Thursday, March 22, 2007

samurai photographer is afflicted

a show of hands
a show of hands,
originally uploaded by samuraiphotog.
Every couple of months something really bizarre happens to my fingertips. I think it's got something to do with the photo chemicals I handle all the time, or maybe something else. Whatever causes it, the results are always kinda gross: the skin on my fingertips dries up and peels.

Even intense moisturization doesn't stave off this condition, and it pisses me off.

Today it got to the point where I couldn't grip anything because the skin on my fingers was so messed up.

Whenever this happens to me, I always feel like people are staring at my hands. It goes away in a few days, but for the week or so it takes for it to run its course, I just want to wear gloves all the time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

samurai photographer's discovery

Last month, while having dinner at Sammy's Roumanian with my friend Robski and his partner in crime Maureen, we started talking about architectural preservation in our respective cities (they live in Chicago.) Of course, Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the examples, as well as Louis Sullivan.

As far as I know, there is only one Louis Sullivan building here in NYC, the Bayard-Condict building on Bleecker Street. I admitted, almost shamefully, that I knew very little about him.

Maureen, who's really into this sort of stuff, started telling me excitedly about
Richard Nickel, and how he set out to photograph all the Sullivan buildings at a time when the city of Chicago was demolishing them to make way for "progress" and newer, shinier office buildings. I was intrigued. As if this wasn't enough, Rob told me, he actually died as a result of his preservation efforts - crushed to death when a section of the old Chicago Stock Exchange collapsed on him. Nickel was a preservationist when there were no preservationists. An oddball. I was fascinated.

Today I got a package in the mail from Rob and Maureen, and it was a copy of the fantastic book Richard Nickel's Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City. I stopped everything I was doing and sat down to read the preface. I looked at some of the photographs and was blown away. I had to know more about this guy. A quick look on Amazon told me there was another book, this one more of a biography. So I set out to find it.

St. Mark's Bookshop didn't have it (they usually have everything!) but offered to special-order it for me. I decided to try my luck at the Strand but I had to remind myself not to go wandering around looking for yet another copy of this. There was a copy in the store, and I set out to find it. Half an hour and $15 later it was mine. Now it's sitting next to me on the floor, and as soon as The Simpsons is over I'm going to tear into it.

I'm also going to try to track down this PBS doc about him.