Friday, August 10, 2007

In Search of CO2LED-2

Though it is not uncommon for me to embark on Friday or Saturday Nights photo walks or projects and in the process bring attention to cultural events in the city most of my photography occur during the day or early evening.

However, since in recent years I have found it increasingly more difficult to deal with the heat during the dog days of summer ... this past Wednesday and as I did last August, instead of venturing out into the streets during the day I waited until the sun had almost gone down before heading out to Crystal City ... in search of the CO2LED-2 art installation.

While it would have been much easier for me to have visited the CO2LED installation in Rosslyn I decided to take the train out to Crystal City FIRST and, perhaps, on the way back stop by the installation in Rosslyn. Primarily, because and not unlike my interest in the L'Enfant Plaza which was designed by I. M. Pei, the Crystal City Complex has been on my list for more than a year. That is not to say that Rosslyn is not on my list as well because it is. But, my interests in Crystal City also has a great deal to do with the Crystal City BID.

Not unlike my interests in the Downtown DC BID or Golden Triangle BID.

Arriving at the Crystal City Complex shortly before 8:45 PM and would spend more than an hour ... in search of CO2LED-2. Cognitive that, as a black male, my very presence and, in deed, existence aroused suspicion I was not deterred nor afraid to inquire of folks passing by in the streets, a concierge at a hotel and two policeman who were dining at Chipotle if they knew where the CO2LED art installation was.

When I explained to the policeman that there, eventually, will be three installations but, at this time, only two had been constructed - one in Rosslyn and the second in Crystal City - and that the one in Crystal City was at the south entrance to Crystal City at Crystal Drive and Jefferson Davis Highway ... one of the policeman directed me to walk left (south) along Crystal Drive which would intersect, eventually, with Route 1.

If I had known that the CO2LED-2 installation was almost in Del Ray which is where Del Ray Glass Company is I certainly would not have taken the train to Crystal City. My ex-lover and house mate Greg Willis worked at Del Ray Glass Company for many years. After walking several blocks and south of the to the Potomac Yard Complex I, as a black male, decided to head back to WDC.

While I did not find CO2LED-2, I still regard the trip to Crystal City as a success. Just walking around the complex, at night, without the interference and obstruction of others, provided me the opportunity to get a better perspective of the Crystal City Complex. Which will be to my advantage during my next trip.

As I headed back into the SW WDC and reflecting on the haunting similarites between Crystal City, Rosslyn and the I. M. L'Enfant Plaza Complex, I have a better appreciation and understanding of my interests in these particular urban complexes.

What comes to mind when I think of Rosslyn, Crystal City and the I. M . Pei complex at L'Enfant Plaza are the terms "Desolate - Urban - Metropolis - Architecture".

The Dream Concert at Radio City Music Hall in NYC . Tuesday, 18 September 2007

LGBT People Murdered in Hate Crimes to Be Honored by "Gay American Heroes"

Sharon Kersten, Kersten Communications
Office: 305.867.0933 / Cell: 305.458.3639
Memorial and Exhibition to Serve as Tool for Remembrance, Education and Compassion

August 9, 2007 -- A "Who’s Who" of gay and straight culture have come together to create a national memorial to honor LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people who have been murdered because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Led by Scott Hall, Frank Kameny, US. Representative Barney Frank and Chip Arndt, the idea for Gay American Heroes was born on March 13, 2007, when Founder and President Scott Hall learned about the brutal murder of Ryan Keith Skipper. Ryan was a 25 year-old Floridian who lived in Polk County, not far from Hall. Ryan was viciously stabbed more than 20 times and was left to die; for one reason --- Ryan Keith Skipper was gay.

Hall had twice been the victim of hate crimes and was quickly spurred into action. Within days he contacted longtime friend Frank Kameny, pioneering gay rights activist, who immediately recognized the importance of Hall's project. James T. Sears, noted writer and historian, also voiced his early strong support of the project. The group then assembled a team to create the Gay American Heroes Foundation, a not-for-profit organization.

With Founding Board Members Chip Arndt, Jack Rutland and William J. Iannarelli leading the way, Gay American Heroes’ mission was established: 1) to honor and remember LGBT people who have been murdered because of there sexual orientation and/or gender identity; 2) to engage and inform the public about hate crimes against LGBT persons; and 3) to inspire compassion and greater appreciation for, and acceptance of, diversity.

Hall traveled to New York City where he met with Cyndi Lauper to discuss the project. Ms. Lauper immediately offered to help in any way that she could. Hall also met with "Grey’s Anatomy" T. R. Knight, who expressed his heartfelt support for the project.

The first phase of the Foundation’s plan is to assemble a traveling memorial and exhibition constructed of six individual rainbow-colored, multi-dimensional panels bearing the photos, names, ages and occupations of LGBT hate crime victims. The eight-foot tall memorial will stretch more than 100 feet. Expected completion date for the exhibit is December 2007.

Once completed, Gay American Heroes volunteers will transport the display throughout the country to college campuses, LGBT events and to communities where anti-gay murders have occurred. An informational welcome tent will include guest speakers and educational materials. At each venue, the volunteers will enlist local community leaders to present informative programs.

"We want to reach out to communities as soon as possible following a deadly anti-gay hate crime," adds Hall. "We want to support the family and friends of the victim, as well as to work with local officials, law enforcement and service organizations to provide counseling and outreach."

In addition to U.S. Representative Barney Frank, Gay American Heroes’ Honorary Board members include Elke Kennedy, whose son Sean William Kennedy was murdered on May 16, 2007 and U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, the first American wounded in the war in Iraq. (Complete list below)

Several local and national organizations have already declared their support for the Foundation, including Equality Florida, Freedom Democrats of Miami-Dade, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Pridelines Youth Services, Safe Schools South Florida, Stonewall Library & Archives, The Trevor Project and Unity Coalition of Miami-Dade.

The ultimate goal of Gay American Heroes Foundation is to establish a permanent memorial in Washington, DC.
Texas, July 27, 2007: A Texas man charged in the slaying of Kenneth Cummings, Jr. said that he was "doing God's work" when he went hunting for a gay man to kill.

South Carolina, May 16, 2007: Sean William Kennedy, 20, was leaving a bar when a man jumped out of a car, punched Sean, and then took off. Sean fell and hit his head. He died less than 24 hours later.

California, March 16, 2007 – The body of a 24 year-old transgender woman, Ruby Rodriguez, was found in the Mission District of San Francisco. This murder comes at the heels of at least two other violent deaths of transgender women of color in the area over the past six months.

Florida, March 13, 2007 - Ryan Keith Skipper, 25 years old, was stabbed more than 20 times, his lifeless body left at the side of the road. Two suspects bragged to their friends about savagely killing him.

New York, November 2006 - Michael Sandy, an African-American gay man, died after he was beaten to a pulp by a group of young men. This isn't the first time this group of men led gay men to remote locations to be savagely beaten.

Gay American Heroes Foundation will be funded through private and grant donations, offline and on-line fundraisers and partnership donations. The Dade Community Foundation is currently managing the Foundation’s contributions and is fiscally sponsoring Gay American Heroes. This gives the Foundation all the tax benefits afforded to 501(c)3 organizations, pending its own independent designation as a 501(c)3 organization.

For further information, please visit or call (321) 506-8738

About the choice of "Gay American Heroes" as the name of the Foundation
Gay -- The majority of the heterosexual community does not distinguish as to whether someone is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Most just put them all in one category, Gay. Since it is the community at large that GAH seeks to educate, the decision was made to simply use the word "Gay."

American – Unfortunately, anti-LGBT violence is universal. In fact, in some countries, governments condone torture and execution of LGBT people. The GAH project is focusing first on Americans, to help America live up to its promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" – beginning with guaranteeing LGBT people the right to live safety in their own communities.

Heroes -- All people who live honestly about their sexual orientation are heroic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal freedom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately give their life for said freedom makes them Heroes.

Founder and President: Scott Hall

Founding Board of Directors
Chip Arndt, David da Silva Cornell, William Iannarelli, Jack Rutland and Gypsey E. Teague

Honorary Board of Directors
Chad Allen
Sgt. Eric Alva
Billy Bean
Ron Brenesky
Michael Cendejas
Alan Cumming
Matt Foreman
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank
Bobby Gant
Reichen Lehmkuhl
Billy Masters
David Mixner
Christopher Rice
Herb Sosa
Monica Taher
Andy Towle
Board of Advisors
Warren Burdick – Oklahoma
Lillian Faderman - California
Frank Kameny, Ph.D. - Washington, DC
Elke Kennedy – South Carolina
Bruce Presley – New York and Ft. Lauderdale
Jim Sears, Ph.D. - North Carolina
Nadine Smith - Florida
Marilyn K. Volker, Ed.D. – Florida
Perform a Google search on the words "Gay" and "Murder," and more than three million references appear. Though many hate crimes go unreported, the rise in violence against LGBT people has reached near epidemic levels, traversing boundaries of race, economic status and geography.

While the actual numbers are unclear or undocumented, each and every individual who has been murdered because of his/her sexual orientation or gender identity has name, a face, a family and a story.
Gay American Heroes Foundation is poised to honor murdered LGBT men and women, and to present their stories as a tool for understanding and compassion. It is through silence that these heinous crimes are allowed to continue.

*LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender

Friday's Photo of the Week . 10 August 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

ASCENSION 2007 / Fire Island Pines - 17 - 19 August

A View of Stead Park ... From The Perspective of A Black Man!

Having visited the Whitman Walker Clinic for my scheduled 6 month phlebotomy I'd embark on my ritual 14th and P streets photo walk which is something that I have done for many years.

After photographing Windows and Men At Work on Church Street, between 14th and 15th Street, NW, I'd head over to Stead Park for the purpose of photographing the mural on the exterior wall of Cafe Luna. Which has interested me for many years but I have not yet been able to locate information pertaining to its history. Which I, almost am certain, must have had something to do with Cafe Luna's former owner Andy Shallal. Who recently opened the Bus Boys & Poets.

Usually when I pass by Stead Park there are young men shooting hoops or kicking soccer balls and while I have never had a problem with the latino nor white guys - almost always, I've had confrontations with the black guys who 'diss me'. Sometimes saying "I better not see any of your images of me in The Blade".

Perhaps, they should read my 13 May 2005 Letter to the Editor pertaining to class and race issues within the gay and lesbian community.

As a black man, I often encounter forms of racism and sexism from blacks that they would not dispense toward a white person. But, the racism is not only from other blacks but whites as well. In particular, white lesbians as was the case during the 2005 Dyke March or a few months before with the February 2005 incident at Stead Park.

While photographing the mural at Stead Park from the street level and observing a woman walking toward me with a parasol I thought, to myself, "it is so hot out today, a parasol is exactly what I need". As she neared me I realized that the lady was Shira Keyes who I've known for several years through my association with Code Pink for Women.

She, again, thanked me for the images that I took of her and her daughter during last year's Planet Arlington - World Music Festival. I told her that, unfortunately, I would not be able to attend the 2007 event since I'll be in New York City from the 1 - 15 September.

I then jokingly said "... a parasol is just what I need for today's heat!". Agreeing, she said that she picked it up from a store in Chinatown.

Mentioning that the mural at Stead Park was amongst my ongoing projects I told her since there were no basketball or soccer players around that it was a great opportunity for me to get some shots of the mural from a different and, perhaps, better perspective. I then inquired if I may capture the mural as a reflection in her sun shades.

"From The Perspective Of ..." is an ongoing project that began on 08 March 1992 when I photographed 'my other' and he photographed me at the hotel just off Scott Circle. A few days later we flew out to San Francisco.

While "From The Perspective Of ..." often sheds light on my experiences as a black male it is an ongoing project that invites others to express their opinions or share their experiences pertaining to issues and matters that are important to or that affect them.

Back to the mural at Stead Park.

Without the interferance and sometimes obstruction of the players I was able see, for the first time, that the mural is an artistic expression of the 'Wizard Of Oz'. Which I will discuss in a seperate blog posting.

With the absence of racism or obstruction of others I always get a different and much better perspective of the world.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Huancara at Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Saturday, 4 August Summer Showcase

Twice a month, from 2 June through 15 September the Indian Summer Showcase concert series at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian presents Native music from throughout the Americas.

While the main concert takes place on Saturday evening, twice a month, at the Welcome Plaza a Friday noon concert also held the day before each scheduled Saturday Indian Summer Showcase performance.

This past Saturday, 4 August 2007 I photographed and videotaped a performance by Huancara.

Click the above photo to view my Huancara - NMAI - Summer Showcase - 04 August 2007 and Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian photosets.

Videos are as follows:

1. Video 1
2. Video 2
3. Video 3
4. Video 4
5. Video 5
6. Video 6
7. Video 7
8. Video 8
9. Video 9 (Compilation)

Also of interest may will be my 07-07-07 Mother Earth project which includes a photography set and a video photo montage.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sunday Jam Session at Dupont Circle, 5 August 2007

I had not seen Gary since my 21 April 2007 Saturday Photo Walk when passing through Logan Circle that I happened and then photographed him. Though the images have not yet been posted to flickr when revisiting some of my April 2006 images a few days later I also came across images of Gary that I had taken exactly one year before on 21 April 2006 in Dupont Circle.

During my 5 August 2007 Sunday Photo Walk through Dupont Circle I photographed and videotaped Gary jamming with several others, including percussionist Alfredo Hernandez from the Malcolm X. Drummers and Dancers. Two others who I had not met before were highway blues artist John Jack Carter and a guitarist David Getz.

I have photographed Hernandez and other Drummers in Dupont Circle since the 90's.

Click the above photo to view my Jam Session - Dupont Circle - 05 August 2007 photoset which is part of my ongoing Dupont Circle 2007 and Street Musicians 2007 projects.

Here are the videos:

1. Part 1/4
2. Part 2/4
3. Part 3/4
4. Part 4/4

Pigeon Control: NYC's Netting vs Hollywood's Birth Control

When capturing a man feeding pigeons in Dupont Circle on Sunday afternoon, 05 August 2007, I was reminded of a news story that I had heard on TV just a few days before pertaining to pigeon birth control in Hollywood.

New York City, however, is taking a much more agressive tactic with pigeon nettings. Reportedly, the illegal netters lure famished pigeons with food and they are then netted and purportedly sold out of state to restaurants and to pigeon shooting galleries.

For 10 years, Deterapigeon has been a leader in safe pigeon spike solutions in the UK. In 1995, David Jones, Director of Deterapigeon invented and patented the Defender 4 pigeon spikes which safely deter pigeons without harming them. This still remains the only pest control product recommended by the Pigeon Control Advisory Service (PiCAS).

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Trevor Pool Party - LA - Sunday, 26 August @ 1 - 6 PM

Fiddling at Dupont Circle on Thursday evening, 2 August 2007

Though I have photographed fiddlers many times before, most often at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, having captured David Knight and Edith Coakley who were fiddling in Dupont Circle on Thursday evening, 02 August 2007, I thought it was about time that I explore the difference between a fiddle and a violin.

According to Wikipedia, the term fiddle refers to a violin when used in folk music. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music. Fiddle playing, or fiddling, is a style of music.

A violin is sometimes informally called a fiddle, regardless of the kind of music being played with it. The word "violin" is derived from Italian and the word "fiddle" is native to English. The two words are etymologically related, however, both ultimately deriving from the same Germanic word.

Speaking of fiddles - a few years ago, when I lived on Constitution Avenue on Capitol Hill, late one night, and for the first time, I happened upon Gordon Park's 1985 PBS historical drama Soloman Northrup's Odyssey. Since then, whenever I see a fiddler reflections of my personal experiences pertaining to integrated relationships with whites often come to mind. And, in particular, when I now see fiddlers at the annual 2006 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Since my experiences, over the years, have not been unlike those of Soloman Northrup which was produced by Gordon Parks, and not unlike the sound of a fiddle, the movie still resonates truths so profound that I've spoken of in several of my ongoing projects including "When White Folks Come Around" and "It's A Camera, Not A Gun!".

I've known many a white person who while clapping their hands and stumping their feet to the sounds of Negro music were, simultaneously, negatively reinforcing and discriminating against me.

Click the above photo to view my Fiddlers David Knight and Edith Coakley - Dupont Circle - 02 August 2007 photoset which is part of my oingoinbg Dupont Circle 2007 and Street Musicians 2007 projects.

And here is the video.