Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Something



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?"

"Nothing."

"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.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Early Summer



It is summer here already.  The days grow cloudy and muggy by early afternoon so that you do not want to do anything but drink some wine and take a nap.  That is what I did yesterday.  You have to do that because you cannot sleep at night.  The air conditioner runs, but there is something other than temperature and humidity.  You can feel what lies beyond the cool walls.  It is out there, but it is in "here," too.

And so we begin the season that makes southerners famously lazy.  And mad.  The heat will drive you batshit crazy.  Read your Faulkner and his sons and daughters.  The south is a dangerous place in summer.

I tried to get everything ready and am still trying before the rains come.  But I do not have the new lumber for my deck.  The lumber that is to go back sits in the driveway getting ruined.  I asked the lumberyard to take it back more than ten days ago.  My buddy says they are not going to refund my money. I don't want that to be true, but deep down I think he might be right.  So while I wait on wood to finish the deck, I work in the yard.  The jasmine bed has gotten weedy, weeds growing faster than jasmine, and I have weeded and weeded for hours.  There are hours more to go.  But the potted plants look good and the herbs are thriving and people stop as they walk by to comment.  They are, I believe, relieved.  And finally, after I cut the ligustrum back to nothing, there are hundreds of tiny, tender green leaves emerging from the woody branches.  I water them like crazy.  That seems to be the key.

Now it is time to change my diet.  I must go on the low cal fresco diet with lots of fluids that are not alcohol.  I must slim down.  I went to see "Papa Hemingway in Cuba" yesterday afternoon.  It was too muggy to do anything else, and though the movie got mediocre to bad reviews, I wanted to see it.  And much to my surprise, I found it a very accurate and likable film.  It is not great but it is not bad, and I was impressed that they didn't sacrifice any true things for dramatic effect.

The most disturbing thing, though, is that I have grown to look like the Hemingway you see in the film.  I mean I have gotten thick.  And though you can wear that well if you don't mind--I mind.  Ili says I'm crazy, but I have a mirror in the bathroom.  And so I will cut my alcohol consumption in half or more and make certain I get more aerobic activity.  It is easy, right?  Oh, hell yes.

I took today's picture with my iPhone at lunch yesterday.  It shows my new Summicron 50mm lens (and the Summicron 35mm, too).  I have now replaced the film Leica equipment that was stolen from me.  It makes me happy.  But not complete.  I want another digital M, too.  I am considering.  There are many options and no cheap ones.

The True Artist called me two days ago.  The new landlord at the old studio did what I thought he would do.  The Artist got a letter in the mail informing him that he would have to sign a year's lease if he wanted to stay in his studio--for four times the rent he is currently paying.  So, he is out.  And sad, as I was, but I am in a bind.  My big printer has been at his place since I moved out, and now I have to make a decision.  I could list it on Craigslist or I could bring it home.  I don't have any room for it in the house unless I get rid of some things in the study.  I started going through the drawers in the antique lawyers cabinet yesterday to see if I could consolidate enough to get rid of it.  I have far too many pictures, and yesterday I threw away bagfuls of my old life.  I retained the negatives but got rid of the 4x6 prints.  It was painful.  I don't know what else to do.  I will have to decide what to do with all the Polaroids from the studio that are stored in a big four by six foot cabinet.  Thousands.  No, tens of thousands.

I don't know what I will do, truly, but I am miserable without the studio.  The place was half the size of my home.  It was a life raft, a place to which I could run away.  I need a place to work, and I need a place for storage.  Lots of needs--and even more desires.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Is This the Right Medicine?


Exploring Porto with the Leica M-D from Leica Camera on Vimeo.

This is what I want.  Which part?  The camera, the freedom to make images.  This video is just a romantic lie, in part, but it is the truth, too.  If you don't believe in romantic truths, you needn't watch the video.  If you think that Leicas are stupid cameras that are for BoBos, you may be right, and you shouldn't watch this video.  But if you ever buy silly things, things you don't need, things that will just make you feel a certain way. . . if you ever just want some magic in your life no matter how stupid your desire seems to someone else. . . you might like the video.

I am Jonesing for this camera.  It would be stupid to buy.  It is a stupid idea.

Sometimes you just have to do the wrong thing.

I told you that my life has been under some bad ju-ju lately.  I didn't tell you that it has gotten worse.  It has.  Don't be surprised if I turn up on your couch for a few days this summer.  I need some respite. I get scared at night again and wake with the heebie-jeebies.  I am conscious of all the wrong things.

So. . . maybe a camera would change my life.  Undoubtably it would, but in which direction?  Oh, that one can never predict.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reduced



I'm truly getting old.  I can't handle my drugs any more.  Last night, I woke up an midnight and took an Aleve P.M.  I am a mess now.  What can I say?  I can't run, and I can't handle my Aleve P.M.  I guess all that's left is exotic teas and volunteer work.  I'm not much of a volunteer, so my options are reduced.

I got some advice once long ago from a Belarus photographer: when you can't photograph, try not to take pictures.  I guess the same should go for writing.  Still, everybody shows pictures of kids.  Apparently everyone wants to see them.  But how many children are shown with a swan and a bum?  Not that many.  So here you have the mythical story of "Girl, Swan, Bum."  I think the photograph tells the story clearly.  It needs no explanation.

Jesus. . . I am reduced to this.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bathrooms for the Aged



America.  Where are you now?  Don't you care about your sons and daughters?

I know.  Quoting Steppenwolf.  It's early.  But I didn't watch election returns last night and remembered that when I opened the news at six this morning.  And so it comes to this.  Now it is a matter of who Americans dislike more.  The hogs are greased and out of the pen.  As the great H.S. Thompson said so long ago, “In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: not necessarily to win, but mainly to keep from losing completely.”

There are, however,  important issues to which we must turn out attentions: where are you going to shit?  I mean, who do you want in the stall next to you while you are doing that?  I've never felt so passionate about an issue before, and I have to say I've stayed out of the fray for fear of being. . . recognized. . . but I have to say it now.  We need bathrooms for the aged.  That's right, that's right.  For old people.  If we are going to be real about it. . . well, whatever.  There are issues there that need not be discussed.  We all know what they are, and they are disgusting.  It is time to free the youth of this country from the slow-assed indignities of these "others."

O.K.  I guess I was "mansplaining" here.  I need to cowboy up.  They are a quiet bunch, those cowboys.  They don't say much.  They illustrate that the term "mansplaining" a feminist faux pas.

People are just plain mean.

Which explains this year's election, though that term is no longer really useful.  This election has been going on for more than a year now.  There is no longer "an election year."  I'm already gearing up for 2020.

I was looking through old files and found this one that I took with my stolen Leica M Monochrom.  The one that was stolen from me, I mean.  I miss it.  I want another one.  I want the Leica M 246, too.  I will make a mistake sooner than later.  It is inevitable.  I haven't mentioned my latest purchase.  Whatever.

I have a meeting of the bosses at the factory today.  I'm bringing up my bathroom complaint. I'll let you know how that one flies.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Whining Nostalgic



I was looking through old files for a picture to use with this morning's post and ran across this.  It was not an intentional photo, I think, but something I did testing exposure.  It brought back instant memories.  I got a call from the True Artist in the studio behind mine on Sunday.  I still have my printer there and I thought it was going to be about that.  Rather he was reporting that the new Crook of a Landlord had sent a letter informing the tenants that if they wanted to renew their leases, they would need to do it for a year rather than the monthly we had all been on.  I thought that was not horrible.  Then he told me that the Crook wanted four times the current rent.  Whoa!  I guess I am glad I moved out in December when the Crook bought the place from the old owners, a not for profit entity that didn't need the money and who sold it for an amount that anyone would have paid without thinking.  The building was not for sale, so nobody knew.  Their was a crooked deal with the Board of Trustees.  No one who worked for the company understood it, but we all did.  The Crook had an insider on the board and on the city council.

I have to make a decision about my printer.  I don't have room for it in my house, so I probably will have to sell it.  I didn't think I'd ever lose my little dream of a studio, but all dreams come to an end.  I was there for seven years.  It was in the best part of town.  All I had to do was turn the key and there was everything I had been doing just waiting on me.  I'll never have anything like that again.  Most people never do even once.  Selavy.

And yes, all things do come to an end.  After you've lived awhile, you think that there are too many endings.  Then you might realize that you have been wrong, that there are things that do not end.  There is an endless hum and there is the nothingness and meaninglessness against which we struggle an entire lifetime.  It stands in relief to all endings, the thing that makes them poignant.

It is when you dwell on the nothingness or on the ending of things that you are in trouble.  I'm trying to avoid trouble.

The three framed images in the photo are now hanging in my bedroom.  The cheap-ass easel is gone as is the camera sitting in the bottom lefthand corner.  The books are in my home and the table is in the garage.  I think I threw away the plastic cup.

There is much to do at the factory today, and there is the gym after work.  I don't know when I'll take pictures again.  There is nothing easy about it now.  Everything about it seems so hard.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dangerous Way



This is a morning when I probably shouldn't be writing a blog.  I'm in my hermit mode and don't enjoy the company.  Here are yesterday's highlights: I tried running slowly and gently on grass once again with dire results; I worked around the house and didn't have lunch but had a beer instead; when it was late and I was shaky with hunger and lousy blood sugar, I went for sushi; I came home and soon went to bed.

Fun times.  I didn't sleep well as my knee was not the only thing hurting.  My back was a stove up misery, too.  I thought/dreamed about the pile of wood laying in the driveway and of not being able to move, of shuffling through life on a bad knee, stiff as the lumber.

I have taken no pictures and have nothing to show except old things.  I went through my files some yesterday.  Here is a a straight Polaroid, no manipulations.  You can see how the dyes were dried and shifting.  Still, I see some charm in it.  I have ten thousand of them.  Maybe not.  I haven't counted, but there are volumes.  I would take them and do this.


There is a wedding dress shop on the Boulevard that sells wedding gowns, very expensive things by Vera Wang et. al.  I want to take pictures of them.  I want them to hang my photos in their store.  I want this so badly that I never ask them.  I'm straight up that way.


That's all I have this morning.  I warned you.  It is bad.  I am in a dangerous way.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Arrogance of Knowing



I guess there is an arrogance of knowledge at every level.  If you know something and someone else doesn't--advantage you.  And so it is at the lumberyard.

Let me get this out of the way before I go on with my simple tale.  Home improvement projects suck. I'm sick to death of mine.  Things go right until they don't.  Trying to do something you don't do and are not quite sure how to do is stupid.  That is why I hired the handyman.  But I was trying to save money and he was only helping.  Now he is gone and I have a problem.

The problem is that I bought wood from the lumberyard that isn't decking material.  There is bark all over the edges of the boards.  I just can't use it for finishing the deck.  So I called the lumberyard to tell them.  O.K. they said, come on down and pick out your wood.

Funny.

I went yesterday morning.  The man at the sales desk said he would have to charge me for the wood I picked out for delivery today but that they would refund me the money when the other wood came back.  That sounded fair, so I paid the bill and he said to go talk to one of the guys sitting on the bench outside and he would take me back.

He did.  He took me back to a fellow in another building who started yelling that he didn't have a ticket on this.  "Who helped you?" he barked in a rough tone.  "One of the salesmen," I said.  "You need to go back in and tell him to get me a ticket.  I can't get this wood to you today. . . blah blah blah. . . ." He relished being King of his little realm.

I went back inside and the fellow who helped me had already spoken to the fellow who was yelling.  "C'mon," he said, ticket in hand, "I'll take you back."

When we got to the other building, the fellow said a fellow with a name would help me.  But the fellow with the name didn't come.  I stood around for awhile until the yeller asked me if the fellow with the name had come yet.  Nope.  "C'mon," he said, and we walked back to the big shed where they kept the wood.  "There he is," he said motioning to the fellow with the name.  The fellow with the name came over and the yeller left.  The fellow with the name just looked at me without saying anything.

"I was told to come back and pick out the wood I need."  He didn't say anything.  "I'm building a deck and the wood they brought me is all hacked up.  It's no good for laying a deck.  They told me to come back and pick out the pieces I needed."  His scorn was obvious.  He took me over to a big pile of wood that was bundled up.

"It's all going to look the same," he said.  I looked at him and he reluctantly cut the plastic strips holding the wood in place.  He wasn't going to help me beyond that.  I tried turning over some of the sixteen foot 2x6s.  They did all look the same--like Fido's ass.  "That's what number two wood looks like."

"How much more does it cost for number one wood?"

"I don't know," he said disparagingly.  "It isn't going to look any better.  It's all graded by structure, not look.  It just ain't going to have as many knotholes."

"Well. . ." I needed help at this point, "what should I use?"

"Most people use the one and five eighths inch decking boards."  We looked at them.  They were all beveled on the edges, but this is what my handyman had advised against.  He said we would have to build the crossbeams closer together, that the way we had built it would be too spongy.  I was tired of struggling to turn over the boards, sick of looking at wood, and I was way done having the fellow with the name look at me like I was an idiot.  I wanted to say, "Do you know the Pythagorean Theorem?  I can do equations.  You know about wood.  I just want some help, fucker, not your idiotic looks."

But of course I didn't.  For a number of reasons.  I am not that sort, I like to think.  I don't go out of my way to make other people feel bad.  Another reason, though, is that I would have gotten a pretty good beat down, and I didn't want to try that, so I turned away toward the showroom.

"Thanks," I said.  I could feel him looking at me as I walked away.

I didn't go to the showroom, though.  Rather I stood by my car and called my buddy.  I guess I was looking for advice.  I tried explaining my dilemma, but he was trying to tell me about his trip to the cardiologist.  He had gotten some reassurance he was fine.  My board problems paled.  His advice was that I should go to Home Depot and look at the wood there.  Fuck everything, I thought as I got into my car and drove off.  I wasn't sure what to do at all.

When I got home, I called the lumberyard.  A woman came on the line.  I explained my situation to her.  She said she would call me back with the price of two kinds of wood, number one and something she called master grade.  That, she said, would be the best looking.  In a bit she did call back and gave me the price.  Master grade was over twice as much.  Shit, piss, fuck.  I told her I'd call her back.

But I had to go to work.  I had already missed two days this week and it was getting late.  I decided that I would leave work early and stop at a Home Depot on my way back.  I was buying time.

Skip ahead.  The wood at Home Depot was much better.  Much.  But the price was in the middle of the number two wood I had bought already and the price of the master grade that I might buy.  And there was a pretty hefty delivery price from Home Depot, too.

I walked back to my car, miserable.  It was four o'clock and the lumberyard closed at five.  I had to make some decision.  I called the handyman and told him all I knew.

"Why don't you just get the one and five eighths.  It's a lot cheaper than the two by six."

"That's what you told me not to buy!  You said it would be too spongy!"

"No, it's fine.  I've built lots of decks with it before."

"What about the crossbeams?"

"Well. . . it might be alright.  If not, we can shore it up."

He wasn't really invested in the conversation.  He was getting ready to drive four hours south to see his girl.  Finally I realized that I was on my own.

I sat in my car and stewed.  It was my fault, I thought.  It was all my fault.  I wanted to do the job but let someone else take the responsibility.  "You can't do that, "I thought.  "That is your mistake."  And it is true.

I called the lumberyard.  I decided to just go ahead and buy the master grade.  I was going to buy my way out of this problem.  I was.  I was ready.  But. . . the jerky boy on the phone couldn't figure out how to change my order.

"I can't do this," he said.  "You're going to have to come in and do it in person.  I can't take payment over the phone."

There was no way I could get there before they closed.  They wouldn't be open again until Monday.  So I said, "I'll come in next week.  Just don't have them deliver any wood on Monday."

The wood sits in my driveway now.  Last night, it rained.

I don't know how this story will turn out.  I just know why rich people live longer than poor people.  They don't have to worry about this shit.  It may sound silly, but I am stressed out to the max.  It is not only the decking that I have to worry about.  If that was all. . . but it isn't.  It never is.  I am living in a shit storm.  This is only one part of a very difficult equation.

Did I say I know how to solve equations?  That may have been hyperbole.  With my luck, the fellow with a name would have been some sort of savant.  And that, of course, would have been point--game--match.  The one with the knowledge has the advantage.

So today I can't finish anything.  I am alone for the weekend and beat and sick and worn down.  Everything will stay in a state of disrepair.  If I could, I would finish it off.  But the sky is cloudy still.  The shit storm isn't over yet.  Did I tell you that there is something seriously wrong with my car?  Oh, yea, oh, yea.

I guess I won't be buying that Leica any time soon.

And I guess I'm not much of a cowboy.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Cowboy Up



How long can a full moon last?  It seems a week so far.  Crazy bad.  The Farmer's Almanac calls this the Full Pink Moon.  It is also called the Fish Moon.  The earth and the moon are at their furthest distance apart, so you might think the influence would be minimized.  Is it the moon?  I don't know.  I'd like to say so for there are physical rather than metaphysical reasons for its influence.  I'd prefer the demonstrably measurable ones.

Whatever it is, though, I'm ready for a reprieve.

Yesterday I stayed home from the factory to help my handyman build my deck.  He got here early, and we worked all day.  You don't build a deck in a day, though.  We were lucky to finish the frame.  I did a lot of the heavy work, of course, even though I am older, for I have no technical skills.  I dug and trenched and the ground where it was needed and chopped a tree stump and cut and hauled the second half of the remaining wood from the old deck.  I was lucky enough to get the garbagemen to take away the wood.  They took about a quarter of it on Monday.  I gave them an envelope.  Yesterday as I was hurrying to ready the new pile, when they drove by the first time, they gave a happy wave and said they would be back.  I gave them another envelope.  All the wood is gone.  They hung around a bit after we had disposed of all the wood to talk about deck building.  I told them all that I knew.  Ha!  I'm quite good at talking.

I played cowboy all day, and we got the framing finished.  When we started to put the decking on, though, most of the 2x6x16 foot boards were not good enough to use.  Almost none.  The handyman was finished, and the rest was left for me to deal with.

"You need to get them to bring you some decent wood and take this back. I've never seen such a bad bunch of wood."

Sure.  I'd do that.  I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, but I'd do that.  We cleaned up the area, then he was gone.

I received a text from my beautician that I had a four o'clock appointment with her.  I'd missed that, but I told her it was her fault for not texting me the day before.  When could I come?  Love me.  Don't be a hater, I texted.  She told me to come in at five, but that I would be there all night as she had other clients coming in.

I showered up and poured a big drink and headed out the door.

And I did have to wait.  She was foiling a woman when I got there.  About 45 minutes later. . . well, these things are best left as mysteries.  But I didn't get out of there until close to nine o'clock.  My hair. . . it looks like shit.  She decided to try something new, she said.  Yea.  She did.

This morning at seven, I called the lumber yard and told them my situation.  I have to go back there today to pick out the lumber.  I asked to do this the first time, but they gave me the big redneck stare like I was insane.  I don't know what I am doing, don't know what is normal in their world, so I ended up with shitty boards.  They won't be able to deliver my new boards 'til next week, he said.  I'm sweating out the city inspectors who will be driving around my neighborhood looking at all the new construction that is going on only a block away.  Shhh. . . I haven't pulled any permits.

There are troubles that I won't even tell.  I have more to do than I want and no time to do what I want.  I can't imagine living like a real adult all of the time.  It seems a hideous waste of life's resources.

But I'll say one thing.  I did enjoy the feeling of being a cowboy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Rougher Night


Telling personal stories is by definition a demonstration of self-absorption. The challenge the essayist faces is to convince readers that all this inward attention is justified and worthwhile — that he can see through his own vanities and speak credibly about himself in a way that will be illuminating to others (link).

That's cool, but when it is once said, I can only reply, "Fuck that!"  There is only one way to go, and that is the other way.

Hillary beat Bernie.  And so it is.  We are doomed.

Here is another picture where I have missed focus.  See how sharp the street is behind them?  But I think I am beginning to prefer the wrongly focussed pictures.  They have a quality to them that I cannot yet describe.  Maybe--yes, maybe--I am doing that on purpose.  Do you think?  Do you?

I am groggy this morning, brain fog, body cloud. . . too much of what some people call life, too many coping aids, too much ahead, too much behind. . . .  Chet Baker plays on the "radio." I am waiting in gloom for the repairman to show up.  It is the day for building the deck.  Or part of it.  I don't think it can be done in a day.  I have many other projects, too.  There is no end to these things.

Alone last night with the cat.  I stare at a sprig of mint in a water filled Ball jar.  It would make a wonderful picture.  I remember when I used to take those.

I am too scattered and fragmented for cohesion just now.  I will put on my work clothes and begin cutting boards.  The worker must have had a rougher night than I.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pretty as a Picture


I'm beginning to believe in either astrology or ju-ju 'cause things keep going to shit.  It is spooky.  In truth, I get scared.

It is as much a mood as it is anything truly awful.  I've had some mood ju-ju put on me.  My planets are in retrograde or whatever.  I slog along, slog along. . . slog. . . . .  Others seem happy.


I watched an HBO documentary on Robert Mapplethorpe last night.  It was alright.  HBO showed a lot of the pictures that others haven't.  I've never been a big Mapplethorpe fan except for a few of his photographs of Patti Smith and Lisa Lyons which seemed among the softest, most humane pictures he did.  His death from AIDS looked particularly gruesome.  He was part of an era when things blew up.  The 70's were urban, a reaction to the hippy agrarian dream.  I think.  I shouldn't make such statements.  I don't have the ass to back it up.  I've not really thought it through.  There is just something about the 70's that seems particularly gruesome to me, the music, the fashions.  What remains?

The picture of the hippy girl above was taken with the new portrait lens, probably the second or third I made.  The lens seems to be fine here, no blurry weirdness, so I guess the mistake in yesterday's posted pic was user error.  I took this in the garden of a vegan/vegetarian restaurant.  It was just a matter of, "Hey, can I take your picture?"  I wish I had some way of sending her the photo.  It is a pretty, smiley portrait that she might like.  After posting it here, it will have no further function for me probably.  You never know, though.  Things change in time.

I've had my confidence rocked several times in the recent weeks.  Sucker punches that keep hurting after the initial pain recedes.  None of us are who we think we are, of course, but I'm not sure it helps to point that out.  Especially in non-therapeutic ways.  All we have in the end is ourselves.  We don't really need to be reminded that we are not in very good company.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Working Man



This is one of the very first images I shot with my new 150mm Hasselblad (Zeiss) portrait lens.  Either there is something wrong with the lens or I missed focus.  Everything is in focus except his eyes.  I don't think there are any diopters for the camera, so I may need to wear my glasses.  I suspect, though, that there is something wrong with the lens.

I stayed home from work yesterday.  I began the day with quail eggs on toast.  They tasted like eggs, but with a strongly flavored yolk.  Breakfast done, Ili went with me to the lumber yard to pick out the boards for the deck.  That was funny.  When I asked the fellow if I should go pick out the boards I wanted, he looked at me like I was speaking Polish.  It didn't seem to be an option.  It was a big lumber yard with lots of rough looking fellows, so I didn't feel like repeating myself.  But the price. . . oh. . . it was very, very good, so if a couple of the boards are not to my liking, there is little complaint.

I reserve the right to change my mind, of course.

After that, I went to working in the yard.  I have plants that are not doing as well as I would like, so I gave them all a bunch of water with my new hose.  It is a dandy, one of those scrunchy ones that pack into a pouch.  I had my doubts about it, but now I am a believer.  They are much better for home use than the old thick plastic and rubber ones.  I gave every bush a very good soaking, and by day's end, everything looked to be thriving.

Then I began sawing boards in two.  The buddy who helped me rip up the deck didn't cut the wood into small enough pieces.  Some of them were more than four feet long.  I went down the street to where they are building a new house to ask the contractors who were leaning on the pickup bed studying the construction plans if I could pay them to send a couple guys down at the end of the day to pick up the wood and put it in their dumpster.  Again, I might as well have been speaking Polish.  Why do these guys not like me?  They dismissed me with a wave and said no, they were too busy, etc.  I felt the blood rush into my neck and head and knew that I was getting mad, more at myself, really, for I had put myself in the position of having them say no.  I hate to ask anyone for anything (I've never asked a girl out on a date in my life) because I can't stand rejection.  I was about to say that they were not very neighborly and tell them they were in violation of several city statutes before I threw in the word "assholes," but I turned away instead and walked back to the house.

It was me, not them.

I stayed home from work in order to get things done, so I pulled out the reciprocal saw my buddy had left for me to chop the remaining pieces of deck that I had left as a walkway into the house.  I really needed a circular saw for cutting the boards in half, but I didn't have one.  I'm not that sort of guy, I guess.  I used the reciprocal saw to cut the boards.  It was slow work, but it did the job.  Board after board, I made a growing pile of two to three foot boards.  I had put some in the garbage can as people had advised, but it made a very little dent in the pile.  It was trash day, and in a while, I saw the garbage truck coming down the street.  They passed my house on this stop, so I kept cutting wood, but by the time I had cut as much as my slender artist's hand could stand, they still had not come back by.  Across the street was a lawn company's truck and trailer.  I decided to walk over and see if they were willing to haul my wood away.

"I still have seven yards to do," the head fellow said, "but if I have room at the end of the day, I'll come back and get it."

He was an alright guy.  I asked him if he thought the garbagemen would take it if I gave them something, and he said they might.  I'd asked several people about this, and opinions were split.  I told the fellow that I would give it a try, but if the wood was still there later, I would pay him to take it.

In a bit, the garbage guys were back.  I had put some money in an envelope and asked them if they could take the pile of wood.  We are now good friends.  They will be back on Thursday for the second pile.  I like making friends.  It is better than the other.

It was mid-afternoon then, and I decided to go to the gym.  It was a beautiful day, and I wanted to come home and do the weeding that was part of why I stayed at home.  By five, all of that was done, and I felt good but for the terrible pain in my back.  A shower would help, and then a big cowboy drink.  Campari and vermouth and soda with a slice of lime.  That's what all the cowboys drink, I've heard.  It is good for their tummies.

At nine o'clock, I took two Aleve P.M.s and headed for the bedroom.  Ili had put an Icy Hot patch on my back earlier.  I put on some music and read for a few minutes, but soon I was out for the night.

This morning, minutes after I got up, the big lumber truck pulled up to deliver my wood.  Jesus, I was still woozy from the Aleve and was wobbling all over the place.  I moved my car so the driver could back in, but first I had to help him move some things--some iron chairs, a grill--and he checked to see if he would be able to clear the power lines when he raised the flat bed up to dump the wood.  After about half an hour of manipulations, we had it.  He was some sort of Spanish speaker with a heavy accent.  He liked my bromeliads, so I gave him a bagful as his tip.  That seemed to make him very happy.

Now I must return to factory life.  It is not what I want to do.  Trouble waits for me there.  But tomorrow, I will take the morning off to help lay out the deck.  I am no help, really, but I need to be here in case some city official comes by.  I have not pulled a permit since this is a "repair," and I do no want to leave a paid worker alone.  But I have an important presentation at work tomorrow, so I will need to be gone in the afternoon.  All of this makes me nervous, and I will be until it is all done.  Maybe this weekend I will be able to relax.  One day I would like to go out and think about photography again.  Until then. . . .

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hooky



Stressed, depressed, anxious. . . and no reason why, I guess.  I've decided to throw in the towel and stay away from the factory today.  I have more to do than I can stand to think about, but I do, and thinking about it wears me out.  Not much of a cowboy.  It's just work.  But it is the work I can't stand.

Today I will try to do some things that will help me catch up.

Glad that I could keep you informed about this.  It is fascinating.  I am kidding.  I don't want to be "that guy."  It has nothing to do with that.

"Whatever happened to. . . ?"

Fill in the blank.  Jack Nicholson.  Julia Roberts.  The guy from "My Cousin Vinnie."  Dustin Hoffman.  Warren Beaty.  Etc.

I don't want to ask those questions.

But I wonder sometimes.

I have to pick out lumber today.  I have an underground leak in my irrigation system that I am told is easy to fix, but it scares me to try.  I have weeds to pick and still a big pile of wood that used to be a deck to get rid of.

Mimosas got the best of me.  At least that is what started it.  You know how it ended.

I think that one of the things I have disliked about my recent pictures is the clarity.  I don't want that.  The images should be softer.  I haven't had time to work on that, but I will.  The images should be detailed by contrast, not resolution.  This will take a whole lot of thinking.  But the today's picture is more what I am thinking of.

O.K.  I have to go away now.  Sitting here is stressing me out.  There are too many things to do.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Making Things Pretty


"When is Passover?"

"It's the second week of Coachella."


"Coachella is so lame."

"What's Coachella?"

"I love you more."

O.K.  So I didn't know what Coachella was until this morning.  Now I am very disappointed in Q.  Doesn't he go to these things?  Why isn't he writing about it?  Why isn't he letting me know?


"Want to go to Starbucks?"

"No, I'm getting my coffee at McDonald's this week.  I'm saving my money for all the drugs I'll have to buy for Coachella."


"Where are you staying at Coachella?  Are you camping?"

"Ew, no.  I'm staying at the Marriott but I won't wash my hair so it looks like I'm camping."


"Coachella is coming up and I need to save money for my outfits.  Do you know how much it cost me  to look that free-spirited last year?"

People are funny in all their variations.  All of us.  Yesterday, I decided that I needed a cheap, greasy breakfast badly, so Ili and I went to the little greasy spoon up the road.  It is in what is now a hipster part of town.  Next door is a record, book, and cd store.  This particular Saturday, they were having some event.  There were tents in the small parking lot, food trucks, and a line of people that went around the block for about a quarter mile.  I was incredibly lucky and found a parking spot on the street.  We sat at a window overlooking the sidewalk so that we could watch the show.  I asked the waitress what was going on, but she didn't know.  She looked out at the crowd of dirty hipsters with a sneer.  She was just glad they weren't crowding her restaurant, I guess.

They did look like an army of sorts.  There is something standard in the look, fellows all wearing shorts and old t-shirts, many with concert information printed on them.  The gals (what is the gender opposite term for "fellows"?) were a bit more creative, but the fashion was quite odd.

"Where do you get an outfit like that?"

"The Forever 21 outlet, I think."

"They have Forever 21 outlets?  How much cheaper can that clothing get?"

It inspired me.  But we'll get to that.

After breakfast, we went home to do some work.  There is lots of work to do, but things didn't go as planned.  I was going to rent a truck and move all the boards from the torn up deck to the landfill.  But I didn't.  I had a better idea.  There is a new house being built down the street and there are two big haul away dumpsters there.  I thought to pay one of the workers to bring a pickup truck and dump my stuff down there.  Well, I went twice and nobody was there.  So I decided to go pick out the lumber for the new deck at the lumberyard my repairman uses because he gets a big discount over what I would pay somewhere else.  They weren't open on Saturdays, though.  So we decided to go to a nursery and get some jasmine to plant.  Finally something worked out.  Oh what a nursery it was.  I've driven past it for years and years and years and never stopped.  It looks like a wreck.  But inside. . . it is the best nursery I've ever seen.  And so as I picked out the yard stuff, Ili got things for her potted garden--herbs and annuals and perennials and little bits of gardening stuff.


Thrill, fill, and spill.  That is what we had learned.  It sounds so very sexual, but it is the way you plant a pot.  "Thrill" are the tall plants.  "Fill" are plants that do just that, fill the pot.  "Spill" are the ones that fall over the sides of the pot.  You already knew that, I'm sure, but it is the new rule for me in all things.

As we gardened, people would stop and chat.  Oh, there is nothing like seeing a neighbor improve the look of the land.  Everyone is friendly when you are elbow deep in Milorganite, probably because they don't know what its made from.

After planting around fifty Asiatic jasmine plants, we were filthy.  There is nothing like showering after gardening, I think.  And there is nothing like an afternoon cocktail to go with it.

But here is the thing.  As I said earlier, I had been inspired by the hipsters standing in line for so very long to get. . . oh, here is the kicker.  They were in line for Record Day!  They stood in line for an hour to buy vinyl.  Some of the albums, I hear, were special editions.  I don't get it, really, but they seemed to be happy to be all together.  And I was thrilled to see them.  I just don't want to look like them.  I have my whole life, but now, it seems, everyone looks that way.  And so. . . .

I bought new clothing.  Mostly pants.

"I want to look like I'm one of the guys in "Darjeeling Express," I said.

"You'll need to lose weight."

Of course.  I have new dimensions, it seems, in my clothing.  They are not going in the right direction, but what can I do?  I eat pretty well.  I don't snack.

"It's the alcohol."

What I have decided, however, is to be happy.  I'm not going to beat myself up over it.  I have done that my entire life.  Now. . . I'm just doing the Marlon Brando.  My belly is too big, but I'm going to feel good about myself anyway.  And now, I have expensive new pants to make it even better.  Oh, I will mix them with clothing items that will keep me looking like a Brooks Brothers clone.  I will do something.  It was just that crowd.  You know what I mean?

Next year, I'm heading for Coachella.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Intuition and Instinct



But he didn't, at least his writing would make you think not.  But I know what he means.  He liked people fine; he just didn't like being around them.  And I know what he means about that, too.  Loving people without liking them very much.  I've had enough of two things in the recent few weeks--work and people.  It seems, however, that I can avoid neither.

I've been complaining about the work for quite a while, so let me complain about the people for a bit.

Intuition.  You have it, and when it comes to people, you are best to follow it.  Instinct is what Bill Maher is speaking of when he says, "I don't know it for a fact, I just know its true."  Well. . . maybe not, but it could be said of intuition.

I have learned to follow mine, but sometimes the feeling is vague enough that I will go with my desire to be on the wrong side of the feeling.  I'll blame it on the human instinct of wanting to belong to the group.  There are rewards, of course, but they are hierarchical rather than democratic.  That is instinctual, too.  I've been involved with the Bernie Sanders crowd most of my life, and I will say that without reservation.  People always crowd around a leader no matter their politics.

Except for some of us.  We must be genetic mutants, I think.  People don't understand those of us who don't want to be around others, who are more comfortable being alone.

You know.  Like the Unabomber.  No, wait. . . I was thinking more about Buddhist monks.

There is no explaining it, though.  Or rather, I don't wish to spend my time today doing that.  I want to read and listen to music and let my mind wander.  But I won't.  I am going to get dressed now and begin a long day of physical work.  It may be awful, but I do think it will be better than being around people.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Desires of a Very Busy Man



I want this.  It is not the only thing I want, and it is not the best camera in the world.  It is a good camera that does certain things, and it is a still photography camera minus all the crap that companies have begun putting into them.  It doesn't make videos.  It doesn't have an EVF finder.  It is just like the old film Leicas, only digital.  And because of this, it is lighter in weight and costs much less.

What a great idea.

I don't need it.  I just have to have it.  It is eating at me.

See for yourself (link), (link), and (link).  You will either think me crazy or you will want one, too.

O.K.  You will think me crazy.  Especially considering that I rarely get out to shoot with the cameras I have.  As you know, last weekend I missed the Show or Meat Goat Judging at a distant county fair.  But there is some hope.  I want to take photographs of old circuses and carnivals, but they barely exist.  All you get now are the ones that are made to perform in arenas.  They are laser light shows.  So I decided to Google circuses around the world.  There is an Italian circus that may be o.k.  Years ago, I saw a circus setting up in the distance while riding a bus through Austria.  It was a tent circus of the old sort.  That was the one, the Ur Circus of dreams, the one I despair of ever finding again.  But. . . online, I did find a Mexican circus that was going to be performing in Dallas.  So I wrote to them.  I told them that I wanted to come and photograph behind the scenes, to do a sort of day-in-the-life photo documentary about them.  I forgot about writing them, though, as my life is a mess of things right now.  Yesterday, however, I got a return email from the man in charge, Senior Del Rio.  He didn't say yes, but he didn't say no.  He said he would let me know.

I am thrilled and scared at one and the same time.  Oh. . . how I would need that little Leica M 262.

No I wouldn't.  I would just want to have it.

I don't have much hope, really, that the circus will invite me to come with open access.  They will be thinking, "What is in it for us?"  Let's hope they will realize that I will make loving portraits that will last more than a lifetime.

Oh, there are no animals, though.  Believe it or not, Mexico has recently banned them from circuses.  I know. . . right?  So I am thinking outside the box.  Indonesia?  Borneo?  Maylasia?  The Philippines?  Sumatra or Jakarta?  Surely.

I will research this today.

Meanwhile the house and the factory are eating me alive.  I have a huge meeting today all afternoon.  Tomorrow I must get up, rent a truck, remove all the wood from the old deck and take it to the dump, stop at the lumber yard and pick out the new wood, stop at the nursery and pick up Asiatic jasmine, drop it off at the house, return the truck, then come home and plant the jasmine.  Next week, I must take off from the factory to help rebuild the deck.  Then I must begin scraping the house and the apartment (two houses) and begin to paint.

As you can see, a brand new Leica would be very, very useful.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spectacular Ending (Regular Season)



They were dancing in the streets last night!  Kobe scored sixty points in his last Mamba dance in the NBA.  Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors set a new NBA record for most wins in a season.  Give me a drink and let's get to partying.

People want to be distracted from the horrors of the everyday world.  There are many.

I got two rolls of film back from processing yesterday.  I was anxious to see the images, of course.  Out of the twenty-four, one of them is almost O.K.  I can't seem to make an interesting picture any more.  I am not sure what is wrong.  I have improved technically.  I mean I can make decent exposures and I am able to approach strangers pretty well now.  Beyond that, though. . . there is little.  I have some ideas, but it all takes a lot of work, and I already have a lot of work.  I miss the studio terribly, but I have to get over it.  This is the new reality.  Achieve or be forgotten.

I have been mostly forgotten now.  As it should be.

If I were to guess, I'd say that this picture was taken the day the Chicago Bulls set the old NBA record for most wins in a season in the late '90s.  It must be in our genetic composition.  People do much the same thing when they see a camera.  The kid didn't even need a beer.  Probably.  Maybe.

I don't know.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Weirdness



I found an old roll of film in one of my drawers.  I had no idea what it was.  It was an old Kodak Max color film, the cheapest they made, with 24 exposures.  I wondered if I had bought this at a drugstore years ago, shot it in one of my cheap cameras, and then just forgot about it.  I wondered about all the things that might be on the film when I took it in to be developed.  I wanted to cover myself.

"I found this roll of film.  No idea what might be on it.  He-he.  Let's just give it a go, eh?"

Jesus.  I just didn't want to get arrested.

When I got the film back, there were only about ten pictures exposed.  It was some sort of family outing.  I don't know whose family it is.  How did I come into possession of this roll?  I loved this picture, of course.  I wish I could find more rolls of undeveloped film.  If you have any, send them to me.  I'm up for surprises.  I love the look of this scanned film.  It is so much different than digital.  It has a "quality."  Filmic, I guess.

The house was pressure washed yesterday by my house repairman.  It looks as I thought.  It looks like I am going to have to paint.  There is no end to the work, the expense, the suffering.  There is no getting even.  This is not a zero sum game.  I am always in the hole.  The game is rigged so that the house always wins.

Trump is right, of course.  The political process is rigged, too.  And if Bernie Sanders doesn't win the nomination, a republican will be in the White House.  Hillary doesn't have a chance.  It is a fascinating circus car, but we are watching it drive all of us over the cliff.

Selavy.

But damn--I love the weirdness of this picture.