Jon Crispin's Notebook

Field and Goats

Posted in Animals, Community, Food, Landscape, Nature, Plants by joncrispin on 26/09/2012

When I am not away from home I drive past this field almost every day.  It is on the East end of the Town of Amherst and is one of my favorite views in the valley.  It is lovely to have farm fields right in the middle of things.  A few days ago I noticed some white fencing and as I looked closely I saw that there were goats inside the enclosure.  I had known that there was a business in the area that rented them out to eat brush but this was the first time I have seen them in action.

They are really small, but have been at it in this field for about a week and are making great progress.

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Posted in Animals, Insects, Plants by joncrispin on 20/09/2012

I’ve been “stalking” this guy for a while now.  I have seen him many times, but he has always been gone by the time I have made the effort to photograph him. (Although I have a vague memory of an earlier post on the same subject.)  He is always in the same spot on this leaf; right at the base.  Today he was just hangin’ out and I had a few minutes to grab my camera and take his picture.  I think the plant might be a begonia, but I am awful at remembering what plants are called.  Can anyone identify the bug?

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Utopia Parkway

Posted in Art, Dance, Music by joncrispin on 19/09/2012

Utopia Parkway

I just got back from shooting a great dance piece by Angie Hauser and Chris Aiken who are new dance faculty members at Smith.  Their piece “Utopia Parkway” is totally improvised, as is the live music that goes along with it (Jesse Manno and Robert Benford).  It only runs tomorrow night and Friday at Smith (20+21 September).  It is totally great and shouldn’t be missed.  If you in the area, go see it.

College Students

Posted in People by joncrispin on 14/09/2012

College kids are kind of amazing.  I was walking back to my car after shooting a ribbon cutting ceremony at Smith Hall on the campus of the College at Brockport.  The guy in the middle indicated that he wanted to be photographed with his buds and I was all too willing.  This dude is totally sportin’ a complete 6 pack of abs.  I love his friends too; the guy on the left is very hip and cool and the guy on the right looks so friendly.  I love being a photographer.

Brockport, NY

Posted in Advertising, Architecture, Bridges, Buildings, Friends, Travel, Water by joncrispin on 14/09/2012

I’m in Brockport shooting a job for MJ Herson and the college.  Peter Carroll is here too and he and I had a nice meal at a local pub.  It is an interesting little town on the Erie Canal and the people here are very nice.

We didn’t go into Barber’s but they had great neon.

Willard Suitcase #18

Posted in Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 12/09/2012

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have completed the initial shooting portion of the project.  These cases belonged to Frank C.

This foot locker was not wrapped in the usual way.  I am guessing it was a bit too large.

Frank was a pretty interesting guy.  I know a bit more about him than some of the others.

His two cases contained an interesting mix of practical items and remnants of his military life.

Again, I have had to obscure his surname for legal reasons.

Many items referenced  the fact that he lived in Brooklyn for much of his adult life.

I am always interested in the ephemeral aspects of the possessions of the Willard residents.  It is always a bit frustrating to have so little time to look through the printed materials.  I could easily get lost in the War Department’s Basic Field Manual.

So many cool shipping tags.

I wonder what sort of idea this sketch reflects.  It was the only drawing of this sort in the case.

The rubber stamp is interesting, and the blue box contained some kind of laxative.  I’m pretty sure it was Ex-Lax.

There were several layers to this trunk.  The above items were from a shelf that sat inside the case covering up the contents on the bottom.

I tend to not think much about the practical aspects of life during war time, like rationing.  It is good to reminded of such things.  It makes me realize how little we are asked to sacrifice in the face of what’s going on in our world.

This gun was a toy.  I have no idea what the plastic items above it are.  Someone out there must know.

Frank had a lot of these small photo booth pics.  There are more in his other case which you can see below.  He was a very handsome gentleman.

Ok, I am about to look up “catarrh”.

Frank’s military clothing was in amazing condition.  No moth holes; each item looked almost new.

The underwear was especially pristine.  So even though there is clear evidence that he served in the Army there isn’t much sign of wear on his uniform.

Clothing always presents the biggest challenge for me to shoot.  To the point where I really grumble a bit when a case contains lots of it (Ask Peg).  I always try to avoid over arranging the objects and the clothes present a problem that I am not too skilled at solving.  It is why I shoot lots of details.  This tie was tied when we came to this shirt.

Buttons.  (Is is obvious I’m running out of things to say?  It usually happens with these post with tons of pictures.  Sorry.

Here’s Frank’s other case from the collection.

Since I have been shooting some of the larger trunks that are not wrapped, I have been missing the materials used to preserve the smaller cases.  It was nice to see the cotton string again.

There were more clothes in this case including these bathing trunks and a brand new white cotton union suit that still had the label attached.

As well as several wooden coat hangars; this one from Max Moscowitz’s store.

Among my most favorite items are handkerchiefs, especially ones with art deco designs.

The remainder of the papers we found mostly relate to wartime issues.

The question of why all of these items were saved is mostly moot to me, as is the broader question of what was going on in his life before Willard.  It is just so interesting to look at his possessions and build up some idea of his world (that may or not be at all accurate).  And ultimately what I have figured out from this project is that each of us who views these remnants of his life can come to our own conclusions.  He was a real person and people are complicated, so even those who knew Frank well didn’t have the whole story.  Including the psychiatrists who treated him at Willard.

There were a couple of complete New York Daily News pages in his things.  They must have been at the bottom of the larger trunk since there are no folds.  I once spent a couple of days in Aachen and it is a beautiful little town

I’m runnin’ out of steam a bit, so I’ll wrap it up.  Not sure if it is possible to read the letter on the left with the blue ink but it is from Frank’s sister and obviously came after a visit to his home in West Virginia.

And finally, a few more pictures of some of the women in his life.  So evocative and so beautiful.

So thanks for following and staying with me on this.  I will no doubt post more as I work through the editing process, although probably not in as extensive a way as I have done here.  Most of my energy will be spent on figuring out how to display the photographs for the Exploratorium exhibit, and then figuring out some way to publish a book.  Cheers everyone, and thanks again for all your encouragement and support.


Posted in Buildings, Community, ephemera, Friends, History, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 12/09/2012

On Monday I shot the last of the Willard suitcases for a while.  I hope to use the rest of this month to begin editing the images for the Exploratorium exhibit, and knowing how my brain works I knew I couldn’t attempt to edit while I was still shooting.  I was surprisingly emotional about the whole thing; an important part of the project ended and I am not sure when it might resume.  It is also significant to me that it marks the end of the Kickstarter phase of this work.  So some thank you’s are in order.  I could NEVER have gotten this far without Kickstarter and the incredible support of the almost 700 people who backed me. Thanks to Alex Ross for the long term “loan” of his lights and soft boxes.  He is a true friend.  Craig Williams and the New York State Museum gave me access to the cases and Craig’s support was instrumental in keeping it all moving along.  And Peggy Ross kept me organized.  Without her help in unwrapping, setting up the shots, helping me see things I would have missed, and putting the objects back where they belong I would never have made it through as many of the cases as I did.

I will work on a post later today showing the last case in the queue, as it were.  It was a great one to end on.


Posted in Flowers, Nature, Plants, Water by joncrispin on 07/09/2012

When I was a kid we used to call these milkweed pods and after doing a search I found this .  It is a pretty cool plant.  When they pop open lots of fluffy white stuff comes out and is blown along with the wind.  We used to pick them when they were at this stage and open them up.

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Posted in Nature, Weather, Windows by joncrispin on 04/09/2012

It is not even autumn yet but as I was driving into Amherst today this leaf landed on the window of my car.  As you can see in the background, everything else is still green.  It stayed there just long enough for me to grab my camera and blew off right after I made this exposure.  An early sign of what’s to come.

Something New

Posted in Baseball, Buildings, Cities, Family, Flowers, Food, Friends, Jon Crispin, Music, Nature, People, Plants, Rivers, Sport, Travel, Water by joncrispin on 01/09/2012






This post is a way to jump-start my brain.  I have been so preoccupied with Peter that it has been difficult to concentrate on anything else.  It feels great to be focusing on photographs again.  None of these pictures seem so interesting on their own, but together reflect what’s been going on for the past month.

Above is Tom Schack’s birthday cake from the now infamous “Schackstock” at Snowzies in Sunderland.  Bands started playing at 1 pm and things shut down at closing time.  His Mom, Dad, and Sister were there as well as lots of his friends.

He is just about the nicest guy in the world, and was really enjoying himself.

This flower starts showing up partway down the drive in early August.

When I was shooting the Tilghman project in August I made sure to visit Miss Pigsley.  She lives down the street from Jennifer, has an air conditioner in her shed and will never be bacon.  I took this for Peter because we are both huge P.G. Wodehouse fans and any stories with Lord Emsworth feature his obsession with “The Empress”.  This pig is magnificent and is very happy to have visitors.  She used to drink massive amounts of Kool-Aid until the vet put her on a diet.

On the Sunday morning before Peter Carroll and I left the island, we went to the church to document a service.  This gentleman was in the pew in front of me.

I have always liked cattails.

When Cris, Pete, and I went to see the Sox in August, the Olympics were going on and this guy was checking out the US Women’s Soccer action.  Technology!

I had a hard time getting the white balance right in this shot.  I walk past this box on my way to shoot the suitcases.  It always reminds me of  this Little Feat song.

Going back to Meadville means more than hot dogs and ice cream but two stops are essential; Eddie’s and Hank’s Frozen Custard.

I have been going to Hank’s since it opened in 1952.

Peter loves it too.

There is only one reason to post this photo.  It might be the only time you can see Red Sox pitcher Clayton Mortensen at bat in an American League Park.  At this point the Sox were up something like 12-1 and I still can’t figure out why Bobby Valentine had him at the plate.  Kind of cool though.

When we were at Pymatuning watching the ducks walk on the fishes backs we met the woman I posted about earlier.  She was wearing this shirt which got us talking.  I’d like to visit sometime.

It is very rare to be in on an historical moment, but I can say I was there when one of my neighborhood friends coined the term “Rat Lake” for the body of water that appeared after the flood control dam was built.

I usually help Thom Kendall out with the photos on media day for the UMASS football team.  The new coach is a really great guy.  This picture pretty much tells you most of what you need to know about Charley Molnar.

The Pearl out on the deck.

Cris and I went to Amherst Coffee today.  I often take a shot of my cappuccino for some reason.

Never one to hide my emotions, I have been mentioning to just about anyone I talk to about my feelings of having Peter off in DC.  So many of you have told me that he will be fine, and I want to thank you all for your support.  One of the best bits of encouragement came from Leamuse in France as a comment on my earlier post.  “Bon courage et bon chance.”  Thank you so much; it really helps.

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