Saturday, September 21, 2019

Au Revoir

This will probably be my last post for awhile.  When I get back, though, I should have some new pictures.  Not as many as I should, probably, for I will be on a romantic trip and should not think about making photographs all the time.  Ili would not like that so much.  Handholding and window shopping and flea marketing and cafe sitting. . . you know.

Still, it is important to make other people jealous in that Instagram/Facebook way.


I am really not so good at that kind of picture making, anyway.

I have much to do today, from packing to arranging a rental car to hosting a plumber to seeing my tax guy.  Pre-travel nerves abound.

If you don't here from me for awhile, it doesn't mean I don't care.  It only means I am otherwise engaged.

Au revoir.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Preparations and Potential Delays

The electrician is still at the house.  Couldn't finish it all in one day.  I guess that is why it is expensive.  I think everything is expensive, though, and I don't know how other people afford to live. They have boats and new cars and giant tvs and vacations.  Every year for the past many, I have had to forego my vacations because the house needed painting or roofing or plumbing or. . . .   I am one of those Americans that has left vacation days on the table.  Lost.  Kaput.

I travelled more when I worked less and had much less money.  I'm not sure how that works.  I guess one learns how to deal.  I bought used cars, used tires, used batteries, used clothes.  True.

But I know that is not how other people do it.  No, I don't know that.  I don't know what they do.  I'm finding out a lot about stretching money.  Bogo (twofers) is fun.  I'm learning which days of the week to buy certain things at certain stores.  I'm learning about outlet stores, too.

"That's a nice jacket.  D'ya pay retail?"

Panic about the trip sets in.  There is a hurricane that will be off the coast the day we are to fly out.  We could be in for it.  I can't control it and should just relax, but it is not my nature.  I must stress.

The electrician should be done today.  Plumber tomorrow.  These guys make me nervous.  How do you know if they know what they are doing?  You don't.  You just never do.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


The electrician is here.  The power will go off soon, so I rush to make a post.  They are charging out my electric boxes on the outside walls of the house.  It looks like rain.  Not a good day to be working with electricity outside, I'd say.  My luck.  He said it will take the entire day to complete the job.  I no longer need to go to work, but without electricity, I do not wish to stay here, so off to work I go.

These last days before the trip have become too busy, too much.  It is always so.  I got my car fixed yesterday.  After today. . . the plumber.

I hope to be this girl with a camera in Paris soon.  There is a tropical storm brewing that could change my flight.  Everything stresses me out.

I can't wait to be a flaneur.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Kerflumpt Again

I'm no good at being off.  It is a hard fact to face.  I treat days off like weekends (which are not really fully relaxed days if you work), getting up, reading, going to the gym, showering, eating, taking care of whatever business needs taking care of, until it is time to go marketing, make dinner, sit down with Ili and perhaps turn on the television.

This is not the way I plan to spend my time away from the factory.  Mid-afternoon today, I had to get out of the house.  I had done the early things, and the irrigation repairman had just left.  It was two, then two-thirty.  I answered work email.  Then, in a fit of frustration, I bolted.  I went to the local hipster coffee shop.  And when I walked into the very crowded room, I saw one of my factory workers sitting at a table with her laptop.  I felt like a boss when I walked over to say hello, but of course nobody is treating me like a boss any longer.  I am the soon to be gone boss.

I soon will be boss-no-longer.  Then what am I?  I will need to be "one becoming."  Weird this late in my career, as the song almost goes.  I will have to learn a new way of being.  It hit me suddenly that I wasn't as groovy as once I was.  I remember the days of yore when I was a freedom whore, lying about sunning on docks, sitting in cafes, walking the boulevard.  It has been so long, I had forgotten the feeling.

It came back to me in a rush.  So did the fact that I wasn't that guy any longer.

I am going to have to learn.  Re-learn.

I wish kerflumpt were a word.  That is how I'm feeling now.  Verklempt, maybe.  I don't know.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


Preparations are already frantic.  Each day, we remember something else we need to buy or do.  I am nervous, of course, as always before a big trip.  Excessively so.  Today we went to the airport to get our TSA pre-check boarding permits.  Why I haven't done this before, I don't know.  But now, we may have done it too late to effect the Paris flight.

C'est la vie.  

We will pack light.  Ili plans to buy Parisian.  I struggle with which cameras I will take along.  Surely a Leica, maybe a Sony, too.  Suddenly, though, the camera bag gets bigger.  Is it worthwhile?

Probably not.

Both Ili and I are struggling with some malady.  We are tired, listless, slow.

Today we booked the mandatory river cruise on the Seine.  We've yet to buy any museum tickets as all guidebooks recommend.  Why are things so difficult in the contemporary world?  Too many people, too much access, I guess.  In the old days, I never even pre-booked flights.  Just hopped on a plane and got a room when I arrived.

And the streets were paved with gold.

I've booked an irrigation repairman, an electrician, and a mechanic this week.  I still need a plumber.  And I will go to the factory on Wednesday.

Being off work is not all it is cracked up to be so far.  I don't have my rhythm yet, I guess.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Once Romantic

Apparently, I used to be a romantic.  I got out some old Paris guidebooks I used back in the 1990s.  Looking through, there was much underlining and many notations.  Mostly, it was of or about cafes with ** or *** and $ or $$ dollar signs.  Mostly two stars, one dollar sign.  And, of course, there was all the art and literary stuff, old Lost Generation hangouts or Henry Miller's apartment or places where the post impressionists lived and worked.  I'm going to take these books with me anyway as they have all the historical locations that the new guidebooks do.  I think I already know my way around Paris, but I will surely be surprised.

There was a time when I used to comment on this (link).  I also liked the old, romantic catalogs.

All of that is gone.

I went to Shakespeare and Co. back then and met the owner, George Whitman.  His baby girl was running around the store.  As I've said before, he invited me to stay in one of the upstair rooms, but I had other plans.

Now Sylvia, his daughter, runs the shop.  I will go and hope to see her there.

I had also noted all the mountain shops in Paris.  I remember visiting them.  I'm pretty sure I won't bother this time around.

I'm making lists of galleries and museums and the best flea markets.  I want to buy things and bring them home.

I delivered a paper there at a famous conference once.  That was back when I used to be somebody.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Perception and Reality

I feel mute in the contemporary milieu.  Marginalized.  Condemned.  It is Trump's fault.  Or not.  Everything is a reaction to him, I feel, every righteous movement.  If you are at all irreverent or disagree with the new ideology, you are like Trump.  It is Bizzarro World.  Old liberals are not left enough.  They are considered Republicans.  I can't even bring myself to write what I think on my own blog anymore.  It is a viscous, punishing world.

Besides, I got my hair done on Friday the 13th, and it looks like shit.  I look like an old banker or something.  Jesus, why did I go on the 13th?  It will be months before I look anything like myself again.  Or what was myself.

Today, though, I got educated backup for what I've always said.  The economy is based on perception, not reality.  Well, perception is reality.  But Schiller the economist will get the credit.  This from today's N.Y. Times online:

The probability that a recession will come soon — or be severe when it does — depends in part on the state of ever-changing popular narratives about the economy. These are stories that provide a framework for piecing together the seemingly random bits of information that one picks up from friends, the news or social media.

For consumers these narratives affect decisions on whether to spend or save, whether to take a demanding or an easy job, whether to take a risk or stick with something safer. For businesspeople the prevailing narratives affect deliberations on whether to hire more help or lay off employees, whether to expand or retrench or even start a new enterprise.

Saturday, September 14, 2019


The Friday 13th full moon fucked me up, I think.  It was either that or my trying to quit drinking whiskey.  Harvest Moon, one of my favorites.  But things got screwed up here and I am feeling sick.  Today I read a story in the N.Y. Times that I will be eating and breathing lead while staying in my pied de terre in Paris.  The roof of Notre Dame was made of it.  I don't need anything more to retard me.

Things are strange here in cafe.  I'll try to weather the storm.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Beware the Hoosgow

I may get arrested in Paris, or so I've read.  Photography isn't illegal, but taking pictures of people might be.  France has strict privacy laws.  Taking pictures of people in the street has become very contentious everywhere in the social media era, but it is especially contentious in Paris.  Again. . . so I've read.  It depend on who you are, I think, and somehow I am suspicious.  The woman pictured above in the flowy thing and the smile probably doesn't get yelled at.

Nor does this woman, probably, with her posse of bodyguards.  Cameras are ubiquitous.  But an old white guy with a camera. . . well, I garner much attention.  If I were younger, perhaps I'd get hassled less.  But OGWC syndrome is difficult to overcome.

Pictures are the universal language.  Everyone in the world understands a photograph on a literal level.  It is the most basic form of communication.  We know the late 19th and all of the 20th centuries through pictures.  History is written by them.

Are we to only know the 21st century through selfies?  These are superficial and self-conscious times.

I was in jail in Italy once.  My girlfriend ran over a British woman's foot driving through a marketplace.  I've told the story here before, so I won't go over it again.  Sitting in a "foreign" jail is unnerving.  You don't know the rules.  You are at the mercy of people whose culture you don't really understand.  We were out in a couple hours, so I am not saying that I am an ex-con, but I've had the beginnings of such an experience.  I don't wish to go down that road any further.

So I'll be careful.  I wish I had the Leica M10-D.  I've toyed with the idea of buying one.  It is digital, but it has no viewing screen.  It has its advantages.

"Did you take my picture?"

You have options on how to answer.  They can't demand to see your pictures, can't demand that you erase it.

"Why. . . no.  Why would I take your picture?  I don't even know you."

Even if you did, the statement is symbolically true.  My standard response is, "Not you, really, just a figure on the street that represented something greater than the individual, really, more a figurative 'type' than something specific."

I could just shoot film, of course, but maybe I'll buy that M10-D before I go.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Pied de Terre

This is the side wall of the local barbershop.  Here is the other.

Mr. Rogers went to Country Club College.  I don't know what Bob the Painter has to do with the area.  Maybe he is from here, but I don't know.

I took these with my rangefinder 6x6 camera on my walk around.  Nothing came out of it.  Still, I paid to have the film processed, so I'm going to use them.

I got a new place to stay in Paris.  I'm renting a pied de terre on the Ile de la Cite.  Pretty cool, I hope.  I will live like a local, wear my trousers rolled in a French cuff, don a striped fisherman's jersey, be shod in espadrilles, and sport a beret.  I want to be inconspicuous and blend in.

Yea, I know, everyone everywhere wears the same thing now.  I hate it.  I want the world out there to stay picturesque for me.

I am off today and wasting the day.  I am not proud of the fact, but I don't imagine I'll fix the situation this afternoon.  Ili is out of town for a couple of days working, so I am left to my own resources.

Yesterday was 9-11.  I don't need a parent permission slip for people born after that event now.  I will frolic with those who have never known a world without metal detectors and deep-seated paranoia.

Paris is more dangerous than the last time I was there, they say.  Beware and stay on guard.  Before the accident, I never worried.  Let's see how I handle the young ruffians now.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Every photographer knows this by now.  It has been on every site.  Frank had incredible fame for photographing his trips across America in the late 1950s.  After he published "The Americans," however, he pretty much gave up on street photography.  His work, however, changed the way people photographed forever.  He was like Faulkner or Hemingway in that sense.  Everyone became a son, daughter, grandson, or granddaughter.  That is his legacy.

Like all pioneers, others improved what he invented.  You wouldn't want to listen to the original Marconi radio, but we don't remember the names of those who made it better.  Maybe we do.  I'm out of my lane on this one, but you know what I mean.

I was walking around town with my Mamiya 6 medium format rangefinder camera the other day.  Shot three rolls of color film.  Nothing good came of it.  But I took this photo out of shock.  This was the sign on the railroad tracks just at a crossing.  It completely disoriented me.  I showed it to Ili thinking she would be confused as well, but she said, "I guess it is for people thinking about jumping in front of the train."  I hadn't thought of that, nor would I ever think of such a thing.  Really?

"I was going to jump in front of the train, but I saw this sign and called 211.  I feel life is worth living now."

I took the camera into the shop yesterday to be adjusted.  I had focussed on the sign, but as you see, it is the house in the distance that is focused.  The rangefinder needs adjusting.

Yesterday I stayed home from work.  It was lovely.  I think I am ready not to work any more.  But today, I will report to the factory and meet some of my obligations.  It is not with dread, exactly, that I go, but the scent of freedom is in the air.  I am like a man held in prison for forty-three years.  Getting out is attractive, but once used to the routine of the life within the prison walls, there is a lot of anxiety, too.

I don't think I'll have any trouble adjusting.

Here are a few screenshots of what I saw in the paper today.  I usually end up sending them to Q.  I don't know many other people who wouldn't find this stuff irritating.  I don't think he does, though.  Not all of them, anyway.

Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott featured in Playboy

"It is a celebration of the things that bring us joy: sex, art, food, music, spiritual connection, travel, cannabis and community."

Uh. . .

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Bad Exchange?

My leaving now is a soft closing.  There is no real drama in it, at least for those who are staying.  They look forward to a new energy.  Out with the old, in with the new.  It is sad--for me.

And so day by day, I decide whether to go to work or to stay home.  I have a ton of work on my desk that I need to complete before I can begin to relax.  I won't do it today.  I am staying home.  Tomorrow, I say.  Tomorrow I will work.

But I feel as if I should begin my new life of working 'round the house.  Maybe, I think, today I will pull weeds.  I need to repaint the deck, too.  And there is the mulching of driveways, too.

It seems I am exchanging a job I like for one that I don't.  I'm not so certain about this.

Finding a hotel in Paris for a week has turned out to be a full-time job.  All the ones suggested to me are unavailable for the time period I am there.  I need to find something quickly before I end up staying at the Paris Best Western.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Paris Bound

We booked our trip to Paris, and it is soon.  We will be there just after autumn falls.  It was an impulsive decision.  I said "Paris" and Ili began researching flights.  She found some bad ones which caused me to search out of frustration.  Once I found some good ones, there was only one thing to do.

I was tricked.

A week in Paris isn't enough, but it will be something.  There are sites to see, of course, but mostly there are streets to be walked and cafes to be sampled.  I have just started YouTube Paris and Google Paris preparations.  I will get to the bookstore this week.  We don't have much time.

We still haven't booked a place to stay, so any suggestions. . . .

We watched the last installment of "Serengeti" last night then I had bad, violent dreams.  I woke up thinking about work and felt I was abandoning my job.  I guess guilt is normal.

I will go now and do a bit of research.  Or I will try to brush up on my college French.

Oh. . . and we will be there during Fashion Week.  Oo-la-la.

Sunday, September 8, 2019


Let me begin this post by saying that I still can't respond to comments on this computer.  Don't think I am ignoring you or am just being a prick.  For whatever reason, I have only been able to respond from the computer at work (scary).  I will soon have time to try and figure all of this out.  Soon.  But I am reading them.  Thank you.

So. . . my life is changing rapidly.  I am dizzy with it.  The things I do will change.  Maybe how I do things, too.  I will not have as much money coming in when I retire, of course, and I've already begun to adapt.  It is fear that drives now.  I won't buy anything unless it is on sale or bogo.  That is what Ili calls it.  I still say twofer.  It has become a thrill.  Two catsups for the price of one?  Wow.  Two bottles of wine for the price of one?  Even better.  Coupons are good, but I haven't had time to become a clipper yet.  But I will.

And I will not need to buy work outfits very often now.  Nor shoes.

Maybe I'll let my nose hairs and eyebrows grow out, too.  O.K.  Not yet.

I'm getting a t-shirt that says, "I Got Away with It."

I am filled with helium, it seems.  I don't feel the weight of days.  I can pick and choose.  Oh, I still have to work, but not much.  The most difficult part is not going in to the office.  You see, I have never, not for a moment, disliked my job.  What my factory produces is pretty cool, and the people I work with are more enlightened than not.  Most days, it is fun to go in.  I'm not saying that I often wouldn't rather be doing something else, but the something else is usually pretty spectacular.  On a day to day basis, I could hardly have had it better.  Not to go in feels like an abandonment.  They need me.

Still, I know the moment I walk out the door, I am gone.  Factories are like self-healing donuts.  Tires?  Whatever.  The hole is automatically closed.  There will be no mourning or grieving, and I will be on the outside.  I've always been, but now the gate will close.  That part of my life which has been what I've done for 43 years, will be over.


Or as Kesey said, "Further."

It was Ili's father's birthday this weekend, so we went to help him party.  We stayed at the beach for the night.  I didn't worry that my time was being taken, that I would not be able to do something I needed or wanted to do as I normally would.  I floated and had a good time.  It made Ili happy.

Paris sounds like a good place to saunter, doesn't it?  The place to begin a career as a flaneur?

I don't know.  My imagination is taking me away.  You see, I used to have forever.  I don't have that any more.  It is weird when you lose it.  But I can't let it hurry me.  It will do no good to rush.  The days, the minutes, the seconds are all the same.  I have as much time as I ever had.

Friday, September 6, 2019

A New Reality

Another shock to the system.  I came face-to-face with reality yesterday.  It is only months until I retire, months more of working and pulling a fat check each month.  O.K.  I knew that.  But there are unused vacation days I must either take advantage of or lose.  Well, Buddy, I'm not the sort to lose vacation days, so I had my secretary calculate them for me.  Turns out I have months of vacation left. MONTHS.  In essence, if I want to use them, I won't be going back to work.

Now I know that sounds like good news, even better than good.  But the truth is, I like my job.  I have never disliked it.  I've never wished I didn't have it.  After the calculation, my secretary looked at me and teared up.  She doesn't want me to go.

The drive home was weird.  I began thinking of all the things I must do, going through my files and personal belongings, deciding what to throw away, what to give away, what to keep.  There is memorabilia, little gifts given to me here and there in an over four decade career.  It will take me days.  I must begin immediately.

I felt weightless driving home, floating.  I think I was in shock.

You know it is coming, but you don't think it will ever arrive.  Whatever it is.  The future.  No matter what I say or have said, I like stasis.  Once comfortable, why change?

I don't want to bore you with the rest.  I am trying to wrap my mind around it still.  I have driven that sixteen mile stretch of road to work tens of thousands of times.

I will drive some other roads now.

It is exciting and disorienting.  Now I'll be faced with succeeding.  I won't be able to blame my lack of creative success on anything but myself now.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Sting

We--that being the people in my own hometown--have been spared the storm.  Others haven't been as fortunate.  Here we begin to feel normal, begin doing normal things.  Elsewhere, there either has been devastation or there will be.  It is difficult to reconcile.  But do not ask for whom the bell tolls, we are warned.

It is difficult.

But today, for me, the factory whistle blows.  I do not ask for whom it blows.  It blows for me.

Last night, I made a jest to Ili that she didn't have to go to the factory in the morning.  She did not take it so well and told me that she had to write something more difficult than I had written in ten years.  It startled me like a sucker punch.

But it was true.

I went to bed chewing on that.  I have become. . . well, the sort of person to whom one can say such a thing.  Rather than sulk, I thought, I must do something about it.  But doing something may now be beyond me.  I don't know.  And rather than do something, not knowing what to do, I sulk.

I'll have to figure this one out today as the factory churns about me.  I still feel the sting of that statement, the truth of it.  Perhaps I am not of the caliber any more.  At least, I'm not feeling so.

I'll figure out what to do today.  I hope it is not simply to have a drink.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Monkeys, Donkeys, and Hurricanes

A gray sunrise is a surprise this morning as Dorian moves further off the coastline.  There is little wind and just a bit of rain, far from what was forecast.  A few miles makes a big difference.

But nerves have been jangled and frayed for over a week, and now people will have to live with the aftermath.  I mean, we've shit ourselves from the fear of a coming hurricane that didn't.  There is caution and there is shame.  It is justifiable, this pooping one's pants, but it isn't something one can be proud of.  We all grieve for The Bahamas, of course.  It could have been us.  And so the shitting is defendable, but it is still embarrassing.

But there are four more potential hurricanes lined up off the coast of Africa.  The hurricane season has only begun.

When I was in college oh so long ago, when I got my first undergraduate degree (in zoology), I was awakened to the dangers of global warming.  Alternative energy sources were taken seriously.  There was much research on engines that didn't burn fossil fuel, houses that used less energy.  This was during the Carter administration.  Then the republicans took over and all that was gone.  We pumped more oil, cut more forests, and partied like it was 1999.

One has to learn how to live in a hostile political environment.  I did it by going inward.

It doesn't seem to have helped.

Republicans again rule the roost.  We pump more oil, we cut more forests, we produce more toxic waste.

And the young worry most about identity politics.

It's not just republicans, of course.  Identity politics is a baby of the left.  Per usual, we are watching the monkey fuck the donkey, a distraction that the right adores.

It looks like nothing is left of The Bahamas.  It is terrible.  No one can imagine what it was like to be there.  All that is left is the evidence.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019


Yesterday was the anniversary of one of the most devastating hurricanes in history, the 1936 Labor Day Hurricane in the Florida Keys.  It killed over 400 people, most of them vets working on constructing the bridges and railroad.  I haven't seen any reports about this during the Dorian tragedy. Only two states participated in any rescue activity for these men.  Hemingway was among those who helped.

Here, people vacillate between joy and terror depending on what comes out of the hurricane center's updates every four hours.  There are group texts among friends and co-workers.  Some are funny, some cavalier.  All are edgy.

The hurricane doesn't move.  It just sits on top of the Bahama Islands.  I can't imagine what it is like there for those who did not evacuate.

I don't think I will experience much more than wind and rain where I am, perhaps some power outage.  But we don't know.  One cannot quite relax and be happy.

This is taking forever.  I would like to think about other things again.  I'd like to moan about all the photographs I have not taken or some other usual whine.

I promise, though, that I will go on a diet when this is all over.  There have been too many days of lying about eating and drinking.  Ili and I are getting plump on hurricane survival calories.

Like the president, we all are waiting for Dorian to hit Alabama.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Everyone Is Somebody

It's coming. . . it's not coming. . . it's coming.  This place is really getting looney now.  First we stock up, then we eat all the chips and drink all the beer, then we are under siege.  God help the Bahamians.

Looks like we are in for some bad weather here.  I am a little worried.  I'll tell you why later.  And what we know here is that this is the first, not the last, hurricane we will see this year.

I am hoping that the laws of thermodynamics helps us out here.  How many horsepower is this storm, anyway?  No one is saying.  Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transferred.  Ocean heat drives the storm.  How many calories has this fucker used up?  I hope it tempers the rest of the season.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Not Necessarily Funny

Maybe.  Maybe not.  That's what the experts say.  Predictions are changing.  Predictions.  They are opinions basically.  Like academic opinions, they are supported by data.  The problem with predictions is that we don't get to see the data.  They just give us spaghetti lines and cones of uncertainty.  All of this is based on math.  I want to see the math.

Whatever.  I don't want the hurricane to hit someone else, but I sure don't want it to hit here.  Nothing can withstand it.  Nothing.

I think of you all sitting in the end of August weather, the hint of fall around the corner, planning your  Memorial Day weekend.  I see it in the N.Y. Times.  Bucolic days at beaches and in the park.  Ooo-la-la.

I watched the new Dave Chapelle comedy special on Netflix last night.  He is the bravest comedian alive.  He expresses what a lot of people think.  Many of you will get pissed off, at least at some part of it.  I liked it all.

He says he understands how white people felt when they saw the terrible crack epidemic in the black community now that poor whites are dying from heroin overdoses.  He really understands it now.  He doesn't care either.  I figure that is how people in New Mexico feel about the hurricane.  It's awful, but really. . . .

Watch the Chapelle thing.  It isn't necessarily funny.  But it is.