20 August 2009

TIME Magazine

I have a piece in TIME Magazine, August 31 issue - out tomorrow, newsstands next week... check it out!

14 August 2009


I can’t imagine the burden of being known and pursued wherever one goes. A walk down the street becomes like stepping out of the tent in the Canadian far north. The “fans” like mosquitoes, immediately swarm, wanting any possible memento of their brush with celebrity; in lieu of blood they will take autographs, photos of themselves with the star, and of course the best would be some personal item like the lock of Galadriel's hair, so treasured by Gimli. It is a pleasure to meet someone at the top of their game that still remembers the humility of the regular folk. Of course, as the photographer trying to do a portrait, the immediate attention from the passersby made photographs impossible.

Anthony Hopkins related to me a story of growing up in Wales, going to see a famous singer, who spurned him and his father, to the great shame of the patriarch, and the effect it had on his relation to his fans. And I found him to be constantly gracious. The only time I was able to get a good photo, was a moment outside the Il Borro Vineyard when noone was around, and of course there is only one good frame: Anthony Hopknins, on the direction of the photographer, leaning on the Maserati (loaned in hopes of association with the celebrity.)

Of course, I can’t deny that having a portrait of the actor won’t hurt my portfolio... and the circle goes round.

03 August 2009


31 July 2009

I was talking to a farmer as he delivered his boutique organic vegetables to Angelika’s (my favorite restaurant), telling him about my tar sands trip to which he remarked that the tar sands completely blasted Hubberts peak, the concept we hoped would save the planet, out of the water. For those who don’t know it, the theory is one about the diminishing discovery, followed by production and thus scarcity of oil and the corresponding price increase and drop in consumption. Devout readers of this tome know that the tar sands extraction process is environmentally devastating on many levels, and on my recent trip I discovered that it’s profitable at about $50 a barrel (according to my source). And there is a lot of it up there under the Albertan Boreal Forest.


30 July 2009

From what I could tell at a distance, the dogs were friendly. Did that give me the liberty to traverse the junkyard completely, alone? As the total anti-materialist photographer (is that an oxymoron?), what could be more idyllic than a junkyard? But I had a flat tire and an appointment with a group of Cree first nation elders, and was in no mood to be exploring a junkyard looking for a Toyota with a particular size tire. To make the story shorter in the telling, John, the tire man, finally came to my rescue, and no Toyotas with 195-15 tires did he find either, at which point he suggested we go look through the large rows of tires that were standing at his work station, something I had opined upon arrival. The first one he found had rot around the edges (he really did know his stuff) but the second one had more tread than the tire I had cut. Yes it was my fault, the Toyota simply was not sturdy enough to jump the curb off the highway. The squeaky new factory prefab housing surrounded by grassless dirt (tar sands topsoil removed prior to strip mining the bitumen filled sand below?) was too appealing a picture. The signs with their promises of cheap schooling and easy commutes, prices the same paid in Toronto or Boston, painted a picture not dissimilar to the gold rush towns of California in the good old days. But halcyon days are back in Fort McMurray, 1600 miles north of Edmonton thanks to the tar sands. Unless you live downstream.

But let’s face it. As long as there is demand (that means us), these resources will be extracted, at whatever cost necessary. And do you really think the needs of a small minority group will be considered versus all that money to be made? I hope so.