Archive for October, 2006

The Last Days of the Polaroid

Friday, October 20th, 2006

By Jason Bitner, FOUND magazine

Davy Rothbart and I started FOUND back in 2001 as a collaborative project for people to share the hilarious, strange and heartbreaking stuff that they found as they went about their lives. It could be a grocery list on a Post-it note or a dirty drawing on the back of a spiral notebook - if it was interesting, it was fair game.

Not to play favorites, but we always had a special place in our hearts for Polaroids. It seems like everyone has had the pleasure of wielding that clunky camera and snapping a few shots, watching it spit the film back out, and smelling that Polaroid scent. Once the image finally (finally!) materialized after five minutes of impatient shaking, what were you left with? Instant nostalgia - framed and faded, a picture that already looked decades old.

With the advent of digital photography, all of that is fading fast. While the era of the Polaroid picture hasn’t entirely vanished, this expensive and temperamental medium is in its waning days. The digital age offers clearer shots at cheaper prices, while allowing the photographer more freedom to manipulate and improve the picture. But you know what? We’re still suckers for the Polaroid. How can you beat a well-weathered Polaroid photo with gravel actually embedded into the white borders? That’s beauty you can’t find anywhere else.

So at FOUND we want to celebrate the last days of Polaroid. Over the years we’ve received thousands of spellbinding Polaroids from around the world. In our new book, from which these and dozens of other shots have been unearthed, we showcase our absolute favorites. We think they’re some of our best finds ever.

Leave a caption after any of the Polaroids you see here. The writers of the best three (as deemed by FOUND creators Davy Rothbart and Jason Bitner) win a copy of FOUND Polaroids. Not too shabby.

Click to enlarge

#1. #2.

#3. #4.

#5. #6.

#7. #8.

#9. #10.

See You In the Funny Papers

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Big up to the lovely and talented Jeff Newelt, aka JahFurry, SMITH magazine’s contributing editor for comics, who sent along this video, complete with explanation (not to mention a subject line — “MUST be on SMITH, asap,” and he was right):

Writer / Cartoonist Bob Fingerman — whose hilarious junior high zombie tale RECESS PIECES (think Our Gang, crossed with classic MAD’s Kurtzman/Elder, crossed with George Romero) was just published — created a video “homage to the great social engineering shorts of days gone by.” Fingerman shows us what goes into the making of an “Autobiographical Comic,” a process that apparently involves frequent visits to the altar of St. Onan.

You’ll go blind that way.

Latest Manifestation of the Digital Sublime

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

I can’t help but feel that we’re living in an interesting time for media. While blogs have proved that they’re here to stay, it’s still a bit of a free-for-all as bloggers, the public, and the mavens of established media decide how to use them. Blogging software and HTML code provide new ways to organize words and pictures, and we’re sill very much, well, playing with them. “Play” is the right word; so is “explore.” It feels like a frontier town out here sometimes, or the early days of a gold rush.

It’s always a pleasure to run across another novel scheme for dealing with the gobs of information that seem to be the most abundant substance in this modern world of ours. The latest one such I’ve found is the Blogs With A Face project, which claims to be the “World’s Largest Collage of Bloggers.”

Blogs With A Face = a new take on the biggest blogroll imaginable, with clickable thumbs of about a kermillion bloggers’ faces (and nothing else). It takes as long to load as you might expect, but is worth a look. And if you maintain a site, of course, it appears that they have space for more bloggy visages.


Signs of Life in New Orleans

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Pictured below and on this Flickr stream: incredible shots of signs taken from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Katrina.

The sum total is a self-published book by Eric Harvey Brown and Lori Baker, Signs of Life, and one of our favorite modern mashups. It goes something like this: Someone, or many people, picks up a camera, OurHouse.jpg

finds a thread and through-line, uploads to Flickr, creates a book using a one-stop publishing shop like Lulu, sells it online to whoever’s interested, donates the proceeds to the source of the images when such a donation is appropriate, and gives out food and drink at a party to promote the book and/or cause where real people meet face to face. What’s better than that?Santa_NOLA.jpg

For our many readers in the tri-state area, that party is tonight, in Jersey City, at Bar Majestic, 6-8pm. More receptions follow later this fall. Click here for deets.


Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Everyone in Britain is doing it. “Britain’s biggest blog,” set up by the National Trust, invites everyone to blog about their day to create a social history archive of everyday life for future generations. According to this piece in the BBC, “the project was inspired by the Mass Observation Archive which was set up in the late 1930s to let ordinary people record their lives in diaries for future generations.”


Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Great Flickr set of Battlestar Galactica cakes in celebration of a guy named Matt’s 31st birthday. Matt and his obviously much cherished wife spent all day baking and icing before his pals come over to celebrate with him.270792417_5dff69c520.jpg
(Blow o’ the candle to Boing Boing where I saw the link.)


Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Philippe Halsman, storied photographer for Life magazine, knew how to make subjects — like Richard Nixon and Marilyn Monroe — really jump!
The Smithsonian (no relation) tells you all about him in words and images.indelible_monroe.jpg

Jailed Blogger Josh Wolf — Record Breaker?

Monday, October 16th, 2006

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that SF-based videoblogger Josh Wolf is “well on his way to becoming the longest-jailed journalist in U.S. history.” Wolf, 24, was tossed in the clink for refusing to turn over video he shot during an anti-globalization protest and the ensuing scuffle between protesters and police. He’s now on day 57 in a federal prison in Dublin, CA.

Read an earlier post on Josh’s situation here.

Josh is updating his blog with the help of some friends (there’s no computer access in most Federal prisons) who are posting his letters on his own site here, where you can also get info on where to send donations and well wishes.

Muhammad Yunus and his magic microloans

Monday, October 16th, 2006

There’s no good reason business credit should extend only to people with hundreds or thousands of customers and a high overhead. Street vendors. Juice makers. Goat herders. All over the world, people like this struggle to come up with $30 or $50 to get the equipment they need to embark on the entrepreneurial ventures they have in mind.

Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist (Wikipedia entry), was the first to offer microloans to his nation’s impoverished entrepreneurs – most of them women – through his Grameen Bank in the mid-1970s. “Here’s $50. Pay it back and you can borrow more,” has been his simple offer to very poor lendees. Now, 30 years later, Yunus has been honored with a Nobel Prize for helping people lift themselves out of poverty by loaning them a few bucks at a time.

What’s on your list?

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Are you a woulda’, shoulda’, coulda’, don’t have the time, money, or the significant other to do X, Y or Z, kind of person? If you answered, “kinda, sorta, not really sure what you mean by that,” then I suggest you read this piece from the Christian Science Monitor.

We all have our list of things we would like to accomplish before we die—you know, countries we’d like to visit, books we’d like to write, museums we’d like to visit at least one, cities we’d love to live in — but do we ever go out and do anything on our list so we can finally cross it off?

Don’t answer that.

When Carrie Tuhy lost her gig as a magazine editor, she decided to write down the “to-do” list that had been floating around in her pretty little head. But instead of keeping things vague like, “travel more,” she got pretty specific, like “go to India”and Abracadabra, she actually made it to India and was able to cross that off her list of things to do.

This got me thinking about SMITH’s motto, Everyone has a Story. I think those to-do lists (and not the “pick up the laundry” variety) are part of our story. They hold our dreams, wishes and hopes—and sometimes, that to-do list is the very thing that keeps us going day in and day out.

So what’s on your to-do list?

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