Friday, January 20, 2017

New Era



Welcome to the New Era.  I don't want to watch.  I must get cracking as we are headed out for a mini-vacay.  Here is what I messaged a friend this morning:

I’m getting ready for Miami. Dry January is over. I’m going to have some fun. I tried watching some of the news shows last night to see their take on my new heroes after the senate hearings—but they were all showing the same, tired clips of Trump over and over. I turned it off. I can’t watch them any more. This year is all about first hand experiences for me. I’m leaving town at least once a month. We have mapped out some long weekend and some weeklong trips. I’ll have my finger on the pulse, so to speak.

I'm putting my things in the car.  I'll see you On the Road.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Obsessed



My friend wrote me this morning to tell me he was up enjoying the last full day of the Obama presidency.  I agree.  Tomorrow something else--something horrible--begins.  But I am not all there, for last night, the new Leica M10 camera was announced.  I am a horrible person.  I am obsessed. I don't care if people make fun of me and throw feces my way.  I WILL have this camera.  You might read this with disgust.  You may be repulsed by my acquisitiveness.  You might want to tell me that "things" won't make me happy.  I don't care.  It is the most filmic digital camera ever and I want it (link) (link).

Let me know if you need a wedding photographer/videographer.  I'll give you a good price and a great product.

Besides, it seems that experiences don't lead to happiness either.


From the review:

College sex, it turns out, is not so very different from the hotel food in that old Jewish joke made famous by “Annie Hall”: terrible, and in such small portions.

Almost one-third of college students never hook up at all. Those who do report mixed feelings about the experience, with one in three saying that intimate relationships in the past year have been “traumatic” or “very difficult to handle.
“In addition,” Ms. Wade writes, “there is a persistent malaise: a deep, indefinable disappointment.”

But I don't care about that or about the president or anything else right now.  I have a deep and burning desire.  I am haunted, hounded, bedeviled, and beset.  

Help me!  Buy a print, hire me to photograph something, or just send money.  I can sell you a brand new Leica M 262, too.  

Tomorrow I am going on a mini vacation.  Ili and I are off to south Florida.  She booked an Airbnb room in the Winwood section of Miami.  I don't know the area, so I Googled it.  Looks like Dry January is coming to an abrupt halt.  It is one of the "coolest" hipster areas in the country, an Anthony Bourdain nightmare (link).  Hipster life is Cocktails and Cuisine.  I will not be an ideologue about drinking.  Life is for the living, and I aim to explore.  

Posts may be spotty for the next few days, but I am pretty sure there will be pictures coming--even without the M10. 

Stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

You Know How I Feel?



Great article in the N.Y. Times about how people feel (link).  The surprising conclusion is that people feel about things differently depending on their experiences, environment, etc.  I'll bet the people in this photograph have different experiences in life and have very different perceptions.

The way people feel is important.  I feel like I can't make the pictures I want to make any longer.  I feel as if I would do better in Italy.  Or I felt that way until I looked at an article about a photographer in Albania.  Now I feel like Q and I should go there.  We would be like Daniel and Peachy in "The Man Who Would Be King."  Conquerors, of sorts.  Albania looks ripe for a photographer such as myself.

Maybe we could go by way of Italy just to be sure.

We're going to have to go somewhere.  It's about to get very rotten here.


Thompson was right, of course.  Nothing is weirder than America.  You can try to shock it, but it will only incorporate you into its twisted American Dream.  Bats and giant lizards have nothing on it.  It is weirder than you, weirder than I.

Obama just pardoned Chelsea Manning.

But hell, it's not just America any more.  They gave the Nobel to Dylan.  What the fuck?

How do you feel about all that?  Don't worry.  There will be a poll to let you know soon enough.  I'll bet the way democrats feel about this will be much different from the way republicans feel about it.  I'll be there are sexual orientation differences, too.

But I feel I need a poll to be sure.

Feelings are often accurate, too.  I never felt like Q was going to do that triathlon he was touting.  Now he isn't.  I'd like to know how he's feeling about it in more detail.  I feel as if he has Trumped us on this one.  Maybe he should just write a story about how it feels to be there from the clubhouse bar, practice a little New Journalism in a Gonzo key, so to speak.  Hyperbolic prose.  Paranoid accusations.

Jesus, really, Trump should have been a writer.  He would have been great.

O.K.  I feel like its time to go to the gym.  I'll put on my support socks and try the treadmill.  Don't think I'm kidding.  I just got some PowerLix Best Quality Ankle Supports for my Achilles tendon problems.  I'm going to strap myself in and turn on the afterburners.  All the old fuckers better get out of my way.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Off



MLK Day was good for me--another day away from the factory.  I don't mean to be blasphemous, of course.  I DID go to the local MLK celebration.  I tried to take pictures but people weren't as into Whitey as they used to be.  Is that still even a term?

But I get ahead of myself.  After lying about all morning and then going to the gym, showering, etc., it was time for lunch and the day was gorgeous, so. . . oh, my little Vespa.  Hayzeus Marimba am I glad I bought the scooter when I did.  It has been the perfect toy for the warmest winter in history.  Puffy clouds and the most crystalline light you have ever seen. . . have I said all of this before?  It bears repeating, I tell you.

And so we lunched at a sushi place where I got edamame and pho and Ili had tri-tail sushi.  We sat outside on a Disneyworld sidewalk in a kind of Stepford Wives community that Ili says appeals to her OCD, a perfectly planned and landscaped place where neither you nor I would ever want to live, but since it is within Vespa distance from the house, it is like visiting another world, another planet.  It is fun on other planets.  The creatures are special and the customs strange, but it is familiar enough to navigate much like the Robins family did in the first episode of "Lost in Space" which Ili and I watched Sunday night on Hulu.

After lunch, we wanted more Boba from the little spot we discovered the day before, so we took many left turns which brought us to a major highway that I had no interest in travelling.   We crossed it at the light and came onto an airport road that wound through acres and acres of giant "carports," strange open structures that protected planes from the sun and rain, and then more acres of small planes tied down with hurricane anchors, I guess, and miles and miles of treeless runways, nothing higher than a few feet but puffy clouds, searing sunlight, and deep blue sky.  I was lost in a good way as we drove down dead end roads, turned around, tried to cut across big fields that were inevitably fenced, turning back again and down other roads and two wheeled paths, then more, until we came back to the big highway where (to Ili's dismay) I decided to take the small sidewalk against the oncoming traffic until we could turn into a parking lot and jump a curb that let us out onto a feeder road that skirted more miles of airport until we finally hit the parking lot of a big strip mall that I knew would lead to the road where the old dairy farm and milk factory were.  Oh fuck oh fuck, what fun.

Then through unfamiliar neighborhood streets that finally took us to the Asian center of town, that took us to an old, beat building where there was Boba.


Walking through the long, weird hallway with doors that open onto tiny, Viet-businesses (Obamacare insurance, accounting, barbershops, etc.)


On the wall at the entrance of the hallway, someone had written the word "cock."  No drawing, just the word.  Of course, I got a picture of Ili standing beside it as illustration. Who would want to forget that? 

By late afternoon on a perfect day, we were home for a rest, a mini-nap, if you will, before heading out to the little MLK Day event in my own little hometown.  It was winding down by then, however, the shadows long and sharp, and soon it was time to go home to cook the evening meal.  

I don't know how people can get bored when they retire.  Days pass too quickly.  There seems so much to do.  But today will go slowly, I know, for it is back to the factory for me, back to a long and tortuous day of sterility and longing.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Adventures (cont)



Done!

Where was I?  A pretty little day.  Oh, yea, we had picked up my print from the art store.  Man, something weird was happening there.  They were stacked thirty deep at the checkout.  Fortunately for me, I'd already paid, so we would have been out the door quickly if the framer wasn't bent on telling me all about his Christmas Cruise with his family in the Western Caribbean.  Why?  Ten thousand dollars, he said.  Clogged toilets.  Bad service.  They couldn't even get into the port at Jamaica.  Those are the things I think of when somebody says, "I'm going on a cruise," so I was waiting for the punch line.  But nope.

Twenty minutes later. . . .

On a back street, we pulled into a little mystic shop that sold all the necessities--crystals and magical gems and mortars and pestles, Ouija boards and packs of tarot cards. . . etc.  We'd never been before, so it was research for future reference.  But stepping out of the shop, we saw a sign for Pho and decided to take a look (we'll go back), and then we saw a sign for Boba.  Oh, Ili said, let's get some Boba.  Sure I said, but I hadn't any idea what we were getting.

"Which one is most popular?" I asked.

"Taro," replied the pretty Asian girl behind the counter.  "You want to try a sample?"

Right away, I was hooked.

Bobas in hand, we headed to the little hipster mall where I could get some stretchy headband things of the kind I'd lost, and Ili wanted to stop in the antique shop next door.  I saw the postcards in the picture above and Ili said, "Those look like something for your friend."  So I snapped a phone pic and sent it right away.  I thought to buy them for him, but there are so many other things I wanted.  One was a cleaned and repaired Smith-Corona Sterling typewriter.  It was cheap.  The thing was, could I get ink ribbons for it.  The lady at the counter assured me I could and wrote down the name of the place that sold them.  O.K. I said, let me call and see, and I'll be back.

The sun was shining and everything was beautiful.

It was getting to be late afternoon and we needed to run to the frame shop to take back the frames Ili had gotten me for Christmas. They were very expensive and really crazy.  I wanted them, but there were two other pairs that I wanted more, so we went in to make the exchange.  They were as beautiful as I remembered and Ili found a pair she wanted, too.

Then it was off to the hardware store for some locally grown honey and some Seafood spray paint for the scooter repair.

Then we had a great idea.  There is a new little den of iniquity, a health food store, Ili said, that served Kava tea.  Let's go see.

Jesus.  It looked like an opium den.  They sold all sorts of herbs and teas in plastic bags up front, homemade looking things, and in the back was a tea house, sort of, with black lights and crazy paint, couches and bars and people seemingly on the nod.  A woman of unrecognizable origins worked behind the bar.  She was the owner we would discover.  She made the teas, strange concoctions that looked like dirt and water with sprigs and sticks in them.  Across the room, people were sitting in chairs with paper cups of teas beside them.  What the hell, I thought.

"What is Kratom?"

"It is a little controversial," she said.  "It is an herb used in some parts of the world to help people get over addictions.  I'd recommend you read about it before you try it."

I recommend that you do, too.  Q tells me it is all the rage in salons across San Francisco.  Surely it will be illegal soon.

It was a strange end to a beautiful day.  I'm a straight kid, I'll tell you.  I love the daylight.  I love lucidity.  This stuff is for people of another kind.  I like going to Zombieland, you know, but I always love coming home.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Adventures



This is not the girl who serves Kava and Kratom.  This is a nice girl who serves Boba.  Mmm.  It was my first Boba, and I'm down with that.  The Kratom. . . not so much.

Some days turn into something unexpected.  Yesterday was like that.  I worked out and took a shower  and then put a new basket on the scooter that no longer says Whole Foods on it.  It is a swell basket and will carry much more than the old wicker one.  It is made of plastic and will last a lifetime.  And after attaching the new basket on the bike, what was there to do but to go for a ride?  We headed off to the funky little shop off the Boulevard that has the best pita bread you've ever eaten.  It is thin and light and almost flaky.  Fill it full of something and join it with papaya juice and you are having a good time.

Especially if you sit at the counter that faces the window that looks out onto the street on a Saturday afternoon.  It is just the right height to sit your Leica on and take perfect portraits of the people walking by.  Photos to come.

After lunch, we got caught in our first rainstorm, a little bit of a squall, really, wet and suddenly cold. And so we had to put the bike away and get into the car.  Of course we didn't run into rain again all day.

A trip to the fab photo gallery with its New York show-- ‘Posing Beauty in African American Culture'.

Posing Beauty in African American Culture explores the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts through a diverse range of media including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, and other forms of popular culture.

Etc.  

It was a big, vivid show, a good one, and right here in my own hometown.  

Afterwards, we went to the art store where I had my print by Slava Pirsky framed, a black and white picture of his daughter (link).  I have waited a long time to do this as I framed it in a very, very expensive way.  I will send a picture to Slava.  He will be pleased, I think.  

Oh, man. . . Ili is commanding me to get going.  We have something to do and she wants to get it over, so. . . I'll finish this later on today. 

To be continued. . . . 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Say One Thing. . . .



I keep looking for the liberal left, but man, I'm having a hard time.  As my old buddy C.C. says, they have become "too feeble to engage the argument. Instead they shut down the argument."  Objectionable speech is not free speech, I guess (link).

I talk about my estrogen levels from time to time.  I figure they are very high.  However, yesterday a colleague, in response to that statement, called bullshit.

"I've seen him chase after a car before 'cause they did something wrong."

"That's because I read too much, I guess.  I like flawed characters who stand up to villains."

I read something that might explain some of this behavior, though, this morning in the N.Y. Times.

Our "dislike of hypocrisy is emotionally intuitive. . . . It’s that [the hypocrite's] outspoken moralizing falsely conveys his own virtue, earning him undue reputational benefits — and at the expense of the individuals whom he publicly shames"  (link).

I forgot to read an article who's headline said that Trump was the most unpopular public figure in U.S. politics.  Or something like that.  I wish I could find it now.  Hypocrite?  

I try not to be a hypocrite.  I want to tell you right up front how terribly flawed and wrong I am.  I find no shame in that.  I find shame in the other.  I know you can find fault with me for valorizing my flaws, but that's a different thing altogether.  

Another matter:  I keep buying cameras and then touting the efficacy of the iPhone.  There are people who are using them professionally now.  See this (link).  

I also have been touting film cameras.  Kodak has brought back its once defunct Ektachrome film and is considering bringing back. . . are you ready?. . . Kodachrome!  

And this season, Fuji's instant film and film cameras outsold everything (link).  

So. . . I know one thing and act otherwise.  Am I a hypocrite?  

Bernie is a true liberal, I think.  I wish I could have voted for him twice.  He would not shut down free speech.  He might have asked to be on stage, would have wanted time to debate, but he would have listened before he responded.  I'm tired of all this religiosity, and I'm sick to death of Trump who won't let anybody speak.  

It's a bad world we're living in.  I really want another camera.  


Friday, January 13, 2017

13th



Yesterday, I played a trick on you--and myself--when I spoke of "facts."  I said that the facts were changing when scientists found the moon to be older and when the Chinese government changed the dates of the China/Japan war.  That was a stupid statement.  The "fact" is that a scientist discovered something new and made a conclusion.  The age of the moon didn't change.  The "fact" is that the Chinese government made a decision.

Facts are like that.

But I felt better when I read Q's post.  He commented that "these people are a bunch of ignorant assholes," and then pondered what might be “if they could only understood their own dilemma.”

Oops.  I think he's re-edited by now.

We are like that, though.  We don't feel the need to be in the right to criticize.  We write blogs, for Christ's sake. Who does that?

Idiots, probably.

Today is Friday the 13th.  It should be Inauguration Day.

The Lone Wolf Moon would not let me sleep last night.  I ached from head to toe and slept fitfully if at all.  Now this.

I should buy something big.  There is a camera I want.  I don't take pictures any more, so a camera would be just the thing.  I'll consider it.

O.K.  Watch your step.  Danger is in the air.  Vapors.  Miasmas.  Things unseen and, perhaps, unknown.  Do what you need to.  Gird your loins.  Wolfsbane and garlic.  Umka and elderberry.

Arsenic and oleander.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Audience and Reason



I found some defenders of the republic (read the t-shirt).  Would it surprise you to know that these two are Trump supporters?

Me too.

It is wrong to make assumptions.  But that is what we do.  "How come?" (as the hillbillies say).  Because it keeps us alive.  Assumptions are based on experiences, right or wrong.

I make a bunch of them here.  I rely upon my instincts.  I've learned over the years that is best for me not to ignore them.  I've also learned that it is best for me not to express them.  If I do, I need to make sure I have a receptive audience.

And that's what happens.  We have public and private voices, and all school children have learned to use the public voice--except when it counts.

But people are beginning to pay attention to me now.  It seems the NY Times have become readers of this blog.  They are only a day behind me here (link).


I look at these two images and wonder to myself, "Why can't we all get along?"

Things get crazy, and tonight is the Full Wolf Moon.  I watched the almost full moon rise over the lake last night.  It is something wonderful.  And now, it is older than it was.  Zircon.  That's what did it.  Scientists have backdated the moon by analyzing rocks that came back from the Apollo 14 mission in the '70s.  Zircon told the tale.  Just as surely as uranium turns to lead, lutetium will become hafnium.   Or vice-versa.   Its a fact.

But it doesn't change the way you feel about the moon, does it?

That's how facts work.  As Q pointed out to me this morning, he wants to live in a world without facts.  Facts can be annoying.  Even for governments.


Facts are fluid whether it is about war or about the moon.

Really.  Who can count on them?  You can't count on them.  The way you feel, though. . . now that's true.  Trust your gut.

When you tell people it is bad to pee on others but it is important that we all pee together, you have to consider your audience.  In the end, really it all comes down to rhetoric, doesn't it?  Know your audience and make an appealing argument to them. 

So many audiences and so little time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Don't Blame Me--It's Only Art



I don't know why Q wants to blame me for the troubles in his life (link).  I read all those books and I'm perfectly fine.  It is probably a fitness thing.  Genetic, I mean.  There are certain genes that are stimulated and only act under certain environmental pressures.  He should have been more like Trump, perhaps, who did not read Bukowski, I'm pretty certain.  Nor the beautiful H.S. Thompson.  I love Thompson's writing and think it is among the most important of the late 20th century.  But he didn't inspire me to fry my brain with drugs.  Nor did Bukowski make me want to work at the post office and live in a flophouse.  I read those things and went to school and went to work and eschewed living much differently than the people around me.  A little, I guess.  Mostly in thought.  I'm sure that I think much differently than the people around me, and I say things that are quite shocking to them.  And I've given a paltry effort to trying to create things which is more than most of them want to do.  I had an art studio and hung about the borderlands a bit, but even the mildest of men will take the occasional illicit trip to the bathhouses.  These secrets are the fun ones to mine which is what I tried to do with my photographic series.

But to live a life of personal defilement--you must to be a stronger person than I.

A friend of mine, a Ph.D. in literature, once told me that he thought reading modern works was a path to depression and madness.

"Really?" I said.  "Why?  It always seems to cheer me up.  I like knowing there are people who struggle with existence, who are more fucked up than I."

Or at least as.

But I've learned an appreciation for the Victorians who liked veils and masks.  Life is dirty.  We must try to hide the face and strive to make it pretty.

Hell, as we all have been reading these past few days, even president elect Trump likes to piss in hotel room beds where President Obama has slept.

Which the left thinks is the great "gotcha" moment.  What they don't realize with their Puritan Jihadist ways is that most people get a kick out of that.  Trump's base isn't going to turn away from him for that.  They appreciate the Hatfields and McCoys.  Life is about retribution.  It was the left, not the right, who did Weiner in.  Hell, I've read that more republican politicians have been arrested on sex related charges than have trannies.  There's an accomplishment to brag about.

That's the thing I liked most about Obama.  O.K.  That's a weird pronoun reference.  Problematic.  Perhaps I should leave it that way.  But I'll clear it up.  Obama accepted all the weirdness while appearing to live in the most conservative of ways.  I watched part of his farewell speech from Chicago this morning and actually had tears rolling down my face.  His departure from the White House is a terrible tragedy.  I believe I am using the word "tragedy" correctly here.  He has been a pillar of reason and good faith.  The Obamas have acted as the black Cleavers in the White House.  I'm really going to miss all of that.

But Q, old sot, gird your loins.  The weirdness is only going to get weirder now.  The pigs are greased and out of the chute.  There will never be a stranger time in America than what is coming.  And I promise you--you'll be glad you read all those books in preparation for what is sure to be.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Go On



This woman runs a chocolate factory.  We met her on the day that cold, clear day we went to the salt marsh.  We stopped in the little town that borders the wetland to get a treat.  I had my Rollieflex with me, and Ili, much to my surprise, asked if I could take her picture.  I didn't have a lot of hope that the image would come out as it was pretty dim in the store.  I developed the film at home the next day and scanned it, and with a little computer magic, I was able to pull an image out of the ether.  She was a very friendly sort, and she made excellent candies.  It's not a good photograph at all, just a snapshot using an old film camera, but it is a bit of a nice memory.  And for the most part, that is what cameras are sold for--to capture memories.

That seems to be forgotten, really.  Everyone talks about the technical aspects of this camera or that.  By and large, the "best" cameras have gotten hideously difficult to use with their pages of menus.  Editing programs, too.  All those old photographs we most love, though, were shot with simple cameras, the film cooked up with a chemical most likely to yield an image.  Now people use expensive software to post-produce images that look just like that.

We make things so difficult.

That is why, by and large, the best photos are being taken with phone cameras.  People show me enviable pictures they have taken all the time on the screen of their phone.  These are the new best picture documentation of what life is like today.  Hate selfies?  Too bad.  It is one of the hallmarks of the era.  I miss the mirror pictures, of course, but the selfie camera has its own charms.  Tired of the "look at me" generation?  Nobody cares.  Put it in a caption and maybe someone will pay attention.  Otherwise you are just yelling "look at me" without providing something we can actually look at.

O.K.  Maybe I'm wrong.  You are yelling "listen to me."  Even less powerful.

But I might be wrong again.  Trump is doing well with tweets.  Seems like he's winning every battle.  Selfies did Anthony's Weener no good.  Words are more slippery than images.  Trump is winning everything.  Petulance has an attractive side apparently.  My hillbilly relatives are all for Trump.

"Well, it's got to be better than what we had before."

"Really.  He's going to make you pay for The Wall."

"Ah, shit, he ain't gonna build no wall.  That's just silly."

I was stunned.  They knew it was all bullshit?  What do they like about him?

It is not what they like about him.  It is about how much they hate the other side, the one that tells them that they are stupid, that being stupid is bad, that they need to listen.  They would rather talk, and Trump does that for them.

Who did Streep speak for?  She hurts for the underclass?  The underprivileged?

"My sister's husband's sister's got this retarded boy.  Poor thing, he's a mess.  He's got to be watched all the time.  She's got her hands full, God love her.  She loves that boy, that's for sure."

Sorry, but they don't take a politically correct approach to all of that.  They just shoulder their burden, so to speak.  They are practical, not ideological.  They do what they have to do.  Sometimes, they have to do some terrible things to get by.  That's O.K., too.  They accept that.  Life isn't full of guarantees.  They have been screwed, so they do what they have to do.  Meryl Streep doesn't speak their language.

They accept many, many "odd" things in their lives.  It doesn't mean that they normalize them.  They still think that some things are odd.

"There's this old man down in the holler.  He likes to put on women's dresses. . . ."  They laugh.  "He used to be a damn good plumber.  If I have any trouble, he comes down and fixes it for me.  I give him a little something to help him out.  We have him down for dinner sometimes.  He's alright.  But goddamn, he's got some pretty dresses.  He's a crazy old fucker."  Everybody laughs and shakes their head.  "Now they want to give him his own bathroom!  Imagine that.  At least he'll be able to keep it running."  More laughter.

There's a lot of laughter about life's weirdness.  There's murders and robberies and drug addictions and jail.  There are plenty of deaths.  There is a lot of sadness.  What can you do?  They take it and get on with things.

I don't think as they do.  I'm privileged and not nearly as tough.  My mom is like that.  "What are you going to do?" she'll ask me.  It is not a question.  It's a statement.  What she means is that you go on.

Trump's appeal is that he is not one of the whiners.  He speaks the language of those who just go on.

We must go on.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Working Schlob



I don't know how people who live in cold climes do it.  This weather makes me sleepy and lazy and hungry.  And it isn't good for photography.  People wear too many clothes.  I mean, you are taking pictures of clothing instead of people.

I guess I am a southern boy.

I began relearning things yesterday.  I spent some hours post-processing pictures.  I like Lightroom more than ever and understand why photographers use it.  I still have much to learn to really control the process.  But there is no replacing Photoshop for what I do to pictures.  I mean to really fuck them up so that they don't look like anybody else's.  There are pre-loaded packages that many "photographers" use to make their "look."  I saw one for street photographers that will give you that converted high contrast black and white image that is so in vogue (link).  They aren't bad.  They just aren't distinct.  Right now, I'll try to do processing that looks as good as everyone else's.  It is a challenge to control the medium.  Picasso could draw or paint like others.  He could draw like DaVinci.  But. . . .

So first I will learn how to "draw like DaVinci."  Or as close as I can come.

Then I'll mess it all up.

It will take me some time.  With more tools, it is getting more difficult.  I mean, there are a lot of people who are really good.  That applies to most things, I think.  There is a tremendous talent in the world, more than ever.  Maybe it is just the result of having more people, more competition.  And when I think about it that way, I think maybe I might take the simplest approach.  Perhaps I'll be a minimalist.

Too much talking about that this morning, though.  Too much.  Things are simple, really.  What is this morning's picture about?  A child could tell you.

I'll go primal.

This is all talk anyway.  I must gird my loins and head to the factory.  There will be no picture taking or picture making today. . . or tomorrow. . . .  I am one of the masses, just a working schlob, one without time to tell our tale.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Puritan Equivalence



I have to learn to use the new versions of Lightroom and Photoshop.  They are different from the old versions in too many ways.  I tried to do some processing the other day, and I couldn't.  Some of the tool functions have changed or have been re-placed.  Many, many hours of re-learning.  The skin tones in this picture are too dark.  I know how to fix them now after a couple hours working yesterday.  I just haven't.  This is a black and white conversion from my new digital Leica camera shot with a wide angle lens at a fixed focal length and a small aperture.  I was experimenting.  There may be better cameras for this sort of thing.  Maybe.  I don't know yet.  I am not taking enough pictures.  But I've begun to carry that camera with me almost everywhere I go.  The only true thing I've learned is that the old saying, "The best camera is the one you have with you," is bullshit.  The best camera is exactly the one you don't have with you at the moment.  Buying cameras is a fool's game.  I have been convinced of that by the new iPhone commercial (link).  Cameras and photography have become romantic tropes.  They are for the foolish.

Speaking of tropes, I want to write a long and complex article on metaphorical language.  I won't, but I want to.  I love figurative language as much as anyone, but I realized from a bad conversation I had a few days ago that people no longer distinguish between the trope and reality.  For instance, I read in a book review yesterday a sentence that is clever but dangerous.  It read, in part, "[C]hild sacrifice takes many forms, and sometimes the act doesn’t require bloodshed but simply adults too wedded to their ideals."  I agree with the statement, in part, as it is quite imaginative, but to take it literally would be dangerous.  Too often, even with academic partners (or maybe especially with them), there is little discrimination.

I hear the phrase "false equivalency" used in arguments all the time since Trump began his presidential candidacy.  Indeed, Trump is the King of logical fallacies.  I would argue, though, that metaphors and similes are false equivalents.  To say, "Your hair is a golden field of wheat," or "Your eyes are stars that shine in the heavens," takes one perceptible similarity and says that the two things are equivalent.

I may be wrong.  I need to study this point more and may be premature in writing it here.  But I plan to do some research and deep thinking about this.  I will report back.

None of this is very interesting though.  I blame it on the weather.  The cold is everywhere as is the rain or snow.  Here in the sunny south this morning, it is near freezing.  I have been a slug and have ventured out little.  I don't even have alcohol to fuel my imagination.  Alcohol, I've decided, is the elixir of life and the merchant of death.  Going without is a poison one way or another.  It is much like being on a paleo diet.  Everyone knows the way to maintain a healthy weight.  You can eat all you want as long as you eat only meat, fruit, nuts, grains, legumes, and vegetables.  No refined wheat.  No refined sugar.  No alcohol.  There is no secret to that.  Mmmm.  It is so sensible that those who follow it are considered remarkable.  I guess it might be called the Puritan Diet.

I think I'll go now and fuel my imagination with some Puritan Art.  That is sure to be scintillating.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Dry Rain



Clouds.  Rain.  I am exhausted after a week of layoffs at the factory, me the messenger.  The weather suits my mood.

At the week's bloody end, it was still "No Drink January."

"Why?!?" people ask me with astonishment.

"I'm trying to let you catch up," I say.  Sometimes.  Other times I talk about my internal organs.

So last night, we took the little scooter up to a new (for us) sushi place.  Oh, man, it was wonderful.  Had I known, I would have been much sooner.  But what is sushi without sake and scotch?  Oh, well, the green tea was good and oaky.  I may go back today for lunch.  They have a bowl of ramen noodle soup that looks delicious.

That's what I have instead of liquor.

What will those people do, I keep asking myself?  There must be terrible despair.  I keep racking my brain for solutions and compromises.  I am a problem solver, I tell myself.  Think of something!

The bad dreams may be over.  Last night they were simply dull.  But I don't look any better.  Where is the miracle?  I guess temperance must be its own reward.

"I'm proud of you."

"Why?  Don't doctors say that you should have two drinks a day?  You know better than doctors?"

"You don't drink two a day."

True enough.  Maybe this will teach me to be moderate.  I have never been a fan however.

Tone on tone, grey on grey.  I look forward to the next meal.

Friday, January 6, 2017

What Lasts?



Last night, I discovered a documentary about Robert Frank that I have been wanting to see all year was available for renting on iTunes.  I have been looking at the website for this film and trying to find a showing near me.  I found one listed in Miami, but when I called the place it was listed to be showing for a single night, they had no idea what I was talking about.

So last night, I paid my money and took my chances.  I was eager to watch "Don't Blink."

It should be titled "Don't Watch."  It was pretty terrible.

The editing is atrocious, cut in some facsimile of old MTV music video style.  But worse.  There were beautiful images from the 25,000 photographs Frank took during the trans-continental trip that resulted in "The Americans" which did not made the book and which I had never seen.  They were on screen for milliseconds.  Frank himself comes off as an old shit who resents his fame but enjoys goofing on others.  His commentary on his artistic output is quotidian at best.  B-roll clips of the films he made with the Beats show them all to be childish buffoons.

How things change.  These are the people who influenced my youth.  New York City was beat, the rents cheap, the flophouses many.  They lived there, these people who rejected the capitalist system and the American obsession with material wealth.  They were the people who were mad to live, who valued the creative living more than accumulating things.

Etc.

I still love Frank's early photographs.  Artists shouldn't be allowed to explain.  If their works are any good, they should remain a personal mystery.  Watching "Pull My Daisy," I was embarrassed for myself.  Sometimes now, reading Bukowski makes me feel the same way.  And, though I still enjoy him, I wonder how Tom Waits' performances will hold up.  It feels in ways like reading an old journal only to find that it was the poetry of Rod McKuen (link) that got you interested in the form.

Maybe it is simply the way of things.  This morning, I came across two book reviews that tickled me, at first, then made me wonder about my "mature" values.  It made me question myself, especially in light of having just watched the documentary.  Who am I?  What have I become?



 It seems to me like a perfect reflection of the recent Presidential election.  Oh, well.  No matter.  I simply wonder which book I should read first.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Wrestle Royale



They tell me Mercury is in retrograde again.  Seems so.  But it is in retrograde for everyone, not just me, so what can I do?  Best thing is to stay away from people and keep my mouth shut.  I should have done that already, though.  I've already made myself sad with problems that are probably larger than simply personal.  "All the world's a stage," I've read somewhere.  Now more than ever.

I read an opinion piece in the N.Y. Times this morning that explains some of the fundamental problems in our country (link).  It reminds me of my own internal problems.  I like cowboys but want to be a bohemian.  In truth, I am neither.  I am more like that fay Sam Shepard who writes about cowboys without being one himself.  That used to be O.K.  In the new world, it is nothing but trouble.

The world now is like a Wrestle Royale where everyone enters the ring at once and the winner is the last wrestler standing.  Weird alliances form that are strange and exciting to watch, but as in a season of "Survivor," such alliances are not meant to last.  

It is more and more difficult for me to navigate the new ideologies and theories that abound.  I haven't the lifetime training that someone who grew up in them has.  They are as silly and fulfilling as all the theories and ideologies that have come before them, and they will suffer the same fate, but the thrill of possessing something new is indisputable.

Time is up.  I have chores and duties.  The days grow longer, the air grows colder.  It doesn't seem right, but one thing remains the same.  The factory whistle blows.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

WWDDD



I barely remember taking this picture.  I was learning to use my Rollieflex and drove by some protesters outside an abortion clinic.  They made a pretty jarring sight, so I turned around, parked, and approached them with the weird little twin lens reflex camera around my neck.  I waved and positioned myself on the sidewalk, focussing the reversed image (I hoped) in the little mirror.  The camera makes barely a sound when the shutter is tripped.  I wound the film advance handle the half turn, looked up, and began to approach the group.

They were not happy, friendly people.  Surely, I thought, since they were standing out in public with hideously aggressive signs, they would be proud of what they were doing, but as I tried to take more pictures, many of the protesters would try to hide their faces.  There was one big, aggressive fellow, and in truth I thought I might get beaten.

"What are you doing?" one of them asked me.

"I saw you all when I was driving by and thought that this would make a strong photograph.  You don't mind, do you?"

I looked down into the camera to take another.

"I've just gotten this old, mechanical camera, and I am trying to learn how to use it, so forgive me for being so slow.  I'm not sure I'm doing it right."

"Do you want to pray with us?"

"Oh, no, I'm just taking pictures."

I took a couple more and waved to them as I turned to go.

I keep wondering why they want to cover their faces, though.

Well, maybe I know.  I was in college during the streaking craze, and one night my roommate and I joined in a large, naked parade.  Suddenly, there were t.v. lights and everyone picked up the pace.  As we went by the cameras, I turned my head away.

"Jesus, those are from. . .," I said to my roommate.  They were cameras for the news station in our own hometown.  "If our parents see this, they'll never send us any money."

Let me change the subject.  Really, I just want to give you some advice.  Never quit drinking when you are going back to work after a two week vacation.  That is the dumbest idea I've ever had.  When I came home last night, I was pacing the floor.

"What do people who don't drink do when they come home from work?"

The factory is going to be a bitch of a place to work this month, I think, without mirth, without levity, for everyone I talked to yesterday was having a No Drink January.  Can you imagine?  We all feel uncomfortably fat in our clothes, so it isn't just the drinking.  Everyone is on a diet, too.  The candy dishes have disappeared.

"What are you eating?!" I asked my secretary as I walked by her office.  She was chewing something.

"An almond," she said despondently.

"Shit."  Not what I had hoped for.

The first two days were easy, but going back to work, it became torturous.  I kept thinking WWDDD?

What Would Don Draper Do?

I mean, you have to have some moral guidance, right?

Surely today will be easier.  As soon as I can put my socks on without crossing my legs. . . .

But that may take a while.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Grind



I developed some film at home a couple of days ago.  I'd forgotten how much control you can have over the final product.  I am going to begin experimenting with chemical formulas I have not used before in combination with a variety of films.  This one was cooked up with the same formula that I used in college.  It is pretty standard--Tri-X souped in straight D-76.  It works to give a good resolution, medium grain negative.  I shot this with my Leica R5 SLR.  I love this camera and I realize I love SLRs.  Now that I have spent a bunch of money on a Leica Digital Rangefinder.

But I like that one, too.  They are all for different things.

It takes me about half an hour to develop the film.  Then there is the cutting and sleeving and scanning.  Then I have what I would have had if I had just pushed the button on a digital camera.  But not really.  Only in terms of time.  The process of making film photographs is kind of thrilling.  You don't know what you have, but you don't keep taking pictures because its film.  Every frame seems precious.  And there is a sort of truth about the final product that seems truer than other things.

I was sitting at a cafe table when I took this picture.  It is not exactly what I thought I took, but it is better.  Film is thrilling.

I do not like working.  I am so much happier not working.  I know that seems obvious, a truism, but not everyone is as happy not working as I.  I do not get bored.  I don't know how anyone can get bored.  There is always more to do than I can manage.  I don't want to work even part-time.  Not a single hour a week.  I am adamant about this.  Working for wages should be considered the number cause of ill-health and death.

I can say that until I look at the homeless.  Then I realize that not having money is.  Or worse, working for low wages.

So. . . I must end this nonsense in order to do my factory work.  All of the sickeningly sweet holiday posts are done.  There will not be time for elaborate meals or bowls of arranged fruit or flower petals floating in shallow vases.  There will be no more rum cakes (I forgot to tell you about that) and culinary art.  Life will get back to that quick dash to the gym, the day gruelingly spent under fluorescent lights at a factory desk, the tired preparation of the evening meal, and. . . oh, yes--this is a No Drink January.  And an evening drink of coconut water or tonic and lime.

Back. . . back. . . back. . . to the grind.

Monday, January 2, 2017

This Year Is Flying By



"This new year is flying by."

That's what I thought a woman in my neighborhood said to me yesterday as Ili and I were returning from a long walk.  That wasn't exactly what she said, however.  She is older than I, and she was simply commenting on how fast time goes by.

"It seems like just yesterday we were worried about the. . . what was it called. . . the Y2K virus.  Remember?"

"Sure," I said.

She was walking her big yellow lab who you can't help but give a good rubbing down.  Yellow labs are like that.  All of them.  They are simply the friendliest dogs in the world, hands down.

"He and I are getting old," she said.

"We all are," Ili replied in her affable way.

"Not you, honey."

I said nothing.

But this year is flying by.  We made a typical southern New Year's Day meal--collard greens slow cooked in chicken broth with celery root and salt pork, black eyed peas pressure cooked with celery, carrots, and, of course, salt pork, and medium cut pork chops.  I was a pain in the ass on the first day of the year in not drinking.  When we scootered around in the afternoon, all the pubs and bars were packed.

"You want to get a drink?"

Stink eye.

So while mom and Ili drank a bottle of nice French chardonnay, I had mineral water with lemon.  What can I tell you.  I thought I would give it a shot.

And now the holidays are truly over and people are trudging back to work.  All the things I didn't do will have to wait a year.  But other than making art, there wasn't much.  It was the best of holidays, really, a stay at home vacation that was truly memorable.

The light here now is unbearable.  It is bright and sharp so that you can not look toward the sun.  I mean it is unbearably beautiful.

Yesterday, riding the little Vespa, we went down some streets we had never been, and on one of them, we came by a big, beautiful two story Victorian that apparently was a hippy house.  One group sat on the wide front porch talking and drinking, and on the roof under which they sat was a flower girl chatting with another girl who was leaning out of the bedroom window.

"There's a picture," said Ili, but I knew it wasn't, at least not as a passerby on the street.  The two girls looked over at us cruising slowly on the cool motor scooter and slowly shot us peace signs.  Maybe they only waved and I was the one shooting the peace sign.  I don't know, but I wanted to turn the bike around and spend some time with them talking and making pictures.  But those things are commitments that I was unprepared to make, and so we continued slowly down the street toward our own distant home.

When you have some time and do not have to work, things can begin to look pretty good around the house.  I have done some purging of things and Ili has been tending the herbs and making beautiful things--gardenias floating in a clear, shallow vase, wooden bowls filled with tangerines, tied up sprigs of mint. . . .

And she's making pictures.  That is hers at the top of the page.

But all vacations come to an end.  Far in the distance, there is a whistle blowing, and it ain't the train or the little goat footed balloon man.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Doing Stuff in the New Year




For all of you using the Gregorian calendar, Happy New Year.  It will be a year of reform, I think.  Just you wait and see.

But no bad tidings.  I must be resolute.  Here is my resolution--I must begin making pictures again.  I went all of 2016 without doing that.

We'll see.

Harder yet, I will lose the weight I've put on at year's end.  Shall I try a dry January?  I have been told it is a bad idea to commit to that.

All our desires to lose weight, to be skinny and pretty, I read this morning, are just other people desiring to control us.  That is what Naomi Wolf says.

But what if I just want to be healthy?  Healthy is pretty, right?  The healthy people of the world don't look like overstuffed sausages, do they?

I think Naomi Wolf is just a mouthpiece for the junk food industry.  She is being paid off by the Ding-Dong people, or maybe the Cracker Barrel.

Speaking of mouthpieces, I hope you all watched Pit Bull's Rockin' New Year's Eve show last night.  Coolio, man, was the shits.  Or was it Mariah Carrie?  Or Jennifer Lopez?  Shit. . . I don't know.  New Year's Eve is where old performers go to die unnatural deaths, I think.

I've just had to ask the names of all those people.  Every one of them.  We flipped through some channels last night before bed (I didn't make midnight), and did see these people, and again, I was reminded how outside the normal experience I am.  I didn't know anything that was going on.  There was a Spice Girl, I was told, but I am only vaguely aware that that was a girl band of some sort.

Maybe this year I should get a Twitter account.  That way, I can follow the President.  Actually, president.  The word, in truth, is not supposed to be capitalized.

These are the sort of things I do know.

The sun is bright and the air is warming.  I must do things.  That is my resolution--to do things.  Less thinking, less eating and drinking, and more doing.

We'll see how that works out.

So. . . wake up, Kit Kat, it's Time to Go!