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Digital Outback:

We conducted our first interview with John Sexton. John is a highly regarded master B&W photographer and printer. Bettina and I had the chance to meet John and his wife Anne in his Carmel Valley studio. We add some of John’s pictures to present the interview in the context of John’s masterful images. Of course these small JPEG images don’t do the real prints justice. But at least you get an idea how the real prints may look.

Here.

The Onion:

BURBANK, CA—Despite having announced plans to retire as host of The Tonight Show in 2008, Jay Leno admitted yesterday that he was “having serious doubts” about leaving the TV show after coming across a recent news item in which a Georgia woman doused her philandering husband’s groin in kerosene and set it aflame. The veteran comedian said the incident would provide a wealth of material for “many, many years to come.” “Boy, talk about keeping your marriage exciting,” said Leno, who claimed he had already assigned 19 of his top writers to the story.

Here.

Wallspankers:

ISSUE THREE STICKER CONTRIBUTIONS:
9.10do, 37 Cents, Air, Alex Robbie, Alexandro Farto, Amy Rice, Blessness, Bloodlet, Capish, Collette Elson, Danny Glix, Deadvolt, Debbie Hill, Demitri Nezis, Dolla Lama, Downtimer, Dres13, Emecuatro, Fabrice D, Fost, Hero, Jamaisvu, Jessica Monster, Jontando, Junichi Tsuneoka, Jurne, Justin G, Lala, Lisenbart, Lococateters, Logan Shirah, Lopez, Michael Metallo, Mike Walshe, Lerk, Angel D’amico, Brandy Flower, 57Even, Andrew Cook, Brian Butler, Chuck Trunks, Destroy All Media, Elider Elizondo, Ipxls, Matt Buden, Mista Breakfast, Munk One, MWM Graphics, Randy Laybourne, Rockabilly, Zoso, Monster Little, Mr. Bluespoon, Mr. Luke, Mr. Snub, Naste, Nevarestin, Nomad, Nuse, Odhill, One Trick Pony, Past, Paul Galaxy, Paulo Arraiano, Pedro Lourenco, Peel, Phlegm, Reone, Ryan North, Stephanie Toppin, Sticky, Street Carp, The Sound Of Drowning, Vhs, WUT Crew, Zerohapi, Ziqi.

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NYT:

Martin Amis’s new novel, “House of Meetings,” tackles the same sobering material his 2002 nonfiction book “Koba the Dread” did: Stalin’s slave labor camps and the atrocities committed by the government during the failed “Soviet experiment.” The novel is everything that misguided earlier book was not. Whereas “Koba” weirdly mixed chilling, secondhand historical accounts of Stalin’s crimes with self-indulgent asides about Mr. Amis’s upper-middle-class life in England, “House of Meetings” is a powerful, unrelenting and deeply affecting performance: a bullet train of a novel that barrels deep into the heart of darkness that was the Soviet gulag and takes the reader along on an unnerving journey into one of history’s most harrowing chapters

Here.

Gamespot:

In addition to all the tracks from the PlayStation 2 version of Guitar Hero II, GHII for the Xbox 360 will include 10 new songs not seen in the PS2 game. While we don’t know the full list yet, Red Octane has announced five of the new songs that will be in the game:

Pearl Jam — “Life Wasted”
Rick Derringer — “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo”
My Chemical Romance — “Dead!”
Deep Purple — “Hush”
Alice Cooper — “Billion Dollar Baby”

Here.

SportsShooter:

Erik Lunsford’s illustrative portraits are next in a series of SportsShooter.com features called “Trade Secrets.”

The Daunte Culpepper image, “The Office”, was produced through a combination of extensive Photoshop manipulation and physical destructive techniques. After printing, the image was subjected to being run over with a car, getting stomped on with very dirty shoes, and having mud ground into the surface. For the finishing touches, a variety of paper clips, plastic knives, box cutters, and cheese graters were used to give the print that distressed ‘feel’ before scanning it to produce the final product. It was quite humorous watching the newspaper security guards in the employee lot stare in confusion as I drove forward and reverse repeatedly to create the imprint texture.

Here.

Wooster Collective:

We’ve been a fan of Amnesty International’s street campaigns for years. This one, about freedom of speech in Belorussia, was done by Saatchi & Saatchi Poland.

Here.

Photo essay by Paolo Pellegrin, Magnum Photos:

In Afghanistan opium fuels everything from the culture, the politics, the economy and the resurgent Taliban fighters. Paolo Pellegrin went to the remote southern provinces where the war on drugs, alongside that with the insurgency is raging. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) is working in Afghanistan alongside the Afghan National Interdiction Unit, carrying out raids in remote villages. Links are being made between the resurgence of the Taliban and the drug industry, as both have nothing to gain from the area being controlled by central government. With the large amounts of money to be made from trafficking opium, criminality and corruption are rife, programmes set up to wean farmers off of producing the poppies neglected to track down the networks doing the trafficking, an unclear policy towards totally freeing areas from the duel influence of poppy growing and the Taliban shows itself through the presence of the D.E.A and it’s frustration not to be carrying out the two monthly missions that was their objective on arriving, through lack of military support.

Here.

WFMU’s Beware the Blog:

You  may recall, last year that the amazing site Greylodge ran a Andy Kaufman Collection that many of Greylodge’s readers wrote in to say was one of their favorite  collections that we’ve run. What better way to start out a new year than to top their previous hit? They proudly present, the Gpod 2007- Tony…er…Andy Redux Collection. Containing over 8 and 1/2 gigabytes of chewy Kaufman rarities, with contributions from the private collections of newest GPod contributor, obsolete and long time contributor Joseph Matheny. The …er…Redux Collection (as it’s come to be known) showcases such works as:

All Appearances by AK on Friday’s
Vol. 1, 2 AND 4 of the Rare Andy Kaufman  Collections. (Vol. 3 is still rumored to exist…will we release it? Wait and see.)
I’m From Hollywood (expanded)
Andy Plays Carnegie Hall (expanded, direct from Andy’s own copy!)
Andy’s Funhouse
AK Bio from A & E
Rodney Dangerfield’s “I Can’t Take It No More” special, with AK of course!
The ultra-rare Johnny Cash Xmas Special, with AK as a featured performer and all-around pest.
Stormy Justice with Judge Tony Clifton
The Tony Clifton Movie
Stick Around (pre-Taxi Pilot that never aired) plus outakes
The Kaufman Files- Vol 1 & 2

Download the Torrent Files Here.

John Nack on Adobe:

Photoshop engineer Geoff Scott spotted a beautiful black & white image from photographer Moose Peterson, made with the help of Photoshop CS3.  (Too bad the online version isn’t larger.)   Moose writes, “I’ve always loved B&W photography but until recent developments such at the Epson 3800 and 7800 and B&W conversion in Photoshop, B&W was downright painful. With amazing paper like Epson’s UltraSmooth Fine Art and the ease of B&W conversion in CS3, why wouldn’t someone enjoy the amazing old art of B&W photography.”

For more info, check out Russell Brown’s 4-minute video intro to the Black & White dialog, where he shows off the ability to click and drag on color regions to adjust them, as well as a technique for hand-tinting the results.  Russell produced some great B&W presets for Camera Raw in CS2, so I’m sure he’ll offer more good info, tips, and settings for the much-improved B&W controls in CS3’s Camera Raw 4.0.  I had fun using the new split toning functions, together with Photoshop’s venerable Lighting Effects dialog, to show my wife contemplating a “Portrait of the Governor as a Young Man” on New Year’s Eve. (It was a weird party. ;-))

Here.

BoingBoing:

When I heard the This American Life episode about the weird documentary called The Beaver Trilogy, which played at Sundance in 2001, I immediately tried to get it on Netflix or Amazon. I was sorely vexed to learn that the film was not available for any price.

Today, Gord emailed me to let me know “some kind soul has recently posted the Beaver Trilogy in several YouTube snippets. From the kid to Sean Penn to Crispin Glover (before they were *name* guys).”

Here.

Thrasher:

To commemorate our 25th Anniversary we are going to post a new mag from 1981 each month.

Here.

A Photo a Day:

We, here at aphotoaday, would like to kick off 2007 by showing your some of our favorite photos from last year.

Here.

Wooster Collective:

For the second year in a row, Dan Witz has an annual New Year’s prank. Over the last few days he’s installed a series of real gloves around his neighborhood in Brooklyn. He’s calling the project “The Third Man” (after the movie).

Here.

Daily Herald:

2006 Staff Photos from Jeremy Harmon, Ashley Franscell, Mario Ruiz, and a flock of interns.

Here.

LA Times:

GUL slowed for a speed bump, and instead of accelerating when a militiaman jumped up with an AK-47, he stopped. Gul opened the driver’s window, apparently weighing the comparative risks of getting shot and getting kidnapped. The gunman stuck his head in, saw me in the back seat and smiled like a dog sniffing fresh meat.

“Get us out of here!” I shouted at Gul, and he hesitated. “Get moving!”

Gul hit the gas. The barrel of the gunman’s rifle clunked off the rear side of the car. Not daring to look back, I tensed for the shot that didn’t come.

Here.

NYT:

Eventually the media tired of Andrew Martinez. And so did Berkeley: in the fall of 1992, the school instituted a dress code mandating that students wear clothing in public. Martinez quickly ran afoul of the rule, and after he showed up naked for a disciplinary hearing, he was expelled.

Martinez stuck around the city, hanging out in People’s Park and strolling along Telegraph Avenue, but he wasn’t the same Naked Guy as before. Friends noticed that something was amiss: Martinez had become angry — angry about his expulsion, angry that the media had moved on to other stories, angry that no rich nudist had come forward to bankroll the lawsuit he wanted to file against the university. He started to talk of sinister forces, like the C.I.A., that he claimed were trying to thwart him. He felt ostracized. “I merely need to take off a four-ounce piece of cotton and reveal something that I have, everyone knows I have, half of the population has as well, to change from an average 20-year-old guy to a sex-offending criminal,” he wrote in a book manuscript that was never published.

He began to wander Berkeley pushing a shopping cart filled with rocks. He’d place the rocks at major intersections, trying to disrupt traffic, and he’d make piles of them all over the city so that, as he explained to his girlfriend at the time, “people would have weapons for when the revolution comes.” He seemed to seek out confrontations with the police, once luring them to the co-op where he lived and pelting them with compost. He was arrested on multiple occasions.

Here.

Independent:

Foer wades in at the deep end with a visit to Belgrade’s top- scoring Red Star, a team nurtured by Serbia’s equally top war criminal Arkan, who took his well-armed footballers down the Drina Valley in 1992 on an orgy of killing, plunder and mass rape. Arkan drove a pink Cadillac and sported a football wife – the gorgeous retro singer Ceca – whom he married in full Serb uniform. Red Star’s pre-war match against the Croatian Partizans – beloved of its fascist president Franjo Tudjman who had adorned the team he once led with wartime Ustashe icons – ended in a pitched battle.

It was Margaret Thatcher who famously described football hooligans as “a disgrace to civilised society” – the very words we later used about the murderers of Serbia. In Glasgow, Protestant supporters of Rangers would sit in separate stands – “We’re up to our knees in Fenian blood,” they would roar in unison – from fans of the Catholic Celtic football club.

Here.

Filming of The Kite Runner, NYT:

In addition to keen eyes Ms. Dowd needed extraordinary patience. She spoke, for example, of having to drink 45 cups of tea with the director of one French-run school in Kabul before the director trusted her enough to let her tour his 25 classrooms. He then granted her all of three mornings to complete her search.

On her ninth classroom, running out of tricks, she asked the students who was the naughtiest kid in class. “There was one child who stood out as the most extroverted, but right next to him there was another boy who was quiet, but who was responding to the scene,” said Ms. Dowd, speaking of an 11-year-old named Kekiria Ebrahimi. “There was a special little moment of energy from him, and it stayed with me. He ended up playing Amir.”

A precociously witty 10-year-old, Ahmad Khan Mahmiidzada, plays the role of Hassan, the servant boy who is betrayed by his best friend, Amir. The boys did not know each other before being brought to western China for the filming, but off camera they became close. And while there is no confusing reality and fiction for either, at a fundamental level the story in which they are acting rubs against the grain of their friendship and seems to trouble them.

Here.

Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War

Tiger Force, Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss,
[rating:5/5]

This is a harrowing book. Especially reading it now, looking back on Vietnam with an eye on Iraq. Tiger Force was an elite group of US special forces working in free-fire zones in Central Vietnam. Some of these units were investigated (though never charged) with war crimes against Vietnamese civilians. All the stories you’ve heard of GI’s collecting necklaces of ears, elderly farmers beaten down with rifle butts, and even baby-killing are all here in graphic detail. And while I couldn’t put the book down, it left me feeling ill. The descriptions make you feel like you’re there, sweating with the soldiers in the Song Ve valley:

It wasn’t long before the team leader began complaining about the Song Ve. The platoon should be hunting VC, and instead they were stuck looking for villagers…The blisters on their feet were starting to break into open sores, and the men were constantly complaining of the overwhelming smell of manure blowing from the rice patties, where the villagers used animal and human waste to fertilize the fields. Two of the newcomers had carelessly pulled leeches from their legs earlier in the day, leaving wounds so deep the medics were worried about infections setting in.

Private Gary Kornatowski was already hobbling from the cuts in his shins left by the nasty green creatures. When he took off his boots earlier in the day, he had noticed his legs were covered and had quickly begun pulling off the leaches with his hands. The whole country was a collection of vampires, large and small.

The book covers the unit’s apparent devolution into barbarity as they lose comrades and realize that their task is impossible:

There were no real rules and regulations anymore. Half the unit had grown long, scraggly beards and had cut the sleeves off their uniforms. Kerrigan, Ybarra, and several others were openly wearing necklaces of ears, and others were carrying severed ears in pouches. Whenever the smell of rotting flesh was too strong, Ybarra would toss away his current necklace and make a new one from ears he carried in a ration bag filled with vinegar.

Most of the men had lost a great deal of weight, their faces gaunt, ribs protruding when they peeled off their shirts. At least a dozen were hooked on amphetamines and constantly pestered the medics for daily allowances.

The last third of the book leaves the jungle and covers an Army CID investigation in the atrocities. Though it seems obvious that their commanders had to know what was happening, and at least two soldiers admitted to murdering civilians, no charges were ever filed:

Charles Fulton was even more revealing, because he not only admitted to tossing grenades into a bunker but later heard the cries of the people underground. No one, he said, bothered to help the wounded Vietnamese. He freely admitted there were no weapons or signs of Vietcong.

Aspey wondered, Could this have been a routine practice? It violated the Army’s policies and procedures and the Geneva conventions. Worse, because there were so many bunkers, no one would ever know how many in the province were turned into mass underground graves.

He wondered with a growing sense of dread how far up the chain of command this case went.

Tiger Force, Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss,
[rating:5/5]

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