On Saturday morning in Vegas I met my friend Terrell Neasley for breakfast, and then I joined him in hanging out with his group of photo friends at a local camera store. He also joined me for a show with a couple of his friends on Saturday night. (That’s yours truly on the left in the photo and “Big T” on the right, for those who don’t know.)
As I told Terrell, I plan to return in the spring, at which time we should head out with a couple of models so we can do some photography together alone and not in one of his workshop groups.
I’m not sure if I was surprised or not, but several people who I knew but hadn’t seen in quite a few years remembered me – and not just my face, but my name, as well. I thought that was good of them to do so. Of course, the oddest point of recognition came when someone asked me if I was Rick Wester, the auctioneer for the evening’s live auction segment.
I decided to wear my dark blue suit that night, so I guess I looked better than I normally do, but I had never expected to be mistaken for a photography dealer and the former head of photography at one of the major auction houses. (I think Mr. Wester was the head of the photo department at Christie’s.) I told the inquiring gentleman that I was not Mr. Wester, but joked that if he didn’t show up, I’d take a shot at being the auctioneer if he wanted.
Anyway, I gave out a fair amount of my new business cards at the event. One never knows who might be interested in one’s work. I also spoke with some of the people in charge of the event and volunteered to donate one of my photos to the auction next year. Certainly, being included in a major New York photographic event could help with name recognition for me. More importantly, I’ve been to Southeast Asia several times (and visited Cambodia for the first time this year) and saw the poverty that people live in there and can imagine how desperate the need for health care is. I’ve wanted to find a way to help, and giving to this organization to fund the children’s hospital in Cambodia seems like a good way to start. It’s just up to them to accept. I’m not represented by a gallery like most (or all) of the photographers whose work was on the walls, but they seemed receptive, especially to my photos of Asia.
As for the auction itself, I went home with a couple of photos. One of them was a photo of the Brooklyn Bridge that was on my top three list. It was made in 1983 by a photographer named Bruce Cratsley. I had purchased one of his photos at another benefit auction eleven years ago, and even met him at that event. Sadly, he passed away the following year, as I recall, so I’m glad to have another of his prints. I already had another photo of the Brooklyn Bridge in my collection, so perhaps I can make it the subject of a sub-collection. After all, I’ve lived all of my life in Brooklyn and I am proud of our world famous bridge!!!
The other photo I got was a very nice print of a photo made in Burma by a photographer named Monica Denevan. I looked at her website last night and I see that she has some fine series of work from Burma and China. You should take a look. The only problem with her print is that its matte size is 22 x 24 – an unusual size – so I had to go out and buy a new frame especially for it. Of course, I could have just opted to cut a standard 20 x 24 matte for it that would fit into one of my frames and portfolio boxes, but I figure Ms. Denevan wanted it 22 x 24 for a reason, so I respect that and will keep it that way.
This reminds me of a story regarding the collected works of the great early 20th Century photographer Alfred Steiglitz. After his passing, his widow – the painter Georgia O’Keeffe – wanted to donate his collected works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met, as the story goes, was grateful to have it, but told O’Keeffe that they would have to cut down the matte boards to fit their portfolio boxes. O’Keeffe didn’t like this idea, saying that the mattes were important to Steiglitz.
“But we did that to Rembrandt’s drawings,” the Met told her, to which she replied, “Yes, but you didn’t have Mrs. Rembrandt to deal with!” O’Keeffe ended up giving the collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, which agreed to keep the matte boards intact – and that’s how the Metropolitan lost out.
Finally, a tale of air travel. Stephen Haynes had written on his blog some time ago that he’d been given a set of noise-canceling headphones as a gift. At last, he wrote, he could listen to opera and classical music on airplanes with them. Well, last year I bought a pair of noise-canceling headphones, too, but had never really put them to the classical music test. When I travel domestically, I normally bring my portable DVD player with me, and for my trip this past weekend, I decided to give the ‘phones the opera test.
Flying to Las Vegas, I watched and listened to my DVD of Puccini’s Tosca, with Raina Kabaivanska as the singer Floria Tosca, Sherrill Milnes as the evil police chief Scarpia and a young Placido Domingo as the painter Mario Cavaradossi. This was a filmed version, recorded not on stage but at the actual locations in Rome set out in the story. On the return trip, I watched Verdi’s Rigoletto, featuring Ingvar Wixell as the hunchbacked title character, Edita Gruberova as his daughter Gilda, Ferruccio Furlanetto as the local assassin for hire, Sparafucile, and a young Luciano Pavarotti as the libertine, highly immoral Duke of Mantua. This version was also filmed on locations in Italy and certainly had a very medieval feeling about it. They were both very enjoyable to watch and can recommend them if you like such things.
“But what about the sound?,” you ask. Well, it sounded great. These headphones really do a very good job of getting rid of that annoying sound you hear on planes. Toggling the on/off switch for the noise-canceling function really demonstrates how much it does it.
And which headphones do I have? The best known of this type of headphones are probably the Bose QC headphones, but they’re rather expensive, listing at around $300 and up. Last year, I read a story in the NY Times that compared these headphones, and while it said that none were better than the Bose, some were just as good. I got one of those just-as-good ones – the Panasonic RP-HC500 headphones, which list for just $100. As I said, they really do a good job. Besides the price, they have another advantage over the Bose: if the AAA battery on the Panasonic should fail, the headphones still work as normal headphones; with the Bose, if the battery dies, the headphones die with them. (Well, one of the Bose uses a AAA battery. I think the other ones needs to be recharged directly and doesn’t use a battery.)
So, if you fly and like to listen to music or movies, or just want to relax without that annoying airplane (or other types of) noise, consider the Panasonics. I think you’ll be happy with them.
Now if only someone can develop headphones that would have blocked out the annoying sound of the screaming baby sitting in the row behind me that was annoying the hell out of me. Until that happens, I think airplanes should carry muzzles as standard equipment. (Well, either that or a brick.)