Archive for June, 2011

Chaos Manor

We’re near the end of another week workshopping Chaos Manor.  This week’s sessions have taken place in the offices of A Public Space in Brooklyn.  The 1962 Ford truck pictured below has been the uncanny backdrop all week.  At this particular session Frank Kimbrough, one of the top pianists in NYC these days, is listening to Smith’s tapes with us and discussing the transition of the music from 1957 to 1965 as indicated on the tapes.

Clockwise from top center: Frank Kimbrough, Chris McElroen, Julia Watt, Lucy Owen, Kate Joyce, Conrad Kluck, Jaymes Jorsling, Brian D. Coats, Sam Stephenson

Clockwise from top center: Frank Kimbrough, Chris McElroen, Julia Watt, Lucy Owen, Kate Joyce, Conrad Kluck, Jaymes Jorsling, Brian Coats, Sam Stephenson. Photograph by Walter Trego.

The performances will be September 16-17.


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Branford Marsalis on Clarence Clemons

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Lourdes Delgado Exhibition in New York


An Exhibition by Photographer Lourdes Delgado

Opening: Thursday July 7, at 7 PM


Mark Turner


Address: 211 East 49 Street New York, NY 10017

Telephone: 212- 308-7720

Dates: From Thursday July 7 to Thursday July 14

This project documents how the jazz community lived in New York City between 2000 and 2007. As an alternative to the bandstand or studio photography, Lourdes Delgado’s images show musicians and a few members of the jazz industry in their homes, more as citizens than as artists. With more than 450 portraits of different ages, genders, backgrounds, nationalities, instruments, and musical tendencies, her intention was to create a social, economic, and cultural study and to break with the iconographic stereotypes of the 50’s.

She used a 4×5” large format camera in order to capture in great detail their lives and rooms. At the same time that she was documenting the jazz community, she was making a visual record of some apartments of New York City, and the objects that certain group of its society live with.

Other characteristics of the project are, one, that to avoid her subjective opinion the same musicians she photographed chose what other musicians to include, two, that to get more revealing portraits she asked the subjects to decide how and where they wanted to be photographed, and three, that to emulate the collaborative process and the continuous risk taking philosophy central to jazz she only took one image per person.

For this exhibit, following the idea of self-representation the project has, she has invited each subject to select a tune to be represented with. Visitors are encouraged to ask for an MP3 player at the reception desk.

Jazz In New York: A Community of Visions has been exhibited in several venues around the country, like the Sheldon Museum in St. Louis and  the Center of Documentary Studies at Duke University.

For a short video, visit and click on Jazz In New York: A Community of Visions.

For more information and jpegs, contact the artist at:

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Dan Partridge on the Radio Tonight

Longtime JLP Research Associate and chief archivist and cataloger of Smith’s tapes, Dan Partridge, will be on WXYC radio tonight out of Chapel Hill from 9pm to midnight EST.  He’s going to talk about his (remarkable) work over the past eight years and he’s going to play some choice tracks from his listening experiences.  You can stream WXYC here:

Dan, by the way, was a DJ at WXYC beginning with his days as a student at UNC-CH and continuing for more than a decade.  He still occasionally substitutes for DJ’s there.

It promises to be riveting.

-Sam Stephenson

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Splinter Group wins National Addy


The creators and builders of this website, The Splinter Group of Carrboro, N.C., recently won a prestigious National Addy award, the ad industry’s version of an Academy Award.  Many kudos to Splinter founders Steve Balcom and Lane Wurster and their staff.


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W. Eugene Smith’s Wichita

My latest Paris Review piece is HERE.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Wichita.  Photo by Kate Joyce.  April, 2011.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Wichita. Photo by Kate Joyce. April, 2011.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Wichita.  Photo by Kate Joyce.  April, 2011.

St. Mary's Cathedral, Wichita. Photo by Kate Joyce. April, 2011.

-Sam Stephenson

p.s. Many thanks to David Simonton for the Walker Percy cue.

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Gene Smith and the Olympus Half-Frame


Photographer Irving Goldworm checked in over the weekend with the following memory, courtesy of his 1963 photography course with Harold Feinstein, who of course was an old friend and longtime associate of Smith (and an invaluable resource to me).  Irving said:

Once Smith was touting to Harold Feinstein the virtues of the forty-five dollar Olympus half-frame camera he had bought. He explained: “It has a very sharp lens; there’s no camera nonsense about it; no accessories or interchangeable lenses; people aren’t intimidated by a guy carrying so unimposing a gadget; and, oh yes, you can’t pawn it.”

HERE is an interesting 2009 piece from The Online Photographer about the half-frame camera and it includes a vintage advertisement for it featuring one WES.

Thank you, Irving.


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Monday Odds and Ins

David Remnick has a poignant tribute to Clarence Clemons on the New Yorker’s site.  I may write a lot more about Bruce and Co. sometime soon.  Growing up in coastal N.C. in the 1970s and 80s, Springsteen, Dylan, and Bernard Malamud (Jim Farrell, my high school English teacher, had me read “The Natural” and “The Magic Barrel,” which for my money is one of the top 10 short story collections in American literary history) were three of the ones who pointed me toward New York, along with WOR-TV (we got that on our cable TV in 1979) and the Mets, and some family trips.  Clarence was an integral part of the Springsteen angle for me.

Anybody who finds their way to this site is probably aware of the recent furor related to the Undead and Winter Jazz festivals in NYC.  If not, you might find it interesting.  A good place to start is Ethan Iverson’s blog, which has pertinent links.  I also like Ethan’s defense of Prince at the end of this post.  In a town of 9000 people, half white – half black, Prince owned my high school in the mid-80s.  Today, I believe “Purple Rain” stands up better than “Thriller.”

A couple of plugs for important projects by friends:

HERE you can contribute to the terrific filmmaker Michael Almereyda’s new short, “The Ogre’s Feathers.”

HERE you can watch Dr. J. Todd Moye talk about his recent book on the Tuskegee Airmen on C-Span’s Book TV.  From 2000 to 2005, Dr. Moye led a small team of interviewers at the National Parks Service that interviewed 826 surviving Airmen across the country.  Percy Heath was an Airman, by the way.


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A Public Space Issue 13


Cover photos by Maria Antonietta Mameli

The new issue of A Public Space is out and it’s one of their best.  There’s a wonderful piece by Robert Sullivan about artist Katie Holten‘s 2009 public installation on Brooklyn’s Grand Concourse called Tree Museum.  Holten picked one hundred trees along the five-mile Grand Concourse, around sixty different species according to Sullivan, and she put a sign with a phone number on each tree.  When you called the number you got a tape recording of a voice talking about that tree and that particular location.  At Grand Concourse and Marcy Place, just above 169th St., Christ the King elementary school was matched with Tree No. 38, a pin oak, “one of the most common New York City street trees,” notes Sullivan.  When you called the phone number associated with the tree, a girl from the elementary school, Amelina Castillo, could be heard saying:  “My school’s tree is a pin oak.  With its pyramidal shape, it provides shade.  It can grow up to sixth to seventy feet and twenty-five to forty feet wide…It’s very pleasing to know that the Concourse has been around for more than a hundred years.  Some of us have been born and raised here.”

Other tree speakers were less obscure than young Amelina, such as former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams, hip-hop artist Jazzy Jay, and architect Daniel Libeskind who spoke for Tree No. 97:  “As a teenager I was an immigrant to the Bronx, and the Grand Concourse was my iconic street.  Street of extraordinary trees, a kind of boulevard that I only dreamed of because it reminded me of Europe.”

Sullivan contrasts Tree Museum with more famous, touristy recent NYC public installations such as Jeanne-Claude and Christo’s The Gates and Olafur Eliasson’s New York City Waterfalls.

You should check out this issue of A Public Space if you haven’t checked out the magazine before.  There’s also an interesting long piece by Denis Donoghue on why T.S. Eliot preferred Dante to Shakespeare, and another excellent piece by frequent APS contributor Amy Leach, among many others.

Finally, the photographer Frank Hunter, a former contributor to APS, points out that the cover photos of the new APS issue, by Maria Antoinetta Mameli (excerpted above), make him think of Eugene Smith’s pictures from the fourth floor loft window looking down onto Sixth Avenue and the wholesale flower district.

-Sam Stephenson

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Chaos Manor in Brooklyn Book Festival

We’re pleased to say that Chaos Manor was announced yesterday as an official “Bookend” event in the Brooklyn Book Festival the weekend of September 16-18.  You can see the list of “Bookend” events HERE.

-JLP Staff

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