Friday, December 2, 2016
Photography has become very, very conservative as far as I can tell. I like William Eggleston's photography very much, but it is a safe photography, by which I mean it will bring the photographer no harm.
Photography--at least some of it--should be dangerous. And I'm not speaking of photographers jumping out of airplanes or standing on ledges. I mean there should be something objectionable about it, something that will bring the photographer both accolades and dissent.
But these are fearful times. I can only hope that there are photographers doing things out there that result in some very shocking photos. We won't get to see them for a while, I imagine, as our cultural sensibilities become more conservative (link). I think the photos in the new Pirelli calendar are wonderful. I think they are soulful. I think they need to be made. I applaud them.
But. . . where is the decadence of the Weimar Republic?
I know, I know, the result of that movement was Adolph Hitler. I guess the decadence of my lifetime has resulted in Trump. Even Jock Sturges is making fashion portraits for magazines now.
I may have to turn to the urban contemporary scene for fun. Is the music still called rap?
Maybe I'll get more into the food-as-art hipster thing. Are they still called hipsters?
I guess I'll prepare to make some soulful portraits myself. I'll try to hide gender and certainly eschew sensuality. No, no, better still, I'll turn my lens on inanimate objects and sterile landscapes and depopulated urban scenes. I'll make sun prints on sensitized paper. No. . . wait. . . I have it! I'll make X-Rays. Shit. That's the ticket. I'll X-Ray things. I'll stalk the streets with a portable X-Ray camera and get to the heart of being. That ought to tickle people pink.
I'm ready to make a decree. These are Post-Decadent Times. As H.S. Thompson said so very long ago, "What do you say, for instance, about a generation that has been taught that rain is poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison right in front of your eyes, there is not much left except TV and relentless masturbation. It's a strange world. Some people get rich and others eat shit and die."
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:37 AM
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Sorry. I just don't have shit for pictures right now. Sean's Fuji won't charge and I'm waiting for a new developing tank from a Kickstarter project before I begin really shooting with the Black Cat Liberator. I don't know. This month will be one year since I gave up the studio. Shit. It is still empty, too. I am thinking about trying to get someone to go in with me and split the now more expensive rent. I need a studio. I need a space to think about these things.
Maybe this weekend I'll begin a Christmas theme.
In the past couple of days, I've read two articles on the therapeutic use of what are now considered to be recreational drugs (link and link). I may need to begin my therapy soon.
I also read a semi-interesting article on sex robots. They are coming. Sex therapist are happy by and large. There are already toys that you can use that transmit images and pulsations through the internet. The most interesting thing to me, though, are the ethical concerns. Is sex with a robot considered cheating? What about activities that are considered illegal with a human? Is it wrong for people to satisfy their fantasies?
I don't know about you, but I sure would hate to get caught cheating with a robot.
"Jesus Christ, it was nothing! She said she was eighteen! C'mon, really? You know I only love you!"
Of course, there could be legal problems when the will is read.
"He left everything to that!"
"Well, well, you know he was very depressed there at the end. The MDMA and the psilocybin had him all turned around. Don't worry. I'm sure this won't hold up in court."
Forget about Trump. The future might be more interesting than you imagined. It's a Brave New World.
Posted by cafe selavy at 9:22 AM
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
There is not I like much more than a blurry picture. You can get many if you shoot at f64, but I don't think this is what that photo group had in mind (link). It is ironical, though.
I don't much care for sharp detail and accurate rendering. Means nothing to me.
No transition. Everyone seems to be using the word "existential" now. Everything is an existential danger or an existential threat. When I hear it in conversation, I say, "It is only phenomenological." Jesus. It pisses me off. Who started this trend?
I have done nothing that is worthy of telling. I should, but it would only get me in trouble. And trouble isn't what it used to be. There was a time when I liked to court it more than I do now. Presently, it is "Safety First." I think Miss Jean Brodie said, "Children, safety is important, but it certainly shouldn't be first."
And we know how that worked out for her.
These are dangerous times. There are no movements that accept human foibles. Both the left and right have set out to viciously perfect the world. If you are a flawed character, as I have tried to be in following the examples of the great artists of the world, you are in deep trouble.
Look out kid
It's somethin' you did
God knows when
But you're doing it again.
And that, my friends, is what I would call an existential danger. The check is coming. You'd better be counting your coins.
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:42 AM
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
I worry so much about what I am allowed to do and show in the Time of Trump. The poles begin to meet when it comes to tolerance. I mean, there isn't any. Every image is a battleground now, every utterance up for dissection. There are hidden explosives everywhere. It is best not to move. Stay put.
Run, Hide, Fight.
Oy. Yesterday morning the power went out. When it came back on, I had no internet. Hence, if you were wondering, that is why you did not hear from me.
I didn't get to read Q's post about my addiction to horse pills, whatever he was saying. I don't know if it was speed or downers or viagra. Maybe it was a mean combination of all three. Now that he has committed himself to a triathlon, he is wondering how I have done it all these years. He admitted yesterday that he needed training wheels on his new ten thousand dollar bike. Some men just buy a BMW convertible to bring back their youth. Q will do a triathlon.
O.K. O.K. I bought a Vespa. It was easy. I've shed twenty years of bad living. I've kicked the horse tranquilizers. It's all herbal tea and fresh air now. And long walks. After Q hurts himself "training," he will learn the pleasures of long, healthful walks.
I slept late this morning and have thrown off my whole routine. But I felt the need to set the record straight after a day without modern conveniences. Q likes to kick a man when he's down. He has little tolerance.
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:59 AM
Sunday, November 27, 2016
The pumpkins have been replaced by poinsettias. The tree is up, though not completely trimmed. The big red bow is on the front door. I am going along. Usually I notice Christmas about a week before the day, but this year will be different. Somewhat. I still wish to avoid the gift-giving mania and to keep things simple. The spirit of the season without the stress. Oh. . . fingers crossed.
I sent Q a link to this story this morning (link). It seems a simple solution to all sorts of problems. It is hard being with people. More and more, we prefer to be alone. But not alone. We like social media, tweets and grams, and we like to keep abreast of what is happening with famous people. Here is my favorite observation from the story:
"The strong and selfish men are the most popular," says Higashi. "The most popular characters are strong on the outside and only sometimes sweet for you."
Can you imagine being left for a popular character? How could you compete unless the character had a mole on his chin and skin tags? Maybe they could give him stinky breath or a short leg. Then the playing field would be evened a bit.
I can't concentrate on this so I am going to quit. Q keeps sending me irritating texts about his Fuji camera. Seems I broke it, though I suspect him of sending me a broken camera so he could blame it on me. He's sneaky like that. He repeats over and over that he sent me the manual like that explains everything. Who's got time for that? And so. . .
Posted by cafe selavy at 9:13 AM
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Here's a Fuji instant 4x5 picture from Thanksgiving taken with my Black Cat Liberator. I have been trying for two hours to get the scan from one computer into another where I could do my old magic with it. But I couldn't get the picture out of the computer where I scanned it. Operations just kept grinding to a horrible halt and everything would freeze so that I had to force quit and restart the computer. I finally ran a diagnostic test on it and apparently there are some errors that the computer can't fix. Terrific. I finally got some of the scans onto a portable hard drive and took them to my big iMac where the Adobe Cloud apps are located.
I couldn't do the old magic. I don't know how. First, it has been a long time and I'm not certain I recall all the steps. But I probably could if all the functionalities of the new Photoshop had not changed. The tools are all different. And everything is slow. I will have to go back to Photoshop school before I can work again. Hours. And hours. These were not small, incremental changes. These are big Fuck You changes.
I am sick of Adobe products. I am sick of Apple products, too.
But what can I do? I'm stuck.
So the camera is cool, no matter. As you can see in my Vespa pic, the depth of field is really narrow with the lens wide open. Focusing is difficult and critical.
I will load some holders with black and white film today and shoot it and then develop it here at home in open trays inside my huge developing tent. That will be frustrating, too, because I have to work at home. I need a studio to do this sort of thing, a place where I don't have to worry about chemicals spilling, a place where I can leave things where they are. I will be shitting out of my mouth as I try working around the house.
I am frustrated, you see. I want to make art again. I have the tools. I need the space and time.
But look. You can see the little wicker basket I attached to the back of the scooter to help me with marketing. I think I look a bit silly now, but what the hell.
O.K. The day has gotten away from me. I need to make an earnest start. There is much for me to do today in what I have left.
Posted by cafe selavy at 10:28 AM
Friday, November 25, 2016
Thanksgiving ended up being a very busy day here at the old homestead. Mimosas in the morning with a breakfast casserole to kick it off. Then, as the cooking day got underway, the stream of people began its steady flow. My mother at noon, then a string of friends. My tenant had people over, too, and, since many are mutual friends, she sent them over while she prepared her own T-day repast. I had the Black Cat Liberator and some of the remaining Fuji Instant 4x5 film on hand and took mandatory portraits of everyone who came. The lens is a tricky one, though, and with the lens wide open at f2.2, I kept missing focus. I only had to be off by about two inches. That is the depth of field at that aperture, I think. But I learned about using this camera again. I don't have to shoot with the lens wide open. I know that now.
I have old friends, twins, who came to dinner. One of them is quite a cook/chef, and Ili was glad to have his technical help. The turkey came out perfectly wonderfully delicious. The table was a work of Ili's art including the poppers.
After eating, though, I was exhausted and full of wine, so I excused myself from the table and went to lie on the floor, belly up, an inch from snoring. Everyone gathered around in the living room getting comfortable on couches and in chairs, and I thought, "uh-oh." Quick as a rabbit, though, my mother said, "let's take a walk," and that was the end of the party. The twins were for more drinking, not walking, and so they bid us adieu.
Back from the walk, the clean-up looked enormous. It was. And since Ili had spent most of her time preparing, I started scrubbing the pots and pans and cleaning up the dishes and utensils. I am good like that.
"A man should do what he likes to do," I said, "and some of what he doesn't."
I think I got the good end of the stick, so to speak.
After cleaning up, we filled containers with turkey and dressing and homemade cranberry sauce and all the rest for my mother to take home. Hugs as the day began to go blue. . . then the first scotch. The tenant had set up her Thanksgiving day table in the yard between the apartment and the house.
"Do we need to go have a drink with them?" I asked. Apparently we did, so we took our drinks and sat at the giant table that had already been cleared. Some of my neighbors had come over now. The party had grown large. It was a nice crowd, a good one, but I had grown too weary of people and the smiling and the careful, t.v. voices, and after a few minutes I nodded to Ili who nodded back.
"We want to take a Vespa ride and have to get to the liquor store," I said as I rose to the common objection.
"You're drinking scotch and are going to ride the scooter to the liquor store?!?!"
I knew the store would be closed, but I wanted to make a big, quick exit. I wanted to get back to the quietude that is my life. The air was cooling, the light fading. We made a pass down the Boulevard. The Christmas lights were up and had been turned on for the first time this year. Only a few people were out at the one or two open restaurants. The avenue was empty. It was just us driving through the cool, sophisticated light.
The holidays. They have begun.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
There has been much preparation around my house the past days--table cloths, napkins, napkin holders, serving dishes and utensils. There has been the making and baking of pies, the marinating of turkey, etc. There are many bottles of champagne. A breakfast casserole is in the oven now.
Last night as I was beginning to prepare the mussels and cook a very large sockeye salmon fillet, a friend stopped by. I asked him if he would like to eat.
Five hours later, I fell into bed. I don't feel so well this morning. He is good company, but I am mostly a recluse.
People will be stopping by all day. My mother will come and eat and drink. I don't know how many others to expect. This is how it all begins this year.
The weather is warm and yesterday we marketed by Vespa. Lunch on the Boulevard, etc.
Ili wants to put parades on the television. I want to play with my newly refurbished Black Cat Liberator camera. I have not done this for many years. Somehow the day will pass.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
Posted by cafe selavy at 9:06 AM
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
I want to make pictures like this one from an article in the N.Y. Times about pirates in the Amazon. It is not a photograph so much as an impression. . . a dream. It is not even a good photograph, really, but it stimulates the old imagination. Operative word there--old.
Our friend Lisa is back from Africa. You can read her comment in yesterday's post. I never got to go. My Africa is like this picture, impressionistic and imaginative.
The world lends itself less and less to the old reveries. It takes much post-production to make the old world. . . many revisions.
I am told that is because it never existed.
I'll take that--the old world of imagination. It is the refuge of rogues and scoundrels.
The new world is full of theory.
The coming world is full of something else.
I can't make the old images any more. It would violate the conditions of my parole. One slip up and . . . wham!!!
I went to the beauticians yesterday for holiday preparations. She is a Russian Jew. The old world still lives in the Russian immigrants that surround her. It reeks of vodka and cabbage. It is told in deep, colorful language. Still, she is Americanized, as she says, and the old ways are being eradicated. She is not displeased. I like the dangerous Russian men that surround her life, though. They guard something primitivistic and seem straight out of an American movie.
I am off for the rest of the week, so the holidays begin. I will try to celebrate in the most urbane and dignified of ways. Restrained and sophisticated.
Yes, yes. . . I'm afraid to slip up in image or word. I have a reprehensible imagination.
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:47 AM
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
I want to take new pictures. I really do. But I've been ill. Some G.I. thing. One of the fellows at the factory spent three days in the hospital with a painful G.I. infection. They ran every test the government would allow and still don't know what it was. They gave him terribly strong antibiotics and pain killers. He came back to work on Monday looking like death. My friend and I have been plagued by something recurring for a year now. He has gone to multiple doctors who have tested and tested. He thought it might be a parasite of some sort. Every time they test him, they find nothing, but they tell him that is not conclusive as parasites have reproductive cycles and you must test at the right time.
I am convinced it is a strange, new disease.
Of course, I haven't been to a doctor. You see what they've done for the other two--drained the bank account.
My cousin went to the doctor recently to have a polyp cut out of his nose. The doctor made a mistake and cut too deeply. Now spinal fluid runs out of his nose. They have taken tissue from another part of his body and packed it into the hole, but it isn't working. He is in a very dangerous state.
The thing I had cut off my shoulder is still not healed. I wish I had never gone.
My father's ilk said, "Doctors have killed more people than they've cured," or something like that. Once they get started on you. . . .
There are two types of people in the world--the sick and the well. I'm trying to be well by Thanksgiving. I don't want to spoil the party.
There will be cooking at my house this year. Ili wants to marinate turkey parts in a buttermilk and citrus marinade overnight and then cook them on the grill. She is making pies. There will be biscuits and cranberry sauce and green beans and a new garlic/butter Brussel's sprouts dish. And wasabi mashed potatoes, too.
I don't want to miss out on that.
I don't have the energy for photography right now. I am tired. And boring. But the Black Cat Liberator comes back tomorrow, and maybe that will inspire something. I don't know. It is big and heavy and hard to use. Right now, I like sitting next to the fire. It is the season. The darkness. The chill in the air.
But you should see the light here now. There is no light like it on earth. I know there is other beautiful light, for I have seen it in the mountains and the prairies. I've seen the light in France and Spain and Argentina and in the Sierras and the Andes, all unbelievable. But right here and now in my own hometown, the light is unmatched as it will be for several months.
It is most beautiful and I am working in the factory.
I need to quit dwelling on that. I need to, but I can't. It isn't until it is too late that you realize what you've missed.
I coulda been a contender.
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:08 AM
Monday, November 21, 2016
Sick and medicated, lying in bed preparing to sleep, listening to Springsteen's "Nebraska" album after playing the song "Born to Run" for someone not familiar with it, I explained that the final stanza of the song was the masterpiece. Like many three stanza poems, you have a structure of situation, conflict, and resolution. The resolution in this song is well done, I said, and is the hallmark of Springsteen's career, the tired, desperate fatalism of an America addicted, succored, then betrayed by dreams.
That's what I said, I said.
Then in a near coma, I listened to the songs of the album as I fell asleep, thinking, "This is the photography I must try to make. I must try to capture those dreams and disappointments of Trump America."
A much needed theme!
It will take energy and time. I try to call up the photographs in my head before I make them, mostly black and white and grainy, for if everyone is right, this is a throwback to an older America. I might be able to capture the disappointment of the America of which they speak. . . if I had the money and time. You see, I would have to travel. That America is "out there," not here where I live. Some, maybe, but I live in the new America, or at least am surrounded by it.
I don't know. It would be so very difficult, but what isn't that's worth doing. And, I think, I'm just the fellow to do it. I'm good at listening and taking people's stories. I am a disarming sort.
But. . . I have to work.
Am I not a great example of the theory?
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:05 AM
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Played around with Q's Fuji X100 yesterday a little bit. It weighs negative zero and has loads of features. The one I am enjoying most is the macro focussing. The Leica weighs an inordinate amount for its size, and one of the drawbacks for me is that you can't focus closer than about three feet. I could never have taken this photo with my Leica. Having said that, though, the Fuji is really the best snapshot camera on the market. It isn't a Leica. Still. . . I think I will have to have one.
Pumpkin and Vespa. This is my October/November experience.
Last night, I watched "Roman Holiday." I'd never seen it before--probably because it stars Gregory Peck. But it was the kickoff of the holiday movie season in my household. Audrey Hepburn was cute, so there was that, and they rode a Vespa, so there was that, too.
Then the air turned cool in the night, and the day will be bright and beautiful.
I have been told that if I want to continue having a passenger with me on the Vespa, I have to change my behavior. Yesterday, I got into two altercations, one with a group of fellows in pickup trucks and the other in front of a crowd on the Boulevard. I can be aggressive in retaliation, I guess, and am an embarrassment to my passenger. She is right, though. Sooner or later I'm going to be sorry. So from now on, it is sissy, pacifist C.S. The most they will get from me is a sad shaking of the head that says, perhaps, "You've disappointed me so."
Posted by cafe selavy at 9:41 AM
Saturday, November 19, 2016
For my friend, once again--the disapproving look. The guy in the background of the photograph appears butch. He is a masculine trope. Is it natural, or did he learn that from watching Sports Center? I've been around it all my life and am not sure. He is a protector of a moral order, you see. I ask people often to explain their moral standards to me. Many are Christians but cannot remember many of the Ten Commandments. That's O.K., I say. Just tell me the most important aspects of your moral code. They can't come up with it on demand. Take some time, I say, a day or two. What I have learned from this is that most people live by a morality that they cannot describe. It is vague and second-hand, but it is what they use to judge others.
When they finally come up with something, though, I ask them to pay attention to it for the next week or so and see how many times they are in violation. If it is any good at all, it is challenging. And sure enough, they report, there are the occasional violations.
Their code, I find, is usually a bit different from the codes of the people they are judging. I mean, not everyone articulates the same moral order. But, I point out, they are using principles they find difficult to follow to judge others who do not share the same principles. How in the hell do we even live together, I wonder?
That is a big extrapolation about a guy in the background of a picture who is looking at the camera. Hell, he may be a moral exemplar. I don't know. Here, he is only a figure.
But, I think, that is one explanation for the Trump presidency.
Q sent me his Fuji X100 camera to use for a couple weeks so that I can see if it will quell my urge to buy a digital Leica M for many thousands of dollars. Right off the bat, taking it out of the box, I saw pros and cons. It is light. I mean really light--filled with helium light. That is a huge plus. Looking through the viewfinder, though, is difficult. It seems smaller than the ones on my other cameras, and maybe it is. I haven't shot with it yet as I was ill yesterday and had no interest in anything but what was happening to me. I feel better today, though, and may take it out and fire off a roll. Just a joke. It is digital. But it is a cropped sensor camera and that is something of a negative, too. I'll download the files, though, and work with them and see what I think.
I can get one on eBay for about $800. But will it stop my hunger? I keep looking at the Leicas. I don't know. I don't know. I will have to figure out where all of this falls into my well-defined moral code. But, I think, I would have to say that I am a bit of a Libertine.
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:03 AM
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Yesterday I wrote that "every photograph must be a confrontation of sorts." A friend wrote he noticed that in many of the photos I show here, someone is looking at the camera disapprovingly. It is true. Those pictures jump out at me when I look through the files. They resonate because there is something active in an otherwise passive frame. In the paintings of the old masters (and some who were not nearly masters), there is often one person in the crowd staring directly at the viewer. Often, too, the face is a likeness of the artist. I like feeling that the person looking at the camera is a version of me. When I go into a crowd with a camera, I feel there is the danger of being beaten or killed for what I am doing. It is a very, very difficult thing for me to do. But, I figure, there is something noble in the act even if there is a bit or a hint of a sacrifice to it. I kid myself (perhaps) that it is sacrificially "holy."
Yea, yea, yea. . . . If you disagree or laugh at that, you might enjoy this (link). I know many who would agree with that author, but I enjoy most my friends who wouldn't or who just don't care, those who know a bit about trying to perfect existence and what it costs. I don't disagree with the author. I just think it is one way of looking at the thing.
That is what I think about almost every argument, though. Some are more interesting than others. Some are better supported. But they are almost all destined to die and be buried in an unmarked grave. Or, perhaps, they are destined to disappear in a Facebook timeline.
The dictionary definition of desire should be "our own yearnings to which we would like to subject others."
We are all so full of desire.
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:55 AM
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
I got a promotion at the factory. It is both titular and monetary, but it is the same job. The move, however, puts more barriers between me and those who are not management. It places me even further on the other side of the fence. Some of the workers are already pissed off. I just want more money. It is funny, though, how relative wages are. I mean, you can be fine with what you are making until somebody else gets a raise. I didn't need money when I was young. Everything was free. Now. . . I need money. Lots and lots of money.
I will try not to buy a new camera. I will try very, very hard.
The other thing I need is time. I have ideas, but they are not allowed to flourish. There is too much that steasl my time. The thing is, I don't know how to fix that.
Last night while I lay awake at four o'clock, I wondered what pictures I might like to make in Trumpland. Clearly it will be difficult not to offend half the people. Some genius will make pictures that appeal to all, I'm certain, but I don't think I'm that person. The 4x5 Black Cat Liberator should be here in a week or so. It is a different way of taking photographs. Every picture must be a confrontation of sorts. All I need is imagination and courage.
Or not. I mean. . . I am one of the privileged. I am management.
Posted by cafe selavy at 7:39 AM
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
O.K. Ed Bradley has been dead for ten years. There is something wrong with my research skills. I've become one of those bad news internet sources. I'll be banned in the new administration.
I'm getting really weary of the "what will I tell my unborn fetus about the election" crowd. Tired of desks with "free hugs" signs. Tired of the outrage against those labeled "racist/misogynist." Tired of the "white-lash" claim. Tired of attempted shaming of those who didn't vote. And this comes from all my smart friends. Their postures, the turn of their mouths. Suddenly they are all against the electoral college.
Don't misunderstand me. I've been sick of the Trump crowd for years.
What I do like are flawed characters. They are certainly interesting. I like the look in their eyes. I enjoy hearing stories about the crazy things they do. If it weren't for them, we would never have had Shakespeare or Faulkner.
I have become so uninteresting it is painful. I don't do anything let alone anything interesting. I am a toadstool. I have become someone I wouldn't care to know.
My most interesting story just now is that yesterday morning my car battery was dead. That's right. That's it. Nothing better to report.
So much for the years of actively living dangerously. The danger in my life is all passive now. Like most, I live with exogenous danger, the worst and most disturbing kind.
Posted by cafe selavy at 7:25 AM
Monday, November 14, 2016
It is a grey day. I don't want to work. I don't want to write. I don't want to do anything. The morning began with an inglorious bang. I was visited before dawn by the failures of my life. Thinking in the dark. It is the hell we create, I assume, when we do things that we might later regret. The little hell of the early morning. Maybe it was the Super Moon. Surely that was it, being full just before sunrise. Oh, God, yes. That was certainly it through and through.
I am getting my Black Cat Liberator camera back after months of waiting. It is fixed, but not fully. It will work. I can't, however, think of a thing to photograph.
I dreamed last night of having a studio again. I would love to do that.
But as I say, I don't want to write today. I bought "The Lesser Bohemians" by Eimear McBride yesterday. The prose is sort of Joycean. I hope it will give me a better ear again. A better pen.
Posted by cafe selavy at 7:34 AM
Sunday, November 13, 2016
RIP Ed Bradley
Who are the bulldogs of journalism now? Here is what Bradley wrote after the death of H.S. Thompson:
Hunter's been a friend for 30 years. I met him in 1975, during the presidential campaign. During the campaign we talked almost -- well, he was on the road then much more than in recent years, but we talked almost every day. Even when he wasn't on the road with the campaign, we'd check in with each other at night or in the morning, usually late at night more than in the morning. And we'd talk politics, and life.
We talked to him a couple of weeks ago, and I saw him at Christmas. I moved to Woody Creek because of Hunter. He invited me in 1976 to come out to Aspen for a weekend. I fell in love with the valley and ended up buying a condominium in town. And then got tired of the bustle of town and bought a house on a quiet dead-end road in Woody Creek. Hunter and I were neighbors.
Bradley was the first black journalist to do everything. He lived long enough to see the results of the recent election. I'd like to say it put him over the edge. It might have. Thompson and Bradley were my kind of liberals, the kind that don't seem to exist any longer. They had keen eyes and bad habits. They cared for the disenfranchised and opposed greed.
Yesterday, Ili and I took the scooter to lunch at a distant place where we could get lamb and garbanzo beans and lentils in various forms. Then we decided to take a cruise, eventually, I thought, ending up at an Asian grocery store that sells young coconuts at half the price of Whole Foods. But way led to way and we ended up in a traffic nightmare downtown in the big city. We couldn't turn, couldn't get out of the traffic as the roads were blocked by barricades and policemen. There was going to be a parade.
"What do you think it is?" I asked Ili.
"Probably for veterans."
It is not easy to keep balance on a Vespa with someone on the back as you stop and go, stop and go. I was getting frustrated. Finally, though, we came to a street where we could turn. But so could everyone else. As I made a slow, wobbly left, a car cut across two lanes and pulled in front of me.
"You cut me off you motherfucker," I yelled. It is my natural way. The fellow in the expensive Benz stuck his arm out the window and waved me by. I realized, of course, that I was going nowhere and would have to live with him in the crawling traffic for quite awhile. He pulled the car up beside us, and I thought, "O.K. Here we go."
But he was smiling.
"Sorry man, I wouldn't cut you off. I ride a bike, too."
He was one of "those" guys, a sports fan, a Trump supporter, a boy-o. You know, one of the masculine tropes that feminists hate.
"If I was on my Harley, I'd cut through all of this. But wait until you see some of the outfits!"
"Outfits? Isn't this the Veteran's Day Parade?"
He laughed. "No, man. . . it's a Gay Parade."
"What? No. Here, look at this. I asked the guy if I could take his picture, and he didn't care. He said sure, go ahead."
He handed his phone out the window to Ili shaking his head amused and sad. We were buddies now. We were friends.
The traffic moved a few inches and I pulled ahead. I could feel Ili laughing behind me. "Funny guy," she said. "I think he's drunk."
The bus went by in the bus lane, and our new buddy pulled up beside me again.
"Even the buses are gay in this town," he said. The bus was pink.
Somehow we started talking about the election. He was very happy.
"What the fuck? So the guy can't speak in public. If I were a billionaire, I wouldn't let people tell me what to say, either. He's not like this other guy we got letting the kids run around yelling and screaming. They ought to put 'em in jail like they did when we were kids, right? You'd get thrown in jail for throwing a rock."
"I never went to jail," I said.
"Not for throwing a rock, maybe."
I couldn't help buy like the guy. He was open and friendly and cocksure and he didn't hold it against me that I called him a motherfucker.
Finally the traffic began to move a bit, and when we got to a cross street, he gunned it and took a right.
"That's a one way street," Ili laughed. "He's going the wrong way."
"Ha. That guy was a character."
"He was funny. I liked him."
"Yea. He was funny alright."
We finally got out of the traffic, and I headed around the backside of the parade barricades to see what was going on. There were lots of people wearing pride outfits and carrying homemade placards. There were t-shirts and rainbow colored wigs. That's our town. We get the run-of-the-mill stuff. This ain't San Francisco with butt chaps and Village People costumes. Weren't nobody naked. No big weiners or boobies. Just a bunch of boring people being pretend crazy.
"You want to take pictures?" Ili asked.
"No. I'd rather go have a beer. You?"
"Yea. We already met one crazy character. Let's go."
Back on our side of the county, in our little hometown, things were quiet. We stopped at a little hipster market and got some watermelon juice, and then we headed home.
"We have fun on the Vespa, don't we?" Ili queried.
"Yes," I replied. "I think we have fun."
Posted by cafe selavy at 8:40 AM
Saturday, November 12, 2016
I took the day off yesterday. I had to visit the doctor to see if I had a flesh-eating bacteria. The spot on my shoulder where he cut off something that wasn't cancer looked ugly, and all around the wound were pus-oozing eruptions. I went knowing that the best I could hope for was amputation of my left arm at the shoulder. If not that, I was certain they would jet me off to an isolation ward and put me in some sort of barometric chamber.
When he looked at it, he told me I was a whiny little bitch and kicked me out of his office. Apparently everything looks fine. I've had an allergic reaction to the bandaids. He called it "a classic case of dermatitis." I told him that didn't mean anything at all, that it was the most general of terms and described all skin inflammation. That is when he threatened me with a scalpel.
We left on good terms.
Since as far as I knew I wasn't dying, I called my secretary and told her I wouldn't be in. She was quite happy about that.
The day was most lovely, but it flew by at supersonic speed. I went to the gym and then Ili came over for a scooter ride to lunch on the Boulevard. Wahoo sandwiches and sangria and then home for a nap. I know it is my own fault, but naps are so rich and wonderful after an afternoon full of wine. Up at five, we poured some rum and tonics just to get us going, then we went marketing on the Vespa. Everywhere we go on it, people wave and comment.
"That looks like fun," a fellow told us.
"He means you," I said. "You know what all the girls are saying? 'Have you seen that fellow on the sea foam Vespa?' 'Yea, he sure is cute, but he always has that girl with him.' 'I know. She looks like a real idiot. I'll bet she's dumb.'"
After the marketing, we came home and put away the goods. And then, we just went for a ride. The sun was low in the sky and it was getting chilly. We decided to go for pizza and chianti at our favorite Italian restaurant. Everyone was out enjoying the weather. Everyone was beautiful. That is the way it is here on a cool evening in my little hometown. We sat at the outside bar and ate and drank and watched the beautiful people go by. When we were finished, we walked a bit but decided to make a change and go to a little hipster place away from all of this instead. Irish coffee sitting at a long table in bohemian room decorated to challenge your senses, people sitting here and there, all digitally connected except for one sad older fellow with a book and a reading lamp. Ili found an edition of poems by Lorca next to her and began reading. I watched a young girl drawing with a stylus on a large digital notebook. Her boyfriend took pictures of her with an enviable camera. Two heavyish girls sat together at a table on a stage with red velvet curtains laughing at the things they showed one another on their phones. Three young Country Club College students, too young to go to a bar, sat with coffees and laptops. It was a home away from home for those who had nowhere else to go. I want to come here evenings and write, I thought. I knew I wouldn't, but it seemed a comforting idea.
Then back out into the cooling night air, and then we were home. Ili had taken the Lorca book (I think it is a take one, leave one thing) and sat on the floor reading aloud while I sat in a leather chair with a fresh scotch.
This is the way it was if I leave out everything to do with politics. You are welcome.
Posted by cafe selavy at 9:26 AM