Brooklyn Made: A Wissner Kickstarter

Some years ago I lost a bunch of money to a Kickstarter scam, and swore I’d never consider supporting another fundraising campaign through that channel. So it has been with conflicted empathies that I’ve been keeping an eye on Brooklyn Made and Brooklyn Restored: A Wissner Grand Piano, a campaign to restore a beaten-up but fundamentally sound Concert D instrument at St. Agnes Church in Carroll Gardens.

I played that Wissner piano last month at a rehearsal for a seasonal concert of classical arias and Christmas carols. The experience of attempting to make music on the Wissner Grand was memorable for how the plastic tops of the white keys, many of which had already come loose, were flying off and onto the floor from the force of my playing. They were so loosely attached to the wood of the keys that it took little to dislodge them. By the end of the rehearsal I think I had picked up a couple dozen of these key tops and placed them under the piano’s music stand. I saved them because the technician in charge (should the piano be restored) might re-glue the same pieces back on the keys.

This was not the piano used for the actual performance. For that I played a somewhat rare 85-key Steinway restored by the folks at Big Wrench Piano Care in Carroll Gardens. Big Wrench donated the piano for the night’s event, which formally commenced the Kickstarter campaign. It was good fun, and particularly satisfying for me to work with good musicians again — it’s been a while. I don’t think I’d played publicly for about 5 years.

So, taking a break from my puny little boycott of supporting anything through Kickstarter I guess I can get behind this one. It could mean ongoing gigs for me at the church, and maybe even ready access to an amazing concert grand. Or, on the other hand, last month’s event could be the last gig I play for another 5 years…

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

It’s 11 images of the Dover High School Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes marching on West Third Street in Dover, Ohio, some time during the 1970s. Detail found includes the Bexley Theater marquee, a hobby shop next door, a Salvation Army store. According to CinemaTreasures.org the Bexley was located at 183 West Third Street — an address that does not seem to exist today. The Tornadoes were evidently a pretty hot band back then, and their tradition continues today. I wonder if any of the band members in this pair videos from that era appear in these pictures. Click the images for larger sizes, which make the details clearer.

Dover High School Marching Tornadoes Macy’s Indy 500 2 years Band Show 1975

1974-1975 Dover Marching Tornadoes. Patriotic Show, after Game Concert, Trumpet in The Land Concert.

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

Dover Marching Tornadoes and Majorettes, Dover, Ohio, 1970s

40 Minutes of Jackhammer Noise

Sifting through hours upon hours of audio recorded with a field recorder I found this epic noise orgy. Recorded 4 years ago it took me a while to remember what this was.
Workers in the back yard of the house next door pummeled a concrete walkway with jackhammers, waking me up from a sound, sound sleep. Closing the bathroom door and the bedroom door provided a reasonable amount of insulation to buffer the noise but man, what a rude awakening. The picture of the man with the jackhammer is not the person making the noise in this recording. It just happens to be the only picture I have of someone using a jackhammer. Man With Jackhammer was posted to sorabji.com on March 26, 2000, followed by several other shots which show folks standing nearby looking on.

Takedown

Redbubble Takedown

Redbubble Takedown

Some years ago I sent a polite but detailed request to an artist asking him to kindly give credit for the use of content from my web site in an art piece of his. He had copied and pasted content directly from the web site, and titled the piece with the exact same name as my web site. I intended not to get conspicuously indignant about it. I just did not want anyone thinking I had anything to do with this piece which was, frankly, pretty lame.

To confirm to myself that this was brazen theft I showed the piece to several friends and colleagues. The reaction was uniform: Wow. That really sucks. They could have been talking about the quality of the work of art itself, but either way I did not get a whiff of disagreement that this was outright theft.

The artist’s response came fast and furious: “If you don’t want people to use your stuff then don’t put it on the Internet.” This honestly made me think the artist was 13 years old (in which case I might have given him a pass) but I looked him up and discovered he was actually a pretty experienced professor at a small Midwest college.

He quickly changed tack, and within days my name appeared on the placard that accompanied his piece — not exactly a triumph but I was glad to know that interested parties would recognize that I had nothing to do with this lifeless obscurity.

That incident of unauthorized use crossed my radar in a most unlikely way. An artist from 1,000 miles away got a small grant to create a piece for a New York City sculpture park that happens to be right in my back yard, so to speak. He never even came to New York to see it. Had he received the grant from an art space in San Francisco or Chicago or any number of other locations I would probably have never known about it.

I remembered that incident last week when, inspired by Sarah Ann Loreth’s story at PetaPixel.com, I made the rounds of image search engines, mining the Etsys and eBays of the interwebs to see what individuals and entities out there are still stealing one particular image of mine. Many images of mine have been stolen but for some reason one in particular is used by dozens of online retailers and auctioneers selling protective cases for iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices.

The process of finding these instances is tedious, and frequently futile, but this time around I was somewhat heartened by the quick results. Zazzle.com removed offending items within 24 hours, and even delivered a human e-mail response. Artfire.com was the same, removing a couple of iPhone cases adorned with the stolen image, and also delivering a human e-mail response.

Human beings at Zazzle and Artfire, as I imagined they would, actually viewed the image in question on my web site and compared it to the images used on the products sold through their shops. I could prove this because access_logs record either IP addresses or fully qualified domain names from which page views originate. As the image in question gets very little traffic any more it was simply a matter of tailing the log file followed by a grep of the file name to confirm that pageviews were connected to addresses at Zazzle and Artfire.

Redbubble.com also acted very quickly, responding so quickly in fact that I wonder if it was not somehow automated. Their response conformed fully to the takedown procedures of the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act), which requires that the rights holder making the request (me) make legally binding statements that their claim of ownership is legitimate. With that kind of legalese backing them up I guess Redbubble had no need for human verification.

That’s the only thing about Redbubble’s response that somewhat troubled me: No human actually looked at the image to see if I was telling the truth. I was telling the truth but how easy would it be for someone to shut down a legitimate Redbubble seller by fictitiously claiming they own rights to an image?

Another twitch about Redbubble’s response was that they shut down the seller’s entire store. Zazzle and Artfire simply deleted the items in question. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but Redbubble’s more draconian response strikes me as more efficient for them. Simply deleting the offending items requires human intervention and, presumably, verification of the claim. At first it seemed reasonable to me that these sites would delete individual items, but then I realized that these sellers in question are allowed to continue peddling hundreds of other items bearing copyrighted images for which they almost certainly do not have rights.

I don’t know how many of my images have been used for commercial gain without my authorization, but it is puzzling to me why this one particular image gets hijacked so often, and for the same type of product. Is there some rogue stock photo agency out there from which vendors buy rights to this photo, thinking their purchase is legitimate? That being a possibility I am not going to link to it, as I don’t want to bring any undue attention to it or to sellers who may honestly think they have legal rights to use it. We can settle that between ourselves.

I take the same approach as Sarah Loreth, whose work has been stolen exponentially more than mine: Know when to pick your battles. The Whac-A-Mole-esque futility of tracking instances of unauthorized use is a pursuit that does not come without risk.

Double-Exposure. September, 1959.

Double Exposure Slide. September, 1959.

Double Exposure Slide. September, 1959.

Strange double-exposure that makes it look like a boy is throwing darts at two girls. Seeing as the kid cannot even hit the board (note the 3 darts that landed way to the left of it) the girls should feel safe that his aim is bad enough that he couldn’t hit them if he tried.

Dick & Ann’s 25th Anniversary. June, 1973.

Dick & Ann's 25th Anniversary. June, 1973.

Dick & Ann’s 25th Anniversary. June, 1973.

This is a water-damaged slide from June, 1973, from a set of Kodachrome slides labeled “Dick & Ann’s 25th Anniversary.” It’s from a large set of hundreds of slides from an Ohio family. Events such as parties, anniversaries, birthdays and other milestones are recorded while commonplace reality is left to forgotten discussions among the people seen hoisting wine goblets at parties and lolling poolside at Florida motels. The water damage is not particularly egregious but enough to create the illusion of a horrid, ghastly beast that lurks just below the surface of all things, wrestling with the surface of reality to unleash its brutal yawp.

Action Shot. 1960s Kodachrome Slide, Heavily Filtered

Touching up and filtering old slides seems to be my new OCD. This child is seen playing somewhere in Ohio. I processed it through a number of filters from the Nik Collection and Filter Forge 4. It’s a little rough around the edges but all in all I like it. The original image is below.

Action Shot. Kodachrome Slide, Heavily Filtered

Action Shot. Kodachrome Slide, Heavily Filtered

Action Shot. Original Kodachrome Slide.

Action Shot. Original Kodachrome Slide.

San Diego Street Scene, 1950s Kodachrome Slide

San Diego Street Scene. 1950s Kodachrome Slide.

San Diego Street Scene. 1950s Kodachrome Slide.

Lots of detail to be found in this old slide showing a San Diego street scene from the 1950s. I did not go all in on touching up and perfecting this slide, which had some stains and splotches. I could reduce the dust and noise a bit more. This is one of a series of slides most of which appear to have been taken from the passenger side of a moving vehicle. This particular shot might have been taken by someone standing on the street’s median. The original scan of this slide is HERE.

At the far left is a building on which only the words “SERVICE” and “FINANCING” appear to be distinguishable. After that, from left to right we find a neon sign advertising Texaco Top Octane Sky Chief Petrox Gasoline, described in advertisements of the day as an innovative fuel with MAXIMUM POWER that actually CUTS ENGINE WEAR.

An orange bus stopped at the Texaco station appears to be the ROSECRANS 191 line.

Behind the bus is a billboard advertising “The Flavor of the West – California Gold Label Beer”, a beer from the California Brewing Company that was new in the mid-1950s.

The beer billboard rises above Calabrese’s Civic Center Cafe, which has a “COCKTAILS” neon sign above its front door.

Above and behind Calabrese’s is a large sign for San Diego Gas & Electric. The set of smokestacks behind that sign is presumably part of a power plant.

An obscured sign shows only the middle part of a business: “…RKER & TH… [AS]SOCIATE[S]”.

The Civic Center Travel Lodge has its neon-lighted “VACANCY” sign lit — let’s get a room!

An unreadable billboard above the Travel Lodge might be for Lucky Strike cigarettes.

An obscured red sign with white letters appears to say “GAS”, and another partly obscured sign behind and to the right of it appears to say “STANDARD STATIONS”.

I don’t know makes and models of cars very well but there appear to be some Chevrolet’s. There appear to be three people in the teal-colored car at the bottom right. License plate # ZV 36880.

A couple of “NO U TURN” signs in the middle of the street rounds out the details I am able to distinguish.

This snapshot appears to have been taken at the 1500 block of Pacific Highway, Route 101. If Streetview is any indication this area has been completely transformed.