(based on a true story)



So I took this picture about half an hour ago. In Rio. Well, Renata is in Rio and I am at home alone in Carolina talking to a black cat. Renata is a character in my book about to go to press in Italy which was shot in Rio. My not so secret fantasy night in Rio. (based on a true story). Yes the real title. Go figure. Presses roll in 20 days. Hmmm, maybe I put this in? Blending fact and fiction all the way.

What about you? If you are a documentary photographer, ever think about fiction? In photography fiction and non-fiction tend to be done by different photographers . Writers cross all the time. My work in Rio is all “real” but real only to my immediate surroundings. For this book I did not “go anywhere” to take a picture. Wherever I happened to be, was where I was going.

There will not be one word in this book. Zero text. Almost no title. That is why I want you to read it very very carefully.



408 Responses to “(based on a true story)”

  • PAUL and all other photobook-lovin’ Burnians,

    Check this out: Have a Nice Book blog


  • Gracie, I’ve been in several airports these past few weeks, but Philly wasn’t one them. Maybe we will bump into each other in another somewhere, sometime.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    FROSTY …GRACIE and some other BURNIANS helped me …few years ago…
    so,if you see her…give her a big hug!!! you know…the WASILLA way:)))
    now,with my new laptop…I will come over…I missed the kids and my cat;)


    I hope she is drinking espresso with DAH,BRYAN,DIEGO…hmmm…
    can you hear me EVA…
    no more books for you…hiiihihii…

  • Civi.. sorry, but this is so much fun, so “no more books” is a no no :)

    Busy busy busy day, David and Bryan after a long travel day with very little sleep had a long long day at the presses.. but OH MY, this will be one heck of a great book and more.. soon.. not done yet.. as David says: stay tuned!

  • Those familiar with my blog have often seen my wife up here in the Alaska environment that I transplanted her into, but before I went to India we spent some time together in Arizona, so I just put up a post showing her in her own, native, Apache environment:


  • @ DAH:

    Nevermind… we apologize for not being here… \
    THIS is an absolutely love story: Starting in Milan, now in Verona, land of Romeo and Juliette, then you are going to Paris, London and come back to New York, moving around like fashion events!
    One Night in Rio, Spring-Summer ’12 Tour!!

    Shine to everyone

  • Sheesh do you believe that lazy Harvey guy? Lazy lazy lazy, never does anything, just sits around.

  • David – don’t know if you will be by anytime soon to read this, but I just looked at your Twitter Instagram of the book proofs coming off the press and I am a bit amazed.

    What has it been now, about 2.5 months since you left Rio? And you are already running a proof?

    What an intense time you and those who have assisted you have been experiencing.

  • Roberta said: “Yes.”
    Eva said: “Yes.”
    Panos said: “Yes!”
    James and Christopher said: “$&#*, yes!”

    I’m jonesing for One Night In Rio…

  • Jeff…
    Exciting times!Great to be onboard.Hello and hugs to all the burnians.See you in One Night in Rio
    …as usual…(based on a true story)
    p.s:all the best vibes and love to Eva,Diego,Bryan and Dave .Go soldiers! Go!

  • Jeff.. make that a big fat loud one of a YES!

    Bill.. to your last sentence: intense is sure one if the words that I would use to describe it, one very fitting word!

    Roberta.. right back at you.. taking care, at least I’m trying to.. :)

    Another day at the presses.. next step.. not final, but closer and closer..

  • ALL

    i am hours away from seeing the final pictures off the press from (based on a true story)..i often teach, but this has been all a learning experience…i am always involved in production of my work on book and even at magazines, but never to this extent…this baby i have been in on every tiny step…we built this house from the ground up….so i am sure you may imagine i will share all of this with you…so that you may use this experience for yourself at some point….i have learned a few things the hard way, and as i do here on Burn in general, and is my job as a mentor, try to make what was hard for me , easy or at least easier for you…

    just a quick note that will be interesting for some on a camera tech note…i just came off the printing floor fresh from approving a sheet of 8 pictures…..by coincidence this last sheet had Leica M9, Panasonic GF1, Nikon D700 and iPhone pictures on it…..on this particular sheet which contained all daytime pictures, almost anyone would be hard pressed to tell which was which…in the daylight at least there was no difference to be seen with these pictures…sure on a computer you would see a file difference between the Leica and the iPhone…and a larger size would also show a huge difference …yet in this 13 x 9.5 inch size, a pretty average reproduction format, with pictures shot in daylight , not any diff….in low light of course the iPhone lost….but those pictures are in the book too, looking grainy but of subject matter that looks good grainy….for sure as soon as the iPhone is developed to the point where the sensor works in low light it will become a very interesting tool for many …already is i guess….Apple is not making cameras…they probably don’t care really beyond a certain point…they just want you moving pictures through their system…anyway, just thought you might be interested..of course these Heidelburg offset presses don’t have the resolution of your iPad…but ahhhhh the tactile feeling cannot be beat…ok , gotta go…more to approve….back soonest….

    cheers, david

  • Nothing like standing in the press room with the floor humming under your feet and seeing your work roll off the machine. The best press foreman I ever knew told me, “Never settle!” Of course that was newsprint on a Goss Community, not book sheets rolling off that massive Heidelberg I saw in your photo. Very cool.

  • You better celebrate it with a good bottle (maybe 2 or more) of Brunello Di Montalcino!

  • @ EVERYONE NEAR Lyon and Clermont Ferrand AREA (FRANCE):

    I’m just back from an incredible exhibition, named “Face au Silence” by a frech photographer based in NYC: Christophe Agou. The exhibition lasted until late April, in the Roger Quillot museum in Clermont.

    About: He take pictures of his homeland during 2oo2 until 2oo8. Daily life in the farms. Very, very strong 55 coloured pictures, size 120 x 80 cm, matt, without glossy relfexion, very well mounted in the wall.

    I have the feeling of being there, between them, inside of the houses, having lunch with that kind of people!
    Simply awesome exhibition, beside VISA’s in Perpignan, one of the best one in my life!!!

    So if you are nearby, you MUST to go.
    Below the link to the web site:


    Have a nice WE everyone!

  • When I was a boy, my brothers and I would go sled riding down Mr. McGonigle’s driveway. Mr. McGonigle was our next door neighbor and he lived with his wife and son on the top of a tall steep hill, and his driveway swerved down that hill in a long backwards S, and if there was anything in the world more exciting than sledding down that driveway on a cold winter’s night then we could not imagine what they might be. For my brothers and me and every other kid in the neighborhood, there was no such thing as fun in the winter without the McGonigles and their driveway.

    Mr. McGonigle apparently agreed with us, because he went out of his way to make his driveway the place to be in the winter. After the first snowfall of the year, he’d encourage all the kids in the neighborhood to bring their toboggans over and go riding down the hill. Tobogganing down freshly fallen snow was not a lot of fun, but we did it anyway; we did it because we knew that every slow ride down the hill was packing the snow down bit by bit, until the new powder of late November and early December became the dense packed snow and ice of January, and on that densely packed snow and ice a kid with a good sled could go flying down that hill faster than we could anywhere else in our happy little burg. The other thing we liked about Mr. McGonigle’s driveway was that if we were going fast enough, and we usually were, we could go zooming across the road and down the embankment and end our juvenile Walkürenritts up to our necks in snow in Mrs, DiPietro’s back yard, which was a lot of fun for us and didn’t bother Mrs. DiPietro at all, mostly because she was eighty-nine years old at the time and deaf as a post. There were no guardrails along the sides of the roads then; our neighborhood was the forgotten butt end of the city at that time, and things like sidewalks and guardrails and other municipal improvements that people in other sections of town took for granted were wholly unknown to us.

    Just to make things even more interesting, Mr. McGonigle also piled the snow high at the bends of his driveway’s backwards S so the older kids and the adults go could zip up onto those bends like so many NASCAR drivers and pick up more speed. He even put up spotlights all along the driveway so everyone could see where they were going. Still, even with the lights, many mothers did not like the idea of their kids’ sled riding at the McGonigles. The kids were going too fast, they complained, and it was too easy for them to get hurt, but I suspect there was more to it than that. There was a general feeling among the women of our neighborhood that Mr. McGonigle did not do right by his wife. During the winter, the McGonigles parked their cars at the bottom of their driveway and off to one side so the cars wouldn’t get in the sledders’ way. This in and of itself didn’t bother anyone too much—if you’re parking your car on your property then where you park it is pretty much your business—but what I suspect what roiled the collective feminine gut was watching Mrs. McGonigle having to trudge up her driveway in the dead of winter pulling a sled with the week’s shopping piled on it. That grated on our mothers’ collected sensitivities, as did the free beers and the discreet bottle of Scotch that Mr. McGonigle passed around to our fathers at the top of his driveway. Mr. McGonigle kept fires going up there in a pair of old fifty-five gallon oil drums, one for the kids and another for the dads, whose job was to keep us kids from hurting ourselves too badly, and the beer was plentiful around the dads’ drum, so much so that sometimes a father left and forgot to bring his kids home with him.

    Our mothers’ concerns were not entirely imaginary—accidents do happen, after all, especially in any situation that combines kids, snow, speed, and prodigious amounts of beer. I, for example, did not have the fastest sled in the neighborhood, a fact that put me at a disadvantage when there was someone faster coming up behind me. I remember once coming out of the first turn in the driveway at what I thought was a reasonably high rate of speed when Mr. McGonigle slammed into my side. Mr. McGonigle owned a Flexible Flyer that travelled at light speed, if not faster, and so when he slammed into me my sled immediately shot out from underneath me and went flying over the embankment into the woods. I followed the sled a moment later, using that very short moment to make a complete 360 degree turn in midair before landing next to my sled in a bush that came complete with its own set of thorns. This was annoying, to say the least; I had to spend the rest of the week explaining to people that no, I did not wash my face with ice picks and razor blades, despite the evidence to the contrary. Still, flying through the air with the greatest of ease was awfully exciting, even with the misadventure with the thorns, but my mother did not see anything exciting about my flight at all and neither did most of the other mothers on our street. I do not know if what happened next occurred spontaneously or not, but I do know that one or more of those mothers decided that enough was enough and that something ought to be done.

    There are few phrases as fraught with potential peril in any language as something ought to be done. There is no end to the enormities that someone sufficiently high-minded can commit in the belief that something ought to be done, no end at all, especially if they think they’re the ones to do the something involved. I think we kids knew that something was up when we got home from school on a Wednesday afternoon and found our mothers hard at work cooking food that had nothing to do with our dinner. Nobody we knew was sick or dead, and it wasn’t somebody’s birthday, so our mothers’ behavior was suspicious to the nth degree. We learned the ugly truth that night when our mothers followed us up the McGonigles’ driveway with covered dishes in their hands. They told us kids that they were just going up the hill to see how Mrs. McGonigle was doing, but the disgusted looks on our fathers’ faces when they our moms coming up the hill laden with hot food told us everything we needed to know—one more happy male preserve had foundered upon the treacherous shoals of tuna casserole.

    New regulations began spewing forth almost as soon as covered plates covered Mrs. McGonigle’s dining room table: small children could not sled all the way down from the top of the hill anymore, the definition of small being entirely based on maternal whim; going across the road into Mrs. DiPietro’s back yard was forbidden, as was going too fast on the corners, trying to bump one other off the driveway, and cutting the little kids off so the older kids could have fun watching them crash became a felony on par with murder in the first degree. This was a rule I didn’t care for; watching those kids crash was funnier than hell, but then, as I’ve mentioned, I am easily entertained. The mothers also banned beer on weekdays and the discreet bottle of Scotch, well, the bottle became so discreet it vanished altogether. This annoyed our dads no end, but they went along the return of the Volstead Act for the sake of familial peace and quiet. The kids went along with the new rules because my mother bribed us all with her freshly baked brownies, a payoff she learned early on would usually work with kids. Learning that you are corruptible at the age of eleven is not a good thing for any growing boy, and I’ve avoided careers in politics and law enforcement so that I would never endure such temptation again.

    There must have been something in the air that year, for the spirit of something ought to be done spread out from our neighborhood like chickenpox at an elementary school, a cultural reference that only shows how old I’m getting these days. In the late summer of that year, a hurricane meandered its way up the Atlantic coast of this our Great Republic, inundating everyone in its path, including the denizens of our happy little burg. On our street, the pond where we played hockey during the winter overflowed and poured over the road and down into Mrs. DiPietro’s backyard in what I thought at the time was an excellent imitation of Niagara Falls. I had never actually seen Niagara Falls, but I’d seen pictures and this looked enough like the real thing to make life interesting. Mrs. DiPietro, on the other hand, saw nothing at all interesting about her imitation Niagara or the new lake forming in her back yard, especially when the water level kept climbing inch by calamitous inch and she had to call the fire department to pump her cellar out before her house floated off its foundations and drifted downriver to the sea. In the days after the hurricane headed out the sea, the better to pound the Canadian Maritimes, men from the highway department came and saw the threat our hockey pond posed to life, liberty, and the pursuit of higher property values. They were strong men of stern mien, men who wore hard hats even when there was no reason to, and they determined that something ought to be done, and having decided that something ought to be done, they stood around their orange pick-up trucks wearing their hard hats and nodded sagely about the wisdom of their decision and drank truly prodigious amounts of coffee.

    Over the course of the next year and a half, the various responsible departments of our happy little burg’s municipal government, a phrase I never thought I’d use to describe any department of our municipal government but there’s a first time for everything, I suppose, surveyed our street, put in a new drainage system, and installed guard rails along the sides of the road. For us sledders, the guard rails were the worst, the avatar of the maternal mandate against zooming across the road made manifest by municipal metal. It was not until the following winter that we discovered the other consequence of all this boondogglery. The new drainage system had lowered our hockey pond’s water level to the point where we couldn’t play hockey on it anymore. And our hearts were sore then, and filled with bitterness.

    Yes, something ought to be done, and so it was, and everything changed as a result. The McGonigles moved to Idaho a few years later, where the hills are higher and I assume the sledding is better, and the old McGonigle place has had several owners since then, none of whom had any interest in sledding. No one plays hockey on the old hockey pond anymore and the guardrails are still in place. Nowadays, of course, kids do not want to sled down a hill faster than they can anywhere else in town; they want to stay indoors and play computer games, or talk or text their friends on their cellphones. For that minority of youngsters still interested in traditional winter pursuits, the city provides a hill in the middle of a large park for the kids to sled down. It’s not a very big hill and you really can’t go very fast down it, but it’s better than nothing, I guess, and all the mothers approve of it. They would.

  • Thanks a lot, Akaky! [Hard] hats off.

  • Brilliant as usual Akaky.

  • Hot and sunny round here in the Mediterranean! 24 degrees this afternoon.

  • “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
    Robert Frost

  • You’re a Strange man Akaky..
    The more I read of you the more I don’t know you!
    And that’s great!!!

  • “You have to go to considerable trouble to live differently from the way the world wants you to live. That’s what I’ve discovered about writing. The world doesn’t want you to do a damn thing. If you wait till you got time to write a novel or time to write a story or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read—if you wait for the time, you’ll never do it. Cause there ain’t no time; world don’t want you to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week.”
    Harry Crews who died last Wednesday at the age of 76.

  • a civilian-mass audience


    ok,I believe that the right time is now…after all these years…
    yes, I have to reveal my true identity

    you may have already guessed it…


    thank you for all your support…and I hope that our family will keep “BURNING”…

    I will be back and I love you ALLLLLL…!!!

  • “God, I’m not greedy. Just give me the next 500 words.”
    Harry Crews

  • Akaky,

    You didnt mention helmets… of owning one and wearing one.
    All small children, by any mandate as defined by height and waistline should wear one.



    Boy, this better be an April fool’s joke.
    I’ll never stop believing that Civi is anything other that an eccentric, wizened, perhaps alcoholic Greek woman, living in an ancient tiny house, with her chickens and a small garden surrounded by olive trees. She also perhaps owns a donkey.

  • a civilian-mass audience

    and the winner is OUR GORDON…you got me GORDON…

    you just won a bottle of ouzo!!!

    it was my April fool’s day…oime,” perhaps alcoholic Greek woman…owns a donkey”

    “A friend is one before whom I may think aloud.”
    Ralph Waldo Emerson


    P.S…we need report from Italy …helloooooo…:)))

  • Hellooooo Civi.. it’s nearly 9 am here, and the first time since NYC that I’ve been sleeping in.. weather seems to be nice out there, all I want is to either go back and sleep some more.. or work on the next book.. hmmmmmmm….


    we gotta get this stuff published somehow , somewhere…..you have everything you ever wrote here? backed up, saved?


    great Crews quote…the one about the world expects nothing…wait for something to “happen” and you will be waiting for a long time…exactly..


    nice to get a call from you this morning….Burn really isn’t an online blog is it?? it is something else ..not sure what it is but whatever it is has manifested itself in a rather unique way…out of all the friendships, all the wrangling, comes real work…the collected best from comments is a book for sure…and the photo work too….i always wish for more of course, but that is just me….anyway, whatever we are here, we are THAT to an amazing degree…will hang Vissaria picture as soon as i get home…which is where i am going…dropped Paris from my schedule…no Greece either…what looked ok on paper, on the calendar, just was too too much….i do that sometimes…just stop….turn around….don’t go…really look at the reasons, and come up with better reasons not to do it….my old adage…no wine spilled on the ground…we only got one bottle….

    cheers, hugs, david


    oh yes, it was just amazing…the vibration..the hummmmmmmmmmmm…and these pressmen…amazing craftsmen …can tweak those big machines in ways you cannot believe…oh yes the days of photoshop and the computer and the iPad are just amazing, yet the physicality of those presses and the paper ….i mean off those Heidelberg’s were rolling some of my iPhone photos!!!! mixing tradition with contemporary works..in design , and in life….

    by the way, more valuable than the book will be the double run proofs…the warm up the machines proofs when they put paper through twice…oh wow!! talk about one of a kind limited editions….particularly for this book which is playing with doubles in the first place…stay tuned….book printed but book not assembled….hand assembly ….i will never be able to return to mass production…not for love anyway….

  • a civilian-mass audience

    MR.HARVEY…we love YOU…whatever we are here…this I know :

    WE ALL ARE INCREDIBLES…or shall I say,we are all Greeks…!!!

    By the way, we have more bottles…hiiihiii,right GORDON?:)

    EVA…thank you for reporting…I ALWAYS COUNT on you!!!

    BURN, BURN ,BURN …the Universe is working…

  • Civilian:

    My layman’s understanding of statistics led me to believe you were playing with the truth, but it went right over my head that it was an April Fool’s joke…but exciting that you could potentially be a neighbour. I know which part of Toronto Bob lives in, and I know that the keeping of chickens in the backyard is unacceptable amongst his type of neighbours, never minding it contravenes the municipal by-laws. Besides, we all know that if Bob had one backyard chicken, he would have hundreds, if not thousands! Right?


    Artist’s proofs are one thing, and are collected feverishly by some, but printer’s proofs are something almost no one knows of. Let me be the first to call dibs!!!

    I too would love to see Akaky’s ruminations in print…on paper, that is.

  • Jeff..

    some of these printer proofs are not only double, but even triple prints.. amazing stuff!

  • Civi..

    I’m never far away.. only BURN can keep me off BURN.. and I still owe you a snail mail envelope! Not forgotten!

  • a civilian-mass audience

    EVA…the old good days are gone …post office not reliable…
    when we will meet …then,wine on you…
    I am still waiting for the picture of your new shoes…
    I repeat NEW shoes…not another book:))))))))))))))

    you kept your mouth shut and you didn’t spoil my fool’s day…hiihiii
    therefore,wine on me

    See,MR.HARVEY…we have many bottles here in BURNLAND

    P.S…Please,ATTENTION…don’t forget to SUBMIT…I already have done it…
    I submitted to the IMF:(…oime…

  • a civilian-mass audience

    THOMAS…maybe we can skype…are you still in Athens?

    I got a new computer…aha,I sold 10 chickens…oime,I am turning vegetarian…not by choice…hiiihii

  • CIVI,
    I am in Athens right now. Will leave on Wednesday, however, for two weeks.
    One week vacation, the other week is a training for the job.
    Yes, let us Skype – usually I am online around 21:00/22:00, but I definitely get online, while I am here :)

  • JEFF

    well i never heard of one either….all i know is that when we saw them we forgot about the book and like scavengers were scooping them up….because they are of course printed on both side and with multiple runs they are amazing …i was imagining them as a hanging show..plexi…suspended in the middle of the room , not on walls….really like a piece of sculpture or something besides a mounted photo for sure….

  • EVERYONE, thanks for the kind words. I hoped you’d enjoy it.

    MR. HARVEY, Yes I do.

    GRACIE, I refer you to the opening five words of this screed: When I was a Boy. When I was a boy, no one thought of using helmets because, first, they were unavailable, second, the idea of using helmets for sledding in those halcyon days was entirely unheard of, which probably explains why the helmets were unavailable in the first place, and third, we wouldn’t have worn them anyway; remember, we went zooming across a street at high speed despite the risk of getting squashed like a bug by oncoming traffic. In such circumstances, a helmet would not have helped, so we wouldn’t have worn them anyway. ;-)

    CIVI, you’re Bob Black? Really? I would’ve sworn you were Imants. Ah well, live and learn.

  • The BOOK is ready!!!!
    Go Texas Go!!! Houston
    we have NO PROBLEM!!!!
    (I know I know it sounds irrelevant :)

  • a civilian-mass audience

    AKAKIE…??? IMANTS,our IMANTS?…hmmm…long live your Wild Imagination!
    ouzo on You:)))

    Houston, we have NO problem…oime,don’t we all love our GrecoTexians…hiiihiii

    Good morning from Europe…THOMAS,tonight…!!!

  • David, very cool. Hand assembly? Yes! Yeah that wastage at the front end is kinda high I imagine for a precision press like that but proofs are cool.

    We used to screw around with the used plates when they came off the press too. Warhol like possibilities. They also make decent roofing material, especially for chicken coops. :))

  • So, does everyone know who Civi is now?

  • a civilian-mass audience

    I don’t know,hmmm…I don’t know…no clue…
    maybe a lost tumbleweed…?
    maybe a chicken coop?
    maybe TOM YOUNG…???

  • “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.”
    Kurt Vonnegut

  • Civi, maybe, maybe …

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