The best books of 2015…that were stolen out of my car.
After months of subletting and crashing at friends I finally found a permanent home in Los Angeles and was thrilled to start my life’s next chapter. And the night before I moved into the new place my car full of my meagre possessions was broken into and stripped clean….the thieves even took the dog food.
Among these possessions was a box of books, some photo, some not. This is a list of my favourites books that were five finger discounted out of my life.
Eleanor MacNair’s “Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh.”
A delightful collection of famous and iconic photographs…rendered in Play-Doh. Eleanor spends her nights recreating her favourite photographs out of the children’s toy, photographs it and then disassembles and reuses the Doh for her next piece. From Arbus to Avedon, Sherman to Goldin, and Lartigue to Penn, her work has incredible detail and texture. Malcolm Gladwell talks of the 10,000 Hour Rule in his book Outliers…that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Well I don’t think she’s hit that number just yet but Eleanor’s recent renderings are simply mind blowing, you should really follow her on her Instagram account.
Published by McDonaldStrand.
Marian Engel’s “Bear.”
Published in 1976, thisGovernor General’s Literary Award winning book tells the story of a mousy librarian who goes to archive the belongings of a wealthy man’s estate in northern Ontario and ends up having a sexual relationship with a bear. My book was a pristine first edition and I had only gotten one chapter in and now I’ll never know how it ends.
Gary Cohen‘s “Rejected.”
A selection of profile photos and bios from the on-line dating site Tinder of women who swiped left and rejected Gary. Printed as a series of cards, Gary only made 50 of these self-published books. He gave me one of them. Now I don’t have it anymore.
Harold Innis’s “The Fur Trade in Canada.”
This book is probably boring. I only bought it for research for an upcoming project I want to undertake. Why anyone would want to steal it is beyond me.
Gus Powell‘s “The Lonely Ones.”
A beautiful book of Gus’s photos that was inspired by cartoonist William Steig‘s book by the same title. Designed and published by JLBooks. I managed to see the book once in Paris at an opening of Gus’s but never even unwrapped my copy that I had purchased at the Printed Matter Book Fair in the autumn but because it was such a huge success they had to mail me my copy.
And last but not least, my “Solo Wedding Album”.
I visited Japan to do a story for Marie Claire UK in which I married myself, a phenomenon occurring among women of my generation in that country. Seems women are more interested in having photographs of themselves wearing a wedding dress than actually marrying a living, breathing man. And being a spinster myself I thought this would be a perfect story to write/photograph as I know the chances of me wearing white and walking down the aisle is pretty slim. This book was very special to me. Holds zero value to anyone else. It saddens me to think that it’s probably in the city dump at this point.
So there you have it, my list of my favourite books that were stolen by petty thieves out of my car. Good riddance 2015, hope 2016 is full of new and wonderful books that will actually grace my bookshelves.
Tags: 10000 Hour Rule
, Best books of 2015
, Eleanor MacNair
, Fur Trade in Canada
, Gary Cohen
, Governor's General Award
, Gus Powell
, JL Books
, Malcolm Gladwell
, Marian Engel
, McDonald Strand
, Photographs Rendered in Play-Doh
, Printed Matter
, solo wedding
, The Lonely Ones
Since I’m always behind the camera and don’t get to see what goes on at a shoot outside of what I see through my camera lens, it was fun to have a video crew shooting behind the scenes footage at the recent cover shoot I did for Canadian Business for their October issue, “The How to Issue.”
Click on the photo below and you can watch me at work!
Cover boy and host of Hockey Night in Canada, Mr. George Stroumboulopoulos aka Strombo was a real pro and nearly ran away with my assistant, the ever-fetching Maggie. What better way to win a celeb than to bring fine bitches on a shoot!
Thanks Director of Photography Ronit Novak and Art Director John Montgomery of Canadian Business for a fun shoot!
Tags: behind the scenes
, Canadian Business
, George Stroumboulopoulos
, Hockey Night in Canada
Since 2008 I’ve been working on a documentary project I call “EUSA” where I photograph European themed places in America and American themed places in Europe. It’s weirder than you’d expect…Swedes and Germans spending their weekends living as though they are Native Americans in the 1800s, Americans celebrating their Dutch heritage by scrubbing down the streets of their town during a Tulip Festival, and Italian Cowboys are just a few examples. I was fortunate enough to have the work featured on the National Geographic Proof site on July 4th (what better way to celebrate Independence Day) while I was busy shooting Czechs recreating an American Civil War-type battle in the Czech Republic, true story.
Read more about the project and see some more photos on the Proof post itself.
Tags: American Civil War
, National Geographic
, Native Americans
Bwahahaha, Lucky Peach Magazine is the best! I did an amazing story with writer Carolina A. Miranda about El Asesino Geminis, the doughnut selling Luchador of East LA for their new Street Food issue. Subscribe this week and you’ll get this issue in the mail! STORE.LKY.PH
Tags: Carolina A. Miranda
, East LA
, El Asesino Geminis
, Lucky Peach Magazine
RIP the bikini tee.
It is the end of the American Empire and how do I know this, not because the government is shut down and hundreds of thousands of people aren’t able to work or that we may be heading into economic doom but because I can’t find a store that carries the “bikini” t-shirt anywhere.
I looked in Myrtle Beach, SC and all I could find were twerking and “Molly” inspired tees. I had to ask, who is Molly, why is she all over these shirts and where is the bikini tee? The shop clerk laughed at me, said those shirts haven’t been sold in years, and don’t you know, Molly is the latest drug craze, pure MDMA, taken at raves, even Miley sings about it. Ok, when did raves become fashionable again and how has the invention of a new drug slipped by me? And please, nothing is pure.
I went to Pigeon Forge, TN hoping in the multitudes of tourist shops I’d find this timeless classic but was only able to find tees with confederate flags and hillbilly themes on them.
I traveled to Branson, MO thinking that would for sure be the place to find this iconic gem but nope, no store has reordered this shirt since last season. But would I be interested in a nice shirt that was Jesus inspired?
No I don’t want to wear a shirt about twerking, drugs, rednecks or Jesus, I just want my bikini tee! Are you with me? I don’t want to live in an America where you can’t rock a trompe l’oeil bikini. This shirt is as American as apple pie, Budweiser and 64 ounce sodas. It says “yeah, I’m in a bikini, or am I?”
I was introduced to this fashion statement back in 2005 or so when I was on assignment for ESPN shooting the ladies of NASCAR. It was a great assignment: look for the fairest of flowers who grace the infield of Daytona. Of course there were the usual suspects of drunkards and wannabe sexpots but then off in the distance I saw her, this demure diamond in the rough. I asked her if I could take her picture and of course she feigned shyness but her look says it all: I am one bad granny.
I will continue my search as I drive across America but I’m not holding my breath. I might have to wait for Marc Jacobs or Karl Lagerfeld to rip off the design and add it to their collection but by then I won’t be able to afford it. Can you imagine if you went to see the upcoming cruise wear line at New York Fashion Week and a bunch of models came strutting down the runway in these? Better not plant any bees in the fashion bonnet.
Tags: bikini tee
, Myrtle Beach
, Pigeon Forge
Free the Arctic 30.
* Photo from last years Arctic Sunrise crew: Chief Engineer Hans-Ulrich Kalweit (left), ships electrician David Haussman (center) and Second engineer Iain Rogers (right) in the Arctic Sunrise’s engine room. Haussman and Rogers are among those being detained in Russia on charges of piracy.
At this exact moment I write from my bunk bed in a youth hostel in Memphis, TN. It’s not that dissimilar to my accommodations the same time last year except my roommate then was a Greenpeace campaigner instead of Maggie my dog and the bunk beds were in a cabin aboard The Arctic Sunrise. Does that name ring a bell? Well it should because the crew and freelance photographer are all being held in Russia on charges of piracy.
It all began on September 17th when the Russian Coast Guard intercepted the Greenpeace crew who were engaged in a protest at the offshore oil-rig owned by Russian energy company Gazprom. A team of activists approached the oil rig platform in two inflatable boats in order to climb onto the rig and raise a banner. Two were detained at that point. The following day the Coast Guard used helicopters and ropes to rappel on board the Arctic Sunrise (in international waters), seized the ship at gunpoint and towed it to Murmansk where it arrived September 24th.
All 30 of those aboard (28 activists and crew and 2 journalists) have been charged with piracy and face a sentence of 15 years in a Russian prison.
Greenpeace had launched this peaceful protest because they feel this oil rig is a direct threat to the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem as it was poorly built and is ill-equipped to deal with an oil spill. Their goal was to raise a banner to educate those around the world on the issues of climate change in the Arctic. Never was there any intent to cause harm either to the Russian workers or to the rig itself.
So why am I telling you all this? Because two of the crewmembers who were arrested are friends of mine. The ships electrician David Haussmann (or “Haussie” as everyone affectionately called him) and Second Engineer Iain Rogers were both crew on the ship last year when I was aboard the Arctic Sunrise. I would wake up each morning to the sounds of them in the hold having their first smoke of the day and joking around with one another (my cabin happened to be in a container in the hold and they smoking area was in the area just outside). As I’d leave the cabin we’d exchange some banter, me mainly trying to make sailors blush.
Both men are fairly quite: Haussie hails from New Zealand and Ian is from the UK. In the evenings Haussie would get on the elliptical machine in the ships “gym” and Iain would spend hours in the workshop building a wooden model of the boat he lived on back in England. Haussie also has a wife and young child back home and as far as I know Iain is married to the sea.
We see what happens when people protest Putin and the current regime, take Pussy Riot for example. The punk duo performed a provocative piece in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral in 2012 denouncing Putin and his return to the presidency. They were charged with hooliganism and sentenced to 2 years of hard labour. These are young women in their early 20s with young children back home. They simply sang a song and are now in a labour camp. What’s going to happen to these men and women of the Arctic Sunrise.
A few weeks ago I was feeling nostalgic, wishing I was back on the boat again, now I can only count my blessings that I wasn’t. From my experiences let me tell you the men and women who crew the Arctic Sunrise are not petty criminals or violent individuals, their main form of protest is banners for Pete’s sake. Whatever your point of view is of Greenpeace both past or present just try to remember that each one of these people have families and lives outside of the ship. No one deserves to be jailed for 15 years. Please join in the world’s disapproval of the Russian government and sign this protest on the Greenpeace site. At the end of the day they do what they do for the benefit for all of us whether we support their causes or not. If we remain silent what we are saying is that it’s alright for the Russian government to drum up false charges and falsely imprison people.
Free the Arctic 30. And free Pussy Riot.
Tags: Arctic Sunrise
, David Haussman
, Free the Arctic 30
, Iain Rogers
, Pussy Riot
This was the second time I had the privilege to work with this fantastic organization Clitoraid who help women who have been victims of female genital mutilation. They do truly amazing work in an area where most people don’t want to discuss that this form of ritual circumcision still exists in the 21st century. I invite you to go to my website and read the article in it’s entirety. I also got to pair up again with my favourite writer Joanna Walters.
Now since I was on the road and this means traveling with my rescue dog co-pilot Maggie I had to bring her along on one of the shoots, hence Maggie makes an appearance in the opening spread!
Tags: Clitoraid, female genital mutilation, London Observer Magazine, Maggie
The one, the only, Zita Cobb.
I shot this story for Zoomer Magazine about this amazing business woman who left home in Fogo Island, Newfoundland at age 17 to go to university only to return years later to help ensure this tiny fishing island’s survival.
Full story is on my website here.
Tags: Fogo Island
, Shorefast Foundation
, Zita Cobb
, Zoomer Magazine
These seniors make me feel guilty for not doing more everyday…hope I’ll still be swimming and running around in my 80s! Full story on my website here.
Tags: Canada 55+ Games
, Cape Breton
, Nova Scotia
, Zoomer Magazine
When I went to university one could join clubs like the debating team or drama club (truth be known I didn’t belong to any) but today’s kids have so much more to choose from, like the BDSM club! I shot this story with writer extraordinaire Joanna Walters for Marie Claire UK at some of America’s finest schools: Harvard, Princeton, Columbia and NYU. Good to know that when you’re trying to find that something extra special to get an edge on your competition for entrance to one of these ivy league schools having a good background in the art of Shibari can help you be a shoo in!
To see the story in it’s entirety go visit my website under “tear sheets.”
, Campus Coeds
, ivy league
, Joanna Walters
, Marie Claire
Home of the Drive-thru Chandelier Tree. It takes mother nature 1500 or so years to grow this thing only for man to bore a hole in her so cars can drive through and have their picture taken.
And then this happened…
I met a man who had a Segway in the Redwood Forest. I had offered his dogs some cheese so I guess he felt it was only right to offer me a ride on his Segway…little did he know it’s long been a dream of mine to ride one of these things. And to have my maiden voyage be in such a magical place, amazing.
, Chandelier Tree
, Drive-Thru Tree
, Redwood Forest
Thanks Lenscratch for the great blog post about my Oh Canada work on July 24th! You can see it here.
Tags: blog post
, Oh Canada?
Happy Birthday Paul Anka!
Singer-songwriter Paul Anka turns 72 today but did you know he was Canadian? Probably not because he was a teen idol south of the border during the 50s and 60s with such hits as Diana, You Are My Destiny, Lonely Boy, and Puppy Love. He also wrote the theme for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s signature song My Way.
But my personal favourite is this 1974 classic “(You’re) Having My Baby” where he thanks the woman he loves (and knocked up) for keeping their baby and not having an abortion. Ah love in the dawning of the age of aquarius.
Happy Birthday Paul, though you became a naturalized US citizen in 1990 you will always be a great Canadian song bird.
, Having my Baby
, Lonely Boy
, My Way
, Paul Anka
, Puppy Love
, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
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Venice Beach, CA.
I met Lisa Dog, The Venice International Swimsuit Model on the boardwalk in Venice Beach, CA while walking my own dog. Lisa knows how to make it rain dollar bills.
Tags: California, Lisa Dog, Venice Beach, Venice International Swimsuit Model