Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Not Quite an Adventure



I've really done it.  I've killed the blog.  There are about ten of us coming here now, down from what used to be. . . well, a thousand a month.  There are no holidays to blame, no special events.  I've just whined my way into obscurity.  To think that I can just write or photograph my way out of it is just ludicrous.  Unless I want to do "marginal things." As Beckett so famously said, however, "I can't go on.  I'll go on."  He was a genius, that fellow.  He wrote hideous works, but there was hardly a time when he didn't nail it.

I realize I am on RPT now.  Oh. . . Retired People Time.  The days are long, but I don't do very much.  I do something, but not much.  This morning was cold, so I did not go out.  I worked on the computer most of the morning.  On old photographs.  I'm trying to learn new post-production styles, learning to use new tools.  But the day drew on, and it warmed, and I went to the gym.  Then a shower.  Then a lunch.  And wine.  And then the lethargy that I know could become permanent, so I decided to take my cameras on a tour.

It was highly unsuccessful.  I should say it was unsuccessful in terms of production.  In other ways, though. . . it was a lesson learned.  I didn't want to go.  I should follow my instincts.  There is no end to traffic halts in this town.  No, not town.  In this and the surrounding counties.  It is insane to try to go anywhere unless you have a lot of good music and a flask.  I couldn't wait to get home to have a drink.

Which is exactly what I did.  And am still.


I don't know why I chose to post the first photo, and I am less certain about this one.  It is just that I have been working on photographs that I haven't really looked at for a long time, and I now have a ton of them.  There was no time in the last five years to do any photography.  Now, perhaps, I will begin to progress again.  Maybe.  Though I have my doubts.

It must be awfully cold where you are now because it is cold here.  The heater keeps running and I worry about my little feral cat, though she is so fat now that I don't think she will have any trouble keeping warm.  If it were freezing, which it is almost, I would put out a little heater for her.  I swear I would.  But god knows what sort of animals I might attract.  It could be like Noah's Arc in the morning.  I know she will be fine.

I think I have two photos from today's travels.  Maybe.  But they don't have to be great for me to show them here.  I am pretty certain they will be coming.

OH YEA!  I almost forgot.  My great traveler friend sent me this photo today.


When I said I'd be staying at "The Wagon Wheel," I thought I'd made that stuff up, but he had stayed in one in Idaho.  Hell fire, there is a whole lot of things to get out and see.

I have no hope of bringing back readers and viewers, really.  But I'll try not to whine so much any more.  Actually--fuck anybody who doesn't appreciate and understand.


Monday, January 20, 2020

The Road



Emblematic. Anyone can take the photo and many have.  It is just a road.  But. . . you know. . . metaphoricity and all that.  Didn't the genius Cormac McCarthy write a novel with that title?  I tried to read it.  I read everything else he wrote, but I couldn't finish that.  And, of course, it became his best seller, I think.

No it didn't.  I just looked it up.  His best, "Blood Meridian" is his best seller.  Now THAT is difficult to believe.  I mean, man, that book is complex.

I think I will re-read it this week, for these are apocryphal times.

 My life is less so.  I have good days and bad ones, but I have not really good ones.  I bought an atlas of the U.S. and am looking at places to go.  I choose the ones that scare me.  Back roads of Georgia, etc.  I might just as well end up on one hundred miles of bad Georgia highway as anywhere else, I guess.  It might be the closest thing to an afterlife that I am likely to find.

I spent a lot of the day with my mother.  I took back some presents from Christmas that she did not want, and she went with me.  Later, I made little red beans and pork and rice and had her to dinner.  She is my champion.

In between, I went to Home Goods and bought some things that Ili took with her when she left.  It felt good.  Later, I took down her pictures that littered the house.

Now, alone on a Sunday evening, I sort of watch football.  I am not as interested as I was last week, and I come and go checking the score and the highlights.  In between, I sit out under the clouds and smoke a cigar and drink some whiskey and talk to the cat the comes around often now when I sit outside.  I've decided to change her name since Ili left.  I hated the name we gave her.  She doesn't know her name anyway.

Ili, I mean.

As I sit and smoke and drink, I think about the outdoors and adventure.  I have been housebound, by and large, for over a year.  I have travelled, but it has not been outdoor adventure travel.  I have not slept out under the stars.  I am a wreck physically, but I think I can sleep outside as well as anywhere now.  I could sleep on a sailboat or I could sleep in a tent.  I think.  But the first step is to get out the door.  I am trying to get out the door.

I am about to take a 40% reduction in income.  There will probably be no more Breakers or Four Seasons for me.  The Wagon Wheel is more likely, though there are fewer of those than there used to be.  I am thinking of driving two hours north to my old Alma Mater and traveling some old roads from there.  Even that, two or four hours from home alone seems challenging just now.  But it will be fine.  It is psychological at this point.  Once I get on the road, it will all be fine.

I think.

If the old car doesn't break down.

Tomorrow is a holiday, MLK day.  I am thinking of getting out of my zip code for part of the day, just an hour away, just to make some photographs.

I will try to leave--one hour at a time.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Hunger



I've regained my appetite, and I guess that is a good sign, but it is not good.  I was losing weight.  Grief weight, I guess.  But I am getting hungry.  Maybe it is all the yard work I've been doing.  I've been weeding the yard which means doing hundreds--if not thousands--of weightless deadlifts and squats.  Today I went for a run.  I can't run anymore, but I can do the old man trot to a certain extent.  I almost made my first non-stop half mile since the accident today.  Next time, I will complete it.  I ended up running 1.5 miles and walking one.  So maybe that gave me some hunger, too.

After running and weeding and spreading the weed and feed and showering, I wanted huevos rancheros.  I Googled "huevos rancheros near me," and found a Mexican restaurant I don't like in a chi-chi part of town that served them all day.  What the hell.  It was only half a mile from my home.  So I ordered a margarita on the rocks and the huevos.  The margarita was ok, the rancheros not.  It was greasy and the eggs somehow were both under and over cooked.  I guess that is a feat in itself.  I ate the chips and salsa, too, though the salsa was only a notch above hideous.  But I ate and drank, then went home for a two hour nap.

When I got up, I went through my mail with a drink.  It was mid-afternoon, but again, what the hell, I thought, it is the weekend and I am almost retired.  I might as well do what I want.

I had stopped by the AAA a couple days ago and got maps and and an atlas.  I looked through them plotting out potential routes.  It was something like olden times.

Then I called Old Mom.  I decided to go over and visit with her.  We talked and laughed for about an hour.  Good for her, good for me.

And then I was hungry.  I was only going to make a small meal, but I went to the grocery store on my way home and went a little nuts.  I ended up making a full meal with beef and broccoli and rice.

And wine.

For now, I have switched over to G&Ts.  I don't know why.  I just have.

My buddy in Seattle sent me this.


Oh, yes.  Chocolate and scotch might be good tonight.  

I'm just telling you in my own way that I am feeling better today.  I don't know if there is hope, but there is possibility.  

But Jesus. . . if there IS hope, I hope that I don't start putting weight back on.  

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I Should Have One



The new Leica M10 Monochrom was revealed today.  I want it.  It is only $8,300.00.  Just a tad over. It makes me happy thinking about owning it.  Oh, what a photographer I would be then.  And when I go on welfare in a month, that price would be what percent of my annual earnings?

How about a "Go Fund Me" page?  How much do you think I could get toward it?  The problem is that I don't have a social network.  I think you need that for "Go Fund Me."  It would just be us and my mother.

I fantasize about stealing one.  What is wrong with me?

I told Q that I was miserable and might resort to drugs, and he suggested Nepenthe.  What's that, I asked (link)?

Oh.  It is fictional.

I will search for Nepenthe, though.  She will make me forget.  I will settle down with her on an isle and no more will wander.

Until then. . . .

I went back into my files.  In 2015, I went to New Mexico and shot with my Canon camera.  I think it is still my favorite in many ways.  I love the images it makes, and I love the lenses.  The only problem is the size.  It is huge compared to new non-DSLRs.  But you can't beat it.  I am thinking that I want to shoot with it again.  It's a true beaut.

But that new Monochrom. . . that's a horse of a different color.  And it's only $8,300.00.  And some change.

*.   *.   *.   

It is morning now.  I slept until five.  I decided it was better to get up than to roll around thinking.  I worked at getting my new iMac working the way I want it which is merely working.  I have spent lots of money on converters and cabling trying to get it to do what the old iMac did.  Some apps are not functioning properly.  They do and then they don't.  I don't know what's wrong most of the time, so I try help lines from different companies.  I've told you of my problems with my Google account.  I can't comment on my or anyone else's blog. I just recently received a message that my blog is going to get cancelled because my payment method is invalid and that I need to sign in to my G Suite Admin account.  I have no idea how to do that.  I wrote and asked.  They wrote back and asked me a gazillion questions.  I responded to what I could and have not heard back from them.  I've probably given all my info to some hacker.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Trying and Failing



C.C. agreed that chocolate and scotch were a good combination, but he said this stuff is pretty darn good, too.  I am a scotch man, however, and will probably continue my path to obesity in my own way, but as a tribute to C.C., I'll give this a try, too.  I might as well travel every road to hell recommended.

O.K.  Nobody knows what the miseries of others are. . . unless that other has a blog.  And even then, there is only the vaguest of glimpses, especially from someone who hides behind the seven veils as I do.  Q can keep trying to turn me into Salome, but for now, there is still some coverage.

I'm sitting in the hipster coffee shop drinking a green tea because I thought I'd had enough coffee today, but I am not a fan.  I try.  I really do.  I know it is supposed to be very good for you.  But it is more than bitter to my taste.  I'm going to get the baristas attention and order a cappuccino so I can write this with some semblance of pleasure.

I didn't go to the factory today.  A day can be a long thing.  I woke early, did the usual, then went to the gym.  When I came home, I decided I would begin to weed the yard.  Since it hasn't been cut for a month, and because the grass is dormant, the weeds are showing themselves.  Easy picking.  At least they are easy to see.  But after an hour of squatting and bending, I was done for the day.  I pulled a lot of weeds, though, and am probably just under half way through.  I've decided I will borrow somebody's lawn mower this week and do the mowing myself.  Just this once.  I am not sure I know anyone with a lawn mower, though.

After the yard work, I cleaned up.  For every two things I reached for, however, only one was there.  Ili took the beautiful objects she had brought to our home with her.  With each memory, I could feel my nose begin to swell, then my lips, then came the tortured face convulsions.  It was only noon, a long day still ahead.  I needed to eat, and there was nothing in the house, so I went to Whole Foods for some soup.

You wished you lived where I do now.  The day is gorgeous.  I sat at the Whole Foods counter facing the window eating soup and watching people come and go.  People can be hideous, and today they were.  They brought me no cheer, no pleasure, worldly or other.

Physically, I felt good, and I was not wanting to drink, not this early anyway.  I walked to the car and checked my camera for the first time in months.  I would drive to some obscure part of town and TRY to make a photograph, I imagined.  That's what I would do.  You betcha.

So I drove.  Slowly.  I was trying to sharpen my vision, to retrain my eye.


This was my first stop, the first photo.  We used to stop at one of these on our way home from the beach sometimes when I was a kid, the Sunday night treat--a three piece boxed chicken dinner with fries and slaw.  It was magnificent.

I still see a few of these places around.


This was just across the parking lot.


Down the street, this.

I grew up in a marginal place and know the drill.  Things are fairly safe unless you are doing something different, perhaps looking like a privileged old white guy taking pictures of buildings and tires.  Just looking like you don't belong.  YOU may not be one to feel it, but I know the danger in it, and just as I finished taking this picture, a guy pulled up in a pick up truck grinning one of those humorless grins of the walking dead.  He wanted to know if I wanted to buy a tire.  "No. . . no," I grinned like a fish on a hook, waving my camera at him.  "Just taking pictures."  His eyes narrowed to get a better look at me as he decided whether to keep me or throw me back.  I was still grinning and waving like when I got into my car and drove away.


Maybe you can get a sense of a place when they put bars on the windows and doors of the barber shop and plaster the place with "No Loitering" signs.  Curious enough, if you can read the sign in the window, this is also the place to have your taxes done, too.  This is a barber of many talents, I'd say.

Lousy photos edited on my phone.  It was the best I could do this day.  Bad.  Just bad.

Now I've had a cup of green tea and a cappuccino, and my temples are pounding.  It is not yet three o'clock.  Will all my future days be like this, me trying to find a purpose and failing, running away from thought and emotion,  sitting alone in coffee shops and cafes, longing only for darkness and sleep?

Of course not.  It is just too soon.  The wound is just too fresh.

Indeed.



*.   *.   *.  

That was yesterday afternoon.  The evening went no quicker.  I made a spaghetti dinner for one, drank wine, and watched television.  I put RAM cards in my computer, then upgraded the operating system.  I watched the last episode of "Fleabag" and cried like a baby.

Then I went to bed.

If I sleep a natural sleep, I seem to wake at three.  I did this morning, but was able to get back to sleep until five-thirty.  Ugly thoughts began to overwhelm me, so I got up.  And so far this morning, I've been sitting through the long darkness reading the news and listening to a Pandora Stan Getz station.  I am not sure that is cheering me up.

Now I've had all the coffee I can drink and all the news I can stand, and the sun still isn't up.  I have my doubts about everything both in the darkness and the daylight.  I need to find some refuge somehow.  I need to find relief.  It is not lost on me that I still have more than most, and I wonder how people less well set can carry on.  I've always relied on a sense of irony and humor, but those things are lost to me just now.

What refuge will I find?  The options seem limited and somewhat terrifying.

Waiting for the sun.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Another Thing



I wish I had some new good pictures for you.  I really do.  But I haven't touched a camera in a really long time now.  This is my dad with a lion.  It looks like I did on morphine in the hospital.  They must have really kept that thing drugged.  But fuck. . . it was the early '60s.  Hippies hadn't fucked everything up yet.

Good old dad.  He had me convinced that he was Tarzan.

Ili moved the rest of her stuff out today while I was at the factory.  I took a Xanax.  When I got home, she hadn't even left a note.  I've been cancelled as the kids say.

Q asks me if I deserved it.  If we all got what we deserved, I told him quoting William Muny, we'd all starve to death.  I guess that's true.  As we are probably told biblically, who among us is blameless?  I don't like to cast stones.

But where in the hell is H.S. Thompson when we need him?  What a fucking heyday he would have had with Trump.  There is nobody like him anywhere today.  No such Gonzo insight, no such prose.  We are stuck with literal assholes who tell us that Trump is bad.  No shit?  Where is the art in that?  Where is the genius?  We live in a prosaic society devoid of imagination, finding danger in sex and spouting righteousness.  They can only get away with it because there is no good Dr. Gonzo.

But as he said, the hogs are greased and out of the pen now.  Mitch McConnell will have his pound of Vaseline.

I'm in trouble tonight.  I found that chocolate goes very well with scotch.  You may find it unlikely, but it is true.  The two seem made for one another.

I will not be going to the factory again for awhile.  Maybe hardly ever.  I have done what I have needed to do, and now it is someone else's turn.  Now I need to find my way.  I wish I were whole, but don't we all.  Half a man is still a man, they say, and I will have to learn the truth of that.

As Hemingway so famously said, “It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

To Sleep and Not to Dream



I didn't go to the factory today.  I went to the gym, had a brief soup lunch, and then went to get beautified.  Getting beautified takes a long time, and I usually get sleepy.  Indeed, I usually fall asleep on the beautician's couch in my foils while she colors somebody else's hair.  After that, I am not worth much.  But today, after the gym and only soup, I decided to have a scotch for company on the drive.  She gave me a glass of wine when I got there.  Boy was I sleepy.  She talked of her troubles and I talked of mine.  Everybody's got troubles sooner or later, that's for sure.

After the beauty treatment, I went to the grocery store where I ran into the fellow who will replace me at the factory.  I see him out at one of two places: the grocery store or the liquor store.  We chatted for about half an hour about how poor I will be and how much better off he will be and about my decline in general.  He knows about most things I'm going through.  It is nice to have an ear.

Then it was home to feed Feral the Cat and to pour a pick me up.  It will be difficult not to become an alcoholic when I am no longer working.

I made an easy but healthy dinner and settled in for a night of watching the news, some YouTube, etc.  But as things seem to turn, I got a call from my buddy in Yosemite just as I did from one of my old friends the night before.  These are two of my closest friends, and how I wish they lived here now.  But the conversations with them were as they have always been, light and extremely witty, and they made me feel better than I felt before.  That, I guess, is what friends are for.  In my coming retirement, I will go to see each of them just as I have almost decided to go and see my friend in Thailand.  All my friends agree.  Exotic travel would be best for curing my state of mind.  Indeed, I suspect they are right.

Today's picture is a bit of exotica.  Look, these photos are akin to a confession.  Don't even ask.  It was a long time ago.  You wouldn't understand.

The Valiant was my aunt and uncle's car.  I remember it had push buttons on the dash for shifting gears and that the ignition was under the gas pedal.  You turned the key on and then pressed the accelerator down and it would start.  Weird car.  But a lot of things were strange.  My aunt smoked Raleigh cigarettes because they gave coupons.  The more she smoked, the more she earned.  I remember going through the coupon magazines with her.  After many cartons of cigarettes, she would get a lamp or some other household product.  She lived a fairly long life, though, and she didn't get lung cancer, so. . . .

I'll go to the factory tomorrow and listen to my secretary cry some more.  My replacement told me she cries every day.  She may be the only person crying for me in the world today.  I don't know if we will stay in touch.  I'm no good at that, but with her, I might.  More likely than most.

I wish I had a poem or something in me tonight, but I don't.  Ili comes tomorrow while I'm at work to get the rest of her things.  We don't talk, just text.  After tomorrow, I believe, we won't need to do that unless something comes up.  I'm thinking of taking a road trip south for a few days to spend some dollars.  Palm Beach.  Miami.  I've been thinking of making some videos for my YouTube channel which I haven't posted to for many years.  It would be something to do, and I think I could be good at it.  But it is just a thought.  Still. . . I need to get away for a bit to not think.  Not thinking might be nice.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Shit






"I remember my grandfather telling me how each of us must live with a full measure of loneliness that is inescapable, and we must not destroy ourselves with our passion to escape the aloneness." - Jim Harrison

That's a quote sent to me by Q.  It resonates.  

I have a lot of confused things to write here tonight.  Don't know how to order them.  Let's see.  I got up this morning after bad dreams/thoughts all night.  Fear.  That dominates my emotions now.  But I did the usual, made the coffee, read CNN, got a second cup, then NYT, and then the blogs I read.  Then I wrote.  Emptiness and fear and the hollow feeling of many cups of coffee without food driving me, I got dressed to go to the gym.  On my way to take the garbage out, I saw my neighbor walking back from behind the apartment.  

"Hey. . . what's up?"  

He pointed to the trees and the roofline where approximately twenty buzzards were perched.  Big, ugly motherfuckers.  WTF?  There was a dead possum behind the garage, he said.  Well, now.  It was smelly. 

"I guess I'll let these fellows get rid of it."  

"How are you doing?" he asked.  

"Bad.  Ili moved out this weekend."

"Oh, man," he said.  There was a moment of awkwardness.  "Well, they come and go, I guess." 

He has been in a steady relationship for a long time now.  

"At my age, I think they only go," I said.  "Not much optimism about that."  

When I got back from the gym, the tenant called.  

"Are you home?"

"Yes."

"There's something dead behind the garage.  There are buzzards everywhere.  It looks like a monkey."  

"Well, it can't be a monkey.  It might be an infant."

"What?!?  Are you serious?"

"Well, it sure as hell ain't a monkey.  You'd better call the police."

"What?"

"You don't want to get involved in this.  You know it's not a monkey." 

While we were talking, she texted me a picture of it.

"It's definitely not a monkey.  Call the police."  

I let this go on for a bit before I told her it was a possum.  

"Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

"I don't know.  Something wrong with me, I guess."

After a shower, I went to the factory.  I opened up my email while my secretary was in my office.  

"What's this "Surprise Party?"  

She turned chalk white.  It was for me.  

"I didn't take you off the list?"

"At least I know when not to go," I said.  I don't want one.  At least, however, it was at a local bar and not on campus.  She began to tear up.  

"I don't want you to leave," she said.  We are very close and have been through a lot including the death of her new husband and my accident.  But more than that, we are very close.  

"Don't do this," I said.  I was starting to tear up.  "I mean it.  I'll start crying." 

She left the room and began to really ball.  I had to go to see a buddy for a lunch date and left.  But I was still emotional.  When I got to the car, I thought I might break down during lunch.  My buddy works in the Middle East and he wanted to have lunch on Sunday, but I told him I couldn't be good company.  I had a Xanax and decided to take it.  Fuck me, I thought.  

When I got to the restaurant, he was already there.  I love K.K.  I helped his career a bit, and we have become true good friends.  K.K. is gay, and he tells his friends that I am "a friend of the gays."  

"I tell him things I don't tell you guys," he says.  And it's true.  He went to school to be a priest, and he came to see me after the accident often.  He is someone I would have at my bedside when knocking on heaven's door.  

I slid into the booth at the tiny restaurant where we used to go often when we worked together.  He wanted to talk about my imminent departure from work and about Ili's departure.  But I couldn't.  My eyes swelled and teared.  

"Fuck that.  Just tell me about what is going on with you."

We spent two hours talking.  He wants me to visit him in Thailand where he is living now for a couple weeks.  

"It will be good for you," he said.  

Maybe.  

Back at the office, I began to clear out more stuff.  People dropped by to express sadness.  And truly, it is almost more than I can bear.  K.K. said to be positive about it, to think about the love I have generated and how much I will be missed.  

My chest swells as do my eyes.  

I called the Social Security office to try to get my retirement shit fixed.  I got a very friendly man and he was very helpful.  Seems I will be o.k.  

At home after work, I put down my groceries, poured a scotch, and called my mother.  We talked about things, and I started to break down.  Tears, sobbing, but I tried to keep her from hearing.  I told her I had to go, and then the faucet began  But just then, my neighbor walked up, and I had to turn it off.  We talked about the cats, and then he was gone.  

I cooked a simple but incredibly good dinner while watching the news.  

Another scotch. And now you are all caught up.  

Except. . . I wanted to thank some people who have been reading the blog for many, many years.  I can't comment on my own blog or on others for some Google reason I cannot understand.  I have tried going into my account and looking at settings, but I can not figure it out.  

Anita sent this link tonight, saying she sent it seven years ago to the day.  It fits (link).  Some of you have been coming here for an eternity.  Soon, I will open up all of the old posts from the past.  Don't know if anyone will go back and read them, but they will be available.  

As Ricky Gervais said at the Golden Globes, "I just don't care any more."  

Oh. . . I almost forgot.  The photo is of a girl I went to school with in 1978.  I was doing grad work.  She was an undergraduate.  She is sitting on the floor of my apartment.  I think this might have been done for the photography class I was taking.  I will tell fascinating stories about her and her family soon.  

Monday, January 13, 2020

Adapt or Die



I'm trying to fill a void here.  This isn't easy to make out small, but I think you'll get a kick out of it when you enlarge the picture.  What could be more appealing than circles of young women holding hands.  We won't see the likes of this again.

"The void" is multifarious.


I haven't watched a football game all year.  In the last two weeks, I've watched seven of them.  Luckily, they were fairly interesting games.

Henry, the yardman, is definitely gone.  The yard is piled with leaves and the weeds are emerging.  That, maybe, is a good thing, for when they are mowed over, they are harder to see.  I will spend some time this week pulling them out by their stubborn, tenacious roots.  But I have to get a new yard service soon.  Luckily the grass is not growing much, but the yard still looks unkempt.  I don't own any of the tools to do the work since I've had Henry since about 1988.

Things change.

Adapt or die.  To deny the facts is perilous.  I guess that's why we have football.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Celery City




I was brought a box of old glass plates the other day and asked what they were.  You see, I'm "the photography guy."  The plates are in very bad shape, the emulsion corroding and peeling off the glass.  I brought them home to scan them, but my computer crapped out.  Last night, however,  I was able to download drivers to run the scanner on my new computer, so I got to see what these glass negatives looked like.

Wow.  They are from the 1920s.  Mostly they are class pictures, but some of them document the ravages of a downtown Jacksonville fire.  Sanford, Florida, was a rich city back then.  It was the last navigable port on the St. John's River.  The railroads ran to the port where goods were loaded onto ships to be taken north.  When the state began building highways, there was a political battle over which city would be the hub.  Orlando won, and Sanford eventually became a city out of time.

But what you see in these photos are the cream of the crop in Central Florida at the time.  I love the haircuts and the fancy dress.


I have no idea what this team might have been.  Maybe basketball.  The jerseys are not all cut the same, but the hair is more so.  I don't know what the fence and bar structure is behind them.  At first I thought poll vault, but I don't think so.  Hell, they could be jugglers for all I know.


I know a baseball team when I see one, though.  They look like some real sluggers.

These kids would have been born at the turn of the 20th century.  All gone now.  The streets of Sanford, though, are much the same, the old houses having gone through major restoration in the last decade.  You can walk through town and still hear the voices of city fathers (i.e. Foghorn Leghorn) in ghostly echoes.

If only Faulkner had grown up there.

O.K.  For me now, one foot in front of the other.  I feel like I've been run over once again.  You have to trust me, it is much the same feeling.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

New World


This is my car in college, a 307 Chevy Nova.  I don't remember tearing the bumper like this, but there you go.  We forget the bad things if we are any good at all, don't we?

Maybe it's not the old pictures that is driving readers away.  Maybe it's the whining.  But what can I do?  I am sitting in the Cafe Strange, an exile from my own home, while Ili extracts her things from the house.  I'll need to be out for hours.  It is disheartening.  You see, she is the only person who will ever know what it was like to be with me before and after the accident.  Whatever happened to me, she knew.

The world has changed and is changing.  I had to go to the Apple Store at the mall today to get cables to connect my old broken iMac to my brand new one so I could just copy all the files and apps.  The interstate highway was broken, however.  I sat for 45 minutes going about four miles.  I found an opportunity and got off at an exit and drove through an unknown to me ghetto to get there.  Interesting in some ways, but a hassle nonetheless.

When I got to the mall, it was empty.  Bloomingdales staff were leaning on counters with nothing to do.  There wasn't a soul in Abercrombie and Fitch.  Anthropology looked as if it were going out of business.  Only the Apple Store was busy.  This mall is doomed.  There will be no more clothing stores, no more furniture stores.  I'm no fan of malls, but it is going to look like "Escape from New York," I think.

When I got home, I hooked up the cabling, but nothing worked.  It didn't matter anyway, I found, for the two iMacs are different operating systems and the apps from the old one would not work on the new one.  I started downloading apps and drivers from the internet, but I am finding that some of my hardware like printers and scanners are not supported for the new Mojave OS.  My new Apple computer is going to prevent me from doing many things that I intended to do.

The world keeps changing.

I've complained enough.  I'm just trying to keep busy these next few hours as an outcast.

Disaster



Not everyone loves the old photos and stories, I guess.  I've cut my viewer numbers in half.  I didn't think I did this for numbers, but now that there are only me and a few of you, I wonder about the efficacy of it all.

Don't try Googling "What is the meaning of life," or "Why do we make photographs."  I did.  The results were severely disappointing.

As are most things.

They have named my replacement at the factory, and suddenly everyone is cheering.  He is a friend of mine, someone I hired fifteen years ago, and I'm glad he got the job, but Jesus Christ. . . wait 'til I'm gone.

Selavy.

With no girl and virtually no job, I face a great void.  I haven't taken a picture in over a month, so I tried to pick up a specialized camera and some specialized b&w instant peel apart film and make one--just one--picture.  It was a total disaster.  I remembered when I was a a fair photographer, and I thought surely I can be again.

I sent the picture above to a company in Europe who is attempting to make a peel apart color instant film again.  They have done it, but it is not for sale.  I told them I would like to try their film to see if I could do this with their product.  They liked the image and said they would send me three packs.  Pretty awesome.

I have not yet replied.  They want to know my process.

Who the fuck am I now?  That is what I keep wondering.  Alone and crippled, I think, I'm left to begin again.  Oh, yea. . . and old.  If it weren't for the fucking accident. . . . .

I am going to China this summer to teach English.  My flight and accommodations and meals are paid for.  I will earn quite a bit of dough for teaching five weeks, and I will spend it all on traveling in the Far East.  Thailand?  South Korea?  Viet Nam?  Of course, Japan.

There is that to look forward to, and it is not that far away.  I just hope I am still man enough to travel on my own.  God, who knows.

Of course I could always come back with an Asian bride.  Or. . . incredible photographs.

That is, if I can learn to photograph again.  If things go right.

I've figured out that it is the gas pipes that are thumping in my walls.  Fuck.  And Henry the Yardman still has not shown up.  I think he is done for.  I got a screw in my brand new tire (bought all four) and they couldn't plug it because it was too close to the sidewall or something, but they gave me a new one for free.  That is one thing that worked out.  But Social Security is becoming a mess.  I should have gone to a financial planner.

Everything else is a fucking shambles.

Oh. . . did I mention that my big iMac crashed?  I had to buy a replacement.

But. . . it will be fine.  I've been told I'm like a stray dog.  Someone will take me home.  I just hope it is a good one.

I saw the full moon early then slept under its watchful eye.  See?  I'm better.  I didn't say "baleful."

Friday, January 10, 2020

Full Wolf Moon Eclipse


Tonight is a Full Wolf Moon AND a lunar eclipse.  If you stay up past midnight, you will see it.  I think I saw the corner of the full moon cut off just a bit ago, but it could just be my bad eyesight.  For astrologers like Q, this event has special meaning, but I have eschewed looking at any of that.  My life is in shambles and I don't need to know why.  Or do I?  Perhaps I will read about it tomorrow.  But tonight it is salmon and asparagus and a good white wine alone, and a snootful of whiskey.  I hope something good is coming your/my way.

Love,
CS

Norman



Norman was in WWII.  He flew in bombing planes and was shot down over Germany.  He was captured and was held as a POW for a year.  One day while being marched from one camp to the next, he squatted by the side of the road to poop and stayed there in the high grass until everyone had passed.  He and a few others escaped.  They made their way to a farmhouse and were helped by the people there to get back to the Americans.  That is as much as I know about it.

He married my mother's sister.  It was his second marriage.  And it was his last.  Uncle Norman was a  swell fellow and a funny guy.  He loved to cook, and he never slept in the dark after his escape, but he didn't talk about it, either.  He brought the family to Florida after my family settled and never left.  He saw no advantage to the middle of the state, though, and moved to the coast.  He moved around the state, but he never left the coast again.


It seems that every other weekend of part of my childhood we went to his house and stayed over.  And we fished.  Oh, boy, that's what we did.  We fished.  And we went shelling on the beaches.  And ate and played Canasta.  My aunt used to have boxes full of shells, only perfect ones, and sharks teeth.  Thousands.  You can't find them so easily any more, but when I was a kid, they littered the beach.  Pat was crazy for shelling.

Eventually she got a metal detector.  She was one of those people you used to see on the beach swinging the detector arm back and forth.  It was early in the game, and she found hundreds of rings and earrings and coins.

It was something to do.

I'll have a hundred more stories to tell about Pat and Norman.  They were always great.  And though Norman didn't look like a war hero, he went through the shit and never complained about it.  He just enjoyed life as much as he could in the simplest and most profound ways.




Thursday, January 9, 2020

Frank and Gladys



My father had itchy feet and wanted to travel.  He'd been in the navy in WWII and had seen some things you don't see at home on an Ohio farm.  I guess he figured there was more, so when I was a wee tot of four, he quit his job, bought a one wheeled trailer and a bunch of army surplus camping tents and sleeping bags and Coleman lanterns and stoves, and he took my mother and me on a trip across pre-Interstate America.

When we came back three months later, he had pictures and movies to thrill the yokels and tales beyond the holler's collective imagination.

And then he went back to work.  By the next year, however, he was ready to go again.  A fellow he worked with, named Frank, wanted to come along, too, and my father said sure, why not, so Frank got his girlfriend and loaded up the Edsel.  It was 1958, I believe, and not so many men were traveling across the country with their girlfriends.  It was a bit different trip this time, I take it, with more motels and less camping, but I was young and my memories are vague.

After that trip, the Little Miami River flooded our basement and ruined our summer's harvest of canned goods and meats in the deep freeze, and my father was ready to bolt.  We moved to Florida.

This is a photo of Frank and Gladys when they came to visit us.  I wish I knew more about Frank and Gladys.  I don't know if they ever got married.  But look at them.  They were Dayton, Ohio Bohemians ready to take an adventure, a handsome young couple.

I think this was the last time we saw them.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Beehives and Criminals



There was a time when Beehives and Bows were a thing, I guess, if you can believe an overexposed, faded Polaroid.  Actually, I remember when it WAS a thing.  Girls would go to the beauty parlor (as they were called then) before school dances or proms and get "fixed up."  It took a lot of hair spray to keep those hives together, I recall, and once they had paid money to look all fancy this way, the girls weren't likely to let it fall apart for awhile, so for the next week, they would be wearing their Beehives at school.  They slept on special pillows so as not to destroy them, then in the morning, they would get up and fix any damage done with more hairspray.

It was horrifying.

This picture was taken on a family vacation to Ohio where I was born.  That is my mother, my dad's brother's wife, and a girlfriend of her youngest son.


Forest was his name.  As I've said elsewhere, he and his brother's were bona fide criminals.  I'll tell a tale some day of a fight that broke out in my father's house between Forest and Eugene over a crime that sent Forest to prison for a spell.  Reportedly, Eugene stayed friends with the Rat.  I'm beginning to remember now that this woman did become Forest's wife, but I wouldn't be able to swear to that.

I'm giving good odds again that my father took this picture.

Dottie, their mother, used to say about her family that even the dog was a thief.  He would bring home stuff from the neighbors' yards whenever he got the chance.

We moved from Ohio when I was almost five, so I didn't grow up around this clan, but on the occasional visits with them when I was young, I was fascinated by their terrible tales always told with much foul language and humor.  That is where I learned both.  To all appearances, they had no concern for social mores.  If there was ever a line, they would step over it--and laugh.  I learned just enough from them to be irreverent but fortunately not enough to really get into real trouble.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Stylish Lady and Reclaimed Land



I know where this picture was taken, but I don't know who is in it.  I was about ten when it was taken, and we had gone to Clearwater for a company outing.  It was my mother's group with whom she worked at a big defense contractor.  More about them sometime.  The outing was held at the Guy Lombardo resort.  You might know who that was, so here is a link to one of his songs (link).  I've always mixed him up with Von Monroe, so don't feel bad about not knowing.  Oh. . . you don't know Von Monroe?

Clearwater and St. Petersburg both exist because of dredging.  You can see the new land in the background of the photo.  I will show more photos of this magnificent resort, though, and you might see that it was really spectacular for a hillbilly kid in his pre-teens.

But let's focus on the woman.  I asked my mother who she was the other night, and she had no idea.  Maybe she was the wife of somebody my mother worked with.  But who took the picture?  I'll bet it wasn't my mother.  Good old pop.  He never took a photo that good of me.

I find the woman stylish in that early 1960s way, something right out of "Madmen."  I like the patterned suit, though not the color.  But look at that handbag and those sunglasses!  The woman knew a thing or two.

You can stop reading at this point if you don't want to hear me whine.  My life right now is really shit.  I had to leave a room today at the factory so as not to have a tearful breakdown.  Now this is real pussy shit, I know, but I can't get control of my emotions.  That's a healthy admission, right? I am seriously considering something other than whiskey for a therapist.  I may begin taking applications for a caretaker soon.  I need some psychic energy and emotional relief.  I'll be fine, I'm sure.  It's just that I am not the man I used to be.

Some may say, "Thank God."

Monday, January 6, 2020

Emotional Support



I was a little too old for that teddy bear, I think.  But maybe I needed it for emotional support.  I could use one now very much.  Everything seems to be turning out wrong.  My yardman hasn't shown up for three weeks.  He is my longest human relationship right now.  He hasn't looked so well for awhile.  I worry about him.  But my lawn is starting to look pretty ragged.  I don't have any way to contact him.  He just shows up and does the yard and I give him money.

My iMac went schizoid on me, the screen turning into a psychedelic show.  I assume that it is the motherboard which means the computer is shot.  I worked for hours to get it working for awhile and got my files onto an external drive, but it is still jittery and I will need to spend about $3,000 to get a new one.

I've snuck in the whining, but not much.  I'm not talking about the other thing that has me teetering on the edge.

The design of that bed is really early 1960's, isn't it?  You see, I had books.  I always had books.  I had a little trophy, for what I don't know.

But there is only one way--forward.  Once more into the breach.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Old Tales



You're tired of my whining.  I'm tired of it, too, so I am going to change gears and post old family pictures I've been scanning because I have nothing else to do but mope and be anxious and be depressed and whine.  The pictures pick me up a bit, or at least they distract me from the present, and perhaps that should be a function of photography.  They are naive photos made by my father who was a very bad photographer and by my mother who was hardly better.  Once in a while, though, they got close enough to their subjects to see something of interest.  Rarely, but sometimes.

My father rarely photographed me or my mother.  There is not much of a record of us.  He photographed things and other people.  His "things" photographs are horrible, made mostly with cheap plastic cameras that had no focus or exposure controls.  They were forerunners of the Diana and Holga cameras made to take pictures in bright sunshine.  You just looked through the shitty viewfinder that was never very accurate and push the button.  Usually the subjects are vague, blurry, and canted suggestions of "something out there."

That is true for the most part, but when I was about nine, he bought a Polaroid instant camera.  It astounds me for he didn't like to spend money on things.  He and my mother both grew up poor and worked for every penny they ever got, so they didn't like to let go of it.  I'll tell you more of that over the days and weeks, I'm sure.  But his buying a Polaroid, and then buying the film which was expensive even then, stupefies me.  The camera used the peel apart film that had to be coated with the little plastic and sponge thing soaked in fixer.  I'm sure it was toxic as hell.  When the photo came out, you had to take the sponge out of its little plastic tube and run it over the picture a couple times.  The photos I have scanned were not coated well enough or, perhaps, all old Polaroids begin to brown.  I don't know.  But I will accept the degradation as patina and enjoy them as they are.

I have to write this without looking at the photos I'm posting because I made a mistake.  I am writing from the hipster coffee house and thought I would download the pictures I needed from the emails I sent to my mother before I left the house.  But I can't because I didn't send them from this computer and fucking Earthlink (yes. . . I still have an account) doesn't let you see what you sent from one device to another.  They charge a lot for that privilege.  So fuck me.  I'll write from memory and insert the photos later before I post.


These are photos of the two sides of my family.  One side, my mother's, were Ohio hillbillies living in a small unincorporated township off the highway.  That is where I was born.  The other side, my father's, were more citified, living and working in Dayton.  Many of them were bona fide criminals with credentials.  I was lucky that my father was the good kid in the family and lucky that he moved us to Florida when I was five so that I was tempted by neither hillbillies nor criminals.  At least not ones to whom I was related.  The kids I grew up around were both, but there were degrees of separation.

The black and white photo is of my father's brother's oldest son.  As you can see, he was a real greaser/looker.  He was married to a woman who cooked all the family meals but would only eat her meals off salad plates.  No over eating for her.  People weren't flocking to gyms back then, but you can see she pretty well kept her figure even after three kids.

I'll have tales to tell about Eugene, I think, if I sustain this.  He is a tale worth telling.

The other photo is of my mother's brother and his wife.  A different look, a different life.  But don't let that lazy demeanor fool you.  That boy was growing marijuana on the farm in the 1960s.  It's an old hillbilly story, though, moonshine and marijuana.  There has to be a better way of making a living that working.

Both my cousin and my uncle married Kentucky women. . . if you know what I mean.  They are tales all  on their own.  Again, I hope to tell a few of them.

The coming days and weeks will be full of captains hats and blonde wigs and women posing their fulsome behinds for the camera.  There will be motorcycles and boats and travels through old Florida before the Age of Disney.  And there will be me, the kid, barefoot and shirtless with a cracker burr cut, bad teeth, and the body of a malnourished tarantula always trying to do something to fuck up the photograph.

There was something wrong with me.  It will be obvious.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Ain't No Capital Crime




I went to the factory, went to a meeting, then worked all afternoon cleaning out my office.  I went through some documents from a time when I was an expected star of the literary criticism world.  I know. . . of course. . .  but seeing the documents from that time hit hard.  So, mopey and desultory, I ate my lunch in the break room with my secretary, my boss's secretary, and a woman who runs the data department.  Oh. . . we have a lot of data.  We are all fond of one another, and they know of my woeful tale, the one I a currently living through (or through which I am currently living), and they tried to cheer me up.  I told them many truths, and they had many suggestions.  I love them for it, but when we left the building for the weekend at quarter 'til five, they were going for some weekend fun, and I was heading home to a smokey scotch alone on the deck and the specter of dinner.  I wanted sushi, but the flu is about and that is the last thing I need right now in my physical and emotional state.

On my way home, I received a cheery text from my boss's secretary that included a song called "Hemingway's Whiskey" (link).  Well. . . it is not my music. . . and Hemingway didn't drink whiskey.  So I said.

"How do you know?"

"Because I am a Hemingway scholar who has been lauded by major Hemingway scholars."

Don't forget that I was looking through the documentation of that just hours before.

When I opened the text, I was already home, sitting on the deck with a smokey whiskey and a stray cat who comes to sit with me now from time to time.  I took a photo and sent it to her.


I think I'm more "Stray Cat Blues," I told her and sent her the link that heads this post.  I sent it, then I listened to it.  Ohhhhh. . . .

It changed my mood.  I finished my whiskey and headed out to chance the sushi.


We'll see how that works out, but I was happier for awhile.

I know, I know. . . it was Jeffery Epstein's favorite song.  Whatever.  I get it.  The worst thing that can happen to people is sex.  I agree.  It has ruined my life.  I think about if I had just stayed a virgin and had kept my nose to the grindstone and done my work.  How much happier I'd be now.

I watched a Netflix comedy special (I think) with Michelle Wolf.  She kind of knocked me out.  She is my kind of feminist.  I'd not heard of her before, so I Googled her and found this.


I thought, "Holy shit. . . Lenny Bruce wishes. . . ."  Fuck yea, Michelle.