Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Postings here will be spotty for the next week or so. I will be traveling. Who knows, maybe I'll have some stories to tell and some pictures to show. The next couple days will be hectic, too. Ili has already gone, and I am left to get ready on my own. I've travelled all over the world alone, but suddenly it seems more difficult to get prepared. Best not to worry about it so much, I think. Socks, underwear, t'shirts, a sweater and a jacket, hiking shoes, a scarf, a hat, and some jeans. The electronics make it more difficult. I will take one camera, I've decided, some lenses, and a laptop. What am I forgetting?
Things used to be so much easier. I used to book my airline tickets the week of my trip, show up at the gate a few minutes before departure, find a place to stay when I got wherever I was going. Now you must book your tickets far in advance to get a good price, secure a room wherever you are going, and arrive at the airport two hours in advance so you can travel the distance between the counter and the gate.
It is not just nostalgia to say that life has gotten more stressful. Psychologists have studied how many more decisions a person must make in a day compared to a few decades ago. There are more signs to read, more directions to follow, more warnings to heed.
But soon I'll be able to chill. I'll keep you posted when I can. Until then, ciao.
at 6:16 AM
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Monday, October 16, 2017
"Beware the barrenness of a busy life."
I took some pictures this weekend. I bounce back and forth between the camera I like to use, which one I love most. I shot with the Leica M262 this weekend. I have scarcely used it since I bought it. But I love it. It is a pip. It is just more difficult to use than any of the autofocus cameras. The little Fuji X100f is just so easy. But the images that come from the Leica are different. I know I sound like one of those ads. But, yup, there is truth to it, about that and about the "Leica Experience." It is not a practical camera, but it sure is something. When you get the image right, it can't be beat.
I saw the quote by Socrates on a YouTube photography video. That is it. Exactly. Some people need to keep busy. Busy-ness is my curse. It keeps me from everything important. It leaves me empty and dissatisfied.
One could end up like Donald Trump.
If I had an endless stream of endless days. . . .
This weekend was a lazy one. But I found out an open secret that will get me to NYC a whole bunch this year. I will become a weekend NYC photographer. And that secret leads me to others. With a little support, perhaps this will be a big year for me and my cameras.
It is scary, of course, to think of confronting myself this way. But not to would be a crime.
The man on the ball. The picture just screams "fall time" to me. The light is changing here, now, the sunlight sharper, the shadows deeper. It is about to be photo time in the southern states again, the flat, tinny light peeling away. I am ready, I think. I am ready for the darkness and the light.
at 5:18 AM
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Yea. . . this is what I've got. No kidding. I'm telling you, I've lost all my abilities.
Yesterday was lovely, though. Woke up late in Grit City, coffee and computer, then a long walk to the flooded lake where birds were catching fish in what used to be a street. Back to the tree house, a shower, then a mimosa breakfast of meats and biscuits and eggs and gravy. Then back to the tree house for a nap.
When we came back to my own hometown, we took the Vespa to the grocers and rode around a bit. Just off the Boulevard, which was closed for a Schlock Festival, we passed another Vespa coming toward us in the opposite direction. Funny thing, the expected fellow Vespa wave or beep of the horn was not in the offing. Carrot Head was driving. No love. I guess he's not that kind of guy. He's just never going to forgive and forget, I guess. C'est la vie.
Now it is time to get ready for the day. Much to do. I leave for a trip at the end of the week. I will tell you about it another time. But the weather here has turned nicer, cooler and drier (though not cool and dry), and we must hurry into it now. I have lingered far too long for someone else's taste.
at 6:17 AM
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Friday the 13th and Octoberfest--a combo. I chaffed at the bit all day at the factory, and so when my boss went to a two hour meeting at 2:30, I waited a bit before I cut and run. I was staying in Grit City that night, and I had cameras. I was ready to go try my luck at being a photographer again.
An hour or so into it, I had a couple snapshots of poles and draincaps. I was off. I didn't have it any more. I was sweating in the southern heat and humidity. Ili called. She would be coming soon. I told her that I thought I would stop and get a beer at a little craft beer place. O.K. She would meet me. I walked in to order feeling clumsy and awkward. I bumped into a pole. I felt all the tall, bearded hipsters give an unnoticeable smirk. The old fuck is killing the vibe.
I took my beer and sat outside away from the crowd so that I could look over the street. Everywhere people were setting up booths for Octoberfest. I felt puffy. I took out my phone and began texting myself a sorry missive about how I was no longer able to make pictures, wondering why.
In a bit, Ili showed up. I got her a gin and tonic. Double. I was worried since it was the 13th and all. I told her about my inabilities. She succored me. Then the owner of the bar came out and commented on the cameras. Ili took a couple pictures of him. And while we were talking, a family with a crazy little girl walked by. Ili paused, then in a second she jumped up and ran after them.
Ili's got the bug. Now all she has to do is learn how to use a camera. She'll be able to take over all of mine. Me? I need to live with my cameras 24/7 again until they seem part of my hand and not a live grenade that I'm holding.
Now it is Saturday and time for a walk around Grit City. It is just an exercise at this point, I guess. But I'm sure Ili will take some pictures.
at 7:06 AM
Friday, October 13, 2017
This was shot through a picture window in a restaurant where we sat in a small town north of my own hometown. I will be there this weekend, and (to misuse the word) hopefully, I will take some pictures. That is the plan. You know how plans go, though.
I sit and dream of my release from the factory, of the days when I can walk with a camera, go anywhere I want, spend as much time as I want, and use my genius to make the pictures I think I can make. That's how it is in dreams. God knows what the reality might be. But there are others who do it, others with much less creativity and intelligence than I have. Again, that's how it goes in dreams.
I didn't sleep well last night, and now it is Friday the 13th. What madness awaits? I will be on guard today for whatever treachery might be out there, but that is virtually useless (especially now that "virtual" and "literally" mean the same thing). We must be intrepid adventurers through the treacheries of the postmodern world where things are being flattened both figuratively and literally (ibid). Ideology and actuality are headed in opposite directions. These are strange and wicked times.
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
One must be so careful these days.
(from "The Wasteland")
at 4:46 AM
Thursday, October 12, 2017
C.C. sent me these quotes from an article about a showing of Wim Wenders' Polaroid pictures.
Wenders, too, now regards photography as a thing of the past. “It’s not just the meaning of the image that has changed – the act of looking does not have the same meaning. Now, it’s about showing, sending and maybe remembering. It is no longer essentially about the image. The image for me was always linked to the idea of uniqueness, to a frame and to composition. You produced something that was, in itself, a singular moment. As such, it had a certain sacredness. That whole notion is gone.”
"The culture has changed. It has all gone. I really don’t know why we stick to the word photography any more. There should be a different term" (link).
That's the kind of thing a certain kind of person says one day, I think, but we could say that about every art form, couldn't we? I think more likely it is over for Wenders. For me, it is just beginning. In a couple of years, I will do nothing but take pictures, millions a week. I will be in a mad rush to record all the things I've been unable to while chained to the factory. I'm not letting Wenders take this shit away from me.
By the time I get to do that, "sexy" will be a thing of the past, vilified as a male construct. Beauty is already being redefined. But as soon as this new version is codified and has become the new order, there will be a great nostalgia for the old days and the old ways. This is not some mystical forecast on my part. The new order is never right. It is simply new. And once it takes hold and the masses have a chance to massage the idea, the whole thing goes to shit. Everything goes to market, as they say, and then it is the market's and not the theorists. My theorist friends are already pissed off about the way the "undereducated" misuse new order ideas.
"They've gotten it all wrong. That is not what it meant. I hate. . . ."
An idea is impossible to control. When the dirty little fuckers get through with it, you begin to regret everything.
"Look what we've done! It was never supposed to be this way!"
All that is left is refuge in the ideas of the past. Nostalgia. That's why all the kids want film cameras and record players. It is hard to believe that people don't want to live in the world you've created.
Poor Wim Wenders.
Hell, those girls with their short shorts and crop tops could be the end of an era. Only heroic men who get titties will be dressing like that next year. But we'll turn on them eventually, too. Too much of the old femme there. And then all the corrupt old bastards will be trying to date Brazilian trannies.
And there you have it--the history of the future. Me and Wim telling it like it is.
at 5:58 AM
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Q's o.k., it seems, as is his family, so. . . in the face of such a terrible disaster, we go on.
Weinstein, however, appears to be a monster. I look at him and try to think of being a young actor asked to give him a blowjob for a small part, and I shiver. He's worse than a floor manager of a Chevy dealership. O.K, O.K., I shouldn't be that specific; however, there are people who know what I mean.
But Jesus, how did he think he would get away with it?
Of course that is not my point. I just didn't want to be one of those who hadn't come out and openly vilified him. That's more to my point. If you don't condemned him, you are considered an accomplice.
What I am worried about is the Harvey Weinstein Effect. You know what I mean. I haven't heard the phrase "old white men" used so much so openly in my life. Somehow, that is an O.K. thing to say. There are certain "classes" of people you can characterize and objectify and others you can't. It is supposedly based on power politics. I get it. But quit it. It is a dangerous thing to do.
I whine about the New Left a lot, and that is not a good thing I am realizing. I, of course, know many New Lefties. I don't agree with a lot of things they say and do. They judge and censure far too much for my taste, but that is me. And when I think about it in a more neutral way, I realize that they are trying very hard to do what they think is right and best. They are not consciously trying to do evil. They are saving the world the way young people always do. Of course. . . that is why we are in the shape we are in now. My friends and I were "that." We were saving the world.
Look where that got us.
So I will quit "hating" on the New Left so much. They are wrong a lot, but they are trying. I gotta show more love.
But listen, quit saying, "old white guys." You gather us into a group that you are really calling "The Harvey Weinsteins." Old White Guys is just another objectionable epithet. It's like saying, "Men with Mustaches," and I'm going to quit saying that.
I will lose this battle, though. You can't have art without depicting types. You know what I mean when I say "floor manager of a Chevy dealership." Yellow, short sleeve shirt, brown pants and tie. Very likely, a mustache. It is a sort of shorthand.
Fuck you, Harvey Weinstein.
at 4:43 AM
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
My guess is that these two women are sisters. Fun times in NYC.
It is hard to be fun and clever and witty when people you know are almost suffering. If you saw the news today, you know what is happening in Sonoma. Q has had to flee. When he wrote me that he was being evacuated, I thought, "Oh, this is just precautionary." Then I saw the picture of the entire subdivision burned to the ground. Wow. I've never seen the likes of that before. Q still can't go home. He says he doesn't know much about what happened in his neighborhood.
So I would feel bad being funny, clever, or witty today. This is like the moment of silence before some well-attended event.
It is difficult, though. When I had $60,000 worth of hurricane damage to my home, people just said, "Wow." I didn't make a big enough deal about it, I guess. My advice to Q: FEMA money. I think I passed up tens of thousands of dollars in aid out of ignorance and stupidity.
I really think those women are sisters, don't you?
Monday, October 9, 2017
Black and white film scan. Better than digital captures for some reason. I don't know why. I can't put my finger on it, but when they work, I here a cosmic "ohmmmmmm."
I have some film waiting to be processed now. So painfully slow in the contemporary world.
I drank water yesterday. It is terrible stuff, but other people do it, and Ili tells me it would be good for me, especially my joints which seem to have given up, so I decided to shoot for the recommended half gallon of water. I think that's what they mean when they say "eight glasses of water a day." "Glass" doesn't have a quantifiable definition, so I assumed it to be 8 oz. I drank water in 12 oz. gulps. I don't enjoy sipping on water the way people with those annoying screw top plastic bottles do.
"Zppp zppp zppp, glug, zppp zppp zppp."
I just have to get it down.
I was a champ yesterday. 100 oz. I feel like I've been touched by an angel.
I will try again today. 12 oz. slugs, maybe every hour.
I thought pee was supposed to be syrupy? Little uric acid crystals, perhaps.
Oh--that was straight water. I'm not counting the half gallon of coffee and the beers.
Now it is Monday, and. . . oh, shit, I hate it when Q does this:
"Sunday is here; it will pass quickly. Sunday is the weekend's evening, many spend it relaxing in preparation for Monday. It seems as if we should get paid for Sunday, maybe half the normal rate, We're not really working but neither are we free. Not like a Saturday, in which something unexpected might happen, the enchanting glow of possibility. Sunday is a day for making a roast, and knowing how the day will end. It resolves far more mysteries than it summons."
He's nailed it. I hate when he does that.
And just as I wrote that, Q texted me that he has been evacuated from his home due to wildfires. That's terrible. But now, at least, he'll be able to write about Mondays.
at 5:04 AM
Sunday, October 8, 2017
With Ili out of town, I have had more time for Tom Foolery. Part of that was spent in the virtual company of Q. It is terrible. I can say anything I want to there and he will do no more than tell me I need to read more Tony Robbins.
For a long time, I was confused and was reading Tom Robbins which wasn't taking me in the intended direction, I guess. Q must be a big Tony Robbins fan. He has certainly undertaken some life changes in the last few years. He doesn't look to me as his spiritual guidance counselor so much any more.
But still, I can still say anything to him without final judgement, and that is something. He is an enabler I think you call it. And so the weirdness just gets weirder.
But Ili has returned, and life settles back into its former pattern.
Part of my Tom Foolery was sitting at the computer for hours and working on pictures. It is important to have hours and hours to experiment. Sometimes, I get what I want. Last night when I should have been sleeping, I thought about ways to manage pictures in postproduction, things that I want to do, things that might not work but which I won't know unless I spend the hours trying.
But the hours. . . oh, where do I get the hours? Daily life comes with tremendous duties and expectations. You have to be willing to eschew all of that if you want to do the other. And therein lies the dilemma.
I wasn't sure which way I liked this picture, but Q said colored. I assumed he meant the colorized version, but then again, I can't be sure.
But it is better to keep those conversations private. We are ironical fools, ingenious and disingenuous, acerbic and loving. . . etc.
That is how I keep my circle of friends so small. When anyone is taken aback by something presumably too soon or one step too far. . . .
Now I'll begin my exploration of Tony Robbins. It seems to be working well for Q. I might as well give it a try.
at 5:10 AM
Saturday, October 7, 2017
I'm different when I'm alone. Some people don't like being alone. I have fun. Last night after work and after the gym, I was pretty beat, but there was still food to cook and marketing to do, so I went to the little Meat House Market just up the street and bought a marinated strip and some asparagus and a potato at a premium price. I just didn't feel like going out in the Friday traffic. They have lousy wine at this market and a very bad beer selection, but I picked out the one tolerable beer they had--Lagunitas.
It is a chore cooking for one, but it had to be done. Grill on, asparagus and potato oiled and seasoned and wrapped in tin foil, then the steak on the hottest grill in the universe searing the outside, then (I always do this unwittingly) burned, the heat reduced and the middle cooked pink. Beer, then wine, then whiskey and more YouTube videos. And then, at the usual sleeping hour, searching for music online and downloading it or hijacking it, then sending it out to unsuspecting friends.
Then, past midnight, the guitar.
But it is not that which makes me happy but the free play of creativity and imagination. Things begin to form and make sense. The blood boils and burns.
In the morning, I look back with horror at the stupid things I have done.
at 6:27 AM
Friday, October 6, 2017
Ili is out of town. I realize the difference. There is this and there is that. I like both, but I have one more than the other.
Last night, under a Harvest Moon (which I couldn't see due to cloud cover), I watched YouTube videos of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Those times don't look so good from here. It is quite embarrassing. No matter. It was massive. The whole world was susceptible to it. It was made for the masses. Nothing heavy. Art light. ArtLite.
As a result, we have The Donald. He is the group hallucination.
Enlightenment for Stupid People. ESP.
Its like giving acid to a duck. What insights they must have! They get that much closer to God.
But then again, it was a bromide to what was on television.
I live in a world where all my bromides are quite unacceptable. It is a case of identity politics gone bad. I can't speak out loud except to friends. Sometimes I feel like Renfield begging for a kitten.
at 6:19 AM
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Victims of time and circumstance. I always liked that line. T.C. Boyle. Surely he stole it, though. Borrowed, I mean. Uncredited still, if he did. It is one of the lines I consider putting on my headstone. If I have one, that is. Is it too soon to say something disparaging about the news coverage of the terrible tragedy? Sure.
But I don't know. About what to put on my tombstone, I mean. It seems irrevocable, like a tattoo. I have never gotten a tattoo. I can't even settle on a paint color for the wall.
"Does that yellow seem to have green in it? I don't know. It looks too green to me."
My father had a WWII tattoo. It was his first wife's name in a heart. Trixie. Yup. I shit you not. I don't think my mother cared for that much. He tried to sandpaper it off, I think. It was so blurred in my childhood that you couldn't really read it. I never met her, of course, but from what I heard, she was something of a free spirit. Names may be destiny.
Perhaps I'll never settle on a saying or a tombstone. They are the tattoos of the dead.
at 5:06 AM
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Another Ili Pic
Tom Petty died again, and his daughter is none too happy about it. She blames Rolling Stone magazine. I'm glad I'm not on their radar.
It was interesting to me to hear from the people most distressed about his death. In the general public, I mean. Or, more specifically, at work. My secretary was the first to tell me. She is thirty-one. It really upset her more than I would have imagined. Then, another women younger than I felt terrible that she would never see him in concert now. Since he used to try to play in my band when I was in college, it is just another war story to me. I think he did. Maybe. I'm pretty sure of it.
But the thing is, you always hero up. I mean, your heroes are always half a generation or more ahead of you. All my heroes are dying or are dead now, or most of them, anyway. But it is just starting for this group. It is really hitting the GenXers now, I guess. Rock stars and writers and actors who shaped their ideas about how to live as adults.
Eventually, you come to see that they were all shits in the end, that we all are, and that a younger generation is willing to point that out. And you look at them and laugh, but they can't appreciate it, of course. They think they have figured it out. They don't have things perfected, they'll admit, but they are a hell of a lot closer than you were. Even when you were saying the same thing.
Whatever. Petty's gone to meet Prince. They are going to chat with Elvis. Hard to believe, though, that Petty's old bandmate, Dylan, outlasted him.
at 6:14 AM
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Ili's photograph. I cooked it up on my phone with more of those instant programs. They really are fun. I wonder if they will ever be museum pieces? I guess it depends upon who does them. If Warhol were around. . . .
There was a cooling late yesterday afternoon. Neither of us wanted to cook, and Ili hadn't really eaten all day, she said, so we jumped the little Vespa and headed out for sushi. This is counter to my Monday sushi rule, but sometimes you just have to be iconoclastic. Garlic edamame, sake, spicy tuna kobachi, sticky rice. We hadn't eaten sushi in many months. We needed to renew the worms.
Afterwards, riding in the fading light, the wind was cool-ish and reminded us of the autumn coming. We stopped at the little hipster place that has the Monday night farmer's market. We saw the girl I photographed a month or so ago who lives in the little commune and sells lightly fermented kimchi. But we weren't there for that. We have discovered that this little hipster place with all their kookie characters sells some of the best scotch in town. Having ingested worms, we had to kill them. I had an Oban, Ili another that I can't remember the name of because I didn't drink it.
You can't get those by the glass most places, and the price. . . well, it was right.
On Sunday, when we went for mimosas (I guess we have opted for the hipsters over the highbrows for awhile), Ili had one of my little cameras. I always tell her that it is difficult to photograph people, but that it is even more so for me, an OMWC. She saw two girls sitting at an outside booth and asked if she could take their picture. I was on the other side of the booth and didn't hear the exchange. Later I learned that one girl moved out and wanted to know why she was taking the picture. Ha! It is difficult for everybody, I guess.
But Ili is taking more photos than I lately, especially from the back of the Vespa.
We were proud of ourselves to have had a little Monday night out. Real adventurers, we. At home, we watched the news about the Las Vegas massacre. There is no way to watch something entertaining after that, so we chose to watch another episode of Burns's "Vietnam." Long and terrible.
Neither of us slept well last night. Those are not the images to go to sleep with. Better to stick to tattooed legs and ocean sunsets, I think. But what can you do. The world is too much with us.
Monday, October 2, 2017
This is one of those jpeg picture settings on the Fuji X100F. I just thought I'd try some of them. No work involved. Just choose the filter, shoot the picture, and publish. It's what people do.
I bought some of the new Polaroid instant film. I shot some of it yesterday. It is not nearly as good as the old Polaroid film. It takes fifteen minutes to develop, so I wouldn't call it instant film. I would call it pretty quick film. The colors of the film do not match reality being mostly cyan and magenta. But it has its charm. It does not capture small details, so everybody's skin looks smooth and young. It is flattering, just like a Warhol--all eyes and mouth with some nose filled in. My mother kept the portrait I shot of her yesterday. It is on the fridge. She looks very pretty.
Ili and I went for a mimosa yesterday to the little hipster place down the street. They have an instant photo booth there, and I talked Ili into sitting for some pictures. Five dollars for a strip of four color pictures. These were her first photo booth pictures. Hard to believe. We sat for three strips. They are fun.
I had my Leicas with me, and I shot a few photos with those, too. I was trying to lean into photography again after a long lost week of work. I have ideas, but they will be lost in this week's work, I'm certain.
And so I'm left with pre-processed jpegs, some instant film, three strips from a photo booth, some digital files, and a few frames of Tri-X film. I guess it could be worse.
Football fans are still worried about the National Anthem phenomenon. I read a fun article in the N.Y. Times about it this morning. You can read it, too (link).
The United States Code, in Title 4, Chapter 1, provides standards for presenting and respecting the American flag. hey are not enforceable. After all, in Texas v. Johnson in 1989, the Supreme Court upheld the First-Amendment right to burn the flag. The code states that military personnel should stand at attention and salute when the flag is raised, lowered, or when it passes, and others “should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.”
The sports world’s trend toward big productions often overwhelms out the nobility and solemnity of the anthem. For example, the code also says that the flag “should never be carried flat or horizontally.” The code does not specify if it is appropriate for a flag 100 yards long to be held parallel to the ground, or shaken by the people holding it when the anthem gets to lyric “that star-spangled banner yet wave,” and then wadded up hastily to make way for a game about to start.
The code states that the flag should not be worn as a costume, but “a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, fire fighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.” The N.F.L., apparently, has deemed itself one of those, as U.S. flag decals adorning the back of player helmets.
at 4:49 AM
Sunday, October 1, 2017
(I can't get the song to upload, so here's the link)
Later, I took two Advil P.M.s and went to bed. Nothing like a deep chemical slumber.
Today is grey and wet and the first day of October. It seems to hold no promise. It may be the sort of day to suffer through hoping for little ill.
I dreamed of photos last night. I would like to make some.
at 7:34 AM
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Rough week of work. It just creeps up on you and makes you forget about everything else. Last weekend, I was all about photography. I had the cameras out, was working with the Liberator, and even had ideas about projects. I planned on working on those this week.
I can't even remember what those ideas were, now. Where are the cameras? Everything went down the rabbit hole.
Then comes Friday, and you think, "Thank God, I can. . . ." But you can't remember what you "can" do, and you get out of work too late to really do anything, and suddenly it is raining as hard as you have ever seen it rain and all you want to do is get home, but there are stops to make and provisions to buy, and when you get home, soggy, there are issues to face and things to put away, and a dinner to make.
But first you have the cocktails you have promised and been promised. And of course, another. And then. . . .
Saturday is rainy, so you stay in bed longer than normal, and by the time you get up, the day has already gotten away from you.
You are not an adult, you think. Today you must visit the tax accountant. You told him you had your stuff ready, but you really don't. You lie about it the way a child will lie about homework that isn't done. You pay him a lot of money to do your taxes, but you don't feel in charge of the relationship in any way. But the taxes must be done. You've filed the extension and there are no more extensions to be filed. There is something wrong with you, you think once again, and you know it will never get fixed.
A vague feeling of sickliness and guilt. The time to meet him creeps ever closer. There is much to do, too much. You think back upon the week. You've made a mess of things, have left a trail of pissed off people and madness.
All you want to do is remember what it was you thought last weekend. Where are the cameras? The film? Something. Anything.
The day keeps dribbling away.
at 7:21 AM
Friday, September 29, 2017
Obviously I have no other picture to post here. Still, just the act of photographing something transforms it. Who knows? One day when we no longer have shopping carts. . . .
Last night, Ili and I watched "On The Bowery" (link). Here's a trailer for the movie (link). I told Ili that when I graduated from college and went on the road, I stayed in some missions where you had to hear a sermon before you got fed and got a bed. The men were all tubercular, it seemed, and the mattresses were pretty filthy. I had a sleeping bag which people greatly envied, and so I hadn't any real contact with the thing, but all night men coughed and spat. I only did that once, but as a crazy young fellow who was reading too much, I had to experience it. I had forgotten about that, really, until I watched the documentary last night.
Ili felt a little queasy by the end of the film.
And so. . . I searched for Playboy's Penthouse. I'd never seen the 1959 series and didn't even know it was extant. We watched the first episode on YouTube. You can, too (link). It is in seven parts, and somehow part five doesn't automatically come up. You have to search for it. The opening song was written and performed by Cy Coleman who plays throughout the show. Holy smokes, I say, what a cool cat. You are welcomed to the "party" by Hugh Hefner, of course, whose actual penthouse apartment is the set for the show. The first guest you meet is Lenny Bruce who wasn't yet as famous as he was about to become. Rhona Jafee and Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald are guests. It is the craziest show I've ever seen, and I have no idea how it could have been aired in 1959. It was the first t.v. show where blacks and whites were shown as equals in a social setting--with actual cocktails!
Oh, and there are bunnies, too. Sorry.
The show ran for two years. I wish the rest of the series was available, but I can't find it. It is worth the watch just to hear the guests use phrases I'd always associated with hippies--"groovy" and "far out," etc. All while wearing cocktail attire.
I got the biggest kick out of Rona Jaffe. But that is the way I am.
I'm not certain Ili got as big a kick out of it as I, so if you do watch it, we'll see who's sensibility you are more in tune with. I may be wrong. She may have loved it. I may have simply been feeling guilty for commandeering our night with two things I wanted to watch.
O.K. The day is calling. If you watch either or both of these things, let me know what you think.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
They're all doing it!
Yesterday, I asked at work why they play the National Anthem before sporting events. A secretary got all pissed off. I asked her what the last two lines of that horrible song were.
"O'er the land of the free,
And the home of the brave."
Free from what, I asked? Tyranny. Which is braver? If you saw Moslems doing this, what would you think?
Whatever. I shouldn't talk. The whole Anthony Weiner thing has people keeping me at a distance. WTF?
Hugh Hefner died. 91 years old. Sure, it looks sleazy now, but what if someone started Gayboy or Transboy now? Hefner changed America. Women got better looking. O.K. That's what gets me into trouble. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Go back and read the Playboy Philosophy. He was a liberator as much as a libertine.
Here are my favorite quotes from various obits:
The first issue of Playboy was published in 1953, when Mr. Hefner was 27 years old, a new father married to, by his account, the first woman he had slept with. He had only recently moved out of his parents’ house and left his job at Children’s Activities magazine.
A virgin until he was 22, he married his longtime girlfriend. Her confession to an earlier affair, Mr. Hefner told an interviewer almost 50 years later, was “the single most devastating experience of my life.”
It is "Banned Book Week," and appropriate time for Hef to "transition," I guess.
at 6:35 AM
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
This is what I face today, of course. This is what haunts my waking and sleeping vision. Forms, memos. . . paperwork. Some of you have escaped this and have transcended into actual experiences. I hate and envy you. For those of you who work in the virtual world--ha! I am, at least, one step closer.
I watched a couple short docs on the photographer Albert Watson last night. Fuck me. Why did I ever get a job? I was a good photographer in college. Notable. I coulda/shoulda/woulda. . . .
Yea, yea, yea. There are always people on the dock and people on the boat. We know where most people are.
I'm taking my Liberator to Ili's little town some miles to the north. I have a project in mind. I will try my idea out today. If it is worth a poop, you may see some images soon. If not. . . it goes the way of the Dodo.
I spent a bunch of money buying boxes of the now defunct Fuji 100-C instant film. I may spend that again. It is gone from the stores. When I faced that yesterday, I panicked. There is still some online. I need a benefactor.
I read a book review this morning of the re-issueing of "Difficult Women." Here is my favorite line. It seems to justify some things in my life:
“Difficult Women” is creepy, it is cruel, it is morally indefensible — and it is exhilarating. As Dylan Thomas wrote: “When one burns one’s bridges, what a very nice fire it makes.”
at 5:00 AM
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
This is a scan of a Fuji instant film shot with the Liberator. It was the first one I did on Sunday. I was just trying to see if I could figure out the exposures with the ND filter. Ili, for some reason, likes it a bunch. I've done nothing to it other than dust it. Mandarins. Mmmm.
I opened the news today and wondered: "Why do they play the National Anthem before football games?"
That, to me, is the real question. What the fuck does football, or any sport, for that matter, have to do with patriotism? Are football games really about honoring the nation's armed forces? See, that is something I never knew. 99% of athletes have never nor will ever be part of the armed forces.
People in the stands can boo them. They probably should before every game. I would enjoy that most. Paying $100 so your kid can watch a bunch of millionaires sport around seems worthy of some booing.
Of course, these are the same parents that put their kids into Pop Warner football, the same ones who should be locked up for child abuse.
You know, it is just hard being perfect.
I think those tough mothers from Antifa should take the field and show those football players a thing or two. They should just punch them when they try to speak, the ones who oppose them, I mean. Yea, those are some bad asses, those Antifa mother fuckers. The new SDS. . . with a twist.
Is Antifa a group or a mob? Everyone needs to surround themselves with like-minded people. More persuasive that way. As Hemingway said, "A man alone ain't got a bloody chance."
It's difficult being a man alone.
Anthony Wiener got 21 months in prison.
"Prosecutors had said in their sentencing memo that during some of these communications, Mr. Weiner 'used graphic and obscene language to ask the minor victim to display her naked body and touch herself, which she did.'”
"'The defendant knew this young woman was in high school and getting her learner’s permit, Judge Cote said" (N.Y. Times).
Those are my two favorite quotes from the trial. Jesus. Do they listen to what they are saying?
But here I am talking about topical things again. I don't want to. This, however, is really good (link).
And Antifa chants, "Lock her up, lock her up."
What a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Yesterday I went through a lot of my gear looking for something. Going through my gear takes a lot of time. I'm not organized at all. I'm not an Organization Man. That is not to say I don't suffer for it. It is just a fact. It was pleasurable going through the gear, however, and thinking, as best I can, what I need and what I need to do. I lose things for awhile. It is always good to find them again. I have the Fuji X100f, a hot, fun, and capable camera. It looks cool, is easy to shoot, and will do practically everything from being a point and shoot to working fully manual. But when I pick up my Leica. . . I don't know. . . something comes over me. I fall in love with Leica all over again, and again. I am glad I bought it/them, all of them. I also have the new Sony a7.
I never feel anything when I pick it up and never use it. It is a wonderful camera, but it doesn't seem to have a "soul." It is a tool, that is all.
And then there is the Canon 5D. It is the most capable camera, the workhorse. You can't go wrong with it. You always get wonderful pictures. There is only one drawback to it--you look like a camera geek with it. Using it in the street raises suspicion. Other than that, it is an almost perfect camera, much like the old Nikon I own and need to upgrade.
Then I move on to the medium format cameras. Three kinds. They are each lovely in their own way. The Hasselblad, the Rolleiflex, and the Mamiya 6. They serve a different function. They force you to work more slowly and deliberately. It has taken me a long time to realize when to use them and when to use the little Leica's. They are completely different kinds of photography. Don't do portraits with Leicas if you have medium format. And that is why I dream of owning one of the new Hasselblad or Fuji digital medium format cameras. I dream of that often.
Then there is the Liberator, the 4x5 camera with the Aero-Ektar 2.8 lens. It is a beast and must weigh twenty-five pounds. Maybe not, but if has to be close. I have never used it much and sometimes think of selling it, but recently I got a variable density filter for it (which took some modification from the local camera repairman) that allows me to use it to better effect. But it takes math. The ND filter will change the exposures from one to six stops. Since I want to shoot the Ektar wide open, that means I have to do the math. Take a meter reading, then work backwards on the shutter speed and find one that is closest to one that is on the old spring-driven camera.
Yesterday, I loaded the back of the camera with an old Polaroid pack film holder and some of the smaller Fuji instant film that is still available (though it is no longer in production) and tried to make some photographs.
I fucked up the first pack of film. I thought the holder was defective, but it was I. Totally. That was a $15 mistake. I loaded another pack, and then took a bunch of photos with the dark slide still in place. Finally, I did everything right--and it worked. The math was right. I knew how to make the exposures work.
So I put the Liberator monster in a camera bag I had emptied out that was big enough to carry it. It is like a padded suitcase and it barely fit into the basket on the back of the Vespa, but with a little effort, I was off. I wanted to make some pictures. I just wanted to get used to using the camera. Two blocks from the house, I stopped in front of a home that was just finished being built before the hurricane. They landscaped the house with fully grown bushes and trees. The palm trees, I know, cost around $10,000 each. Same with the magnolia tree. Pretty pricey, but pretty. Embarrassed in my own neighborhood to be seen doing something as geek-ish as I was about to do, I pulled the big camera out of the bag and went about all the contortions and manipulations it takes to make one picture. Take a meter reading. Do the math. pop open the hood, focus, crank the spring to the right setting, hold the monster steady, push the button, then pull the little paper tab out of the Polaroid back, and then pull the picture through the rollers. Once for the new mailbox, once again for the house. I didn't bother waiting the ninety seconds to peel them. I just threw them into the bag, loaded the camera in, put it back into the basket, and took off feeling. . . relieved and happy.
I drove the scooter up to the little hipster bar thinking I might ask someone if I could make a portrait. When I got there on a late Sunday afternoon, there were lots of people. The first one I saw was the perfect girl sitting at an outdoor table. I circled my little scooter around to a shady part of the lot and sat, thinking. It was too hard. I couldn't do it. I didn't have it in me. . . yet. Motor running, I pulled out of the lot and back onto the road.
And that is when it hit me. I had forgotten to take out the little dark slide when I took the last pictures. Had forgotten once again.
And so, balls shrunken from the embarrassment of not having the chutzpah to make portraits, I headed back to my neighborhood, back to take pictures of inanimate objects to which I needn't ask permission.
Repeat the process. Everything exactly as before. Even forgetting to remove the dark slide.
Do it correctly. And do it again.
When I got home, I had two photographs. I was excited. It had only cost me about $30 in failures.
Last night, my mother came over for pho and a game of Chinese checkers. When she left, I scanned the images and went into the study with the files to see if I remembered how to do what I used to do with the Polaroids. I did, and I didn't. It has been so long, I forgot not only the process but the commands I used in Photoshop. It was awful, a terrible defeat. But I worked at it for a long time, and slowly I remembered things. I don't think I remembered all of them, but I will.
So. . . here is the photo of the house marred with my little magical processing. I like the fantastical look of it, the blurry lines, the smooth details. There is only a certain window for making these images, just as long as the film holds out. I can't afford to keep making mistakes, but I won't if I make a practice of shooting with the camera often enough.
I will make a practice of it, I think.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
I started doing a little research into street photography last night trying to develop a timeline and sequence of images. You can't do much with Google. You can get the Wiki stuff, but I didn't find anything by true critics or academics. I will need a university data base, I guess, to see what is out there. All in all, though, I don't think that there is really much out there.
It is interesting, though, that the earliest "street" photographers came from upscale artistic or otherwise bohemian families. Paul Strand and Walker Evans were two of the early ones, both from NY, each rather privileged, though Evans was broke for most of his life. I found an interesting passage about his trip to Cuba to do a story on the corruption of the Machado era. While there, he became friends with Ernest Hemingway who lent him money to stay another week beyond the end of his assignment. He left 46 prints with Hemingway when he left the island. They were only discovered in 2002. I would like to see those prints of street life in Havana back in 1933.
One of the common threads that connects the lives of street photographers was an obsession with documenting common life and the eschewing of commercial work. From Paul Strand and Walker Evans through Robert Frank who quit his lucrative magazine career, street photographers were strident about their works and visions even though there was little economic reward.
I think of Vivian Maier.
To wit: I can't even give away my work. My friend who has two of my photos hanging in his office--I assume somewhere near the Russel Chatham print--took me up on my offer and said he'd pay me $50 for a picture. Of course, I told him I couldn't accept the money and that he could have any image he wanted, to which he replied that he didn't really have any more wall space for another print.
Of course this wasn't the street photography images, but still. . . I feel in heady company.
There was an article about surviving the coming apocalypse in the N.Y. Times today. Silver and gold in small amounts. Silver dimes, they say, will make good barter. Alcohol. Weapons. It is a Mad Max vision of dystopia. I hadn't known that baby powder on your sheets might protect you from radiation. Turmeric and black pepper. I need to get ready. Street photography will indeed be something.
at 6:00 AM
Saturday, September 23, 2017
The funniest things occur. After writing yesterday's post, the fellow who I said owns the Chatham pictures texted me. He has the very one I posted hanging in his office. He said he prefers the vividness of the internet colors over the reality of his print.
He said that I could own one, too (link). Expensive? Shit, I can't get $50 for a print. Maybe I should try eBay. But of course, no Russel Chatham, I.
The first night of autumn here was warmer than the last evening of summer. Nature doesn't always follow the calendar. Less and less, really. But it is fall and we begin our falltime routines. There are the outdoor fall festivals and then pie baking time, and finally there are darts at our Christmastime pub, etc. I like the outdoor festivals much, though I am afraid we will miss one of my favorites as we travel to New Mexico toward the end of October. I'm guessing, though, that they will have some pretty spectacular festivals, too.
I read that teenagers aren't growing up as quickly as they used to, that they eschew sex and drinking and don't even get their driver's licenses until much later than in the past. They also don't have as many part time jobs, and they can't even make their own sandwiches. I'm not sure that last part was in the article. But this reifies for me what I have been saying all along--being a kid is fun. Sex, drugs, alcohol, and responsibility--who needs that. There is nothing in life more fun than being a kid. Nobody laughs like that. I say, "Good job, parents."
Even at my age, I still display characteristics of neoteny.
Needing to lose weight, I quit drinking, but what is there to look forward to after work? A glass of fizzy water? A hot cup of tea? To wit, I allowed myself a glass of wine (or two) last night after work. Moderation. Maybe that will work. There is no joy in ending the work week with a coca cola.
I think some people are saying that today the world will end. That is what I was told yesterday at the factory. I said good. It is about time. I fear, however, that they are wrong. It is just another dumb trick to get my hopes up. I just want it to come sudden and not to drag on and on. If there is any justice. . . oh, forget it. There isn't any justice.
And so we beat on, a set of ragged claws against the ocean's current, or something like that.
at 5:38 AM
Friday, September 22, 2017
I am tired when I get home in the early evenings. I manage to fix dinner and clean up the kitchen. I have fallen into the habit of watching t.v. at night. It started with watching the news again in the era of Trump, but I couldn't keep watching the predictable horror show constantly, so I switched to YouTube where there was a seemingly endless number of fascinating old documentaries. That led to watching a series, and now it is the Ken Burns "Vietnam" thing. It is a horrible habit that needs breaking.
And so last night, I did. After a dinner of healthy tacos, and after the kitchen had been cleaned and put into order once again, we went for a scooter ride. Since we were already in our pajamas, I suggested we not change, but we realized that we needed something at the store, so we got dressed for the outside world again.
As we cruised past the lake, we realized it was the last day of summer. The sky was robin's egg blue and flamingo, the air the coolest it has been in months.
Sometimes you just have to make yourself get up.
Yesterday, too, I realized I had been sending out a lot of obits from the N.Y. Times, people my friends and I would miss--Jim Harrison, Harry Dean Stanton, some sports heroes from the sixties, etc. It must have something to do with aging, I think, this interest in morbidity. But it is not that so much as it is watching my world get smaller.
Yesterday, I sent an obit for Jake LaMotta. He was 95 years old. WTF? I asked. How does Jake LaMotta live to be 95 years old?
If you are scratching your head and wondering, "Who is Jake LaMotta?" watch Robert DeNiro in "Raging Bull." You'll see.
Now, it is the first day of autumn, the Eternal Equinox. At least, that is what my friend suggested to me when I sent him the obit. I'll take the autumn. It is winter that will be most difficult.
Riddles and metaphors.
Today's image is a Russel Chatham painting. The Riddler of the Autumn fellow once owned some of his work. I think he still has some. I met Chatham in Key West years ago. He and Jim Harrison were part of my little Thomas McGuane and his old girlfriend story that I have told on this site already, maybe twice. He and they are part of "the old world." His is, I think, as Little Edie sort of says, the best painting for they day (link).
I will get over my morbidity and lazy ways and make my way into the autumnal world again. It is the best time, a beautiful time. And, as Robert Frost invites, "You come, too."
at 4:52 AM
Thursday, September 21, 2017
I shot this at the gorge outside of Taos with my Rollieflex. It sat in the camera until about a month ago. Then it took a couple weeks before I scanned it. When I took it into Lightroom, there were spots and specks all over it, dust I guess, but it could be something in the film. I had no interest in trying to clean it up. It is not a great photo. It is not a good photo. It illustrates, however, the problems with working in film. I love shooting with film. Everything after that is the problem. Other than being square, I could have shot this with a digital camera.
Yesterday, I picked up my 4x5 Liberator from the repair shop. I took it in to have a filter ring attached so that I could use a neutral density filter on it. Don't worry about what that means. The nice thing about shooting with that camera is the out of focus area that you can't get with a digital camera. It is exciting. But. . . I have even more work to do to get an image. After shooting 4x5, I can't run it down to the photo shop for processing, so the film sits until I have time to develop it which is a bit of a chore. And after an hour of work, I'll have a few negatives which I then have to scan and take into Lightroom and Photoshop. Wash, spin, rinse, spin, repeat.
As a result, I don't have many photographs at the end of the day, week, month. . . .
If I sold all my film cameras, I'd probably have enough for the Leica M10 that I want. But why? There are more useful digital cameras. It is a style/romance thing with the Leica. And that is where I get in trouble shooting film. It is where I get into trouble doing everything. I am NOT practical. I don't like or want the practical life, really. It is the same way I feel about cops, kind of. I don't like them until I need them.
Right now, there are all sorts of practical things I need to be doing. As a result, I believe, I haven't felt well. It could be germs brought by the hurricane. Hurricanes bring all sorts of undesirable things, and the state smells like an open sewer right now. Not in some places, but every place. And people have been feeling ill. But I believe much of it is that there is so much that needs to be done. Practical things. Repairs, cleaning up, etc. And each thing that needs to be done reveals another. Suddenly life is not dreamy and romantic but work-laden and crappy. If you are rich, you can pay to have things fixed, but I, like others, am not, and so, like others, I believe, I get depressed. And then the sickness.
Mexico. Puerto Rico. Houston. Florida.
at 6:24 AM
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
If you are watching the Ken Burns "Vietnam" series on PBS, I think you'll know what I mean. It is good, but not good enough. It gives a satisfactory retrospective of the war and the politics that surrounded it, but something is off. It never quite gels, I think. Oh, it is a "must watch" show, but it is not one of Burns' best. Of course, what I love most about it are the photographs. History is told differently through pictures than through writing. It is incomplete and momentary, but it is evidence in a way that nothing else is.
I am saddened by the demise of magazines. Jan Wenner is selling Rolling Stone. The physical magazine will cease to exist, I think, just as Vanity Fair and the rest. I love print. It does something that a digital copy can't do. I don't mind digital magazines as they can do things that print cannot. There is something, however, about pictures and words on a piece of paper that thrills me. Good pictures. Good words. Good paper. And then, the "something else," the layout on the page, the fonts and design and the colors of the letters. One of my favorite magazines was "Smart," something I cannot find online for some reason. Terry McDonald was the editor. I used to have every copy of the magazine. A woman made me get rid of them and a bunch of other things I had saved a long time ago. She is gone now. I'd rather have the magazines.
I have taken to carrying a camera, a notebook, and a pen. I want to make them work together, but so far, I have not done so much. I'll keep carrying them, though, until I begin to utilize them to effect. It is the only life that interests me any more. That, art, literature, and music. Food and drink, I guess, too. Walking and breathing. I must make a list, really, and keep it simple. Life has gotten too complicated. I've had too many things going on inside. I lie in bed at night now and listen to my breath. All the thoughts fall away. . . and then I am asleep.
Last night, I dreamed of a girl's track team. Ha! I was going to run with them in a 400 meter race. I was half way round the track when they had crossed the finish line. I was fat and stiff and slow, but I was happy and we all laughed and they didn't mind that I wasn't as fast as they. They still liked me.
Random thoughts. No continuity, no segues. Just a picture and words on a screen. A physical page might be a different thing.
at 5:05 AM
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Photo from N.Y. Times
I saw this yesterday and thought, "Yup, this is what America looks like to me, now."
I read today that the EPA wants to compromise ten national monuments, the same EPA that doesn't believe in climate change. I want people who voted for Trump to eschew doctors as they do scientist. Next time they get a serious illness, I want them to be diagnosed and treated by Trump.
Last night, in my semi-wakefulness, I realized that when I dream or think about things, I am alone, exploring. Maybe it comes from being an only child. I don't know for sure, but the first thing I did when I graduated from college was to take off with a backpack and travel for three months around the U.S. alone.
I wonder how other people think and dream. I will ask them today. I'm sure they will think I'm looney, or they will think I am prying, but I am seriously curious about this.
I think I know everyone in that photograph. I'm sure of it.
at 4:54 AM