Author: Edwin Roman

A New York based artist shares his thoughts on art, culture, food and politics.

Frida in Brooklyn

I visited the Brooklyn Museum on the opening day of the wonderful and timely exhibition, “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.” I naively thought that I could beat the crowds: after all, I had arrived at admissions at 12 noon, exactly one hour after the museum opened. Instead, I was surprisingly told I would have to wait until 2:30pm to enter the exhibition (in the meantime, I was able to enter and explore the rest of the museum)! My first recommendation is to buy tickets in advance. I checked the website and noticed that weekend shows for the next several weeks are already sold out.

My second recommendation is to put away your phone! Visitors are told that photography is not allowed, but that didn’t stop quite a few rude people from taking out their phones and ruining the experience for others. If you are one of those people who just can’t help themselves, consider this for a moment: when you snap a picture of a painting, that you can probably find online via a museum website, how often do you go back and look it? How often do you study it? Why ruin a rare moment of seeing a painting in person by fumbling with your phone? And if you are snapping a picture on your phone for posting on social media, the exhibition has two interesting displays to do just that before you enter the actual exhibition.

The exhibition is presented thematically, using paintings by Kahlo and peers, photographs, and Mexican ceramics to explore Kahlo’s identity. Clothing and make-up are central to this: for example, Kahlo used native clothing to express her Mexican nationalism. It was surprising to see that she loved using perfume and Revlon products (Revlon is the major supporter of this show). Many of these items had been stored in Casa Azul, the home, Kahlo shared with her husband, muralist Diego Rivera.

One of the most absorbing, and heartbreaking, pieces of art was a lithograph depicting Kahlo’s miscarriage. It was as powerful as the “Henry Ford Hospital” painting, which explores the same subject. I absolutely adored the home movies that were shown, which I saw twice! Among my favorite pieces were the photographs, many of which I had never seen before. Standouts were those by Gisele Freund, known for her documentary photography and portraits of writers and artists.

The major problem with this exhibition is how some of the artwork is displayed, most notably the photographs. Many are presented in groups of four, with two of the four well below eye range. This means that if two people stand in front of the four pictures, others have to wait to properly study and contemplate them (as well as contend with the impolite people who insist on taking pictures). With the crowds, this simply does not work. The first two rooms were rather small with one wasted on a second ticket checkpoint. Yes, there were two checkpoints to get into the exhibition: one at the door and one in front of a wall, projecting images of Kahlo. A wall. Interesting.

It has been over sixty years since Kahlo has passed away, but she still continues to fascinate. This exhibition is worth seeing—but only if you can go during a weekday, with minimal crowds. Each piece is worth quiet contemplation. The exhibition notes how much she loved New York City—the world is here and that is what she embraced and probably why we embrace here today. She is a voice from Mexico’s past conveying the need for more bridges and less walls.

www.edwinroman.com

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A Motherfucking Mistake

Let me preface this blog entry by conveying that it is absolutely acceptable to criticize ideas, politicians, and anyone you support. Similarly, one should be open to criticism and should be constantly reexamining their own beliefs. Without this, there is no growth.

Yesterday Freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), when speaking to supporters at an event on the night of her swearing in, said:

    “when your son looks at you and says ‘mama, look you won, bullies don’t win.’ And I say ‘baby, they don’t’ because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker.”

Dropping the motherfucker bomb was a colossal mistake.

I have been known to drop fuck bombs often, but I don’t do that at work (unless I am in a private conversation with a close colleague). I have two voices: my professional voice and my personal / artistic voice, the one that has no problem saying the word fuck. I also don’t have a problem with women dropping fuck bombs. I have been a fan of Madonna for over thirty years and can’t think of any other entertainer, male or female, who has dropped more fuck bombs. But note, she is an entertainer, not a politician.

I have come to realize, in my middle age, that the overuse of swear words is just a lazy way of expressing yourself or the individual simply does not have a good command of the language—something Trump demonstrates everyday whether in front of the camera or on Twitter. In essence, what Tlaib did what stoop down to Trump’s level. She also gave him what he wanted.

Trump and other conservatives will now use Tlaib’s motherfucker bomb as an endless talking point to steer the conversation away from the real pressing issues. And of course, the bigots are going to endlessly EMPHASIZE the fact that she is a Muslim. The rules for a politician of color are not the same; Obama would never have been elected if his credentials were as paper thin as Trump’s.

Earlier today, I commented on a Twitter posting that supported Tlaib that this was a mistake and people responded with comments that she conveyed what we were thinking. One person responded that intelligent people swear more and that I should Google the studies. How do you explain Trump? Also, some additional context is needed beyond that overshared article and meme. One ridiculous post actually said that no one should criticize Tlaib because Trump sat there smiling while Kanye dropped the fuck bomb in the Oval Office. Again, Kanye, like Trump, is an entertainer. The most vexing were the ones that tried to justify her behavior by saying that Trump does it. No. I agree with the line of thought that we cannot normalize Trump’s lack of decorum, which Tlaib did by acting like him.

Our politicians are not entertainers and should be held to a higher standard. Speaking eloquence is not required, but expletives are always inexcusable. The most scandalous thing I want the politicians I support to do is to wear a tan suit.

edwinroman.com

Camera Ready

Edwin Roman: The Year in Pictures 2018

2018 was actually not a productive year for me in terms of photography. I don’t often go out on photo taking trips during the winter months because working the camera and changing and adjusting lenses is difficult while wearing gloves. My first trip out wasn’t until March. I did travel to New Mexico in July and took a lot of pictures, but the following month was hit with a crushing illness that kept me home bound for the rest of the summer and much of the fall. In spite of the illness, I still managed to produce some photographs with those from the New Mexico trip being among my favorites. I hope you enjoy these photographs, I absolutely loved taking them.

Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018.
Blue Entryways. Edwin Roman, 2018. As seen at Taos Pueblo.
red-sails-in-the-brooklyn-wind2
Red Sails in the Brooklyn Wind. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from Governors Island.
Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.
Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.
Sunset at The Triborough
Sunset Under the Triborough. Edwin Roman 2018.

adobe-red-and-blue

Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.
Adobe Americana. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in the Taos Pueblo.
Speakeasy-Sal-sepia
Speakeasy Sal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island.
San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.
San Geronimo Chapel. Edwin Roman 2018.
Wards Island Footbridge in Black and White
Wards Island Foot Bridge in Black and White. Edwin Roman 2018.
In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018
In the Distance on Route 550. Edwin Roman 2018
Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.
Climb into The Cave Dwelling. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Bandelier National Monument.
the-sunbather
The Sunbather. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Ward’s Island.
bands
Bands. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
The Orange Parasol
The Orange Parasol. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at the Jazz Age Lawn Party.
Underneath with the Tides
Underneath with the Tides. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen under the boardwalk at Coney Island.
Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.
Grazers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen in Taos Pueblo.
Juan black and white 2
Juan Views the Atlantic. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen at Coney Island.
Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.
Adios. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen while leaving The Ghost Ranch.
The-Rockefeller-View
A Rockefeller View. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from the Rockefeller Overlook in New Jersey.
I actually used the above photo as the cover for my forthcoming book, People Watching: New York City. Proceeds from this book will be donated to Humane Borders.

www.edwinroman.com



A Nazi Christmas? Sorry Bigots, You’ve Got Your Wires Crossed

Bigotry is a consequence of ignorance. The less you know, the more you fear. Benjamin Franklin once said: “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”

On October 31, 2018, The Washington Post ran a story on Nazi and KKK memorabilia being sold at a Kentucky gun show. Joe Gerth, a columnist with the Louisville Courier-Journal, was at the show to do research for a piece he was working on, interviewing gun dealers to inquire if they feared that the guns they sold could end up being used by the wrong people. Earlier that week, a gunman had gone to a Kroger store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, and fatally shot two Black customers. Later that week, the Tree of Life synagogue was the scene of yet another mass shooting. Both shootings that week were racially motivated and executed by White domestic terrorists.

While at the gun show, Gerth tweeted the following:

A spontaneous face palm hit me when I saw the above picture. Why? Because the Nazi party actually worked to repress and oppress the Christian Church in Germany. In fact, many historians believed that the Nazis intended to completely eliminate Christianity in Germany after winning the war. 1

In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote, “by defending myself against the Jews, I am fighting the Lord’s Work.” But Hitler’s early views towards Christianity were born purely out of political necessity, he knew that he needed the early Nazi Party to attract a majority of Christian voters. However, Nazi ideology could not come to terms with an independent establishment whose legitimacy was not founded and fostered by the Nazi government.2 From 1933 to 1945, more than 6,000 clergymen were charged with treasonable activities and were imprisoned or executed. 3

Interestingly, Heinrich Himmler, the second most powerful individual in the third Reich, became interested in Germanic myths, which reinforced the idea of the superiority of the German race as well as other occult ideas. He wanted Germany to be restored to its mythological roots, free of Christianity.4

I know that people like to cherry pick passages from the bible in order to find justification for their bigotry, but to combine your faith with a secular belief that are actually incongruent is ignorance at its worst.

 

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” – Martin Niemöller

 

1 https://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/13/weekinreview/word-for-word-case-against-nazis-hitler-s-forces-planned-destroy-german.html

2 Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf’s Lair – German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997

3 Overy, Richard (2004). The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. New York: W. W. Norton. p. 281.

4 Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler, trans. Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 77.

 

edwinroman.com

 

The Perfect Playlist: The Best of Basia

The modern playlist is the descendant of the mix tape. And like my mix tapes, I make a significant effort to make sure they are right—and by right, I mean that there is a certain cohesion and shared texture that inspires me. What I love about digital versus tape is the great flexibility for experimentation (though, sometimes I do miss walking around Manhattan with my old yellow cassette Sports Walkman). The playlist featured in this blog entry was easier to compile because it features one artist. I first created my “Best of Basia” playlist in 2005, and have updated it with each new album.

I have been a fan of Basia since 1990, when she released her second solo album, London Warsaw New York. I became aware of her because of her superb cover of “Until You Come Back to Me.” I remember using one of the listening stations in Tower Records to listen to the album, which I purchased on vinyl. London Warsaw New York had other remarkable songs such as “Cruising for Bruising,” “Brave New Hope,” and “Baby You’re Mine.” Four years later she followed up with the brilliant The Sweetest Illusion, which features, what I consider to be her masterwork, “Yearning.” Around this time, I finally picked up her first solo album, Time and Tide, which features the title track as well as “New Day for You.”

In 1995 Basia released a live album, Basia on Broadway— a vocal tour de force! Three years later, she released a greatest hits album with several new songs.

Basia would reunite with her Matt Bianco bandmates (her first band) in 2004 on Matt’s Mood and finally release another solo album in 2009 with the beautiful composed and arranged, It’s That Girl Again. Her latest release is Butterflies, which is nothing short of outstanding. I recently updated my Best of Basia playlist to include tracks from Butterflies. Let me know if you like this combination!

  1. “If Not Now Then When” from It’s That Girl Again
  2. “I Must” from It’s That Girl Again
  3. “From Newport to London” from Newport to London
  4. “Matteo” from Butterflies
  5. “Just Another Day” from Peter White’s Caravan of Dreams
  6. “From Now On (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  7. “Half a Minute (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  8. “Yearning” from The Sweetest Illusion
  9. “There’s a Tear” from It’s That Girl Again
  10. “It’s That Girl Again” from It’s That Girl Again
  11. “Liang & Zhu” from Butterflies
  12. “Butterfly” from Butterflies
  13. “Waters of March” from Clear Horizon
  14. “Go for You” from Clear Horizon
  15. “Astrud” from Time and Tide
  16. “Where’s Your Pride” from Butterflies
  17. “Baby Your Mine” from London Warsaw New York
  18. “The Prayer of a Happy Housewife” from The Sweetest Illusion
  19. “An Olive Tree” from The Sweetest Illusion
  20. “Reward (Live)” from Basia on Broadway
  21. “Until You Come Back To Me” from Basia on Broadway
  22. “Brave New Hope” from Basia on Broadway

Click here to visit Basia’s website!

edwinroman.com

 

 

Halloween Movie Picks 2018

I love Halloween. Psychology Today interestingly noted that it best holiday because we don’t have to worry about it.

“Nobody frets about being lonely, abandoned, heartbroken, alienated, or bereft on Halloween.”

When I am not donning a costume, one of my favorite things to do is to load up on the horror and thriller films. Below are my 2018 recommendations currently available on various streaming services (I cut the cord three years ago).

Let me know if you have seen any of these. Let me know if see any based on my recommendations. I would love to hear your thoughts. And be sure to explore my recommendations from the previous two years: 2017 and 2016.

The below film titles are linked to their respective trailers.

Netflix:

47 Meters Down: Two young women are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean with less than an hour of oxygen and sharks circling. Claustrophobic with hungry sharks!

Gerald’s Game: While trying to spice up their marriage in a remote house, a woman must fight to survive when her husband unexpectedly dies, leaving her handcuffed to the bed. You can’t help but think of what you do in that situation. Also, you may actually think twice about letting someone tie you up for fun.

As Above So Below: When a team of treasure hunters venture into the Paris catacombs and discover more than they bargained for. Seriously claustrophobic and the scenes where they emphasize that are the best.

Classics you may have missed that are available on Netflix: The Shining (my go to film during a snowstorm); Hellbound (Horror S & M); Interview with The Vampire (Brad Pitt as Louie and Tom Cruise, who gave an unexpectedly superb performance, as Lestat in the film based on the classic Anne Rice book of the same name).

Honorable mentions featured last year that are still available: Train to Busan, Death Note and The Void.

Amazon Prime:

The Skeleton Key: A young nurse cares for a mute senior citizen in an old, remote and really creepy Louisiana plantation. She discovers the family’s dark and dangerous past.

The Stepford Wives (1975): An aspiring photographer and full time housewife has come to the little town of Stepford, Connecticut with her family, from New York City and discovers a sinister secret in the flawless demeanor of the other wives. This film has aged really well.

The Strangers: A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants. After seeing this film, soft knocks on the door will scare you for months to come.

Stir of Echoes: After being hypnotized a man begins seeing a girl’s ghost in his home and works to solve her murder.

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist: I was not sure about including this because it is one of those films that has an excellent concept, but is not executed well. Interestingly, there are two versions of this film (the other being called, Exorcist: The Beginning) and the other also has an excellent concept, but is poorly executed. The film takes place about 20 years before Father Merrin helped save Regan MacNeil’s soul in The Exorcist. The film details his first encounters with the demon Pazuzu in post-World War II Africa.

The Cell: I actually reviewed this film 18 years ago when I worked at the now defunct, on-line magazine Latiknow. I recently saw it and was impressed with how well it has aged. It is a masterwork of surrealism that stars Jennifer Lopez at the height of her powers. She plays a social worker who is experienced with technology that allows here to enter the mind of a serial killer who is in a coma.

The Satanic Rights of Dracula: I have always loved Christopher Lee’s Dracula films. They have this wonderful texture and excellent gothic horror.

Horror Express: Speaking of Christopher Lee, he stars as a British anthropologist who discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train. But is the creature frozen?

The Woman in Black: A young clerk travels to a remote village where he encounters the vengeful ghost who is terrorizing the locals. The direction on this film is nothing short of brilliant.

Daybreakers: A plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a blood shortage, the vampires plot their survival, while a researcher works on a way to save humankind. Sleek and modern stainless steel horror.

Hulu:

The Others: A woman who lives in her darkened family mansion with her two photosensitive children becomes convinced that the home is haunted. But is it?

Blow Out: John Travolta stars as a movie sound recordist who accidentally records a car accident which turns out to be a murder and eventually finds himself in danger. Terrific 1970s horror.

Insomnia: Brilliant performances from Robin Williams and Al Pacino. Pacino stars as a detective dispatched to a northern town where the sun doesn’t set to investigate the murder of a local teen.

I am actually still exploring some other films listed on Hulu’s Huluween and may have an addendum to this blog entry. If I do, it will be before Halloween.

Frightpix:

Firghtpix, which is a completely free, but loaded with commercials, streaming service, has the following worth watching:

You’re Next: A family is attacked but the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims has an unknown talent for fighting back.

 

edwinroman.com

P.S. I need to write this blog today. After all of the domestic terrorism we experienced this week, I needed the escape.

 

 

A New Yorker in New Mexico: Seeing Red, A Photo Essay

The first time I ever saw red rocks was in 2006 when I traveled to Las Vegas and visited Red Rock Canyon. I was in Vegas to see the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton, commemorating the 40th anniversary.  Other than the Experience, I found Vegas to be largely tasteless and mind-numbing. Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam provided a relief from the smoke-filled overstimulated atmosphere. Red Rock Canyon really made an impression as did the areas outside of the city. It was the first time I had ever experienced the desert and the kind of silence and stillness it offers.

The following year, in 2007, was when I first visited New Mexico. I immediately fell in love! I can recall driving from the Albuquerque Sunport to my hotel in Bernalillo with my eye constantly being drawn to the Sandia Mountains (which still happens). On the third day of that trip, I explored the Jemez Mountain trail and it was here that I first saw New Mexican red rocks. They are nothing short of spectacular. The color is shockingly beautiful. On my third trip in 2018, I saw even more New Mexican red rocks, most notably on my drive to the Ghost Ranch. As I noted in my previous blog entry, the desert varies around the state. I found this to be also true, visually, of the New Mexican red rocks. I did a little research to find out why.

A disclaimer: I am an artist and not a scientist. However, I have a layperson’s interest in science and have done my best to preset reliable information in this blog entry. What I am doing here is trying to get answers to my own observations while presenting artistic photographs. Art and science can co-exist. If you don’t think so, please read this article on Santiago Ramón y Cajal.

Back to the New Mexican red rocks!

According to the Earth Science Club of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology the Earth is made mainly of rocks arranged in three concentric layers. The Earth’s crust contains the rocks we see at the surface. Most rocks are a collection of one or more minerals, but some contain noncrystalline inorganic material (like obsidian) or organic material (such as coal). The ultimate origin of all rocks in the Earth’s crust is the mantle (magma or lava), space (meteorites), or organisms such as plants and animals (organic matter).

According this publication by the NMT Earth Science Club, it notes that the red rocks I saw on the Jemez Trail / Route 4, are rhyolite, an igneous-volcanic type of rock. Interestingly, rhyolite will commonly scratch a knife or hammer. While the red rocks I saw around Abiquiú are sandstone a clastic sedimentary rock composed primarily of quartz grains that may be stained red, brown, pink, or yellow from iron oxides.

I love red rocks and seeing them on a grand scale is an experience I recommend.  I think, in part, I love New Mexican red rocks because they remind me of classic New York red bricks. I hope my pictures properly capture these gorgeous colors of nature.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Kitchen Mesa. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen from The Ghost Ranch.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rocks on 84. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red Rock Portal. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen on Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Route 84 Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Red and Green, Inspired by Peppers. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along Route 4 in Jemez, New Mexico.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

Canon San Diego. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen along the Jemez Trail.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

The First Red Rocks of 2018. Edwin Roman 2018. As seen en route to the Ghost Ranch.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Stopping for Red Rocks. Edwin Roman 2018. While driving to Ghost Ranch in New Mexico along US 84, I had to stop and capture this.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Kitchen Mesa South. Edwin Roman 2018.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Sandia Sunset. Edwin Roman 2018. Another example of red in New Mexico.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

Whenever I visit New Mexico, I always bring back red rocks. Each rock in my hand is from each trip to New Mexico. I keep several at home and in my office.

edwinroman.com