Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Frayed and Torn

What do people want to read?  Do they want sunshine and bluebirds, or do they want to read the troubles this life proffers?  I guess that is a stupid question.  How many happy books are in the Best Literature of All Time list?  O.K. Forget great literature.  Only eggheads read that stuff.  Let's look at the N.Y. Times best seller's list.  No, let's not.  It's depressing.  Rather, let's consider the arc of a good plot.  Write a nice scene. Put the reader someplace they would like to be.  Make it rich and sumptuous, then introduce the conflict.  

Oy. 

My dilemma is whether to write or not.  Today, I mean.  I am disagreeable and petty right now though my dreams are luscious.  In them, I am recalling things I've not thought of for so long they are almost forgotten.  Small things.  Last night, I remembered an incident in that period just after my divorce when everything was vivid and life was exciting.  Oh, sure, I was miserable, too.  I had loved my wife very much in a marriage without discord until the very end, and even then there was no fighting, just her emotional drifting which made me very sad.  But in the aftermath, I lived a voracious life.  It was almost flamboyant.  

The memory.  One Saturday night, Brando's business partner had a party at her house.  I was not crazy about going, but there I met a very pretty woman who spent the evening sitting next to me on the couch.  Later in the evening when people were beginning to leave, she said that a group of them were going to the Copper Rocket, a little dive bar with live music, and she suggested that I should come.  

Sure as shittin'.  

There, we took a table in the back where we could almost talk.  We drank and laughed, and then a fellow from the party came up in a mean way.  He told her it was time to go.  Her boyfriend?  She told him she was staying and it got a little heated.  What the fuck?  I was really confused.  She got up and went to the restroom, and the fellow turned to me to deliver an unwelcome slur.  When I stood up, the table turned over and some of the chairs did, too.  He turned and walked to the exit and disappeared.  People were staring.  I told my friends goodbye and left the bar.  Outside, of course, I was looking around waiting to get clobbered.  

Some of the memory is erased.  I don't know how, but sometime later, she ended up at my house.  I know that because I have pictures of her there.  What happened to the boyfriend?  All I remember is that she started dating someone else, a member of her group, a tall, hip kid she had known for a very long time.  

Isn't that a very strange way to dream?  I mean, it is more remembering than dreaming.  But I shouldn't have written it.  Other people's dreams. . . . 

Outside my dreaming memories now, of which there are many, my life is a void.  My only contact is with my mother.  She doesn't seem to appreciate what I give up to stay with her.  For her, I am just living as I would at home, I guess.  Her life and desires are not the same as mine.  Me she really doesn't understand.  It will soon be seven weeks that I've lived at her house.  I go to my beautician tomorrow to get beautified, and I realize that I had just been there the day before my mother took her fall.  My beautician is the last person I spent any time these past seven weeks.  Or is it eight?  

As a consequence, I've been more active online.  Stupid.  And I made a mistake. . . no. . . I've made many mistakes, but one is that I posted some pictures on some large format photography platforms.  I don't know what I was thinking.  I wasn't.  It was like going to a strange new bar where you know no one.  I just had to get out.  One of the pictures that I posted is the one at the top of the page.  The members of those groups were all kinds of pissed off that I colorized the photo.  These are the Ansel Adams people, you know?  Opticians and chemists.  They tout some kind of photographic purity, these fellows with the big cameras.  So, of course the digital manipulation set them off.  I am a heretic.  I want to tell them things about their photographs, of course, tell them horrible things.  Anger?  Oh. . . yea.  I'm telling you, my nerves are frayed and torn.  My life is dribbling away in seconds and minutes and hours, in days and weeks and months.  

It will never return.  

I must become someone else.  

But it won't be the fellow in those dreams.  That luscious life is gone.  I won't be winning the attention of beautiful women, won't be turning over tables and chairs, won't be flying through the night in an open Jeep toward the next adventure.  

Or so it seems.  I'm doing the right thing, but it all seems to be going wrong.  

As if.  Right and wrong, I mean. 

Oh. . . they preferred the original.  

As if.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Romantic Colors of a Vivd Imagination

 

Boy oh boy, I'm learning to use this camera.  Click on the photo so you can see it larger.  It looks almost 3D.  That's the appeal of this camera and lens combo.  And I'm learning how to utilize it to better effect.  This is one I took "out in the field" rather than around the house.  Oh, it's a beast to use alright, but I am getting the muscle memory to do it every time.  You can't believe how many times I screwed up and then gave up in the past, but persistence is finally paying off.  At least I think so.  I like this photo.  My art dealer says it looks like a Hudson Valley painting.  I guess it does in a way.  It is pastoral, for sure, though it is simply a retention pond surrounded by urban grunge.  But that is the magic.  

I shouldn't have told you that last part.  

The thing is, the photo is black and white.  I colorized it in Photoshop.  I don't know how I feel about that. Everyone will be doing that until it becomes a derided cliche for hacks.  But I don't simply click a button.  You can, but the results are not satisfying.  I have been "colorizing" my photos for years, long before AI would allow everyone to do it.  I like the results more than straight color photographs.  By far.  Perhaps I was influenced by all those hand colored photo post cards from my childhood.  There was a weirdness to them that struck me as right.  It reminded me of going to Oz, perhaps, always a journey, always the road.  "Out there" is much more magical than home.  The colorized postcards of the past told us just how boring our home lives were.  The person who sent them, whomever they were, was letting you know.  

Oh, to dream like that again.  

So. . . for now, I will be taking my big Liberator into the field, making photos and killing my shoulders and back.  Fingers crossed.  

But not today.  I am to take my mother to therapy at two and I've promised her I would kill weeds, wash the floors, and clean the bathrooms.  All that after I go to the gym.  My life.  

Last night, that life apparently caught up with me.  I fell asleep sitting up on the couch for two episodes of "Blacklist."  I never do that.  I only had one meal yesterday, the one I prepared for mother, so perhaps the scotch hit me hard, but I don't think that was it.  It was early, around eight, when I nodded off.  I woke up in time to watch another episode before bed, but I knew that sleep would be problematic after my upright nap, so I took something to help me sleep.  And it did.  I was narcotized hard and didn't get up until 8:30.  A slow start to a busy day.  

When I got up, I had this song in my head (link), and I can't get it out.  I don't know why.  I haven't heard the song in many years.  What was I dreaming?  It beats me, but old girlfriends have taken up residence in my dreams for some time now.  It's probably a dangerous symptom of a psychological disorder or a portending of something forebode.  Still. . . some nights they are wonderful.  Those girls. . . they were all beautiful and thrilling.  

The heat has been rescinded for awhile.  Replaced by clouds and rain.  It is almost pleasant at times in a drowsy way, a precursor, if you will, to a pleasant melancholy.  Melancholy is so much more preferable to relentless realism, that pernicious destroyer of youthful imaginings.  

In the end, though, it seems we always return to Kansas. 



Monday, August 2, 2021

"What Were You Doing, Honey?"

Have I used this photograph before?  I don't know.  I have run out of photographs here on my laptop at my mother's.  I'm sure I have some in the vast archives stored on the many hard drives at home.  At home right now I have six 4x5 negatives drying in the sink, two color and four b&w.  I will scan them today, but they are simple Covid pictures of houses and trees, etc.  

Yesterday, during the long, slow transition from daylight to sunset, my mother and I sat outside in the muggy heat and humidity swatting mosquitoes and drinking our medicinal gin and tonics against whatever larval infections those bloodsuckers are certain to transfer.  I was telling her how I had occupied the few hours I had spent away from her, describing the difficulties of using the big Liberator camera and saying how imbecilic it was, really, when she asked me what I was taking photographs of.  I was stunned.  

"I don't know.  Nothing.  A pond with a boy fishing.  Some signs.  A building."  

My mother looked at me with a sort of hillbilly amusement like I was one of the simple relatives who isn't quite all there.  

"Well, it is hard, like I say, but I think I have gotten the whole process down now.  I can get a picture every time.  Before, not so much.  It has just been practice, really."

Blah, blah, blah.  It is like the times your parents would ask you to perform a song for guests who really didn't want to hear you sing or play guitar or harmonica or whatever it was you were supposed to do.  

"Now I need a project," I said foundering.  

"Like what?"

"I'm not sure.  I thought about taking my camera to some small town farmers markets and putting up a sign that says 'Free Photographs,' you know?"  

It was obvious she didn't.  So I did what you do.  I fell back on arcane knowledge to show I knew what I was saying.

"I have a book of portraits in your living room you may have looked at by Disfarmer.  No?  Oh, man, he had a photo studio in Arkansas or Nebraska in the '30s and '40's. . . ."  

Whatever.  The sinking feeling, the bottomless pit of ridiculous stupidity when you think more words delivered in an officious tone will save you. . . .  Somebody--throw me a lifeline!

I got the camera out of the car and showed her how it worked.  She looked at me like I was trying to sell her a Kirby vacuum cleaner.  

Oh, were I to make those pictures, she would see then.  I'm sure she would be fascinated.  

Later, as dinner was cooking, I put on YouTube and watched an interview about the new William Eggleston book that Steidl is publishing, three volumes for $450.  My mother looked at those Egglestons like they were five headed chickens.  

I guess I'm living in a very small part of the world.  

But one among you will say, "What a GREAT idea!  You should do it!"  Maybe two.  And I should.  I really should.  

Maybe.  

If someone will just make me the sign.  

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Balkan Sobranies

My mother gets up in the morning and shuffles around the house, through the room where I sit, over and over again, back and forth, sighing, moaning, head down, all the world a misery.  I ask if she's o.k.  She begins her desultory litany of things.  Then the banging begins.  Noise is better than silence.  How else do you know you're alive?  My nerves catch fire.  I become twitchy.  Sooner or later, I will begin to snap.  All I want is that silent peace.  The t.v. comes on.  News, weather, commercials, then the Medicare Channel.  I go in for a second cup of coffee.  She is not there.  She has gone to sit outside.  I turn off the television.  

The beginning of the 6th week.  

My back and hips are hurting.  I shuffle when I walk. . . sigh and moan.  I watch stupid things on YouTube.  I sit outside with the feral cat and stare.  

When I was young and living with my parents before they divorced, life was much the same.  Only the shuffling and moaning have been added.  But there was the banging of pots and pans or the running of the vacuum and the constant drone of the television.  

I began smoking cigarettes when I was young.  My friends did.  By the time we were in high school, those of us who made it and those of us who didn't, some of my friends smoked in front of their parents.  My best friend, Tommy, lived with his mother and stepfather in a 10x60 foot trailer.  Two bedrooms, one bath, two adults and three kids.  No air conditioning.  We could smoke all we wanted to there.  Tommy and I went to movies.  We wanted a different life, the life we saw there.  We desired all the "sophistication" that we lacked.  Foreign cars, yachts, casinos and chateaus on Mediterranean coasts--expensive things.  All we could afford were foreign cigarettes.  We began smoking Balkan Sobrainies.  

The tobacco was of an "Oriental" variety, produced in Syria and air dried in Turkey after which it was cured in smokey huts using fragrant wood and camel dung.  Or so I remember.  The aroma and taste was far different from the Virginia tobacco of American cigarettes, much deeper and more complex.  It transported us to another world.  

We were desperate to escape.  It was with Tommy that I got a union construction job the summer I graduated high school (something Tommy never did).   Tommy got his girlfriend pregnant that summer.  He never escaped.  

I quit smoking and went to the university, two of the better choices I made in life.  

I don't remember what made me think of that tobacco yesterday.  I was driving and asked Siri to make a note so that I would not forget.  

Perhaps it was the desire to escape that did it.  

But they don't make those cigarettes any longer.  They don't make movies like they used to, either.  

Saturday, July 31, 2021

A Book and a Drink

 I was determined to go "out in the field" and make photographs with the #13 Black Cat Liberator yesterday.  By the time I was "out there," it was hot.  It was really hot.  It may get hot in the west, but there is a different gravity to the sun here.  It is an actual pressure and can knock you down.  Madmen and Englishmen, as they say, are the only ones to go out in the noonday sun.  

But I did. 

I put everything in the car and headed off on a well-known circuit.  I would stop here and there and make some pictures.  I only had four sheets of film to shoot.  That is all the developing tank will take and that was the number of empty film holders I had.  Simple.  

Except it wasn't.  It was too bright for the camera.  The reason to use this particular camera is that the lens opens up very wide (f2.5--super wide for large format) and gives the images a look that you can't get with other camera/lens combos.  But they don't make film that has a sensitivity to allow that camera to work in bright light.  I tried to find things in shade, wait for clouds, etc.  But it was hot.  Really hot.  I drove and stopped, got out the big camera, put it away, drove and stopped, got out the big camera. . . . And then I gave up.  

I went back to my house and made the drink you see above.  And as I sat outside with it, the UPS truck arrived.  The day had come.  


The book arrived.  The first shock--a white cover.  I hadn't even thought of that as I wasn't given a choice of colors as far as I know.  I, of course, always pictured black.  I will go back and see if I can change that today.  Inside, the images are fine but a little cooler than I would like.  It might be the paper stock.  I am going to upgrade to a matte finish and see if that will make a difference.  I've also decided to edit out some of the photos.  There are too many, and with the book in hand, I can make editing decisions more easily.  I am changing the introduction to the book as well.  

But this is a good start.  The book is 8.5"x 8.5" and is a good size, I think.  I made it square so that all images had the same borders no matter if they were oriented portrait or landscape.  It was a good decision.  

I didn't make the book so that I could have a copy lying around the house, of course.  I made it to send around trying to promote myself to galleries and real book companies.  It is scary and weird, I have to admit.  Very.  

Through the magic of Photoshop, I just made a mock up of what it will look like. 


That's the ticket!  And it should have a linen finish.  When this is done, I will let you know.  Some people have said they want a copy, so I will make it available to any readers who want one.  I won't get any money from it.  It is a souvenir, of sorts, that I will give to those who have been reading the blog, something to take with you when I'm gone.  

If you want. I will give you details when it is ready.  

I didn't get to sit with the book for very long.  It was time for me to hurry back to my mother's to make dinner.  It would not be a Sushi Friday, but that was o.k. I would make something tasty and good and there would be the scotch after dinner.  That would be enough, as they say.  Well. . . Hemingway. . . with irony.  

What I need today is some human to use my camera on.  I need a human.  I haven't any in my life who is not related to me, and I don't wish to be an autobiographer.  So. . . more objects, more things.  Maybe one day I'll make a breakthrough again.  

Friday, July 30, 2021

I Don't Want to be Old Anymore


Jesus. . . I wish I had taken that photograph.  It was done with a large format camera and a great lens, I know.  The Duke was a handsome fellow in his youth, but that is the road to Hollywood, ain't it?

I am a miserable fuck, and I don't want to be old anymore.  I am seething with anger and something else.  

Yesterday, I had a confrontation with a bicyclist.  At the stop light, he pulled up beside me and started in.  Said I had gotten too close to him.  I told him that it was the other way 'round, that he had changed lanes as I came by.  He said something stupid, and then I got heated.  I called him names.  He told me something, something, something. . . "Grandpa."  I told him, "Cocksucker, when I get out of the car, you are going to get the shit kicked out of you by Grandpa you little shitwad turd!"  

What the hell is wrong with me?  My anger overwhelms all sense.  

He declined the invitation.  We sat at the red light a long time.  I felt badly.  I pulled up and rolled down my window.  

"Listen, man. . . I was run over while riding my Vespa.  I don't want to hurt anyone.  I know how it feels."

But he was done with me.  Fuck, I thought.  I wanted to get out and beat him.  

Down the road, I felt very badly.  

Later in the day.  When I took my mother to therapy, we got into the elevator.  She didn't push the button.  I stood there.  She stood there.  Nothing happened.  I watched her.  I wanted to know how long she would stand in a stationary elevator.  Turned out to be a long time.  After awhile, she said, "We're not going anywhere."  I asked her if she thought the elevator would automatically take to her destination floor.  She looked at me quizzically.  It took awhile.  I asked her if she had pushed the button.  She was very upset.  

"Why do you have to treat me like that?" 

I watched her during therapy.  I said nothing.  She is an old hillbilly woman.  Nothing to be done, but it makes me sad.  

And something else.  

Her neighbor brought over some food she had made for my mother.  She sat down.  To talk.  And talk.  She likes to tell stories, but they have no point.  They are all about her.  I wasn't as nice as I have always been.  

After therapy, I took my mother grocery shopping.  She wanted to go to Aldi's.  Have you been to Aldi's?  I am not good at Aldi's.  It is a store for morons always in some awkward part of town.  I'm not against poverty, but I have a problem with stupid.  Oh. . . I know.  The fruit and vegetables are good and cheap, but I wouldn't let my mother buy any of the meat.  I was irritated from the get-go.  We had to pay a quarter for the use of a cart.  We got it back, however, when we took it back.  WTF?  

I was losing it at that point.  

For dinner, I made a frozen pizza.  "Cheat night," I said.  I fried eggs to put on top.  When I served my mother, she said the egg wasn't cooked.  The yoke was runny.  She didn't eat runny yolks.  

After dinner, I poured a scotch and put on a video about the Neue Gallerie.  She wan't interested.  I put it on the Medicare Channel and told her to watch Matt Dylan.  That is what she is doing now.  

I am about to go mad.  I don't want to be old anymore.  

At the gym, there were two beautiful, fit girls who I see there almost daily.  I don't look.  Never look.  Nothing can make you out to be a creep like looking.  But I can tell.  They keep me in the periphery of their vision.  How?  Well. . . maybe they are in mine.  The taller one, however, was looking at me directly. She smiled.  We spoke pleasantly.  

"Grandpa."

For whatever reason, I thought of Sam Shepard.  Somehow, I thought, he would understand.  

I get a copy of my book for perusal today.  Vanity Press.  But. . . I can send it out for rejection.  That is supposed to be some sort of valediction.  So they say.  

Once it is in my hands, I will let you know.  

* * *

I slept through the night without taking anything to help me sleep.  I should say I didn't get up, not even once.  I woke during the night several times, however, in flagrante delecto.  I was dreaming of women, some I know, some I don't.  It went on all night long.  Oh, how lovely life can be in dreams.  Obviously I won't go into details.  Other people's dreams, etc.  But I think it was the incident at the gym that did it.  

I've decided to lose weight and regain my youth.  Ha!  

I don't want to be old anymore.  

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Danger in Desire

 I should call this blog "The Milk Can and Wheelbarrow Diaries."  But here is the photo I took with the weird brass lens on a glass plate and what I wrote about it on some Large Format Photography sites.

Experimenting. I have an old brass lens that I bought fifteen years ago on eBay before I knew anything at all about large format photography. I still don't know what the lens is. I pulled it out and put it on a 4x5 studio camera and shot it on a J. Lane glass plate. Just guessed at exposure. . . one thousand one, one thousand two. . . . The maximum focussing distance with the lens is only about three feet. It has a focussing knob, but even with the bellows completely contracted, that's it. I'm still a moron about most of this. But even a blind pig finds a truffle once in awhile they say. Me. . . I got an image.

A fellow responded to the photo and message and said that the lens was probably an old projector lens.  The old Magic Lantern.  Cool.  But despite advice, I still haven't been able to get it to focus at distances over three feet.  I am a dunce, of course.  

I am slouching toward making a "real" picture rather than a test.  I am.  I really am.  But these are treacherous times, and I have no humans to shoot.  I guess I need to make some kids if I want a steady subject.  I could be like Sally Mann.  

There is danger in my experimenting, though.  Now I want a "real" antique brass lens made for cameras.  When my old pal Ed Ross died in 2016, I wanted to buy his lenses.  Isn't that awful?  But I did.  I didn't know who to contact, however.  Yesterday, thinking about lenses, I thought about Ross and did some Googling to remember what lenses he used.  Serendipity, I found a photographer who knew Ross who had gotten one of his lenses.  It was like a blow to the gut.  Again. . . awful, right?  The lens is a Dallmeyer 3B.  They are extremely difficult to come by.  I found one for sale online for $3,000.  

There is danger in desire.  And, of course, I haven't even made a memorable large format picture yet.  

Danger in desire.  Hmm.  Yes, indeed.  

I ran one of the black and white photos from the other day through the new Photoshop tool.  

It's funny that it turns my deck into a natural wood color.  My deck is painted green.  There is something spooky about this colorization tool, but just about everything digital is becoming so.  When I was a kid, I used to watch Walter Cronkite's "The 21st Century."  I loved the show, but old Walt never warned us about the dangers we would face.  He just promised me a flying car.


I want my flying car.  

Desire.  Can I tell you what I really want?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Wash, Rinse, Spin. . . .

 There is a new tool in Photoshop that colorizes black and white images.  Q posted the b&w version on his blog today (link).  I ran it through the new tool and came up with this.  It will be a new Instagram sensation.  


I got a message from my old boss at the factory last night.  She once had a student intern working in her office which was right next to mine.  The girl was sweet and fun and spent a lot of time hanging out with me.  Oh. . . those were the days.  But last night, the message said that the girl, now a woman, was living in Oregon and was a pretty competitive bicyclist.  She had been hit by a drunken driver.  The damage is terrible.  Nine broken ribs (I only had seven), three of which they plated (I only had two).  Broken right femur, left tibia, and left arm, all now with titanium implants.  Broken feet.  They had to fuse two of her spinal vertebrae.  She has feeling in her broken arm now but still has not been able to move it.  My old  boss thought I could relate.  A few emails have gone back and forth.  It is terrible what can happen.  

It took me back, first to the images of her as a young woman, then to my own accident.  

I took this picture while narcotized a few days after being hit.  I had my iPhone.  

Even on death's door, I could not quit making photographs.  This is my hospital room just days after I got crushed.  

Crazy.  

What possesses?  You have to ignore the tragedy, I guess, and focus on the future.  You make deals with yourself and say it will be O.K.  But further tragedies always loom.  It could have been better.  

She'll have a hard row to hoe.  

I was lazy yesterday.  When I got to my house, I felt overwhelmed.  My kitchen floor and countertops are full of photo chemicals, developing tanks, spools and reels and funnels and measuring cups.  I had too many plans.  I took a shower and decided to do just one thing.  That is all I had to do.  Just load some glass plates into the glass plate holders, then try to make a photograph with the 4x5 studio view camera that I have owned for more than a decade and never used.  It has an old brass lens I bought on eBay then that I wanted to use for making wet plate images.  I took it out of the closet where it has lain for all those years.  I must never have tried even to focus the camera after I mounted the lens.  I put the camera on a tripod and tried to focus on the back screen.  It wouldn't.  WTF?  After futzing with it for awhile, I realized that the lens would only focus about three feet away at the farthest.  On a bellows?  For the life of me, I can't figure this one out.  But at three feet, things are sharp.  So I loaded the glass plates.  I would take a chance.  I've never really had luck with these glass plates before.  They are super slow at a rating of iso 2.  I've tried, but never have gotten an adequate image.  I had little hope this time, but I would spend my afternoon trying.  The lens has no shutter, nor, of course, does the camera, so exposures are just a guess.  I had two plates.  I would count two seconds on one and three seconds on the other.  Just guesses.  I don't even know what the aperture of the lens is.  

I took the rig outside.  Yup.  Another photo of the milk can.  Still just testing.  Took one.  Took the other.  Got the developing tank and went to the garage and the dark tent to move them from the holders to the tank.  Came back and Googled developing times.  Mixed the right chemicals.  Etc.  I rotated the tank every minute without hoping.  

Later that day. . . WTF?  For the first time, it worked.  Both plates have images.  I will scan them today and see how they turned out.  

But I had to fly.  I had to get back in time to take my mother to therapy.  She is doing well, thank you.  

Then I cooked dinner.  We tried to watch the news, but there was none.  They are saying the same things they said six months ago.  We turned it off.  

A couple hours and a few episodes of "Blacklist" later, it was time for bed.  

I woke in the middle of the night.  I knew what would be coming, so I got up and took an Advil P.M.  I am gooey this morning.  But. . . it is time to do it all again.  

Wash, rinse, spin. . . . 


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

My Little Piece of Paris

This is a little experiment I did yesterday.  I just wanted to know if I still had skills.  It is a picture I took on old old Fuji instant film, then processed in my own special way.  I don't know.  I was very excited at first.  Now. . . maybe.  But I've already sent it out to friends, so I must stick by it.  The Tuileries table and chairs, the shaft of light.  It is Hemingway's Paris right in my own backyard.  But it is a stage, a fairly empty scene.  Perhaps you know what it needs.  

Disease is abroad in my own home state.  I may stop going to the gym again.  I don't know.  I woke up this morning feeling none to well--stuffy nose, a head full, drainage.  Covid isn't the only thing about.  There are apparently some pretty bad colds and flus here, too.  Since getting the vaccine, I've become pretty lax, but they say now that I can still get sick; I just probably won't die from it.  

I don't like getting sick.  

But I do like seeing people.  

I'm just not sure they are as happy about seeing me now.  

Selavy.  


Monday, July 26, 2021

Self-Love

Call it what you will.  This was test #2 with the Liberator.  It does a lovely job with making things out of focus, or rather, of limiting the plane of focus to something very narrow.  The thing to do is learn how to work with it.  I've had the camera for almost a decade and I haven't used it enough to learn much at all.  It is a more cumbersome camera than I had imagined it would be when I bought it.  It is not only the camera, however.  Everything is expensive--film, holders, hoods.  As you can see, there is a light leak on the right side of the image.  I don't know if it is the holder or the back of the camera.  If it is the holder, I don't know which one.  I have about fifteen, and they are all old.  Or it may be the way I place the holder in the back.  There is a lot to go wrong.  

I am looking at shooting 8x10 film.  I have shot it before, but again, I gave up.  I am sending off four sheets of color film to be processed.  I think it is color film.  I think it has been exposed.  It would be from years ago since I haven't used the 8x10 camera since I retired.  God knows.  But the film costs $10 per sheet and developing costs the same.  Each image, if it turns out, and if it does, bad or not, costs $20.  That is pretty ridiculous.  Why would I do it?  Even processing my own 4x5 film is costing about $6.50 per shot, again whether it is any good or not.  Not even instant film costs that much.  

As I've said before, I'm like a guy carving ducks and seagulls in his garage.  I'm like a stamp or coin collector.  There is no money in it other than on the outgoing tide.  You know.  The guy who has been building an airplane in his garage for the past decade.  The guy who has the old cars that he plans on restoring.  Always a guy.  Why is that?  Why is it always a guy?  

I worked on things photographic today.  I finished the book. . . sort of.  I've ordered a copy to see what it looks like.  I will be able to go through it better in print form, I think, and if it needs more editing, I will go back and make the changes.  If I can live with what I have, I will let you know, and if you think you want to pay the publishing cost of the book, you can get one.  Again, no money to me, the duck carver.  I just like you and am giving you something I've made for cost.  

"Look, honey!  He made a table out of a cypress stump.  He put a CLOCK in it!!!"

Yes, you can order the Cyprus Stump Clock Table if you hurry, and I'll throw in a Popeil Pocket Fisherman at no extra charge (link).  

I had an idea once for a project back when I had the studio.  I was going to call it Small Trades.  I wanted to photograph people in their work uniforms.  I shot two lifeguards and an equestrian.  That was as far as I got.  I think I should try to start it up once again.  

But now I need to go cook dinner for my mother.  Until tomorrow. . . . 

* * * 

Looking back at this makes me sad.  I want a studio.  I want to have the energy for these projects again.  Why didn't I do more on this?  Coulda/woulda/shoulda.  Gets me nowhere.  

I haven't done anything for two days.  I haven't taken a walk.  I haven't showered.  I haven't even washed my face.  The thought of getting back into the gym, of being active, is burdensome.  Showering, too.  I think there is something wrong with me.  I am succumbing to "it all."  I have become a simple, stinky automaton.  I came back to my mother's and made dinner, poured a drink, watched television, took a pill and went to bed.  I somehow feel that it would be wrong to enjoy life more than my mother.  Yes, that is it.  It is true.  And having said that, perhaps that is the thing wrong in many people's lives.  Of course it is.  Guilt.  People should be as miserable as the one's they love.  

Oy!

Self-love, I'm told.  One needs to practice it.  I have never been good at that.  Self-indulgence, yes, but not so much love.  I always figured we were here to take a beating.  But maybe today I could try.  What would I do today for someone I loved?  

That is a dilemma many must suffer.  The love practice is harder than it seems.  

O.K.  I need to fix my mother some breakfast.  It is easier just to take the beating.  

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Verge

I feared having another sleepless night.  I could feel it in me, though, the sleeplessness.  It is a nervousness and an anxiety.  At evening's end, I took an Advil PM.  I sat around for awhile, and it didn't feel as if it was working, so I took another.  Two is always a mistake in the morning.  I don't know what is in those pills, but it should be illegal.  Rather, they keep things that are less harmful like opium from us.  Nobody ever lost a kidney from opium smoking, but plenty have from Advil.  What sense does that make? 

I would have been better off with a nerve pill, I think, but they are difficult for me to procure.  I am trying to save what I have.  And so. . . .

The milk can picture is another test shot.  That is all I have at present.  Making real pictures would take a commitment I can't make at the moment.  My mother is getting much better, though.  I don't have to do everything for her.  She is able to use her broken shoulder side a bit more every day.  Of course.  It pleases her, but the better she gets, the closer I get to moving home, and therein lies a dilemma.  For her, I mean.  There will come the painful day of "extraction" when I ask, "Do you think you can manage on your own now?"  And, of course, she will guilt me badly.  "But mom. . . ?"  

An old man living with his mother.  

I need to begin to get out more, get on the highway for the day, take some cameras and see if I can find some worthy subjects.  But there is only one subject that is worthy, the subject I dare not whisper.  

"The Verge."  

Only the mysteries endure.  I want to photograph what is taboo.  I want to photograph the quick mysteries that dissipate so quickly yet perpetually endure.  

I can't write anything better than that today.  I will leave it there.  

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Goin' to a Go-Go

Oh, man. . . that was TOO bleak.  Let's try something more fun.  A Go-Go.

I am trying to convince my buddies to get their wives and girlfriends to put on some go-go boots and give it a whirl.  They all have iPhones.  They can do video.  I would be thrilled.  Can't think of anything better these days than that.  

And yesterday wasn't all a bust.  It was Sushi Friday.  O.K.  I ate it at my mother's kitchen table with the overhead light shining, but you can't have everything.  

That's what they say, at least. 


Misery, Fear, and Despair

 I am miserable this morning.  I slept one hour at a time last night.  In between wakings, I had violently horrible nightmares.  Old age, disease, death. . . .  My right hip hurt me badly.  I have great fear that I will need to either use a walker or have it replaced.  All night long, I realized one thing, but I won't confess it here. I shouldn't even tell you that I had a bad night, really, for you know the old saying about telling people your woes--eighty percent of people don't care.  The other twenty are glad.  After a big life, I am sure many resent me.  I had too much for too long.  Everything but money and children.  I've already had some tell me with undisguised glee, "You'll die lonely and alone."  To which I would reply, "Who doesn't?"  I mean, sure, I'd like us all to go together.  That would make the most sense.  I think we should all be the same age.  Well. . . there might be an obvious flaw in that statement if you look at my life.  But you get my drift.  

Yes, we should all cease to exist at the same time.  Any other way is cruelty.  

But last night, trying to sleep under the Full Buck Moon was a terrible thing.  My astrologer told me it was a good moon for me, an Aquarian moon or something, but the astrologers have not been my friends for some time.  I am star-crossed, I guess.  Like Romeo and Juliet (link).  

Yesterday made one month exactly of living with my mother.  Yesterday was a busy one.  I drove my mother to two pharmacies and two grocery stores.  Later, I took her to therapy.  In between, I went to my house to check on things.  The cat has not eaten her food for two days.  Hasn't shown up when I'm there.  She thinks I've abandoned her, I'm sure.  

I had a couple hours, so I decided to develop a roll of color film and four sheets of 4x5 black and white.  Back to the dark tent.  Unloading, loading. . . then to the sink, heating chemicals, twirling tanks. . . why?  You can just pay someone to do all this.  It isn't even a someone.  They have calibrated machines to do the work.  In the end, the four sheets of 4x5 were blank.  What happened?  Why?  I can't figure it out.  The roll of film is hanging, but I won't know what is on it until I scan it.  It will take me a lot of work.  They have machines to do that, too.  What was I thinking, anyway?  It's only money.  

O.K.  I can't think.  My mother is blasting the local news on commercial t.v.  My nerves are shot.  I am living her life now.  

Friday, July 23, 2021

Mixed Results

I'll bet you've never seen this one before.  Well. . . I mean in color.  AND in 4x5 format, or at least 3.5x4.  But this, for me, is a great success.  It is the first color film I have ever developed.  And by gosh. . . I don't mind it at all.  

Still, it was a harrowing day with mixed results.  There was the mother/son morning, of course, and then the gym.  I didn't get to my house until noon. I was sweaty and sticky after taking a two mile walk following my workout, but I wanted to get started with mixing chemicals before I showered. I had to think through everything I needed to do.  The past year and a half has wilted my brain.  I no longer think through complex problems.  I daydream mostly, if even that.  Maybe I'm down to just identifying.  

"Carpet.  Table.  Chair.  Tree.  Sky."

I found thinking through the entirety of the day's processes irritating.  Early onset dementia, probably. I would need to make several trips to the garage and back.  First, I needed to load the film onto the developing reels in the dark tent.  I hate loading film onto reels in the dark tent.  My arms go in up to the elbows while my eyes are in the light.  There is a disconnect between what you see and what you do.  It makes me very irritable.  I usually have trouble getting the film started onto the reel, and if that happens, I have to unspool it and start over.  

"Don't forget the scissors and church key, idiot"

Of course, I didn't have a church key.  I couldn't find it last time I developed film and buying a new one slipped my mind.  I would have to improvise.

Three rolls of film, one 35mm and two 120mm.  And by gosh, everything went pretty smoothly.  

Back to the kitchen to develop.  Oh, shit. . . I forgot the developer.  Back to the garage.  I was using a very dilute Rodinal mix and a stand development technique that takes an hour.  Once the chemicals go in, you just let it stand.  So while the Rodinal was doing its job, I mixed up the color chemicals.  They had to be mixed in water precisely 102 degrees.  I was nervous.  This is the sort of thing I am bad at.  I am not a precise person.  In zoology labs, my fetal pig dissections looked like they'd been done by a pack of starving rodents.  I'm good at painting the middle of the wall.  Trim work. . . not so much.  

First the developer, then the two part bleach and fix.  As I was mixing them, an Amazon truck pulled up.  My sous vide cooker had arrived.  I needed it to maintain the water temperature when I developed the film.  

Back to the garage and the dark tent to unload the 4x5 film and get it into the developing tank.  Four sheets.  I'm getting good at it.  No problem.  

Back to the house.  I unpacked the sous vide.  The black and white film had been standing for half an hour.  I gave it a couple inversions.  Another half hour.  I had time to go to the bank and deposit a check.  When I got home, there were only a few minutes of development left.  Then the stop bath, fix, wash.  But the wash water kept running red.  WTF?  Uh-oh. 

When I pulled the film out, it was blank.  I'd fucked up.  The container I thought was holding Rodinal wasn't.  I had poured something else in mistakenly.  Shit piss fuck goddamn.  I was crestfallen.  

I carefully labelled the chemicals I had just mixed.  Now it was time to try my first attempt at color.  I had little confidence that I had mixed the chemicals carefully enough.  Even if I had, I was pretty sure the colors would be muted and off.  I filled a pan of water and put the sous vide in, set the temperature, poured the chemicals and put them inside.  I waited for the temperature to come up.  I poured.  I agitated.  First the color developer, then the blix.  Three and a half minutes.  Eight minutes.  Rinse.  

Expecting nothing.  

The first one came out of the tank. 

Mom.  I had taken the photo in the morning.  Wtf?  I had just loaded the film the day before.  How?

O.K.  I guess the film had already been exposed.  I must have put it in the box to send off for developing and then forgotten about it.  Many people liked the double exposure of the milk can.  Nobody will like this one, especially me.  

Four sheets of film.  Two double exposures.  But oo-la-la.  Two turned out!

I left them to dry while I greased myself in coconut oil, hair and body.  Just part of my beauty process.  Twenty minutes later, I was in the shower.  Hair washed and conditioned, body degreased, I dried and dressed and began cleaning up the mess in the kitchen.  I looked at the clock.  I would barely have time to scan the negatives before heading back to cook dinner for my mother.  

So, what you see is the result of half a day's work.  Two medium format color pictures reduced to the resolution of an iPhone.  If you take into account all the chemical mixing I did yesterday, it is more like a full day's work.  Was it worth it?  Well. . . it makes me kind of happy.  The colors pop, the images are clear, and there is that medium format look to them, sort of, maybe, I think.  

I will do more this weekend.  Now that I know the process works, I need to make something of consequence.  No more "test shots."  

And when I don't make anything of consequence, I will follow Q into the world of iPhone photography.  

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Making Memories

Make memories in the booth.  Of course.  Memories made here.  

But what good are they without the photographic evidence?  

With all the iPhone selfies, it is a wonder that photo booths are still in existence.  But there is nothing like having a print in the hand (except maybe two in the bush).  

The worst crime is not being young.  The second worst is not being pretty.  Or so it seems.  

Boomer. 

Tomorrow makes four weeks of living at my mother's house.  A month.  My life is dribbling away.  Every day is the same.  Don't try to imagine.  It is impossible unless you have done it.  My brain has shut down.  I have nothing left to say.  I've become a mime with a very limited vocabulary.  That's a good line if you get it.  

Long ago and far away. . . . 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

My Own Color

This is the sort of brilliant photography I have been capable of recently.  "How does he do it?" you might ask!  All you need to do is practice.  You do best what you do most.  

I got this back from the photo lab yesterday along with eleven other brilliant images.  BUT--I bought chemicals to develop my own color film.  That's right.  Rather than spending a few bucks to get my film processed and scanned, I'll do it myself.  It will be hours and hours of fun.  There will be no end to the bad pictures I can afford to take.  

That is how it seems to me, anyway.  But I am kind of excited to try developing my own large format color negatives.  And I will be until I do it.  Sooner or later, I will be sickened by the whole thing and just spend the money and buy the Hasselblad digital camera that I lust for.  That would probably make me happy for a day or two.  

I DO have some experiments that I want to try, though.  You know what a mad scientist I am.  Nothing makes me happier than sitting with a bunch of test tubes in the old photo laboratory.  

Q sent me a link to the iPhone he is going to buy.  It is really expensive, but not as expensive as everything else.  He'll be a famous photographer before I can develop a roll of color film.  

Selavy.  


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Whatever

 Well. . . here is the first mistake, an unintended double exposure using 4x5 film.  I think either photo might have been nice.  Despite the mistake, I almost like it.  The big surprise to me was that the modified camera does not make a 4x5 negative as advertised, but a 3.5x4 inch one instead.  About that, I'm a bit disappointed.  I was hoping for the whole shebang.

I loaded up more film yesterday and set out to make some photos.  It was bright and sunny. . . until I got to my destination.  Then the skies clouded over heavily and storm clouds circled.  Since I was only running a test to see if I could make everything work, I just shot a couple pics around my yard.  Then mixed chemicals.  Then loaded them into the developing tank.  Then I souped them for the appropriate time.  And then. . . voila!

I got an actual image!  3.5x4 inch perfection.  The camera works.  The converted back works.  The chemicals were right.  There were no light leaks.  The viewfinder is almost accurate in framing and focusing.  "Almost."  And so, after hours and days, I produced a less than mediocre picture.  I couldn't have been more pleased.  

Then, after scanning it and tweaking it in Lightroom, I looked at it for awhile and decided I could probably have done this with an iPhone.  

I sent Q a link to an article about a Magnum photographer who now works solely with one (link).  Q wrote this morning that the article has convinced him to get the newest model.  I guess my images weren't enough to convince him to work with the 4x5.  

Still, I think the photo has "a quality."  Just stick one of Sally Mann's daughters in there and you'd have something.  

I'll try making some portraits and see if the whole thing is going to work out.  Meanwhile, I have a bunch of medium format film to develop tomorrow.  We'll see if they turn out as well as an iPhone photo.  

Sometimes you just have to do the wrong thing.  

WE NOW INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR BREAKING NEWS!

I think I have finished putting together the book "Lonesomeville."  I say "finished" because I can't really see it any more.  It has taken a long time and I am becoming blind to it.  I can no longer understand my original intention in ordering the photographs and I am tired of trying to come up with something new.  I have put it together digitally on a bookmakers website.  I need to write an introduction to it, then I am going to order a copy.  I am using the best paper and book cover and bindings they offer.  There are almost  200 photos.  That may be too many.  Because of the cost, I have placed them on facing pages.  Perhaps I should cut the number in half and use only the right hand page, but I think I will leave it as is until I have a hard copy in my hand and then decide.  I have left out the more explicit photos much to the dismay of some who have proofed it, but I am a bit shy about that.  I have enough images for a Vol. II if I decide to include them later.  Those are simply the Polaroids, of course.  I can make Volumes III-X with the digital images.  I was a maniac for a few years, but you know what they say--you do best what you do most.  

But "Lonesomeville," the book, will be available in the coming months.  And for anyone who comes to the blog who is interested, I will make copies available to you at no cost.  Wait--that's not right!  I will make them available at the publisher's price without a mark up. . . meaning without any money going to the photographer.  I don't expect many requests, so it is not really a big deal.  I will buy a few copies of my own to send around to galleries and publishers just to see what happens.  I am prepared for disappointment.  That is what I tell myself, anyway; still, you know how that goes.  You can never completely inure yourself to disappointment.  But, as the kids used to say in the bad old days, "Whatever."

I like that as a title.  I will try to develop a project around the concept.  Right?  It is reductio ad absurdum, I think.  It applies to the ideological state of the world today.  It might have wings.  

Whatever.  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Almost Excited

Frank Horvat

I got a late start yesterday as I do most days now.  By the time I had done my family duties and headed out the door for my house, it was nearly noon.  O.K.  I was ready to take the big camera out for a spin.  I grabbed some film holders that I hoped were loaded with Tri-X film.  They might be.  They might be loaded and already exposed.  They might be loaded with color film.  They might not be loaded at all.  I have tried working with the Liberator so many times and have failed and gotten frustrated so many times that whatever is or is not in the holders is always a mystery to me.  I do not have a good system.  So, I said, I will just shoot whatever is or is not in here today, develop whatever there might be, and then start again.  With a system.  Things will be marked and cared for.  If there was nothing at the end of the day, I said, it would have been a good training session.  I made some adjustments to the cheap, 3D printed 4x5 back on the camera, put a thick carrying strap on the camera (after searching long for the proper attachments), and hopped in the car for my distant destination.  

Oh, boy. . . the day was hot and humid.  I was still feeling the effects of the sleep aids from the night before.  Sweat popped out on my forehead.  I set out.  

Using the camera was easy.  It's a beauty.  I used an app on my phone to meter my shots, set my aperture and shutter speed, cocked the shutter, removed the dark slide, framed the shot, and. . . click.  I put the dark slide back, took the film holder out of the cheap plastic back (which I expect to break), turned it around to the second side, locked it in, and headed to the next place.  It is the sort of thing that will make you appreciate a digital camera, but there is a beauty in all of it, too.  

But, wow, the sun was beating me down.  I felt like puking.  One o'clock in the afternoon is not the outdoor photography time here and now.  It is nap time.  It is mimosa time.  It is anything time but lugging around a bunch of photo equipment in the sun.  I know there is a saying about that, but I can't bring it to mind just now.  

I had been walking on deserted streets for the most part, but the way back to the car was on a busier road.  As I walked by a union hall, I decided to take a photo.  As I got ready, two fellows walked by.  

"Wow!  Nice camera.  Is that a Polaroid?"

I explained to him that it was. . . once.  He was very interested.  Another fellow coming from the other direction stopped.  He was interested, too.  I could see that this was going to be a camera that would inspire curiosity.  People would want their picture taken with it.  As I explained the camera to the last fellow there, I said, "Here, let me take your photo.  I'll send you a copy." 

He was pleased.  

That was the last photo of the day.  I fell into the car and headed home.  

Where exhausted, I dropped into a coma.  I didn't wake up until very late in the day.  I needed to make dinner for my mother, but I wanted to develop the film.  I called her to tell her I'd be a bit late.  I opened a beer hoping it would give me strength.  I headed to the garage to load the film into the developing tank and get the chemicals. The first holder I opened had film.  The second did not.  I was two for four.  I opened another film holder.  There was film.  Four for six.  The tank only holds four sheets of film.  I trucked everything back to the house and began the souping process.  

I expected nothing.  That is what I had gotten so many times before.  But what I hoped for was something brilliant.  

Tic tok, tic tok.  

After developing, rinsing, fixing, rinsing, with mixed emotions, I opened the tank.  Two of the film sheets were opaque.  Just black.  The second two. . . holy shit!  Images.  I pulled them out and looked closely.  Well, there were two images on each.  I had already shot them.  They were double exposed.  O for six.  

But hey--I knew the camera worked.  I mean, one of the images was one I had taken that day.  Why were the other two black?  Beats me.  But. . . I was almost excited.  There was still hope.  

I went back to the garage and loaded the emptied film holders.  They have fresh film.  I know what is in them.  Today, once more, I will give it a go.  

My god, what a lot of work.  

The photo at the top is one Frank Horvat took of his daughter.  It is beautiful, I think, and I wonder if it is erotic.  It is certainly curious.  There are no nudes in Horvat's career until the last few years, and many of those are of his family.  There are some very sculptural ones of genitals, male and female.  It makes me wonder much.  Perhaps the passing of his wife?  Or are there other earlier ones.  

Well. . . I was wrong.  I just Googled "Frank Horvat Nudes."  There are many.  Maybe I knew and had simply forgotten.  You can buy this one for $7,300.00. 

There are more explicit ones, but I rather like this.  


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Repurposed

That's right. . . I'm down to photos like this.  WTF has happened?  What has become of me?  I've loaded up a bunch of 4x5 film holders.  I'm going out to shoot them today.  I swear I will.  And develop them as well.  But of what shall they be?  Twisted metal?  Highway overpasses?  Miscellaneous garbage?  

I'm kerflumpt.  

Apparently that is not a word.  

I promise myself that today is an experiment, and if it works, I'll begin taking portraits.  People pictures, I mean.  

Here's the camera.  It is the one I used for all the Pola Lonesomeville pictures.  It has been useless for years, however, since they no longer make the old peel apart instant films.  

Recently, though, I found a fellow who makes a back that allows this camera to shoot 4x5 film.  With Covid and all, I haven't tried it yet.  Today will be the test.  I took this with me to the photo store yesterday, and the kids went wild.  I hope it works out.  If so, it will be "da bomb."  At least that is the dream.  But as I've confessed, I've lost my nerve.  I went out with two Rollieflex medium format cameras yesterday to finish off the rolls of film that have been sitting in them for god knows how long.  The end of my walk was through the local farmer's market.  Just carrying a camera made me a villain, it seemed.  I would smile at people as they passed, and they would look back at me like I had just raped their child.  I have been cursed with the Mark of Cain, it seems.  

To wit: I know I should start working in drag.  It would make the world of difference.  It is just doing it the first time that is the hurdle.  First I have to go shopping.  I'm thinking one of those hideous print sack dresses that all the women my mother's age seem to wear, floral or just faux-Jackson Pollock print.  Some sneakers.  A baseball hat and a Covid mask.  I don't know.  Maybe it would work.  

But first, a trial by fire.  I'll take the big fucker out today and shoot through about a dozen sheets of film, then take them back to the house to develop.  I have no faith, though.  Every 4x5 I've taken has had something wrong with it.  Usually it is my fault, but not always.  We shall see.  

I've made a luncheon date with c.c. for the coming week.  I realized I haven't seen him since the whole Covid thing began.  Hayzoos Marimba, that's a long, long time.  We will eat on the banks of a large lake and have Goldfish sandwiches and watery drinks.  That, at least, is what he has promised.  But that is what hillbillies do.  He is going to harangue me about Twinsville.  I have not secured credentials, and now I'm not sure at all if I will go.  It may be a little soon to leave my mother alone anyway.  I always knew that, but I was preparing just in case.  If this 4x5 shit works out today, though, I may be hot as a rooster in the henhouse to go.  

But if I were a betting man. . . . 


Saturday, July 17, 2021

Friday Night

I wasn't looking for it.  I was trying to find something to watch with my mother other than the Medicare Channel, and tried putting on another episode of "Frazier" on the Peacock Channel which I had downloaded on my Amazon Prime account a few days earlier.  I was showing my mother that she could watch all the shows she liked without or with minimal commercial interruption.  We were on Season One, Episode Five, I believe, of "Frazier."  But when I pulled up the Peacock Channel, I was faced with the decision to pay for a monthly subscription or watch something else.  This was not the deal when I signed up, though I had suspected it would happen.  Cutting cable, kids, is going to become just as expensive as it used to be to have cable.  All the shows are being divided up between competing media entities.  Don't count on your government representatives to help you with this.  They are capitalists one and all.  All you can do is become a pirate, get in touch with someone who can jailbreak the shows, and live with the criminals.  

Or you can just quit watching television and read.  

Anyway. . . I tried to find something on Amazon that we might watch together.  It was Friday, and I felt a bit out of sorts.  My day had been broken up into weird sections as I had to take my mother to her therapy session at 4:30.  There went happy hour.  I had already driven to my house to check on the mail, pick up a package that had been delivered, run the printer, feed the cat, etc.  I had even thought I might take some film cameras out just to finish off the extant rolls so that I could try to process them in a new (to me) chemical soup.  Of course, the day and the light were brilliant until I picked up my cameras.  Just then, as can happen in my own home state, it began to rain.  My plans were fairly dashed.  

I spent a few minutes mucking about the house before it was time to drive back to my mother's, drive her to therapy, sit for the hour, then bring her home.  

I was hungry.  My mother wasn't.  "Get whatever you want," she said.  I sat down with a drink and a little cheroot to try to take the edge off my day.  I decided to call my favorite Italian restaurant for takeout.  Oh. . . it was Sushi Friday, but I wanted big calories, a carbonara full of terrible things.  I knew the restaurant and bar would be packed on a Friday at the workweek's end, and I knew traffic would be bad.  I put out my cheroot, downed my drink, and headed to town.  

And back. 

Where I sat in the garage with ma and ate with my plastic plates balancing on my lap and the evening's humidity caressing my skin.  The arugula salad was good, but the carbonara was thick and heavy.  I could feel my waistline expanding with each bite.  I wasn't having fun.  Even the scotch was unsatisfying.  I wanted something fun, a good craft cocktail.  When I had picked up my food, even wearing my homeboy clothes, the two bartenders gave me knowing greetings and fist bumps.  A woman at the bar said hello.  I asked her how she was doing, and she pointed at her fancy drink.  All about, young vamps were showing off new cleavage and fancy dresses.  In the corner, a man with mostly greying hair was talking to a startling young woman with incredible shoulders and a Louise Brooks haircut.  He was making the classic mistake of facing her square up, staring to show she had his undivided attention.  She looked like a working woman trapped.  She, of course, would have preferred him to be more demure, but he was a fool fishing with the only bait he had.  I wanted to rescue her, but she knew why she was there.  Everywhere I looked, I saw a story.  My blood quickened, but of course, I was only there for pickup.  In mere moments, I was gone.  

My mother was not in a good mood.  Her shoulder was paining her after her therapy session.  There was nothing good about this Friday night.  

Ditching the Peacock Channel, I was browsing movies that Amazon suggested for me.  "We'll Take Manhattan" looked intriguing.  I watched the trailer.  Holy smokes!  It was a movie about David Bailey and his girlfriend, the model Jean Shrimpton.  

"You want to try this?" I asked my mom with hope.  

"Sure," she said.  "Whatever you want to watch."  

"We'll just watch it for a bit and see if you are interested."

After fifteen minutes or so, I saw her eyes closing.  

"How do you like it?"

"It's not something that really interests me."

"Well. . . O.K.  I can watch it later."  But I was miffed.  I arranged the controller so that it was on commercial television so mother could watch the advertisements on the Medicare Channel.  I have come to realize that she likes them.  It is the same commercials over and over and over and over, but it must give her comfort.  She can watch five minutes of "Gunsmoke" and then five minutes of commercials.  Nothing new.  No challenges.  She can experience the same thing she experienced the day before and the day before that.  Continuity and consistency.  

But I, first slowly, then more quickly, am losing myself in this routine.  

"What do you want to watch?" she asked me.  

"Watch your shows," I said.  Then something snarky snuck out.  "The ones you've seen before."  

I left the room to breathe.  Outside, the world was kinetic, moving once again.  Inside, time stood still and turned stale.  My legs bobbed, my jaws clenched.  I sat down with my computer and pulled up the movie.  I decided I would watch it.  

Funny, I thought, that I had never heard of it before.  It wasn't good, but it wasn't bad if you were interested in the period, in the event.  I poured a big scotch to see me through.  

When it was over, I went back to the t.v. room.  My mother leaned back on some pillows, her eyes closed. 

I took a nerve pill and said goodnight.  I turned the ceiling fan on high and lay down.  I tried to think of making pictures.  The Louise Brooks girl with the serious face.  

(link)