Sunday, September 24, 2017


Walker Evans

I started doing a little research into street photography last night trying to develop a timeline and sequence of images.  You can't do much with Google.  You can get the Wiki stuff, but I didn't find anything by true critics or academics.  I will need a university data base, I guess, to see what is out there.  All in all, though, I don't think that there is really much out there.  

It is interesting, though, that the earliest "street" photographers came from upscale artistic or otherwise bohemian families.  Paul Strand and Walker Evans were two of the early ones, both from NY, each rather privileged, though Evans was broke for most of his life.  I found an interesting passage about his trip to Cuba to do a story on the corruption of the Machado era.  While there, he became friends with Ernest Hemingway who lent him money to stay another week beyond the end of his assignment.  He left 46 prints with Hemingway when he left the island.  They were only discovered in 2002.  I would like to see those prints of street life in Havana back in 1933.  

One of the common threads that connects the lives of street photographers was an obsession with documenting common life and the eschewing of commercial work.  From Paul Strand and Walker Evans through Robert Frank who quit his lucrative magazine career, street photographers were strident about their works and visions even though there was little economic reward.  

I think of Vivian Maier.  

To wit: I can't even give away my work.  My friend who has two of my photos hanging in his office--I assume somewhere near the Russel Chatham print--took me up on my offer and said he'd pay me $50 for a picture.  Of course, I told him I couldn't accept the money and that he could have any image he wanted, to which he replied that he didn't really have any more wall space for another print.  

Of course this wasn't the street photography images, but still. . . I feel in heady company.  

There was an article about surviving the coming apocalypse in the N.Y. Times today.  Silver and gold in small amounts.  Silver dimes, they say, will make good barter.  Alcohol.  Weapons.  It is a Mad Max vision of dystopia.  I hadn't known that baby powder on your sheets might protect you from radiation.  Turmeric and black pepper.  I need to get ready.  Street photography will indeed be something.  

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Expensivest Shit

The funniest things occur.  After writing yesterday's post, the fellow who I said owns the Chatham pictures texted me.  He has the very one I posted hanging in his office.  He said he prefers the vividness of the internet colors over the reality of his print.

He said that I could own one, too (link).  Expensive?  Shit, I can't get $50 for a print.  Maybe I should try eBay.  But of course, no Russel Chatham, I.

The first night of autumn here was warmer than the last evening of summer.  Nature doesn't always follow the calendar.  Less and less, really.  But it is fall and we begin our falltime routines.  There are the outdoor fall festivals and then pie baking time, and finally there are darts at our Christmastime pub, etc.  I like the outdoor festivals much, though I am afraid we will miss one of my favorites as we travel to New Mexico toward the end of October.  I'm guessing, though, that they will have some pretty spectacular festivals, too.

I read that teenagers aren't growing up as quickly as they used to, that they eschew sex and drinking and don't even get their driver's licenses until much later than in the past.  They also don't have as many part time jobs, and they can't even make their own sandwiches.  I'm not sure that last part was in the article.  But this reifies for me what I have been saying all along--being a kid is fun.  Sex, drugs, alcohol, and responsibility--who needs that.  There is nothing in life more fun than being a kid.  Nobody laughs like that.  I say, "Good job, parents."

Even at my age, I still display characteristics of neoteny.

Needing to lose weight, I quit drinking, but what is there to look forward to after work?  A glass of fizzy water?  A hot cup of tea?  To wit, I allowed myself a glass of wine (or two) last night after work.  Moderation.  Maybe that will work.  There is no joy in ending the work week with a coca cola.
I think some people are saying that today the world will end.  That is what I was told yesterday at the factory.  I said good.  It is about time.  I fear, however, that they are wrong.  It is just another dumb trick to get my hopes up.  I just want it to come sudden and not to drag on and on.  If there is any justice. . . oh, forget it.  There isn't any justice.

And so we beat on, a set of ragged claws against the ocean's current, or something like that.

Friday, September 22, 2017


I am tired when I get home in the early evenings.  I manage to fix dinner and clean up the kitchen.  I have fallen into the habit of watching t.v. at night.  It started with watching the news again in the era of Trump, but I couldn't keep watching the predictable horror show constantly, so I switched to YouTube where there was a seemingly endless number of fascinating old documentaries.  That led to watching a series, and now it is the Ken Burns "Vietnam" thing.  It is a horrible habit that needs breaking.

And so last night, I did.  After a dinner of healthy tacos, and after the kitchen had been cleaned and put into order once again, we went for a scooter ride.  Since we were already in our pajamas, I suggested we not change, but we realized that we needed something at the store, so we got dressed for the outside world again.

As we cruised past the lake, we realized it was the last day of summer.  The sky was robin's egg blue and flamingo, the air the coolest it has been in months.

Sometimes you just have to make yourself get up.

Yesterday, too, I realized I had been sending out a lot of obits from the N.Y. Times, people my friends and I would miss--Jim Harrison, Harry Dean Stanton, some sports heroes from the sixties, etc.  It must have something to do with aging, I think, this interest in morbidity.  But it is not that so much as it is watching my world get smaller.

Yesterday, I sent an obit for Jake LaMotta.  He was 95 years old.  WTF? I asked.  How does Jake LaMotta live to be 95 years old?

If you are scratching your head and wondering, "Who is Jake LaMotta?" watch Robert DeNiro in "Raging Bull."  You'll see.

Now, it is the first day of autumn, the Eternal Equinox.  At least, that is what my friend suggested to me when I sent him the obit.  I'll take the autumn.  It is winter that will be most difficult.

Riddles and metaphors.

Today's image is a Russel Chatham painting.  The Riddler of the Autumn fellow once owned some of his work.  I think he still has some.  I met Chatham in Key West years ago.  He and Jim Harrison were part of my little Thomas McGuane and his old girlfriend story that I have told on this site already, maybe twice.  He and they are part of "the old world."  His is, I think, as Little Edie sort of says, the best painting for they day (link).

I will get over my morbidity and lazy ways and make my way into the autumnal world again.  It is the best time, a beautiful time.  And, as Robert Frost invites, "You come, too."

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Less Romantic

I shot this at the gorge outside of Taos with my Rollieflex.  It sat in the camera until about a month ago.  Then it took a couple weeks before I scanned it.  When I took it into Lightroom, there were spots and specks all over it, dust I guess, but it could be something in the film.  I had no interest in trying to clean it up.  It is not a great photo.  It is not a good photo.  It illustrates, however, the problems with working in film.  I love shooting with film.  Everything after that is the problem.  Other than being square, I could have shot this with a digital camera.

Yesterday, I picked up my 4x5 Liberator from the repair shop.  I took it in to have a filter ring attached so that I could use a neutral density filter on it.  Don't worry about what that means.  The nice thing about shooting with that camera is the out of focus area that you can't get with a digital camera.  It is exciting.  But. . . I have even more work to do to get an image.  After shooting 4x5, I can't run it down to the photo shop for processing, so the film sits until I have time to develop it which is a bit of a chore.  And after an hour of work, I'll have a few negatives which I then have to scan and take into Lightroom and Photoshop.  Wash, spin, rinse, spin, repeat.

As a result, I don't have many photographs at the end of the day, week, month. . . .

If I sold all my film cameras, I'd probably have enough for the Leica M10 that I want.  But why?  There are more useful digital cameras.  It is a style/romance thing with the Leica.  And that is where I get in trouble shooting film.  It is where I get into trouble doing everything.  I am NOT practical.  I don't like or want the practical life, really.  It is the same way I feel about cops, kind of.  I don't like them until I need them.

Right now, there are all sorts of practical things I need to be doing.  As a result, I believe, I haven't felt well.  It could be germs brought by the hurricane.  Hurricanes bring all sorts of undesirable things, and the state smells like an open sewer right now.  Not in some places, but every place.  And people have been feeling ill.  But I believe much of it is that there is so much that needs to be done.  Practical things.  Repairs, cleaning up, etc.  And each thing that needs to be done reveals another.  Suddenly life is not dreamy and romantic but work-laden and crappy.  If you are rich, you can pay to have things fixed, but I, like others, am not, and so, like others, I believe, I get depressed.  And then the sickness.


Mexico.  Puerto Rico.  Houston.  Florida.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017


If you are watching the Ken Burns "Vietnam" series on PBS, I think you'll know what I mean.  It is good, but not good enough.  It gives a satisfactory retrospective of the war and the politics that surrounded it, but something is off.  It never quite gels, I think.  Oh, it is a "must watch" show, but it is not one of Burns' best.  Of course, what I love most about it are the photographs.  History is told differently through pictures than through writing.  It is incomplete and momentary, but it is evidence in a way that nothing else is.

I am saddened by the demise of magazines.  Jan Wenner is selling Rolling Stone.  The physical magazine will cease to exist, I think, just as Vanity Fair and the rest.  I love print.  It does something that a digital copy can't do.  I don't mind digital magazines as they can do things that print cannot.  There is something, however, about pictures and words on a piece of paper that thrills me.  Good pictures.  Good words.  Good paper.  And then, the "something else," the layout on the page, the fonts and design and the colors of the letters.  One of my favorite magazines was "Smart," something I cannot find online for some reason.  Terry McDonald was the editor.  I used to have every copy of the magazine.  A woman made me get rid of them and a bunch of other things I had saved a long time ago.  She is gone now.  I'd rather have the magazines.

I have taken to carrying a camera, a notebook, and a pen.  I want to make them work together, but so far, I have not done so much.  I'll keep carrying them, though, until I begin to utilize them to effect.  It is the only life that interests me any more.  That, art, literature, and music.  Food and drink, I guess, too.  Walking and breathing.  I must make a list, really, and keep it simple.  Life has gotten too complicated.  I've had too many things going on inside.  I lie in bed at night now and listen to my breath.  All the thoughts fall away. . . and then I am asleep.

Last night, I dreamed of a girl's track team.  Ha!  I was going to run with them in a 400 meter race.  I was half way round the track when they had crossed the finish line.  I was fat and stiff and slow, but I was happy and we all laughed and they didn't mind that I wasn't as fast as they.  They still liked me.

Random thoughts.  No continuity, no segues.  Just a picture and words on a screen.  A physical page might be a different thing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Dr. Trump

Photo from N.Y. Times

I saw this yesterday and thought, "Yup, this is what America looks like to me, now."

I read today that the EPA wants to compromise ten national monuments, the same EPA that doesn't believe in climate change.  I want people who voted for Trump to eschew doctors as they do scientist.  Next time they get a serious illness, I want them to be diagnosed and treated by Trump.

Last night, in my semi-wakefulness, I realized that when I dream or think about things, I am alone, exploring.  Maybe it comes from being an only child.  I don't know for sure, but the first thing I did when I graduated from college was to take off with a backpack and travel for three months around the U.S. alone.

I wonder how other people think and dream.  I will ask them today.  I'm sure they will think I'm looney, or they will think I am prying, but I am seriously curious about this.

I think I know everyone in that photograph.  I'm sure of it.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Jan Bernhardtz

Jan Bernhardtz.  I've never met him, so I've never had to pronounce his name correctly.  In my head, it is Jan though I know it should be "Yon."  I think the last name correctly, though.  He is one of a group of photographers I met almost a decade ago on the old, fabulous "F Blog."  There were a bunch of good ones, and I began to comment on their photographs before I managed the courage to submit something of my own.  Here is what I wrote about some of Jan's.

Jan is a contemporary photographic genius. His images transcend normal vision. They are the stuff of cinema and dreams. His photography makes you see things as they were just before you turned to look for yourself. You are always just too late to see what he saw before you. And that is is why we need him.

Jan and I have written back and forth over the years, so I feel I know something about him, but any of you who have had correspondence with me know I am a recluse and not good at sustaining things.  That has never bothered Jan, I think.  Perhaps he is a bit like me in that.  I like to believe he just doesn't give a damn one way or another.  Here is his bio from the magazine "Der Grief" (link).

My name is Jan Bernhardtz. I come from Sweden. I attended a photographic school in Stockholm run by the famous Christer Strömholm. One of the teachers was Anders Petersen. Now a well known photographer. After leaving the school I never really worked as a photographer. Instead I worked at a hospital and later an electronics company. A few years ago I was retired and moved from Sweden to Berlin. My interest in photography restarted. I haven't exhibited my work. Yet.

Many of the old F Blog crowd migrated to 591 which shut its doors as a blog, too, though it has been revived through Facebook.  I am not one for social media, though, too paranoid and egotistical, so I don't do much there.  A blog, somehow, is a different thing.  Nobody goes to them any more, but they still are still part of the permanent record.  I have been thinking about trying to revive the old F Blog, wondering if it is possible.  I want to be a curator, I think, now that I photograph less and less.  

I envy Jan.  He is a street photographer and a stylist.  Maybe I will be like him when I retire and be more active in my pursuits.  

One day I'll get to Berlin and have a cup of coffee or a beer with him.  I'd really like that.  

Here are some links to his work (link) (link).  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I Wonder If I'll See Another Highway

I was wrong yesterday about something.  I had the roof put on in October.  And fortuneately, the repairman came yesterday and fixed my a.c.  It was the capacitor, the same thing that they came to replace a month ago.  Selavy.

I have not been feeling "par" of late.  Last night I heard this song for the first time.  This version of the song, rather.  I like the amateur simplicity of it.

The lyrics, though. . . .

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Woke up hot last night.  I knew right away.  The a.c. is out.  I've had it repaired twice this summer, so I am afraid this might be the end of it.  I'm broke and about to break.  A roof, insulation, and a central a.c. unit all in a matter of months.

A woman I work with had her house flooded during the hurricane.  It undid the foundation.  She, her family, and her cats have nowhere to go.  She looks like a zombie right now.

Such tales are ubiquitous.  I am not big enough, however, to be less affected by what happens to me.  There are two types of suffering--mine and others.  Not proud of this.  Just saying.

Fuck, shit piss, goddamn.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Not Normal

I go back to the factory today.  There is a surreal sense to it, but we must get back to manufacturing, I guess.  That is what we do.  People are still without power, without water.  Gas stations are still closed, grocery shelves empty.  Poor folks must go to work, but their traditional daycare centers, public schools, are still closed.  It has been a "get to know the neighbors" week.

The land is disheveled.  We long for the gentle blue beauty again.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


I am not up to telling you all what you already have heard about the effects of the hurricane.  I was very, very lucky this time, but it was horrible waiting through the storm, thinking about what might happen.  There is much damage around me and worse.  Now it is just miserable.  A certain joi de vivre was taken away.  It will come back, perhaps, but it is too soon.

Just an observation here, and a wondering.  There used to be thousands of squirrels in the neighborhood.  There are networks of oak limbs.  They could run above the ground for miles.  They are gone.  Only here and there do I come across one on my walks, and they certainly looked stunned. Traumatized, really.  Strangely, though, I don't come across any dead ones, and I wonder. . . where did they go?  What do squirrels do when the wind blows a hundred miles per hour?

Conversely, there are butterflies everywhere.  Where did they come from?  Very strange after such a storm.

Yesterday, I watched and listened to a lone hawk.  It was crying out.  For its mate?  For its offspring? It called then flew, higher in ever expanding circles, a heart-wrenching cry.

I take the Vespa around town to look at the damage.  There is much.  But the old live oaks withstood the storm by and large, dropping limbs but staying upright mostly.  Past the graveyard, I took my only picture.  I do not have a good eye for human suffering.  It always looks banal, but it is truly something else.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Apocolypse

I saw the face of the Four Horsemen form in the clouds over the golf course yesterday as I drove my little Vespa around my own hometown for the last time before the rains.  On the Boulevard, the stores had boarded up their windows.  The bars and restaurants were open, but the only people about were under twenty-five.  There were some genteel retirees getting in one last game of golf before the storm.  Ili spotted Carrot Head teeing off, so I hit the shrill little Vespa horn on his backswing.  You could see his weirdly muscled body tighten up just before he shanked it.  He, I thought, is an arbiter of the apocalypse.  Things were getting very eerie.  That is when I saw the Four Horsemen.

The storm's projected path is the worst one for me.  I am now on the biggest,  most powerful side of the storm.  It is the worst path for the west coast of the state.  There will be massive damage due to flooding.  Across the state, trees will come down.  God knows how long some of us will lose power.  What makes it all worse is that some people will barely be affected.  One neighborhood will suffer.  Another street or two removed, the power will never go out.  One house will have bad damage.  All around, others will be fine.  Suffering is very particular.  I've gone through it before, and I know that others do not want to dwell upon your misery.  They will feel bad for a microsecond or two, and I mean those who know you, but they want to turn their attention to something better as soon as possible.  I know, for I am like that too even though I've been on the wrong end.  I spent more than my life savings and a year and a half of miserable labor recovering from Hurricane Charlie, and I still want to turn away from the suffering of others when I can.  I have more empathy, but what can you do?  College Football Saturday and NFL Sunday will still be more important to almost all Americans.  Before the games, they will pay some sort of tribute to all those who have lost their homes and loved ones, especially in Houston, and then. . . "Let's play ball!". . . and the crowd goes wild.

But of course, that is why we invented sports.  They are supposed to be a respite from personal suffering.

We have been awaiting this storm for a week now.  People are already exhausted.  I still have another day and a half of waiting.  Everything is closed now, the airports, the grocery stores, the amusement parks--everything.  I have run out of emotional steam.  There is nothing to do but to sit and wait.

This is probably my last post for awhile.  Maybe one tomorrow.  I don't know.  Hurricanes and earthquakes and nukes.

Yea, I'm worn out.

Friday, September 8, 2017


Things change in the night.  The hurricane models show the hurricane eye coming across my house.  When you look at the predictions, they show my address.  It is a eerie feeling.  Last night, I had dreams of helplessness and insignificance.  L says the first sin is private property.  But going back to the Creation Myth, the first sin is being.  There are many sins, and each of us takes one and keeps it for our own.  Our sins make us Grotesque.  I'm fooling around with Sherwood Anderson's idea of Truth in "Winesburg, Ohio," but I think it holds.  Thinking makes it so.

The factory has closed, and I have much to do in way of preparation today.  The gas stations are out of gas, the grocery store shelves are very bare.  It has just begun to rain.

Yesterday, I went to the beautician and got beautified.  What can you do.  Vanity.  Another sin.  I am Grotesque.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Momentary Respite

I'm breathing just a bit easier.  Mr. Tree came yesterday.  I asked how long the tree trimming would take, and he said five hours or so.  I said that I guessed that I would just take the day off from work, but he said not to.  He knew what I wanted, he said.  I thought about it.  What would I do if I stayed home?  Tell them how to do the job?  I couldn't go out and bully them.  They were all tougher than I. They would knock me out or just laugh at me, and neither scenario appealed to my sensibilities.  So I decided to go to work.

I was anxious all day because the work they were doing was dangerous and something might go wrong.  I imagined big limbs crashing into my roof, just the thing I was hiring them to avoid.  I stayed at work longer than usual.  I had work that needed doing, but I was in no hurry to be miserable or disappointed if things had not gone as I wished.  After work, I went to the photo store to get batteries.  The traffic was horrible, the roads crowded with people buying supplies after work.  On my way home, I stopped at the Chicken Licken' to get some dinner as Ili was having dinner with her parents that night.

When I pulled into the driveway, I saw the Mr. Tree's truck.  The owner was walking around the yard picking up little bits of debris.

"Did you wait to get paid?" I joked.

"No, sir. . . ."

It had taken longer than five hours.  He took me around the yard to have a look.  On the ground, there was no evidence they had been there.  In the trees, everything had been done just as we had discussed.  I felt better and even grateful.  But, I wondered, had I made a mistake?  Should I have had the entire tree next to my house taken down?

That night, the projected paths shifted to the east a bit.  Maybe. . . just maybe. . . .

When I talk to people, there are two reactions to the potential storm depending upon whether or not you own a house and upon what drugs you are taking.  For renters, this is just adventure.  For those with prescriptions to help fight anxiety and depression, there is a general sense of ease and a belief that things won't be that bad.  For the rest of us. . . well, not everyone worries the way I do.

I watched some YouTube videos on Vivian Maier last night.  Jesus Christ, I love the story.  I love the work.  As I've said before, I used to correspond with John Maloof right after he discovered the boxes full of her work.  I wish I'd done more.

Here's a picture Ili took of the dining room table one day when I was printing out proof pics of some NYC street scenes.  Makes me look like a real artist.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cone of Uncertainty

Gary Issacs

I am living in the Cone of Uncertainty.  That is not a great place to be.  About death, Hemingway said, "Don't let it happen until it happens," but that is hard advice to take from someone whose life ended as his did.  But it is good advice.  I've been living with the PTSD these past days, but yesterday I took some action.  I paid bills.  I called and made sure my insurance was paid.  I took all of my money out of the stock market.  And I called Mr. Tree.  He came in the late afternoon, and I walked around the house with him pointing out what limbs I wanted gone.  It is a lot of limbs.  He is a very, very nice man, and he charged me handsomely.  They began work last night and will come back today to finish up.  This has made me feel somewhat better.  I think.  I could do nothing but watch t.v. last night.  I didn't have it in me to do anything but sit.  First I watched the weather news, but Ili made me turn it off.  We were both extremely tired by eight o'clock which was a sure sign of our distress, hers, mostly, due to worrying about me.  We didn't want to watch anything complicated or heavy or funny, so we went to Hulu and watched an episode of "The Rockford Files."  It is a show I used to watch with my roommate in college.  I had Ili watch the first episode, and for some reason, she was hooked.  When I mentioned it last night, she said, "Oh, I love "The Rockford Files."  Somehow, that stupid show holds up in the early episodes.

When we went to bed, I fell asleep without much anxiety, and I got up the same way.

Did I mention I am paying a lot of money for the tree work?

The photograph is Gary Issacs by Gary Issacs.  Here is his website (link).  Cool dude.  I have admired his images for years.  I should write to him and tell him so.  In this picture, he is using a 35mm camera, but the image is square, meaning he does what he wants with his images.  They are made funky by digital manipulation so that they look like old film shots faded and disappearing.  I think that is ballsy, as is doing anything you like regardless of the critics.  I just read an article on David Hockney (link) which describes his work as having been outside critical favor because he painted figures during the height of abstract expressionism.  He can do the other.  Imagine what we would be missing if he hadn't done what he wanted to do.

Take a look at the Issacs website, especially the section about San Francisco's Chinatown.  It has been criticized as a typical western version of an eastern culture.  Really?  Again?  When will it end?  I think I can make the opposite argument, or at least a different one, but it doesn't matter.  Art is art which is always political (as C.C. tells me), and you either like it or you don't.  Art, in the end, must prevail.

I am waiting for the tree cutting crew which I thought would be here by now.  It doesn't look as if I will make it to work today, for I can't leave them here alone.  I need to make sure they get every limb of which I am suspicious.

The Cone of Uncertainty.  I'm sure I'll be freaking out again as the weekend approaches, but I'll take this momentary respite.  My body won't sustain the constant, abiding anxiety.  There may be misery in the offing. . . but I'll try not to let it happen until it happens.  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Fear

The Fear.  That's what I have.  I am becoming more and more catatonic.  PTSD.  I understand it a bit more now.  There is nothing I can do.  It strengthens.  The weather reporters say it will be a Category 4 hurricane, and my house is still a bullseye.  I have a tree over my bedroom, a monstrous thing.  I will call a tree guy today to have it trimmed.  I did that last year.  It still looks dangerous.  In the stores, shelves are empty.  I've never seen people take a hurricane this seriously before.  I guess it has to do with Houston and the images they saw from there.  This is a slow motion nightmare that should not arrive before the weekend.  My mother says there is another one behind it.  I sit and stare at things despondently.

There is nothing to do but wait and prepare.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Labor Day Terror

Labor Day, the unofficial end to the summer.  No more seersucker, or so they say.  Time to put away the whites.  There is a season, though summer's end is nearly three weeks away.  It is much more than that here.  Out in the Atlantic Ocean, my nightmare brews, a giant hurricane headed right my way.  I've been devastated once, as any reader here well knows.  I am traumatized and almost incapacitated.  I am not afraid of wind and rain.  Were I a renter, I would have stocked up on beer and liquor last night instead of canned foods and water.  But for all the tree falling and tree trimming I've done here, I still have limbs that are dangerous.  I've just had a roof put on that I don't trust.  Beneath is is thousands of dollars worth of insulation.  My hands tremble.  My gut roils.  Every tracking model right now has a bullseye on my house.  Not some of them.  All of them.

Other people's troubles, however, are rarely interesting in and of themselves, and I have no desire to try to turn mine into art right now.

I sent this (link) to several friends this morning with a complaint.  Really?  This guy quit his job to photograph full-time in NYC for an entire summer and came up with this?  That is not what is so surprising to me, though.  It is that he is being touted in the NY Times while I am being told I'm "a hobbyist."  Fuck me, Mary.

I'm pretty certain I'll have to get surgery on my Achille's tendon.  I haven't been able to walk for over a month.  It felt better yesterday, so I gave it a go.  I can barely get across the room this morning.  I'll make an appointment to see a doctor tomorrow.  It will take weeks before I can get in, I'm sure.  I don't want any surgeries, but that is what they do there.  There are a lot of things I don't want.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Like everyone else, I have the day off.  If I could walk, I might go out and memorialize the crowd.  As it is, I'll probably stay home and shovel down Xanax with Aperol cocktails.  Hurricanes and nukes and the rest of it.  You can't control the world, they say, only your reaction to it.  Next thing you know, they'll be taking away the heroin.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Distractions from the Void

Grit City.  I am staying up here for the Labor Day weekend.  It is a funny, decrepit old town that once was a southern belle.  Situated on a lake that is really just part of a long river running to the sea, it used to be the economic hub of the state.  The streets are lined with fantastic old houses and million year old oaks.  There are impressive parks and more churches than I can count.  But when the highways were built, there was a political war that situated the crossroads in my own hometown.  Riverboats that used to haul lumber, citrus, and other produce had to compete with the rail lines.  Eventually, the money ran away, and the old southerners who were the fine, high rulers of this little corner of the world passed on less to their heirs than perhaps they might have.  And those heirs held on like pit bulls to the status that had marked their upbringing.  They became politicians and fought for state funds, but more than that, they ruled the city and the county and they allowed one another to do what they needed to make money in order to stay in power.  And that never works.

"I say, now, old Johnson comes from a good family.  He wants to build that little subdivision out on that old orange grove, and we've got plenty of orange groves and old Johnson would never do anything that wasn't on the up and up."

And, of course, there were the waste dumps and the cheap, ugly gas stations and mini-marts, and things got worse.

Now, though, there is a sort of renaissance taking place that may or may not have a positive effect.  Main Street still has a charm, and the old clothes by the pound and junk furniture stores are being replaced by specialty shops and restaurants.  There is a hipster crowd who all want to open craft beer bars and breweries, and now it is possible to get a good cup of coffee in several places.  But the waterfront is beat, and there are government buildings that will never look right.

Ili and I took a long, slow bike ride yesterday, me with my cameras as if I might actually photograph something.  It was hot and damp and no one was about.  We rode through the pretty part of town, then to the fallen part, then to the outskirts where cheap housing was built in the '60s and '70s, little bunny hutch homes pitched close together, where people keep boats and tractors or just tires and junk, where yards are sandy and unkempt and people with hangovers or worse sit shirtless on cheap, broken furniture.  Then we rolled down to the waterfront, peddling by the fishermen, mostly black, sitting on upturned buckets or cheap lawn chairs, staring into the still, oily surface occasionally disturbed by water bugs or methane bubbles coming from the mucky lake bottom.  We saw a fellow who caught a catfish and had left it lying on the bank.  We saw then smelled a headless turtle lying in the weeds.  Further down, past the fishermen, there was only heat and humidity and the metallic light and the big emptiness that was both out there and within.

This was the world I grew up in, I thought, the one that made me want to make something--music or pictures or stories.  There was a need to fight against the void.  There were those who could and those who simply sunk despondently into its morass.

I imagined Faulkner living in Mississippi, the nothingness all about, desperate to write something, anesthetizing himself with bourbon, the heat, the humidity, the void. . . .

I am unable to continue.  As always, I must pay attention to something else or I will pay the consequence.  There is the void against which to write, of course, then there are the distractions which is what most people use to counter the void.  I am called away by the distractions once again.

Friday, September 1, 2017


"I bought Ili a book called "Literary Cocktails."  It is a cute book that has gone into the library."

 I show a phone pic of the library, my new antique Indian liquor cabinet, all around.

"There is a recipe for margaritas that is tremendous--just fresh squeezed limes, Patron, a little Countreau, and a splash of simple syrup shaken like a martini.  They are delicious.  So last night we had a couple and decided to head up to the little hipster market on the Vespa to get some artisanal bread made with dirty little hipster hands."

"They're not wearing helmets," says one of the doomsayers.

"No, ho helmet, no shoes. . . ."

"Wearing pajamas," says another.

I give the big-eyed head shake and continue.  "Anyway, on the way their, we pass the little hipster coffee/cocktail place and its Monday and they are having the market they always have on Monday's in their parking lot, so we pull in.  At one of the stands, there are pretty, colorful jars lining the table, so we stop to see what they are.  One of the kids at the table smiles and comes up to see if we want anything.  'Kimichi," she says.  'I ferment it for five days,' and she offers us a sample.  It doesn't smell like the kimchi I'm used to in the sushi shops.  It is much milder."

"They ferment that stuff for thirty days," says one of the gourmands of the group.

"Yea, this was mild.  And Ili, being a dirty little hipster, is all about it and she and the girl are flirting back and forth and we end up buying some.  I'm looking at the jar, though, and its got like a piece of paper and a rubber band holding the top, and I'm wondering who is inspecting this stuff.  It's surely being made in some dirty commune kitchen or something."

"Are you going to eat it?"

"Oh, I guess so.  We'll see."

"You lived a charmed life, don't you," said my old college roommate's wife.

I grinned.  "Sometimes."

I told the girl I would buy the jar if I could take her picture with my new film camera, and she said sure.  She gave us a card and wrote her name and number on it and told us about the commune they all live in.  Ili looked it up, and there is a lot of stuff about it online.  Life abounds.

We have her phone number, so I guess we can text her the photo, but it is nothing.  I wish I'd get better at this.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Not Even A Story

I've been a little sleepless which makes me sleepy, so I don't really understand it.  I wake up in the night and don't fall back to sleep.  I try not to stress about it for that only makes it worse.  But I think to myself, "Oh, I'll be tired tomorrow."  And sure enough. . . .

That's not much of a story, but I am not living the kind of life that generates stories.  I'm not even living the sort of life that let's me overhear stories.  It is not that my life is bad, it is simply story-less. The people I am around on a daily basis don't tell stories so much.  They say things like, "Last night, we drank some really good whiskey," or, "We went to Harvey's for dinner this weekend."  These are the verbal equivalents of Facebook postings.  We are not a story-ladened people anymore.

This is another Tri-X photo.  I know it is silly to use film and then scan it into the digital realm when I could just shoot with a digital camera, but the entire experience is different.  It is thrilling to find a good picture in a proof sheet.  It is also unusual.  I got back two rolls of film last night that didn't have anything I liked.  I'm throwing the negatives away.  I can't afford to store everything any longer.  Sometimes, by the time I get a roll of film to the developer's, I don't even know what is on it any longer.  I am hopeful.  And then. . . .

But when you find a good image, it is like finding a gem.  Maybe.  I've never found a gem.  Not a gem nor a truffle.  But you get my drift.

I'm going to keep shooting film for awhile, if for no other reason than I have a bunch of film cameras.

And that's not much of a story, either.