30 January 2011

From Irwin Shaw’s 'The Girls in Their Summer Dresses'

 "Untitled (Legs of Woman Walking Across Manhole Cover, New York City, 1939)"
Photo by Rudy Burckhardt

From Irwin Shaw’s The Girls in Their Summer Dresses:
“I like the girls in the offices. Neat, with their eyeglasses, smart, chipper, knowing what everything is about, taking care of themselves all the time.”

He kept his eye on the people going slowly past outside the window. “I like the girls on Forty-fourth Street at lunchtime, the actresses, all dressed up on nothing a week, talking to the good-looking boys, wearing themselves out being young and vivacious outside Sardi’s, waiting for producers to look at them. I like the salesgirls in Macy’s, paying attention to you first because you’re a man, leaving lady customers waiting, flirting with you over socks and books and phonograph needles. I got all this stuff accumulated in me because I’ve been thinking about it for ten years and now you’ve asked for it and here it is.”

“Go ahead,” Frances said.

“When I think of New York City, I think of all the girls, the Jewish girls, the Italian girls, the Irish, Polack, Chinese, German, Negro, Spanish, Russian girls, all on parade in the city. I don’t know whether it’s something special with me or whether every man in the city walks around with the same feeling inside him, but I feel as though I’m at a picnic in this city. I like to sit near the women in the theaters, the famous beauties who’ve taken six hours to get ready and look it. And the young girls at the football games, with the red cheeks, and when the warm weather comes, the girls in their summer dresses . . . ” He finished his drink. “That’s the story. You asked for it, remember. I can’t help but look at them. I can’t help but want them.”

“You want them, ” Frances repeated without expression. “You said that.”

“Right,” Michael said, being cruel now and not caring, because she had made him expose himself. “You brought this subject up for discussion, we will discuss it fully.”

Frances finished her drink and swallowed two or three times extra. "You say you love me?”

“I love you, but I also want them. Okay.”

“I’m pretty, too,” Frances said. “As pretty as any of them.”

“You’re beautiful,” Michael said, meaning it.

“I’m good for you,” Frances said, pleading. “I’ve made a good wife, a good housekeeper, a good friend. I’d do any damn thing for you.”

“I know,” Michael said. He put his hand out and grasped hers.

“You’d like to be free to ... ” Frances said.

25 January 2011

Russian prison documentary: Mark of Cain

Mark of Cain is the documentary that provided some of the background for Eastern Promises, about the culture and meanings of prison tattoos in Russia.

As David Cronenburg said, it's amazing that it was made at all.

24 January 2011


"Manuscripts don't burn."

Mikhail Bulgakov

image of the original manuscript for The Master and Margarita via

17 January 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ali

General Gowon of Nigeria: I used to do some boxing.
Muhammad Ali: What did you box? Apples or oranges?

07 January 2011

Cool hand

Dragline: “Stay down. You’re beat.”   

Luke:  ”You’re gonna have to kill me…”

06 January 2011

This comes via West Virginia University by way of Timothy Archibald.

He has few additions for commercial photographers:

The Bonneville Salt Flats
Delta Blues Musicians
Burning Man
Ruins Of Detroit
Surfers At Sunset
Anything On A Flatbed Scanner

In the comments, though, he goes on to say that, well, rules are meant to be broken, and a good photographer can take any subject and make it new. Still, given the unending flow of photos and the increasing poverty of images, it's probably wise to dodge a cliché. 

(And so much for shooting squirrels nibbling flowers in the graveyard next to this homeless dude through the rear view mirror of my car. Damn.)

05 January 2011

Hell's Angels Ladies

Photo by Bill Ray

"I don't know if God exists . . ."

I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't.
– Jules Renard (1864-1910)