Tag Archives: Car Sick

Car Sick: The View From the Man on the Street

By Damon Chetson. Mr. Chetson is an Attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Leicaphilia readers know a different Tim from the Tim I know.  Until recently, I didn’t know Tim took photographs with an old German camera and called them art.  Or at least debated about whether they were art, depending on whether he saw a photo he took as a kid 40 years later on a poster advertising an exhibition in Brno, Czech Republic, or assembled them in a book where, as best I can tell, the central complaint, among much praise, was: too grainy. On that point, said critic and I agree. Too grainy.

Since Tim has been sick I’ve made a point of visiting him often. It was the least I could do, fellow criminal defense attorney he is ( I am what the current elected District Attorney in Raleigh claimed in recent campaign against me to be a “Sex Attorney”). Often I bring Peruvian chicken, which Tim likes, and which he says washes down well with whatever beer/whiskey/calvados he happens to be drinking in that moment. In gratitude, Tim has given me a copy of Car Sick.  He also gave me a stack of unreadable books, including James Joyce’s Ulysses. Said they wouldn’t be needed any more and I might learn something from them. My thoughts: 1) No way am I reading Ulysses, and 2) surely a Nikon digital camera takes sharper pictures than the questionable ones that constitute Car Sick;  He needs to get one of those.  

Tim calls me a Philistine.  Tim blames the graininess on the emulsification process.  I tell him that I want the world represented wie es eigentlich gewesen.  Blaming your failure to render the object as the subject viewed it on your inability to mix chemicals just right seems a poor excuse. 

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Picture quality aside, Car Sick is my kind of book.  It tells of a country in decline, where the storefronts are boarded up, where American Jesus will not save you (which is not to say that Jesus will not save you, but that’s for another blog), where looming out of frame is the specter of liberal capitalism that lays waste to whole communities and downtowns and storefronts and other places where people once gathered and communed. I do wish he’d have fixed the crack in his windshield though.


This is why Tim and I get along, and why Tim is the most human type of liberal subject.  He is curious, but not so curious that he doesn’t take stands, whether when he’s taking photos or when he’s taking a testifying cop to task for failing to properly do his job. He’s a guy who recognizes there’s a System, but who knows there are times when you need to kick against the pricks.  Tim is a consuming American who understands what his consumption has wrought, and it’s there in the pages of Car Sick.  


I keep telling Tim we’re all going to die.  Tim says the life-death issue is a little more pressing for him.  Maybe so, but he has and is living a life worth living.  And if you live in our neck of North Carolina, and you bring over some Dogfish 90 Minute IPA (not the 60 minute stuff), he’ll tell you about it, but he’ll also have the patience to listen to your stories and try to understand you.  And maybe he’ll give you a copy of Car Sick.  Because you’re certainly not getting mine, a book of grainy photos I will always treasure.

[Editor’s Note: I’ve asked Mr. Chetson for his book back, as my second run has already sold out].

Help a Brother Out, Part Deux

A few days ago I asked whether anyone would be interested in buying a book of pictures taken out of my car window. I figured I could guilt-trip a few of you into buying one. Surprisingly, between reader’s comments and private emails I’ve had over 70 readers request a copy and numerous folks asking for more than one. That’s really nice of you, and I truly appreciate it.

I’m not in this to make money. I’m good, thank you. What I am interested in is getting my work out there to people who might enjoy it, or learn something from it, or teach me something about it. My sole criterion in putting together the book is quality; quality of the photography and quality of the physical book itself – not some shitty POD book but a professionally done work that highlights the best of almost 50 years of snapping photos from the car. No throw-away images to pad out the work – I started with over 200 photos and edited down to +/- 80 final images. The criteria for inclusion of a given photo were three-fold: 1) does it work standing on its own; and, if so, 2) does it work as part of a larger narrative; and, if so, 3) is there a logical place within the sequencing where it maintains these two strengths? If I could answer Yes to all three questions, it’s in the book; if not, even if it’s a great single image, I tossed it. I tossed a lot, under the theory that usually less is more.

Much of it is film photography, much of it taken with a Leica of some sort, but that’s not the point. The point is to present traditional B&W photography that depends not on technical gimmickry but rather on the strength of the images themselves and what they both denote and connote, both as stand-alone works and as they’re sequenced into a loose narrative. I say ‘loose’ because photo books that focus too tightly tend not to interest me past a cursory viewing. The photobooks I keep coming back to – masterpieces like Mike Brodie’s A Period of Juvenile Prosperity – respect the viewer enough to allow him/her to create the narrative. For the same reason, there won’t be much text. You get enough of that here. In this sense, it aspires to be “Leica photography” in the best sense – quick shots caught on the run that say something, less dependent on technique than the photographer’s vision. If you’re looking for a photobook pimping for Leica or purporting to highlight the strengths of the Leica camera or optics, go elsewhere; this ain’t it. It’s not about the camera; it’s about the images.

Trim size will be 10×8 inches (width 10 inches, height 8 inches), paper heavyweight photo stock quality, sewn bindings, linen hardcover, +/- 120 pages with +/- 80 Black and White photos reproduced via CMYK printing. I’m making a limited edition run of 80 copies.

Price of the book will be $35/shipped within the US, $45/shipped worldwide.

I’ve started a “GoFundMe” site here, where you can contribute. Your contribution there will serve as your payment for the book itself. Of course, if you want to contribute less than $35, you’re welcome as well, but that would be sort of stupid because you wouldn’t be getting the book. Of course, you’re welcome to contribute as much as you want, but I don’t expect it and, if you’re feeling remarkably generous and contribute, say, $350, I’m sending you ten books.

I’ve seen proofs of a mock-up, and, it’s pretty good, not to blow my own horn or anything. It works. The last thing I’m going to do is send out bad work. Who knew photos out car windows could be so cool?