Homeless in a Box

Two homeless men, young, lay side by side in matching boxes, asleep in the dull rising light. The shallow boxes, flat and wide, looking like they had just been delivered for the morning rush, gave no warmth or shelter, no comfort of any kind, just a lip, an edge a few inches up, as if it might keep the bugs and dust out. I had walked almost a full block past before I realized I had to go back to take a picture.

It was a funny image, striking how they looked they had been delivered and slept so soundly for the people streaming past. I had my camera out as I turned around for the shot and saw the young man was awake. homelessI was caught in an awkward stance, looking down at him, mocking him, and dropped my arms and continued past.

“Yeah, that’s right.” The young man muttered after my receding steps. “No pictures.”

100,000 hits to “my bad side”

It took me four years, two months and twelve days to get to this day: 100,000 views at mcphedranbadside.com. 20150106_074058That’s good, right? Whatever it is, thanks for visiting whenever you do. I still have some gas left in the tank. We’ll see what’s next.absence

The Cattle Drive in Howard Hawks’ “Red River”

It’s not the story nor the setting nor even characters that make Howard Hawks’ 1948 Red River an epic, but the images of the cattle drive.screenshot-42

A herd of 9,000 used in shooting this iconic story element. screenshot-43Nothing compares to these images throughout the 133-minute film.screenshot-46


Except maybe Montgomery Cliff sucking poison out of Joanne Dru’s shoulder.screenshot-44

That’s pretty good too.

Ice Friday: Samuel Beckett’s “Neither”

to and fro in shadow from inner to outer shadow

from impenetrable self to impenetrable unself by way of neither

as between two lit refuges whose doors once neared gently close, once away turned from gently part again

beckoned back and forth and turned away

heedless of the way, intent on the one gleam or the otherimg_4584

unheard footfalls only sound

till at last halt for good, absent for good from self and other

then no sound

then gently light unfading on that unheeded neither

unspeakable home

The Failure of Parker’s “Birth of a Nation”

Birth of a Nation had promise – a compelling narrative most of all – but fails. Instead of exploring the contorted depths of American history, Parker trains the camera on himself, too often in close-up, reacting to repetitive brutality. 15-birth-of-nation-w1200-h630Violent images dominate – people’s teeth getting hammered out, exposed brains – when  the story of a remarkable man, Nat Turner, could have been developed, asking who really spoke of this: As we pushed on to the house, I discovered some one run round the garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pursued them, but finding it was a servant girl belonging to the house, I returned to commence the work of death. item14The film does not elucidate nor does it have vision, as did Steve McQueen in 12 Years a Slave, but is solely a chronicle of violence, flat and tediously rendered, craft-less as anything of the Superhero genre.

Drunk in the City

I was just telling that guy about the helicopters in the streets. He didn’t believe me. Wasn’t even listening. Watching the fucking Cowboys. 20161001_101202It wasn’t like I planned to sit at her table. She was just there, her boyfriend too. They were nice, from Cincinnati, and wanted to talk. They didn’t care that I was dead drunk. She had these wide, innocent eyes, innocent everything. That was the problem. 20161001_163103She kept leaning in and asking questions, and I kept ordering drinks. And then he was gone somewhere and so were we. I don’t remember much after that. Just walking, going the wrong way, and then being along the river and looking into it.20161001_230758

The Trump-Clinton Reality TV Mini-Series

The talking heads stare back, beleaguered, telling us of the ugliness, how unpresidential it has become. cnntalkingThey count down the days in feigned exhaustion. Only 29 days until another president will be elected, and more importantly, when the spin cycle can begin anew and the next batch of ne’er-do-wells can be stoned.clintontrumpThe talking heads say everything they can think of and they say it again and again – emails, rapists, locker room talk –  except about how their ratings are only as good as the race is bad, that the crummier they make it, the more Viagra they sell. buy-cialisAnd so that’s what we do. We consume this reality TV, hoping that next season, in just four short years, the chosen one might appear and take care of us forever.chris-harrison-bachelor-interview-ftr