Well, at least I have the right last name. No way you're going to be remembered as a great photographer without a great last name. Where would Gyula Halasz be without Brassai? Or Arthur Fellig without Weegee?
Like Atget, Aristotle and Cher, Godlis falls into that single surname category common to many of the world's great thinkers.
Guess you've got to be thankful for the little things.
Fenway Park 1975. I'm sitting on the first baseline, and the batter fouls off a pitch behind home plate. I aim my camera the other way and get the whole stadium virtually looking in my direction. This was a lucky break, but also a damn good picture, even for a photography student -which I was.
Cut forward a couple of years and I'm taking my "portfolio" around to galleries, where this one old crankpot Dealer running a well known space in downtown Boston, tells me my work is "nothing special". And the kid in me asks him to elaborate on what he obviously doesn't like.
His response was to pick out this photograph as an example, and told me "the problem with this image is that you're photographing a THIRD HAND EXPERIENCE". As he so smugly explained it - the batter was the first hand experience, the foul ball was the second hand experience, and the crowd watching it was the third hand experience - that's what's wrong with your photograph."
Which left me stunned - the guy was obviously too confused for his own good - and my only response was to turn his fools' logic around and tell the him that he had it ass backwards - my picture was the first hand experience, the ball was the second hand experience and the batter was the third hand experience.
And then he kicked my butt out of there.
You see, good photography has it's own logic.
Where have all the good times gone?
Agfa Brovira has been my preferred darkroom paper since the early 70's. The bright orange box with their cool logo was as familiar to me as Corn Flakes or Crackerjacks. Their paper was superb - great black and white tones. I used it to print all my vintage CBGB's night photographs.
And now, gone - real gone. The company went under last December, and for me it was like a death in the family. Hey - Ilford's ok -just not my type, Kodak - I don't miss their paper a bit; dull grey paper in a mustard yellow box.
But Agfa - that was a company with style. No more evident than in the inscription on their label - "NUR IN DER DUNKELKAMMER OFFNEN." Don't open shmuck unless you're in the darkroom. You gotta love how they say that - the darkroom - der dunkelkammer.
So let's all raise a glass to Agfa. An unsung casualty of the digital revolution. Man I'm gonna miss that paper...
So shoot me. I'm addicted to Hassids. They call me Hassid Vicious. Now Hassidim, now you don't. Come on - they're like cartoon characters. Men in Black dressed up for Black & White photos. Spy vs. Spy.
Hey they sell me all my camera equipment. So there's some kind of kosher karma at play here.
Look here they are at the airport. Running with their luggage. How can I not take their picture? I mean these are the same guys that stop me on Fifth Avenue every spring and fall with their Mitzvah Tanks asking: "Excuse me - are you Jewish?"
Stopped in at Nitpick Gallery to see the current show: "eccentric dreamlike collages from colored black and white prints of multiple negatives, punctuated by verse with charming typos." Somehow it just didn't move me. Maybe if I had been at the opening and met the artist
Everyone told me not to miss the show at Blight Gallery: "color photographs of semi-abstract fields of fragmented imagery."
Now there's an idea whose time will never come. Got on the mailing list though.
This was really on the wall at a photography show I saw last year - "He began to explore the problems of making photographs without a camera." Yeah, that could be a problem.
New York City is my beat. The street photography capitol of the world. Atget had his Paris. And Adams had Yosemite. But New York is mine. When fellow photographers come in from out of town, they drool at the opportunity of shooting on Fifth Avenue. A metro card and a roll of tri-x are all I need. I am the King, and all these little people on the streets are my subjects.
The ghosts of Winogrand and Evans look down from the clouds to say - "good job little man." Of course, it's just one of life's cruel little jokes that the best place to shoot 'street work' is the worst place to show it. Big town, you can be so cold.