America by Car: Landscapes Framed by Rental Cars

Montana, 2008

Las Vegas, 2007

Las Vegas, 2007

New York City, 2002

Pennsylvania, 2002

America by Car: Landscapes Framed by Rental Cars

Photography by:  Lee Friedlander

America by Car is an acclaimed series of photographs by the master photographer Lee Friedlander.  Driving through most of the country’s fifty states in ordinary rental cars, he took his black-and-white, square-format photographs entirely from the interior of the rental cars.  Friedlander employed the brilliantly simple idea of using the sideview mirror, rearview mirror, the windshield, and the side windows as picture frames within which to record reflections of this country’s eccentricities and obsessions at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Friedlander’s collection of photographs isn’t arranged in a manner that provides an On the Road style of narrative.  Instead, he groups images by subject, not geography: monuments, churches, houses, factories, ice cream shops, plastic Santas, roadside memorials.  Every snapshot includes and employs the vehicle’s interior and exterior elements as a means of fracturing and multiplying the image, providing a submersive sensory experience, like the one in which a driver might engage when glancing out at or studying something other than the road.

But as you look more closely at the photographs, the jarring and often deflecting nature of the images’ framings begins to fade, and you start to recognize the seemingly intentional groupings of subjects, pushed together as if to emphasize their similarity, but with clear divisions (the varied locations, for one; the physical and visual frames, for another.)  Then you also can recognize the keen sense of humor at play in many of the juxtapositions: a chain-link palm tree standing in the desert, a photo of a sign offering a photo-op in a quarter mile.  Finally, there’s the massive glory of disorder, a kind of celebration of roadside nonsense.

You can read more about Lee Friedlander’s America by Car in The New York Times here.

On the Road with Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander: America by Car

Slide Show: Lee Friedlander/America by Car

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America in Color: A Showcase of American Society

America in Color: A Showcase of American Society

Photography by:  Constantine Manos, NYC

American Color is a collection photographs by Constantine Manos, superb color photographs that capture the attitudes and expressions of all types of Americans as they interact in public, from Venice Beach to Atlantic City to New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  The series presents a kaleidoscopic view of American culture, which charms, humors, mystifies and astonishes, while asking questions without giving ready answers.

American Color: A Showcase of American Society

Slide Show: America in Color/A Showcase of American Society

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Photos of the Day: It’s the Dawning of a New Day in America

Photos of the Day: It’s the Dawning of a New Day in America

Photography by: Gregory Crewdson

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This is My American Dream

Dave Stewart Comments on Making American Prayer:

“Earlier this year when I was recording American Prayer, a song I originally co-wrote with Bono, the phrase, “When you get to the top of the mountain, remember me” seemed to take on a whole new resonance, given the inspirational candidacy of Barack Obama.

The song always contained one of my favorite passages from Dr. King, which was hauntingly delivered the night before he was assassinated. King says: “I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!

People long for a connection–whether it is to music, to their country, or to a big idea. Regardless of what happens in November, Senator Obama has reminded millions of people that they have the power to connect to bigger ideas. He is, in essence, the embodiment of a new anthem for change. He has continued King’s narrative from what was once thought of as a dream to a reality. I find it especially relevant that Barack Obama will accept the Democratic Party Nomination for President 45 years to the day of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

When we were originally writing the song, Bono was crafting the words in a way that would make people think about the fact that ‘America’ as a concept was a truly great idea, based on the bedrock of equality. I find it more pertinent than ever to release it now; to the moment America finds itself in, daring to re-imagine itself and its place in the world.

When I set out to make a video for the new version of this song, I wanted to honor all of those millions of people, especially young people, who are, for the first time, feeling empowered to voice their beliefs. I wanted to capture how Obama’s message of change has echoed across the broad fabric of what is America. To do that, we’ve cast the film with an eclectic array of personalities, including Forest Whitaker, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Joan Baez, Macy Gray and Joss Stone. They appear alongside veterans, teachers and everyday citizens, all of whom have been touched by this simple idea of change.

As an Englishman, I’m not an expert in all the intricate details of American politics. But as an artist, I understand how rare it is to inspire a connection to a bigger idea or purpose. This video isn’t so much an endorsement of Barack Obama as much as it is a celebration of all those who have picked up a sign, who have registered to vote and are working to make the world a better place. So as Senator Barack Obama ascends to the mountain top, let us not forget all of the others who for the past 40 years have sung anthems of change to make this moment possible.”

Dave Stewart, American Prayer

Dave Stewart: American Prayer

Guests in the Order of Their Appearances:

Dave Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Amy Keys, Macy Gray, Jason Alexander, Colbie Caillat, Whoopi Goldberg, Joss Stone, Buju Banton, Ann Marie Calhoun, Barry Manilow, Linda Perry, Cyndi Lauper, Sergio Mendes, Herbie Hancock, Mike Bradford, Margaret Cho, Cindy Gomez, Speech, Joan Baez, Daedelus, Pamela Anderson, Peter and Gordon, Sierra Swan, Nadirah X and Perez Hilton.

Barack Obama with Joe Biden: Rally in Springfield (IL)

This is My American Dream

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Park Avenue Porridge: Interior Desecrations and Deplorable Cuisine

Interior Desecrations: True Blue or Too Blue?

Interior Desecrations

Mr. Derrick is Gleefully Erectus about 1950s Modern America

La Vie Moderne: America Leaps into the 1950s

The American Look in 1958

Fancy Shackled, Cross-Dressing Shank of Ham

An Unfortunate Gallery of Deplorable Cuisine

Thanks to James Lileks.

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America’s Top 25 “Brainy” Cities

America’s Brainiest Cities

American cities have been ranked by Forbes Magazine to come up with a list of the “smartest” cities in the country, the “best-educated” metropolitan areas. The list, which includes the top 25 “brainy” locations, was determined on the basis of the percentages of people with a high school diploma, percentages of people ages 25 and up with at least a bachelor’s degree, and percentages with a doctoral or professional degree.

The cities on the list have populations that range anywhere from 4 million people down to just 80,000. The common denominator among almost all of them, likely the key to rank placement, is that they’re college or university towns. The presence of post-secondary institutions is the main factor contributing to a number of the smaller locales appearing on the list, such as Ames (IA) or Corvallis (OR), boasting, respectively, 7.23% and 5.62% of their residents with Ph.D.’s. Boulder (CO), Ithaca (NY), Washington, D.C., Cambridge (MA) and Anne Arbor (MI) each claimed top spots in the rankings, in large part because substantial portions of their populations are made up of collegiate residents.

Metropolitan areas on the list that are not necessarily college towns are usually associated with some of country’s biggest high-tech centers, which include cities like San Francisco (CA) and Seattle (WA). There are also locations that tend to attract well-educated people who have the money to pay for high-end real estate.

America’s Top 25 “Smart” Cities

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I Just Want to Say: I’m Totally Gay for America

Totally Gay for America

In these critical times, when our country finds itself in ever-increasing dire straits and dark times, this is The American Song. Specifically, it’s The Love Song for Uncle Sam.

I’m Totally Gay for America

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