Thursday, May 19, 2022

Miles to Go

Man. . . the fun just never ends. . . as long as you pago y pago y pago.  This is my new TTArisans 50mm f0.95 lens mounted on my Leica M10.  It's a beast.  I took photos with it immediately.  You may recognize the subject matter in this one--the first. 



Ah. . . look at that.  It does what it advertises.  Yup.  

I spent the entire day with that lens and the Chamonix 4x5.  Entire.  I developed the four shots I took the day before.  Went to the tent and loaded film into the developing tank, then took all my empty 4x5 holders and filled them with film.  Then I developed what was in the tank.  


Here's part of what I got--a double exposure.  That's mom at the top of the palm trees and under the oaks.  I have a bunch of film holders with film in them.  I don't know which have been exposed and which haven't--obviously.  I need a better system.  I do this far too much. 

The other film I developed turned out to be from my Liberator camera.  I used it many, many months ago when I went to a state park.  I never developed the film.  I'll post those photos later.  
 
Like you are holding your breath.  


I shot some old Fuji Instant film with the 4x5 to see if I was getting good readings from my new phone app.  That is the big holder for the pack film you see in the Chamonix.  The film is many years old and faded, but I could tell I was getting accurate readings.  Of course, this photo was taken with the new 0.95 lens.  

I ran those back to the computer to "cook them up."  

Then I ordered a lens for the Chamonix.  Now I have one of my own.  I also ordered a four inch magnifying loupe so that I can focus on that (as you can see) shiny ground glass.  It is almost impossible to do with the naked eye.  

The Money River is flowing.  I need some ebbing, too.  

I reached the end of the day without having ever taking a shower, without changing clothes. . . .  I called my mother.  

"Ma. . . I won't make it over today. . . . "

"That's alright, honey."

I feel badly, though.  I have dinner with my replacement at the factory's house tomorrow night and dinner with the famous German film director on Saturday.  What am I doing. . . trying to have a life?  

As soon as I finish up here, I am going to develop the film I shot yesterday.  My fingers are crossed.  I don't want to lose interest in this new camera on day two of owning it.  Let there be images.  Let them be in focus.  At least some of them.  Is that asking too much?  

I get my focussing loupe today.  I get my new lens tomorrow, and another next week.  Oh. . . and I ordered a bunch of 4x5 film that will arrive tomorrow, too.  

It is entirely possible that. . . oh. . . no!. . . I don't want to think of that.  I don't wish to admit failure already.  

"Hey, Q. . . you wanted one of these fancy assed Chamonix cameras, right?  Man. . . I've got a deal for you. . . . "

O.K.  Much to do today.  Miles to go, etc. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The First Picture Was Me


"Jesus Christ, have you watched any of that Heard/Depp trial?"

"Sure."

"I can't believe they put that on t.v.  Why would they do that?"

"Just to make people happy, I guess."

"Man. . . it doesn't make me happy.  I mean, I was laughing at first, you know. . . but it is starting to remind me of shit I've gone through.  Did you see Amber Heard on the witness stand?"

"Yes."

"Did you see that female attorney question her?"

"That Bredehoft person?"

"No, no. . . the other one.  Depp's attorney."

"Oh, sure.  Camille Vasquez."

"Man, she was good." 

"Yea?"

"When she questioned Heard, I just had to shudder.  I was flooded with all these. . . emotions. . . memories."

"Which one?"

"What?"

"Which one did you have the affair with?"

Etc.  I don't know about you, but I'm an addict.  They will make a docudrama series out of this one for sure, but it will not come close to the real thing.  If only the camerawork in the trial was a little better, you know, and the lighting. . . . 

I took my new Chamonix camera to my buddy's shop yesterday to see about buying a lens.  He didn't have anything for me.  Well, he did.  He had a $2,500 lens on a lens board that fit my camera.  He attached it and then put a instant film back on my camera that allows it to shoot Fuji Instax film.  The first picture taken with my new camera was of ME!  And by God, it is a beaut!  Instant film makes everyone look good, I think.  That's why Warhol loved it so, why he used Polaroids to make his famous silkscreens.  I'm holding on to that one.  

We played around with the camera for awhile, then he told me to take the lens with me and use it.  I walked out with a great lens.  The second picture I took with the camera was of my mother.  And the third.  And the fourth.  I will develop them today, but I don't think they are going to turn out.  I think I made four mistakes.  

Maybe.  We'll see.  

But I am going to get all my holders and large format things straightened out today.  I'm going to shoot the heck out of the world with that camera in the coming weeks until using it is second nature to me.  I won't make any judgements about it until then.  

In the meantime, I need to buy some lenses.  More money.  But I will have to go all in now.  There is only one way--forward.  

When I left my buddy's place, it was past lunchtime.  I went to my favorite Spanish restaurant.  It was pretty quiet.  A new bartender waited on me.  She was very friendly and attentive, sort of the perfect bartender balanced between humanness and professionalism.  I like that.  It is absolutely perfect.  You don't want to feel the staff is somehow looking down on you, that waiting on you is simply a chore, but you want a bit a formality, too.  She had it down to a T.  If everyone could do their job this well, I thought, the world would be a better place.  

I drank a cranberry and soda (i.e. the A.A. cocktail) instead of wine.  

But when I got home from my mother's house, I wanted to sit on the deck with a drink.  To slow shit down, I poured a Campari and soda.  

That seemed to work.  

After dinner with water, I had a scotch.  

Then I ate 1/8th of a legal gummy.  

Then I ate everything in the refrigerator and cabinets that had already been opened.  It was quite a crazy array of foods.  

I don't think I consumed any fewer calories not drinking.  Still. . . . 

I am not going to the gym today.  I am going to make photographs with the new camera.  It is scary.  "What if I don't like it?" I think.  I'm sure not to.  That is just the way I am.  

Oh. . . .

"Both."  

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

True Beauty

My new "instrument" has arrived, and it's a True Beauty!  It is light as ether and a joy to gaze upon.  It scares the heck out of me, though.  What if I don't make great pictures with it?  Well. . . I guess I can always use it as an expensive prop.  I spent most of yesterday afternoon figuring out how to manipulate it, the rise and tilt and shift mechanisms, the back focus, the variety of places to set the front standard, how to switch the film holder from horizontal to vertical.  It came with no handbook, no guide.  I guess the guy who makes them thinks that if you are buying such a sweet camera, you already know how to use it.  After a few hours, I did.  

Except. . . I don't have a lens for it.  I thought I could take one of the lenses from another camera and slap it onto the lens board, but I don't have the tools to do that.  I didn't know it took tools to put lenses on and to take them off the board.  They are very specific.  So. . . today I am going to take my camera to show my camera repair shop buddy and see if he has any lenses I might want.  If not, it could be another week before one arrives.  

I do, however, have (I know that this is a split infinitive, but I like it that way) some lenses on lens boards that almost fit.  They are made for another camera and are less than half an inch too short on the vertical sides. I am thinking to tape them on with gaffer's tape, however, to give them a try.  I held them on with my hand yesterday to see and image on the ground glass and got excited.  More than a little.  But also frightened.  It is so easy to forget how long setting up a shot takes with these things.  AND. . . the image is upside down and backwards.  

But that's the thing, isn't it.  The technical aspect.  

I was wishing I had spent the money on a medium format digital camera right away, but the difference in price is so great, this camera would barely make a dent in the price tag.  

And so. . . I will endeavor today.  

And this.  

"And this?"

Yea. . . and this.  You know what I mean. 

"????"

Really.  This is a phone snapshot.  It does everything that large format camera is supposed to do, right?  That shallow depth of field?  That bokeh?  And it is ever so easy.  

But also. . . I'll call my sponsor today.  I've got to get back on the wagon.  At least hold onto it.  It would be goodI for me to slow down a bit.  I'll spend a few nights without drinking.  

"But what about the Drunkard's Bluster?"

Yea. . . I need to be humble for awhile.  

I went to the gym yesterday.  Nobody yelled "Baby Raper!" when I walked in.  Nor at all.  I guess I'm safe. But I fell right back into the same time suck of a routine.  I need to change that as I hold onto the wagon.  A rearrangement would be good right now.  

After I have spent all my money on camera gear, I know I will become a phone photographer.  I don't know why someone doesn't just make a camera phone without the phone.  I mean, make the camera part the priority.  It should still have all the other functions, but it should be a camera with phone capabilities.  The camera phone apps are awesome, but you can't use them with real camera files.  Now that I know I can print those phone images fairly large. . . .  Yes, I'm sure to become a phone photographer.  

The "Wrecking Crew" comes today.  I have a bit of clean up to do before they come.  I need to get the bed linens into the wash.  It is good that I have an early start.  

That's it, the end of my dry technical gushing over the "True Beauty" that I will probably never use properly.  I can't be witty and clever EVERY day.  Well. . . I can. . . but not always in writing.  

But I did leave you some pretty phone pics.  They are true beauties, too.  

Monday, May 16, 2022

24 Hours


There was no viewing last night's Blood Red Moon here.  It rained for the first time in weeks.  The rain was welcomed, but just then?  It is o.k. though.  I wasn't going to stay up to see it anyway.  I wasn't, but I did unintentionally.  I had put on the 1966 movie, "The Chase."  Rented it on Amazon Prime. I had never seen it before, never even heard of it.  "Everybody" is in it.  Really.  All-star cast.  Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, and Robert Duval, Jane Fonda, Angie Dickinson. . . just for starters.  You'll recognize just about every face that comes onscreen if you watch it.  

If.  WTF happened to t.v.?  It used to be free.  Then you paid for cable.  Then you paid for cable and extra for premium commercial free channels.  Now I pay for commercial free Amazon so that I can have the privilege of paying to watch a movie commercial free on demand.  

Whatever.  Runaway capitalism.  

"O.K., buddy, why don't you just move to China?"

The movie was surprisingly mediocre, but it was surprising.  It was a bit of the 1950s meets the revolution of the 1960s, like Cheever meeting Jacqueline Suzanne in the Valley of the Dolls. 

I don't know how it ends, though.  I had to turn it off and go to bed with fifteen minutes left.  I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.  

But the day had been spectacular on several levels.  Having taken the week off away from the gym, I was going to begin exercising again, gently, in preparation for my return this week.  But that didn't happen.  I read.  I wrote.  Then, I went back into old files and worked on images from the past to see if I still remembered how to process them to get "that" look.  

I did. 

Then Q texted from the Arthritic Rave event out on the social tundra.  "Waking up at a rave is only marginally better than waking up in jail," he said.  He's going on six months sober, you know.  Waking up at dawn after playing an early set, he saw the haggard ones at sunrise.  They had grown preternaturally old.  He sent a short clip from the festival.  


Yea, it had little appeal for me, but Q had had his moment of glory.  He called me later when he got on the road.  Unlike the great unwashed, he sounded bright eyed and happy.  Sobriety, he said, had made him superior.  

"That's great, Q.  You sound good.  You know I'm not like the others.  I'm your friend."  

By then it had grown hot outside.  Steamy.  I told my mother that I'd make a seafood stew for dinner, so I thought I'd better get out and get the fixings: 1 1/2 pounds of cod, 1/2 pound of scallops, 1/2 pound of shrimp, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, clam juice, potatoes, carrots, fresh parsley, jalapeƱo peppers, oregano, seafood seasoning, a white onion, garlic, some cheap dry white wine for the pot, some good sav blanc for drinking, a crusty bread, and some ice cream.  Eighty dollars later, I was on my way home.  

In a little while, it was time to start the stew.  I'm always guessing on measurements.  I approximate, so I'm never sure.  By the time my mother came at five, the pot was ready for the seafood, but we sat down and had some wine first and were joined by a guest.  We decided that the weather was nice enough to eat outside, perhaps the last time it will be comfortable enough to do so until late fall.  I dumped the seafood into the big cast iron pot, and five minutes later, I was plating the dinner.  Well. . . it went into great white bowls.  

Holy shit!  I had hit it this time!  Home run!  It was the best tasting thing ever.  

Two and a half pounds of seafood.  The three of us ate it all.  

When they left and everything was cleaned up, the dishwasher running, I poured another scotch and sat down to relax.  The dinner had been special, the weather good, the garden colorful, the neighbors walking by with envy.  Earlier I had ordered and paid for two new lenses, one an old shutterless lens for the new Chamonix 4x5 camera I had purchased weeks ago and a 0.95 f stop lens for my Leica.  Yup, I had spent a lot of money that day.  The antique lens was being fitted into a mounting board that the seller was making to hold it on the camera.  I felt as I always feel after making a major purchase--a bit ill.  The other lens, too.  Jesus, I thought, I need to get back on the wagon.  My decisions of late did not seem entirely rational.  

Then the rain, the movie, and bed where I was plagued by strange dreams.  I had agreed to teach a college math course.  I don't know why.  I said I thought I could do it since I'd had so much math in my zoology degree.  But of course, when it came time to teach, I had nothing.  I fumbled around that first class meeting.  Other faculty were there.  The students were disappointed.  I was flummoxed.  

"Just make up work sheet handouts," one of the faculty suggested.  "You'll be fine." 

But I knew I wouldn't be fine, and by the next class meeting, students had dropped.  After that class, dejected but succored by a lithesome coed, I was walking across campus when a big guy picked up a rock and threw it at me.  

"Hey. . . you. . . come here." 

The big guy approached like a bully, his classmates sneering behind him on the lawn.  No longer a ruffian, unable to physically deal with him, I cried out, "I'm the Dean on this campus.  Come with me."

This set up a long series of offices and meetings, me ashamed but pressing for his punishment, sitting in hallways with the lithesome coed who continued to succor me in sad tones.  

I woke up feeling defeated.  

Was it the moon?  Was it guilt for buying all this new camera gear?  Was my hatred of growing old?

These things, of course, are by no means at all mutually exclusive.  

It could have been the ice cream.  

The sun is out and shining brightly.  I will finish this up and write some emails and head out for my return to the gym.  If you recall from reading the blog, last time I was there, I was somehow put into a position of defending baby rape.  Not exactly, but I was defending my statement that there is no universal right and wrong, good and evil.  I've not been back since.  

I just got notice that my camera will arrive today.  It is expensive, and I'm certain to need to sign for it.  I'll have to hang around the house until it arrives.  

And then. . . let the guilt begin.  

That, my friends, was the last twenty-four hours.  C.C. made it onto the Paris bound flight.  Q got home safely to his loving family.  And I. . . well. . . we'll see.  

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Cryptic Signs, A Killing Moon

If you are into conspiracy theories, you have to love the weird messages that are put up all around town.  What do they mean?  Surely they mean something to somebody.  They are private communications, perhaps, left by one person or by a group of persons to give information or orders to another.  

"DEC01!!!  Got it.  O.K.  Let's go, motherfuckers!"

If you've ever read "The Crying of Lot 49," you have to wonder.  Pynchon's novels are full of secret messages and private meanings.  I've read enough to know and wonder.  Physical manifestations are harder to track and trace.  The internet leaves too many fingerprints.  Slapping up a sticker on the back of a street sign on the corner of MLK Blvd and Stalin Way, on the other hand. . . . 

I'm just sayin'.  

"BUITEN DENST!"

I'm only half kidding.  I think I'll start making stickers I can put up around town, too.  I surely could come up with something confusing and entertaining.  Of course, I may be playing with fire.  Those street corners may be "owned."  Back in the days of cigarettes, I thought about getting vending machines into bars and restaurants.  Uh-uh.  That was all mafia shit.  You didn't get to just put in a cigarette vending machine.  It wouldn't last long, and then there would be a knock on the door.  

It would be like trying to start your own paving business in New Jersey.  

I haven't thought about vending machines, though, for a long time.  They just disappeared.  You don't see them anymore.  How about this?  How about I start up a vending machine business that sells gummies?  Those little packs of CBD gummies with the legal amounts of THC and Delta 8?  Let's say you're out and you've just finished dinner and you are leaving the restaurant.  They don't put out those little dishes of after dinner mints any longer, of course.  But you see the gummy vending machine.  There they are in different colors and flavors and buzzes.  

"Hey, dear. . . do you want a mint gummy?  Yea?  Sure.  We'll be buzzing by the time we get home."

Nice.  

I'm pretty sure I just gave away a great get-rich quick idea here.  Yup. When you see these things popping up in bars and restaurants, you'll know the mob reads the blog.  For real. 

Full moon tonight.  Blood red.  It's a Killing Moon, I think.  More madness.  Breathing moonlight in and out, in and out. . . it will do strange things to you.  Just for once, goddamnit, I wish it would do something I'd like, something that would help me out some way.  Poor C.C. will be flying under it tonight on his way to Paris.  Auspicious.  He's part mystic, though.  He must know what he's doing.  

God's speed, C.C.  I'm sure you've read some cryptic Post It note that guides you. 

I think to post "Fly Me to the Moon" or "Moonlight in Vermont" here now.  

Rather.  


Saturday, May 14, 2022

To My Knees


 Yup.  A night out buggered me for a day.  Nothing got done until last evening when I made some banana "poop" bread.  I knew as I was making it that something wasn't right.  When it came out of the oven, I took a first bite.  Not nearly enough maple syrup.  But was that bad?  I rather liked this less sweet version. I will have some in a moment when I finish writing this and I will know.  I think so, though.  

A friend sent me a picture of her daughter getting ready for her 8th grade dance.  She is in a little black dress.  Why? I asked.  Why am I not photographing your daughters?  I've known them since they were born.  We both worked at the factory and when the kids were little, I used to entertain them when they came with mom to work.  They love me.  That is what they say.  But now, teenagers. . . .  Who knows?

I really just want to put the three of them in bathing suits poolside at a Motel 6 being weird.  Barbecuing.  Tossing horseshoes.  Being awkward.  

It will never happen, I'm sure.  The world just keeps passing me by.  

Yesterday, I read about this.  

It is what I want.  Have wanted.  I don't want a trailer.  I just want this.  You can explore it here (link).  

You can get them in Europe but no in the U.S.  Why?  It must have to do with emission rules.  I don't know, but I NEED this NOW.  Such is my life, it seems.  

The world keeps passing me by. 

Q is at some drugfest playing disc jockey this weekend.  He is one of I don't know how many, but it gives him a chubby, I know.  And he has just bought a bunch of airline tickets to fly around Europe this summer.  The whole family.  

C.C. leaves for Paris tomorrow.  My travel/art buddy is traveling around France and going to London as I write.  

Everybody's going somewhere.  

I still have much painting to do.  Etc. 

I sit at home and watch things like this.  It brings me to my knees. . . with sad desire and deep longing.  



Friday, May 13, 2022

A(nother) Night Out

 Oh, man. . . my head hurts.  I went out with the kids from the factory last night.  It was fun, but my life is much quieter than that.  I slept late, and when I finally got out of bed, I got a call from one of the former factory workers who got a better factory job in another state.  She is part of the text group that we all use, and she was in touch with us last night.  She knew what was going on.  And so. . . she called to see how I was doing.  

"You sound sick," she said.  

I did.  My throat was very froggy.  It wasn't the drinks so much as the activity, I think.  You spend a lot of energy with a group at a bar for many hours.  Nerve ends tingle, your wit is actively engaged.  You scream to be heard over the music and the chatter and the noise.  You don't realize it, but it takes its toll.  

It took its toll.  

I will have to give my retiree's work life a break.  Since Saturday, I've worked every day--fourteen yards of mulch, two gardens, rerouting my computer/library, and painting the apartment stairs.  

In a bit, I will try to take a walk.  

Water.  I'll need water.  

However, today is World Cocktail Day!  AND it is Friday 13! What horrors are upon us?

As Uncle Willy says in "The Philadelphia Story," "This is one of those days the pages of history teaches us is best spent lying in bed."  

When I got home, it was late.  As I got out of the car, however, I heard the mewing of the cat.  I couldn't see her, and she didn't sound near.  I went in, got some food, and put it in her bowl, then lit a cheroot and poured a glass of whiskey and sat out while she ate.  She was lonesome, I think.  When she finished eating, she curled up on the mat in front of my kitchen door.  I couldn't enter the house without running her off, so I sat out under the stars and moonlight and waited for her to move.  Eventually I went in and poured another drink, turned on the t.v., and fell asleep.  I woke up sometime after one and went to bed.  

I'm taking the weekend off.  A working man with a true weekend.  

O.K.  I'd better post.  I am being interrupted by a hundred texts.  I guess the night was a success.  


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Work

This was part of my color film experiment--bleach bypass.  I've warmed the tone up a bit in Photoshop.  The negatives came out very cold.  I may try to experiment a bit more.  I have an idea of mixing bw fix and color blix.  But I am pretty sure it will still be too cool for my taste.  

I want to give up the morning opine.  It is nothing.  I need to actually write.  Why don't I?  I have time.  I have no job, no girlfriend, nothing to keep me from writing.  I've become lazy these Covid years.  But I'm shaking myself gently out of that.  I painted the apartment stairs yesterday.  Part of them.  I am going to finish that up today in just a bit.  The weather is so perfect here now, but it will change on Saturday, and the air will become warm and moist.  So I will finish up my projects as soon as I can.  

Now to carve out time for writing.  I've been writing more in my head, but if it doesn't make it to paper, it is gone.  It is a matter of telling myself what I see.  Nothing astounding, just what is around.  A woman in a black t-shirt with angel wings printed across the back.  A dirty, disheveled man in baggy pants smoking the butt end of a cigarette sitting on the planter outside the grocery store staring people in the eye as they pass.  A feral, one eyed cat nervously sniffing around the garbage container behind the grocery store.  The names of things.  

I did some editing on photos I took for someone yesterday.  When that was done, I looked through old photoshoots from the studio days.  I got overwhelmed and had to stop.  There is still so much there.  Too much.  I used to be productive.  

The air is perfectly clear, a dry 68 degrees.  The birds are singing loudly.  Everything is bright and green.  I should be going out with my camera, but I will paint the stairs instead.  That is life.  Making decisions.  Doing the work.  

And music.  I meet the kids from the factory tonight for dinner and drinks.  After work, of course. 




Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Colonial

I know you look at this photo and think, "He really needs that $10,000 worth of camera gear."  Right?  Imagine what I could accomplish!

Rather than going out and making pictures, though, yesterday I went to my mother's and made another stretch of flower garden.  Boy oh boy, her backyard is really looking nice.  I put up a bird feeder, too, and the birds are already coming, but my mother worries about rats.  Hmm.  I hadn't thought of that before.  Funny, I think, because my parents always taught me to see the charcoal lining.  

In the afternoon, I bought ten different vegetables and a bunch of tofu.  Spent a long while chopping, then oiled and seasoned it all and put it all on a pan on the grill.  Put on some jasmine rice to cook.  And then. . . 

I sat myself to rest with a Campari and soda.  Sent the pic around to friends, of course.  

"What are you drinking?"  

And so I had to show them what I was smoking, too--and with what.  My new cigarette holder.  Holy smokes!  Now all I need is the jeweler's necklace to hold my glasses.  I have the linen pants, of course, but they no longer fit. . . of course.  I'll have to get some new ones (of course).  

How'd I become this way?  

Books and movies, I imagine.  A longing for something gone.  Colonial splendor.  You know, the bad stuff.  Not like Russia, mind you.  No. . . .  Civilizers and nation builders.  

Ha!

I should just wear robes like Jesus.  Wait. . . I pretty much do.  

The vegetables grilled then plated, I poured a mixture of toasted sesame seed oil, soy sauce, honey, and water over the top.  Can't remember what that concoction is called, but it sure is tasty.  

Chardonay.  I know.  But it went well.  

Then a movie.  "Red Rocket."  Same fellow who made "Tangerine" and "The Florida Project."  I had high hopes.  Very disappointed.  

And that is my life.  It is not a bad one, but. . . .  Maybe I should move to Boca del Vista and join a Canasta Club.  That seems to be all that is missing.  Cocktails by the community pool and a slight sea breeze.  

But the weather will turn on us soon enough, and the outside world will be a challenge.  That is when I'll need that camera--and a reliable vehicle.  

Today, though, I'll be content to paint the stairs to the apartment and wait for the next sundowner.  Life its own self.  


Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Epic

 A friendly face. . . old friend of the blog. . . got in touch.  Doing really well, several houses, lives beachfront in Venice. . . . Sent some warm regards.  So long ago, now. . . what. . . seven, eight years.  In love with a good boy, she says.  Finally.  Prosperous and in love.  As is my famous old flame, the fashion editor.  She, too, connected out of the blue, husband younger than she and more handsome than Brad Pitt, a child who looks like they had her made in Crispr.  Another old friend of the blog wrote the other day to tell stories of her life and loves.  I heard from a woman, too, who I helped get a $100,000 college scholarship many years ago.  Wanted me to know she was a published writer now and doing well.  

There is more. . . wonderful things, people who are rich, people who are famous.  

I guess it is sort of like a high school reunion, though.  The drug addicts and criminals and the unemployed don't tend to show up.  

Still, it all makes me happy.  Sometimes you wonder how you are remembered if you are remembered at all.  

Even the Ivy League guy I sat with at last weekend's party told the hostess he was glad he got to sit by me.  I was very entertaining, he said.  

Yea, I'm Cock of the Fucking Walk.  Ha!  Haven't even held hands in two and a half years now.  They are all so young still, mid-life and still forward looking.  Oh. . . I could hold hands if I wanted to, I think.  I have offers.  But. . . you know. . . a romantic in search of that one true thing. . . . 

When I was working on the mulch pile on Saturday, I made a video with my phone of what I had to do.  A young woman, perhaps a student at the Country Club College, walked by.  

"I just need to show my friends how tough I am," I said.  

"Oh. . . ."  She laughed the sweetest laugh.  I'm still enamored of those who are pleased in a joyful, high-toned way.  Once you've heard the joke a few times, the laugh is a cynical expression of courtesy.  

There is nothing like the other.  

I am pretty certain that some of "them" are writing about me.  Pretty sure.  It makes me nervous.  God knows you can tell the tale any way.  There are so many versions of the past.  You hope for the most generous, the one where you end up a if not the hero.  

I hold them all so dearly in my heart.  

But I am on what I think of as "The Sam Shepard" end of things.  After such a life, I need to roll across the open country one more time and see what's going on.  Heartland places, farmlands and ranch lands and small town diners.  I want to hear tales, write stories of common troubles.  I want to meet the woman with the scorpion tattoo on her neck.  I want to see people whose souls were shaped by prairie winds and vast stretches of near people-less lands.  

And I'll confess--I want a new camera to take with me.  It is terrible, this idea, this longing.  But I want the Hasselblad 907X with a couple of very expensive lenses.  It is what I need to capture what I need to capture visually to illustrate the stories I will tell.  $10,000 worth of camera gear.  It is insane.  But it is what I want to make this trip.  It is what I need.  

I tell myself that it isn't $10,000 that goes into a hole in the ground.  In a year, it will still be worth nearly that amount.  When I am done, I can sell it and recoup much of what I spent.  That is what I tell myself.  It may be true.  It is the only way to rationalize such an expenditure on a retirees income.  

I don't know.  

It is all a fantasy I picked up in movies, I know. . . old pickup trucks in airplane hangers, people living in wooden houses overlooking a long dirt road through the prairie, ruggedly handsome men and beautiful, strong women in tight jeans and t-shirts. . . you've seen the film.  

I'd be the smart, sensitive, laconic guy.  

Meanwhile, I'm trying to be useful.  I stayed home yesterday and finally tackled my ramshackle office.  I took everything off the desk, took all the cabling and wiring apart, crawled around on the floor underneath the desk and set up a new power strip, plugged in the power supplies to the multitude of hard drives that I stacked on shelving above the desk so the there is storage below, put the computer back and ran the connecting cables.  It is much, much better, but there are still cables and wires everywhere.  Then I tackled the rest of the room.  I have way too much stuff, way too many prints of every size, incomplete projects, gewgaws and gimcrack that will never be used but feels too precious to pitch.  But it is a room you can enter again.  

Today I am going to my mother's house early to rip up another piece of yard to plant more garden.  I will take her to the nursery again to pick up bags of mulch and more flowers.  Then I will come home and begin painting the stairs to the apartment.  

How long this will continue I do not know.  But if I plan on leaving any time soon, I must get things in shape.  

I'll take donations for the camera.  I'll sell you prints.  I'll plant your garden.  I'll paint your stairs.  We're talking about something epic here, something for the ages.  

Let me know.  Either of you.  


Monday, May 9, 2022

Champion Kid


Good God--I hope you didn't miss it!  I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that it was Mother's Day.  I'm sure you didn't.  

Many of my female friends are child free, so they required a different card.  I guess if you are child free, you don't need a day of celebration.  As they say, for a mother, happy hour is bedtime.  Happy hour for the child free is anytime they want.  

I know some mother's, too, though, and their children didn't make much of a deal.  A long distance call.  For most kids, I think, a day like this is just a pain in the ass.  Mothers and fathers will spend endless hours talking about how great their kids are.  They will tell you all about their great successes in little league or at music camp.  Even the parents of drug addicts will find something to cheer about.  

"Since little Bobby went to rehab, he's been such a different person."

Kids don't go on about their parents so very much. 

I, on the other hand, being Champion of the World at Everything, gave my mother a spectacular day.  Why?  Because that's just the way I am.  

As I say, I know mother's who didn't even get flowers for Mother's Day.  I got up in the morning and picked up my mother.  We went to a distant but incredible nursery.  We picked up plants, fertilizer, mulch, and, of course, a tulip for my mother.  Then. . . I tore up a patch of her yard and built her a butterfly garden.  I just about had heat stroke.  Clearing the ground was hard.  I had a little flat spade that I shoved under the grass and weeds and shoved it back and forth cutting them free from the ground.  I was in the afternoon sun in a black t-shirt.  I know.  Stupid.  My core was working overtime.  But lickety-split, I had cleared the patch and was digging holes, throwing in some starter fertilizer, filling them with water, pulling plants out of their plastic, splitting the root bed, settling them into their new swampy soil, pushing the old soil around the top and tamping it down. . . until ma had a garden that would bring butterflies and bees and hummingbirds.  

I collapsed with fatigue and joy.  

Yup. . . mom got flowers.  

But I had to get home and get cleaned up, go to the grocery store, and get the fixings for the dinner I was making her.  Small red beans and pork with jasmine rice--one of her favorites.  

In the late afternoon, joined by my tenant, we were eating on the deck, drinking wine, enjoying the shade and the breeze, then some Ben and Jerry's Fudge Chocolate ice cream.  

I think I am a fabulous son.  

I don't think my mother ever gushed about me to other people the way I hear parents do today.  It just wasn't the way.  They didn't give out awards for "being" back then.  

I have a friend whose father just died.  Like me, she is an only child.  Like me, she has no children and is single.  Suddenly, for the first time in her life, she is an orphan in a big sense.  So I said to her.  She admitted that it was very weird.  

But my mother has friends whose kids have nothing to do with them.  When they need help, they have to call my mother.  

I guess parenting experiences lie somewhere along a spectrum between "Parenthood" and "Requiem for a Dream."  

It is early, but my neighbors seem to all be out for their morning walks.  I am thinking of skipping the gym this week and using my time to do projects around the house.  That is the plan.  But two days of working outside with pitchforks and spades and rakes and shovels has me whupped.  Still, I think I need to break from the gym for a minute.  I need to get this place prepared so that I can take summer trips without worry.  I have invitations from friends around the country, and I need to take them up on some.  

But first--mo' work.  Don't worry.  Whatever it is, you know you'll be the first to know.  



Sunday, May 8, 2022

We Were Both Champions--Decadent and Depraved

BBC once again.  Big Balls in Cowtown.  Old and crippled, I still had it in me to decimate that mound of mulch.  It was more difficult than ever before, but that was only because of my expensive new wheelbarrow.  I searched high and low but couldn't find the kind I had before, so I bought a monster and monsterly expensive one.  Its materials were heavier and it held more mulch, but the real thing is that I could not tip it easily and get the mulch out.  I had to wrangle the heavy bastard constantly wrecking my back.  

No matter.  

When I started, a truck pulled up and a man leaned out.  

"I do everything," he said.  "I'm in the neighborhood looking to do some pressure cleaning, but I do everything."

I smiled.  "No, man. . . I'll have this done in no time."

We chatted and he gave me his card.  As he drove off, I was thinking I should have at least asked him how much.  

The famous writer came by.  "Hey, buddy, you need a support belt!"

"What I need is a buddy."

That was true.  When Ili helped me, the thing was much quicker and easier.  If I simply had somebody to rake down the mounds I dropped. . . .

Selavy. 

Halfway through, I sat down to take a break.  I opened a beer.  Oh, I thought, this is going to be a big mistake.  

No matter.  I finished at my predicted time.  I still have a little clean up to do this morning, but the pile was gone.  The deal was done.  

And I was whupped. 

I drank another beer and took a nap.  When I woke up late in the afternoon, I was feeling funky.  I needed to make a trip to the grocery store and the liquor store and the CBD store.  I called my mother and said I wouldn't be over.  I wanted to get things prepared so I could watch the Kentucky Derby.  

Back home, I put everything away and poured a scotch.  I fitted a cheroot into my cigarette holder and sat on the deck gazing over the days work.  

When the cheroot was finished, I fired up the grill and cleaned three large beets for grilling.  I wasn't up for really cooking, though, and I took a pack of breaded cod out and put those on the grill as well.  I opened a can of lentil soup.  I hadn't eaten a thing all day, so I poured a wine rather than another whiskey.  


The tiny thing on the edge of the deck is the feral kit-cat.  She loves the new mulch.  

The fish and soup ready, I plated my meal and ate on the deck.  There was still forty minutes or so before the race.  I texted people.  It seemed nobody else was planning on watching the race.  I always watch The Kentucky Derby, not because I like horses but because my father always watched it.  It's just a thing.  But I've learned to love the effort those little beasts put into those two minutes.  Coming down the home stretch you can see the fatigue and strain in their wild eyes.  The eyes tell everything.  You can see fear and rage in them.  In case you have been in a cave, yesterday's Derby was one of the best ever.  The least likely horse in the race, one only entered the day before, an 80:1 long shot, came up the inside of the track on the home stretch.  Two of the favorites were far ahead, but Rich Strike had some luck slipping between other horses and managed to catch them.  You could see the fatigue in those leaders bodies.  You could feel the lack of oxygen in the muscles, the burning of metabolic acids as their strides began to tighten.  But Rich Strike had been sitting back in the pack and looked fresher.  The thing is--just watch the replay.  Look at Rich Strike's eyes as it approaches the leaders.  Look at the wildness, the crazed anger.  Jesus, that horse was maniacal to get ahead, and he passed them with everything he had.  

It was phenomenal.  

I texted friends.  Nobody had been watching.  But then. . . I got a text from a pretty girl.  She always watched the Derby, she said.  Of course she did.  She was wearing a hat in a bar.  Good for her.  

In a little while, the big beets were ready.  They took about an hour and a half to cook.  I sliced one and crumbled on some goat cheese and drizzled some balsamic glaze.  


The day was done.  I was spent.  Rich Strike and I had quite a day.


Saturday, May 7, 2022

Off Kilter

You all just sit in the shade. . . while I move tons of mulch.  No, no. . . I don't need help.  You just sit.  Do you need anything to drink?

I should be out there already.  It is going to get really hot today.  To top it off, it rained last night.  There was no rain in the forecast, but I was awakened by the storm.  It sounded like a doozy.  That means it will be humid today and the mulch will be much heavier.  

Selavy.  

I didn't do so well yesterday, either.  The "boys" at the gym talk to me now.  They are a conservative lot of developers, builders, and other big money guys.  They play golf.  You know what that means.  These guys are conservative.  There is fellow in the gym, however, who teaches film.  He is a chatty guy, and he is always asking the most improbable questions.  He asked me once if I had a favorite word.  

"What am I, five?"

Yesterday while I was working out, he told me that a judge just reduced Ghislane Maxwell's sentence, just went in and threw some of the sentencing out.  I hadn't seen anything about this in the news, I said.  But then I made a mistake.  I opined.  I tried to back up.  I said that my moral gyroscope wasn't set like many people's and I don't expect that most will agree with me and don't think I will change other's minds.  

But the Chatty Kathy kept on.  He would speak of right and wrong, and it was at this point that I said I didn't believe in those as universal concepts.  Quick as a flash, he was invoking baby rape and a group of guys came 'round.  One big redneck from Tennessee looked ready to pounce.  He doesn't like me, I can tell, and I don't give a shit but right now I was the baby raper standing before Puritans at the Young Men's Christian Association.  

WTF?  

I was nearly finished with my workout, thank god, and I moved to a different part of the gym and got through without further discussion.  

Then, last night, I went to dinner with a celebratory group, few of whom I knew.  I sat next to a fellow who lives in my neighborhood and across from a couple I didn't know.  This was my conversation group for most of the night.  The woman was a prig and my neighbor is an Ivy League graduate, snide and smarmy, and he enjoys getting in his little digs.  I don't know, man, my instincts usually serve me well, but I seem to be off kilter.  I can usually disagree with people while making them laugh, but I wasn't making anyone laugh that night.  Just to give one example, a fellow at the table said his students often tell him he looks like Michael J. Fox.  I blurted out, "They are flattering you."  It should have sounded funny, but the table groaned unappreciatively in unison.  

No need for more illustration.  Besides, I have to go move mulch.  

So, yea. . . it's going to be a hot one today.  Get yourself a sassafras and take a chair in the shade.  I'm going to put on my BBC shorts and get to work.  

Friday, May 6, 2022

Billy Goat Gruff

I forgot to tell you it was Cinco de Mayo, that faux-Mexican celebration of tequila and beer.  I made a shaker full for my mother and I.  Not quite a shaker.  She was mad that I only made enough for one.  Ha!  

Afterwards, I came home to a package from Amazon--new Chaco flip-flops, some negative holders, and a cigarette/cheroot holder.  Oh, yes, I've gone full Roosevelt.  I'm running with the iconic.  No more tobacco lips for me.  

I had my old pair of Chaco flip flops for decades.  They are the best flip flop ever made.  Forget about Tevas.  Chuck that silly pair you bought on spring break at the t-shirt shop.  Get yourself a pair of Chacos and save your soul.  

I meant back.  

It was 95 degrees here yesterday.  Everyone was talking about he weather.  "Too hot too early," people said. . . over and over and over.  I don't care anymore.  There is no use in it.  We are doomed.  If I could save the planet, I would. . . but I can't.  My Dixie neighbors and the politicians they vote for don't give a shit.  They just want to be able to open carry firearms.  And who can blame them?  History, both ancient and contemporary, teaches us that to the powerful go the spoils.  

Argue if you will, but European countries are now in a panic as they have no useful way of defending themselves against Russian invasions except prayer.  Their military forces and armament are dilapidated and useless except for throwing rocks at one another.  Here at home, we've invested in billion dollar boats that sink.  Really?  That's our idea of military power--things that can float on water?  You would think by now we would have Star Wars technology and just pick things off with lasers from outer space.  That's what all the kids think, anyway, having done nothing but play video games for most of their lives.  Which apparently is good training for everything from flying jets to remote drone control.  

But so much time is demanded by figuring out pronouns and identity politics. . . who's got time for war?

And anyway, the spoils don't last forever. 

Look what Russia will have when it moves into the Ukraine completely--a valley of ashes of their own making.  Brilliant. 

Of much more concern is what happens tomorrow.  I have to move that hideous pile of mulch.  My back is already a mess.  I have strained a tendon in my forearm.  I am fat and lazy.  And the temperature will be in the 90s.  

Sounds like fun.  

But it's Friday and tonight I am invited to a dinner outside at one of my favorite Italian restaurants.  I'll have to look presentable which I don't do much anymore.  I'm looking more and more like the Quasimodo who lives under the bridge.  

Or a fat retiree who sits on his deck with a drink and throws rocks at the passing cars.  

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Morning Paper

See this.  It is almost a good photo.  It needs a startling little girl holding a ragged doll by one arm in the foreground of the yard, behind the sidewalk.  Yup.  That would make it wonderful.  Or perhaps an inflatable kiddie pool in the yard with a little girl sitting in it and her brother sending a stream of kid pee into it.  I know. . . but it would be ICONIC.  

That's what I think, anyway.  

Why won't parents lend me their children?  I don't know.  It's a hard world. 

And weird.  I just sent my friends a link to a Google search on which ethnic groups have the most abortions, and it is obvious that republicans are wanting more minority children in America.  They have become the liberal party, the party of Black (and Brown) Lives Matter.  

Do they still call Russians "communists"?  I mean, they apparently have all the money.  They seem to have messed up the old commie creed, though.  It now reads, "To each according to his ability, from each according to his need." 

But maybe you don't know the reference.  

And, of course, the conservative Supreme Court is for religious freedom.  Thusly, the Satanic Church wants to fly their flag at the Boston courthouse.  Of course.  You really didn't see that one coming?  

Shell Oil Company just recorded record profits of 9.1 billion dollars.  My republican buddy replied to the news, "Shell is selling oil for money now.  Did you notice that?"

The rich get richer and the poor get babies.  

And everyone is getting high.  

Republicans are blaming Biden for the downturn in the economy.  I looked into this for them.  Other countries are doing worse.  Huh.  I wonder how Biden did that?

Oh, yea. . . he made Russia invade the Ukraine and told people to spread diseases far and wide.  

Motherfucker.  

Amber Heard testified yesterday.  She'll win.  She can actually talk.  It doesn't take her twenty or thirty seconds to get out a phrase of two or three words.  Both her and Depp are shits, though.  I can't figure out why the court doesn't just put them both in prison.  

Oh, yea. . . they are rich. 

I do love the trial, though, especially when people with better educations make the attorneys look like the arrogant hillbillies they are.  

I say only better because their degrees are in the social sciences.  

I forgot to tell you that I am REALLY blond after my trip to the beauty parlor.  My beautician has become fascinated with Reiki.  She is going to be a healer, see auras, clean chakras, etc.  

"It's all proven by science," she said. 

"No it isn't." 

"Yes it is.  There are papers written. . . ." 

"They are not peer reviewed and published in established journals.  They are not science.  If this was science, every hospital would be practicing this.  Do you think doctors just don't want to use real means to heal people?"

Anything but science.  That's the motto.  

She is learning hypnotherapy, too.  

When I got home, I looked up some things.  The Mayo Clinic uses hypnotherapy.  

Science.  

When I was at the university, I worked in the teaching hospital.  I filed things.  I'm sure nobody ever found those documents again, or at least not on purpose.  But while I was there, the university brought in witch doctors to treat patients.  There were a lot of Haitians in the rural part of the county.  They picked tobacco.  When they got ill and were brought to the hospital, often traditional medicine wasn't working because the patient believed they had a voodoo spell cast on them.  The shaman had some kind of anti-voodoo stick.  I forget what it was called.  But when he was used in combination with the medical treatment, there was much more success.  The Department of Anthropology was involved as I remember.  

Science.  

A witch doctor on the lawn in that photo might work, but it would look too much like Johnny Depp in "The Lone Ranger."  Nope, a little girl with a doll.  That's the ticket. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Always A.A.

Just another ruined piece of film--operator error.  Still--fun.  This is the shape I'm beginning to take, going the way of Brando or Welles, etc.  It is what happens to people with appetites, I guess.  The Way of the Wicked.  

I have been a bit amazed by my A.A. sponsor.  He has been able to turn his back on the past and look forward to the day when he can walk with the righteous.  It makes him happy.  The cynicism is gone from his conversation.  His grin looks more genuine.  He is looking forward to a year clean and sober, he says.  His friends tell him that after a year, you don't even miss it.  

Wait.  What?  His friends tell him?  I see.  He has a lot of rehab friends, he replied when I questioned him. People who had lived that lifestyle. . . .  

O.K.  This begins to make sense.  I have no friends in rehab.  Never knew one.  My friends were always wine with dinner, cocktails at sunset, maybe a little smoke on the weekends. . . maybe.  And I even played in a band for years.  Now I'll admit, we never got laid.  We did not party after a gig.  We never tore up a hotel room.  We were bohemian commies, the intellectual sorts.  We enjoyed the metaphorical power of drugs, but not the true lifestyle.  We read Thompson but never partied like him.  I inhabited the pretend world, I guess.  

I was a sweetheart romantic who only wanted to be with his own true love.  

I was always pretty careful.  And I ate well, exercised, played sports, and worried about toxins.  

So now it all makes sense to me, but it doesn't seem fair.  Why do the crazies who go to rehab get to be happy while I become the fellow on the the Moretti beer label?  

It is all the more evidence to me that life is absurd and there is no use talking about fairness.  

I told him this would happen, though, on his 30th or 35th birthday.  Wrote him a long email describing what would happen in the coming years.  I nailed it, too.  To the tee.  

He's laughing now.  

"You sound bitter."  

"I am."

In a menacing and decadent world, though, perhaps it is best to give up your evil wicked ways.  

Fucking Moonies.  

Putin/Trump/Jong-Un will triumph as we rapidly slouch toward Bethlehem.  The Spiritus Mundi of these fucking geeks will prevail in this widening gyre.  

And I'll be too fat and crippled to outrun them.  My focus narrows.  There is the garden which is growing wonderfully wild.  The birds have come back to the feeders.  I'll spread my mulch and stain my deck, and I'll continue to take photographs of nothing with my many cameras.  

I am a man alone, and you know what chance a man alone has.  No bloody chance at all.  But like C.C. always tells me, fuck it. . . if it gets too bad, just join a church.  

Or, of course, there's always A.A.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

I Don't Need Drugs to Be Weird

I'm a mess this morning.  So is the house.  Not a good combo as the "Wrecking Crew" is coming in a bit.  I have a lot of "putting away" to do before they get here.  

What happened?  Oh. . . thank you for asking.  Those gummies.  Seriously.  The legal ones.  Last night I decided to eat just half of one.  Same thing. . . trippin' balls in the middle of the night.  Sluggish and numb this morning.  I was told yesterday that this synthetic THC they are using is stronger than regular THC.  I didn't realize that it was synthetic.  No more of that, then.  It didn't give me good dreams. 

So, another lesson learned.  But it makes me wonder, truly, what the fuck is going on with people.  They like this?  They like the stumbling and the mumbling?  

Sure they do.  I guess that is why I tried it again last night.  

See that table?  That's my idea of getting high.  Cheese and crackers and olives, or maybe a little brie with pears, and a good bottle of wine.  That photo was one that sat in the Holga for many years.  I like all the flaws, but the photo makes me a little sad.  Ili always tied a napkin around the neck of the wine bottle.  She was like that.  The little centerpiece had those weird space plants from another planet that she enjoyed.  

But she enjoyed the ganja, too.  I'm just not made for drugs.  Were I, I could quit drinking like my A.A. sponsor.  I, however, am left dry, not high, when I abstain, and must face the absurdity of natural and social life head on.  A drink just rounds out the sharp corners a bit.  

I lay in bed laughing to myself this morning, though, thinking about how wildly out of place I have always been.  I mean, I have never needed help being weird.  I was remembering all those workshops we were required to do at the factory for so many years.  They always started with "ice breakers" as if nobody in the room had ever seen the others before.  

"I would like you to take a penny from your pocket.  If you don't have one, I've brought extras.  You need one over there?  O.K.  Now I would like everybody to hold that penny in their hand and make a wish.  You only get one wish.  Everybody?  O.K.  Now I'd like for each of us to share what that wish was."  

Oh, god, I swear this is true.  You cannot imagine my agony.  But it was doomed to get worse.  As we went around the room, people would breathlessly wish for world peace or an end to illness or some other ghastly thing--and I'd be sweating it.  And when it came my turn, I said, "Well. . . I know I should be selfless here and wish for an end to AIDs or for gender equity worldwide or something big, but I just keep thinking how great it would be if I could dunk a basketball.  I've always wanted to but I don't even come close."

The room would look at me wide eyed for a second, then there would be a few chuckles here and there and the moderator would looked confused about what to say.  I hated those workshops.  Nothing good ever came out of them.  

I got quite a reputation for absurdities, though.  I was on a committee to help design an new building that was going to be constructed off site.  It was going to be something that people could see from the interstate highway, so they wanted it to be high profile.  The architects put up big white tablets to write out our ideas and would tear them off and attach them to the wall so we could all see where we were going.  Most of the ideas were pedestrian at best, and the architects didn't need our input.  It was, as always, just for show.  What shape should the building take?  Sidewalks from the parking lot?  Foliage?  It was mind numbing.  

"If you really want the building noticed," I said, "you should shape it like Moby Dick!"

People looked at one another as if to ask, "What did he say?"

"What do you mean."

"Moby Dick.  You know.  The Great White Whale!  There is no way people wouldn't notice that!"

And I swear to god, the transcriber wrote down in big letters, "Moby Dick, the Great White Whale."

I just about shit myself.  But the head architect liked me.  We'd been on many committees together.  He told me in private, "I'm always glad when you are in the room.  I never know what you are going to say."

Yea. . . I miss all that in a strange and terrible way.  

Maybe I need to start tying a napkin around the bottle neck.  I'd kind of forgotten that until I developed this film.  Memories fade, I guess.  

But photographs. . . that's another thing.  

Monday, May 2, 2022

Kids

 Look at me, taking photographs of people!  These are my new friends.  Well, they aren't, but they could be.  They were, as the kids say, the sweetest people ev-er!  

I was not feeling well yesterday and thought I would be lying about the house watching t.v. all day.  But I wasn't that sick, and I had a lot of film I wanted to try experimenting on.  I still had two shots left in my Mamiya 6, however, so I decided to go out and finish the roll.  I took some more film to shoot, too.  

Driving down a main artery to Gotham, just before Little Vietnam, I saw these kids.  He was skateboarding and she was rollerblading behind.  It was impulsive, but the timid never get the photograph, so I pulled the car over, got my camera, jumped out as the cars whizzed by, and waited for them to approach.  A block before they got to me, however, they turned off.  

"No, no. . . no!" 

My car was running, the keys in the ignition, but I headed out for where they turned.  When I got there, I saw that it was a big, empty parking lot.  They had skated to the back of it and were looking at a fence.  I think they were looking for a shortcut to the Urban Trail that lay behind.  Fortunately for me, there was no cut through.  I looked back at my car.  If I stepped into the parking lot, I wouldn't be able to see it when some pill head stole it.  Shit, shit, shit.  I ran back to the car and took the keys.  When I got back to the parking lot, the couple was headed toward me.  I held up my camera like a soldier surrendering his rifle, a sign of peace.  

"Hey, can I take your picture?"

Yea, it was that clumsy.  I was breathless.  Not from running.  From excited fear.  I don't talk to people anymore, and never with a camera.  

"Which one of us?" the woman asked me.  

"You, of course," I wanted to say.  "Just roll around for me flouncing your pretty dress." 

I'm kidding. . . you know, like Bill Murray.  

"Both of you," I said.  

"What kind of camera is that?" asked the man.

I told him and explained what I was doing, experimenting with film development, etc.  

I hurried too much, though.  I was blind with anxiety.  I took two pictures and asked them if they would like copies.  They looked at one another.  

"Sure."

"Do you have a phone?"

I gave them my cell number and said they could just text me where they wanted me to send them.  

By the time I got back to the car, they had texted me.

"Thank you," they said, giving both their names.  

When I put my camera down, I noticed he lens cap was on.  Had I left it on the whole time?  You can do that with a rangefinder camera.  You do not look through the lens, so you can think you have it off.  I couldn't remember.  Quickly I jumped out of the car and ran back.  They were still there.  

"Jesus, I'm glad you are still here.  I think I might have left my lens cap on.  I don't know.  I just don't."

They laughed and I took two more photos.  

Back in the car, I realized I was sweating.  But I was happy.  Yea.  Look at me, taking photos and making friends.  

I decided to park my car at the photo store and walk around some with my camera.  I would finish the roll.  

I did, and then some.  In a little while, I headed back to the house.  I couldn't wait to develop the film.  

I went to the garage and got everything I needed to mix up new developer and fixer.  When that was done, I went back and loaded the roll of film with the couple on it.  I decided I wouldn't experiment with these.  I'd just make sure I was getting it right.  

Developer, fixer, rinse.  It took eleven minutes plus another couple to rinse.  When I pulled the film out of the tank, however, I panicked.  Nothing.  There was nothing on the film.  Then I came to the last part of the roll which was actually the first part.  There were five pictures, four of the kids.  Oh, God, thank you, thank you.  But. . . I had shot the rest of the roll with the lens cap on.  WTF?!?!?  

I had two other rolls of color film I shot to experiment with.  I used a black and white fixer with the color film.  Those two are still hanging up.  I will see what they look like later today.  

In a few moments, I have a big truckload of mulch coming that will dump the lot into my driveway.  Oh, my.  Then the fun begins.  Big Balls in Cowtown once again.  

I sent the photograph at the top of the page to the kids last night.  They were so wonderfully appreciative, it made me weepy.  

* * *

The truck just came, same driver as always.  "My once a year friend," I shouted.  We chatted and I showed him where to dump the load.  It is brown rather than orange this year.  It looks like old mulch.  The drive won't be as spectacular as it usually is, but that golden color doesn't last forever anyway.  It is a big pile.  

"When are you coming back to help me spread it," I asked?

He laughed.  "Oh. . . maybe two, three weeks.  Are you going to do it yourself?" he asked.  

"Yes."

"You be careful," he said.  

He told me he was 75.  I told him what my next stop was.  

"Really?" he said with surprise.  

"I'm not looking forward to spreading this the way I used to," I told him.  

My film scanning may need to wait.  There is much to do around here the next few days.  If I am ever going to go anywhere, there are things to be done.  

Funny thing.  I'm shooting with color film, but then, when I look at a black and white version. . . . 


Sunday, May 1, 2022

It Feels Like Salmonella


This photo is a good representation of how my life feels right now.  Feel that?  Irritating, right?  There is a beauty and a horror all wrapped up together both life affirming and life denying at one and the same time. 

It is a lovely picture of a derelict thing.  Technically.  Aesthetically.  Still, it makes my saliva taste like anguish.  

So yea. . . my life is lovely and derelict, thank you.  

Each day, now, I take a walk with a camera.  I try to shoot a roll so that I can come back and experiment with development.  Of late, I am walking with a medium format camera since a roll of film has only 12 exposures.  Easy to finish.  Yesterday, I tried standing development for the second time.  The first time it didn't work, and I lost two rolls of 35mm film--72 exposures.  I thought that the developer was too old, but after ruining other film with a different developer by not measuring correctly, I realized it was the identical problem.  I tried it again yesterday.  I used the correct amount of developer--10 times what I used previously--and it worked out GREAT!  There is still a magic in developing film for me, every time.  

The photos are much like what I have shown today. 

I also tried an experiment with color film, but the developer was too old and nothing came out.  Mixing new chemicals and trying again today.  Many fingers crossed.  

I'll be showing all my messed up results here eventually.  I've been scanning them for days but haven't had a chance to do any post-production.  

I got an email this morning.  I am soon to own a new camera.  

It's a real pip.  I ordered it at the beginning of the year.  It is shipping in a few days.  It weighs only 3.5 lbs, so it will be easy to haul about.  I hope.  There is a lot of gear that goes with it--tripod, film holders, hood. 

I hope I've not made a mistake.  

I worked in the yard yesterday for about two hours.  I put seed in the bird feeders.  I made sure to wash my hands afterwards, but I feel like I have salmonella today.  Not feeling well at all.  Maybe it was the chicken skewers I grilled last night.  I don't know.  Whatever it is, it hit me in the middle of the night.  I don't know yet how well I will be functioning today.  But I am determined to do "the photographic thing." I need to burn some film, mix chemicals, and develop.  

I mean, how else will I get beauties like this?

The road to hell, they say, is paved with unmade photographs.  I have so many that have not been made, I'm sure to walk a long road.  

Stories, too, I think.  Unwritten stories.