Friday night was a lovely evening in the Hop Leaf with snorkel_maiden, her husband Tom (sans LJ), and Helen, Toby and Jenny (all sans LJ too). We talked of many, many things, discovered that it's harder to make Jen go funny colours just by lowering the tone than it used to be, and Tom like Scampi Fries more than I would have expected! ;-)
Saturday morning was up early (for a Saturday), get the bike out of the back of the car and then bite down hard (metaphorically speaking) to drive to Leytonstone on the third to last weekend before Xmas... Two hours later I was at 491 Gallery picking up my pictures from two exhibitions and saying a brief hello to Debbie.
Back in the car and I was off to Ilford to see harold_chasen, ingenue_the and their new arrival, Henry. I spent a lovely couple of hours catching up with them, having a truly needed and appreciated PBJ and I got to meet Henry despite the fact that he was sleeping when I showed up. I don't want to sound too broody and / or gushy, but it's a really wonderful thing to see two people that I like that much so happy and enjoying being new parents so much, and from my brief meeting, Henry is a lovely little fellah :-)
From there it was back to Reading, into the shower and then a suit (yes you did read that correctly) and off to the Marquis de Gray's Bohemian Christmas Extravaganza, to meet up with kittycat_holt and Neil, and of course misspotsitt to have a drink and a natter while we waited for the latter to take the stage. The show was excellent, a lot of fun, more than value for money and it was lovely to see misspotsitt perform again - imho she was fab :-)
I slept very well - this may have been down to the Xmas bubbles (although it was "House" champagne, yes that was on the label, it was very nice), and was up early to get ready for my shoot this afternoon with ulorin_vex up at a studio in Oxford. We were working on my ongoing project "Shadow Walkers", and I have to say that it was worth the wait to work with her (long story but over the last couple of years she and I have been booked to work together and have each cancelled due to unforseen but completely understandable circumstances). The results can be seen below (under the cut). I am really pleased with them, and in no small part that's due to the fact that she is an excellent model with an impeccable command of her physicality; she almost seemed to know where I was about to ask her to put her hand or how I was about to ask her to position herself. Just a joy to work with.
( Pictures under here... (NSFW, but tasteful nudity imho) )
And now I am working on the other pictures and watching ER - hooray for a full season of one of my favourite TV shows on iTunes for just £9.99
So, last night and exactly a week before that, I managed to see my ‘new favourite band’ live. These gigs have been in small, intimate venues, in front of crowds of between twenty to forty people, and there is a good deal of truth in the words of Josh from Fleet Foxes when he said on Radio One last night (as I was driving home) that really the best way to see a band is when the space and the crowd are small enough that the band feel they can form a connection with every single member of the audience.
The Airborne Toxic Event (their name comes from a book that I love and that I read at University, called “White Noise” by American writer Don DeLillo), are going to be big. I referenced Fleet Foxes above (another band I would merrily commend to your listening pleasure oh dear reader), and they are all the evidence that I need that I am right about TATE (apart from the cool coincidence that happens when their band name is made into an acronym). Fleet Foxes were unknown when they first came to the UK to play some shows in 2007. Rather like TATE they played a large number of small, intimate gigs around the UK and just let their music ear-worm its way into the alternative scene’s consciousness (I use the term alternative scene here for the big tent that many scenes share that are simply outside the mainstream; sue me). Just like TATE, they were getting a small amount of airplay on the ‘right’ shows on Radio 1 (Colin Murray, Huw Stephens, and eventually Zane Lowe), as well as all of us in the International KEXP community boring the ass off anyone who would listen, and now they are back in the UK, playing venues like The Shepherd’s Bush Empire, and packing its 2,000 capacity… It is also worth mentioning that TATE have a road-tested management / marketing / label team behind them, so with a few music fans starting to talk about them, the right ‘alt’ opinion formers covering them, and a bit of luck they are going to be huge - you heard it here first…
I often ‘go on’ about music on my blog(s), and I know that a lot of what I __really like__ is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like interesting guitar music (i.e. with __something__ fresh about it), and you like Franz Ferdinand and / or The Killers, or Hot Hot Heat, or The Kaiser Chiefs then check The Airborne Toxic Event out. I have nothing to gain from you doing so, except that the more people who like their music here in the UK, the greater the chance that they’ll come back sooner, oh and I do like people to find out about good music too.
They were great, they tore the place up on night 24 of their 30 consecutive UK dates, even though they barely knew where they were anymore, even though only fifty people came out to see them… The little, cute, blonde stood next to me, called Steph was a good benchmark of crowd response; when they played ‘Sometime around Midnight’ she was visibly vibrating with joy, as was I truth be told.
Enough… You’ll either check them out or you won’t, you’ll either like them or you won’t - I did my part.
I would also like to take this time to mention the support acts that I have caught by attending these two gigs, as they have all been rather good…
On the 17th I arrived at the Jericho Tavern, having been told by seetickets.com that there was “No Support”, to discover that there would be two bands playing before the main event. I caught the latter half of the first band - The Socials. I have to say that I was impressed, and let’s be honest that is not always the case with regard to opening acts. They clearly have talent, they were good at the whole ‘being on-stage’ thing, and their material was good ole, foot-tappin’ UK guitar, jangle-pop, mixed with a sense of identity. If they keep playing and recording then you may well hear more from them before too long…
Next up were The Long Insiders, and man did they surprise and delight me. They had a bunch of friends show up to support them, and I got talking to a couple of them (Steve and Kirsty(?)), and I quickly realised that the act was going to be something a bit different, but wow! Imagine a fifties rockabilly meets surf-music band, fronted by a burlesque styled, dark-haired beauty with a voice like a fallen angel and you are getting close. Their music would not be out of place in a noir movie, or gracing the soundtrack of a Lynch movie either, but more than that it was just such a breath of fresh air and excitement, that I found myself singing along and whistling after every tune. If you get a chance to see these guys, take it - they’ve got game.
Last night I caught the last four numbers by The Volt, and I have to say that again I was pleasantly surprised to discover that support acts are sometimes well worth seeing… Click on the link above and listen to ‘Rock my Soul’ on their MySpace page - these guys can play. They’ve got quite a few gigs coming up in December, January and February; if anyone fancies catchin’ one I would be up for it…
Tonight I’m shooting a local model for fun, her portfolio and as a ‘getting to know you’ exercise to see if we like working together, and then I’m charging the camera’s batteries, cleaning down memory cards and printing maps, as tomorrow I am off to see two people for whom I have all kinds of love (but clearly only the appropriate kinds) get married, and into the bargain take some pictures of the events of the day. Apparently I get to stop for a while in February
So Wednesday came and I decided to ‘finish off’ Fishermans’ Wharf and then ride the historic Cable Car (you have to do it just once). Fishermans’ Wharf is a __real__ tourist trap, but there is a reason, it is really very cool. There are a ton of restaurants there and you can get up close and personal with a Dungeness Crab or two if the mood takes you; they cook ‘em up in batches right out on the street like this:
Anyway, I was there mostly to eat Clam Chowder, from a bowl made of a large sourdough roll - a true San Francisco cliché, but you have to do these things at least once! I wandered around for a while tkaing pictures and trying with no real frame of reference or prior intelligence to choose a good place to try out the aforementioned chowder. In the end I chose Tarantino’s - come on, with a name like that I just HAD to. I ordered the Clam Chowder lunch special and a pint of Anchor Steam and settled back to watch the comings and goings of the smaller pleasure craft and fishing boats that were using the wharf below the restaurant. The food was magnificent, I can’t tell you how good it was, and at $8 I’m sure I paid more than I might have done if I shopped around, but as far as I was concerned it was worth every nickel. If you don’t believe me, check it out:
Once I’d eaten I wandered around the tourist stores, picked up the cheesiest keychain I could find, as per Kendal’s request, and then headed up to the Cable Car turnaround to join the Powell & Mason Cable Car to get back up to Downtown. When I arrived at the turnaround there was some kind of problem and there was a guy literally underneath it fixing something. Eventually they go things moving again, and I got to see the turnaround crew get the cable car ready for the return trip:
The ride back up to Downtown was well worth the $5, but I have to be honest I would not recommend the Cable Cars as one’s main mode of public transport if you visit SF - they are just so much more expensive than MUNI and / or BART, and they are always in high demand because of the tourist trade.
Here are a couple more pictures from my Cable Car Ride:
Once I had arrived back in Downtown I was pretty tired, still having not properly recovered from the journey in from Canada, so I headed down into the BART station at Powell and made my way back to Kendal and Steve’s place in The Mission.
So, there I was, sitting in Carlos’s on Mission and 24th… While I was waiting fro Kendal I had a Corona and was made to feel very welcome by the people in there - they even offered to let me change the music having worked out that I was more likely to be a Rock fan the guy who was watching the door let me know that the jukebox was an internet one and there would be Metal on it
So anyway, Kendal showed up, we did the hellos thing and then we celebrated with a really good shot of tequilla, and just had a chat about Canada, her day and that kind of thing. It was cool to discover that we get on in real life too, and it is a fun thing to meet the people that you only previously knew from the internet. We headed on back to her and Steve’s appartment, and after eating my first real American Burrito (a Super Shrimp Burrito no less) we all crashed.
Tuesday morning I was still all screwed up with my body clock, which actually worked out well because it meant that I was able to go out for a walk with Kendal and Rudy, and so it came to pass that I was brought to Phils Coffee on 24th. Now this is serious people, you need to know that though I would strongly recommend that anyone who is planning to visit SF should make the time to go to Phil’s there is a hidden danger. If you drink the coffee from there you will be ruined for coffee from elsewhere, and I do mean everywhere! Tip: If you think it is worth the risk, have the Turkish (with cream and sugar, even if you don’t normally), or the Arabian black.
So, once Kendal and Steve were away to work I headed out into San Francisco to begin exploring. I took the BART to Powell and then on my first day in the City I managed to go straight through one of the areas that Kendal had advised me to avoid - I walked down 5th all the way to the CalTrain. Now I’ve heard that it would have been worse if I had walked down 6th instead, but even so I have to admit that while I was walking it I did not feel threatened, but when I thought back later to some of the things I saw and so forth I did realise that it might have been a good thing that I didn’t have the camera out at that point. So at the CalTrain I crossed to 4th and from there I walked all the way down to South Beach. I stopped for lunch opposite Pier40 at an Italian owned café, which was really cool - I finally experienced an American sandwich, which is truly an expience - I mean as I expected it was more than enough food to last me until supper time. From there I walked down South Beach, under the Bay Bridge and all the way along past the Port Authority to Pier39. The Bay-front in San Francisco is really pretty and interesting, all the piers on one side and parks on the other, and this is a city wil really cool and intersting civic sculpture, like this amazing sculpture of a bow and arrow:
When I arrived at Pier39 I was bushwhacked, so instead of heading straight on in I sat under a huge tree in this gorgeous little park and just stared and stared at another sculpture called “Sky Gate” (I have a picture, but I have not processed it yet), and enjoyed watching the world go by. Pier39 and Fishermans’ Wharf is basically San Francisco’s biggest tourist trap, so there was every kind of person from every culture milling around, pointing at things, and so forth, but there were also local people walking their dogs and business folk taking their lunchbreaks - it all made for a cool slice of life view.
I wandered onto Pier39 mostly with the intention of going to see the Sea Lions. The Californian Sea Lion is an amazing creature, and Pier39 has a protected, safe ‘drag out’ for them, so you can spend a long time watching them laze about in the sun, going for swims and having little fights with one another. I was really pleased that I had carried my longest lens and my doubler, because without it I would never have managed to take a single picture of them that I was pleased with, let alone this one:
(I have others, but I think that this is the best)
By this time I was starting to get really tired, so I recouperated in Bugga Gump by having an Anchor Steam (local beer that you can buy at home, but only bottled), and that was a good way to relax
So, after all of that, rather than burn out on day one, I headed back to the Mission and Kendal and Steve’s place to partake of ‘The Holy Day’, otherwise known as ‘Taco Tuesday’. We had a cool evening, hanging out, eating fantastic Carne Assada tacos, as made by Steve and enjoying some Scotch, which is more than slightly appropriate with Kendal’s Vox persona being ‘Miss Scotch’.
With both of them working and me still beign on East Coast time we called it a night pretty early, but what a great first day; I certainly had no complaints whatsoever.
…for your support since I announced the show for my 365 Portraits Project - I am dead chuffed!
I think it only fair to “come clean” and point out that I am self-funding and self-organising before anyone gets too carried away with their congratulations - it’s not like I’ve been “spotted” even on a local level, but even so I am very pleased to be able to take the project to its hoped-for conclusion.
If __anyone__ thinks that they might be in a position to offer to do some daytime shifts sitting in the space during the week that the show is on (I already have one volunteer), then please let me know. I should be able to organise crash space for anyone who is prepared to do this, either with me or with decent, pleasant (non-student) folk in Reading, along with me covering their (reasonable) expenses and my ETERNAL gratitude.
More details as and when they become available and of course details about the invitations for the Private View as well.
T’ra for now…!
There will be an exhibition of my 365 Portraits project from 11th September to the 17th September in The Turbine House exhibition space in Reading Town Museum’s extension property Blake’s Lock Museum.
There will be a Private View (by invitation only) on the 12th of September from 1930h - Invitations will follow.
…it looks like I may be having my exhibition for my 365 Portraits project in September this year.
Clearly if it generates any interest at all I will tour it around a little, but just to begin with I want to see it up on the walls somewhere. I’m not going to say any more right now; I don’t want to jinx it, but hopefully I will have more to tell you in the near future - keep your fingers crossed!
Yesterday evening I went to Whitstable on my way home. I had initially hoped to be able to catch up with my friend Sally, but even though she was not around I was really pleased to be in Whitstable - it’s one of my peaceful places - and so I took my camera and wandered about around the beach and harbour. Eventually I decided to wait for the sunset and it was while I was, that I met Steve and Jim. They are a couple of guys, friends, who try to see the sunset as often as they can, and they were both filled with admiration for the variety and uniqueness that they find in it. It was just really cool to meet these two strangers, local to this place that I love and often dream about living in and to learn that they have this real fascination with the view of ‘their’ sunset. Thanks for the chat and the wine guys, it was really great to meet you and talk with you.
Here is the sunset, over The Isle of Sheppey, as seen from Whitstable, Kent today.
( Cut to make entry worksafe, but it's just a bloke with his top off, so YMMV... )
The full set (on Flickr) can be reached by clicking through, but is definitely not Work Safe - it's not gratuitous either, so don't be scared... ;-)
( Cut as advised NSFW )
I love his work, and am going to be attending, but thought that others might be interested...
Check here for more examples of his work, and here for his LiveJournal, which is (mostly) public. (Neither his website or his LJ are Safe For Work - I am assuming as there is no __actual__ nudity in the flyer above that it is safe for work, apologies if it is not ..:: EDIT ::.. Clearly I am wrong about that, it has been put behind a cut.)
Check it out!
Of course someone has already commented on Flickr that they aren't Honey Badgers at all, but are in fact Coatis, so I don't know how long it'll be before they get removed...
My picture and credit has been removed. If anyone has an unrefreshed version of the page up on their machine and can screenshot it for me I would really appreciate it, mine's gone...
I was in real need of time off and time away when this week started and I can say with some authority that I have completely fulfilled that need. I am looking forward to coming home and putting in the home strait towards Christmas and the end of the year - it was looking at a calendar while I have been out here that brought how little of 2005 is left home to me.
In the spirit of getting on with stuff, although not too much as I am on my parents' dial-up, here is the first of the pictures from this week that I want to share with people - I have a lot of post-procesing to do on the rest as the quality of light this week could be my only slight grumble with the trip:
See you all back in the UK, or as soon as possible for those not there but elsewhere,
I was photographing a couple of bands on Wednesday night (see journal passim) and one of the bands has asked me if they can use the pictures. I am very happy to let them have 'licence' to use them, but I want to stipulate that I retain the rights to the pictures.
Is there a 'licence' I can issue them under that will cover me in this way?
Thanks for help in advance...
I have not had time to do any quality control, tweaking or anything like that - here are the pictures that weren't obviously out of focus or hideously over/under exposed:
I will set aside some time at the weekend to actually do some quality control and editing, but I wanted to give the band I met (The Alps) and the guys who I got a few pictures of before them (The Lost Revue) a chance to see the pictures in case they wanted any of them...