Friday, May 29, 2009


So it seems I have an impostor within my ranks. I received a call today, while working, informing me that my artwork was on display at the Starbucks in Plymouth. The only problem is that I never put my artwork on display at the Starbucks in Plymouth. It seems like somebody likes to pass my hard work off as their own. The plot thickens, though, because this person that seems to think that its okay to pass my art off as their own has known me for years. This makes me a bit irritated.

I don't have very much experience in the whole "somebody stole my effing photos" arena, so I'd like to call upon members of the blogosphere to inform me of what they've done in this sort of a situation, or what they would do if such an event occurred. I'd much appreciate any and all advice, because I don't want to go into this situation without having some sort of notion what I should do. Advice like, "you should break this little bastard's knee caps" will be disregarded, however.

What I know I will do, for sure, though, is go to the Starbucks in question and see if I recognize any other work created by myself or others. I'll keep you posted about that as well. In the meantime, I'll be grumping about the whole situation and cursing under my breath.

UPDATE: He is also using my photos on his website. Great. Oh, and on his flickr.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Salad Days

How do we deal with Katrina fatigue?

If it's a time thing, I can roll with that. Though, I must dutifully inform you that before May 1st, there wasn't much going on in the news world for a long time relating to Hurricane Katrina. There were stories here and there, but most flew under the radar. Even places like have significantly cut back on their coverage since I was there in September. So what gives? Are people still annoyed with the whole thing the news corporations dropped coverage back in 2006? That's over three years ago. How much rest do you need? How fatigued can a person be that they need to get away from something for more than three years?

If it's a relevance thing, then I completely understand. Just please also tell the people that are moving into their cars, unfinished houses, or onto the street that they, too, are irrelevant. Be prepared, however, for them to humbly disagree with you. After all, as they sleep at night, I'm sure they dream of people no longer wanting to help them or tell their story. We should all be so lucky to have our homes destroyed, then have to fight, tooth and nail, to get a shabby trailer to live in for three years while fighting with insurance companies or government entities to secure funds to rebuild our houses. If that's what the American dream is, then tell me where to sign my name. I want a piece of that.

If it's an originality thing, I get it. After all, before the May 1st trailer deadline, there were innumerable documentations of people still living in trailers after three years. I mean, there was the one with... There wasn't. Sure, there is the anomaly of Robert Green. Besides, him, however, there aren't a whole lot of photos floating around of people living in trailers. There was talk of numbers, there was talk of property values, there was talk about deadlines, etc. It was all arbitrary. There were no faces to go with names. There still isn't. Really, I'm just on a crusade for no apparent reason aside from amassing an enormous collection of pictures of trailers. I'm not trying to fool myself here, really it's all quite selfish and has nothing to do with the lack of coverage relating to my story.

All this rant has left me a little fatigued, however. I think I might like to go sleep for three years.
G'night, folks.

Currently in heavy rotation:

William Elliott Whitmore - Does Me No Good

Hyder Ali - Every Now And Then

Rancid - Maxwell Murder

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

If it's something medical, fix it with chemicals. If it's something physical, blame it on the state.

Today, while rediscovering The Shins (and speculating when a new album by them may be coming out), my old band mate, whom I had talked about earlier, asked me if I wanted to be in a band again. I thought this odd, because just weeks before, it seemed like we were taking pot shots at each other during an interview. He said he had been practicing of late, which surprised me even more, because during that same interview, he said he hadn't play a guitar in over a year. Apparently, that interview really made him want to be in a band again. Of course, nothing can ever stay the same. Though we are using the same format and the same style, nothing else will remain from before, which I'm perfectly happy about. After all, it has been more than a year and both of us have done a lot of growing up.

I think this will be an interesting adventure. I've been thinking about documenting it somehow, to illustrate this growing process and show how we've become a productive team again. If done correctly, it could really show some of the insecurities that both of us have and perhaps create an illuminating series. Maybe I'll buy five more cameras and set them up on remotes. I'm bound to get something good.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Oakley Hall - Bury Your Burden

Eels - Something is Sacred

The Shins - The Past and Pending

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Lonesome Crowded West

How do we deal with our critical nature? I often find myself wrangling with this very question when shooting and editing my photos. Granted, I often find myself feeling self-conscious about the photographs that I create, not because I insert myself into the photographs, but because I feel as if I don't (a) live up to my own expectations and (b) because I don't feel as if I am on par, conceptually, with other students. Then, what concepts I do have, I stumble around like bumbling idiot trying to explain how they came to be. I suppose you could liken it to chasing after clouds. To me, it all seems a little absurd. Every time I feel like I've found some sort of higher meaning, I find out that it's just the tip of the iceberg and the real reason is far out of reach. In all honesty, there are entire series that, subconsciously, I know the meaning to, but in my waking life, I haven't the faintest idea. Again, I feel like a bumbling idiot.

So, how do we remedy this? I often find that, in conversation, I am much more effective at deciphering the reasoning behind my photographs. I have pondered the idea of recording myself talk about my work in order to try and find out if I can conjure the proverbial deeper meaning. I think that I may start doing that after each day of shooting in order to help myself understand my own photographs. Ridiculous? Perhaps. Helpful? Hopefully. After all, crazier things have happened.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Moby f/ Sinead O'Connor - Harbour

VAST - Desert Garden

Deftones - Be Quiet and Drive [Acoustic]

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Planes Mistaken for Stars

I feel like it's been forever since I last updated, though I know only a week has passed. A lot has happened, little worth mentioning on a "non-personal" blog, however. I have kept the proverbial creative juices flowing through various media, when has made me especially exhausted, and especially tardy in making my otherwise regular entries. I'm sure you will all find a way to forgive me. Fear not, the obsessive blogging will continue from this day forth.

Now, I promised Becky I would put pictures up quite a while ago, but didn't, because I am a jerkface. Better late than never, though, right? Right. So here goes nothin'.

The first series is a documentation of Hopkins' commercial districts. The second series is a documentation of public telephones.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Speaking American.

One article on caught my eye today and put me into a contemplative mood. So, the Army Corps of Engineers is assessing whether the levees will hold in the event of a hurricane. If the levees aren't up to snuff, what happens? Will they be rebuild? If so, who pays for it? Personally, I'd much rather everybody lay their cards out on the table and say that they really don't have a commitment to New Orleans instead of acting like they're still fully committed. I often wonder how stupid they think we are. I suppose they want us to leave them the hell alone so they can continue mashing newsprint into the gaps of the levees.

Meanwhile, there isn't an honest civic official in New Orleans, it seems, that could request that everybody get their proverbial shit together. Or perhaps, to provide oversight in some fashion instead of letting everybody run amok. Currently, New Orleans is run like the wild west, so even if city hall and the governor's mansion are fully stocked, they may as well be ceremonial positions (a la the Queen of England) until somebody decides to do something productive instead of standing on the sidelines, whispering, "Golly gee whiz, guys, I think those people want us to do something," to each other. Cue the chorus of laughs.

Now, if you'll allow me, I need to continue grieving over the latest Twins loss at the hands of the Yankees.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Jurassic 5 - Concrete Schoolyard

Does it Offend You, Yeah? - Attack of the 60 Foot Lesbian Octopus

Beastie Boys - Sabotage

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Do not underestimate the usefulness of the white pages. They were just recently my saving grace. After giving up on nagging the New York Times reporter, I was thinking to myself, "Well, where else could I find out where these people live?" I figured the phone book would have it, but I was so used to being disappointed, because it seemed like whenever I looked up people in Minneapolis, there seemed to be tons of results displaying the same name at different addresses throughout the metro area. The lesson here: there are a lot of Scandinavians in Minnesota and they all have the same last name. Apparently, in New Orleans, however, nobody has the same surname, because when I looked up the individuals from the article, there was always only one result. Not too difficult to narrow it down from there. Every single time, however, the phone book had the address, but never the phone number. You know what that means? It's letter-writing time. So, tomorrow, I will be purchasing some stamps, writing some letters, and mailing them out in hopes of getting some sort of response.

So, let's review:
Online phone books: good.
Odd spellings of names: very good.
Not having phone numbers available: lame.

Currently in heavy rotation:

The Postal Service - Nothing Better

Portishead - We Carry On

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


In response to American Experience: New Orleans, Cemetery Caretaker

The cemeteries in New Orleans are filled with truly beautiful monuments that celebrate life. Though they are filled with concrete mausoleums, residents of New Orleans treat them as communal gathering places to have picnics. This is because New Orleanian's have a different relationship with death from Americans in other parts of the country. I, personally, believe that residents of New Orleans have the right idea about honoring the lives of their relatives and loved ones. Instead of dwelling on the loss, they celebrate the happiness they gained from their lives. This is why cemeteries are places of happiness for the people of New Orleans.

I suppose maintaining cemeteries is similar to maintaining public parks. Just as there are workers to maintain the parks, there is an equivalent worker to maintain the cemeteries. Also, because the cemeteries bring so much joy to their patrons, they want them to be maintained.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Bad Religion - We're Only Gonna Die

The Slip - Suffocation Keep

Massive Attack - Black Milk

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Damage Control

My former bandmate and I were interviewed today for the first time since we broke up a year ago. It was strange to talk about, because when people make music together, or really any form of art, it's something special. If you take those songs that were created and you play them with a different group of people, it's like you're cheating on your wife or something. My bandmate had told the interviewer that hadn't picked up a guitar in over a year, which he had never told me about before. He said he was looking for the right singer. The whole interview sounded very strange, because it's almost as if we were trying to air out our dirty laundry right then and there. Like we had unresolved issues we needed to work out right that very moment.

This was probably the third time we had talked to each other since we stopped making music together. Each time it's like talking to an ex-girlfriend you still have feelings for. You try and skirt around the issue at hand without really telling them how you feel. During the entire interview, I wanted to just scream, "You were a drug addict!" It's all a little bit absurd. Maybe a lot bit absurd. The point is, when you make art with somebody and that partnership ends, what do you do? Do you reminisce? Is it okay to showcase that work and give acknowledgement to the absent party? Do you shine it on and make one final work of art together and then call it quits, just to have a little bit of closure?

The whole thing reminded me of one of the most heart-breaking documentaries, titled The Refused are Fucking Dead, which chronicled the demise of the band The Refused during their North American tour, which ended in the band breaking up. Throughout the film, the band talks about what caused the band's demise. When they talk about it, they speak as if they knew it was coming. As if The Refused were destined to break up. In between interviews, there was archival footage from the tour, which offered a glimpse of how hopeless the band had become. At the end, after the band had decided to break up, they played one last show in the basement of another band's house. They wanted this to be their final show before they decided to never play again. During the middle of the show, the police came and broke up the show.

Is anything ever entirely resolved after dissolution of a partnership in art?

Currently in heavy rotation:

Sufjan Stevens - John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

Pearl Jam - Untitled [Live]

The Faint - Fish in a Womb

Monday, May 11, 2009


Tomorrow, I will be consulting for a group of folks I've known for a while now. I know them through the non-profit I currently work for and through various poetry slams over the years. I'll be helping them write their business plan and build their website, which I'm pretty jazzed about. The two women I'll be working started out as experience slam poets and musicians, but became disaffected by the exclusive nature of both musicianship and poetry. As a result, they hold impromptu open mics in public areas around Minneapolis, allowing anybody off the street to participate.

I'm not going to name-drop just yet. I can tell you that the first event that they held was a pretty incredible experience and I'd love to see these two young women become successful in doing this. Inevitably, I'll blog about the results of our creative outing later on. Perhaps tomorrow? Perhaps. There may even be a small series hidden in here somewhere. Who can say?

Currently in heavy rotation:

Coldplay - Amsterdam

Bright Eyes - Southern State

Nine Inch Nails - Leaving Hope

Saturday, May 9, 2009

This Blog Airs in High Definition, Where Available.

I was watching a documentary today that I really enjoyed, titled "The Hip Hop Project." It chronicles the work of Art Start's ( hip hop program, which works to take homeless teens in New York off the street and teach them through art. Minneapolis has a rich history of hip hop and is home to one of the largest independent hip hop labels, Rhymesayers Entertainment. Recently, the non-profit I work for hosted a series of hip hop events, which sought to bring Minneapolis youth into the hip hop scene and teach them how to express themselves through rhythm and poetry, in addition to hosting hip hop events every first Friday of the month. When I was watching the documentary, I could see a lot of parallels between the Art Start program and programs available in Minneapolis offered by Chris Keller (Kristoff Krane, Abzorbr) and Medium Zach (Big Quarters), which I thought was neato and made me a little more proud to represent Minneapolis hip hop.

I've known for a long time that working for a non-profit like Art Start is where I would eventually like to end up on my career path, because I have always believed that art should be accessible to everybody. Art is a nice thing, after all.

So, now that I've been talking about Minneapolis and hip hop and such, I've decided to dedicate today's heavy rotation to my favorite examples of Minneapolis hip hop.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Cecil Otter - Rebel Yellow

P.O.S. - Thatone

Mike Mictlan & Lazerbeak - Prizefight

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Salt's Too Sweet

And so it begins, another round of New Orleans classes. I think we have a good group this time around and I'm excited to see what stories develop. I'm also interested in seeing who will be loyal to Team Champagne and who will be losers.

One thing that interested me was Nick's apprehension to pursue his story about fire stations. The stories are definitely there.

Recovery on hold: FEMA should straighten Grand Isle's fire station problems

Ground breaking this morning for new Delacroix Island fire station

Lower 9th Ward may get new fire station

St. Bernard fire stations reopen

Fire station 36 in New Orleans East is also on the targeted recovery areas
Fire station 18 on Harrison Ave is also on the targeted recovery areas
The list of targeted recovery areas can be found here and here

You might also notice in the targeted recovery areas that a number of theaters are listed, particularly on Canal St. Perhaps somebody is interested in that topic?

I'm sure I'll generate more ideas for everybody to mull over.
For now, I'll be watching When The Levees Broke on OnDemand for the third time this week.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Lazerbeak - Legend Recognize Legend

Tiger Army - Outlaw Heart

The Arcade Fire - Rebellion [Lies]

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


I've been able to write the entirety of this post during the rain delays during tonight's Twins game versus the Orioles.

There's been a lot of talk lately about who will be come the new director of FEMA. Louisiana senator, David Vitter, has successfully blocked the nomination of Craig Fugate, the former head of Florida's emergency response agency, until he can guarantee FEMA support in New Orleans, a legitimate request...almost. It seems that it takes a major natural disaster to get the state of Louisiana to accept the help that they are given. I say that because Louisiana, especially New Orleans, is resistant to any support in making emergency preparedness plans on the part of FEMA until after Hurricane Katrina, when Governor Blanco hired former FEMA director James Lee Witt to oversee the reconstruction efforts. James Lee Witt, while the director of FEMA, was the same person to inform the city of New Orleans that they were grossly unprepared for a major natural disaster, such as, say, a hurricane.

So, does it really matter who is appointed as a FEMA director when New Orleans has a long track record of not accepting help from FEMA to create emergency management plans? It's easy to understand why FEMA is hesitant to dole out blank checks. Additionally, why does it suddenly matter who is appointed to the role of FEMA director? Nearly four years after Katrina, is New Orleans having a change of heart? Perhaps you should rally for FEMA to be a legitimate department again instead of a bastardized subdivision of the Department of Homeland Security. That, in my opinion, is much more important than holding a new director hostage in return for a big check. I think it's time for Mr. Vitter to give up the ghost and pick his battles more wisely.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Cat Power - Rockets

The Plastic Constellations - Best Things

Defiance, Ohio - Condition 11:11

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rabble, Rabble, Rabble.

Q. What professional associations are relevant to your subject matter?

American Society of Media Photographers
National Press Photographers Association
Society for Photographic Education (while I'm still in school, at least)
Professional Photographers of America

Editorial Photographers
American Institute of Graphic Arts

Proposed Associations:
Square Format Imaging Association
Professional Trespassers of America

Q. What connects us to our subject matter?

A. I connect with subject matter that I perceive as beautiful. It all begins with that subject that, when I gaze upon it, I think it's something very special, something that is exceptional in some way. Going back to my previous post about the woman at Perkins, it's safe to assume that there is an element of humanity in what I find beautiful. I find myself empathizing with my subject matter more often than photographing it. Sometimes, that means empathizing with a man and his three-legged dog and sometimes that means empathizing with a a pueblo-style building in the middle of a commercial district. I don't find it absurd at all trying to understand the feelings of inanimate objects. We, as humans, build things with certain intentions, whether it be a building, a door knob, a trailer, etc. Perhaps, we intend them to be beautiful, or functional, or a combination of both. I believe that in trying to understand why things are the way they are, I can better understand my subject matter and why I connect with it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Concrete Schoolyard

Number of FEMA Trailers by Parish (As of March 29th, 2009)
Jefferson Parish: 73
Orleans Parish: 0
Plaquemines Parish: 424
St. Bernard Parish: 392
St. Charles Parish: 29
St. John the Babtist Parish: 16
St. Tammany Parish: 285
Tangipahoa Parish: 0
Total: 1,042

The trailer population has declined fairly significantly since visiting New Orleans in September and October of 2008. The official count from September 20th, 2008 was 2,650 and since then, that amount has been cut down by more than half. Soe of this has to do with FEMA deadlines and their desire for families that live in trailers to seek "permanent housing" and part of it has to do with new city ordinances that outlaw living in a trailer that is on the same property as a homestead. This accounts for the sharpest decrease in the number of FEMA trailers in Jefferson Parish, where, in September, there was something like 770 trailers.

As Thursday draws near, I'm more and more excited. I've been talking to others in the class, easing their concerns, and helping to mature their ideas. I really can't wait to be down there again. I can already feel Arby's calling my name, though it won't be the same without Keith. I've also been recruiting new members for Team Champagne, being that some of our members will not be joining us this time around. I'll be representing Team Champagne in full force before, during, and after the trip, because Team Champagne is far superior to the likes of Team Coal. So watch out Team Coal, Team Champagne is going to school you guys on what real photographers look like.

Team Champagne for Life.

Currently in heavy rotation:

Modest Mouse - Perfect Disguise [BBC Radio Session]

Kill The Vultures - The Wine Theif

Mel Gibson and the Pants - Stress Fracture

Sunday, May 3, 2009


My website is well on its way to being built, but the only thing that's truly throwing me for a loop is the SimpleViewer gallery. It's supposed to be sandwiched between the navigation at the top and the contact information, etc. at the bottom. As yet, my desires for there to be a gallery on my website are dashed. I'll inevitably fiddle with the code until magically it works or I decide to use something different. I would really rather use the SimpleViewer for now as it's very easy to build and update. It's also very lightweight, which is also in line with the way that the website is built. I want to make sure that no matter the connection, the page will load very quickly. Soon enough, the gallery will be working and the website will be live. Or I'll give up and code it all in HTML, which I really don't like the idea of. I can do it, but it will take me much longer.
I've also been adding my name to all of the alternate text in the HTML code, so as to make my ranking higher when "Ryan McGoff Photography" is searched for on Google when the site goes live.

Currently in heavy rotation:

The Blend - Slo Burn (Acoustic)

Johnny Cash - (Ghost Riders) In The Sky

Simian Mobile Disco - Sleep Deprivation

Saturday, May 2, 2009


It was an especially long night at work. On my way home, I decided to stop to get some food. I was seated diagonally from an older couple. The woman looked like an old farm wife and she was one of the most beautiful women I had seen in a long time. Not the kind of beauty you get from good genes or whatever you want to attribute it to, but the kind of beauty you get from living life. The way the light hit her, I thought, was especially wonderful. It was almost cinematic, like it was right out of a 1940's film. I wanted nothing more than to have a camera by my side, so I could invade their lives in order to make a picture. I even considered driving home, grabbing my camera, and driving back, just so I could try and encapsulate all the beauty that existed in that booth. I knew, however, by the time I got back, they would be gone, and with it, the opportunity to make the picture. I reconciled my inability to make the picture by thinking about how happy the whole situation made me. It was truly beautiful and I won't soon forget it.