Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When You Can Take the Pebble from My Hand



I'm pretty sure that the key to having a long life is not caring much.  I mean by that not putting a lot of pressure on yourself to achieve or to be happy.  It's just not getting up in the morning and hating yourself for not doing what you might think needs to be done.

Low stress.  Not giving a shit.  Whatever.

So I wake up in the morning thinking of all the things that need to be done and all the things that I haven't done and I begin to stress and hate and worry.  It doesn't help, of course.  I don't get any more done than I would have.  I just hate myself more.

And then that stress turns into anger and frustration and I begin to unconsciously put the blame elsewhere.

"I didn't do this because. . . they. . . ."

You want a list of all the things I didn't do?  I mean just the important ones?

I think about halfwits like Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney and suffer.  I don't mean them in particular.  David Bowie, maybe.  But you have your own list.  You know what I mean.

I feel like Terry Malloy (don't worry--I had to look it up, too).

So. . . it's not the Paleo diet or the moderate exercise or not drinking or smoking.  Those things are probably good, but look at where the Blue Zones are.  Rural.  Not high stress.  Low expectations.

Etc.

So, if you are not making good pictures, it's time to buy a better camera, right?  Nope.  It's time to quit trying to make better pictures.  And if you are not writing what you want. . . .

That's today's Sesame Street lesson.

Oh, God, I could have been. . . ha!

"When you can take the pebble from my hand. . . ."

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Old Traveling Museum, etc.



The Barnum and Bailey Circus is done.  Finished.  Last night was the last performance.  Sad, but not unexpected.  The guy in the photograph used to be a sideshow.  Now you can see him and his ilk walking around downtown every night.  There are wondrous things on the internet.  Or there used to be.  Even it has been tamed.  But the circus had become a sterilized light show.  No tents.  Nothing.  They made them get rid of the elephants.  What was left?  The circus had lost its roots.

According to the N Y Times, the "circus began in 1871 as P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome."  That's the thing.  Who doesn't want to go to see a sideshow?  If there were tents and caravans and gypsies and freaks, they'd still be in business.  I've looked all over for such a thing.  There are only a few left in the world, and even they are getting pressure to sanitize.  


Something like this would just scare the shit out of the kids.  Give them nightmares for a year.  It did me, anyway.  Clowns will fuck you up if they are any good at all.  Somehow all the texture has been taken out of life.  

I want to make pictures like that again.  I ache to be allowed.  You may have forgotten (or never have known) that I once made old photographs, textures and all.  




Sunday, May 21, 2017

Of Money and Desire



I sit here this morning looking at my Hasselblad 500 C/M camera with its Planar 2.8 Carl Zeiss lens, but what I want is the new Fujifilm GFX 50S medium format digital camera.  The same setup, camera and lens, would cost about $8,000.  I also have a Sonnar 150mm lens sitting on the table.  To get that lens for the GFX would be another $2,200.  So, for somewhere just over $10,000, I could have the same setup, only digital.  I want it bad.

I want a Leica Monochrom, too, so much so that I bid on one the other day.  It was the newest one.  They are selling for $7,000 new, over $5,000 used.  I bid $3,150.  I was the top bidder for two days and I started to get nervous.  I don't have the money.  The camera eventually sold for $4,400.  That is a big steal.  I wish I had bought it.  Again, however, I couldn't pay for it.

So I sit here with all kinds of camera envy.

The easiest and most lovely camera to use that I have is the Fuji 100F.  People stop me in the streets wanting to look at it.  But the Leica M262 that I own (and got for a song) makes a better image.  I have been trying to shoot more with it.  However, I want the Leica M10.  And while I have a perfectly wonderful Summicron 50mm lens on it, I don't like the way it looks.  I can get one that I do like for just over $1,000.  The quality would be just slightly better, I think, but the lens is just prettier. I am like that.  I am exactly like that.

Confession is good for the soul.  But I'll be careful.  I don't want to confess everything.  Too much confession will land you someplace you didn't mean to go.

I had all sorts of plans for yesterday.  I was going to cull my recent photo collection, organize the files, make some small prints, etc.

Instead, I went to the gym, came home and had lunch with a glass of wine, then took a long, long nap from which I never completely woke.  I took a friend a Cohiba cigar from Cuba and ran into another friend on the way back.  Then I went to a fish restaurant and drank two margaritas with dinner.  And then I came home and crashed.

We, I should say.

Maybe today.

Summer came rushing hard yesterday with high temperatures and humidity.  There is only one way to beat this kind of heat--water.  Not to drink, but to be in.  I may buy a kiddie pool to sit in.  I have done that before.  It works like anything.  Adiabatic cooling, it is called.  Evaporation takes the heat inside your body and disperses it.  You can seriously get hypothermic on a very hot day.

Of what would I take pictures, though?  I mean, I know what I want to do.  I also know of the incredible constraints.

If I could make just one picture like the ones I want to make today. . . .  If I could only be allowed to make one, you would all be in love with me again, or hate me, but your reaction would be strong.  How I burn to make one.

As Clint Eastwood playing John Huston says in "White Hunter, Black Heart,"

"Sometimes you just have to do the wrong thing."  

And I wonder why I'm not always understood.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Creative Time



Yesterday morning, just as I got out of bed, there was a loud explosion.  And the electricity went out. A squirrel had crawled into the transformer.  Kaboom!  My neighbor pointed to him at the bottom of the light pole--fried.  Fucking squirrels.

So I was without power for about three hours.  No post.

Ili and I went for a run on the exercise course and showered and got on the Vespa to get an early lunch.  The sky was cloudy and the air was humid, but we haven't had rain here in a very long time.  We are in a severe drought.

"Do you think its going to rain?"

"No.  C'mon."

Halfway there, the downpour started.  It was the first time I rode the Vespa in the rain.  Some facts.  You get soaked.  You can't see for the water on your lenses.  And its cold, even in the summer.

We turned around and went home.  We laughed and got into the shower.  It was a memorable experience, I said, a touchstone moment.

The rain stopped just as we got home.  It hasn't rained a drop since.

We got into the car and went to the little hipster bar that has just started serving lunch with all locally grown, organic produce.  Sounded good.

It sucked.  Fucking hipsters.

The rest of the day was spent running Ili errands.  We got a print framed and picked up a chest of drawers she had just bought at an out of the way--really--used furniture store.  They can't be called antiques, I think, but the woman refinishes them.  Ili's piece was painted in bright colors.  On the way in, I saw three wrought iron chaise lounges.  I have always wanted them.  I looked at the price.  $30/each.  I bought two.  I will have to drive up and get them next week.  I'll send you a picture when I do.

We took the chest of drawers to Ili's place.  I realized I hadn't been there for months.  While she did some things around the house, I lay on the couch and read.  I had not thoughts, no worries.  Just to sit and read.  Man.

The other night, I was reading through an old journal that I had been carrying.  It was from 2011, back when I had no girl, back when I went everywhere with a camera and a notebook, back when there were no distractions, back when I could write and take photographs.  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading my writing.  I used to be witty and clever.  There were sketches of people I saw, stories I would make up about them, little vignettes of things that would happen.  I wrote a lot.

"You should do that," Ili said when I told her about it.

"You have to be alone to do that.  You have to just sit and look and listen and think.  You can't do it when you are distracted by company.  It is impossible."

There is a greatness in being alone.  And I am really good at it.  I thrive in alone time.  Really, being deprived of it gives birth to madness.  But I know some cannot be alone.  There attention needs constant diversion.  There must be chatter.

I am not that clever.  I need time to observe and think.

Today Ili must work she says, so I will have the first chance this year to cull my photos.  I have much need.

In a couple weeks, I am going back to Santa Fe for a photo workshop.  It is about making digital negatives for a variety of purposes.  One is for making palladium prints, which is what I learned to do there two years ago.  I've decided that I will set up my garage for this kind of work when I get back.  It will cost me much money to get everything I need, but I must.  I can't continue to make nothing week after week, month after month.

I have yearnings.

Santa Fe will be fun, too.  I am staying some extra days to explore.  Ili is coming out, too, her first time in New Mexico.

O.K.  I have to get started.  There is much to do in the hours I have while Ili works.  I hope to do something.

Thursday, May 18, 2017




Does anybody care if my a.c. is fixed or not?  It is more interesting if not, right?  The more I have to suffer, the better the entertainment.  Let this violinist play the tune, "Cry Me a River." The musician Gus Van Zandt once said that there were two types of songs, "Zippety Do-Dah," and the blues.  Which do people like more?  He said it was the blues.  I don't know if I agree with that.  There are plenty of happy songs I will listen to.  But. . . and here's the sad truth. . . we learn nothing from happy.  I don't know if we learn anything from the blues, either, but we can, if they are any good at all, learn how to cope with adversity.  Other people's adversity is good.  Aristotle told us that.  It is a purgative.  We feel better after a tragedy.  What was the ratio--three tragedies to one comedy?  Maybe it was two, but that seems too few.  C.C. will correct me if I'm wrong.  But the point is the same whether or not the numbers are correct.  Take a poll.  Ask people if there is more good or bad in the universe, or if the amounts are equal.  What would you predict the answers to be?  A sensible person might assume that we would say that the amounts are equal, that the universe must balance out.  But. . . nope.  I've done this a lot with large groups, and overwhelmingly they answer that the universe is more full of evil.

Whatever that means.

But that is the way humans feel.  Life is difficult and full of adversity.

Still, I like a happy song.

Oh. . . about the air conditioning.  It is cool and dry in my house, but I don't know for how long.  There is a leak in the coil that the technician couldn't find.  It may be so small that I can live with it.  Or not.  He filled the unit with freon (which they are not going to make any more) for a hefty fee.  Now I must wait and see.  So. . . better than happy or sad, we are in held in suspense.

That is good for you.

For me. . . not so much.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Economically Despondent



The air conditioner broke again in a single day.  Rather, it was not fixed properly.  I just wrote to you about my despondency and nightmares, but it was whining of the most unattractive kind, and so has been deleted.  But I am badly broke and haven't a way to remedy that, and therein lies the rub.

It was all fine for awhile, but I was making many mistakes.  Some of them were lovely, but some of them are resulting in devastation.  Those are the ones that preoccupy me now.

I just keep wondering how other people do it.  It is as much a mystery to me now as it always has been.  All I can think is that I want too much, but can that really be it?

I will investigate and get back to you.  Until then. . . the factory.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Secret Arts



Secrets are wonderful things.  I love other people's secrets.  We all do.  I am good at getting and keeping secrets.  If you have one, you can tell me.  You need to tell a secret.  You know how badly you want to.  If you have too many, you begin to forget them.  There is perhaps nothing as sad as a forgotten secret.  Without the telling, nothing exists.  In my next career, I will be the person to whom you tell your secrets.  I will write them down and wrap them up in pretty packages.  Best of all, I can tell your secret without anyone knowing.  They won't be able to trace them back to you.  A second party secret can be safely told.  You will enjoy seeing and hearing people's reactions to them anonymously.  Yes, a secret told is a delicacy.

A secret is a million times better than a dream or a nightmare.

I will be a chronicler and a keeper.  I will catalog them so we know what are the most and what are the least common types.  This, I think, is a stroke of genius.  I can hardly wait.  I tremble now thinking of the knowledge I will bring to the world.  And people like to tell me things.  They really do.  I am one of the best listeners you have ever met because I am truly interested in what you have to tell.

I'll need your photograph, though.  Photographs are secrets, too, secrets revealed.

Let me turn your secrets into art.   Truly. . . it is our only hope.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cool



My a.c. quit cooling yesterday.  Not completely, just mostly.  We were able to have mother's day lunch, but the temperature in the house kept going up.  Ili wondered if the unit had frozen up.  I went outside to look, but she said that the part that freezes is the one in the attic.  I don't know shit about anything, including air conditioners, but I resisted her suggestion.  I changed the filter at the intake vent, and it looked dirty but not that dirty.  Ili said it was that dirty.  I said I had changed it a month ago, but she said no, it had been two months.  Whatever.  Even with the new filter, the temperature kept going up.  I would look at the drain pipe outside from time to time to make certain water was still dripping which meant that the a.c. unit was doing something.  I could tell, though, that the amount of moisture being taken from the air inside the house was lessening.  By seven-thirty, as we were cooking dinner on the grill burner outside in an effort not to heat up the house, I decided to turn the a.c. off so that any ice that might have formed on the unit (we never found any) could melt.  I had gone online and found that there are only two things that can make a unit freeze, a dirty filter and a freon leak.

We were fortunate last night, though, as the heat of the day dispersed rapidly.  We ate outside and had a lovely time of it until the mosquitoes started eating me up.  We took a scooter ride in the dwindling light.  The Boulevard was unusually busy.

"Mother's Day," said Ili.  The restaurants were jammed.

We came home and watched t.v.  It had been an hour and a half, and so we decided to turn the a.c. on.  The house began to cool.

I, being proactive, had already called for repairs.  Now here comes the sad part of the story.  When I moved in so many, many years ago, the old man who sold the house left the names of his repairmen.  When I had the a.c. unit serviced back then, two fellows showed up.  Mack and Gary.  They were quite a pair.  They showed up in a van with the name of the company on the side.  It was incorporated into a Dixie flag.  The neighbors must have thought I had friends in the KKK.  But you have never met two nicer guys.  They worked slowly.  They hummed and whistled and stopped to talk.  They were never in a hurry.  They had already been working on the a.c. for years before I bought the house.  They said they knew it well and they told me about the people who had lived in the separate garage apartment.  They were honest and charged about half of what other people would charge.

I recommended them to others.  They did work for my mother and she recommended them to her friends.  They were the sort who would repair what others wanted to replace.  They were honest and saved people money.  They always talked about the owner of the company, but that didn't make sense.  Why would an owner let these two go to calls together and charge so little.  Gary was a big fellow, as tall and thick as Mack was skinny.  They were disheveled and the stories they told me about their lives were of the working class.  They lived in mobile homes.  Gary's wife had left him.  Mac never talked about a wife.  I tried to imagine their non-working lives.  They looked like the sort who like fishing and hunting.

One day, Mack got sick.  He had skin cancer of the worst kind.  He kept working, but he was slow.  And then he died, and there was only Gary.  He would show up in his truck alone and do the work, but he seemed incomplete somehow.

One day, I got a letter that said the company had been sold.  The letter's author said he had known the owners for many, many years.  Mac and Gary.  I knew it.  I knew they owned the company.  Why they didn't let on about that is a mystery, but I assume they had their reasons.

The company I will hire now will be a good one, but they will be expensive and they won't be as ready to repair as to replace, I think.  Old Mack and Gary.  They worked on my air conditioners for over twenty years, and they worked for the other owner longer than that.  I had dreams about them last night, I think.

This morning, the house is cool and dry, and the sunlight is pretty falling through the shutters.

After I bought the Fuji 100X, I joined a Fuji group that was just about that camera.  There was lots of advice and information about accessories, and people posted pictures they had taken with that camera.  I posted, too.  I got a lot of likes.  Social media--right?  And I gave likes back.  When I posted these two pictures, however, some fellow from Berkeley thought it was awful that I would take a picture of someone who obviously didn't want his picture taken.  I resigned from the group right away.  I wanted to explain some things to that fellow, but I knew that would be futile.  He was just a helpful chap.  He was just trying to help me understand the system of morals under which I should labor.

Of course, I should know better.

In truth, the poet for hire didn't mind having his picture taken.  But really. . . if you set up a table in the middle of a road in New Orleans. . . .


Sunday, May 14, 2017

M.D. 2017



Mother's Day.  I was going to use another photo today before I remembered.  Lucky I had this one.  On this day we idealize motherhood.  Ili and I went to see her mother yesterday.  We will see mine today.  The weekend will have been consumed.

I assume Facebook will be full of mother's day material, those who love their moms, those who miss them.

Moms--the meme.

I wonder how President Macron celebrates the day?  Oooo. . . too much?

It makes me wonder, too, about how we celebrate that relationship in light of the Tennessee teacher who took his 15 year old student on a cross-country adventure.  Both were 15 when they had the affair with their teachers.

Life is full of weirdness.

I don't think I got my mother the present that she thinks I've gotten her.  I think she thinks I am getting her a laptop computer.  She is too excited to get it.  Once again, I will be the disappointing son.  I am an only child, so she is stuck.

I like Lilly Pulitzer dresses to a surprising degree.  I don't think the dress in this picture is one, though.  I love the striped tights, however. I wish I'd had a pair of those for the old photo series.

Ah, well, I've given up on such things now.

The cable man comes at ten and my mother comes at noon, so I must get a move on.

Get a move on.  Jesus.  What crap rattles around in this brain.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Fulfilling Life



I went to the beautician yesterday.  She is getting ready for some sort of bikini/body building competition.  She's been doing this for the last few years.  While she was beautifying me, she kept looking over at her phone.  Her instagram was blowing up, she said.  She had posted a picture.  She showed it to me.  It was a sexy selfie in the mirror showing off her competition-ready body.  She gets her kicks from social media now.  Her life used to be different.  I know.  She has been doing my hair for over fifteen years.  She was young, a pretty, gypsy-looking Russian Jew.  She was more reserved then, but she got less shy.  She began running around and then she was talking about her life.  In some ways, it seemed enviable.  Then she met a guy, got married, and settled into that life--work, dinner, the couch and t.v.  She got pregnant and had a child, a boy.  Then the husband left her for a fat girl.  That is what she said.  Then things began to change.  She had her own beauty shop, but she sold it.  She started to dance--ballroom, flamenco.  That was her passion.  Her parents helped with the boy, of course, and she began working in another salon in which her parents were part owners.  She did hair only a few days a week, and she danced.  Her sister got her into body building and set her up in smaller competitions.  Her body which had become middle-aged with marriage and childbearing began to transform.  And so did her personality.  She was out again, going to clubs and events.  She began dating.  Every time I went to get my hair done, she had a new boyfriend.  They were always younger.  It got to be a schtick, it seemed to me.  But it was hard, too, because she had a son.  She could not stay out late for many reasons.  But she could stay up all night with social media and online chats.  This got to be a thing she could count on.  She would meet someone online, then in person, but they were always better online.  She had created an online persona and people were intrigued, and this began to sustain her.  Likes.  Online was clean and simple.  Life was messy.  Yesterday, she told me she got a roommate.  It is good, she says, to have someone in the house.  The roommate is also a Russian, a woman she has known for awhile, and she helps with expenses and helps look after her son.  And there is Instagram.

If I showed you a picture of her, you would understand.  She is pretty and exotic.

More and more, this is "the life."  People--flesh and blood and psych--are problematic.  And it is true.  I know that I am very monastic in my life, and I don't even do social media.  I don't do it for many, many good reasons.  It would not be good for me.  But for people who grew up with the Kardashians, et.al., they know how to play in that arena.  It is theirs.  They are the founders, by and large.  I wonder, though, what will happen when they hit an age when their selfies are no longer desired, when the "likes" quit rolling in.  Or will they be like a lot of people I don't understand, an age-dependent group who need one another to remember "when they were young" like that Margaritaville crowd who hold onto flowered shirts and ankle tattoos and mustaches and shorty boat shorts and boat shoes and hippie dresses that show too much when they dance with a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  That is just the oldest generation-bound generation that I eschew, but it is certainly not the only one.  Social media is full of them.  At the factory, people pull up their Facebook and Instagram pages all the time to show the life they lead, their children and their good times.

"Aww."

You think I'm being judgmental for someone who writes a blog?  You're right.  I lost my way somewhere along the line.  I don't make the pictures I want to make any more and I don't tell the stories I want to write.  I am not living any better or worse than those social media mavens.  Maybe worse, I don't know.  

Yesterday, the beautician chastised me for giving up making pictures and writing stories.  She said it made her very sad.  "What can you do?" I asked.  "I guess," she said, "if what you are getting in return is better than what you are giving up. . . ."

Who knows?  That is all life is, sometimes, a matter of what you will have to give up to get on with things.  I asked my ex-girlfriend whose son is almost grown if she would do that over again.  There was a long, long pause.  I don't think she would.  In the end, though, on the brink of the grave, I think, if we were truthful, we would all have to answer the same way.  There is no ideal life.

But at least there is social media.  It fills some holes, I guess.  Ask the President.

Friday, May 12, 2017

As Cool As Somebody Else's Cucumber



The factory has gone to a four day week for the summer.  I must learn how not to squander my time off.  But I will.  I am a squanderer.  Squandering will be my legacy.  If there were a Hall of Fame. . . etc.

I have written and deleted realizing that it was just talking, nothing more, the sound of my own voice complaining a succor to me, perhaps, but noise, really.  Just that.  A summer's ennui is coming, I know.  I will try to stave it off with meals and books and travel, but the black ass will surely hit me sooner or later.  There will be a dissatisfaction with what I consider my existence, and there will be financial danger that will send me reeling.  The big cost in the south is summer when all the flaws are revealed.  Summer is more than symbolic here.  The danger and violence are existential.  I am attempting to prepare now, an effort to save myself the worst of it.

The repairman was here.  I am insulating the attic and cutting some sixty vents in the eves to compliment the ridge vent on the roof.  I will have the house wiring updated before having insulation blown into the walls, and I will have some windows replaced as well.  There are a few more giant limbs to be cut, and there is some gardening to take care of.  I will take as many trips as possible.

I will try to keep my composure.  I'll be one cool cucumber.

And I'll be dead-ass broke.  Or worse.

But. . . hope against hope. . . maybe I'll find something to photograph.  Something that pleases my limited sensibility.

Ahem.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Flower Moon



Last night was the full moon.  The Flower Moon, they call it.  Ili and I went to the lake to watch it.  Big and orange, it was.  But the night went swell and I slept normally.  Perhaps that is why it is called the Flower Moon.  Sweet and gentle.

Maybe I should have cropped this picture so that the man was better centered, but I like the random David Lynch quality that I imagine it to have.

I probably should have done the same with my life--centered it more.  Rather than living the dream, I read the wrong things.  I was sold a bag of shit.  I've been living someone else's nightmares and calling it literary.  C.C. says he is changing his mind about book burning.

My recommendation, kids, is to stick with the classical writers like Lee Iaccocca and Donald Trump.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Real World



People won't take to the streets today.  College classes won't be disrupted.  People will take to Facebook to make comments or post videos from last night's CNN broadcasts.  They will tweet.  But there will be no armies of the night.

Even the young are old, tired, and useless.

Life goes on, though, even as it did in the Soviet Union and as it does under dictators all across the world.  You are either boss or little people.

We grew up believing one thing.  We are learning another.

Last night, all night, I had nightmares about alligators.  They were vivid.  I was not in them.  I just saw animals in water and alligators slowly approaching them, the little bite, the surprised look, the dragging under water.  Over and over again.  The last one I remember was a cougar entering the water, the alligator taking its time imperceptibly approaching.  Top predators.

I wonder what it means.

I woke at four and whispered something.  Ili responded.  Don't you sleep, I asked?  Maybe she worries about me all night long.  We cuddled.  And then I slept far too long.

In Cuba, people are very nice.  I think under dictators and severe oppression, people are sweeter.  Maybe Americans will become better people when their rights are compromised and many freedoms are gone.  Perhaps we have become arrogant with rights, pompous with freedoms.  When people talk about their rights, I often asked where these are granted and from whom.  Nature?  God?  The government?

Inalienable.

Only criminals are truly free for they deny all authority.  Jean Genet probably said that.  Trump will prove him to be a genius.

Postmodernists must be gleeful.  We are living in post-historical times.  It is the triumph of theory.

I will go back and reread "The Outsider" by Colin Wilson.  It will be quick.  My copy is well outlined and annotated with marginalia.  One must become The Underground Man.

Or so it seems this morning.  But I will go to work and hear about people's troubles, about the boy who won't give an engagement ring and about the kids and all their wonders, or maybe I will hear about some employee downloading porn on the company computer.  People will speak of workouts and diets and mystical healing crystals.  Some will wonder about the upcoming season of some t.v. series on HBO.  There will be failing cars and leaking roofs and air conditioners that need replacing.  This is the stuff of life.  All the rest is abstraction.  

Now it is time to enter the very real world.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Long Way Home



I become more eremitic--or worse.  Of course, that makes me a good traveller.  But it does little for my day to day life.  I like the sound of foreign voices speaking languages that I cannot follow.  I like being places where there is no social media to teach people more about being stupid in the same way.

I enjoy people in the abstract.  I am not a misanthrope, exactly.  I don't wish all that many people really bad things.

But the list may be growing.

I want two contrary things: more time in the weird zone and more time "tending my garden."

I almost said that I was "onanistic," but I double-checked the word.  I will use it in a later post, of course.

I have more trips coming up.  Ili and I pledged to travel somewhere every month, even if it is only a longish weekend.  But I want some doozies.  The world is becoming too homogenized not to see what's left of the "otherness" that still exists.  I am, without doubt, a form of Orientalist.  I want to see what is "strange" and "exotic."  And I want to come home to "normalcy" for awhile, to the place where I have catalogued all the experiences and have placed them in the "museum."  There I want peace and quiet and music and books and walls full of art and a friend or two.

And I want good restaurants.  Those, I am afraid, are most scarce where I live.  A good restaurant is about food, of course, but there is so much more to it than that.  I make good food.  A good restaurant is an experience.

I have said everything here except what I want to say.  I continue to edit and censor myself knowing that I will alienate what is left of the small group I know.  I want to tell you about what shit I don't care about any more that becomes more and more of people's conversations.  Everyone, it seems, wants to rush to the middle no matter how conservative or liberal they are.  They want to pile up on the common denominators.  They want to tell you about their experiencing of the most average of things and then tell you how special it is/was.  I feel I'm living in a weird through-the-looking-glass version of the 1950s again.

"Make America Average Once More."

Only the poor can tell you what the heat and the cold and the snow and the rain are about.  You must be stripped bare to come back again.  Sometimes you just have to take the long way home.

I took the first picture.  The rest are Ili's.




Monday, May 8, 2017

Return to the Normal



The thing is. . . I like my rituals and routines.  I've refined them over time and they suit me.  They give my life a structure that I enjoy.  They are, by and large, quiet and beautiful.

I like travel to other places, too.  It allows me to see my life from the outside a bit, to analyze it, adjust it, and redefine it where needed.

It was nice to get away.  It is nice to be back.

That may change in a few minutes, though, when I return to the factory.  Travel also provides perspective on that.

By and large, I know my life is grander than it could be, and I am what I have made myself to be.

Both for the good and the ill.

And that is the way it is with most people.  There is nothing special about my observations here.  It is common talk.  There are clever and stupid people everywhere, and it is easier than ever to exhibit that publicly.  I am not sure if I care to participate any longer.  I grow sick of the yammering--mostly other's--but my own as well.  I am tired of the common parlance.  I don't wish to swell the vocal crowd.

We'll see how I feel tomorrow.  My trip home was long and tiring (I want to sway "arduous," but that may be overstating the case), and I am still a little worn from it.

I have been without the internet, and it is awful to come home and read the news again with the exception that a man who fell in love with his teacher when he was fifteen and later married her when she decided to leave her husband is now President of France.  There was some hope in that.

Now, however, it is time for a return to the "normal."

But for a few moments. . . .

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Another Break



I'll be gone for another week--business trip--so there will be no posting here.  I thought I'd leave you with a happy, sunny image that has been very popular on the Fuji site.  It is the sort of image people like, I guess.  I like it, too, but I prefer some of the images I posted there more.  I shouldn't be surprised about that.  I guess I'm only disappointed.

And that is why I must shun social media.

I watched the Met Gala last night on E! T.V.  Ili wanted to, and I was willing to oblige.  I tried to stay silent, though, as I knew she would not appreciate my commentary.  But I WILL complain here.  Please watch it in rerun if you get a chance.  Please.  There you will find the voices of a generation.  I didn't even know who most of the people were, and I revealed my antiquity by continually asking.  Here is an example.

Takeoff, Quavo and Offset of Migos
But this is only the small tip of the iceberg.  I tried all night not to seem. . . old?. . . but I felt it.  I felt like my grandfather watching some rock and roll thing when I was a kid.  I know in my heart of heart that this is only equivalent, but I can't get my mind around it.  But I'm trying hard.

So I remained mostly quiet and didn't comment on much.  Not the Jenners nor the Kardashians (all of whom I know in name though I couldn't pick them out of a crowd in a picture), nor any of the others. The commentary crew spoke in that language that I can't manage to master with its "odd" inflections and overuse of  big adjectives.  But it was difficult.  Man. . . I mean I was just trying to preserve the relationship.

I miss Paris Hilton so.

Ultimate Girls are only rarely national or international celebrities. For the most part they are the pretty products of the Eastern boarding schools—Foxcroft, Miss Porter’s, Westover, Madeira, Dobbs Ferry, Ethel Walker, Chatham Hall ("The Right People").
 Watching the show exhausted me in some way.  I could not stay up after that even though it was early in the evening.  It is not that I think the world has gone to hell, it has just become so, though not for Takeoff, Quavo, and Offset.  For them, it is an earthly paradise.  I get it.  I understand.

I just don't want to have to remain silent for my remaining years.

O.K.  Go back and take a look at that sunny, colorful picture.  It will wash the bad taste of post reading out of your mouth.  I'll be back in a week.  Or so I presume.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Right People



I finally got around to processing pictures from the last trip--right before the next trip.  Trip pictures.  What have I become?

I'm reading a silly book from 1966 called "The Right People," by Stephen Birmingham about the social establishment in America.  It is full of names to which I have never paid attention, the sort of names Fitzgerald lampoons in "Gatsby."  It is about snobbery and the accoutrements of such.  There are social registries and geographical guidebooks to where the right people live.  The Establishment.

It is about everything my generation was not.

Or so I thought.

I realize now, of course, that though conspicuous consumption has replaced much of what used to identify "society," there remains such a thing.  I read it and am disgusted.

With myself.  That is the shocker.

It shouldn't be, though.  Not so much.  There is an F. Scott in me somewhere yearning.  But there is a Hemingway, too.

"The rich are different from you and me."

I've always dated "up," but once I dated a real society girl, the kind from the social registry.  Reading the book, I realize what a weird experiment I must have been.

I wish I had been a rich hippy rather than a poor one, but those days seemed the great equalizer to me.

You can usually tell a Hotchkiss, Choate, Deerfield, Groton or St. Mark’s man about a mile away because, for the past few years, he has been wearing a Madras plaid jacket and impressed chino pants that ride high around his ankles. He may be sockless, but if he wears socks they will be of the white athletic variety. The shoes are loafers. The top button of his button­down shirt is usually unbuttoned (not always a sign of sloppiness so much as a sign of an outgrown shirt). His necktie may be slung over one shoulder and hanging down his back, as though a high wind blew it there or he himself put it there. Within the framework of this uniform, variations are possible, and they exist from school to school. At Hotchkiss, for example, the preference is for battered loafers, often pieced together with adhesive tape. St. Paul’s shows a fondness for loafers with a hard, jewel­like polish. A curious rule operates. One concentrates either on the bottom part of one’s appearance or on the top. As there are about loafers, there are two schools of thought about haircuts; they are either long and uncombed or short and slicked. Shoulder­length locks, however, hip­hugging bell­bottoms and flowered Tom Jones shirts are seldom if ever seen. Carnaby Street, which has made its presence felt in public high schools across the country, has yet to have much impact on the great private boarding schools of New England where, in ways both subtle and direct, young men are reminded that they are the future leaders of America.

O.K.  That was 1966.  Some of these kids went to Country Club College in my own hometown.  This was my girl's brother, in the main.

Coming in from a busy day, she will toss a large floppy hat over the swan’s­neck post of her bed (“A king made love in it, of course”) and accept a drink from her butler while she removes her stockings, talking full­steam to her visitors all the while.  She has been known to arrive for a quick, unscheduled visit to her Palace of the Legion of Honor with a mink blanket around her shoulders and nothing else on but a nightgown and a pair of bedroom slippers.  
Aristocrats need not be self-conscious, I am told.  Drinking with the ultra-rich in Palm Beach at the old, old O'Brady's that was still on the right side of the river in the original speak easy and gambling establishment, you could never tell.  The fellow who owned the yacht wore boat shoes, khaki pants, and a wrinkled chambray shirt. There was, as they say, however, "a certain air."

I come from the underbelly of the world, though, proud to be able to navigate the rougher parts and nether regions.  That takes "a certain air," too.

The air smells different, though.

Life offered me the opportunity to trade up to the "Bohemian class."  I think.  Bobo, maybe.

This is what I am reading, anyway, between stints with "The Magic Mountain."  Reading that is like moving a glacier with a tea spoon.

I can already see my friends  rolling their eyes, both the Fitzgeralds and the Hemingways.  This is fey shit, I know.  It is, however.

I have been having terrible, unpleasant dreams lately which could be contributing to my exhaustion and stupidity as much as the weather and other, unspeakable things.  All I want to do is live in a huge house in an isolated community and have servants bring me drinks on silver trays.  No, that is not all that I want.  It is only the most conspicuous part of the very messy package.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Vile Attitude (I Guess)



I just wasted my morning writing a diatribe about parents and parenting that showed how vile I have really become.  No need for that.  It is abundantly apparent.

I could write about the Trump Era, but I am sick of that, too.

I have not been able to say much of anything without causing myself trouble for a long while now.  Even when I say nothing, I am accused of being hostile.  I have tried "unpacking" my silence, all the possible meanings of it.  It is deep and complex.  I'll give them that.

I have absented myself from the factory as much as possible lately in order to keep my job.  What wants to come from my lips is combative.

I long for an easy plateau as the song goes.  Just some peace.

I'm finding joy in reading again, though, where disturbed minds of all generations get together for a thoughtfully pleasant time.

Resources are getting tight and the population grows.  This is the classic formula for competition, and not the sporting kind.  We are on the brink.  The streets will explode this summer.  It could be worse than that.

There will be deadly weather this summer on the streets where the woman and baby in this photograph live.  There are reasons for putting bars on windows.

I am going to take up meaningful meditation in an effort to achieve peace.  This is not the simple "mindfulness" that is so popular now with the adult coloring book crowd.  Maybe I should take up coloring, though.  Making pictures and not making pictures is stressing me out.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Southern Rot



Phone picture (again) of Tennessee William's New Orleans house on the border between the French Quarter and Treme.  It is a rundown looking place now, but maybe it always was.  I don't know if it was touched by flooding.  But this is what the south does to all things, believe me.  I know.  That is a Trump go-to, as is his place in Palm Beach.  But don't believe that the south is like Mar-a-Lago.  It takes a Trumpian effort to keep things in shape.  The deep south wants to take things back into the jungle.  There is a heat that is exotic, of course, and there is one that is wet and wants to turn everything to mold.  There are weeds and bugs beyond your imagination.  Anything can go wrong, and it will.  If life in the north is a struggle to stay warm, life in the south is a struggle against rot.  It is not a matter of letting things go.  It is a simple matter of not being able to keep up.  You need plantation workers and servants to make a shiny, glittery south.  Look at Disney.  Tens of thousands of wage slaves are required to keep it going, to make it sparkle.  It takes magic chemicals to keep the mosquitos and bugs from driving the customers mad.  But if you don't have a plantation or plantation money. . . . Go to New Orleans and have a look.  Then come further south.  Go to Miami and snoop around the projects in the summer.  Do.  I dare you.

It is April and it is 95 degrees.  My air conditioner cannot keep up.  There has not been rain and the trees and shrubs and grass are dying.  Other things come to take their places.  They are unbelievably gorgeous if you like such things.  I grew up here and remember the place when there was still wilderness.  You did not go into that wilderness as much as look at it.  It was not pretty in the classical sense.  It was a marvel, but it was not pretty.  It was something else.

For all our efforts, the jungle wants to reclaim its territory.  The weeds, the bugs, the rot. . . .

The drought will try, then the severe rains and hurricanes, too.  The mold, the mildew, the rot.  Tennessee Williams wrote the way he did because he was from the south.  Southern beauty and charm takes tremendous and unrelenting effort.  Southerners love a new thing with its suppleness and unmarked loveliness more than most because they know how brief that beauty lasts and the effort it will take to retain some remnant of that.

I met Tennessee twice.  I mean, we conversed.  I was young.  He had just published his memoir, and then a couple years after.  When I met him, I knew who he was, of course, but I did not know how great his works truly were.

The works remain.  But standing before his old home, one can only wonder.


Friday, April 28, 2017

The Rub




Still phone camera images.  The rest of the photos will have to wait.  But yesterday, I finished up a big project at work, so I may be able to breath this weekend in between getting ready for my trip on Wednesday.

Just saying.

My personal project right now is trying to remember what it was like to be a poor kid, one who grew up with cheap food, black and white t.v., no a.c., a record player, and library books.  Walking everywhere or riding a bike.  Sweating.  Thinking about romance.

No sex.  No drugs.  No drink.

Did I feel ennui?  There certainly had to be hours of boredom.  How did I counter that?

I'm not there yet.  Still trying to figure it out.

There was one big advantage--nothing hurt.  I could sit on the floor for hours playing games.  Trying to kneel to play marbles now would take every bit of effort.

Playing marbles.  There's a clue.  Sharpening the old motor skills, I think.

And the lack of responsibility.  Therein lies the rub.