Sunday, April 29, 2012


Gee, it's scary to think about photo shoots that go awry, that just don't have any juice. Maybe it's especially scary in adult media which is supposed to be about passion and lack of inhibition. 

What if a model has a bad day? What if the photographer has a bad day? What if they both have a bad day at the same time?

I'm guessing that's what happened here (above). The shoot wasn't working out so the photographer decided to make a joke out of it. 

Fortunately this model had a knack for comedy.

The horrible truth is that not every model is photogenic. This girl (above) probably got the job because she looks good in real life, but the truth is that she doesn't photograph. The camera doesn't love her. What do you do when you get a subject like that? Do photographers have a Plan B that enables them to save the shoot?

It's a strange but true fact that some women with good bodies (above) just aren't that interesting when naked, at least not in pictures. Here's (above) a girl taking her clothes off and there's no emotional impact. It's just information.

Apparently nudity is a state of mind. In order to read as naked a model has to feel naked. She has to project a feeling of vulnerability or of being in a special state where ordinary rules don't apply.

Or maybe I'm wrong. This girl (above) seems vulnerable enough, but the nakedness only barely reads. Why is that?

 The use of flat lighting and awkward composition seems deliberate. I wish I knew the story behind this.

Once again, the same model (above). Now this is a really scary picture. This girl's good looking, but she's completely devoid of sex appeal. That's unusual. Almost every human being and even some department store mannequins exude some degree of sexuality. Whatever subtle cues make up that quality are completely missing here. I can only imagine the panic the photographer felt when he realized that he had a rogue model on his hands.

I suppose the poor guy continued to shoot anyway, in the hope that some unusual truth
would come out of it. It does sometimes. Women like Veronica Lake can be sexy even when they're cold but, really, how often does that happen?

My guess is that lots of otherwise unsuccessful shoots were saved by alcohol, which has the ability to reset emotions in some people.

It's risky, though. 

Sometimes weird pictures (above) can save a shoot. Actually, this shoot didn't need saving. The model succeeds in being sexy in an odd way.

Well, that's it. So far as I can tell, the human body is still the most popular subject in the visual arts.

My apology to the model I called sexless, if it turns out that I was wrong. Sometimes the camera adds or subtracts in unpredictable ways.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


DINING ROOM TABLE: Fortunately there are lots of good tables on the market, including vintage hardwood tables. If I were buying something new I might look for a thick, heavy, square (with extender), natural wood surface with a clear, not very shiny varnish...something like the one above, if it had legs. I'd change the lamp, though.

For dining room chairs...I can never decide what I like, so I'd have lots of different kinds of wooden chairs at the same table: a Western sheriff chair, a Van Gogh's Bedroom chair, a New England spinster chair, etc. 
LIVING ROOM CHAIRS: Danish Modern, of course. Mike has a couple of these and they look great.  You can get cheap ones made out of fabric and pine, or expensive ones made out of leather and hardwood. I like the cheap ones best because you can abuse them without feeling guilty about it, then replace them in a few years with something new and different.

I think Urban Outfitters is still selling this Danish Modern sofa for $200 on sale. That's a good price, even if it turns out to be a little flimsy. 'Better get your order in fast.

Urban outfitters also sells this Danish rocking chair (above). It's hard to find rocking chairs that rock the way they should. I'd want to try this out before buying it.

Of course, if you're going to have Danish Modern furniture, it would help to have a house like this (above).

Or this (above).

BEDSPREADS AND SHEETS: A nice dark quilt or Indian blanket or Guatemalan spread goes well with modern rooms. In the winter I like a down comforter. The sheets should be of good quality, ironed, and be super white. Good sheets are expensive, so be prepared to lay down some serious dough.

WALL DECORATION:  I'd put up framed art of all kinds and cartoons of course, but also pictures of space. I like the lure of the unknown, and I find it comforting to know that, while the rest of the universe is freezing and barren, that I'm on a warm, verdant some ways a paradise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I admit that I've been influenced by this photo of photographer Julius Shulman's work place (above). It's an interesting play of horizontals and verticals with the horizontals dominating. Like Shulman, I love to work on big, flat surfaces with a secondary desk behind me. 

Coming off my recollection of Shulman's space, you can see where I would have been appalled by this (above) corner workspace in a bedroom. Even so, that was stupid of me. This guy had a fraction of the space and budget that Shulman had to work with.

I should have been more sympathetic. After all, there are no books on the subject of how to convert half a small bedroom into a workspace. When designers do write about the subject they design for architecturally sophisticated spaces (above) that aren't really all that small, and which require expensive renovation. You have to ask, if the designer can afford all that, why isn't he living in a house with bigger rooms?

Anyway, in the coming months I'll try to put up what I think are acceptable solutions to this design problem. I have one idea that you can use right away. You have a small room? You like Shulman's wide desk area? Well then copy it and sleep in a sleeping bag or futon under the desk. I mean it. Your desk is where you'll come up with the ideas that'll start your career. Isn't that worth a little inconvenience? 

BTW: On a different subject, I think I'll write up a few of the shelf ideas that are on my mind. Let me know if you disagree.


Never, ever buy tall, stand alone bookshelves (or tall furniture like the all-in-one desk that started the post). 
You don't want to emphasize verticals in a room, you want to emphasize horizontals. Horizontals imply stability, and make you feel tall. Because they can relate to other horizontals in the room, they can imply movement and dynamic sweep. Verticals on the other hand, make you feel small, and their lines run out of gas as soon as they hit the ceiling. 

If you must buy a tall bookshelf, don't get stuck with an awkward, empty-looking one like the one above. Be sure to buy an extra shelf plank or two. 

Come to think of it, buy more tall bookshelves and bunch them all next to each other. That turns them into a horizontal shape, and that's fine. 

LESSON #2: Do buy low bookshelves, but avoid funky designs like the one above.

For a narrow two tier bookshelf get something simple and elegant like the shelf above. If need be, you can put bracket bookshelves above it.


Block and plank shelves are great, but only if they're low, long, have thick beautiful wooden planks, and minimally obtrusive concrete other words, the exact opposite of the one pictured above. The one above seems to exist to show off the 'lovely" concrete blocks, rather than the books.

The bottom shelf should sit no more than three inches above the floor.


I love bracket shelves (above). They're light and airy-looking, like a Caulder mobile that you can put books on. When you remove the shelves they'll leave an impression on the wall, requiring paint and Spackle That's okay, they're worth the trouble. They also need to be firmly anchored to studs behind the wall, otherwise they'll only be able to hold light books.

Avoid the heavy look of the shelves above. I like the beatnik/Caulder variety of bracket shelf: black brackets and natural wood with only one coat of clear varnish, so the grain shows through. They're best when they're long and continuous, almost from wall to wall.

LESSON #5: Artsy shelves are fine, if you have room for them.

They're pricey, though. This (above) is the famous Memphis bookshelf from the 80s. It's a favorite of Auralynn's.

Jo Jo: My apology for my overly harsh crit of your tall bookshelf the other day!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Here's a creepy thought. It came from a dream I had when I was in Texas a few weeks ago. It's just a fantasy, but it takes on an eerie plausibility when you look at the graphics I've marshaled here. I'll discuss these pictures in a minute, but first...the dream.

I'll start with a question: what if humans were immortal? I don't mean some time in the future, as in science fiction, or in the afterlife or in reincarnation...I mean physically immortal right now. What if, unbeknown to us, we've always been immortal ever since we first walked the earth? What if none of us dies a natural death. What if we have to be killed, otherwise our cells would continue to divide indefinitely? What if every human who has ever lived was........murdered?

It's a scary thought. It implies a murderer, someone who thins the flock. Those could be  devils or space aliens. It could be a race of Morlocks, as in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine. It could be quasi-supernatural thugs who enjoy killing for its own sake, and who have a vulture-like ability to detect physical and mental weakness. My dream was about the latter.

I dreamed that I was in a parking lot, looking for my car when I noticed a couple of thugs heading my way. I was the target, no doubt about it, and there was no doubt the thugs had a murderous intent: it was broad daylight and the lot was full of shoppers, but the men savagely pushed them aside as if they were rag dolls. I ran into a nearby supermarket and the thugs ran after me. Inside they tore up the market in order to get at me. I managed to stay one step ahead, but I was getting tired and the thugs seemed to have infinite energy. At that point I woke up.

Lying in the dark with my eyes open and my heart pounding, my half-conscious mind filled in the rest of the story. After I escaped, the joking thugs walked out of the market, confident that they would get me in the next encounter. Previously frightened patrons took on blank expressions then dutifully tidied up the market. After that they went about their business, completely unaware that anything scary had just happened. They had total amnesia about it.

 I remember thinking, "So that's what death is like." In front of witnesses you're violently killed by thugs who then arrange the corpse so it appears that you died a natural death. The witnesses clean up then, with no memory of the killing, resume their normal lives...until some time in the future when their turn comes. Scary, huh?

Okay, it was just a nightmare, something we all get now and then....but as I was assembling the pictures for this post I began to notice that most of them seemed to confirm the premise of my dream. Almost all of them had a common theme: that death comes not to the fatally sick, but rather to ordinary, healthy people who are minding their own business. It's as if there was a consensus of artists and sculptors of the past that death was murder, something that's done to you with malevolent intent. Look at the pictures. Do you see what I mean?

Friday, April 20, 2012



AURALYNN: "Hi Eddie!"

EDDIE (VO): Auralynn! Hi! Hey, you're not gonna take a swing at me again, are ya'?"

AURALYNN: "Oh, I was just kidding when I did that. I didn't hurt you did I?"

EDDIE (VO): No, no, I'm fine. Hey, can I interest you in a burger? It's grilled to perfection and comes with tomato, onions and leafy lettuce. A tasty flavor treat...whaddaya say?"

AURALYNN (VO): No thanks. I'm not, er...into Carl's burgers."

AURALYNN: "Say, what are those pictures on the wall?"

EDDIE (VO): "I dunno. 'Just restaurant art."

AURALYNN (VO): "Wait a minute. Those are pictures of Santorini, one of the Greek islands! That town is beautiful. Oh, I'd give anything to go there."

EDDIE (VO): "Yeeeeeah....but look at that hill. What if you walked all the way down to the bottom then realized you left your wallet in your room?"

AURALYNN: "Well, you'd have to climb back up again. You 'gotta make some sacrifices if you want to live in a beautiful place."

EDDIE (VO): "Yeah, but...yikes! Those stairs look dangerous. What if you fell?"

AURALYNN: "Dangerous? Hmmm...hey, Eddie...what if someone was murdered there?"

EDDIE (VO): "Murdered?? You've gotta be kidding."

AURALYNN (VO): "No, look at the pictures. Cliffs and precipices everywhere. If an evil person wanted you dead...well, all it would take is a push."

EDDIE (VO): "Naaaaaaaw! Evil people don't go to places like Santorini."

AURALYNN: "Sure they do. They must. Here, I'll look it up on the internet."

EDDIE (VO): "And while you do that, I'll do justice to the rest of this delicious burger."

AURALYNN: "Okay, here it is. August 4, 2008: a chef in one of those fancy island restaurants went berserk and beheaded his girlfriend. When the police came up he threw the dripping, bloody head into their car, hijacked it, and ran over two doctors while he was trying to make his getaway."

AURALYNN: "What are you doing? Are you throwing that burger away? Why? I thought you were hungry!"

EDDIE (VO): "(Gulp!) I don't feel so good..."