music, technology & life in pasadena, california


While exploring my fascination with film photography, I came across this passage by photographer Joel Meyerowitz from his 1979 book, Cape Light. The book showcases photos taken with Meyerowitz’s 8x10 Deardorff, a big hulk of a camera that requires methodical thought and care (in contrast to a 35mm or digital camera) while exposing large sheets of film. The images are not quite what you’d expect from a collection devoted to life and scenery in an oceanside town. Meyerowitz explains it so well, and it’s an explanation that applies to all creative endeavors. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.

These photographs are often the least beautiful: spare, sometimes empty of qualities that are more easily celebrated. One makes the other photographs on the way to these rare, irresistible images that claim your deepest attention. The trick is not to be seduced by the beautiful but to struggle against accomplishment and push toward something more personal. Shared beauty is not enough. One wants to go beyond those limits, not for the sake of invention, but for knowing.

October 27, 2006 | Link to this entry

Reality Check

After reading the news that Tower Records is getting ready to sell its assets to the highest bidder, after declaring bankruptcy yet again, I’m getting tired of all the complaints that internet piracy was one of the prime factors in its demise.

Tower Records, at least the three stores I frequented in the 1980s and 1990s here in Los Angeles, suffered from high prices and terrible customer service, except in their classical department. The salespeople just weren’t very knowledgeable and were sometimes belligerent and full of attitude. Customers didn’t stand for it, and in 2000 when the cracks started to show in their retail empire, online stores like Amazon were offering discounts along with an endless “in stock” selection delivered for free right to your door. No driving, no attitude and open 24/7.

Tower Records failed because they couldn’t adjust to the new realities of the marketplace, not because a bunch of kids were downloading tunes in their bedroom.

October 5, 2006 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

Return to the front page