed a small percentage of the people who had no heart for the struggle left and split up. Meaning that by the time the crowd reached the University of Pittsburgh campus most of the people who left were the real trouble makers, and there was a distinct difference in the tone of the crowd as it spread out onto the lush gothic campus. Some had masks on, others had riot gear of their own, more still had bandanas around their face darting around in twos and threes spray painting anarchy symbols and rolling trash bins at cars. This lot had come prepared to party.

Always Be Prepared

'A' on the Post Box

The few cars that were left in the parking lot were turned upside down. Windows and windshields were kicked in. Small fires were sprinkled across the landscape. Spitting distance from the Cathedral of Learning, two guys had pried off a gas tank door of a large sedan and were stuffing a terrible towel into the hole. One kid doused it with lighter fluid and ran off. As the other started to fidget with a lighter, a S.W.A.T. guy dashed through some bushes and saw what he was at, a second after he yelled an order and a horse mounted officer flew over the bushes and gave chase. The kid ran for about 3 seconds, suddenly the horse toppled into him kicking him to the ground. The would be arsonist shook and convulsed for a moment, and then was still. The first officer that arrived poked him cautiously but there was no sign of life, I don't know what happened to him after, but a few cops carried his limp body away to a place I could not see. I was shaken and disturbed. I could not resolve what I had almost seen and what had transpired instead with the joyful memory of two hours earlier. Suddenly the expectant air of a hopeful city was cold and dry, and it was all I could do to keep walking quickly to avoid the long line of cavalry that was creating a protective barrier around the campus.

Long Line of Cops

I'd seen enough. Whatever it was I was expecting, hadn't come to pass. Or if it did, it revealed itself in a light I hadn't expected. This was something sadder, and dimmer, and all together too predictable. Could we ever get this incited about social inequity? Would our generation ever find this furor in their hearts when responding to social policy, political corruption, genocide? Unlikely. We get loaded and burn ourselves out in the name of a game, any game. In the name of a good time, fueled by cheap intoxicants and illusions of immortality. It happens everywhere, people are designed to respond this way and people do not disappoint their designers. But this is a rant for another day for it wasn't all mindless chaos. As I cut through the Pitt campus I heard one clear voice yell above the crowd. I moved to it immediately, instinctively crouching while running since the voice was yelling 'get back' over and over again. I came upon the scene and saw at once what was happening. One guy was circling a car that had been slightly damaged and kicked in but was the first intact civilian car I had seen in over an hour. He kept yelling at everyone to keep away from it and the other car next to it which took me a moment to see but was also relatively unharmed. The crowd around him was jeering and cursing and many voices called him a pussy, but only one person from the hundred around actually dared to put a taunting finger on one of the cars as a joke, but instantly retreated when the crazed man with paint on his face and a bloody hand circled closer and shot him a death-stare. This keeper of the peace was assisted by two other jocks with Steelers regalia, one was black and I couldn't determine the race of the other, perhaps Mediterranean. I was struck by the oddness of this law keeping trio and would have taken a shot of them together if they had not been careening from one side of the block to the other disarming their violent peers, quelling fights, rolling trash bins back to their alley, and keeping the violent crowd away from some injured people sitting on the curb. And for a moment, that good feeling came back to me. That I was part of something greater and good and not wholly destructive and suicidal. But lit by the glare of the dozen tiny bonfires, the feeling faded and I walked back home full of unease and a melancholy mood, as thick flakes floated down from the Pittsburgh night sky. Super Bowl Sunday, 2006.

Damaged Good

Six hours later on my way to work, taking a bus through the same streets that were inhabitable a short while ago, all signs of the commotion had been cleared away. The curbs were lined with cars that shined in the clear morning sunlight, and it was business as usual.