Sunday, December 5, 2021

So Long


I have a new morning routine.  I get up and limp around in agony, sit in agony, rise in agony from severe pain in some part of me I have no descriptive words for.  Does it stem from my back?  Is it the top of my hip?  The old sacroiliac, I guess.  It is a searing pain that won't let up.  Not until I go back to bed.  And when I rise the second time, miraculously, the pain is gone.  That is just how it works.  

I am in the pre-back to bed stage now.  I try to angle in my chair to relieve the very acute pain.  It hardly works.  

It is not unusual for old people to have back, hip, and/or knee pain.  Pain is part of growing old, it seems, especially for anyone who has put a lot of miles on their body.  I've put on many, many miles.  

I realize that this is my place for whining.  There is no one in the house to whom I might complain and reach out for succor, and I don't look for mercy in the streets.  The morning laptop is my confessor, I guess, my counselor, my therapist.  

So I should say that I am not sleeping well, either.  

But enough of that.  I could go to a doctor, but I don't trust them anymore.  As I've opined before, they will be replaced by algorithms soon.  That is really all your primary care doctor is now.  They run lab work and work out the algorithm for treatment.  

"It looks like your ________ number is a little high.  I think we need to get you on some _______."

I've decided that I am going to reply, "That's exactly what my herbalist said.  But I've been seeing a Chinese doctor, and he thinks we can substitute milk thistle and arginine and work in some cupping and probably get the same results."  

That should drive her mad.  Don't ever let them put you on any drugs.  Once you do, you are enslaved.  You will never get your prescription refilled without a trip to the doc.  They are like pimps and pushers that way.  You may go in feeling fine, but they will find something wrong.  Go in with something wrong, however, and they will send you to a specialist.  The specialist will try a few different treatments before he or she sends you to another specialist.  The back doc will send you to the hip doc who will send you to a vascular specialist.  None of them, however, will prescribe a good narcotic to relieve the pain, however.  

Back in the day, you would go to see Old Doc Jones.  He was always finishing a cigarette when you walked into the room.  He'd give you a good going over and then prescribe a few fun pills--tranquilizers, sleeping pills, diet pills, and Tylenol with codeine for pain.  

Of course you'd probably die at sixty, but you would look much older.  

Perhaps it is the pain that has led me to my contemplation of self.  "Self" is a hard term to use scientifically.  Let me be basic.  We are a collection of cells.  Take one of yours and put it somewhere else. Under a microscope, for example.  Then ask yourself, "Is that me?"  That cell will not be like the ones in your eye or in your brain though it will share a lot of the same genetic traits.  

"A lot?" your query.  Yes.  Mostly.  But not exactly.  Depending on how long you've been around, mutations have changed many, many cells in your body.  Most are harmless, but some are bad.  And of course, most of the cells in your body are not you.  They are foreign bacteria and fungi and viruses.  They make up over 50 percent of your desiccated body weight.  What is fascinating is that they exchange genetic materials with your own cells.  

I sit and contemplate this quite often now.  What, exactly, is "me."  My thoughts and emotions don't emanate from a single place.  My thoughts are the result of a conglomeration of cells interacting, not all of them the same.  My experience of the "outside" world is challenged as I get older.  Colors are less saturated.  Fewer sounds are detected.  I can neither smell nor taste the things I once was able to.  My friend with Lewy body is being wrecked by proteins his own body--his very own cells--are producing in his brain.  He will soon see things that we don't see, small gremlins and little monsters running all about.  

Will that be him?  His wife will say that it is not him, that he is gone.  

We are no more "selves" than a sponge in many ways, a vast network of cells that interact for the good of the whole.  A single cell organism like an amoeba has more claim to selfhood, I think, than we.  But to what end?  To what good?  

I stare through my failing eyes at what I've written and wonder what essence I maintain from birth to death that makes me think of "self."  My awareness is not the awareness of the twelve year old me.  

And yet the courts will rule when selfhood begins.  

I was asked that very question at a party the other night.  "When do you think life begins?"

"Twelve," I replied.  "That seems an acceptable age to me."

At first their was much jocular agreement, but then they thought about what I might mean and then I got the jaundiced eye.  

Apparently a lot of what we mean by "self" is measured through suffering.  It is the "self" that suffers.  In America, our greatest arguments are about selfhood.  And of course I can distinguish one person from another.  We are individuated at the very least.  There is some vast collection of elements that are distinct.  

Having said that, however, I suggest trying to match pictures of people in their youth with the ones taken in old age.  I say pictures because that is all we have.  But whatever that thing was that made them recognizable at one time has morphed catastrophically over time.  Are they the same person?  

I don't know.  The longer I live, I really don't know.  

That is my jejune take on that, anyway.  You can read great philosophers on the idea.  Hell, you can even watch YouTube videos about it.  

But I wonder what the self is alone?  Do we lose ourselves in others?  Hemingway's universe of two?  The monk alone in the mountains?  The man in the crowd?  

I've just been alone so long.  




Saturday, December 4, 2021

Senseless Passing

Friday night passed.  I only realized it late.  Friday night.  I cooked dinner for my mother.  Friday night.  Shit.  Sitting alone at home processing photographs and drinking whiskey.  Friday night.  I guess.  

See my photo of the MotelX in the daytime?  Here it is at night (link).  

Did I think a Sunday afternoon looked dangerous?  Friday night at the old MotelX.  

Friday night.  It caught me unawares.  

I scanned another roll of film.  It is a cheaper film, a good film.  I like it very much.  It was  the first roll of the film that I had shot and developed.  It lies flat, scans well.  I will order more today.  Maybe I will keep shooting film after all.  I discovered a new way to scan film on the better scanner.  The scans come out faster and better than any I have ever done before.  Very good scans.  Good old film.  

Still, it takes a long time.  It is a day's work.  And in the end, I often end up with nothing of importance, nothing of interest.  

The Jeffery Epstein trial of Ghislane Maxwell has gotten bizarre.  How could it not?  But prosecutors are introducing as evidence of wrongdoing the very things that most of you have at home.  It doesn't end here.  It is only a beginning.  The trial is pornography for the sexually oppressed/repressed.  Grab your socks and hold onto your cocks, friends.  It is far from over.  

If you had a monster child who shot up a school and killed some kids, what would you do?  Would you run away and hide in a warehouse?  

I'm betting they didn't vote for Biden.  

I know I had more to write, but I am up in the very dark with a pain in my hip that is searing.  The coffee pot is already empty.  My plan was to go back to bed at dawn, but dawn is still far away.  Music sounding strange to these western ears pulses in the background (link).  It is hypnotic.  I'm hoping it will distract me from the pain.  Perhaps, but it distracts me from whatever thoughts I had before rising as well.  

I am anxious without obvious cause.  Perhaps it is simply the senseless passing of time.  Just watching the account run dry.  

Friday, December 3, 2021

Bad Santa, Uncle Billy, and the Like


When I looked back at the negatives on the light table, there was ONE photo with a human figure.  It was one of two negatives that were somehow--I don't know, really.  They looked like light had leaked in on them, but that is fairly impossible as they were smack dab in the middle of the role.  But they were gray.  Perhaps it was the sun that did it.  It looks like I was shooting into it.  Maybe that was the cause.  But the flatbed scanner didn't pick up the image.  After seeing them on the light table, I decided to try scanning with the better scanner.  I was able to pull an image that I could take into Lightroom and Photoshop and one other application and finally pull a recognizable image.  It is my favorite image from the whole roll, of course, so it had to be ruined somehow.  

I ended up scanning several images on the better scanner.  It is awfully slow taking an average of fifteen minutes per negative.  Yes, using film--developing and scanning your own--can be a drag.  Having said that, and after shooting digital images again, I will look back and think, "There is just something about a photo made on film."  

There is no end to dissatisfaction.  

I didn't see my mother yesterday.  I went to dinner with a group from the factory instead.  Small group.  Outdoors.  When I got there, I thought I had left my wallet at home and said I would have to come back, but, of course, they said no, they had me covered.  I need to forget my wallet more often, I said.  Good ruse.  When I got home, though, I could not find my wallet.  It had been in the car the whole time.  

No matter.  

I was not feeling well at all when I went, and so I was unusually quiet.  When I did speak, however, I managed to shock the group, a Woke crowd if I have ever seen one.  But since it was dinner, they were fairly trapped and nobody decided to leave.  I'm not fit for Woke company.  I know that, but I have to relearn the lesson ever so often.  There are lines that I just can't help but cross.  

Otherwise, however, dinner was pleasant-ish and the food didn't make me sick.  I was fearful as Ili and I ate there when it first opened and both of us were sick and swore we would never eat there again.  It was a running joke.  But the food last night was o.k.  

Two of the party were the two people who also contracted Covid at the same dinner party as I.  It was their kids who brought it.  I asked them about Long Covid symptoms.  The husband said no, but the wife said yes, that she got tired easily and had some other problems, too.  Though we were all vaccinated, it hit us pretty hard.  I'm still hoping to recovery fully someday.  

The birthday girl at the table told a story from her youth involving a boy named--ready?--Johnny Casanova!  No shit.  If I had a name like that. . . well, I imagine my entire life would have been different.  A name like that would certainly change your life's trajectory.  Such a name is too good to be true.  

"Hello.  I'm Johnny Casanova."  

I guess it would serve you well in your youth, anyway, but probably no one would take you seriously as an adult.  Yea, I guess a name like that might be a real career deterrent.  

She grew up in New Jersey, of course. 

It is Friday, I guess.  I think I missed the lighting of the Christmas tree on the Boulevard last night.  I almost always go.  The Bach Choir sings songs of the season and the Tiffany Museum sets up Tiffany window displays throughout the park.  Then there is a Vespers concert at the Country Club College held in a wonderfully designed chapel.  And Saturday is the Christmas parade.  I'm pretty sure it is a Christmas parade because Santa rides the last float.  And before you know it, I will be sitting with the incredibly shrinking group of miscreants for holiday drinks on Christmas Eve.  

But I don't know to which if any of the events I will attend.  The world seems incredibly diminished compared to the past.  Wait.  You'll see.  It will happen to you, too.  

One of the things that surprised me last night was the group's answer to my question of which Christmas movies were on their list.  I totally don't watch the ones they were mentioning but for one. "Elf."  That was always on the holiday viewing "musts" along with "A Very Murray Christmas" (which most had never seen), "Bad Santa," and "Love Actually."  I mean, really, who doesn't love Uncle Billy?  

I know, I know. . . you love "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and the claymation films like "Rudolph," etc.  I like them, too.  

Anyway, the Christmas season just tumbled onto me.  I guess I will try and find some holiday cheer.  Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls and all that.  Many years ago, Ili and I were playing darts at a nearby Irish Pub.  The holiday music was incredible.  What was it, we asked.  "Pandora's Hipster Holidays" we were told.  Man, that was good for awhile, but I'm not so sure how it will sound now.  I'll dip in and let you know.  Or. . . you can check it out for yourselves.  

Here's the other ruined negative on the roll that I scanned.  I had to work to pull an image from this one, too.  I took this just before the other.  I can't say what happened, really.  I'm just cursed.  


Thursday, December 2, 2021

Perfect Day

 
Deciding where to begin in telling a chain of events isn't always easy.  We all know that telling it chronologically is the easiest way, but it is not necessarily the best way.  Starting with the penultimate moment then jumping back to the beginning is also fairly easy, and you still finish with the denouement.  But sometimes the order of importance is not chronological, so you might narrate hierarchically.  Early in the morning after a bad night's sleep, it is bothersome to think about such things, so you just tell it however it occurs to you.  

I don't know.  Just saying.  

I'm flummoxed about where to begin.  I'll just start.  "It was one of those gorgeous days. . . . "  You know what I mean.  It should have been good.  But after the gym and after eating lunch and after showering, it was still early afternoon.  I have had such fun walking with film cameras, I was thinking of driving to a far away redneck bar sitting on the dry bank of a southern river of grass, a redneck place with a parking lot often full of motorcycles and pickup trucks.  It is the launching place for airboats in a narrow canal where I've watched a long, steady flow of alligators pass without seeming end, heads to tails, as they say.  It's a redneck place I've passed a thousand times on my way to the redneck beach where the sand is brown and the bars are rowdy.  In all the years, though, I've never stopped there.  I thought to take my cameras, make some pictures along the way, and see if I could rent a ride on an airboat for a bit.  Wide angle pictures of my cracker captain in front of the big wind blades that power the boat.  Etc.  

That's what I thought I should do.  I'd been thinking that for days.  But I sat and thought about it and didn't move and the afternoon drifted by me.  And then, as happens, it seemed too late.  The clear air and blue sky and the perfect shadows jeered.  What the hell?  I was letting what little life I have left just dissipate in a waking coma.  

And so, to palliate my dissatisfaction and my anger, I decided to do the other thing I'd been thinking about but not doing.  I would develop film.  

On a perfect day, I went to the garage to mix up chemicals.  Fixer 1:4.  Developer 1:1.  But the garage has neither ice nor a microwave, so I made the trip back to the house.  Temperatures corrected, I crossed the yard back to the garage.  Hands into the changing tent, I fumbled with the developing reels.  I couldn't get the first roll onto the reel without buckling.  Back up.  Again.  Back up. Again.  Finally.  Second roll, same thing.  Anxiety sweat collecting.  Eventually, both rolls of film were in the tank.  I snapped the plastic top on and walked it to the sink for the first rinse.  Straight tap water, one minute.  Then the developer for ten.  Then a wash for two.  Fix for five.  Hypo clear for two.  All of this with intermittent agitation, me standing at the sink staring into the block wall.  Then the final wash--ten minutes.  I walked the film back to the house in its canister where I made a final rinse with purified water, pulled the film off the spools, squeegeed them, and hung them up to dry.  There were images.  Everything had worked.  

I had another roll of film of a different type with different times and concentrations.  Back to the garage.  Mix the chemicals.  Cross back to the house.  Into the changing tent.  Etc.  

When this third roll of film was finished, it was time to go to my mother's.  I had successfully fucked away a perfect day.  Did I mention it was perfect?  

My mother said she had a pork tenderloin she would fix for dinner.  I needed a beer.  In the perfect light in the late afternoon of a perfect day, I drove to my mother's where we sat in the open garage once again drinking beer and chatting with the passing neighbors.  They all like drinking now, even the ones who didn't before.  That has been my contribution to the neighborhood.  It has made my mother a very popular member of the group.  

When the last people had gone and the last drop of beer was drunk, we went in to make dinner.  Dusk had fallen.  

I made the avocado and tomato salad and set the jasmine rice to cooking.  My mother steamed the broccoli and put the slices of pork into the pan.  I poured a glass of wine and sat down to watch the news.  No, not the news.  I sat down to watch people opine.  

"Well now, I think that if. . . . "  You know. . . specialist who contribute.  When time came, I switched over to the BBC.  They just deliver news from around the world without so much opining.  

We sat down to dinner.  First the salad, then the meal.  

The first bite of the pork loin made me gag.  

"What the. . . ." 

My mother agreed, but she had eaten most of her small piece already.  

"Something's wrong with this."

"It doesn't taste right, does it?"

"No. . . how'd you eat that?"  But I knew.  Hillbillies will eat anything whether it tastes good or not.  They may not like it, but they aren't just going to throw food away.  

"I think I'm going to get sick," I said.  Indeed, I have an active imagination when it comes to food.  I was already belching.  "Where did you buy that?"

"I don't remember." 

"I've told you NOT to buy meat from Aldis.  Jesus, for all I know you bought this at a third world camel market just to save a couple pennies."  I was livid.  I finished off my rice and broccoli and said I had to go.  "I need whiskey," I said.  

My mother felt very bad, of course.  I tried to laugh it off between belches to make her feel better.  

Back home, I poured a mighty one.  That seemed to end the belching.  

"You're such a fucking head case," I thought.  "You should call your mother and apologize."  

But I didn't.  I poured another whiskey and decided to start cutting the dried negatives.  I put on my iTunes station and got to work.  And when they were all cut, I hooked up the Epson scanner.  I was anxious to see what I had.  

100 frames, approximately, and not a person in any of them.  I've become the worst photographer in town. Frame after boring frame of buildings and signs shot wide at weird angles trying to make something of interest.  Black and white and boring.  I was scanning them quickly on the flatbed to see them, and the scans were muddy and unsharp.  I put them in the holder, punched the button, then sat back watching the computer screen and listening to the music mixing with the scanner's hum.  For hours.  

Failure on all counts.  Looking through the strips of proofs, I picked a few to scan large, but they turned out badly.  You can't really scan 35mm negatives on a flatbed and get good results.  I took them into Photoshop and tried to make something of them.  I pulled ever trick I know trying to make the boring, poorly scanned images interesting.  

I looked at the digital clock on the computer.  I'd wasted the day.  It had been a beautiful one.  Had I mentioned that?  

That sums up my life in short.  I may be done with film, or at least with processing and scanning it myself.  I don't know.  My skills are gone.  It's probably a result of Covid.  

Still, you know. . . there was the music and the whiskey.  Oh. . . my iTunes station is getting better all the time.  New music I like but have never heard before.  If nothing else, there is the music.  

Oh, yes. . . the image above is the abandoned building where I went to pee and saw the cocksucker and his boyfriend.  Maybe I'm just bitter.  I mean, that's more sex than I have had in a very long time.  

* * *

Oh. . . this is where the tale should have begun.  I slept poorly last night, waking again and again gasping for breath.  Apnea.  By all accounts, it is killing me.  Up and down, glaring at the clock.  I gave up as the first light broke the horizon shortly before sunrise.  As is my habit, I walked to the kitchen and hit the button on the coffee maker.  It just beeped.  I hadn't set it up before going to bed.  I cleaned it, poured the water, poured he beans.  It seemed like an omen for another perfect day.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Absolute Zero

 

I'm sitting here staring at the screen completely blank, without a story or an idea.  I wrote two sentences about the weather which is perfect, but WTF?  I ate a bad lunch yesterday while the maids were here, then fairly skipped dinner.  Drank a beer with ma which made my belly feel a little better.  That's about it.  

I got nothing. 

Best to let you off the hook today, I guess.  I'll do more damage with drivel than with a blanker page.  I don't even want to post a photo.  Nope.  I guess I'll just leave you with this in case you didn't know.  

Enjoy. 


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Duck and Cover

I received a lot of comments about yesterday's post. Much of it was a question of whether the city encouraged Drugs and Prostitution outside the designated zones.  Evidence would suggest "yes" as long as it doesn't bleed over into Disney.  At Universal. . . O.K.  But not Disney.  

Q is at Universal.  

My mother, in the meantime, has been telling all her friends that I saw a white guy sucking off a black guy behind an abandoned building.  Why she insists on doing this. . . well. . . it must be old age dementia.  But she says her friends are all delighted.  Surely they all suffer from it.  

Me?  I had nightmares.  

For some reason, though, everyone thinks I have photos of the event. I never said that.  I think I said something much the opposite.  But now I think I should have chanced it.  I mean, I didn't know what delight it would bring to others.  

After my adventure on Sunday afternoon, though, yesterday was a letdown.  I don't even have a "highlight of the day."  Nothing.  Nada.  Bagel.  Zip. 

So I turn to the news.  Omicron.  They are now naming diseases to sound like horror movies.  I think it needs a second part, though: Omicron the ____________.   Avenger?  Destroyer?  I'll leave it to you the studio audience to decide.  And I guess your choice will much depend on whether you are a liberal, a progressive, or a flat-earther.  

But to tell you the truth, it seems like things are going to get much worse.  I need to understand that I will live the rest of my life in solitude.  

Then there is Ghislane.  Oh, I just opined quite a bit about her and her trial here, but I deleted it.  I just think that if they are going to prosecute, they should include everyone starting with the girl's parents and then every teen who took money for sex.  But hey--I don't really think sex is a bad thing, even now in my in my forced abstinence.  Not even the guys behind the building.  

But maybe Paul McCartney should be on trial.  You know, she was just seventeen. . . you know what I mean. . . and the way she looked was way beyond compare.

Sure, those are terrible lyrics.  He should be convicted of language abuse.  Comparison, Paul. . . comparison.  Fucking British hillbilly. 

But. . . they gave Dylan a Nobel Prize for the likes of "Lay Lady Lay."  Fucked up a whole generation.  "Lie Lady Lie."  Get your tenses right.  

Sex, though. . . you know?  It's some pretty bad shit.  Fucks you up unless its biblical. 

Doesn't matter to me, really.  I'm a cuddler.  I just like lying next to my own true love.  The rest of it is just kind of funny.  

Except for those taking the money.  

Elizabeth Holmes new defense is that her boyfriend abused her.  Camille Paglia is right.  Men are dangerous animals.  Just look at what has taken place in the Australian Parliament.  But of course. . . Australia. . . you know?  

I guess sex sells papers.  It must.  People love to read about it.  They loved watching "To Catch a Predator."  You can't go wrong selling sex.  Heck, just look at all the lascivious stories in the Bible.  

I'm surprised they haven't revised the show: "To Catch a Priest."  

And now that transgenderism is so popular. . . . 

Whoa!  We've taken a bad turn somewhere in the road.  Let's back this shit up.  

I think I'll blame this on watching "Spun" last night.  If you haven't seen it, give it a go.  Jason Schwartzman, Mickey Rourke, and a whole lot of blurred out sex organs if you watch it on Amazon Prime.  God, that must have been something shocking before Amazon censored it.  Crazy movie about crank addicts.  I watched it after reading "Everyday Was Overcast" (link), so my mind is filled with images I didn't make on Sunday afternoon.  

I know outside my little hometown life is hideous.  I can feel the Drugs and Prostitution pressing in.  And I'm not kidding when I say it scares me.  

So did climbing mountains and making decompression dives into deep water caves though.  Something is wrong with me, I know.  

But hey--Omicron.  End Times, baby.  These are End Times.  

All we can do is Duck and Cover.  


Monday, November 29, 2021

Packing Much Into a Few Hours

My struggles continue.  I know, I know, you have your own to crab about, but I am going to try to make mine entertaining.  I wish to perform the old literary trick, you know. . . to inform AND to delight.  Therein lies the art of things, or so they say.  That's what I was told, anyway, in the hallowed halls of enlightenment.  Besides, the horror here onstage are meant to purge you of your own fears once you leave the auditorium.  You'll feel better once the tale is told.  That is what they preached in the old hallowed halls, too.  I must warn you, though.  If you are sensitive to strong language or sexual content, you may want to stop here.  Some of what is to follow may offend your social sensibilities, too.  I am not sure.  I haven't written it yet.  

On Saturday night, I went to bed tired.  On Sunday morning, I got up tired.  Something is killing me, but it is hard to pin down.  I can only blame it on the long haul effects of Covid which I shouldn't experience having been vaccinated and all, though some of you careful readers have reflected that I must have had Covid at least four times according to the blog.  O.K.  That's fair.  But the last time, I was tested.  You needn't beat me while I'm down.  

First thing, I got a text from Q correcting me on some factual details.  He loves to correct me and I know he will treat me badly when I am on canes or in a wheelchair.  He has no affection for those who must suffer.  But writing the blog had taken the last shreds of energy from me and I was not prepared for witty repartee, so I took myself back to bed.  When I got up the second time, I felt no better, so I decided to eat a big breakfast.  I cooked up some eggs and sausage and ate it with gusto.  After polishing off the plate, though, I was once again overwhelmed by fatigue.  I went back to bed.  

I rose again in the afternoon.  I didn't want to, but I felt some silly duty.  I staggered around the house without purpose, bored by the season's hum, disinterested.  What?  C'mon, pal.  You've got to get out of the house.  Remember yesterday?  Remember?

So I put on some clothes, grabbed my camera bag, and headed out the door.  Once in the car, motor running, I felt a wave of nausea come over me.  Where was I going?  I hadn't a clue.  So I just pointed the car in the same direction I took the day before.  I would pick up on that stretch of dreadful highway where I had previously ended.  

Bingo!

Trouble was, I was heading into dangerous territory, and I wondered where in the hell I could leave my car?  I turned off the highway into a neighborhood I'd never been in before. In just a few blocks, the world was transformed into a picturesque old neighborhood with nice houses, manicured lawns and the beginnings of Christmas decorations.  The street looked safe enough.  I parked on the side of the street, grabbed my camera bag, and walked back into the throng.  

On the corner of the highway where I had turned was an old hotel that used to be a nice one when I was a kid.  Now, however, it was a beehive of drug addicts and prostitutes.  And this was not a small place.  Nope.  It covered many acres with over a hundred rooms.  Now it looked like something that had been abandoned.  Dangerous looking characters hung out on walkways and in the parking lot.  I passed what surely was a pimp and one of his girls.  I tried to look like I knew what I was doing, tried to look like I hung here all the time.  

Good luck, white boy.  

On the opposite side of the street was a minimart/gas station where a bunch of "brothers" hung.  They were shouting and waving and running up to cars.  The parking lot was teeming with what the signs politely call "loiterers."  I don't think anyone was enforcing the rules over there.  I grew up in a rough place, and I knew the vibe, the people, the activities.  And I know it can be dangerous.  All it takes is a tiny bit of blood in the water and heads start to jerk and limbs start to twitch, and in the flash of an eye a person can get caught up in something that will make them wish they had stayed home.  Just don't look like a wounded fish, I told myself.  Act like you know what you're doing.  Act like you belong.  

I had gone some distance from where I ended my photo journey the day before, so I walked back in that direction which was good as there were not so many people on the street.  I was carrying two Leica's and an expensive camera bag (link).  An old fat man with bling.  Fuck yea.  I looked like I knew what I was doing, alright.  But like I say, it felt o.k. as I was walking away from the crowd.  

I was taking pictures, but they were as they have been, buildings and things, frames devoid of humans.  But, I told myself, I was out of my neighborhood, away from all the privileged, glossy looking things.  Maybe there would be some grit to these black and white images.  If I were lucky.  Maybe.  I could only hope.  The street was littered with run down buildings that housed medical facilities for those who had ruined their livers or had run afoul of some sexual virus.  There were the sort of legal offices that looked like they housed movie versions of schlemiel attorneys representing the poor.  There were posters echoing the voice of the people.  



And, of course, there were spiritual houses that offered in big letters--HOPE!  

None of this was outstanding I knew as I walked the sparsely trafficked Sunday afternoon highway.  

It was cold, and I guess I had been a little "tense" earlier, and suddenly I really had to pee.  Across the highway was an abandoned building covered in spray paint.  "I'll just hop over there and relieve myself," I thought.  I wouldn't be the first to do so, I was sure.  I crossed over to the building taking pictures as I approached the back lot of the place.  And as I passed a gap between the larger building and a smaller outbuilding, I saw a guy.  No, it was two guys.  A white guy was sitting on an overturned bucket.  A black guy was kind of hovering over him.  Wait.  What?  Oh, shit. . . I backed away quickly.  The white boy was giving the black guy a blow job.  Yup.  I'd stumbled onto some young love.  Either that or they were playing "prison."  Whatever it was, I was tiptoeing out of there as fast as I could.  Shit, shit, shit. . . I didn't want to see that. 

I crossed back over the highway thinking I didn't really need to pee that bad, and moved on up the street toward yesterday's destination.  In a little bit, though, I saw something curious and crossed back over.  I don't remember what it was now, but as I wandered off the highway a few blocks, I came to the sign at the head of the blog.  I had entered a Drug and Prostitution Free Zone.  I couldn't remember having ever been in one before.  I didn't even know the city had such a thing.  But there it was in big letters boldly announced by the Proper Authorities.  I chuckled thinking of someone looking for the free prostitutes, maybe stopping to ask someone where they were, wondering if I could get my own little hometown to post some of those happy proclamations as well.

When I reached the far end of my journey, I turned around to walk the mile or so back to the car.  Once, coming back to the road from behind a crumbling building, I ran into a rough looking girl with a dirty face and some ragged clothes.  We made eye contact, and she started to say something, but then she shook her head and walked on.  When I got back on the sidewalk, she was talking to a tall Black fellow who had been following me down the street.  The two of them stood and talked for a minute.  If I had any balls, I thought, I'd go talk to them and try to get a photo, but though my balls have grown longer, they have gotten no larger, so I continued on my way.  As I was often pausing to take pictures, the Black fellow casually overtook me.  He had a bright face, dreads that looked well-tended, and an overcoat that looked fresh.

"Are you a photographer?" he asked as he approached, a good smile on his friendly face.  He wasn't homeless.  I wondered what he was doing.  Was he a social worker?  A "man of the cloth"?  

I looked at him with a wry smile and a shrug.  "I've got cameras. . . ."  

He laughed.  "I guess that was an obvious question," he said and passed saying, "Have a nice day."  When he was gone, I thought that I wasn't doing a very good job.  I mean, I should have engaged him a bit, found out a little about the place, maybe have taken his portrait.  Well, I consoled myself, you're just getting warmed up.  You'll get there.  You'll get better.  

When I got back to where I began, I passed a white guy, homeless and beat for sure, and with barely a glance he said to me, "You better put those cameras away.  These niggers will kill you for them."  That's when I realized a fellow across the street, part of the screaming parking lot crowd, was shouting and gesturing in my direction.  O.K. O.K.  I've taken enough photos, I thought as I slipped my camera back into its beautiful and elegant bag.  I wasn't in a place where I was going to get any help if the shit hit the fan.  I could feel my step quicken.  Just a block to where I turned by the Crack and Vagina Hotel, then a few more blocks.  I passed a group of fellows hanging around a garbage can without meeting their eyes.  Shit, I thought, I should be packing.  Just a little .22.  Nothing that would kill, but a deterrent nonetheless.  

Back in the car, the world seemed strange.  I sat for a moment before I started the engine.  Yea, I thought.  Yea.  

Heading back home, I drove through layers of increasing influence, abandoned buildings giving way to neighborhoods with broken cars, then the homes of more affluent working class, past the country club and onto streets where long legged young women jogged in halter tops and running shorts or walked their spaniels while talking on their cell phones.  

Little Kit Kat was waiting for me on the deck.  It was time to feed her and head over to my mother's for dinner.  I was hungry.  I was spent.  I grabbed a bottle of cold white wine.  I was ready to eat.  

But when I got to my mother's house, several neighbors were there.  Two women were talking in the driveway.  Their dogs were playing in the yard.  While they chatted in low tones to one another, I poured two glasses of wine and told my mother what I had just done.  

"And the white guy was pleasuring the black guy," I told her.  "I think I'll have nightmares."

"Me, too, just from your telling me," she said.  

When the women finished up with their hushed conversation, they came over to chat.  It turned out the the younger of the two had complications from her case of Covid and had to have her implants removed.  That  is how she explained it, anyway.  The women chatted about that for a few minutes, then my mother said, "My son just had an interesting day."

"No, uh-uh," I said to her.  WTF?  Mom wanted me to tell a cock and balls story to the neighbors?  No, no. . . uh-uh.  

I have to say, though, that my mother's neighbors tend to stay when I come over which is irritating to a hungry fellow.  All I wanted to do was eat dinner and get home, but the women stayed on.  Then, the woman who had just had her implants removed told me she needed someone to massage her breasts!  She is a woman in her forties, not unattractive, but I don't know her that well, and I was shocked.  My mother simply laughed, but I don't think the woman was kidding.  

"Well, ma. . . I think we ought to get those pork chops on," I said getting up from my chair, the neighbor women giving me the wistful eye.  

My mother had a good laugh about everything over dinner, but I can tell she thinks I need a girlfriend.  

I changed the subject.  

"You know I haven't eaten corn in like ten years since I had the case of diverticulitis.  But I ate that creamed corn at Thanksgiving and the next day with leftovers, and I didn't have any trouble.  So today, I went online and researched it a little bit, and everything I read--and I read an actual study, not just a report--said that popcorn did not have a detrimental effect, and, indeed, the study showed that people who ate popcorn were less likely to have bouts of diverticulitis.  They speculated that it was because popcorn is high in fiber.  So. . . I bought some popcorn at the grocery store today.  And remember the reports that claimed microwave popcorn caused cancer?  I researched that, too, and the harmful chemicals that were lining the inside of the bags have been removed.  I read about which brands of microwave popcorn were healthiest.  So tonight. . . ."

It was quite thrilling.  I love popcorn, but this would be my first taste in a decade.  I put the bag in the oven and listened to it pop.  It wasn't like massaging titties, but I have to say I was pretty darn excited.  

It had been quite a day, from Q to popcorn.  Not bad, I thought, for someone who spent most of his day sleeping.









Sunday, November 28, 2021

A Q Sighting

I made it out of the house yesterday as almost promised.  I took my film cameras out and finished every roll walking for miles amidst the flotsam and jetsam along the dirty highway that serves as a central artery in our fair city.  I just snapped away.  Who knows?  There might be something interesting there.  I doubt it, but the exercise brought me back to the fact that the only way to take pictures is to go out with your cameras and try to see something.  I saw many things, not all of them photographable.  Photography and exploring go hand in hand.  How often have you driven by a place and thought, "I should come back and take a picture"?  Of course, you never go back, or if you do, you wonder why.  If you see something, it won't be there when you go back, or if it is, it won't inspire the same wonder.  That is not a dictum, though, just a general observation.  I mean, the Grand Canyon or Arches National Monument will still be there and will still be magnificent surely.  But. . . you know what I mean--in general.  


When I finished the rolls of film, I got back into my car and drove home.  It was about the time I usually get out of the house.  I loaded the cameras with more film and wondered what to do.  I had a brilliant idea. I'd go to breakfast.  Back in the car, I drove the short distance to the Boulevard.  It was crowded, crawling with outlanders.  Cars would stop mid-Boulevard to pick up or let off passengers.  The doors of parked cars swung open without concern.  It was nerve wracking for this reporter as my eye was drifting constantly from the road to the sidewalk dotted with attractive women.  This is when I miss my Vespa most.  By the time I found a place to park, I might as well have walked the half mile from home.  For a Vespa, there is always a place to park.  

The small French bakery was full, and I thought I would have to sit somewhere undesirable.  I ordered my Croissant Benedict with two poached eggs, ham, cheese, etc, and a cup of coffee and sat at the window counter.  Before my food arrived, however, the sidewalk table in front of my window cleared and I made a dash.  Yes, this was perfect.  I should eat here more often, I thought as I made my way through three thousand or so delicious calories.  It was one of the finest breakfasts in town.  

When I finished, I spied the Boulevard for a bit, watching the crowd amble by, wishing I was taking photos of the passing parade, but I've learned that nothing good comes of my taking pictures in my own hometown.  No, intruding on strangers is one thing, but having your neighbors watch you do it is something else altogether.  No camera, just an aesthetic eye.  

Q was in town with his family staying at one of the nearby resorts.  He had asked me to come out to see them for dinner, but by afternoon, I was feeling as I've felt every afternoon for awhile now.  When I got home from breakfast, I felt I could barely stand and so I lay down to take nap.  Waking up mid-afternoon, I still felt the hum and vibration of fatigue throughout my body.  I hadn't heard from Q and so I thought perhaps they had gotten busy and we would not be able to meet.  I still had the dregs of the day on me, so I hopped in the shower hoping to feel a bit better.  When I had finished with all my ablutions, I found that Q had texted.  

"Are you still planning on coming to the hotel tonight?"

I wrote back that I was having a shaky day and that maybe tomorrow we could meet for breakfast.  But then he mentioned a sushi bar in the hotel, beer, sake. . . .   I said I'd be there by five.  

I never go to the resorts.  It is a madhouse of traffic on an interstate highway that has been under construction for the last ten years.  The closer I got, I could see the river of brake lights going on and off like Christmas decorations ahead.  Thank God for Google maps.  Otherwise, I would have never known how to get to his hotel through the spiderweb of roads, attractions, and restaurant chains.  Indeed, Google got me to the address Q had provided, but not to where I had intended.  I was in a maze of ballrooms and buildings that were not the hotel.  Backtracking and crossing highways, however, without the aid of a talking navigator, I eventually did.  And there was Q, waiting on me.  

We've not seen one another for many years now, long before I got cracked on my little scooter.  But he had changed little, and when he walked me inside, the same was true of his ex.  The child had grown, but they all looked just as they do on his occasional blog postings.  His brother and nephews were there as well having come to spend the day with them by the pool.  I felt myself intruding somewhat as Q and I headed for the bar.  His brother and ex stayed with the kids, so we ordered a bottle of sake and some hors d'oeuvres and chatted about his vacation up to that point.  He and the family had been all over the state staying mostly by the sea.  They were spending the last few days of their vacation in a children's wonderland enjoyed by retarded adults from around the planet.  But I swear the sushi was delicious and the bar pleasant.  Q's ex joined us for a moment, and Q took the opportunity to go check on his brother and the kids.  She gave me the lowdown on their vacation activities, but the one that most intrigued me was their stay at the luxurious Fountain Bleu Hotel.  I want to stay there for a few days, but the prices are astronomical and I can never find a room for under $700/night, and that in some annex room facing the highway.  

When Q came back, there seemed to be some plan for the families, so I said it had been nice to see them all again and made my quick adieus.  I had, in essence, had my Q sighting.  

Back home, my thoughts were on photography.  I pulled out some photo books and sat at desk I rarely use that has a good reading light and turned the pages slowly, thinking.  Having finished looking at one big book, I leaned back in the swivel chair with the broken leg and took a tumble absolutely backwards onto my head and back.  Kaboom!  The pain, however, was in my legs where they had been battered by the wooden arms of the chair.  I don't take many tumbles any more and so it is a foreign sensation to me now.  I lay there staring at the ceiling taking inventory of my body.  Everything seemed fine but for the stinging in my thighs.  I stayed that way waiting for the throbbing in my thighs to abate as it slowly but surely did.  Getting up, I knew there would be bruises, but nothing too terrible.  I need to fix that chair, I thought.  It is a fine, old wooden swivel desk chair made in the Adirondacks in the 1930s.  No, I probably would never fix it.  I should take it in to have it repaired.  It would probably cost more than I paid for the chair, but as I say, it is a fine old chair and I don't really like taking the spill when I forget not to lean backwards in it.  

I didn't feel like looking at photo books any longer, so I went to the couch and called up some documentaries on photographers that I watched for a bit.  It was early, but what the hell, I thought, I haven't felt well and now there are the bruises. . . I can go to bed if I want.  

But as I said, it was early, so I took some magic pills and tucked myself in.  I woke at midnight.  At one.  At one-thirty.  I got up and took another pill.  Two-thirty.  Three.  Three-thirty.  What the fuck?  I wasn't about to take any more. 

I will surely be dragging today, but the sky is gray, so there is not need to rush out with cameras to try to prove something to myself.  There is no call for rain, but the day will stay cloudy and cool.  Maybe I'll just eat and sleep and let the day drift by while Q and his family entertain more friends by the hotel pool.  

Tonight there will be dinner with mother.  

Saturday, November 27, 2021

I Just Might

I haven't taken a photo for months now, not since I got sick with Covid.  I was on a roll then, reaching out, making contacts, experimenting with new things.  Since then, I've not had the energy to work.  It is sad and awful, really.  I have four cameras loaded with black and white film that I've been trying to finish off for weeks, but I haven't taken more than a couple useless pictures.  I don't think it is mental.  There is a mental component.  I might be depressed, but who isn't?  But I haven't much energy after about noon.  I'm like an old iPhone that won't keep a charge for more than a few hours.  It confuses me and then the mental thing comes about.  How will I make my life better if all I can manage to do is sit on the couch?  As my brain tries to wrap itself around the phenomenon, it, too, becomes enervated.  

I haven't a creative idea.  

I keep looking at articles touting psychedelics as a treatment for depression.  Cary Grant says LSD saved his life.  For years before it was illegal, they successfully treated alcoholics with LSD.  That all sounds good to me, but I grew up in the hippie drug era, and I've seen lots of friends who were altered in ways not so enviable. On the other hand, I was friends for awhile with a incredibly beautiful fellow who was the first Crest boy in t.v. commercials to get whatever percent fewer cavities.  He was signed by Hollywood and given all the etiquette classes, horseback riding classes, acting classes, etc.  He was presumed to be a would-be star.  But it was too much, he said.  He dropped out and went to Mexico.  He said he sat on the beach and did hallucinogens every day for a year.  He was still "here."  Why hadn't he turned out like my hippie friends?  

A fellow at the gym asked me the other day how many times I have tripped in my life.  I looked at him with a bit of shock.  "None," I said.  This has always been a bit of an embarrassment in truth.  I always felt that it was like saying you had never had sex.  "I was always afraid I wouldn't come back right," I told him.  

Today in the Times, I read an article about people who have "not come back right."  

I've been tempted, of course.  When we are young, we say, "When I get old, I'm going to take acid, smoke dope, shoot heroin. . . whatever.  What the hell will I be saving myself for?"

But most of us, when we get old, don't.  It is a great disappointment when your friends don't do what they say they were going to do, of course.  I have a dear Black friend who told me that when she retired, she was going to cut her hair short and bleach it platinum blonde and smoke dope every day.  She didn't, of course.  Shit happens.  Her health worsened.  But I am still quite disappointed.  

One of my colleagues gave me a hit of acid when I retired.  I put it in the freezer.  When I met up with him months later, he asked me if I took it.  I told him no, that I put it in the freezer.  He shook his head.  "You can't put it in the freezer.  It's no good now."  

I was disappointed and relieved.  It was like having the number of a sex worker in your bedside table.  Some nights, you know. . . the temptation is there.  

I know a tattoo wouldn't make me happy.  Maybe a nipple ring.  Just kidding about that, but you know, that's the sort of thing people try to make themselves happier.  I'm more likely to go to a yoga retreat.  

Today, I'm determined to finish off those rolls of film so I can process them.  I think that I will get into the car and drive to a marginal part of town, park and walk, all before the criminals arise.  That was my plan last night, anyway.  I woke up to the coldest morning we've had so far this year.  It makes the comfort of coffee and heat so nice.  But I know I need to move.  If I can break through the catatonia, I will feel better.  That, at least, is the theory.  

What I should do is go to Home Depot, by a screw gun and a circular saw and start taking apart my deck.  I can take the deck apart by myself.  Taking it apart would force me to fix it. . . I think.  

The thought of it depresses me.  There is so much to do around here.  

My circles shrink.  I become increasingly isolated.  It gets harder.  I'm not the desirable boy I used to be.  Then I could just step out the door and see what happened.  There are reasons old people don't like to go out the way they used to, and it isn't all fatigue.  

Whatever. Here's an end to this.  I'm putting on my clothes and heading out the door.  I am.  I'm going to.  I think I am.  Probably.  Maybe.  I just might.  

Friday, November 26, 2021

T-Day BeeBop

 I felt bad yesterday.  Real bad.  My back, as previously reported, was a painful mess.  But the rest of me did not feel well, either.  I've been struggling with a variety of things for a couple of days.  I traced it back in memory, and it was after I ate the ceviche lunch that things went south.  I'm not blaming the ceviche.  I could have picked up a bug sitting at the bar.  There is more than simply Covid in the air--or rather, on bar tops.  I'm afraid that since getting Covid, I've fallen back into some bad habits.  

But who knows?  I could simply be winding down.  

So, feeling lousy, I went back to bed.  And I swear, I could have stayed there until morning.  But somewhere mid-afternoon, I woke up and looked at the clock and knew I had to get up if I were going to make it to Thanksgiving dinner.  And luckily/crazy enough, when I got up, my back was fine.  The rest of me, however, was disconnected.  My brain was fuzzy.  My limbs did not feel like an integral part of me.  Surely my body was just shutting down.  These were obviously my last few hours.  

I tried to walk it off.  I put on my walking shoes and headed uptown.  Unbelievably, I was walking relatively pain-free.  But I just wasn't "there."  I walked four miles, but my head never cleared.  Back home, I showered and got ready for the thing I so much did not want to do.  

I grabbed two bottles of good champagne and headed to my mother's.  

It was the first time I had spoken all day.  That is not unusual.  You truly cannot imagine my life.  But when I did speak, it was obvious that I didn't sound right.  Perhaps I had caught something after all.  I didn't feel any better physically, but mentally I did.  Hell yes.  The end might not be as nigh as I thought.  I popped the cork on a champagne bottle.  One glass in, my belly felt better.  I think my mother improved on bubbly, too.  

At four, we grabbed champagne and my mother's best delicacy--deviled eggs--and headed across the street.  I still didn't feel well, but I was feeling better.  Once inside, though, like a good trooper, like every stage actor, I went into performance mode.  I was "there."  We popped a second cork.  I ate brie and crackers with a peppery jam.  Jesus, it was good.  Mom's deviled eggs.  More champagne.  Then the other guests, a married couple, arrived.  

My body always tightens with anxiety and my brain rises into some unconscious social attic where are stored all the old masks and costumes and small decorations that are useful at such times.  

The company, but for ma, were all approximately the same age.  All had grown up here.  That made conversation much easier, of course.  The old stroll down Memory Lane.  

"We moved here before they started the interstate.  Remember when that highway was still a dirt road?  Did you ever go to. . . ."  

The two men were lifetime members of the martial arts.  They rode motorcycles and now taught together in some dojo.  It was o.k.  I knew the types.  Intimately.  In fact, we knew some of the same characters, badass criminal types who were fighters of one kind or another.  Somehow, though, they got the impression that I, too, was a fighter.  

"Oh, no. . . not me.  I was never the baddest guy in the room.  I was the comedian.  I could read a crowd.  Those boys were my friends 'cause I could make them laugh."  

It was true.  I had always been the only hippie in a room full of thugs.  I learned to read and understand people early.  It was either that or join one of those facetious social clubs with all the clean cut kids.  I really had no choice.  

When we sat down to dinner, everything was tasty.  First came the turkey platter, then the dressing.  

"Dressing or stuffing?" I asked.  In unison--"What's the difference?"

"Well. . . stuffing goes up the turkey's butt. . . ."

The lights went on.  "Oh. . . yea. . . .  This is dressing." 

Creamed corn.  My mother worked in a creamed corn plant growing up.  She likes creamed corn still.  

"Look ma. . . homemade."  

Nope.  It came in a frozen pack.  Still, it was good. 

Eggplant casserole, green beans with ham hock,  homemade cranberry sauce, a sweet potato jumble, crescent rolls, more champagne then a sweet, bubbly Portuguese wine that was delicious.  

And then the pecan and pumpkin pies.  

My mother and I waddled back across the street after dinner.  

"I think I'm feeling better," I said.  "How'd we do?"

"I think we did fine," she said.  "But I ate too much." 

Back home, I lit a cheroot and poured a whiskey and went out onto the deck.  I was about to take an outdoor pee, but there was little Kit Kat.  

"Jesus, girl. . . I was about to piss all over you.  Pretty girl.  You're such a little kitty." 

She decided to keep me company at pissing distance while I sat and contemplated "the big picture."  It had not been a bad afternoon at all.  I was full of food and wine, and now I was back in the comforts of home.  The phone rang.  It was my mother.  She just wanted to know how I was feeling.  I said I thought I was better, but that could just be the alcohol.  

"I think we just don't eat enough," I said.  She laughed.  We both said we had an enjoyable time.  

"You just never know what people will say when you leave, though," I said.  

"Well, they never know what we are going to say when we leave," she replied.  True dat.  

"I'll get them some flowers and a card tomorrow," I said.  

"You're always so sweet," said mom.  

Good old mom.  That's what she thinks. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thanksgiving Pain

I had planned to write a long missive about the first Thanksgiving Day I spent away from home.  In Key West.  A long, long time ago.  But I will not manage it today.  I woke up with a pain in my right hip that won't go away.  Blinding pain.  Seething pain.  The sort that makes you want to puke.  I can't sit, can't stand.  There is no position that brings relief.  I'm used to pain, of course.  Not just from getting run over almost to death, either.  I've had a bad back since I was in my twenties.  My mother's side of the family is very arthritic.  Her mother's hands were crippled with it.  The ends of every bone in my body are covered in it.  But this. . . this is like being stabbed over and over again.  Screaming pain. 

Sciatica?  

Maybe I made a mistake in the gym yesterday.  I'm trying to "regain my form" you know?  I'm like that.  So yesterday I ended up with 700 pounds on the leg press machine.  It is not as heavy as it sounds.  It is not like trying to squat that much weight at all.  But it is heavy enough.  Maybe I shouldn't have done that.  

You think?

Maybe it was that or maybe it is just me wearing out, breaking down. . . maybe.  

Or maybe it is psychosomatic.  You know.  Thanksgiving with my mother's neighbors.  

So instead of a long and wonderful narrative of my Key West Thanksgiving (with all the trimmings), you get a photo of a woman who could be waiting on the Macy's Parade floats.  I wish I were there, camera in hand.  There is always something going on in a crowd like that.  

Last night I watched "Road Runner."  I had to wait until the bandits lowered their prices.  People really paid $20 to rent that on their t.v.s?  Whatever.  Even for the lower price, it was hardly worth it.  Bourdain was a conundrum.  I couldn't stand to hear him speak.  He alternated between the sort of self-effacing drivel that is meant to make you sound thoughtful and self-reflective (familiar?) and the most obvious of observations delivered in strained prose (familiar?).  But he went to interesting places and I liked watching that.  So I watched him "With Reservations." 

The documentary shows him to be an asshole while saying something else.  He was a junky, pure and simple.  His whole life.  He had an addicts personality and self-concern.  The best part of "Road Runner" was the briefest and least covered.  It was wonderful to see him with Asia Argento.  Oh. . . you could see that train coming down the tracks.  There was Bourdain hopping all around that bunny hole trying to seem cool enough for her.  You could see her obvious disdain for that.  There he was on t.v. a different man--born again--fronting the #MeToo movement (link).  A puppet on a string.  

But the documentary makers didn't care to go into it much.  They didn't talk about Jimmy Bennett at all, perhaps one of the most delicious twists the story could take (link).  They didn't talk about how much of Bourdain's money Argento spent on the case and the settlement--$380,000 plus lawyer's fees.  None of that.  Just a few seconds of tabloid photos of Argento hugging some fellow in Italy.  

Rather, it was mostly a "poor Tony" story. 

I hope history is as kind to me.  

But I'll tell you one thing (as I sit here with an excruciating pain in the back). . . I sure wonder how Bourdain staid so ripped, so loose jointed.  

I think maybe I just need to start doing more drugs.  

Maybe this afternoon to get through the turkey dinner.  

Yup, it is Thanksgiving.  I'm going to propose we go around the table today and each say what we are thankful for.  There will be no surprises.  The answers are pat.  

It will remind me of watching an episode featuring Anthony Bourdain.   

Hey. . . wait!  Doesn't that #woman in the picture remind you of someone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

I Can't Believe. . . .



God. . . I wish I had taken that photo.  Sarah Moon, one of my favorite photographers, did.  Only her photo is in black and white.  Not quite.  It is the color of old Polaroid 55 P/N film.  I hand colored it years ago.  Then I posted it.  Then it began to make its rounds on the internet.  I don't think people knew what I had done.  It is a great job, I think, better than the original.  I should be paid for my work but I'm more likely to be sued.  But I love the photograph--especially my criminal version.

I can't believe it is Thanksgiving.  Nope.  Though the weather took a turn yesterday.  It is c-o-l-d in the Sunshine State.  Whenever it dips into the forties here, it is cold.  The weather does, however, make it seem like the holidays.  You can never tell about the weather here in November.  It could be ninety in a few days time.  Today, though, the dogs will be frisky.  

Poor Kit-Kat.  She will suffer another winter outdoors just as she suffers summers.  As she has for years.  Of course it is o.k.  That is what animals do.  But I can tell she is getting older.  She sits by my kitchen door often now.  She can feel the air, I guess, and smell the food.  Silly girl.  

That old story about the wolf at the door.  It's the young ones that turn their nose up at free food and a warm bed at the cost of liberty.  The old ones think about it a bit more, I'd imagine, though it probably depends on who is offering.  

So, feeling frisky myself, I did extra minutes extra hard on the treadmill, bike, and elliptical at the gym.  Don't worry.  It was not Olympian.  I'm still working my way back from Covid.  But it was a good workout.  After showering, I headed out for lunch.  I don't go much any more, but you know, with the weather and all. . . .  But like every social media idiot, my food wouldn't have been as good if I did not share photos of it.  Why?  Beats me, other than my photos are spectacular.  




What else was I going to do sitting with food alone at the bar?  I began taking notes about what was going on around me, you know, observation with commentary.  I sent them to my vacationing friend in Key West thinking they would make their way verbatim into today's post.  When I read them this morning, though, I knew I couldn't put them here.  Too many of you would be offended.  Of course, that is what makes them so damn interesting to me, but times being what they are, you know. . . . 
If you see dear Mrs. Equitone,
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself:
One must be so careful these days.
One must be careful these days, indeed!

Having eaten and drunk (sounds weird, right?), I headed out into the perfect day to run errands.  First to the car wash, then to the grocers.  But I was quickly running out of steam.  Something felt wrong.  I was was suddenly supernaturally tired, limbs heavy, movements slow.  At the grocery store, I forgot why I'd come.  I picked up some things, none of which were essential.  What was it?  What was I forgetting? 

I staggered into the parking lot with my few items, but the grocery store reminded me that Thanksgiving was just around the corner.  The store had signs saying it would be closed Thanksgiving Day.  For a weekday afternoon, the store was packed with shoppers.  I thought I'd better get to the liquor store while I was out.  

I was like a punch drunk fighter, though, when I staggered into the house.  Nothing needed refrigerating.  I just dropped the bags on the floor and went to lie down in bed.  

An hour and a half later, I opened my eyes.  The light was low.  I looked at the clock.  Shit.  I couldn't wake up.  I fell back into a fitful sleep.  I had to get up.  I couldn't.  I should be at my mother's by now.  

I forced my way out of bed.  It was time to feed the cat.  Both of them were on the deck.  Goddamnit!--THAT is what I needed to get at the grocery store.  Cat food.  I shook the bag.  There were crumbs.  What to do?  I opened a can of chicken and poured the juice into the cat food crumbs and scraped a little chicken in as well.  Tuna juice was a thing Ili taught me about.  I never knew that cats went crazy for the packing water.  But they do.  Boy oh boy do they.  So I set the bowl down and looked at the neighbor's cat.  He looked back.  

"Sorry, buddy.  I'm sorry.  I don't have anything for you today."  

You could tell his feelings were hurt.  Meanwhile, old Kit-Kat went at dinner like a baby tiger, lapping up chicken juice like a shop vac.  I went in and poured a whiskey and lit a cheroot.  I grabbed my phone and staggered out to sit on the deck and call my mother.  It was cold.  



"Hey, ma. . . I won't be over tonight."

"Why?  What's wrong."  

You see, that is my life--and hers.  I am expected every evening.  

I explained the situation.  Sure.  She understood.  She began detailing her maladies of the day.  She did not know why she felt bad.  She gave me some possibilities.  Maybe it was bad soy milk.  Maybe it was the neighbor's dog we were petting the day before.  I had made much about how dirty the dog was, how much it shed, what algae and fungus and who knows what must be living in that plush but never groomed fur.  It terrified me, I had said.  Now she wondered.  Maybe it was that.  

Neighbors walked by in fleece and down parkas.  It was only 55 degrees, but the sudden drop and the high humidity. . . well, you can't explain it, but the chill goes right to your bones.  I went inside and got my own down sweater.  I poured another whiskey.  The sun was going down.  The whiskey seemed to make me feel better.  All I wanted to do was sit and drink whiskey all night long.  I wished for a big cigar.  I was feeling like T. Williams' Big Daddy.  

Eventually, the cold drove me in.  I wasn't hungry for dinner.  I would simply snack.  Olives, cheese and crackers.  I opened a bottle of wine.  I watched The Troubles of Our Time for a bit, then made a salad from the rest of the big can of chicken I had opened.  I turned off the television.  I put on my iTunes playlist that surprises me sometimes when its algorithms get it right.  I heard this one play. 

I tried to find a version on the internet I could send to my friends, but there wasn't one.  What to do?  Well. . . here it is.  What a song.  I listened to it about a hundred times.  I am listening to it now.  The Haden Triplets.  My god. . . they are more than great.  They are practically immortal.  If you want more. . . (link). 

With the wine and the whiskey and the long afternoon nap, I got manic and stayed up too late.  One hit off the peace pipe to settle me down. . . and a good night's sleep.  

I woke with the sun.  When I got up to start the coffee pot, both cats were waiting on the deck.  Shit!  What to do?  I got an egg and cracked it into a bowl.  I poured in a little milk and whipped them up like I was making scrambled eggs.  I put the concoction in the microwave for thirty seconds.  Some solids had just begun to form.  I whipped it more to make sure it was cooled down and took it out.  Once again, the neighbor's cat looked stunned.  Nothing for him?  Meanwhile, Kit-Kat went at the egg and milk combo with a real gusto.  I guess she was hungry after a cold night.  

I feel fine this morning. I don't know what went wrong yesterday.  Maybe I have Long Covid.  It could be. Whatever it was, it hit me like a wrecking ball.  But drink and music and a good night's sleep has brought me back to life.  At least for now.  But as you well know, if not. . . well, there's always tomorrow.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Chemical Crowd

I just love a girl who flashes a crowd, don't you?  Do it when you're young, though.  It is much more palatable.  That's what I think, anyway, having a mirror and all.  Maybe I'll show you a picture of me in a speedo on a beach in Key West from back when.  I might show you that.  I wouldn't show you a photo of me on a beach in Key West now.  Not unless I was wearing a Muumuu.  Young bodies are so casual.  Old bodies are anything but.  The funniest thing is that when you are young, you are always concerned, even worried, that there is something wrong with your looks.  You wish you were taller, just a few inches, or that your legs were longer or your shoulders broader or that you had abs like your roommate.  Etc.  When I got out of college and began working at the factory, other people I knew were working too, of course.  I knew a couple hippie girls who were masseuses.  They said they would give me free massages if I came in.  I never went.  I was paranoid, really.  I thought I was too fat.  I wasn't too fat.  I can see that for certain now that I am too fat.  Selavy.  

What I needed was braces and a nose job.  

But hey. . . how'd this get to be about me and my deficits.  It's bullshit.  I went skinny dipping with the girls in Key West even with my "shortcomings." Ha!  I stole that line from Brando.  

Is there anything more intriguing than youth though?  I mean, you don't have to ask Jeffery Epstein.  It's everywhere.  I think it's called advertising.  Unless you watch television with my mother.  Then it is all about taking drugs so you can do something you used to do when you were young.  "Look, ma. . . that fellow can pee again!"  There's a drug for everything.  They let people play golf and look after their grandkids and even make love to their wives again.  But, as they say, you shouldn't take drugs if you are allergic to them.  

I've read that the average number of prescription drugs people over 65 take is 15.  Average!  I guess this is the result of the hippie drug generation.  They believed in better living through chemistry.  That's what the posters said, anyway.  And I guess that is the reason drug companies advertise.  It is a tough one to figure. What do they have to gain by advertising a drug that takes a prescription?  It is not like doctors are watching television and suddenly realize they should be prescribing more Ritalin.  "Ask your doctor if fentanyl is right for you."  Nope, that ain't the reason, either.  It has to be that drug companies just want to normalize the practice.  They are pushers, essentially, but nobody says it. 

Last night after seeing my mother, I had to go to the drugstore.  I asked the woman at the drug counter how many different drugs they had in the store.  She looked at me for a moment like I was sizing up the place for a big heist.  

"That's an interesting question," she said.  "I've never been asked that before."

"There must be a lot of S.K.Us in there.  Kinda like a hardware store."

She laughed.  

"I've read that the average number of prescription drugs a person over 65 takes is 15," I said incredulously.  That seemed right to her.  

"That's what's killing people," she said.  

I didn't mention that people are living almost twice as long now as they were in the beginning of the 20th century.  

Obviously, there is a fortune to be made off of old people.  Maybe I should try to get into one of those commercials.  But, just as when I was a young man, I'm afraid that I am too fat.  Besides, all those t.v. old people have had some work done.  They all look seventy-teen.  

The world is only infatuated with you when you are young.  At least physically.  Unless you are the Rock, I guess.  People seem to love that 'roided look.  Better living through chemistry, indeed.  He should be a villain rather than a Disney toy, but that's the world we live in.  It's good to be jacked, especially when you are turning 50.  

But you know what they say, Dwayne.  Everybody loves a puppy.  


Monday, November 22, 2021

Back to Normal

I'm fairly thrilled with the new Adobe tools in Photoshop and Lightroom.  As I said when they were first released, pictures will never look the same again.  Whether most people will be able to tell the difference, however, I don't know.  But I spent yesterday going back through old files to see how they would look in the new processing.  


I was delighted.  

But much of the day, I was searching an old hard drive.  Many of them, actually.  I got lost in old pictures I hadn't seen in years.  I used to have a camera with me all the time, it seems.  I recorded every event.  It was quite fun in the days before the only camera you were allowed to use was your phone.  Not that I am dissing phones.  They make some pretty awesome pictures now.  You can do things with a couple clicks of the button that would take an hour to do in Photoshop.  I guess that I should have said that photographs will never look the same again now that there are phone apps.  They are pretty good and varied. 

That I would start a post with tech talk that I know no one is really interested in. . . "I mean. . . c'mon, pal. . . who gives two shits about how happy photo tools make you?  You're the tool."

Yea, I know.  But I was going somewhere.  While looking through the old drives, I ran into some of the billions of images I have downloaded over the years, things I thought were good or that simply had visual elements I would like to reference in my own.  And by god, people have been altering photos like mad since the '90s.  A lot of the images I looked at I have no interest in now, but man, taken together, those billions of images make a statement about how much the zeitgeist has changed.  My downloads of late are mostly urban and rural landscapes.  Photographing people has just become verboten, taboo. . . creepy.  

Today's photo is from that last era where people desired to be photographed.  The last evil days of the Weimar Republic.  When it was good to be bad.  When you wore decadence like a taste (Boyle).  

Yea. . . like everybody else, I'll be back out photographing old buildings and tire heaps soon.  But holy fuck, what I'll be able to do to them in Photoshop. . . . 

I read the news today.  The country has gone "Full Rittenhouse."  There seems to be only one way to show people you are really pissed off.  

After staying inside and staring at a computer screen all day without moving, I realized I should make a good dinner for my mother, so I went to the grocery store and got fixins.  Red beans with chunks of pork over rice.  And once I had the pressure cooker rocking, I made myself a Bloody Mary.  Having not eaten all day, I was fairly shaking.  I needed that tomato juice, I think.  It kind of calmed me down.  Later, sitting with my mother over dinner, we spoke of the troubles of our time.  

"Do you think things will ever get back to normal?" she asked.  

"This is normal, ma.  The new normal.  Do I think things will go back to being the way they were?  No.  Nothing is ever the way it was before."  

Which always suits the kids just fine.  Sort of.  All us bohemian kids were always fucking up the world.  How?  Oh, not in the way you'd think.  It was always in the opposite but unequal reaction.  Maybe.  But we did excuse and even privileged a whole lot of bad behavior.  Bad people love tolerance, you know.  It is their metier.  

To keep us entertained, I put on a football game.  It was the first time I've watched football this year.  God, they just keep getting bigger and stronger and faster.  They are a super race.  The collisions made me wince.  It is hard to believe that people keep telling kids to play the sport.  But I was fascinated.  And I realized that I don't watch sports on television any more because I can't stand the commercials, but the game is made now for watching with a crowd.  There is about five seconds of action every minute.  There are replays, of course, but most of the time it is just brain damaged analysis of the game (block, tackle, and desire) and a ton of flashing images during commercials.  It is just the right amount of distraction for social conversation, perfect for a group gathering.  There is always time to refill your glass.  

And so it was last night.  

Back home, I poured a whiskey and lit a cheroot and sat awhile on the deck listening to the Sunday evening sounds.  And when that was done, I went back to my computer where I spent the rest of the evening looking through the billion images and listening to music.  Can you imagine that that was liberating?  I mean, I was breaking with my nearly two year routine.  And, though it seems a passive activity, in some ways it was a bit like visual research.  I travelled back in time to the five or so years when I had the studio and worked at the factory.  No lover, nothing else.  I would work and go to the gym and go the the studio and come home and cook up images late into the night.  Continuous production.  No distractions.  I was free to do whatever I wanted without permission or restriction.  I mean, I was free.  

I've been living with voluntary restriction too long, living in self-isolation under house arrest.  But, you know, these are the times.  

"Do you think everything will ever get back to normal?"