My art/travel friend wrote to me from the party I missed at the house of our other friend who was also grifted by our dead-ex friend Brando on the Tanzania trip:"That was the best party ever. You should have come."
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Saturday, May 15, 2021
It is art festival time. I took this photo a couple years ago at the last one before Covid. I might walk up to the Boulevard today to take a look, but I still have my doubts. People are being infected with Covid after getting the vaccine. Oh, they don't die, so much, though there may have been some in the Seychelles who have, but there they are getting less effective Chinese and Indian doses.
Or so it is reported in the N.Y. Times.
And, of course, there is the party tonight. Oddly, I still have the symptoms of a cold or flu, so that is in doubt as well. Everything seems to be wrong.
I got "uglified" yesterday. I am no longer a blond. I leave all decisions to my beautician, and it seems that once or twice a year, she makes a mistake. I can't tell you what color my hair is today. It is the color of a cheap silver wig, maybe. The cut is bad, too. This, of course, just as we are allowed to go out. Oh, I have looked especially lovely all pandemic long. My little Russian Jew, however, seemed distracted yesterday, and the big cold sore on her lip suggested she had been stressed. Now I have always been bigger than my hair, and I will make this shit look good, but I am not happy. I was ready to find out if blond's really do have more fun.
Feeling punky, last night I made a frozen pizza and topped it with eggs, avocado, and arugula. Watched the news. Big mistake. I can't stand any of it anymore. Then I switched over to YouTube and watched this (link). Maybe a mistake, too. That is how much of the world's population live. Every Woke kid should get to spend a month or so there just to help enlighten the citizens of the world.
But I was saving something for the end of the night. I had one more episode of "Schitt's Creek" left, and that is what I wanted to watch before I went to bed. There is something wrong with me, I am sure, as the show is supposed to be a comedy, but I can't tell you how many times I teared up watching it these past many weeks. It is not the show; it is me. I am a broken thing.
But it worked. That is what I dreamed all night long. God. . . if I had ended the evening with the Hyena Men of Nigeria, what a horror show my night would have been.
Friday, May 14, 2021
I don't know who took this image. It is one of the millions I have downloaded over the years. I spent the entire day yesterday going through them. It was all I could do. I was sick which is disturbing since I still am pretty much isolated. God knows what I have. Maybe Covid for the third time? My imaginary Covid? In my mind, if not the public's, Covid is now the only disease. No colds, no flus, just Covid. Whatever happens now, it is probably Covid.
So now we who are vaccinated need not wear masks. This is a sudden and strange turn of events. Not all epidemiologists agree, but not all epidemiologists are under the pressure felt by the CDC. It is wondrous, however. I've not yet read or heard a reaction from other countries. The proof will be in the putting (pudding), though. If infection rates begin to rise, or worse, hospital cases and deaths, there will be a quick and severe reaction. From whom, though? Conservatives? They've been against masks all along.
I DO feel better about attending a party this weekend, though.
Going through the hard drives, image by image, one by one, I am learning many things. One is how long I can sit and look at a computer screen without moving. It is surprising. Another is how badly it fucks with my vision to do so. My eyes are blurry after a day of screen gazing. But I am realizing much about pictures, too. 35mm framing, for instance, is not so very popular. Most images get cropped in some way unless they are already in a more aesthetic 6x6 or 4x5 or 6x7 or 6x9 format. Almost no paintings are in the 3x2 format of the 35mm frame, and I have to wonder why all digital camera makers stick with that ratio. Not all do, but I can't afford the new Hasselblad medium format digital cameras and lenses. Can I? I mean, I want one desperately, but times being what they are. . . .
I am realizing, too, that the early part of the century was a radical and creative time in photography. Even though most people were still shooting with film cameras, the digital world was changing how photographs looked. Scanning film into the digital realm allowed for a great range of manipulation, and though some of it now looks overblown, there was a freedom to experiment that was really paying off. But as digital manipulation became more the norm, and as photographers moved away from film toward the ease of digital cameras, images began to look more and more the same. That combined with a growing Puritan attitude toward what images should be allowed and who should be allowed to make them have contributed my own lack of interest in contemporary imagery. It happened relatively quickly, too, in less than ten years, I'd say.
Looking back at the photography of the early century is a reminder of how thrilling things were going to be.
Well. . . we are still hoping for flying cars, right? It is what we have to replace the erotic.
If only Biden would offer me some money to buy that Hasselblad. I'd vote for him again, I would.
I won't write about the conflict between the Muslims and the Jews. I have very strong opinions on that matter, but like all strong opinions these days, I'd definitely be on the wrong side of many, many people, and I probably wouldn't want the people who would agree with me on my side. I'm pretty certain I wouldn't.
I'll wait to hear what Noam Chomsky has to say before I speak.
I'm hoping to feel better today. There will be no time for hard drives. I have a beauty appointment smack dab in the middle of the day with a gym visit on one side and a visit with my mother on the other. I will treat myself to a takeout dinner tonight--but wait! I am not sure I will find parking anywhere near the Boulevard tonight, this being the start of the weekend "Art" Festival. I may need to think of something in the other direction.
And I must pick out an outfit for tomorrow night. Hmm. . . what shall I wear? I haven't gotten dressed in so long, I am not sure I remember how. But I never did dress all that much anyway, so I should be fine. Still, I feel stressed.
But you know, that is beginning to feel normal by now.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
Found this one going through my old files. Jim McHugh. His large Polaroid works were some of my favorites. When I came across this, I Googled him to see what he is doing now. His Polaroid work may have won him the awards, but most of his photographs are his commercial/reportage work. Still. . . .
he chose some of the right topics. Funny, I thought, that he didn't do Hockney in the giant color Polas.
The death of that great old Polaroid peel apart film still makes me weep with sickness. I have, however just ordered a new peel apart instant film from a company who sent me some prototypes of their film earlier this year (which is still in my refrigerator, unused, as I haven't the appropriate camera for the size of the film). The film that is being sent is like the old Pole 669 I used to shoot, so it fits right into my old Polaroid Pro camera. We'll see. I hold out hope.
Looking at McHugh's images got me thinking about all the old, rotten instant film I have left. I went to the garage and pulled out one of the old Polaroid 600 cameras and shot some film that was still in it. Nothing. The chemistry had all dried up. But I have lots of instant film that I will run around trying in the next few days. I wonder if I could perhaps produce some nighttime images like these McHugh pics I love so much?
What the hell. I can give it a try.
I was wrong yesterday when I talked about my own hometown's Art Festival. They didn't have it in March, but they are holding it this weekend, thus the party on Saturday night. It is curious to me, and it is really too late in the year for it. The forecast this weekend is not good (but weather predictions are as untrustworthy as republican politician, so. . .).
I get beautified tomorrow, so I will have a new shock of shorter blond hair for the party. I will positively glow in the setting sun and tea lights (like some aging queen). I'll need to be careful. You know what I always say--Safety First.
Well, no, I don't say that, but maybe now I must.
I got my car back yesterday. It only took nine days. But it was just in time. The tenant, whose car I have been driving, came back last night having been gone since Christmas. It seems that change is all around.
It is an overcast morning and will remain an overcast day if those weather people are to be believed. Perhaps I will partake of some opium and lie about on deep leather couches and large, overstuffed silk pillows as day refuses to bloom. I will drink mint tea and ask the boys to bring me sesame cakes. I will let the girls groom me.
Rather. . . I must get on with the tedium of the daily chores. The feral cat did not show up for breakfast and her boyfriend, the neighbor's cat, keeps pacing the deck and meowing. I went out to see him and he was not quite himself. Hmm. I guess we'll see how this story turns out.
Until then. . . .
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
I've been going through old files on numerous hard drives, as I've told you. I've saved tens or hundreds of thousands of reference images from the internet. Maybe a million. I haven't a clue. This one is from somewhere in the early century. I saved a lot of this photographer's images. I wanted to make things that looked like this. The photo says "Antonio Merini," but the photographer's name is Antonio Palmerini. Apparently, he goes by both. Yesterday, when I Googled the name, none of his images came up. I did find a painter by that name who painted this portrait in Venice in 1857.
Serendipitously, or, perhaps, fortuitously, last night I watched an old BBC special with David Hockney. I can watch Hockney interviews hour after hour. He is simply brilliant. And he sounds like John Lennon when he speaks. But the things he knows about art are wonderful. Not just knows but discovers. He is a technical genius.
I landed on this last night.
It is of lousy quality on a big t.v. screen, but it should work better on a computer. In this documentary, Hockney shows that photography was the instrument for realistic painting. He reveals to the world (over the denial and resistance of much of the art world including the curator of the Met) that painters began using glass to project images onto canvas as far back as the 1400s. His detective work is surreal. Watching this documentary was like watching a true-life thriller. God bless Hockney.
His claim is that chemicals that allowed photographers to fix the image so that it did not fade away was the death of painting, and he shows convincingly that the move toward abstraction in painting was a reaction to photography.
I had just been looking at Merini/Palmarini's work that afternoon and kept reflecting on it. I realized that Palmerini does something I've been experimenting with lately--he uses mirrors in his photography. But he has the good stuff, old, dilapidated mirrors with the sliver backing disintegrating, the glass warped. I've been looking for such mirrors, but so far, I have been unsuccessful. After watching the BBC doc, however, I think I want to build a camera obscura and photographing the image it produces. I don't need a big one, I think, just something tent sized or so.
And I will/would do it, too, if I can once again build stamina for enthusiasm.
What matters most in making image is style. We will look at bowls of grapes or a pond filled with water lillies if the style strikes us. Technique is the artist's friend.
While I was watching the BBC thing, Q called. He had to hang up because he was at his son's baseball game and talking to me is too dangerous. This is why I have shunned my married friends for so long. My life has not always been conducive to the way they must think and behave. I know that my own behavior is changed radically by relationships, anyway. And I respect that. But Q asked me to send him the link to the documentary. I have placed it here for all who care about such things.
Fucking Palmerini. Fucking Hockney.
Tuesday, May 11, 2021
This is my eighth day without my car. I took it into the shop last Tuesday so they could work on it bright and early Wednesday morning. They looked at the car on Thursday and worked on it Friday. They didn't fix it. Closed Saturday and Sunday, they didn't even bother to call me yesterday. I liked these guys at first, but using after market fixers for anything, you always run a risk. Dealers are more expensive, yes, but maybe not so much in the long run.
I don't know. The world is plagued with shysters and half-assed repairmen. People, I mean. Repairpeople.
The real problem is money. I should just buy a new car, damn the cost, and have it serviced at the dealership until the warrantee is about to run out and then trade it on a new car like anyone with a lot of money does.
But you know, I'm a hillbilly. Baling wire and electrical tape.
I have a feeling that the "repair" shop isn't going to be able to fix my car. I will have to "deal" with that today. There are many "things" around the house that need "dealing" with as well.
It is easy to simply sit and watch things fall apart the way they do, first in such slow motion, eventually crumbling with great velocity.
HOWEVER--there is a bit of news. I've been invited to a party on Saturday night. The fellow throwing it was one of the three friends of Brando's who paid thousands of dollars for a safari trip to Tanzania that never happened. All three of us will be there. The fellow usually throws a party the Saturday night of the town's big Art Festival, but that has been cancelled two years in a row, so he is throwing the party anyway now that most of us have been vaccinated against Covid. The party will have a wonderful jazz band in his beautifully sculpted back yard. That is to say, as usual, it will be out of doors.
Still, I'm nervous. Have I become a germaphobe? Maybe. But as I have not been around people for over a year now, I am not sure I will know how to act. I will have to put on something other than my loungewear. And it is at night. Holy smokes. I haven't been out at night for a very long time.
A radical departure. Perhaps this will be the beginning of something.
I'll keep you informed.
Monday, May 10, 2021
I made a fish stew for Mother's Day. I cut up an onion, some garlic, a large potato, a stalk of celery, and a bunch of carrots. Sautéed the onions and garlic in olive oil, then added crushed tomatoes and tomato paste, clam juice, bone broth (because that was the only kind I had), wine, and the chopped vegetables. A long while later, one pound each of deveined shrimp, scallops, and cod. Holy smokes! Served with crusty French bread.
We drank mimosas beforehand. What do you do after a meal? We drank and talked. We sit and talk every day, so. . . long pauses, looking around the room. . . . .
When my mother left, I took a nap. When I got up, I poured a drink and lit a cheroot, fed the cat, and sat outside with her while she ate.
By nightfall, my nerves were shot. The day had been gorgeous and dusk was even more so. So beautiful. . . I was haunted. Dusk is long now, lasting an hour or more, and I went indoors long before darkness. I turned on the television and searched YouTube for videos about Errol Flynn and his decadent life and death in the presence of his teenage girlfriend. He was considered handsome. I got bored soon enough, and looking at the clock, decided on a very early evening. I started season six of "Schitt's Creek," a mashup of "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Green Acres," and "Arrested Development." It is a funny show, but I constantly found myself tearing up. Just one more whiskey, then an entire nerve pill. I hardly ever take a whole one, but I had the evening yips and jitters and knew it would be a disastrous night without it.
I woke every two hours, but I was happy. I remembered my dreams, and they were pleasant.
But I am a mess, truly, unfocussed, easily distracted, slow and lazy. I begin projects and follow them through for a day, maybe a day and a half. I spend an entire day trying to sort digital files, but the next I am hand painting photos. One day I buy hard drives, the next brushes and linseed oil. Then I break out photo strobes and experiment making photos. The next day, I am worn out and do nothing. I decide to read. I put on music. I pick up the guitar, the ukulele, a harmonica. I read articles about suicide and LSD therapy. I take solace in other people's disasters.
I am soon to be a year and a half retired. Over a year of Covid. A year of seeing almost no one but my mother. A year of catatonia and naps. A year without a meaningful conversation.
Sometimes now, I open drawers I haven't opened. God, so many drawers. There are the drawers of two desks, most of which I rarely go through. There is an attorney's cabinet full of photo stuff. Table drawers. An old Russian pine armoire. Two chest of drawers. Bathroom drawers and cabinets. Kitchen drawers. Pine bedside tables. Then there are bookshelves crammed with things and boxes full of stuff crammed into closets. I hardly ever look. Every time I do, it is a revelation. I must have some form of Alzheimer's because I never remember what is in them. I never know what to expect.
"Holy shit. . . look at that! I remember. . . ."
Up until a few years ago, I still had a wreath of dried flowers sitting on top of the armoire from my wedding.
I opened a drawer on the "other" side of the bed looking for something. I had stashed a bunch of photos in there. I hadn't remembered that. I put them there when I took them all down from various places in the house. There was a long letter Ili had written to me years ago. I didn't remember it. The beautiful script, the sweet words.
In the words of a homeless drug addict, "I don't know man. . . it just. . . I don't know, man. . . you know?"
What can you say to that?
I haven't any people to photograph, so I decided to begin a project about myself. It is not a vanity project. I am showing myself in my most hideous form. . . naked, fat, broken, old. It may not have been a good idea, this project. I am fascinated by it, but it is depressing me as well. We make ourselves presentable for the public, by and large, try to make ourselves acceptable. My photos show every flaw, every wrinkle, fat fold, surgical scar, age spot. . . every broken, objectionable thing. Every shortcoming.
I don't know if it is advisable to continue. I look like a dying satyr.
I've become more bitter about my accident than I have been. I can't do any of the things I used to or might want to now. I can't swim, can't surf, can't climb, can't run. I was an outdoor guy. It was a big part of my persona. Now I have a hard time sitting on the floor. The left side of my body doesn't work well, and it is becoming more rather than less painful.
When my ex-friend Brando got sick in Greece, the doctors told him that his organs had worn out. That was the same thing the coroner said about Errol Flynn. His organs had just worn out. It is what happens, I know, for some, sooner than others.
The Valley of the Shadow of Death.
I am going to have to shake this shit. It won't happen sitting alone watching television and drinking scotch. But I am having the hardest time making even the simplest plans. I have a list of people wanting lunches this week, but I can't bring myself to committing. An old colleague, indeed, supervisor, sent me a photo of myself from years ago, "Pontificating, as usual," she wrote with love. There I was with purpose, with confidence. "Just some boy I loved."
Shake this shit, shake this shit. Solitude and weepiness and the big vortex.
But what can I do? I forgot to give my mother her Mother's Day card. I will take it to her today. We will sit and chat and watch the neighbors walk by. I am her only child. Her friends say I am a good son.
Maybe I'll continue my self-portraits today. Maybe I'll title them "The Good Son."
Sunday, May 9, 2021
Mother's Day. Mine is coming over for brunch. I'm making a seafood stew, and I have some other culinary treats. Tulips and a card from Whole Foods. Pretty sweet, right? Then, this morning, in the N.Y. Times, I see this.
Apparently not. Now I am feeling bad. Just another typical son move. I should have thought more about it and got her something that would make her life easier or more meaningful. That is what the article says. All I can think of is a service pony.
Maybe next year.
But life isn't like a Steve Martin movie. Think of all the baby mama meth-heads out there who just want to get fucked up today. Have I killed your middle-class romantic life buzz?
I'm doing the best I can here. It's been a tough year.
But Facebook will be full of lifestyle photos of brunches and flowers and social media smiles to show what a happy people we are. We are not successful if we don't look happy doing what is expected of us. Dad making brunch, trying to get the kids interested in making mom's day special. Kids trying their best for a few minutes.
"C'mon in here, kids. Let's get a picture together."
Older moms get phone calls or FaceTime from their kids far away. What is there to say?
"Happy Mother's Day, mom! Did you get the flowers we sent? We really wish we could be there. Kids. . . get over here and say hi to grandma!"
It's what people do, as they say.
Saturday, May 8, 2021
I argued with my mother the other day. It was a funny, not a mean, argument. We were talking about happiness, and she said that poor people could be as happy as rich people. I said no, poor people cannot be happy. We have lots of poor people in our family, and I asked her to name one who was happy.
My conservative rich buddy said it best, I think. Money won't make you happy. Lots of money will.
I didn't grow up believing that. I hung with a commie crowd. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. We thought we were egalitarians, but it seems we were sexist, I guess. We were trying for fairness, we thought. But there was always a little Animal Farm in everything. Everyone had a copy of Mao's Little Red Book. I imagine nobody really read it. We believed in the working class. That, of course, was where most of us came from. And what did we want for the working class? More power. More money. You know, all the things rich people had. "Eat the Rich," read our bumper stickers.
I had some problems. I never really liked Soviet art. I didn't really like political art at all. Socially Aware Art wasn't art, I thought. It was propaganda. Woody Guthrie? Eh. Good story, but I wouldn't sit around the house listening to an album by him. Still, I played in a socially conscious band that sang against Regan, war, bombs, the rich. . . whatever there was.
I barely made any money. I mean, I was a marginal economic being. But wait. I was happy. I was as happy as I have ever been in my life.
Which may not be saying much.
But I was living a richer life than I could afford. I lived in an apartment just off the Boulevard. I drank in the swanky bars because the waitresses and bartenders would give me comps. Yet I was still buying used tires for the car and refurbished batteries from a place on the poor side of town.
One door of my car wouldn't open.
Now I've argued myself into a quandary. Was I happy? I worried a lot. But I had no children. Maybe if I had children, I would have been more miserable.
But what is all this about? Why have I brought it up?
Tuesday, I took my car into the shop to get the a.c. fixed. Thursday I was told they would fix it Friday. Friday I was told yes, but it would be late. Late, I was told they had put on the new part, but that didn't fix it. Maybe I'll get the car back on Monday.
Suddenly, I'm back to my poor days. I'm driving a seventeen year old car and can't afford a new one. I am worried about the cost of the repair. And just when I have gone on a fixed income, a ward of the state, inflation raises its ugly head. I would be happier, I know, with gobs and gobs of money.
I skipped Sushi Friday in an effort to spend less of it.
Jesus Christ! I just Googled who is more likely to commit suicide, the rich or the poor. The article I just read scares the shit out of me. I am at the very top of the list of people most likely to. I'm a superlative (link). An older, single, unemployed white male with no children or religion. Apparently, I've done everything wrong that I possibly could have.
I guess I shouldn't be the one opining on happiness.
But troubles mount. I thought I had solved the possum problem. The screen has been intact for days. Yesterday, however, I noticed that something had pushed through. This morning, I can smell that musky smell. Another minor problem, a mere annoyance? Oy. Sure, mixed into a pile of woe.
This post has gone awry. I picked the picture above intending to write about the good life. Now. . . I don't know. Does she look happy?
Money will never make you happy, and happy will never make you money. That's what Groucho said.
But he was rich.
Friday, May 7, 2021
I have to write this before I forget it though I am still processing what just happened. I have known a fellow for years and years, though we were never close personal friends. He was a friend of a friend in a very small circle of friends, one of the cool, hip rich kids in my own hometown when there were few outsiders. It was a small town, then, and a tight circle where everyone knew everyone in some way. But this fellow was larger than life. How can I say?
The first time I met him, I was in the village grocery store, one of those small places with plenty of luxury goods. I was with a neighbor who was an attractive girl in many ways, very smart and talented. We were standing in the checkout line. She was in front of me, and I noticed that she kept looking over my shoulder and smiling. I turned around to see a big, athletic, handsome fellow. This happened again. I turned around again. I asked her what was going on, and she said the guy behind me was making faces. I turned and caught him at it. "What the fuck are you doing?" I asked. He gave some witty reply that I could only laugh at.
Years later, I rented a house from one of the big cats in town. He had lived in the house I rented for years. He owned an expensive steakhouse on the Boulevard that had a famous upscale disco that everyone who wasn't a hippy in town went to. Of course, I never went. On the back deck of the house, there was a Jacuzzi. It was famous. There were more stories of what had taken place there than one might recount. The fellow who had been making faces was one of the owner's best friends. He was the source of many of the most colorful tales.
I won't bore you with the details. They were of the usual 1980s "orgasmojet" and "jiz skimmer" variety.
The Jacuzzi was removed as soon as I signed the lease.
The fellow who owned the house also owned about eighty percent of the rental properties in town, but he was in trouble. His partner was indicted on a conspiracy to import cocaine charge and eventually went to prison. The fellow sold off all his properties and disappeared in the jungles of Columbia for a number of years. His mother bought the house I was living in and became my landlord, and about a year later, her son, the younger brother of the previous owner, moved into the garage apartment. We became best of friends.
He was also friends with the fellow from the grocery store, and that is where my relationship with him really began. He married well and lived in one of the grand houses on the lake. He and his rich wife had children, and then his wife was institutionalized. He got the kids, the house, and the money.
He was a wild man, and I'd never known someone with such caustic wit. He was wealthy and handsome and a bit of a sociopath and loved to ride people into the dirt. I had many issues with him over the years.
He married again, a woman of even greater wealth, and he started a second family. Then Shark Bait, his moniker for his mother in law, died, and they got the house in Palm Beach and all the money. His wife was a decent woman but not a true beauty, and (let's call him) Ponzy was worse than ever. He was out every night, as many of us were, at a bar owned by two brothers who had just come into town from St. Thomas where they owned a popular bar that was burned to the ground by the local mafia. The bar they opened here was most wonderfully exotic, finished out in teak sculptures from Bali where they spent much of their time. The brothers were impossibly handsome and the bar was one of the truly great places in history. It was here it was that Ponzy could found most nights.
But it all got to be too much, and Ponzy and his wife had their membership at two country clubs revoked. It was shameful for her and a blow to him. The next step was the Betty Ford clinic.
He eventually quit drinking, and that is when he began gaining weight. But his wit was as quick as ever. One night at a social gathering, the wife of a rich aristocrat asked him what he was doing now that he was out of rehab. He told her he was getting his pilot's license. "Really?" she queried. "Yes," he told her, "I'm doing it all through a correspondence course." She was stunned. "What kind of planes will you fly?" she asked in astonishment. "Commercial jets," he said. "The company guarantees you a job when you complete the course."
Rumors spread throughout the party.
No matter. He and his second wife ended in a divorce. He didn't walk away empty handed, however, and he still had the fortune from his first wife. He decided to live his dream. He got a new young girlfriend and began racing cars. He owned an auto shop and began racing in the Porsche Cup Series. It was very expensive, but he ended up the Cup champion.
Tonight, as I was sitting on the deck smoking a cigar and having (another) scotch, he rode into the driveway on a bicycle wearing a large black eye patch.
"What happened?" I asked.
"I lost my eye."
"Can they fix it?"
"I had four operations. I'm done."
"Well, shit. . . it looks cool anyway."
He told me his young wife divorced him two years ago. Took most of the money. He is living in a garage apartment someone is letting him have rent free. He spends most of his time at his business at the warehouse garage, he said. Had his prostate removed two years ago, too. His young wife got a rich, young boyfriend. He's thinking about getting a penile pump implant.
I told him about my wreck, my injuries, my hardship and loss. We didn't commiserate, just laughed like two WWI vets who had been gassed and blown up.
I don't know why, but seeing him lifted my spirits tremendously. I almost felt buoyant. He told me about people we knew who had troubles and had killed themselves. More than a couple.
"Remember Bobby? He got hit on his motorcycle. He was in so much pain from it he killed himself."
He said he was going to get a young girlfriend. He still had a crazy spirit. Or so it seemed.
When he left, he said he was going over to see his second wife. She was dying of cancer, and he was spending a lot of time with her. I hope he is doing as well as he seems. Me, too. I will stop by his car place, though I don't have any interest in cars and have no idea what I will do there. He doesn't drink, so there will be none of that. But I might learn something.
Hell, maybe I'll even buy a sport's car.
Thursday, May 6, 2021
If you want to be weirdly wholesome, Julie Blackmon might fit the bill. But if you want to dwell in the demimonde, you can't go wrong with Elmo Tide (link) (link) (link). Why am I only now finding him?
Maybe because he is a figment? Elmo Tide is not a real name. In the interview with NPR in 2010, he was elusively silly. "When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be young," he said. "Or fire." Asked who Elmo Tide was, he responded, "Elmo Tide lives in fading shadows and regrets."
What is known is that he lives in L.A. and all his photos are from there. It shouldn't be so difficult to out him. But why?
His images look like they were made in the 1950s. They are soft, clear without great resolution. I would suggest it is because he shoots in low, nighttime light, but even his daytime pictures have this quality. It is film choice, lens choice, and processing, I would assume. Whatever it is, his photos are certainly out of time.
Just as I have begun experimenting with my photo strobe outside, I have loaded my Leica with black and white film. I feel myself a chameleon right now, a photo Zelig.
I am keeping myself away from the photos made by the Mars rover.
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
I've found a photographer who maddens me. Julie Blackmon (link). She is great. There isn't a doubt about that. She deserves to be known, admired, and richly rewarded. She takes inspiration from the masters, she says, the old Dutch painters and their family scenes. But she takes inspiration from others, too.
I recognized this one as soon as I saw it. It comes from no Dutch master, though.
Not unless Balthus took this from some Dutch master painting and I am unaware. This and one other were for the longest time the only Balthus paintings American museums would display. You could not have guessed at what they owned and were hiding. Perhaps that is the case with Blackmon, too, but I haven't any knowledge of that. There is a slight edginess to her work, but she is more touted for her humor.
There are hints of something else but only that. If there were a cat in this photograph. . . . As a humorist, however, she stands with Norman Rockwell of whom I have always suspected a greater depth and have hoped that someday. . . .
The more I think about it, the more Rockwell I see in her work. But I choose to focus on other aspects.
I have the equipment. Do I have the energy and talent? Of course, I don't simply want to copy the work of Blackmon, but first imitation, then something else. Now I must get up the courage and energy to set up the strobes outside. I thought about it yesterday and decided it was too much work. "I'll do it tomorrow," I told myself. But it is tomorrow, now, and I don't seem to be moving in that direction. I must decide how much I want this. And even if I get the look right, then I need to find willing recruits for the kind of pictures I want to make. You know, the sort with cats in them.
No matter. Blackmon has done it. She is wonderful. I love her work, but it really pisses me off.
Monday, May 3, 2021
Remember the little guy in "Blade Runner" who lived alone with Methuselah Syndrome and made genetically engineered toys for friends? That is what I am feeling now. Let's call it the J.F. Sebastian Syndrome. That's good. I like that.
The days rush by, the hours. There is a short eternity from sunrise to sunset. Long days speed by. I spent yesterday trying to organize digital files on two hard drives. Inane work. I try to organize chronologically, but that isn't always helpful. I name folders, move files, but there is so much that is random. I have kept so many things, recorded so much. It is overwhelming. And still. . . there is not enough.
Could I just throw it all away? Would I even miss it? Laws of Thermodynamics don't seem to apply. I feel I am creating mass, weighing down the world.
I should join a troupe of acrobats, a group of traveling dancers. I could play the harlequin. There would be only the performance, no record.
Where is that outfit? I should try to find that outfit.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
That little horse--nobody expected it to win. The trainer didn't. The jockey didn't. They only had one hope. That little horse (and it is small) had never been passed when in the lead, so the jockey gave it the lead and it never let go. It was really fun, almost beautiful.
But what toll did it take on the poor little thing's body? I hope they gave it plenty of good drugs last night.
I had my mother over for the derby and barbecue. I had bought a week's worth of meat to grill--pork loin, sausages, chicken thighs and chicken breasts, and a rack of ribs. It was my first time grilling ribs. Difficult to believe. My mother said to boil them first. Really? But I listened to my mother. I let them boil for about ten minutes before I seasoned them and put them on the grill. I put on the potatoes and started boiling water for collard greens. Then I poured us the sangria I had cooked up from a bottle of sangria. I added canned fruit and topped it with champagne. Damn, damn, it was sweet and good.
I burned just about everything on the grill. The sausages were charcoal, the chicken blackened. The ribs were just a tad overdone but the pork penis--I mean pork loin--was done just right. The potatoes were good, but the collard greens, oh my, they were delicious. A barbecue with collard greens is something else.
We were finished eating before the derby came on, and my mother excused herself saying she didn't want to drive home in the dark though it wouldn't be dark for quite awhile. But it was o.k. I had a lot of cleaning up to do, before which I would bag daily portions of bbq meat and put them in the freezer. I did this last week, and it was a dream. Each morning, I take out the evening's meal to defrost, and I swear, after I heat it up, it tastes like it just came off the grill. It makes my retired life easier.
I wrote friends during the derby. Nobody I knew was watching it. I sat with my whiskey alone in the house thinking of all the spectacular places I had been watching derbies of the past. At first, it happened by chance, but later, I made sure I was someplace good. One year, my buddy had a friend with a horse in the race. We were going up to party with him at all the invitation only parties. One night before we got there, he called to say he was chatting up Bo Derek. Long story that I have told before, but we didn't make our flight and didn't make the derby. That was the year of the Atlanta Olympics, the year of the Gold Club stories.
I have many stories surrounding the derby. They roll through my head like a freight train right now, but I have already told a good number of them, and others would take too long.
After the race was run, I took my whiskey and a cigar to the deck and pondered things. Another Saturday night on my own. Too much whiskey and a mother's little helper and an early bed.
I feel like shit this morning. I refuse to look in the mirror.
Maybe I'll have some bbq for lunch. And some meditative yoga. I need to quit shaking. I need to chill. Gentle music for the day. No lyrics. Just something in the background.
I'll let mother cook tonight.
Saturday, May 1, 2021
I forgot a few things, and I found out some others. First of all, the olive oil was a bad idea. This photos will now rot. Olive oil never dries, or so they say. Hard for me to believe. But eventually, mold will begin to eat away the oil and the paper, or so they say. Q said, "everything's ephemeral," so I will pack it up and ship it to him. I went to the art supply store and got everything I need to do archival prints.
But I will have to wait to begin. Second of all, it is May Day!!! Shall we dance around the Maypole or go on strike? Workers of the world unite!
Me? I'm simply sending out the MAYDAY for help. You may join me if you wish.
Most importantly, though, it is the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby. Holy shit. Place your bets.
What a day.
|Q, crazed at the Met in the early aughts|
The a.c. technician came to perform the semi-annual cleaning and servicing of my HVAC system a couple days ago. I had scheduled for early afternoon, and he came right on time. It was the same tech who has been coming for a couple of years, so when he showed up, we chatted a bit before he got to work. He knew his way around, so I left him alone and sat at the computer learning new Photoshop stuff.
I wanted a beer, but it was early. Maybe a Michelada. Yes, that would be a nice compromise. I looked around when I pulled the beer from the fridge. I grabbed a glass and some Bloody Mary mix. I had just finished pouring when he walked in the door. He looked at me askant. I felt like my mother had just caught me stealing a cigarette and hid the glass behind a paper bag.
The Michelada went down well and quickly. I looked around. I poured the rest of the beer and some Bloody Mary mix just as he walked in again. "Goddamnit," I thought, "why do I care if he sees me drinking in the afternoon?" It was odd to me that I was trying to hide my Michelada from the a.c. tech. Some strange guilt was overcoming my pleasure.
Yesterday when I got up, I had a very early morning text from my ex-secretary:
"Boyfriend ended up being a lying, cheating douche bag. So we’re done."
How does one respond to that? "No shit! You always date douche bags." No, that didn't seem quite right. What struck me most was that she caught him going to his ex-girlfriend's house at 3 a.m. What the fuck was she doing driving around his house at 3 a.m.? Wouldn't it be easier just to break up with him if you felt the need to drive around checking before dawn? Who wants to live like that?
I wrote back the cliched, "Oh, no! I'm so sorry 😢."
That's right--I used an emoji.
I spent yesterday trying once again to unclog the print head on my big ass printer. I ended up printing photos on different papers to see if it would have any effect. The first print that ran through the printer came out with drops and streaks of the cleaning fluid I had used and was not usable. It was a big 20x16 print and not to waste it, I decided to do a little experimenting. I've been wanting to try some colors that are sitting around the house, pencils and paints. I lay the print on the table and picked up a basket full of paint tubes. They said "oil" but they looked cheap, and I wondered if they were oil oils or water based oils. I know little about painting. I found one that was called "flesh." Perfect. I squeezed it out on a piece of cardboard and dipped a brush I had found into the little mound. When I wiped it across the photo, it was opaque, thick from sitting in the tubes for who knows how many years (I didn't buy them and don't know where they came from). I needed oil, but all I had was olive oil. Fine. I poured some out onto a plate and began brushing it on the photo in and effort to thin the paint. It worked--somewhat. I charged my brush with olive oil and mixed it with the dry clump of paint. It began to spread. With enough oil, it went on in transparent colored strokes. It went on like the old Marshall's Photo Oils I had used many years ago. It seemed almost perfect. I went to the bathroom and got some cotton balls, put out some other colors, mixed them with olive oil, and began swiping it around. That seemed to be working. I got excited. I hadn't hand colored photos for decades. It was fun.
When I had "finished," I decided to Google hand painting inkjet prints. There was not much out there. Hand painting was something of a thing long ago, but with the advent of digital technology, all that sort of disappeared. What I found on the internet disheartened me a bit. All the information came from art teachers at the elementary schools and "crafters." It seemed I was practicing some form of adult coloring. Or maybe not so adult. I was "crafting," perhaps. Maybe. I mean, I had thought of attaching things to the photo, too. "Arts and crafts" I kept thinking. I could get into a local "Arts and Crafts Festival." Join a collage group that meets once a week and shares ideas.
Whatever. I liked it.
I looked up the paints I was using. They are oils and they are very cheap. Online, people complained about how thin they were, but that is good for me. I learned something I already knew. I need to coat the paper with a gel medium before I paint on it. I still don't know if using olive oil is a "thing." Maybe. It seemed to work. I started thinking about other products from the pantry.
Later, I packed up to go to my mother's. I decided to throw the painted photo in the car to show her. She said she liked it. I think it was the scale that did it. I made mistakes and it is sloppy, but even if I didn't make mistakes, it would still be sloppy. I don't want to make something that tries to look like something it is not. I like the smears and out of bounds splotches. I just need to learn more about the medium.
I had decided that morning to make it a sushi Friday night. I left my mother's and picked up my order. Home, I set up my dinner on the deck, fed the cat, poured the sake, and sat down to eat. Everything was perfect.
And then the mosquitoes. They have gotten bad. Why must good things get spoiled? I don't want to say I've been in a "bad place," but. . . I just wanted to cry. I just wanted something to be good and easy. I was tired of coping. I was really tired.
I've become fragile and frail with life's events. My life's events and those that surround it.
Good thing I remembered to buy a fresh bottle of scotch. When dinner was done, I sprayed mosquito spray and went into the house to light a cigar and pour a drink. I took them out and sat in the lingering smell of insecticide. The cigar smoke and the smokey whiskey helped to deaden it.
Night. YouTube. Netflix.
What more could I want? Life is a cabaret, right?
Sure. Ain't it grand.
Friday, April 30, 2021
If you had $4 trillion, what would you do with it? I just looked at the chart for Joe Biden's infrastructure spending plan. Hmm. There is much with which I don't agree, but you know, there is a lot there that has nothing to do with me and my ilk. But I DO know that people in the various industries that service those pieces of the pie are going to be working long hours trying to figure out how to get it. Oversight, as we know, will not be the the government's long suit. I worked in an industry that was funded by government dollars. Sometimes the dollars were hard to get, but when they came, oh, boy, everybody had an idea how THEY could use it. There was always not enough or too much. Either way, there is always a lot of paperwork. But if I am a mafia roads contractor, for instance, I'm licking my chops. Not because I can't wait to build roads. Nope. Because I am going to be very, very rich.
Sorry. It is just hard to keep track of that much money. Four doesn't sound like much and nobody can think in trillions. Should we call it one thousand billion dollars? Even that is hard to comprehend, but it makes it a bit clearer. One hundred thousand million.
So now, go ahead and wrap your mind around this. Each of these categories will have. . . oh. . . I don't know. . . many, many consultants. You need consultants to tell you what to do with all the money you will get. Consultants get a lot of money. You will need extra people, too, to help you with the grant. Before all of that, you will need grant writers. And their team. There will be a lot of travel money for everyone. Teams will need to go to D.C., I'm pretty sure. There will be conferences designed to help companies with navigating "the system." I do not have any companies that would directly benefit from this, but maybe I should start one that will benefit those who do. And me. Help benefit me, I mean.
That's just a whole lot of cabbage. Most of it will not go where it should.
End of sermon. No, wait. . . one more point. Let's take roads just as an example. You are going to build a highway. What is it for? Is it so people can get places faster, or is it so developers can build new apartments and Walmarts? First one, then the other. It takes time, but eventually those who profit most will be the developers. And how many government agencies will have a hand in that? Just think of how many governments you drive through on your way to work each day. How many county and city lines do you cross? They will all have something to say about this. There will be no end to the corruption.
So do I think we should not spend tax money on infrastructure? I do think we should. I just think that the way it is done is the problem. Do I have a remedy?
Elect me and you'll find out!
That is what I (you) get for reading the news that I swore to eschew. I did. Most of it. I couldn't help but click on the story of all the Jews who were crushed to death. Turns out they were the Ultra Orthodox. Religious Jews, I mean.
I was going to write about beans as a superfood today, but that will have to wait now. But yea, beans are good for you. Eat more beans.
It is Friday. I think I will order sushi for the evening meal. And a bottle of sake. Making Fridays special again.
The drip, drip, drip of time.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
One of the disadvantages of hanging around with my mother and her friends is the constant talk of illnesses and death. They don't pretend to talk about the future, something they have relatively little interest in. It is enough to make you drink.
Day before yesterday, my mother's cousin was at her house when I arrived. It is not really her cousin, or rather is a third cousin.
"Meet your relative," my mother said. I had never met her before though my mother has known her all her life. They keep in regular touch with one another.
The woman was a talker. She went on and on and on about things I had no interest in. I never tried to interrupt or interject, though. I could tell there was little point to it. I just let her talk. . . and talk, and talk.
I left after an hour and a half having done little but grin and nod.
Yesterday morning, my mother emailed me that she got a call early in the morning that her cousin was in the hospital. I thought she might be there for her sister who was just diagnosed with cancer. But my mother didn't get to the phone in time as she was asleep in bed, so all she had to go on was a phone message.
When I went to my mother's yesterday afternoon, she told me that her cousin had gone to a Walmart on her way home and that her leg suddenly gave out. Her tongue and mouth were tingling. She sat down and took her blood pressure which was more than 200 over something. She drove to the hospital. She had had a stroke.
Jesus. The woman who wouldn't stop talking looked great. She looked healthy as a horse.
All of this is wearing on me badly.
When I left my mother's house, I picked up a falafel bowl for dinner and headed home to eat with the cat. I added a little chicken I had grilled to the mix and poured a glass of wine. The late afternoon (they are lasting until nearly eight o'clock now) was gorgeous. Now, my routine has become ingrained in me this pandemic year, and each evening after dinner, I do nearly the same thing. My after dinner drink finished, however, rather than pouring the next, I decided to take a walk to the dock on the lake. I don't know why I rarely do this, but it has somehow fallen out of memory.
I got there as the western sky was turning rosy against the deep blue above. Three kids were fishing from the dock, so I sat on a bench not to crowd them. For a bit, I was covered by Mayflies. Then a nice breeze set up and they settled back into the grass. I watched the boys cast their lines over and over without a bight. I used to come fish from this dock and I know that the weeds make it nearly impossible to catch anything. With each cast, they stripped the hydrilla and pondweed from their hooks.
"You guys catching anything but weeds?"
"Not tonight. Sometimes, though. It is better from a boat."
"They were schooling right out there the other night churning up the water, but you need a boat."
I nodded. Good kids. They handled their rods very well. After a bit, two of the boys packed up their stuff and said goodbye. The third boy continued to fish. He had a metal lure that whirred and churned up the surface water as he reeled it quickly in.
"That's an interesting lure. You can see the fish hit it on the surface."
"Yes, it's exciting. I usually fish surface. I catch them right in here, but the wind tonight. . . ."
I was hoping to see him get a hit, but the sun was setting and I decided to head back home.
"O.K. man. Good luck."
It was just a simple walk to the lake, but it was somehow transforming. It wasn't just the lake, though being out there was good and had me thinking about getting back into the natural world again. It was simply a matter of breaking routine. I was aware, once again, of the world around me that had disappeared from vision in the year of isolation.
A man and a woman were walking toward me on an evening stroll. He had an aristocratic manner and a very pretty wife. The wife gave me a sweet smile and held my gaze until they had passed. I realized then that I was probably wrong, that she was his daughter not his wife. But that is me. That is the way I think.
At home, I put on some water to make a cup of tea. I hadn't made tea for some time. Yes, I needed to drink more tea in the evenings, I thought. I need to change my habits a bit. I need to pay more attention.
Last night, I woke up in bed laughing. Half awake, I couldn't stop even though the dream and the cause of my laughter were very, very vague. I have only woken up laughing a very few times in my life, but last night's was a belly buster.
I got out of bed long after sunrise. Whatever was going on last night kept me in long slumber.
Today I will do something different. Oh, but wait. . . the a.c. guy comes for the semi-annual service mid-afternoon. Whatever I do, it won't last long. Still, it is an attitudinal as well as a geographical adjustment. Maybe I'll just go buy one of those carved mineral trays that unblocks your chakras.
Or maybe I'll go out and buy a new fishing pole.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
I have computer woes. I live in a Mac environment. Like many people, I started with it long ago because it was easy. You didn't need to be a techie to use Apple products. Tech people hated Apple, but creative people loved them. Over the years, however. . . now you need an IT department to keep things running. What happened?
Two days ago, I was asked to log into my Apple account on my iMac. I couldn't. None of the passwords I used worked, not even the one that was stored on my computer. WTF? I had to hit the idiot tab that says I forgot everything. I was, however, successful at changing my password. Yay!
Not quite. After that, my iPhone and MacBook and iMac were no longer synched. Replies to text messages would only come into the device from which they were sent, and suddenly the responses were most often, "Who is this?" Apparently something switched and now texts were coming from my email account rather than my phone number.
Blah, blah, blah.
I spent much of yesterday updating all my operating systems. Grand. But that meant I had to download drivers for many of my other devices. There is no end to it all, it seems. But Apple has its hooks in us now, don't they? And they keep upping the prices for their services. I am going to cancel all my subscriptions to anything Apple, I think.
But surely there is not a good alternative. I'm sure that all companies are difficult, devious, and full of shit. I am simply angry at Apple's fall from grace.
If I were a kid, I probably wouldn't be having these problems.
No matter. I have many other problems, too. Many. Many many.
This may come as a shock to those of you who believed my life was as casual and problem free as your own. Your luxury cars start every time and run without issue. The tires are new and the paint is waxed. Your houses are made of some super products that never need maintenance, but if they ever do, you have home warranties that take care of it almost without charge. Your stock portfolios have been making you rich and your cupboard of tinctures and supplements keeps you healthy and young. Your personal trainer has you gently cross training, meditating, doing yoga, and eating an antibiotic and hormone free diet.
And there are plenty of Goop products in your house to keep you. . . happy.
In stark relief, my yard has been taken over by exotic weeds. My new-ish deck is rotting because I ignorantly painted the pressure treated wood. My horrendous problems with water and plumbing have not yet abated, and I still need someone to replace some wood siding on the exterior of the house. My stock portfolio is nil, and my 2005 Xterra is showing its age.
And every night, I eat alone but for the feral cat who has no affection for me at all.
There are upsides, however. The food is often very, very good, and my hundred year old house is in a good location. I really don't have to drive more than a few miles in any direction to get to all the things people desire, and I'm a mere .5 miles from the Boulevard.
Keep on the sunny side. That is what my old college room mate keeps telling me. I think he has drugs for that, though. Still, such a thing could have its upside.
Today I will tackle my big Epson printer issue. One of the ink heads is blocked, so today I will try the last ditch Hail Mary fix. I am pessimistic about the outcome, but I have to give it a shot. I have about $3,000 dollars worth of inks that only work on this printer edition, and a new head would cost approximately $1,800 plus technician, so more like $2,100. A new printer of the same size would only cost $3,000 or so, but then I would need to buy all the inks as the old ones would be useless. So today, with trembling knees, I will try to clean the heads with fluids that have a small chance of working.
There are the gripes. I blame today's picture for the tone and mood of this post. Dark clouds and a troubled look. But I don't think I have any happy pictures.
I'm going to go now and check my horoscope. I'm certain the planets are crossed. Then I'll eat some live-long food, take some get-young supplements, and meditate. The sun is shining on all sides of the street. Once I light my Gwyneth Paltrow candle, I'm sure things will become wonderful.
If I can only find my Book of Scientology. . . .