Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ode to Comics Books

I am a big fan of these comics.

1. Love and Rockets written by Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez

I have read this comic since my mid teens and the Jaime Hernandez stories have often frighteningly paralleled my own life, and the lives of many people I know. This comic is brilliant.

2. Dykes to Watch Out For written by Alison Bechdel.
If I am supposed to be cleaning our house, often my lady will find me reading one of the Dykes to Watch Out For books for the one millionth time.

3. Last, but not least, Eightball by Daniel Clowes. I love this comic. One of the funniest things I have ever read was in was one panel of a fat comic fan mocking a comicbook with this statement, "This writer doesn't know the difference between a cyborg and an android!" I say this quite a bit to my lady and the thing that makes it so spectacularly funny is that I, of course, know the difference between an android and a cyborg.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Celebrate good times...Come On!

I am still celebrating the return of Savannah Roberts, the #1 sister of all time.
I'm not sure but I might have something here. Right now I'm partial to the 5th one down, although it's a very different mood with the flash and the room felt much more like the photos with no flash. I'm also feeling the 4th one down in terms of color, exposure and mood. The light coming in through the window makes the most sense in this photo...home in bed in when it's light out with the window blocked.

son smoking in bed 11 web.jpg

son smoking in bed 15_2 web.jpg

son smoking in bed 2 web.jpg

son smoking in bed 3 web.jpg

fill flash

son smoking in bed 16_1 web

son smoking in bed 17_1 web

son smoking in bed 9_2 web.jpg

Alec Soth on blogs

My love fest with Alec Soth is out of control at this point. Click on the above link to read a great interview with Alec about blogs. This is the first I've heard the term "blog widow," and, unfortunately, I am most certainly a widow maker. It's amazing how you can get sucked into 500 hours a day on a computer with a sudden desire to share an enormous amount of information with strangers, and, speaking for myself, that includes personal information.

Alec, here's to you, your blog and your beautiful, smart and inspiring work.



Many years ago, my lady and I had a party that was a substitute for a wedding. You know the gays can't get legally married, so we had everyone to the Ruba Club to celebrate our "not legally allowed to be married" union. Our families and our friends were there, it was great. Then our honeymoon was a trip to Nashville.

Now, I had met Steve Earle a couple of months before our wedding. We both worked with the Kensington Welfare Rights Union; I actively worked with them and Steve supported them and helped out whenever he was in town and we also had some mutual friends. I am a huge Steve Earle fan, albeit not as big a fan as my lady. She loves Steve Earle and cites "Guitar Town" as a life changing album for her. So it was a pretty amazing thing to be meeting Steve Earle. I told Steve that we were planning to go to Nashville for our honeymoon and I told him when we were going and he mentioned had a show then, a death penalty abolition benefit, and it was happening when we were going to be there. He offered us tickets, which was kind of mindblowingly generous, considering that he didn't even know us.

We go to Nashville and on the day of the concert we show up at Steve's office to pick up our tickets and there's apparently a donor event where people get to meet the performers after the show which he's also given us passes to. Remember, I'd only met him ONCE before this. We arrive at the show, which is at the Grand Ole Opry where me and my lady were dying to go, and we go to our seats and we're sitting in the second row with the families of the performers...we sat next to Amy Ray's parents and in back of Emmylou Harris's mother. Holy Fuck...Emmylou Harris's MOTHER!

The show was amazing. Then after the show we go to the donor thing upstairs at the Opry and have milling with people and the performers and Sister Helen Prejean. Yeah, that was a true highlight for me. A. Helen Prejean was hysterical. B. She's about my height and looks like a nun. Remarkably, Susan Sarandon looks nothing like her.

Steve's generosity was really phenomenal. I'm moved by it to this day.

Dudes, that was a fucking perfect honeymoon.

November 22th, 2006- South Philadelphia

stripped van grays ferry web

The least democratic process since Il Duce got the trains running on time

As many of my blog readers know, I let everyone into the first stages of my editing process. Now, in some ways, I'm eager to debunk the myth of street photography as a exact recording of fact photos are as constructed as any image creation, based on the choices the photographer makes and the context in which the photo is displayed.

Anyway, I like for people to see my process, but in truth there's no input from anyone whosoever that will sway the exacting choices that I make in creating a photo and the subsequent ordering and placement of the photos in the slideshows and under I-95. I should except Lynn Bloom because I do listen to her. However, this is the ONLY part of my life where I do not take Lynn's advice. I listen and weigh her ideas and advice, but I often make choices that she disagrees with or is ambivalent about.
Everyone is allowed to see how my work happens but I am completely self-possessed and don't listen to anyone. That's right. Transparent, yes. Democratic, no.

This bring me to the photos that I made yesterday. I saw my gal E-----, and met her son and her cousins and I made some photos of her. E----- was a complete stranger when I approached her a few years ago to make some photos of her and now I see her every couple of months and totally look forward to it. So yesterday I asked if I could make some photos of her smoking and then she was like "ok take some photos of me smoking with my chest out." What? I genuinely have NO IDEA what prompted that. Even for me, it was a fairly surreal moment. Anyway, I made a bunch of photos of her and I went through them and found that the images of her exposing her breasts were confusing and made the photo difficult to read. I cropped one of the images and found that it told a lot more than the one with both breasts exposed.

That being said, these are my first thoughts about these photos and my thoughts will undoubtedly change as I work with the images and think about if these photos are strong enough to include in a slide show or in the coming year's I-95.

November 29th, 2006- South Philadelphia

son smoking in bed 1 web.jpg

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

a window into the idyllic life of Zoe Strauss

My grandparents had this license plate on the front of their car for years and years. After their car was totaled and they were both too old to drive, they kept this license plate displayed on my grandfather's workbench. Let me tell you about my grandparents; I was unbelievably lucky to have both of them around until I was almost 30.

LIMITED EDITION 1/50, 20 left

There are 20 photos left of the limited edition print...may I suggest that you reserve or buy it within the next few days.

Click here for more info

Monday, November 27, 2006

how I roll

I often think of a story that Guy Clark recounts in Steve Earle's biography. It's in reference to Townes Van Zandt's mentoring of Steve Earle and how Townes's "approval of Steve was strictly tacit: he let him hang around."

"In Guy's opinion, Townes was hard on everybody. When an acolyte brought a song to Townes for his approval, he had a habit of going, "Mmm, that's nice," somewhat patronizing, then picking up a guitar and playing the song considered his masterpiece, "Pancho and Lefty." Guy saw that as honest rather than hard. "The one thing you couldn't do is blow smoke up Townes's dress about quality work."
(Hardcore Troubadour, The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle, by Lauren St. John, pp. 64)

Honestly, I am equally that full of myself. I know, I know, I SEEM humble...don't be fooled. Look, I'm no Townes Van Zandt but I know that I've made some fucking amazing photos. I sometimes go through a mental list of photos I've made that are for the ages. I know people might think that's nuts, but it's just how it is.

Another Steve Earle story to follow tomorrow.

Holiday Blowout!

Friends, you are all invited to Zoe Strauss's open studio holiday party.

December 16th
838 Cantrell St. Philadelphia, PA

I will have some things for sale and people can pick up their prints, but more important I will have snacks and good times and presents for people who come. It's an open house/studio party that's not to be missed. Seriously, it will be the greatest holiday party of the year. I know 11am is insanely early, but folks might want to buy stuff and they can come early and get what they want and then egg nog and latkes for all!

If you're not there you better be in jail or dead and if you're in jail BREAK OUT!


frank with love-1web
838 Cantrell St.

Sunday, November 26, 2006



I am producing a limited edition series of the above photo...get it while you can because you could put the kids through college with this photo if you get it now and sell it later. I am making 50 archival inkjet prints of the photo above, at 7.5"x9.5", priced at 100 bucks each. If you are familiar with my pricing, color photocopies are always 5 dollars and archival prints, cprint or inkjet, are 200 bucks for an approximate 8x10 print and 400 bucks for an approximate 11x17 print, so this is a super bargain for many reasons. I am keeping 10 of the limited edition photos, 40 will go up for sale. Each photo will be signed SPECIFIC TO THE BUYER.

These are a limited edition 2006 issue...they will be signed as such and come with a letter from me.

Detail I-95 (Philly Fried Chicken)
Original Digital File 2006
Printed 2006
7.5" by 9.5"
Archival Inkjet Print
Limited Signed Edition 1/50


If you purchase a limited edition print you can get it into your hands one of two ways. It can picked up at my open house studio holiday party on December 16th, from 11am to 5pm, at 838 Cantrell St.(more details forthcoming on the party) OR it can be mailed to you. If you chose to have it mailed to you, you must place an order BEFORE December 16th. My assistant, Ms. Savannah Roberts, will be mailing all orders on Monday, December 18th without exception. I have found that the exceptions get lost or end up taking forever, so it's by December 16th or nothin'.

1. Please contact my assistant in charge of distribution and shipping, Savannah Roberts, at
to request a photo and indicate if you'd like it mailed or you'll pick it up at the Studio Holiday Shindig on the 16th.

2. If you are having your photo mailed to you, you can easily buy it with paypal...just click on the button below. So easy!


...if you are picking up your photo you can pay with a check or money order, but I would prefer COLD HARD CASH.

Questions? Please contact Savannah Roberts at

Friday, November 24, 2006

Casino Insanity: Fuck Foxwoods

Well, it seems as if Foxwoods resorts is still trying to build a casino just a few blocks from my house. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? They want to build a casino in a residential neighborhood. I know you've probably heard many times, "You know what's good for a thriving, historical community? A CASINO! Just make sure to build it 2 BLOCKS FROM PEOPLES HOMES."

I wrote a letter to these casino fuckwoods this evening. I am so worked up about it that as great as Thanksgiving was, Aunt Maryann's and then my mom's, I had to send it out tonight. Honestly, and I can barely think about this because it makes me physically sick, having a casino so close will diminish our quality of life so much that it's possible that we would have to move. Hence the letter below, written at midnight as Black Friday was beginning.


To Gary D. Armentrout, Nelson N. Parker, II and James L. Dougherty,

I am a South Philadelphia resident writing to you to let you know how much the South Philadelphia community strenuously opposes Foxwoods building a casino at Columbus and Reed. I live approximately 13 blocks from the proposed site and my mother and sister live 9 blocks from the proposed site.

As you must know, every neighborhood group in South Philadelphia has come out against the proposed building of a Foxwoods casino at Columbus Blvd. and Reed St. Queen Village Neighbors Association; Pennsport Civic Association; Passyunk Square Civic Association; Bella Vista United Civic Association; Whitman Council; Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition; and Headhouse Square Special Services District are all opposed to the building of a casino in our community. That's just the tip of the iceberg, because neighbors who are not active in community issues are also strongly opposed to the building of a casino in South Philadelphia. We are unified in our opposition to Foxwoods coming into our community.
Take a look at this South Philly Review article about one of the many protests we have had against against Foxwoods...

I am not writing to list the problems that a casino would create, you most certainly know them. It is certain that a building a casino at Columbus and Reed would, at best, significantly decrease our quality of life and our property values and, at worst, completely destroy our community. You are proposing a building a business that will, as you say on your website, cause "an increase in crime, if not crime rates, due to the anticipated vast increase in visitors."

I hope you reconsider your plans for the South Philadelphia Foxwoods site, because South Philadelphians will stop it from being built. We don't want it here. And, you can be sure that if you intend to build, we will use a number of methods to disrupt and stop the building of your unwanted business.

Zoe Strauss

James L. Dougherty,

Nelson N. Parker, II,

Gary D. Armentrout,

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

kids at the store4 web

The Human Pleasure of Vision

I have become a devoted follower of Alec Soth's amazingly well written, prolific and insightful blog. Seriously, I check it about 3 or 4 times a day now. I know this is insane because I've never met him, but I can say with certainty that I love Alec Soth.

Last week Alec had a post about an essay by Susie Linfield, The Treacherous Medium, Why Photography Critics Hate Photographs. I have to say, although I really liked the piece, I kind of came away with the thought that the essay should have been titled..."The Treacherous Medium, Why Are Academics So Fucking Annoying?"

Anyway, this essay created some tangential thinking about the pleasures of seeing. For example, what causes us to have so much pleasure in viewing fireworks, christmas lights and sunrises/sunsets? I believe John Berger addresses this at one point in "Ways of Seeing" but I am too fucking lazy to reread it right now to see what he said. Please email me if you know that passage off the top of your head!

As much as I'm tortured by academic writing, I'm down with John Berger. You know I'm all about seeing the photo in the context of two disparate, but concurrent, viewings of a photo: a representation of the moment and the manufacturing of fact. John Berger wrote, "All photographs have the status of fact. What is to be examined is in what way photography can and cannot give meaning to facts," and you can't hate on that.

Enough of that. Roland Barthes was quoted in Linfield's essay with this gem from Camera Lucida, “A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).” For the the most lucid comment on how the world of academia regards Camera Lucida, click here and wait for Orson Wells to say "AHHHHHHH, The French!"

Ok, seriously, in continuing with the exploration of the implication that the photograph records "fact," if Barthes was alive I'd be interested in hearing his take on the "facts" of the photo below in regards to the studium and punctum of this particular photo.

Joke from Fred Jonas

Today was spent dealing with a new zillion dollar sewer line from our house to the street, and it would have been unbearable if our plumber wasn't Fred Jonas. As part of the sewer line replacement today, I had to drive with Fred up to the Northeast and was very jealous of his GPS tracking system. My GOD, if I had that I could just drive to places I've never been and never worry about getting back. I would love it. I actually have a great sense of direction, so it's never a problem for me to just drive and have no idea where I'm going..but a GPS system could let me go to places where I wouldn't have to pay attention to the getting back to the main road. For example, I made the photo below when I was just driving around on empty back roads in the Nevada desert and having no idea where I was. With this photo the road actually ended, just stopped in the desert and I saw these in the distance and got out walked over to a group of appliances and a flipped car that seem to have been beamed right into the middle of the desert. Really, there was no road, just these huge appliances set up as a shooting range.

A GPS system would have allowed me to go further and not have to worry about finding Pahrump again.

20 shot appliances3web .jpg

Now, the joke Fred Jonas told me in the truck...
"Do you know why there are so few Jews in prison? Because we eat lox"
Thank you, Fred Jonas!

Thanksgiving 2006

Yes, yes, I know that celebrating Thanksgiving is tantamount to celebrating genocide (someone told my lady that when they were having a holiday party at Temple) BUT it's now time for a list of very helpful service providers that I have relied on in this last year...


Danny Dicriscio
Tommy Pushkar

"Top Fucking Notch the Both of Youse"

Fred "The Jewish Plumber" Jonas
Super Plumber
Howie "The Jewish Home Inspector" Shanker
Great Home Inspector
Larry "Ask Me About Joey Coyle" Lanci
The #1 Realtor Ever
AOK Auto Body and Mechanics

There are many others not listed. Feel free to remind me if you should be on this list.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Human Pleasure of Fright

In the next couple of months, I am really interested in exploring the pleasure people get from being scared. This weekend we saw "The Departed" and it renewed an old interest I've had in examining what causes us to get so much pleasure out of watching murder. I liked "The Departed" a lot. I generally like "thrillers" although I am kind of repulsed by gore.

Anyway, it made me think about how representations of murder differ between "horror" films, e.g. compulsive murder for pleasure, versus "crime/mob" films, e.g. murder for pride, revenge or monetary gain. I can see the many ways of identifying with characters in crime films; I can identify with the killer and with the person murdered and I can see how thrilling it is to be immersed in a complex plot.

But I am at a loss for feeling what makes people love horror, and that's what I'm really interested in. I want to know what causes a desire to be frightened. There's some pleasure connected to fear and I want to get into that. I'm also interested in "thrill" amusement rides. Because there's obviously great "amusement" in being scared shitless. I'm working on getting to the bottom of this primal connection.


"Ever wonder about the world's scariest roller coaster? That distinction now belongs to Kingda Ka, located at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA. At a height of 140 metres, it is the tallest (in 2005) and also unique for its special ride. Cars approach a vertical climb at 200 km/h, and then rise vertically for 140 metres, before coming to a brief stop and then plunging downwards vertically to the bottom, at a speed reaching 200 km/h .

Kingda Ka's 200 km/h top speed is also the world's fastest (in 2005). Rather than using a chain drive like most coasters, this one uses a hydraulic launch system, delivering 20,800 horsepower and rocketing the cars to top speed in just 3.5 seconds, much like the way jet planes are launched from the deck of an aircraft carrier.

The entire ride, including a stretch near the end that makes you feel weightless as it rises over another 40 metre high rise, takes 50.6 seconds. Kingda Ka cost $25 million dollars (US) to design and build."

Local celebrity status according to the NY Times

I was very pleased to read in the NYT Philadelphia art scene article by Steven Stern that I am somewhat of a "local celebrity."

Philadelphia has many great local celebrities and although celebrity status weighs heavily on the broadcast side here, they are many things that create local celebritdom. However, it's worth noting that every local newscaster, no matter how short of a run or how bad they were, is considered a celebrity in Philadelphia.

Digression...obviously, I am one of those people who consider newscasters to have celebrity status. I called a bunch of people when I saw Dann Cuellar at the Springfield mall a few years ago.
Also, one of the best local news moments happened with Dann Cuellar a few years ago...he was reporting live from Kensington about a Christmas lights fiasco and some drunk guy came up and started yelling, "How you doing, Dann? How you doin?" and then proceed to go into a shitfaced ramble about the christmas lights. It was really great.


From Philadelphia? Then there's no need for additional text, just the name and the photo will do.

I am now joining these HOMETOWN CELEBRITIES...

World B. Free

Sally Star

Johnny Doc

Sharon Pinkenson

Ramona Africa

Al Alberts

Chief Halftown

Cheri Honkala

Ray Murray

The Geator

Benny Krass

And not pictured but included...that Sixers/Phillies vendor who looks like Welcome Back Kotter.


Zoe Strauss

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Saturday, November 18, 2006

NY Times Article about how great the world of Philadelphia Arts is

Check out page 72 in the NY Times Travel magazine because there's a great, and accurate, article by Steven Stern about the Philadelphia Arts Scene. It has a very handsome photo of Alex Da's got a lot of great things going on in the piece but there are two quotes that stand out:

First, Alex Baker describes Philadelphia as having "a community of generosity" and I couldn't have said it better myself. For the most part we support each other...unlike other cities with a thriving arts community, we're not really haters when it comes to our superb art scene (excepting professional sports as an art form because we're full force haters there)

Second, William Pym says that he's seeing "more smart, globally aware, unprovincial work every year" here in Philadelphia, and I agree with that as well. There's much to be said for the local. Now, I'm boldly making a blanket statement about many of the Philadelphia artists who I admire and respect; they don't confuse "local" with "provincial." Interestingly enough, in the last year I have seen much more myopic work in the booming art market cities. I was going to go on and on with some theories about why but just cue the fucking Rocky theme because WE ARE #1, MY FRIENDS!

Photo of the Week

Hey, if you are just tuning in to the blow by blow of this high style blog, you might not know that if you send me an email with subscribe in the header I will put you on my photo of the week list. And join soon friends, because I'm coming up with some amazing limited edition print for the winter holidays.

info (at) zoestrauss (dot) com


Here is the last "photo of week" that I sent out.

Amfar 2x2

mcdonalds sign warped15-1web copy

I donated a 10"x16" inkjet print of "McDonalds" to the ultra fancy Amfar 2x2 auction in Dallas and it went for 1000 bucks to some guy from Sotheby's. I priced my photo at about one billion dollars less than all the other stuff, but I must say that I was thrilled to have this piece among such good company in the auction, including these two amazing photos...

Diane Arbus

Charles Atlas Flexing, Palm Beach, FLA., 1969
Gelatin-silver print
Edition 11 of 75
20 x 16 inches

and this...

Cindy Sherman

Untitled, 2003
Color photograph
Edition 315 of 350
30 x 20 inches

Hope Eternal

This has the potential to be a good photo if I can go back to the same spot, get a little farther out into street to reduce the distortion and catch it at the right time.

liquid lightning 2 web

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Please, everyone knows I love Alec Soth.

LECTURE: Alec Soth
November 16, 2006

When: Thursday, 6:30pm

Where: Ferguson Theatre, 600 S. Michigan Ave.

Lectures in Photography

Photography Department, Columbia College Chicago

Alec Soth’s recent series, Niagara, both reinforces and undermines modern myths surrounding romance focusing on true love, sexuality and the promise of “happily ever after.”
For his previous body of work, Sleeping by the Mississippi, held in MoCP’s permanent collection, Soth documented disparate scenes and people he discovered during meandering journeys along the Mississippi River.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

teardrop tattoo fuck off 2-1web

I have had this photo in my mind for a little bit. I have never really felt it because of the angles in the form; the tilt of his head combined with the slant of the window/door frame behind him on the right is too unbalanced for me when combined with an aggressive "Fuck Off." For this photo to be a success, it should be less chaotic. I straightened out the window line in the photo below, but it's now too tight on his face...there needs to be a little breathing room on the sides. I know I can't win 'em all, but I'm be damned if I don't keep trying.

teardrop tattoo fuck off 2-2 web

Holiday gift suggestions- PART I

click on the above link to take yourself to a wonderland of gifts for the discerning gift recipient.

Highly recommended-

Judith Schaecter - Extra Virgin (with an intro by my man Alex Baker)

And the Dan Murphy collection

STUCK ON THE MAP NUMBER 5 - DAN MURPHY - Poster & 7" vinyl
Stuck on the Map Magazine - Dan Murphy

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hooray for DMC!

Right, Lynn is actual friends with DMC and his manager Eric and she asked them to come over and meet the "If You Break the Skin" kids and, really, how great is that? Helllooooo!?! Living the dream!

Think Tank

I am organizing a think tank...we will begin meeting every month in January 2007. We will ask, and address, political, ideological and existential questions. I am in the beginning stages of organizing the think tank, but if you are in the Philadelphia area and genuinely interested in theory, research and a multi-disciplinary approach to discussing empirical and conceptual questions, get at me.

zoestrauss (at) gmail (dot) com

think! 3web

Joanne Greenbaum- check out her work

I am a fan of Joanne Greenbaum's work and wanted to give her a little shout out while she has a show up right now at D'Amelio Terras.


Joanne Greenbaum
Fat Yellow
oil and flashe on canvas
60 x60 inches

Holiday Present Suggestion for Zoe Strauss

Toshiba Projector

Look, if anyone decides that they want to blow 700 bucks on this awesome gift for me, rest assured that you will be the first to see the new plan that I have for outdoor projections. (Sans tank, Alec.)

Toshiba's new mobile projector weighs just over a pound and nearly fits in the palm of your hand. The TDP-FF1AU, from Toshiba America Information Systems Digital Products Division, weighs 1.1 pounds, measures 2.2 by 5.5 by 4.0 inches (HWD), and comes with a lithium-ion battery pack that adds 0.6 pounds and just 0.8 inches to the depth. According to Toshiba, the battery pack is good for 2 hours of viewing. If you need more than that, you can use the power cord.

I'm not going back to edit this...but "sans"??? When the fuck did I become a lady that says "sans?" Mine Gott in Himmel, soon I'm going to be carrying "le bag" and driving "le car."

Good Food Here: "Dies"

Now, I am not the kind of gal that goes for the BIG prints. I like to print at 11x17 maximum. There are many, many reasons for this but it's not absolute, as one can see from the ICA installation. There are sometimes details that I know, and love, in my photos that I want others to see and larger prints allow for the easiest exploration of difficult to read details.

Case in point: Good Food Here

The small detail of someone having scratched out the "la" on "ladies," leaving "dies," often influences the placement of this photo in the 95 installation, despite that it's almost illegible when made as a color photocopy. Seeing that detail changes the overall feel of the photo. Many of my photos have these difficult to read details and while I get a lot of pleasure from reading smaller photographs and searching for those details, I am interested in making some of my photos a little larger for folks to see some of the things that deeply impact my feelings and thoughts on specific photos. Because I work by showing such a large number of photographs in a limited amount for my major projects, eg 95 and the slideshows, I know it's difficult for people to take in the minutia that is critical in the decisions I make in showing photos.

I think people would be interested in seeing some of that.