Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Recharge



I'm done for awhile.  Let's call it a break.  I have to tend to things including my health, I think, both physical and mental.  I'm pretty much closing up shop at the studio, too.  I've been through a couple rough relationships this year (that were exciting nonetheless), had knee surgery and diverticulitis, worked every day at the factory, and continued to churn this out, too.  I had interest in my photography from a significant gallery that in the end didn't come to fruition and an offer to be part of a group show in NYC that seems to have fallen apart. 

All in all, I'm more than exhausted. 

I'm shutting down at a piss-poor time as the daily readership has rebounded nicely.  But it is better to pause on top than when everything is truly in the gutter.  I may be gone for weeks.  I may be gone for months.  I don't know.  Since I don't have any way to let you know, just check back from time to time if you are so inclined. 

I'll see you in a bit.  So, as they say. . . until then. . . .

Monday, May 18, 2015

So Long Betty, Goodbye Don



I'm feeling like Betty Draper.  Whatever.  Keep things the same.  Act normal.  Bottle it up. 

I'm feeling like Don Draper.  Run away.  Have adventures.  Rediscover the America with which you have lost touch. 

Betty and Don are alike in one way.  Truth with a capital "T" is only a construct.  They create their versions of what is dream and what is nightmare around the "is."  It is perfect that their final scene is on the telephone.  It could not have been better.  The best things are left unsaid (but definitely not unwritten). 

The worst thing about "On Demand" is the lack of a shared experience.  Most of my friends have saved the last season of "Mad Men" for binge watching later.  There will be no chatter in the break room about the final episode. 

There were flaws along the way in the seven season run that some will pick at until they can unravel the cloth, but those flaws are fewer than most other collaborative works on commercial television.  The core of the goddamned thing is a masterpiece.  To be able to make that much "art" in a corporate setting makes one long for television shows that are made from grants rather than for revenue.  If the Koch whores would just do that instead of buying politicians. . . etc. 

And so, a pretty girl picture circa early Betty Draper.  Consider it a tribute, more or less.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Whatever Comes



I've been feeling like shit the past few days.  I think maybe I am about to have another bout of diverticulitis.  I didn't follow up with a doctor as I was told to at the emergency room last time, so I imagine much worse.  I have had an anxiety/depression bout over it and I am wondering if I will be gong to New Mexico at all.  I have gone internal and am in a shut down mode.  Life is outward.  Death is inward.  I've been wondering what I would do with all my files and printed pictures if I found out that death was near.  I think I would throw it all away.  It would take a long time.  You would not believe the incredible stack of prints in the studio--hundreds and hundreds of pounds of them.  They would take forever to burn.  I guess I'd just open up my studio doors and tell people to take whatever they wanted.  I'd delete the millions of files from my drives.  After that, I would just take to my house and deal. 

I have been foolish to spend so much time doing all of that.  I've gone back to the old blog and looked at the very start of it and gone slowly forward through the days.  It takes forever.  Some of those pictures are wonderful.  Then there was the other. 

If I am not dying, I am through with the project I have been working on.  I hope this will all pass, but I tell you, I feel like butt.  I'd rather feel well and go to N.M. and learn how to make those beautiful prints and drive around the old Route 66 a bit.  I look forward to that if I get well. 

Whatever comes, I am slowing down.  I have been driven like a madman.  My movements have become sudden and herky-jerky.  Whatever comes, the old madness is gone. 

Whatever comes.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Out of Habit



A friend is stretching on the floor.  I told her, "Make sure you do your Kegels."  I want the cat to go and help her, but she just leans against my leg.  And then, just like that, as soon as I wrote it, she ran to see what's going on.  Hmm.  I'm not sure what to make of that. 

I'm posting out of a sense of habit and duty.  I really don't have anything to say.  I mean I don't have anything I should or can say.  I need to start another blog for that.  Deep cover.  Maybe on the dark web. 

And so. . . I'll report.  I read an article in the Times today about the growing number of people who travel alone.  There are many companies that accommodate single travelers now, the article reports.  But I wonder. . . does that qualify as traveling alone?  Maybe that is not what the article said now that I am thinking about it.  Perhaps it was simply about the single traveler.  Someday, perhaps, as I get older, I will try one of those companies to some exotic place.  I am picturing a movie by Merchant/Ivory, all British and lovely. 

It might be an antidote to the increasing robotization of the American workforce.  Reviews of two books point out that as corporations have become more automated, Americans must do more work, from booking their own flights (no more travel agents) to pumping their own gas (death of the attendant).  Much of the leisure time automatization was supposed to offer us has been taken up by "self-service." 

Perhaps it would be nice to have someone take care of the travel details.  Say. . . to Africa.  Lisa, do you know anyone?  Ha!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Pleased as Punch



This photo looks like a Tamara de Lempicka painting to me.  I am "pleased as punch" as Hubert Humphrey used to say. 

I wonder what that means?

I have much to do before I leave for the west.  I must find someone to care for my cat.  I must. . . oh, there is not that much to do.  I've just become a worried old man, that is all.  I need to let go and get excited.  I am.  I am excited. 

Slava Pirsky's print of his daughter Alex came yesterday.  It is beautiful.  I will take it to the framers today.  I want more of his pictures, but I know I cannot ask.  I want a series.  Actually, I want to make my own.  I'd be very good at it, I think. 

I'll try to find a family on Craig's List.  Hmmm. . . .

Short entry today, but wonderful pic.  I have drama to attend to.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Preparing



The hogs are greased and out of the pen.  I'll be in New Mexico for awhile.  I'm leaving next week to learn how to make platinum, palladium, and gold prints from digital transparencies.  More foolishness for me.  I've booked days on both ends of the week-long workshop so that I can drive around and see some things.  Take some pictures.  I've heard that the area down around Roswell looks like the 1950s.  If any of you have any suggestions about places I should see while I am in the state, please let me know.  I will be, per usual, traveling alone, so I am free to do anything I want.  Sometimes this works out and sometimes I become catatonic.  I was more on the catatonic side of things when I was there two years ago.  I'm hoping for some life this time around.  I'm hoping to take more pictures. 

There is an illusion of life when you travel, of the life you believe you are meant to live and that you deserve.  I am ready for that lie.  I need to get away so terribly badly that I would be content to simply sit in the square in Santa Fe for a week without moving.  I've told myself, though, that I will move slowly, that I will not be manic to do everything, that I will simply focus on what is in front of me.  I tell myself many things. 

But I am nervous about leaving the house, the cat.  Something disastrous happens every time I go away.  A tree branch snaps and falls through the roof, a water pipe breaks and floods. . . something.  I have no one to take care of the cat for two weeks, though I do have someone for the second week.  I am desperate to find someone for the first.  Poor puss-puss.  She will die from a broken heart, I think. 

But that is the point of going away.  Once I'm on the road, all that will melt away and mean little.  I'll know that I was meant to drive long highways and sleep in cheap motels.  It is there a person can think and write and be creative. 

Oh. . . I'm rough and tough, alright.  I will be staying in an old motel that is on edge of a parking lot of a cheap shopping center on the edge of town.  When I travel, though, I don't know. 

I fly into Albuquerque.  If any of you have suggestions for accommodations there, please let me know.

My life is topsy-turvy just now.  Anything can happen.  Let's see how it goes. 

And for the record. . . I am completely take with this photograph.  It is one of my favorites of all time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

That's What People Do



Life is flux.  I understand that.  It is awful, though, especially to older systems.  Younger systems can withstand change and rebound, at least for awhile.  To the well established, older systems, however, change is usually devastating. 

I'm speaking of ecosystems, of course.  I know this from my old days as a student of zoology at the university.  And beyond. 

But I always figured that would translate well for people, too.  Flux and poor choices.  I've made some. 

But let me focus on some of the positive things right now.  Last night, I tried a new sushi place on the Boulevard.  My oh my!!!!  My life is enhanced.  It is one of the best places I've been in my life.  Not only is the sushi the freshest and tastiest I've ever had (and the seaweed salad, etc) but the waitresses are a spectacular show, made up and dressed to the nines as they say.  And the music is my music.  I mean the stuff I love.  All of this a simple half mile from my house.  I will go broke eating there (they are very proud), but it is a good way to go to the poorhouse.  I'm in love, I'm in love. 

And I am planning to get away at the end of the month for a week of learning to make platinum prints in New Mexico.  I will research the rest of the trip today.  I must say that I am looking forward to it. 

So there is that.  Let's stick with the good.  I will simplify my life again and things will become clearer.  I had a lot of shocks to the system yesterday, but with luck. . . it will all work out. 

Let's hope.  As Don Draper says, "That's what people do."

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dopey Times



Truly, my friends, I am burned out and up.  If you have been flip-flopping between this blog and Q's trying to find something of interest. . . the two of us couldn't entertain or delight. . . well, I can't think of a good analogy.  There is a great indicator.

Sorry, Q.  I didn't mean to drag you into it. 

But it must be going around.  Everything I used to read or look at on the internet is now gone or dopey.  These are dopey time, perhaps.  When everyone has a voice, it seems, there is only a din. 

Last night, I shot with a model whose father drove her two hours to get to the studio.  The trip home would be shorter, I hope.  They came from an almost rural area north of my own hometown.  It was hot here yesterday, brutally so for May, temperatures reaching into the nineties, humidity levels in the ninety percent range as well.  They drove up in a beat-to-shit pickup truck with the windows down.  They looked sweaty and worn out.  When they walked in and sat down, they were silent the way rednecks often are in unknown territory. 

"Well," I said, "one of you looks old enough to drink.  Would you like a beer?"

"No thanks," the father answered seriously.  "I gave that up for good some years ago.  I just thought it was time to grow up." 

"You don't mind if I stay young a while longer, do you?" 

"No sir, you go ahead." 

As his daughter put herself together in the other room, I chatted with dad.  Oh what tales people have. 

"It's hot," I said.  "The a.c. here doesn't seem to be keeping up."

"It's been like that at home, too.  It is too hot, too early."

The two of them lived in an RV, he said.  They had just kicked the wife/mother out of their lives.  He raised his hand like he was drinking from a bottle. 

"Too much of that," he said.  "I had to tell her to go." 

He'd been married twenty-four years.  He was a smallish man with gray stubble and no body fat at all.  He wore a loose gray New Orleans Saints t-shirt and a pair of shorts.  I knew him.  I'd grown up with it. 

"Do you live on a piece of property or in a park," I asked. 

"It's a park," he said.  "We only pay two hundred and thirty dollars.  It's a nice place, good people." 

I tried to visualize the two of them bumping around the RV.  Tight quarters.  I wondered what he did for a living but didn't ask. 

"It's rough about your wife," I said.  "Twenty-four years is a long time.  You got to keep moving, though.  Exercise, walks, bike rides.  It keeps you from getting too internal, you know?"

"Oh, I exercise all the time," he said, "lift weights, ride my bike.  I've got a group of buddies who are maniacs.  I just like to exercise and watch old black and white t.v. shows." 

"Do you watch Turner Classics," I asked?

"I don't have a t.v. or anything like that.  I just watch them on YouTube." 

What a world, I thought. 

In a bit his daughter came out. 

"This was mamma's dress," she said. 

He mumbled something about the five-finger discount and laughed.  They had their own language like twins do, I thought.  It is not quite intelligible to the outside world. 

"Well, then, let's shoot!"

After I finished shooting her in her mother's dress, I told her we needed to move the red couch onstage.  She could change.  I turned to go out to sit with her father while she did, and I looked back over my shoulder just as she tried moving it herself.  I saw her catch her big toenail and peel it back.  The blood squirted. 

"Jesus," I yelled.  I could feel my testicles in my armpits.  She sat down and looked at it.  I got her some paper towels. 

"I'm going to get your daddy.  I don't think I can look at that." 

I went out and told him what happened.  He came in and looked at it and asked me if I had any tape.  I gave him tape and paper towels and water and he began cleaning it up. 

"That's going to hurt," he said.  "It's going to turn black."

I was sitting in a chair writhing.  Holy shit, holy shit.  She looked a bit pale and asked if I had some water.  She drank a bit and then lay back on the couch.  When dad was finished, she sat up and they spoke in that weird language again. 

"O.K." she said.  "Let's shoot." 

"What!  You still want to shoot?"

"Sure," she said.  I looked at her dad.

"I didn't raise no sissies," he said.  "She'll be fine." 

And so we shot the rest, me framing above the big paper towel bandage on her toe.  I couldn't believe it, but I guess she wanted to get the most out of her four hour truck trip. 

When we were done we hugged and I walked them to the truck. 

"I'd like to say you'll love the pictures and want to come back, but. . . " I pointed to her toe.

"Oh, I'm coming back, "she said as she gingerly scooted into the truck pointing her toe into the air. 

I went home and downloaded the images and stayed up to prepare one to send her.  It had been a long day at the factory and then the shoot.  I hadn't had dinner, but I owed her this, I thought.  By the time they got home, I had a picture to send her. 

"Holy shit!" she wrote back. 

Good.  It was closing in on midnight.  The factory whistle would be blowing.  Another day, another story.

Monday, May 11, 2015

All You Mothers



I sent this around to all the women I know who have chosen not to have kids.  I know a lot of them.  Still, I bought my mother lilies and violets and a wireless speaker to boot.  I made us dinner in the Romertopf, a roast with potatoes and carrots and lots of small yellow onions and smothered in red wine.  Mmmm.  For my own mother, I sent these.




I am an only child, of course.  

I hope each of you mothers out there had a wonderful day full of dreams that came true.  And for those of you who are child-free, I hope yours was, too.  


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Half Alive



Paul McCartney built a huge house not a block off the Boulevard as big as a castle.  People are beginning to realize it and have started taking pictures of it.  Yesterday walking back to the car, I saw a young couple taking a picture with a cell phone, and just for fun I yelled out,

"What are you doing!" 

They turned startled and looked at me. 

"You can't take pictures of the house," I said with authority. 

"Why not," said the uncertain boy." 

"Do you know whose hose this is?" I asked in a harsh tone. 

The couple looked at each other asking with their eyes if they should confess. 

"I'm fucking with you," I said with a laugh.  "It's a great house, huh?" 

They chuckled a bit in relief and turned back to take the picture. 

The girl I was with asked me, "Why'd you do that?" 

"Just for fun," I said.  "They will always remember that moment.  In years to come, they will be somewhere having fun and one of them will say, "Remember that asshole at the McCartney's house," and the other will laugh and say, "Yea, what a jerk."  But it is not emblazoned in their collective memory. 

I don't think she was impressed.  She is a calmer sort than I. 

We were coming from an outdoor lunch at a fabulous Thai restaurant.  I was in a mood, I guess.  We had a young waitress who was having trouble remembering the names of the Thai beers on the menu.

"You should hang out with my friend here.  You both like to smoke it up apparently."  She grinned and said, "I'll take the fifth."  But she was definitely a stoner and was cute and happy. 

"Did you know Paul McCartney has a house around here?" 

I pointed across the street.  "Yea, it's right there.  It's the one that looks like it might be a small hotel."

"I saw him at breakfast this morning," she said. 

"Did he have an entourage?"

"No, but he was in a section that was blocked off from the public.  His stepson is graduating from Country Club College this weekend." 

"I wonder if he'll sing the fight song?" I asked. 

I began to write a story in my mind that I thought to tell as truth here.  In it, I told her that I lived there, that I was a personal handler, and that she seemed like the right kind of girl, and if she wanted to come, there was a party starting at eight tonight, that she should dress up a bit and not be late.  Eight sharp if she wanted in.  Do you want in? I would ask.  I thought maybe I'd sit outside in the car when she showed up and knocked on the door which was opened and then to my astonishment, she was invited in.  I didn't get any further, though, and now it seems to contrived to even mention. 

At the end of the lunch, though, a black man with a huge Jesus Saves sign walked by on the sidewalk yelling out his drivel.  Everyone acted either like he wasn't there or that this was normal and o.k.  My response was a reflex. 

"Hey, get the fuck out of here," I said. 

He yelled out some more drivel about Jesus Saves, and I replied, "How's that working out for you?" 

My dining companion looked a bit off-put. 

"Sorry," I said.  "I just don't know why people put up with that.  I'd get arrested if I started yelling out the things I believe.  Holy shit, the cops would be here in seconds.  Fuck him." 

I looked around the tables.  Some were smiling and nodding, some were looking at their plates. 

I guess I was in a mood.  That is what happens sometimes, though.  I like it.  I am somehow half alive.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

I Will. . . .



Saturday. . . light. . . weather. . . music. . . cat. . . .

I'm changing my life today, somehow. . . I don't know how, exactly, but somehow.  I'll quit drinking whiskey at home for sure.  Oh, I say that. . . help me. . . suddenly I want to be young and live.  All the irreversible processes. . . etc.  I'm going to quit lifting heavy weights for the rest of the summer.  Last night in bed, I could barely lift a pillow from the prone position without giving a hurtful moan.  I will walk more, bike, do calisthenics.  I will drink wheat grass and many strange concoctions, herbal teas, things with ginger.  I will eat avocados and red peppers every day as I was instructed.  It will make my skin like a baby's, I have been told.  I will stretch and move.  Movement all the time.  What else?  What else goes into this useless list? 

I will travel.  Today I will visit a spring I have never heard of.  I will make photographs of plants, flowers and vegetables.  I will look for beautiful old glass to hold them.  I will clean my kitchen thoroughly today and begin to organize my office.  I will order the mulch I need for the driveway.  Yes, I will do manual labor and learn to use tools to do my own carpentry. 

I will not sit at this computer so long every morning. 

I will be conscious and aware so that I may collect information for writing. 

Blah, blah, blah. . . is it just the spring? 

If I told you what I really want to do, you would call the police.  But it is what I really want to do. 

Ommmmm. . . .

Friday, May 8, 2015

Better Company



I want to write a vignette, not an observation or an opinion, but there is too much going on here this morning to do that.  I need solitude to write, solitude to think.  Company palliates loneliness but it doesn't feed creativity.  I've had both--or each (I'm not certain)--and I know there is no balancing them.  "Art" (I loathe the word when used in a personal context) is selfish.  Creativity is demanding.  It has been weeks since I visited the studio.  I paid the rent, though.  Now if I just start paying someone to use it for me and to create some stories, I'll be set.  No, there is no balance and neither life is fully satisfying once you have known the other. 

I'm talking about a certain kind of "art."  If I were tye-dying or making abstractions from sunshine. . . or if I were even making lithograph prints of vegetation, it would probably be different. 

Nope.  It is not "art" after all.  It is me.  It is the sort of thing I wish to pursue that makes the difference.  If I started writing songs for the churches, I'd have a full and complete life--companionship and creativity. 

I will try.  I will give up the darker arts.  I will write happy tracts for the sinless. 

I went to the local university's film student showcase last night.  It was the first year director's night, twenty-two short films.  Oh, my. . . if this is where all filmmakers start. . . . It was a showcase in how difficult it is to be creative.  Not a provocative shot or dangerous scene among them.  Cliched to the max.  They could do the camera work and color corrections o.k.  The films looked like films technically.  But oh, sweet jesus, there is not a thought in their pretty little heads.  They are a perfect illustration of postmodern theories of the master narrative, spoken through by the culture they unconsciously suffer from and embrace. 

Me, too.  The one I embrace.  Fuck you Bukowski.  Fuck you Balthus.  Fuck you Fitzgerald and Faulkner and Hemingway.  Fuck you Kerouac and Mailer and Thompson.  Fuck you Modigliani and Matisse and Bonnard. 

There were apparently other choices. 

O.K.  I must go keep company.  It might be the better thing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Looking in the Broken Mirror



After a week or more of staying outside, the cat is suddenly back in.  She is very affectionate and lies on my feet and licks my leg.  She is such a sweet, strange thing. 

After work yesterday, I went to a worker's party at a local bar.  I was the only supervisor there.  I felt flattered that I was asked to come and took it for a sign of love and affection.  Pride before the fall.  They were all drunk by the time I got there and some were beginning to leave.  I had thought to drink something non-alcoholic and then go to the gym, but there was no way out of having a beer.  I could still work out after a beer, I thought.  I don't even have to drink it all. 

But I was way behind a few of them, and sooner than later, I was hearing things I didn't really want to hear.  About me. 

It is surprising to me when anyone sees me as a boss.  I cannot.  And I think of myself as self-effacing and beneficent.  Oh. . . I am foolish, I guess.  That little looking glass mirror got a good cracking.  Someone ordered a second beer for me.  Foolishly I stayed.  Things devolved.  It wasn't awful.  I mean there was still love, but I don't care to talk about me or hear about me, and there are always the small comments that hurt the most.  You think you are one thing.  You think you are safe.  You think you are something and you hear you are something else, not something completely different from what you thought, just not what you thought. 

Boring because of the lack of detail, I know.  Here is detail.  One of the fellows I like got very drunk, too drunk to drive, so I said I would take him home.  I think he was hurt by this in a small way.  I thought I was doing a favor, but after dropping him off, I realized that he wanted to keep going until something happened, just keep drinking until a story broke out, one we could tell in "future times."  He is a writer of repute, and I know I disappointed him.  That was the toughest part, I realized. 

I got home late without having eaten or gone to the gym.  I have barely eaten in days, have drunk too much, and can't remember where the gym is.  I should have stopped on the way home, I guess for there was nothing much to eat in the house.  I heated up some leftover beans and rice and put some eggs in the skillet.  I was even out of whiskey.  I squeezed an organic lemon with the citrus squeezer that is here courtesy of a friend and mixed it with vodka.  Weird but o.k.  I had a couple.  Then it was after midnight.

 Waking this morning, I could feel it all, feel the toll.  I must quit it, I know.  My face is slack, my eyes dark and swollen.  My gut looks like Tommy Lasorda's.  Hell, I look like Tommy Lasorda. 

It is back to the factory now.  I just want to stay here with the cat.