anton kusters – as light shines on thy thigh



As Light Shines on thy Thigh by Anton Kusters


Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo –

Going deeper underground… Walking the streets with Soichiro and his family. Kabukicho is the red light, food & gambling district of Shinjuku, smack in the middle of Tokyo.

We gather at his office, where he shows me the work of Watanabe Katsumi, a japanese street photographer of this particular district who, for about 40 years, barely making a living, sold his street photographs back to his subjects. Amazing stuff.

I’m surprised that somehow he must have taken the time to research this book and lend it to me to look in. We talk about photography, the schedule that lies ahead of us, and the places he and his family are going to take us to. I am impressed what is in store for us. And excited.

Some of the other family members arrive at the office. Everyone is waiting outside, time to go.

I’m definitely aware of the weird mix of feelings while walking the streets at night with them, in ‘their’ burrough. A mix of respect, fear, clueless-ness, anger and admiration from the people, the hustlers, the shopkeepers, the prostitutes, the restaurants, the tourists, the club owners,…

It’s my first night out shooting. We’re on a so-called “go-around”, where the whole family gathers in fine suits to walk the streets collectively, greeting everyone, being greeted by everyone, in effect unmistakably showing everyone that they are, simply, ‘there’.

The message is crystal clear.

Two regular japanese guys walk up to me, smiling and gesturing friendly, apparently wanting to see my pictures.

I see Soichiro in the corner of my eye taking an immediate distance and signaling me, that this is in fact undercover police… The family disperses, like nothing ever happened… Just in time I have the presence of mind to start playing dumb and speak in a way too loud voice “tourist, tourist, picture”…. and I take off in another direction.

They don’t follow me. Close call.

And thus ends the first shoot.


Anton, april 2009

Anton Kusters


About the Essay

Soichiro is the lead character of the story that i’m starting to tell, about a Yakuza family in Japan. After more than 10 months of preparation, my brother and I have been granted access to start a long-term project to document the visible and hidden life of that particular family. All names used in the account above (and previous and future accounts) are fictional.

Here on BURN, i will regularly provide visual and textual accounts of our adventures.

I hope to be able to publish a book on this story.

Previous chapters:
Meet Soichiro


111 Responses to “anton kusters – as light shines on thy thigh”

  • Patricia:

    I WAS NOT chiding Sidney….not at all…i was doing challenging Sidney’s comments about what he wrote about Anton’s decision to photograph them, implying very clearly that Anton’s decision was questionable, on moral grounds….I was refering to a book that might be insightful as to coloring in some of the history of the Yakuza….living in Japan gives Sidney, for sure, some authority on a life there, it does not necessarily make him an expert on the group or its history….nor does expertise or inexpertise disqualify sidney from making his point….or from other disagreeing….

    why is it that if one member questions, it’s supported…if another member challenges those claims, it’s seen as bullying….i was very clear about my support and endorsement of Sidney’s right and responsibility to voice his opinion….

    as for Yakuza…how about I had a student whose father IS A MEMBER, whom i have spent time with talking about this, asking her to discuss and write about this and photographing her as well and her relationship to life here, outside of the world she grew up in…and until now, you did not hear me calling myself an authority or demeaning others lack of authority because they support this picture….

    i didnt live in japan, but i have live in asia, have spent the last 15 years teaching, befriending and having close personal relationship with people in japan…..

    neither i nor sidney are authorities on Yakuza, (that’s why i refered to Kaplan, who is, for insight into the history and culture of the group), but this does not disqualify either of us or anyone else to support or question Anton’s work…..

    all i would suggest to Sidney is this: it is infact questionable to question the moral voracity of another photographers action based on a personal point of view with regard to a group of people….

    sorry Patricia, but i do take offense at suggesting that i was being patronizing to Sidney.


  • Sidney

    Thankyou for stirring the pot , and challenging us to examine our souls a little. It has been getting a little boring here lately, with a bit of a “love-fest” atmosphere. You are braver than I. I tend to bite my tongue (if ya can’t say something nice…} Yes, chickenshit.

    I have to admit to being one of the “boy scouts in the whorehouse” types myself. Not that I necessarily have a problem with this specific project, but really with any project that explores and seems to celebrate the underside of life.

    It’s not that I think we should ignore life’s underside. Lord knows life has a big underside. Within sight of my kitchen where I’m typing is a trailer which has been a druggie hangout for ages, and where a man was beaten to death a month ago.

    However surrounding this trailer, and the kind of life it represents, are hundreds and hundreds of other homes where ordinary decent people play out their stories and their lives. The druggies are much more interesting, and would make much better press I guess. But the stories of ordinary people and their struggles and triumphs are much more important and interesting to me. My favourite essays so far on burn has been “Brigitte et Bernard”, and “Garage Sale”. So you can see where I’m coming from.

    Why is it that we are fascinated by the tacky underside? Why the hell is the National Inquirer one of the largest publications on the planet? Why do “ladies love outlaws”, and why are we drawn to such stuff?

    I have to admit, I too am tittilated too by such stuff. But it is a guilty pleasure.

    Anton, truly and sincerely, this is not a judgment or criticism. I’m fascinated by your project, and know nothing of who you are, or your motivation or Japanese culture. I’m fascinated. Good luck to you and your project, I’ll gobble it up with the rest. I’m just thinking out loud here.

    Gordon L.

  • good morning all… at least in japan here it’s morning :-)
    really cool to wake up to such an interesting discussion going on! this is exactly what i had hoped for… i am in no way offended by anyone’s viewpoints, and i’m glad the discussion is about the topic, and that there is little “discussion about the discussion”

    naturally, i have some things to say. here goes:

    I’ll start off by saying that to the post above a synopsis has been added so (hopefully) it is clear what i’m doing, or trying to do.

    i’ll recap that short paragraph here so you don’t need to scroll up :-)

    About the Essay

    Soichiro is the lead character of the story that i’m starting to tell, about a Yakuza family in Japan. After more than 10 months of preparation, my brother and I have been granted access to start a long-term project to document the visible and hidden life of that particular family. All names used in the account above (and previous and future accounts) are fictional.

    Here on BURN, i will regularly provide visual and textual accounts of our adventures.

    I hope to be able to publish a book on this story.

    okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way.

    Next up, i’ll be re-reading all comments above very carefully over morning coffee, trying to read into the tone of what people are trying to say, and to respond if i feel i need to…

  • gordon…

    thanks for the reply… please know one thing: i am definitely NOT celebrating the underside of life. Just look at my previous essay “Sugar”, which couldn’t be more seemingly ‘opposite’ to what i am doing now.

    But… and this is in part a reply to Sidney as well, i am also not staying away from it because of my possible conflicting views or ethics or morals.

    maybe i can open up the discussion into something more general: would you photograph a story if it were conflicting with your own views on life, your morals?

  • Here we go, some replies after morning coffee…

    Sidney –

    i know you mean well, and you raise important questions, but i haven’t ever told you about my own background, my personal relationship to japan, how long i’ve lived or not lived there or my reasons for being there in the first place, and what not. I don’t think i will, because i feel it shouldn’t be relevant to choosing a project and committing to it. That’s why i don’t bring it up.

    I do think it’s really good that you brought up the subject, because the first thing it did, was make me retrace my steps and think my choices and views and approach over, in the different light you painted them in. See if they still held up. VERY good exercise, and REALLY good you did speak up amigo, please keep on doing so. I defenitely deepened my general sense of “responsibility”, and i believe that THAT was exactly what you were referring to. am i correct?

    Also please believe this: i know exactly where i stand morally, what is good what is bad, what is black what is white and what is grey. Knowing where i stand, gives me the strength to do what i’m doing. Knowing where i stand, does not define my choice of projects. My subjects are not a representation of my beliefs.

    Of course you are free to judge me on this, and i will never hold this against you. But right now it just seems to me to be a tad to premature, after just two images and only a thousand words :-)

    The whole reason i put text and images up on BURN is that this is the one place where i feel we are able to talk about it in depth with like-minded people, photographers, editors, viewers, interested parties and the like… and “talking in depth”, that is something you certainly do! There are so many questions you raised, is there any one in particular you want my views on?

    cheers and thanks for the insights,

  • Sidney (again) –

    About the “embargo” on images:
    it is nothing more than my two-thumbs up approach, by wich both parties (photographer and subject) have the veto to withhold any image from publication. nothing complicated, i do this for any given project.

    I try to treat anyone, like i would want to be treated myself. With respect, clear intention to both parties, open eyes and an open mind.

  • Bob bro –

    About being a “wealthy, young caucasian european”:
    two out of three my friend…. because i’m definitely not wealthy.

    At least not by Belgian standards, even less so by US standards, and certainly not Japanese standards.

    In fact, i have to scramble every last cent that i have to be able to pay for the next flight to Japan. Right now i have saved enough for two more flights. Which is not enough, given the 2 years time i will need to complete. As soon as i get back in two weeks, i will be making a detailed budget analysis, and actively seek funding to be able to complete this project, because, as it stands now, i will not be able to complete it (financially).

    It does worry me, but for now, i have faith that the images of my first shoots, will open some doors for me in one way or another.

    This is my reality.

  • Anton

    I’m sure you don’t condone or admire the activities of these people. However, just drawing attention to them celebrates them, just as gangsters and outlaws have always been celebrated in movies etc. What message do you hope to send? As an observer, and recorder, you cannot avoid a point of view. Access to the sub-culture, and friendship with its members implies a sympathetic perspective. Presumably, a critical perspective would not be welcomed by your hosts. How do you handle that?


  • anton :)))

    i know…i meant ‘wealthy’ as in the way people think of westerners…anyway…im taking a 10 minute break from writing M’s text….i didnt mean u r rich ;)) (i know you, remember ;))) ), i mean, the ‘perception’ of how people judge this young belgian dude running off to japan ;)))…anyway, i hope my defense of your work makes sense and doesnt alienate Sidney or others….what’s an older brother to do ;))))))))

    Patricia:..:)) .do not worry, all is ok…the web conversation, it’s viral ;))…anyway, i’ll write u tomorrow…gotta an essay to finish for mr.s b….

    ok, now, off…

    hugs y’all


  • Anton,

    You are a class act my friend… Love the way you are responding to the questions raised. I agree that you should not have to share your own background or personal relationship to Japan to justify yourself working on this topic. Having said that, since the very first photograph you have shared with us, I have been wondering why this topic, what attracted you to this story and I hope that you will share this with us at some stage, maybe when the project has gone further… If you do not share it widely on Burn, I will get it from you over a beer in Belgium :):):)….

    I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this debate that your work has generated and thanks also to Sydney for having started it. Whether we agree or not, Sydney made us all think about our motives for what we choose to photograph and reflect on our responsibility for what we show, how we show it. Very healthy reminder… I do however know from the little I have seen of you that you seem to be the type of person that know right from wrong and I am sure you will not forget this along the way in Japan….

    As far as this particular photograph that you have chosen, I kind of like it and actually I recognize in it the “Anton” touch in the way you have shot it but somnehow, seems almost a different topic or photographer vs the first photograph. What pulled me in with your first photograph was that you were in there (more would not have been possible :):) close, not hidden… I loved the proximity of the first shot, I enjoy less the 2nd in that sense even if it is aesthetically pleasing…

    In any case, I look forward to see how this story develops. I am sure your topic will continue to generate some healthy debate.

    Hope to see you sometimes waffle, fries or beer… you choose and I invite you given you are not wealthy :):):)



  • love
    the energy

  • eric –

    thanks for the comment. I WILL take you up on that offer!!! As a real belgian, i choose “fritten met stoofvlees en mayonnaise”… with a beer of course :-)


    let’s cross our schedules when i get back

  • bobb –

    phew thanks! :-)

  • ALL….

    THIS is want i want BURN to be….civilized discussion and thoughtful dissent…..totally different perspectives and opinions so impassioned, so well researched, and so well written…..

    many thanks you to all of you now engaged in this brilliant unit of intelligent dialogue about Anton’s work….

    cheers, david

  • Gordon –

    glad you liked Sugar :-)

    And a good and difficult question. The simple act of showing my images makes a point of view by the viewer unavoidable. Totally agree.

    At this point, i can only say that i approach the subject without being critical or sympathetic. But i will approach the hell out of it.

    Even though i do have a strong point of view about all forms of violence, i think i would feel uncomfortable imposing a critical or sympathetic view upon myself (and thus all others involved, also counting the viewers at a later stage)

    That said, i WILL be imposing a very strong artistic view on the subject. As strong as i possibly can. Damn strong. I sincerely do hope i will be let in deep enough so i will be able to create this artistic authorship, about a unique and very closed world that has just opened up to me. And i sincerely hope i will be talented enough to be able to pull this off….

    And also, at the same time, i hope it will be “documentary enough” so it will carry some legitimacy in itself, past the pure sensational surface-scratching that so many have done already.

    I might be tempted to call it “conceptual documentary”, though i don’t like to categorize, and i certainly don’t have the images yet to show for it…

    makes sense to you?

    you (and sidney, and bob, and everybody else) certainly made me think all morning about this, it’s past lunchtime here already, af been at the computer thinking, contemplating, weighing in, for about 4 hours now!!!! but very useful hours they were indeed…

    A side note:
    During the preliminary talks we have discussed at length that at some point there will be disturbing and compromising images. They are of course not naive in their world view, or their own actions, or the consequences that could come forth out of the potential publishing of my images, and they are totally aware of the judgment that people will or will not make upon seeing the images.

  • God, I admire the heck out of you, Anton. Your postings here are making me and every one of us dig deeper into our own selves & ask questions many of us have never asked before. You are so clear in your intent and articulate in expressing it. I tell you, my friend, there is no question in my mind about where this will all lead. You are traveling a remarkable path and the destination may be unknown but the success of the project is guaranteed. At least that’s how I see it.

    love you fella,

  • Why do ladies love outlaws? Why not?

    Outlaws need love too.


  • Hi Lee. Yes indeed, outlaws need love too. But I think that some ladies love outlaws because they are dangerous, dead sexy, and in need of rescue.

  • Rafal:

    I am sorry you have had bad experiences with the police. I have seen police abuse, stupidity, prejuidice and power trips in the United States. And i live in the third world where corruption is even worse than rampant. i have seen it first hand at VERY high levels of law enforcement. So i´m not naive. Perhaps i am just not cynical. For all the schmucks i´ve seen in law enforcement i have seen many more being decent individuals and very professional in their jobs. I have seen them really trying to make people safer here. I have seen them underequipped and out-gunned by the criminals. I have seen them work their asses off to catch criminals who are back out on the street hours later. I have seen them solve horrible and brutal crimes with next to nothing for clues. Just their own dogged perseverance and networking brought terrible people to justice. They´re not all perfect but then, who is?

    Rafal, i have had a loaded and cocked gun pointed at me here and talked my way out of it. i was almost raped and talked my way out of that too. i have been mugged twice in twenty minutes. My family and my office have been robbed at gun and knife point. My children´s dad just had his car window shot out as he was driving. Naive? i think not.

    What you saw as naivete was íntentional. I was attempting to draw Anton out. I was piqued by his apparent comfort level with a criminal element and his paranoia and distrust of law enforcement. This would almost seem the logical result of his associations. This is why i asked what he might have been doing that would be considered illegal by the police unless it was ´merely´ guilt by association, i.e. a potentially serious involvement that hopefully does not lead into a dark alley without an escape route. I was concerned for him and fearful of an ever widening circle of shady pals and and an ever deepening immersion in this underworld subculture. Rafal, you and i and others here know what it is to be a foreigner. When it comes to loyalty we are alone and far from home when stuff gets rough. Anton is a visitor in Japan. In some ways that´s an even more tenuous connection with a country than a legal resident might have if things get difficult. I like the project, but i am not one who goes to an air show hoping to see a crash. I want to know that Anton´s safe. It´s the mother in me :))

    It is too bad you are not around more often. I am sorry to hear your remarks to Sidney. Your positive contribution would be most appreciated. Your silence is deafening. i mean that, Rafal.


  • Anton, Good to hear you are back and things are progressing. You have done incredibly well to have gained this access for your work. I fully appreciate Sidney’s point, but I personally believe that your level head and personal ethics will guide you through this work to eventually yield an essay that is not sensational or glorifies the Yakusa. This is the ultimate responsibility and the burden you shoulder. I have every faith that you will deliver. Do Have to say though that i’m not sold on the image you posted. I love where you are going style wise, but to me there is nothing I can focus on that pulls me into the image. It could work with a larger body of work (which is of course the ultimate goal), but as a single it’s too loose for me. I wish you all the very best my friend, be safe out there, I cant wait to see more!!

  • I believe that one end product from a photographer’s work is that someone who hasn’t seen a particular thing or person or event or tragedy, is made aware. Because there is a photographer there to record it. Whatever that photographer’s agenda, the end result is someone sees something they haven’t seen before.

    Gordon, I like the dangerous and deadly sexy and maybe an occasional rescue.


  • sidney is as brilliant as anton is gracious..

  • all –

    have to turn in now, big day tomorrow…

    will be back here as soon as i can

    but i’m sure the discussion will keep on going, this is a too interesting a subject :-)

    james! –

    yes you are right of course as this is more of a “careful” image, in which the mood/atmosphere takes precedence over actual content. Also, i will still have to do a lot of (soul) searching to strike (what i feel would be) the exact right chord.

    But i am actually very excited, not only to get the chance to do this, but to get the chance to share this usually very personal process with all you guys on BURN… I feel i have to step up my game to the max, becasue i have to answer to all you guys as well!

    laughing…. :-)))

    kat –

    many thanks for the motherly worries :-)))

    ciao ciao

  • anton

    good luck my friend and keep your confidence HIGH – you´ve a talent and an eye all of your own..

    david, beate and top cat (man, now he can grab he loves that viking mobile you sent him all the more :ø)

  • ALL…

    so many of you have reflected my views on this..from both sides…in an official debate, i could argue both sides….so i will be brief….

    this is one of those issues that comes up all the time among documentary photographers…and all of you have written quite well about the pros and cons and morality of photographing something or someone who you would not “endorse” were there not a camera in hand….

    some documentary photographers work with a “cause” in mind…i think Phillip Jones-Griffiths truly believed the Vietnam War to be so unjust that he just could not help himself…he HAD to do something about it , or try, so he used the only “weapon” he had…his camera..

    there have been many “war photographers” who followed PJG who had no such motivation….there is a shallow group of photographers who will work in areas that would seem to be “important”, but who are really just trying to win the next World Press award….they often put themselves and others in great danger just for the sake of “getting famous”…

    one must look very carefully at each photographer to determine motivation….the same topic came up recently here in a discussion about the “motivations” of Sobol with “Sabine”….did Sobol really fall in love or was Sabine “used” as fodder for a book as some here suggested???

    Rafal, i am a bit shocked you would think that a comment like Sidney’s would somehow thwart discussion here or somehow negate or inhibit Anton…IMO Sidney could not have explained himself better…he was not on a “rant” and he was speaking from personal experience…he brought up totally legitimate points to which Anton responded in kind….however, i would agree with you that often there is a very fine line, or no line, between police and the criminals they are paid to fight…there are good cops and bad cops with good and bad motivations, just as there are photographers with exactly the same myriad of motivations…all of us must constantly judge and evaluate commentors, cops, photographers, government spokesmen, preachers, teachers, and grocery store clerks….credibility is an issue period…..

    there is no doubt that Anton has his hands full both logistically and morally….and what he thinks today , he may not think in three months or a year or even after his book is published….i do not fear for his safety on this project….i worked briefly with the bozuzoku, the motorcycle gang branch of of yakuza, and once they have accepted you , there is no danger whatsoever…yes, gangsters in general DO have their own “morality” and would totally protect anyone “inside” their circle….

    my fear for Anton is something else…

    the problem is not safety, the problem is how not to become a part of the “public relations” campaign of the yakuza who seek desperately a certain acceptance in society…..

    all “gangsters” are looking for legitimacy…

    in their own minds they do a lot of “good things”..and if you believe in the “wild west” mentality, they do some “good things”…they see themselves as a combo of “real police” and providing certain social services which they think organized governmental society does not provide.. their views are not my opinion, but their self justification can go something like this: the Mafia neighborhoods in New York are the safest of all and they have the best paved streets in town and the best basketball courts…..they pride themselves in assassinating child molesters, rapists, etc who would never be brought to justice under “the law’…in other words upholding “rough justice”…my “gangsters” in the South Bronx had similar “values”… i am sure the yakuza have the same “codes of justice”…

    Anton’s challenge, in my opinion, is how to document legitimately by being an “insider” without being “used”…exactly the opposite situation of some critics evaluation of Sobol and “Sabine”…

    Anton’s “two thumbs up” approach to editing is the way i worked with the Living Proof underworld and now also with my family project…this approach obviously “works” because the subject of the document is unlikely to turn down this “offer”…but, it does present potential compromise in either imagery or intent from every angle…how Anton tweaks the line with this , is far and away his most formidable challenge and one of which he is totally and painfully aware…..we have discussed this at great length and will continue to do so…

    personally i think Anton can “survive” the yakuza scrutiny of his work and still have photographs from a part of society we know little about and exhibit with artistic aplomb….

    as Dmitri so correctly says, “if we did not get our hands dirty, we would live in a world where we would hear nothing, see nothing, know nothing”…

    cheers, david

  • DAH fleshed out so many of my thoughts and concerns on this project in your usual prgmatic and articulate manner. Being used by the Yakuza was a big concern of mine but i didn´t know how to put it into words. You reassured me as to his relative safety within the group but i still wonder about what would happen if cops, undercover or otherwise decided to scrutinize Anton´s activities. But that´s his problema. You also shed light for me on the agenda of any criminal element to gain legtimacy within society. I didn´t know this at all and it really amps up the tension in this project in a most interesting way. How far can Anton get with telling the truth, how much resistance will the Yakuza put up if they see that Anton has his own voice, vision and desire to speak, i.e. what happens if his agenda and their agenda become opposing thumbs on the same project? Sidney referenced this as well. I think those in the underworld must have enormous egos just in order to survive such a difficult place. And the more successful the more confident, cocky and controlling they become. I wonder really whether they will permit any other vision of themsevles but their own. Now that i have been reassured as to Anton´s safety, well, i can get out the popcorn and sit down and enjoy the show. BRING IT ON ANTON!


  • David Alan

    Thanks once again for your wonderful insight.

    I have always wondered about the motivations of photographers who choose to do this sort of work. Part of me wants to believe it is true concern and a desire to make the world a better place. People like Lewis Hine and Eugene Smith. I attended a lecture and slide show by Smith years ago and he actually broke down while showing “Minimata”.

    The other part of me knows that there must certainly be the “shallow” group you speak of who only seek to exploit and feed what must be enormous egos. I was astounded and disgusted to watch a documentary recently featuring an Aussie adventurer who tried to be the first man to kayak from Australia to New Zealand alone. He died trying, leaving a wife and small son. The documentary was implying that such adventurers were to be admired as heroes. I just kept thinking, what an idiot. His collosal ego was much more powerful and important to him than his love for his family. What a stupid thing to loose your life over.

    I can tell by the respect shown to Anton by those here that know him, that he is must be a genuine and honorable guy. I do look forward to seeing the project unfold.

    Gordon L.

  • DAH,

    thank you for summarizing the issues in such an articulate way. It is wonderful that all of us are having this discussion here, disagreeing and arguing heatedly, perhaps even passionately, but at the same time so respectfully.

    Gordon, I agree with you about people who would heed nothing in pursuit of their vainglorious ambitions. However, I think this is a wider issue that you are raising. What I mean is that I think it’s one thing for instance for a photographer to put his life on the line in order to expose some atrocity, genocide, etc. (even if at the same time they are seeking fame), and a different issue to actually have to BECOME INVOLVED with the people committing that atrocity in order to get access and photograph it. I am guessing that a war photographer, even one with less noble motivations than Jones-Griffiths or Gene Smith, does not necessarily have to kowtow to the warring parties in order to do his job. Here I think we have been discussing an even more complicated issue, about projects that necessitate that the photographer become personally involved with people he/she may find ethically abhorrent.

  • Dimitri

    Yes, it is complicated stuff, especially in such situations where the pictures would not happen without the co-operation of the subjects.

  • Guess I missed out on some controversy here, so all I’m going to say is that I’m excited to see this project and love that we are given glimpses along the way. I feel like it will be amazing…

  • David,

    sure, Sidney brought up legit points but I think he crossed the line with one sentence. I find that there are times here when the discussion goes from the work, and Im all for hard critiquing of the work, to harsh critiquing, often in a rude way, of the author. I think thats going too far. I feel Sidney crossed that line, though he isnt the first to do so, and I was surprised HE would do it. I think Burn is a great place, I havent had much time to participate here lately for numerous reasons, but I think that people should be much more careful what they write and how they write it. Anyway, thats how I saw it and I think others did too.

  • RAFAL…

    your analysis is fair enough and i always respect your opinions…disagreeing with you on the overall suggestion of “rude”, but respecting your view nonetheless…..i suppose i am always just relieved when we do not have a UFO on a rant (see my note below)…. and maybe Sidney did step over the line with one sentence (i will have to go back and re-read) but all in all it seemed to me that he simply gave his honest opinion…and he did take the time to write carefully and he definitely knows the yakuza ..these are not nice men…i would tend to cut Sidney some slack even if one sentence did cross some line…Anton certainly handled it well in any case…. there seems to be mutual respect between Sidney and Anton, so if neither one of them is feeling negative towards the other, then i think the rest of us should move on…

    cheers, david

    p.s. i think you know my right hand man , printer, workshop organizer Mike Courvoisier…one day, frustrated by the UFO’s and trolls , he decided to hunt some of them down…being the tech geek that Mike is, he could not resist tracking down the computers from which some of the vitriol from last week was coming….surprise , surprise, surprise….yup, you guessed it…folks we know (or thought we knew) and like… wearing a mask and singing a different tune than the REAL THEM…..i must say this was a fascinating wake up call for me and revealed one more aspect of human personality that invites study….i will give no names….but, if “you” are reading this, then you now know that i know….is it just jealousy pure and simple that makes some people just get really weird???? i wish i could imagine another motive..hmmmmmmm

  • …self righteous …
    Cops wanabees…perfect “men”
    Smells like sulfur… Yikes..

  • Sidney??
    Crossed the line???
    Oh please??
    People can’t even breath in here anymore without
    apologizing every other sentence…
    ( now let ME apologize:)))
    Sorry y’all ..
    I know u missed my late nite show ..!
    Please leave Sidney alone..
    I’ll be back ..
    “the man to blame for everything”…
    I was just moping floors and moving stuff..

  • Sidney..a great gentleman, a wonderful writer, so earnest in every thought he brings to Burn. I can hardly imagine leaving Burn because of anything he could possibly say. I simply can’t imagine such a thing. He’s a treasure.


  • David;

    “folks we know (or thought we knew) and like…..” I’m sorry to hear that David, human character is a weird thing to work out at times.

    Here are a couple of quotes from one of my heroes that I think are applicable. Please excuse the religious content, but they can be transposed into everyday life too. They’re from Francis of Assisi; a man I admire for showing that actions speak louder than words.

    “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”; I’ve always loved this, walk the walk rather than talk the talk. I think many could take this on board.

    “A real friend is someone who walks in when the rest of the world walks out”

    And one totally unrelated quote of his (but thought I’d share it anyway :-0) that is pinned up on my wall; “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible”

    I read what Sidney had to say and it seemed fine, general questions about a subject we all face when working.

    Cheers for now;


  • Kathleen..
    Thank you..
    Sidney just ( very very carefully )
    submitted his experience .. His opinions..
    And Anton ( real fucking gentleman )…
    took it from there..
    That what Burn is all about…
    And Gordon said it right..
    Too much “fake love” lately that makes u wanna puke..
    And then the “Burn police”
    Showed up..
    Oh… Everything was so civilized before Sidney or fucking
    panos showed up..
    The same peops that never contribute in anything
    unless their “essay” is up or to “vote off” me..
    From the bottom of my heart..
    F**k those NEGATORS…
    ( one of my dark kids terminology)..
    NEGATOR is an old dinasaur that instead
    of going out and shoot or contribute here..
    they pop up only to show and reveal their little nasty souls
    Like we don’t know…

    Thank u Kathleen..
    ( I’m on the iPhone.. No “real” Internet yet..)
    Coming soonest..
    with a bunch of new songs..
    peace out…

  • DAH

    “now wearing a mask and singing a different tune than the REAL THEM” that old Moody Blues song goes, “but we decide which is right and which is an illusion”

    so sadsadsadsad that some people feel the need to hide their true feelings and opinions…maybe, maybe, knowing they’ve been outed in “main office” they will be shamed into gathering the courage to be themselves and say what’s on their mind. People might not like what you have to say but they’ll know you spoke sincerely and fearlessly and that earns their respect. Hey, i stick my foot in it all the time but what the hell? It’s just a website, just a photograph and everyone here is just as fallible as i am, some even more so, heh ;););) So more of that stuff, k? it’s ickycreepyweird.


  • Anton: Yes, yes to the max! Take your time to find your place, your feeling, your voice on this one then bring it! We’re all behind you. Do good work!

  • Kathleen; “it’s ickycreepyweird” Now that should be in a dictionary!!! VERY descriptive.

  • Panosguy,

    love your earthy gutsurge of that you have the courage to say what others wish they could say. You are exactly what i was talking about above. It’s not one thing or another that you say that form people’s opinions of you, it’s like, well, it’s like a body of’s the sum total. Like a prostitute is only as good as her last blow job (ahem, it’s the late hour that has me randied up) it’s your (and i’m not talking specifically to you here) last post that gets the ratings in the polls. Maybe you kinda lost it 9 or 10 posts back but the internet, bless it’s mortally stained soul, has ADD and a short memory to boot. Everything’s like real life just a LOT faster. That’s why it makes no sense at all to hide behind an anon. It’s just plain dumb in fact. If people find out who is doing it well, now THAT will get filed into everybody’s long term memory banks.

    Take care of YOU, Panos, get your beer stale breath of fresh air back in here real are MISSED!

    hugz, Venice Romeo..

  • The main thing is to have your intent clear within your own mind. After my last photo trip my brother in law said to me “I admire what you’re trying to do, but you know you’re not going to change anything”

    The comment didn’t really bother me, because I knew what I was trying to achieve (not in monetary terms), and knew that if I didn’t achieve it, I wouldn’t go back.

    I’m sure Anton has it sorted too, but it is still an interesting and important topic to dissect. And of course, his situation might change too.

    Half way through he may decide that his work is glamorising the “gang” culture and pull out. Who knows how events will unfold? But if he has his intent clearly defined he will surely make the right decision. This is all hypothetical of course; I don’t want to put words into Anton’s mouth.

  • Ross

    I read once that when you’re down it’s the person you least expect that will give you the helping hand. How true, no? We think we know people..*sigh*..

    ICW! ickycreepyweird
    anon slime!


  • Kathleen.

    Yes and no, how’s that for sitting on the fence!!!

    Often it’s one of the few people you trust implicitly that pull you through a bad time. If you know five friends that you can trust with your life, then you are very fortunate.

    My last three months have been pretty tough (personally, not financially) and the project I’m shooting at the moment has really helped me feel my way through it. The acceptance of the kids I’m photographing has been heartwarming and definitely helps you pull through the other side. They know nothing of my circumstances of course.

    So your other “good friend”, your camera can help too. Especially if you don’t want to hassle others with your problems. But the thing is, there’s no point being bitter about things, it eats you up way more than the other person etc.

    When you wake up in the morning, check your pulse and if it’s still going then it’s going to be a good day! Many won’t have that luxury!!

  • ahhhh Ross..

    a very inspiring attitude..i am sorry to hear about your recent clearly soak up the healing where you find it, the kids, your camera. You are a resourceful, forward thinking man. In time of trouble you look inward without turning inward. When i am very down sometimes i am apprehensive about going to the streets to shoot. i am afraid that the hard grit of that world will make things even harder for me but so often the smiles and spontaneous conversations with total strangers are more curative than a spa. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way and i find friends in trees, grass, rocks, plants, rough weather. Only rarely do i talk my troubles out with friends. For some reason that just prolongs the stress, drags it out, keeps it from diluting itself into the atmosphere. But when i do turn to someone, well i have often found that it is the one i least expect who is suddenly there in a big way for me.

    Anyway, i hope the trouble has passed and that your smiles will be ones of spontaneous joy and euphoric ooohlala, look what life hath wrought!

    give your camera a little kiss for me next time you pick it up…i mean it..nobody has to see you, just sorta hug it close, bend your head and give it a little peck on its little black lens cap. Try it..i’ve done it..eeks..i admit it! *grin*

    bestest to you Ross:

  • all –

    just back in. many comments to read again, i’ll get started right away…

  • Anton

    sorry..Ross and i sorta kinda did a joint hijacking of your thread..but we are very repentant..please forgive our thieving keystrokes! *bows head*..the Yakuza that made us do it.

    gnight Anton..great project, waiting, waiting most patiently for the next installment!’


  • kat –

    no worries dear, i’d be quite surprised if us humans could even stay on track some of the time…


  • A civilian-mass audience

    I can stay on track.

    LOVE U Anton. DAH is doing ok here…drink some J for me !!

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