$2 haircuts at Pitchfork 2008

Photo: Jim Newberry

No, you idiot, that wasn’t Bonnie Prince Billy at the Pitchfork Festival in Chicago yesterday. As far as I know Mr. Billy has yet to receive his cosmetology license, and I’m sure he would charge a lot more than $2 to introduce the business end of his scissors to the sweaty heads of Sebadoh fans.

I don’t know who that maniacal barber is, but he sure was fun to watch.

UPDATE: Thanks to eagle-eyed, highly informed readers (see comments), I now know that the barber in question is Tim Harrington, singer of Les Savvy Fav, who apparently also was generously administering massages at the festival. Major dude!

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Partying like it’s 1993: follow up

OK, one more ’90s post and then back to the 21st century. A lot of you are probably wondering how I could write about Chicago music in 1993 without mentioning Mantis. For the love of god I have no idea how this seminal alternative band eluded me. Anyhow, they reunited for a scorching set at Ronny’s last Thursday. Mantis and Pavement both started their careers with singles on the Drag City label. Where’s Pavement in 2008? Nowhere. Mantis wins.

In Chicago we’re partying like it’s 1993

Chicago music fans: remember the early nineties, when music industry douches decided Wicker Park was “one of the more buzz-oriented cities,” and Billboard magazine published a map of the neighborhood on their cover, dubbing it “Cutting Edge’s New Capital?” When Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville and Urge Overkill’s Saturation were released? When Sub Pop put out Red Red Meat’s second album, Jimmywine Majestic? In a 1994 NYT article on the indie rock “alternative” rock mecca that was said to be Wicker Park, Red Red Meat’s Tim Rutili succinctly put things in perspective:

“Everybody is worried about Wicker Park being made out to be some kind of Disneyland, when it’s just a dumb neighborhood with a lot of bad artists.”

Mr. Rutili said: “This is not Paris in the 20’s. It’s really not.”

I can’t remember, did Steve Albini have an opinion on any of this?

Anyhow, for you young kids that missed 1993 the first time, it’s back! You had your chance to see Phair perform the entire Exile album live in Chicago last week; this Thursday Red Red Meat is reuniting (!!) at The Hideout; and Saturday, Urge Overkill has a gig at the Bottom Lounge.

In this post I reminisced about the first concert I shot–a Sly Stone show. My first record cover was UO’s Lineman single, their first release on Touch and Go.

Urge Overkill Lineman single

Here’s a snapshot of a chrome I shot of Red Red Meat in 1996.

Red Red Meat

Here’s a publicity shot I took of Ms. Phair, made while she was recording Whitechocolatespaceegg:

Liz Phair

I sure miss the Busy Bee!

Architectural Lighting: color grid

For the April/May 2008 issue of Architectural Lighting magazine, I had fun shooting at the Chicago offices of Schuler Shook, designers of really cool performance and architectural lighting. In the lighting lab at Schuler Shook, I shot a color changing light fixture they were testing. The lab shots didn’t make it into the article (they used other shots I took), so I thought I’d arrange them into a grid and post it here:

Color changing light fixture at Schuler Shook, Chicago

Holiday snaps: Memphis, TN

Pictures from my recent trip to Memphis, TN:

Clouds shot from the car on the way to Memphis.
My friends Bob Mehr and Derek Erdman like hanging out with me because I’m funny and entertaining.
Painter at Odessa
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Aiding and abetting a marriage proposal

What role did my storefront windows have in the engagement of Elizabeth Peirce and Lance Marshall? Funny you’d ask that. Lance and Elizabeth live in my neighborhood, where they often take walks–their route going right past my studio storefront, where they’ve been known to stop and look at the photographs I have displayed there. So Lance asked me to photograph him with wedding ring and proposal note, and I hung a large print of it in the storefront window, along with the other photographs that are normally there.

On Tuesday, June 3rd, they took a walk, stopped at the window, and Elizabeth said yes. Congrats dudes!

Here’s the proposal photograph:

Man proposing to woman. Photo by Jim Newberry.
Lance proposes

And here is Lance with his fiancée, Elizabeth:

Photo by Jim Newberry.
Elizabeth Peirce and Lance Marshall in front of Jim Newberry’s photography studio

12 photographers + single woman = “love me love me love me”

Ana Gagliardi is single and had a brilliant idea for an art show. She asked 12 photographers to “interpret” her and uploaded the portraits to her Match.com profile, as well as exhibit the prints at Gallery 101 in Chicago. The show will be up until mid-July; the gallery is by appointment only. You can reach Gallery 101 at 312-624-8291. My portrait is below; it’s called “Expectations.”

Before date/after date

Photographers: terrorists?

A good read from The Guardian:

Since 9/11, there has been an increasing war on photography. Photographers have been harrassed, questioned, detained, arrested or worse, and declared to be unwelcome. We’ve been repeatedly told to watch out for photographers, especially suspicious ones. Clearly any terrorist is going to first photograph his target, so vigilance is required.

Except that it’s nonsense. The 9/11 terrorists didn’t photograph anything. Nor did the London transport bombers, the Madrid subway bombers, or the liquid bombers arrested in 2006. Timothy McVeigh didn’t photograph the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The Unabomber didn’t photograph anything; neither did shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Photographs aren’t being found amongst the papers of Palestinian suicide bombers. The IRA wasn’t known for its photography. Even those manufactured terrorist plots that the US government likes to talk about — the Ft. Dix terrorists, the JFK airport bombers, the Miami 7, the Lackawanna 6 — no photography.

Given that real terrorists, and even wannabe terrorists, don’t seem to photograph anything, why is it such pervasive conventional wisdom that terrorists photograph their targets? Why are our fears so great that we have no choice but to be suspicious of any photographer?

Because it’s a movie-plot threat.

I’ve definitely experienced this paranoia; since 9/11 I’ve been told not to take photos numerous times, in situations that wouldn’t have been an issue before. The thing is, if you wanted to take pictures for dastardly purposes, it would be quite easy to do it surreptitiously–why would you walk around with a big ol’ SLR when you could use a hidden video camera, or use your camera phone while you pretend to text someone. I can understand that people feel jumpy and there are very real threats out there, but freaking out about someone photographing a building just seems silly.

And another thing. Once at a Whole Foods store I spied a swell looking stack of oranges that I decided to take a snapshot of with my little point and shoot. Mere seconds elapsed before a staff member told me I couldn’t take photos in the store. In this case, I’m guessing the fear is not of terrorism, but probably more a corporate competitive issue. It seems that all chains have that policy.