Jon Crispin's Notebook

Karma Congestion… (UPDATE)

©2016 Jon Crispin

…is a phrase my dear friend Alex Ross coined many years ago.  I think I have mentioned it here before.  We use it as a general catch-all to cover anything from mild creative block to what the Germans call Weltschmerz.  I have been somewhere in it for a while now.  I haven’t been posting much, but I have been shooting quite a bit and I wanted to put up a few shots here. / I was chastised by a Kathmandu policeman just after I shot this ↑.  The white kiosk in the middle of the intersection was put there this very day.  The old one was lying on its side on the corner beside me (and is quite possibly still there).

©2016 Jon Crispin

I’ve been in and out of the New Haven train station a lot lately and have always liked these tunnels.

©2016 Jon Crispin

Our friends Scott and Lisa very generously invite us to visit them on Block Island for a few days in July.  This was the view from their rental.  We had a lovely time.

©2016 Jon Crispin

Olive is now just over 2 years old and is the most wonderful dog. My pal Peter Carroll took this picture.

©2016 Jon Crispin

These two big stones are in the empty lot next to the house on Ensenada Drive in Woodland Hills, CA where Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band recorded “Trout Mask Replica”.  I was going to take a photo of the house, but it is a private residence now and I didn’t want to bother the current occupants.  I had a friend in college by the name of Greg Trout whose granny gave him a copy of the album for his birthday.  The only reason she bought it for him was that his surname was in the title.  When I first heard it, it seemed beyond unlistenable.  Now it is one of my most favorite records.  Beefheart was a genius.  Click on this only if you are open to weirdness.

©2016 Jon Crispin

My brother-in law John is also a huge Beefheart fan.  He was up for the excursion to Woodland Hills especially if it involved a stop at Musso and Frank is Hollywood.  John is totally amazing and so much fun to be with.  He was raised in Southern California and  his knowledge of the area is staggering.

©2016 Jon Crispin

He grew up in Palos Verdes and gave us a tour on a lovely Sunday morning.  This is a detail of a fountain  that is in the center of town.

©2016 Jon Crispin

Here is John and Lynne’s dog Scooter.  He is a mischievous sweetie.

©2016 Jon Crispin

Cris and I always go to Huntington Beach when we are in California.  The summer program for future lifeguards was happening as we were there.  There was a wide range of ages of the kids, and it was way cool to see all of the participants in their red suits and colorful caps.

©2016 Jon Crispin

The older kids paddled out beyone the end of the pier and back.  It looked exhausting.

©2016 Jon Crispin

The US Open of Surfing was happening the same day and the pier was jammed with people.

©2016 Jon Crispin

We also usually make it out to the Huntington Library in Pasadena,

©2016 Jon Crispin

mostly just for the chance to see Gainsborough’s Blue Boy.  It never gets old.

©2016 Jon Crispin

Peter was visiting from DC last week, and we made our annual trip to Essex to eat  fried clams at Farnham’s.  It was a beautiful day and the view from the picnic tables can not be beat.

Thanks for following and for giving me the opportunity to unclog some of that karma congestion.  I think it worked.  Cheers.

UPDATE.  This is indicative of how spaced out I am, but the picture of Olive was taken by Peter Carroll.  It is the best photograph of her ever, and he totally deserves the credit.  Sorry Pete!

Design Observer / Jessica Helfand


design observer

Very shortly after the first Willard Suitcases kickstarter went up I received an email from Jessica Helfand expressing her interest in the project.  She soon invited me down to New Haven to speak to her Yale freshman seminar class, “Studies in Visual Biography”.  Here is a post I did just after that first visit.  I have subsequently been to her class on several other occasions and it is always very stimulating and fun.

As well as teaching at Yale, Jessica and her late husband Bill Drenttel created Design Observer, which is a fantastic website devoted to creativity and design.  That description doesn’t do it justice though, as it is so much more than that.  It is really worth checking out on a regular basis.  In addition to the site, Design Observer recently started publishing a quarterly magazine.  The second issue is just out, and they included a huge spread on the suitcases.  I am just so honored to be a part of the issue, and it looks great.  Here is a link to purchase it, and I would really recommend all of you interested in the project to do so.  It includes many suitcase photographs that haven’t been published before.  Special thanks go to  Eugenia Bell, who did a great job selecting the images, and making sure it all came together.  She was a joy to work with.

As we were saying goodbye after that first class at Yale, Jessica reached out, hugged me and said “We’re friends now!”  It was a most touching gesture and I have rarely felt so quickly welcomed into someone’s life.  She has been a massive supporter of the project who has helped me in so many ways, and I am very fortunate to be her friend.


Posted in Friends, photography, Uncategorized, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 10/02/2016


Working my way home today, but I got to see my good friend Herman this morning on Elizabeth Street.  I think he just got this new hat.

Big thanks to Judy Berde at the Roosevelt Island Historical Society for inviting me to speak about the suitcases.  We had a great crowd with lots of interesting questions.  And a note to any of you who are involved in organizations that might like to sponsor a talk.  I am starting to travel quite a bit and really look forward to presenting the project.  Next Wednesday the 17th, I be talking about some of my other work to the Schenectady Photographic Society.  If you live in the Albany area, stop by.

Peter Carroll

Posted in Friends by joncrispin on 24/04/2015

I am in Ithaca to shoot part of the big Cornell 150th celebration and am staying with my pal Peter Carroll.  I like this photograph of him. / It was snowing yesterday when I arrived, and is cold and cloudy today. C,mon Spring!

Elli Carroll

Posted in Friends by joncrispin on 04/04/2015

I am in DC for a few days.  Yesterday I hung out with my friend Peter Carroll and his brother Alan while they sorted through their late mom Elli’s photographs.  Peter is doing a bit of an imitation of Elli’s friend Giancarlo, who featured in quite a few of the photos.  Here is a link from the Holocaust Museum that talks about Elli’s life.  She was a wonderful and fascinating person and I always enjoyed seeing her, and from time to time going to lunch at The Pines of Rome in Bethesda.

In recent years, Elli lived at the Westchester.  It is a beautiful pre-war complex not far from the Cathedral, with amazing details like this peep hole in the door.

Sunday Evening

Posted in Cemeteries, Food, Friends, Graveyards, History, Jon Crispin, Nature, Plants, woods by joncrispin on 16/11/2014


I made this corn chowder recipe tonight.  Perfect for a cold Sunday.  I always buy extra ears of sweet corn during the summer and freeze what we don’t eat for days like this.  Very nice; give it a try sometime.

One of the great things about the suitcases project is hearing from people who find other work that is related to institutionalization. Charlie Seton sent me this link today.  What an interesting project.  Thanks Charlie.  And my great buddy Hank who has been following the suitcases from the beginning sent this link about Letchworth Village in Rockland County.  It is interesting to me that surnames are used on the commemorative plaque.

I know some of you know a lot about plants.  I started seeing these guys in the early Autumn.  I don’t think they are plants that lost their leaves; I am quite sure that this is the whole deal.

And I have discovered some new trails above the house.  Before the snow last week I saw a few of these evergreen-like plants that I have never seen before.  If any of you can help identify them, I would love to know.

Sorry the top is out of focus.  I only had my phone with me and as this little guy was only a few inches long, there wasn’t much depth of field.

Wishing you all a great week, my dear online friends.

A Lovely Sunday

Posted in Animals, Architecture, Dogs, Friends, Jon Crispin, Landscape, Nature, Superstition, Travel, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 05/10/2014

I thought it might be a nice day today as this happened this morning when I threw a handful of things from my pocket on the bed.

John, Flora, Violet, and I drove to Broadway in the Cotswolds to walk from there to Snowshill and back.

We started on the outskirts of Broadway and we were immediately in fields.

Blackberries were plentiful.

Quite quickly we climbed up to the ridge where the view was spectacular.

As we were walking next to this pasture, we were passed by a horse carrier that contained one of this fellow’s mates.  They were both whinnying and it was obvious that they weren’t happy about being split up.  Horses are really interesting animals.

The footpath at times was on public roads, and at times just a narrow trail through the woods.

This is the view of Snowshill when we were about 10 minutes walk away.

Here’s another example of when the public footpath shares a country lane.

I have always liked these convex mirrors.

St. Barnabas is directly arcross the road from our halfway stop.

The Snowshill Arms is a great place for a couple of pints and the Sunday Roast.  It was excellent.

After lunch, I stuck my head inside the church.  It is very simple and not old (in relative terms), and the windows are beautiful.

This sweet little cat followed us for a bit and mewed the whole way.

Once outside the village, we were pretty quickly back into the woods.

It is such a peaceful walk, and we rarely saw others on the path.

Violet gave me this stone with moss growing on it.

This property is called Middle Hill House.  It is pretty easy to fantasize about living in a place like this.

This sort of day is so exotic to me; for my friends who live less than an hour away it is a regular trip to make at the weekend.

  It is so interesting to me that the public footpath goes right through the middle of farms and fields.  We shared our walk with horses, cows, dogs, cats, and of course, lots of sheep.

This particular horse was very friendly though he could be a bit nippy.

A farm just on the outskirts of Broadway breeds dogs for the hunt, and these very friendly pups loved the attention.

A great day.  Thanks to John, Flora, and Violet. Wonderful.

Violet on “Clunky”

Posted in Family, Friends by joncrispin on 04/10/2014

Here is my godchild Violet on what she calls “clunky”.  It is a zip line in a nice little park in Stratford upon Avon.  I even got a ride on it and it is FUN.

Another Walk and a Baby

Posted in Animals, Dogs, Family, Flowers, Friends, Jon Crispin, Nature, Travel by joncrispin on 30/09/2014

Cris and I took the Olive up into the woods late this afternoon.  Thanks to Sarah, Leonard, and SCJ (all readers of this blog) I think I can safely say that this is a ghost plant (aka Indian Pipe, monotropa uniflora, or monotropa hypopithys).

And there is no doubt this is a dirty yellow labrador retriever .  It hasn’t rained much lately so the woods (is?) are full of lots of mud holes and very little running water.  What is most amazing to me is that within an hour she is completely clean again.

And my lovely niece Heather just had another girl. On Sunday, we got to meet her while she was chillin’ with her big sister.

I am off to the UK on Thursday for some work and some fun.  My great friend John Wilson just sent me this link to a wonderful article on lists.  It is a great story.  He’ll pick me up at Heathrow Friday morning and I can’t wait to see him.

Peta Pixel/Peabody Essex Museum/Farnham’s

Posted in Architecture, Art, Asylums, Buildings, Family, Fish, Food, Fried Clams, Friends, Travel, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 18/06/2014

There was a very nice mention of the suitcases project on PetaPixel yesterday. Thanks DL Cade!

Cristine, our friend Kate, and I drove to Salem today to see the J M W Turner exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum.  It is amazing and worth the trip.  No photos allowed in the gallery, but it is a very cool museum.  Note the early Airstream trailer (lower right) that is part of the mid century LA exhibit.

We then drove up to Essex to eat some clams at Farnham’s.  For those of you who follow this site, I have posted about this place before.

The upcoming 10 days are going to be very hectic for me, so please be patient if I don’t respond directly to email.  I’ll do my best.

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