Sunday, September 23, 2018

Nocturnal Revelations



Booked my room in L.A.  I chose to stay in Venice Beach.  I looked at a bunch of hotels and this one seemed o.k.  What do I know.  It'll be fine.  I cooked dinner for my mother last night (good boy that I am) and made her watch YouTube videos of my coming trip with me.  We watched several on the hotel.  I am going for the pictures, and Beverly Hills did not look like the place for that. 

I still have to book my Palm Springs room.  I have left too little time for Palm Springs, I think.  We watched many videos of the town last night.  I had no idea.  I think it might be more fun that L.A.  I will call the airline today and see if I can fly out a day early.  Palm Springs just looks like mad fun. 

I say so, but I sit in a stupor.  I am unable to get anything I need to do done.  Is it depression, anxiety, or a physical malady?  I can't tell.  I keep wanting to crawl into a hole.  My entire body hurts and my vision is blurry, so maybe I have something.  Or maybe I'm dying.  That is always my first guess, and of course it is accurate. 

I got beautified yesterday.  She did what she could do.  We spoke of surgical options, but I said that a woman should never pay for her own breast enhancement and a man should never pay for his own facelift.  In truth, nobody should ever pay for those things.  However. . . .

I haven't suffered in a good way for a very long time.  I need to.  I need to deprive myself of food and drink until I look. . . well, until I don't look like a fat man.  I need to focus on physical and mental aspects of healthy living for a good long while.  I need to get hungry until I am not hungry any more, until hunger is not a thing.  I need to forego alcohol in all its forms.  That is what I think in the night when I wake in despair.  Perhaps if I were skinny my life would feel better. 

Then I get up for the day and forget what I thought in the night.  My refrigerator is not prepared for my nocturnal revelations.  It looks like something out of a Philip Marlowe movie, "The Long Goodbye."  Raymond Chandler was a raging alcoholic. 

I will become an expert in mineral waters.  I will learn to identify them by taste, without looking.  I will become a precious, skinny asshole. 

As the good Doctor used to say, "Enough of that.  Don't make me use the leeches." 

The first full day of autumn has broken.  The sun is up.  There is much to do.  I hope that I can be the man to do it. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Harvest Disease



Autumn has arrived, and here in my own hometown, you can feel it.  Well, you can if you are from here and have lived with the intense hothouse heat we have had for months.  Last night, after a cocktail and a very expensive bleu cheese hamburger and truffle fries, I sat on my deck with a Cuban cheroot and a scotch.  First time that I could stand to do that in months.  That is how I ended the work week. 

I sat alone in the chi-chi bar that I have avoided for quite awhile, favoring the cheaper hipster Cafe Strange.  I sat between two couples who were also eating dinner at the bar.  I don't want to generalize, but I will--the relationships between people is very, very bizarre.  It is strange and wondrous to watch the power dynamics and the emotional haptics that make a couple.  On my right sat a maniac baby boy and his mother-aged girlfriend.  They were apparently very well-off and talked nonstop about flying to all the best places in the world.  He was an asshole to her in the most idiotic male, domineering way, and she danced between his barbs with placating tones, cooing sweet words through a troubled lover's grin.  She kept glancing my way perhaps looking for my reaction, but I could tell she was used to taking the public abuse. 

To my left was a woman showing her big fake ta-tas and talking nonstop in an annoyingly seductive manner to a little tatted macho hispanic fellow with a hipster fuck-you haircut close on the sides, bushy on top.  He didn't need to talk.  She was non-stop.  He sat there sullenly as she leaned heavily against him draping her arm around him from time to time. 

Both couples kept the bartender busy ordering cocktails then food, more cocktails, then more food.  Having spent the last half year at my mother's house cooking and drinking at home, I was having sticker shock at my $15 cocktails and $20 burger.  I thought about the money Ili and I spent in these sort of gin joints.  Maybe I am simply preparing myself for the reduced income I will have soon.  Pabst and salted nuts and sardines out of the can.  Whatever it was, watching these two couples gave me pause. 

I have been lachrymose lately.  Maybe its my man cycle.  Sitting here now, though, with a cup of coffee, the light falling through the windows forming autumn patterns on the wall, spilling onto the couch and rug, I feel it all.  Fall is always a mopey time, memories flowing in melancholic streams, filling autumnal pools where on quiet evenings I catch reflections of the moon.  Harvest disease.  A sad madness.  A quiet dismantling. 

That was silly, sloppy, and bad writing, but I'll leave it. . . for shame. 

I get beautified this morning.  I never do this on Saturdays but I had to move my scheduled appointment because of the L.A. trip.  It is O.K.  I feel lazy today.  A few hours in the beauty salon, a mimosa, and a nap.  That is how I plan to spend my Saturday.  Then as the late afternoon gives way to purple sky, I will cook something on the grill and have another cigar and scotch on the deck while mentally preparing for my solo trip.  Cameras are ready.  Plane tickets and car rental done.  I must book hotels today and pack.  One pair of jeans, a pair of shorts, t-shirts and two white poplin button ups.  Not much more.  I am going only to wander and look.  Everything else will take care of itself.  I am going simply to see. 

I have bungled my way through this morning's writing.  Now it is time to go.  I know the day will not go the way I've planned. 

Friday, September 21, 2018

Confession of a Privileged White Male



I went to bed fairly happy last night, I thought.  Or so it seemed.  What could happen during the night to bring me to such despair in the morning?  What goes on inside the pumpkin as I lay there in a semi-sleep?  Can I call it "my" mind if I am unable to control it?  I will have to work all morning at putting on the mask so I can go to work.  One mustn't let other's know his troubles. 

I am a lion.  I am a-lyin'. 

But there is nothing other people can do for you, and it only puts them in a helpless predicament.  They can't save you.  No one can. 

This morning is one of those mornings when I just want to quit because I am overwhelmed by the least thing.  I don't seem to be able to gather the documents and do the calculations I need to for my tax guy.  I have been trying for days.  Why, I ask myself, why can people tell me to do these things?  I can't keep my house clean and now I can't manage to get it ready for the maids.  Every movement hurts me.  My back is a dilapidated mess.  My shoulders are shot.  I injured my right thumb in a scuffle about eight months ago and still can't use it to pick up anything remotely heavy.  I can't see for shit any more and my ears ring constantly since I took the combination of antibiotics I was given by the dumbshit at the emergency room a year ago. 

This morning, I thought to just lie down and tell everyone I quit.  I am only going to lie here and nothing more.  As Malone or Malloy or The Unnamable said, I can't go on.  I wish I had never read that trilogy. 

Ever feel like that? 

But it gets worse. 

I wonder if Beckett was ever happy? 

I know, I know.  This is just a "privileged white male" moan.  I hear about it every day, the privileged white male.  They are bad.  The worst.  It would be a better world if they were gone. 

Do you ever watch Chris Matthews?  The poor fucker looks scared to death every night now.  Remember how he used to bark?  His tone sounds as if he is constantly apologizing to everyone.  Ari what's-his-name has tied himself to black rappers to make himself less a white male.  He is oh-so hip-hop.  Until every white man has been accused and has had to face his public, there will be no justice.  It is time to rid ourselves of them. 

Cisgendered, that is. 

You can't say this shit without sounding like Trump on Fox News or at one of his pep rallies.  This is what Trump has given us.  The muzzle.

My friend, the Liberal Privileged White Male Political Scientist, says that there are always innocent casualties in any revolution.  It is the cost of war. 

Viva la guerre.  

I don't want to go to L.A.  I don't want to take pictures.  I don't want to make hotel and car reservations.  I don't want to pack.  I don't want to do anything.  I just want to lie down.  The least thing overwhelms me. 

Maybe it is just the flu shot that has put me off.  Perhaps those dead bugs pulsing through my system have brought me this low.  Or maybe I've just had enough.  Maybe I have had enough and I don't need any more.  I have had more than my share.  I'm sure of that.  Perhaps that's a confession. 

Yes, it probably is. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Losing Battle




O.K.  It is an obvious, cheap shot, but it has been sitting in my files waiting for a long time, and I want to get rid of it.  Now it is yours.  Some things are too hard to pass up. 

I began getting ready for my trip to L.A. last night. . . a little.  I went through my camera inventory deciding what to take.  I wanted to take my Canon.  It makes great beautiful pictures, but holy smokes is it big.  I haven't really used it since I closed the studio.  It and a few lenses fill a suitcase.  After using the Leicas and the Sony, it is impossible to decide to take it.  I can pack the Sony and four lenses in a little bag.  Same is true of the Leicas.  They will be going with me as well as my Rolleiflex.  I think.  We'll see.  But I won't be taking the Canon.  It is a shame, though.  I shot most of my NYC pictures with that and a big zoom lens.  Huge. 

Getting ready for a trip always depresses me.  I don't do well with decision making.  I think mostly about how the trip can fail.  I've already made a mistake in booking my flight.  I need one more day, and it was really doable, but I'll live with the bad decision now.  The important thing is that I get on a plane and go.  I am a mopey sonofabitch, and I need to move.  The end of my working days gets closer at a seemingly faster rate, and I need to get my head put on straight.  I am like a punch drunk fighter, muzzy minded, indecisive, terrified.  I like to play the tough guy, but I'm the biggest baby you could ever meet. 

Even when I was a kid, I'd always get sick before big vacations.  Emotions overwhelmed me.  I worried about everything.  I thought out every possibility of what could go wrong.  I wanted a perfect vacation and there were so many variables it seemed impossible that things would turn out right. 

I am still that way.  I am wound too tight. 

On the phone with my mother after work last night, I said I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my evening.  She jumped all over that and said I could always come over and hang out with her.  What could I say?   I went to her house and made dinner.  I am sweet. 

I realize that much of what burdens me about traveling now is vanity.  With travel there was always the possibility of romance.  The two went hand in hand.  I wasn't looking for it, but it was always there.  Now I can hardly stand to look a woman in the eye knowing that what they see is the same thing I see every morning in the mirror.  It is not comforting.  Maybe that was what got Bourdain.  The mirror.  And knowing Argento was out there wooing young boys.  If only I could take solace from Ecclesiastes.  Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and chasing after the wind.  One generation comes and one generation goes, but the earth abides forever.  Etc. 

But I can't condone it.  It is a bad plan. 

Still, it is time for the gym.  I have to make an effort even if it is a losing battle.  And it is. 

Yup.  It is. 



Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Everything Is Contextual



Everything is contextual.  There is no absolute meaning.  You always understand something in relationship to something else. 

So I decree; others, however, may have beaten me to it.

So it is with a piece of writing or a piece of art.  I am fascinated by what people see in a little vignette.  Maybe someone will praise the style of a unique phrasing.  Someone else will notice a quirky juxtaposition, and another will commend a proffered idea.  Others, still, will find the writing awkward or pedestrian at best.  It happens to the best writers (the rest of us do not really count). 

Most fascinating, though, is what happens to the reception over time.  Take "Lolita," for instance.  What do you do with that now? 

I'm speaking of Kavanaugh, too. 

Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani, Bonnard. 

Contexts change, but hardly for the young.  They've experienced only one, maybe two.  I now understand why the old and the young are often at odds.  A jejune philosopher once said, "Don't try to describe a Kiss concert if you've never seen one."  That was youth speaking to age.  In time, however, I think the meaning has been reversed. 

I can't escape my experience.  It forms the context of what things mean for me.  Had I different experiences. . . .

Speaking for the men of the world. . . .  Yea, that doesn't work.  I watch Orin Hatch and want to puke.  Mitch McConnell.  WTF?  We hate that the right are lockstep on every issue, that they keep winning because of that while the diversity and ass-biting among the left keeps them from winning. 

What if women voted lockstep?  They are the largest demographic in the world.  Weird, right?  There is no other single group of voters as mighty. 

We would have to hate them as much as we do republicans. 

"Speaking for the largest demographic in the world. . . . "

Still, there are the partially educated.  The young, I mean.  In a world of rapidly declining intellect, they seem to have a larger part of the stage.  In large, I blame the Disney Channel where all kids are smarter and wiser than their befuddled parents.  And of course, we, of the left, adore them.  We are free range.  We want them to explore.  We value their opinions and don't want to stifle their expression whereas the right send them to religious and political camps to be indoctrinated. 

"Every woman has experienced some form of. . . ." 

"Young women are. . . ." 

"Another bunch of angry white males. . . ."

"As a Hispanic woman. . . ."

"Black males. . . ."

"Asians in America. . . ."

Wow.  What the fuck happened, dad?  Were you really a monster? 

Michael Moore, the only lefty other than myself to predict the Trump win, says Trump will be a two term president.  I think he's probably right.  On the left, so many voices, so many contexts.  On the right, now so much. 

Polemic stifles creativity, but it sparks it, too.  What emerges?  As Frost said, "Everything comes to market." 

Bourdain ranks higher in my esteem all the time.  He knew what he was.  He knew when to throw in the towel.  Some train wrecks are just too bad to look at. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Perhaps a Great Notion



I was right--I felt like shit yesterday.  Sleep is everything.  I am a baby.  I can't function well after somnus interruptio.  I used the Google translator for that one.

I called Delta yesterday to find out how I would use my flight voucher number online.  I was told I couldn't, that I would have to book with an agent.  Then I was told that I needed to have my travel completed by tomorrow.  What?!?

"That is not what I was told.  I called a couple weeks ago and the online agent told me that I had to book by the 18th."

Au contraire I was told.  But the lady on the phone was nice and asked if I could hold the line while she checked with her supervisor.  In the end, the extended my dates by a month.

Still, I have to book today.

Somnus interruptio.  I got drunk last night planning--or not planning--my trip.  Discretion is the better part of valor; indecision isn't.  I will be traveling alone.  Sometimes that is great.  Sometimes not.  With my psyche where it is right now, it is a coin toss as to how it goes.  I have to make a decision, NYC or LA.  Initially I thought to fly into LA and out of San Fran after driving up the coast, but I've thought about that a bunch and I think it is too much, or rather my experience would be too thin, for the amount of time I am going to spend out there.  I don't know LA much at all, and I would like to explore some of the surrounding areas like Palm Springs and other weird parts of the desert.  There are big stretches of LA that I want to explore.  But NYC is so walkable.  It is all right there and I love it.

I don't know, I don't know.  I don't want to make a mistake.

Then there is the whole photo thing.  Can I make pictures in Cali?  I know I can in NYC.  Shit, shit, shit.  I'm a mess.

I've never minded NYC alone.  Never.  Never been bored, never been lonely.  LA?  Yes, I've been both.

I have to decide today.  Weather is a factor.  My factory pals are voting LA, but I've never been good at taking advice.

I've just had a brainstorm.  I think I'll try photographing in drag.  Brilliant!  Nobody knows me.  I'll put on a walking dress and a hat and a little makeup and see how people react to me taking photographs.  No shit!  Thank you, Caitlyn!  I will be able to walk right up to children with my camera.  There are so many things a female photographer can do that a male photographer can't.

I wonder if I have the balls. . . er, um. . . nerve.

I'll have to try costuming tonight.  God, this is brilliant.  I'm going to need help.  Girls or gay friends?

I'll have to wear a girdle.  I am sure my gut will give me away.

This only complicates my preparations, though.  I need to simplify.  How many cameras?  Which ones and what kinds?

LA or NYC?

I'm a mess.  I have to book today.

Shit piss fuck goddamn.  Well, as the good Doctor used to say, "Buy the ticket, take the ride."  And as Jimmy McGill says, "It's all good, man" (Saul Goodman).

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Dullard's Life



I got up WAY too early this morning, but lying in bed had become torture.  Get a jump on the day, I said to myself (I said), and make it a good one.  An hour later, I am heavy of limb and dull of mind.  I want to crawl back into the sack.  It will be a miserable day by all forecasts.

Feeling ill this weekend, I didn't take any pictures.  I wanted to.  I even tried.  I got on the scooter and drove to "the usual places," but it was crazy hot and nobody was out.  I shot not a frame.  But I developed some film.  Not much success there, either.  The two rolls I shot previous to these were color negatives, so I took them to the lab.  When I got them back, I looked at them and threw them away.  There was not a shot on either of them that I wanted.  Yesterday's bounty was very similar.  As much as I like shooting film, this is getting to be frustrating.  I need something to come of it.

But this is the cycle.  Film failure drives me back to shooting digital where I can chimp away.

For the most part, a bad tummy kept me home and away from anything resembling a story.  A dullard's life, eye's unfocussed, jaw slack.

The sun still has not risen and I have read the papers and spent money online.  What more can I be expected to do?  I will lie down for a moment and see how that feels.  It may feel fine.  

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Mopey Type



What can I complain about today that would be interesting?  So many complaints, so little time.  My boss's secretary said I was the "mopey type," and I guess that's true.  I moped about yesterday with a bad belly and a lassitude in my limbs which I treated with the proper amounts of alcohol as I lay upon the couch and watched YouTube videos.  I had told my mother that I would come over and make dinner for us, but I had to bail on that.  I just didn't have the old get-up-and-go in me.

But I tried to be productive.  There are lots of art documentaries on the YouTube.  I watched two on Edward Hopper and one on John Singer Sargent.  There were interviews with Hopper and his wife, Jo.  Hopper has been my favorite American painter, an existential hero depicting the emptiness and loneliness of human existence.  Hopper came across like a midwestern farmer, slow of speech, dull in appearance, seemingly irritated by the dour Jo.  Watching them was terrible.  I'm guessing that Hopper learned it was better not to speak in his relationship.  He was never allowed to use anyone but his wife for a female model.  He was lucky enough, I thought.  For the past few years, I was not allowed to use anyone.  Hopper was slow in production making one or two paintings a year.  But his studio. . . how do people do it?  His studio was huge and gorgeous.  It was there that he felt the light and the emptiness and the solitude that went into his gorgeous, hollow, empty paintings.  He was isolated with what I am guessing was a repressed desire.  He learned, perhaps, to suffer his luck.

Sargent, I think, was a larger talent squandered.  He learned to paint and mastered many styles.  But a fellow has to make a living, hence the society portraits.  Thinking back, I realize I haven't finished the doc on him yet.  He was living in London when I passed out.  His gorgeous paintings were being trashed by the English art critics who thought him the worst of the worst for breaking with traditional rules of composition.  There are no Sargent interviews to watch, of course, so I cannot infer anything from his personality which is a shame, for I am very good at judging people.  Insightful, you might say.

I will finish watching that documentary today.

My big complaint is that they don't produce this sort of stuff at the rate I would enjoy.  Television should be like attending the world's greatest lectures.  I think the Emmy Awards are tonight.  Can you imagine if they put the kind of energy into intellect that they put into "entertainment"?  But I'd probably complain.  I would be wanting "South Park" or some other high sucrose treat.

Last night while sitting on the couch watching YouTube, in between taking doses of medicine, I caressed a number of my cameras in a meaningful way.  It is what I remember doing when I had only one camera when I was in college.  I would have it in my hands always, bringing the viewfinder to my eye to constantly frame the world.  I let myself have that pleasure again last night, wearing the finish off the edges of my Leicas that will yield the bronze beneath the black veneer.  I felt the difference in heft between the cameras realizing how heavy my M10 actually is.  But I was connecting and feeling the connection, knowing the contours and mechanics of the camera without looking, memorizing and habituating so that there is never an awkward motion, the camera becoming an extension of my eye and hand.

Rather than feeling oppression and emptiness, I need now feel the freedom and opportunity.

I will try, but you know what they say about me.  I am the mopey type.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Trapped in Amber



We love places that are stuck in time.  Those are the places we like to go.  NYC is a visual feast.  So is Paris.  So is London.  And the people don't look like the people "back home."  I used to go to Key West back in the mythical "day" when it had a culture that was not based on tourism.  It had its own look, and I adopted it.  And I would bring that look with me "back home."  It did not fly.  You can get tired of people smirking at you.  The same goes for big cities.  Try that New York look "back home."  You'll end up wearing your mall clothes soon enough.

We really like countries that have been trapped in amber.  Cuba, for instance.  Oh man, everyone loves to go to Cuba to see the old cars, the crumbling luxury of the stately buildings.  And there are those of us whose hearts race to get a chance to see some jungle dweller just "discovered," having  been closed off from the historical march to modernity.  We want to look at them and "save" them.  We want to "protect" their culture.  We don't want them to lose their traditional ways of making tools and clothing.  We are intrigued.

We feel cheated when we pay a lot of money to go to Kenya to see the Masai only to find they went to college in London and are wearing Rolex watches with their "traditional" clothing.  We hate going to Bali and seeing kids wearing Mickey Mouse t-shirts.  We certainly don't want a Walmart moving in.  It would spoil "the view."

I am guilty.  I don't care.  I know that villagers in Central America crave the Walmart.  And I am not one to say they are better off without one, that this homogenizing of the world has made us dull.  Well.  I do say that.  But I know that they want the Walmart and I want to preserve pieces of the world in amber so that I can go and look at them. Sorry.  I love the "exotic."

That is why we liked Anthony Bourdain's shows.  He went to see people who were stuck.  CNN celebrates him as a Nobel prize type who had concern for the people of the world.  But he was having fun.  He went to socialize with "the other."  Wrap it up as you will.  He was like all the British colonizers of the 19th century who were running away from a culture that repressed them.  The world was colonized by "sexual deviants" seeking their opium dreams.

That is the currency of postmodernism.

I want to visit the pockets of the world where some reminders of the past can still charge me.  I want to be Oriented.  I want to see things and do things I can't do at home.

Sir Richard Burton.  Lawrence of Arabia.  Lewis Carrol.  Well, he never went anywhere, but he wanted to.

So much of it for me, really, is purely visual.  I live in the amalgamation of all your worst nightmares.  I live in the test market for chain stores, the roads lined with every imaginable restaurant you can see anywhere but never in such abundance.  That is why I want to go to places like the Ozarks.  Say hello.  I want to come see you backward fucks in Appalachia, too.  Don't get pissed.  I'm calling out to my relatives.

You can still have real adventures in the U.S. if you have the nerve.  Take a trip into the Louisiana bayou, if you dare.  Rent an airboat and ask directions to that houseboat cafe up river on a Saturday night.   I haven't had the courage so far.

I do love the glamor and the contrast of Manhattan.  I want to see the New Bohemia in Detroit before it is homogenized, too.  When people tell you they "love Seattle," what is it they are speaking of?

It ain't like "back home."

I'm living "back home."  It is a fine place to get away from with easy access to cheap airfare.  But staying here without going somewhere "exotic" too long is like sitting in white room listening to Abba.  I've gotta gotta go.

Yesterday, I felt that someone was going to tap me on the shoulder, smile at me, and introduce herself.  I could almost see her, but her face was a silhouette, the sun directly behind her.  It gave her a halo.  It gave her a glow.

That was nice.

Really, I am feeling like someone who got trapped in amber--at the mall--stuck there eternally.  Can you imagine my future embarrassment?

I'll book a trip this weekend.  And when I do, you'll be the first to know.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Forgetting



I don't want this site to become just black and white.  I'm trying to post color on alternate days.  I like color.  It is what we see and it is pretty.  But the graphical qualities of b&w are sometimes just overwhelming and I can't resist.  This woman's hair color, for instance, against the milkiness of her skin is stunning.  It is nice to be able to render that.  Still, I am going to post the black and white version of this, too, and let you try to decide.  Sometimes I think that if I want black and white pictures, I should shoot in monochrome only, but then again, it is nice to be able to decide after the fact.  When I have only black and white film cameras with me, I see things that call for color rendering, and I am regretful.

I want to live without regret.

I went to a monthly birthday celebration with some of the cool kids from the factory last night.  I don't like doing group things.  It is truly stressful for me.  The entire group dynamic energy has worn on me since I was a kid.  I was always the mopey one sitting in another room watching the party.  There always seemed a politics at play, an aggressive energy that wore on me.  I didn't mind watching, I just wanted to be ignored.  But the group from the factory are really a nice lot, most of the time, and I usually feel at ease with them soon enough.  From time to time, though, just when I think we are getting to that level of weirdness that I truly enjoy, I'll say something that seems to dismay EVERYONE, and I don't go back again for a long, long time.

Last night, I got reports about one of my ex-girlfriend's behavior since we have split that I didn't want.  But I got it anyway.  It makes me uncomfortable to hear her/my life talked about in public, but there it is.  About her behavior, they were not approving.  But that is what always happens after a breakup, isn't it?  People are finally free to say what they thought all along.  "You know, I never liked the way. . . ."  I do it, too.

I thought about what I was told on my drive home.  Maybe it was good for me to hear.  I don't care as much any more.  I am ready to be excited about taking a trip.

But it is hard to be happy when you know people's lives are being turned inside out by a hurricane.  I am all empathy having been financially ruined by one.  Those who have not, no matter what, never have enough sympathy.  It is normal and natural that they don't want to think about your misery too long.  "It's terrible, but at least you are alive.  You'll be fine."  What else are they to do?  I can't sit and watch the coverage of the carnage.  It is all too real to me.  Too many people's lives will never be the same.  It isn't about deaths; it is about destruction.

Today is another long day at the factory.  I should go have dinner with my mother tonight, but I know I am going to be exhausted and just want to come home, pour a drink, sit on the couch, and fall asleep.  I already feel guilty.  Maybe I can rally this afternoon and go over and watch t.v. with her.

But god, sometimes I just want to be alone.  More than sometimes.  Like most people, I guess, I don't want to be alone when I have to be, but when I can choose it, I most often do.  What is the term for living too much in your own head, for having conversations with yourself?  I should know this, but all I can think of is solipsism.  That isn't the term I'm searching for.  It is some combination of solipsism and nihilism.  What is it?  It is literary.  Shit.  Whatever.

Here is the black and white version.  It has it's own charm.  Charm.  That is the wrong word, too.  Maybe I should try talking to others more.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Brando, the Life Coach



And then. . . I was not having fun.  I was happy for an evening, most of it, anyway, then that was snatched from my grasp.  I was ready to travel alone.  Now, I think, I will be haunted.  From the outside, you can say, "Ah, bullshit, fuck that.  You need to get out of town."  But you know how it is from the other side.  Humans are weak. 

You must never show the weakness. 

My mother says she hasn't cooked a meal or cleaned the house since I moved home.  Tell me, is that a cry for help or what?  Suddenly, everything I've tried to do is crumbling. 

I was starting to do well.  I really was. 

It is just what I get. 

I saw a man on the street with his belongings.  There are many of them, but I saw this guy.  He was about my age.  He didn't look happy, but he hadn't killed himself, and I thought about my whining.  Would he trade places with me?  We all think we know the obvious answer, but do you ever talk to homeless people?  I do.  I used to be known as the "bum anthropologist" when I was doing grad work in that field.  I had specialized in "urban nomads."  Some of the homeless are there voluntarily.  They don't want to deal with the stress of a house and a job.  It is too much for them.  Paying bills and keeping up--that's what makes them want to kill themselves.  Being an urban nomad is freedom.  They don't envy me.  Don't get me wrong.  If I gave them the house and the car and the bank accounts, they'd take them, but they'd just cash out and spend.  It would be a great holiday.  But they wouldn't move into the life.  They are done with that.  Done.  They are like European Roma.  There is a way of life and a code. 

I need to quit feeling that I shouldn't whine, that I am so lucky.  This is what I've done.  It is what I get. 

My dead ex-friend Brando was like a Roma.  He squandered everything he got.  Squandered.  I don't know if that is the right word.  He used it in pleasure seeking.  He'd be flush, then broke.  He inherited his parent's house, moved in, but never spent any money on upkeep.  When everything started to fall through and break down, he just sold it and moved into an apartment.  He had a wealthy aunt who had no living relatives other than him and his kids.  He would go to see her once in a while.  She was getting close to death and he thought he was in for a big inheritance. 

She fooled him. 

I saw him when he came back from the reading of the will.  He was never the same.  He got mean and greedy.  He started stealing from his own businesses and cheated his friends.  It didn't stop him, though.  Those he hadn't cheated still came to see him to hear his colorful tales.  He stole money from his girlfriend, and she left him.  He left the condo and rented a room in someone's house.  His business shut down and he left the country to live in Greece in a donated room in a hotel that one of his old clients owned.  He continued to feed his legend, writing home about his life, reading, writing, eating two meals a day and drinking Retsina.  He fell ill and went to the hospital.  They said his organs were "worn out."  That is where he died. 

It was the life he chose.  It's what he got. 

There is a certain "madness" that eschews what we call safety, for that safety comes with too many responsibilities.  There is the old tale about dog and the wolf (link).  There are dogs and there are wolves.  I am afraid I tried to walk in between the raindrops, so to speak.  I let Brando be my financial guide, but I tried to hold on to the "normal" life.  I tried to play in the boundaries and stretch the rules to the breaking point while still maintaining the trappings.  And those were not just the material.  They were emotional, too. 

With each love affair, I've bounced in the opposite direction.  Safe, crazy, safe, crazy.  I realize I'm too much of one and not enough of the other, Janus faced, looking in both directions at once.  There is a good book about it that fucked me up.  "The Razor's Edge." 

There is no use comparing lives with that homeless man, feeling lucky or guilty or something in between.  We make choices.  We get what we get.  And you have no right to tell me to quit moaning.  It is an expressive mode with its own set of rules.  I know, I know, nobody likes a whiner.  I'm with you on that if it is simply whining.  I'm a moaner, I declare, which consists of a bit of whining blended with a real attempt at analysis.  I'm a spiritual seeker, a cosmic flaneur, a mystical shaman on his way to Mecca. 

O.K.  You're right.  It is annoying.  I'll stop it.  This was just a free writing exercise in search of a theme.  Morning therapy.

But fuck, why do they call just when you are headed toward happy?  How do they do it?  How do they know? 

It is one of the secrets of the cosmos. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Crazytown



Jesus Christ.  Shit happens.  But why?  And why need it happen to me?  I've been minding my own business, trying to be a good son and a good person, mostly solitary and contemplative, doing yoga alone in my house and reading "The Little Book of Zen" here and there.

It occurred to me last night with great alarm that I had a credit on Delta airlines that had to be used by the middle of THIS MONTH.  I have known it, but things being what they are, the month has simply slipped away while I wasn't looking.  Quickly, I began researching airline tickets on the Delta site.  My credit would get me to NYC and back, but the weather may be shit there as the hurricane makes its way northward after landfall.  I didn't want to take an expensive chance.  So I looked at Chicago.  Wow.  You can't fly to Chicago from my own hometown for under $600.  What's up with that?  Then I thought about Cali.  I haven't been for several years now where I used to go every summer.  There are no non-stop Delta flights to San Francisco--why?--but my voucher would cover most of the cost.  Then I thought about L.A.  Holy moly, tickets there are CHEAP.  I thought about that.  I could fly into L.A. and out of San Fran.  I could spend a week or more driving up the coast with my cameras.  The more I thought about it, the more excited I became.  Remember, I haven't been anywhere for around a decade, or so it seems.  I called my mother to gauge her response.  She was happy for me, it appeared, and she would be o.k. with my going.  I called Q to see what the weather was like out there.  He was a dick and told me that it was California, that it was always beautiful.  I could have gotten that from a travel poster.  Ironically, he told me he would be in New York when I was in Cali, so we would miss one another when I came.

I went online and began planning the places I'd want to go, where I'd want to stop, where I would want to spend the night.  Good old California.  There is something that I have always wanted to do that is crazy for someone of my economic bracket, but I checked it out to see.  The cheapest room I could get at the Beverly Hills Hotel is around $600/night.  Bad.  Sure.  But. . . what sort of man hasn't slept at the Beverly Hills Hotel?  O.K.  Good question.  But alone?

I was undecided, but I knew which way I was leaning.  Fuck it, I thought to myself.  Two nights.

And then it would be all Motel 6's up the coast.

Q disabused me of the idea that I could find anything cheap.  "It's California," he said.

I need some fuck you money.

I pulled up YouTube on my t.v. and started looking at videos of trips from L.A. to San Fran.  And I watched three that gave me a tour of the Beverly Hills Hotel.  I was getting my vibe.  I was getting psyched.

Then the phone rang.  It was an old girlfriend I haven't heard from for a season.  You know how that goes.  I didn't get off the phone until after midnight.  And then I didn't sleep well at all.  My mind, which had been so peaceful and just beginning to find a happy place, was thrown into turmoil.  Pros and cons.

In the morning, I had some texts.  Forget about last night, they said.  Bad idea.

O.K.  I hadn't asked for that in the first place.  And now I am tired and feel on the verge of coming down with something, and where my mind had been focused on a happy road trip, it is trying to piece back together some semblance of how I felt just ten hours ago.

And that is why I say, "God hates me."  Timing is everything in comedy, right?  Timing is everything in sports, too.  Hell, timing is just everything.  In my experience, some things are inevitable.  Like last night.  You go along and think that such knowledge is really only paranoia, but paranoia doesn't make it any less true.  I've been dealing with issues in my life in a healthy way lately.  I am not panicked that my roof leaked again in a terrible storm two nights ago.  It is just something that I have to deal with.  I have to call the roofer and get him to fix it.  There is a rat in the attic, I think, though it sounds like two bobcats screwing.  But I will deal with that without emotion as well.  And I can feel a shit storm of other bad news in the offing.  Like most of us, I'm prescient that way.  But goddamnit, I was having my first happy thoughts in a long time.  And now I'll have to retool.  It isn't fair.  It isn't fair.

But what is?

I will go to the factory now and grind through the unhappy day.  I will come home too exhausted to do anything let alone find the joyous energy to plan my trip.  I have taxes to do.  I have many house repairs to see to.  God knows what I'll do with my airline voucher now.

I guess that was fate's intention all along.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What About Mother Teresa?



I don't watch tennis.  I'm not against it, it just doesn't interest me.  It never has.  I would rather watch a tennis match than a golf tournament, of course, but that is saying little.  I did watch the Bobby Riggs matches with Margaret Court and Billie Jean King, but that was all spectacle and not about sport.  It was a social engagement.

So. . . I wish I'd seen the Venus Williams/Naomi Osaka match.  It has become a cultural touchstone.  I can't turn on the "news" without hearing important people opine.  It was not about the sport.  It was about race and gender.  That's what they say.

And, of course, those arguments are predictable.

But this one got me (link).  You can skip ahead to minute seven of the clip if you like.  Watch it now.  I'll wait.

Holy shit!  Right?  When you become a parent, you become holy, for Christ's sake.  I mean, sure, I get it.  Hitler didn't have children.  See?  Oh, he may have had a rumored child, but nothing more than that.  Morality comes with parenthood.

But wait!  Trump has children.  Lots of them.  And he is proud of his daughter. . . one of them, anyway.  I wonder if TourĂ© would say the same about him?

No I don't.

The other thing about the segment that bothers me is that they never mention that she was getting hand signals from her coach, and that is not allowed.  But like Clinton, she must wonder about what the definition of cheating is.  If you get hand signals from your coach and then say you are owed an apology because you have never cheated and would never cheat because you have a baby. . . .

But sure, I get it.  The other things trump this.

I find the argument shoddy at best.  But what do I know.

It is important to say that Venus Williams was a real champ when she told people to quit booing Osaka.  She wanted everyone to know that even Osaka would benefit from this in the future.

I don't know if Osaka has any children.

I won't link you to the Martina Navratilova opinion piece in the New York Times.  Oh, O.K. (link).  I am not saying she is right.  I think it is the result of the inevitable generational thing.  And, of course, Navratilova doesn't have any children which sort of negates her argument right away.

Enough of that.  I stand accused.

And I am guilty. . . of hoping that the big-assed hurricane doesn't come near my own hometown.  That means I'm hoping it goes somewhere else, and that can't be good for my karma.  But what do I do?  Hope it goes into outer space?  We are all screwed, though.  Climate change is already causing hunger as crop production drops.  What do you think that is going to do for world peace?  And Trump just made another big change in the environmental laws allowing for more methane to flow into the atmosphere.  Invest in gas companies, my friends.  Maybe you'll have enough money to buy the last scraps of goods.

Wait!  What happened to my Yoga Bliss?  I did my practice again last night, but I didn't feel as happy afterwards.  I went up a notch and didn't feel comfortable.  I mean, it hurt and I felt like a crippled wimp.  I am getting fatter, I think, even though I am not eating.  My belly has taken on a life of its own.  I guess I'm not feeling as groovy today.

Well, I was told by another yoga practitioner that I would have my ups and downs.  I guess so.

But what about Mother Teresa?  Jesus, I hadn't even thought about that!

Monday, September 10, 2018

'Roided, Jacked, and Overblown



Jesus--you all must think I'm a dick!  Something must have changed in the settings for this blog because I used to get notifications of comments that were waiting to be approved.  I hadn't for a very long time, and I thought everyone was just tired of me.  I felt blue about it, but people have lives and maybe my schtick is getting old, etc.  Yesterday, I went into the settings of my blog and saw that I had any number of comments waiting to be published from months back.  I approved them yesterday.  Now I need to go back and respond.  I'm sorry.  It wasn't my fault.  I'm very appreciative of the correspondences.  They mean something to me.  Try again.  I want to see if I the changes I've made will bring notifications back to me again.

So. . . yesterday was day two of Blissful Me.  I walked to the park, did my outdoor exercising, ran a little farther than the day before, and then in the late afternoon, just before going to my mother's for dinner, I did Yoga for Adrienne. . . uh. . . I mean "with."  I was better at it than I was the day before.  It still hurt, but not as much.  Tonight I will up my game and go to Yoga for Beginners instead of Yoga for Complete Beginners.  Yea, buddy.  A few days of that and I will begin the 30 Days of Yoga series.

I only tell you this so that I can write about my shame later.  I have to have material.

But I stayed on the diet routine, though there seems no evidence in the way I look.  Maybe my face is sweeter, but my belly is still its jolly round mound of ugly.  No worries.  Fortitude.  And if I cut back the drinking, god knows.  Eating bark and twigs should have a positive benefit sooner or later.  Dividends.  I shouldn't say that, though.  I am eating vegetables and grains and protein.  Lunch was two eggs and an avocado.  See.  Of course, I finished off at the Cafe Strange with a mimosa or two which culminated in an early afternoon nap.  Such is the life of old men.

At my mother's later that day, I decided I would be manly and turn on a football game.  Dallas and Carolina was my only choice.  I tried.  I really did.  But I couldn't do it.  It used to be fun, I think, to watch a football game.  It must have been because I did it pretty much my entire life.  Well, I say that, but I haven't really watched for many, many years.  There is less football than commercials, I am certain.  Watch a couple plays then get blasted by some jackaroo shit.  Even the halftime highlights sucked.  I couldn't follow what the brain-dead commentators were saying.  I gave up.  What happened?  I guess it follows that we have to suffer something if we are going to pay players between half a million and a million dollars a game.  How did that happen?  And once they got that much money, we decided that they were smart and we started interviewing them and then they took themselves seriously, not as physical specimens which they are, but as thinkers.  Oh, boy, they think about things a lot.  I most interested in their political views.  Some real analysis there.

They should put Terry Bradshaw in a clown's suit on a drunk tank seat.  Dunk tank, I mean.

Watching the NFL reminded me of all that went wrong in America.  Hyper-everything.  'Roided,  Jacked, and Overblown.

Maybe it was the yoga that did it.  Maybe I'm becoming one of those people.  I did contemplate getting one of those braided string ankle bracelets.

I can see why all the hipsters prefer soccer.

After dinner, my mother and I watched a "60 Minutes" segment on polo pony cloning.  That was fascinating.  A fellow in Argentina cloned his favorite horse, and now he has about 100 of them.  All the horses he rides in his matches, and he is the best polo player in the world, are clones of that one horse.  His rival, the second best player in the world, is also Argentinian and is against the cloning of ponies.  The piece culminated in a match for the world championship between the two players' teams.  And it turned out to be a classic match with the score tied at the end of regulation. In overtime, the clones won.

Leslie Stahls asked the scientist responsible for the cloning if they could clone a human.  "Yes," he said.  He had been asked to do so by some of the richest people in the world.  Immediately I thought they should clone the two polo players.  Truly, I have never seen two handsomer or more assured men.  They made me want to kill myself.  But you know somewhere in the world, they are cloning people.  I thought about it, thought about which of my lovers I would clone.  But they would all have the same personalities, and I decided against it.  Everything would eventually turn out as it did the first time.

Would you buy a Marilyn Monroe clone?  How much would you pay for that tragedy?  But it is possible.  Well, if we have any of her DNA it would be.  Maybe you'd prefer a Cameron Diaz?  Or whomever.  I guess we'd all like another Cary Grant.  Yes, that would be good.

Jesus.  I'll bet Trump has had himself cloned somewhere.  This is the horror show.  Movies will be made about trying to kill all the Trump clones.  Here's a script possibility, kids.  Any takers?

I just want a wooly mammoth.  They have the DNA.  Bring back the Mammoth.

Sooner or later, if I go to China, I'm sure I'll finally get my Flying Monkey.  Who hasn't longed for one of those Flying Monkeys?

The Lakers, it is reported, have already begun cloning LeBron James.  In twenty years, they will field an entire team of James's.  Hear that Jordan?  Here's your chance to find out who is better.  LeBron Clone vs. Jordan Clone.  Hell yes!  Who is not down with that?

I'm up too early this morning, but what can I do?  I will be sleepy by noon.  Hell, I'm sleepy now.  But I am being productive, doing rather than sitting, reading rather than watching t.v., making pictures instead of moping.  There are just a few more things to do to get on with a new life.  Just a few.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Happy Chi



I probably feel better.  I won't commit yet, but I probably do.  And I've made some changes.  Remember, I said that when you are not happy, change things?  So yesterday I walked to a park where there is a large outdoor exercise area with pull up bars, parallel bars for doing dips--whatever.  It is an outside gym without weights.  It is about a mile and a half walk from my house.  Well, it is a mile and a half whether you walk or not.  But I walked, and all the way, I wasn't sure if I felt good enough to exercise.  I told myself I would be gentle and not make myself do anything that I didn't want to do.  That is the best thing to tell yourself.  Give yourself license.

When I got there, another fellow, athletic and ropey muscular, was doing the same sort of weird workout that I intended.  I started with stretching and calisthenics all the while feeling a bit self-conscious.  More than a bit.  I mean, I was doing jumping jacks for god's sake, but what the fuck, right?  It's a real thing.  Then I did some crunches and squats and pushups and pull ups and dips, and then I did them again.  After that, I ran half a mile.  I know it was half a mile because the sign said so.  It is a big loop around the park that brings you back where you started.  And then I did more push ups, etc.  And then I walked a longer way home.  I was beat.  No more gym, I thought, as I pondered my poor athletic condition.  Not for a long while.  I need a break from that.  I need a change.  I'll ride my bike.  I'll swim.  I'll become as ropey muscular as that other fellow.

It made me feel better to think so.

It rained all day, so I sat inside reading and going through some old picture files.  And of course, the inevitable nap.  But my stomach was still bad, so all I ate was some yogurt.  I told my mother I would cook for her and would be over around six-ish.

And then, the second change.  Before I went, I did Yoga with Adrienne.  I am starting all over with Yoga for Beginners.  I set up my computer on a stool and laid out my yoga mat and hit play.  Shit fuck.  Just sitting on the floor was torture.  Everything was, the gentle twists, the planking, the downward dog--all of it.  I know what I'm supposed to look like when I do those things.  I'm looking right at Adrienne.  But no matter what position we took, I looked like a question mark.  For half an hour, I cursed myself for getting this way.

Then it was over and nobody had seen me struggling to do the simplest things.  And my chi was all groovy.  I'm not kidding.  I just felt better.  Head and body.

I cooked a simple meal for my mother and me/I/myself (?); four chicken thighs, two yellow onions halved, three stalks of celery, three chopped carrots, kosher salt, rough ground pepper, and red pepper pressure cooked for fifteen minutes and served over egg noodles.  Avocado and tomato salad.  Done.  I put on a movie, "The Razor's Edge" with Bill Murray, and felt the dharma.

"That's what messed me up, ma.  Stuff like this.  I didn't want to be a capitalist tool.  I wanted to search for meaning."

She didn't understand the movie at all, and I had to keep explaining what was happening.

"I don't understand.  Where are they now?"

"India."

Etc.

The film doesn't hold up as well as I'd hoped.  The swelling music is terrible and serves to make drippy scenes drippier.  Still, the good old spiritual journey away from home and back, the hero's tale and all that.  I was always a sucker.

And I was all yoga'd up.

Today, I will repeat.  Gentleness is my mantra.  And since I think I can eat today (last night's meal seemed not to muck me up), I will begin making a list of meals that I want to eat.  Not just meals, but foods.  An avocado a day.  Red peppers.  Couscous with stew drizzled on top.  Teas and yoga wine.  No whiskeys, no white sugars.  Dates and figs and date and fig cakes for sweetness.  Tumeric face masks and much water.  Fish and rice and many kinds of broth soups.  It takes planning.

I am looking forward to the new me, thinner, younger, sprier, prettier.

I don't know.  But maybe I'll be a little happier for a while.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Poisoned



I don't know if people come to read this blog on the weekends or not, but I wanted to post this picture today.  I couldn't wait.  I really like it.  But I wonder, when do people come to this site?  Do they come every day or do they come once in awhile and read several posts at a time?  Do they skip weekends?  I don't know.  It doesn't matter.  The more I stare at this photo, the less certain I am anyway.  No, it doesn't matter.

Have you ever come home after work on a Friday afternoon and sat down on the couch, maybe put something on the television, then fell asleep sitting up until it was dark?  Disconcerting, right?  What do you do then, coming to in that somnambulistic state, unable to consider going anywhere, knowing it is too early for bed?

I thought I was well, but apparently, I am not.  I woke this morning with a belly full of grief.  I think someone is poisoning me, but I can't figure out how they are doing it.  I have barely eaten.  Maybe it is something they put on the rim of my coffee cups and glasses.  For what reason, though?  Who have I offended?  Who have I wronged?

But it need not be a real offense.  Any imagined one would do.

After waking in those hours between dozing on the couch and bed, I watched a ton of Bill Burr videos on YouTube.  There is an entire world of information and entertainment I am not part of.  There were interviews on internet shows, podcasts, and really bad videos of live performances.  I felt as if I had stumbled upon a cult watching them.  Joe Rogan was part of it.  People tell me I should listen to his podcasts, and I am taken aback.  Really?  You think I should listen to Joe Rogan?  They think he has interesting things to say.  And again, I'm like, really, Joe Rogan.  I had the same reaction last night when I saw him with Bill Burr.  It diminished my enjoyment of Burr by degrees.  Nothing he said was as funny afterwards.  He looked more the knucklehead than he did before.  The whole internet t.v. show thing looked hideous.  I felt I was watching "House of Idiots."  It was shocking, I guess, to run into that world full bore.  I had been neither prepared nor inured.  It was like stumbling into a Scientology meeting when you were looking for a Bingo game

What does one do on a Saturday with a belly full poison, limbs heavy, mind dulled?  I'd eat some opium if this were truly a free country.  But it isn't.  Most of the things I like are illegal or severely frowned upon.  Perhaps I'll go lie on my mother's couch and keep her company watching t.v.  She would like that, and there is little else for me to do.

Still. . . my riches for some opium.

Friday, September 7, 2018

And It's Not Even the New Year



You know those mornings when you wake up and you think, "I'm going to change my life.  No more processed food.  I'm only snacking on nuts and fruits and vegetables.  Tahini and humus.  I'll eat a lot, but it will be good for me.  And I will do 100 pushups and sit ups before bed every night, and I will stretch every morning.  I will drink at least one gallon of water every day."  You think that, and you can feel your body changing, feel yourself getting healthier and happier.  And then you get another cup of coffee and some of that cinnamon ring you bought the night before.  When it is gone, though. . . .

That is my morning.  Exactly.  I stayed home from work yesterday and did nothing.  I barely ate, just soup, and I started feeling a bit better last night.  I think the belly stuff is almost gone.  I won't sound like the trombone and tuba sections warming up at the symphony any more. . . I hope.

But I will, I tell myself.  I will change everything.  That is what you should do when you are unhappy, right?  Change every routine you have fallen into.  Hell, it could be fun.

I might give up talking, too.  That probably causes me more trouble than everything else combined.  Almost everybody is "personally offended" by the least thing, and I am far from being the least thing.  What are we to do with people who know right from wrong, who have made up the narrowest of moral codes?  If Trump has his way, we'll all be in jail soon.  And if what passes for the left has its way, we might as well be.

Yes, I will change my diet and my communications.  I will drink water.  I will stretch and go for long walks.  I will sleep through the night.

And everyone will love me.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Luxury And A Necessity



Random faces in a crowd.

"Why would you want to do that?"

How does one explain?

"Why did Cezanne paint random pieces of fruit?"

Not saying this is like a Cezanne, but it was all I could think of.

I should have stayed home yesterday, but I didn't.  I sat through a two hour meeting in a small conference room with my guts sounding like a bowling alley on Saturday night.  It was pretty embarrassing.  I haven't eaten much.  Skipped lunch and had soup for dinner, but things are still going on.  Bacteria or virus?  Maybe I ate bad tuna at the sushi restaurant and nematodes are killing me now.  I tried the whiskey prevention, but maybe they've evolved.  Evolution happens more quickly in small things.

I've been in my own bed for six nights now, and the reality has come to me especially when I wake up in the night.  I have to get a social life again.  I used to have the studio.  Jesus, it sustained me.  I was happy.  I could go there and work or sit and think or go out back and talk to Jeff the Artist.  I could walk to about six great bars and restaurants.  No, more than that.  I gave it up when I met a girl.  That looks like a terrible decision now.  The studio was a life saver.  Now, my only refuge is a camera and a computer.  That is not enough.  I need space to work, space to store, space to think.  I had the studio for about six years.  It was more than a luxury.  Right now it seems a necessity.

As does travel.  I will book some trips.  I watched an old film reel on tourism in New Jersey last night.  It was probably shot in the early 1960s.  It was funny, but the images of all the New Jersey beach towns and odd tourist spots gave me an itch.  I've never been.  A week rambling through N.J. would be awfully fun, especially knowing NYC is there for the taking.  I'm thinking about it.  And Detroit.  And Nashville.

And of course, Amsterdam and Paris.

I watched a couple of travel docs on Morocco last night, too.  I'm 50/50 on it.  Too much bright modernity making the old markets and alleyways look faked.  But maybe I shouldn't watch Morocco on a bad stomach.  My neighbors went and had the shits the entire time.  I looked at the market food in those films with great suspicion.

But Japan. . . if I can justify $1,000/day, I will go to Japan.  That, I am told, will most likely be the cost of a trip there.

Sponsor?  Anyone want to be a sponsor?

Oh, and Berlin.  There are great photographers in both Nashville and Berlin I would like to see.  They can give me the insider's guide.

Today, though, will just be home.  I'll watch more travel docs, maybe.  And sleep, if the neighbor's house alarm which came on about five minutes ago ever goes off.

I look at my street pics and wonder at how close I get.  Looking at Winogrand, I think I should not get so close.  But who does?

I will think about this before I go to Jersey.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It Was the Fear that Got Me, But It Was Beauty Killed the Beast



I feel bad all over.  Woke at three with a bad stomach.  Then, alone in bed in my own home, the horor show began again.  I may not go to work.  I have lots of sick days.  I never use them.  I could eat oatmeal and drink teas and sleep.  That would be the sensible thing to do.

It was the fear that got me.

I think about King Kong.  What a misogynist he was.  But even misogynists get lonely.  He was fine until he met Ann Darrow.  After that, his life was never the same.  Ann liked him, but she never loved him, not the way she did Jack Driscoll.  Jack was chivalrous, see, a real swell guy.  There is a lesson to be learned there, of course.  Kong could kick the shit out of Driscoll, but that didn't matter.  Driscoll wasn't bright, and he wasn't really good looking.  He didn't even own a certain je ne c'est quoi.  But Jack was a regular guy, a real Steady Eddie.  When he met Ann, his bachelor days were over.

I wonder how all that turned out?  Though they made a lot of Kong sequels, they never followed Ann and Jack into the future.  Nope.  Kong stole our attention.

All the women want to marry Abel, but they turn their heads and look when Cain walks through the door.

The sun is up, and I have to make a decision.  Staying home is physically appealing, but I don't know that I want to be alone today.  I've already skipped the gym.  Maybe I'll go in for just a little while.

You know what they say.

"It was beauty that killed the beast."



Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Handful



I've worked like the devil on processing photographs from old hard drives that have never seen the light of day.  I get excited by an image and think, "I can make that pop," then work on it as the music carries me along.  It is not quick or easy.  I may work on an image for a very long time, maybe an hour.  Then, finally, I move to the next one, then the next one.  And after some time, I will go back and look at the images I have made, and then. . . . They are not all good.  And after working on some, I realize that what I did did not work and that I'll need to start over and do it again.  But I learn each time, even from the pictures that don't work.  It takes intense, concentrated, and extended effort to get a work flow that gives you satisfaction.  I'm still somewhat random and experimenting, but last night, I think I found a breakthrough for color images. I think that, but I haven't gone back to look at them this morning.  It is too dark.  The night still surrounds me.  I will wait for the sun to chase the demons away.

I woke up too early.  I woke up unhappy.

For two of the three days of this long weekend, I was ecstatic to be back in my own house able to spend my time doing what I wanted and when I wanted.  I drank too much and tried to figure out gummies and stumbled off to bed to fall into a coma.  By Monday, though, my body had had it.  I was moving in bubble gum.  I skipped the gym and took a long walk.  I worked on pictures and went to the grocery store to get fixin's for lunch with my mother, our traditional hot dog and hamburger Labor Day Feast.  I fixed the late lunch then fell asleep on her couch.  I'd only drunk half a bottle of wine, but I felt terrible and took a handful of ibuprofen.  In the early evening, I gathered up some my things that are still at her house to take home.  I could feel the sadness, her loss of companionship, the guilt.  I'd spent half the day with her, but now the darkness was coming and she would be alone.  Jesus Christ, I thought, in her own house with her own things.  How much life am I expected to give up?

But the illness or the guilt came back with me, and I felt the emptiness of the night, could feel the despair from miles away.  I made some chai.  I worked on pictures, but I forgot the music.  There was no music.  I thought I would go to bed, but something drove me to the library.  One scotch.  Some camera porn on YouTube.  A second scotch.  Bed.

Babies cry all the time.  They are mostly not happy about things.  We should never, ever forget that.

In the darkness, I try to go back to sleep, but I start thinking.  Ili made a clean break.  Her life starts over fresh and new.  Since coming back home, I live in a museum.  Neighbors say, "We haven't seen you two around for awhile."  One called her my wife.  I open the cabinet and there are things she bought, teas she drank, ingredients for a breakfast bread she used to make me.  I lay in the darkness and think about the good parts.  Knowing nothing good can come of this, I get up.

The start of a new day.

Last night, after working on my own pictures for days, I looked at the big Garry Winogrand book I bought and saw the similarities and the differences to and from what I have been working on.  I see things I hadn't noticed before.  I see where he was random and where he was more composed.  I see the ones that are a compromise.  "If only," he must have thought.  I see the photographs that were made from overexposed negatives and the ones where the exposure was right on.  Some images were too good to let go.

Then I got up and went back to look at mine.  I cull more of mine from the herd.  In the end, after working for three days, I will end up with a couple that will work for me in the future.  That's weeks of shooting and many, many days of editing.  A couple. . . maybe.

Oh, I will show you more for sure.  You can't show a picture a day without showing most of them.  But in the end, you know. . . a couple, maybe.

I keep looking at other photographers, anywhere I can see their works, on YouTube, on Facebook, on Instagram.  I get intimidated and depressed.  There are so many and they are all good.  For a moment.  Then, I realize, it is like the mania as I work on my own images and think I have a treasure trove, and I work to make them pop.  And then, fewer, then fewer still.  And I go back to those other photographers and think, yea, that looks good, but wait, it will end up on the cutting room floor.

What lasts?  The longer you look and contemplate, the more you know to look for, the more you cut and discard.  In the end, there are only a handful left.

This morning, I am hoping to have a handful.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Meditation



I think I have made the transition back into my own home.  Spent the last three nights here.  I like it.  Yesterday's rain kept me inside, and that was alright.  I spent the day working on old photographs that have been sitting untouched on hard drives for years.  I put on music and worked like I used to, experimenting a little, developing new ways to get a "look."  I know it sounds like a drag, but it was/is really fun.  It's all driven by the music, I think.  Without the music, it could be a drag, but I find some romantic place in me full of melancholy rather than sadness, and that drives the process.  I hope my pictures are touched with melancholia.

I have plenty of "new" photographs for the blog now, enough, I think, to balance between black and white and color.  That is what I like to do.  That is fun

Just checked the weather for today.  Looks as if it will rain all week.  It is tropical storm season here now.  Gray skies and light anxiety.

Not me.  I was prepared to give up drinking, but I have been in my own house and have not.  A beer, a glass of wine, some whiskey, and trying to figure out the whole gummy thing.  Three nights at home staggering to my own bed and dropping off like an anchor.  Waking in the morning with anticipation and aspiration.  Who knows now what great and wonderful things I might fail at?  Hey, failing is trying, and it is good just to be at the table again.

But, yes, I need to quit drinking.  And now, back in my own house, it might be that I can get out at night for a yoga class or maybe a dance class or something.  My flexibility is shot.  I want to become Gumby, dammit.

That is a report.  You can't get many stories staying in the house alone.  You do things and report, or you read things and opine.  The conflicts are internal, but they are the same ones you wrote about before.  And if you don't write about conflict, the best you can do is write lyrically.  But if you don't do that, you simply give the old emotional weather report and hope that people can go, "Yea, I've done that," or "I felt like that.  Ha-ha, I've stumbled to bed plenty of times and thought the next morning, 'Hey, I've got to stop this.'"

But the big boys and girls are working.  They have a vision that drives them and they never waiver; they just keep plowing ahead.  And then they become Alec Soth (link).

Or they don't.  They just keep doing what they are doing obsessively without success, and then they die.  We don't hear about them so much.  Not much at all.  We just know that they are weird and dour characters to be avoided at cocktail parties as much as possible.

There are things I need to do today that I don't think I'll do because I am terrible at doing what I don't want to do.  I'll put them off until the very last moment, or I will wait until it is too late to do what could have saved me money and time if I had done them when I should have.  I know this.  But I will rationalize that I deserve to do the other thing, the thing I want to do which is generally not to do the thing that needs to be done.  Life in the Panic Room.

Remembering something, I will leave you with this (link).  It is a thing that I enjoy.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Un-Ravelling




In a flash of brilliance, I called my mother and asked about dinner.  She didn't act as if she was expecting me.  I told her I would go to the grocer's and come make spaghetti.  I was going to stay at my place again, though.  When I got there, she was talking about one of her friends in the neighborhood, a divorced woman in her sixties.  They went to lunch and I'll bet my mother was voicing her concerns about being in the house alone because she said, "Loretta tells me there are groups you can join that do various things like go on trips or go to dinners. . . ."  It made me happy and sad at the same time.  Her friends have all died or are too bad off to go out, suffering from blindness, deafness, Alzheimer's. . . . I don't like to think about it.

After dinner, I was trying (once again) to show my mother how to use the three remotes necessary to go from her regular cable service to the Amazon control so she can watch Netflix, Amazon, etc.  It is simple.  Everyone does it.  You can do it, too.

When I got home, I got a call.  She couldn't get the t.v. to work.  I told her what to do, but in that panicked, exasperated voice of total confusion, she said it didn't work.  I got into my car and went back.  I pushed the two buttons that I told her to push and she looked at me and said, "I did that.  I swear.  That is what I did.  It didn't work."

I have a feeling she will forego the remotes and stick with commercial t.v.

Is that the future?

In between trips to my mother's house, I got into a brouhaha with a neighbor.  He is a professor at the Country Club College.  I have only said hello in passing but never had any formal introduction.  He has two kids and a wife, and they live in the smallest house in the neighborhood, so they like to take their kids out to play in the street.  My neighborhood has very narrow winding roads, and the family are usually in no hurry to get out of the way.  Last night, they had nine kids and a bunch of adults outside at dusk riding bikes and scooters and howling like banshees.  As I came down the street, a woman in the middle of the road with a kid on a scooter didn't move, didn't attempt to, and stood with her back to me in an arrogant fashion.  When she finally moved, the same thing happened further down the street.  When the woman finally looked at me, it was with disdain.

I parked in my driveway and began gathering up the packages I had to take inside, and I could see the prof walking my way.  When I got out of the car holding bags in both hands, he walked into the driveway and began.  He's a big fellow, about six foot six, but he has the soft, un-athletic body of a school marm.  Still, he is half my age and big and he raised himself up to talk to me.  I've sworn off violence, but there is a trigger in me that I can't seem to disarm.  When he came up, I felt the blood rush to my muscles and my eyes go a bit wild.

In the main, in a passive aggressive way, he wanted to tell me he noticed that I tended to run up close to the kids on several occasions.  Three, he said.  Holy shit, holy shit, what an adrenaline dump.  I wanted to drop him.  I still do.  I told him a lot of what I thought, but not all.  I told him I liked kids and that they could play in my yard.  I didn't have a problem with the kids.  It was adults I didn't like.  I told him that I didn't like the way he rolled up on me in his passive/aggressive way, and that I didn't function well with that, that I was either passive or aggressive.  Oh god, how I wanted to drop him where he stood.

But I didn't.  You cannot do that now.  You cannot hit people.  I could probably have shot him and had less trouble in this Stand Your Ground state.  Yes, I'm pretty sure I could.  But hitting people is unforgivable.  So I didn't, and we parted in mutual disgust.

I don't like that smug motherfucker, but what can be done?  I will do the prudent thing and avoid driving on that part of my road again.  That is as big as I can be.  I will just try to avoid more conflict.

'Cause that's the way I am.  I'm a conflict avoider.  I'm a passive, peaceful hippie.

I wasn't going to write that because I know that most of you deal with your anger in other ways.  And I will, too.  From now on, I'll just say, "Get away from me."  That is all I should have said last night.  I should have said, "You're boring me, and I have things I need to do."  How can someone respond to that?  Maybe if I am irritating enough, he will get mad and some switch can flip in him.

Fuck it.

So last night I drank too much watching "The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith" (link), and I ate half a gummy.  I didn't make it through half the documentary.  I was out like somebody else's light.  I've never had a gummy before and didn't gauge it right.  When I woke this morning, I realized I hadn't moved all night.

This morning, too, I realized that was not the documentary I meant to watch.  It is a good one and came with high recommendations from a woman who said she thought of me the entire time she watched it.  But the one I wanted to watch is the one about Garry Winogrand (link).  I don't know why I thought I could watch it, though, especially in my own home.  It hasn't even been released theatrically yet.

I may be unraveling.  It could be awful and colorful.  I'm pulling for the second.

Now. . . for this.  After having bought Leica digital M cameras, three of them now in my possession including the M10, I have fallen in love with the Rolleiflex.  The diptych at the top of the page was made with it.  And yesterday, I finally got around to scanning a roll of film I took with the little Olympus XA4 with the zone focussed macro 28mm lens.  I love the images.  I really love the images.

I am going mad, I think.  I'm looking at the cameras that surround me as I write and think I have a screw loose.  They are truly a warning sign.  What is it that is missing?  What am I searching for?  Why am I not content?

"Gee, doc, I've been trying to figure it out, see, but I don't know.  Maybe I need some help?  What do you think?"

"I think we should schedule you for three visits a week so I can get a baseline, then we can reevaluate.  Maybe it will take a while, but eventually we might be able to cut that back a bit.  Let's start aggressively and try to make some good progress right away."

I guess I'll have to go to NYC if I want to watch the Winogrand doc.  And that sounds like a capital idea.