My biggest problem- access is continually being cut (soon there will be none at all).

This week, Rick Morrissey, writing in the Chicago Sun Times, discusses access for sports reporters. He describes a scene before Super Bowl 3 when Joe Namath sat poolside at a Fort Lauderdale hotel, surrounded by writers, three days before the game. There are no Jets personnel trying to stop him. He and the writers are just chatting. As Rick asked:

Was Namath worse for the experience?

Were the Jets?

Did the world fall apart because the big, bad media talked with him?

Namath and the Jets won the Super Bowl, Sports Illustrated got a great photograph, and those reporters gave their readers what they couldn’t have gotten from a formal press conference.

As he finished, his last line said it all:

“If sports writers tried getting that close to an NFL player today, he would probably get tased.

So it seems that sports writers are getting a taste of what we have been getting for years!! Without access, we cannot do our jobs. This is the point that managers and publicists do not seem to understand. I have spent the last year scanning photos from my archives, and I am astounded as I look at them how much access I had. This from the same artists that now restrict photographers. The most interesting part of the conversation is that the artists either don’t even know it is going on, or do now but don’t understand why!

A few years ago, I went to photograph a band called Young the Giant. I was standing backstage talking to the road manager, who was telling me that I could only shoot the first three songs. There was a guy (obviously a member of the band), standing with us, who asked “Why do we only let people shoot three songs? We are proud of our show. We like people to see it in pictures.” The road manager then sighed, and said, OK- I guess you can shoot the whole show. The next day, I sent a few JPEGS to their manager (from the end of the show). He called me and said: “These pictures are great. How did you get them?” When I told him, there was silence on the other side of the phone. Finally, he said, “Well, I guess we should let people shoot the whole show.”

One small victory- not enough to get me out of the house these days

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Black Lives Matter

In the recent issue of Sports Illustrated, the cover is the Sportsperson of the Year (LeBron James). The article is not just about his acconplishments on the court, but his activism off the court. Recently, at the ESPY awards, he, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony stood on the stage and pledged to speak up on issues of race in America. LeBron seems to be following through, helping his hometown of Akron, Ohio by putting his money where his mouth is.

Dwayne Wade:

Wade furthered his “Spotlight On …” initiative that his foundation has made a staple of home games, surprising 100 teenagers at an after school program and encouraging them to work to remedy the city’s violence with positive examples of success. (From the Chicago Tribune)

 Also: Working with the Bulls’ community services department, they went into a home of an underprivileged family and fully refurnished it and left gifts. (From the Chicago Tribune)

 The magazine goes on to tell the story of the meeting that took place on June 4, 1967 on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, where some of the top athletes in America, including Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul Jabbar and 10 other athletes and politicians met with Muhammad Ali to find out the truth about his refusal to enter the Army. 50 years later, that meeting still resonates with me, as the people in the room, many of them military veterans, stood behind Ali and supported his right of free speech and freedom of religion. A very moving article!

The magazine goes on to profile Doug Baldwin, a Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, who backed Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the Star Spangled Banner by locking arms with a fellow teammate. Baldwin is still working for the cause, going to 3 or 4 meetings a week with police and city officials (sometimes with Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seahawks) to discuss issues of race.

Finally, the article quotes Harry Edwards, the most prominent sociologist in sports, who was the architect of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, which resulted in the Black Power salute on the victory podium by John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics.

Edward’s said in this article: “Follow through is the difference between a movement and a mob.”

 I commend these athletes for following through on their words!!

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Just had a great conversation with a friend of mine over breakfast. Topics eventually came to the media, and it’s purpose. We talked about a new interview with Barack in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, where he partially blames the internet for our problems. We now seem to believe anything we read on line!! I acquired a Facebook page when I was running a not for profit and needed it to communicate with members. I have never used it since. People communicate to me on Facebook and I try to answer them by telling them that the best way to get to me is by phone or email. They respond to that by messaging me on Facebook!!!

I understand why Donald Trump likes Twitter as much as he does. His pea-brain can’t construct a thought more than 144 characters. I guess we will have to put up with that for the next four years (hopefully not eight). Maybe he will lose interest during the four years!!

Seems that people are making up “False” news and putting it on the web, causing guys to go into pizza places with guns. This practice is defended with the line- “Well, it could be true.” There is no more fact checking- just copy and paste whatever you think looks good and put it out there- maybe people will think it is true!!!

A couple of years ago, Kitty Kelly was writing a book about Oprah Winfrey, and she wanted to interview me. I had no interest, and ignored all of her calls. So one day she showed up at my house. I wasn’t home so she left a note in my mailbox with her cell number on it. I didn’t call her back. So…..when the book came out, I went to a bookstore to look at it and found my name in the index. When I turned to the page, I saw that she had copied and pasted a paragraph from my website (even though there is a clear copyright notice on every page of my site. Oh well, I guess that is journalism today!!

Random thoughts. I really have lost interest in the whole thing

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The World has REALLY Come to an end!!!

At least the idea of professional photographers. On Thursday the new issue of Sports Illustrated dropped through my mail slot. As I picked it up. I saw a nicely composed, adequately lit portrait of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on the cover. It had a littler pixelization but overall a nice picture.

I opened to page three and there was an “Article” titled “Behind the Cover.” At the top of the page was a picture of the photographer shooting with a smart phone. Looking closely at the “article’” I realized that it was an ad for the Moto Z Droid and that Sports Illustrated had sold the cover shoot to Motorola to hype their new phone/ Camera!!

The photographer, Michael J. Le Brecht, was quoted as saying, “I really loved the zoom. It’s a 10x Optical Zoom, not a digital one like you’d find on a typical smartphone.”

So, maybe I can get a few bucks for all of my Nikon equipment. I’ll just carry a cell phone around with me from now on.

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Drain the Swamp

The Donald spent the whole campaign slamming his competitors. Now he is putting them all in his cabinet! Did he tell the truth about anything during the primaries? He slammed Mitt Romney, now he wants to make him secretary of State!! He slammed Ben Carson. Now he wants to make him Secretary of HUD!! Looks like he is building his own swamp.

So, are his backers ever going to believe that he told them anything they wanted to hear just to get their vote!

He also said he did nothing wrong with the Trump University scandal, and would fight it all the way. Last week he settled- guess the idea of a convicted felon in the White House would have been too embarrassing.

I read a music blog by a guy named Bob Lefsetz. Most of the time he is pretty much a blowhard. But he had a great analysis today:

I’ll argue all day long that the right wing labeled Hillary Clinton unfairly. But I’m hard pressed to say her status quo agenda made me hopeful. Bernie Sanders may have promulgated policies that had no chance of passing but at least he channeled people’s frustration and spoke the truth. But the media blasted Bernie and said hosannas for Hillary. Meanwhile, Trump sneaked to victory between them.

Just food for thought.

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Time Magazine

Time Magazine has a very interesting issue out this week. It is titled:

“The Most Influential Photos of all time”

Pretty tall order! I saw the editors on a morning news show this week, and they explained that it took three years to edit down to 100. Most of them are very good, some are Ok and some have some historical significance ( cellphone photograph of a guys newborn that was the first photo tweeted out! So I guess we can blame him!!!)

There is one that is really bothersome.. It is titled “The Ultimate Appropriation.”

Richard Prince was working in the Time Magazine Tear Sheet Department, deconstructing magazines and filing the articles in appropriate file drawers. His eyes were drawn to the advertisements, one, in particular, the Marlboro Man riding across the plains. In a process that he called “rephotography” he photographed the ad, cropping out the type.

As the magazine says, “That Prince didn’t take the picture meant little to collectors. In 2005, The image, titled: Untitled (Cowboy0 sold for $1.2 million at auction!!!!!!!!

Prince started a new art form- he titled it photography of photography

Prince went on to gain fame for stealing Instagram photographs from the web, enlarging them to 3 feet square and selling them in galleries. (He became very rich doing this)

As he said on Twitter just 15 hours ago:

Being sued: They say I don’t care. That’s not exactly true. I just don’t care about what they want me to care about.

What a country we live in! He has been sued many times, and always wins for some reason.

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Why Donald Trump won

Just saw a great piece on CBS Sunday Morning by Ted Koppel. He went to a small town in West Virginia that was decimated by the demise of the coal industry. They voted 4 to 1 for Trump last week, because he told them he was going to bring back coal mining. He actually stood on a stage during the campaign with a coal miners helmet on his head and said “I dig coal.” Nobody that Ted interviewed could tell the camera what Trump was going to do to accomplish this, or why coal mining was needed. All they heard is that he was going to get them their jobs back. They all sounded like they weren’t sure what he was going to do, but were willing to giuve him their vote to see what was going to happen. The most gut wrenching story was a young single mother of three children who said that she was so so sick of all the talk that she did not vote for either one of the losers.

Meanwhile, Hillary is now blaming FBI Director James Comey for losing the election for her by reopening the email scandal two weeks before the election. Maybe she should blame her staff for the fact that she did not set foot in Wisconsin from April to November, causing that state to put Trump over the top in Electoral votes.

I have always told myself not to vote for the lesser of two evils, but this year I voted for Hillary, and felt bad for days for doing it. Trump told the people what they wanted to hear (with no plan to accomplish anything he talked about) and the people listened. Who knows what is going to happen next. There are people marching in the streets, and Paul Ryan and Reince Priebus (both ironically from Wisconsin are kissing up to Trump to try to get jobs in his administration. Kellyanne Conway, who seemed to appear on every morning news show for the last month (and who also appeare3d to be a totals blond bimbo) is now seen as the mastermind of this debacle, and will probably be running the country come the end of January.

Final note: Trump is scheduled to testify a few weeks before he is inaugurated in the Trump University fraud trial in California. Should be great TV watching!!!

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We Did Not Suck

This summer, Joe Maddon’s famous clubhouse speech- “Try Not To Suck_ became a rallying cry for the Cubs and their fans. T shirts and signs everywhere. This past Friday, Manager Joe was wearing a new black shirt. It said WE DID NOT SUCK, and they did not! They won the World Series in seven games, and they did it in a crazy, edge of your seats kind of way- extra innings in the seventh game.

One of the great sports stories of all time was Kyle Schwarber- catcher and outrfielder, who had a devastating injury in a collision with Dexter Fowler in the outfield in the third game of the season. He was told he would be back sometime in 2017, but that didn’t work for him. He rehabbed his leg all season, cheere3d the team on from the dugout, and the day before the World Series started, after testing out his body for two days in Arizona, the Cubs flew him to Cleveland in a private plane to become their designated hitter in the World Series. He went 7 for 17 for a .412 average in the series, and gave all of Chicago a story that wasn’t to believed unless you saw it with your own two eyes. The only question left is Who is going to play him in the movie of his life?

There was another great story that has unfolded over the last few years. I got in this business to work with and meet some of my favorite musicians. I met Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon, and the Rolling Stones. One kind of obscure guy that I used to see perform around Chicago was Steve Good, a diminutive singer songwriter with a very large talent. In 1984, he wrote a song about his beloved sports team, called Go Cubs, Go. He passed away from Leukemia in September of 1984, never seeing the Cubs win a Championship. In 2007, the team started playing his song over the PA system after every home win (there weren’t many of them). The crowd would sing along, and Steve, up in heaven must have been really happy.

This year, the song had 1.19 million on demand streams through October 27th. So one of the unlikely by products of the World Series win was a hit record for one of the nicest guys to ever pick up a guitar!

One more note:

Someone posted this on my Facebook page this week-

It shows the covers of the Sun Times (A really lousy wraparound picture) and the Tribune (a great celebration shot). The article goes on to explain that this is what you get when you fire your whole photography staff and pickup a photo from a wire service to illustrate the most important sports story of the last 100 years in Chicago!

Way to go, Chicago Sun Times.

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Trump and Andy Kaufman

In last weeks Newsweek, there is an article discussing whether Donald Trump is really Andy Kaufman, playing a trick on America. This is a pretty good supposition, except that Donald Trump is nowhere near as smart as Andy was. Andy was a brilliant performance artist who planned everything he did to the utmost degree.

In 1982, I was asked to shoot a performance of Andy’s at the Park West in Chicago. As was my usual MO, I stopped for dinner at a little Chinese restaurant called Lan’s just down the block. I was seated with my back to a table full of loud laughing people. Trying not to eavesdrop (impossible to do) I soon realized that it was Andy and his crew meticulously planning the show for that night. It was a brilliant meeting, (he should have worked for an NFL team- he would probably have a better game plan than the Bears have these days!!)

Andy Kaufman on 9/17/78 in Chicago, IL. (Paul Natkin/Image Direct)


I felt like I was cheating, as I knew exactly what everyone was going to do before they did it! They performed the show brilliantly- Andy’s Elvis impression was spot on, and the audience went home happy.

Donald Trump is not smart enough to pull off anything this smart!!!

Andy Kaufman on 9/17/78 in Chicago, IL. (Paul Natkin/Image Direct)

Andy Kaufman on 9/17/78 in Chicago, IL. (Paul Natkin/Image Direct)

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Christopher Guest is a genius!!!

His new film, called “Mascots” is out on Netflix this week, and it continues his unrivaled genius for taking a small weird subculture of our society, and turn it into a hilarious mock documentary. This time, he sets his eye on sporting team mascots, using his usual cast of amazing comic actors.

He reprises his role as Corky St. Clair (From Waiting for Guffman) as a manager of a mascot

Jennifer Coolidge plays an escort who marries a client, who buys her a team, which allows her to cheer for the mascot for that team, while commenting on her husband’s (Bob Balaban) sexual idiosyncronies.

Parker Posey, hilarious as Alvin the Armadillo, is tragically felled by a bout of food poisoning (Bad Shrimp) and her sister has to step in to the competition.

The film takes place around the Fluffy Awards (9th annual) which is in the running to be picked up by the Gluten Free Network. A lot is on the line!!

Zach Woods, always hilarious in the HBO show “Silicon Valley” is followed around by his wife to make sure he doesn’t have another affair with Cindi Babineaux (Parker Posey). Of course he does anyway!!

Ed Begley, Jr. and Jane Lynch as the judges are hilarious

The film ends with the competition. Redemption was had as Owen Golly, Jr. did not follow his fathers advice, and instead, came up with a new twist to his act and ran away with the prize!! It was hard to keep from falling off of my chair, I was laughing so hard.

All in all a great way to spend 90 minutes waiting for the Cubs to kick the Dodger’s asses and qualify for the World Series!!! First time in my lifetime.

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