Friday, October 31, 2014

Blame It on the Solar Flares

Originally Posted Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sorry I didn't post this morning.  I've been having my period, I think.  Something.  Whatever.  I stayed home from the factory to catch up on my life, but I did no such thing.  Rather I sat at the computer and worked on old, untouched files from shoots I've never worked on.  I kept thinking I would do something, go to the gym, go to the store, but the best I could manage was to cook some eggs and take a nap.  When I got up late in the afternoon, I made chai and worked on more files and I knew there would be no gym.  The sun was sinking.  I went to the store and got olives and crackers and cheese and some Hungarian beef dish and a good bottle of wine and came home.  In a bit I will either a) read, b) watch t.v., or c) both.  I am hoping for an early bed, but worried that since I sat and slept all day, there will be nothing for me there. 

It is my life, probably.  Of late.  I take too many chances.  Last night, I went for drinks with somebody else's girl and ran into a friend of mine and the new girl he has just begun to date.  He is fifteen years younger than I, and his date was a little younger than he.  My date was much younger than that.  My buddies date stared a bit doe-eyed like she was afraid of what might suddenly break out.  The night was fun, but it was draining, too.  I've been drinking too much even for me.  I have been running on fumes. 

So tonight is tea and cheese and olives and wine.  I shall forego the beloved scotch for as long as I can. I will revel in the drink of the centuries, the water of gods, etc.  Healthy.  Healthful. 

Hopefully, though, in the morning I will be a new man full of verve and vigor.  And perhaps I will catch up on my life after all.  I haven't opened mail in two weeks.  I need to fertilize the lawn.  I should spray outside for bugs.  I need to trim my nails badly.  I have become a bit of a poor man's Howard Hughes.  When was the last time I washed my hair? 

*   *   *   
All went as predicted, from food to wine to reading and watching, to sleep.  Up and down, at midnight I received a text asking if I was coming to the Lake Side Dive concert.  I would have if I'd known.  Maybe.  I hate being out at midnight. 

This morning, the sun stayed in bed late.  But I got up feeling better.  It is the solar flares, of course, radiation from the sun bombarding the earth, that are causing all my ills, but my back pain has lessened for the first time in months and it is wonderful to move without repressing a groan. 

And so. . . .

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sleep Deprivation or Theory?

Originally Posted Thursday, September 11, 2014

I go to bed early, and I wake up early, but I am not sleeping much after three or four o'clock.  I don't worry about it any more the way I used to.  I stay in bed and, perhaps, put on some music.  The music helps.  It doesn't necessarily put me back to sleep, but it helps palliate what could be empty, lonely hours.  I tend to dream/think along with the music, dropping down then coming back in these little waves of half- to un-consciousness.  Then around sunrise, I feel I could go back to sleep for hours, but duty calls.  I wonder what effects this is having on my body and upon my mind?  Is my body/mind doing what it should or is it somehow out of alignment?  But then I go back to the old argument--does nature have a plan?  You hear it all the time, but there is little more evidence that there is "a nature" than there is "a god."  Nature seems clearer because there are things we linguistically associate with it--trees, clouds, the sun and the rain and the moon--but is it only our categorical thinking that makes them so?  I am more convinced all the time that the things I studied while getting a zoology were clever indeed, but no more true than anything else.  It is merely a systematized belief system with plenty of data. 

Believing that, I have even less trouble believing in no "truths" at all.  No truths, only constructs.  Interpretations.  Assumptions and beliefs.  I quarreled yesterday with a "theorist" about--well, I've said I won't talk about those things any more.  But he--theory and all--wants to stand for what is right and just. 

"Where do you come up with your idea of just?" I asked.  "I have a strong moral code.  I work on it all the time.  But it is personal and culturally derived."

"Of course," he said.  "They all are."

"That's my point.  There is no land beyond where you can go find "truths" or anything else.  So what makes one moral idea better than another?" 

Of course this puts me into camp with neo-nazis and crypto-fascists.  Bad company, no doubt.  But I was taught somewhere along the line (grad school in anthropology) that morals and values evolve in cultures, and the ones that are best adapted for environmental success survive.  I want to say that I hold this truth to be self-evident. . . but I can't.  Still. . . it makes sense to me. 

I almost got into the old topics again, the ones that muddy the clear, clean waters.  But President Obama made a speech last night, and once again it is "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb Iran."  Maybe Syria, too.  Perhaps these will be the values best suited to the environment.  I mean, how else is a culture to stop violent attacks that come from an evil, distorted theory/philosophy/theology? 

Conrad, of course, was a genius.  As Kurtz so famously said. . . .

But truly, I may simply be suffering from a lack of sleep.

i know i shouldn't, but. . . .

Originally Posted Wednesday, September 9, 2014

This is the photo on Mark Tucker's website splash page just now.  He is a tremendous photographer whose work I've admired for a lot of years.  He does a lot of commercial work, but when he goes out to shoot on his own. . . man, I wish he could afford to just do that.  I always wish, too, that he would take more chances with the subject matter, but hell, this photo is dangerous enough as it is.  It takes awhile to get it.  A little boy with his pet rabbit.  In a camo chair.  Sighting the viewer through the ears of the rabbit that is held like a firearm.  The eyes no longer look so innocent.  The fate of the rabbit seems in question.  Innocence turned on its head.  When Tucker makes pictures like this, I want to get up and do jumping jacks.  He could be a modern day Arbus, perhaps.  But there is always the need for money.  Did people not need money in the past?  How did all the artists of the 40's and 50's and 60's manage?  Certainly people didn't need money back then. 

I've decided that I will not talk about politics or the news anymore.  That is what I decided this morning.  I'm going to just talk about restaurants and food preparation, wines on the market, county fairs, etc.  The other is simply too difficult.  Try talking about Ray and Janay Rice without saying the things you are supposed to.  You don't even have to opine.  Just ask a few difficult questions and state a few uncomfortable facts.  You won't have to make any judgements.  Just ask.  You will be run out of the building at the very least.  You really don't want to mention ISIS anywhere around that conversation, either. 

Both Ray Rice and ISIS are scary.  The thing that scares men is knowing that Rice would knock them out just as easily as he did his wife.  I watch that elevator video and shake.  It probably gave me nightmares last night.  I have a friend who is as maniacal as Rice, a trained fighter who is even bigger and stronger than he.  He is my friend, and still I have nightmares about him coming into my house and looking in my eyes while he breaks things.  I know such people and grew up with them, so I have a healthy and abiding fear of being badly beaten.  I'm against both beatings and beheadings. 

So, who are you going to ask to stop the people who are doing the beheadings?  MaybeRhonda Rousey.  Oops.  That is perhaps not appropriate.  It's problematic, to say the least. 

So I am going to stop talking about such things.  I will become a nature writer or a spiritual advisor.  I am just too ornery for my own good.  Hell, even when I talk about a cute portrait of a little boy holding his pet rabbit. . . .

Um. . . What Was I Saying?

Originally Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Frustrated after yesterday's post, I began working on an idea I've had for awhile on how to treat some of the digital photographs I've taken.  I kept working, trying thing after thing, getting closer but not there.  To get closer but not there took a long time.  I got to work just in time to go to lunch with my supervisor who was giving me the stink eye.  I have a couple of ideas to try in the studio with transfers that could take most of a weekend and still not work.  But sooner or later. . . if only I had the time. 

I've not been sleeping again.  Some say it is the approach of the Super Moon.  I tried Xanax and whiskey two nights ago, two sleeping pills and whiskey last night.  I slept neither.  But I feel woozy as hell this morning, that's for sure.  All I need, really, is opium.  Pipe dreams.  Actually, I have the pipe.  Got it in China at an antiques flea market.  It didn't come with opium, unfortunately.  Nothing ever does. 

Every day I seem to hurt a bit more.  It is more difficult to stand, to walk, to twist or turn.  My cat's hips are hurting her, too.  It is very obvious.  I will see if the vet can give her some opium, but I'm sure she will give her something else.  My mother is having a painful time walking as well.  There is a difference between my mother, my cat, and me, though.  The two of them are bored.  I told my mother boredom is a luxury I haven't the money for.  I have offered to give her the cat.  Their boredom anguishes me.  I do not want to be responsible for their entertainment.  I am not an entertaining fellow.  I am barely good company unless you like to watch somebody read or work on pictures or just sit quietly.  I am happiest when things mean something, when I can make them mean something, rather.  Not so the cat.  I won't speak for my mother.  I am terrible company when I must do what somebody else wants to do.  I find that most people don't know what they want to do, or if they do, it is a little step above what the cat desires.  They love to get into groups, large ones often, to get into line, sing karaoke, dance a little disco, do the tarantula. . . whatever.  Sometimes I have to go, and unless there is something for me to document, to write or photograph, I am miserable.  It is worse than being bored.  Sooner or later, I am bound to make a mistake, say the wrong thing, take a social bowel movement, and regret ever being in the company of people I know. 

I got lost somewhere in that last paragraph.  It is surely the accumulation of pills and booze.  I'd better watch myself at work today.  God knows what damage I might do. 

I think there was something I wanted to tell you, but I can't remember it now.  And so it goes.  C'est la vie.  Selah.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

So Many Cameras, So Little Time

Originally Posted Monday, September 8, 2014

I'm dying too much tonight.  Time is limited and my desires are limitless.  I return to the factory in the morning.  It is the last thing I wish to do.  I want to go places and make things.  I could.  It would just take a much larger sacrifice than when I was younger.  Only a few years left and I can retire with quite a pension.  Only I will probably be dead or worse.  If I could, I would load the truck and head out on the highway.  I would see what there is to see without the big attachment to. . . the safer, brighter future.    People find it easy to tell me to pack it all in, sell everything, and forget security.  There is no such thing, they say, though we all know the difference between the retirees on the golf course and those in the grocery store alleyway.  Still, even friends have the audacity to say that I should give it all up and live, whatever that means.  The ones who tell me that will all be at work tomorrow, of course, and they will see their therapists in the afternoons.  They have doctors appointments to get their skin checked for cancer, their colons, too.  They get regular checkups and see heart specialists.  They have children growing and grown. 

I will be at the factory to take the daily beating. 

My cameras sit in bags.  The Mamiya 6 and the Bronica medium format SLR and the Sony a7s and the Canon 5D and the Leica M7 and the Leica R 5s (2 of them) and my Leica CL and my Voigtlander R and my Nikon D700 and the myriad Nikon film cameras.  I have a hundred lenses and many 4x5 cameras and even brass lenses, and I have an 8x10 Toyo view camera.  I have the famous Black Cat Edition of John Minnicks' famous Aero Liberator, the 13th ever made. 

I drove to one good and one very good gallery today.  I want to pitch my stuff.  Both were closed.  But I drove in places I don't usually drive, and boy was I excited to go out and take some street pics. 

All it takes is guts.  And time.  Lots and lots of time.  And, of course, to know what you want to say.  That is the hardest part. 

I am not a professional photographer.  I don't want to be.  I don't want to do weddings or events or corporate portraiture.  People do that to make a living.  Many are good.  I just want to tell stories.  I want the thrill of meeting someone and asking if I can take their picture.  It is a terrible thing to want to do.  I meet women for the first time in my studio and ten minutes later we are trying to make up a story. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.  Events conspire to keep me from doing even that now.  I shouldn't let them, but I do.  But shit. . . there is a world out there to explore.  

I want to buy this camera and this camera and maybe even this camera, too, to tell stories--I think.  I shouldn't.  But I might.  Anyone have some spare thousands?  

I will, though, take four big framed prints into those galleries and see what they say.  I think they should fall over themselves wanting me, but if not. . . they are stupid.  And if either of them wants the pictures, I am going to try to leverage myself into some other things I want to do, too.  I'll have credentials.  And if not, I may try anyway.  

But chances are, nothing like that will happen.  I will get up and go to work and then I'll go to the gym and I'll come home tired and cook dinner and drink a bit and fall asleep exhausted, but I will not sleep, and then in the morning I will do it all again.  

All things conspire against the uncertain artist.  God made a lot of cameras but not so many good photographers.

Smallish Victories

Originally Posted Sunday, September 7, 2014

Man. . . that was a hideous post. That is NOT what I set out to say at all.  I wanted to tell you about my disastrous few days.  I have a built in microwave that started making strange sounds and smelling like burned electrical wire when I turn it on.  These are not like the $50 desktop models you can buy.  A built in is $500.  On Friday night when I came home from the factory, I opened the door and the house smelled wonderful.  The maids had come early in the morning, and I wondered what they had used.  Turns out they used my candles.  About eight of them were lit throughout my old wooden house.  WTF!?!?!?  The house smelled good, but it felt a little stuffy.  That night I had a friend over for a bottle of scotch and kept thinking the house was not cooling the way it should.  Saturday, hung over and deadly tired, I went to breakfast then came back home and fell asleep.  When I woke up, the house was definitely warm.  Uh-oh.  The a.c. was not working.  I did the usual things.  You know. . . turn it off and on, walk around looking at breakers, checking the drain pipe. . . oh. . . and I put in a new filter.  The old one was black.  I guess they don't last six months to a year?  I had little hope.  I called the a.c. repair guys, but of course they wouldn't be in until Monday.  I called my mother to prepare her for my sleepover, then I went to the gym hoping for a miracle.  And when I came home. . . voila! 

I need a caretaker.  My mother tells me weekly to change the filter, but it is not the same as having someone do it for me. 

But now I sit in a cool, dry house while the steam rises in the streets.  I figure I have a few extra hundred or thousand dollars now.  I am going to look at buying some new cameras.

Mirror in the Bathroom

Originally Posted Sunday, September 7, 2014

One of my favorite forms of photography is the girl in the mirror in the bathroom selfies.  It doesn't really have to be in the bathroom.  It could be anywhere.  It is such a delicious form of self-expression and will be the iconic image of the times.  I love to receive them. They are little nuggets of tremendous pleasure.  They are the most personal gift one can give.  A delicacy beyond foie gras or caviar.  I urge you to send them (to me).  Show (me) your love.  Even Scarlett Johansson does it (not to me).  Selena Gomez.  Et. al. 

Do it while you are young (enough).  I used to do it before selfies were "a thing."  People, I thought, needed to see me.  It would give them great pleasure. And it did.  They delighted in them.  There was a time when I couldn't wait to get naked.  "Oh," I'd think, "this is going to be good for you!"  I used to run miles a day shirtless just to make people happy.  I had a fan club at the Country Club College.  When my ex-wife was fifteen, she was in a car with her mother and her mother's friend when they drove by me while I was running.  "One day, I'm going to date that man," her mother's friend told me my future wife exclaimed. "You stay away from that man," was her mother's reported reply. 

Five year later. . . .

When I was very young, I had a small apartment with only a tub in the bathroom.  The bottom window was textured so that people outside could not see through it clearly.  When I stood up out of the tub, you could only see my top half.  A girl told me once, "You know there is a group that parks outside your window and watches you, don't you?" 

It is glorious to be young and beautiful.  We never think that, though.  That we are beautiful.  But we are not going to get better looking.  We are not going to lose weight.  We will gain character if we are lucky, but our bodies will never have the tight, smooth skin of youth.  Our shoulders will never be so broad nor our hips as narrow.  We will never be as tall nor move with quite the same dexterity.  So, tell me, if you can, why we should discourage people from making a record of themselves at this most beautiful moment (no matter what age--I mean it is the best you will ever be from that moment onward). 

Do it.  Do it.  Don't let the Christians and the Moslems mess you up on this.  And I promise you one thing.  Once you do it, you will begin a new, healthy body awareness that will be a positive thing.  You will begin to eschew the potato chips that come with your lunch, the afternoon Snickers bar, the thirteenth cocktail. 

Someone saw me naked recently.  I am hideous, of course, but was told I was not.  She didn't even say, "you are not that bad."  It was more positive than that.  I know she is wrong, but I've cut my calories, and I plan on even more.  And pretty soon, who knows. 

So get proud.  Send your pictures to me.  If I get enough from people, I promise I will make a new series and call it "Mirror in the Bathroom."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let There Be Peace

Originally Posted Saturday, September 6, 2014

After a rough week. . . two rough weeks. . . a month of rough weeks. . . back to the bar.  Old Fashioneds.  A burger joint at midnight.  Bad stomach.  Runny nose.  Breakfast and then back to bed. 

Wheat grass juice is in my near future.  Weak teas.  Things with lots of vitamin C. 

The human heart is not made for this life.

Everybody Naked

Originally Posted Friday, September 5, 2014

Even as I (try to) pursue other photo projects that don't include naked people, I wonder at the alarms that go off when someone famous is exposed to have made naked pictures.  Once again I say that everyone should be required to post a nude picture of themselves online.  Then nobody would get in trouble. 

I'm naive, I know.  And I know pictures of naked people are titillating.  The beaches of Europe are full of naked people.  You can see secretaries nude sun bathing on the banks of the Seine at lunchtime in Paris.  And still, walk two hundred feet away from the river or beach and there are news stands selling magazines with pictures of naked people. 

Endlessly entertaining, I guess, even for the liberated. 

Sex tapes are another thing.  While everyone makes naked pictures of themselves (don't they?), not everybody makes a sex tape.  I do not like watching pornographic movies.  True dat.  But tell me that there is a Paris Hilton sex tape, and I'll be searching the internet all day until I can find it.  Why? 

Did you ever see the one that got Rob Lowe into all the trouble?  Of course you did. 

And still, I have no interest in watching a sex tape of you.  Or me.  None.  Zero.  Etc.  (Is masturbation considered sex?). 

I've noticed one thing, though, about t.v. shows that have a lot of nudity--the amount of nudity they show goes down each season.  Compare season one and the latest season of most HBO, Cinemax, or Showtime series.  I'd love to ask the creators why this is.  Do they talk about it with the writers and directors or does this just happen? 

I think publishers should insert pictures of naked people into philosophy books just to piss off Muslims even more.  OK, OK, not all Muslims, you know. . . the BAD ones who hate philosophy.  And nudity.  Even the Catholics were O.K. with the naked form when they were at their worst.  But I know I need to learn more.  Maybe what I consider bad Muslims are just the equivalent of Baptist Christians.  Or the snake handlers. . . which brand are those again? 

Without doubt, Hindus get the sexiest religion award, but I'm sure there are fundamentalist Hindus who are as bad as Baptists.  OK, OK, not ALL Baptists. 

And this is the problem with most discussions today.  You can't categorize.  It gets you into trouble.  Remember Bush--the one who started a war not against a country but against an ideology?  That worked out pretty well. 

Still, FOX news has no reticence about categorizing and they are the most watched news station by far.  People like simple categories.  Good.  Bad.  Moral.  Immoral.  Us smart people. . . you know. . . "us". . .  we can't stand categories unless we are against privilege which makes us a bit like terrorists. . . wait. . . .

I am too sleepy to figure this out.  In answer to your query, Lisa. . . I don't know.

Theory, Ideology, Praxis

Originally Posted Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pictures of dead men.  This is the present I got from the boy I used to photograph when he was young.  He is fourteen now and just back from the Minnesota State Fair.  He said that these postcards look like the pictures I make.  Clever boy, if gruesome. 

Yes, we used to publish photographs of the corpses of bad guys in this country.  Good guys, too, I guess.  I believe their were photos of Lincoln prepared to be interred. 

There used to be both public and private hangings.  Those by the KKK were invitation only. 

We never used the guillotine, though. 

We are no strangers to pictures of brutality, though they have given way to video games for the most part. 

Yesterday I asked if there was a difference between theory and ideology.  Today, I read a partial answer to that question.  It came from an article at CNN online about ISIS's expansionism dreams.  I have much trouble with religion, especially where it involves education.  From an interview with a disenchanted ISIS warrior on education:

"Philosophy is prohibited -- they canceled it as a kind of blasphemy," he said. "Many subjects have been canceled, like music and even sometimes sports. All of them have been canceled from the school curriculum."

Of course.  

At U.C. Berkeley, entering freshmen are treated to a film about sex consent education.  

One handout on "gauging consent" offers examples of signs that you should stop, such as "you or your partner are too intoxicated to gauge or give consent" or "you hope your partner will say nothing and go with the flow."

Signs you should pause and talk might be that "you feel like you are getting mixed signals" or "you are not sure what the other person wants."

Another handout provides students with suggested ways to ask for consent: "Does this feel good?" "Would you like me to...?" "Do you want to keep going?"

I like that they are teaching kids to talk during sex.  I think it is important.  You can never ask enough question, I think, especially if things are to turn really weird (though what's weird?).  Truly, it is important that your partner SCREAMS his or her consent. . . begs, actually.  I'm not sure if the sex ed film goes that far, but perhaps I'll put up a few YouTube tutorials for the kids.  

See the difference between theory and ideology?  It might take you a few moments of reflection, but give it a go.  You can do it. 

The Ideology of Beheading

Originally Posted Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How far apart are theory and ideology?  Can the taking up of one lead to the other?  Certainly having one influences the other.  It is almost impossible for me to relax in the world at this moment, difficult not to think about extremists of both parties.  There are people in the world who follow and support leaders who behead journalists.  Journalists for god's sake.  There is nothing heroic or righteous or justified in that, yet half the people in the world would see such an ideology triumph over the evils of the west.  It is difficult to think about white water rafting or spending a month on the beach just now. 

But people do. 

President Obama has had more vacation time than I have.  He's played more golf, lain on more beaches. . . .

My advice is don't let them take you.  Don't let yourself be captured.  Don't get into the car.  Fight to the death at the very first moment. 

Maybe that is what it is like to live in Ferguson.  Maybe that is the mentality there. 

I live in a world where people would shoot me, bomb me, imprison me, behead me.  Who am I counting on not to let that happen?  It is a troubling and perplexing question.  You have to pick a side, it seems, in order to survive.  I don't like the choices, but as someone once said, "A man alone ain't got no bloody chance." 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Theory Is Fun

Originally Posted Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Our lives are the things we pretend we are living.  No, it is otherwise.  The things we pretend are our lives are the things that keep us from living.  I don't know.  It is complicated.  Nobody knows for sure. 

My ex-girlfriend has gone back to school to work on her Ph.D.  I asked her what she was reading.  She is in a language theory course.  She wasn't sure.  She had much reading to do that night, she said.  She was reciting some gobbledygook that she was memorizing more than understanding.  Sure, that's the first part.  I am realizing, though, that Ph.D. programs are just a way of keeping some Ph.D.s barely employed so that they may further the field's research.  Most of them don't so much.  Not really.  Very few change the intellectual landscape of any given discipline.  But it takes a lot to find the few, I guess. And so Ph.D. programs proliferate, though nothing like the vile and evil Ed.D. degrees which have been the blight of education. 

Many fields now are much the same and based on theory.  There is a certain smugness in those who are theorists, I find.  But this could be my own bias and perception.  Don't get me wrong--theory is fun, and there are plenty of them.  Most "theorists" in any field, though, follow the latest few.  Once they have mastered one or two, they ride that horse. 

Gender and race identity are good ones for me.  They are slippery and confusing and try to upset the old apple cart.  Transgender/transexual/intersexual arguments are often interesting and confusing.  "Trannies" are sometimes lumped in with homosexuals as in LGBT groups.  But they have different issues, different agendas.  They group together, of course, for the power they gain in numbers, but it is much like going to a Democratic Convention, or as it is sometimes referred to, "Safety in Numbers."  I have a theorist friend who is a self-proclaimed champion of the LGBT.  He refers to me as a privileged straight white male.  Jesus, I say, how do you come to that?  Oh, he says, that is how the privileged stay in power, by denying their privilege.  Who are you to define me as "straight" I say?  Or white?  Or even male?  Just like the old guard that he fights against, he wants the privilege of naming, of categorizing.  Can I not self-proclaim, I ask?  Am I not allowed to be what I think I am? 

I've decided that my sexual orientation is transgressive.  I am a self-declared transgressive.  Transgressives have been marginalized for too long.  I am calling for Recognition and Unity!

O.K.  I do not mean to minimize the struggles of oppressed people.  That is not my gig.  I'll fight with my fists for them, truly.  Just don't tell me who I am.  I'm tired of hiding. 

Which brings me to Ed Wood.  I guess it was the Johnny Depp movie of that name that brought Wood's work so much attention.  His later work is getting much attention.  Much of the work was considered pornographic, but Wood was a groundbreaker in the transgender/transexual world.  He was no theorist.  He just liked to dress in women's clothing.  He was not a homosexual and was married to a woman who understood his love of angora sweaters.  He felt, he said, that he was a woman trapped in a man's body.  He made movies about it.  Here is an article I read yesterday in the Times (link). 

The life Wood pretended. . . no. . . he pretended to live. . . .  I am still not certain.  Who can tell what are lives are and what they would be?  When I was younger, living a monks life seemed something awfully difficult.  More and more it seems to be the simplest of things to do.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Rich Spepherd

Originally Posted Monday, September 1, 2014

Q has gone to the wrong festival, of course.  I just spent the last half hour on the phone with him on his drive homeward from Burning Man. 

"Jesus Christ, man, you're stupid.  Why didn't you go to Electric Zoo?" 

I, of course, know nothing about this stuff.  I had just been reading an article in the New York Times about it.  Some of his old friends were playing at the Zoo festival, so I thought I'd rib him.  He was once part of all that. 

"I kind of miss dj-ing," he said. 

"No you don't.  You miss having everyone looking at you." 

It is true.  It is no fun being on the floor once you've been onstage. 

"I use to stay in the festival's organizer's house," he said, "when I d.j.ed in his club." 

I was looking at the fellow's picture with his pretty wife in their Berkshires house at that very moment. 

"What is wrong with us?" I asked him.  "We are so much smarter than these people.  Why don't we make any money?" 

"That's all they think about."

"I don't even know what that means.  I can't get the concept.  If I could, I would do it.  I just don't get it."

Q was driving with the windows down singing to Bob Dylan to try to stay awake in the California pre-dawn. 

"You should start a festival," I said.  It could be folkdub or something.  Slow down the 4/4 kick."

"Yup," he agreed.  "I'm just the fellow to do it." 

The d.j. pictured above made $32 million dollars last year according to the article in the Times.  Even when Q tries to explain to me what this fellow does, I can't see how it is really different from the d.j. at your cousin's wedding (if your cousin's wedding was late at night and everyone was rolling).  But people are sheep, even if they do drugs and move to Berlin (that is where everyone is now, Q tells me), and if you get enough sheep, you'll be the richest shepherd in town. 

C'mon, Q, I want to be a rich shepherd.  WTF? 

Driving in the pre-dawn, Q said he couldn't find anything open.  He couldn't even get a cup of coffee.  He would be back with his family soon, the vile stink of the festival washed from him now.  I know little about such things as I prefer to be alone.  Last night I fell asleep reading "Burma Days" by George Orwell and listening to sweet bosa nova.  I don't feel superior for doing this instead of the other (yes I do), just. . . something.  I would rather be the people in the last of these stolen pictures rather than the people in the first.  

Verdant. Fecund.

Originally Posted Sunday, August 31, 2014

I snuck back into the studio with the new camera and an old topic, just to see if I could shoot without the strobes using only the modeling lamps turned down low.  No adrenaline producing "pop" of light, only the constant dimness in which I prefer to work.  It turned out well, I think.  The camera "sees" in the dark.  I can work in a different way now.  This is how I want to work for carnival project I've suggested for years now.  It is more than possible. 

The studio was a mess of disuse.  I have forgotten where I have put things.  Prints have piled up high and need sleeving.  Old bottles need carting off to the dumpster.  The floors are filthy and need a good mopping.  Costumes are crumpled everywhere in piles.  Who did this?  I wonder.  It will take days of work to put everything back into order, but what doesn't? 

I tried to begin putting my psyche and body back into some sort of order yesterday.  I did alright.  I did most of what I set out to do.  I walked and did a little gym work and I went to the funky old "health food" store and bought potions and had a clean lunch and a double shot of wheat grass juice.  I even drank water.  I worked on old photos and then met someone for drinks at the veranda bar before we saw "Boyhood."  And afterwards we talked and talked, more talk than I have talked in a long, long while.  It is the talking that gets me into the most trouble, of course.  Why do I do it, I wonder?  All that talking, all that hinting and revealing.  I am a good listener until I get nervous, and then a flood of associational thinking just appears as word sounds that startle me, and so I try to correct the last one with the next one, and they go on and on and on. 

The sun is up, the sprinklers hissing, the world around me is an illuminated green.  You've never seen so much green.  Verdant.  Fecund.  Etc.

I have not planned my day well and will probably end up in the usual routine which I don't need right now.  Anything but.  Perhaps I will do something unexpected.  Am I capable? 

I'll let you know.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Road to Recovery (Redux)

Originally Posted Saturday, August 30, 2014

That is over, I hope.  A week of excruciating misery, a month of agony, a summer of relentless work.  I stayed at the job late yesterday to help my boss.  Friday afternoon had slipped away, and since I had not been to the gym all week, when he asked "Who's up for a drink," I thought fuck it, I don't want to go to the gym late on a rainy Friday night, so I suggested a place I like that makes great cocktails, a small, wooden bar with a highly regarded restaurant whose entrees I do not adore but whose appetizers are wonderful, an unusually expensive place with classic bartenders and hipster servers and an eclectic music selection that you cannot predict.  Three of us went.  I had to tell the other fellow that it was a gay bar to get him to go, but it was only a joke for he had been there before.  I got there before either of them and ordered an old fashioned.  When my boss came in, I had him try it.  He took a sip and coughed just like in the movies.  No shit, I loved it.  "That's strong," he said, and I knew right away he didn't often drink cocktails.  He ordered a vodka and ginger ale with bitters.  The other fellow came in a bit later and ordered something red that should have had an umbrella in it.  No matter.  They seemed happy enough.  I ordered some tempura tacos for everyone as appetizers and and they liked them so I ordered more.  My boss and I have been a bit prickly with one another, he reminding me of my late arrivals and early departures, me trying to remind him that he wouldn't like it if he didn't keep me on his side.  Friday night cocktails in a Manhattan-style bar went a long way to repair that, I think. 

And so it goes. 

After a couple cocktails and appetizers, I was in no mood to cook, so I stopped and picked up a tray of sushi on my way home.  After a couple of scotches and some staring at the end of a bad movie with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (so sad what happens to people) and went to bed.  Slept long and woke up feeling like I'd played in an NFL game the night before.  Now it is time to start over, from the beginning, on the Road to Recovery.  How many times have I told you this before?  I know, but it is better to keep trying than to give up.  A little gym, a walk, some water and healthy food, a book, perhaps and surely a nap, then a drink on the veranda of the bar attached to the little indie movie theater with a girl I know and then the movie "Boyhood."  I may practice walking with my new little camera, too.  Beautiful music.  A cat that loves me.  Three days off.  Plans for future travel.  Maybe life could be fun again. 

Where many of you live, I hear, there is already a hint that fall is soon to come.  Here it is the dead of summer, but if you are observant, you will notice the change in light.  The sun has moved much further to the south so that shutters are no longer necessary while I sit at the dining room table to write.  The shadows are a pinch longer and sharper, but only a pinch.  The real shadows won't fall for another three weeks, but I am watching them with great anticipation.  It is this falling of shadows that keeps me in touch with you and the places you live.  I am thinking of leaving the tropics for a long weekend.  I want to go to Quebec City.  I hear it is already chilly there.  I have a trip to NYC booked for early October.  I've never been to NYC then.  I must be ready for something new and different, a city without summer tourists, without the visiting college students and hordes of Europeans, with shorter days. . . I almost anticipate it feeling a bit hollow and more lonely.  I confess. . . it almost frightens me. 

But today is a day of repair, not just for my body but for my abode.  I have at least three weeks mail piled up unopened on the floor.  It will take most of the morning to sort it and pay what I need to pay.  And so I go. . . to repair.  I'll let you know how that goes.