Thursday, May 26, 2016

You Could Get Your Teeth Broken

Apple called yesterday.  Someone has tried to buy $6,500 worth of stuff online with my credit card.  What a pain in the ass.

Which of you did this?

I may have told you that I have gone LED mad, but I don't remember.  I bought some LED lights for the house.  Some of them are solar powered outdoor lights.  So far, they have not stayed illuminated through the entire night.  I'll give them one more day to charge, and if that doesn't do it, I am taking them back.  I am very disappointed.  I thought solar charged LEDs were the thing, the future.  They probably are.  They just aren't the present, yet.

One more day at the factory, then the five-day weekend.  I am beat, exhausted, worn out. . . all the words you can find for that.  I move in slow motion.  I haven't a life, I feel, just work.  All about me are things that require my attention, but I just want to go see things.  I want to go away.  I want some clarity, and that only comes from travel, from distance, from freedom.  All things, even a cat, wants to curb what you think, feel, and do.  Work does.  Family does. Lovers. Friends.  Government. All the demands coalesce until you don't know who you are or what you want.  You lose yourself in fulfilling all the demands.

Then you find yourself on the precipice of a breakdown.

Have you ever just walked and talked and taken pictures or drawn things?  Have you ever lived without an external structure to your life, the only demands being food and drink and the rising and setting of the sun?  It is too spooky for many, I have found.  People like to be distracted from their thoughts and feelings.  The other makes them spooky and lonely.

Not me.

I should worry.

Sometimes I make bad decisions.  Last night, I decided to put some frozen Japanese rice from Trader Joe's in a wok with some olive oil, and when it was ready add eggs.  Sounded good.  I don't think the eggs cooked.  I think I diseased myself with undercooked eggs.  My belly is a painful mess this morning.  Note to self.

It is getting too summery here to photograph much.  It is too hot.  People are irritable.  The light is too flat and undramatic.  Only the beaches and springs are interesting, but I look like a creeper with a camera there.  Maybe I will get a t-shirt that says, "I'm No Creeper--I'm An Artist!"  That should palliate their fear and make them accepting of my lens.

Don't count on it.  I have lost my nerve, I think.  There is a famous surf contest this weekend, though, at a redneck beach not too far from my own hometown, and I might try walking around with a camera there.  It is redneck, though, so I might get my teeth broken.  That might be a real good deterrent.

It should work as well with thieves.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Corporate Bohemian

I've not had five back-to-back days off from work since Christmas.  Monday is Memorial Day and so I've decided to make mine a five day weekend.  I have no plans other than working around the house and not going to the factory.  I will take the time to plan some summer vacations and to make reservations so that I actually go.  I will get into the car and drive around the state a bit this weekend, though, just to get out of my zip code which somehow seems to have become impossible.  This "cat in the rain" is one reason.  People tell me, "She's a cat, she can take care of herself."  They are wrong, though.  She is an emotional little cat who gets depressed very easily.  She is tiny and needs much care.

See--I've gotten to be an old man.

"I can't go.  I have to take care of my cat."

It is a strange and progressive disease.  Many have it.

I am not old yet, I know, for I have both fear and desire.  Once the desire leaves me. . . .

I watched Micheal Moore's "Where to Invade Next," the other night.  I hadn't watched it because I thought it was about war.  I was wrong.  It was about living and being human.  He shows that is very difficult to do in America.  We have gone off the tracks.  There is something wrong with us now.  I am glad that I have always been and continue to be a bohemian with a bohemian lifestyle.  I have lived in opposition to the corporate style, at least.  I don't like to work more than half the hours a week that are required.  I like to sit in cafes and talk.  I like to take walks. . . etc.  Not just on the weekends.  It is what I am mostly known for at the factory.  I don't dress or think like most of the bosses.  They aspire.  I only desire.

But the factory whistle blows, and I am bound to keep my job, so I must contradict my previous statement and get on my way.  I live in America, you know, and that takes money.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Like a Bird

"I'm like a bird," I said.  "I get up with the sun."

"Me, too," she said in that faux-awake voice we've all used when we are really asleep to show that we are not.  As I got out of bed, she wrapped herself around a big pillow and was gone.

"Yup," I said.  "You are like a bird, too."

I wish I had a big sticky bun to eat with my coffee this morning.  I like them.  They make me happier.  Instead, though, I will make porridge in a while.  One wants to live, it seems, even those who only wanted to stay young forever, even when all the young is gone.

"It's all relative, anyway," they say.

Sure it is.  You should come see me get out of bed, old, bent bird, hobbled, crippled.

"You are no age."

"That's right," I agree.  Who wants to hear the truth?

It is better not to have two birds in the same house when one of them limps crookedly in the dawn's early light.  What good would it be to peak behind the curtain?

"I am the great and powerful. . . Wizard of Oz."

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Break

(Jason Bognacki)

There seemed a gentle break late yesterday.  The temperature dropped with a gusty breeze.  With help, I moved my big Epson printer into my garage.  I had cut the final ties with the studio and the True Artist, it seemed.  But as I looked around the garage, a large, handsome thing crammed with the tenants flotsam and jetsam, I decided that I was going to clean it up more.  It can serve as an artist's studio.  After that, I went to look at a house with the buddy who had helped me move the printer, a big place on a lake that is open and spacious.  He has money and is thinking of buying it.  Beautiful as it was, it made me feel small for I know great wealth in other people but have lived in small but "charming" houses all my adult life.  Before that, they were just small.  And great as my experiences have been, my income is small and my house is small and my place in the cosmos is small.

After the house, it was time to shop for dinner, and the light was like diamonds and the air drier and gentler, and so we made Campari drinks for the road and set out, coming home loaded with chickens and wines and mangos and greens and things.  It was still a bit early, though, so we poured a chilled wine and explored the small grounds for sprouts and weeds and to see how the greenery was coming.  I spied the black snake that has been living in the yard, but he had spied me first, sitting up with its head like a cobra.

"Hey fella, don't worry," I said, and he turned and slithered through the fence.  That is when I saw the second black snake of about the same length.  "Two," I shouted, "there are two!" to Ili who came in time to see there shiny blackness slithering through the jasmine-covered wood.

Then we sat out on the deck in the shaded part and talked about the improvements yet to come, the birds going wild with song as gusts of wind shook the tree tops and made gentle breeze for us under the Camphor canopy.  Mother showed up earlier than I expected, so I poured her a glass of wine and she and Ili sat while I began to prepare the grill for the chicken.  I cooked and then we ate out al fresca without mosquitos nor bugs of any type as people walked by in the roadway and waved and said good evening.

I think it was the end of retrograde Mercury.  There was something, some break, and I was filled with more peace and hope than I have had for awhile.

This morning I am suspicious of the respite, so I will stay on my guard. . . but I will hope, too.

I saw the picture above today on a website.  It was done by Jason Bognacki with an old Cooke lens and a camera like the one I had made by John Minnicks with the old Fuji film.  I used to do a similar thing, but this is marvelous and I couldn't let it go.  I want to do it again.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Blue Moon with Mercury In Retrograde

Things must go well before they can to turn to shit.  The day started right, working in the yard, making life pretty, getting things done.  When it got too hot to work in the sun, I moved into the garage to get that organized and ready for moving the printer.  Then, after much work, I went to the gym.  Afterwards home and a shower.  Then it was five-thirty and I had yet to eat a thing, so I went to my favorite Italian restaurant and got a good seat at the little bar.  The day had turned beautiful.  The first beer was sweet.

Next to the bar, a room had been made ready for a celebration.  A jazz quartet began to play.  They were good, man, really good.  People began to show up.  A birthday cake.  I realized I knew some of the people going in.

"Hello. . . hello. . . ."

It was part of a family I used to date.  One member of it, really, but they come together more or less, fabulous wealth their protectorate.  It was the paternal aunt and her clan.  My chicken cacciatore came and a glass of wine.  The window behind the bar opened out onto the street where handsome people were walking by.  A pretty woman in a little black dress and complimentary necklace sat down next to me, a chair between us.  She looked as though she was part of the party, I thought, but she ordered a drink and began to text.  She kept smiling at her phone, and I could swear I knew her from somewhere.  On the sidewalk, I saw my ex-girlfriend and her parents coming toward the restaurant in single file, her father in the lead, her mother behind her.  I thought they looked less than happy. I smiled and prepared to say hello, but only the ex gave me a short, "How are you?" as she passed by.  No smile.  We dated a very long time ago, and maybe seeing me had given her a start.  They passed into the other room.  I looked out at the street.  The pretty girl in the LBD stood up and greeted a couple with a baby, then paid her bill.  They made their way to a sidewalk table.  So she was not with the crowd I used to be in, I thought, and wondered where I might have seen her before.

I had finished my meal and had pushed my plate away.  I sat and sipped at the rest of my wine, thinking.  It seemed as if my dinner had reached its natural denouement when I looked up at the t.v. screen and saw the horses being led onto the track at the Preakness.  A group of people stood behind me and something was digging into my back.  I turned and saw it was an elderly lady's purse.  O.K. I thought.  She is not trying to pick a fight.  I heard a man say that it was her 90th birthday, so I turned to give her good wishes.

"No," she said, "it is not my birthday, it is hers."  She nodded to the woman beside her.  "It is my wedding anniversary."

"Which one?" I asked.

"Fifty-fourth," she said with a nod of the head and a grin.

"Oh, I thought you were going to say your second."

She gave a look of surprised then punched me lightly in the arm and laughed.  I turned to the other woman.

"Happy birthday," I said, "and many more."

"Thank you," you she said with a smile.

Getting up, I said that I would give them the bar.  Nodding to the birthday girl, I said, "I could feel her trying to lift my wallet, so I am going to go."

That got a smile and a laugh.

So many celebrations, I thought as I walked down the pleasant sidewalk toward my car.

At home I turned on the television just as the last horse was led into the gate.  A very muddy track, but man, those horses flew.  It was a hell of a race with the favorite taking the lead but being held off the rail and made to run wide.  You could see that he was going to flag.  You just knew it.  Then, coming from third, Exaggerator blew by them all, strong and confident.  It was over.  There would be no Triple Crown winner this year.

Later on I got a text.  It was a Blue Moon, it said, a bad omen.  Shit, I thought.  I didn't need any more bad omens.  I had enough bad ju-ju right now.  I was in for the night hoping against hope that things would get better soon.  I used to celebrate such things.  Now I was only praying to escape it.

*    *    *    *    

Blue moon you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Too Much

I am tired and lazy beyond reason.  It is either a physical or a mental disease I am certain.  I go to bed early and get eight hours, so that is not it.  It could be apnea, of course, or I could have something in the blood.  As likely, I have something in the head.  None of these things is mutually exclusive, however.  It could be a bit of all of that.  Many people tell me they "feel off,"though.  It seems to be going around.

Yesterday was the hottest day ever in India, I read.  One hundred twenty three degrees or so.  People are dying from it.  There is a drought as well.  No water, no food.  This is not great news for the rest of us.  Still, I look up things to do this summer.  There are music festivals all over the planet.  There are "Great Bars," and "Great Hotels," so the news sites tell me.  There are hidden hotels within hotels that are boutiques for those who can afford it.  They are sequestered away from the hoi-poloi in places like The Breakers where I have always liked to stay.  Now, knowing this. . . not so much.  I don't mind camping, but not next to a wonderful resort.  I am not like that.

However, if I had the money. . . .  It is not like I am that ideological.  It is bad enough spending a few hours in coach just to get somewhere.  I don't enjoy being around people very much except to observer them.  Except museum crowds.  I usually love a museum crowd.  There is nothing quite like going to New York City and hitting them all.  And I plan to.  Soonish.

It is Saturday and I have much more work to do than I can manage.  Maybe that is why I am so tired. One of the things I must do is move my big printer out of the studio of the True Artist where I moved it when I left the studio.  He is not enjoying having it there as much as I.  I have to find a place for it, make a space, then go and move the thing.  It is heavy.  I am not sure that two of us can move it.  It is a sad reminder of when I was playing at being an artist, too.  Though I might be redeemed.  I had some interest again from a good gallery with four locations just this week.  I don't believe in it, but it was nice to hear out of the blue.

The photo today is one of the last I took before my cameras were stolen.  This was taken with the Leica Monochrom.  I miss it and looking through the photos, I am tempted to try to buy another one.  Black and white digital.  I thought by now Fuji or Olympus would have brought out a less expensive competitor.  "A bar is a beautiful place."  Who said that?  I think it was in a song.  Well. . . sometimes.

Friday, May 20, 2016


This may be what I remember about life in the end.  I've seen it enough.  Four remotes, dinner before the television, a glass of something.

I think I'll read this book based on the last paragraph of the N.Y. Times review:

“Sweetbitter” grows darker than you might expect, in terms of where Tess’s desires lead her. It’s a book about hunger of every variety, even the sort that can disturb you and make you sometimes ask yourself, as does Tess, “Was I a monster or was this what it felt like to be a person?” (link)
The idea that we all have to subscribe to the same ideology is what drives Trump's success.  It is not about what goes on "out there," but rather what is allowed to go on "in here."  He is a rotten sonofabitch, but who isn't, really?  I watched the beat classic "Pull My Daisy" last night, shot by Robert Frank, written by Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac who narrated as well.  Those beats who moved us so. . . well, just watch it and see.  They parented a generation in more ways than one.  I think their children would be taken away by the state today.  There are so many sanctions, so many conditions, as we are "perfected."

“Was I a monster or was this what it felt like to be a person?”  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Need for Distractions

I picked up some film yesterday.  There may be a shot or two I will post from the two rolls.  They are old.  Mercury in retrograde, I think, but I've been told there are four planets in retrograde right now.  It is difficult.  I've not even been able to duck and cover.  All there is for me to do is try to hold on as long as I can.

How did I manage to do all the things I have done?  I can't manage to do anything any more.  Where once desire lived resides mostly fear.  One needs many distractions, I guess, to keep from going mad.

I need some distractions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Don't Blink

I have backed away from the daily humiliation for awhile.  I have no pictures, nothing to say.  When the world gets as weird as it has, there is nothing I can do to compete.  There is not approach or stance I can take that is not self-incriminating.  Everything is an indictment now.  As new politics emerge, there is a great chance for new art, too.  I am certain to relish both with the same distaste.  This is not good.  Adapt or die.  I know that.

Here is the trailer for a new documentary on Robert Frank.  He did what he wanted to do, I think.  He didn't do what he didn't want to do, I think.  Who knows.  I don't seem to be able to.  Maybe he never really could, either.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Dinner on the deck: grilled salmon, grilled potatoes in olive oil, Caesar's salad, and a Chardonnay.  Oh, and a tiny succulent.

Succulents are big this year for some reason.  I see them everywhere.  Maybe they have always been there and I am just now seeing them.  That is the way with most things.  Vision.  It is a complicated process.  The eye sees what it is programmed to see.  It misses most of the rest.

Paying attention to the world is difficult except when we travel, but even then.  I once travelled to Mexico with an architect, a biologist, and a developer.  When we looked out across the landscapes, we all reported on different things.  Shapes, colors, ecotypes, opportunity.

I am still trying to redevelop my vision.  Give me some time.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Superstition Gene


When I wrote yesterday's post, I didn't realize it was Friday 13.  I am not a superstitious guy. . . until I am.  To wit, I woke up yesterday feeling lousy in a vague, undefined way.  I knew the symptoms, but they didn't add up for me in any meaningful way.  I was just "sick."  I didn't feel well.  I couldn't see well, couldn't hear well, couldn't move well.

So we went shopping.

That's a picture of me waiting for Ili in the dressing room at Brooks Brothers.  40% off.  That's what I was.  That's what the coupon said.

She bought an outfit.  When we got home, they had given her the wrong size.

Becoming superstitious.

We tried to right ourselves with wine and lobster bisque.  We barely made it home for a nap.  A long one, a righteous one, one that could be restorative.  When we woke, it was late.  Quick shopping for dinner material.  My buddy stopped by for drinks on the deck he helped build.  Gin and tonics for fun.  Dinner.  The steak was not so good.  We were bushed and just wanted to get on the couch.  I rented "Deadpool."  It was no good.

Friday 13.

This morning I read about deathbed conversions.  Everybody has them, apparently.  Sartre, it is reported, cried like a baby on his deathbed and called for a priest.  Christopher Hitchens, the review said, was leaning toward belief as he died of cancer.  I read this today after arguing against religion on the deck with my buddy last evening.  The Faith Gene, I said.  They found it in the Human Genome Project.  Maybe it should be called the Superstition Gene.

I had a conversion yesterday.  A Sick Bed Conversion.  For a while, I became quite superstitious.  It is recorded.

I hope I feel better today.  I don't know yet.  All I have done is read the news and drink coffee.  I bought some breakfast sweets last night, though, and that makes me feel better.  Little things.  I love breakfast breads.  Maybe I'll just lie around today and eat them and sleep.  Maybe I don't feel much better at all.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Unnamable

I woke this morning with the sound of water in my ears.  When I bump my teeth together, there is that sound like getting out of the pool, but I haven't been in a pool nor the ocean nor anything else.  I got up and shook my head.  That didn't help.  A slow trickle of drainage in the back of my throat, a refusal by my body to come to life, the inability to get rid of the feeling I had a grain of sand in my left eye.  Uh-oh.  I have it, whatever it is.  I have things to do and must prepare the house for the wrecking crew.  I will need to be gone while they break things.  The only cure I can think of is a glass of wine with lunch and a long, peaceful nap, an evening curled up on the couch watching "Deadpool," and a light, soupy dinner.

You know what I mean.  It is part of the horrible commons we all share.  There is always enough of it to go around.

A buddy of mine is in Italy.  He keeps texting pictures to me.  How do people afford such things?  I am living incorrectly, I am certain.  Q takes long vacations twice a month or so.  I can't even manage a trip out of town.  The house repairman comes today to provide insight into round 2.  The a.c. on my car went out for a bit yesterday.  There is an expensive sounding "clunk" somewhere on the car, too.

Ili says she finds it sexy that I do laundry.  I wonder about that.  Are there people who don't do laundry?  I guess there was a time when I took everything to the wash and fold place.  But I have a washer and dryer and it is easy enough to wash and dry and let sit until I am forced to pull things from the dryer.

I don't know how people manage, but they do.  It is a mystery to me, really, how "the human race" goes on.  It feels like every particle of what we have made is ready at any moment to fall apart.  Too many of us are cheaters and liars and profiteers.  I don't know.  I feel like that sometimes.

As Becket wrote:

There I am far again, there I am absentee again: it's his turn now, he who neither speaks nor listens, who has neither body nor soul. It's something else he has: he must have something, he must be somewhere. He is made of silence (there's a pretty analysis), he's in the silence. He's the one to be sought, the one to be, the one to be spoken of, the one to speak. But he can't speak: then I could stop, I'd be he, I'd be the silence, I'd be back in the silence, we'd be reunited, his story the story to be told.

But he has no story, he hasn't been in story? It's not certain: he's in his own story, unimaginable, unspeakable. That doesn't matter: the attempt must be made, in the old stories incomprehensibly mine, to find his. It must be there somewhere. It must have been mine, before being his. I'll recognize it, in the end I'll recognize it: the story of the silence that he never left, that I should never have left, that I may never find again, that I may find again. Then it will be he, it will be I, it will be the place: the silence, the end, the beginning, the beginning again - how can I say it? That's all words, they're all I have - and not many of them: the words fail, the voice fails. So be it. I know that well. It will be the silence, full of murmurs, distant cries. The usual silence, spent listening, spent waiting, waiting for the voice.

The cries abate, like all cries. (That is to say they stop.) The murmurs cease, they give up. The voice begins again (it begins trying again). Quick now before there is none left, no voice left, nothing left but the core of murmurs, distant cries: quick now and try again, with the words that remain. Try what? (I don't know, I've forgotten, it doesn't matter, I never knew.) To have them carry me into my story, the words that remain? (My old story, which I've forgotten, far from here.) Through the noise, through the door. Perhaps I'm at the door! (That would surprise me.) Perhaps it's I! Perhaps somewhere or other it was I! I can depart! All this time I've journeyed without knowing it: it's I now at the door. (What door? What's a door doing here?)

It's the last words, the true last. Or it's the murmurs: the murmurs are coming, I know that well. No, not even that. You talk of murmurs, distant cries, as long as you can talk. You talk of them before and you talk of them after. More lies: it will be the silence (the one that doesn't last) spent listening, spent waiting (for it to be broken, for the voice to break it). Perhaps there's no other, I don't know. It's not worth having, that's all I know. (It's not I, that's all I know.) It's not mine. It's the only one I ever had? That's a lie: I must have had the other, the one that lasts - but it didn't last. (I don't understand.) That is to say it did: it still lasts. I'm still in it. I left myself behind in it. I'm waiting for me there. (No, there you don't wait, you don't listen.)

I don't know: perhaps it's a dream, all a dream. (That would surprise me.) I'll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again. (It will be I?) Or dream (dream again), dream of a silence, a dream silence, full of murmurs (I don't know, that's all words), never wake (all words, there's nothing else).

You must go on, that's all I know.

They're going to stop, I know that well: I can feel it. They're going to abandon me. It will be the silence, for a moment (a good few moments). Or it will be mine? The lasting one, that didn't last, that still lasts? It will be I?

You must go on.

I can't go on.

You must go on.

I'll go on. You must say words, as long as there are any - until they find me, until they say me. (Strange pain, strange sin!) You must go on. Perhaps it's done already. Perhaps they have said me already. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story. (That would surprise me, if it opens.)

It will be I? It will be the silence, where I am? I don't know, I'll never know: in the silence you don't know.

You must go on.

I can't go on.

I'll go on.

("The Unnamable")

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Current Favorite

I'm loving my Leica R5.  I like the way it feels in my hand.  I like framing through the viewfinder.  I like the silkiness of the shutter.  It is my favorite camera right now.  I am going to buy a second one.  And some more lenses.  It is the cheapest of the cameras I own.  I don't use any of them, but I've taken to bringing them out on the deck--all of them--and handling them, looking through the viewfinder and framing up things, of once in a while clicking the shutter.  There are different cameras for different feelings.  This camera is the way I feel right now.  It is barely larger and barely heavier than the M7.  I like them both, but I feel like an SLR more than a Viewfinder.  It limits my vision a bit cutting out the ephemera of the world.  I need all the cameras, though.  They all do different things.  Well, not really, not just now.  Currently, they all do the same thing--sit in their bags except for early evenings on the new deck with a glass of wine.  But if I were to make pictures, they would have different functions.  I have thought of another commonality between them.  They are all draining my bank account.

But so do many other things that are not nearly as much fun.  Some are.  The gardening looks pretty.  The deck is nice.  But the cameras are caress-able.  Maybe that is why we like them so much.  Fetishes.

Last night, opening a can of tuna, I cut my right forefinger pretty deeply.  Cuts from the lid of a tin can are nasty things, and I have some memory of them being especially dangerous in terms of infection or blood poisoning or something.  Perhaps when they were made of real tin.  It is the same sort of thing that I remember about cutting yourself with a razor.  Dangerous.

My finger bled pretty well, and I encouraged it to for quite some time.  This is a way to get the bad stuff out, I remember, much like bleeding a snakebite.  When I went to the bathroom to dress it, the blood dripped onto the white tile and into the white porcelain sink.  It was especially red, especially bright in a way I didn't remember blood looking.  Very strange.  I grabbed my phone and photographed it, the blood in the sink, the dripping cut of my finger.  "My god," I thought, "what am I doing?"

Maybe I'll print the best picture and frame it.  I mean, it is what I have to show for my photographic output of late.

Summer should be fun.  Rather, I have work to do.  I feel tense.  It is time to report to the factory.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Aristocratic Ephemera

I watched two documentaries on William Eggleston in the past two nights.  What a character.  He doesn't seem to say much except when he is drunk which seems to be his modus operandi.  A fine, southern character straight out of a Faulkner novel, it would seem.  The fallen aristocracy, beautiful in manner and style but unhinged and dissolute.  His family were plantation owners for generations.  Memphis born, he remains.  The camera follows him as he walks around America taking pictures of who knows what.  Then the pictures emerge, fascinating, beautiful.  He was the first to use color in fine art photography so they say.  His was the first one man photography show at MoMA to be in color.

He learned the dye transfer process while he was teaching at Harvard in the early 1970s.  MoMA showed his work in 1976.

The world was much different then.  Eggleston attended college but never attained a degree.

Google him.  Look at his work. Watch the documentaries.  I've developed a taste for this stuff.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Fashion Street

I've been watching documentaries on street photographers off and on for a few weeks.  Last night I watched one about William Klein.  I knew of some of his work, but I wasn't tuned in to his street photography.  The documentary was done by the BBC, was a full hour, spanned the length and breadth of his career, and it was pretty darn good.  I am both fascinated and dismayed by people who are able to commit themselves to something they want to do and then succeed in a great way.  Of course.  We all are.  There has to be talent first, but there must be something else, too.

I can only watch and wonder.

Factory days are long as the days lengthen.  I am expected to put in longer hours now, the payoff being a three day weekend.  I am chafing against the time I spend at my desk, however.  I am ready to chew off my leg to get out of the trap.  Life slips by in a series of meaningless events, small conversations, and a swelling paranoia.  I fear leaving nothing behind but factory work.

"What happened to C.S.?"

"They made him comfortable, I think."

I am tired.  I am very, very tired.

Klein was a fashion photographer, too.  He shot mostly for Vogue until they cut him off for a number of radical actions.  He made fun of Diana Vreeland in a film and shot an anti-war documentary.  He lived in Paris but traveled the world.  He was irreverent.  But I think he was probably as confused and unsure as any of the rest of us.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Worse Things

I don't remember who made this image, so my apologies to the photographer.  I like it.  Why am I not doing something likewise?  This, for Jove's sake. . . at least this.

The weekend of perfect weather is over and so is the deck.  Mostly.  I have decided to build a little extension of it and to put up rails.  But those things are ancillary to what I have had to get done to function.  The deck was topped at approximately ten minutes per sixteen foot board.  We were careful carpenters, setting marks before we set the screws so that they all line up perfectly.  I made the cuts around pipes on the wall and did a fairly decent job.  My buddy helped all three days.  Nobody does that.  I will be buying him something very expensive (though I did take him to a nice restaurant each night and bought his drinks as well).  By the time it was finished at 5:30 on Sunday, we were whipped.

My mother came over and we were able to have drinks on the deck.  The walkers came by and waved and said, "Looks nice," etc.  I'd done thousands of squats and bends and could barely wave back.  That first beer was a good one.

But the work is not done, and I am on to the next thing.  The house is coming together, though, and the results are making me happy.  We sat late in the afternoon under in sol y sombre, the tree's having been trimmed, the lower limbs gone, the thinner canopy high above us.

People say that old houses have more character.  When I bought the house from a senior citizen, he told me that old houses were for young people.  That was twenty years ago.  I now believe him.

Now I must do some gardening and clean up before I ready for the factory job.  It is nice.  It is o.k.  There are worse things I could be doing.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

This is a picture of me when I was young.  I used it for my Mother's Day card.  Fixed it up in Photoshop so it was apropos.  It was my mother's idea to dress me up like a little girl until I started kindergarten.  It was the custom back then though I have to admit it was a fading custom and most of the other boys weren't subjected to it as much as I.

So anyway, to all you mother's, Happy Day.

Some of you have speculated correctly that I have considered abandoning this blog.  It is difficult for me now.  There are things I don't write because of Ili.  I haven't been taking pictures since the studio closed, so I haven't anything to post each day, or if I do, only things of the worst quality.  And, more importantly, I am dull.  I have been for a couple of months.  Not that I am dull to many people for the number of people who care to come to this site has dropped exponentially.  When that began, I pretended that I was writing for myself, but even I began to get bored.  Nobody wants to read about the coming of age, about bad knees and horribly painful backs and hips and the onslaught of age spots and skin tags.  The physical qualities that I have always counted on being superior to others are fading. . . fading. . . fading. . . .

I neither like it nor find it interesting.  So.

I missed posting about the Kentucky Derby, but I watched it yesterday with Ili and two friends whom I've watched the Derby with for many, many years.  We all had money on the race.  None of us won a thing.  For the second year in a row, I've been talked out of betting on the favorite because "it doesn't pay anything."  Two to one sounds good to me, though, and I am pissed that I didn't put a hundred down on the winner as I had wanted.  I have bills to pay.  I need cash.

This is part of my expense and what I have been doing for the last horrible month.  My old deck was rotten, so it was time to make the place for my mother again.  First we tore up the old deck.  That took a day.  Then the handyman kept putting me off about when he was coming to do the framing.  Meanwhile, the old deck lay in the driveway with me wondering how to get it removed.  I called some companies, but they wanted hideous amounts of money.  And then, the lumber company delivered the new.  I hadn't pulled any permits to do this and I live in a very regulated town.  Down the street, two separate house constructions are underway, so I knew the city inspectors would be coming by every day.  I had lumber old and new strewed all about the premise.

I held my breath.

Finally, the handyman came.  I took the day off, and we began framing.  I don't think he liked me working with him, for I wanted to get it done.  I had watched videos on making decks, and they could do it usually in a ten to fifteen minute video.  Quick!

It takes a lot longer.

But I did learn how to do it and how to measure corner to corner to make it square, etc.  Handyman thought me a pain in the ass as I required us to do it this way.  While we were working, the garbage truck came by.  I ran out with a wad of money and made friends.  No shit. . . they took away all the wood from the old deck.  I had cut it into three foot pieces so that it was easy to handle.  Things were working out swell.

Until we started topping the deck. The wood that was brought out was shit.  It had bark all over the edges.

"Tell them to take it back," said Handyman.

So I did.  I went down to pick out the new lumber. . . but I've told you all about that.

Jump ahead.  I bought "master grade" pressure treated wood for 2.5x the price of the other boards.  The boards to go back sat beside the new ones in the drive.

And still I hadn't seen a citation.

For over a week and a half, I tried to get the lumberyard to pick up the wood.  They came once and took seven pieces.  Why?  No one knew.  Days of calling, pleading, then getting all butch on them.  And finally. . . it was gone.

I took off Friday and my buddy came over.  Without professional help, we were topping the deck.  Each sixteen foot board gets 18 screws.  We measure every two boards to make certain we're straight.  We bend boards into place.  And we've learned how to notch a board to go around a fixture.  I am using power tools and feeling cowboy.  We worked Friday, Saturday. . . and we are 2/3rds finished.  We have already done thousands of squats and waist bends.  My back and hips and knees are fucked. My fingers are arthritic.  I won't go on.

It is tough becoming a cowboy at my age.

My buddy placed our bets at the dog track.  He says I should go.  I have never been.  I asked him if I could take a camera in, and he thought  I could.  But I missed it.  He said I wouldn't have believed the crowd at the place yesterday.  Maybe the Preakness, though.

When he isn't here, I am weeding beds.  I have to scrape the house and paint it.  There is no end to the work, so I am not sure when I will be able to make a picture again.  Oh. . . I forgot to say. . . I haven't quit The Factory. Nope.  I have two jobs now. . . Pencil Neck all day, Cowboy for the rest of it.  The Artist has taken a Leave of Absence.

There is so much to do, I despair.  But I will prevail.  That is what we do.

That is the report.  No promises.  I'm just trying to do what I can.   

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Here is a picture of happy.  New buds on my ligustrum.  I talk to them every day.

Other than that, I have nothing but work.  I am sorry that this blog has become so bad.  I don't feel like commenting on politics.  I have nothing interesting to report.  I feel like I am holding my breath, standing on one foot, holding a spinning plate while hula-hooping.  I mean, it looks like fine fun, and it might work out o.k., but. . . you know.  There is an anxiety in it all.

There are a lot of hard months ahead, lots of work and expenses.  I need a vacation badly, but financially that could be prohibitive.  There's only so much money and only so much shit you can do.

But I like watching the new buds grow.  It is something.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What More?

I've decided to improve my penmanship.  I never really learned properly.  As a kid in elementary school, I always got "C"s and "D"s in penmanship.  I got "A"s in everything else, so I didn't care.  I was also bad at coloring, but they didn't give grades for that.  There were always lots of white gaps in my colored parts (I realized how funny that sounds after I wrote it).  I went looking for a primer the other day.  Palmer seems to be the most touted style.  From what I've read, I'll need to practice making letters twenty minutes a day.  That is daunting.  Perhaps, though, I can do this during meetings at the factory.

"What are you doing?"


"You look like you're doing something."

"I'm practicing my letters."

"Why are you doing that?"

"Manliness.  I'm becoming more manly."

From what I've read, though, writing letters stimulates the brain in several places that are rarely used otherwise.  Drawing and writing.  I would love to write letters and illustrate them by hand.  I would love to, but when I try, it looks terrible.  I will try to remedy this during the long, hot summer that is surely upon us now.

The lumber that I complained had not come had.  It was in the driveway next to the lumber to be taken away.  They didn't take it away when they delivered the new stuff, so I didn't notice.  Ili asked me Saturday if they had brought the new wood, and I said no.  She was looking at the new wood when she asked.  When I called the lumberyard yesterday to ask, they said that it had been delivered. I looked at it again.

"Oh," I said.

So yesterday I stayed home from work so the air conditioning man could do his work.  I probably have a leak in the freon lines, he said.  I was down 1.5 pounds.  When it gets low, the a.c. freezes up.  Mine was frozen.  It would take two hours to thaw, so I called my buddy and had him come over and help me with the lumber.  We put the new boards down on the deck frame.  We found some new problems that we would have to figure out, but the wood looks good.  We piled the old wood up for the lumberyard to take away.  By one, the a.c. was fixed and the wood was all stacked.  I'd only had coffee, but I decided a beer would be good.  A beer and a shower and off to the factory.

That was a mistake.  I was sleepy all day.

But I have air conditioning and wood and lots of work ahead of me.  What more could a fellow ask for than that.  Pretty handwriting, perhaps.

And a Vespa and a new Leica and several trips to foreign countries.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Domestic Breakdown

As I've said--I'm living with bad ju-ju right now.  It won't go away.

Ili made dinner for my mother and I last night.  I drove my mother to the little town on the river where she lives.  It was a good dinner of braised short ribs and sweet potato bits and sautéed green beans followed by little cake balls from the German bakery.  After dinner, we went out to take a walk.  It was hot.  Too hot.  Temperatures were in the mid-nineties yesterday afternoon, far above the norm. We strolled for a bit in the shade of the big oak trees, but not for long.

And then, dinner over, it was time to take my mother home and head back to my own home town.

When I stepped in the door, I could feel it.  It was too hot, too humid.  The a.c. was running, but it wasn't cooling the house.  It just won't end.  $2,000 for the trees, $2,000 for lumber, deck framing, and power washing my house, my mother's house, and the apartment.  That is just the last month.  The lumber is still piled in the yard.  I have a call into the a.c. repairman.  I hope they can come today.

No more thoughts of new cameras.  I've spent a lot of money on the Hasselblad, two lenses, the Leica, two lenses. . . .

No more thoughts of going away on vacation.  Nope.  Just thoughts of going to work, coming home to work some more, of suffering the summer heat.

All this led me to think about the world's economy.  There is money everywhere, but there are lots of people without it, too, and I wondered if there is enough money to sustain the world?  I mean, is there?  I am pretty certain there is not at current prices.  What people charge for things is prohibitive. I know many people without enough money.  They are always getting deals.  They don't pay retail.  They get things at a different price.  But what if everyone got the going market value for everything? Doctors are expensive.  Computers are expensive.  Automobile repairs and tires are expensive.  Air conditioning.  Kids athletic outfits.  Etc.  I don't think there is enough money to go around.  I think we may not know it yet, but the world is bankrupt.  Surely it is.  There can be no way that there is enough money to pay for everything at current market prices.

I'm going to be a broke sonofabitch, that is for sure.  Sitting in the rising morning's heat and humidity, I am about to go mad with it.  I need some reprieve.  The stars will have to shift, the ju-ju will have to fade.  My nerves are shot, and all about me are things calling for my labor.

I must call the repair place again, then call the lumber yard.  No matter how hard I work, it seems. . . it is like the scene in "Fantasia" where the mops and buckets keep multiplying at an exponential rate.  I fix one thing and twelve more pop up.

There is no justice in this world.