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Film vs Digital

photo: show window, john galliani

This is an... atypical Paris showroom.

Ikky Chewing Gum

Paris:– Saturday, 27. December:– The following items are some random odds and ends that are taking up valuable space on some hard disks around here, and must be cleared out before the end of the year.

Film vs Digital

The worst time to buy anything remotely 'digital' is during the last two weeks of the year. The 'best' time may be during the first month of the new year. If you are thinking of getting a new or replacement digital camera, you should do this years' holiday photos with last years' model.

if you haven't got last years' model, think about getting one in January – before they are replaced by next years' new models. Of course, next years' new models will offer more features, more pixels, and for less – but not for as little as last years' models this January.

This is not a camera 'rule,' but a digital one. Almost everything digital becomes quickly more for less asphoto: nikon f 301 time goes by. In contrast, a perfectly good 20–year old classic film camera isn't going to become obsolete from one year to another. In fact, they get better, because lenses and films are still being improved.

Old-fashioned iron pig of a camera still works fine.

It is just now, after nine years of digital photography, that the camera manufacturers are bringing out affordable digital reflex cameras. There is one attractive model – completely digital, its dedicated image capture chip matches its lens – that sells for under $1500.

Its identical–looking 35mm film reflex cousin probably retails for about $270. In the library last week I read a review praising a flat scanner that comes with a negative–strip accessory. You can put in two film strips of six images each, and scan them all at once, with an image resolution of 2700 dpi. The scanner, with the film–strip accessory and good software, costs about $260.

Add the two together, considering that you don't already have a 35mm reflex, and you have $970 left over – perhaps for buying films, and maybe a huge hard disks and a CD–ROM recorder. By combining the resolution of classic film and the ability of making first–class scans from the film, you will be far ahead of the absolute top digital reflex.

Should you desire instant gratification, forget the digital camera's miniscule TV preview screen, and spend a little bit of the 'saved' $970 on a portable, go–anywhere, film development kit. Aside from drying, it only takes about ten minutes to develop a roll of 35mm film. Stored right, the negatives will last nearly forever.

An Arte documentary on TV the other night, featuring the photographer François–Marie Banier, caused me to reconsider the whole notion of digital photography. Banier was shown talking about his exhibition of photos, explaining how he works and how some of the photos were done.

In passing he mentioned that for most of photos he used an odd little camera named Minox. They were – are – likephoto: minox 35mb the ultra–compact 35mm cameras still on sale. In order to photograph with the Minox, you opened its front trap-door to extend the lens into its shooting position.

Ultra-compact, no-frills, image thief Minox camera.

Banier said he left the f–stop always set to 5.6, and the camera's light–metre took care of the exposure. Focus was by guess–work, or by manual 'zone–focus,' as it used to be called. He apologically waved the Leica M6 he was carrying at the TV camera – sort of as a badge of the price of success. It was the Minox he used to capture the photos shown in the exhibition.

The camera doesn't make the photographer. What does it is simply having one, and being wide awake to specific instants in time. When to press the shutter release is pure chance. In this crucial area, there is no difference between film and digital cameras.

Still With Us, In Memory

Last Tuesday, after being dead for 37 years, the comedian Lenny Bruce was given a pardon after being convicted of a misdemeanor charge of giving an obscene performance in New York City.

Bruce was pardoned by New York governor George A. Pataki. He is reported to have made the decision as a "declaration of New York's commitment to upholding the First Amendment" – which guarantees freedom of speech in the United States.

The team of constitutional lawyers who campaigned for the pardon, along with Bruce family members and prominent entertainers, noted that it was the first time anybody in the United States had been posthumously pardoned for a First Amendment conviction. The governor's office thought it was a first for New York state as well.

Lenny Bruce, who would be 74 today if he hadn't died as a result of non–stop national anti–free speech harassment, was busted in 1964 after a performance at the Cafe au Go Go in New York's Greenwich Village by undercover thought police.

The nightclub's owner, Howard Solomon, was convicted on the same charge, but had his conviction overturned on appeal in 1965. Bruce was sentenced to four months' imprisonment at the Rikers Island jail.

Bruce escaped a similar conviction in Vancouver about the same time. The city's chief Licence Inspector let nightclub owners understand that they would lose their licences if they allowed the comedian to perform.

At the time Lenny Bruce was facing several other obscenity charges in the United States. His defense efforts were partly supported by Hugh Hefner's Playboy Foundation.

Although Lenny Bruce may now be considered as the 'patron saint' of American comedy as a result of his efforts to turn nightclubs into zones of free speech, he was a very funny guy but may have been merely saintly.

Still With Us

Right at this moment gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson is probably still alive in Aspen, Colorado, after breaking his leg in a Honolulu hotel bathroom two weeks ago.

The notorious journalist, now aged 66, was in Honolulu to cover its annual marathon, but suffered the mishap a couple of days before the start. He was scheduled to co–drive the marathon's pace car with actor Josh Hartnett.

The movie version based on Thompson's book, 'The Rum Diary,' in turn based on his journalistic adventuresphoto: torpedo typewriter in Puerto Rico, will be filmed with Hartnett as a co–star. Thompson worked on the island after being sacked by a small–town newspaper in New York state in 1959.

Original gonzo almost–portable reporter's typewriter.

According to Anita Thompson, who has been Mrs Hunter S. Thompson since April of 2003, the journalist intends to visit Puerto Rico when the film begins production early in the coming year. He is slated to be a consultant, but is not expected to called on for any driving activities.

Ikky Chewing Gum

If you are walking around the streets of New York it is not impossible to get some really ikky chewing gum stuck to your shoe soles. In Paris, what sticks to your shoes may not only be ikky, but smelly too.

The other day I was idly contemplating a local sidewalk here and was surprised to see that it was speckled with rainbow–colored spots. Could chewing gum be taking over Paris, or are sidewalk spots simply more colorful?

For years I have noticed big displays of chewing gum without giving the matter much thought. But they are right in your face at a lot of purchase points, so it is logical to assume that somebody in Paris might be chewing gum.

An informal survey revealed that nobody I know chews gum, and the group polled could not even think of anyone they know who chews gum. Everybody's guess was, 'kids do it.' Nobody could recall ever seeing any kids actually chewing gum. Paris must be full of phantom gum chewers.

Another thing I noticed – about ten or 20 or 30 years ago – is that one of the big brands here is named 'Hollywood.' It may have been introduced in 1952 by Courtland Parfait, who intended to cash in on the history of GIs in WWII banging around France, chewing gum while waiting for the day's helping of 'C–Rations.'

Anyway, 'Hollywood' was pretty successful, because its advertising stressed the 'American Way of Life' that was very popular at the time, because of the introduction of three–tone cars in the mid–50s.

Just like popcorn or the hot dog, chewing gum has a colorful history – involving ancient Greeks and Mayans, Mexican dictators and Yankee inventors. One of these was an Ohio doctor named Edward Beeman, who was peddling pepsin as a digestive aid.

One day his bookkeeper, Nellie Horton, suggested he add this medicinal pepsin to chewing gum. Motto: "With pepsin, you can eat like a pig." Dr. Beeman used a pig for his gum's logo, until a wise financier suggested that Dr. Beeman's face might sell it better, which it did.

By 1899 all of America's chewing gum magnates had joined to form a cartel, which they named the 'American Chicle Company.' In the same year another entrepreneur named Franklin Canning got the idea that chewing gum might actually be good for the teeth. 'Dentyne' was created and it joined the Chicle cartel in 1916.

William Wrigley Junior's main contribution was to advertise the dickens out of chewing gum, but he started out using it as a give–away to boost his sales of baking powder. During a general business slump, Wrigley increased his advertising, while others cut back.

Chewing gum is supposed to reduce stress, and this was proven during WWII when GIs chewed six times more gum than civilians, while liberating Europe. Gum was also good for minor repairs to Jeeps and tanks.

Sugarless gum came on the scene in 1962, well before starvation diets became as massively popular as dining at fast–food restaurants. Each new advance in chewing gum technology sparks new sales, so the advances continue at ever–accelerating rates right up to our own times.

These days 'Hollywood' appears to be a product of the Kraft–Jacobs–Suchard conglomo, but there does not seem to be a Web site containing a lot of details about it – other than the group seems to operate just aboutphoto: hollywood chewing gum everywhere in the world, and may even be owned by the supra–conglomo Philip Morris.

The package of 'Hollywood' shown here mentions its ingredients as being 'with Edulcoroats,' with 'Chlorophylle' flavoring, Sorbital, a bunch of other stuff, and green tea, plus E 322, E 320 and the old faithful, E141 for color. The package text also mentions that it sugarless, and the guys in the white coats say that it may be helpful for dental hygiene if you still have real teeth.

What color of spots it leaves on Parisian sidewalks is unclear. In Dublin there is talk of whacking a 10¢ tax on chewing gum, to pay for sidewalk cleaning.

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