Birthday Book, part 4 (Slot Catalogue)

I recently described the making of my Las Vegas Birthday Book (and sculpture). Soon after I traded it away to the rare book dealer, Harper Levine. My timing was excellent as Harper was just beginning his Annual Book Sale (ends this Thursday, January 14th).

For poetic reasons, the key book I acquired was a 1940’s trade catalogue by a slot machine manufacturer. What I like about the book is the way the machine workers look like weary gamblers while the company owners resemble casino fat cats.

I left Vegas feeling like one of those tired machinists. But back home with new books, I’m starting to feel like Steve Wynn.

More images of the casino book here.

My great-great-great-great-great uncle Aert!

While others sleep, a man is visited by an angel
"Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane" by Aert de Gelder (Dutch, 1645 - 1727)

Hey, Les. Check this out.

While his companions (the apostles Peter, James, and John) sleep in a garden, a troubled man (Christ, contemplating his imminent crucifixion) is consoled by an angel. Aert, who was a devoted student of Rembrandt, rendered the central figures with sympathy and focus, yet his view from within the woods, behind the insensible, indistinct mound of sleeping men, maintains distance. Was that skepticism? Modesty? Reverence? A man’s trials are his own, yet they need not be borne alone, and they are often witnessed and remarked on from afar. And yes, many of us late-night seekers long for an angel of deliverance.

There’s a feeling of a cave here, too, or at least a cove. So many of our LBMs suffer in silence. Did Aert depict their utopia?

I like the fact that he did Jesus in such a non-fussy way. Just another burdened fella trying to sort it all out.


Birthday Book, part 3 (Bedrock City)

Lost all your money in Vegas? You can pick up Todd Oldham’s Bedrock City used on Amazon like I did for $6.80. Located somewhere between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Bedrock City will appeal to fans of caveman architecture (Lester?). Real architecture fans might like it too – Michael Graves contributes an essay. Is it a great book? Nope. The photography is forgettable. But the design is really cool. The dust jacket folds out into a poster and the book comes with three postcards.

There are three other book in the series that Oldham calls a ‘magazine monograph.’ See them here.

Birthday Book, part 2 (Las Vegas Studio)

Last week I made a video about my birthday trip to Las Vegas and my failure to acquire the book Horsemeat, by Charles Bukowski and Michael Montfort. As a consolation, I recently acquired the book Las Vegas Studio, Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. (Thanks to 5b4 for bringing it to my attention in this review).

What makes the book work is the washed-out blankness of the pictures combined with a spare and sophisticated layout.

So less is more, right (Lester)? Ironically, it was Venturi who said that “Less is a Bore.”

First Book: Larry Fink

With all of these amazing photo books being created, I like to try and think about the first book that really grabbed me and affected me. I try and think about the earliest memory I have of a picking up a book and being deeply inspired. I have been going around to photographers asking them one question:

What was the first photo book that you can remember buying or seeing that really had a strong affect on you?

Here is Larry Fink’s Answer:

Henri Cartier-Bresson, “The Decisive Moment” which was given to me by my very visually hip parents was the knock your socks off experience of my young life… by the way, Bresson’s  work continues to be an elixir for my classicist heart.

The work inspired me in so far as its direct calibration within the clock of chance…  it also held fire in so far that he was interested in every aspect of life and that his ability to intellectually organize and emotionally penetrate all within the same instant was a divine inspiration what more can be said he opened my eyes to being alive and my mind to the obsession of being a subjective/objective chronicler of all things which mattered.” -Larry Fink

Swan made of felt.

Hey, Les.

I’m feeling old and feeble. The choices and decisions I actually make are ineffective; the things I fail to do, or do unconsciously, piss people off. I found a quote tonight that sums it up, and gives at least some consolation that these feelings have been linked to our Y-cursed gender by a great poet (Pablo Neruda, from his piece “Walking Around”):

It so happens I am sick of being a man./And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie houses/dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt/steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse sobs./The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool./The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,/no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens I am sick of my feet and my nails/and my hair and my shadow./It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Yes, it so happens, tonight I’m really sick of this fate. But what to be done about it? On with the march…



Hey, Les.

Nice of you to share some fire with Dru, Stooph, the Roller and the Bengals last night. Wasn’t it great to have Team LBM together for once and have Lina join us? She’s kind of broken up, I know, and her hair reminds me of straw; say howdy and give her a hug if you see her today.

I came across an old friend over the weekend. Do you remember Gilbert Subrosa? An old teacher sent him a poem, which he passed along to me, and I dug it out of the mess downstairs. What a character.

Anyway, stay warm. Thanks for the tiramisu.