Monday, October 23, 2017

Boring



I felt like poop yesterday, but it is no good lying about, so I tried things.  I really did.  None of it worked.  I got Ili to agree to sit for some pics.  I found another developing tray for the Polaroid 8x10 processor I just bought and wanted to see if it would work.  It was a huge surprise finding that tray.  I've been looking all over the internet for one.  They are impossible to find.  I thought I had one, but I have so much photographic equipment, I can never be sure.  I stumbled upon it in the house and so. . . .  I wanted to shoot some regular film, too, and try it with the New55 R5 monobath developer.  Shoot the film, put it in a tray in the developing tent, and in less than ten minutes, the negative is done.

I just wrote out all the steps I had to go through to make the images.  Then I asked myself, "Why?".  Boring.  So. . . simply, I made both the instant and the not so instant images.  Ili was intrigued by the big camera and the elaborate process, or so she pretended.  She followed me into the other room where I had set up the Polaroid processor.  I put in the receiver sheet and the film holder just as they should be and pushed the button the started the motor that turns the rollers that squeeze the two together breaking the chemical pod that spreads the developer.  Oops.  Boring.

It didn't work.  I tried it for about half an hour, over and over.  Nope.

I decided to move on.  I had shot two sheets of film.  I set up the tent, heated the developer. . . again, oops.  I'll cut to the chase.  It didn't work.  I thought about that and wondered if that holder hadn't been loaded with color film.  It didn't look right.  So. . . I loaded a sheet of black and white film where the last sheet had been and asked Ili to come back and sit again.  Took the picture.  Returned to the tent.  Ten minutes later, no image.

I am stymied.  I want to make pictures with that big old camera, and I'm going to figure this thing out.  Like everything else, this process needs practice.  I keep flubbing things up when I'm working with it.  There are ten or so knobs that do a variety of things.  The camera will move in about twenty different ways.  Working with the 8x10 is much, much different than anything else in photography.  It is a pain in the ass.  But last night, I thought/dreamed about making pictures with it.  I tried to summon up subjects.  What would I do?  I thought of some things.  They were all a pain in the ass.

In the end, I took some pictures of Ili outside using the 4x5 Liberator with some of the now defunct Fuji instant peel apart film.  They came out dark.  Then I picked up my old Polaroid Spectra camera and shot some of the New Polaroid Instant film, two of the colored ones, then, when the pack went empty, I loaded up the black and white.  Worked like a charm.  I have to say, that black and white film is pretty.

Today I read that Fuji is releasing its own wide black and white films for their cameras.  I don't have one of the Fuji Wide cameras.  What I have is a bunch of shit that ain't working.

Maybe the New55 chemicals got ruined by the color film.  Oh, I forgot to tell you, I checked the notches in the film, and it WAS color film that I shot the first time in the 8x10.

I think I'll try another picture today before work just to see.

But I keep wondering--"What the fuck am I doing?"

Just being stupid, I guess.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

#hope



Ili came home after midnight.  She is still asleep this morning, recovering from a long day's travel and two time zones.  I feel like shit this morning, the pain in my side frequent.  How long does it take for antibiotics to work?  They only last through Wednesday.  I'm getting worried.

But I have to beware of complaining.  Nobody wants to deal with a sick person.  Nobody wants to hear about something they can't solve (it is o.k. to use the singular "they" now).  So. . . quiet suffering.  Except here, obviously.

In the end, we are all lone fishermen wondering why we cling so desperately to this existence we find so often find cruel and meaningless.  Yet, according to Camus, we do.

Coming out of the hospital after midnight, there was an obviously mentally deranged woman standing on the sidewalk opposite the hospital screaming to herself in an angry argument with what I assumed were absentee doctors and nurses.  She was giving it to them good, cursing like a champ, waving her arms, her whole body gesticulating in an angry, murderous dance.

"Goddamnit, I need a drink and a cigarette.  Fuck you, motherfuckers.  I'll do whatever I goddamn want to do, you pieces of shit."

I had to walk within feet of her to get to the garage.  She was tougher than I, I knew, lived life without  as much fear as the "normal" person.  No, I didn't know.  I was guessing.  Maybe it was all a reaction to the horror show she lived.  I'll never know.

I took the touted walk yesterday, then worked on a Polaroid 8x10 processor that is broken.  Unsuccessfully.  If the New Polaroid company or whatever the Impossible Project has decided to call itself wants to sell its 8x10 film, they need to come up with the hardware to process it.  Using thirty and forty year old equipment that is falling apart more rapidly than it can be repaired is not going to cut it.  I'm giving up, and they are losing a client.  I've been suckered in by them and the New55 projects for the last time.  I've spent too much money trying to keep them afloat in hopes of working my magical powers in a way that others will envy and wonder about.

I'm ready to stick to digital.

What is really crazy, though, is that photography has devolved to the worst possible images ever made in its history.  EVER.  The first processes were difficult, but they yielded such beautiful things.  Daguerrotypes, wet plate collodiofn, autochromes, then, with the invention of roll films, dye transfer and Kodachrome and Polaroid.  Now, we have digital images printed on ink jets that can't begin to match the beauty and depth of those old prints.  Fuji is further cutting down its film offerings.

If there were only a good way to print the digital images with the colors of a dye transfer.  WTF?  And nobody even knows how to make an autochrome.  For real.  Or a Polaroid, either.  Those processes have disappeared forever.  It is hard to fathom.

So I can shoot black and white film, but to get a really good print, I need a studio were I can make palladium and platinum prints one by one.  Barring that, I would need a darkroom.  There is one other thing I can do, but it is expensive.  I can send off digital files to be printed and developed on black and white paper.  But I can't do that around the house.

Have I whined enough today?

There is an incredible fall festival at a catholic church that has been going on all week.  I haven't gone for something like a decade, but if you have been coming here for a long time, you saw pictures of it many, many years ago.  It is unbelievable that a church can put on such a show, but I have to say, they surely know how to make money.  They simply charge the vendors.  No risk.  If I feel like staying upright today, I will take Ili and a camera.  I don't make any promises.  Even if I go.  But the weather and the light lovely, and if I get a miracle and can be healed to a greater extent today. . . .

#hope

Saturday, October 21, 2017

A Long and Happy Life


Marsden Hartley


This never happened.  I didn't go on vacation at all.  I went to the ER instead.  Ili had gone ahead, and I was to meet her in a few days.  But I'd been having pain in my right abdomen since Monday.  I felt lousy.  By the time she arrived in N.M., I was suffering.  As always, all I could think is that I had a tumor.  That is always the first thing to think of.  Don't waste time on anything else.  But the second thing I thought of which was a better scenario was appendicitis.  I waited for the pain to go away, but by Wednesday night, I knew it wouldn't.  I was grim about my prospects.  I called my mother and told her I was going to the hospital.

I drove into the dark night, parked my car, and entered the ER.  The place was full.  I knew this would be an ordeal.

I am always concerned about my health, of course, because I don't have a doctor.  I never have.  I only go to one when there is no other choice.  I've always felt that once you are in their hands, you will never be released.  But it is also because I am ostrich-like.  I put up with and ignore a lot of things because I just don't want to deal.  I've had friends who have died because of that attitude.  Still, I have not been dissuaded.

The first thing they did was check my temperature and blood pressure.  My body temperature was normal.  My BP was in the stroke range.  I am too embarrassed to tell you what it was.  It was beyond high.  "See," I thought, "you are done for."

A woman in something not quite a uniform asked me to follow her.  She put me on a gurney in a hallway and said someone would be with me soon.  I lay down.  It was over.  I was in their hands now.

A nice woman came over and chatted while she put needles into my arm.  She drew blood, gave me a pee cup, and hooked me up to an IV.  Not long after, an ER doc came over.  He was nice, asked me what was wrong, and told me what we were going to do.  Blood tests, urine tests, CAT scan.  Within a few short moments, another woman came and wheeled me down corridor after corridor.  It got colder as we went.  She put me in a room with lots of spots for gurneys separated by curtains.  A giant t.v. played a cooking show loudly.

"Any chance you could turn that down?"

There wasn't.

I wasn't there long.  Two women came to take me to the CAT scan lab.  Another fellow came out and told me what he was going to do.  They injected me with an iodine dye, contrast, he called it, and told me not to be surprised if I began to feel hot.  Then he put a blanket over me and told me to pull my pants to my knees.  For the next few minutes, I travelled back and forth through a big, round, plastic opening while a mechanical voice told me when to breathe and when to hold my breath.  It felt like an old science fiction movie, the lights dim with a greenish cast, the air humming and buzzing and crackling.

Then it was over, and I was taken back to the original hallway.  It would take about forty minutes to get the results.

There I was, an old man alone on a gurney in a hallway of a hospital thinking, "You've had it now, old sport."  I had long passed my original panic.  I was settling into resignation.

The forty minutes passed and the ER doc came back.  It wasn't my appendix, he said.  It was diverticulitis.  He said all my blood work and urine tests came back normal.

"What did you test for," I asked?

He ran down a list.  "Blood cell counts, gall bladder, pancreas, liver, kidneys, bladder. . . . "

Liver?  Fuck yea!

I wasn't dying (yet), I was just sick.  He prescribed two lethal antibiotics and told me to follow up with GI doctor.  Then he left.  In a moment, though, he came back.  Apparently he had just looked at my blood pressure.  He took it again.  It was still where it was before.  He began asking me questions about my medical history.  I, of course, don't have one.  I'm on no meds, nothing.

"I'm concerned about your blood pressure.  Something's going on."

He began talking to the nurse and handed me another prescription to lower my blood pressure.  He told me I needed to follow up with a doctor.  He left and I thought, "Shit.  It's always something."  I was in panic mode once again.  When the nurse came back, she handed me a cup with a pill in it.  She said I had to take it before I could leave.  I asked what it was and what it would do.  She said for one thing it would relieve some of my anxiety.  I didn't want to take it, but I wanted to go home.  I had already lost out on pain pills when the doc asked me if I needed them and I told him I didn't really take medication.  I got nothing.

In a bit, I was walking back into the darkness.  It was beyond midnight, but I knew a pharmacy that would be open.  It is strange sitting in a pharmacy at night waiting for your prescription to be filled.  There are people wandering about in the fluorescent light, some to get medications, some merely shopping.

"I am usually asleep," I kept thinking, "and all of this keeps going on all night long."  I know it, of course, but to see it is another thing.

I began the antibiotics but not the BP medication.  I didn't want to take that.  I could get my blood pressure down on my own, I thought, or at least I would try first.  I just hoped I didn't have a stroke.  I took some aspirin and CoQ10 and other things I had bought at the pharmacy that might help, then went to bed.

In the morning, I felt like shit.  It didn't seem I came fully to consciousness.  My body felt like clay.  I  was to board a plane for N.M. the next day.  I had shit to do, things to pack, bills to pay.  I started getting ready, did what I needed to do, and went to work.  At noon, I went to the pharmacy to check my BP.  It was down, but not enough.  Fuck!  This was worrying.  I'll have to take the meds before I get on the plane, I thought.  I had connecting flights.  It was going to be a long day of airports and planes.  But I didn't want to spoil Ili's vacation.

I had a beauty appointment that afternoon.  Ili texted and asked if I was coming.  I thought so, I said.  I told my beautician about the night before.  I wasn't my usual jolly self.  I should have been resting, but instead I was prepping for a ten day trip.  That's what hard men, do, I thought.  I'm a hard man.  I would trooper on.

Ili texted back and asked if she should come home.  I didn't know, I said.  In a bit, she said she was changing her flight.  She would be home Saturday at midnight.  I felt this great tension leave my body.  I instantly relaxed.  I was relieved.

The next morning, I still felt like shit.  The pain was still in my side, sharp and cutting in close but unpredictable intervals.  But I didn't want to stay at home and think about it.  I went to work.  At least there, I thought, somebody would hear me hit the floor.

It was the right thing to do.  I worked slowly.  There really wasn't much to do as I had worked like a fiend to get it all done before I left.  It was quiet.  I made herbal tea, ate a banana.  The afternoon drifted by, and then, a bit early, I left for home.  I hadn't checked my blood pressure all day.  I stopped at the pharmacy.  I could feel my anxiety rising, could feel the fear.  When I put my arm in the cuff, I took some deep breaths before I hit the button.  "Relax," I kept telling myself.

The BP had come down.  I was out of stroke range.  It was still a bit high, but there seemed to be hope.  I texted Ili the numbers.  Then I drove home.

I was glad to have left work early.  It was the most beautiful afternoon, a truly southern fall day with brilliant light and pleasant, dry air.  The afternoon simply sparkled.

When I got home, I bumped around for awhile, then decided to ride the Vespa to the grocery store to get something for dinner.  I had eaten about 1,000 calories in two days, but I was feeling much clearer.  I was still weak, but the cooling air felt smooth upon my cheeks.  I drove around the lake and felt the wind across the water.  I drove down the Boulevard and saw all the people who could still sit at sidewalk tables and have after work drinks.

At the grocery store, I did my shopping, then went to the pharmacy BP machine.  Again, nerves.  What if the other machine had been wrong?  What if the calibration was off?  Shit.  I took deep breathes and put my arm in the cuff.  BP--normal.  Heart rate--58.  I waited five minutes and did it again.  Same thing.  Fuck yea, fuck yea, fuck yea.  It had all been stress related.  You would not believe how emotionally fragile I am.  I am tough, but internally. . . well, that's another world.

I celebrated that night with an Amy's Organic Vegetarian Gluten Free Lasagna and two eggs over rice accompanied with fizzy water.

The pain in my side remained.  I wondered how long that would last.  I had to stay up later than I wanted to in order to take my antibiotics.  I watched two episodes of "Ray Donovan."  Then I went to bed.

This morning I feel O.K. but the pain in my side remains.  How long does it take for the antibiotics to work, I wonder.  They make me feel terrible.  They are powerful.  How long?  Today is day three.  Maybe today.

So. . . that is what I have done rather than travel.  There is a copper lining, I guess.  Delta gave me full credit for the flight and we were able to cancel the Airbnb reservations without penalty, so there has been no economic damage.  When I am better, we will plan to go someplace and the funds will be there.

Now I will spend my day unpacking my bags.  I will take a walk, I think, and breathe.  Lots of water, of course.  I will try to get outside myself, out of my own thoughts, and try to be in the world again.  I've not been there for days.  I will try to think about having a long and happy life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ciao



Postings here will be spotty for the next week or so.  I will be traveling.  Who knows, maybe I'll have some stories to tell and some pictures to show.  The next couple days will be hectic, too.  Ili has already gone, and I am left to get ready on my own.  I've travelled all over the world alone, but suddenly it seems more difficult to get prepared.  Best not to worry about it so much, I think.  Socks, underwear, t'shirts, a sweater and a jacket, hiking shoes, a scarf, a hat, and some jeans.  The electronics make it more difficult.  I will take one camera, I've decided, some lenses, and a laptop.  What am I forgetting?

Things used to be so much easier.  I used to book my airline tickets the week of my trip, show up at the gate a few minutes before departure, find a place to stay when I got wherever I was going.  Now you must book your tickets far in advance to get a good price, secure a room wherever you are going, and arrive at the airport two hours in advance so you can travel the distance between the counter and the gate.

It is not just nostalgia to say that life has gotten more stressful.  Psychologists have studied how many more decisions a person must make in a day compared to a few decades ago.  There are more signs to read, more directions to follow, more warnings to heed.

But soon I'll be able to chill.  I'll keep you posted when I can.  Until then, ciao.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Impossible



I should have stayed in bed this morning.  I'm not feeling well and getting up has done me no good whatsoever.  Today will be a struggle.  There is too much to be done, more than I care to think about.

Sometimes it is even impossible to dream of far off land.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Barrenness of a Busy Life



"Beware the barrenness of a busy life."
Socrates

I took some pictures this weekend.  I bounce back and forth between the camera I like to use, which one I love most.  I shot with the Leica M262 this weekend.  I have scarcely used it since I bought it.  But I love it.  It is a pip.  It is just more difficult to use than any of the autofocus cameras.  The little Fuji X100f is just so easy.  But the images that come from the Leica are different.  I know I sound like one of those ads.  But, yup, there is truth to it, about that and about the "Leica Experience."  It is not a practical camera, but it sure is something.  When you get the image right, it can't be beat.  

I saw the quote by Socrates on a YouTube photography video.  That is it.  Exactly.  Some people need to keep busy.  Busy-ness is my curse.  It keeps me from everything important.  It leaves me empty and dissatisfied.  

One could end up like Donald Trump.  

If I had an endless stream of endless days. . . .  

This weekend was a lazy one.  But I found out an open secret that will get me to NYC a whole bunch this year.  I will become a weekend NYC photographer.  And that secret leads me to others.  With a little support, perhaps this will be a big year for me and my cameras.  

It is scary, of course, to think of confronting myself this way.  But not to would be a crime.  

The man on the ball.  The picture just screams "fall time" to me.  The light is changing here, now, the sunlight sharper, the shadows deeper.  It is about to be photo time in the southern states again, the flat, tinny light peeling away.  I am ready, I think.  I am ready for the darkness and the light.  


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bad Photography 101



Yea. . . this is what I've got.  No kidding.  I'm telling you, I've lost all my abilities.

Yesterday was lovely, though.  Woke up late in Grit City, coffee and computer, then a long walk to the flooded lake where birds were catching fish in what used to be a street.  Back to the tree house, a shower, then a mimosa breakfast of meats and biscuits and eggs and gravy.  Then back to the tree house for a nap.

When we came back to my own hometown, we took the Vespa to the grocers and rode around a bit.  Just off the Boulevard, which was closed for a Schlock Festival, we passed another Vespa coming toward us in the opposite direction.  Funny thing, the expected fellow Vespa wave or beep of the horn was not in the offing.  Carrot Head was driving.  No love.  I guess he's not that kind of guy.  He's just never going to forgive and forget, I guess.  C'est la vie.


Now it is time to get ready for the day.  Much to do.  I leave for a trip at the end of the week.  I will tell you about it another time.  But the weather here has turned nicer, cooler and drier (though not cool and dry), and we must hurry into it now.  I have lingered far too long for someone else's taste.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Friday the 13th Fest




Friday the 13th and Octoberfest--a combo.  I chaffed at the bit all day at the factory, and so when my boss went to a two hour meeting at 2:30, I waited a bit before I cut and run.  I was staying in Grit City that night, and I had cameras.  I was ready to go try my luck at being a photographer again.

An hour or so into it, I had a couple snapshots of poles and draincaps.  I was off.  I didn't have it any more.  I was sweating in the southern heat and humidity.  Ili called.  She would be coming soon.  I told her that I thought I would stop and get a beer at a little craft beer place.  O.K.  She would meet me.  I walked in to order feeling clumsy and awkward.  I bumped into a pole.  I felt all the tall, bearded hipsters give an unnoticeable smirk.  The old fuck is killing the vibe.

I took my beer and sat outside away from the crowd so that I could look over the street.  Everywhere people were setting up booths for Octoberfest.  I felt puffy.  I took out my phone and began texting myself a sorry missive about how I was no longer able to make pictures, wondering why.

In a bit, Ili showed up.  I got her a gin and tonic.  Double.  I was worried since it was the 13th and all.  I told her about my inabilities.  She succored me.  Then the owner of the bar came out and commented on the cameras.  Ili took a couple pictures of him.  And while we were talking, a family with a crazy little girl walked by.  Ili paused, then in a second she jumped up and ran after them.


Ili's got the bug.  Now all she has to do is learn how to use a camera.  She'll be able to take over all of mine.  Me?  I need to live with my cameras 24/7 again until they seem part of my hand and not a live grenade that I'm holding.

Now it is Saturday and time for a walk around Grit City.  It is just an exercise at this point, I guess.  But I'm sure Ili will take some pictures.

Friday, October 13, 2017

One Must Be So Careful



This was shot through a picture window in a restaurant where we sat in a small town north of my own hometown.  I will be there this weekend, and (to misuse the word) hopefully, I will take some pictures.  That is the plan.  You know how plans go, though.

I sit and dream of my release from the factory, of the days when I can walk with a camera, go anywhere I want, spend as much time as I want, and use my genius to make the pictures I think I can make.  That's how it is in dreams.  God knows what the reality might be.  But there are others who do it, others with much less creativity and intelligence than I have.  Again, that's how it goes in dreams.

I didn't sleep well last night, and now it is Friday the 13th.  What madness awaits?  I will be on guard today for whatever treachery might be out there, but that is virtually useless (especially now that "virtual" and "literally" mean the same thing).  We must be intrepid adventurers through the treacheries of the postmodern world where things are being flattened both figuratively and literally (ibid).  Ideology and actuality are headed in opposite directions.  These are strange and wicked times.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

One must be so careful these days.

(from "The Wasteland")

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A History of the Future



C.C. sent me these quotes from an article about a showing of Wim Wenders' Polaroid pictures.

Wenders, too, now regards photography as a thing of the past. “It’s not just the meaning of the image that has changed – the act of looking does not have the same meaning. Now, it’s about showing, sending and maybe remembering. It is no longer essentially about the image. The image for me was always linked to the idea of uniqueness, to a frame and to composition. You produced something that was, in itself, a singular moment. As such, it had a certain sacredness. That whole notion is gone.”

"The culture has changed. It has all gone. I really don’t know why we stick to the word photography any more. There should be a different term" (link). 

That's the kind of thing a certain kind of person says one day, I think, but we could say that about every art form, couldn't we?  I think more likely it is over for Wenders.  For me, it is just beginning.  In a couple of years, I will do nothing but take pictures, millions a week.  I will be in a mad rush to record all the things I've been unable to while chained to the factory.  I'm not letting Wenders take this shit away from me.  

By the time I get to do that, "sexy" will be a thing of the past, vilified as a male construct.  Beauty is already being redefined.  But as soon as this new version is codified and has become the new order, there will be a great nostalgia for the old days and the old ways.  This is not some mystical forecast on my part.  The new order is never right.  It is simply new.  And once it takes hold and the masses have a chance to massage the idea, the whole thing goes to shit.  Everything goes to market, as they say, and then it is the market's and not the theorists.  My theorist friends are already pissed off about the way the "undereducated" misuse new order ideas.  

"They've gotten it all wrong.  That is not what it meant.  I hate. . . ."  

An idea is impossible to control.  When the dirty little fuckers get through with it, you begin to regret everything.  

"Look what we've done!  It was never supposed to be this way!"  

Yup.  

All that is left is refuge in the ideas of the past.  Nostalgia.  That's why all the kids want film cameras and record players.  It is hard to believe that people don't want to live in the world you've created.  

Poor Wim Wenders.  

Hell, those girls with their short shorts and crop tops could be the end of an era.  Only heroic men who get titties will be dressing like that next year.  But we'll turn on them eventually, too.  Too much of the old femme there.  And then all the corrupt old bastards will be trying to date Brazilian trannies.  

And there you have it--the history of the future.  Me and Wim telling it like it is.  

Poor bastards.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Weinstein Effect



Q's o.k., it seems, as is his family, so. . . in the face of such a terrible disaster, we go on.

Weinstein, however, appears to be a monster.  I look at him and try to think of being a young actor asked to give him a blowjob for a small part, and I shiver.  He's worse than a floor manager of a Chevy dealership.  O.K, O.K., I shouldn't be that specific; however,  there are people who know what I mean.

But Jesus, how did he think he would get away with it?

Of course that is not my point.  I just didn't want to be one of those who hadn't come out and openly vilified him.  That's more to my point.  If you don't condemned him, you are considered an accomplice.

What I am worried about is the Harvey Weinstein Effect.  You know what I mean.  I haven't heard the phrase "old white men" used so much so openly in my life.  Somehow, that is an O.K. thing to say. There are certain "classes" of people you can characterize and objectify and others you can't.  It is supposedly based on power politics.  I get it.  But quit it.  It is a dangerous thing to do.

I whine about the New Left a lot, and that is not a good thing I am realizing.  I, of course, know many New Lefties.  I don't agree with a lot of things they say and do.  They judge and censure far too much for my taste, but that is me.  And when I think about it in a more neutral way, I realize that they are trying very hard to do what they think is right and best.  They are not consciously trying to do evil.  They are saving the world the way young people always do.  Of course. . . that is why we are in the shape we are in now.  My friends and I were "that."  We were saving the world.

Look where that got us.

So I will quit "hating" on the New Left so much.  They are wrong a lot, but they are trying.  I gotta show more love.

But listen, quit saying, "old white guys."  You gather us into a group that you are really calling "The Harvey Weinsteins."  Old White Guys is just another objectionable epithet.  It's like saying, "Men with Mustaches," and I'm going to quit saying that.

I will lose this battle, though.  You can't have art without depicting types.  You know what I mean when I say "floor manager of a Chevy dealership."  Yellow, short sleeve shirt, brown pants and tie.  Very likely, a mustache.  It is a sort of shorthand.

Fuck you, Harvey Weinstein.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Moment of Silence



My guess is that these two women are sisters.  Fun times in NYC.

It is hard to be fun and clever and witty when people you know are almost suffering.  If you saw the news today, you know what is happening in Sonoma.  Q has had to flee.  When he wrote me that he was being evacuated, I thought, "Oh, this is just precautionary."  Then I saw the picture of the entire subdivision burned to the ground.  Wow.  I've never seen the likes of that before.  Q still can't go home.  He says he doesn't know much about what happened in his neighborhood.

So I would feel bad being funny, clever, or witty today.  This is like the moment of silence before some well-attended event.

It is difficult, though.  When I had $60,000 worth of hurricane damage to my home, people just said, "Wow."  I didn't make a big enough deal about it, I guess.  My advice to Q: FEMA money.  I think I passed up tens of thousands of dollars in aid out of ignorance and stupidity.

I really think those women are sisters, don't you?

Monday, October 9, 2017

And Then. . . Monday



Black and white film scan.  Better than digital captures for some reason.  I don't know why.  I can't put my finger on it, but when they work, I here a cosmic "ohmmmmmm."

I have some film waiting to be processed now.  So painfully slow in the contemporary world.

I drank water yesterday.  It is terrible stuff, but other people do it, and Ili tells me it would be good for me, especially my joints which seem to have given up, so I decided to shoot for the recommended half gallon of water.  I think that's what they mean when they say "eight glasses of water a day."  "Glass" doesn't have a quantifiable definition, so I assumed it to be 8 oz.  I drank water in 12 oz. gulps.  I don't enjoy sipping on water the way people with those annoying screw top plastic bottles do.

"Zppp zppp zppp, glug, zppp zppp zppp."

I just have to get it down.

I was a champ yesterday.  100 oz.  I feel like I've been touched by an angel.

I will try again today.  12 oz. slugs, maybe every hour.

I thought pee was supposed to be syrupy?  Little uric acid crystals, perhaps.

Oh--that was straight water.  I'm not counting the half gallon of coffee and the beers.

Now it is Monday, and. . . oh, shit, I hate it when Q does this:

"Sunday is here; it will pass quickly. Sunday is the weekend's evening, many spend it relaxing in preparation for Monday. It seems as if we should get paid for Sunday, maybe half the normal rate, We're not really working but neither are we free. Not like a Saturday, in which something unexpected might happen, the enchanting glow of possibility. Sunday is a day for making a roast, and knowing how the day will end. It resolves far more mysteries than it summons."

He's nailed it.  I hate when he does that.

And just as I wrote that, Q texted me that he has been evacuated from his home due to wildfires.  That's terrible.  But now, at least, he'll be able to write about Mondays.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Tom Foolery




With Ili out of town, I have had more time for Tom Foolery.  Part of that was spent in the virtual company of Q.  It is terrible.  I can say anything I want to there and he will do no more than tell me I need to read more Tony Robbins.


For a long time, I was confused and was reading Tom Robbins which wasn't taking me in the intended direction, I guess.  Q must be a big Tony Robbins fan.  He has certainly undertaken some life changes in the last few years.  He doesn't look to me as his spiritual guidance counselor so much any more.

But still, I can still say anything to him without final judgement, and that is something.  He is an enabler I think you call it.  And so the weirdness just gets weirder.

But Ili has returned, and life settles back into its former pattern.

Part of my Tom Foolery was sitting at the computer for hours and working on pictures.  It is important to have hours and hours to experiment.  Sometimes, I get what I want.  Last night when I should have been sleeping, I thought about ways to manage pictures in postproduction, things that I want to do, things that might not work but which I won't know unless I spend the hours trying.

But the hours. . . oh, where do I get the hours?  Daily life comes with tremendous duties and expectations.  You have to be willing to eschew all of that if you want to do the other.  And therein lies the dilemma.


I wasn't sure which way I liked this picture, but Q said colored.  I assumed he meant the colorized version, but then again, I can't be sure.

But it is better to keep those conversations private.  We are ironical fools, ingenious and disingenuous, acerbic and loving. . . etc.

That is how I keep my circle of friends so small.  When anyone is taken aback by something presumably too soon or one step too far. . . .

Now I'll begin my exploration of Tony Robbins.  It seems to be working well for Q.  I might as well give it a try.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fondly



I'm different when I'm alone.  Some people don't like being alone.  I have fun.  Last night after work and after the gym, I was pretty beat, but there was still food to cook and marketing to do, so I went to the little Meat House Market just up the street and bought a marinated strip and some asparagus and a potato at a premium price.  I just didn't feel like going out in the Friday traffic.  They have lousy wine at this market and a very bad beer selection, but I picked out the one tolerable beer they had--Lagunitas.

It is a chore cooking for one, but it had to be done.  Grill on, asparagus and potato oiled and seasoned and wrapped in tin foil, then the steak on the hottest grill in the universe searing the outside, then (I always do this unwittingly) burned, the heat reduced and the middle cooked pink.  Beer, then wine, then whiskey and more YouTube videos.  And then, at the usual sleeping hour, searching for music online and downloading it or hijacking it, then sending it out to unsuspecting friends.

Then, past midnight, the guitar.

But it is not that which makes me happy but the free play of creativity and imagination.  Things begin to form and make sense.  The blood boils and burns.

In the morning, I look back with horror at the stupid things I have done.

Fondly.


Friday, October 6, 2017

Alone



Ili is out of town.  I realize the difference.  There is this and there is that.  I like both, but I have one more than the other.

Last night, under a Harvest Moon (which I couldn't see due to cloud cover), I watched YouTube videos of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.  Those times don't look so good from here.  It is quite embarrassing.  No matter.  It was massive.  The whole world was susceptible to it.  It was made for the masses.  Nothing heavy.  Art light.  ArtLite.

As a result, we have The Donald.  He is the group hallucination.

Enlightenment for Stupid People.  ESP.

Its like giving acid to a duck.  What insights they must have!  They get that much closer to God.

But then again, it was a bromide to what was on television.

I live in a world where all my bromides are quite unacceptable.  It is a case of identity politics gone bad.  I can't speak out loud except to friends.  Sometimes I feel like Renfield begging for a kitten.


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tattoos of the Dead



Victims of time and circumstance.  I always liked that line.  T.C. Boyle.  Surely he stole it, though.  Borrowed, I mean.  Uncredited still, if he did.  It is one of the lines I consider putting on my headstone.  If I have one, that is.  Is it too soon to say something disparaging about the news coverage of the terrible tragedy?  Sure.

But I don't know.  About what to put on my tombstone, I mean.  It seems irrevocable, like a tattoo.  I have never gotten a tattoo.  I can't even settle on a paint color for the wall.

"Does that yellow seem to have green in it?  I don't know.  It looks too green to me."

My father had a WWII tattoo.  It was his first wife's name in a heart.  Trixie.  Yup.  I shit you not.  I don't think my mother cared for that much.  He tried to sandpaper it off, I think.  It was so blurred in my childhood that you couldn't really read it.  I never met her, of course, but from what I heard, she was something of a free spirit.  Names may be destiny.

Perhaps I'll never settle on a saying or a tombstone.  They are the tattoos of the dead.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dead Again


Another Ili Pic

Tom Petty died again, and his daughter is none too happy about it.  She blames Rolling Stone magazine.  I'm glad I'm not on their radar.

It was interesting to me to hear from the people most distressed about his death.  In the general public, I mean.  Or, more specifically, at work.  My secretary was the first to tell me.  She is thirty-one.  It really upset her more than I would have imagined.  Then, another women younger than I felt terrible that she would never see him in concert now.  Since he used to try to play in my band when I was in college, it is just another war story to me.  I think he did.  Maybe.  I'm pretty sure of it.

But the thing is, you always hero up.  I mean, your heroes are always half a generation or more ahead of you.  All my heroes are dying or are dead now, or most of them, anyway.  But it is just starting for this group.  It is really hitting the GenXers now, I guess.  Rock stars and writers and actors who shaped their ideas about how to live as adults.

Eventually, you come to see that they were all shits in the end, that we all are, and that a younger generation is willing to point that out.  And you look at them and laugh, but they can't appreciate it, of course.  They think they have figured it out.  They don't have things perfected, they'll admit, but they are a hell of a lot closer than you were.  Even when you were saying the same thing.

Whatever.  Petty's gone to meet Prince.  They are going to chat with Elvis.  Hard to believe, though, that Petty's old bandmate, Dylan, outlasted him.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The World Is Too Much With Us



Ili's photograph.  I cooked it up on my phone with more of those instant programs.  They really are fun.  I wonder if they will ever be museum pieces?  I guess it depends upon who does them.  If Warhol were around. . . .

There was a cooling late yesterday afternoon.  Neither of us wanted to cook, and Ili hadn't really eaten all day, she said, so we jumped the little Vespa and headed out for sushi.  This is counter to my Monday sushi rule, but sometimes you just have to be iconoclastic.  Garlic edamame, sake, spicy tuna kobachi, sticky rice.  We hadn't eaten sushi in many months.  We needed to renew the worms.

Afterwards, riding in the fading light, the wind was cool-ish and reminded us of the autumn coming.  We stopped at the little hipster place that has the Monday night farmer's market.  We saw the girl I photographed a month or so ago who lives in the little commune and sells lightly fermented kimchi.  But we weren't there for that.  We have discovered that this little hipster place with all their kookie characters sells some of the best scotch in town.  Having ingested worms, we had to kill them.  I had an Oban, Ili another I can't remember because I didn't drink it.

You can't get those by the glass most places, and the price. . . well, it was right.

On Sunday, when we went for mimosas (I guess we have opted for the hipsters over the highbrows for awhile), Ili had one of my little cameras.  I always tell her that it is difficult to photograph people, but that it is even more so for me, an OMWC.  She saw two girls sitting at an outside booth and asked if she could take their picture.  I was on the other side of the booth and didn't hear the exchange.  Later I learned that one girl moved out and wanted to know why she was taking the picture.  Ha!  It is difficult for everybody, I guess.


But Ili is taking more photos than I lately, especially from the back of the Vespa.

We were proud of ourselves to have had a little Monday night out.  Real adventurers, we.  At home, we watched the news about the Las Vegas massacre.  There is no way to watch something entertaining after that, so we chose to watch another episode of Burns's "Vietnam."  Long and terrible.

Neither of us slept well last night.  Those are not the images to go to sleep with.  Better to stick to tattooed legs and ocean sunsets, I think.  But what can you do.  The world is too much with us.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Please Rise



This is one of those jpeg picture settings on the Fuji X100F.  I just thought I'd try some of them.  No work involved.  Just choose the filter, shoot the picture, and publish.  It's what people do.

I bought some of the new Polaroid instant film.  I shot some of it yesterday.  It is not nearly as good as the old Polaroid film.  It takes fifteen minutes to develop, so I wouldn't call it instant film.  I would call it pretty quick film.  The colors of the film do not match reality being mostly cyan and magenta.  But it has its charm.  It does not capture small details, so everybody's skin looks smooth and young.  It is flattering, just like a Warhol--all eyes and mouth with some nose filled in.  My mother kept the portrait I shot of her yesterday.  It is on the fridge.  She looks very pretty.

Ili and I went for a mimosa yesterday to the little hipster place down the street.  They have an instant photo booth there, and I talked Ili into sitting for some pictures.  Five dollars for a strip of four color pictures.  These were her first photo booth pictures.  Hard to believe.  We sat for three strips.  They are fun.

I had my Leicas with me, and I shot a few photos with those, too.  I was trying to lean into photography again after a long lost week of work.  I have ideas, but they will be lost in this week's work, I'm certain.

And so I'm left with pre-processed jpegs, some instant film, three strips from a photo booth, some digital files, and a few frames of Tri-X film.  I guess it could be worse.


Football fans are still worried about the National Anthem phenomenon.  I read a fun article in the N.Y. Times about it this morning.  You can read it, too (link).  

The United States Code, in Title 4, Chapter 1, provides standards for presenting and respecting the American flag. hey are not enforceable. After all, in Texas v. Johnson in 1989, the Supreme Court upheld the First-Amendment right to burn the flag. The code states that military personnel should stand at attention and salute when the flag is raised, lowered, or when it passes, and others “should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.”
The sports world’s trend toward big productions often overwhelms out the nobility and solemnity of the anthem. For example, the code also says that the flag “should never be carried flat or horizontally.” The code does not specify if it is appropriate for a flag 100 yards long to be held parallel to the ground, or shaken by the people holding it when the anthem gets to lyric “that star-spangled banner yet wave,” and then wadded up hastily to make way for a game about to start.
The code states that the flag should not be worn as a costume, but “a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, fire fighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.” The N.F.L., apparently, has deemed itself one of those, as U.S. flag decals adorning the back of player helmets.