Wednesday, June 28, 2017
I did something I haven't done before yesterday. It wasn't a good day for me. I have not been sleeping well, and I was just beat when I finally got up at five after a night of tossing and turning. I took a long walk, but that left me feeling tired rather than refreshed. I had to go to a satellite of the factory to work yesterday morning, and after that, I went back to my office. My secretary had texted me and said she had to leave, that it was an emergency, and since she knows my schedule and I what I need to do next (and I pretty much don't), I fiddled around with things as long as I could. Then I got up from my desk, picked up my bag, left my office and went to my car, and drove away. It felt weird, I have to say, but I didn't want to be there any more.
I knew what I wanted to do, and it was something else that I don't really do. I just wanted to go home and pour a glass of wine and get on the couch and watch t.v. I stopped at the Greek place and got a big salad and half a chicken and headed home in the heat and the drizzly rain.
Thank god I have spent money on insulation. It has made a difference. My house was cool, the t.v. room dark. On the way home, I heard a report on NPR about the Albert Maysles and a film he finished just before he died in 2015 called "In Transit." It is owned by Al Jareez Television which has folded and the film has never been released.
I'd never seen the two documentaries that have made him famous, "Salesman" and "Grey Gardens," so I figured I had the rest of my day planned out. I have Netflix and Hulu, so surely. . . but no. Netflix only makes them available on DVD. But in searching, I came across another that I could watch for my subscription price--"Bill Cunningham New York." I've never cared much about Bill Cunningham though I used to look at his stuff in the New York Times. It wasn't him so much as the fact that I do not care about clothing and fashion. I started the film by accident, really, on my computer, and got sucked in. I went to the couch, turned on the t.v., and let it play.
Watch it. Watch the film. Holy smokes is all I can say. Bill Cunningham has become one of my heroes. What a thing. What a horrible, lovely thing.
After that, I rented "Grey Gardens" from Apple. But before it started, I ran to the liquor store just to make sure.
I woke up halfway through the film. I really liked the first half, but the day and the liquor combined. . . . I will have to rent it again tonight to finish it.
I did not sleep well last night. Woke at two. I was thinking about the characters in each of those documentaries. There is a terribleness to life that people brave onward against. I could not sleep for thinking about it and thinking about how I may not, somehow, have the fortitude or the courage to do so. I was not awake, not asleep. And then a noise outside my bedroom door brought me to. I jumped up to see whether it was an animal or a human.
It was neither. The sprinklers had come on which is a problem since I have turned off the sprinklers weeks ago. There should be no way for them to come on at all. I stood naked on the bedroom patio watching them and wondering, thinking about the money I spend trying to keep the house up, feeling helpless, feeling doomed.
I went back to bed, but it was useless. Visions of a cursed future brought on the night terrors. How does one, I pondered, carry on?
Today will probably be no better than yesterday, and I may want to sneak out early once again to come home, lie on my couch, and watch the rest of "Grey Gardens" and then watch "Salesman." I am pretty certain of it.
I have less and less inclination to do anything, it seems, other than think and read and look. I don't want to fix sprinklers or patch cracks in the wall or fix doors that don't close properly. I don't want to weed and fertilize. And I fear that I don't have the money to let others do it for me. I am not a practical man. I tried it, I think, but I wasn't any good at it. I am what they call a lazy dreamer.
I'll need to sleep tonight. I might need help. It is the season, I know. This happens to me every year, I think. There are demons at play after I pass out on the couch, wake up and make my way to bed. I don't know how it will all work out. Maybe in the end, I'll just take acid and wander off naked into the wilderness.
at 4:48 AM
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
My mother brought me Xenias in a little plastic Diet Coke bottle on Sunday. They sit before me as I write. Pretty little flowers, deep, purplish red and another that is yellow. They are small, though, and everything in the room distracts from them. Detracts. They should sit alone in a bare room, the sole focus of attention.
I am often distracted. Oft. I need to isolate so many things. I live in clutter. It is time to de-clutter. Un-clutter.
I get overwhelmed and am not good at organizing. Things, I mean. I can organize thoughts and words. I am good at categorization. Phylogeny. Things, however. . . I never know where they go or where to put them. Down, mostly, on something. And then they are lost. Not missing, of course, just lost in the jumble of things. I no longer discern them.
They are mostly pretty things, desirable things, but then there is the random slip of paper, a receipt maybe, or a box or a plastic container. There are lamps and candle holders and balls--I have a wicker basket full of weird balls--and vases and clocks and gifted elephant bookends and an ostrich egg. There are piles of books and framed pictures, just snapshots of life, and the bookshelves are full of books but other things, too. An 8x10 camera on a tripod has sat in my bedroom for six month or a year without being used. The drawers are full. I have stacks of pretty coasters that somehow I never use. Book bags and backpacks and camera bags.
I could go on.
I had bad dreams last night. Not nightmares, I guess, but I'm not certain where the dividing line is between them. Bad dreams. I woke and thought about them and realized I was trying to work something out, and that I had worked it out, at least in my head if not in life. It is the mind's way of cleaning up the clutter, of organizing the mess.
I look across the room into a corner where a clay pot with rattan wrapping holds a bunch of pussy willow branches. I have had them for--Jesus--maybe twenty-five years. At least half of the white balls on them are missing. I don't know that I could throw them away. They must mean something to me, an extant memory. . . . They are ragtag now, and I should let them go. Would I miss them? It seems to me that I would.
A garage is a shitty museum. Attics, too.
I might sleep better if I cleaned mine out.
No sun this grey and drizzly morning. I can no longer linger here. I must go.
at 4:51 AM
Monday, June 26, 2017
Mythopoesis. I used to use such terms. I don't know what happened. Surely there is some of that in this picture. It would make it much more profound if there were. The Mythopoetics of the Street. Now there's a title.
I thought I'd start the week with a sunny, happy picture.
Of what is there a plethora in this picture?
Every picture tells a story, don't it. I have a million of them.
It's a shitty picture and a common story. Maybe there are just too many of both in the contemporary world.
I've been reading "stuff" lately. Books, but not literature. So last night, I downloaded a bunch of "serious lit" onto my Kindle. I've been struggling through Mann's "Magic Mountain" in hard copy. It will be better read on the Kindle, I think. I also downloaded Proust's "Things Remembered" or whatever it is called, and the complete works of Henry James. That should keep me busy.
Yesterday, I printed a picture that L asked for months ago. It is the first time I've printed in a year or so. Now all I have to do is ship it. We'll see how long that takes. I sent some big prints to Q awhile back, but I'll bet dollars to donuts he has never had them framed. That happens a lot with things I give for free. It costs $$$ to frame a large picture, and people like to get things for free, but they don't want to spend the requisite $$$ after they do. I have traded prints with many photographers. I wonder how many of them are hanging? Mine, I mean. I have spent a child's fortune having photos framed to hang in my home. I do have a friend who I know has framed the pictures I gave him, but the walls of his house are like an art gallery. He has spent more money on framing than everyone in a ten mile radius of his house combined. I'm sure of it.
L, the photo is coming.
But it isn't framed :)
at 4:57 AM
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Which parts of my life would I change? Oh. . . those things are always best kept to oneself, of course. But I'll confess that I a lack of self esteem has kept me from developing some talents fully. Others have been retarded by the influence of significant people.
The old cigar roller--he might be happy with his skills of the trade.
Roller of big cigars? There are two meanings to that, and two pictures to illustrate.
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Take from the dresser of deal.
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
"The Emperor of Ice Cream," Wallace Stevens
Saturday, June 24, 2017
What happens when we are home alone? The best laid plans are difficult to remember. You get sidetracked. Suddenly you are Googling things and looking up recipes and photographers and cocktail mixes. Then you get on the Vespa and go to the liquor store to get ingredients. You were going to do so many things. Download and print pictures. Hook up the new hard drives. Try your new photo technique. Other things you can't remember. Instead, you make yourself an Air Mail champagne cocktail. Just to taste. And boy, is it good. Then you get on the Vespa again to get the things you need to make dinner. Then you watch camera porn on YouTube while you eat.
I had plans for this morning, too. Best not to do that. Plans get in the way. Thinking, too. Thoughts rather than actions. Thinking drains the body of energy. Hours go by.
It is late. I need to DO something. Anything. Getting dressed would help.
Mi cabeza es muy malo.
at 7:41 AM
Friday, June 23, 2017
I watched "Wonder Boys" again last night. I used to watch it about once a year, but I haven't seen it in quite a few now. It is a wonderful film. Was. The ethics of it have become dangerous and suspect. You are not allowed to act like that any more and "get away with it." You can't do anything naughty unless you are J. Kelly, and even he would have a rough go of it now. We are correcting human behavior at an incredible pace. We are headed to perfection.
That is why Trump was elected. You know what I mean. One person's ceiling is another man's floor. Unless you have Trump money. Then you own the ceiling. You own the floor.
Anyway, I like the movie. I got the feeling that maybe Ili didn't enjoy it as much.
But I had two wonderful cocktails after work, champagne and rum things, and then we went to dinner at the wonderful sushi place and drank much sake and ate much tuna and edamame, and then we came home and drank what was left of the scotch.
I woke in the night with the horrors. I was sweating, my ears ringing, my gut burning. I had to get up. I remembered what I had been dreaming about. It was crazy, all wrong. It had a horror show eroticism. WTF?
I drank some water and went back to bed and slept until well past sunrise. Well past.
I will try to live away the dirt and slime of it today. I promise myself to drink less. We'll see how that works.
Still--champagne cocktails are tremendous.
at 6:13 AM
Thursday, June 22, 2017
I got beautified yesterday. I hate sitting in front of the mirror. I try to avert my eyes, but once in a while I look up and see the horrible vision. I do not like me in the mirror. What happened? I was not careful.
I am losing confidence. Soon enough, I will not be able to look anyone in the eye. Maybe that is why I don't mind being alone.
But the beautician does what she can. She is good at it. Maybe it is just her mirror.
I may start a series of self-portraits. I have the germ of an idea. I have to work out some of the technical details, but it is do-able, and it seems I am not encouraged to photograph anyone else. You cannot imagine how much it is killing me.
Literally and figuratively. I want to leave things behind.
I mean both readings of that line.
I am vainglorious, oversensitive, and undisciplined.
And so it goes.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Summer. It isn't what it used to be. I said something like that to my mother last night mentioning climate change.
"Oh, I don't know anything about that. I know that the weather has changed over the centuries, ice ages and such."
I let it go. What was I going to do, argue? I could have asked, "How do you know about that? Scientists?" But it wouldn't have mattered. People choose the science they want to believe.
Everything around my house is covered in green moss, the stepping stones, the bottom of the fence. Fungus and mildew and mold thrive.
The dems lost again last night in Georgia. The party just doesn't get it. "Alternative" life(styles) are now conflated with climate change. Bill Cosby illustrates part of the problem. He is being persecuted because he is black. Wait, no. . . he is an exploiter of women. Either way, conservatives are his biggest supporters. He represents traditional values, education and all that.
Shit, you figure it out. Or don't. The climate has always changed.
Besides, I am back to work. One day, and I crawled home too exhausted to move. Out west, I thought of all the ways I was going to improve my life. I couldn't think of them last night. There are only so many hours in the day, and the factory takes the core out of them like the kid who will only eat the heart of the melon. One day, and I am left once again with the rind.
To wit, I can't linger here too long this morning. There are weights to be moved and a treadmill to experience before a long day at the factory. Then. . . I get beautified. That will take a good number of hours, and when I get home, it will be late and I will be too tired to do the things I think to do this morning. You know what I mean? Probably not. Most of you do not work. You are an indolent lot lolling around on summer beaches in cooler climes like latter day Kennedys or the Kardashians, I know.
And so I go to work. . . for the good of those who do not work or believe in climate change.
What a luxury.
at 4:50 AM
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Yesterday was travel--from a sauna to a steam room. Albuquerque was hot and dry. Home is hot and wet. Those blue skies have been replaced by clouds. It's o.k. Whatever.
Coming home is always difficult. There is no easy way to come back. So we went to the only bar that can make a cocktail and let the bartender choose. I wanted something with champagne in it. Ili wanted a daiquiri sort of thing. I don't know what we got, but they were good. Mine was actually topped with a small flower. Giggle if you will, but I liked it. After that, we headed to the ramen noodle bar. Then to the homemade ice cream store and then the liquor store.
But today we become something else. Back to work. Back to exercise. Back to diet. Back to the routine and the grind.
There is no easy way to come back.
I gave up on photography this trip. Why? If you are only taking snapshots, just use your phone. That's what I ended up doing. iPhones are good cameras. I am tired of lugging around photo gear. There is no lugging with an iPhone.
Our last night in N.M., we stayed on an organic lavender farm. They sell it. They cook with it. There was lavender in the deserts we ordered after a dinner of seared duck with organic beets and parsnips and a creamy garlic soup. Ili was adamant. We had four deserts. A bottle of wine. More.
Yes, today the penance begins. I will have work piled wide and deep. It is a soggy morning, this the last day of spring.
at 4:05 AM
Sunday, June 18, 2017
This is our last full day in New Mexico. We leave Taos for Albuquerque this morning and fly home tomorrow. We have been lazy creatures. Perhaps we have had a bug. Perhaps it is altitude. That is what people keep telling me though I have been at high altitudes all my life and have never felt the strain. Yesterday, we simply drove around and looked at things. The transition from mesa to mountain is stark. There is almost no transition at all. One moment you are in mesa and the next you are in verdant forest. We drove into the Carson National Forest before nightfall and left the heat of the day behind, the temperature dropping with each bend in the road. We rolled the windows down and shivered. We stopped by a stream of melted glacier water and watched it race down the mountainside and wanted to stay the night. But of course. . . .
Back down the mountain, the sky turned to fire. Jesus Christ, a cowboy sky. I jacked the little rental car, a piece of shit tin can Corolla, into overdrive and sped off toward the Rio Grande Gorge hoping to get there before the sun went down. The sun sank and onward we sped, knowing if we had only left five minutes before. . . . Ili took some phone photos through the dirty windshield as I raced time.
The outcome was predetermined. When we got there, the gorge was simply a shadow, the sunset a memory.
"It is better this way," Ili said. "That would have been a photograph, and not a good one, but just like a thousand others. It is better that we just keep it this way."
And she was right. We will remember racing the sun through the New Mexican mesa only to lose, only to win.
We will take our time today, stopping wherever we like. We stay on an organic farm tonight that is famous for its lavender. Hoping for lavender dreams.
at 8:33 AM
Saturday, June 17, 2017
We were on our way to our earth ship. That's right. Ili the Hippie had booked us into an earth ship in Taos. The drive up was beautiful, of course. Ili, who had never driven through the west, was very happy.
When we got to the outskirts of town, Maps told us to make a left. I had been skeptical of the whole earth ship thing since I heard about it.
"We aren't even to town yet."
"We are two miles from town. It says we can walk to town along the river."
We pulled off the highway and onto some winding roads. The neighborhood looked sketchy, redneck trailer park-style. But Ili kept up hopes. For awhile. She really didn't know what an earth ship was. Plus, she thought we were going to be further away from everyone with coyotes and crickets.
I spied it by the side of the road.
"There it is."
"O.K. Next time, you pick out the place we stay."
We pulled up the gravel drive and stopped.
It looked like a hobbit hole. Ili was slow to get out of the car.
"It got really good reviews," she said. She wasn't sure this was it. She had me go up first.
"The key's in the door. It's open."
We went inside.
"Look! It's really nice. I love our earth ship."
She was right. It was really cute. In one room was a kitchen, a dining room, a living room with a king sized bed, and a sleeping loft. There was a greenhouse shower/bathroom, too.
Here's a picture of the toilet taken from the shower.
"It will be like pooping outside."
We unloaded our stuff and headed to Smith's, a wonderful grocers, where we bought olives and bread and olive oil and cheese to go with our wine. We bought sausage raviolis and red sauce and ground grass fed beef for dinner. And then we were sitting on two chairs facing out over a field with apple trees, and all was well. Everyone was happy.
After dinner and a late sunset, the sky still purplish-blue, we showered. I saw a cricket but didn't think about it. Clean and full, we sat down in the living room--and the cricket began to show his chops.
"Holy shit. That's going to drive me crazy. I should have stepped on him."
Like magic, though, he quit, and we didn't hear from him again.
In this morning's light, we took our coffee and grapes and melon outside. Taos. The day begins.
at 7:48 AM
Friday, June 16, 2017
This is the last day of the workshop, our last day in Santa Fe. Ili is sad to leave the little home we have had for the past five days, a Sam Shepard hotel situated between an arroyo and a parking lot with its functional kitchen and wifi. I am going to jump ship at the workshop early today so that I can explore Santa Fe with her before we drive north to Taos where we will stay in an earthship. Ili picked it out. It is out of town on the plain, away from the city lights where we will be able to listen to coyotes and gaze at the stars.
I've listened to coyotes before. They keep you up all night.
So far, I haven't taken any pictures this trip. Today I hope to begin. Neither of us has felt well so far, 80% at best some days, 40% others, and though we have never been truly bedridden, we have sometimes been the walking wounded. Ili says we will be healed in Taos.
Here is a picture of a trailer used as bathroom and kitchen for the workshop attendees. The land around it is worth lots. Last night, I took Ili there for the workshop dinner--three or four pound slabs of salmon and a three and a half foot pan of paella. And wine. We took Rioja. Ili had not seen the studio yet and on the way there she looked up house prices on Zillo. Many were over a million. She wants to find something and move here. Dinner outside watching the hummingbirds feed. A fiery red and blue sunset. The falling temperatures. Stars.
This morning is cool, the sky bright and cloudless, the coffee almost gone. I must pack up and check out. Everything is always ending. Everything always begins.
at 7:00 AM
Thursday, June 15, 2017
If failure is good for the soul, then I'm a saint. A deity, perhaps. I left the workshop early yesterday so I could take Ili to some art galleries in Santa Fe. It is unbelievable to me that they close so early and are not open on Sundays. That's right. Not open on Sundays. So I left at four and we went straight to the Photo-Eye Gallery. They were exhibiting the works of Pentti Sammallahti, small black and white silver prints. Look him up. But the images on the web won't do them justice. And they are small, often smaller than 4x6. He had a 70's aesthetic which made sense given his age and training. We also saw some Maggie Taylor prints on the wall as she is the coming exhibit there. I've seen lots of her work and knew that Ili would like it. Taylor was married to my old photography prof, Jerry Uelsmann, from whom she was recently divorced.
A framed photo laying on a display table caught our eye. I asked the gallery associate whose work it was. She was very nice and came over to show us drawers full of the work by Kate Breakey, wonderful prints on museum glass backed by gold leaf. They were surprisingly affordable. Ili loved them.
Then I asked about Richard Tuschman whom they represent, and again, she opened a drawer and began taking out his beautiful prints.
This one especially caught my eye. He builds the sets in miniature and lights them and photographs them, then photographs the people in the studio replicating the lighting he used in the miniatures and he blends the images. This one is from his Hopper series. I can almost afford to buy one. I might. I just might.
We left the gallery to go to some others across the street only to find that they were already closed, so we got in the car and drove to Canyon Road where there are seemingly a hundred galleries of assorted value. These were closing, too, but we went into one that had some beautiful paintings by Tyler Swain.
The gallery owner was a sweet woman and we talked with her for a long time thinking that this would be the last gallery. But when we walked up the street--holy shit--we saw the photos at the top of the page by Drew Tal. These jpegs do not do any justice to the work. They were large, the two full length portraits about five feet tall, and the detail of the background was so subtle it does not show up here. They looked like replicas of old silk paintings. Jesus, I was sick for having tried to do this for a long time. He was a fashion photographer in NYC and it shows. These photos were going for $10,000 each. All I can tell you is that I practically wept.
And then it was over. Everything was closed, so we went back to town for sushi.
I do not want to go back to the workshop today. It is futile. In every gallery, I asked who printed the works. All photographers send their works to be printed by a few very high end printers (like the one I am studying with this week). Printing is its own art. It is highly specialized and technical. Even the people in my workshop send their work to be printed for their gallery showings. To get your work printed is very expensive, though. I don't know. After yesterday, I don't even feel like a photographer at all. I think to sell all my cameras and equipment.
Yup. If failure is good for the soul. . . .
at 8:06 AM
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
I think I am feeling better this morning, though it is early and hard to tell. The strangeness of waking is still with me.
Workshop, Day II: Better but not great. There were still many technical problems with the printers and inks, and since I am learning from the fellow who invented it all, I am less than inspired to invest in this very expensive system. But I made prints yesterday, and they were better than the day before. Today we learn his newest, most expensive system. Maybe. As always. . . we'll see.
But as I go through the workshop, I wonder about how invested I want to be in black and white photography. The problem for me is that I am converting color images. I printed some scans of images made on black and white film yesterday, and they pleased me much more. I think it is the conversion issue that bothers me. A thing should be what it is. Maybe if I bought another Monochrom camera, I'd feel better about it.
All morning, I've been thinking about my old Polaroid hybrid prints. They are soft in texture and color. I like the tones and hues of them. Maybe, I thought, if I could get digital images to be that soft. . . . Maybe I am just never satisfied with what is in front of me. It might be a character flaw.
I am the only one at the workshop making prints with people in them. Now there are some emerging photographers at this workshop with shows in NYC and London. One has a book in preparation. There images are of shapes and forms and textures, graphical things. One from a major institution is an architectural photographer who sold out a show in L.A. I mentioned this to Ili last night, and she said that pictures of people are very particular and perhaps not something someone would hang on their wall. I agreed mostly because people want decorative things, I think. But the question for me is always about what the picture is trying to say. What is the idea behind it? I told Ili that I tried for archetype in my photos of people, wanted them to be allegorical or symbolic of something and not be the literal thing itself.
I am conditioned by people, so I have printed some images of canyon walls and architectural shapes in the workshop. The images with people in them, though, are the ones that get the most attention.
So today, I give you an image I have prepared to print today. Maybe. It means nothing to me, really.
I think that I am not a printmaker and I am in a printmaking workshop. It only just occurred to me. I like snapshots and fucked up images and am not careful in my printing. Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Vivian Maier--these were people who didn't make good prints. They were not printmakers. They were photographers. Duane Michaels used to have his prints made at the drugstore. But the people in the workshop are detail oriented. They are about making printed images. They notice everything in the print, every nuance. I am sloppy and happy to get most of the way there. I am a reluctant printmaker. But it is a necessity and I am learning. I learn it and can do it, but that is not my passion in image making.
With this realization, I go to today's workshop with a different attitude. I will focus on the print more than the image. It may change me.
Still. . . .
at 7:43 AM
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
This is a phone pic. I haven't taken any real photos while in Santa Fe. Not really. Both Ili and I have some slow motion sickness that drags us down. We felt poopy when we got up Sunday. Dragging Monday. Sneezing Tuesday morning. I went to the workshop yesterday (which was a disaster--tell you later) and am preparing for today's. We love our little Santa Fe Suite room though, which is good because we have been spending a lot of time here.
Last night we went to dinner at the popular restaurant, The Shed. Wonderful Mexican food. And margaritas. We split dinner as we have been doing since we got to N.M. Then we went for a drive. We just felt too tired and weak to walk around, a thing we usually love.
Then back to the room to watch "Master of None" on the computer while drinking an evening scotch. We were asleep early.
I am in the workshop with a bunch of university art profs, three photography and one architecture. They are from good schools like Pratt. I have not even prepared for the workshop. As usual. They have culled their images and have them ready to print. There are a couple of commercial photographers and a printmaker, too. I don't care, though. I like my stuff most.
Maybe it is because I don't feel well (this disease, whatever it is, makes us both fairly depressed), but I keep thinking that I don't care if I ever take a picture again. It is a lot of work--for what? I spend too much money and time for things that end up in a drawer, if that. There is so much photography in the world that it doesn't seem to matter any more.
I told the fellow who has the workshop that I had to give up my studio. He said that was too bad, that I was doing some really fine work. I told him I haven't taken a serious photo since. The gravity of that hit me. It isn't just the photography but a general lack of focus and effort.
I go today to be with the artists. Maybe I'll be inspired. Maybe not. That is the way it is with "maybes." Perhaps the illness will run its course and I will become ecstatic with a renewed energy. Perhaps the light, the incredible and original light, will inspire me. Or maybe it will just be too overwhelming and just too much.
That is the only story I have to tell you today. Fingers crossed for the future.
(Ili's iPhone $55/night hotel documentary)
at 7:47 AM
Monday, June 12, 2017
Albuquerque is a dive. Even the people who live there say so. It is also the weirdest city I have ever been in. Period. We drove around for hours one day looking for a liquor store that sold good scotch. O.K. That makes me sound like an alcoholic. That wasn't all we were doing. We were touring the town, but all along the way, we looked for someplace to buy a bottle of scotch since we paid $60 for two doubles at the hotel bar the night before. When we met people and they asked us what we had been doing in Albuquerque, I'd say, "looking for liquor stores, mostly." And without variation, the response was always, "Didn't you go to Jubilation?" No shit. There seems to be one good liquor store in Albuquerque, and it is in the tony section of Nob Hill.
But it is truly a city of homeless bums and drug addled youth. Everyone mentions "Breaking Bad" and for good reason. The hotel in which we stayed was a mental hospital for children and youths from the 1980s through 2010. It is obvious that it has closed now.
I'm not saying we didn't have a memorable time in Albuquerque. We did. We stayed in a wonderful hotel and ate at wonderful restaurants. All it takes is a lot of money.
Yesterday, though, we drove to Santa Fe. It is a different world up here. However. . . we are staying in the cheapest place imaginable. On the way up, we saw an ad for it. It was on one of those highway signs that tells you what is at the next exit. There were four things listed--a gas station, a Wendy's, a Cracker Barrel, and our hotel. Not a hotel, exactly. A "suite." You will not believe me, but we are spending $55/night. We have a bed, a couch and coffee table, a chest of drawers, a small kitchen and a bar table for two and a view of a vast parking lot that leads to a shopping center with an Albertsons which serves most of our needs. And this year, the place has good WiFi. Last night, we were able to stream "The Royal Tenenbaums" on my laptop. I brought a bluetooth speaker so we had a real movie experience. There is a laundromat here, too. Did I mention $55/night. We are living a Sam Shepard dream.
I'll send pictures.
Today I begin my workshop with Jon Cone. I'll become a master digital printer with special black and white inks. My prints will be unparalleled.
Ili and I were both ill yesterday with some body ache thing and couldn't do much. We got in the car and toured the area around Santa Fe so she could see where she was. I turned down side roads and tried to get a little lost. We ended up on Indian land and saw fantastic small cathedral-like churches and signs declaring Tribal Law and lists of things we were not to do.
And we saw a lot of mystical healing places. There are many, many paths to physical and spiritual health up here. We may explore a few.
But yesterday we took care of ourselves with Umka and Sambucus and aspirin and brewery beer (gluten removed) and an organic buffalo burger on a gluten free bun. Back at the Suite, it was Trader Joe's chicken soup with added sautéed garlic from our own kitchen. This morning, I am happy to report, we feel fine.
The windows and door are open to the beautiful Santa Fe morning. Now I must shower and ready for the workshop. There is always something to do.
at 8:11 AM
Saturday, June 10, 2017
Long day of travel yesterday, but we got good bulkhead seats on the plane with lots of legroom. This is what we stared at for the three and a half hour flight. Bag claim, shuttle bus, rental car, and we were at our hotel by five. And what a hotel room we have--living room, huge bathroom, beautiful bedroom. The hotel is a converted looney bin, and the conversion is spectacular. My kind of music greeted us in the lobby. We headed up to the rooftop bar for cocktails, then a walk around town before dinner. Albuquerque is a "City of Bums." They are everywhere. That and drug addled, tattooed youths who wander about yelling at things while wildly gesticulating. We shared an upscale dinner, though, at the bar. I, however, was getting wobbly from the travel and higher altitude drinks and a general lack of sleep. We drank a bottle of wine and headed home thinking to go to the rooftop bar for a nightcap. We didn't. Rather, we snuggled and afterwards wanted only some scotch and a shower. I brought a portable bluetooth speaker, and we put on "our" music, stuff that only Wes Anderson might appreciate.
We woke this morning to the site of fifty or so hot air balloons rising above the city. Strange indeed.
No plans today. Just drifting to see what we see. Now. . . breakfast.
at 7:18 AM
Friday, June 9, 2017
Comey's Big Bombshell--Trump is a liar. Ho! I hope he has a lot of friends. He just got into a pissing match, and one of the two is going to lose. Both parties allege. The marketplace will now decide who is the more reliable witness.
In my old neighborhood, you were told "never back down from a fight." I have learned, though, how to be demure.
I thought one could demure, that the word could be used as a verb, but I looked it up and it cannot be used thusly. I also learned that it is a sexist term and refers to a woman. Sometimes my understanding of the language is completely off. So is my understanding of sexism. Still, I would demure if I could.
I am up and at 'em this morning. I am leaving town to go to a workshop in Santa Fe and will be gone for a bit. I don't know how much I'll be able to post. I'm staying in a cheap hotel without reliable internet for most of the trip. Tonight, though, I will be staying in an old looney bin, a former insane asylum if you will, converted into an upscale hotel. It is said to be haunted, but I stayed there two years ago and had no such luck. I will go there to seek a cure.
I go from there to a $50/night room on the outskirts of town. Getting back to my roots.
In getting ready to leave, I have exhausted myself completely. I finished what needed to be done at the factory, but it raked the flesh from my back. Home is another matter, but I can't stay, so. . . .
I used to lie down and dream pictures. Now I dream of cameras. There is something wrong there, of course. And that, my friends, is what I hope to remedy.
at 4:14 AM
Thursday, June 8, 2017
I continue to disintegrate in the night. There is another word I want to use. I know there is, but I can't call it to mind. And that is what happens in the darkness. Normal activities are no longer within my grasp.
I am beginning to fall apart in the daylight hours, too. As a result, I should say. Maybe.
I write another big check today for house repairs. It continues to rain. Where there was once draught there are now floods.
Maybe it is the news that is ruining my sleep. I need to stop watching.
But how can I? Today is a national holiday. Comey is going to testify.
"Ah, boy, we've got 'em now!"
If you don't watch the news, though, you know what is going to happen. Little. "We" don't got nobody. We don't even have a clear picture.
I need to meditate badly. I mean I am in need of good meditation. My "self" is fractured and needs repair. I do that for the house. I need to do some of that for me, too.
I should try telling someone else's story. That's what I need to do.
Say, now, that's a swell idea.
at 4:45 AM
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Which is more boring, someone else's dreams or someone else's anxieties?
Doesn't matter. I haven't been sleeping well. It was worse last night. My dreams were about my anxieties. What will happen to me in the future?
It just couldn't be dumber. . . the worry, I mean. We all know what will happen in the future. It will be bad.
So I used some old practices and focussed my mind on one thing. I think it was an imaginary red dot, but I can't be sure. I fell asleep.
The human mind needs discipline. I worry about others, of course, with their untrained brains. They are vicious fools with all the rights and privileges given to others.
Last night's mind was like today's picture. This image has no inherent interest, really, but the stark black and white tonality, the reflective light, the nothingness of it, they all seem to add up to something. Tone, mood, atmosphere.
It doesn't take much talent, really, just the right camera.
Where are all the lovely ideas and images, though, the girls of April? When they leave you, you know your days are numbered. Perhaps not all your days, simply your good and fruitful ones.
But maybe climate change will fix all that.
I wonder what the fellow across the street's nights are like, the one whose wife just left him? Maybe I should make a print of this picture and put it in his mailbox. I would, but he has security cameras all around his house that are linked to his phone. I could just show it to him and ask him if he recognizes it. Art therapy, I'd say. One of the form's more useful applications. Don't worry about it, I'd say. It's just a picture. You'll be fine.
It's what people say to one another. You'll be fine.
at 5:41 AM
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Let's use a picture from a real photographer here. August Sander. Most of his work is lost. What a shame.
He sure knew what he was doing with a large format camera. He probably made just a couple photographs of each person.
These images make me wonder what it is that people want to see--and how does one show it?
Intimate strangeness is my answer. That is what I have grown up on, perhaps, with the likes of Arbus and Frank and their forebears and heirs. Offbeat documentary.
That is more than photography. It is something else, perhaps some inner condition, a twisted gaze, and the ability to connect.
It is a huge and terrible commitment. Other things have to be left by the wayside.
Everybody wants to be an artist, but nobody wants to live the life.
Some, I guess, have no choice.
But you can be a talented photographer without being an artist. Same with painting, writing, et. al. I could name many who are. Maybe that is good enough.
Here is Dylan's Nobel Acceptance Speech (link). I haven't listened to it yet. Maybe there are answers there.
at 5:12 AM
Monday, June 5, 2017
Riding in a bus on a country road. The guide wants to buy some mangos, so we stop where he sees a tree. I see a family playing in the yard of a country house, grab my camera, and walk over to see.
I don't remember if we got mangos or not.
When I look at this picture, though, all I see are that the kids are posing like they are having a family portrait made. They are smiling, whatever. If only I had made them stand straight and stoic, not with smiles but with serious faces or, maybe, with just that hint of a smile.
But I was a gringo interloper jumping off a bus. What can you do?
Ili helped me throw things away yesterday. Lots of things. Maybe one hundred and fifty pounds of clothing? Shoes. Belts (was I ever that thin?). Old sports coats. Ties.
In the kitchen, everything came out of the cabinets. Half as much went back in.
Then into the study where camera gear was strewn all about. Everything now is off the floor. Boxes that held cameras and lenses are thrown away. You can walk in there now.
The house feels lighter, airier.
Then she hung some photos.
Later, when that was done, I started working on images to take to a Santa Fe workshop. I went through my NYC pictures from five years ago. Jesus--I was knocked out. I used to be pretty good. Ili says she wants me to go out on my own in NYC and take pictures again. She recognizes that I can't do that with her around.
There are so many pictures. They are strange things, oddly framed, surprising. I will post some here when I get back from Santa Fe.
And then there are all the old studio pictures. Jesus.
I am not very good at organizing things. I am bad at it. I am horrible, really. I have millions of files of photographs. I can't find anything easily. Sometimes not at all. Now I am suffering for it. I have a degree in zoology, for Christ's sake. I should know something about systematizing. Phylum, family, order, genus, species. . . all that.
I must go work at it now.
at 4:03 AM
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Here is a man who makes me think of Faulkner's "man endures." How do joy and sorrow weigh out in a person's life? In the human experience? Of which is there more?
Sometimes I think we should cower in fear of sheer existence.
But we don't. We cling to it. The Myth of Sisyphus.
Camus said there was one philosophical question. He, too, thought man endured.
But what do I know of this man's life. He may love to drink and eat and laugh. He may love life in incomprehensible ways. Each day may be sheer joy.
A long walk would probably do me good right now. I'm sure of it.
at 4:40 AM
Saturday, June 3, 2017
So. . . I have not heard back from the roofing company. I wrote to them, and now I will have to call and talk to the secretary. I guess I would want to cut off communication with me if I were them, too.
Meanwhile, it rains and rains.
When the tenant dropped off the rent check yesterday, she told me that the fellow across the street caught her and told her that his wife left him. He is a surgeon who was retired after he was catapulted from the top branches of a large oak tree he thought to trim. He sustained some mighty damage from that fall. I am sure his career was heavily insured. This wife was his second as far as I can tell. He never talked to me or the other neighbors, really. He seemed a disdainful type. But she had a daughter and he had three sons, all grown. I don't think the daughter liked him much for she moved out when she was in high school to live with her father in a trailer. That is what I am told. The second wife was a nurse. . . you know how it goes. They have lived across the street from me for about fifteen years, I imagine, but I couldn't tell you their names. He has been driving the best Tesla's since they came out. That is what I know.
Lately he has been chatty and friendly. I thought that maybe it was just that I had gotten rid of the old Jeep and had painted the house and made repairs, etc.
The tenant reported that he came home one day and his wife had her clothes in her car and said she was leaving. She had already bought a house. He said he didn't know why she left. It was a complete shock to him.
I've been thinking about this since I was told. Here is a rich guy with a rich life, a guy who thinks he has things figured out, then. . . boom.
Last night, I was talking about it with Ili, and the conversation turned to money, the division of property, etc. The neighbor who lives next door to the surgeon is an orthodontist. He and his wife split up a few years ago. When they got married, he had her sign a prenuptial agreement. They had two kids which in most cases would nullify the contract, but both of them were in college when the divorce occurred. He ended up buying her a house and giving her twenty percent of the money.
That is what I have been told by the tenant.
Somehow, I brought up palimony. I remembered that the term was used in the case of Lee Marvin who split from his longtime live-in girlfriend. She claimed that she had given up her career to help him and that she deserved part of his estate. The legal battle was complicated and was appealed to the California Supreme Court. I read the decision to Ili, but it was confusing.
Then I remembered something about Clint Eastwood. I Googled it. Holy shit! If you want to read about a shit show, look up Clint Eastwood. I had no idea. He has to be the biggest philanderer ever (to use a common parlance).
At the end of the day, I'm not sure what surprises me more, that people stay together or that they split up. I don't have any answers. I think the key might be never to say too much, especially about what you think. Make comments about the surface of things but never, ever about meaning. Do not opine. That has never done me any good, at least. Somehow, though, I can't seem to learn. I just end up going silent which only makes matters worse. In my next life, I will only say pleasant things and I will avoid much reading or looking at art.
I wonder what the divorce rate is like in Cuba? People are poor, so I don't imagine it is very high.
Whoa! I just looked it up. Cuba has a 70% divorce rate!!!! (link) (link).
I don't know anything. Hemingway had the best advice. He said something like, "I don't know what it means. I just want to learn to live in it."
Yea. That worked pretty well for him.
at 5:02 AM
Friday, June 2, 2017
The roofers came yesterday. They were here for a long time. In the end, they gave up.
"Is there still a leak?"
Shrug. "I don't think so. You'll need to talk to the boss."
Now I have to go through the shit. I don't want to go through the shit, but I have to. Who knows where this will end up.
While they were here, though, I had to be here, for they needed to get into the attic so they could watch the water pour in while they sprayed the outside with the hose. Nothing unexpected happened. The water ran down, as it will, and found its way into the cabinets in the kitchen, out the cabinet doors, and onto the floor. They watched that happen for a long time, fascinated, I assumed, by the resolute relentlessness of it.
I, of course, knew the water would never go up, so I spent my time at the computer working on some images. It was the first time I have had the opportunity to do more than run them through the "perfunctory" processing in Lightroom. I don't mean to say that I don't work on the images there. It takes a bit of time. But I have not gone the extra step, have not taken them into Photoshop and performed all of my "secret processes." You might not be able to tell, of course, and that is good, but I can. I know what is going on, and I like it.
The roofers left around noon. I called into work and said I would not be in. I was computer-bound.
I have a drawer in the bathroom in which I keep my razor and other needed accoutrements and beauty aids. If you pull it out too far, something happens. I don't know what, exactly, but it comes off the track so that it is in danger of falling out completely. When this happens, I pull it all the way out and set it right back in its tracks and it is fine. I never pull it out far enough for it to fall off its tracks after that, but from time to time when I pull it out, it is all f'ed up. And I wonder--who does that? Sometimes I suspect the maids, but why would they be going into my drawer? Are they curious or are they looking for drugs?
And of course I blame Ili who says she never goes in there.
This has been happening for years, and I have never had enough curiosity or energy to figure it out and find a cure. It would require too much, I guess, squatting down and bending and twisting my neck to look up at the underside of the thing. It seems too painful and irritating to remedy such a small matter.
That is the way I feel about almost everything, though. When I watch the roofers or the house repairmen, I am ashamed that I, an able-bodied man, ask them to scrape their knuckles and ruin their knees and backs. And so, when I talk to the roofing boss, I will be thinking about my lack of desire to fix the drawer. It will make arguing with him more difficult in some psychological/spiritual way.
But I have skills. I can run a department at the factory, and I can make a picture sing sometimes, and maybe they don't want to do that.
I don't know. I'm just tired of despairing about air conditioners and roofs. And everything else. I have knowledge that others don't have, and that (I am telling myself) should count for something.
at 4:58 AM
Thursday, June 1, 2017
More rain, no roofer. Not yet. Today, he says. She, rather. I only spoke to the office supervisor. I don't think I am allowed to use the word "secretary" any longer.
My panic has subsided as panic will. There is only so much you can sustain before you become numb. I know people have it worse. I have resolutely decided, however, that I don't want to be one of them.
That is probably wrong as well.
But I have known such people. All of them want more. They all wish to have the boss's job. Economic insecurity is not enviable, it seems.
It is summer, time for vacationing once again. And, once again, the bills mount up and I will not be able to go. How many years now?
I keep telling myself, "It's a good thing you gave up the studio." The expense. . . you know? But it is a hard sell. I gave up too much there, I think.
The Obamas just bought a house for eight million dollars. It is a much larger house than mine. Ha. Still, they leased office space elsewhere. I'm pretty sure they are not feeling badly because other people have it worse than they. They are not shipping their daughters off to school in Haiti.
Money is all, it seems. I mean, you can be transgender now. Yay. You know Bob, the guy down the street who now can pee wherever he wants? No? But you know Jenner, right? I mean, its all about the money.
I saw an article on celebrities who died broke. Mickey Rooney, Sammy Davis Junior. I had to wonder what they meant by "broke."
There is a 100% chance of rain today, but I just got a call from the roofing company. There will be someone here to fix the leak soon. That is what the office supervisor said.
"Fix." About that, I wonder.
at 4:10 AM
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Four days of cloudless heat. Last night, the rains came, a blessed relief. Ili walked into the kitchen.
"There's water all over the floor," she reported.
It was running from the cabinets. The new roof's first test.
I went to the attic to see if I could tell what was going on. The roof line there, though, is too tight, an addition that leaves no crawl space.
Back from the attic, I found the paperwork for the new roof. I texted the salesman.
He texted back this morning. I wait for someone to come to my house now.
He had the chutzpah to ask me how I was doing when I called him.
The rain will continue all week. It is about to rain again now. They better get someone here soon.
at 5:29 AM
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Film. Frustrating. Too many flaws, too much dust, too many scratches. Tedium in post processing that I don't want to do. Weird colors, too.
The long, beautiful weekend is over. It is hotter than you can imagine here, and my air conditioning is not able to keep up, even with the thousands I just spent on having my attic insulated. I feel as if my house is built over the fires of Hades. I drive around the neighborhood and look at other old, wooden houses and at how much the sun beats down on their roofs and when and I ask myself, "How do they keep their houses cool?"
The answer comes to me eventually.
"You are going to have to buy a new a.c. unit."
This is another year in which I will spend close to $20,000 on house repairs. How many in a row?
I try, oh Lord, I try.
We had the best Memorial Day picnic meal ever in the history of such things yesterday. Stuff I don't eat. It was decadent. You won't think so, but these are taboo foods around here: hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, roasted corn, watermelon, and homemade peach ice cream. Plus drinks.
I've changed today's picture since I wrote this. This is my Polaroid/4x5 conversion camera test. It works, but the framing guides seem to be off the closer it gets to the subject. Still, focus is perfect. I'll take it to the shop to see if it can be adjusted. It is easy. It is fun. I developed the film myself in a Kickstarter company 4x5 tank that is easy to use.
Here are two photos of the Vespa in the driveway, the first developed traditionally in D-76 and the second using the New55 R5 monobath. I never have any luck with the monobath and am giving up on it. You can probably see what looks like dust on the picture. It is reticulation, a breaking up of the film due to temperature. At least that is what I think it is. I don't know what that light spot is in the first. I just know nothing like that ever happens with digital images.
But as I say, the camera is a pip, and I am going to start making street portraits with it, I think. I have some color 4x5 film that I will shoot but have to send off to a lab for development. That will be expensive, but I want to see what they look like. Will it be worth it?
If nothing else, I have shown you two things today: how dull and mundane my writing and photography has become. I must remedy that somehow. Oh. . . but there is nothing but trouble there.
at 4:07 AM
Monday, May 29, 2017
How is it you go to bed feeling so healthy and good and wake up feeling like you need a doctor?
I was in bands as a kid and again as "an adult." The one here was quite "successful," though as a kid I played in a band on television which impressed the hell out of my parents. Well, not really. I mean they never acted like it much. It was a quiet generation and there wasn't a whole lot of praising going on. But the band above did O.K. We regularly played in large clubs to crowds in the thousands. We played music festivals, too, once to a crowd in excess of ten thousand.
Last night, the drummer sent me this picture. Jesus Christ--we look like the Village People.
We were "anarchists." We wrote a lot of the songs we played. They were all socio-political. My favorites, though, were the odd covers we did like "Secret Agent Man." We sounded like a cross between The Animals and The Ramones. I think.
The past is always coming back to haunt you, I guess.
It is Memorial Day which means I'll grill burgers and hot dogs for my mother and Ili. That makes two family days in a row. I made a fish stew for my mother last night.
And now I have to go. Someone in the house is grumpy and wants to get our exercise thing out of the way, over and done. I feel like shit and would rather not, but the world is coming to a rapid end and I want to look good when it does.
at 5:37 AM
Sunday, May 28, 2017
I try to make life passable. I try to keep up with things. But there are so many, and nothing I do seems to be right.
I've just spent a bunch of money having my attic insulated. It seems to work, but the a.c. still struggles to keep up with the semi-tropical heat. And it is getting hotter. I may have to buy a new cooling system.
Always more money, no matter what. I am doomed.
But yesterday was beautiful and so was I. I ran and went to the gym and lay in the sun for half an hour. That is all that I can take, but even though it was ten o'clock in the morning sun, I got brown as a nut. Then I made my lunch and did errands on my scooter. Then it was time for some wine, a book, and a nap while my computers updated.
Last night, though it was no night, really, now that the sun never seems to go down, we had an early sushi dinner at a pretty good place. The waiter remembered me from another sushi place I used to go to years and years ago. We said hello to one another in recognition, and when he asked what I wanted, I asked him if he remembered. Holy shit--he did! Everything. I was amazed, really.
Tuna kobachi, rice, edamame, sake.
Afterwards, in the flaming early evening, we went to another fish place to have a tequila margarita at the bar. There I watched the NBA finals. It was the third quarter. We were back home in time for the fourth, but I couldn't find the game. Ili, clever girl, knows how to use the search function. I found out that the series hadn't started yet. I was watching a rerun of last year's finals. Ho!
So we smoked cheroots out on the deck and drank whiskey.
But today will be hotter and I will worry.
Still, I'm brown and the hairs on my arms have turned blonde. Denis Johnson and Greg Allman both died this week, both in their sixties, both from liver cancer. My old college roommate asked me the other day, "How do people live so long?"
I don't know. Sometimes they don't. But for sure, not everyone gets to marry Cher.
And the rest don't have to.
at 5:24 AM