This is a re-publication of this article. It's still true.
I may be just a little insane but I think I'm witnessing the collapse of civilization every day. Just a little bit at a time. Crumb by crumb. Not in the monolithic, "TSA Groped me and all is lost" sort of way, but in a different and more pernicious way. Let me explain. I'm convinced that the cellphone is greatest tool for isolation and evil in recent history. Most car wrecks are now caused by people talking and texting on cellphones. But that's too dramatic. What I'm talking about is is the slow erosion. I was at the flagship store of Whole Foods today. Everywhere I looked people were detached from everything around them. From the beautiful produce, the delightful pastries, the never-before-in-the-history-of-man selections of great wines and cheeses. The guys were not "checking out" the plethora of beautiful girls flowing like spring water thru the aisles. The women weren't even noticing the displays of chocolate. Instead, they did the "thorazine shuffle" with their carts aimlessly navigated with one hand and the rest of their being concentrated either on staring like zombies at the screens of their iPhones or Blackberries, or wandering without a compass while listening to something at the other end of their cell connection, eyes staring off into the middle distance. It was so sad. Like a prince of old surrounded by a library full of priceless books and a museum full of art, looking for a comic book to read. I was so depressed I had to leave the store. These people wouldn't ever get better. They are doomed to walk around in this particular circle of hell until their calling plan comes to an end. Oblivious to the ever changing kaleidoscope of beauty swirling around them. Don't write and defend cellphones, I will only excoriate you.
For all of you who are convinced that photography is dead and that bricks and mortar photography stores died out in the 1990's I direct your attention to Precision Camera and Video on North Lamar Blvd. in Austin, Texas. I shoved wax into my ears like Odysseus and resisted the siren song of the Carl Zeiss 85mm 1.4 for Canon long enough to grab a box of printing paper and bid a hasty retreat. They had their best "black Friday" ever. EVER. This past week. Selling mostly.........cameras.
When I feel overwhelmed I take photographs of clouds. They comfort me and when they move really fast through the late afternoon skies they remind me of Bergman movies. Or Highlander movies. Depending on your age....
I know we are near the end of civilization when battered, graffiti'd fences are adjacent to 30 story luxury condominium towers just a quick walk from the center of town.
Already commented. When I walked by much later he was stil there, transfixed. He could have driven to another city and met face to face in the amount of time he spent glued to $2 worth of microwave emitting plastic.
All photographs shot with a Sony R1 camera. Jpegs. iPhoto processing. Start the new week with a commitment to really live.
the holidays are upon us. I humbly submit that a good book about photography will be most welcome by the photographers on your list. Here are a few suggestions: