Monday, August 30, 2010

Semper Fidelis

State Highway 80, Gonzales County, Texas, January 2005

As a proud wearer of the 56th Field Artillery patch and Pershing tab on my left shoulder during my term of service in the 1980s with the U.S. Army, I walk with a little swagger.  Anyone who's ever served in an elite unit knows the pride that comes with having earned their way aboard.  

Yet, there are two groups of people I will always stand before humbly:  Combat veterans of any service branch (I have almost twenty years of service divided among the Regular Army, the Texas and Delaware National Guards, and the New York State Guard -- but I've never been sent into a combat theatre of operations) and United States Marines.

You'll know one if you've ever met one, whether in uniform, or out:  Once a Marine, always a Marine.  The toughest, baddest ass sons of bitches ever to make the other poor bastard die for his country.  My godfather, rest his soul, is a Marine.

I say "is," not "was."  Even in heaven, there's no such thing as a "former Marine."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stairway to Heaven

Roadside memorial, Highway 7, outside Sacaton, Arizona, January 2010

I often photograph these roadside memorials.  At these heretofore gory scenes, where the brutal merging of machine, men, and Mother Nature fatefully collided, seldom are these peaceful areas thereafter disturbed.

I found this quiet but poignant tribute to Ramos outside the small town of Sacaton, on the Gila River Indian Reservation.  

What becomes of these little-known in the e-universe we've created?  I could find no obituary for Basilio Ramos, Jr.  However, I found this entry in a people search form.  He appeared to have a run-in with the law.

And this once-created, never again visited MySpace page.  Listing himself primarily as a weed smoker and a proud parent, I wonder:  Who exactly was the Basilio Ramos who died at this sleepy junction?  The author of the MySpace paean to the Oakland Raiders, or his child?

However and whoever lived his life, and however he died, he is now resting in peace. 

God rest his soul.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Food Fetish

Cafeteria automat conveyor, Passau, Germany, July 2010

I'll admit it: I'm a culinary voyeur.  

This photo is for Ana, whom I was aesthetically channeling as I snapped up this image.

Luxury That Really Is Luxury

View from hotel room, Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Hotel
Phoenix, Arizona, January 2010

Being a photographer means dozens of rolls of photos from your family vacation strewn everywhere in sock drawers, in the cube refrigerator, and shoeboxes.  But, it's always a pleasant surprise when you get your snapshots back from Walgreen's.

One such shot was taken on our family vacation to Phoenix last January, which was marred by the worst torrential rain (which came down as mud) and flooding Arizona had seen in twenty years.

But, for one day, the clouds went elsewhere and we had a beautiful day to go out and about.  To boot, I snapped this pic from our balcony.  In all my days, I've never been afforded a greater view from my hotel room window than this.  Not even in Iceland.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Photo guru Klaus Ditté, Passau, Germany, July 2010

If Akira Kurosawa were alive and not dead; were German and not Japanese; and were a photographer and not a director....

....he'd be this man.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

La Boqueria, Part IX

Puppet. La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

At night, this seemingly benign creature awakes and prowls the floors of La Boqueria, marshaling an army of insects and vermin which will soon take over the world!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

La Boqueria, Part VIII: Jamon Iberico

Jamon Iberico. La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

I am not a fan of Tapas bars, with their minimalist portions.  The custom of grazing on small portions throughout the day is tedious and absurd -- after your third Tapas "meal," you begin to get that Bill Murray/Groundhog Day deja vu feeling.  I prefer the Italian tradition of a big lunch of pasta and a midday rest until three.

That said, as I was forced to eat at these Tapas places during meetings with friends in Spain, I did reacquaint myself with a delicacy known as jamon Iberico. Quite literally, Spanish ham.  It's shaved razor-thin and often served on bread, or alone on a plate, and is the most heavenly pork confection my taste buds have ever experienced.  Think of it as Canadian bacon crossed with prosciutto.  I'm in pig heaven!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

La Boqueria, Part VII: Peppers

Peppers. La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

Looks like a San Antonio doorway around Christmastime!

La Boqueria, Part VI: Smooth Up In Ya

Fruit smoothies. La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

This lovely lady implores you, "Have a smoothie!"


Monday, August 9, 2010

Frutos del Mar: La Boqueria V

Whitings at fish market. La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

Monkfish tails. La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

I have never been a seafood eater.  With the exception of tuna salad, I don't eat fish.  Forget about shellfish -- I've no use for bottom-feeders.

Yet, some of my fondest memories as a boy were going to Lexington Market, Baltimore's renowned open food market.  There is no market in the world that can rival Lexington Market for a tour of smells:  From the dogs and sausages grilling at Pollock Johnny's, to the roasted Brazilian nuts, the cotton candy, and my favorite smell -- the most distinctly Baltimorean of them all -- crabcakes frying.

And when it came to sights, I would marvel at the fish.  The lobster tank, the crab salads, the trout, and German pickled herring from Chesapeake Bay..... You gotta go there sometime and see it for yourself.

My time at La Boqueria brought me back to all that, in its own way.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

La Boqueria, Part IV

Watermelons, peppers. La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

It's hard to believe, but these ultra-fresh looking watermelons are now either human byproducts floating in Barcelona's sewers, or they went unconsumed, and are rotting in some compost pile.  But, thanks to this Agfa film I've preserved in my freezer for seven years, their fuscia, lime, and salmon hues will be fresh for eternity.  

Saturday, August 7, 2010

La Boqueria, Part III

Egg vendor, La Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain, July 2010

The series of photographs I took at La Boqueria were also very technically interesting to me:  I exposed my first rolls of Kodak Ektar 100 there, but I also shot a number of rolls of Agfa's highly-saturated Ultra 100, a now-defunct stalwart of mine which has been in the freezer for seven years.  Although I had to do a little more tweaking in Photoshop, I got very similar results with the color-curves and saturation, although the Agfa was significantly grainier.  

I am so glad Kodak did the right thing for once, and brought back a film they killed in the mid-1990s.  Still, I purchased many bricks of the Ektar in 35mm and 120, because I'm not counting on Kodak to continue doing what's right.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Colorful Czech Republic

Advertisement detail. Federal Highway 39, Horní Planá, Czech Republic, July 2010

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the formerly greywashed Czechoslovakians went wild with all manner of colorful paints to enliven their surroundings.  If I hadn't known otherwise, I would have thought I was in Mexico during this delightful sojourn into territory once verboten to NATO soldiers.

Tire tower, Federal Highway 39, Cerná v Posumaví, Czech Republic, July 2010

Political advertisement, Federal Highway 39, Želnava, Czech Republic, July 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Mojo Jojo?

Graffiti and ventilation grate, Salamanca, Spain, July 2010

I don't know if the vandal who aimed his can of Krylon on this public wall meant to do it, but it looks like he made a portrait of the Powerpuff Girls' nemesis wielding a bolt of lightning.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The All-Seeing Eyes

Optometrist's sign, Salamanca, Spain, July 2010

In my invisible dreams
When no one is watching
I'd make the whole world blind,
And I'd be free.

-- Dio, "The Eyes," 2004

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taking Credit For Other Photographers' Work

Detail of advertising mural, Salamanca, Spain, July 2010

In the fine arts world, all an aspiring photographer need do is cleverly crop someone else's work, and claim it as his own.  As in this case, for instance.

It's done all the time.   ;)

Monday, August 2, 2010

On a Lighter Note...

I "Mad Men'd" myself at American Movie Classics.  Not a very accurate likeness, but it captures the spirit of the thing.  Mad Men, for the uninitiated, is a smoke-filled paean to the guys and dolls of Madison Avenue, set in the mid-1960s.  It is also the only show I know that heterosexual men watch to get tips on how to dress for success.

Most importantly, you'll see the lovely and curvaceous Joan Holloway has her eye on me.  I can dream, can't I?

Christina Hendricks stars as the duplicitous Joan Holloway in Mad Men

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Class Act in Salamanca

Accordion player, Salamanca, Spain, July 2010

To get me to toss a 5 Euro note in your instrument case, all you have to do is play the love theme from Il Padrino. Con affetuoso, of course!