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A few months ago, I finally opened a myspace page; my number of friends grew quickly, as a hell of a lot of my ‘real-world’ friends, acquaintances and co-workers had been nagging me to get one so they can chat with me. It seemed silly to me, just as email once seemed silly to me; why not just call or come over?

As the character Rez, from William Gibson’s novel, “IDORU” once said, “that physical thing…there’s nothing like it” … but almost right away, I became fascinated with what I called, ‘drift-searching’ profiles. I’d punch in random names and just surf myspace, looking for something that grabbed my eye. Along the way, I found a LOT of things I didn’t like; a veritable continent of reasons to back-up why I found so many people shallow. And then this happened…

My friend, Lilly had a huge fight with her boyfriend and he kicked her out. This was nothing new and she always ended up moving back in within a few days, so I allowed her to crash on my couch. She used my computer constantly as the two days became four and then five; I might have gotten fed up however, she’d brought a large quantity of ‘party favors’ to keep us occupied.

One night, Lilly unexpectedly burst into hysterical tears and choked, “oh NO!!! NO!!!” over and over. I asked her what was wrong and she said,

“He removed me from the number one spot on his friends list!!!!”

At the time, through a veil of supreme intoxication, what I felt was a mixture of disdain and confusion. Now, I think about it and it seems to be to be the perfect precursor/analogy for the coming world. Lilly and her boyfriend got back together shortly thereafter (she called me to happily inform me that if I checked, I would see that she had reclaimed her spot at #1 on his “top friends list” … but the whole thing now strikes me as a dubiously profound statement of where our society is headed.

The digital age is already in full swing, depending on who you talk to, but when I cruise myspace (which I find myself doing less and less these days) and look at the pictures –and words – people have selected to represent themselves to the other inhabitants of the digital world, I think again William Gibson’s novel, “IDORU” … of the characters, Zona and Kelsey, in particular.

“IDORU” EXCERPT 1: “Zona, her blue Aztec death’s-head burning bodiless, ghosts of her blue hands flickering like strobe-lit doves.”

“IDORU” EXCERPT 2: “Kelsey drew her nymph-self up with elvin dignity, batting manga-doe lashes in disbelief.”

October 13, 2007


Getty Center: Manuscripts & Sculptures

Nothing is perfect but language is probably the only thing that has potential to be. Can not think of anything else that evolves in the same way; technology does not count, although that too, is a crucial part of our daily lives. Language would not exist without having something to articulate – which makes it proof enough that we can (that we are) evolving.

Spiral or 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, right?

New York minutes from 2012/2013

A few shots from New York; the 2012 trip for production and 2013 for re-shoots on my biotech documentary. Nanotechnology was a lot more ‘new’ back then, as it were, hahaha. Almost all of these were shot whilst walking to a shoot, headed to the next shoot or on the way back to my rented room for the day (would like to add that all my experiences with Air BNB have been awesome) Anyway, when I look at these shots, my first thought is, I can’t wait to get back there with my new camera…

All of these were shot with my Canon T2i and T3i (both 18 megapixels) – I just upgraded to an 80D with 24 and I’ve got a few new lenses F/1.4 as opposed to the 3.5 I was shooting with back in 2012/2013.

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The Bass Meant Dude

New York minutes (short version)

In the bloodcurdling months since the actual burnout of the #vortexture incident, at least a dozen ways of dying have occurred, been recovered from and then replaced with new ways to not be alive, if you know what I mean. If there is a cure, I augmented it with alcohol, which was intended to help with the lack of sleep (which, I may add, did not) and other methods of it doesn’t matter. As a Commercial Real Estate Photographer, my life has changed drastically and my return to NYC has an extremely different genetic make-up than the 2015 trip (the one which did not occur).

Like the 2015 trip, my “NYC I” photography collection the meat grinder, not the meeting hall. As the new version of The Not-So-Distant Future thrives in the self-assembly hangar, the pieces of that past which still have relevance drift back up with oversized flags, advertising their value. Below are a few for your consideration.

This is a clipped version of the introduction to “NYC I” which currently resides – in  great luxury, with all the sleep I never get, no doubt – in purgatory. And a few of the photographs. And page layouts.


“NEW YORK I: October 16 – 24, 2012” Words and Photography by Johnlee

On October 16th, 2012 at approximately 5pm, I arrived at the Jay Street Metrotech station in Brooklyn. The purpose of my trip was to conduct several key interviews for a documentary film project (then titled, ‘The Posthuman Condition’ and focused on biotech applications for Nanotechnology). The documentary is half of a larger project; its subtext-point is to pose ethical questions about genetic engineering, as presented in the 2nd half: “Blackline” a series of feature films set in a dystopian near-future controlled by corporations.

Don Henley had forewarned me about everything changing in a New York minute (a lyric specifically referenced in “Blackline”) and I love improvisation but its easy to forget that improvising is what happens when something goes wrong. On the 24th, before catching my train back to Union Station in Washington DC, a five minute meet-and-greet at the documentary film department at HBO turned into a pre-production meeting which lasted for well over an hour.

When I left the HBO headquarters, the rain, which had already been falling for a day or so, was coming down noticeably harder. Also, I missed my train back to DC and had to buy another ticket for the return trip (a problem I was destined to encounter again). When I arrived in DC, it was raining, the Metro was closed and there weren’t any affordable hotel rooms.

Thanks to a friend, I was able to spend the night on the ceilinged rooftop terrace of a luxurious hotel overlooking NW Washington DC, watching Dexter on my iPad until the Metro opened at 5am. I slept for a day and when I woke up on October 25th, the world had changed.

When I returned to New York for re-shoots in August of 2013, there would still be damage from Sandy. I suppose there always will be – but I also recall a conversation from the 23rd at the bar of the “W” hotel, nursing a third Jack and Coke. Don’t precisely recall how I ended up talking with a business consultant but I do recall that he told me the talk of the incoming hurricane was irrelevant because “this is New York.”

I didn’t know exactly what he meant but I believed him. We tapped glasses and he ordered another round and a New York minute had occurred. That was the first time I heard about Hurricane Sandy.

Like the city that existed before September 11th, the version of New York I experienced that week is a territory no road – or rail – can reach. Post-Sandy New York can be called stronger or taller but my interpretation is simpler. It isn’t that it’s a city capable of being renewed: it is New.

That’s what New York is to me.

January 8th, 2014

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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman

In 1992, my love of comic books had been replaced with William Gibson, Stephen King and Terminator 2 so I gave The Death of Superman a read but more out of respect than interest in how he’d been killed or who did it. Last night, my re-kindled interest in comic books (sparked by Bryan Singer’s first two X-Men films) reached a new height at the Airbus IMAX theatre. Today, I read some online reactions and while I think all things online should be taken with the proverbial salt there are a few things I am compelled to keyboard.

A lot of the criticisms may be accurate in conveying how the authors felt but I disagreed with much of it. One point I do concede is that it was tough to squeeze the MoS sequel, introduction to our new Batman/Bruce Wayne and set-up for JL through Bruce’s knightmare sequences, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor’s decrypted files into one film. Yes, I did want more screentime for Henry Cavill’s Superman/Clark Kent (and a montage of him saving people around the world) and Jeremy Irons’ Alfred (shades of Batman Returns) and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Yet, the way I saw it, the limited screentime served to add value to each onscreen moment, each line of dialogue and every facial expression.

The combination of story elements from “The Dark Knight Returns”, “Red Son” and “The Death of Superman” was thoroughly engaging and did I catch a hint of Danny Elfman’s Batman theme? Not to mention how the impact of our X-chromosome bearing characters: Lois connects Superman to humanity, both mothers having the name Martha tied heavily into the resolution, Diana Prince (enough said); even Senator Finch serves to set off the ‘Superman is bad’ storyline. Lastly, I got giggles from the pop culture bits; two characters from The Walking Dead as Bruce’s parents, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Joe Morton creating more cyber-biotech, etc. I will be first in line for the Ultimate Cut but for now, I am wearing my black armband from the Death of Superman.

7:05pm”Batman V Superman