The Greatest Jazz Photograph
On August 29, 2017 | 1 Comments

Charlie Parker was born ninety-seven years ago today in Kansas City.  The date makes me think of my favorite jazz photograph, two versions of which are here, by Bob Parent.  The Open Door in Greenwich Village in September 1953.  Very few historic jazz photographs render the whole band.  For my money, this could be the […]

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The Process of Not Knowing: Conversation with Allan Gurganus
On August 23, 2017 | 0 Comments

A conversation between Sam and novelist Allan Gurganus, to whom Gene Smith’s Sink is dedicated, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s Works in Progress.

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A Year with Swollen Appendices: Brian Eno’s Diary
On August 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

  A friend recommended this book because I’m currently working on an excavation project involving the year 1995 and this is Eno’s diary from that year.  It’s currently out of print.  Somebody like New York Review Books should consider republishing it.  I read a few pages every night and I find wonderful nuggets on every […]

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Early Commentary on Gene Smith’s Sink
On July 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

As a unit, this early group of quotes says a lot.

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821 Sixth Ave. July 1, 2017
On July 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

This snapshot is by Momoko Gill, a drummer who was my interpreter in Japan in 2011 and who plays a key role in the parts of Gene Smith’s Sink related to Japan.  In town from London, she walked up to the building around 7:30 pm last night during a steady rain.

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Thoughtful Words from Matthew Shipp
On April 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

  This morning I was cleaning out some files and I came across these words from composer and pianist Matthew Shipp when he introduced my Deems Taylor / Virgil Thomson Award on November 17, 2015 at a ceremony put together by ASCAP in New York City.  The award was for my piece for The Paris […]

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Gene Smith’s Sink, Literally
On April 14, 2017 | 2 Comments

Here’s W. Eugene Smith’s stainless steel darkroom sink, custom made in the 1950s.  In 2012 I had it repurposed into a standing desk by metal artist Leo Gaev who made no changes to the original object.  Photos by Kate Joyce, March 2017.  (Gene Smith’s Sink).

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Durham and Art of Cool
On March 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

Today Public Books published the latest collaboration between filmmaker Ivan Weiss and me.  It’s about the gentrification of downtown Durham, framed by a month of festivals.  This piece was long in the works, so we’re happy to see it out in the world. Many thanks to editor Ellis Avery for her persistent interest in our […]

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Reading James Agee in Knoxville
On March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

I was flattered and thrilled to be asked by Jem Cohen to read the words of James Agee during Jem’s Gravity Hill Sound and Image performance last night at Big Ears.  Reading those words in Agee’s hometown, in the Bijou Theater that he no doubt frequented as a kid, was a privilege and one of […]

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What is Gene Smith doing?
On February 2, 2017 | 0 Comments

After a couple of years of radio silence here, what better way to return than by offering this photograph of Gene Smith by James Karales circa 1956. Smith is in his backyard in Croton-on-Hudson testing lenses for his large format cameras in preparation for commissions from the American Institute of Architecture. Smith’s son, Pat, who […]

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