Letter to Trump

In the latest issue of Time Magazine, there is a full page letter to Trump from Ibtihaj Muhammad (a black Muslim woman from Maplewood, NJ. She is a bronze medal winning fencer (team sabre event) at the Rio Olympics. She is also the first American to compete in a hijab. She is an American of the Muslim faith, and a very eloquent American at that. She points out that her faith calls on her to help the less fortunate and speak out against injustice. She says to Trump:

I feel that the story that you tell paints a different picture from one I see. You seem to see refugees fleeing terrors root, rather than it’s victims. You seem to see our nation’s contributions to refugee resettlement as “bad deals” rather than shining examples of what America has always done and stood for.

 She goes on to talk about being profiled at airports, accused of “looking suspicious” and been told on the streets of New York, to “go back to your country”

She concludes by saying:

This isn’t the America I know, and it isn’t the America that the world looks to for inspiration and leadership.

I once represented you. Now you represent me. I urge you to do so with the humility, thoughtfulness and kindness befitting your sacred office.As an African American Muslim woman patriot, I am commanded by my religion to remain hopeful, to believe in our ability to bigotry with love and draw our strength from diversity. That is what makes America great. Time and again.

So who is the real American? Ibtihaj or Donald? I would have to go with Ibtihaj. She embodies everything good about our country- he embarrasses us every day!

 

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Gratis

In the last week, I received three requests for photo usage. All three of them started out by telling me how great my photos were and how much they would enhance their project. They then proceeded to tell me that they did not have a big budget for their project. They then used the same word to describe the deal they wanted to make with me. They all included the same word- GRATIS. So…my pictures are great, they would really help their project, and they wanted me to give them rights for nothing.

The first one was from one of the two biggest advertising agencies in North America. Their client was the State Of Illinois. Now, anyone who lives in our state knows that the state is broke (politicians have totally screwed up the budget). So I decided to write the woman back. I suggested that even though the agency was doing the project pro bono, more than likely the cameramen and editors that were doing the short film that my photo was being considered for were getting paid. Also that she was probably getting paid also. I then suggested that maybe if the agency was doing so poorly that they couldn’t afford to pay for content, that maybe they should move to cheaper offices (they have a large section of one of the biggest buildings in Chicago). I suggested that they should respect the creative people that added to their projects. Needless to say- no response at all. Felt good to write back. Nothing lost, in my opinion.

The second one was from a large book publisher. They were making a series of short films to be used in college lectures, and of course had no budget and wanted the photos gratis. After two emails, I negotiated an OK fee for usage, by suggesting that if I kept on giving away my work, I would soon be living in my car.

The third one was from a museum, who also used the same no budget line, how great my picture would look on their website, and they wanted it gratis. After a few emails, they agreed to a nominal fee.

So, two out of three isn’t bad. I am just sick of being asked to give away my photos for nothing.

ST. LOUIS, MO  - OCTOBER 16: Keith Richards, Chuck Berry, Joe Walsh, Robert Cray and Joey Stampanato during the filming of the movie "Hail, Hail Rock and Roll" at the Fox Theater on October 16, 1986 in St. Louis, Mo. (Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage)

ST. LOUIS, MO  - OCTOBER 16: Keith Richards and Chuck Berry during the filming of the movie "Hail, Hail Rock and Roll" at the Fox Theater on October 16, 1986 in St. Louis, Mo. (Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage)

Keith Richards and Chuck Berry- June 7th, 1986 Petrillo Band Shell Chicago, Illinois United States June 7th, 1986 Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage.com

 

RIP, Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry passed away yesterday. He was 90 years old. He was the true father of rock and roll. Even though his performances were spotty in his later years, he was still great.

A few of his favorite lines:

A member of one of his pickup bands asked him, before a show “What songs are doing tonight?” His answer- “Chuck Berry songs.”

A band member asked him how they would start each song. His answer- “When my foot comes up, start playing. When my foot comes down, stop playing.”

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Chance the Rapper

I talk a lot about social responsibility. There is a guy from Chicago who is taking it to a whole new level. Chancellor Bennett (Chance the Rapper) is a young guy from Chicago who is redefining the music business. He has released mix tapes for a couple of years, each one making him more popular. His latest product “Magnificent Coloring Book” has pushed him into superstardom. All of this is done without a label. He has surrounded himself with people who do all the work of the label, and he gets to keep all the money. He has played the White House, been on Saturday Night Live, and last summer put on a spectacular concert at US Cellular Field (home of the White Sox). If you look up his tour on Google there is a sold out button on almost every show.

Last week, Chance put his money where his mouth was, in a big way. Illinois is in a budget crisis, with politicians fighting about funding programs. After Chance won three Grammys last month, the Governor tweeted out congratulations. So Chance used that to set up a meeting with the Governor. The meeting didn’t go well, so the next day Chance called a press conference and announced that he was donating one million dollars to Chicago public schools for art programs. The next day he announced that he would match any money that corporations in Chicago donated. Although one million dollars is a drop in the bucket toward fixing the school system, it showed how politicians in Illinois are holding school kids hostage for their own political reasons.

Hats off to a guy who is trying to do something!!

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Modern Day P.T. Barnum

Saw a story on the news this week. Seems that Kiss is selling Air Guitar Strings!

http://www.metalinjection.net/metal-merch/kiss-now-sell-official-air-guitar-strings-seriously

An empty bag for $3.99. Either insane or pure genius. These guys should be in the merchandise Hall of Fame.. At this point they have sold 10’s of thousands of packages. Do the math. A lot of money made for selling air! I am thinking genius.

Now…if you don’t want to spend the $3.99 go here and buy bargain priced air for only $1.99, Seems like a bargain to me!!!

http://www.airguitarstrings.com/

 

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Notes from watching the Grammy’s

Three and a half hours I can never get back! Why do I watch this thing?

James Corden’s opening was pretty funny, and he was pretty great throughout. Bright future for that young man!!

The Weeknd can’t really sing. Was that really the Daft Punk guys in those suits? Were they actually playing those keyboards? Or did they just send the suits and had a couple of stagehands wear them on stage?

Pop duo or group award. I didn’t know who any of those people were!! 21 Pilots took off their pants when they were walking to the stage. Pretty funny and made a point that anyone can dream a big dream.

Ed Sheeran– 2 microphones, 1 guitar and I keyboard/sampler. Took a lot of balls to come out with no staging or lightshow and just entertain. I guess he does this every night in arenas around the world. Impressive.

Who the hell is Lucas Graham? I think it is a band- I get at least 2 press releases per week about them. Is it a guy named Lucas? Or a guy named Graham?

Beyonce. Great when she sang, but mostly just stood there as people danced around her.

Car Pool Karaoke- brilliant to get Neil Diamond out there! Give the old guys a chance.

William Bell and Gary Clark, Jr.- first real performance of the show. Just two guys and one guitar. Born Under a bad sign was a great choice of song.

Maren Morris and Alicia Keys. Lots of cleavage and fake hair. Too bad they can’t just come out and sing. Guess that wouldn’t be good TV.

Adele messed up the tribute to George Michael and had to start over. Very real moment!

Metallica and Lady Gaga. Someone forgot to turn James Hetfields microphone on at the beginning. Oh well, only an international show. Lady gaga should become a metal singer!!

Sturgil Simpson with the Dap Tone horns. Real singer singing a real song. Fabulous.

Bee Gee’s tribute. Embarrasing to put so little talent up on stage in front of Barry Gibb. Why is Demi Lovato in all of these tributes? Who is Tori Kelly? Who is Andra Day? Little Big Town was pretty good here. The rest? Not so much!!

Busta Rhimes coins a new name for Trump. (I think). President Agent Orange.. Tribe called Quest finished there set surrounded by Immigrants. Pretty powerful.

The Time was pretty fabulous, as always. Then Bruno Mars joined them and the rest was pretty pedestrian. Lounge version of “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Google Phone Ad with “Nothing Compares To U” was first good ad- about 3 hours in.

Chance the Rapper, Francis and the Lights, Tamala Mann and Kirk Franklin tore down the house. Reports are that he has turned down $10 million to sign with a label! The future of music.

John Legend and Cynthia Erivo sing my friend Brian Wilson’s song “God Only Knows” to memorialize the people who had passed in 2016. Fabulous moment.

The rest was a blur!!!

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Chicago Voices

About a half of year ago, my friend Jaime approached me about a project being produced by the Chicago Lyric Opera Company. It was called Chicago Voices, a celebration of Chicago Singers. Soon there were 3 photo exhibits mounted in Chicago, including a great amount of my pictures of Chicago artists.

 

Last night was the culmination of the project- a great concert at the Lyric Opera House.. It was a celebration of genius- (John Prine singing two of his finest songs- “Angel From Montgomery” and “Hello In There)”, proving once again that he is in the same league as John Lennon and Woody Guthrie.

John Prine_0007

 

It was a celebration of the ridiculous- Renee Fleming (a self described opera diva) singing a country and western song with John Prine.

Fleming, Prine_0005

 

It was a powerful moment of message music as Terrence Howard and Jessie Smollette of the hit television show Empire did an amazing version of Curtis Mayfield’s classic “People Get Ready.”

Howard, Smollett_0023

 

All in all a great night of music for Chicago.

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The Roches

In December of 1982, I went to a small club to see a band I heard was pretty good. They were more than that- they were great. They were called the Roches. Three sisters (Maggie, Terre and Suzzy) with impeccable harmonies, great songs and a great sense of humor. That year, in the year end issue of the Reader, I wrote my top ten list, listing the Roches as #1. I went to see them every time they came to town, and they kept getting better and better. But fame always seemed to elude them. It didn’t seem to matter to them- they liked the pure joy of making music.

The Roches at the Park West in Chicago, Illinois April 6,1984. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

 

Throughout the 1980s, The Roches continued to release their music to small audiences, little or no air play, and only modest record sales.

The Roches at Tuts in Chicago Illinois , December 2, 1982 .  (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

 On January 21, 2017, Maggie Roche died of cancer at the age of 65.

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Hamilton

I got some tickets for Hamilton this week. A friend and I went to see it Wednesday night. It was amazing. I usually get very nervous watching theater- I keep on reaching for my camera to photograph the beautiful sets and capture the great lighting. All of that was here but the story was so amazing (and the acting and singing was so great that I forgot about the visuals for a while.) Even Wayne Brady as Aaron Burr disappeared from his “Let’s Make a Deal” persona to be very believable. This was the first cultural event I have ever gone to that I had to study for beforehand!

The most interesting part of the night was my date for the night. A friend of mine is visiting from Russia for a few weeks. She works in the economic sector in Moscow. I suggested that she study Hamilton before she came over (which she did). She knew the whole story (Better than me) and was enthralled by the play. It seems to me to be the perfect intersection of art and history, and we both found it very entertaining. All in all a great way to spend an evening!!

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Still going strong!!

I know I sound like a broken record, but Buddy Guy, at 80 years old, is playing like a man half his age during the first weekend of his January concerts! Clocking in at 2 hours per night, he is pulling out a lot of chestnuts from the blues archives, and playing them with power and finesse. He rehearsed a bunch of stuff with his band last Monday and they are as good as ever. They never know what is coming up next during the show, but are always right on time when he starts a song.

Buddy Guy at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago Illinois , January 7, 2017. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

 

Saturday morning he showed up at his club at 10 in the morning to find a bunch of people waiting in line for the front row seats (doors opened at noon). So he let them all come in out of the cold- and it was really cold!! When they got inside he realized that there was nobody there yet to watch them, so he sat and talked with them till someone showed up. That is the mark of someone who cares about his audience.

Buddy Guy at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago Illinois , January 7, 2017. (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

 

The shows are great, the crowds are great, and a good time is had by all! 3 down, 13 to go!!!!!

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RIP (It was a very bad year)

Just some of the many

rip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also remembering Muhammad Ali, Howard Bingham, John Glenn and many more

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