Friday, March 31, 2006

samurai photographer's hit parade

Being a darkroom warrior can be a lonely pursuit, but then again, isn't being lonely sort of a requirement to being an "artist"? I'm not entirely sure. In any case, when I settle in for a long day in the safelights and fixer fumes, I make sure I have plenty of rock around. These records are too good not to share with y'all:

STNNNG are from Minneapolis, and their most recent record is called Dignified Sissy. When I listen to this I feel like jumping around like a little kid in a bouncy castle, making "rock faces" and silly stuff like that. I hear bits of The Fall, PIL, Bastro, Captain Beefheart, and US Maple - but even if you have no idea who some (or all) of those bands are, you should check them out. Especially if you live in NYC, because I really, REALLY want them to play here and I am too cheap to go to Minneapolis to see them. Maybe they could do a double bill with...

Sicbay, who are also from Minneapolis. What is it with Mpls lately? Is it 1985 again? I don't think I can fit into those clothes any longer...I digress. Sicbay remind me a lot of Dazzling Killmen, a band I loved dearly. Not surprising, since main Sicbay guy is Nick Sakes, who was in the Killmen. Kinda angular, very tight. Suspicious Icons is their newest, I think.

Shallow is the name of the Pissed Jeans record, and I dunno much about them except that they RAWK.

The Gris Gris have two amazing and interesting records out, both of which get frequent play in the darkroom. They're playing NYC April 14th and 15th, but I think that's Passover. Whenever I choose Rock over a Jewish holiday, bad things happen, so I might not be able to witness the spectacle firsthand.

There's a lot of monkey/chimp/simian bands out there, but my favorite of late is Part Chimp from the UK. I have Chart Pimp and I Am Come and they sound at times like the Melvins playing My Bloody Valentine covers. Which is pretty much Samurai Photog's Dream Come True. They just played NYC but I missed them, dammit.

I listen to non-heavy stuff too, but it's harder to do the hair-whip to.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

samurai photographer fights germs, they fight each other.

originally uploaded by samuraiphotog.
I have been fighting with the Sinus Infection That Wouldn't Die for the past couple of weeks, and on Friday I finally went to the doctor to see if he could help me kill it once and for all since my usual methods of destruction (like decongestants, long steamy showers, and saline washes) had failed.

My doctor is great, because he knows I try to avoid prescription drugs, especially antibiotics, unless they are really necessary. So he was pretty apologetic about having me start on the one antibiotic (that I know of) that works for me.

Since I take them so rarely, I am always surprised that they work so quickly. On Saturday, after I showered, I was clear enough to go and shoot the Big Apple Grapple.

I first shot arm wrestling last year, and I'm still learning the best way to go about it. Since I knew who some of the participants were, I had a small idea of what to look for in the competition. I shot a lot, but didn't get exactly what I wanted, so I will have to keep going back until I do.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I've been trying to finish some tracks all day, in between waiting for the electrician (or someone like him) - who never showed up by the way - and throwing out some junk.

I've been trying to finish but I am stuck.

All the usual things are not working, so I think maybe I have to watch some John Woo flicks to get my head in order. Either that, or Spinal Tap.

Monday, March 13, 2006

samurai photographer can't smell.

People who know me well know that I cannot smell anything. It's not psychosomatic, it's not the result of dental work (or lack thereof), and it's not because of a cold. It's an actual medical condition that has been studied at length.

It's something that I have lived with all my life, and I think I've dealt with it pretty well, considering. Of course there have been a few times where it's been a problem - like the time I poured spoiled milk into my iced coffee and proceeded to guzzle it down, while my co-workers watched, saucer-eyed. Or the handful of gas-related "incidents" that resulted in singed hair, passing out, or both.

When I purchase personal grooming items, such as bath stuff from Lush, I always ask the salespeople to tell me how things smell, because I can't. I use deodorant religiously because I would never know if I had BO. I live in fear that my blazers smell of stale smoke after I wear them to a party.

There's the upside as well. My chosen profession requires me to be around noxious chemistry, and not being able to smell it means I can spend more time in the darkroom without feeling sick like some people do (though I do wear a respirator for the really toxic stuff like selenium.) My pal Steve, who lives in Chicago, remarked to me once as we walked by a stand crammed with day-old fish in Chinatown, that "New York smells like piss, even in the winter. You're lucky you can't smell it!" Then there's my enjoyment of smelly foods like durian, natto, and any number of dishes that taste excellent but probably have some kind of prohibitive aroma. It's these reasons that make it almost worth it to have this disability.

When someone learns that I cannot smell anything, they are usually incredulous. "C'mon," they say. "You can't smell ANYTHING?" Occasionally they will ask me to prove it by sticking their armpit in my face or somesuch. I just roll with it, because I think it's kinda funny.

Then there are the times when it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, like today. If you are from New York, or have spent any time here, you can relate:

My usual subway stop is a terminus. There's always car cleaners and MTA workers milling around. Presumably part of their job is to rouse sleeping homeless people from the trains, but I have never seen it happen myself. In any case, I got on the train and noticed, at the other end, a woman who I have seen on the train before but presume to be homeless, due to the large amount of bags she carries and her general appearance. I realize this makes me a lookist, but so be it.

Since she is at the complete opposite end of the car as me, I pay her no mind and sit down in "my seat" (I like to sit on the bench seats across from the conductor cabin) and listen to my iPod.

As the train makes stops, I notice people getting in the car and then at the next stop leave the train. This is normal with above-ground stations, so I am not really paying attention. As the train gets closer to Queensboro Plaza, I begin to notice that people aren't actually leaving the train, merely switching cars. The haste in which they switch - through the end doors, I might add, so these people are violating the new MTA rules - leads me to believe that they are escaping something foul.

Which leads me to wonder if you could get a transit cop to sypmathize with you in this situation. Is a really disgusting smell an emergency situation?

Since I can't smell this foulness for myself, I am still not sure. So when the train pulls into Queensboro Plaza and a crowd of people get on, I figure if it is really opressive, they will get right off. However, about a dozen people sit down in various places, so I think: it can't possibly be that bad.

As the train goes into the tunnel, as if someone has set off a bomb (hardy har har) a stream of people run for the door closest to me and switch cars. Several of them look at me, as if to say


I am in a bind. Is my calm presence in my corner seat luring these innocent people with working olfactory systems to their doom? Should I follow the crowd and go into the next car? Will my clothes be permeated by this odor, causing the salespeople at B&H to deny me service? I JUST DON'T KNOW. What should I do? What could I do? Stay or go? Sit and pretend nothing is wrong, or pretend I can actually smell this and go with the crowd? Conform? Or remain fiercely independent?

I debate this for at least three stops, and by the time I decide to stick it out because it is 49th street and I am getting out at 34th, I glance to my right and notice that the lady who has caused all this ruckus is gone.

Apparently, she has left something behind. It isn't one of her bags.

People in the car are talking to one another, noses covered by hands and scarves, trying to figure out what to do. If I had shut off my music I might have been able to hear them, but it was more amusing to not hear it - mostly because if I heard what they were actually saying I might be grossed out, and as of that moment I was in a blissfully ignorant state that only being sensorily-deprived can bring. I am positive that sentence is grammatically incorrect, but I left my AP stylebook at my last day job.

A couple standing across from me start talking very loudly, and since it is between songs I can hear them. They speak English with a European accent (perhaps German, I wasn't sure) and the woman, who is situated by the emergency brake, suggests she pull it because "I think this is an emergency."

It is this comment that causes me to break by little ignorance bubble. In the sternest, angriest, "that bitch is crazy" voice I can muster, I say

"Do not, under any circumstances, pull that brake. If you stop this train we will ALL be trapped in this car FOR 45 MINUTES and I think that is exactly where YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE TRAPPED RIGHT NOW."

My powers of persuasion must have worked, because they got off at 42nd street, along with practically everyone else in the car.

When I got out at 34th, I made sure to walk extra slow, and upon surfacing I purposely walked against the wind to try to blow the smell out of my clothes.

I think I am going to take an extra-long bath tonight, just in case.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

samurai photographer rocks out.

I haven't bought new CD's in what seems like forever, so I knew going into Other Music last night was going to be tough. There's so much new stuff out that I want, and usually picking up one disc leads to three, then six...

As if by magic, I went immediately to the "heavy" section (OK not by magic at all, but by sheer desire for the new Boris album, PINK) and was confronted with the expensive import version of same. Since I couldn't live without it another day, I bought it. I'm sure it's going to come out on their US label, Southern Lord, any day now. What I am not sure of is if it will have the neato Pantone-esque swatches of Boris Pink inside.

A cursory glance at the front display revealed that the first This Heat re-reissue is out, so I picked that up too. This Heat are one of those bands who I am unsure as to how/when I was first exposed to, but am completely grateful to whoever did the deed. You can learn more about Gareth Williams, one of the members of This Heat, here.

Then I hit the used section, but since it was almost 5 and I had to go to work at 6, I shuffled through it really quickly, passing over the Lou Reed solo albums (not the good ones, either) and some other stuff that didn't move me. In the 'F' section, however, was a bunch of Fall reissues from 2004 - I am still not sure if those are the "new" reissues or the old ones, but since there was a copy of SLATES, I grabbed it (since my vinyl copy of it has gone AWOL.) One day I will write, in disgusting detail, how much I love The Fall, but not today. I should have grabbed A PART OF AMERICA THEREIN or looked for HEX ENDUCTION HOUR, but having three CD's in my hand already, I decided to wait for the next payday. If all those records are still there in the used bin it means that I was meant to have them.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

samurai photographer. so achey.

I've spent the past three days helping to install the ICP/Bard MFA program's Thesis show, and I am in more pain than even I could have imagined. It takes a lot for me to complain vocally, but I did plenty of it to various people. I even took a bath last night to stave off some of the really bad stuff, so it might have been worse. The bath also made all my bruises rise to the surface, so my legs are almost Dalmatian-like with purple blotches.

The thing is, I didn't even do as much of the heavy duty physical labor as some other people did. I think what really killed me was kneeling on the floor hiding cables for the video installations. I anticipate having a very difficult time getting out of bed in the morning.

I am completely psyched, however, to experiment with the Toyo 4X5 field camera I am borrowing this weekend. I have a fridge full of Polaroid just waiting to be used. Now to find some willing subjects...