The King in Kingston, Rhode Island 4.8.13

Bob Dylan, Kingston Rhode Island - photo by CJThibault via

Never enough Bob. There I was last Friday night, snooping around Expecting Rain, the premier Bob Dylan website, checking out the live setlist from Buffalo NY for opening night of the 2013 edition of the Neverending Tour, where the fanatics post up for the rest of us too busy to be at every show, live, play by play, song by song, reportage. What he's wearing. What part of the stage Bob's standing at for each song. When he's playing harmonica. When he's playing guitar? Plus the occasional Instagram nugget for illustration. But most importanly, you can find out in the moment, what songs Bob is adding and subtracting each night. It's taken for granted that no two nights are ever alike - Dylan's known for changing songs up mid show, calling an audible on his own band at a moment's notice. Bob fanatics like myself live for the obscure add-in's. Meanwhile over at DylanPool - on the theNeverendingPool website, the faithful  are betting on upcoming setlists, getting odds each night on the outside chance he'll add a rarely played song worth more points in the nightly competition. It's online scrabble for Dylan-onics.

So there I was last Friday night watching the live setlist streaming in from SUNY Buffalo. It was an extraordinary setlist for a first night. New opening song -  Things Have Changed. Four - count 'em - four songs from Tempest.  And some great classics, any fan would die to see just one of on any given night - Visions of Johanna, Blind Willie McTell, Highwater, What Good Am I?  Plus he changed up the last four songs of the set - that he was pretty much on automatic pilot playing for the last year. And he's changed up lead guitarists for this tour - adding Duke Robillard.  Well that was enough for me. I was going to be up in Massachusetts anyway, nearby the third stop of the tour last Monday in Kingston, Rhode Island, so I pulled the trigger and picked myself up a last minute ticket. 

I love seeing Dylan shows on college campuses. They are so accessible. So not city like. I drove up to Connecticut in the early 90's to see Dylan and Patti Smith play a college gymnasium - sat right on the floor. Also saw him with then unknown opening act Jewel at a college gym out in New Jersey in the mid 90's. The atmosphere is just so laid back and Dylan does some of his best shows out of town. So there I was Sunday heading for a college stadium at University of Rhode Island on a pleasant night in April. No annoying city bouncers - just local students in charge. I just walked to my floor seat and sat myself down. I had a great spot where I could see Bob and the band pretty well. Plenty of leg room. I was even on Dylan's side of his piano, where he spends much of the set these days.

Bob Dylan, Kingston Rhode Island - photo by CJThibault via

Now I don't plan to give a full rundown of the show I saw. In fact as it turned out, I saw virtually the same setlist in Kingston, as was played in Buffalo. Inscrutably Dylan has played nearly the same set list for the last five nights running - confounding the faithful.  But it's such a great setlist that nobody's complaining - that's for sure.

Just a few things - I love that the opener is "Things Have Changed" -  as in the setlist has really changed since the last tour, OR as in, nothing's gonna change from night to night. Dylan came shuffling out to center stage with a "take this" attitude right from the start. He looked great all in black, embodying a kind of Charlie Chaplin look gesturing and pointing his way thru the song. Stepping back during the guitar break, left hand on hip, head cocked back, listening to new guitarist Duke Robillard get acclimated. The whole set list, in fact, felt like a bit of a rehearsal to acquaint the "new guy" with the lay of the land. Considering his history with Roomful of Blues and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the setlist is perfectly tailored for a blues guitarist. Beyond Here Lies Nothing and Thunder On The Mountain, and Early Roman Kings are all right in his comfort zone. And sprinkled throughout the sublimely constructed setlist, were a couple of 60's classics (Thin Man, VisionsWatchtower), one 70's highlight (Tangled), some cherry picked standouts from recent records (Beyond, Thunder), two show stoppers (Willie McTell and Highwater) , two total surprises (What Good Am I?  and Lovesick), and four solid songs from the newest CD Tempest.  Did I say I love this set list? 

You can listen to the whole Amherst show here for yourself:   Amherst full show audio

Kingston RI 

I've been re-reading "Performing Artist "all week, the masterwork from the great Paul Williams who sadly passed away a few weeks ago. I was reminded that Dylan used to have an unchanging set list back when touring with his first electric band in the 1966. I love Williams' description of the rhyme scheme in Visions of Johanna, from his review of Blonde on Blonde  back in 1966:

"straightforward through four verses AAA BBBB CC - with dramatic crescendo in the last verse,  AAA BBBBBBB CC (all of those B's  give the last pair of C's s special resonance." 

So I've been listening to varying versions of that song all week. In fact, every time I see a live version of Johanna,  the key for me is how much attention Dylan pays to that spectacular last verse. I get anxiety sometimes during the last instrumental break prior, waiting to see if he's gonna bring it on home. Sometimes he lets it slide, sometimes he's right on top of it. In Kingston, he was absolutely on it - from the "peddler" and the  "countess", to Louise, straight through the "skeleton keys in the rain". There's a reason this key song was right in the middle of this set list - in a version recognizable to all (unlike most of the other songs).  Outside after the show a young student fan remarked to me - "wasn't that a great Visions of Johanna?"

In fact the whole show had a well constructed arc, from the openers center stage, thru the middle ground on the piano, with a stop upfront center for "Blind Willie Mc Tell", landing at the finish line for "Scarlet Town", "Watchtower, and "Thin Man".  My favorite moment: Dylan leaning on his elbow over his piano, head in hand - not playing, but watching and encouraging Duke Robillard as he played away during the break in "Thunder on the Mountain".

Watchtower, Kingston RI

Someone posted a clip of the spectacular "Watchtower" from Kingston, where you can hear Dylan adding what I thought at the time was a "oooweee" at the end of the second verse ("the hour is getting late"), and a "ooooo" in the third verse ("the wind began to howl").

You can bet I'll be watching the setlist tonight.

the "formation" post show, Kingston RI

Academy Awards weekend roundup

Emmanuelle Riva & Quvenzhane Wallis - January 2013

They are the oldest and youngest nominees in the Best Actress category - Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour" and Quevenzhane Wallis  in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" - both excellent films, both great roles. I was lucky to get this picture of them together on the day before the Oscar nominations were announced in January. This is the only time they were photographed together in the same room before awards weekend. I love this shot that Eugene Hernandez took of me taking it.

photo: Eugene Hernandez, FSLC

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" was easily my favorite film of the year. After  sweeping the prizes last January at Sundance, I saw the highly anticipated "Beasts" last March on the closing night of New Directors/New Films,  and was blown away. It was indescribable then, and remains so still. The screenplay, based on her own play by Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin is also up for an Oscar. Here are some photos from that screening last March.

Benh Zeitlin & writer Lucy Alibar

Benh Zeitlin & producer Dan Janvey

Benh Zeitlin, March 2012

Meanwhile, "Amour" directed by Michael Haneke,  another excellent film,  played at the 2012 New York Film Festival  last September where I took this photo of the director before the public screening."Amour", up for both Best Picture and Best Foreign Film,  is a favorite to win in the latter category. 

Michael Haneke, September 2012

Another film up for  Best Foreign Film is "No" directed by Pablo Larrain, which I highly recommend. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal as the actual 1970's "Mad Man" who took down Pinochet's ductatorship in Chile by running an unlikely ad campaign it was also one of my favorite films of the year, and just opened here in New York last week. Here is a photo of director Larrain with his lead actress from NY Film Festival screening.

 "No" director Pablo Larrain & actress Antonia Zegers

Pablo Larrain, NYC 2009

OK, I just saw "Silver Linings Playbook" this afternoon, and now agree that Jennifer Lawrence will win Best Actress. What a performance. I had originally thought it would go to Jessica Chastain  for "Zero Dark Thirty", whom I photographed a couple of weeks ago.  But honestly I have to go with Jennifer Lawrence (even though I didn't take any photos of  her). The film might even slip by for Best Picture.

Jessica Chastain, January 2013

Have you seen "Flight"?  Disguised as an action movie, it is really a very well made character study of an alcoholic. Denzel Washington's performance is deservedly up for Best Actor. Plus it has John Goodman as a drug dealer for comic relief. 

NY FIlm Festival 2012 - Flight press confrerence

Too bad Denzel Washington is up against Daniel Day Lewis  who seems destined to win Best Actor for Lincoln.  I took a few shots at the "Lincoln" advance screening at last year's NY Film Festival,  but alas, a humble shy Daniel Day Lewis snuck out early and steered clear of the cameras.

'Lincoln' cast, director Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner

Steven Spielberg, NY Film Fest 2012

Up against Steven Spielberg is Quentin Tarrantino for "Django Unchained".  I am almost ashamed to say I have not seen it yet, but here is a shot of the man himself a couple of years ago.

Quentin Tarrantino, NY Film Fest 2011

Also up for Best Director is Ang Lee for "Life of Pi". I'm not an expert on 3D films, but this one was amazing. It was opening night of the 2012 New York Film Festival, where I took this pic of Ang Lee with star Suraj Sharma.

"Life of Pi" star Suraj Sharma and director Ang Lee

Also up for Best Director is Kathryn Bigelow, for"Zero Dark Thirty", I took this shot when she was in town for an early screening of "The Hurt Locker" at Lincoln Center in 2009.

Kathryn Bigelow, NYC 2009

The likely winner in the Best Documentary category is "Searching for Sugar Man".  Director Malik Bendjelloui was in town in January. Also in the Best Documentary category - "The Gatekeepers" directed by Dror Moreh (shown at the NY FIlm Fest) , and "Five Broken Cameras", directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi (shown at New Directors 2012)  are both very excellent docs about the Middle Eastf. 

Malik Bendjellouui -  "Searching for Sugarman" - January 2013

Guy Davidi & Emad Burnat - "Five Broken Cameras" - March 2012

Dror Moreh - "The Gatekeepers" - September 2012

Oh right  - Anne Hathaway. I'm not likely to see "Les Miserables", and Anne Hathaway's likely to win Best Supporting Actress, but I do have a couple of cool pix I took of her at the New York Film Festival a couple of years ago. 

Anne Hathaway, NY Film Fest, Red Carpet 2008

Which brings me full circle to my favorite film of the year, "Beasts of the Southern Wild", and more pix of star Quvenzhane Wallis. If there is an upset win, I sure hope it goes to her.

Benh Zeitlin and Quvenzhane Wallis - January 2013

Quvenzhane Wallis - January 2013


Cinema-tography: Photographers in the Movies

Juaquin Phoenix in The Master

Been thinking about actors playing photographers in the movies. Juaquin Phoenix's performance as a war weary alcoholic department store photographer in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master,  is as good a place to start as any. If a picture's worth a thousand words, this promo still for the film sums up why his performance is up for an Academy Award this year. Taking the psychotic who tries his hand as a photographer to a whole new level, two scenes - "mixing chemicals" in the darkroom with a pretty salesgirl, and as a bullying portrait photographer - are, uh,  kind of unforgettable. 

David Hemmings in Blow-Up

Still for me, the touchstone performance is David Hemmings as the swinging London photographer David Bailey in Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow-Up, circa 1966. This was the film that drew me towards being a photographer. Scenes photographing in the park, with Vanessa Redgrave that lead to a murder mystery solved in the darkroom were beyond cool to my teenage self. Scenes in the studio with Veruschka are simply self-consciously over the top - not that I haven't seen photographers try to pull that trick off like they invented it.  And the existential nightclub scene with the Yardbirds, was well, for me simply prophetic. Yes, this was the film that was destined to awaken the photographer within me.

The New York City counterpart to David Bailey in London would have been Richard Avedon. In Funny Face, Stanley Donen directs Fred Astaire as a New York City fashion photographer discovering model Audrey Hepburn, based on Donen's friend and legend, Richard Avedon. Here are a couple of nice stills from that film.

This great photograph of James Dean taken by Roy Schatt, is from no film in particular, but some people just have style. 

James Dean with camera, photographed by Roy Schatt

In 1978's The Eyes of Laura Mars, Faye Dunaaway also plays a fashion photographer who helps solve crimes. The tagline for the poster was "You can't always believe what you see". 

This still looks decidedly similar to Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcok's Rear Window. 

How cool and sinister is it to have a wheelchair bound photographer stuck in his Greenwich Village apartment, witnessing crimes, and trying to save Grace Kelly through his telephoto lens? 

Now from the sublime to the ridiculous.Nicole Kidman played Diane Arbus in the absurdly titled Fur (a result of no cooperation from the Diane Arbus Estate I guess). Here's a still from that film, and a shot I just found of the real Diane Arbus in the East Village in 1969 by Mary Ellen Mark.  Notice the St.Marks Cinema in the background!

Diane Arbus 1969, by Mary Ellen Mark

Way back in the 1933, just after the invention of the hand held "spy" camera, James Cagney played an undercover news photographer in The Picture Snatcher. I love that title!

My favorite implausible photographic impersonation would be Farrah Fawcett playing Life magazine photographer Margaret Bourke-White in the "made for TV" movie. Remember "Made for TV Movies"? 

Farrah Bourke-White

Speaking of television, Charles Bronson played a street photographer in the series Man With A Camera from 1958-1960, just before taking off as a movie star in The Magnificent Seven. 

Though not strictly about a photographer, I have to include the great Michael Powell's 1960 classic, "Peeping Tom".  About a serial killer that films his murders, I couldn't resist posting up the opening scene to round this all up. Happy Valentine's Day!

Snow York City Photographs

Bowery 1978

With snow on my mind, I've dug into the archives for pictures taken on those slippery cold nights when I would roam the city streets at night in search of the perfect snow shots. The photograph  above, which I took - let's see 35 years ago - was taken on January 17th 1978. I know this only because I just read a

brilliant piece by Binky Philips

, about him meeting

Johnny Rotten

at the bar at CBGB's the night after the

Sex Pistols

US tour. I too met Johnny Rotten that night and took his photo behind the CBGB bar. I also took a photo of

Bob Gruen


 who has told me he was walking across Bleecker Street to CB's that night, from his darkroom to show Johnny Rotten the photographs he had just printed of the Sex Pistols tour. Just another quiet Monday night at CBGB's. 

Bob Gruen, Bleecker St. 1978

There were two big snowstorms back to back that winter. This one in late January followed by the Blizzard of 78 two weeks later on February 6th. Style took precedence to winter wear that night, as evidenced by these next two photographs. 

Jimmy Destri & Phyllis Stein, Bowery 1978

Kristian Hoffman & Bradley Field, Bowery 1978

Jump cut to 1996, another winter full of snow. I was out on Wall Street late this night. Downtown was shut down to all cars for the blizzard. Garbage Trucks and plows ruled the streets. It was a bit scary to be out there on foot but I'm a dedicated snow shooter. 

Wall Street, Blizzard 1996

It was also that long winter of 1996, when I navigated through the slush and winds of Astor Place to get this Xmas photo. 

Astor Place, Winter 1996

And then there was 1983, when I took this photograph on the roof of my St.Marks Place apartment building. Guess I didn't travel to far then to get a snow photo. 

St.Marks Place roof, 1983

Just one more thing to tell, before I go out to get some new snow photographs. The first shot, of CBGB's in the 1978 storm, has sat unprinted / unseen for all these 35 years. Last night in anticipation of the coming Blizzard, I went back to the analog proof sheets, pulled the negative, unfroze the image, and brought it back to life. What did Diane Arbus say? - "I really believe there are things which nobody would see unless I photographed them."


Aftermath: The Station nightclub fire 2003 / 2007

On February 25th, 2007 our car broke down driving on I-95, near West Warwick, Rhode Island. The tow truck driver, on his way to the repair garage, pointed out to us that we were passing the site of The Station, a nightclub where 100 people lost their lives in a tragic fire on February 23, 2003. By coincidence, we were there two days after the 4th anniversary of that terrible event.

Now, with the Brazilian nightclub fire in the news, where 230 people lost their lives last weekend, I revisited the photographs I took on The Station site, that cold day in February. I pulled them from the archives, and as I was editing I realized it was going to be the 10th anniversary of that event next month.

I can still remember standing among all the aching memorials, laid out uncovered in the open space where the club once stood. By daylight it took on the feeling of a cemetery, only more personal. The two events were eerily similar - pyrotechnics onstage, a mad rush to the exits. Standing on the site, the presence of the lost AND those that loved them was overwhelming. I took these photos and packed them away for years. The tragedy struck a little too close to home.

Now, I've read that the land where the club once stood was transferred this past September, to a survivor fund, and a new memorial they were hoping for over the last 10 years, will be built.

the FULL SET OF PHOTOS can be viewed here

all photos © GODLIS

my Dad, Al Godlis - January 24th

Godlis on Godlis

My Dad, Albert Godlis, passed away on this date in 1978. It was a cold January 24th, when I received the call at work in New Jersey that day. New York City was in between two blizzards that January. A cold hard winter. I have several pictures outside CBGB's taken in the snow during those blizzards. A moment frozen in time that rolls around in my mind every January 24th.

Inwood in the 1950's

Al Godlis - as he was known - was a career musician, who grew up and learned to play brass music in the 1920's, at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum on Amsterdam Avenue and 138th Street, His father died from TB two years after emigrating from Kiev, Russia and my father was placed there at age the age of 2 with both his sisters. The Orphanage, as it turns out, was a stroke of luck for the two year old boy. It was there that he was trained by fine Jewish immigrant brass musicians in New York to play in the Orphanage Marching Band. And with that training he was able to go to Julliard. It was there that he met my mother, also a musician. And it was at Julliard graduation rehearsal ceremonies in 1931 that he was picked out by guest conductor Leopold Stokowski to join the esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra as 2nd Trombonist - in the midst of the great depression.

at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum

with my mother outside Julliard

He played with the Philadelphia Orchestra until 1939, when he moved back to New York City to do freelance studio recording and radio work. In the 1950's he was on a weekly live television show - Voice of Firestone. And in the 1960's, he played on Broadway - most notably in Sound of Music, which I saw way too many times. He always enjoyed telling the story of all the musicians in the pit turning his way every night, when the head Sister tells Maria - who is asking for permission to leave the convent and marry - "Just because you love a man more, does not mean you love God Less." All the musicians would point his way - love Godlis, ha ha ha! Every time that damn Sound of Music plays on TV, I love hearing that line. 

And so another January 24th. I miss my Dad more on this day every year. Life is too short, and it reminds me every year to enjoy every moment. When I was a teenager, and he bought me my first stereo, he told me "I had to blow a lot of notes for that." Some things you never forget.

New York in the 1940's

Voice of Firestone 1950's

NYC in the 1970's

1974, Nassau Coliseum

Bob Dylan Revisited - Bethel NY 9.2.2012

Crzay Day in the Bob Dylan world. Fabulous new record "Tempest" being streamed free on iTunes as I write this. First listen to the 45 verse/no chorus epic song about the sinking of the "Titanic". Tribute song "Roll on John" about John Lennon. It doesn't get much better than this. AND I SAW HIM LIVE Sunday night! Wow!  Here's my review of the show...

I wasn’t even going to bother to contribute a review of this Bethel NY show to the online Bob Dylan community. On this lazy summer night, I was perched  almost too comfortably uphill from the stage in my $30 lawn seat. From that distance I couldn’t really attest to anything specific that was going on onstage - what Bob & the band were wearing or who was playing what instrument type was beyond my point of view. Usually I’m up close & personal, but no notebook in hand tonight, I was ready for just a summer dose of Bob. But jeez, I’ve waited 48 hours now for someone to post a review, and nothing was delivered. So…somebody’s got to reach for the rising star, and I guess it must be Up to Me.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect end of summer September night in Bethel NY. Full moon rising over the hills as Bob Dylan and his band took the stage shortly around 9:15. Talk around the Bethel Woods site had been about what tracks from Tempest anyone had already heard, and whether he was going to open with Leopard Skin or River Flow, which he’d changed up the night before, and whether he was going to play guitar much. But really it was a very, almost too very laid back crowd. Lot of wandering tie-die types. Some were mathematicians and some were carpenters wives to be sure, but there seemed to be no real sense of urgency to this crowd. Well hey I hadn’t seen Dylan since that outdoor Brooklyn show a few years ago. Hadn’t seen the current state of this touring band in a while, so I guess I can offer a fresh perspective.  Bob was about to come onstage and I was ready for a lethal dose.

First things first, the sound at Bethel Woods was impeccable. Ben Harper had gone on for an hour with just an acoustic guitar and you could hear each string perfectly.
These people had their sound system installed like a charm, even from where I was sitting up on the hill. So when Bob came out and began with – River Flow – yes! - I could pick right through any gruffness in his voice and hear every word. The main thing I can say about this performance is that he was “spot on” all the way through the show. No flubs, no slow spots, no lazy verses. He got every word of every song near as I could tell (yes I heard the improvised Tangled verse). And he wasn’t rushing anything (maybe because he had the next night off before Portchester).  It was a great long set with a lot  of my “wish for” songs on the set list.

Right away we got an excellent “Baby Blue” in the # 2 slot. My 19 year old daughter nodded & smiled to me when she recognized it. I’d been following the live set lists and  boblinks, so I knew where the changes would be, and tonight they were almost all pleasant surprises. I hadn’t heard these new versions of “Things Have Changed” or the decidedly non-acoustic “Tangled”, or Dylan’s grand piano style, so it was all fun & new. And then came the #5 slot – “Levee”. My daughter said “from Modern Times” and she & my wife boogied in their seats.

But the real killer moment was upon us – “Blind Willie McTell”. Bob center stage with harmonica doesn’t really describe it, because this was the moment you come to these shows for. Stepped up a notch, singing every verse in the moment, and topping it off with great harmonica. Literally reaching out to the audience. Took my breath away.  Talk about “arrow on the doorpost”.

At this point the train was out of the station. “Tweedle Dee”  was one that I was hoping for, having listened to Love & Theft all summer. Lots of that grand piano with Bob jumping out of his seat as the song ended. “Trying to Get to Heaven” was unexpected and had more harp. I don’t know, but there was a lot of harmonica tonight straight thru and all of it good. As he slipped into “Highwater” my daughter remarked on the “hurricane season” set list, and yes more harmonica. And then as we approached the 10 slot I sat silently hoping for “Visions” to stay in the set list one more night. And yes! He did one of the clearest versions I’ve heard him do live – all the verses except “little boy lost” and all the words of all those verses, as I said earlier “spot on”. Right down to the “fish truck that loads as my conscience explodes”.

Now with “Highway 61” we were in the final stretch. This band tends to be a bit layered and jazzy and I was ready for a bit more rock & roll.  So I was ready for the Highway – Thunder – Rolling Stone - Watchtower part of the set. And here let me just say that my only disappointment with the show was the audience. Did they not get that they were listening to Bob Dylan playing his most amazing songs? The three of us sat there wondering if we were watching the same show as everyone else. People even seemed to have a hard time even putting their hands together to clap. At least the geriatric mosh pit, as my wife called it, was standing. But I gotta say, Dylan was in his own world on that stage and drove the whole enterprise ahead without a care.

Now I haven’t seen him do “Thin Man” in a while and I don’t know how long he’s been doing that with echo, but boy was that a fantastic version. Bob singing with his own echo was an astounding live performance trick and he was surely enjoying it.  “Something happening…something happening…something happening.”  He was Howling at the Moon.! And more harmonica there too as he headed from “center stage” to the piano. He was moving around the stage all night like that. Restless hungry feeling.

And then came “Rolling Stone” – all four verses. Has he been doing that too lately? Last few times I saw him he was leaving oui the “jugglers & the clowns” verse and only doing “miss lonely”. But all four were there tonight. And let me just say this about the chorus – my kid looked at me after the first chorus and said asked if he just said  “How Does it Feel to be Without a Phone?”  I can’t attest to anything there, but it sure sounded funny and not out of the realm of possibility at the moment. Ha!

Oh I left out my one disappointment – “Spirit on the Water’ is not my favorite track and I was hoping for “Simple Twist of Fate”.  But I gotta say this was a credible, not lazy,  version and we got more harmonica. So I’ll let that slip. This is why we keep coming back, because you can’t always get what you want. It’s Bobs show and he’s  the phantom engineer on this train.  

Well if you watch these set lists you know how it all ends. “Watchtower” and “Blowin in the Wind”. And again, I’ll say this was not a rushed show. I imagine Dylan coulda been heading for the tour bus while the band played the song off. I’ve seen that before. But nope. There he was again,  jumping up from the piano and heading upstage to play us some more splendid harmonica right up to the bitter end, taking in the applause.. And then, just like that, it was time to get outa this all night café. We found our car, and I played the original “Willie Mc Tell” for my daughter – “wow that sounds so different” – and we bugged outa there.  

A few words about Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson, NY Film Fest 2007

Spent a rainy evening in New York City out at the movies last night. Itching to check out the new Wes Anderson film , Moonrise Kingdom, but not wanting to travel too far, I headed to the nearest multiplex up in Union Square. But having to sit through a half hour of commercials and bad movie previews nearly wore me out by showtime. What a scam - squeezing every commercial buck out of you while you foot the bill. This is why I spend all my time at actual art cinemas - Film Forum, Walter Reade, BAM Cinematek. This was all new to me. In fact, if the 4 train was running normally, I would have been out at BAM to see this film and saved myself the torturous run up of advertising. At least the final preview before the film started was for my favorite film of the year - Beasts of the Southern Wild - a stunner that won Sundance and which opens next week locally.

Jason Schwartzman with Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola, Moonrise screenwriters

But back to Wes Anderson and Moonrise Kingdom, which despite multiplex rules, finally started up and swung itself into action. The first half hour was very much in the style of The Royal Tennenbaums, which to me was a little too stylized, and so I spent some time thinking that Moonrise Kingdom might not live up to the hype at all, making me want to kill myself for sitting through all those commercials. But around the point that the two young teenage lovers, Sam & Suzy, begin dancing by the shore to a Francoise Hardy yeh-yeh girl disc they brought along on their runaway adventure, like a preteen homage to a Godard film, I was hooked.

Wes Anderson, Anjelica Houston, Bill Murray -2011

From that point, the rest of the Moonrise moves elegantly along like my favorite Wes Anderson film, The Darjeeling Limited. Actually it felt more like a Coen Brothers - Tarrantino - Anderson hybrid, with all the character actors playing similarly quirky parts - Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel - all showing up just at the "oh I forgot they were in this movie" moment. I'm still partial to Darjeeling's long slow motion takes choreographed to Kinks songs - especially that grand opening train sequence with "This Time Tomorrow" (I know someone who was phoned by a nervous Wes Anderson, to be sure that no other director had already thought to use this great Kinks song. That's a man concerned with the smallest details.)

Peter Bogdanovich (another Hank Williams fan) and Wes Anderson

And the details are indeed packed into Moonrise Kingdom. Sure the Kinks are replaced here by Hank Williams (no complaints there), minus the sweeping slow-mo camera tricks. Still there are plenty of exquisite horizontal / 360 camera pans. The detailed references throughout Moonrise are little treasures for movie buffs.  Let me just say that Bob Balliban's goofy narrator reminds me of Fellini's Amarcord narrator.  You can sense Francois Truffaut behind the scenes. But Wes Anderson's attention to detail really helps Moonrise Kingdom stand on its own here. I sensed a bit of Hardy Boys /Nancy Drew mystery zeitgeist thrown in as a dose of 60's childhood nostaligia for the twenty somethings in the theater to re-digest from their parents/grandparents childhoods.

Cast of the Royal Tennenbaums, 10th Anniversary screening, fall 2011

And so, as the film swept towards it's well wrapped end, I found myself sitting through the final credits (oh so alone), and knew that within minutes I'd be doing what my 19 year old daughter told me all teens do at the multiplex in this economy - head into another screening. For me it was a couple of doors down for the subsequent screening of Moonrise Kingdom, already in progress, to watch the spectacular final hour of this film one more time. 


Rendez-Deja-Vous / A Tale of 2 Photographs

French Director Benoit Jacquot (center) with his two producers

Last weekend I found myself back at Rendezvous with French Cinema, the annual festival of new French films at Lincoln Center, where I saw the delightfully historical Farewell, My Queen directed by Benoit Jacquot. I'll spare you a review, in exchange for a recommendation. Suffice to say it is about the last days of Marie Antoinette. But I must say I had a surprisingly fun time taking this picture of the director with his two producers. Unusually light hearted - both onstage after his Q&A, and in his direction of the film itself - Benoit Jacquot set up this decidedly fashionable photographic composition for me. Merci!

Benoit Jacquot

Mathieu Demy and Chiara Mastroianni

I get dizzy just thinking about all the levels of cinema legacy involved in this photograph I took on Saturday. Let me try to explain. Chiara Mastroianni is the daughter of legendary actors Catherine Deneuve and Marcello Mastroianni. She stars in Mathieu Demy's new film AmericanoMathieu Demy is the actor/director son of French New Wave directors Jacques Demy (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and Agnes Varda (Cleo From 5 to 7). He stars in and directed the film Americano. The film also stars Geraldine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin - got it all straight? 

Ameriano, basically a film about a mother-son relationship, includes footage shot of Mathieu Demy as a kid in the 1970's, by his real mother Agnes Varda. And the girl he pursues throughout the film, played by Salma Hayek, is named Lola, (coincidentally?) the name of the 1961 film directed by his father Jacques Demy,  which starred Anouk Aimee, who co-starred with Chiara's father Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita.  And of course, Chiara Mastroianni's mother Catherine Deneuve starred in Jacques Demy's Umbrellas of Cherbourg.  

Is this getting you dizzy, too? Well that's the whole point of today's blog entry.

Rendezvous with Werner Herzog

The French have arrived - the annual Rendezvous with French Cinema opened at Lincoln Center this week. And on the very same night over at BAM Cinematek in Brooklyn, Werner Herzog was "in flight" expounding on the eclectic choices of music in his films. I managed to see and shoot both, thanks to the efficient NYC subway system.

Chiara Mastroianni

First it was the Opening night arrivals at Lincoln Center, which most notably - well, for me at least - included two actresses - Chiara Mastroianni  (daughter of Catherine Deneuve & Marcello Mastroianni), and Carole Bouquet (longtime face of Chanel No.5, whose career stretches from acting as a James Bond girl (For Your Eyes Only)  to working with Luis Bunuel (That Obscure Object of Desire).  

Carole Bouquet

Then it was out to BAM in Brooklyn to see Werner Herzog. Well that in itself would be a pretty legendary night. To hear Herzog talking with Paul Holdengraber (director of Live from NYPL) for over an hour about music, while showing clips from his films, pretty much made my subway ride well worth it. You could see the glint in Herzog's eyes, when asked which clip he wanted to end the night on - he chose the blues harmonica "Dancing Chicken" scene from his 1978 film  Stroszek. 

You MUST watch it HERE now!

A fitting ending to a fantastic evening.

Paul Holdengraber with Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog at BAM Cinematek


Who Shot Rock / Who Shot Walker Evans

Walker Evans - Cemetery, Bethlehem PA, 1935

On my way to give a talk about my punk photography yesterday at the Allentown Art Museum's Who Shot Rock exhibition in Pennsylvania, I unexpectedly found myself in the shadow of one of my photographic idols Walker Evans.  In my haste to prepare for my talk,  I had not foreseen that Allentown was only miles away from Bethlehem and Easton PA, locations of some of Walker Evans greatest photographs included in his classic 1938 book American Photographs.  In fact, before I had even arrived at the Allentown Art Museum, I had Eileen stop the car in a town square blocks away, so I could take this photograph.

Which upon my return to the city, I realized was similar via memory to this Walker Evans shot.

Walker Evans - Main Street Pennsylvania Town, 1936

And so began an adventurous journey into the many layers of my photographic past. The talk went well indeed. From Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Weegee & Brassai, to the Bowery in 1976, I speckled the presentation of my CBGB photography - titled Once Upon a Time on the Bowery - with clips from one of my favorite photography films - Blow-Up.  Directed in 1966 by Michelangelo Antonioni, with David Hemmings cast as the "swinging sixties" photographer David Bailey, it was the first film that actually took me into a real darkroom, a real studio, and in fact a real nightclub.  With an early intense performance by Vanessa Redgrave,  and the classic Yardbirds nightclub scene - this was the film that no doubt eventually drew me to purchase my first Pentax Spotmatic and eerily predicted my "brilliant career" in rock photography. 

"I'm only doing my job. Some people are bullfighters. Some people are politicians. I'm a photographer."

But back to the Allentown Art Museum,  where the current layout of the Who Shot Rock exhibition,  thoughtfully laid out & more intimate with it's small walls than even the Brooklyn show - lives on. As I said the talk went well. The audience hung in there with my eclectic references that strayed between the history of photography, the history of punk, and the history of me. Thank you. 

From there it was back on the road, a few photographs of Allentown, and a stop at the - how could I not? - Bethlehem Diner.

Once Upon a Time on the Bowery - Hank Williams version

OK - a little promotion here for my Photography Slide Lecture (er, amusing talk)  this weekend - Sunday Feb.26th - at the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown PA, which is now hosting the fabulous Who Shot Rock exhibition. I'll be showing a everything but the kitchen sink from CBGB's, to clips from the movie Blow-Up.  Think of it as my "stand-up photography" act.

info at :

First Avenue looked so Medieval

I was calmly drinking down my morning coffee last week, when my friend Tim Broun, whose Stupefaction blog is burning up the internet, alerted me to a blogpost on Flaming Pablum about this photograph I took of the band Television in the East Village in the fall of1977. It seems that there was a photo quiz posted last spring to search out the location of several cool photographs, of which mine was not only one - but one of the only ones that remained unidentified until last week - imagine that!

Well this was all news to me when Tim's alert arrived. And it just gets better. It turns out the photo detective who finally figured out my shoot location was none other than Bob Egan of PopSpotsNYC, whose indefatigable archeological investigations into the shot locations of several key Bob Dylan LP cover photos I've been in awe of since I stumbled upon them last year. In fact I've been telling everyone who can bear to listen to my Bob Dylan fanaticism that they have to check these out - Daniel Kramer's shot for Highway 61 Revisited, Sandy Speiser's shot for Another Side AND Jerry Schatzberg's shot for Blonde on Blonde.These are so unbelievably detailed, carefully laid out, and delightful to read, that it shudders me to think that the same Bob Egan went out and conducted an investigation for Flaming Pablum to deconstruct the location of my 1977 Television photograph.

Yes he's right it was First Avenue at 9th Street - we had just walked down St.Marks Place (past the recently extinct Holiday Cocktail Lounge and the ever present Stromboli Pizza) proceeding up First Avenue to 9th street when

we encountered this puddle overtaking the whole corner. It wasn't raining that fall day in 1977, so I suspect there was a drainage problem on that still somewhat crooked corner. In any case, it looked perfect for a photo, so I asked everyone to wait while I crossed over to the other side to get this view from across the pond (hoping no cars would turn up 9th and knock me over).

People have asked me quite often over the years about the location of this photo - even people who live in that neighborhood. And I am sometimes stumped myself, because there was still an outdoor fruit and vegetable stand on that corner for many years. And all those quirky little stores - Curtain shops, button shops - are now restaurants.

But what really strikes me about Bob Egan's investigations of Bob Dylan cover shots - and it's true of my Television photo as well - is how close to home all those photographs were taken (well not exactly the Blonde on Blonde - though that might be the most fascinating one).  Freewheelin'  was shot on Jones Street , literally around the corner from Dylan's West 4th St. apartment. Another Side just a block away from his record company's offices on 52nd Street, and Bringing it all Back Home on the front steps of his manager's Gramercy Park Townhouse. And indeed, my photograph of Television follows the same pattern. I was living  on St.Marks Place between Second & Third Ave. while Fred Smith - Television's lovable bass player - lived on St.Marks between First and Second Ave. - which is where we all gathered before the shoot. So the distance between meeting point and this shot was two whole blocks. Were we just lazy or was there just a plethora of great locations in that short radius? A little bit of both (we actually continued our walk up to 18th street to finish the session). But indeed, First Avenue looked so medieval in those days.


I am pleased to have stumped Flaming Pablum's readers with my shot location, and honored to have Bob Egan's thorough investigation (referencing a microfiche of the 1977 phone book - brilliant), but I'm most amused with Tim Broun's post in the comment section - "Nice post, but you could have just asked Godlis - he took the photo". Yeah but this is so much more fun!


I was crossing Chambers Street that morning with Eileen, after dropping our daughter Sadie off at elementary school, when the first plane flew over our heads. I had a sightline down Church Street and watched that plane fly - actually glide -  nose dead center, slowly right into the building, on that blue morning. It still seems inconceivable to me that I was standing there at that moment. And today it's all coming back to me. The run across Chambers Street to pick up Sadie from school, as we heard the sound of the second plane hitting. The walk north to get out of the area. And turning around to see the first building fall as the three of us neared Houston Street. I walked back downtown the next morning to my apartment on Maiden Lane near the Towers with my upstairs neighbor Kathy to get our cats. All the checkpoints, then all the dust. My apartment was covered in it, and we never did move back in. The enormity of that day is still incomprehensible.

Sadie crossing the Brooklyn Bridge 1 month before 9-11

Joey Ramone Birthday Bash 2011

It's been 10 years since Joey Ramone "left home" -  our planet East Village. Though it's odd that there is still a Joey Ramone Birthday Bash party after all these years, just dedicating a day to Joey once a year brings a smile to my face. He should be walking among us - looking down and laughing with us as we cross 3rd Avenue and make our way down St.Marks Place or 9th Street past his favorite haunts and restaurants. So amidst all the Ramones family squabbling, I think it's just fine to honor him with his own day. Gabba Gabba we accept you one of us!

I've posted my photos of last week's 2011 Joey Ramone Birthday Bash on this site for your Gabba Gabba viewing pleasure!

St.Marks Place 1981
CBGB's 1977
with Dee Dee, Bowery 1977
Trouser Press cover outtake 1983

SEE THIS MOVIE - Incendies

On this rainy, chilly, "is Spring ever arriving" weekend in New York City, I am advising everyone I know that if you're going to see just one movie on the "big screen" this spring, Incendies which opened yesterday in NYC is the one. SEE THIS MOVIE!

I saw it a few weeks ago at the New Directors/New Films Festival (where I photographed the director Denis Villeneuve) and have been raving about it to everyone ever since. It was Canada's entry into the Academy Awards Best Foreign Film category, which doesn't come close to describing a film set mostly within civil war ravaged Lebanon over the last 30 years, with a twisted personal story too incredible, heartbreaking and shocking to describe here.

director Denis Villeneuve with friend, in NYC last month

This is the teaser from the movie's press kit:  "When notary Lebel sits down with Jeanne and Simon Marwan to read from their mother Narwal's will the twins are stunned to receive a pair of envelopes - one for the father they thought was dead and another for a brother they didn't know existed."

That's the setup which takes them and the viewer to current day Lebanon, on a gut wrenching quest through their mother's history - which by the way she never told them about back in Canada. What they find out, and how they find it out, is simply amazing. The performance by actress Lubna Azabal as the mother (pictured at the top of this post) is incredible.  Expect to leave the theater totally drained.

 Check out the trailer and I dare you to miss this film!

view full size here: INCENDIES TRAILER

Now if that's not enough movie for you to see this weekend, here are two more:

In Brooklyn at BAM Cinematek, they are showing a retrospective by Japanese director Kaneto Shindo. I never saw any of his films until last night, which just happened to be the director's 99th birthday. The film I saw was The Naked Island, which was made in 1960, but never released in the US till now. This film is pure cinema, made in black and white, with sound but no dialogue, starring the director's wife, the actress Nobuko Otowa.  Shindo's  films are being presented at BAM by Benicio Del Toro, who just happens to be a major fan of Kaneto Shindo, which should be enough to convince you to get yourself out to Brooklyn. One of the other great films they are showing this weekend is Children of Hiroshima, a fiction film, made 4 years after the bomb was dropped, also with Nobuko Otowa. No sleep till Brooklyn.

Jerry Schatzberg, Paz de la Huerta, and Benicio Del Toro last night at BAM

Not enough for you??? How about going to IFC and seeing Beautiful Darling, the documentary film about the Warhol star Candy Darling. I saw this one at last year's New Directors/New Films Festival, and it's taken a year to hit the screens. Directed by James Rasin, the story is told by Jeremiah Newton, Candy Darling's roommate and executor. There are plenty of talking head interviews, and Chloe Sevigny reads from the star's diaries. Candy Says - see this film.

Chloe Sevigny, Jeremiah Newton, and James Rasin - 

director James Rasin with Chloe Sevigny

Erin Go Bragh-less / photos by o' GODLIS

St.Patricks Day, NYC 2008

As I've said before, St.Patricks Day is Opening Day for Street Photographers - probably more like Spring Training actually.The first parade of the season. A day to get out there with your camera and work out all the kinks. You can make a few mistakes. Nobody cares. Especially the Irish. It's a great day for them no matter what. Just remember to wear a bit of green.

Here's a few pix from the Boston Parade - in Southie - in 1974 and 1975. Check out Miss South Boston 1974 - really? - and Louise Day Hicks (google her), the original anti-busing Tea Party, er Boston Tea Party candidate (not in my district you don't!) - here seen in her souped up Cadillac de Ville. Was it green? I don't remember.

Ok - Go Green, Get out there, Erin Go Bragh, Erin Go Godlis

Tomorrow is a long time / R.I.P. Suze Rotolo

Suze Rotolo with Todd Haynes 2007

It was about a year before I took this picture, a summer day 2006. I was walking east on 4th Street, near Second Avenue, when it struck me that the girl I just passed going in the other direction was / had to be Suze Rotolo. Too recognizable a figure for me to be dreaming it, I told the story to my friends, how I had passed the Freewheelin' Suze Rotolo on positively 4th street. How she looked the same as on that cover. How I hadn't bothered her to take a photo. It was just a great New York story for me. 

A similar non-meeting in passing had occurred back in the mid 1980's, when I suddenly realized that the guy who just passed me in a hoodie on lower Fourth Avenue was someone - right Bob Dylan, no actually Bob Zimmerman. He was peering into each window of each little leftover store front - a watch repair shop, a small bookstore - one by one, nose pressed up to the glass, as he continued in disheveled fashion up lower Fourth Avenue towards 14th street. I just watched him to be sure that was who had passed me. The back pocket of his jeans was sticking inside out of his pants. And after almost tripping off one of the side walks three blocks north of me he turned around, and yes it was Robert Zimmerman. Being a complete unknown. He wasn't being Bob Dylan. And I didn't take his photograph either.  Better as a story. 

So it was in fall of 2007, a  year after I saw Suze Rotolo on East Fourth Street, that I attended the NY Film Festival press screening of the eagerly anticipated Todd Haynes film I'm Not There. And it was the next day after that I was assigned to photograph Todd Haynes at a talk he was giving about the film at Lincoln Center. After the talk, I noticed Suze Rotolo hanging around to talk to Todd Haynes. And that was the moment I knew I had to take the chance to step in and ask if I could take their photo together. Not looking to be noticed, she was very obliging, happy to be photographed with Todd. When I asked her quickly what she thought of the film, her reply was "it was all about me". I don't know why, but I was under the impression that she was there to report to Bob, who never once commented on the film - though had given his approval for it to proceed. When I told this story to some Dylan insider types I was introduced to shortly after at a tribute show at the Beacon Theater, they said "you now he's still in touch with her."

Within a year after that, Suze Rotolo's book "Freewheelin' Time" was coming out, and so was she - doing interviews for the first time in her life.  Her ex - Bob Dylan's "Chronicles" had already covered the same territory from the other side of the street, in 2004. It seemed more like a beginning than an end for her. I was so sad to hear of Suze Rotolo's passing this week.  She was as cool as I thought she'd be. As soft, quiet and beautiful as Bob Dylan described her to be. May she rest in peace, her spirit sweetly walking forever down Jones Street for all to behold.

"If today was not a crooked highway...

OSCARs Shmoskers

producer Scott Rudin with winner Aaron Sorkin - yes!

You watched it. You blogged it. You avoided it. Now, it's all yesterday's news. No I wasn't there. But I have had a few close encounters, and am pulling them out of the Godlis archives, dusting them off and posting them for one last look.

Anne Hathaway 

She wore a million dresses last night. She wore this one at the opening night of the NY Film Festival in 2008. I don't think you can take a bad picture of her. 

David Fincher  - didn't win but should have

The Social Network opened the NY Film Festival last fall - easily the best opener they've had in years.I was rooting for it. But then I was rooting for punk back in the 70's. I am not a reliable predictor of mass success.
Jesse Eisenberg - he didn't win

The Social Network team - only one of these guys won

She won - Melissa Leo (rt) with Frozen River director, Courtney Hunt in 2008 

Melissa Leo won, dropped the F-bomb, uncomfortably mingled with Kirk Douglas. Here she is in 2008 at the New Directors/New Films opening night presentation of Frozen RiverIf you haven't seen Frozen River - rent it immediately. 

Inside Job director Charles Ferguson with Matt Damon - he narrates it.

Charles Ferguson deservedly won for his documentary Inside Job. That too was shown at the NY Film Festival last year. Equally daring was Restrepo, directed by Sebastian Junger, who showed Restrepo at the Walter Reade Theater (below) Human Rights Festival last summer.

Sebastian Junger , Restrepo - he didn't win, but could have

Time for just a few last thoughts and pix...

 Andrew Garfield at the NY Film Fest opening party - not nominated

Andrew Garfield, who plays Mark Zuckerberg's "friend" in Social Network,  is going to be the new Spiderman. Until then, catch him in the very creepy British trilogy series Red Riding. 

David Fincher with Gina Gershon at the NY Film Festival

Anne Hathaway - same dress, different angle

David Fincher

I took this photo of David Fincher at a "Director's Dialogue", one of the great sidebars to the NY Film Festival. Right after he finished this talk, Fincher caught a plane back to Sweeden where he was returning to the set of The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo - coincidentally starring Rooney Mara, who played Mark Zuckerberg's girlfriend from the great opening scene of The Social Network.  Until that film comes out, I suggest you rent Zodiac and Fight Club. Over and out. 

Roll on Columbia

OK, let's put yesterday's name thing to rest, and get on to bigger and better things. Like the  "on the road" version of the Who Shot Rock exhibition, curated by Gail Buckland, which started it's natural life at the Brooklyn Museum back in 2009.  Who Shot Rock opens today and runs through May 22nd at the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina. That's a little far for me to get to today at the end of February, but I guarantee you it's a beautiful place to be hanging if you find yourself anywhere near South Carolina this spring. And, get this, it's sponsored by Piggly Wiggly!

This looks like the last stop on the tour. The show's made stops in Memphis and Akron. And if you can't get to South Carolina,  you can always purchase the Who Shot Rock book - excuse me, "exhibition catalog" - here.  But what I've discovered - only yesterday, my god - is this great extended piece about the show put together by the public television station in Akron. I present it here now for your mid-winter enjoyment.