Happy Halloween

Greetings infidels. It's Halloween. Or as I call it, the night of the grackle. Tonight is the night that the grackles all join together and attack all unsuspecting trick-or-treaters by crapping on them in the middle of the night. A scary site being attacked by a swarm of grackles. Their yellow eyes glow and gleam in the moonlight as they give you the grackle equivalent of a rebel yell. Hence the reason it is advisable to carry an umbrella with you. Don't believe me? Well, you'll see. I'll be hanging out in the pumpkin patch with the gang and await the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. I missed him last year. Fell asleep. But this year, I will be there with my Canon EOS 5d and a fast Canon 50mm 1.4 lens and multiple flash strobes. I'm gonna get the shot. Of course, last year when I tried to get the shot of the Great Pumpkin, this little bugger (see image above) ended up in the image.

Have a safe and happy All Saint's Day infidels . . . and keep looking up!


Update on Pianist Olga Diaz - "Mom" - Welcome Home

Folks, after nearly one month in the hospital, and 11 days after open heart surgery, the reknown Cuban Pianist, Olga Diaz, better known to me as Mom, is home. I thank everyone for their prayers, phone calls, and support. God willing, in perhaps a few months, Mom will be back at the keys. October 2006 has been hell. I'm glad tommorrow is November.

And in the End...

"The Love you take, is Equal to the Love you make."
-- The Beatles, Abbey Road

Scotch Anyone?

You got to love how the liquor folks have booths of all their wares along the 18 holes of a golf tournament. It's no wonder why the players do pretty bad on the back 9.
In any event, everyday is a good day for some scotch. It's good for the health, if taken in moderation. I think I shall have one myself. See y'all on Monday.

No Time for Golf Today

Yesterday was a gorgeous day to be out on the Golf Course. Today it is rainy and bleak. Such is life.

A Friday Orchid

Another crazy week folks. Mom is getting better and is walking about in the halls. Hopefully she'll be well enough to go home. More than 3 weeks in the hospital can be trying on anyone. Thanks for all the comments and prayers. I leave you with an orchid and some words from the poet John Donne:

Let us love nobly, and live, and add again years and years unto years, till we attain to write threescore: this is the second of our reign. John Donne

Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse and Goodyear Blimp

Greetings infidels. As I was near the Hillsboro Lighthouse yesterday while at a client's office, I decided to finally reshoot the lighthouse after all these years. I was presented with some nice clouds and lighting. And while framing my shot, the Goodyear Blimp comes into the image. So what the heck. Maybe from this point we can say that a good year will soon be on the horizon.

Latest Update on Olga Diaz -- aka "Ma"

Well today, Ma was finally moved into a room from ICU. She's doing well. Well wishers from around the Americas have called to see how she's been doing. Today I received a phone call from Buenos Aires from famed composer/artist Mario Clavell to wish Ma well. I've received calls from Puerto Rico, and all of Miami. (Ma gave my cell number to everyone).

Progress is steady. All the tubes have been removed and she's getting stronger every day. Today when I went to visit, she had a bunch of musicians with her (In the ICU) and they were watching on a portable DVD, a concert video of them in concert from a few months ago.

I figure I'll post here and maybe refer some of the calls to the blog for an update. ;-)

So keep praying!!! it works!!

BTW: the publicity shot of Ma was taken by renknown photojournalist Roberto Koltun. I did the B&W conversion.

Mondays, Dry Season, Photography & a Crazy October

It's Monday once more infidels. I'd say Rainy Days and Mondays always bring me down, but I don't mind rainy days in the Autumn (as long as there are no 75+ mph winds attached to them of course). It's dry season here in South Florida and it gets dusty and all that jazz which makes it murder on those with allergies. But the positive thing about dry season is that as water levels drop in the Glades, and the migrants head down here, it soon will be time to go out to take photos of the birds. Even now, in October, there have been reports of raptors, owls, and mating herons and other subjects in Delray Beach, Venice Rookery, Fort De Soto and Vierra. I may try to get an early drive in sometime soon to see if I can get some images of a Kestral over in Delray Beach.....my friend Fabiola has gotten some amazing shots of this interesting raptor. Need to get up there early to catch the bird.
But there's a change in the air. I'm seeing the cormorants perched on the light posts which is the 1st sign down here of the coming season. And we're supposed to get a cold front tommorrow, a whopping chilly 65 degrees expected, which I'm sure my northern friends will be laughing about.
From my earlier post, you'll see I've resorted to taking images of urban birds just to keep my skills honed. Got a killer one of a landing ibis which I'll post soon. In any event, ma is in day four post surgery. Triple bypass and valve repair and she's singing in ICU which is a feat considering she had a breathing tube on Thursday. What sucks about ICU is those damn visiting hours, 9-10, 1-2, 5-6, and 9-10 pm. Makes is rough to go down to Kendall to see her during the day, especially now that I am at work. So needless to say, things have been crazy this month now that this Thursday will be 3 weeks in the hospital for ma. The one thing it teaches me though is that everything we do early on will have its consequences later in life. In ma's case, I'm sure smoking for nearly 40 years was not good. Most folks think that smoking screws up the lungs. The reality is that it screws up the heart. Ma's lungs are in good shape. As for me, it's healthy living from now on.
In sum, I came across an interesting article in the WSJ regarding the five most important photography books. I will post it here in its entirety.
You Ought to Be in Pictures
Books that bring photography into focus.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
1. "Looking at Photographs" by John
(Museum of Modern Art, 1973).
Our best writer on photography and one of the nation's finest critics on any subject, John Szarkowski directed the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for 29 years. Read any of his dozens of essays elucidating the work of other photographers (he is a good one himself) and you will be rewarded. Free of academic jargon and avant-garde attitude, his artistic judgments reflect the character of the man, a stubborn American who prefers to figure things out on his own. His book "The Photographer's Eye" (1966) is better known, but this series of extended notations on 100 photographs from MoMA's collection is a distillation of his gifts for witty concision, plenitude of spirit and tact.

2. "Photography in Print" edited by Vicki Goldberg
(Simon & Schuster, 1981).
The "present" in the subtitle "Writings from 1816 to the Present" means 1978, the latest entry in this excellent collection. It still offers the widest compass of perspectives on a vast topic. Essays by Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag and A.D. Coleman should satisfy postmodernists. Interviews with Walker Evans and W. Eugene Smith, as well as statements of high artistic purpose by Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, make the case for the purists. But some of the happiest surprises come from writings by tangential figures such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and George Santayana--and Charles Baudelaire, who loathed photography: "Our squalid society rushed, Narcissus to a man, to gaze on its trivial image on a scrap of metal."

3. "Before Photography" by Peter Galassi (Museum of Modern Art, 1981).
Peter Galassi, John Szarkowski's successor at MoMA, explores the origins of photography not as a scientific discovery but as a logical product of the Western artistic tradition. Early 19th-century painters, including Corot, Constable and the Danish realist Christen Kobke, depicted humble subjects and landscape views that seem "caught" by the eye, Mr. Galassi says, presaging a machine that would see everything in front of it indiscriminately. The "syntax of immediate, synoptic perceptions and discontinuous, unexpected forms" that we recognize as the language of photography would perhaps not have happened, in Mr. Galassi's judgment, if many artists had not already begun to picture the world in this revolutionary way.

4. "The Mind's Eye" by Henri Cartier-Bresson (Aperture, 1999).
The "surrealizing bourgeois," as Henri Cartier-Bresson called himself, was a mercurial figure who imparted rigor and grace to everything he touched, from a drawing pencil to his Leica. The fountain pen was no exception. This thin but charming collection is a canonical manifesto of 20th-century art. It includes tributes to fellow photographers ("for me, Robert Capa wore the dazzling matador's costume, but he never went in for the kill"), passing remarks on places he had worked (Russia, Cuba, China) and notes on his own remarkable philosophy of craft. "To take photographs is to hold one's breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeting reality," he writes. "It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy."

5. "River of Shadows" by Rebecca Solnit (Viking, 2003).
The conquest of the American West in the 19th century and the growth of northern California as a 20th-century hub of technological creativity can both be traced back, says Rebecca Solnit, to the invention in the 1870s of a super-fast camera shutter and film by the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Her tour de force of imaginative scholarship connects railroads, telegraphy, American foreign policy, the multinational corporation and sublime Western landscapes with Muybridge's invention. "Time was at his command as it had never been at anyone's before," she writes. "A new world had opened up for science, for art, for entertainment, for consciousness, and an old world had retreated farther." Muybridge fired the starting gun that announced modernity.

Mr. Woodward is an arts critic, journalist and filmmaker in New York.
Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Duck Portrait

Saw this duck in the pond at Baptist Hospital, Miami. When they kick me out of ICU, I take some shots of the resident ducks and ibis. Here's a shot for y'all.

Cape Florida Lighthouse ar Dawn


Update on Ma

Fellow infidels, it's been 2 weeks of hell. As I advised y'all, 2 weeks ago, Ma, while on a cruise, suffered congestive heart failure. The docs on Royal Carribean were amazing and saved her life and the next morning they took her by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Florida. Hours later, they took her by chopper, seen above, to Baptist Hospital in Miami, Florida where's she's been since. Ma loved the 40 minute trip over the Florida Keys and the Everglades (she also got a kick of the firefighters too). Said the trip was a joy. But in the interim, we learned she needed surgery. It was delayed for week but now, finally, they had the open heart surgery this morning to fix her heart valve and to do a triple bypass. While she is now in ICU, this evening, they took out the breathing tube and she was sitting back in her bed and watching TV and it looks like she'll be in a room hopefully later tommorrow afternoon at the Cardiac Unit.
Frankly, the whole thing amazes me how technology has progressed in the last 20 years in the medical area. These surgeons are truly amazing at what they do. I've been on 3 1/2 hours sleep since last night and with a splitting headache, I'm finally sipping a vodka and will try to get some sleep to go visit ma tommorrow. Of course my mom the celebrity (she is the famous Cuban pianist - Olga Diaz) decided to give my cell number to half of Miami, Florida who are calling me around the clock for updated. Oy vay!
It truly is an uplifting thought to think that in the same century that man has created better and more efficient means of killing each other, they have also created better and more efficient ways of saving lives as well. It only goes to show that there is hope for us. Your prayers have helped so please keep them coming.
Ma has quite a sense of humor as you can tell from the above image. She was joking and singing this morning on her way to pre-op and obviously looking at the bright side of life. A wise thing for a son to remember.
So in closing, I leave you with these wise words from the great British Sage, Eric Idle:

Always look on the bright side of life...
If life seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten!
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing,
When you're feeling in the dumps,

Don't be silly chumps,
Just purse your lips and whistle -- that's the thing!
And... always look on the bright side of life...

South Pointe Park Revisited

Well infidels, here's another image of South Pointe Park which has changed much since my last visit all those years ago when I used to shoot film. If you ignore the litter on the beach, and get there early, the boardwalk provides nice compositional photo ops. I'll have to go during the afternoon one day to get images of the colorful folks who frequent the place. There's no one out at this time of the morning except exercising locals, the bums who sleep on the beach, and the clean up crews from the local watering holes and wayward photographers such as me.

Son of the Beach

Well today infidels, I would probably have been driving along the desert highway with the cool wind in my hair from Las Vegas to Springdale Utah admiring the canyons and mountains and sandstone formations. But since I am not over there, but over here in South Florida, here's a shot of our beach sand, which is somewhat different from desert sand.
Image of South Beach. Hadn't shot there in a long time. Much has changed. Looks like they are getting new Lifeguard Huts which now look like colorful lighthouses. What has not changed is that there is so much trash on the beach....beer bottles., and all other crap. Wish folks would bother to take care of their public beaches.

"A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children."- Audubon

Life's a Real Beach!

Sanibel Seashore - (c) 2004 by Michael A. Pancier

Another Monday infidels. Today I was supposed to be on a plane to Las Vegas. I was supposed to see the Beatles "Love" show at the Mirage. And then...I was supposed to drive on Tuesday morning to see the great national parks of Utah. I was supposed to see Zion, Bryce, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Escalantes, ... the beauty of the Southwest. It was a trip I had been planning for years. I had my medium format camera ready with 10 rolls of Fuji Velvia and Fuji Provia slide film that has been in my freezer for years. My travel backpack. The works. But shit happens. Mom has heart failure on a cruise and it's open heart surgery time which God willing shall be successful. It shall be in the next few days. So, Saturday, I spent time on the phone cancelling the plane flight. Cancelling the night's stay at Bally's. Getting refund on the show tickets. Cancelling the rental. Cancelling the lodge in Utah and putting away my medium format camera. I was so close to getting there that I could almost smell and taste the mountain air. But as cruel as life can be, it throws a wrench into your plans when you least expect it. Now my thoughts are with mom getting through the surgery ok and getting better. And if I'm lucky, maybe I'll make it to Utah in the Spring. So rather than fall foilage, maybe I'll get shots of wildflowers. In any event, rather than photos of the Southwest on this photoblog, I'll continue to offer you images of the Sunshine State, and specifically, an image of the Sanibel Island Pier.
For those who are not so arrogant and like me accept the existence of a supreme being...your prayers are appreciated. If all us infidels make enough noise, the big cheese upstairs will notice.
See y'all later.

Parrotheads After Jimmy Buffett Concert - Parrot Jungle Island

2 Residents of Parrot Jungle Island, Miami, Florida. I feel like the parrot on the left right now. Nyquil on the Rocks.

The March of the Beach Chairs

Saw the chairs lined up like this at South Beach one early morning. Kind if strange as the chairs all faced south. Haven't seen this image again in my morning visits. The chairs must have marched into the sea, as they all do, eventually.
Have a great weekend folks.
I leave you all with these words from Matthew Arnold:
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
--- excerpts from Dover Beach

Pier at South Point Park - South Miami Beach, Florida

The pier at South Pointe Park, in South Beach. As a kid, before this beach was taken over by the old folks and later by the hoi polloi, South Beach used to be a family beach. As kids, we used to come here and fish from the pier and jetty. Needless to say, I would not be taking any kids there anytime soon unless it's real early like when this picture was taken.

A Visit to "Robert Is Here"

Greetings infidel. Your insomniac photographer is here this morning with some images from "Robert is Here" which is the must see produce stand on your way to Everglades National Park. You'll get some killer milkshakes there (especially the Mamay shake). So thick they make it, forget the friggin straw. I like photographing produce stands and markets. Robert's is no exception. I think I will go to sleep now. Ciao!

Yummy Peppers!
Plenty of Citrus for Some Killer Cocktails!


Hail to the Parrothead - Parrot Jungle Island

It's always fun to go to parrot jungle island and take portraits of the local parrotheads. And afterwards, you can head out to the local parrothead bar and hang out with your fellow infidels.

Rollin' & Tumblin' - Muddy Waters Last Concert Appearance - May 1982

© 1982, 2006 by Michael A. Pancier
A historic shot of Muddy Waters last concert appearance before he died. It took place at the old Hollywood Sportatorium in Hollywood, Florida in May 1982 during an Eric Clapton concert. (This historic concert venue was torn down over 15 years ago and is now a housing community). As a young high school student and novice photographer, I sneaked my camera in (in those days, an old Pentax K-1000) and I took some shots. Here is one of them. I scanned the negative and processed it with today's digital technology.
A rolling stone gathers no moss and neither does a valiant infidel.

Bring the Coronas - Fort Lauderdale Beach

Doris' post yesterday gave me the idea for the title. This was shot last Monday on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Two chairs and an umbrella. All you need is the beer and a friend and you're all set. It's Friday, so I figure we'll end the week with this final image of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Have a great weekend infidels.

Otto the Existentialist Canine says:
I’m just hangin’ on while this old world keeps spinning.
And it’s good to know it’s out of my control.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this livin’.
Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go.

No you never see it comin’.
Always wind up wonderin’ where it went.
Only time will tell if it was time well spent.
It’s another revelation.
Celebrating what I should have done.
With these souvenirs of my trip around the sun.
---- By Jimmy Buffett "Trip Around the Sun"

License to Chill - Fort Lauderdale Beach


Crooked Palms - Fort Lauderdale Beach

Here's another image of my photo tour of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I never get tired of taking photos of the coasts. The ocean to me represents freedom from land. Must be the pirate in me.
As Mr. Buffett noted, "Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder I'm an over-forty victim of fate Arriving too late, arriving too late." The only thunder I see is from my Canon camera so I give you this image to ponder and to imagine yourself with a boat drink. As Jimmy would say: "I’d like to go where the pace of life’s slow. Could you beam me somewhere mr. scott? Any ol’ place here on earth or in space. You pick the century and I’ll pick the spot." So the spots I like to pick end up being on the Beach. In fact, an infidel's credo is "Give me the Beach, or Give me a drink."
To close today's post, Otto the Canine Sage says: "Dogs look up to you. Cats look down on you. Give me a pig. He just looks you in the eye and treats you like an equal." - Winston Churchill

A Time to Chill - Fort Lauderdale Beach

Yesterday infidels, was the first Monday in October, which typically means the opening day of the Supreme Court's 2006-2007 term. In most places, October 1, 2006 is a chilly day which tells folks that fall is here and that soon the leaves will change and fall and be swept up. Well fall in South Florida is a little different. Folks here typically head out to the beach to enjoy a different type of chilling. Usually this means, sitting on a beach chair and soaking up rays.
So here is your image of Fort Lauderdale Beach to start off the first week of October 2006 at my photoblog. In fact, this week's theme will be images from Fort Lauderdale which is my second home...or rather where I work.

Otto Says: "It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." - Mark Twain

Morning on Fort Lauderdale Beach

© 2005 by Michael A Pancier

Good morning infidels. I'm writing from the digital darkroom at 1:19 a.m. Being an artist does not square well with sleeping especially when I have to be up at 5:00 a.m. But such is the life we have chosen.

This is an image of Fort Lauderdale Beach - from across A1A and Las Olas Boulevard. Let's hope for a quiet week for a change. Of course, $50 and a beer and I bet you that the Burro Chavez will say something stupid this week. As much as you have to hate the guy, he does provide you with such killer material that no comic genius would ever be able to make up.

We're now in October folks. The end of the year will be here in a flash. Come December, shooting season in the Everglades starts again through May.

Got my Mojo Working. Me thinks I will leave y'all now cause I know you are busy, or most likely sleeping.

PS: I finally got to try the New Bacardi Havana Club Puerto Rican Rum which is made with the original recipe that castro and his bearded blumbaclots couldn't steal or duplicate. It makes a killer mojito folks.

Otto the Canine Sage Says: "The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's." - Mark Twain, Letter to W D Howells, 4/2/1899


Living & Dying in 3/4 Time

Street Singer in St. Augustine, Florida who posed for me and sang a Parrothead song for me. It's not too early for a boat drink, is it?