Small Cameras pt.2-Leica x1

When I finally won an eBay bid for my long-coveted Leica x1, when it arrived, after I finished marvelling at the packaging (what care, what consideration these people have) the first thing I did was to climb online and see if it was fake.  Search: "Leica x1 counterfeit scam." Hmm. Nothing.  But this camera is so light, surely it's a plastic knock-off of the dignified Leica of which I've dreamt.  I snapped a picture of the desk in front of me.  Hmm.  Best picture I've ever seen. Not fake then. Or at least, a very, very good fake, featuring luxury optics that outperform any camera I've ever held.  

It took me about two hours to love everything about this camera.

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Small Cameras pt.1-Fuji x100

I haven't had a proper camera since the digital revolution made my years as film photography student seem quaint, like minoring in tannery, or taxidermy.  Granted, there is still great work being done in film, and I'm not sure that even the best digital cameras match it yet--though they're close--but it still feels a little funny having been in likely the last class to learn hand-processing not as some retro-choice, but as the only option for aspiring professionals, just as it must've felt when the French perfected a county-wide canal system just in time for the automobile to render that method of goods transport adorable and less cutting-edge than they imagined and budgeted for. 

Since I'm travelling around Europe a good bit this year, I thought it was time to step up.

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Year's Best

 Last year, one of my favorite musicians ever, Iron and Wine, released their new album on my birthday, which felt like a gift from the world.  The year before, the band that has taught me more than any other (about art, about life) Bright Eyes, released two albums on my birthday.  It seems fitting then, that I should offer something back, in the form of a Best-of list, since this year's birthday has just passed without fanfare from the musical community.  Here then are my favorite albums from 2011, offered in a spirit of generosity rather than contention, for those of you with whom I no longer share car rides or mix tapes.



Girls- Listen Here


Iron and Wine- Listen Here


The Antlers- Listen Here
Youth Lagoon- Listen Here
Bon Iver- Listen Here



There was a lot of good work this year, but these are the masterpieces.  For those of you who don't hate Christian music, you might look seriously at the new albums by Leeland, and Sixteen Cities, which are the best things in that genre this year.  And if you don't hate screaming, you should check out the hardcore rock-opera by F**ked Up, which is breathtaking and holy in an entirely different way. 




Review of Michael Dickman's "Flies" published

My review of Michael Dickman's book Flies is up on the Books and Culture website now.  You can read the whole thing here.

If there's anything that the onset (or is it an onslaught?) of e-books should teach us, it's that books themselves matter. For the most part, if the publishing industry crashes, I say they deserve it for keeping the public trust so poorly.

Case in point: the publication of Michael Dickman's new book of poems Flies, recently out from Copper Canyon Press, is one of the major events of the year for people who care about poetry. His first book, The End of the West, was the bestselling debut in the long history of that press, and if it was filled with a sagacious quietness that suggested an author twice Dickman's age, it was also filled with promise. Many of us reacted with a compound clause: that's amazing; I can't wait to see what he does next.

Part of that feeling comes from the fragility of Dickman's lines. His verses seem weightless at the same time that they feel enormous and heavy. That's not a hyperbolic contradiction: think of a blue whale and you have it—this slow, gigantic force. Or, picture the cover of that first book: a photograph by Ralph Eugene Meatyard (Untitled, 1960) depicting a hanging victim, who, due to the camera's trick and limit, seems to float, or even to fly up off the page, when he should be dropping.

The cover of Dickman's new book...