Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Highway 10.

                                                                                                                        Highway 10, west. Texas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Maternity Files - Day 7

37 weeks.

And so ends a week of maternity shots with this, a one year wedding anniversary portrait. Our baby is due any time over the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime, normal, more varied blog service will resume.

Somewhat impressively, I think, I avoided using the title 'From Here To Maternity' all week long.  I really wanted to - I have lapses in taste like that occasionally. Still, I held strong.

As a reminder, if you're in the market for maternity/baby portraits, I'm available.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Maternity Files: Day 4

22 weeks. 

This one's a re-post, for those keeping score at home.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Maternity Files: Day 3

7.5 months.

This was actually a test shot for a nude image. I'm not posting the nude here, but I think this works quite nicely anyway...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Maternity Files: Day 1

Sometime over the next 2-3 weeks, I expect to become a father for the first time. Naturally, I've recorded developments i.e. my wife's growing belly, over the past few months. Doing so has led to me being asked to shoot some domestic portraits - of children, mothers-to-be, etc - something I expect I might explore with increasing frequency over the next few months. Well, a man has to clothe his kid somehow, right?

Over the next few days, I'll share a few maternity images - notably of my lovely, though notoriously camera-shy wife. The image above was shot at approximately 5 - 6 months of her pregnancy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What I'm Reading: George, Being George.

Over the course of a couple of days last week I read George, Being George, an oral history of George Plimpton - writer, long-time editor of The Paris Review, bon vivant. Biographies are partly responsible for where I've ended up - which is to say, in Los Angeles, and New York, and for now, in Austin. I say this because for me, biographies (of writers, artists, film stars, musicians, athletes) have served as inspiration, and at times, as a reminder of the possibility - indeed the necessity, of living 'a life less ordinary.' I don't mean to imply that the life I've led, or lead now, is extraordinary, the stuff of world renown - though on certain days I can imagine the book my story might contain. Indeed, the life I live at the moment is quieter, and in many ways, more 'ordinary' - outwardly, anyway - than at any time since I was a youth, growing up in Manchester.  But reading a book like this reminds one of the possibilities of life, of the importance of cultivating valuable friendships, and of surrounding oneself with people of great vitality. Few people live a life that is forever vibrant, filled with charm (you could make a good case that George Plimpton came pretty close to doing so), but there's something to be said for a story that reminds you to take your chance at doing so, makes it seem like it might even be possible, if only for an afternoon or two.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Re-make, Re-model

Blue Zen. 

ZenobiaTaylor. Re-work of a photograph taken earlier this year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This American Life 2

                                                        'Special Collector's Issue' - more from the news stand. Austin Tx.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This American Life

                                                                                                                   Magazine stand, Austin, TX

Monday, June 13, 2011

What I'm Reading: A Visit From The Goon Squad

It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year. It appeared on the New York Times 10 Best Books 2010 list. In The Morning News Tournament of Books, it saw off Franzen's  Freedom in the final. My friend Thomas Yagoda is listed in the acknowledgments for his helpful counseling and described it to me as 'a damn good book.' My wife liked it a lot, and told me I would too. I've heard nary a bad word about it.

Why then, did this book just not do it for me?

I'd read an earlier book by Egan, Look At Me, and was left with a similar feeling after finishing that: essentially, '' With that book I felt I had to have missed something. With this one, I'm less convinced that's the case. The much discussed PowerPoint chapter in Goon Squad is clever, yes. The last chapter, set in the near future is ok enough - it offers a chapter's worth of ideas on communication, similar to those Gary Shteyngart covered more fully in his novel Super Sad True Love Story (which, incidentally, was my least favourite book of his; pattern emerging?). But really - this is considered a benchmark novel today? There's barely a surprising sentence - or character, for that matter - in the entire book. The prose is clean and efficient, but in no way remarkable. The timeline leaps back and forth, and for a book that is largely set in or around the music industry, I felt the music references, as they relate to the timeline, were very unconvincing.

As I've said, this book was compared to Freedom in various book discussions and forums. For what it's worth, I come down on the side of Freedom, since it's a far more ambitious book. A better comparison, though, would be Colum McCann's Let The Great World Spin. McCann's is a vastly superior book - poetic, deeply moving, full of voices and stories we haven't heard before...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hotel Havana

San Antonio, Texas, has precious little to recommend it. I've visited a couple of times now, and it's like The Land That Time Forgot. Astonishingly, it's the seventh most heavily populated city in the US, ahead of both Dallas and San Francisco, for example. There are many fine buildings downtown, yet the place is soul-less. It's a place that's ripe for reclamation - maybe someone should give Liz Lambert a few million dollars and put her in charge of things.

Last year, Lambert renovated the Hotel Havana, next to the Fire Department building downtown, and having visited last weekend, I'd have to say that once again, she's created a thing of beauty - a place with oodles of character and charm.

 Hotel Havana follows on the heels of Hotel San Jose (Austin) and St Cecilia (also in's named for the patron saint of music and poetry. More upscale than her other ventures, this one is the hide-out of choice for traveling musicians - wealthy ones). Once again here, she's created a place of elegance, style, and most significantly, individuality.
She also renovated a hotel in Marfa, six hours outside of Austin in the middle of nowhere. She's since sold that place (Thunderbird Hotel), and opened a hip airstream trailer park there instead (El Cosmico).

 Austin, of course, is close to nowhere you'd particularly want to visit. Marfa has an element of charm, but it's a small, artsy town that's not only six hours away, but pretty much closed Sunday through Thursday. I've often wished there were somewhere closer to retreat for a weekend - somewhere to read, write, replenish. Hotel Havana has the exact feel you might wish for...a place to shut the world out, stay inside, have breakfast in bed, work, think, and at night, sip on a Manhattan in the bar buried deep in the basement. A place for a lost - or a found - weekend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Paul Scholes: Artist (no longer) at Work.

                                                                                                                                Photo © SkySports

It's been a tough week to be a Manchester United fan - first a loss in the Champions League Final to a magnificent Barcelona team, and then Paul Scholes calls time on his career. Unquestionably, the team will take longer to recover from the latter than the former.

I don't typically indulge myself in football commentary on here, but Scholes is a special case. No player of the past twenty-five years has given me more pleasure. Furthermore, Scholes is almost unique in contemporary sports in his attitude towards his work. Here is an athlete who ignored personal accolades, actively disdained media attention, indeed, one who never even had an agent, choosing instead to negotiate his own contracts. There is a Paul Scholes t-shirt that you can buy in Manchester that accurately conveys his philosophy: 'Get up. Go to work. Play the game. Get Showered. Go Home.'

Unlike, say, David Beckham, Scholes's idea of a public appearance is sitting in the stands of his local, low-tier club Oldham Athletic, watching the game with his kids - anonymously, if possible.  Invariably, having won a 'Man of the Match' award on TV, he would send a team-mate to accept the award and conduct the mandatory post-game interview - 'He's already in his car, on his way home,'  Rio Ferdinand said on one occasion.

Scholes was born in Salford, not far from United's Old Trafford stadium. By any stretch, he's a working class hero. Still, for all the rare contrary delights of his nature, it is the artistry of his football which brought such joy. He scored 150 goals for United, at least a couple of which are widely considered amongst the best four or five goals of the Premier League era. But beyond the goals, he possessed extraordinary vision on a football field, allied to a glorious ability to pass the ball. Scholes has consistently made passes during a game that brought more joy and wonder than the goals that may ultimately have earned a victory. Xavi and Iniesta who play similar positions in the all-conquering Barcelona team, both rate him as their closest peer. At 36 though, Scholes is calling it quits, bowing out before time conquers his game.  He made his announcement simply, through the club, without the fanfare of a press conference: 'I'm not a man of many words, but I can honestly say that playing football is all I've ever wanted to do.'

How it showed. Scholes always let his football do the talking. In doing so, he spoke beautifully.

Technical brilliance - vs Aston Villa

Winning goal vs Barcelona, Champions League semi-final 2008