Saturday, December 31, 2005

Out with the old.....

So many things to let go of this year.... I haven't feel this much sadness since the high point of the a.i.d.s. crisis when I was losing 10-15 friends a year. While far fewer the losses this year were bigger and I can tell, I have not let go of some of these feelings. Well I need to let go tonight... To my friend Montrice... till I see you again on the other side, Ill try to remember and live with some of the class you so exemplified in your life... Until then.

So many things to embrace this year.... While I did not change my career I did get a new job after 20+ years working for Ford Motor Company. My new job in the travel industry could not be further away from what I did for so long. What I was able to learn in this year is that what I have learned over all these years I could use in any scenario. My value proposition in the work place is limited only by my own imagination.

I don't know where Im going this year but I feel new beginnings all around me and that is good to feel on New Years Eve.

Tonight's image has always been special to me. Again taken at the Detroit Train Station, on the loading - unloading docks. Large slabs of concrete which make up the roof over head, with large gaps in the center of each section of track. This is where the water could drain and the exhaust of the steam or coal driven trains could vent. On this day I did something I rarely did during a shoot, I posed the model. I could see something he couldn't, the seemingly endless tracks of sun light through the openings. I posed Alan in the center of the closest rectangle of light in a contemplative position. The photo is meant to depict the our journey through life with many points of and moments along the way... With Alan posed in the center path and paths to the right or left belonging to the life of others or perhaps possible paths unexplored by him.

It seemed the appropriate image for tonight. On new Years Eve we all contemplate the course of the past year and what path to take to the future.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Something for You!

Thanks to everyone who has written me or posted on my blog site over these past few months... Its been allot of fun which I hope continues into 2006. Attached I have included three wall papers you can drag to your desktop (Mac) or right click save(Windows) Please feel free to use them on your computer! As well if you like what you have been seeing on the blog please pass on my blog link to friends and family!

If you want to see more of my images please click on the "My galleries" link on the right. All images are available for purchase and you can write me anytime for the details!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The A, B, C 's of Christmas Past

The importance of Christmas past in the Charles Dickens "The Christmas Carol" was to remind Ebenezer Scrooge of a time of past innocence's shared during the holiday season.

"I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it."

Their faithful Friend and Servant,
Charles Dickens.
December, 1843.

While looking at pictures of my Christmas past I could see many of the things that would lead me through to adulthood and unlike Scrooge I have never lost the Christmas spirit. To illustrate this I have highlighted a couple of funny Christmas morning pictures from about 1968 and 1969....


A. Santa, Santa, Santa... How many santa's do you need? This was the beginning of my parents obsession with Christmas ornaments! Today if you were to go to my parents home you would find a few more! 20 - 30? Not to mention hundreds of other Christmas bobles.

B. Black and White! Wow! yes a high tech 14 inch black and white replete with rabbit ears!(sometimes requiring tin foil enhancements), no cable, no satellite, VHF/UHF with 8 full channels!

C. Major Matt Mason!!! Ok if you know me, there is a hard core nerd in me at heart! Major Matt Mason was a popular bendable 8" action figure. An astronaut by trade Major Matt Mason was exploring the moon with his kewl three level moon lab and rover! Even at this age I knew I was a nerd and that sci-fi was important to my future... Having worked on Star Trek the Next Generation and Star Wars in my adult life, my parents investment in to my imagination seems to have payed off!

D. Colliers Encyclopedias! Too poor for Britannica, these poor cousins were some of my best reading as a kid!

E. OK these snazzy PJ's did have feet in them!!! So what! Get over it!

F. In an era of 8 megapixle digital cameras common in the consumer market, these really kewl wallet extra prints from Hite Photo were all the rage in the 60's! Now you could share a print with friends, show your kids pictures at work! Wow technology! I guess Mom still has the larger prints.....


by 69 I had grown out of sleeping in Jammies with feet... I wanted to be a scientist...

G. A globe for my studies! How ironic to be turned to the African continent... with plans to go sometime this year (Things that make you go Hmmmmm)

H. Shouldn't everyone have a microscope???? Yes how else can you watch your sea monkeys up close???? Actually with the annual debacle surrounding some of my Christmas presents, Mom probably thought the microscope was a safe bet... Dad loved to take certain experimental liberties such as mixing the chemicals in my new chemistry set to create nitro glycerin or create sulfur smoke bombs, lending to the pine needle aeromatic ambiance of Christmas! Or the time I built a helicopter with my erector set... It had a motor that turned the blades with double D batteries! Dad's connecting of a 12 volt motorcycle battery in deed did cause the helicopter to briefly fly before burning out the motor in an electrical blaze and an 8 inch divot in the kitchen dry wall caused by the erant fly craft!!!!! Ah the fond memories of childhood.

Oh and by the way, one I didn't mark! The new 25" color RCA TV in the background!!! By 1969 man was landing on the moon and you just couldn't watch the black and white coverage on a small black and white TV... you needed full color for that!;-)

Christmas will allways be full of fond memories, including this year, though I am not going home to be with family, my friends have filled the void, invited me into their homes and shown me the Christmas spirit lives in all of us!

"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!" Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. "The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.

Remembering my first Christmas

I have two posts tonight, the first of which I am showing pictures from my first/second Christmas. Let me just say that Christmas has always been a big thing with my family. With my mothers side of the family being of German decent its not hard to figure out that Christmas was not only a holiday but a bit of an event! My parents have carried this on, with all of the logistical points having to be covered. The tree (real of coarse) with a mix of ornaments old and new, some of which were brought over from europe and have hung on every tree in my family for 75+ years.... Finding new ornaments was a pass time for my parents for years. The images from tonight are of me and my Grandparents... many of my fond memories involve them at Christmas time. I still remember the excitement of going over for the elaborate meals, cookies and the chocolate santas(;-) don't go there!) Today when I think of them, its Christmas, their Christmas I miss most!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Before you get to Heaven...

With last nights post I tried to paint a picture of what Club Heaven was like on Fridays and Saturday nights. I began to think about Club Bookies which I detailed as one of the primary stops of the evening. Bookies started out as punk club in the 70's and early 80's but when the punk movement faded the club was taken over by the Black gay kids "the chilren" as it were. The logo was retained but inversed to have white letters on a black background.

I started to go there around 1986 or 87 and it was the place to go for House music which was probably at its high point as a music form around the same time. Bookies was one of several clubs and businesses which made up the gay center of Detroit. Restaurant bars like the Glass house and La Dolci Vita and the infamous Back Stage Dinner which was open to all hours and a place where you would find the kids after the bar cutting up and laughing into the wee hours of the morning. The only gay book store, Chosen Books was sandwiched between the Glass House and Menjos which was where the blond perky white kids would go. In the day Menjos was the bar that would ask for nine pieces of id if you were black... today its found its way into the 21st century and maintains a mixed crowd.

Bookies was separated from Menjos by a shared parking lot and had a black and grey art-deco facade of the old Frank Gagens Club which must have been the joint in the 40's, 50's and 60's. The almost all black interior also was very art-deco in design with large sweeping circular cut outs in the main floor ceilings. I think the all black interior was part of the draw as the little to none lighting made it possible to nearly disappear once you got in. As the music came to a crescendo it could get quite hot and it was not uncommon for the shirts to come off on the floor resulting in an undulating mass dancing to the beats. After 1am you might see the heat and the sweet overcome a couple and witness open sex acts out on the dance floor.

If you liked to watch people Bookies was the place to be.

The basement was where you could get a drink in a little more relaxed environment and enjoy the occasional dancer boi... as there were regular floor shows of four or five dancers who went way past any codes Detroit may have had for dancers at the time. There were so many good times at Bookies for me and many of my friends. Rachien who I have written on previous was usually my date when I went... again he knew everyone and it only enhanced the experience. On one occasion I went with my friend Aaron and that particular evening the club was on ram with so many people. I remember Aaron and I were drinking long Island Ice Teas and as it was getting pretty late I had only enough loot for one more... Poor Aaron misunderstood my screams over the music and ordered two, when we didn't have the full amount, William the perpetualy dancing bartender thought we had had to much and had us literally thrown out! I mean flying through the air and the door thrown out! We must have been a sight as we cussed each other out while dusting each other off, I telling Aaron he had to much wax in his ears. There was no permanent damage and we were back dancing and drinking the following weekend. (err with a few more bucks in our pockets;-)

As I never took a camera of my own into Bookies, I have found some pictures on the net and included some Polaroid's taken by a photographer that would often take pictures at the club for 3 dollars! I am also including a few links below where you can download a couple of recordings of Ken Collier and the link to the official Bookies website. Bookies burned to the ground in the late 90's... it was tragic event for some of us... but writing some of this down has brought back some great moments I will always have.

For two Ken Collier mixes go to:

Just type Ken Collier into the search window

For the History of Bookies:

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I've Been to Heaven.........

Every Friday and Saturday night that is.... Club Heaven was located on the corner of Woodward and Seven Mile roads in Detroit and was basically the after hours joint to go to through most of the late 80's and 90's. Folks would start there evening at the Glass House down on Six Mile, for dinner and drinks... This was always starting the evening right, as people were grateful to be out of work for the week and would be ready for a party to start. From there everyone would go to Bookies for more drinking and definitely dancing to the beats of Greg Collier, and Melvin Hill. Bookies 870 Club was famous in the 70's and early 80's as the premier punk club, featuring Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Patty Smith to name just a few. In the mid 80's the club morphed into the best house music club in the city.

At 2am every night the club would close and the kids would flock over to Club Heaven for some of the best house beats ever often dancing till the sun came up. Heaven was Detroit's version of the Paradise Garage, it was all about the dance. The club was broken up into three rooms one huge dance floor with giant speakers at one end and two smaller rooms for folks to gather in... one of which was only for a select few....

Spinning every week was Ken Collier, the Godfather of house! Look up every DJ of stature today and you are likely to find Ken listed as an inspirational force in their development. "If Heaven was a club it would have two floors, one for Ken and the other with Frankie Knuckles... and heaven would be a sea of sweaty men getting their groove on to old school house beats!"
I was one of the Heaven faithful for years.... it was not uncommon to see the famous there from time to time, from Dennis Rodman to the groove is in the house kids from Delight! They might get a momentary "oh wow" before Ken would change up the tunes and people would converge in a rush to dance... Through out the evening circles would form and informal dance offs were held to the cheers and jeers of the crowed! To see and be seen, to dance and maybe find something more was the promise of Heaven.

The images from tonight post are the cast and crew of the House of Charles. Its to my knowledge some of the only images from the Heaven dance floor ever. They were taken for the premier issue of Kick Magazine, which was a pet project Curtis Lipscomb and definite outgrowth of our work on the MOC Motivator. `Ken came in early one saturday, lit the floor and the turntables while I photographed a bit of the flavor of the evening to come!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Charles in Charge

Its been about ten years since I did any work for Men of Color a Detroit Mens Motivational group. I along with my friend Curtis Lipscomb used to produce the MOC Motivator. We treated our task like it was a high gloss mag.. Curtis would scheme the content and the written word, I worked on the look and feel and the imagery including all of the photographs. This was an extraordinary opportunity to hone my skills in more of a documentarian way. I am first and foremost interested in capturing the character or soul of a person. Each month we would feature one of the board members of MOC, get to know them in a deeper way. Charles was on the board and as he worked in the area of A.I.D.S. out reach he had a very interesting take on the state of things in his world... He made things happen for people who really needed help. When I first met Charles I found him initialy very standoffish... that perception did not last very long and I got to know him as someone very sensitive to the needs of others and I always counted on his advise. In this series of pictures I tried to catch all the different moods and moments that spoke to who Charles is... The interview was split between two issues and I used these pictures in exactly the way they are presented here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Whats Black, 150 feet tall and hot!?

OK, I'm on a roll about Detroit after last nights post... If you been to Detroit you know it is all about the sports, the Bad Boys of the NBA... Joe Duuuuuummmaaaarrrss! I loved it when Ken Calvert did that at the games in the Palace! The Red Wings who have dominated more than not in recent history, "Go Redwings!" replaced the old saying "Go Deadwings". The Detroit Tigers... well we cant have it all can we? Still the Detroit Lions??? Again why waste good text on something that ain't gonna happen!? Its not like they haven had good years, they did, in the 50's...errr ok.

But then Detroit doesn't really care we are still there at every game, cheering on what ain't gonna happen with the hope it will some day. What I like about Detroit is how it treats it's hero's... take tonight's picture for instance, 150 feet of Barry Sanders replete with all of his rushing records for all to see. This Nike ad lasted for almost three years... and he wasn't even playing the game anymore! A few year later it was replaced by Grant Hill on an opposing building... he was gone too... but who cares... they did good, they were from Detroit and in the end thats all that matters.

Alot of people think Detroit ain't a happening place... the media and some foolishness a few years back saw to that, still the people are resilient and while some of our teams aren't winning any awards, we are still trying to build some cars.. throw out some music.. and pushin forward. The media should do stories about that! And by the way you have an excellent chance this January when Detroit hosts the Super Bowl at Ford Field!

Notice to the media, check your misconceptions at the door!;-)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Beginning

So last night I was consolidating some of my old papers into some new containers... Hey one day I may be famous! and they will need to have my papers in some library or museum! OK maybe not... :-)LOL While going through this old box I found an old copy of the Detroit News dated July 23, 1970... I knew just what it was... a clipping from the day I had one my first art contest.

It was a good day that changed my life. My grandmother had gotten us on the Woodward bus going downtown to Kennedy Square. they were having a side walk chalk drawing contest sponsored by the Central Business District Association and the Detroit Children's Museum. The Theme was "I care about Detroit" There were 50 contestants.... I was contestant Number 14. The prize was like $25.00 and a book by the artist Marc Chagall [Russian-born French Painter and Stained Glass Artist, 1887-1985]

I clearly was showing my interest in the automotive industry as I drew a car factory with no pollution coming out of it (wow! an environmentalist too!) The drawing was very technical and accurate for a 10 year old! I don't think my Grandmother thought it was very artistic, " I titled it "A clean factory"... replete with blue sky and sunshine rays painting my positive futuristic view of life. To my surprise they called "14" and I took home the prize!!! I used the money to pay for art lessons that my dad had arranged with Charles Banner, an artist and sign painter by trade, who's shop was right next door to a Gulf station my father owned and operated. Charles seemed like a hard ass when I first started my lessons, he was very strict... and had high expectations and I hated him in the beginning but I soon began to get better and I learned to appreciate his lessons. I learned the lesson of less is more, that I didn't have to draw every detail to make the picture perfect! I never finished all the lessons, but I still remember Charles fondly.

Back to Kennedy Square... I came home a couple of years ago and to my surprise they were raising the square for an office building... not that Detroit needed another building, with so many of them empty... but they were building Campus Marshes across the street which was a new and even bigger square, a la Rockafeller Plaza with a skating rink and all! I cant say Im happy that Kennedy Square is gone, I will always have the memory, the moment I determined I would be an artist. And I am happy that the home town that I love is finally starting to pull it together! Perhaps one day some young child will win a similar contest on the sidewalks of Campus Marshes, I hope they have the same positive out look I had for Detroit!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Catching Moments

Two posts in one night! Was thinking about some of the interesting images that were caught in the moment... Like the song by Snap! "Things that make you go Hmmmm" these images were of people or situations when on first blush seemed unusual... but on further inspection perhaps these people were right on point... they were just being themselves!


There have been moments when I had my camera in had, and someone would come up tome and ask if I would take their pictures. Usually I would oblige by setting up a time and place to meet, talk about what they were looking for and then shoot or set a second visit for taking the images. It’s clearly been important to my work that I get to know the person before I take the picture. I want to know what makes them tick, what their personality is like, understand their character. It’s the soul of the person I wish to capture in my images. A single photograph has the ability to tell a story, one with out any words, a story that has depth.

I had previously met Jonathan at a party… He turned out to be a friend of a friend and seemed to be pretty kewl. I was still surprised that one day while at the park he asked if I wanted to take his pictures. I had the time and figured it couldn’t hurt… Over the course of the next two hours we walked and chatted while stopping in and around some interesting spots in the park. With out giving instruction, he posed for several photographs, I can only assume he saw in his minds eye. For me it was a change in my comfort zone. I was shooting not knowing what he would do next. The more we walked the more interesting the images became, it seemed he was trying to improve from one pose to another with me just trying to keep up.

The result was a series of images, which I still count on as some of my best. Derived from a photographic form of sexual tension borne from the spontaneous moment. Adding to the tension that day was a stream of people who became more than curious during the shoot. In the moment I was fairly upset at having a voyeuristic gallery following us around the park like it was a PGA event. But Jonathan didn’t seem to care and eventually I gave up on caring as well… I often wonder what they thought was going on that day… The park was normally pretty cruisy but this must have come off way over the top.

I still see Jonathan from time to time… and yeah he’s still the same kewl dude.