Sunday, May 19, 2019

Dancing



I dance last night.  It was the first time since the accident.  After a sushi dinner and a silly movie, I listened to Donna the Buffalo, real hippie music.  It is music of the west, of New Mexico and Arizona and Utah.  It sounds like Taos.  So I put on the music and got up and began to dance by myself.  It was awkward.  The muscles remembered but not completely.  I swung my arms and hopped up and down and twisted and shook.  It made me happy.  But after a short while, I was tired.

I'm going to keep dancing.  Movement, I think, is the key to life.  I will dance alone in the dark like the protagonist in Jim Harrison's "The Man Who Gave Up His Name."  It is a novella in the collection "Legends of the Fall."  It is a damned good story.

But it is not a story for you kids today.  There are bad things in it, the sort of things that are wrong.  The sort of things your parents and teachers have kept you from and taught you to avoid and punish.  It is from the bad old days when people did bad things.  I'm pretty sure you'd be traumatized and have to go to a safe room while you wrote a strongly worded letter to the proper authorities.

Why?  Why do I have to do that?

I get better.  Today I'll do some stretching/yoga and try to peace out.  Hippie shit.  You know.  

Saturday, May 18, 2019

All the Way




I have always been a wallflower with confidence, silly as that may sound.  The confidence came from reading more, knowing more, working harder, etc.  The wallflower stuff came from my basic insecurities.  I don't want people looking at me.  I love a stage.  Dichotomies, I know.  It boils down to not wanting to win but desiring to place.

Winning takes too much effort.

But I've always placed.  I was always in the upper 90th percentile.

The hardest part of coming back from the accident is placing.  I am old, so it sucks not to have confidence.

Ili is young and pretty, and now when we go out, all the boys and girls are flirting with her.  Where's mine?

"Does anyone ever ask you if you're her father?"

"Ah, I just kiss her big on the lips and tell them I'm her uncle.  We're very close."

But I got into the pool and moved my hands about to exercise my shoulder.  I tread water and dog paddled and pretend-swam in the shallow end.  It seems to be working.

I did three push ups in a row without a break.

I'm trying.  But as Dylan said, "You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way."

And he has the Nobel.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sentiment



The politics of the factory no longer have any allure.  Each day, I do something that I've done for years for the last time.  There is a weirdness to it that I can't explain.  I've never been a maudlin man, not even sentimental.  But I do believe in sentiment.  Yesterday, my old boss who has been retired for years came by to see me.  She thought I was silly to be sad about leaving.  But it is hard to quit doing something that you are very, very good at doing.  And it is not the leaving so much that brings on the sentiment but the fact that I have reached the point in my life where I am leaving something I am good at to do something else which I will probably never master.  

I am very good at it, and the people are sad to think of me going.  

But I have the whole presidential campaign to organize, and that should keep me very busy. I will need to get on the town hall circuit and make the debates.  So much to do.  

But not today.  We are on four day work weeks now, so I begin my three day weekend.  It will be busy.  I have much to do around the homestead and must tend to Ili besides.  

Color.  Just a splash.  I told you I would tire of the black and white.  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Announcement



I want to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.  I know the field is already large, but I don't want to be the last.  I'm not taking money from any large corporations, just big contributions from people like you.  I'll set up an account and let you know how to contribute soon.  But yea. . . I'm running.  I'm the people's candidate. 

I'm a bit concerned about my checkered past, but I've decided just to own it.  Like everyone else--I've evolved.  Besides, I think I'll have the religious vote 'cause God loves a sinner. 

I'm fluid on moral issues.  My campaign slogan will be "Whatever."  That should get me the millennial vote.

There is much to be done.  I'll keep you updated.  For now, just send your pledges.  It's time to make America again.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Random



I'm probably the only one who likes these weirdly framed pictures.  But I do.  They speak to the randomness of vision and of life. 

Ha!  That's the sort of nonsense you hear about photographic art.  There is always "The Artist's Statement" where the photographer needs to tell what he or she is trying to do. 

Still. . . the randomness of things. 

I'll grow tired of black and white in a post or two, I'm pretty sure. 

Random thoughts.  That's all I can muster, all that I have.  I'm as mundane as a Paul Simon lyric, like the sound of a train in the distance.  A good day is a day without pain.  A bad day is when I lie in bed and think about what might have been. 

Etc. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Tragedy Again



Tragedy strikes again.  Not to me this time, but I've spent the weekend in the hospital with the victim.  Hence, no posts. 

No matter.  The best story I have comes from a grocery run yesterday.  A boy in a man bun and tats was talking with the store's fish monger.  "Oh, well," he said, "every day is another day."

I don't know why I found that so terribly funny.

I've been feeling punky and sorry for myself lately.  Maybe it was being in the hospital again.  I've been bummed that I'll never be the same as I was, maybe never really have any piss and vinegar again.  I used to love the old piss and vinegar.  Lucky me, I had it a long time.

Oh, I should not forget to mention how badly the hospital doctors piss me off.  They are all 32 and look like a better version of Ryan Reynolds.  What happened?  Doctors are supposed to be nerds who spent all their time with books.  Not any more.  I thought I was in a t.v. show.  The fuckers all look like beautiful fighter pilots.

Maybe it is just like that on the weekends.   But man, I felt like the dwarf on "Game of Thrones." 

I've cooked up a bunch of overlooked scans of film I took a year ago when I was still able to take pictures.  A bunch of black and white to come.  

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Where Have All the Good Times Gone



I wish I had a story to tell today, even a snippet of something, but I don't.  I am not getting out enough to have stories.  I go to therapy, to the factory, and to the house.  Oh, I guess I could tell some of the scintillating therapy tales.  Just kidding.  I've told you about the garden and the birds and the weather.  I enjoy those things, but there are not stories, really. 

I have a video of a squirrel sliding down the bird feeder pole when he hit the part on which we sprayed Pam.  Maybe I should post that. 

Remember the old internet?  What happened?  Where have all the good times gone?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Perhaps


(photo by Susan de Witt)

This is an example of lith printing, something I want to try.  I don't want to explain the process here, but it could be something very unpredictable and time consuming, maybe too much for me.  I want to try it and see.  The thing is, it requires a darkroom.  I may have access to one.  I will have to work on that and get permission.  If I do, I'll buy the chemicals I need and give it a shot.  Who knows?  Maybe trash cans will look good when done this way. 

I want to work with my large format cameras, too, just because the work is slow and you don't produce many pictures.  That is my speed now, not producing many pictures.  Making two images a day would increase my present production by. . . any percent you want to say.

It is just a lack of trying.

But I am always intrigued by processes that mess up the image.  I don't like to do that digitally.  Like my old Polaroids, it needs to be something that I do physically before the image enters the digital realm.  I don't mind tweaking it there, but I don't want others to be able to make the image the way I do.  I learned early from photographers like Mark Tucker and Lilya Cornelli back when I would write to photographers I discovered and wanted to offer a fan's note.

That seems so long ago.  Oh, yea. . . it is.

I have ideas again.  Now I just need the energy.  I'll give something a shot this summer.  You'll see.  


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The World Within



To add insult to injury--ha!--I've had some illness for about six weeks now.  I know it is six weeks because the last time I got beautified, I wore a mask in order to keep my beautician from getting sick.  I go every six weeks, and I go tonight.  Viola!  I've been sick too long. 

At this point, it is only a cough.  I shouldn't say "only," for it keeps me awake at night.  Worse, everyone hates me.  "Jesus, dude, you need to go to the doctor," they say as they step back and put up fending hands. 

"I don't know," I say.  "It isn't really bad, just a tickle.  I don't have that thick, yellow phlegm, not those slimy little animals with legs." 

But it does seem an inordinately long time for this to hang on. 

We are not who we think we are, though.  Most of what we think of as "us" is foreign fungus, viruses, and bacteria that live within.  Not a lot.  Most.  Different DNA.  Some of it even exchanges with our own native DNA and changes the lives of the cells within. 

I wonder, have these germs taken up house here? 

But I will get beautified tonight, nonetheless. It will take hours. Which reminds me. Last night I watched "Generation Wealth," a documentary on Amazon written and directed by Lauren Greenfield (link). It started off well enough, but first slowly, then quickly, it turned maudlin. Greenfield, I have always felt, takes advantage of her subjects, exploits them, really. I am envious, but still, that is how I feel. She shows them little respect. In the end, though, she forgives herself, and every freak in the show does as well, because they have families. I don't argue with people about that because I am in a very small minority who haven't been saved from loneliness and meaninglessness through the power of procreation. How do you argue with the vast majority of humanity? Only at your own peril, that's for sure.

Oh. . . I got lost.  The doc looks at people's obsession with money and looks.  I'm spending my money on my looks tonight.  Let's hope it does something to improve my internal environment, too. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

A Little Progress



I had a big weekend of ups and downs about life and health and other things, if there are any other things.  Came a point where I was low, especially about what has happened to me.  After trying to work out and swim for days in a row, I was sore and probably sick again with something that I didn't recognize as I have been sick with a cough for weeks.  But yesterday I had a breakthrough.

I did a pushup!

Not a big deal for you, I know, but I have been waiting for this moment.  I did one and was scared that my shoulder would fall apart right there and then.  So I did another one.  It doesn't feel right or good, but maybe. . . .  Pushups and the pool.  I felt myself on a roll.

I have been eating differently, switching to more grains and vegetables and nuts, eschewing beef and pork in favor of chicken but mostly fish.  Ili was away for the weekend, and this morning while hugging me in bed, she said I felt thinner.  I think I am.  Now if I can cut back on the alcohol calories, who knows.  Maybe two pushups?  Maybe a couple laps of dog paddling?

On the down side, I took my cameras out with me yesterday.  Thought I might wander into a crowd, make some photographs.

It didn't happen.  I am unable to face that.  I drove through interesting crowds downtown, but couldn't force myself to stop, get out, walk with camera.  I ate lunch in a cafe off the Boulevard.  The street was covered in teenage girls wearing their most revealing post-MeToo garb.  I felt like Humbert Humbert.

I never touched my camera.

I'm just not ready to take a beating yet, I think.  I don't want to get griped at let alone really confronted.

I guess I'll go back to photographing garbage cans.  They hardly complain, and while they bring no accolades, they don't get me into much trouble, either.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Long Shots and Losers



I keep waking at 4:30 a.m.  Not that I really sleep.  I sleep for bits, then wake in pain and roll into one of the three positions I can stand. . . for a short time.  Some mornings, I lie there until I go back to sleep just before dawn.  I tried today, but that didn't work, and I got up after a bit.  Made coffee.  Read the papers.

Then this.

Yesterday was a hell of a day at the Kentucky Derby.  I wouldn't have wanted to be one of the stewards for that race.  There was going to be no pleasing decision there.  They did what they had to do.  Whatever they decided would be wrong.  I think they should have run the race all over again.  Not all the horses, just the ones affected, the front runners.  That would have been the only fair way to decide things, of course, but the horses would probably have died from the effort.  They had no ideas of disputes or disqualifications.  That's the funniest thing.  Besides, why can't the horse in the lead choose whatever path he or she wants to take?  What's the point of being in the lead?

Glad I didn't bet any money.  I picked my trifecta.  It was all wrong.  That's why I don't wager on anything but me.

I got into the pool yesterday for the first time since the accident.  If I fell out of a boat, I'd drown.  Wow.  I didn't know how horrible my shoulder really was/is.  I will start going to the pool and try moving about.  Maybe one day I'll be able to swim again.  I don't know.  But it would sure be spooky to get into the ocean and worry about getting knocked down and sucked into deeper water.  I won't.  And that's a drag.

The day got worse, though.  I was looking through movies last night on my Fire TV, and came across some cop movie with Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn that is about a year old.  All the drunken sleaze balls are in it.  Don Johnson, too.  What depressed me was Mel Gibson still running around playing a cop.  He can move both arms and everything.  He is doing o.k.

I decided to watch something else, an old movie, "Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave" (link). I'd seen it long, long ago, and I enjoyed it this time, too, though it was a little too depressing for my mood and probably disturbed my sleep.

Maybe that's why I woke so early this morning.

The morning is grey.  I may take a walk, or I may go back to bed.  My fate, as always, lies in the direction I choose.  I'll try to choose wisely.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Chase the Weather



What a week already.  May Day.  Kentucky Derby.  Cinqo de Mayo.

I may watch the Kentucky Derby.  Probably will.  I don't love horse racing, and I am not a gambler, but it reminds me of my father.  He always watched it, but I don't think he ever laid a bet.  I find horses to be hideously ugly.  I don't know how people say they are beautiful.  Still, I don't like climbing on their backs.  It seems very cruel to me.  In time before automation and machines, I'd probably feel differently.  Caged and trained animals of any kind, though, are a reminder of something grim.

I will probably make a simple margarita, though--tequila, lime, and triple sec, shaken, not stirred.  And probably some guacamole, too.  It will be dinner with mom.

The birds are singing, the sun shining, but it won't last all day.  I need to get out into it before everything turns to southern summer.  The weather patterns have already changed.  Those last two weeks of beautiful weather will be the last we'll see for many, many months.  It is sad.  Those days were so terribly wonderful.

I'll need to chase the weather.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Ask Not for Whom the Whistle Blows



Science, as you know, is a thing, and I wanted to prove it.  There were two stories about testosterone and the woman banned from competing in several track and field events because her levels were too high.  One story, in CNN, used studies to show that testosterone did not enhance a person's athletic abilities.  The other, in the NYT, used studies to show that testosterone enhanced athletic abilities.  But when I went back to get the CNN story, the site had updated and I couldn't find it.  I'm miffed because I wanted to demonstrate that science works.  You see, both articles came to the same conclusion: we don't need gender-based competitions.

Well, sort of.  Anyway, we should just ask Trump.  He seems to have all the answers.

Chris Matthews is on the right track, I think, in his analysis of the Executive Branch/Legislative Branch showdown.  Congress has been proven to have no real power.  Straw dogs.  They can bark, but they can't bite.  Both Trump and the courts can shut them down.

Nobody ever liked them, anyway.  Too many to keep track of.

There are many sweeping changes in my life.  I have not been able to make or work on images for a very, very long time.  As I approach the end of my working days (and other things), I have much to think about.  Moreover, there is much I should/might/could do.  I am more of a thinker than a doer, but circumstances will force me to act.

Circumstances may also liberate me, too, at least for a time, and I think about shutting down these sites and creating a new website/blog experience where I no longer act like Batman, lurking in the shadows.  I have time to think about that, and as I say, I'm a real thinker.  There is much to be considered.

But I'm not there yet.  The factory whistle still blows, and as Donne so famously said, ask not for whom the whistle blows, it blows for thee.  The Bible tells us so.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Road to Hell



I've been looking at camper vans for the future.  My buddy had an old Vanagan or Vanogan or whatever, an old VW Westfalia camper.  It seemed pretty cool.  But when it comes right down to buying one. . . I don't know.  Like everything else, there are many compromises. It's like marriages or long term relationships.  You choose one thing and then the choosing one thing eliminates others.  That can be good. 

Or it can be very, very bad. 

Lately, I've been thinking of doing what a lot of people do at some point in their lives--get rid of almost everything.  I've collected a lifetime of stuff.  I like it, but it does get heavy, and people get tired, I guess.  Maybe I have, too. 

People tell me it is only natural.  I tell them I got run over. I don't think I'm like them.  I'm special. 

That's my problem, of course.  I think I'm special.  Or was.  Going from special to average in a Minnesota Minute is brutal. 

I'll have to think on the camper van.  It could be liberating.  Of course, it could be a mistake. 

But as Bill says in "The Sun Also Rises," the road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Way Back Machine



I almost didn't write today.  I don't know.  Things get weird.  For some reason, though, I was thinking about NYC in the '70s, the time I first went there.  It was a different place then.  Everyone wishes they had gone there now.  That is the trouble.  We always wish we would have been there.  With a camera. 

I was.

Then my mother threw away all the photography I did in the '70s. 

I feel like that about much now.  Why didn't I do more?  I was there (wherever) and good (enough at times), so why wasn't I obsessive?  That's what it takes, of course, if you want to do anything really well. That's why young work is so much better.  You need energy to be obsessive. 

That is not my photograph.  I don't know whose it is.  Can't remember.  There was a lot of mid-level street photography in the '70s.  Newspapers and magazines love to dig it up now to show those "mean streets."  And they were.  Those were existentially empty years of little to no aesthetics. 

Watch all the John Cassavetes films, the ones he directed.  That's what it was like. 

It's just so difficult to go to old places now without the Way Back Machine. But that's what cameras are. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Changing of the Seasons



It must be spring everywhere by now.  I am paying attention because of the birds.  Seriously.  I've never marked the seasons by the passage of birds and butterflies before, but now I do.  The buntings have gone, and I miss them.  There are now more crows and bluejays, big, loud, things, not like the delicate, secretive buntings.  The cardinals have paired and the monarchs have laid their eggs.  Late yesterday afternoon, Ili noticed that the milkweed plant had been denuded.  She found three large caterpillars hanging from the stem, fat things looking ready to make cocoons.  We hope to see another chrysalis hatch.  Another "Chrissy." 

That is how I spend my time of late.  But summer is coming and sitting outside will soon not be comfortable, at least on my deck.  The heat will come, then the humidity, and the skies will grow a dead tin gray.  This weekend, though, I realized that this will be the last summer I need to spend here.  I will be free to go wherever I like, free to follow the weather as I have always dreamed. 

It scares me. Funny, huh?  Yup.  My life is going to radically change and not much will be the same again.  How is that not a little scary? 

Not that it is not thrilling, too.  There is just much uncertainty. 

Especially financially.  I'll never make this much money again. 

I prepare.  I'll drink Schlitz and eat grains bought in bulk.  And peanut butter.  There will be much peanut butter. 

And Schlitz. 

And I will watch the seasons that I have left. 

Blah!  All this morbid talk.  I am doing fine.  I eat grains and vegetables and fish at most dinners now.  Heart and gut healthy.  I should live to be 100. 

One of my all-time favorite jokes.  An old guy is sitting at a bar next to a pretty woman.  He buys her a drink and they begin to chat.  After a while, he says, "Why don't you come home with me.  We can have drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and then we can make love.  You know, older men can make love much longer than younger men do."  She looked at him for a moment and giggled.  "Sure, I know that," she says, "but who wants to make love to an old man for a long time?"

Some things get less funny over time. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Other People's Music




You can't tell people this, but their taste in music is shit.  Almost everyone, including myself.  You have to recognize that the things that you once listened to were shit and move on. .  . probably to more shit, but still, move on.  The fellow across the street has his garage door open as he works.  He is a surgeon who fell out of a tree he was cutting (irony) and broke a lot of bones.  He never practiced again.  He is divorced.  His wife left him a couple years ago, maybe more, and he hasn't had a lot of luck since.  He likes to work on things, especially with tools.  And this morning, I imagine, he is listening to the music that makes him feel good, makes him feel young.

I want to rock and roll all night, 
And party every day.

Do you know how many times that line is repeated in a row?  It was, I think, the anthem of his generation, and it would probably make a good soundtrack to the right movie, but dude. . . .

All I have to do is go through my old iTunes library to find out how bad my own tastes are from time to time (to time to time).

I cull.

But this is my flaw, my curse.  Why can't I get stuck in time, wear boat shorts and boat shoes, sport a mullet and a mustache and listen to Jimmy Buffet?  People do.  Or they get stuck in the CBGB years (and look it) or the last days of disco.  O.K.  I am able to have fun listening to some disco now that it is over.  Couldn't stand it at the time of the big Disco Scare, but now, somehow, it seems funny rather than menacing.

I shouldn't write about music, though.  Q will have a fit.  He likes to argue about music.

I haven't listened to much in a while that isn't on the jazz station.  We have a very good college jazz station here, fortunately.

I heard something the other day.  I wouldn't be writing this if the fellow across the street were listening to it.


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Sadly Considered



Ah, hell. . . I'm sorry I've been such a bad correspondent, but circumstances have prevented me from being able.  This has been the most incredible week of the year for weather.  If you are here (I know some of you do come this time of year), congratulations.  Nowhere in the country is better than this right now.  Selah.  But I have been hit hard by the flu for the first time in years, and this one is a killer.  Almost.  I was in bed for three days and wobbly on my ass for many more.  I have a cough that will not go away, a terrible, harsh, death cough.  I have managed on occasion to sit and look at the garden, but that is all.

And then the fight began.  Not reporting on that, but it was devastating, too.

And so today, I tried to rally.  I stretched and went to the gym and did some easy exercises and lay by the pool to tan.  I tried to eat, but I have not been hungry and the workout had brought back that lazy sweaty feeling.  I showered and went out to try to finish a roll of Ektachrome so I could send it to the California lab, but I got caught in terrible traffic and spent the day navigating closed streets.  Having taken no photos, I went to the Cafe Strange for a beer.  That was the last place I'd been before the accident.  I have only gone once or twice since.  The day was turning hot and had the feel of a dead, summer day, and I began to dread the coming months.  Then I remembered that this would be the last summer I would ever have to spend here.  I will not be working next year.  And really, I have much vacation time I must use up before the end of the year or lose, so I really needn't spend that much time here this year.

And then the sadness came on like a tsunami.  Everything is changing.  Everything has changed.  I am not the man I was, and I won't be able to travel the way I could.  I don't want to say I felt cheated or robbed, but I don't want to say I didn't, either.  Let's just say I was swept with despair.

I have had dark thoughts this week.  I've thought much about death and felt it in my bones.  Death is more real for me than it has ever been.  There is nothing to do about it, and that is the fact.  That is what death is.

I am not dead, but I am not as alive as I was.  I never will be again.  I wonder what summers will be like?  I will take small rooms in northern communities, I would guess, Seattle, perhaps, or maybe somewhere in the Northeast, or maybe Paris.  I will find a cafe and a coffee shop and I will find streets I like to walk.  Will I meet people or will I be an odd character you barely wonder at?

I don't know.  I shouldn't write when I feel this way, but I haven't written for awhile and just now I have some time.  My bones hurt.  I can hardly raise my arm.  I will pour some red wine and sit on the deck and watch the birds.  Later, there might be some t.v.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Premonition



Days in bed.  Awful days.  The coughing is made more terrible by the accident, the many multiple broken bones.  My mind grows very, very dark and goes places new to me.  I cannot help but to be disturbed.  I should see a doctor, people say, but I am afraid of doctor’s.  Before the accident.  I never went.  They seem nothing to me but bad news.  But I may have to break down and go.

I was strong and fine.  Now I’m not.  The mind can be terrible.  This can only be a premonition of hell.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Worse



Worse today than yesterday.  Sick and making mistakes.  I hope they are not too great.

No work today.  Miserable day upon the couch.