July, 2005

July 28, 2005

As the week comes to a close we’ve got a few tidbits of photobooth news from around the country. First, from the various boroughs of the City of New York, some photobooth-spotting. In a review of L.I.C., Joshua Bernstein of the New York Press reports, “In the overlooked borough, a photo booth makes a fine bedfellow.” We visited L.I.C. and tested out the photobooth there last month; unfortunately, it was out of order, though the bartenders were nice enough to provide an unsolicited refund. 

Mr. Bernstein seems to have a nose for photobooths in the City; earlier this month, he reviewed the Williamsburg watering hole The Bushwick Country Club, and described a walk through the bar: “Cradling my beer, I shuffle past dusty golf clubs and a three-dollar photo booth. It’s ideal for R‑rated pics, but licentiousness must wait.” We have yet to visit the Bushwick, but thanks to the review, it’s on our list for the next visit.

Moving down the coast to the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Maryland, Julie Greene writes an article about unique proposals, including the story of Rob Slocum, who proposed (and showed proof of the father-of-the-bride’s permission) in a photobooth. Slocum apparently “suggested in December 1996 that they get their picture taken in a photo booth for their Christmas card,” and then proposed to his girlfriend, Kelly Boyer.

And finally, from the police blotter of the Lufkin (Texas) Daily News, a report of some photobooth indiscretion, though you have to give it a close read; the incidents are not separated from one another on the page, so it looks like one big, confusing crime:

A security officer at Lufkin Mall reported that two people were in a photo booth, and the girl was partially clothed and the boy was holding her breast. Police officers located the couple and found a photograph depicting what the security officer had described.

The boy was 19 years old and the girl 16. The incident is still under investigation, according to a police report.

Shades of the Kentucky amusement park affair of 2000…

July 24, 2005

hollywood_headshots.jpgPhotostrips are interesting for many reasons; one important reason is their one-of-a-kind nature. No negative means no duplicates can be made without scanning and re-printing, making a photostrip a unique item. If they are indeed authentic, then the nine photos of B‑grade celebrities being offered on eBay mark a mildly interesting find. The names read like a ‘who’s who’ of afternoon TV reruns: Barbara Eden, immortalized in a cut-off shirt and parachute pants in “I Dream of Jeannie”; Erik Estrada, “the brown-haired one” from “CHiPs”; Tina Louise, Ginger from “Gilligan’s Island”; and six others. The seller reports that the photos were taken in a photobooth at a “private studio in Los Angeles” in 2002.

The seller somehow manages to spell nearly every name wrong, but the point is there. The other six whose photos are up for auction are Drew Carey (not “Cary”), Dylan (not “Dillon”) McDermott, Shannen Doherty (not “Shannon Dougherty”), Jean-Claude van Damme (“Dame”?), Howie (not “Harvey”) Mandel, and John Mahoney (well done, though he was on “Frasier,” not “Fraiser.” Damn). These “CELEBERTIY” photos have an opening bid of $25 — let’s see how high they go.

July 16, 2005

samsunFootwear.jpgThanks to a tip from Elizabeth Cunningham and a list of possible Philly photobooths from Brian, I had a quick and painless afternoon of photobooth hunting in center city Philadelphia this past May. My wife Heather grew up in the Philly suburbs and we try to get back at least once a year to see her family. Heather kindly accompanied me on this particular booth hunt. As it turns out, the 3 booths I had on my list ended up being within 5 blocks of each other.

Our first stop was El Vez (not to be confused with the Mexican Elvis), a trendy place self-described as “gritty East L.A. meets a Tijuana Taxi vibe.” They have done a great job creating a unique and festive interior, a perfect spot for a booth. Just as suspected, a black and white 4‑pose photobooth sits near the back of the restaurant. Unfortunately the booth was broken and to add insult to injury, the staff was a bit salty. If you visit the El Vez official website, and are patient enough to get past the super-fresh splash screen and requisite techo beat, click on the piano icon (Restaurant Tour) to see a picture of some of the pictures (purportedly) produced by their photobooth.

Next stop: the Spaceport Amusement Center. The buildings on this particular block are not well marked, but we quickly realize the Spaceport Amusement Center is no more (and the crowd goes mild). In its place is a shoe store called Samsun Footwear (pictured at right).

Final stop: The Spaghetti Warehouse. This booth (a 4‑pose color unit) is not only exactly where expected, but it actually works. I sit for my strip of four, and call it a day.

Afterward, I realized another promising location was in walking distance of the other three: the K‑Mart at the Gallery (9th and Market) is said to have at least two. Next visit…

July 05, 2005

mopa.jpgOut in San Diego this weekend for a wedding, we had a little free time to see what four-photo magic San Diego has to offer. The verdict? Not too shabby, actually.

My first stop was the The Museum of Photographic Arts, located where every other museum in San Diego lives, in Balboa Park. Next to the San Diego Historical Society and above the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the MoPA is an interesting, if small, museum dedicated to photography. The gift shop features a wide array of photography books, picture frames, gifts, and not one but two photobooths. Side by side near the front entrance, a generic black and gray striped color booth and a beautiful rounded-end Model 11 B&W booth provide museum-goers with the opportunity to take both black-and-white and color photos, each for only $2. The photos aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly unique, and the price and convenience of these two booths in one place makes the MoPA a photobooth haven. On the outside of the black-and-white booth, a plaque tells users that the booth is similar to ones that they may have seen at a variety of California five-and-dime stores years ago. On the outside of the color booth hangs a photocopy of a San Diego paper article mentioning the booths (the article that had clued me in to their presence in the first place), as well as a mention from a school magazine about a photography class that took a field trip to the museum (and the booth).

Next up on the list was the Corvette Diner in Hillcrest. The only diner I’ve seen with valet parking, the Corvette was by far the busiest business around at 11am on a Saturday. Decorated with everything ’50s, neon, and retro, the diner is more than just a dining experience: a waiter throws a handful of straws at a table of children as a way of saying “hello,” waitresses in poodle skirts wear vests covered in flair, and portraits of every ’50s and ’60s icon from Sinatra to Buddy Holly to the Beatles, rendered a la Warhol, hang from the walls. In the lunch counter area in the front of the restaurant, just to the left of the stairs up to the main eating area, sits another gorgeous rounded-end Model 11. It takes crisp black-and-white photos, and looks to have been serviced a little more recently than the similar booth at the MoPA.

belmont_park.jpgThe next stop was Belmont Park, an amusement park in Mission Bay, just north of downtown San Diego. Home to an 80 year-old roller coast named the Giant Dipper, Belmont Park is a small amusement park with perhaps three rides in addition to the coaster. An indoor arcade features a digital photobooth, and I found two traditional booths located outside as I walked closer to the beach itself. The first booth is located in front of Waves Beach and Sportwear, and though it sounded like it was working, the green light wasn’t on, and the bill acceptor wasn’t accepting any bills. The booth was open on both sides, and a nice breeze blew through, brushing the curtains against me as I sat and unwisely dropped a quarter in the slot, just to see.

On the other side of the boardwalk, in front of the Krazy Kars building and under the shadow of the spinning pendulum ride, I found another outdoor color booth, with its little peaked roof and curtains on both sides. This booth was working, and came with the bonus of an abandoned strip in the drying slot. I took a few strips as the wind blew the curtain into the frame — not a problem you usually have to deal with — and called in the broken booth to Photo-Me.

The next day, I followed up on a rumor about a photobooth in a Kmart on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in San Diego; unfortunately, the Kmart has become a “Sears Essentials” store, and I didn’t bother going in to check whether they’d retained their booth.

The last day of my trip to San Diego, I had a half hour to kill before brunch, and stopped in a used cd store to look around. A cd caught my eye: both the front and back covers were made up of a grid of old photobooth photos. Cool, I thought, and I held onto it while I browsed some more. Five minutes later, another album caught my eye: this one had five strips of photos, assembled together as a grid forming a single image. Same only different on the back cover, and more inside. What are the chances? I looked around for another, and came close with a few images on a Best of Everclear disc, but it only had one or two images, not enough for my newly-high standards. The DJ Shitbird and Wannadies albums will be posted in the Music section as soon as we create one. Well done San Diego!