Is this really such a bad thing?

I don’t know which is worse . . . that we are going into a recession or the fact that fast food is usually the last thing to be affected when we are going into a recession. Thank god we can always count on those overseas sales.  Thank you China.  Oy vey!



(VO) McDonald’s announced Monday that its December sales were flat. Bianna Golodryga is at one of the Golden Arches right here in Manhattan this morning. Good morning, Bianna.


(OC) Good morning. Good morning, Robin. According to the latest figures, America may no longer be the fast food nation that it once was. And it has nothing to do with going on a health diet, but everything to do with going on a spending diet.



(VO) While the jingle may say so, Americans don’t seem to be loving McDonald’s these days. The world’s largest restaurant chain reported its worst monthly result in almost five years, saying that December sales were flat. Pretty shocking, considering the fact that every day, one quarter of the US population eats fast food, gobbling up nearly $120 billion of the stuff each year. That’s over 35 million pounds of fat from Big Macs alone. So if Americans are saying goodbye to fast food, could we be saying hello to a recession?


McDonald’s and other fast foods shares are usually the last things to be affected by a recession.


(VO) McDonald’s cites cold weather, higher food costs and a slowdown in consumer spending tied to the declining housing market for slower sales. But there’s something else on the menu here, too, higher energy costs.


In the case of – of a company like McDonald’s, where a lot of teenagers frequent the establishment, high gasoline prices could be a factor.


(VO) And as go the Golden Arches, so too go its rivals, from Wendy’s to Burger King, KFC and Pizza Hut. The entire fast food sector took a major hit following Monday’s announcement. Still given strong demand from McDonald’s overseas, executives say they remain upbeat. While here at home, they are counting on warmer weather and a new dollar menu to help beef up sales. And if it doesn’t work…


We see another bad month in January. I think that means it isn’t the weather. It means it’s the economy. And we really are in trouble.

The Habit of Being

Flannery, Andalusia, Milledgeville, GA © Susana Raab

Flannery, Andalusia, Milledgeville, GA © Susana Raab

I’m really being inspired right now by the selected letters of Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being. Flannery, a writer of what some call Southern grotesque, was a devout Catholic whose faith seemed not shaken but reinforced by her diagnosis of Lupus, at a time when the disease was tenuously maintained by heavy steroids with big side-effects. She is so damned funny, and self-deprecating, but also wise. Here is something she wrote to a friend who was struggling in the wake of some negative criticism:

“No matter how just the criticism, any criticism at all which depresses you to the extent that you feel you cannot ever write anything is from the Devil and to subject yourself to it is for you an occasion of sin. In you, the talent is there and you are expected to use it. Whether the work itself is completely succesful, or whether you ever get any wordly success out of it, is a matter of no concern to you. It is like the Japanese swordsmen who are indifferent to getting slain in the duel. . . The human comes before the art. You do not write the best you can for the sake of art but for the sake of returning your talent increased . . . ”

And something which resonates with my attitude to some of my work:

“I am interested in making up a good case for distortion, as I coming to believe it’s the only way to make people see.”

Thank you Flannery O’Connor.

A Week in the Life of Martin Parr

© Martin Parr

© Martin Parr

Everyone recycling the news on the found Capa negatives – (a sure sign i am reading too many blogs) I thought this item was interesting on a week in the life of Martin Parr, courtesy of PDN’s Pulse.

Parr really influenced how I felt about documentary photography, coming from a photojournalism background, it often seemed to me that (at least come awards time) the pj’s were too predictably fixated on the low-hanging fruit of the exotic, but from Parr I first understood that the mundane and everyday was topical, sometimes more subtle, and therefore to me much more interesting.


Back from vacation, where I was actually able to suborn the guilt of not taking photographs for the first week. It is always hard for me to go somewhere and not mediate it with a camera, I’m like a shop-a-holic, but my “purchases” are photographs. Since I usually shoot film, it’s always fun getting the processed stuff back. I am not entirely convinced that this is unhealthy either, this habitual analysis via a rectangle, but I do believe that taking time off from any “problem” does stimulate the soul. And as I have all the makings of a minor OCD with my photography, a forced rest is good.

That said, it is entirely overwhelming coming home and trying to figure out where to start with all the myriad projects I have awaiting: scanning, prints to make and send out for shows, zines to design, portfolios to print, clients to contact, submissions to make. At this point I most resemble the deer in headlights and procrastinate by reading all the blogs I haven’t read for the last two weeks.

Found this gem on A Photo a Day, about Alec Soth. Very reassuring to see he spent a few years in the hinterland, day-jobbing it by shooting ribbon cuttings and such, before the serendipitous attention of a collector pointed him in the direction of Sleeping by the Mississippi. Toby Jurovics, do you think you might stop by my atelier soon? Read the article here. Happy procrastinating!

Gone Fishin’


Daytona Beach, Florida © Susana Raab

Heading to Guadalajara for two weeks of no caffeine, alcohol, but plenty of downward dogs and proud warriors. Recharging the batteries. Look forward to picking up the conversation upon my return. See you later!

Phil Nesmith Grand Opening

One of DC’s most recent acquisitions, photographer Phil Nesmith blends traditional practices with very topical and personal subject matter in his first solo show at Irvine Contemporary. Nesmith (no relation to the Monkey), uses the ferrotype process to document his experiences as a soldier in Baghdad, among other subject matter. Way to go Phil! I see big things happening for him in 2008. Come To The Opening This Saturday Night, Behold the Photographs, and Meet Phil (a very warm and engaging person); Boundless Sensual Enjoyments undoubtedly await you:


Dates & Times:

My Baghdad
January 12 – February 17, 2008
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 12, 6-8PM

Location/Contact Info:

Irvine Contemporary is located at 1412 14th St., NW, near P St., in the 14th Street Arts Corridor and Logan Circle area of Washington, DC.Phil Nesmith is a photographer who works with an old wet plate process that results in what is called a ferrotype. This process is seldom used by artists today so this is a rare chance to see the work up close and to meet the artist.

Positive Affirmations

Boundless, by Linzie Hunter

Boundless, by Linzie Hunter

Jen Bekman has been getting a lot of well-deserved ink these days, for her eponymous gallery and her innovative editioning/online selling project, 20×200. I have to admit, I love the graphics and the site’s presentation as much as the art. In fact, despite the ridiculously affordable $20 prints (closer to 30 with shipping!), I have not been tempted to buy anything. I like a lot of the work, and was considering the Beth Dow, but at the end of the day, for me, if I’m going Beth Dow, I want a garden and I want a platinum print. With limited wall and storage space, I’m a pretty particular person, who has the benefit of a lot of friends who like to exchange prints. Until now, Boundless, by Linzie Hunter, seems like the perfect pint-size affirmation to put above my computer monitor. I love typologies, and I love the fact that the message was appropriated from Spam. Making something out of nothing. Reuse. Recycle!

Just for the record, Bekman, does offer larger sizes, with larger, but not unreasonable prices.