Main Street Sheridan, Sunday Morning

Trail Hotel

Sometimes a place strikes you. The architecture. The quality of the light. The collection of buildings that are more than the sum of their parts. Early Sunday morning in Sheridan, Wyoming my uncle (who is an accomplished photographer) and I took a walk down Main Street to capture the signs and buildings that had captured our attention and imagination throughout our days there. The morning light and sky gives the photos a dusty, timeless quality, but if you look closely you can see that this place is firmly rooted in the present: new shops selling fancy Western Wear mixed in with shuttered, empty storefronts; a renovated theatre and faded painted signs and bricks. I think that we have a tendency to fix smaller towns in our minds as places that are “removed” from the march of time. However, I think these places that make up “Main Street USA” are where our culture and economy are lived, felt and experienced on a human scale and a day-to-day level.
Rainbow Bar

Boot Liquidation

Sorry We're Closed

Western Windows

Parking in Rear

Mint Bar

Hotel Rex

There’s more Wyoming views on Flickr.

My new portraits!

Eleanor Whitney photo by Andrea Patton

Sometimes you just need a good, straightforward portrait. Despite having a hard drive full of obsessive documentation of my personal style,  I realized I have very few photos of me looking somewhat… serious. When my photographer friend Andrea Patton offered to take my photo I jumped at the opportunity.

Photo by Andrea Patton

We got up early to catch the good, diffuse morning light on a Sunday morning and met at 8 am at Green-Wood Cemetery so we could have a nice background of vegetation. We also strategically positioned ourselves to block out the gravestones (as much as I love Green-Wood I didn’t want my portrait looking so morbid).  I did my own makeup, but the day was so humid I am afraid most of it may have melted off! I always feel very awkward posing for photos, but I think I managed to look sort of “natural.”

Photo by Andrea Patton

I’m so happy with the results and while they are not “fashion” or “glamor” photos, if you must know, that’s a J Crew top, a BCBG skirt, and Swedish Hasbeens shoes. What do you think?

A few more from the games…

The punkest photo of me that has ever been taken. By Tomer Grassiany

I know, the Punk Rope Games were already a few weeks ago, and now we’re on to the Tour de France as our sporting event obsession. However, these two photos from the Punk Rope Games by Tomer Grassiany were too good not to share!

During the agility jump. By Tomer Grassiany

Oooh Chickfactor

Rose Melberg of the Softies and Pam Berry of Black Tambourine during Black Tambourine's set. Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo, originally posted on Brooklyn Vegan.

When the MC on the second night of Chickfactor zine’s For the Love of Pop 20th anniversary show admitted to being, “A zip code fetishists who sent concealed pocket money to mysterious post offices boxes in hopes that weeks, sometimes months, later news from the outside world in the form of zines and records would return to my mysterious post office box,” I shared a knowing look with the group of ladies I had come to the show with. We could relate. We all met each other through the post and once referred to ourselves as the “Zine Girl Army.”

Zine Girl Army reunited. Keight "Pink Tea," Eleanor "Indulgence" (me!), Marissa "Red Hooded Sweatshirt," Yumi "External Text." Photo by Laura "Other Ramona."

Chickfator was, at times, infuriatingly snobby and unabashedly self referential. The editors, Gail O’Hara and Pam Berry, had impeccable taste in independent and underground pop music. The magazine was mostly a showcase of the editors friends and they referred to them by their first name and the name of their project, for example “Gail Chickfator.” In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s I loved to read it for a window into a world of indie musicians, both ladies and dudes, that interacted and partied and frankly, existed, somewhere outside of my small town, teenaged life. My friend Alex used to get so annoyed at Chickfactor’s inflated tone of self-importance he would rant ad nauseam on about it, but of course, couldn’t wait until the next issue came out. Chickfactor, and other zines like it, set the tone and the scene for today’s music blogs and helped paved the way for the explosion of indie pop bands like The Pains for Being Pure at Heart hitting it big time.

The cover of Chickfactor #10

No matter how you felt about it, Chickfactor had a magnetism and a draw larger than the publication itself. Twenty years later they were able to pull off a three-night extravaganza in two cities featuring bands who I thought had long since broke up with no chance of reunion. Lois, Small Factory, and Black Tambourine.  And the Aislers Set! A favorite band from the moment I heard them in 1998 until they stopped playing so frequently, perhaps circa 2004? Since my head has been in the sand about music since about 2008, I relied on Dominick to give me a hot tip about the reunion and bought tickets the minute they went on sale.

Zine Girl Army reunited and on the march!

More Zine Girl Army! This time with Laura!

The Chickfactor shows were like a class reunion of people I actually wanted to see. It was a reunion of those of us poured our hearts out in letters and cassette tapes and sent them to each other. Laster some of those friends became my everyday friends (and still are) and close neighbors. Seeing people I used to see at shows was almost as exciting as the music itself. Perhaps most awesome, Marissa “Red Hooded Sweatshirt” came down from Boston to join Laura “The Other Ramona,” Keight “Pink Tea,” Yumi “External Text” and me (Eleanor “Indulgence”) for pre-Aislers Set tacos. We all used to go to shows together in Boston and attend zine events around the northeast over ten years ago. When we sat down to eat tacos Laura turned to Marissa and said, “I haven’t seen you in 11 years!”

My friend Kirsten “Lightening Bug” surprised me by flying into Chicago. We staked out space by the front of the stage for Black Tambourine and the next night, for Aislers Set. She reminded me that she had visited me in NYC in 2002 to see the Aislers Set in Williasmburg when I said something to the effect of, “This neighborhood is just getting really gentrified” to explain it to her. “It’s our 10 year Aislers Set reunion!” she announced.

The reunited bands full of energy and sparkle and sounded as fresh as they did ten or fifteen or twenty years ago. Lois performed with Peter from Heavenly and Molly Neuman and played “Strumpet,” which I quoted on my senior page in the yearbook.

Lois performing with Pete from Heavenly. Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo, originally posted on Brooklyn Vegan.

My heart raced as she sang, “I laugh too much, I talk too loud, people stare at me when I’m in a crowd, you say I walk around like I own the whole place, but I do, but anyone else can have it all too, just walk around the town like you own it.”  I turned to my friend Amelia, who also went to my high school, “This was on my senior page!” I whispered. She smiled, “I know.”

Pam Berry singing in Black Tambourine. Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo, originally posted on Brooklyn Vegan.

Black Tambourine were revelatory. So many bands now are playing washed out, reverbed out, noisy music with bitter sweet vocals (ahem, my band might do this too), but Black Tambourine helped start that sound. Hearing them alive made all those who cite them as a reference seem pale in comparison.

Small Factory also rocked out with upbeat disappointment and plenty of jagged, self effacing lyrics. They played one my favorite song, singing the chorus loud and heartfelt, “I’m not giving up, I’m not giving up on nothing, I still believe in nothing, just not so much in love.” To hear these words ring out over buzzing guitars and a sea of people left me feeling like if I’m still here, still listening to this music and still loving it as much as ever, I must have done something right in my life.

The second night British folk singer Bridget St. John entranced me with her ethereal yet earthy songs, but the real highlight for me was The Aislers Set, who played at the very end of the night. My friends and I staked out space in the front of the stage and refused to move. “We’re doing this 90’s style!” Constance announced, meaning, we’re staking our claim and not moving, just like we used to do as younger music fans. It was worth it. To have no frustratingly tall people between us and Linton and watch every strum of her 12 string guitar was better than I could have even dared to hope for.

Linton and Alicia of the Aislers Set

I love the Aislers Set. Their songs are catchy and poppy, and Linton’s lyrics are like stories that you tell someone about the small thoughts you have everyday that somehow add up to a profound reflection on your life. Her imagery always makes me soar, “The queen of every rooftop,” is one line I love. Their sound is big – big guitars, big pounding drums, big layers and harmonies, but still delicate and jangly.

As I soaked in their songs I realized a significant portoin of my life from about age 18 to 23 was spent listening to the Aislers Set. When they played “Mary’s Song,” with its wistful start and bass line that comes in like a tug on your heart strings tears came to my eyes. In away, I thought, my dreams from the time I listened to these records on repeat have come true, but I still feel the same wistfulness and longing that this song so perfectly captures.

When the Aislers Set took the stage an audience member cried out, “It’s been too long!” Indeed, it has been. My life has been missing the Aislers Set.

The multi-talented Linton. Trumpet and guitar at the same time!

I don’t know if there will ever be a new issue of Chickfactor, but if there is I will surely read it. I am grateful for the community I know and got to re-experience at the shows thanks to zines and 90’s indie rock. I’m grateful that creative people who make music and help make my world so great are in my city and I don’t have to wait for their letters in my mailbox. I’m grateful the rise of social media has made keeping tabs on a wider scene so much easier. But the Chickfactor shows also demonstrated how much was built during those days of zip code fetishism. As Lois sang, “I make a scene, I read about my scene in a magazine.” She then added, “I’m glad that for me at that time it was magazines because Tumblr just doesn’t have the same ring to it.”

Corita Press Photos by Stefano Giovannini

Corita: Eleanor (Guitar and Vocals), Nick (Drums), Marisha (Guitar and Vocals), Aileen (Bass and Vocals). Photo by Stefano Giovannini stefpix.com 2012

One of my favorite part of being in a band is the opportunity to collaborate with other creative people. I’m here at South by South West (full report to be published soon) and one thing I’m learning is that while bands need to increasingly take care of the business aspect of being a band, they also cannot possibly do everything single thing themselves. Those of us who have been in and around the punk scene have known this for years, but it’s nice to see a dialogue about collaboration and supporting each other creatively happening at the highest levels of the music industry.

Corita. Photo by Stefano Giovannini stefpix.com 2012

Getting really good photos was one area where we as a band knew we need to reach out and collaborate with another artist. To get ready for SXSW, and to have the first of what we hope are many great press photos taken by photographers we love, my band Corita worked with Stefano Giovannini, who has shot for bands like Sonic Youth and Cat Power, as well as documented daily life around New York City. He shoots on location and authentically captures expression, mood and the relationships between people.

Corita. Photo by Stefano Giovannini stefpix.com 2012

We chose bold colors and simple props from Party City for our shoot (most of which we didn’t end up using). We were a little bit nervous before we met Stefano – what would he be like? Would he understand our vision? Would he help us shape it? Would he be good to work with? When we met him we immediately felt at ease. He is a genuine, hard working artist who gently directs you so that he can get the best photos possible. So I am proud to share with you Corita’s four “official” press photos and one very special “out take.” Enjoy!

Corita. Photo by Stefano Giovannini stefpix.com 2012

And I can help but think that this one was subtly influenced by the ending of my very favorite CHERYL video.

CHERYL: 7-ELEVEN from CHERYL on Vimeo.

And one more special out take just for you:

Corita. Photo by Stefano Giovannini stefpix.com 2012

I think that taken together these pictures speak volumes about what, exactly, I love about my band and the music that we create together.

Go By Train

View from the Amtrak Northeast Regional

A little interlude in this crazy season of work and travel to meditate on the chance to take time out from everyday life. Traveling by train always has a calming effect on me. It is as if I hit “pause” on my life. I am content to watch the world pass from the windows and let my thoughts wander. On a one-day work trip to Providence last week I got to pass my favorite part of the Amtrak journey between New York and points north: Connecticut’s marches and water ways, which are always full of dazzling light and views.

On the Amtrak bridge heading out of New York, looking towards Queens and the Bronx

A Year at 20 Jay

Lovely light and sky

I’ll return to the escapism of the tropics in a moment, but I couldn’t help but note that it has been a year and a few days since I started a new job in DUMBO (which stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), Brooklyn. The neighborhood is wedged between the river, the BQE, the Navy Yard and old factories. It is home to galleries, arts organizations, fancy boutiques and a growing number of condos, yet still retains its quiet, cobbled, industrial feel. From my desk I have a view of the East River and use my iPhone to document the changing of the weather, seasons, clouds, light and sky. I’ve become an astute observer of light on smoke stacks and passing ferries, barges and tugs on the river. Enjoy my little window on New York City. There is a full set on Flickr.

Obligatory DUMBO afternoon view!

20 Jay Street #5

Early twilight in Brooklyn

20 Jay Street #6

Good morning, Brooklyn!

Searching for peace and clarity this morning