Nappster

untitled-143-Edit

 

We’ve all done it. Last night was just a bit too good (as per usual) and your head is sinking ever closer to your desk – you need a nap, but where’s the nearest bed, bench or comfy patch of grass? Enter Google Naps, a parody of the venerable Google Maps, that lets users share the best places in towns and cities around the globe to grab a quick bit of shuteye. Think of it as Nappster.

 

The site, built on top of Google maps, started as a joke by a group of Dutch users, but data points already cover London and many other cities across the world including the US, China, Indonesia and Brazil. Curiously, here in Seattle, one main location missing is the downtown Seattle Library, where – if you can avoid the telling sharp nudge from the spoilsport security guards – many tend to nod off.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 50mm Summilux ASPH

Kodak TMax 100 (@80)
Rodinal (1+50 – 12min)
Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

Likes(2)Dislikes(0)

untitled-148-Edit

 

…and do something else, so says the message on the very retro diner lampshade sticker at the Mecca Cafe & Bar in Lower Queen Anne, one of Seattle’s great dive bars that’s been going strong since 1929. I certainly agree with the shooting film part – never had so much fun since re-discovering how creatively rewarding – and not to mention therapeutic – this supposedly dying photography art form has become.

 

Along the way, I’ve discovered some interesting documentaries about film negatives, such as The Mexican Suitcase, the story of the mysterious whereabouts of 4,500 unique Spanish Civil War Black and White negatives of three war photographers, most prominently Robert Capa, thought lost until the 1990s when they were re-discovered in the belongings of a dead Mexican general. And then there was Chevolution (which can be viewed in full on YouTube), the story of Alberto Korda’s iconic photo of Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara – wearing his black beret, bearded, with straggly hair and saintly eyes – that was subsequently turned into a poster, and seemed to appear on the walls of 1970s student bedsits more dependably than rising damp.

 

The latest recently to be released on Netflix streaming now is Men at Lunch, the backstory to arguably one of New York’s most iconic photos: Lunch atop a Skyscraper, the 1932 photo of eleven construction workers at the site of the Rockefeller Center, taking a very brave lunch break while sitting on a girder suspended 850 feet above New York City.

 

Leica M3 & 50mm Summilux ASPH
B+W Yellow Filter
Sekonic L-308S
Ilford Delta Professional 400 (@200)
Rodinal (1+50 – 11min)
Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

Likes(7)Dislikes(0)

untitled-166-Edit

 

I’ve always wondered why people (young men in particular) wear baseball caps backward. I have even seen caps worn to the side. You might suggest that the wearing of caps in this manner is considered hip. So many are wearing caps this way that it has become the norm. It often makes me wonder if you wear hats the “right” way are you considered to be a geek?

 

Nobody really knows for sure how this practice of wearing baseball caps backwards actually began. It might have been observed originally on baseball catchers so as not to impinge their line of vision. Now it seems to be hip and is associated with urban “punk” type gangs – and it is most widely believed to have originated as a street craze through gang-related styling necessity in the US prison system. 

 

One theory is that prisoners wore the caps this way so that they could get closer to loved one’s when pressing themselves up against the glass divider on visiting days. It’s thought that kids visiting in prisons with their mothers, copied the fad onto the streets after seeing fathers or elder brothers wearing baseball caps with the skip backwards.  

 

The US prison system is also responsible for giving to the world the sartorial elegance of pants hanging down and untied shoes.  Massive, eh?

 

Leica M3 & 50mm Summilux ASPH
B+W Yellow Filter
Sekonic L-308S
Ilford Delta Professional 400 (@200)
Rodinal (1+50 – 11min)
Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

Likes(1)Dislikes(0)

untitled-136-Edit

 

My barbershop trio (anther one and I could have called it a barbershop quartet – though thankfully without the straw hats and singing!) comes to an end with another Seattle institution, namely Rudy’s, the barbershop chain that was, in fact, founded here in Seattle in 1992, when the first shop opened on Capital Hill.

 

Known for their casual, retro-hip aesthetic, Rudy’s was inspired by Alex Calderwood following visit’s to yet another iconic Seattle barber, Sig’s on 3rd and Lenora. His idea was to combine the traditional barbershop experience with trendier hairstyles to appeal to the younger clientele. There are currently 15 Rudy’s in Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland and New York – and all with the same, wonderfully distinctive “Rudy’s” window livery frontage that looks into a poster and photo festooned wall, making it great to photograph.

 

Leica M3 & 50mm Summilux V2

Sekonic L-308S

Ilford Delta 100

Adox Adonal (1+50 – 14min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

 

Likes(4)Dislikes(0)

untitled-138-Edit-Edit-Edit

 

Beginning with the ancient civilisations  – sans the red, white and blue striped pole that spins round and round – of Greece, Rome, and Egypt, barber shops have historically been a place where men have gathered for not only a haircut, but often to shoot the breeze about local happenings, politics, news, weather, sporting events, and anything else under the sun.

 

There’s also the time-honoured tradition of a boys first barber shop cut; and invariably taken by their father. I remember this follicle rite of passage when I was about 4ish, while back home in sunny Springburn, where barbers didn’t take any prisoners. Father had his traditional trim with a good dollop of Brylcreem on top for good measure, while I happily played with a plastic stacking ring clown that was obviously brought along to lull me into a false sense of security. Then when he finished, the dreaded plank was quickly placed across the arms of the chair, as I was hoiked into position to discover the hard way that the first cut was definitely the deepest. Ah, happy days.

 

Obviously the barber I went to – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he went by the name of ‘Mr S Todd’ – was not a patch on Sergio’s at Pike Place Market. With all those wonderful colourful magazines of scantily clad women on the table, the kid in the photo obviously liked the idea of becoming a regular at a man’s man barber shop. Mother doesn’t look too keen on it though, does she? I think she’s thinking ‘salon stylist’ here.

 

Leica MP & 50mm Summilux V2 preasph

Kodak TMax 400 (@320)

B+W Yellow Filter

Adonal (Rodinal) – 1+50 @ 10 min

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

Likes(4)Dislikes(0)

untitled-128-Edit

 

I suspect that everyone who falls in love with Seattle adopts a neighbourhood, gathering place, park or street as the object of particular affection. Sometime Seattle resident Robyn Hitchcock wrote a song about it, Belltown Ramble, listing all his favourite haunts while – naturally enough – rambling around Belltown. For me, it is Fourth Avenue. It’s a great place to live. When I first arrived in Seattle in the fall of 2002, it was a walkable feast of shops, attractions and cultural assets – and at the head of the street there stands the constant beacon of the Space Needle.

 

But things have changed due to economic circumstances: first, one of my favourite pit stops walking home was Borders bookshop. But they went out of business, what with competition from Barnes & Noble and also Amazon. Then there was the metamorphosis of The Bon Marché – Seattle’s very own imposing department store, launched here in 1890 – into Macy’s, where at least the tradition continues of its magical star at Christmas.  But sadly, across from what’s now Macy’s, another Seattle icon went out of business in the Fourth Avenue corridor. Sherman Clay Pianos didn’t make it in the cut-throat digital world. The Steinway dealer, where the Beatles had rehearsed on the second floor, had been on Fourth since 1926 but is now gone.

 

Some, though, continue to defy the odds, such as the old-school grease monkey establishment of Dean Transmissions. It’s been there since 1971, with its wonderful period neon signage still going strong after 43-years. They say it is still in business due to the good service and competitive pricing; and no-one has a bad word to say against it. And after 43-years, I think it is now the longest-continuously running business on the corridor, definitely making it the Dean of Fourth Avenue.

 

Leica M6 Classic & 50mm Summilux V2

Ilford Delta 100

Rodinal (1+50 – 14min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

Likes(5)Dislikes(0)

untitled-138-Edit

 

In a surprise even for a liberal city as Seattle, last November the first socialist in over a century was elected to office after Kshama Sawant, a former college economics professor, won a truly unexpected victory in a citywide election. Bolstered by an Occupy-inspired grassroots campaign that focused on economic inequality and corporate politics at city hall, she toppled the incumbent of 16 years, who had the full backing of the political establishment.

 

True to form, Sawant, 41, of the Socialist Alternative party, after taking her oath of office earlier this month, said “I will do my utmost to represent the disenfranchised and the excluded, the poor and the oppressed, by fighting for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, affordable housing, and taxing the super-rich for a massive expansion of public transit and education.” The new city councilmember was also in a fiery mood when I joined the hundreds packed into the nearby Seattle Labor Temple in Belltown recently, to listen to her again let rip. And she put many politicians to shame by announcing that she’s donating $15,000 a year from her new salary to help fund the campaign (15Now – http://15now.org) for the $15 minimum wage.

 

The city landmark building, with its main entrance “LABOR TEMPLE” in both deco-style lettering and wonderful neon signage, is a fitting venue for such a passionate speech on economic inequalities. Labor Temples sprang up across the USA in the wake of the pains caused by The Great Depression; this particular temple being one of the last to be built in Seattle, in 1942. Seattle has been known since the early 20th century for the strength of its labor movement, and this building has been the centre for organising and office activities for the labor movement for more than seventy years now.

 

Leica M3 & 50mm Summilux V2

Sekonic L308-S

Ilford Delta 100

Adox Adonal (1+50 – 14min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

 

Likes(6)Dislikes(0)

untitled-140-Edit

 

The Salvation Army bell ringers, with their quasi-military uniforms, coin-filled red kettles and gold bells, are a fixture of Christmastime in the USA. But it seems every time you hear a bell ringing from a Salvation Army ringer – whether it be uniformed, or Santa-hatted paramilitary volunteers, such as this picture from downtown Seattle – one could well be getting punched outside a WalMartrather than the It’s A Wonderful Life ideal of an angel getting its wings.

 

That’s because, by default, they’ve become the frontline troops in Faux News’ so-called “War on Christmas,” as the battle rages there whether people should be saying “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” But what the Bill O’Reillys of this world haven’t factored as yet is that Holiday derives from Holy Day. So it’s etymologically under-informed to assert that “Happy Holidays” does not reference God.

 

Good God, even I know this, and I’m an atheist…

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Leica M6 & 50mm pre-asph Summilux

Ilford Delta 100

Rodinal (1+50 – 14min)

Plustek 7600i & Vuescan

 

Likes(4)Dislikes(0)