Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

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Because of the insanity going on in the United States right now it seems an opportune time to step back and consider what really matters. Our country does not now seem well disposed to people who need our help. We are turning away from immigrants, away from the homeless, and away from compassion. It seems like a good time to share the next chapter of my Faces of Need Photo Essay. I’d like to do that now.

Recall that “Faces of Need – Portland” is an ongoing project that I started at the end 2015. It’s purpose it two-fold. First, it brings attention to the humanity and dignity of every Oregonian. Second, it reminds us that even in a land as blessed as Oregon the problem of hunger continues unabated.

I hope you find power in these images and that they remind you – as I’ve said before – that every human being is a unique and wonderful creation, worthy of love, respect, dignity, shelter, sustenance, and compassion.

Peace, love, and light y’all,



Faces of Need: A Photo Essay (Part 2)

By: Steven Craig Bilow


The Pays de Caux is an area encompassing much of the Seine Maritime in Haute-Normandie in Northern France. It is a part of France that I have not visited but, if this desert is an indication of its beauty then, it must be amazing. The Tarte Cauchoise is one of the traditional tartes of this region, thus its name.

I’ve looked for a good recipe for a long time. Finally I have one courtesy of the family who owns and runs the Saint Honore Boulangerie in Portland. Because I’m a total amateur mine looks nowhere near as gorgeous and the one I was taught to make. Further, since the recipe comes from the family bakery in Normandy and I don’t know if I have permission to share it I won’t give you the exact proportions. But I will tell you the basics and show you the photos of my first, delicious if imperfect, attempt.

Basically, a Tarte Cauchoise is an apple tart that uses a puff pastry shell and an almond meal and creme fraiche based custard. The other ingredients are .eggs, sugar, corn starch, milk, and a bit of Grand Marnier. It’s traditionally made with golden delicious apples but, as you will see from my photos, I used several varieties of apple that I picked at my friends farm in Oregon.

So… here we go!

Start by taking a 10″ tarte pan and lining it with puff pastry dough and then parchment paper. Fill it with pie weights and bake it at 375f for about 15 minutes. If you are an actual competent baker (like my wife) yours will look a hell of a lot better than mine. None the less, here’s what I came out with. (Hey! You come make in for me next time!).


For a single tarte you will need 3 large apples. I selected mine from this wonderful assortment.


Whisk 2 large eggs in a large mixing bowl.


Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar.(I like mine a bit less sweet but that is also less authentic)


Add 1/4 cup of corn starch.


Add about 1 1/2 cups of almond meal.


Mix it all up.


Now add 3/8 cup of creme fraiche. (I make my own from whipping cream, a couple tablespoons of buttermilk, and about 12 hours of sitting out on the kitchen counter)


And 1 1/4 to 1 3/8 cups of whole milk.


Mix it again so that you have a nice almond custard.


Leave the custard alone while you peel and core your apples.


Cut each apple into 8 slices.


Remember the pre-baked tart shell? If the dog has not eaten it by now go grab it and fill it with the apple slices.


Add your custard.


Bake at 330f for 40 minutes and…

VOILA! You have an amazing desert from the glorious culinary history of Normandy!

Processed with Snapseed.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I neglected to mention the Grand Marnier. That’s because I did not have any when I was taking my photos. (No the dog didn’t get it). You can add it to taste while adding the milk and that is what makes it authentic. I considered adding some Grappa but feared by oven would explode. 🙂 I considered some Cognac but did not want to start a civil war 🙂 I considered buying some Grand Marnier but I don’t think it comes in 1/8 cup bottles 🙂 I decided to just leave that up to you!

Bon Appetit!

On Christmas Day I had the opportunity to photograph a wonderful Christmas meal at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland Oregon. The event is an annual one but I had never been able to attend. Photos of the event itself may appear in several other media. But, unlike the ones I’ve provided to the participating organizations, the photographs here are not for PR and Marketing purposes. These are something very different.

This is a project that will grow over time. For now, I want to end 2015 by paying tribute to the humanity and dignity of every Oregonian by presenting the first pieces of my new Photo Essay “Faces of Need”. I hope you enjoy these images and that they remind you that every human being is a unique and wonderful creation, worth of love, respect, dignity, shelter, sustenance, and compassion.

Ponder these faces and think.



Faces of Need: A Photo Essay

By: Steven Craig Bilow

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After about 5 months of waiting, testing, imaging, and waiting, I’m happy to say that my Stereotactic Radiosurgery is complete. It will be many months and a number of quarterly MRIs before i know if it worked. They say I might have some headaches, nausea, localized hair loss, and several other side effects. Then again, I may have none. In any case, whatever side effect I have won’t happen for one or two weeks. So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s over and it’s time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Those of you who know just how verbose I can be will be happy to know that I’m too tired to write tonight. Instead, thanks to the camera work of my loving assistant, Patt, and what little retouching I felt like doing tonight, I’ve prepared a little photo essay. So, here goes:

Patt and I always park down near the waterfront and take the tram up to OHSU. Here we are arriving at the Koller Pavilion where the radiation medicine department is housed.

0. Approaching OHSU

The first person we met with was the RN, Angel. She is very sweet except she’s the one who has to tell me about all the potential side effects. Before my radiosurgery I was taller than she (Kidding!!!)

1. Angel the RN

I did not get to see my Radiation Oncologist until after the procedure. Perhaps that is why my head does not look like it is on straight. At least hers is.

2. Dr. Kobicky

After Angel, my angel, told me everything that could happen after the session, we went into the room with the linear accelerator. Here they told me about the machine and what they would be doing.

3. Varian LINAC

Yesterday I mentioned that there was a whole team of people who would make sure everything went well. Here I am with the other members of the team: the Medical Physicist and the Radiation Technicians.

4. Medical Physicist and Radiation Techs

After laying on the bed, they gave me my Freddie Kruger mask (my term, not theirs).

5. Getting ready for the mask

Then they put it on and locked it down….

6. Attaching the mask

…and adjusted it. (Is she, like, petting me???)

7. Adjusting the mask

Finally, before they kicked Patt out of the room, they showed her how they use the imaging to determine the location of the beams.

8. Showing Patt the imaging

Then they booted Patt out of the room so we have no more photos except the one that I’ve chosen not to include, when my face looked like a friggin’ waffle after they took the mask off. (You know me, I have no shame, I’ll probably end up posting it one day. Not now.)

There is not much to tell you about the procedure itself. They ran 4 radiation cycles, each in an arc. it took about 45 minutes. I felt fine afterwords. I got to take my mask home as a souvenir.

My angel, Angel, mentioned one other possible side effect. It’s not likely, but I may experience some short-term memory loss. So before I forget that I wrote this I’d better…. uh….. shit.



All of the agility photos are the wonderful work of Joe Camp, here in the Portland area. The first Image is a poster I created in memory of Sydney. But, other than that, if it’s agility, it’s Joe Camp not I. Enjoy these memories of my best friend next to Patt.

In Memory of Sydney - Jumping Poster The Girls with Richard Serra Sculpture 025 IMG_0057   Sydney - NADAC - Novice Vet Jumpers - Feb 2010 Syd Agility June 07 008 Sydney Bilow - March 2009 CAT NADAC Trial  Shot By Joe Camp and edited by Steve Bilow

IMG_2861 - Cropped to 4x6

Sydney - NADAC - Novice Chances - Feb08 - 2


I have to start by saying that I would never, ever, encourage a singer to do anything that risks vocal cord damage. So, if a singer has strep throat and even a sore throat, canceling a show could be the most professional thing you can do. But, Monday night I saw that as long as your throat is not affected, you can do a damn good gig with a head cold. It seems that one of the keys to doing that effectively is to embrace the limits that illness imposes and to work within your constraints.

I have seen Suzanne Vega in concert for at least 20 – 25 years. Her performance on Monday night was not the highest quality singing I’ve heard from her. But, you know what? It was a great show and it certainly was memorable. I have a lot of respect for Suzanne, in general. But, I had extra respect for her on Monday night. With a head cold in full force, and what was either water or a cup of tea on stage,  Suzanne took the stage, knew she had some limitations, and gave her audience a really wonderful performance. Monday’s show in Portland was not the makings of her next live album. What it was, was a demonstration of how beautiful a performer can be when she respects her fans enough to get on stage and admit that she might have some limitations, to sing with all she can muster, to accept her limitations with a great sense of humor, and to perform well by not trying to perform perfectly. It was a great show and I want to say thank you to Suzanne Vega for being there for we, her fans, even when all is not perfect.

Speaking of giving thanks, I also want to thank Scott Docherty at for taking this photo for me:

With Suzanne Vega at the Aladdin Theater-3

I have waited since the mid-80’s to actually get a photo of me and Suzanne. I hope she’ll be happy to know that this is as cool to me as are my photos of me with the likes of Eric Owens, Dawn Upshaw, Chris Rothko, Jennifer Larmore, Stephanie Blythe, and Morris Dees. So, thank you Scott!

Of course, the real thank you goes to Suzanne Vega. Next time I think of taking a day off of work when I have a cold, I’ll remember that there is a precedent set by someone I respect a lot, for just pushing through and kicking ass!

Come on back anytime; and get well soon!!!


Third Angle New Music had this to say about Astor Piazzolla’s “Maria”:

“Sensual, seductive, spectral…dance music not for the faint of heart! The passion and fire of tango come to life in this expression of love, death and redemption. The most elaborate work by the master of the tango, “Maria” is the pinnacle of Piazzolla’s exploration of the soul of the tango, the duende of music/life/love/death.”

Maria de Buenos Aires-2

Need I say more?

“Come, Ahab’s compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way!” – Herman Melville “Moby Dick” Chapter 37


My friend Juli Crockett just signed a recording deal with a Fluff & Gravy Records in Portland and is releasing the long-awaited new album from her band, the Evangenitals. Last Thursday night the band played Portland and I’d like to tell you about it. This is not really a “review” because I’m too biased. I already like the band and Juli, and I know how long the subject of the new recording has been part of her life. So, I can’t really write a balanced review. Here are a couple quick pics to prove I actually was there, though!



The gang devoted much of Thursday night’s show to the new album. It’s called “Moby Dick” or more accurately “Moby Dick; or, the Album“. The distinction is important and I’m  sad to say that I did not start laughing about how wonderful the post-semicolon clause is until the day after I bought the CD. (I’ll blame the black stouts I was drinking for my slowness of response to the nuance). In case you don’t get it, the full title of Melville’s book is “Moby Dick; or, the Whale”. Now… get it? It’s a great CD of under an hour in length; just the right duration to play in full in one set – which they did – presumably in reverse though I was paying more attention to the band itself than to the set list.

My personal favorite songs are the ones most closely related to the story of Ahab and the great white whale. “Shipwreck Blues”, “Moby Dick,” and “The Lee Shore” are wonderfully poetic and sit clearly in the realm of story telling. Note that the track named for the whale himself is not called “Moby Dick”; it is called “Moby Dick ” which I just find to be totally awesome – partly because it’s funny but more importantly because it speaks to the linguistic quality of Juli’s writing; I do want to point out that I would have called the song “Moby Dick;” to be true to the play on punctuation. But anyone in an alt-country band with the intellect to even HAVE a play on punctuation gets a million extra points for awesomeness in my book! Let me take a second to share why I love the literal “Whale songs” the best – but before I do, here’s a photo of the band in action.


I have been obsessed with cetaceans for longer than some of my friends have been alive. In high school I first encountered the books “The Center of the Cyclone” and “Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer” by John Lilly. This led me to John’s work with cetaceans, an interest in his interspecies communication project “Janus“, and ultimately to knowing and studying with him.

As early as the late 1970’s I created a Musique Concrete piece called “Tursiops” that used the reading of the names of John’s colleagues like Gregory Bateson, Jill Fairchild, and Scott McVay as a text. And back in 1982, I set a wonderful poem by Jeanne Foster Hill, called “From Point Reyes“, as the text for a chamber piece sung for my graduation recital at CalArts by Bunny Thornburgh.

I’ve always loved whales but never been one of those people obsessed with “Moby Dick”. Still, my belief that cetaceans may be the one inhabitant of Earth with a neuroanatomy that supports greater intelligence than humans certainly allows me to relate to the great white whale and his ultimate triumph against Ahab the men of the Peguod. Further, I think the book is a brilliant study of anger, revenge, tenacity, and the human need to challenge nature.


So, I’m always intrigued by artists who have an obsession with Moby Dick.


The album is not limited to songs that tell a literal story. It also has an eminently danceable pseudo-punkesque, extremely fun song called “Turbulent Flow” and a a song called “Quee Queg” which you won’t really understand in its full glorious irony unless you’ve read  “Moby Dick” and you remember the scene of bed sharing with Starbuck. It just goes to show once more that Juli knows the book REALLY well. The tune is (to me anyway) a sort of love song between a big, tattooed but very mild-mannered, heathen and a long-at-sea first mate. Very (VERY) cool.


NO, those 2 guys above are not what the song is about. But, to their credit, they are one really talented mandolin player and a superb fiddler. So, Juli may front the band but everyone else in it is an amazing talent, too!


That includes the awesome Ms. Lisa Dee, above; not just the guys! And, here is one of my better shots from the evening:


The Evangenitals “Moby Dick” show does not stop with the 7 tracks from the album. If you like alt-country (Damn… I almost said “more traditional alt-country” whatever the heck that is”) then the show has lots more to be happy about besides the 7 whale songs. They played some of my favorites like the highly danceable tune “Ode to Scientology”, a number of great earlier songs, and the one song my wife refuses to sing but which seems to frequently get stuck in my head, “Fu*k ’em all”. My wife doesn’t really mind the song; she just has an issue with the audience sing-along (which of course is my favorite part!).  To me, when you want to assertively stand up for yourself as an individual you can’t get any better combination of songs than Matisyahu’s “Youth“, Bob Marley’s “Get up, Stand up“, Ani DeFranco’s “Napoleon“, and The Evangenitals”‘ “Fu*k ’em all“. So, I’d say there is one alt-country band that’s in pretty darn good company!



“And we who know life among the belchings and heat of the belly, see the giant emerging from our own being; the whole, enormous, shadowy form of it” – “From Point Reyes by Jeanne Foster Hill”