Friday, April 25, 2008

San Jose, where the seasons do not interfere

Sometime in the mid 1980s a local contractor restoring the Germania Hall on North Second Street discovered a large framed photograph of the 27-member San Jose Orchestral Society in the corner of the basement. It was taken by Milton and Archie Loryea in 1892, or rather, it was assembled in 1892. According to the late Clyde Arbuckle, San Jose's great historian, when the time came to take the picture, the only tuxedo available was owned by Leopold Hart (of Hart Department Store fame, whose grandson Brooke's murderers would be hung in Saint James park in 1933, the last public lynching in California, which was promoted on radio four days prior to the event). The Loryea brothers had each orchestra member put on the tux and have their photo taken. Allegedly one member (in the front row) was sick at home and the picture was taken as he was sitting on the edge of his bed. The brothers then clipped out the portraits and assembled the image. The image was restored in 1998 and is now owned by the San Jose Museum.

When I discovered this story I felt some connection to what these guys were doing over a hundred years ago. I've spent about 17 years or so working with Photoshop, manipulating images to either sweeten or trick our perceptions of realities. People are becoming more aware of the role Photoshop plays in their everyday lives. And hopefully that awareness makes us think twice. The more we learn to not believe what we see, or hear, or even think, the more optimistic I feel towards the success of life on the planet (yes that includes the success of those pesky critters that walk upright). From my window I can see the spot where the Loryea Brother's photography studio once stood and where they composited this image. One day I'd like to see it in person.

Related: I have about 15 versions of Do You Know the Way to San Jose. Besides the original Dionne Warwick version, these are two of my favorites. One by the heavyweight champion of the organ, Richard "Groove" Holmes. The other by Avalanches, which I like because it almost destroys the composition with a wonderful use of samples. What's the worst version I have? The Neil Diamond version, for sure.

Semi-related: "Follow Me To San Jose" by Erik Satin (from Atom™'s album Light Music, a tribute to Erik Satie's furniture music philosophy). I know he's probably referring to San Jose, Costa Rica, but I don't care. They're our sister city and I've sometimes found the melody and words repeating in my head... for hours.

Download Richard "Groove" Holmes
Download Avalanches
Download Erik Satin

No comments: