Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Eclipse




O.K.  I did it.  I looked at the sun.  Now I wait to go blind.

There were other things that happened on the eclipse, too.  My shower wouldn't drain.  I put down drain cleaners and plunged, all to no end.

I quarreled.

My mother wrote to me that she was on YouTube and a message came on and her computer froze and a message came up and she gave her bank information and for $200 for them to "clean" her computer.

This morning, the plumber came.  He was here a few minutes.  He pulled the drain lever.  There was nothing wrong with the tub.

WTF?


Monday, August 21, 2017

Looking At The Sun



O.K. freaks.  The big day is here.  Grab your socks and hold onto your cocks (or whatever genitals you may own). . . I was excused from jury duty.  That's right!  I was supposed to report today, but I checked the website and it says I have been excused.  I think they might have heard about me.  I don't know.  I had to fill out an online form, and maybe some of the answers I put down dissuaded them.  I don't think they fact check very carefully.  It seems you can put down just about whatever you want.  I wanted to attach this jpeg to my form, but I could find no way to upload it.  I told them that I was a Wicken and that today was very special to me.  My tribe and I have some very special ceremonies planned.  They say animals behave very peculiarly today.  We've gotten a bunch of them just to see.  I'm wearing double seated rubber pants just in case things go horribly wrong.  A day like this. . . well, who knows.

Truly, people are excited about looking at the sun with special glasses, and for the life of me, I can't understand why.  Are you really going to trust your eyesight to a drug addict in a factory making paper and plastic glasses?  So many have already been recalled, you'd think people would have more sense.  But nope.  They can't wait to roll the dice.  It will look much better on television anyway.  You can look at the t.v. screen without danger.  O.K.  But at least cover one eye.  You don't need to see it in stereo vision.  Save something for the future.

I could have made this picture so much more interesting if I had cooked it up.  I could have, but I didn't.  I never have the right time/energy ratio.  My life has been troubled.  When I am not at the factory, all I want to do is lie upon the couch.  I can't walk anyway, as my Achilles tendon is still blown up the size of a ping-pong ball and it is painful just getting across the room.  Oh, yes, I hear you.  I should see a doctor.  Again, though, the time/energy factor comes into play.  And you know what they say.

"It will get better on its own."

Isn't that what they say?

I look forward to seeing all the new cross-species that are the result of today's madness.  They may even top the genetic engineering that is going on in China.  The kangaroo men, and all of that.

After today, it will all be fine.  Everything will be peachy.


Don't worry kid.  Just look at the sun.  Pay no attention to what the animals are doing.  It's o.k.  No problem.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Hobbyist



These are pictures I've not processed and maybe never will, just straight out of the camera shots of a walk around the block next to our insane asylum neighborhood in Albuquerque, N.M.  This is the sequence, just five images in a row.  I like them fine and could make them look so much better with an hour or so's worth of work.  Shoot.  Maybe I should.  It is just that I have thousands of images and no time to cull them or to work with them.


I have been shooting more film, but those pictures require scanning which adds another couple hours to the process before I even get them into the computer.  I love shooting with film, the mystery of not knowing what, if anything, you have captured, but afterwards, when it is time to work, I ask myself why.


Today I will make some instant film pictures with the 4x5 camera.  Those are fun, too, and if I just used the pictures as they came out of the camera, it would be simple.  But I don't, and it isn't.  I have some secret processes that involve a lot of fluids and double scanning, so an instant film picture will take me even more time than regular film.  And half the time, it doesn't work out, so the ultimate yield is very small.


I was stung the other night when I was referred to as a hobbyist.  I don't do anything with the pictures, I was told.  They are simply for my own pleasure.  That might be a simplified version of the truth as it is torture to make the pictures and not so very often pleasurable at all.  The nudes, it was said, were just some voyeuristic activity.  It is disturbing to see that from the outside.  It was a terrible lot of work, and seeing people naked isn't such a big deal maybe unless you don't get to do it.  But you have to struggle against thinking the body is a hideous thing, almost always flawed and deformed in some way, but again, I guess that is the privileged view of someone who is in the position to see such things as opposed to someone who is not.  I have been struggling with the perception, though, since then.  A hobbyist and a voyeur.   

I should not reject those two descriptions, I guess, for neither of them are really bad (though I think the charge was meant to be so).  

I've been looking at Sarah Moon's photographs a lot lately.  I want a studio again, this time with big windows.  I want to make some pretty pictures.  I want to try my hand at costuming.  But. . . it is too much for a hobbyist, really.  More photographs in a drawer.  

Maybe these pictures out of the camera without any processing, quicker than instant, are, for the drawer, really just as good.  

All those hours.  All that time. 


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Endless Depiction



The endless depiction of the human condition, so variable yet so categorical.  I am no good today and will leave this all alone.  Sometimes that is the best thing to do.  Sometimes that is all.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Monkeys and Cats



I've had no internet the past 24 hours.  Now I do, but I have only three minutes to write.  Speed Writing 101.  I have had very long and busy days at the factory and am worn out.  I am certain age has something to do with it, but there are other factors, too.  Sometimes things just don't go your way.  It's o.k., though.  I have a strategy.  I'm going to give less a shit about what others do or think than I have before, and I already didn't care very much at all.  The strange social dances around me are not very entertaining.  People don't get better.  We are the horrible and the miserable.  Sometimes you just have to take your comfort where you can.  Monkeys and cats, man.  Monkeys and cats.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Saul Leiter



I watched a documentary last night about Saul Leiter called "In No Great Hurry" (review).  You can watch it, too, for only $3.99 on iTunes.  I think you can watch it for free if you have Amazon t.v., or you can buy the DVD for a few more dollars.  You can also choose not to watch it at all.  But that might be a shame.

I wondered why he wasn't really on my radar, but as it turns out, he wasn't on many people's radar for a long time.  He is one of those people who just made pictures without promoting them.  I guess.  It is unclear to me why a photographer who shot for the big fashion magazines in the 1950's just drops out of sight.  What did he do for money?  How did he get by?


He was shooting color film back then, not uncommon for fashion work, but highly unusual for street photographers perhaps because of the cost.  His framing is different for the era being highly fragmented and incomplete and blurred.  Ili said that of all the pictures I've shown her, these are among her favorite.


I, too, like the pictures, but I want to know more about his life, his girlfriend/partner, Soames Bantry, often described as a model and a painter, and about their life together.  I've searched the internet and found little.



The thing is, though. . . his ability to just keep making pictures year after year after year with little notice or attention.  "I knew my work was good," he says.

"I knew my work was good."

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Worst



This is a 1970's photograph by Bill Henson.  Film.  This is the sort of photography that will get you scorned now, I think.  It is more desirable to exploit people's suffering than their beauty.

These are topsy-turvy times.  I watched the Left vs. the Alt. Right in Charlottesville replays and highlights the past few days.  I'm not sure what people expect when you put two opposing teams on the same playing field.  In the replays, I see people who hate one another marching toward conflict.  The Aryans march lockstep holding signs that say they are under attack.  Surrounding them, the faces of hateful tolerance, savagely contorted. . . kaboom!!!

Some little moron with a motorcar and a head full of Facebook and video games hits the gas.

You haven't seen anything yet, though.  Wait 'til the renegade nuke countries begin their march and a little moron with a head full of kung fu movies and video games hits the button. . . kaboom!!!

The pigs are greased and out of the chute.  We'll play hell getting them back in.

The degrees to which we make the world ugly are many.  Maybe things are better when they seem worse (link).

My dance card is full this week.  I may not be able to post every day.  I have torn my right Achilles and have not been able to walk more than a few steps at a time for a couple weeks now.  My right shoulder keeps painfully falling out of socket.  I own a few more problems that will have to be looked after sooner or later.  The camera I bought broke yesterday, one day after it arrived, and I have to try to send it back for a refund.  And of course. . . the roof.   The factory is having a big week and my attendance will be required at some evening events.

Then there is the weather, not to mention the climate.

Maybe democracy and capitalism have reached their zeniths.  And maybe Trump is the Beast slouching toward Bethlehem (link).

In my head, I try to prepare for the worst.  In the world, I only wish to suck from the teat of sweetness and light.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

All There Is



I bought the antique cabinet from India yesterday.  Placing it caused us to rearrange some things.  We hung some pictures, made a bar, got rid of clutter. . . and were happy.  We sat and admired the way things looked, feeling it as much as seeing it.  It was fun, a creative act, but I have to admit the liquor bottles look too tempting that way.

The afternoon brought a drizzling rain, just more than a mist, and we cooked a skirt steak and spinach and a garbanzo been and red pepper salad with feta cheese and garlic. We opened a bottle of good wine.

And the rains came, harder and harder.  Ili said she loved to listen to the sound of the rain, but I am always anxious since the hurricane that destroyed my home.

And then the water began to run through the cabinet and onto the floor.  My new roof, once repaired, was leaking again/still.

We loved decorating but the thing we decorated has a lousy structure.  I must fix it immediately, for the rains will not let up this summer but only intensify.

A low seeping adrenaline rush keeps hitting me, filling me with despair.  What do I do?  The roofing company now does not return my messages.  They are experienced at this.  They know what will happen, what it would cost me to have an attorney look into this.  They've bee through it before and they have calculated their costs.  If I am going to get the roof re-done now, I will need to pay someone to come and do it.

This is what I get, you know, for spending money.  It is not just the cabinet.  I bought another camera, too, one I have bought two times before.  The first broke.  The second was stolen.  And so I spend money and the God of the Depression, instilled in me by my parents, delivers tribulation upon me.  These troubles are of my own doing.

Or so it would seem, though it is not true that the trouble just began.  It is simply my spendthrift ways that have me worried.  Terrified, really.  It will not be long before I do not have my present income, and I have squandered everything I should have saved.

I will start working on the roofing issue today instead of going about with my new film camera as I had planned.  I cannot bring myself to enjoy anything now, not until this is taken care of.

I got up this morning and read about the troubles in Virginia.  These are horrible things, very much of our times.  They are not good times.  They look worse this morning.

All there is to do is to try to fix it.  That's all there is to do.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Exotic



I'm buying furniture today from a shop that imports exotic things.  Does the word "exotic" have any meaning now?  I miss the exotic world of the "other" just like Trump's crew.  Remember harems?  Oh those crazy Arabs.  What happened to them?  Who didn't love the Ali Baba pants, the curved swords and the crazy headgear?  And those curly-toed shoes!

I've always used my magic carpet to take me on adventures.

But the old world was just an illusion, as are most things we enjoy.  Like Sam Shepard.  I lost that this week, lost the old Sam Shepard world.  A friend from the factory told me to watch the documentary "Shepard and Dark."  Thanks a lot, old gal.  Shepard turns out to be a real shit.  To have been, I mean.  That fellow, Dark, though, is not.  Dark, I mean.  It is Shepard who is dark and manipulative.  I won't spill just in case you are interested in watching the film.  You can rent it on Amazon and iTunes.  And if you aren't interested, you don't give a poop anyway.

Anyone who is not part of the contemporary world looks bad, I guess.  Shepard was stuck in time, part of the macho male American mythos where and when bad behavior was mitigated by good intentions and running away was always the cure.

Bad man, bad man.

All I have to do is watch one of the old films I liked growing up, something with Gene Hackman in it, for example (maybe "Night Moves"), and I realize how much society has changed.

"Go talk to your old lady."

"She's a groovy chick."

There was a recognition of manly violence and innate brutality.  To be a hero, all you had to do was reign it in.  Most of the time.

But Goddamit, a man had to be a man.  You wouldn't want your old man not to be a man, now, would ya?

Still, this sissified world we (Americans, mostly) live in is going to get us into trouble.  People speak and act as if violence isn't a real thing any more.  We've outlawed it and it is gone.  We all have rights.

But the world is full of brutal violence, and it is going to be interesting to see how we meet it.  Irony and sarcasm and high-toned verbiage might not be the best defense.

We'll see what the new John Wayne looks like.

Still, I'll pass on paying $100 to watch the Mayweather/McGregor fight, if for no other reason than I don't want to stay up that late.  I'm sure the fight won't start until midnight.  Here, I mean.  F' you west coast.

And besides, I'm going to be broke after purchasing my exotic furniture today.  Hand carved, primitive and rustic.  And did I mention. . . exotic.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Don't Trust the Internet




Years ago, back when I was a photographer and I corresponded with photographers and we would exchange compliments and works, I posted this photograph by Nathalie Roze from a series I liked by her.  She sent me two of the photographs from the series, and they always reminded me a bit of the works of Sarah Moon.  Somehow, the photograph was picked up on Pinterest as a photograph by Sarah Moon and linked back to the blog.  It made its way around the internet, always as a work by Sarah Moon.  I saw it listed on a big website today.  I should have posted one of my photographs and said it was a Sarah Moon photo.  I would love to have mine make the sadly mistaken rounds.  

I wrote a message to Nathalie about this today.  

Around the same time, I colorized one of Moon's iconic sepia pieces.  I loved it and posted it on my site with great trepidation.  I mean. . . you just shouldn't do a thing like that.  I've always worried that that picture, too, would make the internet rounds.  


Here is a work the site said was Sarah Moon's, a photograph of Anjelica Houston.  I've never seen it before.  It might be Houston.  It might be Moon.  But it could be Deborah Turbeville's photograph as well.  

This photograph could be the reason for people's confusion.  There are similarities.  


Here's another photograph said to be Moon's that I had never seen.  I like it, but I trust nothing on the internet anymore.  

Remember when I used to take photographs?  I was away from my computer yesterday, so I didn't post.  But I was up in Gritville thinking about a possible project.  It would take all my internal resources to do it, but maybe I can.  The pictures wouldn't be as beautiful as the ones here on this page, though.  I miss my studio again.  




Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bill Murray's Fault


Just a thought.  I don't know about other people, but for me, it is Bill Murray's fault (link).


Although he doesn't use social media, he is all over it. And the life depicted there is the life I (we?) want to live.  I want to hang out all day, travel, drink, see things, and be adored.  Yup.  His life in social media is the life I want to have.  Rather than going to the cafe and writing and taking pictures, though. . . I'm off to the factory.


What?



I had a rant for today, a funny one, I think, but I have forgotten it.  And now I'm blank.  I don't even remember which photos I've posted any more.  Yesterday's was a repeat of a few days before.  Have I posted this one?  Probably.  If so, why?  My creative production is limited to buying things on the internet.

They say that god doesn't give you more pain than you can bear, but I think the contemporary world is disproving that notion.  Suicide rates are up among all age groups.  That isn't even including the heroin "epidemic" that has swept the country.  Who thinks that is just about a good time?  The better we make things, the shittier they get.

I guess.  I don't imagine living in the middle-ages was very fun, much like living in the West Virginia coal country or being a native of the Ozarks.

I believe social media is the cause, though.  That and some particular people I know.

I'm going to have to start making memos.  I can't keep talking out of my butt.  Being dumb is one thing, but doing it in public. . . you might end up being president.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Man with Tools



There is nothing that makes me feel more of a man than working with tools.  At least that is what I said when I took the battery out of the Vespa.  Hell yea.  Put the little sucker in the car to take with me.  I would buy a new one.

Fuck, I hate mechanical work.  I called a couple auto parts store to see if they had the battery.  It was much more at each of them than online, but I needed it now.  After work, I stopped at one of the stores I had called.  They brought out the batteries they said replaced the one I had, but none of them looked like they would fit into the small space under the Vespa seat, so I passed.  I went to another place.  Same story.  What could I do?  I bought the smallest one I could find for more money than the last store charged.  Whatever.

After the gym, I took the new battery out to the Vespa thinking there was no way it would fit.  I slipped it out of the box and into the battery holder.  Not quite.  Almost.  I took it out and felt around. The cables were in the way.  I moved them and put it back in.  Better, but not quite.  I knew I could make it work.  Half an hour later, the battery was in, the cables crammed into tight spaces and kinda/sorta connected to the posts, and the cover was forced back on and held almost in place with a screw.

I hit the starter.  Everything was fine.  At least it started.  I began thinking of all the things that might go wrong with my forced installation.  It will always worry me, I know, and one day things will go wrong.  It will be my fault.

After dinner, Ili said that tonight was the full moon and there was an eclipse.  So that is what made me think yesterday of the solar eclipse.  I was confusing the two events.

"Let's go out and look at it," she said.  And there it was high in a clear patch of sky.  Pretty.

"Doesn't it look lopsided?" I asked.  And that is when we realized we were seeing a little piece of the eclipse.

"Let's go for a scooter ride."

I was in boxer shorts and a t-shirt and Ili was in pajamas.  She didn't want to go, she said, but I got on the scooter and started it up.  She called something to me.  When I pulled up to her, she sidled up and got on behind.

We cruised slowly through abandoned streets.  Maybe fifteen miles per hour in my underwear.  We cruised on the brick road that rounded the lake and gazed out at the reflection on the water.  The air was warm as it blew across our skin.

This morning, Ili said she loved our Vespa ride last night.  I love that I "fixed" the Vespa.  I love that thing.  I can't believe everybody doesn't have one.

Unbelievably, I slept well under that Sturgeon moon, and I slept late.  Too late.  Now it is time for me to hustle.  I'll tell you sometime about getting my ass chewed out at work by my boss yesterday.  Seems I am not harsh enough in my evaluation of the workers.  I am not a harsh man, I said.

And it is true, no matter what evidence my say otherwise.


Monday, August 7, 2017

Hype and Circumstance



I should save this photo for September when the solstice will occur.  But I couldn't find an "eclipse" bag photograph.  Maybe I should look harder.  I have all sorts of things.

I'm already tired of the eclipse.  No worries.  I'm tired of just about everything--super bowls, big fights, home run derbies. . . .  Everything is hyped.  I'm worn out by hype.

What happened to subtle?  What happened to understated?  Hype is an American thing, but it is spreading like lice.  The true reason I could stand watching the World Cup was the announcers.  There were no commercials, just the understated tones of those two British guys.  I'll bet you dollars to donuts that is gone this time 'round.

I guess there's still golf, but I hate golf.

My life took a hit yesterday.  The Vespa won't start.  I counted on it always running.  I looked up the owners manual online.  Holy shit, there is a lot to the Vespa.  I considered it to be an overpowered lawnmower, but nope.  It is like a car.  The good thing is that there are YouTube videos showing you how to fix everything on it.  The bad news is that there are YouTube videos showing you how to fix everything on it.  I'm not really very good at fixing things.  But I'll have to go out this morning and change the battery which should be easy enough until I try to do it.  I'll sweat and curse, perhaps.  Then I will go to Pep Boys and buy another one.  I am doing this because I know the Vespa store will charge me way too much.  But when I put the new battery in, I know that will not be the problem.  It will require a new starter.  There is a video on changing that, too.  Even the thick boy in the video was sweating and grunting trying to get it out.  I didn't watch the rest of it, after he got it out, I mean.  I don't want to take the starter apart to see if I can fix it.  I just want to ride the Vespa with the wind blowing my longish locks.

I have a problem with the Mont Blanc, too.  The ring on the barrel is silver rather than gold.  "Oh get out!" you say.  "How horrendous."  I don't care.  You can make fun.  It isn't supposed to have a silver ring.  I am trying to return it, but the seller is requesting that I send a picture.  I just want the pen and the Vespa and the other things so I can look cool in the mythical cafes I don't go to where I don't sit with my Moleskine and Leica and a cool glass of beer.  I look really cool in my head.  In reality, I don't go 'cause I'd just look like another ridiculous, fat old fop.  Don't worry.  I am not unaware.  It is like the people who want to wear fedoras.  It is cool except when you do it.  Then you just look like an idiot.  Maybe I'll open up "The Theater Cafe" where everyone can come in the costume of his or her choice knowingly laughing about the ridiculousness of it.

I have to ship a shirt I bought online back today, too.  It is too small.  People tell me they buy clothes online all the time, but it hasn't worked out for me.  Still, I don't learn.  I bought a pair of pajama bottoms online last night.  They won't be right either, I am certain.

No matter about any of this now.  I have to get ready for the factory.  I am going mad with it and need a vacation--a long one--badly.  Ili and I are talking about Paris in September, but it will be for only seven days, just long enough to be worn out when we return.  I need weeks or a season of travel or just rest in some resort.

Shakespeare was not aware of Global Warming when he said, "Summer's lease has all to short a date."  Rather, he hadn't been here.

That's it.  That's my daily rant.  I thought of another post I wanted to write last night, but I forgot about it this morning.  Maybe tomorrow.  A memory, not a complaint.  Succor your souls with that thought.  Until then. . . .

Sunday, August 6, 2017

MIA



My yardman didn't come yesterday.  I worry about him.  He has been cutting my lawns since about 1988.  My longest relationship, sort of.  He hasn't been looking good lately.  He is a great and friendly guy from Jamaica.  Back when I met him, he could pull a tree out of the ground with one hand.  I mean, the dude was just powerful.  But time takes a toll, and he got "a little touch of the sugar," I think.  I don't know much about him, really.  I know his last name but don't have any way of contacting him.  I don't know his phone number.  I don't know where he lives.  Whenever he doesn't show up. . . .

Doing yards is a hard life.  Not so much when you are young.  But here, the sun takes a toll.  My cousin's husband had a lawn business for years.  His hearing is gone now, for the most part, from the noise of the machines.  But when you are young, it is good to have your own company and to be your own boss.  The money is good when you are young, or at least good enough.  Thirty years in, though, you must be losing your mind.  Every day is the same damn thing, and surely you don't want to go.  But lawns won't take care of themselves, especially here, and so.

I quit doing my own lawn when a friend of mine reminded me of all the chemicals that are on the grass.  "Do you want to breath that," he asked?  So I became an exploiter of others and hired my yardman.  He is the only one I have ever had.

He is not so good any more.  I don't think he can see.  He regularly chops the heads off the irrigation system.  Sometimes he'll cut a line.  I put cement donuts around all the heads, but that hasn't seemed to make a difference.  People tell me I need to "talk to him," but I just let him do what he does.  I'm not really good at "talking" to people.

When he shows up, I make some comment about the weather or ask him how he's doing.  If I say, "It sure is getting hot," he'll say, "I know dat's right."  If I ask him how he's doing, he'll say, "Good, mon."

We don't have long conversations.  He never asks me anything.  Once a month, I'll leave a check on the front seat of his pickup and wave.

In many ways, it is an almost perfect relationship.

I hope he is O.K.  Sometimes now I wonder if he might not have had a stroke.  It seems his arm hangs a bit limp when he is doing things.  He looks a little shaky.  I don't know.  Like I say, time takes a toll.

If he doesn't show up next week, I'll have to get someone to do my yard.  If he doesn't show up the week after that, I will have to get someone permanently.  And that will be that.  I won't know what happened to Henry.  He will just have disappeared.  He will be gone, and I'll wonder.

Strange to think about, but it will happen to one of us one day one way or another.  I mean, we can't go on ad infinitum.  We will have had a good long run, though, old Henry and me.  Yup.  Good old Henry.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Petri Dish



Dirtiness is much more difficult to accept in this heat and humidity.  We thought to go to a fish taco place last night that we enjoyed in the winter, but we thought again just before going and didn't want to sit at sticky tables and drink beer from bottles.  We were snobs, we decided.  We bought steaks and wine and cooked at home.

I had to think about that for awhile.  How did it happen?

You know.  First slowly, then quickly.  Besides, eating at home was cheaper.  Probably.  Maybe.

Even the nice bar was warm.

"Nobody's air conditioning is keeping up with the heat this summer," exclaimed the barkeep.

But places like The Breakers are not having trouble keeping up with the heat.

And mine is doing much, much better now that I spent money to have the attic double insulated.  I've even dropped the temperature for night sleeping.

Don't try to imagine it.  If you don't live in it, you can't understand what it is like to be in the grip of this madness.  That is why I ordered Jackie O's at the bar yesterday afternoon.  Served in a coupe glass.

Weather like this will make you yearn for the hundred degree temperatures of the west, that dry, luxurious heat in which nothing grows.

Here we live in a petri dish inside a greenhouse.  We are covered in spores.  It is weather for snakes and alligators.  It is not conducive to mammalian life.

O.K. O.K.  I'll stop.  I'm just trying to rationalize my summer snobbishness.  One desires a clean, cool place.  I am envying people's pools right now.

But you can't have everything, can you?  As Steven Wright says, where would you put it?

My grand confession of the day--I bought a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck Rollerball pen on eBay for a very low price.  Brand new and in the box.  Oh, it is a delight.  Do you know how good that looks next to a Leica and a Moleskine notebook?

I'll have to show you sometime.

Friday, August 4, 2017

What He Should Have Said



Here in the "sunny south," here in my own hometown, school is about to begin.  What!?!?!?  True dat.  It begins in the middle of next week.  Why?  Beats the hell out of me.  I would say that parents just want somebody else to watch their kids, but I don't know that parents are all that happy about it.  These are the kind of decisions that are made in secret closets, I think, where sadistic people wear evil clothes and masturbate over other people's misery.

That's the only explanation I have.

This constant monitoring of kids, our most obvious recent cultural phenomenon, hasn't come without consequences.  Kids have rebelled in the only way they could.  The phone.  They have become secretive little things, but worse, they have become joiners.  They want to belong, and not in a healthy way.  Sure, everybody wants community (I'm an anomaly), but theirs is of a new sort.  Maybe humans own a genetic trait that makes us want to be little Nazis.  If so, genetic engineering can remove it--or, more likely, enhance it.

But I have lost my way.  My point was (going to be) that you can't blame kids for what we make of them.  Exhibit A (link).

No, I have lost my way inexorably.  Completely.  My mind has wandered.  As my fingers rested here upon the keyboard, I began to think of my contempt for people who like to (a) be part of a crowd and (b) be leader of a crowd.  In my job as a videographer, I had a partner for a long time.  Each of us were fairly charismatic (o.k. fuck you) and able to attract attention.  While I saw it as my job to disenchant people as quickly as possible, he nurtured the attention until he had an almost cult-like following.  He enjoyed being the center of their sycophantic attentiveness.  He disgusted me, in truth, as would one who doesn't wipe properly.  I mean. . . he seemed shitty.

My now dead ex-friend, Brando, also needed a crowd to exploit in the manner of Hemingway, as if, in a twist of the old saying, the unobserved life was never lived.  Being carried atop the shoulders of others makes you seem bigger, I guess.

But maybe I'm not being fair and am only lifting myself up on my own shoulders to make myself look bigger.  But wait--those two things need not be mutually exclusive.  Perhaps there are different ways of elevating yourself.  Yes, that must be the truth.

(Dr. Freud sits silently making notes.  He is writing a poetic narrative of the mind.  His research excites him).

"I'm afraid our time is up.  I think we've uncovered some really powerful stuff here, fertile ground to work with next week.  Wait. . . I'm going to be out of town. . . check with the receptionist.  In the meantime. . . ."

Walking out onto the sidewalk, he felt an involuntary shiver.  Wait, he thought.  None of that was right.  He began editing the last hour in his mind.  That wasn't it.  What he should have said. . . .

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Solar Craze



Bigger than Woodstock.  That is what the paper's say about the events surrounding the total eclipse.  A person in the swathe of 100% eclipse will feel the difference, or so they report.  I envision something from a T.C. Boyle story with pigs fucking chickens, insatiable men and women naked and crazed, etc.

Set the table as for a feast.  Or, as they say,

Let be be finale of seem.
The only emporer is the emperor of ice cream
(Wallace Stevens)

I won't be there.  I'll be at the factory at a meeting of the members of the board.  There will be no feasting, nothing crazed.  I'll be missing that.

And such is the life I have chosen.  So it seems.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

As Always



The world is getting hotter (link).  Americans are getting dumber (link).  Kids can't read or write (link).

I could go on, but what's the point.  Everyone on one side knows it.  The other side denies it or, perhaps, revels in it.

All I can do is try to live in it.

This from Patti Smith's eulogy of Shepard:

Sam liked being on the move. He’d throw a fishing rod or an old acoustic guitar in the back seat of his truck, maybe take a dog, but for sure a notebook, and a pen, and a pile of books. He liked packing up and leaving just like that, going west. He liked getting a role that would take him somewhere he really didn’t want to be, but where he would wind up taking in its strangeness; lonely fodder for future work (link).

Packing up and leaving just like that, going west.  It used to work.  It still does to some degree.  There aren't many places like it, the American West.  It is diminished, though, and diminishing.  Still, it is the only place I know where you still feel like you can get away from things and still see the sky.  

There and in the Andes, I guess, but not in the same way.  There is nothing like the American West.  It is the American Dream.  But it, too, is being overrun by crack and meth heads.  

The old ways are dying out as they always do.  

And only the old complain.  

As they always do.  

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Things That Feel Like Sam Shepard




For years, I've used Sam Shepard as a tone, a mood, an atmosphere.  Things looked or felt like a Sam Shepard play, I'd say, though I never meant one in particular.  I'd see a photograph of something in the west, an old gas station and a long stretch of highway, and THAT would be Sam Shepard.

He's gone.

He had “a quality that is so rare now — you don’t see it in the streets much, let alone in the movies — a kind of bygone quality of the Forties, when guys could wear leather jackets and be laconic and still say a lot without verbally saying anything,” Philip Kaufman, director of “The Right Stuff,” told Rolling Stone.

Part of a eulogy that focused on “. . . the unease about masculinity in American culture.”

I sent this from a David Brooks article to friends after one of them told me to read it.  

The Greeks admired what you might call spiritedness. The spirited man defies death in battle, performs deeds of honor and is respected by those whose esteem is worth having.

The magnanimous man has a certain style. He is a bit aloof, marked more by gravitas than familiarity. He shows perfect self-control because he has mastered his passions. He does not show his vulnerability. His relationships are not reciprocal. He is eager to grant favors but is ashamed of receiving them. His personal life can wither because he has devoted himself to disinterested public service.

I caught lots of grief for quoting Brooks, but I liked the description (even though C.C. tells me he is butchering "Poetics and Ethics").  

I liked the idea of Sam Shepard.  The world feels different now.  There is little of the living left in my personal iconography.  Peter Beard.  Can't think of another.  

We are products of our time.  You never understand that until it is too late.  Maybe that isn't true.  Hemingway wrote "In Our Time" when he was a young man.  Maybe he just got lucky. 

Time Marches On.

Farewell Sam Shepard.  You were a product of your time.