The Dinner With Igor Kickstarter Is Ending

I wanted to do one final post about the Dinner With Igor Kickstarter before it ends! I have been bugging people for the last four weeks about this thing but it ends tomorrow so you can refollow me on all the social networks that I have been harassing you on.

Yesterday Vice ran an article about the project and a few hours later I had hit $4000. That’s four times the original goal I set! That’s not to say I don’t need more of your money… every thing I raise helps make this book better and goes towards the next book (juggalos perhaps!?) So I figured I would give you guys one more pitch and try to explain why you should donate to my Kickstarter now instead of waiting until the book comes out.

1) If you donate now the book is cheaper. You can get a book for $20 now, plus free US shipping. That will save you about $10 rather than buying it later.

2) You will 100% get a copy of the book. I think I am only going to make 200 of these things and my last book sold out in a month. I saved five copies of that book for the Kickstarter and put them for sale at $75 and they sold out in a day.

3) You will get free stuff! Everyone who buys a book via Kickstarter gets a free signed 5″x7″ print, a post card AND a very awesome surprise that I will announce once it’s in my hand.

So I guess that’s all I got. Pretty excited about moving forward on this project. Thanks to everyone who donated!

Here are a few links to articles about the project:

Vice Magazine
First We Feast (Complex Mag’s food blog)
Nerve.com
RVA Magazine
Porn For Women

Update: Cosmopolitan!?

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Dead Democrats Vote – My Twitter War With The Right

This is going to be an extremely long post, but it ends with a really cool graphic at the end! See how much of it you can get through! Once you get bored skip to the 10th paragraph. That’s about where I get to the point.

On Tuesday the news of Shirley Temple broke on Twitter. My timeline quickly filled with RIP Shirley Temple Tweets. Every time a celebrity dies everyone on Twitter has the need to post something mourning the death of whoever. The bulk of Shirley Temple’s acting career happened during the depression and while I am sure at some point in all of our lives we had to watch a grainy video of a small child singing I doubt it had any real impact on all of my friends Tweeting about how tragic the death of an 85 year old woman (who most people probably didn’t even know was still alive) is. In a particularly antagonistic an grumpy mood I tweeted the following:

That Tweet was then picked up by a site called Twichy in an article about people talking shit about Shirley Temple for being a conservative.  That article was then picked up by sites like Free Republic and Independent Journal Review and for the last three days I have had all sorts of amazing hate Tweets sent to me from conservatives all over the world wide web.

Now to start with, I don’t have a real problem with Shirley Temple. She seems like a nice enough person. She did a lot of good with breast cancer and Multiple Sclerosis awareness and has been praised for her work as the ambassador to Ghana. Plus the Melvins loved her.  But, she was also very active in the Republican party in California and a lifelong conservative. The truth is I don’t care one way or another about Shirley Temple. She lived a long life and her death isn’t at all tragic. So why did I even comment at all?

So the point of my Tweet was a) to piss people off b) to remind my liberal friends of her conservative leanings and c) to make a “joke” about how the GOP is out of touch and hopefully dying off. At least I hope the social right is dying off. I don’t agree with purely fiscal republicans but I also don’t wish ill on them. I just tend to think they are greedy and selfish, not morally repugnant like I do anyone who wants to restrict other peoples civil rights.

So yeah, I don’t regret the Tweet but it’s pretty hard to defend too. I was really just trying to piss people off and boy did I ever!

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Banned By Instagram

Update: I gave up and started a new account. Follow me?

If you follow me on any of my social networks you probably have noticed that I got banned from Instagram. I am very upset to lose my most popular social network (8,500 followers)  and a ton of photos I didn’t have backed up but I am more upset about how it happened, without warning and without recourse.

I have been on Instagram for just under two years, I actually got an iPhone because of Instagram, and in that time I quickly gained a following and it became my most engaged social network. I could expect tons of likes and comments on every photo and it was easy to send to my other social networks. As a photographer it was a great tool, but as someone who often shoots nude women it was annoyingly restrictive as far as nudity is concerned.

Banned From Instagram

I never read the Terms of Service (TOS) as I probably should have but I had a basic understanding of what I could and could not post. Based on the experiences of my friends, both photographers and models, it became clear that nipples and full nudity could get you in trouble. I made sure in every photo to keep all the private bits covered. Often when I wanted to post nudity I just had a girl cover her breasts or something, but at times the restriction gave me a reason to creatively figure out a way to hide the nudity. I didn’t love it, but I could live with it.

In the twenty months that I used Instagram I was never suspended, warned or had any issues with anything. I had friends lose their accounts for nudity but they had always done something stupid and posted something that even they agreed crossed the lines. I never had that problem and was always careful. I did have a few photos mysteriously deleted but I was never warned about it or anything like that. I had friends who had been sent emails warning them about nudity so I figured I was safe at least until I got my first warning.

Banned From Instagram

When Instagram was bought by Facebook I was pretty concerned that the nudity policies would toughen up significantly because I have been suspended from Facebook for posting photos of girls in their underwear. I am very careful on Facebook and rarely post any photo that is even mildly scandalous. I worried that Instagram would head that way and make the app much worse.

My fears have not only been realized but it seems that Instagram’s policy is even more draconian. Right around the same time my account was deleted several of my friends in the adult world lost their accounts as well. Two adult actresses with massive internet followings Dana DeArmond and April O’Neil both lost their accounts just days after I lost mine. None of us posted anything more graphic than anything we had been posting previously. Clearly Instagram has shifted their policy on nudity without any warning, but that’s not the worst part.

Banned From Instagram

By far the worst part about losing my Instagram account is that there is absolutely no recourse. When I was banned from Facebook I emailed them and they gave me steps to get my account back. I had my account on Flickr suspended but they told me exactly what I needed to do to comply with their TOS. Instagram on the other hand offers absolutely no recourse.

There was no warning, no notification and there is no way of contacting them. At one point you could contact Instagram through a form on their website and the email account support@instagram.com but both of these options have been disabled. If you try emailing you just get a form letter saying the email is inactive. I never even was emailed notifying me of my accounts termination. All that happened was when I tried to log in I got a message with a link to Instagram’s TOS.

Those terms include: “You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service.”

I clearly broke these terms. I posted “partially nude” images without question. I don’t agree with these terms, but clearly I violated them, but I have been violating them for two years and so have thousands and thousands of users. If Instagram has finally decided to strictly enforce the partial nudity rule, that’s fine and while I don’t like it, I would have to abide by it. The problem I have is with being delete without any recourse, without any warning. If they had let me know that I needed to clean up my account I would have done it. If they had suspended me until I did so I would have done it. Had I been warned I would have kept my account much more PG. But none of those things happened. I was just deleted without even an email. Even Facebook gives you options.

Banned From Instagram

I could start another Instagram account, but I am so furious about the situation. I lost nearly 10 thousand followers, hundreds of images and my account name. I am @drivenbyboredom on EVERY social network I join and having to change that name alone is infuriating. Censoring the internet like this is awful to begin with but to just delete my account, all my work, and a major business tool without any recourse or explanation is really hard to deal with.

I know losing my Instagram account is such a first world problem but it hurts my business and speaks to a larger issue of businesses controlling your creative output and censoring the internet. An established professional photographer who was flourishing in the Instagram network is the type of user they should be encouraging, not banning without notice.

Fortunately for me, I have launched my own mobile app that I can post all the nudity I want on but it will never provide me with the feedback or the social interaction that Instagram provided. The whole thing is really depressing.

Have you lost your account recently? Heard of anyone getting their’s unsuspended? Can anyone help me get my account back? Email me or let me know in the comments!

Banned From Instagram

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How Kurt Cobain’s Death Changed My Life

Everyone and their mother on Twitter is talking about how today is the anniversary of Kurt Kobain’s death.  Half of those people probably weren’t even aware of music in 1994. I wasn’t going to just send some comment in a Tweet about it because Kurt Cobain’s death was probably the single most important event of my life.

In 1990 I found out about Nirvana through my friends older brother. I heard Bleach and I hated it. I only listened to hip hop and hair metal. I was 10 years old. Nevermind came out a year later and I liked it but I always sort of liked Weird Al’s version of Nirvana a little bit better. It wasn’t until 1992 and the release of Incesticide that I really became a big Nirvana fan.  But once it took hold it took hold hard.  By 1994 Nirvana was pretty much the only band I listened to. They at least informed all my musical choices. I liked Hole and I liked the Meat Puppets and stuff but Nirvana was pretty much my world. I was as obsessed as you could be with a band. I never in my life fell half as love with a band as I did Nirvana.

When Kurt Cobain died I was 13 years old, about to turn 14. I would enter high school a few months later so that summer was a pretty important time for me. I was in this guy Mikey Banks’ van when I found out. He had a TV in his van and we were watching MTv. I thought was pretty sweet to be watching TV in a van until Kurt Loder came on and told the world that Kurt Kobain was dead. Cobain had been in a coma a few weeks before and came out of it okay. Somehow I was hoping this would all be okay too. Maybe he was faking his death.  We drove back to Mikey’s house right away. I was never really friends with that guy even though I went to school with him for 9 years. My only real memory of him is sitting at his house watching MTV totally in shock.  My friend Keith went to the bathroom and cried.  I just stared blankly. I didn’t fucking know what to do.

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I was never going to see Nirvana live. I couldn’t fucking get over that. I wasn’t surprised that Kurt Cobain killed himself. He had so many people in his family kill themselves and the Nirvana poster above my bead that said “I hate myself and I want to die” was a pretty big warning sign so I wasn’t surprised. But I was angry. I was never going to get to see Nirvana play and I was never going to have any new music to listen to. I was fucking blown.

The thing about Nirvana was that for a 14 year old kid who didn’t know shit about music outside of the radio Nirvana was underground.  Yeah they were this huge band and all but they were alternative. They were non conformist and as punk rock as top 40 got back then.  So when Nirvana died and everyone in my school acted like they were these huge Nirvana fans it really fucking got to me. When Unplugged came out and everyone was listening to it I was pissed.  These kids never listened to Bleach. They only cared about this watered down acoustic Nirvana.  So I said fuck it.

I was done with Nirvana now. These poseurs could have Kurt. The only problem was I didn’t know what else to listen to.  I had to get some new music.  So I went back and reread Michael Azerrad’s book “Come As You Are”.  I went through it page by page looking up every band that Kurt mentioned listening to in it and I went out and bought CDs. I tried out Flipper, Mudhoney, the Melvins and the Vaselines.  I didn’t like any of it.  I eventually grew to love Mudhoney couldn’t fucking believe how bad the Vaselines were and how much better the Nirvana versions of their songs were. But I kept buying albums and on May 29th, 1994 on my 14th birthday my friend Eric Dahlberg bought me a Black Flag album and it changed my life in an instant.

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That summer all I listened to was punk rock.  Black Flag instantly changed my life but I was listening to bands like the Sex Pistols and the Misfits and Fear and the Circle Jerks. Rancid came out around that time so I was listening to them and some popy shit like NOFX and Bad Religion.  I loved the Descendants, the Dead Milkman and the fucking Ramones.  This new punk rock shit opened my eyes.

My freshman year in high school my friend Tom and I started the punk rock club. We had these meetings at school that were totally pointless because no one else liked the music. It was just the two of us and this senior girl named Mary.  The school made us actually do something so we decided we would start a magazine.  The first issue was the most embarrassing fucking thing ever. But Mary started taking us to shows. My mom would let me go into DC with Mary cause she knew her mom and Mary was 18.  A few months later my parents were letting me take the subway into the worst neighborhoods in DC to see local punk bands.

As we met these bands we came up with and idea to put out a record. We hit up our favorite bands and then borrowed money from our friends and parents until we had raised about $1600 to put out a record. And in July 1996 just over a month after my 16th birthday Raise The Flag: harDCore Volume 1 came out on our very own record label. It sold 900 copies in about 3 months just in DC and with no distribution other than a couple record stores. Pretty much every single copy was sold personally by Tom or I.

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Over the next two years Tom and I put out four more issues of our zine. We released some tapes and a CD and started booking shows. We were big names in the DC punk scene at 17 years old. I started photography to shoot the bands on our label and it turned out I was pretty good at it.

By the time I graduated high school Tom and I had dissolved our partnership.  We became close friends again later in life but for a while we hated each other. I wanted to skip college and keep working on the record label but Tom spent all our money and my parents were ready to kill me if I didn’t go to school. So I went to school and I majored in photography.

In 2003 I met a band called The Gaskets and I spent 5 years managing them.  I booked their shows, got their music pressed, took all their photos, had their t-shirts, buttons and stickers made and ran their company.  When they broke up I started taking Driven By Boredom seriously and started my own business. And for the last two years I have been making a full time living running my site and taking photos and I couldn’t have done any of that without punk rock.

Punk rock was the best education I ever had.  It taught me so many skills from photography to event planning. It taught me that even a 15 year old kid could run a business and do it successfully. It taught me how to make stickers, buttons, t-shirts, zines and records. It taught me how to talk to people and network and promote. It instilled in me the love of photography. And above all it ingrained in me the do it yourself, DIY or die mentality that has lasted me my entire life.

So Kurt, wherever you are, I fucking love you and your music, but if it wasn’t for your death I wouldn’t be half the person I am today.

Kurdt D Cobain rest in peace.

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Ross Harman Rest In Peace

From 2003 to 2008 I managed a band called The Gaskets. They were my entire life during that time period and the two members, Teddy Blanks and Ross Harman, became my closest friends. The Gaskets were one of the best live acts I had ever seen and are one of my favorite bands of all time. The two members had been friends since they were kids and had an amazing chemistry and made amazing music together. They were very different people but worked very well together. I know the Gaskets would have been a hugely successful band if not for Ross’ troubles with depression and alcohol.

On Monday morning was found dead on his roof after taking a bottle of pills in order to end his own life.

Many times in my life I have said that I hated Ross and I probably did. He caused me more pain that pretty much anyone I have ever met. But one thing I have found in life is that the only people who can hurt you like that are the people you love the most. The last two fist fights I have had were both with Ross andI have screamed and yelled at that kid more times than I can count, but I fucking loved that kid and I am just so glad that he and I were back on good terms after several months of not speaking to each other.

I have tried several times to write this post but I haven’t been able to do it. Every time I try I just start to cry. Even now tears are rolling down my cheeks. It’s so much easier to think of all the bullshit he and I went through than to think of the good times because whenever I think about the Ross I loved it makes my chest seize up. I have had a lot of friends die in my life but no one anywhere near as close to me as Ross and I don’t know how to deal with it. Even before Ross died I couldn’t listen to some of his old music without getting tears in my eyes thinking about the kid I knew before the drinking really took hold of his life.

Ross was a brilliant musician but he was also just an amazing guy. He was so fucking charming and when he was on point everyone loved him. I think that is why it was so hard for everyone to deal with the other Ross. He was so fucking smart and knew as much about music and film as anyone I have ever met. He was funny and so much fucking fun. Probably too fun. When Ross was happy everything was a party and no one ever wanted to stop partying with him.  And when people started to worry about him he could always find a whole new group of people who were ready to party with him.

I haven’t really been a big part of his life the last two years but I thought he seemed a lot better. When I would talk to him he actually seemed happy and had been working the same job for years. He had a lot of people around him that loved him. But I knew he would never really be happy. He had too many demons in him and I know there is nothing anyone could have done to help him. I know, because Teddy and I tried fucking everything.

Right befoe Ross died he sent Teddy a text message telling him he loved him and I know Ross loved me too and I really hope he knows I loved him. Of all my friends Ross is one person I know would have always had my back and even if I couldn’t count on him for a lof of things I know he would be there for me if I really needed him. I just wish I could have been there more for him in the last few years.

I have so much more to say about Ross but I gotta stop crying. I haven’t cried like this in probably five years, the last time I though Ross killed himself. He managed to pull through that time but I guess it was just a matter of time before he finally followed through.

I am going to end this now with one of the last photos I took of Ross, a music video Ross directed and my favorite one of Ross’ solo songs. The video is for a Gaskets song called Left Hand. Teddy wrote it about Ross, their friendship and Ross’ drinking problem. Ross was really upset at first when Teddy wrote the song but grew to love it. Ross was an amazing painter and created this video completely himself by hand. My little brother put the video together, but everything else was all Ross.  The song I am posting is called Nine Times Out Of Ten. It is not only my favorite song by him but so appropriate. It’s about his drinking problems and even though it is written to a girl, I think it is a little bit of an apology to his friends for what he put us all through.  At the end he asks us to celebrate with him. And I guess from here on out I will try to celebrate with Ross and celebrate the life of a kid that meant fucking everything to me. I will be posting more of his music soon so you can enjoy just a little bit of what I did in the 7 years I knew my friend Ross Harman.

I will miss you forever you fucking selfish asshole. I love you with everything I have.

Ross Harman – Nine Times Out Of Ten: Ross Harman – Nine Times Out Of Ten

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Glen E. Friedman Talks Punk Rock

I took a photo class in high school because I needed an art credit and my mom used to be a professional photographer so I had access to some equipment. I sucked at it. I never followed any of the directions. We had to shoot like textured patterns and make sure we followed instructions exactly right. I ended up getting a C or something. I think my photo teacher was very surprised to see me the next semester. In photo 2 you had a lot more freedom. I was involved in the punk scene in DC so I just started shooting bands. I was a lot better at shooting bands than I was shooting still life. From photo 2 on I got all A’s in photography. The book that really inspired me was a book called Banned In DC. It was a photo documentary of the DC punk scene from the late 70’s to the early/mid 80’s. I had the book because of my interest in DC punk, but I still look at it now because of the love of photography it inspired. I had my favorite photos in the book, but it wasn’t until I read Henry Rollins’ book Get In The Van that I realized who my favorite photographer was. Every time I saw an image I loved in the book, I looked down and saw the same name: “Glen E. Friedman”. I started buying his books and following his career. He started out shooting the Dogtown skaters when he was a little kid. He then started photographing punk bands in LA. He got the bands into some of the skater mags and helped expand the LA scene nationally. He then was introduced to Russell Simmons of Def Jam Records by the Beastie Boys and started shooting a lot of Def Jam’s stuff. The guy was at the beginning of everything. Aggressive skating, hardcore and hip hop. He was a legend.

Several years ago I decided I wanted an image out of the Banned In DC book. It was so inspirational to me, that I needed to own a piece of it. I emailed the editor, Dischord Records staffer Cynthia Connolly. I told her about how this book had changed my life and how I needed to own part of it. I knew she sells prints of her photo work and I asked her if she could print an image from back in the day for me. She told me she didn’t but that she could give me the email of some of the photographers in the book she still kept in touch with. She gave me a number of emails, but I never even looked past the first name on the list: Glen Friedman. I emailed Glen and spoke with him. He gave me a price for a print that I was really in no position to afford, but at the same time he told me that basically I pick from any image in his books. I briefly considered printing a shot of Black Flag, as they were really the band that introduced me to punk, but really I only had one image in mind. It was Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat jumping into the crowd at the old 930 Club in DC. Anyone who knows DC punk history knows this shot from memory.

Minor Threat was the band that made it easy for me to say no to drugs and alcohol. My friends started drinking when we were about 12 years old. I always felt like kind of a loser for not drinking. I just new that my family had some alcohol problems and that I had a tendency even then to push things too far. I just didn’t want to go down that road. When I found out about straight edge, it really changed my life. I felt like I could hold my head up and belong to something. That same idea of belonging to something is why I got out of straight edge in the end, overly aggressive assholes acting like it was a gang and not a personal choice, but when I was in high school, sXe meant the world to me. I still don’t really drink and I think that is the only reason I can do what I do. If I went out every night and got drunk, I would have done even less with my life than I have now.

So this image represented so many things to me. It was in the book that changed my life, by my favorite photographer, about the DC scene and of the band that started the straight edge movement that kept me on a positive path. This image was my favorite shot not just in Banned In DC, but in all of Glen’s books. This image is what music should be all about. This image is iconic, and I had to own it. This image changed my life.

After some convincing I some how borrowed the money to pay for it from my parents. To this day it is the most valuable thing I own. My computer is pretty close, but I talked to Glen recently and he is selling this photo now for significantly more than I paid for it 7 years ago. Put it this way, just the frame cost me over $300. The trip getting it was almost worth it in itself. I went and picked up the image from Glen in NYC. It was the first time I had been to the city I live now by myself. I remember walking down from the midtown hotel I was staying at into the Lower East Side to get my friend a tattoo at NYC Hardcore Tattoo because it was owned by Jimmy of Murphy’s Law and Vinnie Stigma of Agnostic Front. Just walking around the LES made me realize I had to live in NYC. There were like punk kids everywhere. This was home to me. Maybe it is just me, but it seems like the LES has changed a huge amount in just the short time since I visited back in 2002.

Anyway, after realizing I needed to live in New York, I met with Glen. He hung out at my hotel for two hours just talking to me about the early days of punk and hip hop and introducing me to bands that I never knew about. He is a bit more radically left wing than me, but he was an amazing guy and taught me a lot. At that time I only wanted to be a band photographer and that was all I shot. His first suggestion to me was to buy at 20mm lens. Ironically that 20mm lens was what made me get away from bands and start shooting portraits. I think that the event photography I do now is a pretty good mix of shooting hundreds of portraits a night with some of the same elements of band photography, the environment, the lighting, the movement… Since that day Glen has always been there to answer questions for me and help me with my work. Usually he hates it and is my harshest critic, frankly I have been afraid to show him my event work as I am sure he would think it is total bullshit. (If you have a Google alert for yourself Glen, look around let me know what you think…) But his harshness has helped me a lot and I really appreciate it. I am glad to have one of my inspirations just an email away. I go back to his books a lot and just look at the energy he gets and I am still not sure how the hell he does it, and makes it look so easy.

Punk rock changed my life. Glen’s photos changed my career. The trip to NYC changed my location on the planet. And Glen’s words have changed my work. This photo means everything to me.

With all that said, you may be wondering why the hell I wrote this super sized post. The reason is that one of my favorite websites, Boing Boing did a 4 part interview with Glen and (another favorite artist of mine) Shepard Fairey. They did a show together and Boing Boing talks to them about a lot of things.  They talk about Shepard’s Obama poster, how Shepard and Glen started working together, the history of Dogtown, punk rock and hip hop and about Glen’s Liberty Street protest. Tn the interview posted below Glen talks specifically about the photo I own around the 5 minute mark. This was really exciting for me and I decided to share it with you. You should put the time in and watch it, it is sort of amazing Actually all the videos are all super interesting. You can see the other 3 parts of the interviews here.

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The Donnell Library Center: A Eulogy In Pictures

A few months ago the Donnel Library closed its doors.  Since the 1955 the library on 53rd street has been a New York landmark.  It stood across from MOMA and had one of the best film libraries in the city.  Unfortunately, the City Of New York thought it would better serve the public as another midtown luxury hotel.  Due to the bylaws establishing the library that space HAS to have a library, but due to loop holes, they are tearing it down, building the hotel and then shoving the library into the basement.  I think the New York Times put it well when they said:

When the $220 million hotel opens, sometime in 2011, a new Donnell library will occupy part of the first floor and an underground area, coexisting with hotel guests paying $750 to $2,000 per night for a room.

I can’t believe how sad it is.  I know that I love the internet, and part of my job is to digitize library books so they can be available online.  But it is very troubling to see technology kill off libraries and newspapers (I am looking at you Tribune).  So, as I mentioned my job is to digitize books.  I work for The Internet Archive.  Until October I worked in the Donnell Library and got to watch it go from a bustling location, to a party closed less frequented library, to basically a book store, to an empty shell of a building.  Long after it closed we continued to work.  Our last week there they really began ripping out it’s guts.  Coincidentally on our last day I got my new camera and got to work an hour early, and stayed a little bit late, wondering all over the building collecting some memories of the fantastic place. It’s pretty horrifying to walk into a room with dust all over the floor, baby chairs all pushed into a corner, wires hanging from the celling, and realizing you are standing on a Winnie The Pooh poster.

I think I took some pretty amazing photos back in October.  I am not sure why I have been holding onto to them for so long, but I think part of it was that I didn’t know if I could come up with a fitting eulogy for the place.  I am pretty sure I didn’t but it is time to get them up.  These images need to be seen.  Also, if you are wondering, there are several shots of people in this gallery.  They are my coworkers at Archive.org with the exception of our amazing West Indian security guard who I think we all miss.

Click here to see the full gallery of pictures.  I have posted a lot of photos below, more than I normally do with a photo update, but I think there is more of an impact when you see a bunch at once.

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A Few Of My Favorite Things: Movies That Actually Scared Me

This Gawker article got me thinking… Thinking enough to bring back “A Few Of My Favorite Things”!

A Few Of My Favorite Things is a series that sometimes appears on weekends on Driven By Boredom. Each week I talk about three of my favorite things from a specific genre of film, music, or something else all together. Each favorite thing is accompanied by a video and a description of why it is one of my favorite things. Click here for more favorites.

I have never really been scared of movies in my life. I like a lot of horror films, but usually the ones I like are just really creepy or gory, I am never really scared by them. I remember when I realized this. I had just watched The Blair Witch Project on it’s first run. I am not sure if you remember, but before it became a big hit, it played only in a few cities. I think it was only playing in one theater in the DC area and I had to drive quite a ways to see it. At that time people were saying that it was real. Of course by the end, it was pretty clear that it was fake, but going in I thought I was watching some sort of documentary or something. By the end of the movie all my friends I went with were freaked out, and I wasn’t. I just kept thinking, “The worst thing that is going to happen is that they are going to die.” I sort of realized then I don’t fear death. This of course is bullshit, I just don’t fear theatrical death. I am sure that put in an actual life or death situation I would pee myself. So anyway I started thinking back to the movies in my life that did scare me and I came up with three. Keep reading to find out which.

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The John Hancock Project

I have never really been an autograph collector exactly, but I had a few here and there. I had this one wall in my bedroom that I hung all sorts of stuff on. I had framed photos and a copy of the first record that came out on my old punk label and a three autographs:

  1. The first autograph was John Snider from the Dukes Of Hazzard. I was a HUGE Dukes fan growing up and I found out that for a dollar her would send you a personalized autograph. It said “To Nate: God Bless. John R. Schneider.
  2. The second was a letter that John McCain sent me thanking me for working/donating to his 2000 primary campaign. It is absolutely scary that a guy I would work so hard for would totally sell out and pander to the right like he has done. It pretty much makes me sick, but in 2000 I really trusted him and thought he would do a lot of good for this country.
  3. The third autograph was from John Walsh from America’s Most Wanted. He was filming a scene in Old Town Alexandria, VA where my friends and I used to hang out every day. We kept yelling shit out whenever they started a take because we were punk ass kids. This guy Crazy Willy almost got arrested for it. I had been sitting watching this for about 30 minutes when I got an idea. I ran across the street to a CVS where a friend of mine worked… A girl who later got arrested for robbing a Ben And Jerry’s in full view of cameras where she was friends with half the staff who worked there. They came to her house a few hours after and found all the money, in a deposit bag with all the receipts. Amazing. Anyway, I ran into this CVS and asked her to hand me a WANTED poster that was hanging up. This guy had been hiding pornography in children’s books at the library or something. Anyway, I got this poster and got John Walsh to sign it. Awesome.

So, long story short… One day I realized when looking at this wall that all the autographs were of people named John. I thought this was very weird. I also am a big They Might Be Giants fan and they are both named John and I had their autograph… and when I was 10 I got John Ramita Jr’s autograph on an X-Man comic. These are weird conicidences. After that for about a month I became obsessed with collecting Johns’ autographs. I thought that since a signature is sometimes refered to as a “John Hancock” it was even more significant. I went on ebay and bought John Larroquette, John Lithgow and Neil Patrick Harris… okay, that last one is not a John, but it was only $3 and I am a pretty obsessive Doogie Howser fan.

Okay, long story short. I wanted to do something for a 4th of July update, so I decided to work on this idea of signing your “John”. John Hancock has the most recognizable signature in United States history. I wanted to do a little project to see how well people remembered their history books. Who remembers what his signature looks like? I just wanted to see peoples interpretation of it. I asked everyone to sign his name the way they think it looks on the Declaration of Independence and then I took a picture. I didn’t let them look at anyone else’s signature so everyone had their own view of what it looked like. Some people took it more seriously than others, and some people were just embarrassed that they didn’t know what it looked like. A surprisingly large amount of people had no idea what it looked like and basically mocked me for successfully completing 5th grade history class. I did not include those people in the project. Here are some interesting facts:

  • Only 4 of 50 people underlined John Hancock. To me that is the first thing I think about with that signature.
  • Almost everyone got the big J an H right.
  • At least 5 people spelled his name blatantly wrong.
  • It seems like 5% of the people involved in the project are completely illiterate.
  • Two people wrote “John Han” and then drew a picture of a penis. Those people happened to be very close friends and did the exact thing as each other coincidentally only minutes apart. I made them redo them.
  • Only one of the 50 people were actually named John.
  • I shot 27 women and 23 men.

So what do we learn from this? I am not sure. But you should try the experiment on your own. Then look at his actual signature here. How did you do?

Check out all the photos here.

The John Hancock Project

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