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SSM & Wolbait Poster

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My husband, Dave, is an illustrator and just completed this drawing of a zombie Karl Marx for an upcoming SSM and Wolfbait poster. I took a turn at the typography to give it a 60's vibe. I thought it turned out sweet, kind of melty and zombie-ish.

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JW Murphy Guitars Website Published

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I have finished the photography and design for a "starter website" for JW Murphy Guitars. Check it all out at!

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Of Elvis Impersonators

Monday, November 10, 2008

This past Thursday I was covering an event that featured Elvis impersonator, Fred Wolfe, and I must say it brought back a lot of memories. Let's just say I've spent my fair share of time viewing a few Elvis impersonators (El Vez, Eastside Elvis, Sherman Arnold, Snaggletooth Elvis, Black Elvis, etc.) In my days at CCS I spent a good part of a year documenting a legendary Elvis impersonator who is now deceased: Elvis Shelton. Cliff Shelton played weekly at a place called Barney's in Wyandotte, Michigan, though hailing from Monroe. I was tackling the series for a social documentary photo course and faithfully made the drive every weekend throughout the fall and winter to photograph him. I have a permanent visual memory of that winter: walking past the frozen Barney's sign reading, "Tonight: Elvis Shelton," and realizing that it was a permenant sign. I don't think I was even an Elvis fan at the time, but the experience lead me to really appreciate these people, and in turn, Elvis himself.

At first, I just took the photos without talking to him, which wasn't that unusual because every week's performance was a spectacle and a lot of people were taking photos. After a few weeks, it was impossible not to talk with him. I remember him slamming boilermakers before the show, and he may have been the first person I ever saw do a jäger bomb. By this time, he had already had four heart attacks, so he was always talking about how he had to take it easy. (!) After about a month or so he began introducing me as his personal photographer at the top of he show.

Probably one of the best things about Elvis Shelton was that he took the impersonation all the way. He started each gig entering the room from back stage while accompanied by his own version of the Memphis Mafia, complete with a sidekick version of Charlie Hodge who handed him his guitar as he began the show. He also gave out the obligatory autographed scarves to ladies during the show and did a good amout of karate moves. (I still have my scarf, which is tied to my mike-stand a la Steven Tyler.)

Sadly, he died of his fifth heart attack at home–about a year after I finished the series–in January of 2001. There was a wake for him at "Charlie's Too" in Garden City, and although I had designed and printed obituary cards for him (complete with lyrics to "If I Can Dream" on the back), I ultimately didn't go because it was on my birthday. Also I had no idea where Charlie's Too was.

However, I was able to deliever the photos when I finished my project and I'll never forget his reaction. He was sitting at the end of the bar at Barney's when I handed him the prints. He took one look at each of the photos and would look at me as though stunned, then shout a few expletives in disbelief and otherwise just outrageously overreact. Initially, I wasn't sure if his reaction was positive or negative... Now I look back and realize that I must have seemed so young to him at the time that he was trying to make me feel like my photos were blowing his mind.

I really need to dig up some of those old photos and scan them in, put them up here. From what I can tell, there is no info about him on the web.
RIP Elvis Shelton.

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Being a part of history

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Last night was so moving. I really can't imagine how you could not be inspired by the speech that Obama gave, let alone the historical significance of it all. We were watching on NBC when they announced that he won with the billboard and fireworks, etc. It was shocking, amazing and overwhelming all at the same time. Even though he had a large lead most of the time, it was, "Is this real? Has it really happened?" (Luckily we clicked to MSNBC just as Carmen Harlan decided to cut in! Like I want to hear her talk!)

I was quite frankly surprised at how moved I was, especially as they showed all the African-American people across the country reacting. I can only imagine how they feel, but I do empathize. It feels so good to break that barrier and–as a country–do something so positive and significant for so many people. I've also got to give MSNBC props for letting the scene play out without having to talk over it, just so we could take it all in. It was very surreal.

I think that no matter who you voted for, the message of unity and hope is something that our country really needs right now. It's so symbolic. I'm so excited to have a president that is younger, closer to my generation...fresh blood. (I kept thinking that this must have been how people felt when JFK was elected.) And in a very positive change, I'm ecstatic to have a president that is eloquent and inspiring to hear speak! Isn't that how president's should be?! It's just been so long since I've had such hope for our country!

I think the last section of his speech really drove the point home, talking about the 106 year old woman and all the history she has seen during her lifetime. My great grandmother lived to be just shy of 105 years old, and I have often thought of how much she experienced in her lifetime. My generation didn't grow up with the same stigmas of race that used to be (at least for me) and it's nice to see my country reflect that shift. It's really stunning to think that anything is possible here, and it makes me really proud to be an American.

On the other side of things, I do feel sad for John McCain as I honestly believe he is a great man and have always liked him. I can only imagine how different our lives might be if he were elected in 2000 instead of Bush. However, I think the social and cultural significance of Obama's win is bigger than anything McCain's win could have meant. And, due to the present circumstances, this election was likely close to impossible for him to win.

McCain's speech was also very poignant, though, and appeared genuinely sincere. He literally embodied his "Country First" campaign slogan with his words, displaying such class. I really wish we could have seen more of this McCain during his campaign. The good news is, he doesn't seem to be going anywhere and it's easy to believe that he really will work together to help our country. God knows we need the help!!!

Finally, what the hell was up with the holograms and virtual studios this year?! So bizarre! I guess it really is the future...



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