Archive for November, 2006

Most Redundant and at the Same Time Terrifying Combination of Back-of-the-Truck Signage Seen on a Road Trip from New York City to Pittsburgh in Order to Spend Thanksgiving with the In-Laws

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

On the truck’s bumper sticker:


On the truck’s roll-up rear door:


Second Helpings: Baste & Bake With the Comix Crowd

Friday, November 24th, 2006

activate.jpgComix spot Indie Spinner Rack (”Art Comics Talk Without the Snobbery”) somehow assembled just about the whole comics collective ACT-I-VATE for a massive and tasty Thanksgiving day roundtable. Click here for the podcast with Dean Haspiel, Nick Bertozzi, Josh Neufeld, Dan Goldman (Shooting War), Tim Hamilton, Leland Purvis, Michel Fiffe, Nikki Cook, Mike Dawson, Jennifer Tong, Ryan Roman and Minister of Hype Jeff Newelt (he’s the furry guy lurking by the doorway).

Every pilgrim has a story

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

276927888_4dff3e490d.jpgSo what do the relatives of the men and women who brought us turkey, pumpkin pie and a day off think about Thanksgiving?

Well, it kind of depends on who you ask. asap, the AP’s wire service for the hip and cool, did a little digging and got the scoop from the descendants of the Mayflower and the American Indian tribe that (legend says) first met the pilgrims that fateful day in Plymouth.

You check out their responses here.

Flickr Faves: Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

303352269_b106007fff.jpgI love getting lost in the dreamy, streamy world of Flickr (many of the images that you see on SMITH are from Flickr photos marked as Creative Commons, which means the creators have allowed the public to showcase or use them, with certain restrictions depending on the creator’s wishes). Flickr’s a great way to get lost for hours, but few of us can spare the time … even though we love the art and randomness of the click click click.

That’s one of the many reasons that once a week SMITH photo editor Audrie Lawrence will be creating a stream of Flickr photos she’s marked as a “fave,” often around a theme. Although we at SMITH are no strangers to outsmarting ourselves, this week we’re playing it straight—and talking turkey. “Nothing is more essential to thanksgiving than the food,” Lawrence says. “So this week I’ve put together a set of my top 10 food pictures for Thanksgiving. Some are traditional, some are not. All are yummy.”

Happy Thanksgiving.

400 Words Party, Nov. 29

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

And now, for a moment of self-plugging. (I swear, it’s not as filthy as it sounds.)

Some of you know that while I’m not working for my employers, or blogging for this guy (hi, Larry!), I can be found putting together a little magazine of short-short nonfiction called 400 Words. The premise is pretty simple: I ask people to write a true, personal story of 400 words or less on a theme, and publish the standouts on my website and also as an annual book, which is tres exciting. (Don’t tell the web, but I have a special soft place in my heart for print.) The first 400 Words print issue was made up of 400-word autobiographies. For the second issue, I had people write about their compulsions.

This morning, a FedEx freight truck pulled up to the door of my apartment in Brooklyn and slowly disgorged the entire print run of 400 Words, Issue 2. It came on a pallet. A pallet!

If you’re in the New York area, you are invited to come out on Wednesday, November 29, and celebrate the launch of 400 Words, Issue 2: Compulsions. The festivities occur at Club Midway: a warm, cozy, funky-fabulous spot at 25 Avenue B (between 2nd and 3rd Streets), in Manhattan.

The party is from 7-9:30 PM. Come drink, read (as at the last party, you can sign up to read something whether you had a piece in the issue or not), meet people, and klatch about the odd little things you do for no good reason, or for reasons you know to be perfectly bizarre. It’ll be liberating!

Best of all, and I’m going to put this in capital letters here, the club has HALF-PRICE WELL DRINKS FOR LAUNCH PARTY PEOPLE (that’s you) for the duration of the event.

Please come out and support the project. It will be a good time, you’ll drink for cheap, and maybe you’ll meet someone else who shares your irrepressible need to speak in sentences that end in multiples of nine syllables…or whatever it is you do.

I can’t wait to see you there.

Text Your Ex?

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

19616063_9104ca62c7.jpgWired News’ “Sex Drive” columnist Regina Lynn has started a lively discussion with her recent piece, Think Before Pinging Your Ex. Wondering aloud if one should engage in a post-relationship communiqué she writes:

If you drop the person a line and then return to your cone of silence, you stir up hope and curiosity and create the expectation that more dialog might be possible. And then when it’s not forthcoming, you have to settle back into the knowledge that you were not actually resuming connection, you just had a moment of nostalgia and affection you couldn’t resist sharing.

Who hasn’t wrestled with the lure of an ex’s blog, or social networking or online dating profile?

Hands up. We’ve got tons of hearbreaking and sidesplitting Ex tales here — what’s yours? And remember: don’t drink and dial if you’re heading back to your hometown this holiday season. Their exes in them hills.

Congressional Scandals

Monday, November 20th, 2006

This week’s question:

You’re in Congress right now—congrats! What’s the scandal that’s going to bring you down?

Next week’s question:
Since Murdoch pulled the plug on OJ, he’s asked you pen an “If I Did It, Here’s How it Happened” book instead—what’s yours about?

Your answer goes here (in 100 words or less, please). We’ll post our favorites on the front page of SMITH.

Still Life With Craigslist

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Still Life With Craigslist

Photographs by Steve Giralt

Photography, one might argue, is the art of noticing and capturing what’s hidden, or fleeting, or merely often ignored. At least in part, it’s about seeing what other people don’t.

Take Craigslist. Most people would look at the site and see nothing but a sea of classified ads and a collection of discussion forums. But Steve Giralt saw something more there: a community of real people, all of them with stories. Indeed, the New York City-based photographer has relied on Craigslist in almost every aspect of his work—to find models and exhibition spaces, to promote his shows, and, as he puts it, to generally “entertain myself.”

Giralt’s idea was a simple one. Not long ago, he posted an ad on Craigslist seeking people who wished to have their portraits taken. He laid down one rule: The prospective model had to have seen the ad on Craigslist (or else needed to be brought to the studio by someone who had). “I didn’t turn anyone away,” says the 28-year-old Giralt, who hails from Miami and was recently named one of Photo District News magazine’s 30 emerging photographers to watch. “People could come dressed as they wished; my job was to try to capture their personality on film.”

Among those who answered the ad were college roommates, teachers, expectant couples, students, musicians, graphic designers, dancers, Cher impersonators, actors, and professional models. “Each and every person arrived with a story to tell, often one about Craigslist,” says Giralt. “One woman told me a tale about how she found her job, apartment, boyfriend, and furniture on the site.” In exchange for allowing Giralt to take the photographs, each person receives a free print of his or her choice.

“It’s amazing, really,” Giralt marvels. “I post an ad and then usually start receiving responses within 30 minutes. Most times, I have to take down the ad within 24 hours because I have more responses than I can handle. I’m intrigued by how this one corner of the Web has become such a huge part of so many different lives. Craigslist is a world unto itself, and I love photographing it.”

Jessica Jean Turner
Turner says she has “done pretty much everything on Craigslist.” She’s found jobs, apartments, her TV, friends, and “a few weirdos.” When Turner met Giralt earlier this year, she was living in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and “pretty confused on what I wanted to do in New York.” While she says she’s still uncertain about her future, experience in Giralt’s studio has made her less nervous about pursuing a career in face modeling. “I am having a marvelous time in the on the journey to figuring it out,” she says. “And Craigslist has just been absolutely terrific for me! I just don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have that and MySpace.”

Jacob J. King
A 20-year-old student at Pace University, King works at the Banana Republic in the World Financial Center and is pursuing modeling jobs on the side. He uses Craigslist to find paid modeling work and photo shoots that will help him build up his portfolio.

Carmen Shamwell
The oddest thing she’s found through Craiglist? A part-time gig scooping gelato at a maternity store in the summer of 2004. “Don’t ask,” says the 25-year-old Bronx resident. Shamwell wanted to have a nice photo to give to her boyfriend. “And she was very proud of her stomach,” says Giralt, “so she showed it to me for a few frames.”

A week after the shoot, she sent Giralt this email:
Please let me know if you ever need a muse, seriously. It is rare that I take a good picture, and you made me look so pretty. I’ve always wanted to get into modeling, but I just don’t have enough material to go on…with the pictures you just did, though, I am off to a good start! By just posting that ad on CL and asking people for your project, you don’t know how much you’ve done for me.

Jay Lafond and Stacey Alexander
Lafond and Alexander met on Craigslist, and they decided their first face-to-face meeting would be at Giralt’s studio, where they’d have their picture taken. “They were fun, and weren’t afraid to have fun in front of the camera,” says Giralt. “I’m waiting to hear if anything has happened with them since they met.”

Richard Wilson
Wilson is a 56-year-old photographer who began his career shooting babies in department stores, and is now pursuing his lifelong dream of acting in and directing films. “Ritchie was an interesting guy,” says Giralt. “He looks on Craigslist for opportunities to be photographed.”

Racheline Maltese
Maltese is an actor, writer, and media analyst living in Spanish Harlem with one roomie and two cats. She has used Craigslist for auditions; freelance writing jobs; telling people wondering if X, Y, or Z is an acting/modeling scam that it usually is; finding an apartment; buying and selling tickets to concerts and film festivals; trying (and failing) to find lodging in Sydney. She says she sends Giralt’s photos of her to casting agencies to show the range of both her look and her wardrobe. “Everyone says it makes her look like the boy Oscar Wilde wanted to be,” Giralt says, “which charms her to no end.”

Kim Domke
Domke wrote this note to Giralt after seeing the ad: “I’m interested in learning more about/participating in your project. I’m a 23 yr old female, 5′7″, blonde, who used to work in management consulting and recently has delved into sales, promotional ‘modeling’, and conventions. I’ve always been comfortable in front of the camera, but rarely worked w/pros. I’m also a dancer and used to direct a jazz&hiphop company.”

Christine Rubino
A dancer, choreographer, fitness professional, massage therapist, model, and designer, Rubino says she uses Craigslist to find jobs in all these areas of her professional life. Giralt was looking for an Elvis impersonator, and she wrote to him: “I don’t look like Elvis, but I am looking for someone to photograph me as a Cher impersonator. Interested?”

Shabbat Ruscioelli and Joel
Shabbat was seven months pregnant with twins when she and Joel answered the ad. They soon found themselves trudging through a record 26.9 inches of snow to get to the studio. A few months later, Giralt received this note (with photos, of course):

They came out on Easter at 12:40 & 1:10 p.m.
I had a beautiful drug free birth….
and they were absolutely huge!!
He (Theo) weighed 7lb 4oz.
She (Violet) weighed 6lb 8oz.
They were both the size and length
of full term singles!!! -Totally Amazing!

To Do: Hear SMITH, See Lappé, Download Rushkoff

Monday, November 20th, 2006

A brief pause for some promotional spots from SMITH contributors, all hearty and occasionally nutritional, with very little aftertaste.

SMITH TONIGHT: Our fans in upstate New York will want to catch SMITH editor Larry Smith, aka me, interviewed on “Like Mother, Like Son,” Patricia and Ramsay Adams’ show on WJFF Radio Catskill, tonight from 9:30-10pm. I yak on about the golden age of storytelling we’re so lucky to be soaking in, why everyone has a story (and yet most of us need an editor), and the crazy little thrill I get each and every time a submission arrives in my in-box, especially when it concerns a woman who has stolen Mick Jagger’s urine and keeps it in her freezer.

LAPPÉ ON WEDNESDAY: Shooting War’s Anthony Lappé hosts “The War Room” his no-holds-barred political variety show about the war in Iraq, the media and more, with Lappé in the Bill Maher seat, only better dressed. 77372410_29e0e53d70_m.jpgThis week’s guest is Salon’s Iraq correspondent Philip Robertson, and Lappé will be showing clips from one of the inspirations for Shooting War, the award-winning Showtime documentary BattleGround: 21 Days on the Empire’s Edge. Bonuses: 1) Test your knowledge of American foreign policy, and win a prize; 2) First person to mention SMITH magazine to Lappé wins a free round of Mo’s delicious potato latkes (pictured here—yum!) from your host (AL—I’m good for it-LS]. It all goes down on November 22, 7pm at Mo Pitkins in NYC’s Lower East Side.

RUSHKOFF, NOW AND FOREVER: Douglas Rushkoff’s groundbreaking comic Testament is available as a free PDF along with Rushkoff’s notes explaining the first five issues of the comic and how and why he decided to remix the Bible with his meta, mind-bending, technicolor take on its place in modern times. Dan Goldman calls Testament, “one of the smartest monthly series out there. Crisscrossing the Old Testament, media theory, sociopolitical satire and cutting-edge science, Testament posits that the Bible is not written but being written still, modern times acting out (and changing) age-old stories … this is a great big hurrah for comics in general.”

Rushkoff does a podcast with BoingBoing here.
Rushkoff riffs at the Disinformation conference here.
I love this part. “Attention Deficit Order, for the most part … is an adaptive strategy, a reaction to a world where you’re programmed everywhere you look. We live in what they call an attention economy now, where they’re competing for eyeball hours. So you drug the people so they can give you more eyeball hours. You take Ritalin, I promise you’ll be able to stare at boring Web sites for hours.”

Times Two

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Every once in a while, the New York Times shows that it is still capable of delivering something like surprise. Take today’s Op-Ed page.

Take, in particular, Nicholas Kristof’s gritty and shockingly personal (for the NYT) reply to a woman who wrote to say that he was spending too much time talking about Sudan and should focus on problems closer to home.

A woman named Marguerite H. wrote to me recently to complain about my columns on Darfur. “While the situation there is dreadful, we have plenty of needs to be filled at home,” she wrote. “You would be better off putting your energy into making a difference here at home.”

So, Marguerite, meet Halima Abdelkarim. That’s her photo above, and her life is partly in your hands. Listen to her story, and see if you still think we should put off helping her until we have solved our own problems. …
You have other priorities, I know, and so do we all. But our indifference has already allowed Halima to be gang-raped twice and her sister murdered in the first genocide of the 21st century. So, Marguerite, look Halima in the eye, and decide if you’re willing to turn away as she is slaughtered, or how many times you’re willing to allow her to be raped.

Then look down at the bottom of the page. There you’ll find a caustically subversive confection by novelist Bruce Wagner, who takes a bracing walk along the hall of mirrors that is truthiness and Juiciness:

He had many fans and supporters: the actress Vivica A. Fox said that, ultimately, he was a professional, and showed heart. Blood, sweat and tears — not just that of others — were shed. Ms. Fox said, “I especially enjoyed watching him — with the big old arms and the good booty.” Oh God, God, God.

But that was the moment I realized that my research assistant was sending me the file not of O. J. Simpson, who will star in a two-part show on Fox this month titled “If I Did It: Here’s How It Happened” (which gives details of the murders “if he were the one responsible”) but of Emmitt Smith, newly crowned champion of “Dancing With the Stars.” Still, I decided, rashly, that I had already invested too much time in my work, and that, however foolhardy, I would continue the Op-Ed propulsion, knowing full well that Mr. Smith had not committed any of the crimes that Mr. Simpson had been acquitted of — and yet, I would finish the essay as if he had.

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