THE CASUAL OBSERVER
The Casual Observer was my first collaboration with Daniel Marlos, who at the time was my co-worker at Griffith Observatory, where we worked as the photographic staff. Our responsibilities were many and varied, but we also spent a lot of time doing things that at a casual glance would seem non-photographic. While working at GO, which is part of Los Angeles' Department of Rec and Parks, we noticed that all of departments, with the exception of the photography department, kept a logbook which detailed things like the number of visitors, the types of repairs made, and other scintillating information about Observatory goings-on. Daniel and I decided that we too needed a log book, so that the photography department would not pass into the annals of the past .as a mere footnote, but that we too would have our own written history. The photography department's logbook soon became not only a journal of recorded development times and Kodalith exposures, but a record of where we had lunch, who came to take a special VIP tour, what we did on our days off, and who brought what to the potluck. Although the other departmental logbooks held to strict standards of appropriate notations, our logbook had no boundaries.
After a few weeks, Daniel and I decided jointly that our departmental logbook would answer a lot of questions people had about what exactly our role was at Griffith Observatory. So, we published it!
Not willing to leave well enough alone, we started adding sections and columns. The shop guys, who took care of the exhibits and property soon had their own column, called "Shop Talk." We added a "Then and Now" section to take advantage of the awesome archive of negatives found in our darkroom filing cabinet, a column of astronomically correct horoscopes, an obituary for a squirrel hit on the way to the processing lab, and a film review section featuring films made on the premises. In these pre-blog days, Griffith Observatory barely had its own website, and our printed monthly journal quickly became a staff favorite. The Casual Observer folded after one year of publishing and "going too far."