Pretty sure most of you read Joseph Heller’s book CATCH-22. Well today I had a Catch-28! Called Amazon and explained my name was spelled wrong in my Amazon book listing and the publisher’s name was wrong. They said no problem…please hold. I was on hold for four minutes and decided I should water my basil…which I did…still on hold. With that Peter Poremba, the CEO of Dynalite called and I abruptly told him, I’d call him back. Seven minutes into my hold, Al Stegmeyer from Upstrap called. I also blew him off. Their music was starting to drive me crazy so I decided to go brush my teeth. Still waiting… I gargled. We are now 12 minutes into the hold and I figured well… I’m in the bathroom…. Now 15 minutes into it, I decided to take a quick shower. I quickly, jumped out of the tub and wrapped a towel around me and my friend Sam Garcia called. Also blew him off and said I’d get back. Went outside, still waiting, I watered my tomatoes, and went back into the studio. With that JoAnne asked me where I had been? I simply said I’ve been on hold. Twenty four minutes later, the lovely lady told me there was nothing they could do about it and to call the Publisher and tell them to make the changes. She said it would probably take till July to implement them. The first line in my new book FILL THE FRAME is six months ago, I was 20 years old. That’s how fast life is…light speed plus. Time is like gold – more valuable than material things.
There’s no doubt that Neil Leifer is one of the all time great sports photographers. I’m pretty sure he has at least half a million Sports Illustrated covers alone, and I think it’s fair to say that there aren’t any weak ones. Neil came up with what I consider a great documentary on four photographers who have photographed every super bowl. Photographers and filmmakers should have great hand-eye coordination and should always be in the right place at the right time. Neil knows how to do that, but he goes one step further, he’s a visionary. I would imagine hundreds of photographers would have said, “Wow, I wish I would have thought of that.” He thought of that and made it happen. His film is called Keepers of the Streak features the only four photographers in the world that have covered all 48 Super Bowls, starting from one in 1967 to 2014. It stars Walter Iooss, Mickey Palmer, Tony Tomsic, and John Biever.
I remember the day, the time, and exactly where I was the day JFK was killed. I remember the day, the time, and exactly where I was when W. Gene Smith passed away. Well, I’m sitting in my studio and it’s 3:25 PM, the first sunny day in weeks – a blistering 34 degrees and I just found out that Albert Maysles passed away.
In my humble opinion Albert Maysles was the father of modern documentary film along with his talented brother David. They did some amazing films over an illustrious career that spanned six plus decades. My son Dylan interned with Al. We attended a cocktail party and Dylan introduced me to him. It was like meeting royalty. It never ceases to amaze me the greatest talents can also be warm, lovely, not pretentious people. I asked Al for some advice on my film “In This Corner” and he became a technical adviser for me . He was kind enough to invite us to his home where we did a short interview and a few still photographs which I will share with you.
The world has lost a great filmmaker and a great man! There is no doubt in my mind that Al is now shooting a documentary with another great director.
Everyday of our lives, is an important day. Six months ago I made a decision to teach a work shop at Gleason’s Gym. When my studio manager reminded me that it was my birthday I said great. I consider work a privilege and what better to do then teach photography at Glesons’ Gym. Its just does not get better then that. I knew it was going to a very special and an amazing eclectic group. From Brazil, Chili, Colombia, England, Norway, and all over the east coast. A great balance between men and women, and great help from JoAnne Kalish, Larry Malang, Peter Poremba. It was a hell of a great day. Life is funny, I was on a great natural high, and I got back to the studio. Did not check my voice mail, did not check my email, downloaded the cards, checked facebook. I don’t check it that often and I find one of my close friend died of a heart attack. It was Bert Sugar. On Wednesday, I called Bert, he answered me as usual “Uncle Joe.” I always call him the “Bertster”. I asked him how he was feeling, and he said” I have lung cancer, and have internal bleeding but that’s not the problem.” Then I asked him what the big problem was? He said, “I have F@$!#ing terminal acne.” Thats the Bertster, no matter what the dialogue is he always finds humor in it. He was loved by millions, hated by thousands, he was a true Damon Runyon character and a great friend. I will miss him, yes I will miss him… Off the record, he suffered “Cuttysheimers”, his words not mine. RIP Bert Sugar.
Bert Sugar, Playwright Budd Schulberg, and son Benn Schulberg
If you follow this blog, you know I tend to be wordy, and repeat myself. You’ve heard me say I’m the luckiest guy in the world, and that’s just true. I had an opportunity to assist Gene Smith back in the day and I can’t tell you how much I learned. In the last 20 years I felt guilty because I didn’t execute in a way that Smith would be proud of my work. I made photographs for clients that wanted and needed to control the situation. When pushed too hard, I resigned several clients, which in today’s market, would be just crazy. It’s only in the last few years I’m starting to go back to what Gene taught me. I hope it shows in my documentary film making. There is no doubt if Smith was alive today, he would be doing films rather than stills. The bottom line is he was the greatest, period, end of discussion. Nobody was better. I don’t think we’re going to see anybody better. Yes, Smith was a God! Thank you, Gene and I miss you everyday.