356 posts by matthew

In Tracking Time, photographer Camilo José Vergara‘s 40-year project that documents the evolution of poor and segregated communities in America, the imagery is most often focused on buildings. In a short film put together by the Getty Museum, Vergara explained his approach by saying he “realized that the buildings had the imprint not just of the people who live in…

Sometimes it’s hard to tell fantasy from reality, particularly in the age of Photoshop-manipulated imagery. In this photograph by Oscar Ruiz, however, which offers an aerial shot of a housing development on the outskirts of Mexico City, what you see is real.

I don’t own an iPhone or a smartphone of any kind. Never have. I often think it would be nice to be able to check email while I’m out or quickly post photos online or have GPS at my disposal. But I also know that if I had that type of access, I’d feel even less emotionally connected to

In somewhat of an odd pairing, British illustrator Ralph Steadman, best known for his numerous collaborations with Hunter S. Thompson, recently invited The Economist into his studio in Kent. Steadman, whose dark illustrative style is in stark contrast to his own relaxed disposition, talks about leaving all of his negative emotions on paper, the nonexistence of mistakes, and his current…

For whatever reason, Warhol’s Gun (1981) came to mind today. Like so much of Warhol’s simplistic, graphic-design based art, it’s an image that’s always appealed to me. But beyond the actual stark aesthetic, I’m not sure what it is that I like about the work. There’s no doubt that social media and its economy of “Likes” has made me more…

On some days, the Internet still surprises me. This morning, for example, while looking for the proper way to spell boombox (i.e., research for this story; one word or two?) I stumbled across an article written by Ben Sisario for the New York Times. It looked at the importance of the boombox in New York City’s urban culture of the…

From the annals of American dystopia, Sandow Birk’s The Rise and Fall of Los Angeles, painted in 1995, is “a series of five landscape paintings based on Thomas Cole’s series ‘The Course of Empire.’ The series follows the course of Western Civilization as epitomized by the City of Los Angeles, from prehistoric times to the present day, to an imagined…

In December of 1981, the week before Christmas, Meryl Meisler was offered a full-time job as an art teacher at I.S. 291 in Bushwick, Brooklyn. At the time, she was working part-time in East New York and the opportunity should have been ideal. But instead it gave Meisler pause. That’s because four years earlier, on July 13, 1977, while she…

In an interview with Duncan Cooper from The Fader, Danny Brown’s thoughts on Detroit going bankrupt: “At the end of the day, it’s probably something that should’ve been done 10 years ago. For the entire time that I’ve been living—born and raised here—we always had some hope that shit was about to change. They was about to do this, to…

Tonight my son and I are heading to PNC Park to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates play the Miami Marlins. It’s become an annual outing for us. It’s special too because it’ll be the first time in my adult life that the team is in playoff contention. That’s because, for anyone who’s been paying attention, the Pirates have been losing for…

In John Philip Falter’s “Sunday Gardening” painting, originally published on the July 1, 1961 cover of the Saturday Evening Post, the contrast is blatant to say the least. We see the tidy neighbor, Mr. Jones, tending to his neatly trimmed hedges against the backdrop of a well-manicured lawn and freshly painted home. His neighbor, however, a man named Red, is…

In Steven Rubin’s Vacationland, a photography collection that examines life in rural Maine over a 30-year period starting in the early 1980s, an essay by Patricio Maya Solís introduces the work. The essay, titled “Why Do Hipsters Grow Mullets?,” places the aesthetics depicted in Rubin’s photographs into a larger, more current cultural framework. Specifically, Solís focuses on the way that pop…

On June 22, 1996, the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan converged on the city hall building in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Seventeen members had massed on the second-floor promenade, dressed in white hoods and with a permit from city officials allowing them to hold a rally. Led that day by Jeffery Berry, a National Imperial Wizard at that time, the…

In Rosalind Solomon’s Portraits in the Time of AIDS, 1988, the epidemic is laid bare in a series of intimate snapshots that depict the people who were not only battling the disease, but who were socially stigmatized by its diagnosis. Rosalind’s photographs, originally shown in 1988 at New York University’s Grey Gallery, were exhibited during the height of the AIDS

In 1985, British photographer Mark Power was commissioned by the Children’s Society, which was then the UK’s third largest charity organization for young people, to document what childhood was like in different parts of the country. In his summary of the Childrens Society Photographs, Power recalls the origins of the work and the economic climate of Thatcher’s England: “The brief…

While looking through books last week in a thrift shop in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, I found a copy of Jim Knipfel’s Quitting the Nairobi Trio. Discovering the book, which chronicles Knipfel’s six-month stay in a Minnesota psychiatric ward following a suicide attempt, felt like a good omen.

In a post this morning over at The Lively Morgue, a look back at May 15, 1979 as two young kids set off from Brooklyn Heights across a freshly painted Brooklyn Bridge. Walking hand-in-hand, the pair is en route to Manhattan on a day when, as the caption reads, “sunshine was just triumphing over hazy fog.”

(Photograph: Neal Boenzi/The New York

From the annals of American political cartooning, an Udo J. Keppler illustration from Puck magazine (vol. 61, no. 1575), circa 1907: “Illustration shows Theodore Roosevelt standing on a hill in the background as two large bears labeled ‘Interstate Commerce Commission’ and ‘Federal Courts’ break-up a crowd of Wall Street capitalists and stock market manipulators, causing them to scatter in all directions. The…

Pictured is a photograph of Henry L. Beitzel, my grandfather, mugging for the camera before his death in 1986. One of his favorite hobbies was eavesdropping on Pittsburgh law enforcement by way of his police scanner. That year for his birthday my parents upgraded his technology. My sister’s recollection of this photograph is that Pop, what we called him, was…

New plan: Buy this Scout Travelall (pictured) so that I can tow this Airstream trailer. Make it my family’s new home/mobile office. Live in a new city each month. Send the kids to school wherever. Make enough money to pay for food and gas. Eventually park it near a beach or up in the mountains or alongside a lake.