Saturday, July 28, 2007

Balthrop Alabama CD Release


Balthrop Alabama had a CD Release party, and they asked me to take photos.
You can listen to them on myspace here,
and it’s possible you may still be able to get their album for free if you sign up for their mailing list.
Damn good deal for a double album. If you can’t get it for free, it’s worth the 10 bucks, I bought two copies.

Check it out.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 7:50 am  

Friday, July 27, 2007


posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 3:18 pm  

Thursday, July 26, 2007


these are the gray days, the depths
soft dim light
over mattresses without sheets
the slow realization that the plate of plain spaghetti
has dropped to the floor
shattered, broken
the mass of pale noodles reaching out
like some poor medusas wig
lazily stretching downward
picking up a stray zuchinni
and slowly chewing

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 12:54 pm  

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I think I’m suffering from sensory overload. I’m not finding any image, moving or still, aesthetically pleasing, and words swirl and blur on pages.

I really want to go for a quiet camping trip for a couple days. I wish I owned a tent and had a way to get into some obscure wilderness.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 12:30 pm  

Monday, July 23, 2007

Nightmare


I just had a nightmare where I kept trying to take this picture and people kept walking through my shot, or the model would move at the last second, or someone would bump my camera out of focus, or someone would move one of the items in the picture and I knew it was a perfect picture but I never managed to take it. And the whole time someone was yelling at me to hurry up, and getting on my case that I was taking so long for just one picture when other people shot tons of pictures and picked out the best ones later, and I eventually cracked and yelled back at them that I knew what I was fucking doing and if they just cooperated then I’d actually be able to get the shot and they’d see, but everyone just looked at me like I was crazy and I never got the shot, and I woke up feeling extremely frustrated.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 12:23 am  

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Death of Reading


Harry Potter and the Death of Reading

By Ron Charles
Sunday, July 15, 2007; B01

It happened on a dark night, somewhere in the middle of Book IV. For three years, I had dutifully read the “Harry Potter” series to my daughter, my voice growing raspy with the effort, page after page. But lately, whole paragraphs of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” had started to slip by without my hearing a word. I’d snap back to attention and realize the action had moved from Harry’s room to Hagrid’s house, and I had no idea what was happening.

And that’s when my daughter broke the spell: “Do we have to keep reading this?”

O, the shame of it: a 10-year-old girl and a book critic who had had enough of “Harry Potter.” We were both a little sad, but also a little relieved. Although we’d had some good times at Hogwarts, deep down we weren’t wild about Harry, and the freedom of finally confessing this secret to each other made us feel like co-conspirators.

Along with changing diapers and supervising geometry homework, reading “Harry Potter” was one of those chores of parenthood that I was happy to do — and then happy to stop. But all around me, I see adults reading J.K. Rowling‘s books to themselves: perfectly intelligent, mature people, poring over”Harry Potter” with nary a child in sight. Waterstone’s, a British book chain, predicts that the seventh and (supposedly) final volume, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” may be read by more adults than children. Rowling’s U.K. publisher has even been releasing “adult editions.” That has an alarmingly illicit sound to it, but don’t worry. They’re the same books dressed up with more sophisticated dust jackets — Cap’n Crunch in a Gucci bag.

I’d like to think that this is a romantic return to youth, but it looks like a bad case of cultural infantilism. And when we’re not horning in on our kids’ favorite books, most of us aren’treading anything at all. More than half the adults in this country won’t pick up a novel this year, according to the National Endowment for the Arts. Not one. And the rate of decline has almost tripled in the past decade.

That statistic startles me, even though I hear it again and again. Whenever I confess to people who work for a living that I’m a book critic, I inevitably get the same response: “Imagine being able to sit around all day just reading novels!” Then they turn to each other and shake their heads, amazed that anything so effete should pass for a profession. (I can see it in their eyes: the little tufted pillow, the box of bonbons nearby.) “I don’t read fiction,” they say, suddenly serious. “I have so little time nowadays that when I read, I like to learn something.” But before I can suggest what one might learn from reading a good novel, they pop the question about The Boy Who Lived: “How do you like’Harry Potter’?”

Of course, it’s not really a question anymore,is it? In the current state of Potter mania, it’s an invitation to recite the loyalty oath. And you’d better answer correctly. Start carrying on like Moaning Myrtle about the repetitive plots, the static characters, the pedestrian prose, the wit-free tone, the derivative themes, and you’ll wish you had your invisibility cloak handy. Besides,from anyone who hasn’t sold the 325 million copies that Rowling has,such complaints smack of Bertie Bott’s beans, sour-grapes flavor.

Shouldn’t we just enjoy the $4 billion party? Millions of adults and children are reading! We keep hearing that “Harry Potter” is the gateway drug that’s luring a reluctant populace back into bookstores and libraries. Even teenage boys — Wii-addicted, MySpace-enslaved boys! — are reading again, and if that’s not magic, what is?

Unfortunately, the evidence doesn’t encourage much optimism. Data from the NEA point to a dramatic and accelerating decline in the number of young people reading fiction. Despite their enthusiasm for books in grade school, by high school, most kids are not reading for pleasure at all. My friends who teach English tell me that summaries and critical commentary are now so readily available on the Internet that more and more students are coming to class having read about the books they’re studying without having read the books.

And when their parents do pick up a novel, it’s often one that leaves a lot to be desired. True, Oprah Winfrey can turn serious works of fiction such as Jeffrey Eugenides’s “Middlesex” or Cormac McCarthy‘s “The Road” into megasellers. But among the top 20 best-selling books on Amazon.com this week, only six are novels — and that includes the upcoming seventh volume of He Who Must Not Be Outsold, James Patterson‘s “The Quickie,” the 13th volume of Janet Evanovich‘s comic mystery series and a vampire love saga.

How could the ever-expanding popularity of Harry Potter take place during such an unprecedented decline in the number of Americans reading fiction?

Perhaps submerging the world in an orgy of marketing hysteria doesn’t encourage the kind of contemplation, independence and solitude that real engagement with books demands — and rewards. Consider that, with the release of each new volume, Rowling’s readers have been driven not only into greater fits of enthusiasm but into more precise synchronization with one another. Through a marvel of modern publishing, advertising and distribution, millions of people will receive or buy “The Deathly Hallows” on a single day. There’s something thrilling about that sort of unity, except that it has almost nothing to do with the unique pleasures of reading a novel: that increasingly rare opportunity to step out of sync with the world, to experience something intimate and private, the sense that you and an author are conspiring for a few hours to experience a place by yourselves –without a movie version or a set of action figures. Through no fault of Rowling’s, Potter mania nonetheless trains children and adults to expect the roar of the coliseum, a mass-media experience that no other novel can possibly provide.

The schools often don’t help, either.As I look back on my dozen years of teaching English, I wish I’d spent less time dragging my students through the classics and more time showing them how to strike out on their own and track down new books they might enjoy. Without some sense of where to look and how to look,is it any wonder that most people who want to read fiction glom onto a few bestsellers that everybody’s talking about?

In “The Long Tail,” Wired editor Chris Andersonsuggested that new methods of distribution would shatter the grip of blockbusters. Niche markets would evolve and thrive as never before,creating a long, vital line of products from small producers who never could have profited in the past. It’s a cheering notion, but alas, the big head still pretty much overrules the long tail. Like the basilisk that terrorized students at Hogwarts in Book II, “Harry Potter” and a few other much-hyped books devour everyone’s attention, leaving most readers paralyzed in praise, apparently incapable of reading much else.

According to a study by Alan Sorensen at Stanford University,”In 1994, over 70 percent of total fiction sales were accounted for by a mere five authors.” There’s not much reason to think that things have changed. As Albert Greco of the Institute for Publishing Research puts it: “People who read fiction want to read hits written by known authors who are there year after year.”

So we’re experiencing the literary equivalent of a loss of biodiversity. All those people carrying around an 800-page novel looks like a great thing for American literacy, but it’s as ominous as a Forbidden Forest with only one species of tree. Since Harry Potter first Apparated into our lives a decade ago, the number of stand-alone book sections in major metropolitan newspapers has decreased by half — silencing critical voices that once helped a wide variety of authors around the country get noticed.

The vast majority of adults who tell me they love”Harry Potter” never move on to Susanna Clarke’s enchanting “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,” with its haunting exploration of history and sexual longing, or Philip Pullman‘s “His Dark Materials,” a dazzling fantasy series that explores philosophical themes (including a scathing assault on organized religion) that make Rowling’s little world of good vs. evil look, well,childish. And what about the dozens of other brilliant fantasy authors who could take them places that little Harry never dreamed of? Or the wider world of Muggle literary fiction beyond?

According to Amazon, the best-selling book of 2006 was “Cesar’s Way: The Natural,Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems,” by Cesar Millan. My favorite was “The Law of Dreams,” a first novel by a56-year-old writer named Peter Behrens. It’s the story of an orphaned boy who doesn’t know why he survived the evil force that killed his parents — and left him scarred. Set during the Irish potato famine of1847, it’s not a fantasy, and it’s not for children, but there are plenty of monsters here, and Behrens writes in a style that’s pure magic. As of this writing, it has sold 8,367 copies in the United States. It’s enough to make a book critic snap his broom in two.

charlesr@washpost.com

Ron Charles is a senior editor of The Post’s Book World section.

Comments + Discussion on the washington post website.

Ian’s Comments: I saw someone say something on a forum along the lines of enjoying both Godzilla and Kurosawa, but knowing the difference between the two. I don’t think the problem is the potter books themselves, but the action figure, movie, game, etc tie ins… etc, making it sort of another thing to collect and consume instead of something one might want to contemplate. I understand it makes it more appealing to children, but it doesn’t strike me as something that improves our culture, necessarily. Something to think on. It’s true that less people seem to think of a book as a good way to challenge yourself, in a philosophical sense even. A great book can completely change your view of the world, not just entertain.

I see many people say that the primary goal of writing is to tell a good story, so the potter books must be good. I don’t think I agree. There is so much more to the written word than just story telling. I’ve read several sentence kafka parables that could hardly be called stories that affected me deeply. What of poetry? Experimental writing? Adventure is wonderful, but it’s not the only thing out there.

My only real hope is that those young adults who enjoy Harry Potter will move on to such books as Jonathan Strange or The Golden Compass, or even lighthearted yet surprisingly deep authors like Pratchett, and from there to more and more challenging reads, instead of moving on to books like Eragon or whatever next fantasy blockbuster movie comes out. A book may be both enjoyable and enlightening. It is possible. Also, I’m sure the title of the article is not meant to be taken.. well, literally. People can get up in arms, but remember, really good writing is not supposed to be taken at face value at all times. It’s meant to provoke thought and perhaps discussion, unless it’s escapism or propaganda.

Keep reading,
love
ian

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 9:04 am  

Friday, July 20, 2007


Breathe, Ian.

When I went through the airport on the way to israel, I was pulled aside. Random checking, I was told. They took all my stuff, took it all out of the bags and checked everything. My guess is they ripped open my rolleicord without knowing what it was, because it seemed to not close quite right after that. I just put it down to being paranoid or something, and went on using it like normal, since I’d never had any problems with it.

Well, about 80% of my film seems to have some sort of lightleak on it. I’m guessing it’s the camera, since I can’t figure out what else it could be. I asked the president of the ASMP chapter yesterday and he guessed the same. I don’t see how it could be processing.

It’s just such a weird shape though. Usually light leaks look more like this . This one seems almost too mechanical to be made by a simple crack in the camera.

I’m not sure how the leak could zigzag like that. If they had put the film through X-Rays (I told them they couldn’t), it would be an overall fogging, I think. If you have any ideas of how it could have happened specifically, let me know. Looking through the camera, I can’t find where the leak would be at all. I just can’t figure out how it could happen any other way, unless someone shined like, a focused lightpen on them during processing or something, which is totally weird.

It’s going to take me a long time to see what I can salvage out of these. They’re still fine as memories and snapshots, I guess, but I’m upset that I’ve lost the ability to use a few of them as something more than that, unless I can squeeze acceptable images out of photoshop.

Edit: well, they didn’t damage the camera (or just damage it) they x-rayed all my film. G’damn.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 7:36 am  

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Got film back yesterday and picked up some archival supplies at adorama. I’ll probably start scanning tomorrow.

Here are some behind the scenes shots from a shoot with Eli Schmidt, that he was doing for a magazine.

In these, Johnnie is doing a model’s hair.

Oh, I almost forgot, I’m in an art show in chelsea. Drop by and say hi!

About the Show
Location: GalleryFCB
16 West 23rd Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10016
Dates: Thursday, July 19th 2007
Hours: 6pm-9pm
URL: galleryfcb.com

ps. Facial hair is weird, I had a dream that I was a were-porcupine.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 7:10 pm  

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I just dropped off the 50 rolls of film I shot in israel, yesterday. I’ll be picking up the developed rolls today.
I couldn’t afford to get contact sheets, prints, or scans from them, which is fine because I can scan it myself
and make contact sheets when I get back to SCAD, for about 60 bucks instead of another 600 dollars.
They actually gave me a deal, taking 50 bucks off because I brought so many rolls. It only cost me around 200 bucks to develop them all.
Considering the trip was free and I only spent about 200 bucks there,
under 500 dollars for a 10 day trip to israel including film
really is pretty damn good.

I’ve dropped the 500 or so digital shots onto my computer,
but it’s going to take a while before I’m done processing and sorting those as well.
That’s fine though, I’ve got about a week or so of pre-israel stuff that I haven’t posted yet.

Instead of trying to type up one whole trip summery,
I’ll just be posting descriptions and anecdotes along with the pictures from israel.
Not sure how many I’ll be posting in each day, probably each day of the trip will take me several days to post,
seeing as we’d be at 4 or 5 places every day. It was insane.

Today I’m going to share some quick snaps of my dad and mom from father’s day weekend.
My parents divorced when I was 10 or so, and are totally crazy.
But I love them anyway, in that strange family sort of way.

I’m not really kind to them with my camera, I’ve always been sort of rough on them.
They really do look good for people over 50, keep in mind I’m sort of mean with my lens.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 11:54 pm  

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


a dry heat

light through a red curtain
evening
Jerusalem

I’m back.


exposed

hope left on a strip of paper from a 120 film roll
in the western wall

peace art love

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 3:43 am  

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